Friday, December 30, 2011

{friday cocktail: the best of 2011}

 Instead of doing a regular Friday cocktail post, I thought it would be fun to round up of my personal favorite recipes from the past year and maybe you will even find a fun cocktail for your midnight toast. 

I feel very lucky to look back and say that 2011 has been really good to me.  I started this blog, we moved into our loft, we got engaged and I made countless happy memories with my family and friends.   2012 certainly doesn't look like it will disappoint either, especially since our wedding is happening in just 4 months!

Cheers & Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

{friday cocktail: seelbach champagne cocktail}

I love champagne cocktails (see evidence here, here, here), but they are notoriously "girly" drinks.  This past weekend, I picked up some Prosecco and was determined to find a champagne cocktail recipe using whiskey that both Chris and I could enjoy.  We decided to try a Seelbach cocktail which is very similar to a classic Champagne cocktail but with the additional of whiskey and a lot more bitters.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

{gift wrapping with Rue La La}

 {image via Rue La La}

The lovely bloggers over on the Rue La La blog asked me if I would like to contribute a creative gift wrapping idea for their readers who are getting all their holiday shopping wrapped up in the final moments before Christmas!  You can see my gift wrap along with a quirky wrap idea from Elsie of A Beautiful Mess over on the Rue La LA blog right here.

Here is the full tutorial on the wrap idea I created:

{ina garten's rugelach}

Last night, our friends Josh & Heather invited us to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with them and enjoy some home-made latkes.  We were asked to bring a dessert and I decided to make a traditional Jewish dessert.  Since I'm not Jewish, I enlisted another friend for advice on a good/easy Jewish dessert and she suggested I make Ina Garten's Rugelach- you can see the recipe here.  While this is not the prettiest looking dessert, what it lacks in charm it definitely makes up for in taste (there is cream cheese in the dough- how can this be bad?).  The best part of this dessert is that you can easily tailor it to suit your tastes with different fillings or toppings.  We made two different types, one with raspberry apricot preserves with cinnamon sugar on top and another with a mystery home-made jam a friend gave us (we think it maybe have been strawberry rhubarb). This was my first time celebrating Hanukkah and I think we will probably invite ourselves back every year just for the latkes alone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

{gift tag downloads}

 {my gift wrap with Hey Look's tags!}
This past weekend, I finished all my Christmas shopping AND wrapped everything- this is something I am incredibly proud since in the past I generally like to leave the shopping and wrapping right up until the last minute!  I picked up the candy cane wrapping paper from Target and used a free printable gift tag download from Hey Look Events.  I particularly like this gift tag download since the design lends itself to many different colors of paper so you can tailor it to match your wrapping paper theme.  I printed them onto simple white cardstock, but I think they could look especially fun on kraft paper!  Here is a round up of some other wonderful and free gift tag downloads to jump start your holiday gift wrapping!

 {the full set of gift tags that I used, download here}

 {another gift tag set from Hey Look! I really wanted to use these, but they 

{modern gift tags from Jones Design Company, download by giving your email here}

{red & blue tag set from Gifted Magazine, download here}

{another fun set from Gifted magazine, download here}

Monday, December 19, 2011

{chipotle-lime compound butter}

I've had flavored or compound butter on my to do list ever since Bon Appetit's October issue which gave size different recipes for it.  Last night I whipped up the chipotle-lime butter to go along with some new mexico rubbed pork loin chops.  Making compound butter is incredibly easy and quick, you could make all of the different recipes from the original article in less than an hour.  The best part is compound butter can keep for up to 3 months in your freezer so you can spend an afternoon trying out all the recipes and have them at your cooking disposable.  You can use compound butter to add flavor to a variety of dishes.  While this particular flavor is best suited for pork, you could also use it to saute vegetables or even as a fun alternative to regular butter on crostini and toast.

Friday, December 16, 2011

{friday cocktail: gingered pear}

While I am not a big vodka drinker, I do love the spot on pear taste of Grey Goose La Poire.  We picked some up a few weeks ago and it has been great as an ingredient for champagne cocktails, but I was looking for somewhere to use it.  I came across this recipe and thought I could modify it perfectly to suit my tastes.  If you are curious about that huge ice cube in that glass pictured, it is made using this mold which I highly recommend, especially for all you Old Fashioned drinkers.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

{a little weeknight celebration}

There is no reason that a little bit of exciting news or a work accomplishment shouldn't be rewarded with a little extra celebration.  Chris called me the other day with news of an awesome achievement so I made it point to beat him home from work so I could set up a little celebration before we went out for dinner.  I had to work with what I had around our place so I laid out some gold glitter wrapping paper and whipped up some letters using kraft paper cardstock.  Originally, I wanted to spell out "congrats" or "celebrate" but in the interest of time I went with a simple three letter word.  I attached the letters to some extra photobooth prop dowels we had and then grabbed a nice bottle of Rosé we had been saving.  We purchased this bottle over Thanksgiving weekend when we visited JCB Winery's tasting room in Healdsburg, which has one of the most glamorous tasting rooms I have ever been in.

We have also started saving our champagne corks from events like this and I plan on making one of these to remember all these fun celebrations:

{that missoni blanket}

Remember that Missoni blanket for Target that sold out in minutes and then was being sold for hundreds of dollars on Ebay?  Well yesterday in a random story of perfect timing, I was able to buy one of those blankets for the original $39 price tag!  On my way back to my car after running a quick errand at Target, I passed a woman walking into Target holding a bunch of the Target Missoni blankets  (presumably to return them).  I politely asked her if she had bought them recently online or how she had them and she mentioned that she had bought them a while back, but didn't have the time or energy to list them on Ebay.  She immediately offered to sell me one, but I said no thank because she seemed to only have the pink and brown colored ones, not the color scheme that has some blue in it, but suddenly she produced that coveted throw from underneath her stack of Missoni blankets and let me have it for a mere $40!! This blanket is insanely soft and I love the pop of color it adds to our living room.  I also did a quick search on Ebay and it looks like the demand on these has come down significantly from the madness at the beginning and you can get these blankets for around $75 now.

{the colors on the reverse side of the blanket}

Monday, December 12, 2011

{spicy squash soup with pumpkin seed pesto}

Butternut squash soup is my favorite cold weather comfort food and I am always looking for interesting takes on the usually simple recipe.  We came across this recipe for a spicy butternut squash soup with pumpkin seed pesto in our Epicurious app on our Ipad (highly recommend this app- the shopping list feature is amazing).  The jalapeno and cumin in the squash soup gives it a nice full flavor and a little spicy kick, but my favorite part of this meal was the pumpkin seed pesto.   We were even discussing perhaps adding a handful of pistachios to the pumpkin seed pesto and using it on crostini as an appetizer in the future.   Be aware that this recipe makes A LOT of servings so be prepared to serve this for at least 6 people or freeze a good amount of the soup.