Saturday, April 29, 2017

Lavendar lemonade cocktail

Spring and summer make me think bright, fresh and crisp flavors. I love lemonade and the tart, sour notes that tingle your tongue as you drink it. Why not add a little lavender to balance out that tartness by adding a floral element to the drink? And if we are going to the trouble of getting lemon and lavender to party together then we might as well grab some gin and make this thing official.

I had thought of this cocktail because I have a lavender plant in my front flower bed that I have managed to keep alive for 3 years now. It's a record! Anytime I walk by it I catch a whiff of it and it always smells so amazing! I love using it in body scrubs or trimming some down for a vase and wanted to see how I could use it in the kitchen.  That's when the idea of this drink came to me.

I made this drink in a cocktail shaker for a single drink portion, although, you could easily make a pitcher of this for a party or get together.  Just add 1-1/2 ounces of gin for every 6-8 ounces of lemonade. Just think of it like salt to can always add more if it needs it, but you can't take it away if it's too much.

Alright, lets do this...

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add a pinch of lavender leaves, bruising them first. Have you seen Love Actually and the scene where the husband is buying that necklace for his secretary? (so shady!) Mr. Bean is wrapping it and he takes something off the stem (rosemary maybe?) and rubs it between his hands and places it in the jewelry gift wrap bag. Same idea, except I find just bending it with your fingers a couple times works just as well. Bruising herbs helps release their natural oils, which is perfect for getting the flavor of the herb, (in this case lavender) without actually having to eat it.

Next, add 4 ounces of lemonade. I made my own lemonade (see recipe here) or just use your favorite store bought lemonade. Then add the gin. Just like any other spirit there are so many brands to choose from, and I am just throwing this out there...when it comes to gin it seems the more it costs the smoother it is. So if you are paying less than $15 for a bottle, don't come crying to me when you sip the drink and all you taste is gin.

OK, now you are ready to put the lid on your cocktail shaker and find your inner Tom Cruise and shake that bad boy like he did in Cocktail. There are people that are going to tell you there is a proper way to shake a cocktail shaker (hold it horizontally with the bottom of the shaker facing your chest and shake away from your body), but what I do is shake it until my hand starts to get cold. Because after all I'm just a girl, standing in front of a cocktail shaker, asking my Monday to feel a little more like a Friday.

Remove the lid of your shaker and strain into a glass filled with ice. You'll want to strain it otherwise you'll have lavender floating in your drink. Now if you want, before you put ice in your glass you can rim the glass with lavender sugar. It is super easy to make and if this is for an event/party, it's an awfully pretty way to present it. You can garnish with a lemon wedge and/or a sprig of lavender.

I'm telling you, when I tried this I was surprised how delicious it tasted. I had a feeling it would be good, but I didn't know it would be THIS good. I love the floral hint the lavender gives the lemonade. I splurged on the gin and it became one of those drinks where "you can't even taste the alcohol". What is so fun is that this can easily be enjoyed as a mocktail too, great for a Mother's day brunch, a baby shower, or something to take to work to share with your coworkers! Hope you like it as much as I did!

So good you'll throw your hands in the air!

To get the cocktail recipe, click here . Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lemon poppy seed scones

I've been doing some real thinking (not the fake kind), and I decided I should call this blog "the blog of good intentions". You should see all my little notes in random kitchen drawers, in my planner and on our fridge. I have all these ideas I want to blog and share with you and yet...nothing. Thus, a blog of good intentions. I know you'll forgive me as I think it might just be my mom who reads this. :)

So a few years ago I wanted to make scones. I had never made them before and from my years of working at Starbucks I always thought they were just ok and kind of dry. Making them myself was a game changer. I got to play around with different flavor combinations and glazes and really became interested in it. Last Thanksgiving I made scones to take to a friend's house and fell back in love with them all over again. Plus, they are pretty darn easy to make! Next thing I knew I was trying out a new scone flavor every couple weeks...and still do to this day. I have made pumpkin, maple bacon, dark chocolate with an espresso chocolate ganache glaze, cranberry orange, blackberry sesame seed, blueberry and also lemon poppy seed. Now, me and my family haven't really met a scone we didn't like, but lemon poppy seed is a favorite. I take them to work to share or snack on them at home. I wake up pretty early for my job and take a few vitamins before leaving for work. When it's that early and you have an empty stomach, a nibble of a scone is the perfect way to start your day. I especially love them paired with coffee or tea.

So one Sunday morning I was the first one to wake up and decided I wanted to make some scones (go figure). So I threw on my Grandma's apron and started to get things set up...and then Evelyn woke up. She got dressed and came out to the kitchen and was very interested in what I was doing. So I let her be my helper. I told Chuck to go grab the camera and take some photos of us making scones together...and here we are.  My scone obsession has come to life in a post. Now enough about me, lets make some scones:

In a large bowl add your dry ingredients. Whisk well to avoid any clumps.

Next, cut your butter into your dry ingredients. This task is easiest with a pastry cutter but if you don't have one you could use a whisk or even a fork. Your goal here is just to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture to make the butter into small pebbles.




Stir the cream, lemon juice and egg and into your flour/butter mixture. Keep an eye out for the used lemon or Evelyn will eat it...rind and all! Stir gently until it just comes together to form a dough.

Now for the fun part. Put your dough on a floured work surface and knead it into a flat round, then roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut it into triangles and place on a lined baking sheet.

See what I mean? Lemon thief!

Bake for about 13-15 minutes, until the edges turn slightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. When cooled, drizzle with glaze.

I try not to make too much glaze so I work in stages with the powdered sugar, a little lemon juice and half and half. Add a tiny bit more powdered sugar if needed, then maybe a bit more half and half. Once I get a nice thick glaze, I use a fork or a whisk and drizzle it on the cooled scones.

Summer is just around the corner and making me think of all kinds of new flavors I want to try. Strawberry lime, tomato basil, zucchini and cheddar...YUM! I've attached a recipe for your convenience. Thanks for reading!

Get the recipe here: Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

Friday, October 21, 2016

"I've seen too much love to give up hope" -Justin Joslin

I have been friends with Justin for 18 years now. Since I have known him I've known his love for music. Justin is such a talented musician and I have been lucky to be a fan of his throughout his musical journey.

On March 11 Justin released his second album, The River. It is FANTASTIC, he has mastered the craft of songwriting! His cd release show was magical, I ain't too proud to admit it, I cried. There was just something so moving about his performance and hearing those songs for the first time. Well, except for "Love you Wrong" which I heard for the first time on Jake FM. I heard it while I was at work and ran over to the radio and turned it up and yelled to everyone "hey! I know this guy!".  Every time I have seen him live since the release of The River I have been pleasantly caught off guard by any slight change in a song or intro and it seems like he just gets better and better. Justin is the salt of the earth. He puts his heart into every song he sings. He is also pretty much the nicest guy I know. He is the kind of guy that after just meeting you and he found out you were moving he would be automatically be offering to help you, he is giving and caring to his core. If you're familiar with Justin, chances are you've met his wife, Sutton. If you don't know Justin personally but have heard his music, you know his wife, Sutton. There are glimmers of Sutton woven into almost every song of his, and if you know know why. People often say "oh they are so beautiful inside and out" and maybe they kind of mean it or maybe its just that phrase you say to be nice, but when you are talking about Sutton Joslin it couldn't be more true. She is so kind and so genuine and drop dead gorgeous.  I'm probably starting to sound a little "single white female" over here, but if you know the Joslin's you understand where I am coming from.

So when I found out he was playing at The Basement for an intimate show with their summer concert series I texted my go-to sitter, Grandma Butkus, and made plans to go. It was a show in a basement in the middle of summer in got steamy down there. Justin and Lance Kuehn sweat their asses off while Chuck and I danced and sang along to the songs we love and have come to know by heart. I could go into great detail about what I love about all of Justin's songs, but to save myself from sounding like too much of a super fan I'll let you check him out for yourself. Here are some pictures I took at his show at the Basement. My parting tip, if you are feeling a little overwhelmed by life throw on "The River (Reprise)" and it will make you feel like you can take on anything...."come on bury your troubles in the water".

"I was born chasing the sun"

"I've lived through my midnight hour, now I'm tryin' to take it day by day"

"through the storm and the pain, I've got this hope"

Want to hear Justin for yourself?
instagram: jdjoslin

Did you know Sutton does nails too? book your appointment!
instagram: suttonjnails

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Traci and Eliana

I met Traci in 4th grade. Putnam City moved their district lines and she had to start going to Windsor Hill Elementary then, lucky me she was in my class. I can literally talk for hours about our friendship and how wonderful she is, but I'll try to keep it a bit short and sweet. Traci is an AMAZING friend. She was the point guard for my middle school basketball team (my short ass self was a post believe it or not), She helped me unpack when I moved into my house, She was a bridesmaid at my wedding and she had her baby girl 83 days after I had mine. Traci is one of those people who tries something once and is instantly better at it than you, even though you've been trying for months. We played basketball, she always scored more points than me. I made almost straight A's in high school, she was a get the point. Though, I may have her beat when it comes to cooking, because I don't think I've actually ever eaten anything she has made before. Hell, she could probably read the recipe for homemade croissants once and then totally nail it. Everyone should have a Traci in their lives, a lifelong friend who you may go months without seeing but when you do, you haven't skipped a beat.

Traci has moved to Houston. She has just become a dentist (of course) and has found a great practice in Houston where she will work alongside 3 other dentists. When she told me I flipped. Houston?!??!! It's so far, its so hot! Once my freak out session mellowed out I was able to be happy for her and her baby girl and what the future holds for them. Looks like my future holds a trip to Houston. As Eliana's first birthday was approaching and Traci's moving date becoming near I knew I had to capture them together one last time. Traci agreed and braved the summer heat for a quick evening photo shoot. Here are a few of my favorites from that session:

Traci, I know you will conquer anything you set your mind to and make it look easy as you always have. Thank you for being such a sister to me and saving my ass in dodgeball since 4th grade. I hope Houston knows how lucky it is to be gaining you two. Love you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Beer Margaritas

It's summer, it's hot, bring on the tequila! This is one of those drinks that is great for a crowd, summer cookout or father day dinner celebration (like when I made them in these pictures). I absolutely love to entertain or go to parties or get togethers and this drink is perfect because you can make a big pitcher of them to serve up and you can enjoy the party, that way you aren't having to hand make every cocktail. What is great about beer margaritas is you can make them your own style and change up your flavor combinations. For example I've made raspberry beer margaritas and pomegranate ones before, but this time I stuck with my favorite original way.

First, in your pitcher add frozen limeade. This is a step where you could use any frozen juice you wanted to switch up the flavor. Though I'll stick with using limeade this time.

Then add your fresh lime and orange juice. I mean have you seen a bigger orange?!? Thanks whole foods! I love the fresh flavor and tartness that comes from the orange juice, but if you wanted you could always use triple sec (orange flavored liqueur)  for a more traditional margarita flavor. After you've got all your fresh fruit juices added then you can add the star of the show...tequlia.

Let me warn you, I've found that when it comes to tequila you get what you pay for. So I'm not saying to use Patron, but just think twice when picking out which kind you want to use. I add about 8-10oz for this size pitcher, if you are using something larger add more tequila. I like to pour the tequila into the frozen limeade container, to help me measure and to also help get any last little limeade drops I may have left behind.

Then you can add beer. I think a nice light Mexican beer is perfect for these. My favorite is Tecate. Stir well and you are ready to serve!

 Go ahead and slice up a lime and get a little plate of salt so you can salt the rim of your glass and serve it with a lime slice. It is that extra little detail that makes this drink extra yummy. There is just something so refreshing about this fun spin on a margarita, just in time for a summer party!