Monday, August 27, 2012

Oh So Delicious: Waffles!

Aunt Jan and Uncle Len's house is full of fun, laughter, rest, and, if you're lucky, waffles! Really, any food you have at their house is wonderful, but, for some reason, waffles have made a pretty strong impression on me. Aunt Jan would sometimes make them for breakfast when we would stay, and they were oh so delicious!

Saturday, I decided to make waffles for breakfast, and it reminded me of those mornings at Aunt Jan and Uncle Len's. You really should have been there! Since I can't invite you all over for waffles at our place, I thought I would at least share the recipe...

Waffles from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup cooking oil or butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium bowl, stir together first four ingredients. Make a well in the center and set aside.
In another medium bowl, beat eggs slightly, stir in milk, oil and vanilla. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter will be slightly lumpy)
Pour batter onto lightly greased waffle iron and cook according to the waffle iron instructions. When done, use a fork to remove the waffle and repeat.

I let some frozen raspberries thaw in a bowl, muddled them, and spooned them onto top of my stack of waffles, along with syrup. Delicious!

When is the last time you had waffles? 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Just Another Manic Monday

Sometimes Mondays are rough. Sometimes I wish it were still Sunday. To be honest, I didn't know what to post today, so I went looking through old pictures and this one made me smile. It's a picture from Tim's birthday a couple of years ago. We went to Goose Island for dinner with friends and then came back to our apartment for cake. It makes me smile because the flowers are fun and because I made Tim come to Party City with me to get those balloons for his "party" and because that cake was amazing!

If you have never tried Barefoot Contessa's coconut cake, do it soon! It is so good that it became the go-to cake for family birthdays and almost made an appearance at my sister's wedding. This cake will brighten any Monday!

Monday, August 13, 2012

City Gardening

Growing up in the country, I didn't really think about or truly appreciate the availability of space, size of a yard...or even the existence of a yard for that matter. Ironically it wasn't until I lived in town that I actually started to garden. This summer Karl and I decided to tackle the challenge of gardening in a space with no yard and limited accessibility to a watering system. (Yes, we really wanted a garden!!!) I am so excited to share with you some pictures of our flourishing little garden on our balcony! 


Can you pick out the different herbs and plants? There's rosemary, mint, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and loads of different types of basil. I absolutely love having fresh produce! Here's a few recipes that I've made using our home grown goods: lots of pesto; chicken, white wine, and herb packets (delicious and easy!); mojitos; and of course a classic with basil...caprese salad.

Whether you grow it yourself or get it from a local farmers market, the accessibility of fresh produce in the summer is always a treat! What's your favorite summer dish? 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Firecrackers and Sparklers

We celebrated my friend's birthday recently with cocktails and cupcakes. It was a great night! One friend took care of the food, another the cupcakes, and I did decor and cocktails. I decided to have one cocktail already made, a couple that people could easily mix at the table, and a non-alcoholic option.

I made, yet another, Martha Stewart cocktail called The Firecracker. It turned out to be a really great option since I could make it ahead and everyone seemed to love it. It reminded me of sangria, only it's made with rosé and gin. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the sour cherries it called for (does anyone know where I can find these?). Instead, I used sweet black cherries, which caused the drink to look a little darker, but it still tasted great!

We also had stuff out for people to make their own Amaretto Sours and Gin and Tonics. It worked really well since both of these drinks only require two ingredients and a garnish. I made signs for each drink that provided instructions on what was in it, if it was pre-made, or how to make it. The design of these signs were meant to mimic the invitations I used from Paperless Post.

For the non-alcoholic option, I made what I called The Sparkler. It was a combination of frozen limeade and club soda. My mom had made this for us over Memorial Day weekend - I'm a fan (of my mom and the drink). Not sure of the exact proportions I used... somewhere around 1/2 of the frozen limeade container to 1 1/2 bottles of club soda. The candles on the cupcakes were also sparkler candles - not planned, but perfect!

In way of decor, I added bits of color (the napkins, drink signs, flowers) but kept the rest gold. I used gold cardstock from Michael for the drink signs, made gold triangles out of tissue paper to hang above the party along with the lights. And then I had fun with gold spray paint - converting beer bottles into gold vases and adding gold to glass votive candle holders.

I really liked how the gold vases turned out. I just let the bottles soak in water, scrubbed off the labels, let them dry, and then sprayed with paint that you can find at any hardware store. It was a really easy, cheap way to add some gold to the party.


We had these glass votive candle holders already, I just wrapped the top of them with painters tape and then sprayed the bottom. After the paint dried, I removed the tape, and there you have it - party worthy candle holders! To keep away bugs, I used citronella candles that I found at Lowe's. We actually didn't have much trouble with mosquitoes though - it was a cooler, breezy evening. Really pretty perfect for the party!

We had such a fun time celebrating my friend's birthday! But I'm curious, what are your go-to drinks when hosting a cocktail party?