Tried & True – Watermelon Tequila Cocktail

Credit: life with lulu

Bobbly Flay Watermelon Tequila Cocktail is tried & true.

Tried out this Bobbly Flay Watermelon Tequila Cocktail as the signature cocktail for a BBQ I hosted at our house. We loved it! It’s such a great summer cocktail and is not too heavy or sweet.

We made a number of adjustments from the original recipe, so I included my instructions below. If you’d like to try out the original recipe, just click the link & it will direct you to Bobby Flay’s original recipe.

Ingredients

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
8 cups diced seedless watermelon
1/4 cup lime juice
3/4 cup fresh mint leaves (lightly packed)
2 cups tequila blanco
Ice
Optional – fresh blueberries for garnish

Directions

*We cut extra watermelon chunks and froze them to use as watermelon ice cubes/garnish as well.

  1. Make your simple syrup. If you have one premade, skip this step.
    Use a small sauce pan to bring the water to a simmer with the sugar and stir over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved – about 1min. Let cool.
  2. Puree the watermelon chunks in a blender in batches. Use a strainer to strain the juice out of the puree.
    We kept the pulp and put it into an ice cube tray in the freezer to make watermelon ice cubes.
  3. In a large pitcher, combine the sugar syrup with the lime juice, blueberries and mint leaves. Using a wooden spoon, lightly muddle the blueberries and mint.
    The blueberries weren’t looking too hot at the 2 grocery stores I tried, so we skipped them entirely.
  4. Add the watermelon juice and tequila. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
  5. Pour the cocktail into tall ice-filled glasses. Garnish with the mint sprigs and serve.
Credit: life with lulu

City Walks in Edgewater Glen, Chicago

We took a little freestyle stroll around Edgewater Glen in Chicago a few weeks ago.
Ended up coming across a Flaco’s Tacos on Granville, so we ducked in and grabbed a few of their frozen lime margaritas to-go. They are the perfect to-go cocktail. Since they are frozen, they stayed cold during a 90F day, and were strong enough to give us a pretty good little buzz.

We continue our walk and came across the lakefront where we sat on a bench and enjoyed a margarita. After we finished, we continued our walk along Sheridan until we came to this small park tucked away with a lakefront view.

We will definitely visit for some more frozen margaritas!

Dalgona Coffee = Not for Me

During the height of the pandemic, the dalgona coffee craze had taken over. We decided to give it a shot and see how we liked it. I mean during that time we were locked down in the house, so what did we have better to do? We ended up using this 100% Colombian instant coffee from Trader Joe’s (paid link).

The drink looked pretty cool, but it was way too sweet for me. I’m the girl that orders coffee black or has espresso with a dash of steamed soy. The dalgona coffee drink reminded me of a dessert more than my usual morning pick-me-up. It was so rich and overpowering I just cannot imagine drinking a cup of this.

We’re glad we tried something new, but it’s not something I would try again. The best part to come out of the experience was discovering Trader Joe’s 100% Colombian instant coffee (paid link). I buy it regularly and use it to make iced coffee for the week in a carafe. It tastes great, is super quick to make, and is pretty strong which I prefer. We bought our carafe from HomeGoods, but this is a cute set from Amazon (paid link) that is similar.

If you want to try out dalgona coffee for yourself, below is a quick recipe.

Mix 2 tablespoons each of sugar, instant coffee, and cold water.
Whisk or use a hand mixer until the mixture thickens & gets fluffy.
Fill a glass with ice and milk & pour the mixture on top

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Credit: life with lulu

Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Wings

The first time I ever tried cauliflower wings was before I became dairy free and restricted my diet so much. It was at a brewery in Old Irving Park and it was love at first taste. They were so crispy and the right amount of spicy.

I made several attempts at home to clone them, but they never got quite crisp enough in the oven no matter what I did. Fast forward to the day of the air fryer and I’ve finally been able to perfect buffalo cauliflower wings.

For the buffalo sauce, we used Primal Kitchen’s Buffalo Sauce made with Cashew Butter (paid link). I bought a 2-pack of this sauce from Costco for around $8 on sale – great deal! Luckily, we found out we loved the sauce, so we have been using it for everything. It has some kick to it, but nothing that is overwhelming. I would say I have a medium level spice tolerance.

Ingredients
1 head of cauliflower
Buffalo sauce (homemade or store bought)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour

Directions
Cut the cauliflower and wash it thoroughly.
Dry the cauliflower florets really well.
Make sure as must moisture comes out as possible to get them crispy.
In a large bowl, coat the florets in buffalo sauce.
Make sure they are fully coated.
In a small bowl, combine the flour & spices.
Once mixed, combine it with the cauliflower & toss to coat.
Preheat the air fryer to 350F.
Once heated, space the cauliflower & fry for 20 min.
We shake it up every 5-8 min to make sure it gets crispy all around.
Keep frying up more batches.

You can serve this with regular or vegan ranch
Sometimes we make buffalo cauliflower wraps with these.
Other times, we’ve eaten them with steamed brown rice, sliced avocado, and roasted veggies for a buffalo cauliflower bowl sort of meal.
They go great alone too and are pretty healthy.
Try them out and let me know what you think.

My Grilled Veggie Wrap

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With my dietary restrictions at an all time high, this has become one of my go-to meals. It’s very fresh and filling.

For marinating, I bought these reusable silicone bags (paid link) and I absolutely love them. Freezer and dishwasher safe, super durable, and just perfect!

We grill a lot and got sick of soaking bamboo skewers all the time, so I bought some kabob grill baskets from Uncommon Goods. Here’s are some kabob grill baskets (paid link) I found on Amazon that look pretty good. I like how they form a grid so nothing can fall through.

Ingredients
Vegetables of your choice*
Pita or naan bread (we use naan or garlic naan)
Hummus (homemade or store bought in the flavor of your choice)

Marinade
⅓ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
3 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon basil, parsley & oregano (each)
salt & pepper to taste

Instructions
Wash and chop all veggies.
Combine all marinade ingredients.
Add in veggies to marinate 4 hours turning occasionally.
Preheat grill to medium and grill 10 minutes or until done.
Grill/heat pita or naan bread.
Spread hummus on bread & layer grilled veggies on top.
Fold or roll & enjoy!

*Note: I usually use zucchini, butternut squash, onion, mushrooms, and red & orange bell peppers.
For veggies like potatoes, cook them partially before marinating.

Tried & True – Niçoise Salad

This niçoise salad from Simply Recipes is tried & true.

I’ve always loved a good niçoise salad, but this one from Simply Recipes is one of my go-to’s.

There’s a lot of prep involved, but we always prep everything ahead of time and store in the fridge, so we can easily throw them together as needed. The salad is super filling and packs a good amount of protein, so it is perfect for lunch to get you through the day.

You can totally play with the ingredients to add or omit anything, but the original is always a classic. We’ve played around and have added roasted carrots, broccoli, roasted garlic, etc. Sometimes, we just use whatever herbs we have on hand. The recipe has a lot of room for you to adjust as needed.

The photo above is from one of the times we made this recipe and used butter lettuce we are growing in our garden.

6 servings

Ingredients

Vinaigrette
1/3 cup lemon juice or red wine vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano or tarragon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad
2 to 3 (5-ounce) cans tuna, drained
hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
1 1/4 pounds small young red potatoes or fingerling potatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium heads Boston or butter lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup Niçoise olives
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

Method
Make the vinaigrette:
In a jar, place the oil, lemon juice or vinegar, shallots, herbs, and mustard. Cover with a lid and shake until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Marinate the onion slices in some of the vinaigrette:
Place onion slices in a small bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. (The onions soaking in the vinaigrette will help take some of the bite out of them.)

Cook the potatoes, cut, and dress with vinaigrette:
Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Heat on high to bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or so, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain.

While the potatoes are still warm, cut them into halves or quarters, depending on the size of the potatoes.
Place them in a bowl and dress them with about 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette.

Boil the green beans:
While the potatoes are cooking, fill a medium sized pot halfway with water, and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil on high heat. Add the green beans to the boiling water.

Cook until tender but still firm to the bite, about 3 to 5 minutes (more or less, depending on the toughness of the beans).

Drain and either rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, or shock for half a minute in ice water.

Arrange the salad on a bed of lettuce:
Arrange a bed of lettuce. Mound tuna in the center of lettuce. Sprinkle the tomatoes and onions around the tuna.
Arrange the potatoes and green beans in mounds at the edge of the lettuce.
Arrange hard boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies (if using) in mounds on the lettuce bed.
Drizzle everything with the remaining vinaigrette:
Sprinkle with capers if using.

Serve immediately. Should be served slightly warm or at room temperature.

Macarons from Bennison’s Bakery in Evanston, IL

Bennison’s Bakery is tried & true.

I was first introduced to Bennison’s Bakery through my brother. He worked at Northwestern for awhile and found out about Bennison’s Bakery’s macarons through someone he knew. He swore up and down the macarons at Bennison’s were better than Ladurée – a bold claim.

Bennison’s macarons were super good.
The right amount of crisp on the outside, and chewiness on the inside.
They offer a pretty good variety of flavors daily, but I believe their website for pick-up only shows some of the flavors so you may be better off just stopping by in-person.

We ended up getting a bunch of flavors that were available at the time:
* mocha
* lemon
*strawberry
*red velvet
*pistachio
*salted caramel
*vanilla

I haven’t had the chance to try anything else from Bennison’s Bakery, but now that I am writing this, we will probably swing by tomorrow and see what they have!