Sunday, April 28, 2013

How to get guilt-free cocktails

I have had a recent obsession with mojitos. I can't get enough. Could be the arrival of spring, but they so fresh and so clean.

My mom is coming to visit soon and she loves mojitos about as much as I do. So I will make her some! But today is not so much about the cocktail, as it is the ingredients. I'm always trying to create a more well-rounded bar in my home, but it's quite the investment, so I've been doing it ever so slowly. I'm making a simple syrup to keep around for cocktails. Since my mom is a bit more calorie conscious than I am, I thought I'd make a Stevia version. I read online that there are two different styles of simple syrup. The 1:1 ratio of sugar to water is "simple syrup," or there is the 2:1 ratio that is "rich syrup," which is supposedly the more preferred version among bartenders. Today, I used the 1:1 because artificial sweeteners tend to be sweeter than natural sugar.

I measured how much my container could hold. Then, I boiled water. In a small bowl, I poured 1 cup of Stevia and 1 cup hot water and stirred. Should be a useful recipe in the coming summer months.
:P < drunk face


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lightened Up Mac N Cheese

I have had a crazy craving for mac n cheese lately. Like the good, super cheesy, baked kind (not that boxed stuff). So I went on a hunt for a "healthier" version of a mac n cheese recipe, and found one on Eat Yourself Skinny. I was super excited about it and decided to make it for the fam last night.

Here's What You Need:

1 (14.5 oz) box Ronzoni Smart Taste elbow macaroni
1/2 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
4 Tbsp reduced-fat grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz. grated sharp cheddar
4 oz. fat-free cream cheese
1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

First preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil...while you wait you can mix your dry ingredients:  In a small bowl, combine Italian breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan cheese and the chopped parsley together and set aside. 

Now if things go for you the way they always seem to go for me, and your water takes FOREVER to boil, you can take this time to measure out all of your ingredients. I was actually able to do all of my chopping and measuring while I waited. And if your water still hasn't boiled, do like me and crack open a beer and enjoy while you wait. 

Once your water is boiling, add macaroni and cauliflower. Cook until macaroni is done, then drain, but RESERVE half a cup of the water from the pasta.

Place cheddar, cream cheese, 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, half-and-half, salt and pepper in the already heated pot you just used and mix in the macaroni and cauliflower. Stir until pasta is well coated, then add the water you reserved from the pasta.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9x13 pan. 

Then top with your dry mixture. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Now I'm going to say here that I was not actually all too thrilled with the end result. It wasn't bad, just kind of plain. The parent's claimed to like it, but it's possible they were just being nice. If I make this again I will definitely be adding more herbs and spices to it to ramp up the flavor a bit. But maybe it's just me.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Designer Arsenal: Reference Books

Books are great. I love books. I especially love having reference/inspiration books handy. So I thought I would share some books that I have collected over the years.

One book that simply covers the basics of design is Idea Index: Graphic Effects and Typographic Treatments by Jim Krause. It's a fun pocket sized book that makes for easy travel if you are in school and covers simple type treatments.

A book that I was assigned in school was Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon Mackenzie. It is a great little book that can help you get out of creative funks. It kind of helps you remember to think outside the box and not get weighed down by your projects. 

Some other books that I was assigned in school were type specific. And boy do I need help in that area, to this day. Any designer knows that type is extremely important to any design and it is not something to glaze over. So far as I am concerned the more you can learn about it, the better. A couple of books for type are: Thinking With Type by Ellen Upton and Making and Breaking the Grid by Timothy Samara.

In the realm of type, but more along the lines of inspiration rather than instruction are Just My Type by Simon Garfield and Typography Sketchbook by Steven Heller. The latter I actually just got for the BF and it is AWESOME. I had half a mind to keep it for myself, but it has some really awesome images for inspiration.

In terms of general inspiration a great one that was given to me was Everything That Can Happen in a Day by David Horvitz. This one is not so much solely graphic design inspiration, but general creative/think about things in a new way kind of inspiration. It's an all around a fun book, so definitely recommend picking that one up.

I also subscribe to Graphic Design USA, which is a nice way to keep up on trends and things happening in the industry. Plus a bonus is, if you are in the industry, they send you a subscription for free, so can't beat that.