Spiked Pear Cider

I’ve fallen hard for the homemade cider this year…

This Spiked Pear Cider is made in the slow cooker and can easily be made virgin for kids to enjoy!

And for this version I’ve even brought on the booze! That’s right, this Spiked Pear Cider is just as tasty as any hot apple cider and has a splash of bourbon to boot. My kind of cool weather treat!


In case you missed it, a little while back I forayed into the world of homemade ciders with this From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider and I was more than pleased with how it turned out. It wasn’t too sweet and had just the right amount of spice. It made me start thinking about what other types of homemade ciders I could create, and a pear version was the first thing that popped to my mind.

And now that I’m back (at least a tiny bit) in the drinking game, I thought it only appropriate to make my pear cider into somewhat of a hot toddy by adding some tummy-warming bourbon. BUT, if you are not a drinker or not drinking at the moment for any reason (I feel ya) then I’m happy to say that this Spiked Pear Cider tastes just as delicious when it’s just plain ol’ “Pear Cider.” In fact, you don’t even add the booze until the end, so it’s easy to make a batch for a crowd and then just add the booze to the mugs of those who want it.

A couple of mugs of warm Spiked Pear Cider are just what you need on a cold fall or winter's night.

Aside from a little difference in the spices, the directions for making this Spiked Pear Cider are nearly identical to those for the apple cider. And whereas my apple cider recipe had no added sweetener, I did decide to add some honey to the pear cider to help counteract the booze a little bit. Which means it’s that much closer to a legit hot toddy and that much more acceptable to drink if you’re ever feeling a little bit under the weather this winter. Am I right?

So what I’ve done here is included the recipe for the pear cider itself – which you’ll make in the slow cooker – and then also the ratios for boozing it up. Plan on making the nonalcoholic pear cider in the slow cooker at least one night before you want to drink it (or first thing that morning since it takes 7 hours to cook) and then you can easily just keep it warm in the slow cooker or refrigerate it and reheat it when you’re ready to enjoy it as a cozy adult beverage.

A mug of Spiked Pear Cider is the perfect hot toddy for the holidays.

This Spiked Pear Cider is the perfect drink to have on hand for the holidays when you have guests and visitors stopping by at any given moment, or when you’re just looking for a little something special to serve up for family. It’s easy to throw together and can be made suitable for kids and adults alike. Plus, who doesn’t love a great “set it and forget it” recipe for this crazy time of year?

A couple of mugs of warm Spiked Pear Cider are just what you need on a cold fall or winter's night.
Print
Spiked Pear Cider
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
7 hr
Total Time
7 hr 10 mins
 

This slow cooker recipe is a fun new take on cider and can easily be made nonalcoholic for the young 'uns or non-drinkers in the crowd.

Course: Drinks
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the cider:
  • 8 pears, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 of a whole vanilla bean
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 8 cups filtered water
For one cocktail:
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 4-6 ounces pear cider
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the cider ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hours.

  2. Strain cider into a pitcher or a few Mason jars and discard solids.

  3. To make the cocktail, measure out 2 ounces of bourbon into a mug and add 4-6 ounces of the cider (depending on the size of your mug.) Enjoy warm.

Spiked Pear Cider | CaliGirlCooking.com

Sirloin Steak Bites with Bourbon Rosemary BBQ Sauce

Getting back to the serious stuff today!

A big platter of Sirloin Steak Bites with Bourbon Rosemary BBQ Sauce is the perfect way to #ownyourparty this summer!
This post was created in partnership with True Aussie Beef & Lamb and Big Green Egg in exchange for free product. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

Well, if you count mouthwateringly delicious Sirloin Steak Bites with Bourbon Rosemary BBQ Sauce as serious, that is. And when I say mouthwatering, I mean MOUTHWATERING. Seriously, this stuff is so good.

It’s not every day that you get sent a cooler full of delicious #TrueAussieBeef and #TrueAussieLamb, plus a Big Green Egg and are told to throw a summer party celebrating the #GreaterOutdoors but when you do, you happily oblige.


IMPORTANT PSA: If you’ve read any of my other recent meat-centric posts, you know that I’ve partnered with True Aussie Beef and Lamb and Big Green Egg in their #GreaterOutdoors campaign to give away a Big Green Egg to one very lucky reader. Well, TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO ENTER! Be sure to keep reading until the end of this post for instructions on how to get in on this. Do it now!

Sirloin steaks cooking on the Big Green Egg, soon to be drenched in sweet and tangy Bourbon Rosemary BBQ Sauce.

I already shared the Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders and Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Mint Pea Pesto that I made with my #aussome beef and lamb products for a summer pool party with friends, and today it’s time to tell you all about what was surely one of the greatest hits: Sirloin Steak Bites with Bourbon Rosemary BBQ Sauce!

Can I first tell you about the insanely huge piece of sirloin I used to make these? Ummm, I mean, we were serving a crowd of about 20 people and we STILL only used half of it. The other half is waiting contentedly in the freezer for the next chance we get to throw a party and I’m pretty excited about it.

I’m not sure I’ve told you before, but my husband is most definitely a steak man. Tri tip is one of his favorite things to grill up on the weekend and, if we go somewhere for date night that has a good steak on the menu, you can bet that’s what he’s going to order. So you can imagine how excited he was to see this gigantic piece of sirloin come out of the freezer.

Perfectly cooked sirloin steaks resting before being cut into bite-size pieces and coated in a delicious Bourbon Rosemary BBQ Sauce.

And since he’s the expert, I asked him how HE would like the steak cooked. We needed something crowd-friendly, hence the steak bite idea, but I have to give him credit for helping me come up with the tangy, sweet and boozy Bourbon Rosemary BBQ Sauce.

The BBQ sauce is something you’ll definitely want to make in advance, as it just gets better and better with a little time in the refrigerator for the flavors to really meld together. I made it the night before we were grilling, and it set up perfectly. It’s really not complicated, and just requires a little time on the stovetop.

The next day (or a few hours later), it’s time to grill! In order to keep the steak as moist as possible (and for ease of grilling), we cut it into four approximately one-pound pieces for cooking. Keeping the size of the steak a bit larger helps seal in all of the juices, so once you DO cut into it, each steak bite is juicy, tender and delicious.

Sirloin steaks finishing up on the grill before being cut into pieces and coated with sweet and tangy Bourbon Rosemary BBQ Sauce.

After the steak is done, let it rest as long as possible and simply cut it into bites a little bit before you’re ready to serve. Toss the bites in a tad more of the BBQ sauce, and serve the rest of the sauce on the side for extra dipping.

Finally, add some toothpicks to your serving platter for hungry fingers to serve themselves. I’m pretty certain your Sirloin Steak Bites with Bourbon Rosemary BBQ Sauce are going to be the hit of the party!

Sirloin Steak Bites with Bourbon Rosemary BBQ Sauce are the perfect addition to a summer spread.

Okay, now for the equally important stuff: how to win a Big Green Egg! Simply click on this link before tomorrow and enter in your information. Then wait and see if you’ve won! Seriously though, we have been so happy with our Big Green Egg cooking experience and have been cooking on it more often than you can imagine. So many endless outdoor cooking possibilities!

Here’s to kicking off another summer week, hopefully with some delicious steak bites in the mix!

A big platter of Sirloin Steak Bites with Bourbon Rosemary BBQ Sauce is the perfect way to #ownyourparty this summer!
Print
Sirloin Steak Bites with Bourbon Rosemary BBQ Sauce
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

Tender, mouthwatering steak bites are drenched in a sweet and tangy bourbon rosemary BBQ sauce. The perfect addition to a summer entertaining spread!

Course: Main Course
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the BBQ sauce:
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 of an onion, finely minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of pepper
For the steak:
  • 4 pounds sirloin steak, cut into 1 pound pieces
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. The night (or a few hours) before you’ll be cooking the steak, make the BBQ sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until all ingredients come together and sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. 

  2. Remove sauce from heat, let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until ready to use.

  3. When you’re ready to cook the steak, you’ll first need to prep your Big Green Egg (or other outdoor cooking appliance.) Bring the Egg to a temperature of approximately 500 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  4. Season each steak with salt and pepper and brush with a light coating of the prepared BBQ sauce. Reserve the rest of the sauce for later.

  5. Once grill is preheated, add the steaks, searing on all sides. 

  6. After searing the steaks, bring the grill’s temperature down to about 375 degrees Fahrenheit to finish cooking. Move the steaks to the outer perimeter of the grill to receive indirect heat, and cook until they reach an internal temperature of 130 degrees (for medium-rare).

  7. Let steaks sit and rest (to finish cooking and bring them to the perfect temperature) for another 10 minutes or so. If you want your steak more well-done, simply bring it to a slightly higher temperature before removing to rest. 

  8. Just before you’re ready to serve, cut the steaks into bite-size pieces and add another light coating of the BBQ sauce. Toss to combine. 

  9. Serve any remaining BBQ sauce in a bowl on the side for dipping and be sure to include toothpicks!

Sirloin Steak Bites with Bourbon Rosemary BBQ Sauce | CaliGirlCooking.com

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned

I think it’s been a little too long since we’ve talked about bourbon.

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned | CaliGirlCooking.com

It’s also been a little too long since I’ve been able to get fresh rhubarb at the grocery store, so you can imagine how beyond stoked I was to find those bright red, crunchy stalks sticking out of a bin in the produce department of my local haunt. I knew I needed to make a rhubarb cocktail STAT and to me, the only answer was a Rhubarb Old-Fashioned!


Although you can technically eat the stalks of rhubarb raw (just don’t eat the poisonous leaves,) I find it much more enjoyable when it’s roasted or cooked in some way. If you subscribe to my email list (which you absolutely should!) you got another nice little rhubarb surprise recipe in your inbox earlier this week that features roasted rhubarb and strawberries, one of my favorite combinations.

But for today’s cocktail recipe, I decided to really let rhubarb have its time in the spotlight and whipped up a super-easy pure rhubarb simple syrup. Not only does it add the perfect sweetness to this Rhubarb Old-Fashioned, it gives it an amazing ruby red color! And aside from this special sauce, you’ll only need two other ingredients plus ice. How’s that for a TGIF?

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned | CaliGirlCooking.com

Speaking of Friday, what’s everyone up to this weekend? The hubs and I are taking it easy and starting to get ready for our big trip to Italy next week. That’s right, we’re jetting off to Tuscany with BOTH of our parents and my aunt for a fun, wine- and food-filled trip.

For the first leg of our trip we’ll be staying at a villa I stayed at with my aunt a few years ago, and then we’ll spend our last few days in a charming apartment right in the middle of Venice. It will be the hubby’s first trip to Europe and I am so excited to show him everything I love about Italy. We’ll be trying to squeeze a lot into our ten days there, but if anyone has any recommendations for Florence or Venice, please send them my way!

And don’t worry, I’ve got lots of fun recipes lined up to keep you entertained while we’re away!

So in the midst of all our packing, errand-running and organizing, you can bet we’ll be trying to use up that batch of rhubarb simple syrup with a few of these Rhubarb Old-Fashioned’s. They’re actually the perfect beverage for a relaxing weekend at home, especially this time of year. We’re getting a little more rain right now, but we certainly don’t mind as we still need as much as we can get and we’ve been having plenty of beautiful-weather days in between.

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned | CaliGirlCooking.com

Anywho, I mentioned that you’re only going to need two other ingredients besides the rhubarb simple syrup. These ingredients are the basics of any old-fashioned: bourbon and bitters! It’s seriously as simple as that.

And the rhubarb simple syrup comes together so quickly and painlessly, you can easily whip it up as soon as you get home from work today. You’ll use the requisite equal parts water and sugar that you use in any simple syrup, and throw them in a saucepan with your chopped rhubarb stalk. Let this all boil away until the rhubarb has broken down and turned the mixture bright red, and the syrup has reduced to about half of its starting amount.

Strain the mixture through a sieve to get out all of the chunks of rhubarb, and you’re left with a magnificent red syrup that you may want to use in more dishes than just a cocktail (ice cream topping, anyone?)

The hardest part will be allowing the syrup to cool a bit before adding it to the cocktail, but feel free to expedite this in any way possible so you can enjoy a Rhubarb Old-Fashioned ASAP.

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned | CaliGirlCooking.com

Whether you whip it up this weekend or wait until later in the spring, you’re going to want to make this perfectly seasonal drink sooner or later. And hey, in my opinion, there’s no time like the present!

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Rhubarb Old-Fashioned
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

The classic bourbon cocktail gets a spring makeover with the addition of rhubarb simple syrup. Tastes good and a beautiful color to boot!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the rhubarb simple syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped rhubarb stalk
For the cocktail:
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce rhubarb simple syrup
  • 2-4 dashes angostura bitters (depending on your taste)
  • Additional rhubarb stalk for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. First, make the simple syrup. Combine all syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a heavy simmer. Turn down to a low simmer and let cook until rhubarb has broken down and mixture has reduced by half (about 10-15 minutes.)

  2. Strain the syrup through a sieve and into a reseable bottle or container to get rid of chunks, and allow to cool to at least room temperature.

  3. Once simple syrup is cool, make the cocktail. In a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice, combine the bourbon, simple syrup and angostura bitters. Shake vigorously for about 15 second and then strain into a rocks glass filled to the brim with ice. 

  4. Garnish with a long piece of rhubarb stalk, if desired.

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned | CaliGirlCooking.com

Kentucky Coffee

Because when you’re snowed in there’s no other way to go.

Kentucky Coffee | CaliGirlCooking.com

This is what I found myself doing when we were stuck in Lake Tahoe for a couple of extra days. I was out of drafted blog posts and needed a cocktail to share with you all. The fam bam brainstormed what we had to work with and this is what we came up with: Kentucky Coffee!


That’s right, this is my stranded-in-a-cabin take on the classic Irish coffee, and let me tell you, it is sooooo good. My mom doesn’t even drink straight up coffee (mochas and lattes are more her jam) and she went back for Kentucky Coffee seconds. It’s that good.

Kentucky Coffee | CaliGirlCooking.com

Yes, we were stranded in Tahoe for a bit longer than anticipated, but it’s likely that by the time you’re reading this we’ll have dug our way out of that winter wonderland and made our way back to reality.

Not that we minded the extra time too much. We had a blast just being cozy in our cabin, building snowmen and jigsaw puzzles, and dipping in the hot tub for as long as we could handle. It was such a great time with both sides of our families, time that we will most definitely cherish and try to do more often. Because when you’re stuck in the snow, who else do you want to be with (and enjoy cocktails with) other than those you hold most dear?

So here’s what I did: I brewed up a bit of our huge stash of coffee (no way we’d run out of that on a trip to Tahoe) and I quickly simmered up some fresh mint simple syrup. We had a stash of bourbon on hand (which was a much better option than the tequila my sister brought along for margaritas) so of course that was a necessary ingredient for (and inspired the name for) Kentucky Coffee as well. Finally, I took advantage of the mixer we found in our AirBnB rental and whipped up some fresh whipped cream to top everything off. Do not skip this part! It really makes the drink.

Kentucky Coffee | CaliGirlCooking.com

Probably the best (a.k.a. funniest) part of creating this super tasty Kentucky Mule was the photography, which is best narrated by the photos below. Since we had planned on coming home Wednesday morning, I didn’t have any of my photography props with me at the cabin, so I had to make do. I must say the insane amount of snow made a pretty sick backdrop, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t challenging to get the right shots! Thanks to my pops and sis for capturing my dedication (and super cute hairdo) in the process of shooting this recipe.

Kentucky Coffee | CaliGirlCooking.com

Kentucky Coffee | CaliGirlCooking.com

Kentucky Coffee | CaliGirlCooking.com

I hope you all are staying warm, dry, and well-lubricated with drink in this New Year. You made it through the first week of 2017, so time to celebrate with a warming mug (or two) of Kentucky Coffee!

Kentucky Coffee | 21 Recipes to Get Hygge With on CaliGirlCooking.com
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Kentucky Coffee
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

There's a new boozy hot coffee drink in town, and it's full of bourbon, mint and whipped cream. The perfect cold weather cocktail!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 2 cocktails
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces bourbon
  • 2 ounces fresh mint simple syrup
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Instructions
  1. Pour 2 ounces of bourbon and 1 ounce of fresh mint simple syrup into the bottom of two coffee mugs. Stir to combine. 

  2. Add ½ cup of brewed coffee to each mug.

  3. In a small bowl, use an electric mixer to whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Divide whipped cream amongst both mugs. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig if desired and serve warm. 

Recipe Notes

To make the Fresh Mint Simple Syrup: Combine 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar in a small saucepan with 10 fresh mint leaves. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves and mixture reduces slightly. Remove from heat at this point but it's not necessary to let the syrup cool to room temperature since you're adding it to a warm drink.

Kentucky Coffee | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

The snow doesn’t bother me anyway…

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch

Because no one wants to stand around making individual cocktails for all of their guests when there’s merry-making to be had.

Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch | CaliGirlCooking.com

This Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch is THE perfect cocktail for Christmas, New Year’s or any other holiday or celebration, for that matter. I love it so, so much because it involves all of my favorite things: sparkling wine, bourbon, pomegranate and orange juices, plus a few secret touches like rosemary simple syrup, orgeat and Angostura bitters.


That’s right I’ve taken the ingredients from all of my favorite cocktails over the past year and mashed them all up together in one giant pitcher- or punch bowl-full of deliciousness:

I’ve stolen the pomegranate juice (and I suppose also the bourbon) from this Pear, Pomegranate and Bourbon Punch

I’ve stolen the rosemary simple syrup from this Rosemary, Fig and Date Tequila Smash

I’ve stolen the orgeat from these Grapefruit Coladas on the Rocks

Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch | CaliGirlCooking.com

And if you had no idea I absolutely love sparkling wine, then you obviously don’t know me. Case(s) in point:

“Our” French 75

This Citrus Vanilla Sparkler

The over-the-top Greyhound 75

My “fall-ish” Harvest Mimosa

My OG Harvey Wallbanger Mimosa

And this Holiday Sparkling Sangria.

Have I convinced you yet? If I haven’t, let me just tell you that this festive Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch is the perfect balance of all of these favorite things. It’s got some good tang from the pomegranate juice (I always go for the purest form I can find, with no additives) that’s complimented wonderfully by the rosemary simple syrup and orgeat. Then you get some kick from the bourbon and bitters, which mellows out beautifully with the addition of a whole bottle of sparkling wine and some fresh orange juice. Seriously, it is so good.

Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch | CaliGirlCooking.com

When throwing together this Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch, I highly recommend doing so no more than a half hour or so prior to serving. It’s best served over a good amount of ice, and you don’t want the drink to get diluted. Plus, you can’t let the bubbles go flat!

Oh, and have you noticed that this beverage is quite the showstopper as far as looks? Thin slices of fresh orange and a sprinkling of pomegranate arils take the “wow” factor from a 5 all the way up to a 10. I like to tuck the orange slices into the sides of the ice and punch-filled pitcher to really make sure their visible, and then I slice a few extra to use as garnish once drinks are poured into individual glasses. I also reserve a few pomegranate arils to sprinkle over the top of each individual glass because, well, it’s soooo photogenic.

Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch | CaliGirlCooking.com

So, what do you think? Does this Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch sound like a winner in your book? It sure is in mine! The hubs and I are up in the Bay Area spending the holiday with both sets of our parents, and you can bet this will be in my back pocket when I’m put on cocktail duty throughout the weekend. I hope you all have the very merriest of Christmases and get to spend loads of time with all of your loved ones! XO

Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch | 22 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
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Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch
Prep Time
10 mins
 

A fun, festive punch, with sparkling wine, bourbon, pomegranate juice and so many other seasonal flavors. 

Course: Drinks
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces pomegranate juice
  • 8 ounces fresh orange juice (juice of about 2 oranges)
  • 6 ounces bourbon
  • 3 ounces orgeat
  • 2 ounces rosemary simple syrup (see notes for recipe)
  • 1/2 ounce angostura bitters
  • 1 750 mL bottle of dry sparkling wine
  • 8 ounces pomegranate arils (plus more for garnish, if desired)
  • 1 orange, sliced (plus more slices for garnish, if desired)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher or punch bowl filled three quarters of the way full with ice. Stir with a long handled spoon to combine. Pour into individual glasses and garnish with additional pomegranate arils and orange slices if desired. 

Recipe Notes

To make the Rosemary Simple Syrup: Combine one cup granulated sugar, one cup water and one large sprig of fresh rosemary in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and let simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool before using a funnel to pour syrup into a glass bottle with a stopper for storage. Refrigerate up to one week.

Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch | CaliGirlCooking.com