Spring tequila cocktails

Spring has finally arrived just this weekend in Minneapolis, and I couldn’t be happier. Outdoor running weather and dry, green grass are here! What a great way to celebrate Earth Day than enjoying Mother Nature.

I’ve been craving the light, refreshing and awakening flavors of spring. So when I had the opportunity to sample Casa Noble Tequila, certified organic in 2009 (perfect for Earth Day), I knew I wanted to make drinks that would be perfect for a spring awakening and earthy flavors.

To be honest, my experience with tequila is—like many people, I’m guessing—limited to margaritas. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But I wanted to move beyond that.

Casa Noble Anejo KaleAndAle.com

Casa Noble Anejo aged in French White Oak Barrels for two years, with homemade guac and blue corn chips. Great snack!

So I cracked open the añejo. And I smelled right away that not all tequilas are created equal. Not that this is a shock, as I’ve sampled rum on a tour, tasting different aged rums, and enjoy aged whiskey. But I’ve never known enough about tequila to plop down money for a quality bottle. So I decided this would be a sipping tequila. I didn’t want to mix it with anything to hide the flavor. It is smooth and caramel-y, yet had a smooth, distinctly tequila taste. But it is tequila, after all, so I sipped it along a homemade guacamole and blue corn chips.

Rhubarb spritzer cocktail with reposado tequila. So easy and refreshing.

Rhubarb spritzer cocktail with reposado tequila. So easy and refreshing.

For the reposado, the middle of the three tequilas, I wanted to balance the smooth and citrus with my take on a springtime margarita. I made a simple syrup (cut two stalks rhubarb into 1-inch long pieces and simmered them in one cup sugar and one cup water for about 20 minutes until it was a syrup) and rimmed the glass with the syrup, then dipped it in sugar. For the drink, mix 2 ounces each syrup and tequila in a glass with ice. Top with a splash of club soda. So refreshing and a simple rhubarb cocktail that is both. sweet and tart.

Casa Noble Crystal KaleAndAle.com

My take on a tequila mojito.

I wanted to bring out the citrus of the unaged crystal tequila, so I featured lemon and mint—kind of a tequila mojito—in this one, with great results. The type of tequila I’m used to drinking worked well. I juiced a lemon into a glass, added almost a teaspoon of sugar (more or less to taste and cut the tartness), tore up about four mint leaves into large pieces, put in ice and poured 2 ounces of tequila and stirred.

All in all, I got to experience different types of cocktails and celebrate spring. What are your favorite tequila drinks, or what great spring drinks have you been enjoying?

Disclaimer: Casa Noble provided me with tequila to sample and a gift card from Whole Foods to buy ingredients, but all opinions and recipes in this post are my own.

Simple eggplant Parmesan in my cute Le Creuset Mini Cocottes

Le Creuset kaleandale.comI have terrible luck with cooking eggplant. I really only have a few successful go-to dishes (this Martha Stewart recipe and broiled Japanese eggplant similar to this), but as a fan of eggplant parm with a CSA box full of the stuff, I was looking for a simple dish that would hold up.

I was thinking of coming up with my own dish, but when I inquired if anyone knew of a good recipe, someone pulled through and directed me to this Whole Foods Market eggplant Parmesan dish. Duh, one of my go-to sites for solid recipes, I figured why reinvent the wheel? Already jonesing for the acidy, cheesy, smooth yet crunchy mix of a meal, I was going to make a casserole dish of it. But as luck would have it, I didn’t need my casserole dish.

A coworker told me about a fellow Palm Beach  County food blogger I should check out, The Kitchen Prep Blog. It is super cute and has a healthy, South Florida focus (important this time of year since I like to “eat in the season”). The day I checked out her blog, she was having a Le Creuset Mini Cocotte giveaway with Big Kitchen.

Le Creuset kaleandale.comAlready lusting after anything Le Creuset, I entered right away, and what would you know, I won! I was so surprised, but I guess someone has to win, right? So riiight away, I knew I was going to make some serious eggplant parm in those babies, they would be perfect for that. The dishes are the perfect portion for something like that, so cute, and I’m in love how they can go in the oven, microwave, dishwasher, freezer, my bed for a late-night snack. (Wait, just kidding! Probably.)

I’m already excited to try them for mac ‘n’ cheese, maybe some apple crisp, all kinds of things. Thanks, Dianna, Big Kitchen and Le Creuset!

What is your foolproof eggplant recipe?

Easy Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces (about eight)
  • 2 eggs, beaten with a fork
  • 1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (sundried tomato or plain)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (25 ounce) jar pasta sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese

Directions

See how to make the recipe “Easy Baked Eggplant Parmesan” on the Whole Foods Market site.