Friday, December 30, 2011

Jargaritas & Co.!

I will be back soon to tell you all about my Christmas; I'm very behind with uploading pictures!!  Good thing I've got a three day weekend this weekend!

In the meantime, I'm sure I've already told you plenty about our Christmas Party with all the recipes I shared (here, here, and here).  In this last party related post, I've got details on the most important party detail: the drinks!

This year we had a bunch of fancy drinks!  Thanks to Pinterest, my friends and I all wanted to try some new recipes we've found on the boards, and my mom brought her champagne punch like usual, leaving a second batch for the "kids"!

The first thing we made were peach Jell-o shots in lemon rinds!
All you do is cut the lemons in half, make the jell-o shots (we replaced half the liquid with pear vodka),
Pour into the rinds, allow to cool completely and then cut into slices!


Yum yum yum!!  Peach with pear vodka makes an excellent combination, FYI!

Another fun drink we made were Jargaritas!  We borrowed a bunch of mason jars from Tim's mom, and painted a chalkboard label on them so guests could write their names.  Then, stealing the idea from My Drunk Kitchen, we made margaritas in the jars!
First, I sliced up a bunch of limes, threw them in each jar and muddled them.  Then I poured 3 seconds worth of triple sec and 6 seconds worth of tequila in each jar.  I don't like using pre-made margarita mix because it's full of nasty chemicals, and making drinks is actually very easy!  You just use a 3:2:1 ratio!
Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the after, but I threw them in a drink tub that I borrow from my mom every year (she uses it on Thanksgiving, then I take it for my party and bring it back on Christmas for her to use again!) with a bunch of ice, and people could scoop ice in their jar, shake it up, and have a margarita on the rocks!

Suggestion for anyone trying this:  Don't bother keeping the jars in the tub!  The submerged jar's paint wore off/got too soggy to use, so the labels were worthless! 

Last but certain not least, we have a Honeycrisp Apple Sangria that Lindsey brought!  It was freaking delicious!  We learned that apples soak up alcohol really really really really well- especially when this punch had been sitting around for two days!  She got the recipe here!
My friend Alex also brought some Chocolate Strawberry Shots, which were...interesting!!  We pulled the idea from Pinterest (here), but they didn't go over so well!  They couldn't unfreeze or the chocolate would melt all over, but who wants to eat a frozen strawberry?  They were yummy, but very messy!!
Photo from here
Last but not least, just for my own personal giddiness, I added orange and lemon slices to the water pitcher for some water with a kick!  Yummy!
What drinks have you all found to be a hit at parties?  I usually make sangria but didn't in favor of Jargaritas this year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blueberry Coconut Smoothie

Ever since making the Pear Kale Smoothie, I've re-awoken my love for smoothies.  As I've mentioned before, I can barely get myself out of the door before we're ten minutes late in the morning, let alone actually make myself a breakfast before I leave, so I had completely given up on smoothies for the time being.

However, once my work cut us all back on working lots of overtime, I started to find myself home everyday around 3:30, ready for a snack like a little school child.  And then I began to make myself two big glasses worth of fresh green smoothies most of the afternoons that I spent at home.  

Anyway, here's one I whipped up recently that incorporates coconut water, a healthy drink chock full of electrolytes and potassium.  When I got food poisoning last year, I immediately felt all better after chugging a bottle of this magic potion.  It's also great for hangovers, but you didn't hear that from me!  It's not the best tasting drink in the world to me, so I like to buy the mango flavor to mask the coconut taste.
Blueberry Coconut Smoothie
  • Red Grapes, a big handful
  • 1/2 pear, cubed
  • Frozen Blueberries, a big handful
  • 1 Banana, sliced
  • Protein powder, ground flax seed, etc (I usually used 3/4 a scoop of each)
  • Spinach to fill the blender
  • Acai/Pomegranate coconut water, add as you blend to keep it liquidy
Add all the ingredients to a blender and puree that sucker!  I like to add about 1/2 cup of liquid and then pour in more as it's blending if the mixture is too chunky.  If the frozen blueberries aren't making the smoothie cold enough, throw some ice in at the end and blend it thoroughly into the drink!
Yum!!!

Check out Vegan Recipes for more delicious recipes!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hallway Lighting

Just wanted to show everyone a quick update to our hallway light.  We had an extra light hanging around after replacing the living room one with our DIY bubble chandelier, so we switched it out with the dark mushroom light that came with the condo.
Here's the before:
And the so very bright after:
It's great having such a bright hallway now!  The fixture is made up of four lights, and one of them is actually burnt our right now, so you can image how bright it will be when that gets replaced!  The lights are actually LED, so they're energy efficient as well.  Cheers!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

Turn and face the strain! Ch-ch-ch-changes! Oh, look out, you rock and rollers! Anyone? Was I the only person who used to listen to Changes and (Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame every single morning of high school while I got ready for the day?   I sure hope not! 

Anyway, this weekend my blog earned itself a nice little face lift- it was nearing three years on the old internet, and I didn't want my little baby to start getting wrinkles!  So, with the help of my mom, we gave life.love. a makeover!  What's changed?  Unfortunately I completely forgot to take before photos, so I'll just tell you!
  • Background.  Now you'll see a nice burlap stripe image or alternating gray and white.  I love love love gray, especially in my own home.  I also love stripes and I have recently become obsessed with burlap. 
  • Header.  Now it contains my three favorite colors: teal, plum, and kelly green.  These are the colors that I use 95% of the time when decorating my home, so I figured it only made sense to use them as the introduction to a blog that's half about condo decor.
  • Pages.  I've switched up the pages up there ^.  The new additions are: The Awesomes, an "about me" sort of page, Project Gallery, which contains a list of craft and DIY projects, and a new travel page that I'm not quite ready to reveal.  Check them out and let me know what you think!
  • Blog button.  Over there =>!  My old blog button had me wrapped in a bright pink feather boa, and while that's a great reflection of my personality, the colors didn't match my new layout!  So new blog, new button!  Grab one for your page!
  • Favicon.  It may not be showing up quite yet for everyone, but it went from being a green "S" to being a purple flower (the same one from the header).
  • Social network buttons.  Jumping off from the burlap background, my social network buttons are now simpler, a better match to the blog, and more eye pleasing.
What do you guys think?  A big thanks to my mom for helping me tinker around in Photoshop and putting up with my 18 drafts of everything!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Opa!

My must-have party dishes always, always, always include Greek food.  It's simple, easy, crowd pleasing, and healthy!  My grandma loves this dip I make- last year she literally sat in a chair next to dip and was eating it straight out of the dish during the whole party!  She denies this every happening, but I have witnesses...

Whether my grandma is a secret Greek dip heffer or not, this dip is so fast and easy to make.
All you do is layer the ingredients like so:

Hummus (about 3/4 inch thick) on the bottom
Fresh Spinach (handful, chopped)
Roasted Red Bell Pepper (one from a jar, rinsed, dried, and chopped.  I don't use the whole jar)
Olives, chopped (tons, because I love them)
Feta (handful, crumbled)

You can replace, add, re-perportionalize  as you see fit!  Serve with crackers, pita bead, pita chips, etc.

Another easy dish that goes will with Greek dip are mini falafels!  I buy boxed mix at Whole Foods for $3, and it makes enough for a dinner's worth and at least 3-4 days of lunch as well.  I'm addicted!
All you do is add water to the mix and then fry it up in a little oil.  For a party, I like to make each ball about half the size, then stick in a pita with a spoonful of hummus, a slice of cucumber, and a thin slice of red onion!
What are your favorite pot luck meals?

Check out more recipes on my vegan page!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mini Quiche

Our Christmas party this year had a theme, and yes that theme was Christmas, but it was also awesomeness.  And part of being awesome is having mini food.  Trust me, there's nothing cuter in the food world than mini bites of delicious food. 

Our menu consisted of s'mores bites, mini falafel, mini quiche, and Greek dip.  Lindsey, Alex, and I attempted to make cake pops, but that went south after the first step (why on earth do they take like three freaking days to make??  Because they're delicious, so they want to make you work for it!).  I was also going to also make mini tacos and mini fried mac and cheese's, but a girl can only rope her friends into doing so much cooking with her and an hour before the party I just said screw it, we probably have enough food!  

Now, while mini food is adorable as heck (don't get me started on comparing them to baby bunnies again), they're often a pain in the...back...to make. 
Anyway, back to the mini quiche- mini vegan quiche I should say- they're actually not too hard, but they require a little bit of patience.  You've got to make the crust, bake it, make the filling, then bake it some more.  Original recipe from here.

Crust Ingredients (makes enough for 24 mini muffin sized quiches)
  • 1 C Flour
  • 1/2 C cold vegan butter
  • 3 Tbls ice water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Use a pastry cutter, or cut the butter up into small pieces, and work the flour and butter together into crumbs.  Stir the ice water into the crumbs to make a dough.

Roll the dough out into a thin sheet about half a centimeter thick, or even thinner.  Use a 3 inch rim surface (I used a thin drinking glass) to cut circles out of the dough.
Press the circles into the mini muffin tray.  Fill each one up with a couple lentil beans to keep the dough from rising.  Bake the crust for about 5-10 minutes.

Filling Ingredients
  • 1/2 C kale
  • 4 strips vegan bacon
  • 1 Tbls olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 package silken tofu
  • 1/6 C nutritional yeast
  • salt & pepper
Before making anything else, you should boil the kale for a few minutes and then chop it up and set aside.  Then fry up the vegan bacon, chop it up and set aside.

Next, keep the frying pan going and saute the onions and garlic for a few minutes until they're fragrant. Combine all of the filling ingredients, minus the kale and bacon, into a food processor or blender and combine until smooth.
Stir the kale into the mix.
Fill the bottom of each cup with a little bit of chopped bacon, using all of the bacon unless you want to top the quiche with more bacon later.  Spoon a teaspoon or so of the mixture into each cup.  It won't rise, so don't worry about overfilling the cups.
Bake for about 20 minutes or so, until heated through and cooked.
Enjoy!
Check out more vegan food on my recipes page!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bathroom Remodel Step 3: Mirror

I've been framed!

OK, not me, but the fabulously un-exciting mirror in my bathroom got a new look!  It went from being a dull spot on the landscape:
To being an exciting highlight!
For this project you need:
  • Molding (I used two 8 feet pieces at $7 each)
  • Liquid Nails for Mirrors $5
  • Miter Saw (already owned)
  • Spray Paint (already had leftover from painting our fabric shade and our table)
The molding we used was a pretty basic shape- flat, curved it, a little detail on the sides.  You can sorta see the shape of it from the ends:
I measured the length of all four sides of the mirror (well only two sides since it's a rectangle), then used the miter saw to cut four pieces of molding to length.  I just cut 45 degree angles on each end of each piece, with the longest side being the length of the side of the mirror.

Then it was time to spray paint.  I did a layer of solid black and then followed it up with the dark walnut.  So, the end color was really just dark walnut.  I just thought I might be a little crazy and mix up the colors.
PS- a little trick with spray painting: try to raise the surface up a little so that the edges don't stick to the plastic or cardboard surface.  I stuck some tacks in the back to help keep it up.
After all the molding is completely dry- you might want/need to wait two days or longer to allow it to full cure outside and to allow time for touch up spots to dry- it's time to start gluing!  

This is where Liquid Nails comes in.  This stuff is literally super awesome glue, but it's a pain in the you-know-what to get out.  For a super excitable and "now-now-now" kind of person like me, it's like torture waiting for the glue to sloooooowly move down the tube and then when you squeeze the stuff down with all your might, it just keeps on a-comin' well after you're done, and then all of a sudden you have a pile of wasted glue.

Oh well, I guess that's why everyone was always trying to push the importance of this whole patience concept on to me as a child.  Never really got behind that train!
I wasn't about to take this sucker off the wall to glue it on a flat surface.  I just decided to try my luck with gravity and hoped it stayed up.
I started with the bottem peice and let that dry for a day before tackling the next one.  It stayed up perfectly well on it's own (seriously awesome glue), but I still stuck some big paint cans in front to try to keep it in place in caes it fell.

Luckily, it didn't!  So the next day, I tried a vertical side piece, and like magic, it just stayed put right away. 
Now for a little tangent.  I forgot to mention this earlier, but when spray painting, you'll also want to tackle the back edge of the shorter side, because it reflects back in the mirror at you and you see the unfinished side.  Trust me, you really do.  I didn't think so until I held the first edge up and saw for myself.  

Unfortunately, on the second piece, I saw that I had accidentally spray painted the larger edge instead of the smaller, and by the time I noticed, the glue was already partly dried.  Boo.
See how you can see the unfinished edge on the left side but not on the bottem?  Oh well, it's hopefully only noticable to me and not to the general masses that I have tramping through my bathroom on a daily basis.

On the third and final day of gluing, I went ahead and put up both of the remaining pieces.  A couple hours of drying time later and voila!
Like a charm!  I'm happy to add a bit of glam to the bathroom!   It's a small do-over, but it makes a world of difference to me.  I can't wait to start improving more areas of the bathroom!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Please Sir, I Want S'more!

The biggest hit at our Christmas party this weekend were these adorable s'mores cups.  And why wouldn't they be?  They're only the most adorable things to come around since baby bunnies!
I found this recipe on Pinterest and have been dying to try them out ever since!  

PS- Note to the men out there: if your girlfriend/wife sends you to the store for s'mores stuff and you come back with nada because you didn't like the chocolate choices...might wanna start packin!  Or buy her a baby bunny.  Either or!  Just kidding Tim, I totally believe you about the chocolate...
Back to the s'mores.  As far as desserts go, these are fairly simple for how ridiculously cute they turn out.  It only took me about 10 minutes to make them from start-to-almost-finish, and then another few minutes the following day to dip them in chocolate (which you obviously can do the same night that you're baking).

Ingredients
  • 7 graham crackers crushed into 1 cup of crumbs
  • 1/4 C powdered sugar
  • 6 Tbls melted vegan butter
  • 4 bars of dark chocolate (or any kind you prefer)
  • 12 big marshmallows
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. The first thing to do is to mix the crushed graham crackers with the powdered sugar and melted butter.  Then scoop them into a greased mini muffin pan.
Use something to press them down to form little cups.  I used a muddler, but your thumb would work.  Bake for 4-5 minutes.

Next, take two bars of chocolate and place one square on top of each cup.  Using scissors dipped in cold water, cut the large marshmallows in half and place a half on top of the chocolate.  Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes.


After letting them cool for 15 minutes, take each rest of the chocolate and melt it in the microwave or using a double broiler.  Take each cup and dip the top in the chocolate, then put it on a plate and eat it!
See?  Simple and party perfect!

What are your favorite pot luck or party dishes?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Party 2011!

Ay yi yi!


I've been so swamped this week that I've barely had any time to give some love to my blog!  I have projects-a-plenty to update on, but first, I wanted to share some photos from our Christmas party this weekend!


It was a double decker event, starting with a family get together that included our parents and grand parents, my aunt, uncle, and cousin, and we also had Malena's and Lindsey's parents over!  I've known my friend's parents for over ten years, so they're practically family!  We ended the night with most of our friends over to celebrate with jargarittas and lots of catching up!


Here are a few shots highlighting the party decorations and food.  I'll follow up this post with recipes for each item!















I also added a bunch of purple ornaments to our tree and scattered around the room.





All the girls!
Has anyone been attending any good holiday parties?  Looking forward to Christmas next Sunday?  I sure am!  


I'll be back soon with some yummy vegan recipes and a few exciting home improvements!  Painted wall paper anyone?  Framed bathroom mirror? Stayed tuned for details!