Friday, December 30, 2011

Recipe: Pomegranate Champagne Punch

I made this punch for our Christmas party with friends and it was totally delicious (and packed a good buzz too)! It would also be perfect for a New Year's party, so here I am, posting the day of, for all your procrastinators out there.

Recipe via Bon Apétit. Serves 12.

I N G R E D I E N T S :

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 bottles chilled brut champagne
1 cup Bacardi or other white rum
1 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Sprigs of fresh mint
Pomegranate seeds (if you'd like, I didn't use any)

D I R E C T I O N S :

1) In a small saucepan, boil the water and sugar and stir until sugar dissolves and simmer 5 minutes (you're basically making simple syrup). Cool it completely.

2) Combine champagne, pom juice, and rum in a large punch bowl. Stir in syrup to taste. Garnish with mint leaves and lemon.

3) Cool with an ice block or serve with ice in punch glasses.

This was light and bubbly and a definite crowd pleaser.

So from here, I sign off for 2011, and will be back with you after the ball drops. Hope you have a lovely New Year's Eve and I'll see you in 2012!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shore Society Christmas Products

I have been so busy lately that I'm clinging to the light at the end of the tunnel—ten glorious days of Christmas break. There's so much to buy, wrap, bake, clean....all while keeping up with holiday shop orders. It's exhausting, but in a great way!

I also want to say a HUGE thanks to designworklife and Burrs & Berries for featuring my holiday gift tags on their sites...thank you, thank you, thank you!

Shore Society is also now selling in Poppytalk Handmade's Holiday Market, which has been both exciting and inspiring—there are so many talented makers selling their goods, I encourage you to head over there and check out all of the amazing shops that are participating. I want to buy everything!

Sets of the aforementioned gift tags are still available in my shop, in case you are a procrastinator and haven't started wrapping yet. I still have some last-minute things to grab but I'm in the home stretch...have you finished your shopping yet?

After I finish my shopping, the holiday parties and get-togethers begin! I'm so excited to hang out with all of my amazing friends and family coming in from out of town, and to take a break from working and sitting behind my computer. Sigh...won't that be nice?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Recipe: Jalapeño Cream Cheese Poppers

I never shy away from trying a new bite-size recipe. I am a perpetual snacker (I would never eat meals if I didn't have to) and these looked perfect for a lazy Sunday during the football game. They were really easy to make, and totally pop-able and delicious. I am not ashamed to admit we ate every last one of these (I mean, they probably wouldn't reheat well...that was my excuse).

Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen. Great recipe but I found her instructions really annoying to read (sorry!) So these are much simpler.

Makes 32 little poppers.

I N G R E D I E N T S :

1 package cream cheese (8 oz.)
1/4 cup diced canned jalapeños (mine were in a jar and I diced them myself)
1 package refrigerated crescent rolls (8 oz.)
1 Tbsp. sugar

D I R E C T I O N S :

1. Preheat oven to 375° F

2. Cut about 3/4 of your cream cheese off and place that portion into a bowl. Add in your jalapeños and the sugar and mix with a fork. Be sure to incorporate the sugar very well.

3. Do a little taste test. The sugar adds a nice little sweet element to the spice, so add less or more depending on what you prefer. Add more jalapeños if you prefer a little more heat! I used mild jalapeños and it was a mistake, they weren't flavorful enough, so be sure to get ones with gusto.

4. Once you get the right mixture, set it aside while you prep the dough.

5. Open your crescent rolls, the dough should come out in 2 flat rectangles (with the perforated triangles still attached). Place one of the rectangles on your cutting board and pinch the perforated triangles together to make one solid rectangle of dough. Take a rolling pin and smooth it out a bit.

6. Now, evenly spread half of the jalapeño cream cheese mixture onto the dough.

7. Starting on the long end of the dough, start rolling until you have a little dough log.

8. Using a sharp knife (sharp is key), cut the log in half. Then, cut the halves in half. Continue until you have 16 little pinwheel poppers.

9. Place on a greased baking sheet. Then, repeat the process with the second dough rectangle that you set aside. You should now have 32 little poppers. Bake them for about 13 minutes, keeping an eye on them. They should be golden brown when they come out.

10. Once they're done baking, slide them right off the baking sheet and onto a plate. Serve with an ice cold beer or margarita, and watch them disappear :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

DIY: Christmas Decorating

I do realize I'm jumping full-force into Christmas right from Thanksgiving, but I'm in the spirit so I hope you won't hold it against me! I spent the weekend hauling out the boxes of last year's decorations, and decided to make some new mantle decor (aaaaand this is how everything I do turns into a craft project).

I'm not a huge fan of traditional Christmas colors, so I kept everything gold and glittery and added a touch of soft vintage aqua. Our walls are already very colorful so including a lot of white-on-white helped keep things light and wintery.

I already had a few bottles and jars on the mantle, so I filled them with some aqua glass beads and gold glitter branches. We put the beads in our fishbowl too, so Vince could match ;)

I made three garlands; one of white pom poms threaded on a string, a beaded one that I strung by hand (I recommend patience for this) and a third garland of gold circles that I punched out of glitter paper.

I also picked up some plastic pears at the craft store, first painted them white, then with a thin layer of glue, and dusted them in an iridescent fine glitter. They are really sparkly in person, it reminds me snow!

Our final impulse idea was to write or draw on the mirror, and I'm so glad we decided to do this because it just ties everything together. We picked up a white glass paint marker and after a few rounds of practice on the bathroom mirror, I got it juuuust right on the second try. Thankfully this stuff erases easily! This was really fun, after I finished I started thinking of what else I could draw on.

Our fireplace is non-working, so unfortunately we can't have any cozy fires in our living room. It still felt like we needed something in the hearth, so we added some logs anyway. I can use just a little bit of imagination to see them in a crackling fire ;)

I'm glad that our decorating is finally done, our tree is up, and all I have to do is finish my shopping. Christmas is totally sneaking up on us now...have you started decorated yet?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend

Hey everyone! Hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving weekend. I had four glorious days off to enjoy it with family and friends who were back in town.

Friday night was also the opening of Made in the 216's Holiday Shoppe, so Jim and I stopped in to check it out, then had a nice dinner at Greenhouse Tavern. There were a ton of awesomely unique items for sale so I'll have to go back when I'm ready to do some major Christmas shopping!

Thanksgiving plate with a side of our famous family cranberry sherbet, mmm

Thanksgiving outfit

Waking up with Jazz

Getting polished up for dinner and the Made in the 216 opening

Beautiful feather tree in the window at Room Service

Framed prints by Grey Cardigan

My holiday mini-prints...

...and tags

Cleveland neighborhood prints

Ohio prints by Northcoast Zeitgeist

Some bonkers cupcakes at Campbell's on W.25th

After all of that, I'm so not ready for the week to begin. Let's hope it goes fast! How was your Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Recipe: Beer Mac 'n' Cheese

I love beer. I love cheese. Together? You had me at hello.

If you love cheddar beer soup like I do (try Great Lakes Brewing Co''s one of the things on their menu I love) then this will make you drool. And just in time for the season of comfort food, I bring you this tasty dish.

I found the recipe here and knew I had to try it, and use Great Lakes' famous Christmas Ale for maximum flavor and holiday warmth. YUM. Okay, on with the directions...

I N G R E D I E N T S :

2 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow noodles
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
8 ounces milk
8 ounces beer
8 ounces freshly grated cheddar cheese
4 ounces freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch of black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
10 large basil leaves, chopped for garnish

D I R E C T I O N S :
1) Preheat oven to 375°F
2) Boil water and cook pasta as normal, shaving 1-2 minutes off of cooking time since pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
3) While the pasta is cooking, heat a saucepan over medium high heat and add butter. Once melted and sizzling, whisk in flour to create a roux and cook until bubbly and golden in color, about 2 minutes. Add milk and beer into saucepan whisking constantly, then add cheeses and stir until melted. Turn heat down to medium and continue to stir, cooking for 5-6 minutes while mixture thickens. It will most likely NOT thicken like regular mac and cheese because of the beer, but you want it to thicken a little bit. Stir in pepper, paprika and nutmeg.
4) Add pasta (once cooked and drained) to a casserole dish, then pour cheese over top, mixing gently to combine. Top with panko bread crumbs and an additional sprinkle of cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.
5) Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then top with fresh basil if you'd like. I didn't have any on hand but it would have been a nice touch!
I loved the crispiness that the panko added on the top, but definitely felt that this could have used a little more cheese. The flavor was great but I definitely thought it could have been more ooey-gooey. Next time, I would probably have made a bit more of the cheese sauce by just increasing the cheese and milk amounts a tiny bit.
Pop on over to How Sweet It Is for more savory step-by-step pics. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday Gift Tags

Feeling too lazy to make your own gift tags this year? Never fear. I've made my first set of gift tags this year and they'll be available at Made in the 216 as well as here in my shop. I love wrapping gifts and hope that these will add a nice final touch to your wrapping as well.

Hope your holiday shopping is coming along...I have started picking up gifts here and there and it's making me feel much less rushed.

Are any of you going to brave the crowds on Black Friday? Participating in the new "Midnight Madness"?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recipe: Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread

Even though retailers everywhere are begging us to start thinking "Christmas Christmas Christmas!" I'm still holding onto fall. I mean, we're not quite to Thanksgiving yet, so let's enjoy it while we can.

That being said, pumpkin anything makes for a signature fall treat. And this pull-apart bread is as close to autumnal ooey-gooey heaven as you're going to get. This was by far one of the most delicious things I have EVER tasted, I kid you not.

It wasn't hard to make, but it definitely took time, and lots of it. Lots of time to pass while the dough rises, then gets kneaded, then rises again. So be patient when you make this, and know that it's all sooooo worth it.

So here we go: (recipe from Sunny Side Up in San Diego)

I N G R E D I E N T S :

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour

1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Buttered Rum Glaze:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp milk
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp rum (can substitute vanilla if desired)

D I R E C T I O N S :

1) In a saucepan over medium-high heat, brown 2 tablespoons of butter, letting it bubble up and turn a dark golden brown but being careful not to allow it burn. Once browned, remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the milk (room temperature, not cold, that's important!), return to stove and heat through.

2) Pour the milk and butter into the bowl of standing mixer and allow to cool so it is no longer hot but still pretty warm. Then, add the yeast and 1/4 cup of sugar and allow to proof (this can take up to 8 minutes, the top will look foamy and the liquid cloudy).

3) Add the the pumpkin, salt, and 1 cup of flour. Stir until combined then add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time and knead for 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic and just slightly sticky. If the dough is too moist, add extra flour 1 tablespoon at a time.

4) Move dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean towel. Allow to rise in a warm place for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size.

5) When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and flip out onto a clean floured surface and knead with hands for 1-2 minutes. Roll dough into a 20x12 inch rectangle.

6) Brush the dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter, and sprinkle with a mixture of the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and press mixture into dough. Cut the rectangle into 6 strips.

7) Lay strips on top of each other and cut each strip into 6 even squares (I cut it into more squares for smaller pieces, as shown below).

8) Stack strips vertically into the loaf pan. Cover the pan with a clean towel and let rise for 30-45 minutes (more waiting...tick tock...) Preheat oven to 350 while you wait.

9) Once risen, bake bread for 35-40 minutes until dark golden brown on top. While bread is baking, you can prepare the buttered rum glaze: heat the butter, milk, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil then immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum and powdered sugar.

10) When the bread is done baking, allow it to cool for a few minutes, then pour glaze over top while still in the pan. I did it this way, but you could also flip the bread out of the pan, plate it, then drizzle the glaze, but I felt like by keeping it in the pan, it allowed the glaze to coat the bread more evenly and get into the nooks and crannies (yummmm!) I let it cool for 15 minutes while the glaze settled, then flipped it carefully onto a plate.

While still warm, pull apart these gooey pieces and enjoy. Pure pumpkin bliss.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Holiday Prints

I'm finally able to share some new holiday prints that I've been working on! These two little guys will make an appearance at Made in the 216, so stop by if you'd like to pick one up, or you can head to the shop if you're feeling lazy (who doesn't love online shopping?)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Made in the 216 Holiday Shoppe

I am so happy to be part of another wonderful Made in the 216 event! This year's Holiday Shoppe takes place inside Room Service and lasts for a whole month—so there's plenty of time to get in and snag your gifts for the season. I'll have some new mini-prints for sale as well as some gift tags to add the final touch to your wrapping. There are so many other talented vendors participating, you're sure to find something wonderful (and locally made!) for everyone on your list.

The event kicks off on Black Friday with a DJ and some good drinks, with an after-party to follow down the street at Market Garden Brewery. It's always a good time so I hope to see you there for the opening!

Friday, November 11, 2011

aerie Holiday Trunk Show

Last night, I was lucky enough to attend Aerie's first-ever trunk show to debut their new holiday collection! My lovely friend Carolyn is a designer at Aerie corporate and was able to invite myself and a friend to attend and shop the collection—on the house!* Not to mention all of their bras were on a special promo sale for 40% off. Too. Cool.


Matching undies

So many pretty holiday prints!


Fuzzy slippers

Snagged this pretty little thing

My loot

I have actually never been to an aerie store before and was really blown away by how much I loved everything. I probably tried on 20 bras in all different styles, colors, and shapes just to get a taste of everything. The quality was awesome, they fit great, I was really, really impressed. There were barely any that I didn't like (which made it really hard when I got up to the register) but I ended up with four very different bras that fit like a dream. I also picked up a super fuzzy reversible cable knit/fur snood that I want to wrap around my face and fall asleep in. Mercedes came with me and got some great stuff too. We had a great time, got into the holiday spirit, and I cannot say THANK YOU enough to Carolyn and Aerie for hooking us up. I will definitely be back for more!

*Aerie did not pay for this post. I just wanted to spread the love!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jonesco Beer: Frenchy

Remember my Frenchie illustration from a little while back? Oddly enough, I was recently contacted by Wes from Jonesco Beer about doing a label for his latest brew, a French-style Saison called "Frenchy."

He thought a bulldog with some quirky French accessories would make for a perfect label. Even more strange, I thought this was all because of my illustration, but he hadn't seen it. At all. So it was a weird coincidence that worked out, because we adapted my existing drawing to suit the label, and above is the finished piece. Just one of those serendipitous design moments, I guess! You can check out his full variety of beers and labels (he has designed most if not all of the other labels) here.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

mexican sugar skull makeup - for halloweening saturday night

another shot

chocolate-dipped peanut butter pretzel sandwiches to snack on (recipe here)

baked fontina with herbs for Sunday's Browns game (recipe here)

I had a great weekend full of costumes and Halloween fun, and tonight I'm heading to my parents' house for chili, donuts, cider and trick or treating. How was your weekend?