Prickly Pear Margarita

You will delight in the fabulousness of this cocktail…is that even a real word? Well, it is when it comes to mixology at my house! The colors are vibrant, the flavors will make your mouth water, and everyone is instantly happy when they get their hands on one!  I concocted this libation almost a year ago in my kitchen with my pal Lauren, after we plucked a batch of prickly pears from my garden. We had fun doing the initial tastings…yes, we had fun.  I made my notes, saved them, and decided it was time to share it with Santa Barbara for my bi-annual recipe contribution to Santa Barbara Dining & Destinations magazine. Finally, this issue is out and now the recipe is ready for the rest of the world–that means you! It’s the perfect cocktail for Springtime and any special occasion…Easter and Cinco de Mayo are not that far off you know 
PS The handsome and award winning editorial photographer Matt Daykashot the photo~thanks for your eye!

Prickly Pear Margarita

Serves 1, Prep Time 5 minutes


2 oz Prickly Pear Juice (about 2 prickly pears)

2 oz Tangerine Juice (about 2 tangerines)

1 shot Silver Tequila

A splash of Cointreau or Triple Sec


Garnish with Tangerine Slice


Handle prickly pears with gloves. Slice prickly pears in half, scoop out fruit, seeds and all, and throw in a blender. Discard peels. Juice Blend for about a minute. Strain to remove seeds, set aside. Juice 2 tangerines, set aside–you may strain or keep the pulp in-your preference.  In a clear tumbler, add 3-4 ice cubes. Slowly pour prickly pear juice in. Then slowly the tangerine juice. Then the layer of tequila and a splash of Cointreau. The slow pouring method makes colorful layers for a beautiful presentation. Garnish with a tangerine slice.

NOTE: It is easier to make MORE prickly pear juice with at least 8 prickly pears–that way you have enough to have your blender function properly and to serve your guests.

Moscow Mule

Did you know that the Moscow Mule was invented in 1941?  Two alcohol distributors, one selling vodka, the other selling ginger beer, found that no one wanted to buy their products. The two sat down at the famed Cock n’ Bull restaurant on Sunset Blvd. in LA and conjured up a classic. Why the copper mug? Apparently a third person in the mix complained that she had a stockpile of copper mugs she needed to get rid of that were imprinted with a kicking mule…a drink was born!  We’re happy it’s made a comeback. It’s gingery kick makes it warming in the winter while the lime flavor makes it refreshing in the summer. Enjoy!

Moscow Mule
Prep Time: 2 minutes, Serves 1


1 shot of Vodka

Juice from half a lime
3-4 ounces Ginger Beer* (depending on size of mug/glass)
1 lime wedge
1 sprig of mint
Fill Moscow Mule mug or highball glass with ice~ I prefer crushed, but cubes with do. Add vodka and lime juice. Gently pour in ginger beer, garnish with lime wedge and mint. Serve.
*Recipe Note: I’ve made these with Crabbies and Gosling Ginger Beer. I preferred the flavor of Crabbies, but you’re welcome to shop around and pick your favorite.
Proud to have this recipe featured in the Fall/Winter 2014 issue of Santa Barbara Dining & Destinations Magazine!

Santa Barbara Sunset Cocktail

This week on my podcast, The Dish with Nancy Newcomer, I shared my favorite Summer Cocktails, including this one, the Santa Barbara Sunset. Super refreshing and truly an excellent libation that you may enjoy any time of year. This recipe is also in the Spring/Summer 2015 edition of Santa Barbara Dining & Destinations Magazine along with a couple of other fun summer dishes, Enjoy!

Nancy’s Santa Barbara Sunset

Serves 1
Prep time 2 minutes


1 shot of Campari

1 shot of vodka (We love Tito’s Handmade Vodka)

2 oz  fresh tangerine juice (great with blood orange too)

3-4 oz ginger beer

Squeeze of lime juice

Fill highball glass with ice. Pour one shot of Campari in, followed by 1 shot of vodka. Gently add tangerine juice, followed by a slow pour of ginger beer, squeeze in fresh lime. Serve.

Grilled Salmon with Nopales Salsa

Twice a year, 3 of my recipes are published in Santa Barbara Dining & Destinations Magazine and I always have fun coming up with a theme that’s local and seasonal.  Festive occasions including Cinco de Mayo, Summer Solstice, and Old Spanish Days/Fiesta attract visitors to our town and bring out the inner-hostess in most of us. Seems like everyone is entertaining outside, firing up the grill and looking for a way to make everyone feel welcome “Santa Barbara style”. Here’s a fun recipe that I made up that will suit these and any other occasion that feels fun and festive. Don’t forget to pair this with my awesome Prickly Pear Margarita also featured in the same issue of SBD&D. Once again, thanks to the wonderful & talented Matt Dayka for photographing my food for this issue. Viva La Fiesta and party on!

Serves 6, Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes


2 cups cooked & chopped nopales (cactus paddles)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & chopped

½ cup finely chopped red onion

2 cups heirlooms tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 TB cilantro

2 TB extra virgin olive oil

Juice from 2-3 limes

1 TB seasoned rice vinegar

1 tsp himalayan pink sea salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

3 lbs Salmon

Optional: 6 Whole, uncooked, trimmed cactus paddles for presentation


Please read note at bottom for preparing nopales.
In a large bowl, combine nopales, bell pepper, jalapeno, red onion, tomatoes, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir gently until thoroughly mixed, set aside.

Pre-heat Grill to medium heat. Brush both sides of the salmon with a little olive oil. Season the salmon on both sides with a litte sea salt and pepper. Place the fish on the grill, skin side down and cook for about 3 minutes then turn the fish 45 degrees and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until cooked through to the desired degree of doneness.Remove the fish from the grill and serve with the salsa spooned over the fish. Serve immediately. For a fun presentation, serve salmon on uncooked, trimmed cactus paddles on a plate.

Note for Preparing Nopales: You may buy cactus paddles or “nopales” pre- trimmed in many grocery stores-or Mexican specialty markets, but if you’re brave enough and live in an area abundant with cactus, you may prep them yourself.  Choose paddles that are bright green, soft, but not limp. The smaller paddles are more tender, but the larger ones are also tasty. To clean, wear plastic gloves, rinse under cold water being careful with the thorns. Nopales are tricky and their thorns are almost invisible. Wherever there is a bump there may be a thorn. Then, using a vegetable peeler, peel away the bumps and thorns, then rinse again. No need to peel off all of the outer dark green skin, in fact, try to keep as much as you can. Lay the paddle flat on a chopping board and trim about ¼ inch off the edges and about ½ inch of the thick base. Cut into small ½ inch size pieces.
In a pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add a pinch of sea salt and 2 cups of chopped nopales, stir and cook at a low to medium boil for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. You will need to rinse several times to remove the gelatinous liquid which can be a little stubborn. PS You may buy nopales in the jar, but it is not nearly as flavorful.
Of course, if you’re unable to find cactus/nopales locally, you may order online OR skip it. This salsa recipe is pretty tasty even if you had to omit the cactus. Good Luck and Happy Cooking. Let me know how yours turns out!