Category Archives: Recipe

Mezcal vs. Tequila

Cinco de Mayo party

You might have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet out in blog land. With my wedding nearly just two weeks away (!!!!) I’ve taken a break from creating new content so I focus on the Big Day. But I couldn’t let today pass by without sharing photos from a Cinco de Mayo party Sarah recently threw to enjoy some good food and drinks she and her fiance like to bring back from Mexico. It definitely was the perfect thing to brighten up what was an otherwise dreary week.

Cinco de Mayo party

Sarah held a tequila vs. mezcal taste-off. I already knew I liked tequila and figured that’d come out on top. I was right! Have you ever had mezcal? I don’t think I could get used to the smoked taste. Maya, Randi, Katie and Jess were also there and they all agree. Even with the syrup mixture Sarah made for a mezcal mixed drink, it was still too strong for me. Want to know more about the two spirits and how you can incorporate them into your summer drinks? Visit Sarah’s blog. She also has a really good ice cube hack on there.

Cinco de Mayo party

Continue reading for more colorful photos (They make me so happy – thanks Maya and Randi for snapping!) as well as a word of thanks to everyone who provided something for the party, including these adorable flower crowns. I’ve decided it just simply isn’t a party without one. 🙂 Have a great Friday! (more…)

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Category: Recipe


Life Balance

Chobani yogurt

I don’t often talk about my professional life, but I figured today could be a time to let you into that side of things. As I allude to on some of my social media accounts, I work at a communications agency where my responsibilities include public relations and digital strategies. My roles at work often bleed into what I do with my blog, and vice versa. This can be great from a professional development angle, but also extremely tough to balance everything. My coworkers often ask me how I do it all, and to be honest some weeks I just don’t know, or I just can’t! For those weeks when I do need to do it all, I’ve learned what I need and where I need to make sacrifices. Keep reading to learn more.

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Category: Recipe


Grill Master(ish)

 Foil Dinner Recipes

One of the reasons Steve and I like living where we do is because of the amenities. We’re in a great building that has plenty of bonus features, including a hot tub and community grills. (These amenities do come at a cost, though. The two of us are sharing a junior one bedroom.) Despite us saying we’re here for the amenities, it’s easy to take them for granted. I rarely relax in the hot tub, even when it looks so appealing. I tell myself that I don’t have time, that I can do it the next night.

The same goes for the community grills. Sometimes when dinner rolls around I’ll suggest grilling out, but our hunger leads us to say “Let’s not go to the grocery store tonight. We can do that this weekend.” Of course, the grills are always forgotten by the time it’s the weekend. I was determined to change that, though, for last weekend’s girls’ night in. After a quick Pinterest search, I found an easy, delicious foil dinner recipe. I marched over to the grocery store to get the ingredients.

 Foil Dinner Recipes I chose a foil dinner because it reminded me of Girl Scout camp. We made foil dinners over campfires and I remember them being delicious. If I could master cooking on a fire as a 10 year old, the grill couldn’t be much harder. Right? I chose a very simple and quick recipe that didn’t call for any marinating. Within 15 minutes of chopping and slicing, I had placed everything in the foil packets. All that was left to do was drink champagne as we waited for the food to cook.

I was happy to see that the food turned out delicious. And not just for my guests, but for me, too! I made quite a bit for leftovers so I could enjoy the smoked taste without needing to light up the grill again. Sarah and I brainstormed other foil recipes, which I’m excited to try next. It seems like the perfect thing to share with Steve on our next date night.

Foil dinner recipe

I used a foil dinner recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron. While it seems as if anything would have been delicious cooked in a foil dinner, I think her seasoning made the meal. Check it out to make your own summer dinner.

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Brunch at Home

Homemade Quiche

My fiancé and I are both big fans of brunch, but in different ways. When we started dating he always wanted to make our dates at brunch time, but I preferred to make something for myself at home. Eggs, toast, etc. are so easy and cheap that I like to cook them at home to enjoy the morning in my pjs in front of the TV. Steve still loves to go out for brunch (here’s our favorite spot) but I have converted him to making our own meals some mornings, especially now that we’re branching out in what we cook. Recently, we’ve been making homemade quiche. Quiche is so easy to make but feels so fancy it elevates an at-home brunch.

Homemade Quiche

We use this Martha Stewart homemade quiche recipe with slight modifications. Steve doesn’t like any form of onions, so leeks are out. We also use whole milk instead of cream to be a little healthier. It still turns out delicious and fluffy! If you are going to make a homemade quiche, be prepared to wait to eat. It takes about 15-20 minutes to prepare and then another 50 to bake. You could also always make the dish the night before and then reheat slices in the morning for yourself!
Homemade Quiche

If a whole quiche seems like more food than you need, make individual crustless quiche in muffin tins. You can save the extra homemade quiche for breakfast throughout the week. Enjoy!

Homemade Quiche

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Category: Recipe


But First, Coffee

Sincerely Jennie Big Shoulders CoffeeEven though I had the most relaxing weekend, it was still tough to get out of bed this morning, so I thought it only fitting to kick off the week with a post about coffee. Hope you’ve all had your daily cup, because no talkie before coffee, right? I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Big Shoulders Coffee roastery in the West Loop and was enthralled by the process. Seriously, I don’t think I or the other bloggers in attendance ever knew coffee and the roasting process could be so interesting! We really quizzed owner and founder Tim Coonan about the process and came out with a new appreciation of what it takes to make our morning cup o’ joe.

Sincerely Jennie Big Shoulders Coffee

One of the most interesting tidbits I learned is that coffee comes from a fruit. Does that surprise you? The bean is actually the pit of a plant that grows on trees all over the world. The roasting process helps change the flavor of these beans. Big Shoulders Coffee has their own roasting process which we got to witness on our tour. You can taste the outcome of their small roasted batches at their café on Chicago Street or by purchasing Big Shoulders Coffee at a local grocery store like Mariano’s. And you might want to buy a lot of bags. I personally enjoy one or two cups of coffee a day, but Tim told us that he was recently on a talk show with a medical expert who suggested people drink four to six cups a day to enjoy health benefits for the liver and to prevent adult onset diabetes. I don’t know about you, but I’d be shaking with that much caffeine!

Sincerely Jennie Big Shoulders CoffeeSincerely Jennie Big Shoulders Coffee

I also learned that making a great cup of coffee at home takes more work than just buying good beans or grounds. Here are tips from Big Shoulders Coffee owner Tim Coonan on how to brew a great cup of coffee:

Use a tool like a Chemex or Clever Dripper, and:

  1. Keep your equipment clean.
  2. Use fresh coffee, visit Big Shoulders weekly! Or pick up a bag of Big Shoulders beans at your local Mariano’s or Whole Foods stores.
  3. Match the grind to the brewing method and use a burr grinder. (A common mistake is grinding too fine.)
  4. Use a scale and a ratio of 1 part coffee to 15 parts water as a starting point and play with this mix based on brewing method and your flavor preference. An example is 33 grams of coffee to 500 grams of water.
  5. Use filtered water heated to 204 degrees.
  6. Bloom the coffee by pouring just enough to moisten the grounds but not actually brew, allowing the water and coffee to get to know each other and not have just a fleeting romance.
  7. Allow 1 minute after the bloom before you start to actually brew.

Auto Drip Brewing Method:

  1. Repeat steps 1 & 2 from above.
  2. A basic formula for home auto-brewing is two tablespoons of freshly ground Big Shoulders coffee per cup of coffee. It is a very common mistake to under-dose the coffee. By following the above, you will make your morning coffee an extravagant and very affordable luxury.

Sincerely Jennie Big Shoulders Coffee

Thank you so much to Big Shoulders Coffee for having me out to your roasting facility. It was a great way to kick off a Saturday morning and expand my knowledge of something so ingrained in our everyday life!

Sincerely Jennie Big Shoulders Coffee Sincerely Jennie Big Shoulders Coffee

Visit Big Shoulders Coffee’s website to learn more about how to visit them and their different brews.

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Category: Recipe


Baking with Sea Salt

sea salt cookies

I know I am so late to this baking trend, but I recently made sea salt cookies and just had to share the recipe with you! I got the idea after many years of loving on Trader Joe’s sea salt brownies, and then wondering what else I could incorporate sea salt into to create even tastier desserts. Googling it, I realized a lot! I picked up a bottle of sea salt in the seasoning aisle and went to work.

sea salt cookies

I googled “sea salt cookies” and simply went with one of the top recipes to pop up in my search. The recipe I chose is shared by Valerie Bertinelli on the Food Network site. It calls for chocolate chips and caramels, but I only had butterscotch and chocolate chips in my cabinet. The cookies were still sinfully delicious! I even saved some batter to make a second batch for visitors, and have had to hold myself back from eating too much cookie dough!

sea salt cookies

If you’re like me and behind in baking trends I’d suggest picking up sea salt for your supplies. It took the cookies to another level! And try this Caramel Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookies recipe, with whatever sweets you have around.

Sincerely Jennie sea salt cookies 4

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Party Planning

Galentine's Day

Being that it’s Leap Day, my head is kind of in the clouds. Does anyone else think this extra 24 hours should be a holiday? Sadly, it’s not, but that doesn’t mean I still can’t daydream about the Galentine’s Day party I recently held. It’s a tradition to have all of my girlfriends over for brunch and just catch up with gals from all parts of my life. Now, many of them have met year after year or at other gatherings so it’s even more fun for us to get together and catch up!

Continue reading for details about the Galentine’s Day party and some tips on how to entertain no matter how small your space or budget. (more…)

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Category: DIY, Recipe


Sweet Holiday Treats

Sincerely Jennie Candied Nut Recipe

One of my favorite – and most tempting – sweets to make around the holidays is candied nuts. I try to trick myself into thinking they’re healthier than cookies and chocolates, and maybe they are with less artificial sugars and butter, but it sure it hard to stop at the serving size. Have you ever tried a candied nut recipe? Then you know what I’m talking about.

Sincerely Jennie Candied Nut Recipe

Despite the danger to my waistline, I typically make these every holiday when I’m required to bring a passing dish or when I need simple gift to show my appreciation for someone. Barring no nut allergies, they’re usually well-received and any leftovers I have make for an amazing salad topping.

Sincerely Jennie Candied Nut Recipe

This year I tried this candied nut recipe which only calls for whipped egg whites and a few spices. Although most recipes call for just one type of nut, I like to combine pecans and cashews, two of my favorites. And trust me, no one complains when I deviate from the recipe.

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Category: DIY, Recipe


Meals Made Simple

Sincerely-Jennie-Modern-Table-Meal-Kits

I haven’t always been a fan of meal kits or boxed meals, but lately I’ve come to understand that sometimes they’re necessary. More and more I find myself a few minutes short of time to pack a lunch or I arrive home at dinnertime starving. In those instances, meal kits can be a more cost-effective, healthier option than eating out – if I’m choosing the right ones. That’s why I was so excited to try Modern Table Meals, one of the items we received from sponsors of Go Blog Social.

Sincerely-Jennie-Modern-Table-Meal-Kits

The morning after Go Blog Social, which also happened to be on Halloween, I peeled myself off my couch midday. I suddenly had a craving for carbs (did I mention it was also the day after Halloween?) I remembered I’d gotten pasta meal kits in my GBS goody bag, so I pulled the Modern Meals bag out. Truthfully, I wasn’t feeling my best, so I was happy to just boil some water and throw the contents of the kit into pot. In less than 15 minutes, I had the meal I was craving that I didn’t have to feel guilty about. It was also really delicious – something I wasn’t expecting!

Sincerely-Jennie-Modern-Table-Meal-Kits

I love that Modern Table Meals are high in protein and fiber and also contain some vegetables. For my gluten-free girls, they’re that, too. While I chose to keep my helping basic using only the contents in the kit, I already can see it being even tastier with the addition of other ingredients. Chicken or peas would have been a winner with the pesto meal. And what’s the best part of the meals I received from GBS? I still have one more kit to try, the Mediterranean one! I’m almost looking forward to the next night I’m running short on time.

I received these meal kits free of charge but the opinion expressed are my own

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Category: Recipe


A Fall Fav – Zucchini Bread Recipe

Sincerely Jennie Zucchini Bread

One of my favorite things to do in the fall is tryout a zucchini bread recipe. My mom taught me to how to bake this treat when I was young, and it soon became something to share with friends and coworkers every autumn. In fact, I became so known for it that friends or coworkers would bring me in their homegrown zucchinis. I would try out different recipes and then bring back bread for us all to share. Introducing people to one of my favorite baked goods is definitely a good memory.

Sincerely Jennie Zucchini Bread Recipe

This year I baked the bread while I was babysitting, so I had to look up an online zucchini bread recipe from All Recipes. And guess what? The bread turned out to be the best yet. You should definitely download it for your cookbook, and I suggest putting zucchini on your list for the farmer’s market this weekend. There’s not much time left before the season is over for zucchini bread!

Sincerely Jennie Zucchini Bread Recipe

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Category: Recipe