Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad

burrata1

Summer might be coming to a close, but there’s no way I’m letting go of this recipe. My roommate and I first stumbled across this Caprese salad-cousin in what is quickly becoming one of our favorite restaurants in Madison, Pig in a Fur Coat (if you live in or visit the area, you must go – get the burrata and the poutine…and everything). This salad, a combination of burrata cheese, heirloom tomatos, and ground cherries, is simple but oh so delicious. The secret is in the flavorful twist on the typical ingredients.

burrata2

Madison happens to be the home of the largest producers-only (as in no resale) farmers’ market in the United States, which is an amazing source of fresh produce (and my personal guilty pleasure – cheese). That being said, you can pick up many of these ingredients in other farmers’ markets and even chain supermarkets like Trader Joe’s! The ground cherries, something I had never even heard of before ordering this salad, are sold all over the farmers’ market and are probably my new favorite vegetable. Tiny and covered by a light husk, these tomatoes are shockingly sweet and decidedly delicious.

burrata3

For this salad to be at its best, the ingredients should be really fresh – nice firm tomatoes, freshly cut basil. While I enjoy Caprese salad, I often find the mozzarella a little too rubbery for my taste, which is why burrata is the absolute best – a thin mozzarella outer layer containing rich, moist cream on the inside.

Ingredients

  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Burrata cheese
  • Ground cherries
  • Basil
  • Balsamic vinegar (reduced or glaze)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/pepper to taste

I haven’t included measurements because this salad is all about shaping it to taste. For my roommate’s and my salads, I chopped up one (very large) heirloom tomato and gave us each a burrata ball.

burrata4

To prepare this salad, just chop up the tomato(es) and spread them around in a bowl or on a plate with the burrata. Sprinkle plenty of ground cherries around, and make sure to garnish with your favorite combination of basil, balsamic, olive oil, salt or pepper.

burrata5

I hope you like it!

Ginny


Cake Batter Popcorn

cake batter popcorn

I made this popcorn a couple of times last summer whenever Lucas and I went to outdoor movies together (we both have major sweet-tooths). It’s pretty simple, the one real issue is making sure that the white chocolate doesn’t clump or burn, and very delicious (as long as you like white chocolate). That being said, my roommate would disagree, mostly because she hates color, sugar, fun, and happiness.

birthday cake popcorn

Ingredients (so simple!)

  • Popcorn
  • White chocolate or almond bark squares
  • Rainbow sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Pop your popcorn and separate out unpopped kernels. I stupidly bought microwave popcorn, momentarily forgetting that we don’t actually have a microwave in our new apartment. If you’re also handicapped, don’t worry, you can pop popcorn in a room pot on the stove top, just add a little oil and make sure to shake the corn and watch it carefully.
  2. Melt the white chocolate. You can either melt in the microwave (although you have to be very watchful) or create a double boiler on your stove top. To make a double boiler, heat up a pot of water and place a bowl (metal or glass works fine) on top of the pot. As the water heats up and begins to gently boil, place the chopped up chocolate in the bowls.
  3. Toss the popcorn in the white chocolate. Once the chocolate is fully melted, toss the popcorn and chocolate together in a bowl, and spread over waxed paper. Before the chocolate dries, sprinkle the popcorn liberally with sprinkles.
  4. Break and serve the popcorn. To speed up drying time, put your popcorn in the fridge or freezer. Once it’s hardened, break apart the popcorn and put it either in bowls to serve or bags to store. Enjoy!

birthday cake popcorn
I made this batch to serve at my housewarming party as a cute, sweet snack and took the leftovers to see Wall-E as an outdoor movie on Monday night. I love how sweet it is – and how happy the rainbow sprinkles make me feel.

birthday cake popcorn

Cheers,

Ginny


Happiness is…(saying goodbye)

hedgehog bread

Living in a new city can make you miss the little things you cherished back home. I’ll miss all the quaint, local shops I’ve come to love over the years (including Witherspoon Bread Company’s adorable hedgehog bread pictured above), but I also know this is just another opportunity to discover new places to love.

orchids duke gardens

These orchids are from one of the last trips Lucas and I took together before our respective moves. We visited Duke Farms, a beautiful old estate in New Jersey that now serves as a model of local environmental stewardship. If you ever visit (and you should), make sure to bring a bike. It’s over 2,000 acres of rolling country filled with fountains, sculptures, greenhouses and nature trails.

mint pumps

Part of moving meant that I had to sort through literal tons of clothing that I’ve hoarded over the years. Most were either garbage or donation ready, but every once in a while I would find hidden treasure, like these beige and mint polka dot/heart pumps that probably haven’t seen the light of day since sophomore year of high school.

I love that this move has given me opportunity to sort both literally and physically through my past and dream about my future.

Cheers,

Ginny


Bon Voyage

retro vintage hawaiian dress
I’m a couple days away from my move to Wisconsin, so of course travel is on my mind. But also tropical prints. Lots and lots of tropical prints. While sorting through the endless bins of crafting and sewing scraps in my house, I found a decent amount of yardage of this very cute Hawaiian print fabric. And by decent, I mean enough to craft into a modern re-imagining of a retro sundress.

retro vintage hawaiian dress

I used New Look 6799 as my pattern, which was actually a very simple pattern to make (once you get past the darts. Darts are the worst).

retro vintage hawaiian dress

The fabric is a very soft cotton with bright tropical flowers printed with illustrated postcard shots of “Honolulu Hotel.”

retro vintage hawaiian dress

I chose to pair the dress with a black and white wide-brimmed sunhat from Forever 21, and purple suede heels from Guess that I originally bought to match my Winter Formals dress.

retro vintage hawaiian dress

I love how old-school and glamorous this dress feels, especially paired with these accessories and a bold red lip. I think we could all use a sprinkle more of glamour in our everyday lives.

retro vintage hawaiian dress

Cheers,

Ginny


Twenty-two Goals

Mexican embroidery dress

{wearing a thrifted embroidered dress, ray bans, and holding my new Ikea pineapple glasses}

While most people tend to make new goals at the start of the traditional new year, I find that it’s never a bad idea to reevaluate and reinforce any resolutions I have made. As I start my 22nd year (feeling happy/free/confused/lonely – love you, Taylor), I find myself excited more than anything, and a little apprehensive. The following is a list of goals I’ve compiled for my next year – some general, some concrete, some fun, some difficult.

Personal Goals
1) Maintain relationships – and make new ones! (I’m terrible at keeping in touch – I will change this).
2) Create a fitness routine and stick to it.
3) Become a friendlier person – I’m an introvert raised in the often slightly frigid East Coast. Hopefully, moving to the Midwest will help melt my icy shyness.
4) Embrace change and think (a lot) more about the future.
5) Be more communicative – talk more to people and have more meaningful talks.
6) Become a more positive person.

Blog Goals:
7) Write an average of 2-3 posts a week (also one of my Twenty in my Twenties goals.)
8) Become more involved in the blogging community (host giveaways, guest blog, and join interest groups)
9) Learn to code in CSS and HTML
10) Start new regular features
11) Continue making every month bigger than the last

Mexican embroidery dress

Sewing/Crafting Goals:
12) Learn more advanced sewing techniques
13) Reupholster a chair (hopefully happening soon!)
14) Make vintage-style hat (I have so many patterns – I just need to make one of them!)
15) Create an inspiring yet organized creative space
16) Customize a dress pattern with a muslin

Miscellaneous Goals
17) Go on a real (hopefully tropical) vacation!
18) Get to know Madison – I want to take advantage of this change in scenery and not let the cold keep me down.
19) Visit the Cheese Museum in Wisconsin (I love cheese. I could literally live only on cheese – some years I have.).
20) Cull and cultivate my closet – I want to love (and reasonably use) every single piece in my wardrobe by my 23rd birthday
21) Visit my friends and family (and explore other parts of the U.S. at the same time).
22) Join a team or group of some sort, whether volleyball (a new-found love), knitting, a book group, what-have-you.

Mexican embroidery dress

Here’s hoping that 22 will be exciting and fulfilling!

Cheers,

Ginny


A Trip to the Beach

Artisan Donuts at Dough Hut

This past week my family, Lucas, and I went to the beach for mini-vacation at my uncle’s beach house in Long Beach, Long Island. As Charles Dickens’ once wrote, “It was the best of [weeks], it was the worst of [weeks]“. My uncle’s house doesn’t have air conditioning, which, in conjunction with the recent heat wave, was unbearable. Luckily, we also had the ocean. It’s a toss up.

While there, Lucas and I tried a new doughnut shop, Dough Hut, and sampled every single one of their flavors. My personal favorites included Maple Bacon and Vanilla Crumb, while Lucas liked Pistachio and Jelly.

DIY Bottle Cap Mural

Long Beach was hit pretty hard by Hurricane Sandy, so it’s nice seeing it get back on its feet. There’s more art around, including this cute (and resourceful) mural on a low dividing wall. It’s made of thousands of bright bottle caps.

Essie Bikini So Teeny

I also got my traditional beach mani/pedi while there in Essie’s Bikini So Teeny. (Pictured with my own personal almost-matching teeny bikini).

Rockaway Taco

We also made a stop at family-favorite Rockaway Taco to get their delicious fish tacos. They are simply divine. I highly recommend visiting (except not while I’m there, because that place is crowded enough as it is, thanksverymuch).

Rockaway Taco Fish Taco

How are you beating the heat?

Cheers,

Ginny


I’m Feeling 22: Tea Party Edition

summertime tea party

This past weekend I celebrated my 22nd birthday with what has now become a birthday tradition – an excessively long and filling tea party. After what must have been my fourth or fifth party (I’ve kind of lost track of when it started), the routine’s settled. The guests change a little, the sandwiches, tea, and desserts vary, but the base of it remains the same: four delicious and individually filling courses stretched across three hours or more of laughs, gossip, and good times.

I got the inspiration from a high tea I attended years ago at the Chateau Frontenac, a beautiful hotel at the heart of Old Quebec City. I was about 11 at the time, and, as my dad likes to point out, completely floored by the experience (I didn’t speak above a low whisper for the duration of the meal out of fear that my vocal vibrations would break something beautiful). My backyard tea party has become a far more casual meal (especially since I usually rely on the guests to help me create it), but infinitely more satisfying.

summertime tea party

If you’re looking for a template for a tea party, I find that mine works very well. In my opinion, the best tea parties are smaller, intimate affairs (I don’t like to have more than six people at mine) set in nice locations (we lounge on my parent’s back porch for hours staring at the summer blooms). Aesthetically, I prefer the hodge-podge of mismatching teacups and teapots, tableclothes and napkins, but that’s up to your taste (it’s also a lot easier if you happen to be like me and my mother and collect random pretty elements that don’t necessarily make up a whole set).

For me, the first course consists of three types of tea sandwiches. This year, I did cucumbers, cream cheese, scallions, and red onion, apples and brie, and ham, cheddar, and mayonnaise, but in the past I’ve also done pear and blue cheese and lox and cream cheese. I like to use white bread – it’s both aesthetically nicer and more reminiscent of childhood – with the crusts cut off. After preparing the sandwiches normally, cut them along the diagonals so that each sandwich is a cute obtuse triangle.

summertime tea party

The second course is always scones. I’ve used store-bought scones in the past, but this year my friend William (who also happens to be a tea fanatic and provided delicious tea for the party) made some homemade scones for us in the shape of teapots. Scones are incomplete without delicious spreads, and if you choose sweet (not savory) scones, I would recommend buying some good jam (I like Bonne Maman’s raspberry preserves) and some clotted cream. If you’ve never had clotted cream before (I believe it’s far more popular in the British Isle than in the U.S.), you need to buy a jar right away. Eat all of it, and then don’t buy another jar for the rest of the year because don’t be crazy, that stuff will kill you. Lather your scones liberally with it.

After two carb-heavy courses and lots of tea (no lie – we usually go through about two teapots per course so we’re getting pretty jittery at this point), you need to take a break. That’s where the berry course comes in. If you’re doing this in the winter I would substitute more seasonal fruits, but for a summer tea party, a sweet and tart berry medley is a perfect palate cleansing course. My mother has these adorable glass pear dishes, so I pile a carton each of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries into the five or six pears. If you feel like you haven’t consumed enough fat yet (and that would probably mean you haven’t eaten any clotted cream, so, shame on you), you could make some homemade whipped cream to top the berries. I decided it wasn’t really necessary.

summertime tea party

The final course is dessert. In the past, I’ve bought pre-made petit-four cakes and made coconut macaroons. This year, I bought Linzer tart cookies and almond macaroons from a local bakery. Other great cookie choices include the ever-popular macarons, palmiers, or, as Lucas suggested, Argentine alfajores (you really can’t go wrong with dulce de leche). You probably won’t need many desserts, since everyone’s stomachs should be busting at the seams at this point, but why would you say no to leftovers? That’s right, you wouldn’t.

Tea parties often come down to the details, so I love to round out the party with cute elements like sugar cubes instead of loose sugar and cake stands (both real and improvised). Ultimately, you don’t want to stress out about any one thing. Just enjoy the tea, the food, the company, and the chance to just kick back and relax for a few hours. Also, remember to wear a hat. A tea party is nothing without hats.

summertime tea party

Do you have any recommendations for further tweaks on tea parties or backyard parties in general? I’m always looking to improve mine.

Cheers,

Ginny


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