Author Archives: jen

About jen

twenty something grad student living and loving in Chicago

Girls weekend

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Nothing like an impromptu trip to Indiana to hang out with 2 of my faves.

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We didn’t really think about the fact that the Super Bowl was in Indianapolis and we’d have to drive right by, but we survived. It’s amazing how much fun (and food) you can pack into 36 hours. 

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Balsamic roasted tomatoes and garlic

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OMG guys.

{balsamic roasted tomatoes and garlic)

Have you seen this recipe? Tomatoes. yum. garlic. yum. This was amazing. I’m sitting here debating finishing this post or finishing up the left overs. But this is for posterity. {True confession: I promptly went and ate the rest after writing this}

So tonight I set out to try this with a few modifications. The original recipe calls for a drizzle of olive oil at the end, but I wanted to make sure that the tomatoes didn’t burn. So I cut the tomatoes and tossed them with some olive oil.

{EVOO}

Stuffed in some garlic.

{stuffed tomatoes}

Then I realized, what goes with tomatoes and garlic. Cheese. But that doesn’t work so well. Balsamic vinegar. I love me some balsamic vinegar. So once they were all set up in the skillet, I drizzled some over the tomatoes and garlic.

{vinegar bath}

A little oregano (other spices would be good too).

{all dressed up}

Pop that in the oven.

{keeping that glass clean is so hard}

Now I also didn’t want to crush everything per the original recipe. I wanted little tomatoes stuffed with garlic that I could pick up individually. So I didn’t know how long this was going to take.

15 mins.

{just the beginning}

30 mins.

45 mins.

1 hour

1 hour 15 mins. and I say done. Most of the liquid had cooked off and things were starting to get a little brown (which isn’t a bad thing)

Toasted some bread on the panini press.

{love bread}

Loaded it up.

{come to momma}

Devoured it.

Seriously this is absolutely worth making.  I can’t describe how delicious this was. The flavors were so concentrated I didn’t even need cheese. bam. Do yourself a favor and make these.

Recipe (adapted slightly from here)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pt. tomatoes (cherry or another small variety)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • oregano
  • sea salt
  • 2-3 splashes good quality olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut a X into the top of each tomato.
  3. Toss tomatoes with olive oil.
  4. cut the garlic cloves to fit into the tomatoes (I cut most in half).
  5. stuff the garlic into the tomatoes.
  6. Fill a cast iron skillet with the garlic-stuffed tomatoes, slit side up.
  7. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes.
  8. Sprinkle on oregano (or other spices).
  9. Roast tomatoes until most of the liquid is evaporated.
  10. Smash on bread, crackers and probably a lot of other things.

State of the Union

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It is terrible to say that I was disappointed that the State of the Union Address was on tonight? I absolutely intended to veg out and watch TV after work tonight and the SOTU wasn’t what I had in mind.

So off to craft I went.

I had pinned this adorable tutorial a while ago. And in my New Years purging I realized that I had too many pairs of jeans. 2 went into the resale bin and one is going to the thrift store. And one is getting a makeover.

{old jeans}

Although the original tutorial is great, I didn’t have the heatbond, so I experimented with some invisible thread and decided to sew the lace on.

{I love the vintage label. This is from my grandma's stash}

So here’s what I did:

bought some lace (this is from hancock fabrics, the closest place for a quick fix for me)

{1.5 yard, 3.75'' width}

Turned the jeans inside out and pinned on the lace. I left a little bit hanging over the edge so the jean hem wouldn’t show.

{a little overlap}

I used cream colored thread on top and the invisible thread in the bobbin. I picked the part of the lace that was the most dense and used a zig zag stitch. First at the top.

Then at the bottom.

I folded over the end and zig zaged up the seam. Turn those suckers inside out and you’re done!

{a little peak of lace}

{finished fancy pants}

As you can see the invisible thread isn’t completely invisible, but it’s pretty good!

{invisathread}

Now go clean out your closet, get an old pair of jeans, and try it yourself!

{my feet look weird-shaped}

Yo Momma Cookies

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{Yo momma cookies}

This is not a fancy recipe. But they could be. These cookies are delicious and oh-so customizable.

I got this recipe from one of my best friends after her mom sent us  her a tin of them. And we ate them all. So they’re really Molly’s Momma’s cookies, but I just call them Yo Mommas.

{perfect little puffs!}

The original recipe calls for yellow cake mix. I’m using white cake mix here because it was on clearance at Target and that’s how I roll. You can add anything to these cookies which is why they’re so great. Chocolate chips, nuts, bacon, cheese, etc. Ok I haven’t tried the bacon or cheese, but I feel like that’s very foodie of me to suggest.

{dough is also delicious}

Recipe (courtesy of Karen):

  • 1 box cake mix
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 eggs

Instructions: Heat oven to 350. Mix ingredients together. Scoop* onto cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 9 mins. Enjoy!

I like a little more sugar on my sugar, so I dab a little bit of this on.

*I use a 1 1/2 Tbsp cookie scoop

indulging and purging

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{trimming the tree}

I love the holidays: family, food, church, traditions, new things, old things. But I have to say that usually when it’s all over I feel like purging, in more than one way.* Our families were so generous to us this year; more than we deserve in more than one way. It left me feeling very indulgent and got me thinking about what I love about Christmas. What’s important; what I want my kids to focus on; what traditions we want to keep; which ones we need to purge. I for one felt a little frantic, like when we finally got to the moments we’d been waiting for, we rushed through them, took a couple pictures, hurried to clean up and move on to the next thing. A lot of this has to do with us bopping back and forth between two wonderful families, two sets of meaningful traditions and all our years of expectations about holidays, but I haven’t quite figured out how to make it all work.

{pleased as punch}

So what’s a girl to do? (Besides finish off the holiday goodies of course.)

Purge.*

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about. Purging some of my expectations about the holidays; purging some of the assumed obligations (including, eek, GIFTS, or at least the type of gifts), and purging some stuff.

{handmade by my sister}

We don’t need all the stuff we have, we don’t use all the stuff we have. So with the feelings of indulgency (is that word?) I’ve decided we need a stuff purge. A giant ikea bag has already been started. Now there are some really good ways to get rid of extra things and help others. We’re big fans of the little thrift shop around the corner that supports the local church which has a community dinner every Sunday night for those who need it. Scored a sweet chalkboard there.

Another great option is freecycle.org. You can check out their website, but this is a great option because people actually come and get the stuff from you. (When I was working with people who were homeless I was able to get some really nice and necessary things for new homes throug this) Goodwill, Salvation Army, Women’s shelters, etc. There are plenty of good places that need your stuff more than you do. Find one that feels good.

Oh and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

*I do not condone forms of purging that involve vomit.

a half hour and a tie

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So my sister was visiting a few weeks ago and we were shopping around waiting for brunch and she found these headbands made out of a tie. My sister looks great in headbands and thought they were cute. I told her we could do better. So a Salvation Army trip and a half hour later, we had a little something like this:

{tie headband}

All you need for 2 headbands and bow is 1 tie and 2 pieces of elastic

{one fabulous paisley tie}
{elastic}

First measure your head, I just use the tie to get a good estimate. You can always adjust the elastic if it’s too big or small. Cut it to size.

{just right}

Now you’ll see that there’s a type of webbing in the tie that’s kind of sticking out. I like to cut that down about a half inch. This way I can make a cleaner edge with the silk.

{cut this off; fold like this; and like this; sew it shut}

Now this doesn’t have to be perfect because it’s going to be mostly hidden, but I like a nice edge don’t you? After you’ve cut off the webbing tuck the elastic in, fold down the edge of the silk and sew it all together.  Done with that side.

{done}

So the other end. I like to open it up a little bit and get the elastic far enough down that the other end doesn’t show. Pin it in place and sew back and forth a few time for stability.

{this tie originally cost $18.50, didn’t want you to miss out on that}

And then you have a headband! But that’s not all. You should have enough to do it again with the other end of the tie, making a fatter more voluptuous headband.

{these are tough shots to get my friends}

But wait! There’s more. Unless you have a super voluptuous head or a short tie, you should still have some tie left. Just enough for a bow in fact. I take the piece of tie and fold it into thirds. I cut off one third.

{1/3+2/3=1 piece of tie}

Sew each piece into a loop, wrong sides together. Turn them right-side out. Then slide the 2/3 piece loop through the 1/3 piece loop. I just put a safety pin through the back side so that this can be attached to either headband or anything else you want. You could always sew it too.

{take a bow}

And there you go, essentially 4 different headbands from 1 tie in about 30 minutes.

{win one!}

And now that I’ve told you how to do this and how simple it is. I’m going to giveaway one so you don’t have to! Sew Mama Sew does a great round up of giveaways around Christmas each year, and instead of trying to win everything, I’ll give something away this time :) This beauty’s already been taken, but I have another equally lovely paisley headband and bow waiting for someone! Just leave a comment and email and I will notify the winner via email so I can send it right out! Thanks for playing!

christmas bucket

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{I can't find the recipe for these and I'm mad about it}

What would the holidays been without treats tempting you from every direction? Not the holidays. That’s the correct answer.

Every year I make a bucket of treats to take to my family and the hubs family, but I can rarely remember what I made the year before. So just for the record, here’s what’s up this year:

  • sugared pecans (by the way can someone explain to me why I had to spend $12.59 for a bag of pecans?)
  • candy cane macarons
  • Samoa bark (like the Girl Scout cookies)
  • ritz bits dipped in almond bark (that’s the whole recipe, fancy I know, but the hubs favorite)

Don’t worry I have a very stringent taste test policy so that all treats are safe and delicious.