Cupcakes and Cocktails Bridal Shower Invitation

So many things pair well together in life…wine & cheese, chocolate and wine, cookies and milk or beer and a burger…. I could go on and on. When thinking about this couple in specific; two close friends to myself and my husband, I figured what better way to celebrate their upcoming wedding than to give them a shower with two things they love in addition to each other – cupcakes and cocktails.

I designed the invitation with a color scheme very popular this spring, and it actually turned out it was very close to the couple’s wedding color as well. ( I hope the bride didn’t mind!). The cocktails were designed by our friend Ryan who played bartender for the evening, and the cupcakes came from Molly’s and also from my kitchen and my co-host for the evening, Emily.

EthanJessicaShowerInvite

Emily made a Guinness Stout Cupcake and I made my famous Strawberry Margarita cupcakes. Must I say not only do I love these cupcakes, but the recipe that I discovered on Pinterest is from a blog title homemadebyholman. SO close to my name it was just meant to be. I’ve made the cupcakes twice and both time they were amazing and delicious.

Here are some pictures of the decor. Emily did an amazing sign on the burlap letter signs above our cupcake display!

EthanJessicaCoupleShower

 

Wine Review: Apothic Red

Each month I take a trip to Binny’s, our local liquor store, and stock up on wine. I browse the isles, typically selecting wines anywhere from $4.99-$8.99. I’ve always been pretty frugal so it’s hard for me to make an exception for something more than $10 – except RELAX or a Cupcake Wine. Both delicious!

Tonights mix included Apothic Red. In the past year, more so in non-summer months, I find myself drawn to red wines. Pinor Noir, Cabernet or  a Shiraz for sure make the cart. I also like Sweet Red blends. Tonight while walking around I came across this winemakers blend and was quite interested in trying it.

Overall the taste is subtle, sweet with a a bit of a bite towards the end. I definitely will be making notes to purchase again in the future. I think it would pair well with some sharp cheese and for sure a steak. Below I’ve take information from apothic.com to provide more details on the wine itself.

Wine Origin:
Inspired by an “Apotheca,” a mysterious place where wine was blended and stored in 13th century Europe, Apothic Red offers a truly unique wine experience. By crafting a distinctive blend of California grapes, our winemaker has created an epic red wine… nuanced and complex, and undeniably enchanting.

The Wine: 
A captivating blend of three distinct grapes, with the dark fruit flavors of Syrah, brambly spice of Zinfandel, and a smooth elegance of Merlot. Apothic Red reveals intense fruit aromas and flavors of rhubarb and black cherry that are complemented by hints of mocha, chocolate, brown spice and vanilla. The plush, velvety mouthfeel and smooth finish round out this intriguing, full-bodied red blend.

Shish Kabobs

With the recent warm weather our household decided it was time for some summer-like foods. We decided to make a few different dishes this week with fresh produce and the first on the list was Shish Kabobs.

We took the recipe from The Grilling Bible and found we really enjoyed the taste of the marinade. This recipe is very simple and we grilled it on our grill pan in our house since we don’t have access to a grill. We paired the kabobs with Lemon & Dill potatoes.

Shish  Kabobs

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed (I substituted 1 tsp minced garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh oregano or rosemary (we went with rosemary)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 lbs beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Green bell pepper
  • Red bell Pepper
  • Small onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Cherry tomatoes

Directions:

Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Add meat and stir to coat with sauce. Cover and refrigerate overnight (we actually only let it sit for 2 hours in the fridge and enjoyed the flavor)

Alternately skewer cubes of meat with desired combination of peppers, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes.

Place kabobs on grill or grill pan, rotating every 4-5 minutes until desired doneness.

Lemon & Dill Potatoes

This past weekend I found a recipe on Pinterest that I really wanted to try to accompany the kabobs we were making. I’m a huge fan of red russet potatoes and here’s the recipe I found that turned out amazing. The potatoes were tender and filled with flavor. I especially enjoyed the hint of lemon in them. Thank you Beloved Green for the awesome recipe!

I altered my recipe a bit because I didn’t have all the ingredients mentioned on the site I found the recipe. The ingredients you will need include:

1 lb of petite potatoes (ie. reds, whites, and purples)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
dash of ground pepper
dash of sea salt
lemon juice ( a splash)
1 Tbsp. dried dill
2 Tbsp. minced garlic

 

Directions:

Preheat 375°F.  Place parchment paper on cookie sheet, or spray with cooking spray.
Wash the potatoes and cut them into quarter slices.  Pour in the 1/4 cup of olive oil and coat the potatoes and then transfer to the baking sheet. Sprinkle ground pepper and salt on the potatoes.  Bake for a half hour.
While baking, mix together remaining ingredients with whisk and set aside until half hour is up.
Pull out the potatoes and flip them.  Using a pastry brush, coat them with the dill dressing and place back in the oven for another 15 minutes.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Product Review: Calphalon Nonstick Square Grill Pan

I would like to quickly do a product review for one of my favorite gifts I received a few years ago at my bridal shower from my aunt in D.C.

I had registered for almost anything you could think of for our future kitchen at both Kohls & Target, however even though this wasn’t on the list she decided to get it for me. I don’t know if she had one herself and loved it or just thought it would be helpful as a soon-to-be wife. I absolutely love this pan! Living in a small apartment and not having access to a grill can be frustrating. There’s just something about the flavor of a grilled steak, burger or what we made tonight – kabobs.

Not only is this pan amazing at cooking foods similar to what it would be like using an outdoor gas or charcoal grill (except for that charcoal flavor), the clean up is phenomenal.  I generally allow the pan to cool and then run it under soapy warm water and wipe down with a dish rag.

If you are considering items to add to a registry or gift list for the holidays, or possibly just to invest in something to cook many summer type meals if you are grill less I’d suggest purchasing this pan. When looking around the web an average price for this Calphalon pan is between $30 – $40 dollars.

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I”m always interested in trying out a new recipe when I bake. This morning was no exception when I was looking to use up a few ingredients that have been taking up room in the cupboard: white chocolate chips, dried cranberries & walnuts.

One of my favorite cookies to make (& eat) are Cranberry White Chocolate Chip & Cookies. So, this morning I thought I’d add a few more items and see how it turned out. The flavor in these cookies are amazing and I think part of that is due to the assembly. This is first time I”ve put together a cookie recipe that required me to melt all the butter and mix it with brown sugar and an egg. I also have found that the honey called for in this recipes adds flavor.

I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do!

Here’s the Recipe:

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled until slightly warmed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purposed flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:Preheat oven to 350 degrees. By hand or mixer, blend together butter, brown sugar and honey. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. In a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, soda, salt and cinnamon; add to butter mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Place 1 1/2′ pieces of dough on ungreased cookie sheet, about 2″ apart and bake until edges are lightly browned and centers are still soft, about 12-15 minutes. Cool completely.

Popcorn and Buffalo Dip

I don’t even know what started this craving but for the past few months I’ve been addicted to dipping popcorn in buffalo wing sauce. Not just plain old buffalo sauce, however, but buffalo sauce mixed with melted butter and bleu cheese dressing. Are you intrigued? Continue to read….

We have a jiffy pop because I wanted to snack healthy. My husband is in love with popcorn but watching him sit on the couch eating an entire bag of the buttery popped stuff was getting me quite annoyed. SO many calories. Don’t get me wrong – I loved the bags myself but I never ate a bag to myself. After buying the jiffy pop we’ve enjoyed making the healthy snack. After a little Pam spray and butter seasoning it’s still very tasty.

I, however, was in the mood for something else. Dry Ranch mix is quite tasty sprinkled on popcorn. In a bar we used to frequent we would use our leftover BBQ sauce as a dip for the complimentary popcorn they provided. That was my inspiration. Having just moved a few months ago and not going to the local establishment we did I was inspired to create it at home.

Since we eat popcorn so much I have it out on our counter in this container. Not only is it accessible it’s decorative. The Jiffy Popper was $20 at Menards and it’s already three years old!

Make the popcorn and then spray lightly with Pam. This allows the seasoning of your choice (butter seasoning, dry ranch, etc) to stick to the popcorn.

I then melt about a tablespoon of butter and mix in the buffalo wing sauce and bleu cheese dressing. I’d have to estimate I do about 1 tablespoon of the sauce and 2 tablespoons of the dressing. I like to have a thicker consistancy and a light orange color.

Here’s the end result. If you are looking for a new alternative to a somewhat healthy snack with a kick I’d encourage you to try it out!

Healthy & Semi-Homemade: Salsa & Chips

This post is all about using word’s that begin with “s”!

I enjoy simple snacks, however even better are simple healthy snacks. I find myself always looking for something to eat after dinner but don’t want to dive into the ice cream every night. Depending on our meal plan for the week a great alternative is making salsa (also known as pico de gallo). This is possible on weeks that we have tacos or curry because we have cilantro, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers on hand. The other ingredients used are commonly found in the house so it’s not like I’m adding to the list at the grocery store.

To make the salsa I simply chop up the veggies and place them in a bowl. I sprinkle in some sugar, salt, garlic salt, a tablespoon or so of vinegar and a little lime or lemon juice.  You can look for recipes online, or even better, go by your tastebuds and what you like. Lately I’ve also been adding a can of green chiles and tomatoes for a bit more of a kick.

I attempt to stay away from buying chips because, as they aren’t the best for you, and we tend to go through a bag quickly. A healthy alternative (or at least I’d like to believe) is making homemade chips from flour tortilla shells. (Yet another thing from that taco night earlier in the week).

Set the oven for 400 degrees. While waiting for it to be heated, spray your tortillas with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Next you will want to cut them, either using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife. Place on cookie sheets and bake for 6-7 minutes or until desired consistency. I actually baked my chips for 6 minutes, flipped them and baked for another minute or so.

Allow to cool and enjoy!

Confetti Cookies

A few years ago a friend of mine visited and brought a sweet treat – cookies. Soon after giving them to me she explained she made them from a box of cake mix. I didn’t even know that was possible – but it seemed like a very simple, enjoyable way to make cookies if you only have an hour or so to spare.

This morning I thought I’d give it a shot since I had the desire to bake cookies but also have a productive day off getting some errands done. I was pleased with the results and look forward to purchasing some cake mixes on sale in the future for a rainy (lazy) cookie making day.

Here are the three things you need : cake mix, 2 eggs & 1/3 cup oil. Yep – THAT SIMPLE!!

Here are directions:

Mix all ingredients until moist.


Form into 1 inch balls. I used our coffee scoop’s 1 tbspoon side to do so.

(compliments to Crate & Barrel for this tool!)

Next you will want to use the bottom of a floured drinking glass to gently flatten cookies, about 1/4 inch in thickness.

Place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 6-8 minutes (until golden brown corners) in a 375 degree oven.

Cool on pan one minute, transfer to cookie racks.

and of course….ENJOY!

Creative way to store cookbooks in small kitchens

Small apartments are sometimes a challenge to decorate for. Depending on how many things you have to store you may feel like you are taking up all the wall space you have with shelves. Here’s a great suggestion I came across over at theKitchen. Not only can you store cookbooks but decorate a small kitchen space with colorful works of art.The best part is you may be taking up space with shelves but this arrangement of cookbooks will balance out the wall and make your kitchen very welcoming.

Storing Cookbooks

I’m all about personalizing my living space so I feel if I do adapt this 5 seconds or less tip I would be able to show guests what type of person I am with the array of cookbooks I own.