Wednesday, January 29, 2014

DIY Photo Booth Party Hats

Yesterday during Austin's "snowpocalypse" and my accompanying day off of work (see this for a good laugh), I was in the mood for some DIY. However, I didn't have any projects or supplies on hand, and I certainly wasn't hitting the roads with Texans that panic on the road when it rains. Instead, I started planning some ideas future projects, and also remembering old ones like these party hat photo booth props I made for our wedding.

This is a very easy DIY, and is infinitely adaptable to any theme or color scheme. Obviously, you can just wear party hats for the fun of it, but they are especially great when a photo booth is involved. You can see by the Smilebooth photos that they were a lot of fun for kids of all ages, and were a great addition to the overall palette and theme of the day.

DIY Photo Booth Party Hats


Card stock, construction paper, scrapbook paper, or heavy wrapping paper
Hot glue gun and glue sticks (or other quick-drying glue)
Thin elastic string (found at any craft store)
Optional: paint, pom poms, or other adornments


Simply trace any round object, like a mixing bowl, on your paper. Find the approximate center point; it doesn't have to be 100% exact, unless you want to pull some bisecting lines geometry stunts. Cut and remove a wedge from the paper, as seen below.

Roll the remaining Pacman of paper into a conical shape, overlapping the two edges of the wedge enough to line with hot glue and hold into place. Adorn with accessories, if desired. You can paint the paper before or after assembling the hat, but I did it before.

I used my own head to measure and cut a length of elastic string, remembering to make sure it fits when stretched and taut, not when loose, and hot glued it to the inside of the paper hat.

Wear hat with tipsy pride.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Fig Champagne Fizz

More champagne, please! Isn't that what everyone is thinking? No? My bad. The third edition of my sparkling winter cocktail series is here, and I might have lied to you last time saying my Blood Orange and Prosecco Cocktail was the easiest drink ever. This is easier. You don't even have to juice anything. Figs are a supermarket anomaly to me; I'm consistently drawn to them on restaurant menus, but have never before picked one up at the grocery store. I decided to try them out in a cocktail (with champagne of course), and the result was not only tasty but incredibly pretty as well. If you want to look fancy at a dinner party or girls night with minimal effort, this is your new go-to drink. Plus, it's just pretty, and I'm pretty sure that's 92% of what matters.

Fig Champagne Fizz

1 fig per cocktail (make sure they're ripe, or they will be too tart)
Simple syrup

Slice each fig in half. Add the halves to a cocktail glass and add a dash of simple syrup. You can allow the flavors of the fig and simple syrup to blend for a while in the glass. Fill the glass with champagne, and serve.

Friday, January 24, 2014

NYC: Meatpacking District

There's "snow" in Austin today! I believe it's piling up to a total of 0.24 inches, and everything is cancelled. Seriously. As social media is ablaze with gasps over ice in Texas, endless photos of northern snowstorms, reports of cancellations, and snapshots of freezing temps from every human in the northeast's dashboard, I'm reminiscing about a great weekend Adam and I spent in NYC last year. Mercifully, we've left the depths of winter behind us (thank you, Austin), but it's nice to think about snow for a split second or so. 

We had a great snowy weekend together in the Meatpacking District, eating and drinking to our hearts' content. Some culinary highlights in the area included brunch at the Tipsy Parson, dinners at Buddakan and Spice Market, wandering Chelsea Market, and sneaking into the coziest local bar to ride out the snow by a fire. I'm seriously happy to be avoiding the storms this year, but it did make for some pretty pictures of the city. As for Austin, the snow will be gone by 10:00 and it will be back to 70s and sunny in a day or two, which is enough winter weather for me for the year.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Blood Orange & Prosecco Sparkling Cocktail

I debated waiting to post another wintery champagne cocktail until I at least threw something else in the mix to break up my current obsession with bubbly, but.... just no. I have no excuse, other than I just didn't want to. Instead, I'll be posting a series of four seasonal champagne (or Prosecco) cocktails, possibly all in a row. This version is possibly the easiest cocktail known to mankind. It has two ingredients. OK I guess you need to wait for ice to freeze, but that's about it. Also, who doesn't love blood oranges? They are gorgeous and tasty and amazing, in every way. You could even use the blood orange ice cubes for something like juice... I mean, you could... in theory. I wouldn't know. The first photo is also a shout out to my husband who thinks that an $8 bottle of Cupcake is the greatest bargain in the world.

Blood Orange & Prosecco Sparkling Cocktail
Serves 2

1 lb. blood oranges
Champagne or Prosecco

Juice blood oranges, removing any seeds or flesh. Freeze blood orange juice in ice cube trays. Add to a glass or Champagne flute, and top with bubbly. Serve immediately. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rosewater & Rosemary Winter Champagne Cocktail

I love champagne. More accurately, I love bubbles. I have neither the discerning palate nor plump wallet to be picky concerning the region of my grapes. It just sounds fancier to say champagne cocktail though, no? I'm sticking with it. Summer cocktails are so abundant, and for good reason, but when it comes to colder months, I think the cocktails are limited. Everything is pumpkin, hot apple cider, or some kind of creamy concoction. Admittedly, that sounds fantastic, but my brain likes to deliberate on things like coming up with new cocktails.

Enter, this flavorful sparkler. Fair warning: if you generally don't like fancy cocktails that include unpronounceable bitters and funky ingredients, you may not like this. I'm refined now. Sort of. But I really enjoyed the different flavors, and felt very bourgeois while drinking it. Cheers!

Rosewater & Rosemary Winter Champagne Cocktail
Single Serving

Sprig of rosemary
Dash of bitters
Dash of rosewater
Simple syrup, to taste
Optional:  food coloring

Add a small dash of bitters and rosewater to the champagne flute. Both have strong flavors, so start small, and you can always add more. I wanted to exaggerate the faint, warm color of the bitters, so I just barely dipped the end of my rosemary sprig in pink food coloring, and added it to the flute (optional). Fill the flute with champagne, and add a small amount of simple syrup, to taste.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Smokey Honey Chipotle Aioli


I have a new obsession, and it's Brussels sprouts. No, seriously, it is. Previously, they were on a short list of foods that I found completely unpalatable and disgusting; but in a matter of about a month, that all has changed. It started when everyone swore to me that the Austin restaurant Uchiko's sprouts were the stuff of dreams. Salty Sow's too. And the Violet Crown. Safe to say I was skeptical at best, but have since tried and absolutely loved all three.

Since then, I've been craving them constantly and had to make some for myself. While I believe, like most foods, they're still best fried, they're also pretty damn tasty when roasted to crispy, blackened perfection. I decided to go the somewhat healthy route (it is January after all), and roasted away. The sprouts themselves are so tasty when charred at high heat, but this Smokey Honey Chipotle Aioli is out of this world. Try it, and I promise you'll be dipping everything into this magical little pot of sweet, smokey, and slightly spicy.

*Side note : Uchiko's are still the best, but these are pretty great.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Servings: 4 sides

1 lb. Brussels sprouts
1 T. Coconut oil, canola oil, or EVOO
Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Cut Brussels sprouts into halves or quarters, depending on your preference. I like mine crispier, so I go with quarters.
  3. Toss cut sprouts with oil to evenly coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast at 500 degrees until sprouts begin to blacken. Watch them carefully. When they have reached desired level of blackness, immediately turn oven down to 350 degrees.
  5. Roast at 350 for an additional 5 minutes, or until sprouts are roasted throughout.

Smokey Honey Chipotle Aioli
Adapted from How Sweet Eats

1/3 c. light mayonnaise 1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 t. chipotle hot sauce (I used Tabasco)
1/2 t. lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon bourbon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Preferably, allow to sit for at least one hour in the fridge for flavors to blend.