Lavender Collins

There’s no better way to get back in the cocktail game than with a light and refreshing Lavender Collins!

This Lavender Collins is a fun, fresh take on the classic gin cocktail.

It’s been a hot second since I’ve done a cocktail Friday post, and I figured that, this being the first official weekend of spring and all, it’s the perfect time to do so with a drink that just epitomizes the season. And it’s my favorite kind of cocktail – not too boozy, not overly sweet, tons of intriguing flavor…Oh, I do hope you enjoy this Lavender Collins as much as I did.

I’ve been wanting to  whip up a cocktail using lavender and gin for quite some time now – ever since I saw the combo in a cocktail recipe in Food & Wine mag – but then this little thing happened where I got pregnant and, well, I really couldn’t think of any nonalcoholic version that would do the flavors justice. So I shelved the idea and I’m so glad I’m just now circling back to it because it really is the perfect drink for the season!

A Lavender Collins is the perfect cocktail for Easter, Sunday brunch or any spring get-together.

We’ve endured quite the rainstorm over the past couple of days, but today the sun is finally starting to poke back through again. I realize our “storm” is probably quite miniscule compared to what all you out on the East Coast ever experience, but I must say it’s days like the ones we’ve just had that remind me how lucky we are to live in an area that only sees this type of weather a few times a year.

Weather aside, I couldn’t be more excited to step into spring with this Lavender Collins. I mean, not only am I totally jazzed that I can enjoy cocktails again, I’m also pretty stoked about the flavor of this boozy beverage.

Make a delicious Lavender Collins with just gin, lavender simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and club soda!

And it doesn’t take much! We’re talking about a four-ingredient recipe right here (okay, maybe six if you count the simple syrup ingredients separately) and about 15 minutes between you and your new favorite Friday cocktail for the foreseeable future.

The most difficult (and really, not that difficult) part of this whole recipe is making the lavender simple syrup, but as long as you can boil water and get a hold of some fresh (or culinary) lavender you should be a-ok.

Other than that, all you need is your favorite gin, some fresh lemons and club soda. Who knew something so delicious could be so easy?

A Lavender Collins is the perfect cocktail to kick off the first weekend of spring!

If you’re a fan of floral, botanical flavor and a light, refreshing drink to kick off your weekend, then this Lavender Collins is for you.

How will you be spending the first weekend of spring??

Lavender Collins
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

A light, refreshing take on the classic gin cocktail with tons of botanical flavor - the perfect drink to enjoy all spring!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce lavender simple syrup (see Notes)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • Culinary lavender and lemon wheels, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Stir to combine.

  2. Sprinkle on culinary lavender and hang a lemon wheel on the rim for garnish. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

To make the Lavender Simple Syrup: Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 3-5 sprigs of fresh lavender in a small saucepan and bring to a heavy simmer. Turn down to a low simmer and let cook until mixture has reduced by half (about 10-15 minutes.) Pull out lavender sprigs and bring to room temperature before making your cocktail.

Ahi Poke Pineapple Bites with Avocado Mousse

I don’t think you understand how excited I am to bring you these Ahi Poke Pineapple Bites with Avocado Mousse today!

Ahi Poke Pineapple Bites with Avocado Mousse are the perfect healthy appetizer for your next get-together.

If you know me at all, you know that poke is one of my absolute favorite foods, and it seems to be right up there on your list of favorites, too. My Spicy Poke Bowls are the most pinned recipe on this site, after all, and this Spicy Beet Poke has become one of the most-requested dishes from some of my closest friends.

I’ve been dying to share these Ahi Poke Pineapple Bites with Avocado Mousse for MONTHS now, but I wasn’t about to share them when I couldn’t enjoy them (thanks, pregnancy!) Well, let’s just say that now I’m making up for lost time and ahi poke in any way, shape or form has once again become a weekly staple in my diet.

I love these flavorful little bites because they combine so many of my OG foods in one bite – poke, pineapple AND avocado? I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Ahi Poke Pineapple Bites with Avocado Mousse are both gluten-free and dairy free!

So let’s chat a little bit about the three different components that go into making these tasty appetizers..

The pineapple is the easiest part. I cut into a fresh piña because they are plentiful here in CA even in the winter, but if you live somewhere that’s not the case, you can even use canned slices. The important part is to get the wedges as thin as possible so the juicy pineapple flavor doesn’t overwhelm all of the other deliciousness we’re getting to next.

Speaking of – the next step is perhaps the most important part: the poke! You know the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” so I stuck with the basic recipe I’ve used for the other poke dishes on this site. When I made this dish to photograph I left out the spicy sambal oelek, but I must say that there would be absolutely nothing wrong with adding some in to the mix to give the poke a little extra hit of flavor.

And, the third and final step – avocado mousse! Guys, I don’t know why I’ve never ventured down this path before but I kind of feel like I’ve just opened the door to a whole new world of avocado usage. And it’s so easy! Just take ripe avocado, lemon juice and a touch of salt, throw it all in the food processor and – voila! – the creamiest, fluffiest, avocado-ness you’ve ever tasted.

A tray of Ahi Poke Pineapple Bites with Avocado Mousse is sure to be the star hors d'oeuvres at your next party!

I mean, how can you hate a healthy appetizer that contains THE best healthy ingredients (IMO) on the planet? Pineapple, avocado, ahi – I’m looking at you.

Okay, I have to admit that there is ONE more special touch that I think would really take these Ahi Poke Pineapple Bites with Avocado Mousse over the top…and that special touch comes in the form of CRUMBLED MACADAMIA NUTS. I was seriously kicking myself for not thinking of this before I shot the recipe, so please, please PLEASE do me a solid and sprinkle some over top when you make ‘em. And then invite me over 🙂

Ahi Poke Pineapple Bites with Avocado Mousse
Prep Time
25 mins
 

These bite-size appetizers feature the best healthy ingredients - ahi, pineapple and avocado - and are both gluten- and dairy-free!

Course: Appetizer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the poke:
  • 1.5 pounds sushi-grade ahi
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 1/4 of a sweet onion, diced
  • Sambal oelek or sriracha, to taste
All other ingredients:
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 pineapple, peeled and cut into wedges
Instructions
  1. Add all poke ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  2. Place peeled, ripe avocados, salt and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until no chunks remain. Transfer to a piping bag and set aside.

  3. To assemble the bites, scoop a small spoonful of poke onto each pineapple wedge, then pipe a dollop of avocado mousse on top. [And here is where you would also sprinkle on the macadamia nuts if you’re smart enough to use ‘em.] Serve immediately, before the avocado mousse has a chance to brown.

One-Bowl Boozy Blood Orange Cupcakes

I have a special Valentine’s Day treat for you today!

These easy, festive cupcakes are full of citrus flavor - with a little hit of booze!

These One-Bowl Boozy Blood Orange Cupcakes are just what any busy mom or partner needs this week – they’re super easy yet incredibly decadent. The cupcakes are laced with blood orange, orange liqueur and olive oil and topped with a luxurious (and not too sweet) boozy blood orange-cream cheese frosting. Quite honestly, they are my ideal cupcake – with all the fresh citrus flavors and a density that can’t be beat. Plus, there’s the booze. We all know how I’m a big fan of the booze!

When I saw a big bag of blood oranges at my local Trader Joe’s recently, I just had to get them. They are, after all, one of my favorite winter treats. I’ve been loading up on oranges lately to get as much natural Vitamin C into my bod as possible, and the blood oranges arrived at just the right time for me to mix up my routine a bit.

A batch of boozy, citrus-y cupcakes is all you need to surprise your sweetie this Valentine's Day!

I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make a vibrantly colored sweet treat with some of these bright red beauties, and just in time for Valentine’s Day! Tell me, do you already have big plans or are you keeping things low key? Are you a fan of celebrating this Hallmark holiday or do you prefer professing your love for your significant other all year round?

Even since before baby was born, the hubs and I have preferred to keep things fairly low key. We’d rather go out to eat at a fancy restaurant on any other night of the year than be forced into some highly overpriced prix fixe menu or crammed into an overly-packed dining establishment. That being said, Chris has a special homemade dinner up his sleeve for us on Wednesday and I plan on pulling out some of these One-Bowl Boozy Blood Orange Cupcakes for us to enjoy (maybe with some bubbles?)

And speaking of these One-Bowl Boozy Blood Orange Cupcakes, let’s talk a little bit about how ridiculously easy they are. (Trust me, this mama has no time for involved recipes OR lots of dishwashing these days.)

Really, as long as you can get a hold of a big bunch of blood oranges, you’re in good shape. In fact, I’d venture to guess you already have most of the other ingredients on hand in your refrigerator or pantry already. Once you have all of the ingredients (which, by the way, are easily measured out using only a couple sizes of dry measuring cups and using up just two entire blood oranges – zest and juice), just throw everything into the bowl of your stand mixer and let it do all the work.

These cupcakes feature olive oil, yogurt and tons of citrus flavor from blood oranges.

I also love that you can easily make the cupcakes one day and the frosting the next because, if you’re a mama or busy woman like me, you never know how much time you’ll have to accomplish a task! I made the cupcakes the night before, then whipped up the frosting the next morning…I would also like to point out that I frosted and decorated the cupcakes and subsequently had to refrigerate them for a few hours until I had a chance to photograph them, so these bad boys really do hold up well with a little sit time.

Whether you have a special someone you want to make something for this Valentine’s Day or just want a tasty treat you can whip up with the season’s most colorful citrus, these One-Bowl Boozy Blood Orange Cupcakes are for you. The recipe yields a dozen and a half, so you’ll have plenty to share!

These moist, citrus-y and boozy cupcakes are perfect for Valentine's Day or any special occasion.

One-Bowl Boozy Blood Orange Cupcakes
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
26 mins
Total Time
46 mins
 

These cupcakes are incredibly moist with a big hit of citrus and a perfectly pink cream cheese frosting - the perfect treat for a special someone!

Course: Dessert
Servings: 18 cupcakes
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the cupcakes:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Zest of 2 small blood oranges (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice (should be about 2 small blood oranges)
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur (I used Grand Marnier)
For the frosting*:
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Zest of 1 small blood orange
  • Juice of 1 small blood orange
  • 2 teaspoons orange liqueur (again, I used Grand Marnier)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • Few drops of red food coloring, until desired color of frosting has been reached
  • White sanding sugar, for topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line cupcake tins with paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. Combine all cupcake ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix - using the paddle attachment - until combined, about 3 minutes.

  3. Fill cupcake tins ¾ full with batter. Bake in 350 degree oven for 24-26 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

  4. Let cool for 5 minutes in tins, then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

  5. To make the frosting, combine all frosting ingredients (except food coloring) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. 

  6. Once all ingredients are combined and creamy, add food coloring and mix until desired color is reached.

  7. Transfer frosting into a piping bag and cut off the tip. Pipe a generous amount of frosting onto each cupcake, but it doesn’t have to be pretty.

  8. Once all cupcakes are topped, use a small butler’s knife or spatula to neatly spread the frosting over the top. Sprinkle white sanding sugar over top.

  9. Store in covered container in refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Recipe Notes

*You will have extra frosting to spread on graham crackers, more cupcakes, a loaf cake, etc.

Loaded Mediterranean Hummus Board with Pulled Lamb

Well hi there! It’s been a while…

This Loaded Mediterranean Hummus Board features slow-cooked pulled lamb, pomegranate arils and refreshing sliced cucumber to make the perfect healthy appetizer for your next get-together!

Can I offer you a Loaded Mediterranean Hummus Board with Pulled Lamb to make up for it? I promise it’s just as good as it sounds (and more) and will quickly become a favorite meal of yours. Might I also add it would make a great, healthy option to feed the troops during Super Bowl this weekend?

If you were a reader before, or perhaps have been following me on Instagram, you’ll know that the reason for my recent hiatus was because my husband and I welcomed our beautiful baby girl, Raia Marie, into the world in October. I had a good amount of content lined up for when she was first born, but then (as I’m sure you’ve heard) the perfect storm of unfortunate events hit our little community of Santa Barbara, first with the Thomas Fire and then with the Montecito Mudslide. Add to that a 10-day trip to Hawaii (where we infamously had a near miss with a ballistic missile attack) and you can see why it’s taken me a little longer than anticipated to get back in any sort of groove.

This is the first time since mid-November that we’ve been home for an entire week, and I’m slowly figuring out a schedule (if you can call it that) with little Miss Raia where I can occasionally get a little bit of work done and, most importantly, get back in the kitchen!

A Loaded Mediterranean Hummus Board with Pulled Lamb can serve as a healthy appetizer to feed a crowd or a light dinner for you and your family.

My new favorite method of cooking is, understandably, batch cooking. Since my time in the kitchen is quite sparse these days, when I DO have the time I love roasting up a huge tray of veggies or throwing a big cut of meat or various other ingredients into the slow cooker and letting it do most of the work. Bonus if I can figure something out using healthy ingredients because, man, breastfeeding is no joke and I’m way hungrier these days than I ever was while I was pregnant.

This Loaded Mediterranean Hummus Board with Pulled Lamb fits my need for easy to cook, filling and delicious recipes that, let’s be honest, can just as easily pass as an easy weeknight dinner as it can for a show-stopping appetizer for your next get-together.

I’ve simply created THE most delicious slow-cooked lamb recipe that then gets dumped on top of creamy hummus which is then garnished with pomegranate seeds, fresh rosemary, cucumbers and the like. And don’t forget the pita bread! You could also go hog wild and throw on some fresh veggies like beets, carrots, radishes or whatever you prefer to enjoy your hummus with.

Since my time is a bit limited as far as recipe development goes, I went with premade hummus and pita bread wedges for this go-around, but I know this whole setup will be equally (if not more) delicious if you decide to take the time to make all of these things from scratch.

Loaded hummus is the perfect healthy snack that can easily pass as a meal!

If you’re feeling ambitious, my friend Becky over at Baking the Goods has mastered the Creamy Dreamy Hummus from Tusk in Portland and you can click here for the recipe. Or, you can try one of the other hummus recipes I’ve shared on this site like this Roasted Cauliflower Hummus with Rosemary and Garlic or this Pumpkin Curry Hummus.

I haven’t yet come up with my own recipe for homemade pita bread, but I’m sure you can’t go wrong with this Golden Pita Bread Recipe from King Arthur Flour or this tutorial on How to Make Pita Bread from The Kitchn.

But for those of you who (like me) don’t have a lot of time on your hands, store-bought is just fine. Just be sure to find hummus and pita with as few ingredients as possible!

As far as the lamb goes, it really couldn’t be easier since you probably already have most of the ingredients on hand in the pantry. Just head to your favorite local butcher and ask for the boneless leg of lamb (or lamb shoulder would work, too) and you’ll be well on your way to a tasty, healthy protein made in quite possibly the least hands-on way possible.

This hummus is loaded with all your favorite Mediterranean flavors from a juicy pulled lamb to refreshing pomegranate seeds.

Before I leave you with all the deets on how to create your own Loaded Mediterranean Hummus Board with Pulled Lamb, be forewarned that this lamb recipe will leave you with wayyy more lamb than you will ever need piled on top of your hummus. Well, I’m giving you permission to use the extra to whip up lamb tacos, a Greek casserole, or even pulled lamb sandwiches to get ya through the week. I’m learning now more than ever that there is so much power in leftovers!

5 from 1 vote
This Loaded Mediterranean Hummus Board features slow-cooked pulled lamb, pomegranate arils and refreshing sliced cucumber to make the perfect healthy appetizer for your next get-together!
Loaded Mediterranean Hummus Board with Pulled Lamb
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
6 hrs 55 mins
Total Time
7 hrs 10 mins
 

Not-your-average-hummus recipe! This healthy appetizer has way more going on than a simple chickpea spread - it's loaded with juicy pulled lamb, fresh rosemary and pomegranate seeds!

Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the pulled lamb:
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3-4 pounds boneless leg of lamb (or lamb shoulder), trimmed of any large pieces of fat
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
All other ingredients:
  • Hummus (I used two tubs of store-bought)
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Pita bread, cut into wedges
  • Other vegetables such as carrots, radishes, etc. (as desired)
Instructions
  1. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil in bottom of a large slow cooker. Add lamb and drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over top. 

  2. Add garlic cloves, rosemary, oregano, mint, salt and pepper. 

  3. Cook on low for 7 hours. 

  4. Remove lamb from slow cooker and place in a large bowl, reserving the lamb’s juices in the slow cooker. Using two forks, shred the lamb until no big chunks remain.

  5. Drizzle on just enough of the reserved juices from the slow cooker so that the lamb is nice and moist without having too much extra liquid in the bowl. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

  6. To assemble, scoop hummus onto the center of a large cutting board or serving platter, swirling to create a sort of a well in the middle.

  7. Add pulled lamb to the well in the center. Top with pomegranate arils and fresh rosemary.

  8. Surround the hummus with sliced cucumbers, pita bread and any other vegetables you’ve decided to use and serve!

The Best of CaliGirl Cooking: Top 15 Holiday Appetizers

Coming at you today with one final “best of” roundup before Christmas – today we’re talking all about the holiday apps!

Best EVER Winter Vegetable Platte | CaliGirlCooking.com

Before I get too carried away with CGC’s most popular holiday appetizer recipes, I wanted to give you a quick update on our sitch: We’ve been away from our home in SB for a week and a half now, escaping the smoke to save our precious baby girl’s lungs. As I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon, things aren’t looking great for our beautiful oceanfront town. Winds have been terrible since early this AM, which when combined with the very dry conditions in our area have made for a massive amount of evacuations in our area. Although our home is not in an evacuation zone yet, we are certainly surround by them and at this point can only keep our fingers crossed that the firefighters get SOME sort of break in the weather ASAP.

A couple of days ago it had been looking like we might be able to come home tomorrow, but now we’re second guessing that and thinking we may be up here in the Bay Area until Christmas. It’s certainly not what we had envisioned for our first holiday with the babe and the pup, but we’re trying to keep our heads up and make the most of this extra time we get to spend with our families. I’ll be sure to keep you posted as best as possible on social media but, in the meantime, let’s all get our mind off of things with some delicious apps. Shall we?

Without further ado, here are my 15 most popular holiday appetizers!

All-Dressed Party Mix | CaliGirlCooking.com

1. ALL-DRESSED PARTY MIX
2. BEST EVER WINTER VEGETABLE PLATTER
3. CREAMY MUSHROOM PATE

A fresh baguette is the perfect accompaniment to this Creamy Mushroom Pate.

4. FIVE INGREDIENT SMOKED SALMON AND CUCUMBER ROLL-UPS
5. PUMPKIN WALNUT PATE
6. BUTTERNUT SQUASH CROSTINI WITH CRISPY PROSCIUTTO AND SAGE

Curry-Rosemary Roasted Mixed Nuts | CaliGirl Cooking

7. CURRY ROSEMARY ROASTED MIXED NUTS
8. GOAT CHEESE, APRICOT AND PISTACHIO CROSTINI WITH HONEY
9. HOMEMADE ROSEMARY AND OLIVE OIL CRACKERS
10. HOMEMADE WHOLE WHEAT CRACKERS – TWO WAYS

Homemade Whole Wheat Crackers: Two Ways! | CaliGirlCooking.com

11. PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED PEARS WITH CREAMY BLUE CHEESE
12. ROASTED CAULIFLOWER HUMMUS WITH ROSEMARY AND GARLIC
13. BACON WRAPPED STUFFED DATES
14. SPICED ROSEMARY BAR NUTS

Portobello Hummus | CaliGirlCooking.com

15. PORTOBELLO HUMMUS

What are your favorite holiday appetizer recipes? Share them with me in the comments below!