Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This and That

So...idea time! I'm going to try and start a series on this blog called "This and That." The plan is to post a tasty drink, something to eat with that drink and then something to listen to while enjoying both. I don't know how frequent these posts will be, but hopefully it will give you something fun and new to try every once in a while.
So with that said, here is the first edition featuring.....BASIL!

Strawberry Basil Martini
 Balsamic Margarita Pizza with Chicken
The Star of a Story - Vijay Iyer Trio

This super fruity drink and refreshing pizza are perfect for a hot summer night (though you might want to start with the pizza and save the drink for dessert). The Star of a Story is an equally refreshing jazz tune to bob your head to while enjoying your basil indulgence on the porch.

Side notes: Basil is definitely one of my favorite herbs and we get it fresh pretty frequently from family who grow it. We had just gotten a bunch and were planning on making a margarita pizza, but I also felt like diving into a cocktail. So what did I do? Google "basil vodka drink" of course. I was actually surprised with how many recipes were found. But since I had just picked some fresh strawberries from our garden, I knew this was the one I had to try.

Strawberry Basil Martini
(original recipe here)

Makes: 1 drink - multiply measurements for desired number of drinks

2-3 fresh strawberries (choose quantity depending on how sweet you want the drink to be)
3 basil leaves
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup (click for recipe)
2 ounces vodka (or 1 ounce gin, 1 ounce vodka)
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice (about half of 1 lime)

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the strawberries, simple syrup and basil. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake well - at least 40 shakes. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a strawberry.

Balsamic Margarita Pizza with Chicken

Makes: 2 Personal Pizzas

2 large flour tortillas
1 small chicken breast, seasoned to taste and cubed
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 small bunches of basil
fresh mozzarella, sliced to desired size
oilive oil
balsamic vinaigrette
optional: 1/2 cup shredded cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the tortillas on a large baking sheet. Drizzle enough olive oil on each tortilla to lightly cover them. Sprinkle on the shredded cheese for a more gooey pizza. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and chicken. Drizzle about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil on top of the mixture. Place in the oven for 8-12 minutes, or until tortilla edges are crispy and cheese is melted. Drizzle balsamic over hot pizza. Slice and serve!



Simple Syrup

Since I'm about to begin my journey into cocktail wonderland, I thought we'd start with a very basic staple: simple syrup. It's incredibly quick and easy to make and can last you up to a month. Here's what you'll need:

Simple Syrup

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water

Place both ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Bring heat to low and let simmer until all the sugar has dissolved completely (about 3 minutes). Cool completely before using. (Simple syrup can be stored for up to 1 month in a glass jar.)


Friday, July 13, 2012

News and Booze

So....okay. Most of you probably already know by now, but if you don't...

I got a new job!

There. Big news revealed. Disappointed?

Here's why it's such a big me at least:

A) I have been trying to get a job in Durango for literally more than a year now. It is so nice to now spend my mornings eating breakfast instead of scouring the classifieds.

B) There is a lot of room for growth in this company and I can see myself working here for, oh...forever.

Let's all have a glass of champagne to celebrate! Or a bottle. Or two. Hey, it's a pretty good excuse, okay?

My official start date is July 30, since Tony and I will be spending the week before in Denver while he takes the Bar exam. (Let's have another glass at that thought, shall we?) In the interest of not having my entire life available via Google, Facebook me or text me or call me (novel idea) and I'll be happy to tell you allllll about it!

I feel like this hiring marks the end of my first quarter century. It has definitely been a great one, but I am way more excited about the one that's about to start. Hopefully it will be full of travel, family, love, new experiences, new friends, old friends and the general living of life to the fullest.

And along those lines, I would like to share with you my newest life goal: to make the world's best cocktail.

Okay, not really, but I do want to be able to make some kick-ass drinks without a second thought. As soon as we're a little more settled, we're going to start building the bar and I'm going to begin reading up on mixology. I've already started researching a little. For example: DID YOU KNOW that you're not supposed to store vodka in the freezer??? According to Death and Company:

"That business about keeping vodka in the freezer is a mistake. When you are mixing something over ice, you need a certain amount of water dilution to mellow the booze. If the alcohol is already cold the ice doesn't dilute the drink enough, and you'll get a very high alcohol taste in the drink."

So the other day, Tony's aunt made me a dirty martini with Sam's Club vodka - Rue 33 - that had been stored in a cupboard. Sounds terrible, right? Well actually, it was one of the best dirtys I'd had in a long time, and the gigantic bottle of vodka only cost $25! I went home and made the exact same martini with some Skyy vodka (same price) and it was TERRIBLE. I could hardly finish it. So then I bought a bottle of Rue 33 from her, immediately stuck it in the freezer and made the exact same cocktail again 24 hours later. And guess what? It was....just okay. Definitely much better than the Skyy, but I could still really taste the alcohol.

SO THEN!!!!!

After reading that little statement on Death and Company's site, I immediate went home, took the bottle out of the freezer and made that same dirty about 48 hours later. And guess what? It. Was. AWESOME!

So there's your first little tip from your friendly, neighborhood bartender-in-training. Do yourself a favor: run to your nearest Sam's, grab a bottle of Rue 33, leave it at room temperature and toast to this tip...and my new job.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Photoshop Friday

Okay, so the big news isn't being revealed yet. I want to wait until it's officially official. But, after being made aware that the phrase "still feeling the effects of some really great news I received recently" from the last post sounded…misleading…I will tell you this:

No, I'm not pregnant.

Good. I'm glad we cleared that up.

In other news, I've had a lot of time on my hands due to the whole no Internet, no TV thing. So to occupy my time at home while Tony studies away, I've been dreaming up some room makeovers. The most thought out makeover has been in the master bedroom. Now, admittedly, I'm not the best with Photoshop. And because I've admitted that, you can't make fun of my editing skillz.

I've been trying to put together a design plan for the master for about two years now. This is the most comprehensive design plan I've come up with, yet I'm still not satisfied. So that's where you come in. If you have any suggestions, please! Suggest away!

(Again, please excuse the photo sizes. They look great on my phone, but I have no idea what they look like in a real browser.)

Here are the befores:

(We don't have flooring in yet, but don't worry. The hardwoods are being installed sometime this month,)

And here are two after options - same decor, just difference paint:



I'm pretty set that I want gold/mustard/yellow to be the accent color. I also really am liking the idea right now of a dark paint. So cozy and sleep inducing.

So here are the dilemmas:

1) Navy or Grey? Now, please keep in mind that when this picture was taken I only had one light bulb - there is no overhead lighting - and it was almost dusk, so the room is really, REALLY dark in the photo in the first place. The room won't be that dark in real life because there would be at least three lamps, so don't let the walls fool you into thinking a dark paint makes the room literally this dark. Remember. Photoshop skills grade: needs improvement.

2) What the heck do I put on that far, interior wall? It obviously needs something, but I don't want it to compete with the deer head (I've lightened it in the photo so you can see it better). I've been lusting over that cardboard wonder for years now and finally found it on super sale (you're the best, Fab!), so it is definitely staying put. So what goes there? A mirror? A piece of art? A photo? WHAT?

3) Does the bed need a throw pillow? I've struggled with this for a while. I like the minimalist, modern bed look, which is why we got a platform bed. But every platform bed I've seen styled just has the two pillows. It looks kind of weird with a third wheel, but it also defiantly looks like it's missing something. Any thoughts?

Here's a breakdown of the decor:

1) Kartell Louis Ghost Chair
--Definitely purchasing the real thing once I can justify spending $400 on a chair. Not sure when that will be…ps it's on sale right now over at AllModern...

2) Gold-tone chevron throw pillow
--Just found this image online, don't know the source but definitely want a chevron and/or ikat throw.

3) Ikea Sheepskin Rug
--Pretty sure this Ikea rug is faux. You can't beat the price, but I really would like the real deal. A lot of places sell them so I might initially go Ikea while bargain hunting for better quality (NuLoom is the dream).

4) Antique brass floor lamp
--Treasure hunting for something similar at local second-hand and vintage shops

5) West Elm Tree Stump Side Table
--Definitely want a stump side table, but why buy one online when your fiancé has plans to chop down relatives' trees for firewood this winter? I've already requested he bring home a stump.

6) West Elm Favorite Throw in Dandelion
--Now, let me just tell you how I've been looking for a soft throw, in this color, for a decent price, for….years. And finally I see it on West Elm for about $30 bucks. Yes! However, I can't really purchase much outside of gas and groceries right now, so I thought I'd wait. It's called the Favorite Throw, so it's got to be a staple, right? WRONG. They just had a pillow/throw sale - 20% off - and as soon as I realized it, Dandelion was already sold out. Perfect. So on the hunt again…

7) Cardboard Safari's Bucky Deer
--As much as I love this piece, I could not justify spending $55 on a sheet of cardboard. Beautiful, laser-cut cardboard, but still. Cardboard. But thanks to my favorite sale site and a few credits, I swiped it for just over $10.

8) Marconi Bulbs
--You can't tell in the picture, but this is what they actually look like. Right now, the base of the light is that dark iron-like material that every single piece of decor in Hobby Lobby is made out of - you know what I'm talking about. So I'm thinking of spraying them gold. I only had one set up at the time I took the photo, but there is one on the other side of the bed. Why wasn't I more prepared when taking this photo, you ask? Why do you ask so many questions?

9) Ladder
--So we have a ladder exactly like this in our backyard, only it's about two stories tall. So, if we get the okay from the landlord, I want to cut it down to size and stick it in our bedroom. In this photo towels are hung on it, but i have a few blankets I plan to hang instead.

Phew! Congratulations to you if you made it through that entire post! This is definitely going to be a work in progress, but I hope it turns out. Seriously. Suggestions welcome.

And lastly. The olympics begin three weeks from today. There are very few things in this world that I love more than the olympics, especially the summer olympics. There is no way on this Earth that I will be without TV in three weeks.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Quiet 4th

Happy Fourth of July everyone! Hope yours was full of patriotic drinks and BBQ. We did our best by cooking some ribs, slathering them in sauce and finishing off with these babies:

Super easy, but super delicious recipe:
1 box berry Jello
Cool Whip
Fresh strawberries

You can figure out the rest.

It was definitely nice to have a day off today, but our America celebrations are at a minimum this year. My little lawyer-to-be has been using today to get ahead on his studying, and because of the burn ban, all the fireworks shows have been canceled. But no matter. A nice quite day at home with my three favorite boys suits me just fine. Plus, I'm still feeling the effects of some really great news I received recently. More to come on that later...(Those of you who know, don't spoil it for the rest!)

But in the meantime, let's relax and enjoy our freedom together. Where's my friend Jessica and her signature U.S.A. chant when you need her?