The warmth of the sun bursts through the winter clouds, past the curtains, and hits our faces as the kid and I share a moment at the breakfast table. We’re deep in discussion about how horrible the new songs on Just Dance 2015 are (excluding Let It Go, of course). You know, the important stuff. During these treasured moments that are so perfect my heart overflows and suddenly I feel like I’m in a ridiculous credit card commercial. This is when I tend to pop out the hard questions of life like…
Mia, what would you do if you had 5 million dollars?
I’d buy a few potatoes, a meatball bag, and a surf board for you.
Wait a minute, what is a meatball bag?
Well, everyone knows it’s a bag full of meatballs. How do you not know this?
You got me there.
Good to know my daughter has her priorities and thinks of me as the kind of girl who could ride a surfboard on the streets of Dallas. Along with everything about her it’s these chats I’ve cherished this year and I’m looking forward to many more in the years to come.
2014 was a year of growth, new opportunities, and a test of strength. Running my own business has had it’s challenges but in the end it was a crazy successful year. I’ve worked with amazing companies large and small, great people, and have been creatively challenged in more ways than one. I finally feel at home in this career and I’ve got to say that’s pretty flipping awesome. As far as my personal life, my husband happily left the restaurant business and is now a wine representative for a national distributor. This means there’s more wine in the house than I know what to do with and how could I not be happy with that. The resident 6-year-old is doing fabulous as well and minus a painful eye surgery on her birthday, has had a great year. Sadly for her, I’m this close setting fire to all of the Frozen crap being forced down our throats. It’s coming soon so be on the lookout for a bonfire, Dallas. It was an amazing year even if I didn’t get the Jeep and super special Manhattan with a gold cherry that my daughter said she asked Santa to bring me.
Speaking of drinks, tonight is the big night to end the year and if you don’t have a cocktail or mocktail in your hand, you’re doing it wrong. Usually, I’m a bourbon drinker but with a truckload of mandarins in my kitchen, I’ve put them to good use in an incredibly delicious vodka martini.
Charred Mandarin Vodka Martini
Fresh and bright, this zesty martini has notes of smoky citrus with a small splash of sweetness from a mandarin simple syrup. It’s a simple cocktail but if you don’t have time to make the simple syrup, substitute with a splash of mandarin juice. Here’s to all of you that come here to grab a recipe and hear me ramble. Happy New Year, friends!
Fresh and bright, this zesty martini has notes of smoky citrus with a small splash of sweetness from a mandarin simple syrup. It's a simple cocktail but if you don't have time to make the simple syrup, substitute with a splash of mandarin juice.
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
- 1 teaspoon mandarin simple syrup*
- 3 dashes orange bitters
- Mandarin slice
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, vermouth, simple syrup, and bitters. Fill with ice and stir for a good 5 to 10 seconds. Strain mixture into a chilled martini glass.
- Place a mandarin slice on a heat-proof surface and using a brûlée torch char the mandarin until lightly blackened. You can also place mandarin slices on a baking sheet under the broiler until charred but do this before you make the cocktail as it takes a few minutes longer than the torch method.
- Add charred mandarin slice to the cocktail and garnish with thyme. Serve.
- *Mandarin Simple Syrup: In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 2 sliced mandarin oranges, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain. Allow to cool before using. Store in the refrigerator.
by Meredith Steele