Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Copycat PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps


I am admittedly quite proud of this recipe post. Secretly boasting in my head, and not so secretly letting you know it here. Not because it's particularly difficult, or that I achieved some sort of culinary masterpiece... but I did problem solve and turn a so-so recipe into a pretty darn great one. Nope, not even being humble there in the slightest, am I? I'm proud, let me be. I started out with this recipe that is a copy of my beloved PF Chang's lettuce wraps. However, the recipe left me with a chicken mixture whose color was not quite right, immersed in a very runny liquid sauce.

I attempted to trust the recipe, and served some hefty lettuce wraps exactly as written; they were good, but not great. So I decided to experiment a bit and drain the chicken mixture of its abundant liquid, and reduce the remaining "pouring sauce" by about half over medium-high heat.

The result was a much more dense, colorful sauce that was about 123.3x as flavorful (a technical measurement of taste).  Because I was already stuffed to the brim, I tested out my new concoction in a little bitty baby wrap, and it was delicious--really a very close copy of the original. I will definitely be making my version again soon.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

memorial day

Memorial Day may be tomorrow, making this post quite last minute, but it's not too late to throw something great together for a picnic or BBQ. I've been seriously enjoying my weekend of lounging thus far, and haven't exactly been diligent with my posting, but hey, it's a holiday. I'm heading to a little cookout tomorrow, and will probably be whipping up one of the sweet treats seen here in the morning.

Chocolate Covered Prezels
Patriotic White Chocolate Covered Strawberries
The cutest cupcake decorations!

And last, but certainly not least, the most adorable summer BBQ party idea ever: a make your own hot dog stand. I wish I had my s#$* together enough to set up an event just like this... but instead I'll probably rush over to my friends' apartment last minute and start partying, hopefully with some kind of treat in hand.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

tie dye revival

After all these years, tie dye is making a comeback... for grownups. Maybe not the super-saturated rainbow spirals of summer camp youth, but it is back in a more subdued and flattering way. First, I love everything about the dress pictured above; I am drooling over it as we speak. Unfortunately only one of these handmade beauties available, and I'm sure it wouldn't fit me. The two dresses below are just as swoon-worthy, but way out of my price range. Fortunately, tie dye is about as attainable of a trend as any, and you can find it (or make it) at literally every price point. Enter some budget-friendly options for your viewing pleasure. Groovy.

Fantasy time over. Back to reality, but with some great options none the less!

Soft Joie Allover Tie Dye Maxi, South Moon Under, $128
Ecote Tie Dye Maxi Dress, Urban Outfitters, $49
ECI Print Charmeuse Blouson Dress, Nordstrom, $148
Staring at Stars Tie Dye Beaded Eternity Scarf, UO, $29

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

vanilla bean pound cake with strawberry sauce

I'll always be a chocolate girl at heart... but I can't help cheating on my old favorite sometimes with a little vanilla bean. What is it about those little black specks that put it worlds ahead of typical vanilla? I've never made a pound cake before, so I thought I'd give this recipe a try. Before even starting, I anticipated that I'd want a little extra oomph on top. Enter strawberries. I made my strawberry sauce up from scratch, by heating sliced berries, a little water, and Splenda (because this recipe is sooooo health conscious), but you can find a more exact recipe here. The cake was dense, moist and flavorful but the strawberries in my opinion were a necessary addition. Mine also took longer than 1:15 to bake throughout, but was well worth the wait!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

help make gingersnaps better! please.

This whole blog world is about as foreign to me as the inside of a gym these days, and I'm still learning. A lot of people have been asking me how to be alerted when a new post is created, and I have finally figured out a few ways to do so! All of which can be found on the right side bar. Please click any (or all) of the following to both support the blog and stay connected:

"Like" me on facebook:  by liking gingersnaps on facebook, post updates will appear on your newsfeed, and I am starting to add some original content to the facebook page that isn't posted on the blog itself. And it makes me happy if you like me :)

Follow me on twitter:  this is new, as I have never used twitter before, but people have been asking to receive updates via this route as well.

Follow by e-mail:  following by e-mail is simple, and allows you to receive updates when I have posted new material on the blog.

Follow via Google:  this is purely for my happiness and vanity. See all those picture of people following me? They make me happy too, haha. No updates here though, just support.

Finally, if you could take 2.68 seconds from your day to answer this poll, you can help see more of what you like!

Monday, May 23, 2011

channeling carrie, minus manolos

Despite planning Adam's (gasp, 25th) birthday ahead of time, I naturally was scrambling last minute for something to wear. We had dinner reservations at a restaurant-bar called Brewer's Art, which is known for both great dining and house beers. So I needed a blend of fancy enough for a nice dinner meets casual enough for some microbrewery action. Enter casual T-shirt + full skirt a la Carrie Bradshaw. While the SATC fashion goddess might pull off 5" Manolos on a daily basis, I had some walking ahead of me and compromised for my favorite flats. I guess both the man and I are getting older.

Tee: J. Crew; Skirt: F21; Flats: Gap; Necklace: Sorry, can't remember.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

roasted tomato salsa

For as much as I love it, I've only ever attempted salsa once before, and it was salsa verde for burrito-filling purposes. I'm not sure why, considering it's so simple to do. I guess maybe it's just so easy to pick up the addictive and insanely delicious Salsa Fresca from Whole Foods. When I saw a recipe for a version that roasted the tomatoes, however, it caught my attention. Anything that starts with getting a nice slight char on the veggies first has got to be good... and it was! It had such an intense flavor with just the right kick of heat at the end, adjusted easily with more or less jalapeno to taste.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

flavored water

Yep, I'm seriously posting a "recipe" for water. Why? Because I am so poor at actually hydrating myself that I have to trick my body into accepting some H2O. Even if you're not as utterly incapable of caring for yourself as I am, this still made a really great, refreshing drink for summer. And it taught me a life-changing and very important fact: orange and lemon slices float, while lime slices sink. Weird.

water + 1 lemon + 1 orange + 1 lime = ta-da

Friday, May 20, 2011

morning glory


It's graduation day for the senior dental school class, and I'm jealous. While I may have overindulged a little too much in celebration of my own passing to senior year last night to make it to the ceremony, I am heading to a delicious brunch afterward (congrats Ellen!). As usual, I feel like I have nothing to wear. I'm kicking myself remembering an outfit I saw Rachel McAdams wear in an otherwise lackluster movie called Morning Glory back in March, had planned to post about and even purchase, and then forgot. I missed the boat on this one, but I still think it's a perfect outfit for any professional(ish) situation in spring and summer.

1. Forever 21, Currently Out of Stock
2. Mod Cloth, Taupes and Dreams Dress, $45
3. Forever 21, Strapless Beaded Dress, $20

1. Elizabeth and James, Rolled Sleeve Elizabeth Blazer, $395
2. Aryn K, Summer Tweed Jacket, $78
3. Aryn K, Ruffle Jacket, $94

1. Steve Madden, Russhh, $90
2. Enzo Angiolini, Starlight, $90
3. Cri de Coeur, Grace, $50

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

stuffed salmon with sriracha cream sauce

When I first laid eyes on this recipe, I knew I had to make it. I very rarely cook fish, mostly because it's healthy and thus doesn't spark my interest, but this salmon really jumped out at me. The idea behind the recipe is a deconstructed sushi roll:  salmon, cream cheese, and that wildly addictive spicy orange sauce that accompanies the more decadent rolls. The best part? With one minor change this was pathetically easy; I substituted quick and simple store bought Teriyaki marinade for the homemade variety originally called for. I'm so glad I did because it turned out perfectly and required such little preparation or work that I feel bad even taking credit for it. Spicy faux-sushi heaven.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

beer, beautiful beer

I'm afraid I have neglected my travel posts for quite some time now, so I'm busting out the liquid counterpart to my previous Belgian food post: BEER. Belgian beer gets a lot of hype by those in-the-know, and even more frequently by those pretending they're oh so cultured and experienced in the art of brewery... but I have to say pub-hopping in Brussels proved them all right. Every single beer we tasted as was unique, rich and flavorful as the methods of serving them. So maybe a post on beers found around the world isn't your thing (though you can find two of my favorites called Kwok and Delirium right here in Baltimore), but they're still awesome pictures of great places. Don't you wish America had more legitimate pubs?  Liquid fantasy over. Back to end of semester reality.

Monday, May 16, 2011

product review: sally hansen nail polish strips

I have a confession to make. For those of you who know me well, you'll know this isn't easy for me. I have followed the advice of my girl-crush Emily Schumann twice now, and she has let me down... both times. First with her suggestion to make homemade thin mints, which were awful and dry, and now with her recommendation of Sally Hansen Real Nail Polish Strips. I was pretty excited to try these, particularly in the color she chose called Frock Star, and was really disappointed. The edges repeatedly peeled up, parts of the strips flaked off while filing them to length, and they never seemed to truly attach to my nail. I felt like I couldn't even use my hands. From afar, they look pretty snazzy. But up close, the imperfections are numerous and unrepairable, leaving the nails unraveling just like my unrealistic girl-crush expectations.