Ina Garten’s Pomegranate Gimlet

Here’s another treat that would be perfect for Valentine’s Day! ❤

This cocktail is composed of many of my favorites. I love a classic gimlet. 🙂 This pomegranate version would also be festive for the holidays or just tasty any other time of the year.

This recipe was adapted from Today.com. I modified the proportions to make individual cocktails. The volumes for 6 gimlets are also noted below.

Yield: one cocktail

  • 2 oz (4 T) gin
  • 1 1/2 oz (2 1/2 T) pomegranate juice (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 1/2 oz (2 1/2 T) freshly squeezed lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 2/3 oz (1 1/2 T) agave nectar or simple syrup
  • lime slice and pomegranate seeds, for garnish

For a Crowd:

Yield: six cocktails

  • 1 1/2 cups gin
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (6 to 8 limes)
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup
  • 6 lime slices and pomegranate seeds, for garnish
  1. At least one hour before serving, place martini glass(es) in the freezer.
  2. Combine the gin, pomegranate juice, lime juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice (for 1 cocktail) or large pitcher (for 6 drinks).
  3. If making multiple drinks, fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice and add the drink mixture until the shaker is three quarters full.
  4. Shake for a full 15 seconds.
  5. Pour the mixture into the frozen martini glasses and garnish with a teaspoon of pomegranate seeds, or more to taste, and a slice of lime.

Note: To make your own simple syrup, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small pot and heat just until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Refrigerate until cold.

Khoresh Bademjan (Persian Tomato & Eggplant Stew)

This is an absolutely incredible vegetarian stew. Traditionally, this dish is made with lamb or beef, but the author described this version as just as savory without the meat. I absolutely loved it. ❤

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I substituted American globe eggplant for the smaller Japanese eggplant and incorporated Campari tomatoes. I also used fresh lime juice instead of dried black limes. We ate the stew over brown Basmati rice with warm naan on the side. Wow. 🙂

Yield: Serves 4

  • 8–9+ T vegetable oil, divided (I used canola oil)
  • 2 globe eggplants (about 2 lbs), peeled, cut into 1-inch rounds OR 6 small Japanese eggplants (about 2 lbs), peeled, halved lengthwise
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 T double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 10 Campari tomatoes, cut into eighths OR 3 medium tomatoes (about 1 lb), seeds removed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups stock (can substitute water)
  • 3 to 4 cups water
  • 3 lemon omani (dried black limes) or 2 T fresh lime juice (see Note)
  • cooked basmati rice, parsley leaves, plain yogurt, and flatbread, for serving (I served brown Basmati rice, Greek yogurt & warm naan)
  1. Heat 6 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high.
  2. Working in batches, cook eggplant in a single layer, adding another tablespoon of oil if pan looks dry, until deeply browned, about 3 minutes per side.
  3. Transfer to a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet; season with coarse salt. (I added an additional 4 tablespoons of oil to cook the second batch of globe eggplant slices.)
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to same pot and cook onion over medium to medium-high, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned around the edges, 8 to10 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle turmeric and cinnamon over and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened in color, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add tomatoes; cook, still stirring, until tomatoes have burst and mixture is very thick, 5 to 9 minutes.
  8. Nestle eggplant into sauce and season lightly with salt.
  9. Pour in stock and 3 cups of water; bring to a simmer.
  10. Pierce dried lemon omani with a paring knife and add to pot. (If using lime juice instead, add when dish is finished cooking.)
  11. Cook, gently stirring occasionally, until thickened and eggplant is almost creamy in texture, 40–50+ minutes. (I cooked mine significantly longer to achieve my desired thickness.)
  12. Divide rice among bowls; ladle stew over. (I served the stew over brown Basmati rice.)
  13. Top with parsley and yogurt and serve with flatbread. (I served it with warm naan.)

Cucumber, Basil & Lime Gimlet

This refreshing summer cocktail was another way to use my beautiful basil and special homegrown cucumbers from a friend. There is still time to enjoy one! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from liquor.com. It is an adaptation of a classic gin gimlet which is composed of gin, lime juice and simple syrup.

Yield: One cocktail

  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka or gin
  • 2 1/4-inch slices cucumber, peeled
  • 2 fresh basil leaves. plus more for garnish
  • 1 ounce lemonade
  • 1/4 to 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste
  1. Muddle the basil and cucumber in a shaker.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and ice and shake.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass over ice.
  4. Garnish with a basil leaf. Serve.

Watermelon Margaritas

I am a major fan of this pretty pink cocktail. It was very light, refreshing, and minimally sweet. Puréed watermelon is the only source of sweetness. Perfect.

This recipe was adapted from 3-Ingredient Cocktails by Robert Simonson, via The New York Times.  I did not strain the puréed watermelon and omitted the jalapeño slices. We tried it with both the cayenne and salt on the rim, and salt alone. Both were delicious. 😉

The original recipe recommends to taste and add more watermelon juice if your margarita is too boozy, and extra lime juice or even a pinch of salt if it’s too sweet.

Yield: 2 drinks

For the (optional) Salted Rim:

  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt or fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Tajín or 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)

For the Cocktail:

  • ice, as needed
  • 6 ounces fresh watermelon juice (from about 1 1/2 cups chopped seedless watermelon)(I used cubes from a mini watermelon)
  • 2 ounces tequila, preferably blanco
  • 2 ounces Cointreau
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice (from 1 to 2 large limes), rinds reserved (I used 1 1/2 limes)
  • 2 to 3 thinly sliced jalapeño rounds, optional
  • small slices of watermelon, for garnish, optional
  1. Prepare the salted rim, if using: In a small shallow bowl or plate, combine the sea salt and Tajín or cayenne. Set aside.
  2. Blend the watermelon in a Vitamix or blender; strain if desired. (I left it puréed.)
  3. In a shaker filled with ice, combine the watermelon juice, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and jalapeño (if using). Shake to combine. (Note: The watermelon flavor shines brighter without the Cointreau, but the liqueur takes the drink into more traditional margarita territory. If you’d like to compare, first try the mixture without, the liqueur, then add 1 ounce of it per serving.)
  4. Using one of the squeezed lime halves, run it along the rim of two margarita or rocks glasses, then dip the rims into the salt mixture.
  5. Fill the glasses with ice, then strain the margaritas into the glasses. Garnish with additional jalapeño slices and/or watermelon slices. Enjoy immediately.

Key Lime Bars with Vanilla Wafer Crust

These sweet-tart bars are a wonderful summer dessert. They transport well and are perfect for sharing.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Samantha Seneviratne. The dollop of lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream was essential.

Yield: 16 bars

For the Crust:

  • 1 (11-ounce) box vanilla wafers
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons/115 grams unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:

  • 1 ¾ cup/420 milliliters condensed milk (1 14-ounce can plus 1/2 cup)
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup/180 milliliters Key lime or conventional lime juice (from 5 to 6 conventional limes or 12 Key limes)
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest

For the Topping:

  • 1 cup/240 milliliters cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.
  3. In a food processor, combine vanilla wafers and sugar, and pulse until you have fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process until evenly moistened.
  4. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press it down into an even layer. (I use the base of a dry measuring cup.)
  5. Bake until fragrant and a shade darker, 14 to 17 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice and lime zest.
  7. Pour filling over crust (it’s okay if it’s still warm) and bake until the filling is set, about 15 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  9. Use a sharp knife to release edges. Using the parchment overhang, carefully lift and transfer the bar to a cutting board.
  10. Just before serving, whip heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. (I use a chilled bowl.)
  11. Cut bars into 16 squares. Top each bar with a dollop of whipped cream to serve.

Creamy Cucumber-Avocado Salad

This fabulously easy salad was creamy and delicious. We ate it as a side with grilled vegetable and fresh ricotta sandwiches, but it could also be served as a light summertime main dish.

The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.com. I used avocado mayonnaise, chipotle Cholula hot sauce, and cilantro. My kids thought that it tasted like guacamole. 🙂 Great.

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

  • 1 seedless cucumber (about 3/4 to 1 pound), washed and chopped into chunks
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used avocado mayonnaise)
  • juice of half a lime, plus more to taste
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • hot sauce, such as Sriracha or Chipotle Cholula, to taste
  • chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  1. Combine cucumber, scallions and avocado in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, and hot sauce; adjust to taste.
  3. Drizzle salad with dressing and garnish with chopped herbs.

BLT Tacos

Why have I never thought of making a BLT taco before? Genius.

This quick and delicious weeknight dinner recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I cooked the bacon at a lower temperature, increasing the cooking time. I think that this method isn’t as messy. 🙂 I added avocado slices, used corn-flour hybrid tortillas, a Serrano instead of jalapeño chile, increased the lime juice, and used chipotle Tabasco in the mayonnaise. I also warmed the tortillas with steam in the microwave.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon, about 10 slices
  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered (mixed colors are pretty here)
  • 1 small Serrano or jalapeño chile, seeded or not, finely chopped
  • 2-3 T cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Cholula or other hot sauce, or to taste, plus more for serving (I used Chipotle Tabasco)
  • 8 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas (I used corn-flour hybrid tortillas)
  • Romaine lettuce leaves, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 avocado, sliced into eighths
  • refried beans and rice, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Lay bacon in an even layer in 2 9-13″ glass pyrex dishes or on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until browned and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plates and let cool. (Keep rendered fat for another use.)
  2. While bacon is cooking, toss together tomatoes, chopped chile, cilantro, lime juice and a large pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Taste and add more lime juice and salt, if needed.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and hot sauce.
  4. Place tortillas in a tortilla warmer or medium bowl. Top with a damp paper towel and seal with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave for 1 minute to warm.  (Alternatively, the tortillas can be warmed on the stove top: Lay a clean kitchen towel in a medium bowl. Using the open flame from a stovetop gas burner (or in a skillet placed on an electric burner), warm and lightly char tortillas, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Transfer warmed tortillas to a towel-lined bowl, and cover with towel to keep warm while you finish remaining tortillas.)
  5. Serve, letting people make their own tacos by layering bacon, salsa, lettuce, spicy mayonnaise and avocado, on tortillas. Top with more hot sauce, if desired.

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