Creamsicle Margaritas for National Margarita Day

Marmalade Margaritas #cocktails #marmalade | Savvy Eats

Things may be winter-y and crummy over here (Today’s frozen rain? No thanks.), but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring in a little taste of the tropics. Today is National Margarita Day, so let’s celebrate!

I’ll be honest – I’m not usually one for tequila. When it comes to mixed drinks, I typically go for some vodka- or rum-based.  But this marmalade-infused creamsicle margarita may have just won me over. I mean, orange + lime + blood orange marmalade? What’s not to like?

To give things a more creamsicle-like flavor, I shook in some vanilla extract and infused some coarse sea salt with vanilla bean before I salted the glass rims. It’s like a summery Dreamsicle in cocktail form.  Which let’s face it, is just a win all around.


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Savvy Cookbooks: Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits (+ Creamy Chai Liqueur)

Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits

I’m so excited about this month’s Savvy Cookbook. Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss is just the right combination for my love of preserving and my recent interest in unique cocktails. The book is filled with recipes for all types of liqueurs ranging from the well-known (copycat frangelico and chambord, for instance) to the unique (the smoky bacon bourbon comes to mind).

Homemade Liqueurs immediately won me over when I saw that it opens with a few brief chapters on food science, including how infusing works, the role that sugar plays in the process, and how the alcohol proof, flavoring concentration and ingredient volatility interact with each other.

The book then moves into over 150 infusion and liqueur recipes, sorted by type: fruit, vegetable, herb and spice, nut and seed, floral, coffee/tea/chocolate, creamy, caramel/syrup/butterscotch and infused spirits. Plus, each recipe ends with at least one suggested use for the liqueur, whether that be “sip as an aperitif accompanied by a salty hors d’oeuvre” (Orange Rosemary, page 113) or “muddle a sprig of thyme in a highball glass, fill with ice, add 2 ounces Apricardamom, and top with ginger ale” (Apricardamom, page 37).  My list of recipes to try is way too long, but the highlights include:

Dark and stormy pineapple Pumpkin pie Chocolate hazelnut Cherry basil Coconut-palm rum Nuit noir (licorice + black pepper + vanilla) Green tea honey

Chai Liqueur #cocktails #liqueur #infusion | Savvy Eats

So far, I’ve made three of the liqueurs. Obviously, the Chai-namon was my first choice, because I can’t pass up chai anything.  I used the creamy simple syrup instead of the brown that the recipe called for, and made a few other tweaks, and now I have a sweet, milky, chai-flavored version of Irish cream. I’m pretty sure it’s a new favorite (see recipe below)!  Since I was making a liqueur with my most-loved flavor, it only seemed fair to make one with Dan’s favorite, so I have the Orange Dreamsicle infusing away in the pantry right now.

Unfortunately, the sweet almond/amaretto-knockoff didn’t quite turn out.  I suspect that I didn’t chop the almonds finely enough, though, so I’m not quite ready to write the recipe off!

The cookbook wraps up with “cocktail hour,” 80 recipes that use homemade liqueurs in place of the spirit + sugar typically used in cocktails.  They are sorted by categories from A (Alexander = liqueur + cream) to T (Tonic = liqueur + soda + optional bitters). I can’t wait to try a rut beer float, made with seltzer, ice cream and rut, a root vegetable infusion!

Overall, I give Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss

5 out of 5 stars.

Now, on to the Creamy Chai Liqueur!


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Hot Chai Buttered Rum

Chai Buttered Rum #cocktails #winter

I hope you all had a very happy holiday! Now that Christmas and all the other winter holidays are past, let’s move on to New Year’s Eve, shall we?  I’ve been putting together my menu and cocktail list for our big board games New Year’s Eve party, and my list of potential recipe candidates is way too long.  But at least the taste-testing is fun!

I’m mostly focusing on recipes that require little to no prep work. I want to have time to play some games myself, rather than spending all night in the kitchen!  And that includes drink recipes – I’m making as many mixers and garnishes in advance as I can.  Like chai butter, for some spiced hot butter rum.

Cheers to a low-key, totally fun evening!

Chai Buttered Rum #cocktails #winter


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DIY Gift: Creamsicle Marshmallows with Spicy Hot Cocoa Mix

Spicy hot cocoa mix with creamsicle marshmallows #holidays #diygift #foodgifts

Marshmallows feel like such a wintery food for me.  I know that a lot of you might immediately think “s’mores” when you consider marshmallows, but I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan.  I’m not sure why…I love marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers individually, and I like s’mores flavored desserts, but the actual s’mores? Meh.

So for the most part, I make marshmallows exclusively in the winter. They were the first candy recipe I mastered, and I love playing with different flavor variations.

Creamsicle marshmallows #holidays #diygift #foodgifts

Heather and I were discussing what goes well with citrus the other night (we’re both on a quest to eat all the citrus this winter!) and the orange-chili combo came up.  It seemed like the perfect twist for my hot cocoa mix + homemade marshmallows gift.

Now, who wants to come over for a spicy hot cocoa with creamsicle marshmallows? I have plenty!

Creamsicle marshmallows #holidays #diygift #foodgifts… 

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42 Cocktails for the Holiday

Winter Cocktails RoundUp

Happy Thanksgiving week!

If you’re hosting, have you gone grocery shopping yet? One of my birthday gifts to Dan (who turned 27 yesterday!) is that I’m not making him come to the grocery store during Thanksgiving week with me.  Out of all the gifts I got him, this one might be his favorite.  He hates navigating a busy grocery store!  I’m not particularly fond of it either, so I’m hoping that by going mid-morning today, I can avoid much of the rush.

If you aren’t hosting Thanksgiving dinner, consider offering to bring the makings of a festive cocktail on Thursday.  You’ll be able to stay out of the cook’s way and not take up any valuable stove or oven space. Plus, a big holiday definitely calls for a fun cocktail!  Here are 42 drink ideas that would be great before, during or after Thanksgiving dinner.


Chocolate Cocktails for Morning or Evening: 

Chocolate peppermint eggnog by Daily Dish Recipes

Peppermint-spiked hot chocolate

S’mores shots in chocolate glasses by Spa Bettie

Hot chocolate peppermint shots by Spa Bettie


CreamyChocolatePom Cocktails jpg

Photos by Spa Bettie, Dinners, Dishes and Desserts, and Savvy Eats.

Cranberry Cocktails for Dinnertime or After:

Amaretto-cranberry kisses by Recipe Girl

Cranberry fizz by Dinners, Dishes and Desserts

Cranberry pomegranate spritzers by Because I Like Chocolate

Cranberry-spiced martinis by Noble Pig

Crimson spice cocktail by The Boys Club

Fresh cranberry ginger vanilla margaritas by How Sweet It Is

Holiday dark and stormy

Poinsettia mimosas by Big Bear’s Wife

Sparkling pomegranate cocktails by MountainSide Bride


Creamy Cocktails Made With Love:

Bourbon chai by Saveur

Homemade Irish cream by How Sweet It Is

Peppermint patty martini by the Novice Chef

Pumpkin pie martini by Noble Pig

Rosy cheek by Winter Cocktails

Spiced snowflake cocktail by 52 Kitchen Adventures

Fruity Cocktails

Photos by Savvy Eats and Shockingly Delicious.

Fruity Cocktails Count As Healthy, Right?:

Fall fruit sangria

Golden plum and sage cocktail by Honestly Yum

Grown-up cherry cola

Happy elf cocktail by Noble Pig

Hard cider sangria by Sarcastic Cooking

Hot mulled cider


Orchard fete by Winter Cocktails

Pomegranate cosmo by Supper for a Steal

Pomegranate sangria by Will Cook for Smiles

Spiced pear martini by The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie

The sugar plum by Karen’s Kitchen Stories


Refreshing Cocktails for Before or During Dinner:

Brandy slush

Champagne punch with raspberry and orange liqueur by A Spicy Perspective

Grand mimosa by Gourmande in the Kitchen

Honey sage gin fizz by How Sweet It Is


Warming Cocktails to End the Evening:

Bourbon cider cocktail with cinnamon and ginger by offbeat + inspired

Mulled red wine

Pumpkin martini by Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Spiced amaretto apple cider kiss by How Sweet It Is and The Boys Club

The Normand fizz (apple ginger Calvados) by Gourmande in the Kitchen

Whiskey cider by Busy in Brooklyn

Winter squash cocktail by Shockingly Delicious


What will you be drinking on Thanksgiving?  Have you done your grocery shopping yet?

Savvy Cookbooks: Winter Cocktails by Maria del Mar Sacasa

Winter Cocktails

When I was planning our New Year’s Eve party, I searched through several cocktail books.  Nearly all of them were duds – they felt clunky and overly simple.  The recipes were rarely sorted in a convenience way, and it was difficult to get a sense of the seasonality of the recipes – whether they were best as summer refreshments or warming cold weather drinks, whether they tasted fruity or spicy, sweet or dry. Plus, they usually just covered the basics, which I can just as easily find with a quick Google search. I wanted a cocktail book that inspired me to make something a little different, something that isn’t a standard classic.

I didn’t find that perfect New Year’s Eve cocktails book that I was looking for last year, but now I have it: Winter Cocktails by Maria del Mar Sacasa. The layout, images, and even the square shape of the book convey the warmth and coziness of the recipes within. The gorgeous photography by Tara Striano portrays a “let’s get inside and out of the snow” feel, and the author’s background as a food stylist shows.

Winter Cocktails opens with step-by-step photos of basic techniques, such as muddling and making citrus twists, before transitioning into the recipe chapters.  The chapters are sorted by type of drink – hot toddies and mulled drinks; eggnog, hot chocolate, coffee & tea; punches and pitchers; chilled winter cocktails. As you might imagine, my favorite chapter is the one involving tea. I’m especially excited about the “White Witch” on page 60 – a spiked chai-infused white hot chocolate!  I mean, it’s like that recipe was added to the book just for me, right?

Orchard Fete

The straightforward and DIY ingredients and tools make all of the cocktail recipes approachable. Most of the pantry and refrigerator ingredients are things you already have or are easy to find.  And the majority of the alcohols and liqueurs called for are fairly standard, so you aren’t stuck buying five different flavored vodkas or whatever to make individual cocktails (hooray!).  The less common alcohols that are called for, like Aguardiente and Bährenjäger, aren’t used much in the book or have recommended substitutes, so you could just skip or tweak those recipes if you don’t want to buy a specific bottle. I’m keeping my bar stocked with just the basics, and I have pretty much all of the alcohols and liqueurs I need – it’s a win!

Oh, and the book ends with a chapter on DIY ingredients (like pink peppercorn simple syrup and blood orange sour mix), and a chapter of small bites (like candied bacon!) to serve with your cocktails.

I have a long list of recipes on my to-make list from this cookbook. I mean, a LONG list. I think I bookmarked over half the cocktails in the book to try, and some of these will definitely be on my New Year’s Eve menu this year.  There are a few basic recipes with suggested variations, like the “New Fangled,” a twist on the Old-Fashioned, or the Hot Buttered Rum made with vanilla-and-brown-sugar-infused butter.  Plus, there are some new versions of old classics, like Pumpkin Bourbon Eggnog, and plenty of new drinks.  I can’t wait to try the Liquid Gold, a mulled pineapple cocktail, and I’m intrigued by the beet granita, Red, Red, Red, on page 100.

Rosy Cheek2

Quirk Books was generous enough to allow me to reprint two of my favorite cocktail recipes for you: the Rosy Cheek from page 59 and Orchard Fête from page 81. You can find them after the jump!

Overall, I give Winter Cocktails by Maria del Mar Sacasa


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Iced Chai Lattes at Home

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Chai-ConcentrateOn Tuesday morning, I packed up the car with all my canning supplies, a basket and containers for strawberry collection, a bottle of water and a travel mug of iced chai latte and left for a day of strawberry picking and preserving at a friend’s house.  The berries at Ithaca Organics were insane, and we managed to pick about 9 pounds each in just under 40 minutes.

Strawberry-CanningSix hands make quick work of weighing, washing and hulling 19 pounds of strawberries (we each reserved about three pounds for fresh eating and freezing). By the end of the day, we had 5 half-pint jars of chamomile-scented strawberry syrup (plus a failed batch of two additional jars), 8 half-pints of spiced strawberry butter, and 15 pints of strawberry lemonade concentrate cooling on the counter.

Chai-Concentrate-2Long days of canning and evenings of tossing-and-turning due to the heat call for some caffeine. So I made a big batch of chai concentrate to mix with milk for quick lattes. I’m saving my good looseleaf chai for hot tea, so I used half a box of Bigelow vanilla bagged chai tea for the concentrate. At only about $2 a box, it makes for a fairly cheap beverage, especially when compared with the iced chai lattes at coffee shops! I think this will definitely become my go-to summer drink!


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Finishing the Limoncello


I have apparently taken on the philosophy that I must “Infuse all the things!” In the past week, I’ve started big batches of both limoncello and a clementine spice liqueur. I’m already daydreaming about the next batches of strawberry vodka and new summer fruit infusions.

It is just so easy: Put fruit in jar. Cover with alcohol and shake once a day for a week or so.  Strain. Maybe add a simple syrup for a liqueur. Boom, done.

And it is just so satisfying, making even the cheapest (okay, close to the cheapest. I have this thing about not buying the absolutely cheapest alcohol) vodka or rum not only palatable, but a thing of beauty, in both color and taste.

Homemade Limoncello

Yield: About 4 cups

Homemade Limoncello

Making limoncello is a long, but easy, process. If I waited to share the recipe with you until it was done, Meyer lemons would be long out of season. So start it now, while Meyer lemons are still in the markets. I promise you won't regret it.


  • 1 pound Meyer lemons
  • 2 cups vodka or white rum
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water


  1. Zest all lemons, and reserve 2 teaspoons of zest for Meyer Lemon & Ginger Scones (recipe above).
  2. Put the rest of the zest in a quart-sized Mason jar. Pour the vodka or white rum over the zest and seal the jar. Shake well, then allow to infuse for 10-14 days, gently swirling the jar every day.
  3. Create the simple syrup: combine the sugar and water and heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to simmer for another minute or two to truly make sure everything is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before adding to the alcohol.
  4. In the meantime, line a colander with two or three layers of cheesecloth. Strain the alcohol through the cheesecloth, squeezing the zest to get all the alcohol out.
  5. Measure out 2 1/4 cups of the simple syrup and stir into the strained alcohol. You may choose to add a little more or less of syrup according to how sweet you want it.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for 45-60 days before serving. You can drink it earlier, but the time allows the alcohol to mellow out.

Meyer Lemons, Two Ways

Meyer Lemon & Ginger Scones

In upstate New York, Meyer lemons are a precious commodity.  They aren’t local (citrus, tea and chocolate are my key exceptions to the eat-local rule) and they seem to have a very short season. They appear in the produce section of Wegmans for two or three weeks of the year, and then they’re gone in a swirl of sweet citrus fragrance.

This year, my #1 reason for buying Meyer lemons is limoncello.  I didn’t have any burning desire to make, or even taste, limoncello until a few months ago, and for that I blame grappa.

About halfway through our honeymoon, we breaked from cycling midday to have lunch at a darling little family vineyard.  They served us course after course alongside their wine, the highlights being the fried zucchini blossoms, the best bolognese I’ve ever tasted and the homemade preserves with cheese.  As we nibbled on dessert, the owner offered us tastes of the winery’s grappa. The best way I can think to describe it is “kick-you-in-the-face-strong,” and Dan and I each only managed a single sip of the fiery liquor. For ages, I assumed that limoncello was the same: an extremely strong, burning spirit, just lemon flavored instead of grape.

(I later found out that grappa is typically 35-60% alcohol by volume, or 70-120 proof, which explains the burning.)

But when our friends offered us some of their homemade limoncello last fall, I gamely accepted, and fell in love at first sip. Sweet and fragrant and tart, just like a digestif should be.  I’ve been scheming to make my own ever since, just waiting for the Meyer lemons to come into season.

I finally found them at the grocery store last week, and got right to work on the limoncello.  Because Meyer lemons are such precious jewels, and because the limoncello uses only the zest, I’m trying to make every little bit of the golden fruit count by using it in other recipes.  With the pound of lemons, I have used the zest for limoncello, made Cooking Light’s Meyer lemon chicken and baked two batches of Meyer lemon and ginger scones.

Homemade Limoncello, Part 1

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Making limoncello is a long, but easy, process. If I waited to share the recipe with you until it was done, Meyer lemons would be long out of season. So start it now, while Meyer lemons are still in the markets. I promise you won't regret it.


  • 1 pound Meyer lemons
  • 2 cups vodka or white rum


  1. Zest all lemons, and reserve 2 teaspoons of zest for Meyer Lemon & Ginger Scones (recipe above).
  2. Put the rest of the zest in a quart-sized Mason jar. Pour the vodka or white rum over the zest and seal the jar. Shake well, then allow to infuse for 10-14 days, gently swirling the jar every day.
  3. Part 2: Adding the sugar syrup, coming soon!
Meyer Lemon and Ginger Scones

Prep Time: 30 minutes

About 15 scones

Meyer Lemon and Ginger Scones

Make these scones at the same time you start your limoncello (recipe below). Zest all the lemons at once, and reserve 2 teaspoons for the scones. Use the rest of the zest for limoncello.

If you can't find Meyer lemons, you may use regular lemons in their place. Just increase the sugar in the dough by 2 tablespoons.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup skim or 1% milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons Meyer lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons diced candied ginger
  • For the Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, work the butter into the flour. The pieces of butter should be pea-sized when you're done.
  4. Whisk the milk, egg, lemon juice and zest together. Add to the flour and stir just until all the flour is wet. The dough will look shaggy and rough. Leave it like that instead of overmixing.
  5. Fold in the candied ginger, then press the dough into a 3/4" thick rough rectangle. Cut the dough into 2-3" squares.
  6. Space the scones about 1/2" apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400F for 13-16 minutes, or until the tops are firm to the touch and the bottoms are browned.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before glazing.
  8. For the Glaze:
  9. Whisk the sugar and juice together and drizzle over warm scones. Allow the glaze to harden and the scones to cool completely.

Grown-Up Cherry Cola and Planning a Cocktail Menu

GROWN UP CHERRY COLASQRThis year, instead of being sad that we can’t be at Mike and Courtney’s for New Year’s, we’re hosting our first New Year’s Eve party.  It will involve a lot of games, a lot of food, and a lot of drinks.

When it comes to the drinks, I want to be sure that we have a wide variety of beverages for our guests to choose from, but I also don’t want to go overboard and be left with a ton of mostly-full bottles at the end of the night.  I think I’ve finally come up with a  list that fits both of those criteria.  To find it, I started with a long list of cocktails we could serve at the party, then sorted them by the type of alcohol they use:

VODKA: Moscow Mules, Vodka Collinses, Black Russians, White Russians
RUM: Dark and Stormies, Peppermint Paddies, Grown-Up Cherry Colas
BRANDY: Brandy Slush, Brandy Alexanders, Peppermint Paddies
AMARETTO: Amaretto Sours, Grown-Up Cherry Colas
BOURBON: Old Fashioneds, Hot Toddies, Spiked Cocoas, Chais and Coffees
CRÈMES: White Russians, Black Russians, Grasshoppers, Spiked Cocoas, Chais and Coffees
WHISKEY: Manhattans, Spiked Coffees
GIN: Negronis, Tom Collinses

The least represented alcohols on the menu, gin and whiskey, got the boot.  This also means I won’t need to buy sweet vermouth, as I only needed it for the Manhattans and the Negronis.   So when we go to the liquor store this week, we’ll just need to get:

Irish Cream
Creme de Cacao
Orange Bitters
Angostura Bitters
3-4 bottles of champagne
5-6 bottles of Barolo, Nebbiolo, Barbera or other Italian red wines (to go with the food!)
(We already have plenty of crème de menthe, triple sec and amaretto.)

It looks like a lot, but considering this will be a party of approximately 16 people lasting for 6 hours or more, it is not too bad!

Grown-Up Cherry Cola

Prep Time: 3 hours

Yield: 1 drink

Grown-Up Cherry Cola

Inspired by Saveur's La La Lola.


  • Approximately 2 cups cola
  • 1 ounce amaretto
  • 2 ounces plain or spiced rum
  • 1 maraschino cherry


  1. Pour some of the cola into an ice cube tray and place in the freezer until hard.
  2. Place two to three cola ice cubes in the bottom of a tumbler. Add the amaretto and rum, then top off with cola. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Make Ahead and Storage

The cola ice cubes can be made up to 5 days in advance.