Knowledge from Grandma

During the holidays I went to eat dinner at my grandmother’s house. She had a huge dinner spread, as usual, with something for everyone. A little history on my grandmother…

My grandmother is the reason I gained an interest in cooking. I was a picky eater and because of that, my mom told me to make my own food. Once I got the hang of it, my grandmother fueled the fire. Grandma’s kitchen always had some of the most interesting ingredients and tools. I always wanted to help in the kitchen, but then I became more involved with the prep of the meal.

Ok, so back to Christmas dinner. My grandma’s menu was:

  • Roasted Quail
  • Standing Rib Roast with Gravy
  • Stuffing with Sweet Potatoes
  • Ribs
  • Collard Greens
  • Lima Beans
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Biscuits and Cornbread

We pulled out the best china and talked about family past, random experiences, and laughed. The food was good and the company was great!

So, when going back home I of course got some leftovers to take with me. Now, I tasted all the food except the lima beans and quail. There was a lot on my plate. At home, I reheated the greens and roast with gravy and stuffing. The collard greens were the best I’d ever had!

I had to call my grandmother and ask her where she got the greens from. She told me a story about a farm she got vegetables and fruits from through the summer season who was too busy towards the end of the season. So she talked to the owner and asked if she could just come at the end of the season when the garden is pretty much empty. The owner agreed and after the first frost my grandma said she went with her machete and my grandfather and got about a bushel of collard greens.

The funny thing about this is, my grandmother is a sick woman with a lot of bone issues and wears braces for her legs and back. So the fact that she wanted these greens bad enough to prepare for the holidays is simply dedication.

The knowledge my grandmother gave me about this endeavor is that when she got the greens from the ground after the frost, they were still somewhat frozen. So when she got home, she cleaned them and froze them properly until she was ready to use them. The frost froze the greens when the season ended and that preserved them, so pretty much made the greens more tender. These greens melted in your mouth. So tender and flavorful. Not bitter or tough.

IMG_3925I learned something new from my grandma (as usual). Go get your greens after the first frost. Much like life, you have to wait for the right time to get something. Just because you want it when it’s ‘in’ it may not be the right time for you. Random lessons from gardening/food has about life.

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The Chew-ish Sausage Biscuits and Gravy

The other week we were watching The Chew and saw a recipe Michael Symon demonstrated that piqued our interest. It was a challenge for me, because I’m not a big gravy person. The Andouille Sausage Gravy with Corn Biscuits recipe was something I wanted to attempt but make my own. On the show, the gravy looked too loose for my taste, so I wanted to make sure I modified the recipe to be what I wanted. I also don’t like corn meal biscuits, so I just bought some pre-made biscuits to just work on the gravy.

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The gravy was pretty simple, but I modified the recipe slightly. I don’t like spicy sausage, so I used a simple mild sausage without the casing. I also cut the amount of chicken stock I used because I knew it would thin the gravy too much for my taste. So, below is my version of this recipe.

 

Sausage Gravy

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 cup Onion (minced)
1 pound Mild Sausage (casing removed)
2 1/2 tablespoons Flour
1 cup Low Sodium Chicken Stock
3/4 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 tablespoon dried Parsley
Salt

Place a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a drizzle of Olive Oil and the Mild Sausage. Cook the Sausage, breaking it up into small bits as it browns. Cook Sausage until well browned, about 8 minutes. Add the Onion and a pinch of Salt. Cook until the Onions start to break down and become translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the Flour, stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the Chicken Stock, and Cream. Simmer for 15 minutes or up to 45 minutes on low heat. The Gravy will thicken and reduce slightly.

To serve, slice the Biscuits in half. Spoon the Gravy over the Biscuits and garnish with Parsley

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I have to say, I don’t like gravy really and making it from scratch has always been somewhat intimidating to me. I’ve seen my great grandmother and grandmother make gravy so easily, but have never really tried it myself. In culinary school, I learned the concept and how to actually put those skills into practice, but I have never tried it fully on my own. This recipe was actually quite tasty and I would recommend it to anyone who likes sausage gravy and biscuits.

If you want to see the whole recipe from the show, including the biscuits, feel free to check it out here: Michael Symon’s Corn Biscuits and Andouille Gravy Recipe

The New Shower | Wedding Wednesday

9.17.14

Bridal showers were once seen as a formal event that required fancy food, toilet paper games, and an awkward gift opening session. These days, brides are choosing more personalized and unique ways to celebrate their upcoming nuptials with their girl friends and wedding party. Here are some ways to throw tradition out and have a creative and relaxed shower.

Invitations/Stationery

You have to get the guests there, so choose stationery and invitations that compliment the colors the bride has chosen for her big day. Be creative and less formal.

metallic-051-mwd110239_vert
modern-invitation-11_vert
mwd105818_fall10_pipe4_hd
mwd105818_fall10_scallop4_hd
mwd105818_fall10_sheer1_hd

Location, location, location

Choose a location that is unique and special to you and your groom. I love historic spaces and gastropub type restaurants. The kind that serve craft cocktails and have communal seating. Places with character and culinary fare that goes beyond bruschetta and cheese and crackers.

Wright & Company
Wright & Company | Detroit, MI

Centerpieces

Menus

If you are having your shower at a restaurant or public place, use their menu to your advantage. Takes that task off of you. You can usually get a restaurant to create a prix fixe menu for your guests, or a special variety of menu items just for your party. They will usually give you a deal with that type of set up, but don’t be afraid to ask them.

If you are having your shower at a private home, think of doing a family style set up or creative appetizers that people can walk around and get. That way they can get to know others at the party. One thing to do is to have the appetizers placed around the room and not in one spot because it will make your guests get up and mingle.

Decor Items

Your decor can help bring all the elements of your shower together. You can choose a theme that is either personal for you, or if you have a theme for your wedding day use that. It makes everything seem cohesive.

Chose things that aren’t fussy or formal as to keep the vibe relaxed and engaging for your guests.

parisian shower table
rustic party decor
shower decor
vintage bridal table

Table Setting

Setting the table is nothing formal either. Unless you are having a high tea, there is no need for formal seating charts…unless you want to do so to mix up the guests. Be reasonable, you will be using the table a lot. So nothing fussy is really going to be functional.

fun-and-flirty-tablescape-with-black-pink-and-gold shower table

simple table

Signature Cocktail

Choose a special cocktail to represent some of your favorite flavors or a make up of your favorite cocktail. This is all based on preference. You can always have a non-alcoholic option for your child guests or designated drivers.

Display your cocktails in a manner that is easily accessed, classily displayed, and decorative. Try a drink dispenser or decorative glass pitchers.

drink station
drink table decor

Try one of these:

grapefruit + mint mojito

Grapefruit + Mint Mojito

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1 ruby-red grapefruit
  • 3/4 cup white rum
  • 3 cups ice
  • 1 cup seltzer

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, and add mint leaves. Let steep 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl, and discard mint. Let cool.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove zest from grapefruit in long, wide strips. Place in a large glass, and add rum. Cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a large glass measure, and discard zest.

Cut away remaining pith from grapefruit. Cut between membranes to release segments. For each drink, place 2 to 3 segments in a glass. Top with 3/4 cup ice. Stir 3 tablespoons infused rum, 2 tablespoons mint syrup, and 1/4 cup seltzer in a glass measure, and pour over ice. Garnish with mint sprigs.

sour cherry old fashioned

 Sour Cherry Old Fashioned

  • 24 frozen sour cherries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup whiskey
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons kirsch
  • Thin lemon-zest strips (from 1 lemon)

Place cherries in a heatproof bowl. Stir water and sugar in small saucepan to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil, and pour over cherries. Let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Drain cherries, reserving syrup. Thread 4 cherries onto each of 6 skewers. Make 3 drinks at a time: Pour 6 tablespoons whiskey, 3 tablespoons kirsch, and 4 1/2 teaspoons reserved syrup in a cocktail shaker 3/4 filled with ice. Shake and pour into chilled glasses. Garnish each with a skewer and 2 to 3 strips lemon zest. Repeat for the second batch.

Social Media Buzz

Encourage your guests to use social media apps like Instagram, or the specialty app called the Wedding Party App. This app will allow your guests, at both your shower and wedding, to share their photos with other guests. This will create a great collage of photos and share the memories of others and your guest’s experience sharing in your festivities. Create a unique hashtag to distinguish your event and that way your guests can look back as well under that definer.

Gift Alternatives

For your guests, try an alternative idea and ask guests to bring handmade, small, or specified gifts (i.e. preserves, favorite food items, wine, etc) for things you may want or need.

Guest Favors

Lastly, give your guests something to remember the day by. Give anything useful and small, but something that says ‘thank you for coming and sharing that moment’ with you.  Again, be creative, but practical.

nail polish favor
wine favors

Whatever type of bridal shower you have, enjoy your friends and family, and be in that moment. Have fun!

Tomato Soup | Tasty Tuesday

9.16.14

Fall is here and my favorite comfort food is in demand with the chilly temperatures, Soup! I love a warm soup, no matter the season. They are simple, warm, and are served in one dish. But with the harvest of tomatoes I had enough to make a small batch of tomato soup with the tomatoes I had left over from my tomato sauce.

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I love tomato soup! It’s creamy and rich, and full of flavor. You can make your tomato soup with whatever flavors you like. You can be bold and add spices to punch up the flavor, or keep it simple with a few herbs and cream. The process is pretty simple really.

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Garden Tomato Soup

  • 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2 small onion, diced
  • 4 whole cloves or 1 tsp ground
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp dried basil, or 1 tsp of fresh basil finely chopped
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream

In a stockpot, over medium heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, cloves, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and gently boil for about 20 minutes to blend all of the flavors. Remove from heat and blend in a blender in batches. You can use a food mill if you have one, and just run the mixture through the mill into a bowl. Discard any stuff left over in the food mill.

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In the stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is medium brown. Gradually whisk in the tomato mixture, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest. Season with sugar and salt, and adjust to taste. 

IMG_3597

Temper the whipping cream by adding a little of the hot soup to the cream, and whisk together. This helps the cream reach the same temperature as the soup, and prevents it from curdling in the soup. Adding the cream finishes the soup and makes it creamy, also adding a little flavor.

Use the harvest of garden vegetables from the summer to make your fall soups, or use them as starters to add to some early fall vegetables for more complex soups and stews. Whatever you choose, love your fresh foods and enjoy the season.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

9.9.14

Now everyone loves fried chicken, but I decided one day to try making buttermilk fried chicken to try something a little different.

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It is a pretty simple recipe. Just season your chicken with salt and pepper, place it in a dish and cover chicken with the buttermilk. Cover with plastic wrap and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour. The longer, the better.
Continue reading “Buttermilk Fried Chicken”

Chicken Chili | Tasty Tuesday

9.2.14

With fall in the horizon, soups and chili will be a major dinner staple. One chili I tried out this summer was a chicken chili using some bone-in chicken breasts. Seeing as these parts weren’t easy to eat just cooked as they were, so I had to be a little creative in using it.

So, while watching one of my favorite chefs, Ina Garten, on television, I got inspired to make a chili. Although it was the middle of July, I still got the urge to create something good and warm. I found one of the Barefoot Contessa’s recipes for Chicken Chili and decided to modify it a little for my personal tastes.

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Chicken Chili

4 cups yellow onions, chopped (3 onions)
1/8 cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 orange bell peppers, diced
2 yellow bell peppers, diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
2 tbsp dried basil leaves
2 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes to the pot with the basil.I crushed my tomatoes by hand, but you can use a food processor if you like. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

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Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for about 35 minutes, until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Separate the meat from the bones and skin and cut it into 3/4-inch chunks.

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Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.

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I enjoyed mine topped with sour cream and shredded cheddar, but you can use tortilla chips or chopped onions.

Tomäto, Tomāto

9.1.14

Now is the season for harvesting the tomatoes you get from the farmer’s market or in your own garden. A couple of years ago, my grandmother gave me over a bushel of red and green tomatoes from her garden. She had way too many and couldn’t do much with them all herself. So she decided to share the wealth with me.

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This year, she only had red tomatoes, but that’s just fine with me. I love pasta, so this was just a great excuse for me to make sauce for future dishes. I had about 32 tomatoes total, but only used about 23 to make my sauce. Since she shared with me, I am sharing my recipe for simple tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes

Take your tomatoes and cut the tops off. Chop the tomatoes up coarsely, removing most of the seeds. Take the tomatoes and add them to a large pot with about 2 cups of water. You can use less water if you want a thicker sauce. Add the tomatoes and water to a large pot. Cover and cook on a medium heat until the tomatoes are soft and soupy.This takes about 12-15 minutes. Using a blender, puree the tomatoes in batches and add the sauce to a bowl. You should have about 15-17 cups of sauce.

tomatoes boiled

To make the sauce for pasta and other dishes, here is what you will need:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Italian seasonings
  • 3 tbsp dried basil
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper

Heat the olive oil in the same pot you cooked the tomatoes in. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic, for about a minute. Turn down to a low heat and add the tomato puree, basil, Italian seasonings, sugar, and salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat until sauce is thickened and reduced, stirring occasionally. This is a time where patience is important. You can’t rush a good sauce, it could burn easily. IMG_3553

At this point, you can freeze for future use. Store in plastic containers for up to 4 months. I was able to fill up a quarter of two gallon freezer bags to store until later. So, in essence that is a half-gallon of sauce. When you’re ready to use the sauce, you can add meat for a meat sauce, use it for spaghetti, or plain with just noodles.

Mad Monday | Vive la France!

7.14.14

Today is the French equivalent to Independence Day, better known as Bastille Day. It commemorates the day that the Bastille prison was stormed and signifies the end of complete monarchy, the birth of the sovereign, and would eventually lead to the creation of the (First) Republic.

Like the 4th of July, food is an important part of the celebration. Sometimes French food can be seen as fussy and complicated, but here are a couple options that aren’t.

French 75

French 75

Serves 2

  • shots gin (Hendrick’s is a good choice)
  • shots Cointreau
  • squeeze of lime
  • 1 to 2 tsp sugar
  • Sparkling wine (Champagne or Prosecco), chilled
  • Ice
  1. Add enough ice to your cocktail shaker to fill it about a third of the way.
  2. Add the gin, Cointreau, lime, and sugar, then cover and shake well. Strain the drink into tumblers chilled with ice.
  3. Finish off each glass with a big splash of sparkling wine. An additional lime wedge is optional.
  4. Keep pouring ‘em.

macarons

Macarons

These Raspberry, Blueberry, and Champagne Cream Macarons  are a great option for any occasion. Not to be confused with macaroons, which are lovely coconut or ground almonds circular cakes often mistaken for macarons. Macarons are tiny bits of decadence. They come in many flavors and shades, but when done right they are divine!

hambaguette

Ham Baguette with Arugula and Camembert

Servings: 2

Ingredients

1 baguette
4 tablespoons butter
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fig jam
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
4 ounces thinly sliced jambon de Paris
3 ounces Camembert, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 cup baby arugula
Directions:
  1. Slice the baguette in half lengthwise, cutting about three-quarters of the way through.
  2. Evenly coat the cut sides with the butter and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the fig jam & mustard over the butter on both sides.
  4. Layer the ham, Camembert and arugula on the bottom half of the baguette.
  5. Fold over the top half of the baguette and press gently to close.
  6. Cut the sandwich into the desired number of pieces and serve.

Renewal Sunday | Extracting Flavor

7.13.14

I have shared my recipe for making vanilla extract before, but many don’t know there are many things that can be used to make extracts. There are so many flavors that can be used and extracted, but I found this recipe for one using lavender.

lavender fields

Lavender is a very hearty plant, and can grow in most regions. The properties of lavender are calming and soothing. That’s why it works well in teas and herbs. Lavender is something many see in open fields or bouquets and centerpieces. But lavender actually has some great uses in the kitchen. Many teas and rubs include lavender as a spice. There are other unique ways to use lavender, such as sugar and pepper. There are a few different types of lavender, but the most common is English and French lavender, but you may not know there are only a few varieties that you can cook with. The most common culinary versions are munstead, white ice, and hidcote. Whatever you prefer, however adventurous you are, this recipe may help you take your food venturing a little further.

lavendar extracts

Making extracts are simple. It’s a basic equal parts sugar and water, with a little of whatever flavors you want to add towards the end. This recipe is for lavender, and any other essences you want to try. Be adventurous with your options, but be conservative with the flavors until you know the exact results.

Makes one 1/2 liter bottle

  • 3vanilla pods or 3 handfuls of dried lavender
  • 2cups vodka
  1. Add the vanilla or dried lavender to a clean 1/2 liter bottle or jar, then add the vodka.
  2. Mix the bottle by inverting it a couple of times.
  3. Seal the bottle or jar and keep in a cool place for 1 to 2 months.
  4. Use your homemade extracts in all of your baking endeavors.

I would say to find some smaller jars from a home goods store to store your extracts. It makes things easy to store and just makes things pretty.

Adding lavender to any recipe will enhance the flavor. Be adventurous and enjoy the flavors of nature.

 

Tasty Tuesday | Twisted Fish (Sort of)

5.20.14

I love fish, but sometimes it can be a bit bland just baking it. So I decided to kick up the meal a bit by making a menu of Parmesan Tilapia, Sauteéd Green Beans, and Roasted Golden Potatoes.

Don’t get me wrong, baked fish is good, but pan fried Italian tilapia just has so much more flavor to a light fish.

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I decided since I was adding a flavorful fish, why not make the sides just as flavorful. So I decided to use my culinary degree skills and add some sautéed fresh green beans and oven roasted golden potatoes.

Since I’m not really big on following recipes to the letter as law, I’ll simply say this about the individual menu items:

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Italian Tilapia

2 fillets
Season with salt and pepper, or preferred seasonings
Plate of Italian breadcrumbs
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup of vegetable oil

Mix the breadcrumbs, cornstarch, and parmesan on a large platter, mix with fork. Place the seasoned fish fillets in the breadcrumb mixture, cover and pat both sides. Place gently into a pan of hot oil. I used my cast iron skillet to fry these in. Let the fish cook fully on both sides, generally about 5 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the fillets.

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Sautéed Green Beans

2 cups of fresh green beans
1 half of white onion, sliced
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a stainless steel pan and melt the butter. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the beans and turn heat down to medium. Sauté beans until soft, but not mushy. You can add a tablespoon of water if your beans start to stick or your pan gets too hot. This will help to soften the beans.

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Roasted Golden Potatoes

3 medium size golden potatoes
Herbs de Provènce
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven at 400°F. Cut the potatoes into small cubes. Season to your preference and coat with oil. A trick I learned in culinary school when cooking potatoes in the oven. Take the pan you will be using, coat with oil and put in the oven while its preheating. While you prepare the potatoes to cook, heating the pan will heat the oil, and when you add the potatoes to the pan it will sizzle. What that does is essentially quick fry the outside of the potatoes, and will give the potatoes a nice crisp on the outside. Cook for about 15 minutes. Remove and sprinkle a little kosher salt on top. Potatoes need a lot of seasoning.

Well, here was the final product:

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Tasty Tuesday | Mother’s Day Brunch Recipes

5.6.14

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Though it would be great to take your mom out to eat, but to avoid all the fuss and crowds try some of these tasty recipes for a brunch with mom.


MEYER LEMON CREPE CAKE

Meyer Lemon Crepe  Cake

 

Citrus Salad With Tarragon

Citrus Salad with Tarragon

 

Frittata-kale and artichoke

Kale and Artichoke Frittata

 

mini bacon and egg tarts

Mini Bacon and Egg Tarts

 

baked french toast

Baked French Toast

 

strawberry_kiwi_parfait

Strawberry, Kiwi, and Basil Parfaits

 

strawberry mango yogurt smoothie

Strawberry Mango Yogurt Smoothie

 

strawberry and asparagus salad

 

Warm Strawberry Spring Salad

 

Parmesan-Baked-Eggsjpg

Parmesan Herb Baked Eggs

 

Don’t fight the crowds, spend time with your mom in and enjoy each other’s company. Happy Mother’s Day!

Mad Monday | Cinco de MET

5.5.14

Well there’s so much going on today. Today marks Cinco de Mayo, a day of independence of sorts for the Latino community. Today is also the night of the famed and fashionable MET Ball.

fiesta

The Met Gala started back in 1971, and the themes have always been intriguing. This year’s theme is Beyond Fashion, and I’m interested to see how the stars interpret this theme tonight.

Cher and Bob Mackie at 1974 Met Gala
Cher and Bob Mackie at 1974 Met Gala

Here is a taste of the stars at Met Galas past:

Today is also Cinco de Mayo, the day that many Mexican-Americans celebrate the battle of freedom and democracy. What better way to celebrate than food and drink.

Ultimate Margarita
Ultimate Margarita

The Ultimate Margarita

1/4 cup fresh lime juice, about 1 large lime
1/4 cup silver 100 percent agave tequila
1/4 cup orange liqueur
1/2 cup coarsely cracked ice cube

Refrigerate the glasses if desired. In a shaker, combine the lime juice, tequila, and orange liqueur. Add ice and shake 10 to 15 seconds, then strain into the prepared glasses.

You can use salt or sugar on the rim, but I prefer mine plain with just a lime to garnish.

For those of you who want to try something a little more adventurous, try jello shots. Not just any jello shot, flavored cocktail jello shots. I’ve featured these before from Jelly Shot Test Kitchen.

Cucumber-Lime Margarita Jelly Shot
Cucumber-Lime Margarita Jelly Shot

Cucumber-Lime Margarita Jelly Shot

Difficulty:  Easy
Recommended Pan:  1-pound loaf pan (approximately 8” x 4”/20 x 10 cm)
Implements:  Muddler and a cocktail shaker
3/4 cup agave tequila
1 cucumber
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup frozen limeade concentrate (thawed)
2 envelopes Knox gelatin
1/4 cup Cointreau
Cucumber ribbons and Cayenne Sprinkle for garnish, if desired (recipe below)
Cut a three inch length of cucumber and coarsely chop (set remaining cucumber aside to make cucumber ribbons).  Place the chopped cucumber in cocktail shaker and muddle vigorously.  Add the tequila to the cocktail shaker, shake for a minute or so and set aside (no ice is needed).  Pour water and limeade concentrate into a small saucepan and sprinkle with the gelatin. Allow the gelatin to soak for a minute or two. Heat over very low heat until gelatin is dissolved, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.  Strain the tequila mixture, and stir into gelatin mixture along with the Cointreau. Pour mixture into loaf pan. Place in refrigerator to set (several hours or overnight).
To serve, cut into desired shapes.  To make the cucumber ribbons, peel the length of the remaining cucumber with a vegetable peeler.  Tie each jelly shot with a ribbon.  Trim ends to desired length.
Makes 18 to 24 jelly shots.
Cucumber-Lime Margarita Jelly Shot with Cayenne topping
Cucumber-Lime Margarita Jelly Shot with Cayenne Sprinkle
Cayenne Sprinkle
1 tbsp large crystal sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Mix ingredients, and place in small bowl for dipping.
Now many of you know I’m a foodie and culinary school graduate, so food is the most fun part of any celebration. And Mexican dishes are some of my favorite to eat and cook. But since it’s Monday, and not all of us have a ton of time to cook a labor intensive meal, I suggest trying something simple: Nachos!
Simple Nachos
Simple Nachos

All you need is some ground meat, I prefer turkey, and seasonings of your choice. Heat and add to tortilla chips with all the toppings you love.

However you celebrate, be safe. What’s your favorite Mexican dish?

Are you going to be watching out for the stars’ fashion on the red carpet tonight at the Met Gala? We will be watching to see who’s wearing what. Who are you looking forward to seeing?

Have a Mad Monday!

Mad Monday | Spring Break Recap

4.28.14

So today begins a new week. We’re getting back into the swing of things after the week long spring break. The break was much needed from the running around, after school activities, catching up on work, late dinners, and homework. But I’m also glad to be back to somewhat normalcy.

Dew on Leaf

 

We did a collaboration post last week with a wonderful men’s apparel company, Bonobos. It was fun working with such a positive and innovative company. We have some new things we’re working on to share with you in the coming months. We hope that you enjoyed your spring break (whenever it may have been) and got some rest. Now it’s back to the regular schedule.

Here are some images from the past week.

Stay tuned for some new and exciting news and updates. We can’t wait to share the fun with you. Have a wonderful week, try not to stress too much, take a break when you can, and enjoy the madness!

Fabulous Friday | Glitter + Bubbles

4.25.14

Today is Fabulous Friday!! It’s been a while since I have written a post on this, but I figured the new season changing is a perfect time to start back to talking about things that make you feel awesome and fabulous.

It doesn’t have to be the holiday to celebrate a special occasion or a new year for champagne or glitter. Sometimes you just want to see something sparkly and bright.

Glitter + Champagne
Glitter + Champagne

This DIY project from Handspire will add some sparkle to your champagne bottles for any event. Whether it’s a birthday party or a special announcement event, you want a little shine to your tables.

Try adding glitter to champagne flutes. It’s really simple and uncomplicated, and it only requires a few steps and tools.

Glitter Flutes
Glitter Flutes

 

These instructions from Sheknows take only one minute! Seriously, one minute!

You can use the same technique on wine glasses, Mason jars or your favorite style of glass. We grabbed a pack of eight basic Champagne flutes from Wal-Mart for just $24. You can check your local dollar store for glasses, too, or use what’s already in your cupboard.

Using Scotch blue painter’s tape, tape around the stem of the glass where you want the glitter to end — in this case, about a finger’s width below the bottom of the glass. Next, apply standard Mod Podge with a foam brush, being sure to cover all of the stem and base of the glass — especially the edges. Then sprinkle basic gold craft glitter all over the stem. Twist, and sprinkle some more! Set the glasses on wax paper to dry and voila! A super glam look for about $3 a glass, if not less.

 And of course you have to have something to wear. Maybe not for an everyday outfit, but adding some sparkle for a special occasion try this site for affordable dresses for any event.

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For everyday uses, glitter can be added to something small like your manicure. I love OPI and China Glaze polishes.  Glitter manicures are just cool to look at and really can make you feel happy any time you look at your hands.

opi glitter manicure

Whatever you choose to make you feel fabulous, make it your own. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy being fabulous!

Mad Men Final Season | 4.12.14

4.12.14

It’s time again for the new season of Mad Men to begin, and this is the beginning of the end. The final season comes on tomorrow night and it’s definitely cause for a celebration.

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What better way to celebrate than to throw a little themed party to start the new season off. We’re going to share with you some retro inspired treats and some classic cocktails, as well as fun decor touches to add to your party.

1. Pink Deviled Eggs – Something that I haven’t seen in a while are the colored deviled eggs that were prominent at a 60’s dinner party (via The Year in Food). Thought of as chic and modern back then is still classy and fancy today. Their pink hue comes from beet juice!

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2. Printable Coasters – These coasters are sure to add a little conversation at your party (via Second City Soiree)

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3. Homemade Bitters – If you’re a little more adventurous, try these homemade crafted bitters recipes. They will surely make your classic cocktails stand out (via How Sweet it Is).

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4. Swedish Meatballs – These meatballs are always a good go-to for an appetizer. They are timeless and go with any theme party (via Bon Appetit).

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5. Classic Old Fashioned – The Old Fashioned is one of the most classic drinks from the 50’s and 60’s, you can’t go wrong with an original (via Food52).

old fashioned Food 52

6. DIY Chalkboard Martini Glass – These custom martini glasses are great for guests to keep track of their drinks, and can also serve as a party favor (via Something Turquoise).

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7. Dyed Simple Syrups – These simple syrups aren’t just pretty to look at, they add unique flavors to any cocktail (via A Subtle Revelry)

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8. Advertising – Of course you can’t have a Mad Men party without advertisements. This ad shows the culture of advertising at the time of the show.

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9. Mad Men Masks – Set up your own photo booth for your guests to have a little fun before the show, or between commercials. These printable masks are like an instant costume, or you can just use them as decorations (via AMC).

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10. Classic Martini – You can’t have a Mad Men viewing party without a martini. This is a classic martini recipe. It’s simple and just perfect (via AMC).

mm-cocktail-classic-martiniI’m sad that this is the last season of Mad Men, but I will be sure to watch the madness of Sterling Cooper & Partners. Who is your favorite character? What’s your favorite cocktail? How will you watch tomorrow?