Sunday, August 31, 2014

365: Week 35

August 25 | Opening a special, early wedding present.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Happy Hour: Blueberry Orange Agua Fresca

When we were making the menu for the baby shower, I put agua fresca down on the list.  Then, I got made fun of for it.

"What is Agua Fresca?" (read that in a condescending, mocking tone), "Isn't regular water good enough?"

But, I made it anyway and everyone loved it.  Including the ones that were practicing their condescending/mocking voices earlier in the day.
They said things like, "Yum, that's delicious," and "Mmm, that's quite refreshing."

And the fact is that 'regular water' is enough, but infused water is better.  And, since it takes pretty much zero effort, you might as well class it up a little bit next time you're inviting people into your home.

Even if you just make it for yourself if you're trying to drink more water, it's still good and it's still almost effortless.  So just do it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Layered Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse

The other day I had the strongest craving ever for Reese's Sticks.

Then, I got worried that maybe they stopped making them, but luckily Wikipedia told me, they were still in production.  It was actually the first thing that popped up when I Googled it, so I guess the panic hits a lot of people.
I pretty much like anything that has chocolate and peanut butter and the Reese's Sticks didn't exactly disappoint, but they definitely didn't live up to this chocolate peanut butter mousse that I made a few weeks ago for my sister's baby shower.

The nice thing is that these little guys take about as long to make as it would take you to drive to the grocery store.

Both layers are super light and fluffy.  Neither is too sweet or too rich.  It will easily satisfy any sweet cravings you get!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Watermelon Baby Carriage

At this point you've all seen the 'Pinterest fails.' And, they're really funny, sure.

But they're also kind of sad.
Nothing upsets me more than spending a lot of time and energy on something and then having it look like a scary mess on the plate.  Not a hot mess.  A scary mess.
This watermelon baby carriage was a Pinterest find, but it actually worked!

If I'm being totally honest with you, I didn't actually make this.  My mom did.  But since my mom is a real person and not a Pinterest liar, I think you can still trust that it is doable.

Also, when you're hosting a baby shower, it's pretty much a must.  Every. Single. Guest will comment on it and say how amazing you are as a hostess.  Promise.

Friday, August 22, 2014

White Peach Sangria

I'm not a wine drinker.  Every single time, I will choose beer over wine, a mixed drink over wine, and even no drink over wine.  It's not because I hate the taste or anything (although I do have a problem with room temperature drinks).  It's because wine gives me horrible headaches and it turns my face red.

My cheeks will get flushed and my temples will start to throb whether I have a couple sips or if I down a bottle.  So, don't try to tell me I just drank too much.
I've been told that it's because of the sulfites in most wines, but to be totally honest with you, I don't care enough to experiment and find out.  I just prefer other drinks.

After that little rant there, you're probably wondering why I even made a sangria then.
Good point.  It's mostly because it was being served to other people at a baby shower and it's partly because I really want to drink it without getting sick/embarrassed (red cheeks thing).
It always looks so nice and refreshing when people are drinking it then feverishly trying to scoop the booze-laden fruit out of the bottom of their glasses (and classy!).  This version is made with white wine, tons of peaches, strawberries and citrus and it tastes so so good!

Also, for some reason, the wine sucks all the color out of the strawberries so it turns this nice pink color :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Shooters

Everything is cuter when you serve it in a shot glass.  Well, except for shots.  Shots are very rarely cute or at least the people taking them are very rarely cute.  (Contrary to what you think while you're taking them!)

But food in shot glasses?  Adorbs.
Pretty much every party, gathering, or event I've gone to, at least 3 people bring hummus with them.  Maybe that's just the crowd that I run with, but either way, it must mean that people like it.

What I don't like about hummus is that everyone reaches into the same bowl with their veggie sticks or pitas or whatever.  It takes about 6 seconds for that nice little swirl of hummus to be destroyed and then it looks completely unappetizing.

So, put a little dollop in a shot glass, drop your veggie sticks into it and problem solved!  Everyone gets to eat it and no one has to share or wonder which kid poked their finger into the bowl!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to Throw a Baby Shower

Any day now, I'm going to be an Aunt.  Aunt Sarah.

I wonder how long it's going to take until that sounds normal!  Maybe by the time the kid (we don't know the sex yet) can talk, it won't seem so weird.  But for now, it's a little strange.

Since you all understand how family trees work, by now you've figured out that my sibling (in this case, my sister) is pregnant.  And when you have a sister that's preggers, that means you'll be throwing a baby shower.
There's a lot that goes into a baby shower and the first thing you need to decide is what direction you want to go.  Namely, do you want games where your guests are grossed out because they're forced to sniff diapers and look at weirdly-shaped, partially-melted candy bars.  Or, do you not want to do that?  Those are really the only 2 options in my mind.

Even though you may choose not to have games, that doesn't mean you don't provide entertainment!  Here are some tips to hosting a baby shower without games that is still fun and avoids those awkward lulls in conversations:
1. Obviously, the biggest thing: have food and drinks.  Even if you're not serving a meal, there should be plenty to snack on.  The shower that we hosted for my sister was an afternoon 'tea party' with lots of finger foods, drinks, and dessert.  (Recipes will be coming your way!)

2. Decorate.  Your decorations don't have to be super intricate or expensive, but lay out some tablecloths, make some sort of signage so people know where to go, and display the food and gifts in nice way.  My mom just borrowed some of the onesies that my sister already had and hung them up on a clothesline outside our front door so people knew they were in the right place.

3. Play music!  I can't stress this one enough!  Really, this goes for any party.  Whenever you're having people over, there are going to be natural breaks in the conversation and when that happens, you don't want dead silence.  You just don't.  It makes people want to run away and hide.  So find a good playlist and have it going in the background.
4. Entertain.  This really involves everything from when you greet your guests at the door to when they leave after everything has wound down.  You need to tell them where to put their gift and jacket, facilitate the different 'activities' you have planned (games, eating, opening presents, etc.), mingle constantly, and refill food and drinks.  Especially at a baby shower, where all of the people there will probably not know each other, look for the person that's sitting by herself and talk to her, but more importantly, introduce her to another person that doesn't know anyone else. 
5. Make favors.  My mom and I made a salt scrub so the guests can have something to remember the shower...get it?!  I'll share the instructions soon!

That's all I've got for you, but I'd say the shower my mom and I threw for my sister was pretty successful.  So, I guess I'm kind-of like an expert now.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy Hour: Grapefruit Infused Vodka

Every once in a while, Austin and I will get totally addicted to a new TV show and we’ll have to binge watch the whole season, series, Youtube videos - whatever we can get our hands on!

I know we’re not the only ones that do this.  I’m pretty positive that’s Netflix’s business model.
Anyway, a while back, we had a problem with a show called Tripping Out with Alie & Georgia.  We watched all of the episodes in a week’s time and then we were sad when we had nothing left.

But, I just found out they’ve been doing a new web-based show called Classy Ladies!

On their show, they always made these fun, inspired cocktails with special infused liquors, homemade bitters and flavored simple syrups.  It really was classy.

So making an infused vodka has been on my list of things to do for a long time.  And, now that I know how easy it is, I’m kicking myself for not doing it earlier.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cheddar Chive Overnight Bread

I'm never going to get sick of this recipe.  It's so easy and it always turns out perfectly...well, except that one time.  But 'that one time' was my fault.  I thought, "Baking's not like a science or anything, I'll just completely disregard the directions and not let it rise properly or bake long enough."

So, that's not the recipe's fault.  Pretty sure that's the definition of 'operator error.'
Also, I'm never going to get sick of the smell of bread baking in the oven.  That's just not going to happen.

I think everyone loves the smell of fresh-baked bread.  And the taste.  But the kneading?  Ain't nobody got time for that!

This recipe gives you the smells and the flavors without the sore fingers, wrists and arms.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Potato Salad

What's a barbecue without potato salad?  Just eating outside, I guess.

Potato salad is the glue that holds it all together.  It's the peanut butter in your PB&J.  When it comes to inviting people to eat 'al fresco,' you have to have the stuff.
...Even if you're not the biggest fan.

You just have to.  People will seriously notice it's missing from the table if you don't.  On multiple occasions, I've heard people scan across the table, and you can just see their heart sink as they say, 'oh, I guess we should've brought potato salad - I thought everyone would've brought potato salad.'

This recipe is my grandma's and it's the best I've ever had.  Not that I'm a real potato salad connoisseur per se, but I have dabbled in many different recipes at this point.  It's got the perfect balance of flavors with the potato base, crunchy celery, creaminess from mayo and sour cream, just a little hard-boiled egg and the salty/briny bite of the olives and olive juice.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Happy Hour: Ginger Whiskey Twist

Right now, I'm trying to decide if I want a 'signature drink' at our wedding.  I think I do, but then the question is what?

It's not like Austin and I have something that just screams 'us.'  We also don't typically like the same drinks.  Not even the same types of liquor.
Not that it really matters what we like - it's more important to have a drink that most of the guests will like.  Which is basically impossible to predict.

So, now we're back to just picking something we like and saying, 'Here!  Drink this!'

Even though, I'm not usually that into whiskey, I like this mix quite a lot.  Not sure it's quite a 'signature' though...I'll have to keep searching.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Apple Coleslaw

You know when you go out to get barbecue or fried chicken and you have the option for 2 or 3 (or more) sides and there is a big list, usually hidden in the back of the 30 page menu with the options and you didn't see it and you didn't even know you got sides, then the waiter asks you what you want, and you panic and you make them recite the whole list for you?

Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.  Exactly everyone has been in that situation.
Well, I always get coleslaw and mashed potatoes with gravy.  Mostly because those are my 2 favorites, but also because I hate to be the person that is fumbling at the dinner table.

It's a safe bet for me.  I love all mashed potatoes.  With the skin on or off, real or even boxed, seriously, I'm not picky.  Same goes for coleslaw.  Sure, there's a difference and some are better than others, but I like it all.

Of course, if I got a choice, I'd choose this variation.  A little bit tart from the vinegar, but still a creamy dressing.  Plenty of the classics: cabbage and carrots, with an added sweet/sour element from the apples.  Yep, I know what I want!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Orangesicle Sheet Cake

There are essentially two types of cooks.  The type that has to have a recipe to follow word for word and the type that cannot, for the life of them, stick to a recipe.

My sister is the latter.

This recipe was already an alteration of a cake mix, then she had to alter it again.
I don't think there's really anything wrong with either type of cook.  The first type is probably going to have more successes, but they're also going to have a hard time expanding their culinary repertoire.  The second type might have more kitchen fails, but when it works, it pays off.

Basically, what I'm saying is that my sister is a good cook and this recipe makes a good cake!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Happy Hour: Baja Fog

This is our go-to drink when we're camping for a couple reasons.  The first being that you don't need a glass or any special equipment (besides a bottle opener, but who doesn't have one of those on their keychain anyway?).  The second is that they taste like beer, but they are significantly stronger so you don't have to pack as much stuff in (or out).

Sounds perfect.  There's always a 'but' though, right?  Here's the 'but': you will run out of Corona before you run out of tequila.
So, what you'll do to remedy the situation is start to re-pour the tequila into the bottlenecks once you're down to the last few bottles of beer.  I know you'll do this, because everyone does this.

The problem is that you're really just taking shot after shot of tequila at that point.  Which is not really a problem 'cause you're camping!

You're not driving, and you were planning on passing out under the stars anyway.

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