Home for the Holidays (+ mulled wine!)

Home for the Holidays (+ mulled wine!)

I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, but this past year we made a huge move from Austin to Chicago, where I’m originally from. Years and years ago (when I first met Jack who lived in Austin) I was SO excited to leave and to live somewhere warm… forever! I didn’t miss fall, I didn’t miss the seasons, I basked in the sun in December and I loved every minute of it. As far as I knew, I would never be back but, well, life has a way of changing in unexpected ways and here we are!

On a warm summer day in July we saw this condo and decided that we could do this winter thing. So here we are doing winter, which I can’t say I LOVE, but I’m excited to be back home near my family.

You all saw the kitchen a few months ago, but the rest of the house had been almost entirely empty until very recently. Little by little, our living space is starting to come together. We’ve been doing a lot of staying in (its cold out there!), creating new traditions like actually putting up a Christmas tree and making warming recipes like this mulled wine below.

Home for the Holidays (+ mulled wine!)

Speaking of staying in…here’s a little peek at our new living room. The layout of this space was challenging because we didn’t bring anything from Austin and the space was entirely empty when we moved in. So I designed these built-ins, we ordered (and waited and waited) for a couch to arrive, I picked out (and changed my mind about) chairs, coffee tables, etc… It finally started to feel like a room we can get cozy in.

And then there was the TV. In our other homes, Jack always had a giant bachelor-pad style super ugly TV. Since this room is so integrated with the rest of the house and opposite the kitchen, I didn’t want that to be my view while I cook. So enter – the prettiest TV I’ve ever seen – The Frame by Samsung. I’m not one to get excited about electronics, but when we saw this TV in a store a few months ago, I knew it would be just the thing to keep the room looking nice while Jack could still be the tech nerd he is.

Home for the Holidays (+ mulled wine!)

This TV also solved a problem I didn’t really know I had. See, I love art but I can never decide what to hang on the walls. This usually ends up meaning… nothing. Now I can change the artwork that’s displayed on it all day long if I want to! There’s a really great selection of artwork to choose from and it’s nice to be able to change the look of a room on a whim. I love how this bird piece works with/as my holiday decor because now I have less holiday tchotchke to collect (and store). When Christmas is over, bye bye birdies!

Home for the Holidays (+ mulled wine!)

Ok, this is Jack, the “tech nerd” chiming in for a minute. I could talk for WAY too long about my love for this TV, but I’ll try to keep it short. To start, its design is nearly perfect. It sits flush with the wall, comes with the wall mount included(!), and all the connections and stuff go through a box on the other end of a tiny cable (they call it the Invisible Connection) so you don’t have wires sticking out the side of your TV. There are also three trim colors you can get that attach magnetically to the side of the TV – we chose white.

Picture-wise, it’s state-of-the-art 4K with HDR, so the colors and resolution are top notch. While it’s great for my video games and movies, it’s also stunning for the “art mode,” which is so cool. You hit the power button, and the TV adjusts the brightness and color tone to the surrounding room, so the TV just looks like a picture frame on the wall (see above) when it’s not in use, instead of the giant “black mirror” that Jeanine always hated.

Home for the Holidays (+ mulled wine!) Home for the Holidays (+ mulled wine!)

Ultimately, of course, this is a site about food and drink, and I also love this drink. While I put up the Christmas tree, Jeanine decided to try her hand at some mulled wine. Neither of us have had mulled wine before, but with the cold Chicago winters and our cozy new house, I can see this becoming a thing for the next few months. Wait… it’s cold here for months?!

Home for the Holidays (+ mulled wine!)

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

Summer has officially begun this week – and we’re making mojitos!

I hope your herb garden is ready because instead of the basic mint mojito, these are made with lemongrass and basil as well. Basically, I like to build cocktails the same way I approach salads – the more fresh herbs and citrus, the better.

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

To make these “skinny,” I skipped the sugar and sweetened these with Truvia Natural Sweetener instead. It has no calories and it’s sweetness comes from the stevia leaf. Personally, I’d rather splurge on a dessert than on a sugary cocktail so I love that these mojitos are on the lighter side! Since stevia is sweeter than regular sugar, a little goes a long way. 1/2 teaspoon of Truvia is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

For awhile, I was intimidated by preparing lemongrass – but it’s so easy! Just peel off the outer leaves, exposing the softer part of the stalk, like this:

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

The next step isn’t pictured, but you want to take the back of your chef’s knife and bash that inner stalk so that the flavors of the lemongrass release. After that, dice it finely like this:

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

Muddle the minced lemongrass with the rest of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker – then shake it up and pour!

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

Orange Peel Black Tea Sangria

Orange Peel Black Tea Sangria

Happy Long Weekend! Jack and I are off to the farmers market this morning but I wanted to pop in quickly and share this sangria recipe. I posted it on Instagram awhile back – but I think it’s such a refreshing cocktail for weekend BBQ’s that I wanted to share it here on the blog as well.

This combines two of my favorite things in the world – iced tea and wine! Its simple to make – just pour the wine and iced tea into a large pitcher and add the fruit. Chill overnight, so that the flavors will infuse, and serve it at your holiday gathering tomorrow!

Orange Peel Black Tea Sangria

Sparkling Mint Juleps

Sparkling Mint Juleps

Happy Friday!

Hold on to your giant fancy hats – the Kentucky Derby® is coming up in a few weeks, so we’ve partnered with 14 Hands Wine (a.k.a. the preferred wine of the Kentucky Derby) to bring you a fresh spring cocktail. What is it? A twist on a traditional mint julep – it’s minty, it’s tangy, and it’s sparkly!

Sparkling Mint Juleps Sparkling Mint Juleps

The classic mint julep is made with mint, bourbon, simple syrup and crushed ice. Instead of the simple syrup, I took the liberty of adding lime juice and sparkling wine instead. I think bubbles make everything better and 14 Hands Brut, with its apple and citrus flavors, is the perfect addition.

Sparkling Mint Juleps Sparkling Mint Juleps

I hope you give this one a try this weekend or while you’re enjoying the Derby on Saturday, May 6th!

Also – tune in to Facebook Live on April 27th at 2pm (central). I’ll be making Derby drinks a (including a delicious and refreshing rosé cocktail that’s pictured above!), along with some pretty party bites.

Winter Spiced Moscow Mule

Winter Spiced Moscow Mule

Hello from Holiday Vacation-land… aka, my parents house where Jack and I have been spending the week. We flew in just in time to have a white Christmas before the snow melted. Other than spending time with family, we’ve been spending time in the house because we’re really not winter people. I binge-watched Shirley temple movies, Jack fixed my parents computer. We’ve been eating my mom’s christmas cookies and I’ve been working on a few new recipes – spending time in front of the stove is the best way to stay warm around here! All in all, it’s been a much needed relaxing week.

We’re heading home tomorrow to spend New Years Eve with friends and I’m excited to make this cocktail.

We often mix kombucha into our cocktails, but it didn’t occur to me until now to use it in a Moscow Mule in place of the ginger beer! This cocktail couldn’t be easier to put together – it’s just a splash of vodka, kombucha, and a squeeze of orange. For garnish I added cranberries and a sprig of rosemary.