Sugar, Spice, and Crushed Ice

_MG_9616May is the month of margaritas, at least in my entertaining book! Cinco de Mayo gets the party started on May 5, and the momentum builds as the weather warms. I turned up the heat and sweet on the margarita with fresh pineapple and habanero pepper-infused tequila. I love when the decor rivals the drink, so I created a visual taste of the tropics, too. To nosh on, I made baked zucchini fries and a luscious spring salad, and topped it all off with tipsy pomegranate and tequila sno-cones!

Create an Exotic Getaway Vibe
Give your home a tropical mini-makeover. Look around and see if you already have something you can move or repurpose. For the bar, I removed our worn antique French trestle table and leather stools and brought in an old playroom bookshelf. Next, I layered in cool cocktail bar essentials and flora, including succulents, air plants, and a Staghorn fern. Fresh citrus and herbs are ready for drink duty. The result is rich and eclectic!

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Exotic Chocolate
Add more sweet heat with (store-purchased) chocolate that is infused with peppers and spice!

_MG_9783Habanero and Pineapple Infused Margaritas

Infused Tequila:

  • 1 pineapple, cut into large chunks
  • 2 habanero peppers, halved
    and seeded
  • 2 fifth bottles tequila

Pour tequila into a glass container with a lid. I love using a glass dispenser with a spigot! Add pineapple and habanero peppers. Refrigerate, and allow the mixture to infuse for 24 hours.

Margarita:

  • 2 ounces infused tequila (see above)
  • 11/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce of agave syrup (or more if you like it sweeter)
  • A splash Grand Marnier

Prep the margarita glasses by dipping the rim in freshly squeezed lime juice and then rolling the glass in a mixture of coarse salt and a little chili powder.

In a cocktail shaker, add 2 ounces of the infused tequila, lime juice, a splash of Grand Marnier, and agave syrup to taste. Fill the rest of the shaker with ice, shake well, and pour into prepared glass. If desired, garnish with sliced jalapeño, fresh lime, and pineapple stir sticks.

_MG_9474Baked Zucchini Fries with Parmesan and Chili

These are yummy and easy to make, and are a healthy alternative to traditional fries! Serve with chili paste and fresh lime sour cream for dipping.

  • 4 small zucchinis
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 11/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Chili powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chili paste
  • Juice of half a lime

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice off the top and bottom of the small zucchinis. Cut into fries. In small batches, coat the fries in the egg and roll in Parmesan cheese. Space out the zucchini on a baking sheet lightly coated with olive oil. Sprinkle fries with salt and pepper and a little chili powder. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and beginning to crisp.

To make the dip, combine sour cream, chili paste, and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Tipsy Sno-Cones
For the syrup, combine 3 cups of pomegranate juice with 1 cup sugar and simmer low on the stovetop for 20 to 30 minutes until the mixture thickens. Add 1/4 cup tequila and the juice of half a lime, and chill. Using a sno-cone maker, crush ice cubes and form into a snowball. Pop into the cones, and top with tipsy syrup.

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Pink Grapefruit and Artichoke Salad with Burrata and Pomegranate

  • 2 pink grapefruits, sectioned, membrane removed and reserved
  • 1 box frozen artichoke hearts
  • 2 generous handfuls fresh spring salad greens
  • Thawed frozen pomegranate seeds for scattering
  • 4 midsized Burrata cheese pouches sliced in half
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the frozen artichoke hearts with a little olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes or more until the artichokes begin to caramelize and crisp up. Layer the spring greens, Burrata, artichoke, and grapefruit on a platter. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Hit it with salt and pepper. Drizzle with dressing.

Easy Grapefruit and Pomegranate Dressing:
In a bowl, whisk together the juice squeezed from the leftover grapefruit peel and membrane, a little pomegranate juice, and salt and pepper to taste.


See Monica Hart’s design, recipe, and entertaining ideas in every issue of 425 magazine, and here

Credits: Hair by Seven the Salon, senior stylist Chu. Ingredients from Metropolitan Market in Kirkland. Drink dispenser, margarita glasses, and stir sticks from Crate and Barrel at The Bellevue Collection. Sno-cone maker from Williams Sonoma at The Bellevue Collection. 

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