Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Red, White & Blue Jello Cups

The 4th of July is almost here! I'm looking forward to the grilling, the fun in the sun, and just a day to kick back with family and friends. And oh yes, the fireworks!

When it comes to 4th of July entertaining, the red, white, and blue are a must. I especially think it's a plus when the festive touch is the edible sort. Inspired by the idea of a patriotic jello (is there such a thing?) these red, white & blue jello cups would be a proud dessert to bring to any 4th of July party or to serve at your own.

I wanted to make this the perfect party dessert--minimal effort for maximum impact. The recipe is so easy (most of the work will be done by your refrigerator) and can be made ahead of time. Also, making jello in single serving cups means no portioning, scooping, or serving is needed, nor is cleaning up!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Finds

For those of you gearing up for some shopping this weekend, here are some of my recent favorite finds. Chosen for their style and function, I didn't realize these items also happen to be in similar color families until I was putting the collage together.

My usual go-to summer hues are vibrant pinks, citrus yellows, and delicious reds. But lately I've been loving the cool and relaxed shades of blues and greens Somewhere inside, I must be really yearning for the water :)

1. Hand dyed shibori linen pillow, $57.94, Etsy
I am a huge fan of shibori, a Japanese fabric dyeing technique (which most of us are familiar with as tie-dye). In classic indigo, the blue is so calming and reminds me of a deep well of pure, cool water. With the right pattern, like the one used for this pillow, a traditional style readily adapts to a modern home.

2. Tiki stacking glasses, $5.95 each, CB2
The moment I saw these drinking glasses in the CB2 catalog, I was smiling. How fun! Stacked together, they remind me of a totem pole, alone they're simply adorable. Perfect for any summer gathering, who wouldn't smile when they're drinking from these?

3. T-strap wedge sandals, $79, Nine West (currently on sale for $49.99, available in other colors)

I just got a pair of these sandals in the natural color and I love them. A 1.5in stacked wedge heel gives enough lift to lengthen your legs and dress up any outfit, yet are still comfortable enough that I could literally walk around all day in them. I will be pairing these with dresses, pants, shorts... you name it!

4. King cube silicone ice trays, $7.99 and up, Amazon.com (available in more than a dozen colors)

It's official: king size 2" ice cubes are a must-have for every kitchen. Tired of regular ice cubes diluting your drink? Problem solved, these will keep your soda or whiskey chilled and at full strength. Sick of drinking weak iced coffee? Problem solved, make coffee ice cubes with these and you will be icing your coffee with more coffee. Making a pitcher of iced tea? A bowl of punch for a party? Throw a couple of these in and you're set.

5. Woven tribal print clutch, $9.80, Forever 21
At less than $10, this is an easy pick for a summer accessory. The tribal print keeps it fun and the indigo and white keep it clean and understated, making it work for both day and night.

What's your favorite find so far this summer?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spicy Sichuan Cucumber Salad

Growing up in Chengdu, Sichuan, the summers were relentlessly hot and humid. The summers in NJ can be just as brutal. Whenever the temperatures rise, the last thing I want to do is to hover over a stove and put my sweat into making a meal (literally). That's why a Sichuan style liang ban dish is my go-to recipe for these hot summer days.

The literal translation for liang ban is "cold mix"; a liang ban dish is always served cold at room temperature. It is essentially a salad, usually with shredded or sliced vegetables, but cooked meats or noodles can also be used. It typically serves as a simple and flavorful side dish, much like a Korean banchan.