Mexican Chocolate Eggnog

Eggnog is always something that everyone looks forward to at the holidays. As much as I’m ashamed to admit it, I’d never made a homemade version. So when Maker’s Mark asked me to come up with an eggnog recipe for their #GetCozyCocktail challenge, I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to do so!

I wanted to go the traditional route, as far as construction was concerned…but mix things up a little bit when it came to the flavor profile. I’ve always loved the rich and earthy notes of Mexican chocolate, which is flavored with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. And, usually a little bit of heat from cayenne to warm things up. It translated very well to eggnog!

Thick, chocolaty, frothy, and boozy…the spices meld beautifully with the bold flavor of the bourbon. It makes a relatively large batch, which is perfect for a party. But like most things in life, eggnog only improves with age. Some people swear by aging the stuff for up to a year!

I won’t go that far…but to make a batch now, to enjoy on Christmas Eve seems plausible. Not to mention the fact that it would make an awesome little “thank you” gift for a hostess or neighbor. Served in a jar simply decorated with a tag and a festive ribbon…come on, who wouldn’t be delighted to receive that?

Head on over to Maker’s Mark Instagram page and vote for my recipe by commenting and/or liking it, starting tomorrow through December 17th.  Then get to making the nog…after all, ’tis the season!

Disclaimer: I was provided with samples from Maker’s Mark. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Blueberry Margaritas

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip “down the county” with my best friend early on a Saturday morning. Our destination was Mason Beach Fruit Farm, about 45 minutes south of Chincoteague. It was the first time visiting for both of us, but it most definitely won’t be the last.

Blueberry bushes 10 feet tall – acres and acres of them. All the bushes I’ve seen in the past have been scrawny little numbers. But these, they literally created shady groves – so the picking was rather pleasant! It’s situated right on the Chesapeake, so cool breezes were plentiful, which also helps.

I picked about 10 lbs in just under 2 hours. At $1 per pound, you can’t beat the price with a stick. They also had peaches, plums, and early apples available – all for $1/lb as well. At any rate, I had plenty of fresh blueberries I had to use. What better to do with them than make blueberry flavored booze?

blueberries

A couple of pounds went into a home brewed blueberry cream ale. And then, there were these margaritas…

A quick blueberry simple syrup is whipped up, then mixed with traditional margarita components to create this gorgeous cocktail. The flavor of the blueberries really shines through, not to mention the beautiful hue that it leaves the drink with. The syrup is also divine when mixed into lemonade or limeade. But it’s Friday, so tequila is kind of mandatory around here.

Enjoy these gorgeous berries while they are in season where you are. I think I’m going to take one more trip down the road to stock up on some berries for the freezer. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Blackberry Sweet Tea

Porch sitting is one of our favorite past-times here on Chincoteague Island. There is nothing that I enjoy more than sitting on our front porch, enjoying a cold glass of iced tea, and watching the world go by.

I always brew my own, using those big family-style tea bags. Making a pitcher of sweet tea is always on my “to-do” list for the afternoon. Also with making my own, I can control the sugar. So many sweet teas are just so cloyingly sweet, they hurt your teeth. And, homey don’t play that.

I also like to switch it up with flavored tea bags (the mango black tea from Trader Joe’s is amazing!), or if delicious fruit is in season – some fresh fruit puree. One of my favorite places to eat here on the island (the lovely Sea Star Cafe) has a different flavored tea on the menu everyday, and I love that…I always look forward to seeing what new flavor combo is on the menu that day!

I had some blackberries hanging out that needed to be used, so I gave them a quick blitz in the food processor and dumped it right into the tea. If seeds bother you, feel free to strain them out…but I love seeing the fruity pulp and seeds in the tea, let’s you know it’s the real deal!

Cranberry Margaritas

Happy Friday, guys! With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, I figured a festive cocktail was in order. I’ve made margaritas with almost every fruit under the sun now, but this cranberry version has always stood out as one of my favorites.

A cranberry syrup is made from fresh cranberries and sugar, then pushed through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds and pulp. Then the usual suspects are added for margarita mixing…tequila, triple sec, and margarita mix. Which, if you’re not doing so already – save yourself several bucks and make your own! It’s so much better than the store-bought stuff. You (and your cocktails!) will thank me.

I like to serve them with a sugar rim that’s had a bit of orange zest mixed into it, but a standard salt rim is also wonderful. Garnished with a few cranberries and a wedge or two of citrus, it doesn’t get any more festive than this!

Their gorgeous red hue lends perfectly to Christmas parties, especially since a large batch can be made up in advance and refrigerated until party time. I hope everyone has a great weekend!