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BOURBON CIDER SMASH

BAP_4253Happy New Year’s Eve, babe-trons! Have y’all been making your list of resolutions? We certainly have! No matter if you are going out or staying in and doing something casual, this lovely little Bourbon Cider Smash must be a part of your celebrations!

With just a hint of hibiscus from the cider mixed with that warming feeling of bourbon makes for a lovely little start to the new year! Here’s the catch, while this drink can be reproduced with any of your favorite hard ciders, we really recommend Awestruck because of their insanely good flavored hops. That might sound gross, but their Lavender and Hibiscus & Ginger varieties are out of this world! I guess you’ll just have to try it out to believe me! xoxo – LK
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INGREDIENTS:

– Bottle of Awestruck Cider (we used Hibiscus Ginger, but any flavor will do!)

– Your favorite Bourbon

– 1 Apple

BAP_4395INSTRUCTIONS:

– Pour a jigger full of bourbon into each glass

– Top off with chilled Awestruck cider. We used their Hibiscus Ginger variety as the flavors add a little something special to the drink!

– If cider isn’t chilled, add a few ice cubes

– Garnish with a thinly sliced apple

– Serve, sip, repeat!

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lauren button
BELEN BUTTON

HALLOWEEN COCKTAIL | THE GRAVEYARD

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If you’ve been following our spooktacular Halloween cocktail concoctions (and we hope you have!), you’ve seen the Scary Bloody Mary, the (dangerous, but lovely) Josephine, and the (fan favorite) Pumpkin Spice Martini. As Halloween is right around the corner, we thought we would kill this series (see what I did there) with another fun treat. Meet the Graveyard!

Typically known as a Reverse Manhattan, this delicious Halloween cocktail will keep those goblins & ghouls coming back for more! So whether you are laying low or hosting a monster mash, the Graveyard is a must have. The best part? It’s made with the oldest whiskey in America! Don’t worry, it won’t break the bank but it will impress your friends & your taste buds. In fact, that’s why we love it. Killer flavor for a steal – we are in! See the full recipe & get inspired to make your own below…
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INGREDIENTS:

-2 oz. vermouth (preferably Foro)
-1 oz. rye whiskey (preferably Michter’s)
-2 dashes Angostura bitters
-1 Amarena cherry

BAP_8055cocktail2INSTRUCTIONS:

-Pour your Foro vermouth, Michter’s rye whiskey, and  bitters in an ice-filled shaker

-Stir gently

-Strain into an old-fashioned glass with a large ice cube; garnish with an Amarena cherry

-Serve, sip, repeat!

BAP_8101BAP_8127Thinking about making The Graveyard this Halloween (or tonight, let’s be honest)? Let us know! You know the drill – try it out & tag us! We (seriously!) would love to see your concoction, so make sure to tag @laurenkelp! BAP_8151


lauren kelp author buttonBELEN BUTTONThis post is sponsored by Michter’s Whiskey but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.

HOW TO MAKE A PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE

starbucks 5It’s no secret that Fall is my absolute favorite season of a time & October is my most favorite month. The colors are perfect, it’s finally time to bust out those adorable sweaters and boots you’ve been coveting all year, and the flavors of this season are amazing. You’ve probably also gathered that we here at LK HQ are coffee hounds. We devised a test to see what type of coffee drinker we are & we are obsessed with mastering the perfect pour over.

 

Indulging in the celebrated Pumpkin Spice Latte during fall may be cliche, but it’s delicious so I don’t care. But lines get manic and October seems to be a bit of a hectic month all around. Thankfully, the fabulous folks at Starbucks understood our time vs line dilemma and sent over the most fabulous Fall goodies for us to sample. The most surprising of which was the Via Ready Brew Pumpkin Spice Latte mix.

 

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Absolutely doubting that it wouldn’t be even close to the real thing, we whipped up a cup almost immediately and I was totally amazed. It’s amazing! It’s less sweet than the drink is in stores, it takes about 2 seconds to make, and not only is it a time saver, you save a bunch of money as well! For $8 you get 6 packets, which is basically the cost of a Venti in stores.

starbucks4I know, I didn’t believe it either, but the same sweet and spicy flavors are all there and the rich and creamy taste hasn’t left. Take a little taste test of your own! Run to your local grocery store (yes, grocery store) and grab a box of the Via Instant Pumpkin Spice Latte and see for yourself!
image1 (1)Add some cinnamon & nutmeg for some extra spice, put a dollop of whipped cream if you are feeling especially decadent, or sneak a shot of whiskey or bourbon for a fancy gal Hot Toddie. Either way, you are going to be singing this instant PSL’s praises & we don’t blame you!

Want to try a taste test? Let us join in! Tag #LKMakes or @laurenkelp on Instagram or Twitter – we would love to hear what you think!

What are your favorite PSL hacks? Got any tips, let me know down in the comments section.starbucks 1


lauren kelp author buttonBELEN BUTTONThis post is sponsored by Starbucks but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.

THE TOWER HOUSE GIN & TONIC

DSC_9737Remember our recent Dinner With Friends story – the clam bake on Martha’s Vineyard? Well, we aren’t done yet with our little Cape adventure. Today we are whipping up this delicious, Vineyard-inspired, galia melon gin & tonic. In my book, there isn’t anything better than a perfectly crafted gin & tonic and this one might just be a new favorite. See for yourself…DSC_9753Hello again! Belen here and I am so excited to share this twist on a gin & tonic we developed. Martha’s Vineyard in the summer is a magical place. Cool sea breezes, lovely beaches and the most adorable towns! Our routine usually goes something like this. Check out one of the towns in the morning, beach in the afternoon, then cocktails and dinner.

On our way back from the beach one hot and steamy afternoon, we stopped at a roadside farm stand and found an amazing looking and smelling melon called a Galia. Perfect for a summer drink! So my husband and I whipped up this yummy cocktail for us all to enjoy. Its super easy and perfect for a summer evening.
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INGREDIENTS:

– Handful of mint

– A few limes

– Gin (we prefer Farmer’s Botanical Gin)

– 1 galia melon

– Tonic

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DIRECTIONS:

– Muddle a palmful of mint in 3 oz lime juice

– In a chilled shaker, mix the following: gin (1.5 oz), melon puree (2.5 oz), and 1/2 oz of the mint/lime muddle liquid

– Into a collins glass, pour shaken mixture over ice

– Top with tonic and 2 muddled mint leaves and garnish with a slice of lime

* Makes enough for 6

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Photography & Cocktail Recipe by Belen Aquino

DINNER WITH FRIENDS| BELEN AQUINO

DSC_0034Hello, hello! We are in for a big treat today. Belen Aquino, a Chicago-based photographer, and her family vacation in Martha’s Vineyard and they are taking us along with them to experience dinner on the Cape! In true New England fashion, they invited a bunch of friends over and settled in for a delicious clam bake….with an Italian twist. Scroll down to see the full story and delicious recipe. 
DSC_0041Hello! Belen here and I am so excited to share this delicious dinner. Our last night on Martha’s Vineyard we decided to do a clam boil and invite over a few friends and family. While my husband Drew and his cousin Armando took on making  the boil, I set about getting the table ready. Weekend and summer homes are never as well equipped as an everyday home. All the plates are mix and match, and there’s are never enough linens to go around. Clam boils are messy eating so I used last weeks paper to cover the picnic tables. DSC_0053Right before everybody arrived I snipped a few branches off the wild rose bushes that run along the property line and placed them down the center of the table. Sometimes, just using what’s on hand is the best way to go. And think outside the box. Who says you can’t use newspaper to cover the table? Talk about a conversation starter. Sitting outside enjoying the sunset and eating clams right out of the ocean, and chatting with some of my nearest and dearest was truly the best way to end a magical vacation. DSC_0081 DSC_0082

INGREDIENTS:

– 4 Gallons water

– 4 cups clam juice

– 1/2 pound unsalted butter

– 2 oz jar Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic (or more to taste)

– 6 medium yellow onions, quartered

– 8 stalks celery, cut into thirds

– All of the cloves of 4 heads garlic peeled and cleaned

– 2 lemons, halved

– 4 tablespoons kosher salt

– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

– 6 ears fresh sweet corn, husked, cleaned, and cut into thirds

– 3 pounds new potatoes (we used a mix of red and golden)

– 4 pounds smoked sausage, cut into 2-inch lengths (We used Linguiça and a bourbon sausage.)

– 4 pounds steamer clams

– 4 pounds littleneck clams

– 2 sticks salted butter (melted)

– 2 loaves crusty French bread

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DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine the water and clam juice and butter in a 6-gallon pot.

2. Add the seafood magic, onions, celery, garlic, lemon, salt and black pepper. Add the sweet corn and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and add the sausage. Cook, covered, until the potatoes are almost fork-tender, about 10 minutes.

3. While the boil is heating, clean the clams by scrubbing thoroughly and rinsing under cold running water. Fill the sink with cold water and swish clams back and forth to dislodge any sand and grit that may be caught in the necks. Rinse and repeat several times. If you’re buying clams from your local supermarket, you can probably skip this step.

4. When the potatoes are almost fork-tender, add the clams, increase the heat to high, cover, and cook until the shells pop open, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain the liquid from the pot.

5. Serve the clam boil on paper bags or newspaper. Discard any clams that do not open.  Pass the melted butter and bread.

DSC_0115 DSC_0121Clam boils are the absolute best. They are messy, happy, and oh so delicious! We made some of our favorite sides to round out the meal. Pair it all with a few bottles of your favorite wine & voila – taste bud heaven. Feel free to spice things up, switch it around, this is your dinner party, so have fun with it. DSC_0126 DSC_0128 DSC_0152


Recipe adapted from  Emeril Lagasse, 2005

Photography & Copy by Belen Aquino

THE PERFECT SUMMER WORK TO HAPPY HOUR OUTFIT

1Coming up with work outfits can be tricky, especially in the summer! Not to mention if you commute via public transport, or want to grab drinks with friends after work and don’t want to show up in a pant suit. Or, you could work in a creative environment will several different interpretations of what “casual work attire” means – we are looking at you Mr. “I am a Developer so I can wear sweatpants.”

For all of us who struggle with this on a daily basis, we are rounded up some favorite casual work outfits that won’t tank your career and can easily transition from your office to rooftop happy hour!

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GET THIS WORK TO HAPPY HOUR OUTFIT

Cream Midi Dress, c/o, Leather Slingbacks, Leather Jacket (similar)

PS – Everything in this outfit is ON SALE!

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Photography by Belen Aquino

CELEBRATING A FIRST FATHER'S DAY

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Father’s Day is such a fun holiday – really any opportunity to celebrate the people you love is a ‘fun holiday’ in my book. Since G and I are still living up the married sans children life, we thought it would be fun to ask a new family what it means to celebrate Father’s Day. Meet Belen, a wedding photographer in Chicago, and her sweet family. This year happens to be extra special for them as they are celebrating their FIRST Father’s Day as a new family! DSC_6159I asked my husband what he wanted to do for his first Father’s Day and he said that all he wanted to do was spend time as a family. So we planned a causal picnic in the park. Just our little family of four: two parents, one baby boy and our puppy. June is one of the loveliest months here in Chicago. Everything is all green and fresh. DSC_6132I have a huge woven grass bag that I keep next to the front door to use for the farmers market or on picnics. It fits everything you could ever wish. A few Turkish towels are always a must for a summer picnic. I layered them over our blanket to add a bit of elegance on such a momentous occasion. We live in the west loop and walk everywhere. Our first stop was at PQM, a little gourmet food shop, for sandwiches, a cool bottle of cider and some sweet treats. DSC_6067Finding a shady spot in the park can be hard on a nice day but we were able to snag a prime spot on a little knoll. For us it’s all about going with the flow. With a baby, you really don’t have a choice. We try and spend as much time together as possible. A picnic in the park is a great way to unplug and celebrate dad on his first Fathers Day!gv1ACIM6gZko6jyBuH_UM376gEs0XzqxkDuinu3w0qI,Z2jjtfQ13nYQQBrSJkn8Eghk92H096WtJLqVXvokF5g


Story & Photography by Belen Aquino

CELEBRATING A FIRST FATHER’S DAY

DSC_6311

Father’s Day is such a fun holiday – really any opportunity to celebrate the people you love is a ‘fun holiday’ in my book. Since G and I are still living up the married sans children life, we thought it would be fun to ask a new family what it means to celebrate Father’s Day. Meet Belen, a wedding photographer in Chicago, and her sweet family. This year happens to be extra special for them as they are celebrating their FIRST Father’s Day as a new family! DSC_6159I asked my husband what he wanted to do for his first Father’s Day and he said that all he wanted to do was spend time as a family. So we planned a causal picnic in the park. Just our little family of four: two parents, one baby boy and our puppy. June is one of the loveliest months here in Chicago. Everything is all green and fresh. DSC_6132I have a huge woven grass bag that I keep next to the front door to use for the farmers market or on picnics. It fits everything you could ever wish. A few Turkish towels are always a must for a summer picnic. I layered them over our blanket to add a bit of elegance on such a momentous occasion. We live in the west loop and walk everywhere. Our first stop was at PQM, a little gourmet food shop, for sandwiches, a cool bottle of cider and some sweet treats. DSC_6067Finding a shady spot in the park can be hard on a nice day but we were able to snag a prime spot on a little knoll. For us it’s all about going with the flow. With a baby, you really don’t have a choice. We try and spend as much time together as possible. A picnic in the park is a great way to unplug and celebrate dad on his first Fathers Day!gv1ACIM6gZko6jyBuH_UM376gEs0XzqxkDuinu3w0qI,Z2jjtfQ13nYQQBrSJkn8Eghk92H096WtJLqVXvokF5g


Story & Photography by Belen Aquino