Kinda Grown-up Valentines

February 12th, 2014

Post-college, many of my friends took ginormous leaps and moved around the country. Although I am so proud of their boldness, I miss them dearly and wish we could all move back into our frat-worthy 10 roommate house in Bloomington. It was just as bad as it sounds, trust me. This Valentine’s day left me longing for my group of friends and wishing I could tell them  just how much I love each and every one of them.

Homemade Valentines

For me, friends are just as worthy of Valentine’s celebrations as the significant others in our lives. Valentine’s Day is about love. And boy, oh boy, do I love my friends. So because I can’t squeeze, hug and kiss every one of them this year, I decided to craft some homemade love to send across the country.

I started with some blank kraft paper cards and envelopes. Using some baker’s twine, I threaded hearts on the front.

Homemade Valentines

I then added Washi tape in festive Valentine’s Day colors. The uses for baker’s twine and Washi tape are literally endless. I’ve used them on so many of my recent projects and wrapping jobs.

Homemade Valentines

 

Finally, I sealed the envelopes with some additional tape and lots of love. If I can’t be with my pals this Valentine’s Day… I can at least send them some cutie pie notes!

Homemade Valentines

“Quickled” Red Onions

February 10th, 2014

Quickled Red OnionsIt’s Sunday night. The middle of winter. I’m eating leftover breakfast quesadilla with 2 lbs of chicken in the crock pot. Low point? You might call it that. I prefer to think of it as the prefect time for some impromptu pickles.

Pickled red onions are one of my favorite meal toppers. They add the perfect punch to almost any meal, and make a mundane salad or taco instantly feel a little bit fancy.

These easy refrigerator quick-pickled, or “quickled” red onions are the perfect pick-me-up for when you’re experiencing a bad case of the Sunday night blues. Ready in under an hour, they can be enjoyed immediately or can flavor your meals throughout the week.

Quickled red OnionsQuickled Red Onions:

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 large red onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (canning or pickling salt preferred)
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tablespoon pickling spice

Instructions:

Bring 2 to 3 cups water to a boil. Meanwhile, slice your onions lengthwise into half moons. In a mason jar, combine sugar, salt, vinegar, garlic and pickling spice. Shake to mix. Once water reaches a rolling boil, place onions in a colander and slowly, very slowly, pour water over the onions to slightly soften. Place onions into mason jar and ensure that all onions are completely submerged in pickling liquid. (Add a few drops of water if necessary.) Place the sealed container in the fridge. Pickles will be ready in around 30 minutes, but best left overnight.

If sealed in an airtight mason jar, pickles will last for several weeks, but best eaten within the first week or so.

Asian-Style Slow Cooker Wings

February 7th, 2014

Something amazing happened on our plane ride back from Florida.

After exhausting his stock of “manly” magazines, Andrew tore into my latest Food Network issue and starting skimming. That’s not the shocking part, however. What really threw me for a loop was when he returned the copy to me… with dog-eared pages. “Yeah… those Asian wings look good. Will you make them?” I stared back in shock. This was coming from the man who couldn’t decide between peanut butter or jelly. Who rarely cared what I put on his plate as long as it wasn’t “too weird or healthy.” Who never cared what we split for the appetizer. Who always “forced” me to pick the restaurant (Okay… yes, I was going to pick the restaurant regardless.) Now all of a sudden h e’s dog-earing pages in a cooking magazine? The foodie Gods were sending me a sign… I HAD to make these wings.

So after reading the recipe myself, I decided it was a good starting point… but needed some adapting. With Super Bowl Sunday just a couple weeks away, these wings would soon have a shining debut.

Come Super Bowl Sunday, I’d never split full wings before, so Andrew and I had a funny time figuring out how to cleanly split the drumstick from the wing,  but after a few, we got the hang of it. I’d recommend using a heavy, sharp knife as opposed to kitchen shears. It seemed easier to locate the cartilage and cut at the exact joint.

Now I LOVE anything that can be tossed in the slow cooker, so these were an instant favorite. Just toss these puppies in and let them soak up all the yummy saucy goodness. I am all about that. Plus the sweet and salty aromas filled the house for hours and caused many a grumbling stomach. There were some drawbacks, however. When making these wings again, I’ll cut down on the slow cooker time and would consider flash-frying them for added crispness at the end.

End result? These wings were gone before the game even started. I’d call that a success! Stay tuned for when I make these wings again. I’m excited to experiment with the cooking times in hopes of a crispier end result. But until then they’re stilly really, I mean really, tasty.

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Asian-Style Slow Cooker Wings

Adapted from Rachael Ray

Ingredients:

  • 4lbs chicken wings
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sriracha
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • Large handful of cilantro, chopped as garnish

Directions:

In the bowl of a slow cooker, combine soy sauce, honey, sriracha, lime juice, lime zest and garlic. Whisk until well blended. If using whole wings, breakdown the wings into drumsticks and wings, ensuring to remove the wing tip.  Add the wings to the slow cooker, stirring to evenly coat. Add chicken broth if wings are not completely submerged. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours. Preheat the broiler. Place wings on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until crispy, about 5 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them… so they don’t burn. Sprinkle with cilantro to serve and don’t forget a tall stack of napkins!

Goat Cheese Sprinkle Cookies

January 12th, 2014

Two of my friends celebrated their joint birthdays this weekend. As unfortunately timed as possible, I am currently on an antibiotic that causes what the pharmacist called “instantaneous sickness” if you mix with alcohol. So what to do when you can’t drink with your best friends on their birthday? Make cookies.

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But not just any cookie. My sober-self really went all out on this one. I used a recipe from Love and Olive Oil that features goat cheese. Goat cheese?! Yes. Goat cheese.

Now I’m both a proponent of goat cheese and sweet + savory combinations but this one sounded bonkers. I did a bit more thinking and realized, however, that the perfect, ooey-gooey oh-so-delicious sugar cookies always ends with a tiny bit of tang. Some bakers use cream cheese to achieve  that final flavor note, this recipe uses a personal fave, goat cheese.

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So after I spent an afternoon or two pondering this crazy coupling, I decided I was game. The night of the party, while my other friends got gussied up and ready to go out, I rolled up sprinkle-covered cookies in my kitchen. I arrived at the party with a plate full of cookies, while everyone else took shots in the corner. (Yeah, welcome to my life)

Luckily, the cookies were a true crowd-pleaser. As I compensated my lack of drink-in-hand with multiple cookies-in-hand, I passed them around before finally serving as taxi cab to the bars. Oh and the next morning? Instead of a headache and  a grumpy attitude…. I found a few sprinkles in bed!

Goat Cheese Sprinkle Cookies