I’m missing going out at the end of a busy work-week for a relaxing happy hour with my husband, co-workers, or friends. You guys, it’s the simple things like this that really get me–those little slivers of normalcy that made up the patterns of our lives.
It seems like such a long time ago that doing something like going out for a drink was no big deal, doesn’t it? Now, just getting groceries feels like an elaborate production that has to be carefully planned and executed.
Even though some states are starting to relax restrictions, and restaurants may be opening soon (at least at reduced capacity anyway), I think it will be quite a long time before many of us feel comfortable doing that again.
Yet, we still have to find ways to live our lives in this new situation, rather than just treading water and waiting for it to be “over”. One way to cope that I’ve found to be helpful is to create experiences that we can still enjoy and look forward to, even in our current reality. Having “plans” just makes a difference in my frame of mind. Otherwise, days just start to morph into each other, with one day feeling exactly like the next. And the next. And the next.
Creating fun moments at home seems to help. If we can’t go out and do all the things we want to do right now, at least we can create experiences at home, rather than just be at home.
The other night, it was such a beautiful evening out, and I was thinking about how nice it would be to find a patio table at our favorite Mexican restaurant for some margaritas with chips and salsa.
And then I thought to myself, “Well, if we can’t do that right now, I’ll just recreate it at home!” Not only did we have margaritas (my hubby makes the best fresh lime margaritas I’ve ever had in my life, no lie), but we also ended up with an entire trio of Mexican dips to enjoy with our chips, just like a happy hour special!
First, we had this salsa, that we got on our last essential trip to Costco. It is just as good as any restaurant salsa I’ve had. If you head to Costco anytime soon, add this to your list for sure! Oh, and buy a bag of limes! You’re going to want them for the margarita recipe below! 💃
For the second dip in our trio, we needed Queso, right? This recipe came together simply and is made from things we had in our fridge already. My husband told me to make sure I jotted down how I made it, because it was a keeper (so is he, btw💕).
Easy Queso Dip
- 8 oz cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup onions diced
- 1 small jalapeno pepper finely diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ cup tomatoes diced
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
- Melt butter in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions and the jalapeño pepper until soft. Then add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes, cumin, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Cook while stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
- Mix cornstarch into the pot, then add the milk, stirring well to combine.
- Bring to a gentle simmer then add the cheese, mixing well. Cook, while stirring, until cheese just melts through the milk and transforms into a smooth sauce. Take off heat immediately.
- Stir in cilantro and season with salt to taste if needed, mixing well.
- Serve immediately.
As far as I’m concerned, guac is a requirement with any Mexican cuisine. This is my go-to recipe that I make over and over.
The only variation is the pistachios. I know. It seems a bit weird. I would never have considered it until we went to Mexico for a vacation a couple of years ago, and they prepared guac table-side with a mortar and pestle.
You got to choose from a selection of ingredients on the cart, and one of the options was chopped pistachio nuts. The waiter highly recommended it, so we gave it a try and loved it! It adds an extra bit of texture and nuttiness to the guac. So good, but totally optional. This guacamole is excellent without the pistachios, too. I make it both ways.
One more note: You can use finely diced fresh onion if you prefer, but I don’t care for raw onion, so I use onion powder instead.
Easy Guacamole (with optional Pistachios)
- 2 ripe avocados mashed
- 1 small tomato chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 lime juiced
- 1/3 cup pistachio nuts roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
- salt & peper to taste
- Peel and mash avocados in a medium serving bowl. Stir in onion powder, garlic, tomato, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. (Go easy on salt if you intend to use salted pistachios).
- Stir in finely chopped pistachios right before serving. They give the guacamole a great texture and nuttiness that we love, but you can leave them out.
- Garnish with a wedge of lime, additional chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of pistachios.
The Headliner: Hubby’s Fresh Lime Margs
Okay, this is the drink I can’t wait to share with you. It’s so easy, yet so good. Look at the recipe–it’s tequila, triple sec, lime, and simple syrup. That’s it. After you make this, you will never want to drink another marg from a pre-made mix again. Never.
The BEST Fresh Lime Margaritas on the Rocks
- 6 oz lime juice fresh squeezed
- 4 oz tequila
- 2 oz triple sec
- 2 oz simple syrup
- salt/sugar mixture for the rim
- Rub rim of margarita glasses with a lime wedge to wet, then dip rim in a mixture of equal parts salt and sugar.
- Fill glasses with crushed ice.
- Add tequila, triple sec, lime juice and simple syrup to a cocktail mixer filled with ice and shake vigorously.
- Pour over crushed ice in glasses. Done!
Once you have this trio whipped up and your margs in hand, head outside. The fresh air is key. Yes, all these goodies are excellent on their own, but enjoying them outside with someone you care about is what makes this an “event”. Put it on your calendar. We need things to look forward to. 💜