drink: champagne jello shots

There was a time around the fall of 2000 that I became obsessed with alcoholic jell-o shots.  I brought them to every holiday party I went to that year, I experimented with flavors and layering.   I even bought special star shaped ice cube trays at Ikea.  Needless to say, sometime around the spring of 2001, one too many hangovers later, I stopped making them. Then this fall, they started popping up everywhere again but instead of being run of the mill jell-o and vodka shots, they were great flavors like Arnold Palmers (or John Dalys), Watermelon and Rootbeer.  Inspired,  I knew I had to figure out how to make Champagne Jell-o Shots for New Year’s this year. I found a few different recipes online but most of them seemed over the top fruity and sugary and I wanted to make one that still tasted like champagne.


3 boxes 3 oz. Peach Jell-o

1 box (4 packets) plain gelatin

3 c. boiling water

5 c. or about 1 1/2 bottles of sparkling wine (try to find a Brut or Dry version)


In a bowl, combine the Jell-o and gelatin packets, pour boiling water over, stir until combined refrigerate 15 minutes.   Then slowly pour in 5 cups (about 1 1/2 bottles of champagne).  Don’t be alarmed when this foams, just make sure you are using a large enough bowl to accommodate it.  Refrigerate for another 30 minutes.  Then pour into your pan.  Depending on how large you would like your shots you can either use one 9×13 Pyrex or multiple smaller pans. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, longer if possible.  Just before serving, add sprinkles (optional).

These were a crowd pleaser and would be a festive addition to your New Year’s Celebration.

Hope you all have a happy new year!


swoon: New Year’s Eve Outfit

NYE on the farm
This New Year’s I’ll be ringing in 2012 with friends out in east Texas and feel this is the perfect outfit for tromping around in the country and sitting by the fire. So cheers to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012!

cook: Aunt Jean’s Tortilla Soup

Over the years I’ve come to realize I’m a fair weather cook. If it’s 90+ degrees outside (typical for Dallas) most evenings I find myself sipping margaritas with friends on a patio rather than cooking in the kitchen. However as the weather becomes cooler, I suddenly find myself in my kitchen more often than not. One of my favorite recipes to make when it’s cold and rainy outside is my Aunt’s famous tortilla soup. It’s become a winter staple and is a big hit with my friends. Please note you’ll need at least a 6 to 8 quartz pot as this recipe easily feeds 10 people.


1 large onion – chopped
2 4oz. cans of green chilies – chopped
6 cloves of garlic – crushed
3 tbl olive oil
4 medium tomatoes – seeded and chopped
2  32 fl oz cans Beef Broth
2 32 fl oz cans Chicken Broth
3 to 4 gluten free boullion cubes
4 cups of tomato juice (I prefer spicy bloody mary mix)
2 tsp of ground cumin
2 tsp fresh cilantro
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp of salt
1 tsp white pepper
4 tbl worcestershire sauce
4 tbl A-1 steak sauce
1 bag of tortilla chips
2 cups of Monterrey jack cheese – grated
2 lbs of  chicken – marinated overnight in Italian dressing, then cooked and cubed
1 bag of frozen shoe peg (white) corn
3 to 4 avocados – cubed

To start, place marinated chicken in the oven (preheated to 375) and bake for 30 minutes or until juices run clear. Then saute onions, chilies, garlic and olive oil until the onions are transparent. Add tomatoes, broth, tomato juice and seasoning. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. By this time the chicken should be ready to take out of the oven. Add cubed meat and shoe peg corn. Simmer the soup for an additional 10 minutes.

Garnish each bowl with sliced avocados, crushed tortilla chips, pour soup in the bowl and then top with grated cheese.


make: holiday photobooth

Every year on Christmas Eve, my family gets together with two others to celebrate.  This always ends up being a big party filled with food, booze, friends, laughter, photos and more booze.  Every year about half-way through we gather around a makeshift tripod (usually a ladder with some books on it) we take a group photo.  This year, in an attempt to spice things up and to ride the end of the photo booth trend into the sunset, I have decided to set up a makeshift photo booth at the party.  This way, families and different groups can gather together and take some non-traditional photos together.   For a backdrop, I’m simply going to hang a roll of wrapping paper from the ceiling.   Because I couldn’t resist making something homemade for this, I decided to make sets of Santa and Rudolph props.

For this you will need colored foam (found at any craft store), wooden dowels, scissors and foam glue. The templates can be found below, if you print these on 8.5 x 11 paper, they should work for adult sized props (you can also shrink them for kids).  You’ll see in the image below, I used an extra dowel to make sure the antlers didn’t fall over.

I hope that everyone has a blast with these and I can’t wait to share the pictures with you.  If you make these, please upload to pinterest and tag us.  I’d love to see your family fun!





stitch: Last Minute Christmas Ornament


I decided this weekend to make ornaments with extra Christmas fabric that I had laying around. So for those of you who who are the DIY type (and need a last minute gift for a friend or co-worker) this is a quick and easy tutorial.

Supplies you’ll need:
2 pieces 3.5in x 3.5in Christmas fabric
Gold Ribbon (width is your choice)

Place first piece fabric right side down and place ribbon in the top corner. Then place second piece of fabric wrong side down and pin in place.

Stitch the edges with a zig-zag stitch and trim with pinking shears . . .

and viola, one less gift to worry about!

cook: buffalo wing dip

It’s that time of year when football season is heating up and friends start getting together for the Sunday NFL games.   It’s also this time of year that I start to get requests for my wing dip recipe.  This dip takes one of the best parts of watching football — chicken wings — and puts them in dip form.   I wish that I could claim ownership over this one but like so many of my tailgating recipes, this one is courtesy of my friend Keri in Texas.

Here’s the recipe:

2-3 Chicken Breasts (or thighs if you like dark meat)

12 oz. bottle of Frank’s hot sauce (I tend to use the regular unless I know the crowd will like it extra spicy)

16 oz. bottle of Blue Cheese Salad Dressing (I use Ken’s Chunky)

8 oz. cream cheese

Shredded Cheese

Fritos Scoops

Carrots & Celery

Start by poaching the chicken breast in lightly salted water, then shred using two forks.  If I have any leftover chicken stock in my fridge, I will add it to the water for more flavor but its not necessary.  Once shredded, spread the chicken evenly in the bottom of an ovenproof dish and pour the Frank’s hot sauce over until just covered.  You want to make sure that every piece has Franks on and around it.  This should take about an entire bottle.

Then in a sauce pan melt the cream cheese over low to medium heat and stir constantly, you don’t want it to burn.  Once it is melted, add the blue cheese dressing and cook for a minute making sure to stir until combined.  Then pour over the chicken and spread as necessary so that the whole pan is covered.  Sprinkle top with cheese.

Then you throw it in the oven for 20 minutes or so until its all super hot.  I do it usually at 325 or 350 (temp doesn’t really matter since everything’s already cooked it just depends on how fast you want it to happen).  Remove from oven and serve immediately (it’s best when hot).  I put this out with Fritos Scoops Chips, carrot sticks and celery stalks.

Do you have any tailgating traditions or favorite recipes?