Chipotle Grapefruit Margaritas are here to celebrate a little occasion.
Twelve months ago today, I baked an enormous pan of chicken enchiladas, washed them down with a lime margarita, and for some weird reason thought that The Universe might want to hear about it.
Before you assume I’m a narcissist, do keep in mind that “The Universe” at this time consisted of my mother, my grandmother, and Ben’s aunt, all of whom are a) highly sympathetic and b) stuck with me.
Yes, my first recipe post was live, my soul (and my weeknight dinner selection) exposed for all to see.
The photos were unappetizing, the web page design a wreck, and I’d somehow forgotten to write anything describing the recipes.
Never mind the details, I had published a post! My mom clicked on it! I officially had a food blog!
At this point in time, the terms “SEO,” “Food Styling,” and “Unique Page Views” meant nothing to me.
All that mattered was that I’d prepared a tasty, healthy meal for Ben and myself, written it down, and shared it with my family and a few friends.
My high school pal Kathryn emailed to tell me that she’d made the enchiladas and loved them, three people liked my link on Facebook, and I had an indisputable excuse to bake cookies three times a week if I felt like it (blog material!). Life was good.
Next, I hit 50 page views in one day. FIFTY!
When a total stranger commented on a post, I freaked out and called Ben at the library.
As the months went on, I started focusing on improving my photography, connecting with other bloggers, and growing my audience. Hitting 100 views happened. Then, 1,000.
I celebrated, then asked myself for more—more subscribers, more improved photography, more social media interaction.
As any semi-serious blogger will tell you, the path to numbers obsession, comparing your blog to others, and losing sight of why you began blogging in the first place is deadlier than a readily accessible bowl of puppy chow.
Before you know what’s happened, you’ve got Google Analytics bookmarked, finger cramps from too much Tweeting, and a serious tummy ache.
As I look back on my first year of food blogging, I want to reconnect with the Erin who was completely satisfied to write for only her grandma, who didn’t care if her photos stunk so long as the recipe was solid, and who mixed that first Skinny Margarita.
Though my Skinny ‘Rita recipe remains a warm-weather staple in our apartment, today I’ll be sharing a slightly more evolved margarita recipe to celebrate my one-year “Blog-iversary”: Chipotle Grapefruit Margaritas.
Prepare your taste buds for a barrage of tart-sweet-tangy-spicy summer satisfaction.
Chipotle Grapefruit Margaritas are the bridge between where my blog began and where it is today: The foundation (the girl behind the blog and…the tequila) is the same, but the eye appeal, flavor complexity, and overall perspective has an extra kick.
Yes, I just compared myself to tequila.
At this point in the post, if you hop down to the final two paragraphs and the Chipotle Grapefruit Margaritas recipe, I will not be offended.
After all, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, and those ‘ritas are rockin’. If, however, you’d care to join me for a bit of blog reflection, I’d love to share a few lessons of this last year with you. Let’s begin.
In the last year of food blogging, I have learned a great deal. The most obvious lessons focus on just how challenging—and time consuming—maintaining a food blog can be, even before I’ve touched a measuring cup:
- Technical issues I had no idea existed. “What, my RSS-driven email campaign didn’t send because of a failed server connection?”
- Photography challenges in a dimly lit, teeny-tiny apartment.“Why is Ben’s drying rack visible in every photo, no matter how I angle it?”
- Keeping Up with Social Media. “So, what exactly is a hashtag anyway?”
Then, I have the real lessons, the ones I am learning over and over again:
- How will I define success?
- What does my blog say about me?
- Why am I pouring so much energy into this crazy thing?
- Does anyone care? Do I care if they do?
At the moment, those questions will remain rhetorical, because I don’t have the answers.
Here is what I do know after one year of food blogging:
- The only truly unique feature I can offer my readers is myself. Think my One-Bowl Brownies look amazing? I can find you 100 other, more drool-worthy photos on other food sites. In the end, the internet is loaded with wonderful bloggers with skills that far surpass my own. There is, however, only one person who can overuse alliteration, compare pizza toppings to outlandish dance moves, and confess to jamming out to “Call Me Maybe” on a treadmill, and that person is me.
- Have a life outside the blog. Food blogs are fun because their authors inject energy into the recipes and place them in the context of a broader, fuller life. If I chain myself to my oven (and my laptop) full-time, I can’t give you that energy. Plus, I don’t really get paid for this, and I’d like to think that Ben would miss me.
- Be real. Every word I write, every recipe I post, every embarrassing detail I reveal is the gosh darn truth. I like to look myself in the eye in the morning, and I value your trust. Nothing will ever be worth compromising that confidence. I already drink diet soda. That’s enough artificial for both of us.
- The world will not end if I miss a post. Yep, it’s happened. I went out of town for the weekend and missed my usual Monday/Tuesday update. Reality check: you didn’t notice. It’s OK—my pride can handle it.
- People think I’m crazy. It’s cool. My family and friends sometimes don’t quite understand why I pour as much time into my blog as I do. They also don’t understand why I’m still listening to Matchbox 20 and Shania Twain. My music selection and my blog make me happy; I can handle a few raised eyebrows.
- One day at a time. I still can’t properly capture maple syrup streaming from the bottle and oozing over a stack of buttery pancakes. Maybe someday I will. For today, I’ll just keep learning.
- Remember why I’m doing this. I love food, writing, and my readers. In the end, the page views, brand partnerships, ad revenue, and technical stuff are all just background music. Passion for creating and sharing wonderful recipes, offering relatable, enjoyable stories, and interacting with you at the other end of my posts is what keeps me blogging. Now that is worth celebrating.
I’d like to propose a toast: To you. Whether you’ve been with me since that first awkward post or are visiting my site for the first time today, I’m thrilled to have you here. Thanks for being a part of my blog and for making Well Plated meaningful.
To one year of recipes, of learning, and of sharing, with full glasses of Chipotle Grapefruit Margaritas in hand. Cheers!
Chipotle Grapefruit Margaritas
For the Chipotle Grapefruit Margaritas:
- 2 slices grapefruit (thick and round, about 1/2 inch wide, plus more for garnish)
- Kosher salt for glass rim (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon chipotle juice from canned chipotle
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice about 1 lime
- 1 1/2 ounces tequila
- 1/2 ounce triple sec
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup (recipe below)
For the Simple Syrup:
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- Make the simple syrup: In a small pot, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
- For a salt rim: Rub a grapefruit or lime slice around the edge of the glass and then dip the rim of the glass lightly in a plate of kosher salt. Set aside.
- In a cocktail shaker, muddle grapefruit slices with chipotle juice and lime juice. Add tequila, triple sec, and simple syrup, then fill the shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly for 1 minute. Strain into a glass filled with fresh ice, and garnish with a grapefruit slice. Enjoy immediately.
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