It’s almost Super Bowl time, y’all. And here’s the thing about that: this is the one day out of the year that even those who are generally about as interested in football as Ina is in men who aren’t Jeffrey will willingly plop themselves in front of the television for a good three hours to commune with those friends and spouses and boyfriends who can quote Julio Jones’s receiving yards at the drop of a hat.
In my experience, the White Russian is a drink everyone loves but few remember to order. As it happens, it was the first mixed drink I ever truly enjoyed—perhaps it was the velvety swirl of cream that softened the boozy punch of vodka just enough for my unseasoned palate—so I like to revisit it every year when the weather starts to cool. This year I opted to modify the classic recipe with a sprinkle of activated charcoal. This tasteless powder (all the rage right now due to its purifying properties) instantly turns the mixture of Kahlua and vodka from dark brown to the blackest of black. All that’s left to do is swirl in some heavy cream for a spooky, ghostlike finish.
And for extra Halloween flair, top this tipple off with a edible skull drink stirrer made from white chocolate. It’s a super-easy DIY that’ll satisfy your sweet tooth—because if you’re old enough to drink this drink, you’re too old to go trick-or-treating. We all have our crosses to bear.
• 1 part Kahlua
• 2 parts vodka
• 1 part heavy cream
• 1 activated charcoal pill
1. Fill glass with ice. Add Kahlua, vodka and charcoal (just pop open the pill and tip the powder in) and stir.
2. Top with heavy cream. Pro tip: to get the swirled, layered look, slowly pour the cream down the back of a spoon.
To make the skull-topped drink stirrers:
1. Melt white chocolate in the microwave and pour into a skull mold. I used this one. Refrigerate until solid.
2. Using a paring knife, chisel out a little channel in the base of each side of the skull (this sounds weirdly medical, no?). Make sure your drink stirrer fits nicely into the channels.
3. Melt a little more white chocolate and spread some on the skull halves. Place the drink stirrer between halves and press together until the two sides meet. Use your finger to smooth out any chocolate that may have oozed out. Refrigerate before serving.
This is my beautiful little sister Sarah. In anywhere from 0-8 days (and hopefully not too much longer), she’ll be giving birth to my first niece or nephew, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to help plan and host a shower for little Baby Forrest at my mom’s lovely house in San Antonio. After a good bit of brainstorming, we decided to pay tribute to our South Texas location with a cactus-themed party.
Colorful cacti with vibrant blooms took center stage on the soft turquoise invitations, hinting at the decor to come. I enlisted the help of my other siblings, Genevieve and Billy, to sculpt little cactus menu card holders, and my mom painted them with bright colors—truly a great example of family teamwork. I used a cactus-shaped cookie cutter to transform regular turkey, cheese and pesto sandwiches into bite-sized saguaros. Tiny avocado toasts topped with shaved radish, a kale salad inspired by one of my favorite restaurants in SF and grilled flank steak with chimichurri sauce (another shoutout to Billy on that one) rounded out the savory small plates.
For desert there were chocolate-dipped pretzels, a delicious bundt cake with cream-cheese frosting and chocolate-chip cookie ice cream sandwiches filled with mint-chocolate chip ice cream—something Sarah’s been craving a lot lately. We served all of these tasty snacks atop DIYed marble-look platters, made by affixing marble contact paper to circular pieces of wood. It’s a great way to make a bunch of beautiful and semi-disposable serving trays that all match and look much more polished than paper plates. We also used this handy contact paper to wrap around the plain planters our actual cacti came in. Gotta love a double-duty party supply.
We went old school in the drinks department, offering this wonderfully classic and still very delicious Sunday punch, as well delicious lime-flavored Jarritos sodas (jamaica is actually my favorite flavor, but I had to stay within the color scheme here, you feel me?) served in darling Cheeky x designlovefest cups.
We eschewed the typical onesies in favor of painting wooden blocks—less laundry, more shelf-styling power, was the thought—and played all the fun baby shower standards. An over-abundance of flowers finished off the decor, and I crafted a flower crown for the queen of the party from the beautiful bunches of ranunculus and roses I scored at Trader Joe’s. The last DIY of the day was perhaps the most ambitious of them all: giant Geronimo-inspired balloons. They’re filled with glitter and festooned with layer after layer of colorful tassels, making them the perfect photo prop for an impromptu maternity shoot in the backyard.
All in all, it was a lovely evening spent celebrating the imminent arrival of little Baby Forrest. I can’t wait to find out whether it’s a boy or girl!
I’ve always loved popcorn. Popcorn to me is what ramen is to most college students—meaning, I ate popcorn for dinner more times in my late teens and early twenties than I care to admit. Once, in a fit of desperation after finding my fridge devoid of any sort of butter product, I decided to dress a bowl of freshly popped but oh-so-dry popcorn with soy sauce. And I’ve never looked back.
Soy sauce and butter are my everyday go-to toppings when I want a quick movie night snack. But the Oscars deserve more, no? Let’s build out that Asian-style flavor profile with some shakes of nutritional yeast (sounds gross, I know, but tastes like little flakes of nutty parmesan cheese) and crumbled nori on top. Then, let’s shift our focus from the Far East to the Lower East Side and take our flavor cues from the everything bagel with the appropriate spice mix and shallot brown butter. To me, red carpet snack time doesn’t get better than this.
• 1/3 c popcorn kernels
• 3 Tbsp canola oil
• soy sauce
• nutritional yeast
• roasted seaweed
1. To make the popcorn, add canola oil to a large lidded pot over medium heat. Toss a few kernels into the pot, close the lid and wait until the kernels pop. Add the rest of the popcorn to the pot, shake to coat all kernels and remove from heat for 30 seconds.
2. Return the pot to the flame. Once the kernels start popping, shake the pot over the burner to encourage even cooking. Crack the lid if you can without letting all your popcorn escape (so you can let some steam out). Once all the kernels have popped, turn off the heat and pour popcorn into a large bowl.
3. Drizzle soy sauce over the popcorn to your taste, then shake a generous amount of nutritional yeast on top and toss so everything is evenly coated. To serve, scoop some popcorn into paper cones and top with crumbled seaweed (I buy these little packets in bulk from Costco).
Everything Bagel Popcorn
• 1/3 c popcorn kernels
• 3 Tbsp canola oil
• 1 shallot
• unsalted butter
• 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
• 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
• 1 Tbsp dried garlic
• 1 Tbsp dried onion
• 2 tsp coarse salt
1. To make the everything bagel seasoning, combine poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion and coarse salt in a small bowl. You’ll have plenty left over for all your everything bagel needs.
2. To make the brown butter, finely chop the shallot and add to a light-bottom pan with a few tablespoons of butter (depending on how buttery you like your popcorn). Cook the butter over medium heat, swirling until the butter is nicely browned and smells nutty. Transfer brown butter to a heat-proof bowl so it doesn’t burn while you make the popcorn.
3. To make the popcorn, add canola oil to a large lidded pot over medium heat. Toss a few kernels into the pot, close the lid and wait until the kernels pop. Add the rest of the popcorn to the pot, shake to coat all kernels and remove from heat for 30 seconds.
4. Return the pot to the flame. Once the kernels start popping, shake the pot over the burner to encourage even cooking. Crack the lid if you can without letting all your popcorn escape (so you can let some steam out). Once all the kernels have popped, turn off the heat and pour popcorn into a large bowl.
5. Drizzle the shallot brown butter over the popcorn, then shake a generous amount of everything bagel seasoning on top and toss to mix well.