Friday, January 30, 2015

Football Party Beer & Cheddar Dip

Image courtesy Nealey Dozier, The Kitchn
When you think of football, food also probably comes to mind. From pizza to wings to beer, the unhealthier the food, the better it tastes on game day! Whether you're hosting a party or attending someone else's on Sunday, this beer & cheddar dip (courtesy of The Kitchn) is sure to please! After all, it's the best of both football food worlds--beer and melted cheese!

Beer & Cheddar Dip
Serves 4-6

1 cup (8 ounces) evaporated milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

10 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup amber beer

2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bacon crumbles and green onions, for garnish (optional)

Pretzels, pretzel bread, or crudités, for serving

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together evaporated milk, eggs, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and half of the shredded cheese. Once the cheese sauce begins to warm, add the beer and cornstarch-water mixture (aka the slurry). Whisking frequently, gradually add the remaining cheese and cook until the sauce reaches desired thickness, about 10 - 12 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Keep warm over lowest heat setting, stirring frequently, until ready to serve. Garnish with bacon crumbles and green onions and serve with pretzels, pretzel bread, or crudités.

What are your favorite Super Bowl snacks and recipes?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Cold and Flu Season Essentials

"Tea for two" by Naama ym is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
We are right in the middle of cold and flu season, so if you haven’t been sick so far, congratulations! If you do get sick though, the last thing you want to do is leave the house. While you’re healthy, make sure you stock up on these sick day essentials, courtesy of The Kitchn, so that you’re back to health as quickly as possible!

The Drink Essentials
Herbal Tea: Make sure your stash is well-stocked, as herbal tea is probably the #1 go-to drink for most of us when we get sick. Black and green teas are nice too, but don't soothe the throat quite as well.

Honey: Tea by itself is fine, but tea with honey is extra soothing...

Lemons: ... and even more so if you add a squeeze of lemon. In fact, why not just go ahead and make this ginger honey and lemon tonic? The shot of whiskey in the recipe is optional, but highly recommended. (Trust me.)

Ginger and/or High-Quality Ginger Ale: You'll want fresh ginger for the tonic above, or to make any one of these stomach-soothing teas. You may also want to pick up a bottle or two of high-quality ginger ale — the kind made with real ginger, not just ginger flavoring and sugar — when you're feeling like a little light carbonation would be helpful.

Orange juice or oranges: Give yourself an extra shot of vitamin C with a glass of orange juice, even better if it's freshly-squeezed. (But hey, you're sick! Do whatever is easiest.)

The Food Essentials
Chicken soup: It's not all in your head; there's scientific proof that chicken soup really does help soothe cold symptoms, so buy a few cans for your pantry, or make and freeze a big homemade batch. Looking for the perfect soup recipe? Try one of these → 5 Soups to Soothe a Cold and From Chicken Noodle to Egg Drop: 10 Soothing Broth-Based Soups.

Applesauce: An essential part of the BRAT diet, applesauce is low in fiber but has lots of calories, so it's easy on a delicate stomach.

Bread for toast: Keep a loaf of sliced bread in your freezer, and you'll be so glad you have some bread around when you can't keep anything else down.

Quick-prep frozen meals: If your stomach isn't the problem and you're just wallowing in a head cold, quick-prep frozen meals (like these Trader Joe's recommendations) mean you can get some food in your system fast. You can also reheat one of these excellent freezer meals.

Your favorite comfort foods: This is different for everyone. What makes you feel good when you're sick? Maybe it's something from childhood, like mashed potatoes or a bowl of ramen noodles. Whatever it is, pick it (or the ingredients to make it) up the next time you go to the grocery store.

Do you have any secret cold and flu fighters?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Illuminate Your Space

"test" by jinkazamah is licensed under CC BY 2.0
A new year signals a new, fresh perspective on things - like your apartment style! If you’re not in the mood to complete big projects like moving around furniture or painting, there’s something simple you can do that will make all the difference in your apartment’s atmosphere - let the light in! Your apartment will feel bigger and happier by brightening it up with these tips from Apartment Guide:

Keep Shades Light
Since you probably want to avoid drilling into the ceiling of your rental, much of your lighting is bound to be in the form of floor lamps or end table lamps. The good news is that lamp shades offer an opportunity to really show off your style, so you can handle the whole daylight savings time issue with grandeur.

To keep your apartment as bright as possible, stick to light-colored lamps shades. Think white, cream, light gray, or similar hues when selecting a lamp shade. Darker lamp shades will filter out a considerable amount of light and may leave you sitting in the dark.

String Additional Lighting
If you still need more light once you have lamps set up, consider buying string lights, also known as fairy lights. While you may associate this type of lighting with the twinkle lights around a Christmas tree, there are other options available.

Designers now offer string lights with large bulbs, black or silver string, and a sleek modern look. Buy a decorative wooden ladder and string lights around it; set up your pyramid shelves in the corner and adorn the piece with string lights; or simply string them around a window.

Accessorize with Wireless Lights
Some rentals have a limited number of electrical outlets, and rewiring your home is not an option as a renter. Turn to wireless lighting that operates on battery power and is extremely mobile. Wireless LED candles, for instance, offer ambiance and go on with the flip of a switch.

Best of all, faux candles don’t pose the same fire hazard as an actual candle. Tap lights are also wireless and a good way to illuminate shelves or other small spaces. These lights are typically small and round, activated when you apply a small amount of pressure to the top of the light.

Use Mirrors to Maximize Lighting
Add a few mirrors to your rental space if you don’t have a lot of room or money for new lighting. Mirrors propped up against your walls won’t damage the drywall, and can reflect light from your lamps and other home lighting.

Mirrors create the illusion of more lighting sources, and doubles the amount of light that bounces around your apartment. Place larger mirrors next to a floor lamp and small wall mirrors adjacent to end tables with a lighting fixture.

Space Out Your Lighting
Now that your space is outfitted with several floor lamps, a few strands of string lights, and a handful of large mirrors–take a moment to consider the placement of each piece. Don’t put all the lighting in your living room, for instance, while neglecting to consider your dining nook.

Instead, space out your lighting fixtures. Put at least one light source near each corner of larger rooms. Place your mirrors within a few feet of a lighting fixture; this allows them to better reflect the light out into the rest of your space.

Lighting your new apartment should be at the top of your daylight savings to-do list. If you neglect to properly light your apartment, you will soon realize that it’s not possible to enjoy all of your lovely decor in the dark.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Regifting 101

"More Presents!" by Aaron Jacobs is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Let’s say “your friend” received a gift that he or she will absolutely never use, has a duplicate of, or straight up does not like at all. Said friend also happens to know someone who could actually use or like this gift, and gives it to this person instead...that’s fine, right? We have all been there at one point or another - the temptation to regift. When is this okay? What precautions should we take? Apartment Therapy offers this advice:

1. No used gifts — Let's get this out of the way right now: if you've clearly opened the packaging or have worn your gift, it's no longer a candidate for a regift. End of story. You're not fooling anyone with that scotch tape on the box, so if you've tried it out and then decided you don't want it after all, into the donation pile it goes.

2. Keep good records — Let's all avoid the nightmare of getting caught in a regift. Keep good notes about who gave you what so you can avoid regifting it right back to them (or their mom, sister or best friend). We all know how word gets around in some families and offices so a recipient in a different sector of your circle is ideal.

3. Regift only when appropriate — That is, if you would BUY this item for this specific person and you just happen to have received one, then by all means pass it along. Make sure your motivation is pure — you truly think this person would really love this gift, you're not just trying to clean out your stash. You may need to let some time pass to let the "regift" stigma lessen and to find exactly the right recipient.

4. Don't mention it's a regift — This may seem obvious but you'd be surprised how often someone accidentally spills the beans. If you've done your job in choosing a gift (see above) then they'll probably be delighted to open your pick and all you need to do is smile and say "you're welcome."

5. Or, do — If you feel awkward about regifting, there's no rule that says you need to pass it off like a purchased present. If you know someone who would appreciate this gift more, feel free to say something like, "This gift just isn't my style but I thought you might really enjoy it." See? Still thoughtful without a hint of deception.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Adjusting to a New City

"City of Seattle: One" by John Tregoning is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Moving to a new city is a brave step, whether it’s for a job or because it’s a place where you have always wanted to live. It can be a tricky transition from old life to new life, but if you go into a move like this with reasonable expectations and a plan for putting yourself out there and making friends, life in your new city will be more fun than you could imagine! Keep in mind these tips from Apartment Therapy.

Say yes to everything. You need either all or some of the following life essentials in your new city: friends, a BFF, a boyfriend/ girlfriend, and a job. You won't find these by sitting at home and ordering delivery while watching Bravo. Get out there! Go to everything people invite you to. Remind yourself that you are on a mission to find these life essentials!

Ask to be set up on friend dates... or date dates. Welcome to the way grown-ups make friends. We're not in college anymore. Ask your BFFs in your current city if they know anyone in your new city. Ask your family if they know anyone who might be a nice friend for you. Scour Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and whatever other social media you're on and find out who from your network lives in town. You might be surprised.

Join organized groups. From nonprofit volunteering to kickball leagues, even if you don't normally consider yourself a joiner, joining something is a way to meet new peeps. Start with a hobby and find a group. Even better: find something you've never done before. Being a beginner is a great way to connect with other people who are also beginning; you feel awkward, they feel awkward, bingo: new friend.

For your first 6 months, stay somewhere comfortable. You are in a new city, it's all strange and unfamiliar. You don't know where CVS or the grocery store are or who your BFF will be. You don't know the good neighborhoods from the okay neighborhoods from the bad neighborhoods. You don't know the secret side streets to cut around traffic. You don't know the cool bars, the cool restaurants or where the best farmer's market is. So instead of adding to the stress, I encourage you to stay somewhere comfortable for your first chunk of time... while you get used to your surroundings. "Comfortable" means something different to everyone. For me it meant splurging on a temporary apartment in a pricey area where I feel really safe and free to explore my surroundings. For you it might mean living with a friend or relative temporarily even though you know that long-term you want to be living alone.

Give yourself a year to acclimate. Anytime you start thinking "OMG, this was a huge mistake!," "I was so stupid for thinking this was a good idea!" or "I'm never going to like living here and I'm going to die alone!" — and, trust me, it will happen — remind yourself that things are still in transition, moving is hard, and you are giving yourself until you have a year under your belt before making any overarching judgements on the move.

Don't forget about your friends and your network from your former city. You have it easier — you left. I've always believed that the "mover" has it easier than the person left behind. You're out exploring a new city, having new adventures, learning new things. Your old pals are in their same routine and probably missing you. Don't forget about them. Make an effort to keep in touch and to go back and visit from time to time. Yes, it will be hard — you're not sharing all of their day to day adventures and even a small time difference call be awkward — but soon enough things will fall into place.

How did you adjust to life in a new city after a move? Share your thoughts!
Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More