Cranberry Avocado Salsa

I discovered this salsa recipe on Martha Stewart’s website last year when I was looking for a fun dip (with a little kick) to bring to a holiday party. The colors of the ingredients are seasonally festive. The honey gives the salsa an extra bit of sweetness and the jalapeno gives it some heat. Plus, the cranberries provide some fun crunch to the mix.

Speaking of sweet honey, this lil guy was my favorite grocery store purchase of the week. (Don’t have any recipes that use honey? Oh bother. You can look below for starters!)

The Makings:

  • Avocados – 2
  • Halved cranberries – 3/4 cup
  • Jalapeno – 1 minced
  • Red Onion – 1/4 cup, chopped
  • Honey – 2 tablespoons
  • Lime juice – 1 tablespoon
  • Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
  • Cilantro – 2 tablespoons, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

The Sweetness:

1. Chop jalapeno and red onion into tiny pieces, and mix them into a large bowl with honey, lime juice and lemon juice. Whisk briskly.

2. Section avocado into 1/4 inch pieces. (I use a butter knife to score each avocado half, and then scoop out the pieces using a spoon. Easy, peasy, presto avocado!) Add avocado into the bowl.

3. Halve cranberries and chop fresh cilantro, then combine with other ingredients in bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Now dip those chips!

More Sweetness:

Dragon's Deviled Eggs  Cranberry-Orange-Pecan Swirls  Strawberry Margarita Jello Shots

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…

I’ll admit that I was completely caught off guard when I saw Target’s holiday commercial airing on TV in October. And more recently, I’ve noticed other “Christmas is coming” signals from the storefront displays around the Magnificent Mile. (Love the throwback paper chains as seen in the Jonathan Adler display window in Chicago. :))

But the spirit of the season REALLY hit me when I arrived home one day last week. The first “Warning: Holiday cheer ahead” alert was the “Dear Santa, I have issues” sign hanging from the doorknob of one of our hallway closets.

A few steps further ahead, a shower of Santas rained upon me from every corner of our apartment. So while my roomie proceeded to hang garland and tie festive bows, I cranked up the Michael Bublé holiday radio station on Pandora and roamed around our apartment playing “Spot the Santas”. The current Santa count: 11 — though I’ve been told there may be more coming. (“Kitchen Claus,” as I’ve dubbed him, is my favorite of the bunch below; that’s why he gets primetime placement.)

My roomie L-O-V-E loves to decorate. And I do admit feeling very “holly jolly” after our night of adventures. We’ve since tackled the tree installation, too! You can expect to see more of my roomie’s home decor displays on this blog. After all, she does make our apt something super sweet to live in. :)

White Chocolate Popcorn

White Chocolate Popcorn In A Bowl

In college, popcorn was my go-to snack whenever I hit stress mode. If I needed to pull an all-nighter to work on a term paper, my bowl of popcorn was there by my side as a tasty companion. Nowadays, the snack is less associated with stressful times ahead — though every once in awhile, I do pop a bag to get me through a trying moment — and more a munch when watching TV.

Last year, a colleague brought her own version of “White Chocolate Popcorn” into the office, and I wasn’t the only one who went back to the bowl for seconds. Inspired by the Glitter Guide’s version, which includes fun confetti sprinkles, too, I decided to whip up a batch in time for my Sunday night TV ritual, which currently includes Dexter, Homeland and The Good Wife.

The Makings:

White Chocolate Popcorn Ingredients

  • Popcorn kernels – 1/2 cup
  • White chocolate – 6 ounces
  • Canola oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Salt
  • Sprinkles

The Sweetness:

1. Heat oil in a medium size pot on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add in popcorn kernels and cover pot tightly with a lid, shaking the pot frequently. When popping begins, continue to shake frequently while cracking the lid slightly to allow some of the steam to vent out. Remove the pot from heat when the rate of popping slows. Once popping has stopped, carefully remove lid and pour popcorn into a bowl. Add a few pinches of salt and toss popcorn.

2. Chop white chocolate pieces into slivers; this will make it easier to melt the chocolate. Place a small batch of chopped chocolate into a microwave safe dish and heat for 30 seconds on a low power setting. (I used 2 ounces per batch, heating at power level 4 on my microwave.) Remove the dish and stir the chocolate. Repeat heating-stirring process until the white chocolate is nearly fully melted, allowing the last bits of the chocolate to melt by stirring them. (It took me three 30-second-intervals to complete this process per batch.)

NOTE: White chocolate has a lower melting point than milk chocolate and can seize easily, so be careful not to overheat. From what I’ve read online, chocolate chips also contain special ingredients to prevent them from melting easily, so it’s better to start with white chocolate in bar form.

3. Drizzle white chocolate over popcorn and toss in bowl to evenly coat mixture over popcorn.

4. Spread popcorn out evenly on a baking sheet, and add sprinkles. (I used confetti sprinkles because I had them around, but you can really use any type to match any occasion.) Let popcorn sit for a few hours, allowing time for the white chocolate coating to completely dry.

White Chocolate Popcorn In A Bowl

5. Transfer white chocolate popcorn to your favorite popcorn bowl, queue up a “must watch” show and start noshing!

More Sweetness:
Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies Reindeer Cheer Cranberry Avocado Salsa

A Sweet Start

I’m a planner. When life gets really busy, I look at my schedule and break down my weeks/hours/days into segments, carving out chunks of time for the stuff I know I have to get done – go to work, tackle loads of laundry, run to the grocery store – and the things I would like to get done – catching up with loved ones, working out, eating delicious meals, exploring local sights and sounds, etc. While I’ve had “write more” and “get back into crafts/cooking” as two goals on my “things I would like to get done” list for quite some time, I never seem able to set aside the time to DO them.

Earlier this year, I paid a visit to the city that is now my current home, Chicago, and realized that it was time for me to stop talking about moving here and actually get up and make it happen. And now, I’m here. It’s been approximately three months since I made the move from D.C. Now it’s time to tackle a new challenge. This blog will serve as my platform to dive back into two areas that have been on the backburner of my “get ‘er done because you want to” list for way too long.

Yes, I know that at first blush, the title of this blog makes it sound like a place that will focus solely on items that are literally sweet – sugary, syrupy, sinful “get in my belly” treats. While I do aim to get my bake on from time to time, I also hope to highlight a broader array of sweet somethings — crafts, pieces of art, DIY projects and other handmade items that I find cool, unique or must be shared.

While I stir up some sweetness to show you, I leave you with a photo I took atop the Tribune Tower in the city that has inspired me to take on more goals and turn them into accomplishments. :)