Style

Patriotic

Patriotic

One.  YSL Lipstick in #13 Le Orange:  One of my favorite reds.  A classic red-orange lipstick.

Two.  J. McLaughlin Wicker Bag:  This has sold out at least once already.  Wicker (or basket) bags are the it bag for this summer.

Three.  Jack Rogers Shelby Wedge:  A great staple that will go with everything this summer.

Four.  J. McLaughlin Off-the-shoulder Striped Dress:  Want so bad!

Five.  Mikimoto Pearl Earrings: I wear these almost every day!

Six.  Essie Nail Polish in Flashed

 

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Cocktails

Pliny’s Tonic

Anvil has consistently been a top bar in Houston.  Shortly after it opened years ago, I selected the Pliny’s Tonic one night. It’s been my favorite cocktail ever since.  In fact, I’ve asked for this cocktail at other bars around town, and the bartender knew what it was and made it for me!  That’s right.  It’s famous.  I found a couple of recipes online and thought I’d make and tweak.  However, I discovered no tweaking was necessary!  It tasted exactly like my beloved Pliny’s Tonic!  I used Kindred Cocktail’s and Texas Highway’s recipes (they were identical).  I also found this recipe from Stay at Home Cocktails, which looks like it’s worth a shot.

One Pliny

Overhead Pliny

Pliny's Side

I made the Habanero Simple Syrup over the weekend.  It was super easy.  Don’t be afraid of customized simple syrups.  They really do make the cocktail.  I was a little worried about finding the Bittermen’s Hellfire Habanero Shrub, but Spec’s came through again.  Spec’s also had some cute cocktail glasses (think old school champagne cocktail glass with the wide top) that looked perfect for this.  I think they were about $5 each.  I wish I had bought a couple.

Hendricks group

Hendrick’s Gin is the gin I see most often listed in gin cocktails, and this recipe was no different.  Quality, people.  The recipe was a little unclear on the amount of lime to use (muddle one quarter of lime or two?), so I went with two.  I tried it with only 3 drops of the Hellfire Shrub first, but it definitely needs 4 drops if you go with two quarters of lime.  Also, I made two batches of the cocktail.  It makes only a tiny bit!  A strip of cucumber rind on a cocktail toothpick would have been a cute garnish.  As a final note, don’t skimp on the mint!

Definitely check out Anvil if you’re ever in Houston!

Sweets

Blueberry Cheesecake

Sunday afternoon I decided to try my hand at cheesecake.  I think I’ve made one or two before.  I distinctly remember an incredibly rich Red Velvet Cheesecake I made many years ago.  In typical Mary fashion, I mixed and matched a couple recipes to make my own masterpiece. I used Call Me PMC’s Ultimate Cheesecake recipe as a base with Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Blueberry Sauce to make the swirl and topping.  Truly a showstopper!

Whole Cake OverheadOverhead Side CheesecakeWhole Cheesecake Side

For serving, I topped with more Blueberry Sauce, freshly-made whipped cream (whip 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream with 1 tbsp. of sugar) and mint!

Overhead One Piece

Looks wonderful, doesn’t it? Now on to the bad news.  The center didn’t set! The top and sides were just fine, but when I cut into the cheesecake, the center was still too creamy.  *Tear*  I cooked the cheesecake for about 10-15 minutes longer than the base recipe called for.  The center still looked a bit jiggly, but both recipes noted this was typical.  I left the cheesecake in the oven with the door cracked for at least another hour also.

Given my total disregard for my own well-being stemming from my inability to resist sweets, I still ate some! And I loved it!  Thus, I advise baking this much longer than the base recipe states because this cheesecake is definitely a winner with some tweaking! Of course, every oven is different, so practice makes perfect as far as knowing how the cheesecake should look once done.  Below are some very sad photos showing the undercooked center.  View at your own risk! *Sad emoji*

Inside CheesecakeFront One Piece

Learning through failure is valuable, indeed.  I’m looking forward to more cheesecake adventures to come!

Cocktails, Weekend Update

Weekend Update: Coltivare and Salentein Malbec

Thursday morning was rainy, but it cleared up enough that night for a bike ride around Woodland Heights after happy hour at Karbach Brewery with my new coworkers.  Woodland Heights is such a dream land.  I’ve love to own a home there to raise a family one day!  I’m always a sucker for a tree canopy.

Woodland Heights

Friday was beautiful in Houston.  Unfortunately, I was so tired after such a busy week that I had only enough energy to have a glass of wine before hitting the hay early.

Downtown

I picked up a bottle of this 2015 Salentein Malbec.  I had this wine awhile back on a date and liked it so much I snapped a photo of the label.  Since I’m on a Malbec kick, I was checking out the selection and was happy to see this wine stocked!  It was as good as I remember.

Salentein Malbec

In tasting, I noticed cherry and spice.  I’m not sure if I prefer this wine or the Trivento Malbec I tried last week, but I think I’m leaning toward the Trivento; it seemed a bit less acidic, and I like fruitier wines. Both are very good!

Saturday night I went to Coltivare, one of my (now) favorite restaurants, for a second date.  It was very busy, so we hung out in the garden area for cocktails while we waited for a table.  I had the Cash Only which was good but mainly ice.  Think adult snow cone.  Once we were seated I had an excellent red wine.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take note of what it was! For the meal, we tried the Focaccia with Olive Oil, Texas Corn on the Cob, Wood Grilled Chicken with Grapes, Ricotta Gnocchi and famous Black Pepper Spaghetti.  Everything was incredible.  The corn had a sauce that was incredible and the Wood Grilled Chicken had a distinct flavor that I haven’t been able to put out of my mind.  The Black Pepper Spaghetti lived up to the hype and was perfect in its simplicity.  I think this was the best meal I’ve had at Coltivare, and I can’t wait to go back again!

I’m planning on getting back on track with posting this week.  I made an incredible cheesecake today for Tuesday’s post, and I whipped up some Habanero Simple Syrup for Thursday’s cocktail post.

 

WCW

Tina Fey

I don’t think I really need to tell you who this lady is.  Between co-hosting Weekend Update on SNL, playing Sarah Palin on SNL (“I can see Russia from my house” will live on for years to come), starring in 30 Rock and authoring Bossypants, Ms. Fey is now a household name.  Let’s not forget all the writing she’s done for SNL and 30 Rock either.  I loved her portrayal of Kim Baker in Whisky Tango Foxtrot as well.  I listened to the audiobook version of Bossypants recently, and I was so charmed by her humility.  Not only is she hilarious, but she has a great head on her shoulders.  I have to also mention that I think she’s beautiful.  The lady can wear a gown like nobody’s business.

Ms. Fey doesn’t really fit in a box, and I love that about her.  I feel a kinship with her about that.  She’s funny, she’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s a great writer, and she’s a great actress.  She can do it all!  She’s okay with her nerdiness, because she’s so into what she’s doing that she doesn’t care what anyone thinks.  We all nerd out about something, and that’s okay.  In fact, that’s awesome – to be that into what you’re doing.  Passion is everything.  Ms. Fey embodies this mindset.

Looking at her work collectively, there is a theme here – strong women.  And that’s the best part about Ms. Fey:  She is a strong woman, she plays strong women doing their thing with no consideration for what everyone else thinks, and she builds up other women (see: her friendship with Amy Poehler.  I mean, friendship goals all the way).  Strong women helping other women.  I like that.  For consistently inspiring other women to go for it, Ms. Fey is my WCW.