Thursday, December 11, 2014

Classic Mulled Wine



If you are over the age of 21 and have a family,
you are well aware of how important 
drinking is around the holidays. 

Alcohol is a great thing to have around 
at any family gathering for 
when grandpa needs something to blame for 
the awkward racist comments he made at dinner
and mom needs something to help
her forget that it happened.

It's got everyone's back, for better or for worse. 

If you've ever hosted a Holiday gathering of any sort, 
you also understand that providing such social lubricants 
can be an expensive thing. 

You spring for the $40 bottle of wine 
that gets sucked down before Uncle Jerry is even halfway 
through his conspiracy theory rant.

This is a problem. 
I have the answer. 



Mulled. Wine.
Mulling wine cinderellas the crap out of cheap wines.

It's the same logic as any sort of "jungle juice" 
or "insert cheap alcohol name here bucket"
you had in college. 
Take something cheap, yet alcoholic. 
Cover up the bad parts of it with better things.
Share.

With mulled wine, you can take a few cheap bottles of wine,
add fruit and cider and spices and a little bit of booze,
and it is cleaned up and ready for the ball. 

Trader Joes has a slightly-above-mediocre line of wines
(The Charles Shaw Collection: AKA "Two-Buck Chuck")
 that retail between $2-$4 that are perfect for this.





RECIPE

2 bottles of inexpensive red wine. (I used a Merlot)
4 c. apple cider

1/3 c. honey
3 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise

2 tsp. whole cloves

1/2 c. brandy or bourbon
1 lemon, sliced

2 oranges, sliced

Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
 I don't mind the cloves floating around in my wine,
but if this is something that is going to upset you, you can use a mulling bag 
or a tied up piece of cheese cloth to contain the spices.
Warm on low heat. Do not bring to a simmer or boil, 
this will start to cook the alcohol out.

I like to keep mine on low heat for a while (20 minutes or so) 
before serving, and give it a good stir every couple of minutes to really 
let the flavors blend together. 
Once the mixture is warmed, it is ready to serve!
At this point, you can strain the fruit and spices out if you wish,
but I think it is charming to have little bits of
fruit and cinnamon sticks in the glass. 
Call me crazy. 


                     




Happy drinking, ladies and gentlemen!


                                            

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Stovetop Simmer




If I walk into a place and it smells good, I instantly assume that whoever 
is responsible for where I am really has their shit together. 
Why?
Because the air controls smells. 
If you can make all of the air smell good, you are kind of the boss of the air. 
And that sounds really, really hard. 

It's something that only storybook grandmas that live in log cabins and Martha Stewart
know how to do, and the secret is going with them to their graves.

Well, for all of you poor souls with dwindling hope of ever achieving such aromatic successes,
wipe those tear stains off of your Yankee Candle catalogue. 
I have great news. 
I found a trick.

Simmering stovetop potpourri. 

I know that you're disappointed that the word "stovetop" 
wasn't immediately followed by "Kraft brand Stuffing in a box"
and that potpourri comes bearing the
connotation of 
"that dried up flower stuff that old people keep by their toilets."

But listen.

This stovetop potpourri is like an air Nazi. 
Keep it simmering on your stove for the afternoon
and it will reign over all of the air in your entire house.
It has serious powers. 
Everything will smell like Christmas and
every person who walks into your home will say
"Everything smells like Christmas."






This is the perfect thing to make people think that you have your life together.

Nobody is going to think
 "This girl's house smells amazing, I'll bet she just learned how to write a check."
or 
"This girl's house feels like sticking my nose in Christmas, she probably 
had to instill a personal rewards system to get herself to shower regularly."

Nope. There are no thoughts beyond the "put together" one.


The best thing about this is that it is ridiculously simple.
You pretty much just take a laundry list of good smelling things,
put them in a pot and let them do their thing.
It can also be changed up for different holidays and seasons by putting
different spices, fruits and aromatics in it.






RECIPE

1 2-inch chunk of fresh ginger
2 oranges, cut in half
1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries
3 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean + 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. cloves
2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup. apple cider
3 c. water
1-2 pine branches

Combine all ingredients in a sturdy pot. 
Simmer on low heat, adding water as needed.


TAKE NOTE:

-When you first put it on, it looks marvelous.
After simmering all day, it looks like a pot full of mud with sticks in it.
Do not be alarmed. We can't all stay pretty forever.
It'll still smell good.


-Keep adding water!!
This bad boy loses liquid pretty quickly. Keep stocking the pot
with water to keep everything from burning, and thusly
negating the whole "this person has their shit together"
sentiment. 

-If the scent weakens, you can add more vanilla extract 
or more cider to lift it back up again. However, you likely won't need to. 
The scent lasts a LONG time. I simmered mine for 9 hours before 
I felt the need to add anything to it. 

-People are going to try to drink it.
Don't let people try to drink it. 





Until the next, dears!









Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mexican Hot Chocolate


A few months ago, I moved into an apartment.
Nobody else moved in there.
Just me. By myself.
And it...has been..AMAZING.


It has taught me that you never realize the limits of your 
strange-ness until you've lived alone.
It's like how you act when you're alone in your car...except all of the time.
All the weird things you say to yourself in your head
are now aloud to come out of your mouth. 

Off the record. No repercussions. 

You can say the same word 50 times in 50 different accents if you want.
That word can be "boobs."
All of the accents can end up being vaguely British.
You can wear the furry monster boots from your Halloween costume 100% of the time.
You can sing Taylor Swift to the tune of traditional a capella christmas songs.
You can do that for 6 hours straight.
You can leap everywhere instead of walking.
You can pretend you have Barbie arms all night and only pick up things with 
bent elbows and flirty stuck-together fingers with the thumb sticking out.
You can give up on putting on a shirt, because that is a very hard 
thing to do with Barbie arms.
You can cover every square inch of the place with warm soft things
and drink this entire recipe of hot chocolate. By yourself. 

Have I sold you yet?





See that bowl of spices? I drank all of that.

But really. Look at all of that. This hot chocolate has no shortage of flavor. 
If you've never tried Mexican hot chocolate, it is a spiced version 
of the classic hot chocolate. 
It is slightly less sweet, and packed with warm, cozy, spicy goodness. 



INGREDIENTS:

4 cups milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


DIRECTIONS:

-Combine all of the dry ingredients.
-Heat the milk in a sauce pan on medium low heat. 
You don't want to burn the crap out of it, do you? Right. 

-Pour in the vanilla and whisk in the dry ingredients
until the milk has warmed and the spices are fully combined.

-Drink 1-4 cups of Mexican hot chocolate. Alone.





For your listening pleasure, here is a tiny playlist of songs to get cozy to.

Until the next, babies!



                                          

Monday, September 22, 2014

Good-bye Summer




That's all, folks. 
The season-change fairies have posted their Facebook statuses 
about loving sweater weather. 
They've swooped down to earth, Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes in hand,
and they've taken every vestige of summer that we had left
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" style.
Just shoved all of our summer fun up the chimney.
They even took the last can of Who-hash.
And replaced it with "pumpkin flavored everything!"


It's officially Fall. 


Let's cherish these few palatable moments that we have left
before Polar Vortex round two rolls into town. 

To kiss the summer good-bye, here are some photos from a picnic 
I took a few months back.
Back when we were kicking our air conditioners and sweating 
through the backs of our t-shirts. 
You remember, the good ole days. 













Good-bye peaches.
Good-bye not wearing socks.
Good-bye rolled-down car windows.

I'll see you next year, dear friends.

Hello, Fall.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mexican Street Corn




Sometimes life is not very zesty.
You fall asleep at 10:30 on a Friday night watching
 Abraham Lincoln vampire hunter on TV.
You get stuck talking to ladies in khaki shorts at the park
who think your nanny kids are your kids
about how her grad school friends "kind of" have a book club.
You might be that person reading murder
history novels at the bar alone sometimes.

When life's got you feeling like a pair of khaki shorts, 
you have to seek the curative powers of hispanic food.
In this case, the gorgeous creation that is 
Mexican street corn. 








Soak the corn in water before grilling.
Once the husks look nice n blackened up, 
peel those babies back and begin the madness.

Traditional Elote is dipped in butter then spread with mayonnaise 
before adding this cheese, herbs and spice.
That felt good in theory, but a little intense in practice.
So, I decided to make make a few of these guys combine forces
with this herb aioli spread.

Yield-Enough for about 10 cobs of corn

2 egg yolks
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/3 cup fresh cilantro 
1 tbsp. cumin
1 lime, juice and zested
Vegetable oil to thicken
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine the egg yolks, vinegar, cilantro, lime juice, and cumin in a blender.
Blend on low while slowly drizzling in the oil.
Once it is to your preference of thickness, add S&P to taste.

Spread the Aioli on the corn, sprinkle with Cotija cheese,
cayenne pepper, and chopped cilantro.







Until the next, babes.



                                               

Monday, June 30, 2014

Boozy Frozen Watermelon




There are occasions that call for your feelings to be eaten. 
Such as when it's your day off and there are too many 
people logged in to your Netflix
account and it won't let you watch.

There are also occasions where you need to soak
your feelings in booze and then eat them.
Such as when the cashier at the grocery store tells you that
you're never going to get a husband if your grocery habits
 entail only buying tequila and watermelon.

Would you believe that this is the second time I've been told I'm never going
to get a husband for something that i've done at that grocery store?
Second time.








Whether you're in the business of eating feelings
 or trying to earn your "most creative use of alcohol" sorority girl merit badge,
 these are easy and delightful.
All you gotta do is soak the watermelon for 30 minutes and freeze overnight.







Once frozen, dip the ends in salt or sugar and have at it.
And *bonus!* You can chop it up and blend it
with the extra tequila and it makes 
a splendid watermelon slushie.
Look at that! Double merit badges.





Until the next my dears. 
Keep cool out there.






Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dutch Baby





Today I applied for a big girl job that
held out it's fancy, sophisticated hand and said "LinkedIn Profile?"
My hands got a little sweaty. 
My knees buckled a little.
I can accomplish this, no problem.
But I began having awake-nightmares about being one of those
people who sends 1000 emails inviting everybody to 
"Join me on LinkedIn!"
It wouldn't happen to me. I had this. 

Things were going so smoothly, my confidence was sitting on a golden tuffet.
Then, I noticed a little circle on the side of the page.
Mine was filled just a tiny bit to a level deemed "poor" or "beginner" or "wussy"
I can't remember. I've blocked it from my memory. 
"Add connections!" it tells me. 
I press the button. I press all the buttons. I press them three times 
because it doesn't appear to be working.

It was that moment that I became my fear. 
I was an ashamed and accidental over-indulgent LinkedIn inviter.

It was the same sinking feeling as
having to walk through the perfume department to get to the escalator
or giving up your pizza crusts when
 you really were about to eat them.

I felt like zero dollars. 
To cheer myself up, Dutch baby.










3 large eggs

2/3 c. whole milk

2/3 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. salt

3 tbsp butter.


Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. The Fahrenheit kind. 
Tickle your eggs with an electric mixer for 4-ish minutes until they are frothy.
Slowly mix in the rest of the nonsense, except for the butter.

Melt the butter in a 10 in. cast iron skillet and swirl it around until it covers the whole surface.
Pour mixture into the buttered skillet and bake for 18-20 minutes.

Your Dutch baby will emerge fluffy and excited...
for approximately one minute.
Then it will lay down and submit to the bath of 
fresh fruit, chocolate sauce, powdered sugar, or ice cream that you
have in store for it.






Until the next kiddies!