Thursday, July 3, 2014

Salute to the Red, White and Blue

I truly can’t believe that my last half attempt at a post was in October of 2012. So depressing how fast time has flown on by…

 I do have to say though … so many wonderful things have been happening (my wedding, other people's weddings, home renovations, new job, vacations, honeymoon) that I can’t be too sad for too long.

Well, I figured the best way to jump back on this bandwagon is to start off with one of my favorite things on one of my favorite weekends…. 4th of July themed cocktails. I love me a good themed drink and this weekend offers a host of opportunities to consume one or ten. The only tricky part is that they need to be easy. When the BBQ is going, the sun is shining and the pool noodles are calling your name, the last thing you want to do is waste time in the kitchen mixing up a complicated cocktail. Here are my suggestions for deliciously simple and refreshing drinks to help you celebrate the land of country music, Step-Up movies, water parks and 64 oz beverages!

(My hubby and I made quite the sacrifice last night and painstakingly consumed all three concoctions to determine the best scenario for each… oh wait, it was awesome and patriotic and in the end a little messy but like I said, awesome.)

Red, White and Blueberry

Fun, fruity and fabulous, this combines the classic mojito with some berry and melon flare. The muddling adds a little extra work but we timed it out and it took only 2 minutes from counter to sip. We had the limes and watermelon precut and the simple syrup chilled and ready.

For boats, beaches, pools and all things water related.

For hanging out, picnicking, lounging or doing any other sort of leisurely activity that requires minimal effort.

You will need:
  • About 8 mint leaves
  • 2 ounces white rum 
  • 3 lime wedges 
  • Club soda 
  • 1 oz blueberry simple syrup*
  • Watermelon garnish**
In a tall glass, muddle the mint leaves and limes. Fill the glass with ice and add rum, top with club soda. Stir. Top with blueberry simple syrup and garnish.

*For the simple syrup, I loosely followed the All Recipes’ instructions for blueberry sauce.

Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup white sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat; stir until sugar is dissolved. Mix 1 cup blueberries in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the berries begin to pop and the syrup thickens, about 10 minutes. Pull of heat and mash the berries with a potato masher. Strain liquid and refrigerate.

** Summer = fresh watermelon and this sweet treat adds the perfect garnish. Cut watermelon into small slices and make a cut ½ way through the tip so that they can adorn the edge of the glass. Sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt (if you haven’t tried this yet, I would highly recommend it. Your relationship with watermelon will never be the same again).

The Betsy Ross

These festive drinks can be premixed with ease and when ready to consume, all guests will need to do it pour over ice and adorn with the delightfully edible decoration. When timed, it took only 1 minute from “I would like a refill” to “here you go”. We had the garnish preassembled and the simple syrup chilled and ready.

For watching fireworks light up the night sky, sitting under the stars or around a campfire and listening to the sweet sounds of John Philip Sousa.

As a reward because you just drove over the state line into Wisconsin or Indiana, didn't get caught, and snagged yourself some pretty awesome things that you will get to blow up later.

You will need:
  • 2 ounces vodka (Mine are generally made by me going “a little more, a little more, I guess that’s enough… so add however much you like in your drink.. I’m clearly not here to judge) 
  • Club soda
  • 1 oz strawberry simple syrup* 
  • Star spangled garnish**
In a rocks glass (or my favorite, a stemless wine glass) combine ice, vodka and club soda, stir. Top off with strawberry simple syrup and garnish.

*For the simple syrup, I once again followed the All Recipes’ instructions.

Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup white sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat; stir until sugar is dissolved. Mix , 2 cups strawberries into saucepan and bring to a boil; boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until strawberries are mushy and sauce is thick, about 10 minutes. Strain liquid into a container and refrigerate.

** Show off your flare for the festive with these themed fruit skewers. An easy peasy creation, all you have to do is line the spear with blueberries and top with a perfectly cut piece of pineapple. Want to make it functional? After assembled, line a cutting board or baking sheet with wax paper and toss your star spangled garnish in the freezer.

'Merica Mule

Really, the only thing similar about this drink and its Moscow Mule counterpart is the vodka... and that is clearly questionable.  Although, after several of these and you might be feeling like an @$$ so you'll have that going for you, which is nice.  This simple concoction can be whipped up in under a minute so get ready to get your 'Merica on!  We had the garnish preassembled and the simple syrup chilled and ready.

For eating various meats that are cooked outside... whether they are smoked, grilled or on a stick over an open flame. Time to BBQ like a boss!

For a pick-up softball game, Frisbee, jarts or bags game (I should say anything that is mildly athletic and by that I mean activities that require you to not be in the seated position).

You will need:

  • UV Blue 
  • Ice
  • 1 oz pear simple syrup* 
  • Raspberry garnish**

Fill a rocks glass to the top with ice.  Pour in the UV Blue (its really all about how big you want this celebration to be) and top with the simple syrup.  Stir.  Add the raspberry garnish.  You'll be whistling "Oh Say Can You See.." in no time!

* For the simple syrup, I simply follow the ratios from earlier.

Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup white sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat; stir until sugar is dissolved. Mix , 1 pear (peeled and cut into bite sized pieces) into saucepan and bring to a boil; boil on high for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the pear is mushy and sauce is thick, about 10 minutes. Strain liquid into a container (I really had to use my spatula to get the juices out) and refrigerate.

** For the raspberries, simply wash and skewer.  For an added bonus (the leftovers were simply devoured later as a sweet treat), mix up a small bath of plain simple syrup (clearly I'm forming an addiction) using 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water.  Stir in a saucepan on high till the sugar dissolves and the water is clear.  Place the skewers into a deep dish and pour the syrup over.  Freeze for at least an hour, at best overnight.  The syrup becomes thick and coats the raspberries so they have a crispy shine.  It is much simpler than trying to candy coat them.  I simply don't have the patients.  

CHEERS! To a Happy 4th of July and an explosion of festiveness!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

7 Nights of Creepy Cocktails and Halloween Hauntings

I am not going to lie Halloween is, hands down, my all-time favorite holiday. Due to home renovations last year, I totally missed out on some of the Spooktacular fun that I normally partake in and decided to make up for it this year. Since I had so much fun putting together my 12 Days of Christmas Cocktails and Fun list, I thought it would be amazing to do a similar one for Halloween (once again,  I will post pictures as I drink drink along!!  ). So grab your goblins and get ready for… cue the animated witch's cackle please… The 7 Nights of Creepy Cocktails and Halloween Hauntings (obviously, I didn’t get my act together in time to do a full 12 nights but I’m thinking it will be fun nonetheless)! Next year, there is always next year... ENJOY!

Thursday, October 25: Green Goblin and Troll 2 
There is no way to describe the awesomeness that is Troll 2. You simply need to watch for yourself and decide whether or not this film makes it into the annual Halloween movie night rotation (yes, since its discovery it’s been watched every year in my home). Now, don’t be alarmed that the movie is called Troll 2 and is actually all about Goblins or that there is an entirely separate documentary about this movie literally called, Best Worst Movie. All you need to know is that there is an amazing 90’s workout scene, a deceased-talking-grandpa and some of the best quotable lines ever seen on TV (“you can’t piss on hospitality. I won’t allow it.” Ha, you’ll see). Since I’ve never found/seen it on regular TV, you might have to purchase it through Amazon, but trust me, it’s totally worth it. So grab that delicious Green Goblin and get yourself ready for a little trip to Nilbog.

Friday, October 26: Poisoned Apple Pie (Moonshine) and Campfire Ghost Stories 
When I was younger, I was absolutely terrified of “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” Maybe it was more so the pictures (which can still manage to creep out 30 year olds, apparently) than the actual stories but all I know is that when I was digging through a box of stuff from my childhood and came across this book I thought, “Oh my word we have to read this.” I couldn’t help myself and had to sneak a peek at some of the stories beforehand but from someone who once found these tales terrifying, I have to say, you will laugh Now onto the cocktail, I wound up making my own Moonshine (because I’m part hillbilly) but Binny’s does sell a brand that it pretty fantastic, around 100 proof (make sure you don’t sit too close to the fire) and comes in a plethora of flavors (cheery, apple, blueberry…etc). So grab yourself some Haunted Hooch and try to not scream when you realize, “that the call is coming from inside the house!!”

Saturday, October 27: Costume Party and Halloween Jell-O Shots 
Even though I'm almost 30, dressing up for Halloween is still the best part of the holiday (hands down). It also doesn't hurt to hang out with people who cherish the idea of dressing up. Thus, I am spending the Saturday before Halloween attending a costume party at a friend's house and what goes hand in hand with a house party, Jell-O shots, obviously. These Jell-O shots will be festively black and orange with a touch of spookiness. If you don't have a party to attend, there are a plethora of events happening at a local bar near you. Although, you might have to enjoy this special Haunted treat before you leave the house. Either way, its always fun to throw on a costume, act like you're still in college and have a good time hanging out with friends!

Sunday, October 28: Bloody Marys and Pumpkin Carving 
I feel like Bloody Mary’s can be suited to fit any occasion but how can they NOT be included on a Halloween cocktail list?! I did these Bloody Mary’s up a little differently than I did the ones we had a Christmastime and replaced the usual fixin’s with some zombie eyeballs, witches fingers and pickled hearts J Because I'm not actually Martha Stewart (apparently, I can't widdle a pumpkin nor "mimic the lacelike openwork of 18th-century pierced creamware" on a pumpkin... I mean really Martha?! Are these really your suggestions?!), I generally carve out a big eyed Jack O' Lantern with a goofy one toothed smile (it always starts out with two buck teeth but something ALWAYS goes wrong) and this year is no different. Maybe I'll be inspired to try something new but I'm going to predict that once that Bloody Mary kicks in Jack's one toothed grin will probably be a no toothed grin :(

Monday, October 29: Dearly Beloved Wine and Halloween Headband 
Thanks to Trader Joe's, the Dearly Beloved (or as I call it, the Day of the Dead wine) is always a fun wine to buy during the Halloween season. Its reasonably priced ($6.99) and the label is amazing (even though real wine drinkers say that choosing by the label is exactly how you're not supposed to pick out wine, meh) . So, since I always drink wine when I craft (is there any other way?!), I figured this would be the perfect accompaniment to crafting my Halloween headband. I came up with this idea the day I thought it was still appropriate to wear a costume to work... on the el... oh wait, its not. However, I was faced with a conundrum: not celebrate Halloween all day long or be socially appropriate? Ahhh. Therefore, I devised the perfect solution! With the headband, I can celebrate Halloween when I want (ie: the safety of my office) and take it off when I need (ie: public). The best part of the headband is that it is really, really easy because all you have to do is hot glue a bunch of spooky items to a headband. Blam-o, craft is done, now we can focus the rest of our attention on this festively delicious bottle of wine.

Tuesday, October 30: The Shadowy Figure and Ghost Adventures Bingo 
If you read my Redneck Bingo post, you will know that I am a huge fan of cheap and easy games that allow you to combine adult beverages and amazing television (I am very much aware of the fact that my definition of “amazing” and others might vary slightly, considering my affliction for the Real Housewives, Bridezillas, and the like…), so I decided to repeat the process with another one of my favorite shows, Ghost Adventures (download game board here)!! Ohhhh-eeeeeee-ooooooo I thought this was the perfect time to set up the tivo and record as many episodes as I could and since it is indeed Halloween season, the Travel Channel is running a marathon on Saturday, October 27 starting at 4pm eastern. You can read up on the show here. So grab yourself a Shadowy Figure and let the ghost hunting (or as my viewing partner calls it, “the dust hunt”) begin!!

Wednesday, October 31: Trick-or-Treaters and THE Trick-or-Treat 
One of the reasons I was so excited to buy my house was that I would have my very own Trick-or-Treaters coming to my door on Halloween night. So, to prepare, I made sure that the house was extra spooky for them and got a trick-or-treat give-away that will surely (hopefully) be memorable. I racked my brain to come up with the perfect Halloween treat that would make our house the go-to house on the block (however, I do think I’m competing against houses that give out actual cash and king sized candy bars, so this might be a pipe dream) and came up with Zombie Hands (aka: surgical gloves filled with candy)!! Not only do you get a plethora of candy but it looks SUPER creepy… come on, the kids will have to love it, right?! As for my treat, I decided to amp up the usual chocolate martini with something a little more festive. I don’t know about you but anytime I can enjoy some chocolate sweets and a cocktail, I am one satisfied customer. Let’s hope the little devils who come to my house feel the same way. 


Monday, October 22, 2012

Perfect Fall Weekend - In Pictures

The weather this weekend was absolutely wonderful and has definitely put me in the fall mood (thank you Skilling)!  Since fall is my most favorite season in the world (well, out of all four of them) I decided to jump in head first.  I figured instead of telling you all about it, I would document my adventures in pictures.  
HofbrÀuhaus Oktoberfest Beer

Tomato soup with baked
mozzarella sticks (in ball form) 

Einstein's pumpkin crisp bagel
and cinnamon coffee 

The biggest carmel apple in
the world from Mariano's 

Pumpkin cupcakes from Sugar Bliss

Just in case you wanted to see
these DELICIOUS cupcakes
one more time :) 
A house that smells like Fall? Yes! 

Baked apple crisp dessert (the book says bake something
that he will like "because much depends on the
state of his digestion" fyi) 

 As I take a look back at my wonderful weekend, I now realize that I need to go to the gym since, well, most of my adventures involved food and booze...  Oh well, it was glorious and totally worth it!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Poor Girls Walk in Closet :)

My dream is to one day, have a gorgeous walk in closet.  The kind with a chandelier in the middle and an entire wall that will house all of my super expensive shoes (they will more likely be shoes that were purchased from Payless and Nordstrom Rack... but whatever).  You know, like the kind of closet you'd see on an episode of Real Housewives.  Until that day arrives, I decided to dedicate one corner of my bedroom to my cause and create a space that is totally girly and all mine. Hopefully, this will fill the void that is my need for a giant Beverly Hills closet :)

In my dream, I have a section of my closet dedicated to my jewelry.  It's not that I own all these expensive, elegant pieces but I want to feel as if I'm walking into a darling little boutique every time I have to go put something on.  What girl doesn't want that?!  Plus, I am a huge fan of large chunky necklaces and bracelets and well, they are a little difficult to shove into a drawer somewhere.  The biggest challenge for me, was coming up with a way to display all of my earrings.  I am sure I saw this idea on Pinterest or at a flea market somewhere but when I was brainstorming ways to hang them up, this was the first idea that popped into my mind.

To create the earring display, you will need:

* Desired photograph or artwork
* Picture frame
* Chicken wire
* Wire cutters

Flatten out the chicken wire as best you can, you won't get it completely flat but the waves that pop up will help you hang your earrings better.  Remove the glass from the frame and match up one corner of the chicken wire with one corner of the frame.  Make sure that the edges of the chicken wire over lay the lip of the frame and are fully against the side.  Hold the chicken wire in place and then use the wire cutters to trim the other two edges.  Once the wire is cut, put the glass back into the frame, making sure that the chicken wire gets pinned between the side of the frame and the glass.  Add your picture and the backing.  Since the chicken wire is a little thick, I needed the help of the screw driver to push the tabs on back down, making sure they were snug.

Honestly, this is one of the easiest projects that I've ever attempted and I was amazed at how great it looked once I put all of the elements together.  For me this whole thing wound up costing me $0 since I already owned all of these items (just had to repurpose the picture, old frame and white shelf).

I did need to break out the major tools (yes, my hammer does have a bottle opener on the end.  You would be AMAZED at the amount of times that came in handy :) in order to get this little beauty up on the wall. but all in all, it wasn't that hard to do.  I then hung up the white shelf and blam-o  I have my very own jewelry display.

While I don't think any of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills will be calling me for decorating tips anytime soon, I absolutely love my little corner of heaven.  Whenever I'm getting ready to go out, all I have to do is reach over and pull something off my shelf or grab the earrings off the frame.  I always know what I have and I never have to untangle a thing (which I LOVE!).

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Grilled Ballpark Nachos

My apologies for the delay!! Time is flying by a little too fast and since I have been so consumed with using my new grill and hillbilly sunbathing out in the backyard, I haven't had a chance to share what I've been up to.  

All I have to say is that The Weber truly is the most beautiful thing we own.  Sorry leather Macy's couch and Kohler shower head,  no offense.... but that amazing piece of grilling glory let's me cook everything outside.  I can't even convey how great it is to not have to turn on my oven (woohoo... it's been about 3 weeks now) because it has this magical way of turning my entire kitchen into the Amazon.  Oh, not in a fun, exotic way but in the I-didn't-think-I-could-sweat-this-much-while-standing-still, I-think-I-need-to-take-a-shower-before-eating, kinda way.  So, let phase one of the outdoor grilling recap begin... 

Since Trader Joe's only sells certain items in bulk (I only wanted 2 jalapenos but managed to walk away with 10), I needed to come up with something to do with all of the leftovers and grilled jalapenos seemed like the BEST option.  After washing, de-seeding and slicing the penos in half, I threw them on the top rack of the grill for a couple minutes each side.  

After pulling them off and allowing them to cool a little, I filled the inside with some Merkts Cheese (please don't judge me because I put spreadable cheese on everything).  The only trouble with this process is that putting the cheese in the jalapeno is similar to putting peanut butter in celery.  Slippery little suckers.  So, make sure you scrape the knife sideways, otherwise, it will just keep gliding out.  Once the penos are stuffed, I top them off with some tortillas chips (one full chip will do but I've also used the crunched up bits in the bottom of the bag).  The chips not only function as a handle but they make these grilled jalapenos taste just like the ballpark nachos that we love so much.

And while I cherish processed nacho cheese (really, I do), I am far more excited about using Merkts because it comes from the refrigerated side of the store, which just seems way more natural.  Right?!  Cheese should be refrigerated?!  Don't get me started, I just can't wrap my head around those Velveeta types.  Oh, I eat it and I love it, I just don't understand it!  Anyway... add a little Miller Lite and you would think you were literally at the ballpark... minus the losing or the ridiculously expensive beers.    
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