Monday, July 30, 2012

A Hard Day's Work

While we're on the topic of London, I got the fabric for the tank top above there at Liberty. Probably the best souvenir I've ever thought to get. I think I'll make a habit of fabric-buying from now on when I travel. Liberty was so much different than I was expecting. It was huge! Four floors of home furnishings and decor, clothing, stationary, and, of course, fabric and other craft supplies. I loved looking around there with my mom and sisters when we were there earlier this summer.

Anyway, about the tank top. It was fun to make! The pattern is Wiksten (I got the downloadable pdf) and I was so impressed with how readable and straightforward it was. It took me awhile to make (six hours!) though I'd say the hours paid off since the seams look really professional (if I do say so myself) and it's something I can wear in lots of different ways. It feels good to make something that will be comfortable to wear in all this crazy heat Chicago's been getting. And it also feels good to have a pretty productive Sunday afternoon!

Monday, July 23, 2012

London Coffee

The Olympic games are a few days away! I'm looking forward to watching some track events, gymnastics, swimming, and beach volleyball. Are any of you heading to London to watch the games? One place you should definitely check out while you are there is Prufrock Café!

The coffee was great! The service was great! The food was great (we had a bacon, avocado, and cheese toasted sandwich)! And aren't those blue cups and saucers great?! 

So whether you are in London for the games, touring the sites, or some other reason, go to Prufrock! It's awesome! And in case any of you were wondering, we did enjoy a lot of tea while we were there as well!

Monday, July 16, 2012


Today, I'm going to share with you a few different cocktails we've tried recently. We have a liquor store around the corner from us which is helpful when I feel like trying out a new cocktail. We've been getting to know the guy working there a little as we ask if he carries things like Lillet Rose or Maraschino Liqueur. Our latest question was were he kept the bitters.

As we check out, sometimes he guesses what we are going to make with our purchases. I had to laugh this time as I told him we were trying a recipe from Martha Stewart. It seemed like such a prissy thing to say in the liquor store, but the Grilled Peach Old Fashioned we made was awesome!

We've been growing thyme in our garden, which turned out to be really handy for this recipe. And I love grilled peaches! This really was a great drink!

Another drink we've tried recently was the Strawberry Rickshaw. I found the recipe on Eat, Make, Read (now The Best Remedy). It was good and fruity and sweet. If that's not your thing, this may not be your drink. Despite my love of sweets, I have to be in a certain mood to like fruity, sweet drinks. And I found that you really need to muddle the strawberries well - they tend to clog the strainer as you pour.

The napkin is from Ikea (leftover from a shower I hosted). Awesome place for finding pretty, inexpensive napkins.

The last recipe I'll share is a Pina Colada made with coconut water instead of coconut cream. I'm not sure where the recipe I found came from, I wrote it down last summer. So I'll just say that it contained pineapple, coconut water (I found it at Trader Joe's), a little sugar, a little lemon juice, and rum. Play with ratios to find one you like. Or you can follow a recipe here.

I will say, I liked the real version we made last summer with coconut cream better. But if you can't enjoy it because you're thinking about all of the calories you are consuming, coconut water is a good alternative. 

The napkins were a gift from my sister and brother-in-law. I think they may have got them from Crate&Barrel? I love serving things (drinks, dessert, etc.) with fun napkins! 

Have you tried any fun cocktails lately? Maybe with a somewhat obscure ingredient we can ask our local liquor store guy about?


Monday, July 9, 2012

Almond Cake

Have you ever had almond cake? I highly recommend it. Easy to make and really good! If you are looking for an alternative to the traditional birthday cake, may I suggest almond cake?

I found the recipe on smitten kitchen. It suggests serving this with strawberry-rhubarb compote. I didn't do that this time, but definitely want to try it that way in the future.

To make it feel more like a birthday cake, I covered it in whipped creme fraiche and decorated it with cherries and slivered toasted almonds.

I like the look of a tall birthday cake, so I was tempted to make another layer and stack it with a layer of creme fraiche in between. The cake is pretty dense, though, so I am glad I stuck with a single layer in the end. A cake can still say "Happy Birthday" even if it's short, right?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mango Avocado Orzo Salad

I like making soups because it seems pretty easy to be creative in the process. Throw this in, throw that in, taste, repeat. For this same reason, I like making pasta salads with orzo. Sometimes I like to use tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Other times I've used roasted peppers and goat cheese. This time I used avocado and mango... let's call it Mango Avocado Orzo Salad.
Mango Avocado Orzo Salad 

16 oz bag of orzo pasta, cooked and drained
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 limes, zested and juiced
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 can black beans, drained
1 mango, diced
2 avocados, diced
bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped

1. Cook the pasta in salted water as directed on the package. Once drained and add a little olive oil to the pasta and stir. This will keep the pasta from sticking together in clumps as it cools. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, lime, olive oil, and salt with a whisk.
3. In a large bowl, combine the onion, black beans, mango, avocados, and cooled pasta. 
4. Pour over the dressing, add the cilantro, and stir. 
5. Garnish with cilantro.

I wrote down everything I put into the salad this time so that I could share it with you, but in no way is this recipe meant to be confining. Get creative! Add cayenne pepper if you like it. Use pineapple instead of mango. Figure out what flavors you like and then work with new combinations.

What flavors would you combine in an orzo pasta salad?