Spicy Grapefruit Margarita

Tomorrow is Valentine’s day, today is Monday and whether you’re single or in a relationship – you most likely need a drink.

Let’s celebrate with our lover, tequila, shall we?

It’s no secret that I love a spicy cocktail (evidence here & here). Add in a citrus sidekick and all my needs are met. While this recipe may appear to be on the summery side, it’s never not the season for a margarita. 😉

| shaker // tools (similar) // glasses |

If spicy cocktails aren’t your thing or you just want some more boozy inspiration, check out these equally-festive but less spicy options – Rose & Lemon Spritzer, Prickly Pear Margarita, Strawberry Lemon-tini.

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Candied Conversations

Why spend 2+ hours making homemade candy conversation hearts when you get pick some up at Target?  

Because you can customize the messages (i.e.: “love you more than vodka“). That’s why. 😉

Candy hearts are one of my favorite sugary treats – right up there with Blow Pops and chewy Sprees. Everyone has their vice, right? The mix of nostalgia that comes with these Valentine classics and the fact that they are homemade, make them the perfect gift for your students, galentine or even co-workers. The recipe itself is super simple (the kneading is time consuming) but all in all it’s totally worth having creative control over the colors, flavors, and copy. Scroll down for the recipe!

| cookie cutter |

Homemade Conversation Candy Hearts
Yields 60
if homemade means organic, these are organic
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ tsp. unflavored gelatin powder
  2. ½ cup clear soda
  3. 6 cups powdered sugar
  4. food coloring
  5. flavored extract
Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve gelatin in soda (I used Sprite).
  2. After about 5 minutes, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water to melt the gelatin completely (until you cannot see any granules).
  3. Using an electric mixer, mix in the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time.
  4. Keep adding the powdered sugar until you have stiff fondant-like dough, it will be somewhat sticky.
  5. Dust a clean surface with powdered sugar and begin kneading the dough. You may need extra powdered sugar to fight the dough’s stickiness.
  6. Divide dough to your desire – depending on how many color/flavors you want to make.
  7. Add in extras (I used mint and almond, separately) and food color. Continue to knead until the color is fully incorporated.
  8. Taste the dough to make sure the flavoring is to your liking.
  9. Roll the dough to a ¼ inch thickness and cut in to desired shapes using cookie cutters*.
  10. Lay out the candies on a baking sheet, lined with parchment.
  11. Let dry for 48 hours, flipping over the candies occasionally to ensure even drying on both sides.
  12. Once candies are completely dried out and hard, use edible markers to add your messages.
Notes
  1. *I used a 1 inch heart-shaped cookie cutter and had plenty of room to write fun messages.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

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More Valentine DIY’s – here & here.

| cellophane baggies |

 

Links, Lately

It’s finally February! Pour. Me. A. Drink.

| Did you catch my Valentine-inspired cocktail on Abundantly Alex this week? | 

Am I the only one who felt like January lasted 3 months?! The first weekend of February is a welcome sight because 1. (as previously mentioned) January was long AF and 2. the Super Bowl.  I will always and forever love Tom Brady but come Sunday, I’ll be pulling for the home team. #RiseUp

Here are the links for the week…

Here is your cheat sheet on what to buy and what not to buy at Whole Foods. 

Your go-to guide on where to watch the Super Bowl in Atlanta. 

Accidental google searches is a much needed distraction that we could all use. 

Has anyone ever tried this “happiness-tracking” method?

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

 

Dirty Bird Nachos

As promised, I wanted to share another Super Bowl recipe in honor of the Atlanta Falcons taking on the Patriots this Sunday.

Say hello to these cheesey, spicy and slightly peachy layered chicken nachos. Chicken nachos are a classic that I’ve unintentionally ignored over the past several years. I used to eat chicken nachos at El Toreo in my hometown at least once a week during high school. Saying that out loud makes me feel a little embarrassed.  I digress.

If you love a spicyxfruit type of heat (think mango habanero) – you will love this recipe.  Scroll down for more!

Dirty Bird Nachos
Serves 4
"Rise up!" - Nachos
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Total Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1lb chicken breast or tenders
  2. salt, pepper, chili powder to taste
  3. 4 Tbsp. olive oil*
  4. 6 flour or corn tortillas
  5. 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  6. zest of 1 lime
  7. ½ cup peach preserves**
  8. 1 Tbsp. Sriracha
  9. 1 ½ cup mild cheddar cheese
  10. ½ cup parmesan cheese
  11. 6 oz. goat cheese
  12. 2 jalapenos, sliced
  13. 1 small shallot, diced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Drizzle 3 Tbsp. olive oil over chicken and season with salt, pepper, and chili powder.
  3. Bake chicken for 15 minutes or until fully cooked.
  4. Once chicken is cooked and cooled, slice or shred and set aside.
  5. Increase oven temperature to 425°F.
  6. To make the chips, cut each tortilla into 6 triangles and place on a baking sheet in one even layer.
  7. Mix together melted butter, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, lime zest, pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle or brush mixture over each chip.
  8. Bake chips for about 8 minutes or until golden and crispy.
  9. For the spicy peach “toss sauce,” add peach preserves and Sriracha to a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.
  10. Pour warmed sauce over chicken and toss until completely coated.
  11. Begin layering ingredients in a cast iron skillet – chips, shredded cheeses, crumbled goat cheese, shallots, chicken and jalapenos. Repeat 3 times (ending with cheese) for 3 layers.
  12. Bake nachos at 425°F for about 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  13. Dig in!
Notes
  1. *I used a blood orange-infused olive oil, but good ol’ EVOO will work just as well.
  2. **Since peaches are not currently in season, preserves or an excellent alternative. I used peach mango preserves but any sweet fruit preserve will work well.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

 

Be My Galentine

I don’t know if it’s my inner 8 year old or just the fact that I appreciate coordinated gifts… 

| Aren’t these love notes cute!? | 

…but Valentine’s Day treats make me oh so happy. (See here and here for cute crafts, perfect for your girlfriends and co-workers.) So in honor of the day of love, I’ve rounded up my favorite gifts for your bestie or yourself – all under $20!  

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7

While we’re on the topic of Valentine’s Day – I had the opportunity to do a guest post on Abundantly Alex (shared a delish cocktail) this week. Pop on over to Alex’s blog for all the fashion inspiration your heart can handle!

 

Links, Lately

Work week complete – check. 

| my most recent impulse purchase makes my work space a little cuter | 

I’m looking forward to a productive weekend checking off all the miscellaneous items on my to-do list – thank you notes, order contacts, mix up Valentine-themed cocktails – you know… really exciting things. ha. Before the fun starts, here are the links for the week…

Finally Atlanta is getting a chopped-salad establishment (think Chopt meets Sweetgreen) – one of the things I miss most about New York.

Who doesn’t love a good Bachelor conspiracy theory!?

Food and celebs – my two favorite worlds colliding. 

I could watch Vogue’s 73 Questions videos for days – Emma Stone’s is one of my faves. 

Feel good story of the week goes to Dew, a dog who goes on his own adventures. 

Happy weekend, friends! 

Sriracha Maple Wings

True story: I shot this “Super Bowl” recipe a few weeks ago, thinking it wouldn’t matter that it wasn’t team-themed because it’s not like Atlanta would be in the Super Bowl or anything…

I’ve never been so glad to be so wrong. The Falcons are headed to Houston, y’all!

Before you guys think I don’t have any hometown spirit – I do. Truthfully, I hadn’t been paying attention to our wins. Also, I love the Patriots and had always planned on cheering them on come February 5th. However, as a faithful ATLien, I will be channeling my inner Samuel L. Jackson and rising up to all of Matt Ryan’s (& team’s) glory.

Woah. That is the most football-y paragraph I’ve ever written. Moving on to the wings…

This recipe marries two of my favorite flavors (sweet & spicy) and is so easy to whip up. All very crucial qualities when feeding a crowd of football fanatics. Scroll down for the recipe!

Maple Sriracha Wings
a staple amongst football fanatics
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Ingredients
  1. 2½ lbs chicken wings
  2. 1 cup flour
  3. 3 Tbsp ground ginger
  4. ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  5. 2 tsp salt
  6. ½ tsp black pepper
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 3 Tbsp water
  9. 2 Tbsp Sriracha
  10. ¾ cup pure maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Sift together the flour, ground ginger, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to make your dredging mixture.
  3. To make the egg wash, whisk together the water and eggs.
  4. Dip each wing into the flour mixture, followed by egg and finish by dredging the wing back into the flour again.
  5. Lightly oil a baking rack and place on top of a baking sheet.
  6. Arrange wings on the baking rack and spray or drizzle the tops of the wings with a little more olive oil.
  7. Bake at 375°F for about 45 to 50 minutes, flipping the wing pieces half way through the cooking time.
  8. When the wings are crispy and fully cooked toss them into the *Maple Sriracha Sauce.
  9. *While the wings are baking, prepare your sauce by slowly simmering together the Sriracha and maple syrup. Let the sauce reduce to about a half cup.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/
PS – Now that my Dirty Birds are headed to the Super Bowl, I feel like it’s necessary to honor them with a special recipe of sorts – so check back next week for some more Super Bowl party inspiration!

Library List

One of my goals for 2017 is to read more and scroll thru Instagram (a little bit) less. 

I love getting wrapped up in a page-turner but very rarely make the time to sit down and enjoy the act of actually turning pages. Audio books on the other hand – are my jam.  This year, I’m going to make a conscious effort to read before bed instead of spending 45 minutes checking Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat again. While I have a growing list of books to check off my list, these are my top 5…

1* // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

Would love to hear your suggestions – feel free to leave in book recommendations in the comment section. 

*Editor’s note: I know The Shack is an oldie, but the movie is coming out in March which has motivated me to knock this one out first. 

Giveaway: Cocktail in a Box

In celebration of Gin & Jewels turning 2, I thought it would be appropriate to gift one of my readers a “Cocktail-in-a-Box” for my very first giveaway!

Gin // Lavender Grapefruit Bitters  // “Sweet Ginny” Sugar (for garnish) // Fever Tree Tonic 

Hammered Copper Mini Cocktail Shaker // Granada Tumblers

From a mini copper cocktail shaker to small-batch, local bitters – I’ve picked out all of my favorite things to help you create a delicious (& pretty) drink. All you need to do is find a friend to cheers with. 😉

To enter, scroll down and make sure you’re following Gin & Jewels on Facebook. You can receive extra entries by following G&J on Pinterest and Instagram too. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Hello from Highlands

Cheers to another girls weekend in the books!

If you can’t already tell from previous trips I’ve posted about, my friend group is made mostly of very organized planners. We send out “save-the-weekend” emails months in advance, meal plan, research restaurants and make reservations – I guess you could say we’re professional vacationers at this point. 😉 Even with some planning involved, our weekend in Highlands was super low-maintenance, with athleisure and pajamas being our primary uniform. We even canceled our Saturday night dinner reservation to watch football and eat pizza – it was wonderful!

One of our best tricks for keeping the weekends fuss free and easy going is divvying up the meals. I volunteered to make an appetizer and cocktail for Friday. I’d been itching to test out a recipe from my new cookbook (thanks, Sissy!) and thought our mountain weekend would be the perfect opportunity. Naturally, I chose something bacon-based.

I put together a platter of crostinis with whiskey bacon jam, Brie cheese and pear. Talk about a crowd-pleaser. I made the jam the day before, stored in a mason jar and packed all the fixings to whip up the crostinis Friday evening. Scroll down for the recipe! 

For the cocktail, I mixed up an herbal + citrus rendition of a Moscow mule – unofficially coining it The Highland Mule. I combined all the ingredients in a pitcher, set out some rosemary and sliced grapefruit for garnish, and kept ginger beer close by in the fridge to top everything off. Both treats were delicious and more importantly, easy to travel with. 

Whiskey Bacon Jam
spreadable bacon is the new kale
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Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1.5 lbs thick cut, peppered bacon
  2. 3 medium shallots
  3. 3 gloves of garlic
  4. 3/4 cup brewed coffee
  5. 1/3 cup whiskey
  6. 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  7. 4.5 Tbsp maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Chop bacon into 1-inch pieces and cook completely in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, stir occasionally.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. Pour out all but 1 Tbsp of bacon grease and add chopped shallots and mince garlic.
  4. Saute shallots and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Slowly pour in the brewed coffee, whiskey, light brown sugar and maple syrup. Stir well.
  6. Bring mixture to a boil and then turn heat to low, simmering for about 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
  7. Once the mixture has thickened and is almost glazelike, remove the pan from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.
  8. Combine mixture and cooked bacon in a food processor or blender.
  9. Pulse until the mixture is a spreadable consistency, with visible bits of bacon.
  10. Store in an air tight container in the fridge.
  11. For the crostini - spread jam on to toasted rounds of a French loaf. Top with slices of Brie cheese and pear.
  12. **This recipe yields about 7 oz. of jam.
Notes
  1. The jam is good in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Adapted from Ultimate Appetizer Ideabook
Adapted from Ultimate Appetizer Ideabook
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

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The most special part of the weekend was hiking to Sunset Rock, where our dear Allison is getting married this April (this was her first time seeing the ‘venue’!). We poured champagne, Alli made a toast and tears may or may not have been shed.  It seems the older we get, the more sentimental we become. I think we all cherish these weekends because we know in a few short years it will be husbands and children occupying most of our time and girls trips will be few and far between. So until then, we’ll load down the car with cases of wine and pimento cheese and trek to any city, cabin, condo we can!

Check out our first girls trip to Highlands, NC here and last year’s staycation here!

P.S. Don’t forget to check back this afternoon (3 pm EST) for an exciting giveaway! 

Links, Lately

My little corner of the internet is officially two years old!

I’m so grateful to all of you for keeping up with this little hobby of mine. It sure brings me a lot of joy and I hope it does for you too! So, in honor of blogging about (mostly) cocktails for two years – I’m thrilled to host my very first giveaway! Be sure to check back Monday for the details. Spoiler alert – you must be 21 or older to enter. 😉

/ / /

Moving on – I’m spending the weekend with my best girlfriends in Highland, North Carolina for our semi-annual girl’s weekend and cannot wait for some R&R with mountain views. Follow along on Instagram & Snapchat – it’s sure to be entertaining!  I’ll be sharing photos and two tasty recipes from our trip Monday. But in the meantime, here are your links for the week…

Another week, another hilarious Bachelor recap.

Watching this person decorate cookies is deliciously hypnotizing.

Because I’m feeling extra happy and sassy today, this letter should give you all the feels.

TIME rounds up the best memes from the Golden Globes.

Here’s every avocado hack you will ever need to know. You’re welcome.

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend! See you back here on Monday.

Chandler in the Making

Once a chandler, always a chandler…

I’ve officially reached the peak of my old lady-ish ways – I made homemade candles for holiday gifting. I’m not going to even act embarrassed because it was damn fun.

Candle-making is a trial and error type project, but once you perfect your measurements and temperatures – you’re golden. I purchased all my supplies from Candle Science and couldn’t be more pleased with their quality and ship timing. Their site proved to be an excellent resource for tips and supplies. Who knew there were four types of wicks!?

Wax // Wick //  Jar // Thermometer // Pitcher // Scale

Rose // Citrus Basil // Gardenia // Lavender Cucumber Sage

Here are my no-fail tips for making candles that are pretty enough to gift:

  1. Create a clean work space, protect said work space from potential wax spillage and lay out all your supplies.
  2. Before heating the wax – get setup. Prep your jars by adhering the wick to the bottom of the container.
  3. To make three 8oz candles, you will need 1lb of wax. If you don’t have a scale, 1lb of wax is equivalent to about 5-6 heaping cups.
  4. Place your pouring pitcher (filled with wax flakes) in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Once the wax starts to melt, heat the wax to 185° F.
  5. Once melted wax reaches 185° F, let the wax cool to about 160° F and add 1oz of your chosen fragrance. Mix well with a whisk.
  6. Continue to let the wax cool to 135° F, then carefully pour the wax evenly into your jars.
  7. Secure the wick to ensure it says straight and centered with a clothes pin.
  8. For best results, let your candles cure at room temperature overnight.
  9. Trim wick to ¼ in. before lighting. Be sure to trim your wick before each burn.

#CrazyCandleLady Tip – always allow your candles (homemade or store bought) to burn completely to the rim. This will ensure that no wax is waiting and the candle will burn clean. If you blow your candle out too soon, you will eventually be left with a “cave” and wall of wax that never burns evenly – such a waste.

I completed my candle craft, with self-designed labels (& cocktail-themed names), personalized matchboxes and the prettiest tissue wrap from Target. 

For more details, check out Candle Science’s step-by-step guide.

Editor’s Note: I made about 20 candles (8oz) with 10lbs of wax. 1lb of wax needs 1oz of fragrance.

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Links, Lately

All eyes are on Atlanta. 

| last weekend’s wall decor – I love a good mylar champagne bottle. |

Which can only mean one thing – a snow storm” is in our near future. By snow storm, I mean maybe 2 inches that will melt within hours of touching down. Either way, this frosty weather will shut down the city which leaves me no other option but to drink bottles on bottles of wine and watch Netflix under my coziest blanket.

Here are the links for the week…

The best tweets from Monday’s episode of The Bachelor. 

<insert praise hand emoji> for Viola Davis’ Walk of Fame speech

White House photog, Peter Souza shares his favorite photos from 2016. Would it be weird if I framed the one of President Obama and George Clooney? It’s just too good. 

Exciting news re: Nordstrom’s beauty department!

Don’t forget to set your dVR’s – the Golden Globes are Sunday. 🙂 

To all my dear Atlantans – stay warm, y’all. 

Asheville

Eat well, travel often they say!

| image

The week before Christmas, Stacey, Morgan and I took a short trip to Asheville, North Carolina. We stayed in the cutest cabin in Black Mountain (compliments of Morgan’s family friend – thank you, Ms. Lisa!), ate a lot of delicious food and drank an excessive amount of craft beer. When in Asheville, amiright?

I love a mountain town (much preferred over a beach) and instantly fell in love the “San Fran of the South.” Here’s a little photo diary of how we (quite literally) ate our way through Asheville in 36 hours.

 

Not to sound dramatic, but our meal at Cúrate (coo-rah-tay) was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. If you find yourself in Asheville, I highly recommend making a dinner reservation. Our server guided us through their vast, yet thoughtful, tapas menu and made suggestions on what to order and when. Who knew fried eggplant (berenjenas la taberna) pairs perfectly with rosemary ice cream? Our waiter knew, that’s who – God bless him. They have an extensive wine list but I set my sights on a gin + tonic … naturally. They serve you a generous pour of gin over ice with a cucumber slice and juniper berries then give you a Fevertree Tonic to add to your liking.

Saturday was spent hopping from brewery to brewery. I was pleasantly surprised on how affordable beer flights were. Asheville is definitely one of the more cost-friendly destinations I’ve visited lately. (Looking at you, San Francisco…breaking my bank!) First stop was Wicked Weed, then Green Man, and lastly Burial Beer Co. Not sure if it was a blessing or a curse that my phone died before our last stop. 😉 

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Where We Ate

La Guinguette

Nightbell

Cúrate

Well-Bred Bakery & Cafe

The Corner Kitchen

Rhubarb

 

Where We Drank

Wicked Weed Brewing

Burial Beer Co.

Green Man Brewery

Have you been to Asheville? Would love to know your favorite spots! 

Twenty Seventeen

Anyone else waste away New Year’s Day watching movies and eating black eyed peas Chinese food?

| Loving my Lightbox, the cutest gift from Meredyth. |

…asking for a friend.  

Apologies for the radio silence, you guys. I’ve been on an accidental hiatus the past few weeks and have been enjoying the holidays. I must admit, the new year snuck up on me. One minute I felt like I had all the time in the world and then the next minute, it’s January 2nd and I’m on my 3rd movie in 24 hours wondering where my motivation is at. New Year’s resolution #1 – more posts, less procrastinating. 😉

So I hope you’re excited for what G&J has in store for 2017. Check back Wednesday for a new post and in the meantime, shake up this rose-infused cocktail because The Bachelor is back tonight!