Pink Grapefruit Gin and Tonics

5 Jun

Pink Grapefruit Gin and Tonics

Grapefruit gin and tonics

Hey y’all, sorry for the radio silence. Greg and I have just been lounging by the pool drinking G&Ts, too busy relaxing to bother with writing new Seakettle posts!

Juuuust kidding. We have been making this grapefruit version of the classic summer drink with some frequency, but we’ve also gone on four trips in the last six weeks, besides throwing a shower, having a house guest and celebrating our fifth anniversary. Summertime busyness just happened to hit us in May this year!


Meanwhile, grapefruit has been on sale 5 for a dollar, and we’ve been juicing them every chance we get. (We also tried bottled grapefruit juice once, and I don’t recommend it. Better to stick with a regular G&T if you don’t have fresh juice.)

Grapefruit gin and tonics

I love this easy twist on one of my favorite drinks. I also adore its blush pink color, especially in my gold-rimmed glasses!

Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonics

Grapefruit gin and tonic ingredients

Tonic (we use diet)
Juice from 1/2 pink grapefruit (per drink), strained

Add a few ice cubes to your glass. Add 50 ml gin, 150 ml tonic, and top with grapefruit juice. Garnish with additional grapefruit, if you like!

Blue Cheese and Fig Jam Crackers

8 Apr

Blue cheese & fig jam crackers

I recently needed to make an appetizer that could sit for 3 hours in a warm car, and it wasn’t until a few days before that I realized just how heavily most appetizers rely on either refrigerators or ovens.

Blue cheese & fig jam crackers

Undaunted, I sifted through the pages of Epicurious (my favorite recipe starting point, besides The New Best Recipe cookbook) until I found the recipe for these “savories.” No need to be disappointed that these little crackers aren’t sweet. I love a good jam cookie, but these are like grown-up Goldfish crackers — equally tempting to eat by the handful, but also beautiful enough to serve for a special occasion!

I highly recommend choosing a pretty cookie cutter over the circle recommended in the original recipe. We all know how I love to customize with cookie cutters! Try stars or even letters, if they have enough room for the jam. These crackers hold their shape well.

Blue cheese & fig jam crackers

Blue Cheese and Fig Jam Crackers
adapted from

I made a few modifications to the original recipe based on reviews, namely adding salt and rolling them out thicker. The dough, which is easily made by dumping things into the food processor, can be refrigerated for days before using, though it needs a generous amount of time to warm up before rolling.

1 cup all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
About 3 tablespoons fig preserves (we used homemade jam we had in the freezer, made for our Autumn Appetizer Party (tasted great 5 months later!))

1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place the flour, butter, blue cheese, salt and a few grinds of black pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until the dough just comes together and starts to form a ball.

3. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to pull it together. Then roll out to a 1/4-inch-thick circle with a floured rolling pin. Cut shapes out of the dough with a 1-inch cookie cutter and transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Reroll the scraps, working the dough as little as possible, and cut more.

4. Using your finger tip or knuckle, make an indentation in the center of each cracker. Spoon about 1/8 teaspoon of the fig preserves into each indentation.

Making indentations

Adding jam

5. Bake the crackers until the pastry is light golden on the bottom, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Do ahead: The dough, wrapped in plastic, can be refrigerated for several days before baking. Allow time for it to warm up before rolling it out. Baked crackers can also be frozen, jam and all, between layers of parchment paper (and you can reuse the parchment that you bake them on). To defrost, set the crackers in a single layer on paper towels. The batch we served on Easter came out of the freezer, and Greg and I both thought they tasted as good as fresh.

Spring Entryway

4 Apr

Spring entryway

I’m currently loving our little entryway nook; it was decorated for Easter but is staying this way until the flowers die. Our painted cabinet has come a long way! This spot changes constantly depending on holidays and flower arrangements, but I’m particularly fond of this setup. Aren’t the New Zealand Tea flowers amazing?

Books and whatnot

The little glass and gold box is a thrift-store find that typically houses a succulent. Right now it holds a nest from the yard with a blown-out and nail-polish-painted egg. That egg-decorating process was a little rocky, but I’m hoping to master the technique for next year!

Nail polish egg in nest

Polka Dot Easter Eggs

29 Mar

Polka Dot Easter Eggs

Polka dot Easter eggs

I just can’t get enough of polka dots. Just like the polka dot pumpkins that I made for Halloween, I decorated a batch of eggs with a little gold paint.

Polka dot Easter eggs

I dyed a few blown out eggshells with standard red and green dye from an egg dye kit. Because my shells were empty, they required constant pressure to keep them from popping to the surface of the dye. I dipped them just briefly to get the pastel shades and let them dry on a cooling rack set over a cookie sheet.

Polka dot Easter eggs

To make the dots, I used regular gold acrylic paint and a pencil eraser. You can also buy non-toxic acrylic paint, and that’d be a safer bet for hard-boiled eggs. The process is simple — put a little gold paint on a paper plate, dab the (brand new) eraser end of a pencil into the paint, then dab the paint onto the egg. I painted each egg one half at a time, letting it dry on a cooling rack before rotating to do the second half.

Painting dots on Easter eggs

Painting dots on Easter eggs

Now I just need my wheatgrass to grow a bit taller, so I can assemble a centerpiece with it and my new eggs. We’re having a little egg-decorating breakfast tomorrow, and I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!

Polka dot Easter eggs

Easter Basket Bouquet

28 Mar

Flowers in an Easter basket

I planted a few flowers in an Easter basket for our front “porch,” and they’re surprisingly cheerful for such a small amount of effort! I love seeing them on my way in and out; they’re a nice reminder that it’s almost Easter.

Easter basket planter

I bought the basket at a dollar store and used leftover plants from our window boxes. If you’re still suffering through freezing temperatures, a basket of flowers would also make a great table centerpiece and houseplants can substitute for garden flowers. You could even replace the standard Easter basket with wicker for a more sophisticated look (boring! just kidding), and thrift stores usually have them in abundance. I just can’t help myself with that fuchsia color: shirts, weddings, walls, towels and now Easter baskets!

Flowers in an Easter basket

Cake-filled Easter Eggs

25 Mar

Cake-filled Easter Eggs

Opening a cake egg

I love cake-filled Easter eggs — they taste so much better than the hard-boiled variety! I love cracking them on the table and popping the cake out of the shell. That said, making these eggs is no small undertaking; this is a post of what I would do differently if making these crazy eggs again.

Cake-filled eggs

Cracking open a cake-filled egg

Cake-filled Easter eggs

I followed directions from this post and this video, though I didn’t do yolk or tie-dyed filling. I colored the batter to match the dyed shells. In summary, I emptied eggs from a large hole on the bottom, cleaned and dyed the shells, piped them 3/4 full with cake batter (standing upright in a muffin pan with foil for support), and baked them for 20 minutes at 350.

Egg shells to fill

Cake eggs

Here’s what I learned:
1. It takes a long time to empty a batch of egg shells. Think about how you’ll be displaying them, and consider making larger holes for faster removal, if possible. Sitting your finished eggs in cardboard or ceramic egg crates, for example, means large holes on the bottom will be invisible!

Removing egg from shell

2. The cake batter is going to overflow. And it’s going to stick. No matter the amount of batter I used, it still overflowed while baking and stuck to the outside of the shell around the hole. Don’t try drastically under-filling to avoid overflow — the batter still rises and spills over, but then sinks back down while cooling and leaves you with a half-filled shell. Despite having non-stick spray on the outside of the shells, it took a long time to cut/pick it all off. (Perhaps there is a dense cake that rises less — that might be a nice solution!)

3. Because of number 2, I recommend dyeing with a light color or a marble technique. Picking the cake overflow off the eggs pulls off some of the color, as well. I love vibrantly-dyed eggs, but I didn’t love the discoloration that came with removing the excess cake.

Dyeing eggs

Cake egg discoloration

4. Consider doodling on the shells to disguise some of the splotches. I used non-toxic markers in slightly darker shades than the dye. It wasn’t something I would have done if the shells weren’t so messy, but I love how they turned out!

Easter egg doodles

If you’d prefer a less involved Easter project, I’ll post some cake-less egg-dyeing ideas later this week!

Opening a cake-filled egg

Shamrock Crackers

16 Mar

Shamrock Crackers

Shamrock crackers

Deb from Smitten Kitchen says people think she’s crazy for re-creating grocery store snacks and until yesterday, I might have agreed with them. Why make your own Wheat Thins when you can buy magically delicious ones for $2 a box?

Shamrock crackers

Two reasons: First, it’s easy (with a food processor, anyway). Second, you can make them however you want! This may sound obvious, but it never occurred to me to want Wheat Thins in a form other than how they’re sold. Now, in addition to seasoning your crackers however you like and working around whatever food allergies you need to, you can cut them into shapes. SO fun.

Shamrock crackers

As I mentioned, I used Smitten Kitchen’s Wheat Thins recipe. I rolled my dough out directly onto parchment paper (on my cookie sheet), cut the shamrocks out, removed the excess dough and baked them in position (no flouring, sticking, moving crackers from surface to surface etc). Using cookie cutters means a lot of re-rolling dough scraps and it slows the recipe down quite a bit, compared to making squares with a pizza cutter (the traditional method), but it was thrilling to see my very own crazy-shaped knock-off Wheat Thins come out of the oven. And now I officially have a St. Patrick’s Day recipe that doesn’t involve Baileys or Guinness!

I served these shamrock crackers with some awesome green gouda, but green toppings abound — guacamole, pesto, salsa verde, spinach dip, green hummus and so on.

Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Baileys Cheesecake with Guinness Ganache

15 Mar

Bailey's cheesecake with Guinness ganache

I don’t know when Guinness and Baileys became the official edible representation of St. Patrick’s Day in my mind, but I suspect it was when we hosted our first St. Patrick’s Day party. I struggled to find appealing green or Irish recipes, as I don’t care for vegetables or corned beef and cabbage. (Greg made a great salad that disguised the corned beef and cabbage brilliantly in piles of potatoes, but they still didn’t win my heart.) Besides, how many cute corned beef dishes can you actually make?

Instead, I turned to Guinness and Baileys cupcakes, followed by Baileys truffles, Guinness chocolate pudding and now, Baileys cheesecake with Guinness ganache.

Irish? Check. Cuter than beef? Double check.

Modifying a regular cheesecake to make a Baileys version was actually easier than I expected — I just replaced the milk in our basic cheesecake recipe with Baileys. The Guinness ganache is just a bonus — optional (and delicious) for decorating or drizzling, but not necessary to make the cheesecake shine.

Leave plenty of time to prepare this cheesecake. Consider it a glorious make-ahead recipe! The five plus hours that the cheesecake spends in the oven go a long way in preventing cracks.


15 graham crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, melted

4 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Baileys
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
Green food coloring (optional)

Ganache (optional):
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Guinness Extra Stout


1. Set out the cream cheese, eggs, sour cream and liqueur and allow to come to room temperature.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a 13 x 9 inch dish of water on one of the lower racks.

3. Grease a 9 inch springform pan.

4. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter.

5. Press graham cracker mixture onto the bottom of a springform pan.

6. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth.

7. Blend Baileys into cream cheese mixture.

8. Add eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate.

9. Mix in sour cream, vanilla, several drops of food coloring (if using) and flour until smooth.

10. Pour filling into prepared crust.

11. Bake in preheated oven in the middle rack for 1 hour.

12. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours; this prevents cracking.

13. Chill in refrigerator until serving, several hours or overnight.


1. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it bubbles around the edges.

2. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let it rest until the chocolate melts, about 1 minute.

3. Stir until the chocolate is smooth.

4. Heat the Guinness (on stove or in microwave) until warm.

5. Pour the Guinness into the ganache and mix until smooth. Let cool.

6. Pipe design onto cooled cheesecake. I drew my shamrock on the cheesecake with a skewer before piping and filling in the shape.

7. Enjoy the rest of your Guinness!

Apple Cheesecake with Streusel Topping

5 Mar

Apparently what I like in an apple dessert is the addition of caramel and cheesecake! When making my flower-shaped apple cheesecake tart in the fall, I came across Paula Deen’s recipe for these Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars. I had all the ingredients on hand for Valentine’s day, so I cut the recipe in half and used my new red pie dish. I liked it so much that two weeks later I used the same proportions to make these bars in an 8 x 8″ dish.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

I think the recipe looks prettier in a 9″ round dish, and love that it only requires half the original ingredients and apple peeling. I like the flexibility, though, for feeding a large crowd with easy-to-grab squares by making the recipe in a 13 x 9″ dish.

To make the round or 8 x 8″ version, I recommend cutting Paula’s base recipe in half, and cutting the streusel topping down to one third (reviewers said the original amount was too much topping). I followed the rest of the recipe, including the original bake time, exactly. As with the apple tart, I preferred it chilled.


Play Donuts and Donut Pops

1 Mar

Toy donuts

Our goddaughter’s second birthday was a Sunday-morning donuts-and-coffee celebration. The kids were adorable with their donuts, sugar rush and all!

For our gift, to compliment the cute apron set we found, I wanted to add some play pastries in keeping with the party theme. I wasn’t thrilled with the store-bought play food options, so I looked (rather skeptically) for a DIY option. I was sure that I could make my own, but I didn’t really want to do much sewing. I couldn’t have been happier to find Inner Child Fun‘s cute no-sew option.

Play donuts

These play donuts are easy to make — cut the toe off a brown sock, roll it up, attach freehanded-felt-icing with hot glue, and use fabric paint to paint on the sprinkles. I can’t believe I didn’t think of using socks myself, as I was no stranger to the sock bun phenomenon a few years back! I also have to admit that I didn’t imagine puffy paint in my post-Girl Scouts crafting repertoire (and I can’t believe I had to go buy some, after years of owning every color!), but it does make quite charming and realistic sprinkles.

Play donuts

I wish I’d bought another pair of socks, because I think three would be the perfect number. I’d love to make a set and tie them together with a pink bow!

I had one other project for the birthday party — donut pops! They’re both easier and less expensive than cake pops, but still SO good. I wasn’t sure that our little mom and pop donut shops would even sell donut holes (that seems like a Dunkin Donuts moneymaking-scheme), but they all did!

Donut popsDonut pops

The holes were $1.25 per dozen, and assembly was as easy as sticking them on lollipop sticks and sticking those into floral foam. I didn’t realize that the different varieties of donut holes would range so much in size (at least at our donut shop), so next time I might group them by type for a more uniform look. Regardless, they were the perfect size for little (and big!) kids to snack on between enjoying full-size varieties with sprinkles and frosting.

Donut pops

Yum. What a fun party! It definitely left me wishing for donuts with my Monday morning cup of tea!