Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Happy Hour: Gin + Grapefruit

I'm not a girly drink kind of girl. Too much sugar and weird colors don't do it for me. Although I do enjoy a pretty swizzle stick. Gin has been my go-to spirit if choice for some time but, let's be honest, tonic water gets a little old. So I've started adding something to make my lips pucker instead. I like to think of this as a Greyhound with a twist.

What You'll Need 1 oz gin
.5 oz Contreau
2 oz grapefruit juice

Splash of Sprite
1 lime

What to Do Fill a high ball glass half way with ice. Stir in gin, orange liqueur and grapefruit juice. Add a splash of Sprite (a very small splash, we don't need headaches here!) and a squeeze of lime. With hot days to come, this should cool you down a bit. Cheers to summer! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kitchen Reveal

After a few months a lot of decisions, we finally have a new kitchen! The old kitchen was basically original to the house with a few appliance updates through the decades. The 4 feet of formica and bottomless cabinets just weren't cutting it. 

We had all new custom cabinets installed and did the granite countertops ourselves (ok so the boy spent hours cutting and sanding those but you know what I mean). We painted the original wood floors that were hiding under the layers of linoleum and added a few shelves to keep the space feeling open. 

We tore out the old pantry in the laundry room too and created pull-out cabinets for laundry, trash and recycling.

We still have some decorating to do but I am thrilled to have such a functional space to cook and bake. I can't wait for Thanksgiving this year :)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Moms and Beets

It's a beautiful day to celebrate moms. Especially mine, who is awesome. Since my mom loves veggies, this recipe seemed appropriate. This super earthy caesar salad features a vegetable that, honestly, I'm not normally a huge fan of. But we had a similar combo the other weekend and I have to say, this makes me like beets. 

What You'll Need:
4 cups shredded kale
1 beet, julienned or shredded
4 tablespoons caesar dressing
1/2 lemon
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

What to Do:
Since kale can be a bit tough, massaging it first gives it a nice, silky texture. I know playing with your food is strange, but trust me, it's worth it. Toss the kale and beets with the dressing and let it sit for an hour. Before you're ready to serve, add some fresh squeezed lemon juice and top with walnuts. Season with salt and pepper if you like. This is a great side dish for steak or pork chops next time you need something a little different. Happy Mother's Day! 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Refreshing Cucumber Mango Salad

It's starting to get hot outside. And it's about time. I know it's crazy to wish for heat because I know by July I'll be begging for cooler weather. But what can I say, I'm a southerner. So in honor of warm, sunny days to come, I've thrown together a sweet and refreshing summer salad with a spicy mexican twist. Can't cool off too much, now can we?

What You'll Need:
2 mangoes, peeled and diced
2 small cucumbers
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lime juice
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped
Red pepper

What to Do:
Mix together the honey and lime juice. Add a few shakes of salt and red pepper to taste. Pour over the mango and cucumber and toss with cilantro. This makes a great side dish for tacos or fish and is perfect with a margarita. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

I was craving something sweet. But, let's face it. With the rainy, overcast weather we've been having, I wasn't in the mood to do a whole lot. And I definitely wasn't going to the grocery store. So I raided our pantry and came up with the ingredients for these babies. Winning. 

What You'll Need:
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 1/4 cups quick cook oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

What to Do:
Cream the peanut butter and butter with the sugars. Add the egg and vanilla. Stir in the oats and baking soda. Toss in chocolate chips. Dried cranberries and/or walnuts would be yummy too. I'll note that I used Splenda for baking and smart balance peanut butter (don't laugh, we're trying to be healthy here) so feel free to substitute what you have. 

Press the mixture into a greased 9x9 pan and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Let these cool for a bit and then cut into bars. These would make a great weekday snack if you can manage to keep your hands out of them that long. Unlike my husband <cough>. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Spicy Cocoa Rub

I like a good steak now and then. While the boy and I try to cut back on our meat consumption, sometimes a bug hunk of cow just hits the spot. There are plenty of restaurants that cook a mean steak, but I prefer to grill them myself. Ok, so the boy grills them but I usually do the seasoning. After a bit of experimenting, I've found a spicy, smoky combo that we both really enjoy. 

What You'll Need:
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tablespoon red pepper
1/4 tablespoon nutmeg

What to Do:
Mix the spices together until salt is well incorporated. Brush steak with olive oil and generously coat with spice rub. The oil is key to making sure you don't end up with a gritty mouth-full so don't skip this step! Grill or pan-sear according to your preference. If steak's not your thing, this is equally tasty on pork chops.