rosemary grapefruit gin sparkler

With today being the last day of August and the feeling of fall starting to creep in, I wanted to sneak in one last summer sipper. Here in Vancouver we felt a real turn in the season this past weekend. Torrential rains and forceful winds that brought trees down and put many of us out of power for more than 24 hours. While I'm sitting at my desk with a view of grey skies and the pitter patter of rain, I'm determined to hang onto what is left of summer. This rosemary grapefruit gin sparkler is going to help me do just that. I like to think of this as a dressed up gin and tonic with the rosemary infused simple syrup and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Whatever weather you're enjoying right now (or not enjoying), I promise this drink will help you extend summer just a little bit longer.

Rosemary Grapefruit Gin Sparkler
Makes 2 drinks

For the syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 small sprigs rosemary 

Boil together the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add the rosemary sprigs. Cover and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove rosemary and pour into a bottle or jar.

For the drink:
3 ounces gin
2 ounces syrup
4 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
tonic water
2 sprigs rosemary

In a shaker, combine the gin, syrup, grapefruit juice and some ice. Shake for 5 seconds and strain into two glasses filled with ice. Top off with tonic water and garnish with a sprig of rosemary in each.

Note: To make one drink, simply divide the ingredients in half but keep the syrup recipe the same. You can store the syrup in the fridge for up to one month! 


blackberry cheesecake pops

On hot summer days when you don't dare turn the oven on, you find ways to turn baked desserts into frosty frozen treats. These blackberry cheesecake pops are just that solution. Creamy cheesecake with jammy local blackberries make these pops just as rich as the real deal while keeping you cool and poolside. And for whatever irrational reason, I feel less guilty for eating two three pops in a row rather than its sliced alternative.

Blackberry Cheesecake Pops
Recipe makes 10 2.5 ounce pops (I use the Prepworks Pop Maker)

2 cups fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon blackberry jam
Cane sugar to taste if mixture is still not sweet enough

1 cup cream cheese
6 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup icing sugar

1. Place the blackberries, water and jam in a medium saucepan. Stir together ingredients and cook on medium heat for approximately 15 minutes, until mixture becomes soft and jammy. Taste (be careful, it’s hot) and add sugar if needed. Make sure sugar is completely dissolved.

2. Pour blackberry mixture into a blender and puree according to your preference. I wanted the texture of the blackberries to remain so I just pulsed it a couple times. If you want it completely smooth, puree completely. Let the blackberry mixture cool in the fridge while you make the cheesecake mixture.

3. In a mixer or blender, beat the cream cheese, milk, vanilla and sugar together until completely smooth.

4. Once the blackberry mixture is cooled, it’s time to start assembling! Fill the mould ¼ of the way with cream cheese or blackberry. Next, fill the mould half way with the alternative mixture. Take a popsicle stick and lightly swirl the mixture together. Repeat this with the next two layers. Make sure to fill moulds leaving a little room at the top to allow for expansion when freezing.

5. Insert sticks into moulds and freeze for 5-6 hours, or until solid.

6. To remove pops, dip mould into a bath of warm water (without wetting the top) for a couple seconds. Lightly pull them out. Enjoy!

* Recipe adapted from Simple Bites
* I made these pops twice and I found stirring the layers together helped in preventing the pops from breaking at the layers.
* If using wooden sticks, soak them in a cup of warm water while you prepare the mixture. This is a trick I learned from the People's Pops book.


spicy watermelon margaritas for cinco de mayo!

I've always wanted to throw a Cinco de Mayo party and this year I can happily say my roommates and I are throwing a Mexican fiesta tonight! No such festivities are complete without margaritas and so I thought I'd try my hands at something a little less traditional, watermelon margaritas with jalapeño infused tequila. I should tell you that in my early university years I worked at a little Mexican joint in Vancouver and so have had my fair share of margarita making (and drinking). I think they'd be pretty impressed with these. They're spicy, sweet and salty all at the same time! And the best part? Eating the margarita soaked watermelon wedge.

Spicy Watermelon Margaritas (makes 3)

2 cups fresh watermelon juice (simply blend watermelon, then strain through a mesh sieve)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (strained through a mesh sieve)
1/2 cup tequila
1/8/ cup orange liqueur
2 tbsp simple syrup (more or less depending on how sweet the watermelon is)
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
Lime wedges/wheels and watermelon slices to garnish
Coarse salt and cayenne pepper to rim

1. Place half of the jalapeño peppers and the tequila into a glass. Let sit in the fridge for an hour (or more if you want it extra spicy). Once infused, remove peppers.
2. In a pitcher add the tequila, lime juice, watermelon juice, simple syrup and orange liqueur. Stir.
3. In a dish, combine salt with a generous pinch of cayenne pepper. To rim the glasses, run a lime wedge along the rim and then dip into the salt.
4. Fill each glass with ice and pour in the margarita. Garnish with limes, watermelon and remaining jalapeño peppers.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!