This morning I left the South Bay at 4am to head back to Sonoma wine country and when I walked outside I noticed it was surprisingly warm – 67 degrees to be exact. 67 degrees at 4am! I couldn’t believe it. From that moment on I knew it was going to be another hot one in Northern California.
When I returned home after work, I spent some time taking care of my herb garden as I was out-of-town all weekend. While I was watering, the aromatic notes of mint, basil, rosemary and lemon balm captivated my thirst for a refreshing patio cocktail. I decided to rummage through my cocktail bar to see what concoction I could whip up in order to satisfy my craving. Using the ingredients I had on hand, I composed this easy to make and delightfully refreshing gin-blackberry-mint cocktail. The sweet, tart, and slightly bitter flavors in the berries perfectly complemented the mellow and refreshing notes in the mint.
1 1/2 ounces gin
1 teaspoon agave nectar
Handful of blackberries (4-5)
Handful of fresh mint (4-5 leaves…depending in how “minty” you like it)
1/2 lime, freshly juiced
Soda water, float
Muddle the blackberries, mint and gin in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, nectar and lime juice. Shake and strain in a glass filled with ice. Float with soda water and garnish with a mint sprig.
Looking for more herb-inspired cocktails? Check out:
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Another one of my “go-to” meals are stuffed meatballs – spicy Italian sausage meatballs, sweet Italian sausage meatballs or chicken meatballs topped with an easy pesto-tomato sauce. Several years ago, I was introduced to this easy-to-make sauce while watching a cooking show on the Food Network and it’s still a staple in many of my dishes today. Last night I didn’t have sausage in the refrigerator however I had ground turkey, fresh herbs, cheese and bread crumbs – voilà!
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Extra parsley for garnish
1 tub bite size fresh Mozzarella balls
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except the oil and Mozzarella balls, in a bowl. To form each ball, take a handful of the mixture and wrap it around a piece of mozzarella. Drizzle olive oil over the meatballs and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through and are evenly browned. Top meatballs with homemade pesto-tomato sauce and garnish with extra parsley.
1 tub good quality fresh pesto (or homemade pesto)
1 can quartered or halves tomatoes
Salt & pepper, to taste
Add the tomatoes to a saucepan over medium heat and mash with a potato masher. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for about 8 – 10 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in a 1/2 cup of pesto. Serve over meatballs with your favorite red wine. Some excellent wine choices would be a Super Tuscan, Sangiovese, Rioja or even a Merlot.