Frozen Strawberry Margaritas

Here’s a tasty little frozen drink recipe that we whipped up this afternoon after a long day at work.  We’ve been having a heat wave here (today the weather has ‘cooled down’ to about 90°) so anything involving ice sounds good to us!  This recipe is a blended, fruitier version of my Margaritas on the Rocks.

Frozen Strawberry Margaritas  (makes 2 drinks)

You will need…
5 cups Ice Cubes
5 oz. Silver Tequila
1.5 oz. Triple Sec
3.5 oz. Lime Juice (I use Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime Juice)
2 oz. Simple Syrup (1/2 part sugar and 1/2 part water that’s been boiled together and cooled)
12-15 Strawberries, leaves removed
Lime, to garnish

Directions:
Place the ice cubes in a blender and blend until the ice is partially chopped.  (My blender has an “ice crush” setting that does a good job of breaking up the ice so I use this setting.)  Add the tequila, triple sec, lime juice, simple syrup and strawberries and blend until the strawberries are completely incorporated.  Pour into a glass and garnish with a lime wedge.  Enjoy!

June Is Bustin’ Out All Over – Garden Update!

My vegetables and herbs are growing like crazy!  We’ve had streaks of unusually hot weather (80-90°) punctuated by periods of relatively cooler weather (60-70°) here in Southeastern PA and it appears that my plants enjoy this every-changing variety of temperatures.  All of them have at least doubled in size in the last few weeks and several are already flowering or growing vegetables.

As of today the following plants are growing in my garden:

  • Jalapeño Pepper (planted in Spring 2011 and moved to a container for winter; several peppers ripening)
  • Garlic (planted last fall; scapes appearing)
  • Spinach (March; harvested)
  • Beans (March; transplanted and currently growing “real” green beans!)
  • Chives (April; in mixed container)
  • Marjoram (April; in mixed container)
  • Mint (April; 2 varieties in container)
  • Cherry Tomatoes (May; 2 staked in containers and flowering)
  • Tomatoes (May; 2 varieties in upside-down hanging containers and flowering)
  • Parsley (May; planted in one hanging tomato container)
  • Thyme (May; planted in the other hanging tomato container)
  • Strawberries (May; currently growing multiple unripe strawberries)
  • Serrano Pepper (May; in container and flowering)
  • Bush Belle Peppers (May; 2 varieties – one is already growing multiple green peppers)
  • Jalapeño Pepper (May)
  • Basil (9 plants) (May)
  • Pumpkins (“spontaneous” pumpkin patch from last Halloween’s pumpkins!)

With the exception of our whitefly infestation, we’ve had a pleasant, easy time with our garden so far.  We mulched all of our plants with either shredded leaves or mostly-composted leaves from our spin bin and we have lots of little fences in place that have successfully kept Bailey away from the plants.  I’m just starting to be able to use my thyme, parsley, and basil for cooking and soon we will have strawberries, jalapeño peppers, and green beans to eat!

Here are a few pictures of my garden:

Last year’s jalapeño plant that I saved over the winter has a handful of peppers growing on it.

What a difference 3 weeks makes! Hanging tomato plants with thyme and parsley from 5/13 and 6/4.

Green beans are finally growing on my “St. Patrick’s Day” bean plants!

This spider guards my garlic plants – I think he probably set up shop here to catch a few whiteflies.

This is my latest discovery in the garden and one of my most exciting so far… a tiny pumpkin patch!! We left a few pumpkins here after Halloween last fall because they were too heavy for the spin bin composter and Voila! We have pumpkin plants! I contemplated moving the rocks back but then realized that the plants were actually rooted in/around the rocks so I just put a little compost over top and we’ll see what happens…

This day lily is potted in the same container with my chives, marjoram, and marigolds. True it its name, we’ve had at least one new bloom every day for several weeks now.

Yup, that’s a strawberry!! Looks like I’ll be eating it soon…

Matt’s mom gave us several garlic cloves last Fall and we had our first “scape sighting” this morning.  Woohoo! We’ll cut them off soon and think of something yummy to make with them.

We grew this zinnia plant from seed! I jumped the gun back in February and started lots of seeds indoors (waaaay too early in the season but hey, I’m learning!) and after a few weeks of struggling outdoors in April nearly all of the zinnia, cosmos, gallardia, and painted daisy plants that we grew are starting to bud. This plant was the first to flower.

Last but not least, our potted Oleander plant is flowering again! We bought it last year in late June when it was in full flower so it’s nice to see that it made it through the winter and is flowering once again. I love the big, white flowers.

How is your garden doing at the start of June?  Please share!  🙂

Related posts:
Vegetable Gardening Season has Arrived! 5.7.12
Gardening Update – One Month Later 4.17.12
Gardening… On St. Patrick’s Day! 3.17.12

Vegetable Gardening Season has Arrived!

For those of you who follow my blog, you may remember that I got the gardening “itch” way back in March and as a result I planted spinach and beans in my tiny vegetable garden on St. Patrick’s Day.  The spinach (a veggie that actually likes to grow in cold weather) has done great and I have been able to use it in several recipes including my Trader Joe’s style Eggplant Parmesan and my Herbed Spinach and Feta Pizza (coming soon!).  The beans were less thrilled about being planted in the winter and have taken their sweet old time coming up, but now that May has arrived they have suddenly taken off and are starting to look like real bean plants.

It’s amazing what can grow in 10 days! Garden on April 15th (left) and April 25th (right).  You can see the spinach in the front and the beans in the back.

Matt and I enjoy listening to Mike McGrath’s organic gardening show “You Bet Your Garden” on NPR (the archived podcasts are great entertainment for long car rides) and we’re trying to take some of Mike’s advice to improve our garden this year.  According to Mike, a good “yard waste compost” (a mixture of shredded fall leaves and nitrogen-rich green matter that has had time to break down to a soil-like consistency) makes the best mulch and also provides great nutrition and disease control in the garden.  We’ve been religiously composting our kitchen scraps all winter and now that it’s getting warmer out we’re hoping to start seeing some fresh compost in our spin bin composter soon!

Potted cherry tomato plant that has been “mulched” with partially composted shredded leaves to retain moisture.

I have several plants around the patio in containers, including two cherry tomatoes from my neighbor, a planter with chives, marjoram, marigolds, and a day lily, a combo of sweet and chocolate mint, and a serrano pepper plant.  I’ve been really impressed with the brightly colored orange, red, and yellow marigolds so far — they’ve been blooming continuously for a few weeks and have a lovely fragrance.  Apparently they repel insects so they’ll come in handy when our summer mosquitoes arrive!

Chives, Day Lily, Marjoram, and Marigolds on the patio

Now, back to those beans…  When I planted them in March I imagined having fully matured bean plants by now so I planted them across the entire back half of my garden.  Since the bean plants are clearly not ready to sprout beans anytime soon and I want to plant my basil in that same exact spot, I decided to transplant the strongest beans to my new strawberry patch.  Apparently beans and strawberries are “companion plants” so I figure that they will enjoy cohabitating the same small strip of my ever-expanding garden.

The transplanted bean plants are now scattered throughout my new strawberry patch.

Perhaps the most exciting additions to our garden this year are our two upside-down tomato plants.  I know that the whole upside-down growing gimmic is a bit of a fad and I’ve read lots of criticism about it on the internet, but after having a giant tomato plant take over my garden last year with its long, snarled branches and watching its tomatoes sit on the ground and get eaten by bugs, I decided that hanging plants sound pretty promising!

Hanging tomato plants with thyme and parsley.

Rather than purchasing the tupsy-turvy type of hanging tomato bags, we selected two large galvanized buckets from Home Depot and Matt drilled holes in the bottoms for the tomato plants to feed through.  When it came time to actually plant the tomatoes, we lowered the buckets to below eye level and Matt held each plant at the proper height (burying the stem up to the first true leaves) while I carefully added soil-less potting mix.  We topped off each bucket with herbs (thyme and parsley) and then covered the surface with partially composted leaves from our compost bin.  I’ll be interested to see how these plants do over the next few months!

Close up of the bottom of one of our hanging tomato plants: We threaded pieces of an old t-shirt around the base of each plant to hold the dirt in and drilled holes around the perimeter of the buckets for drainage.

Overall, I think I spent about 12 hours working in the garden last weekend and I enjoyed every minute of it.  I had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of vegetable gardening season all winter and I am so excited that it’s finally time to start planting!  What are you planting in your garden this Spring?

Mint plants on April 15th (left) and May 5th (right).

Related posts:
Gardening Update – One Month Later 4.17.12
Gardening… On St. Patrick’s Day! 3.17.12