May 23, 2016

Spiced Pear Preserves (or Jam) Recipe

Pin this image! All the images in this post are pin-able.
*Technically what I made here is preserves, since it is significantly chunkier than most jam or jellies. In order to turn this recipe into jam, all you need to do is chop the pears into smaller pieces than I did. Super simple.

When I still lived at home, I used to make different fruit preserves on a somewhat regular basis - only a small mason jar or two at a time - and I flew through it. Peanut or sunflower seed butter and preserve (or jam or jelly) sandwiches, or toasted and buttered English Muffins smothered in it, were fundamental childhood victuals, and remains some of my favorite snacks.

As you know if you've been here a while, I moved into an apartment last July, and since then, I haven't taken the time to mess about in the kitchen and experiment with things like I used to. So, it's been far too long since I made preserves, and I finally decided to remedy that a few weeks ago.

My usual go-to fruits are strawberries and apples, but that day I decided to try something different, and make pear preserves.

So, here we go!


May 21, 2016

BRINGING KITTENS HOME \\ Vlog ft. Finn & Portia

Hello, Hanlin family!

Y'all know I love animals. I need to have them around, and that fact has become more and more apparent to me over the past 9 months. All through my childhood, animals were everywhere, inside and out: dogs, cats, hedgehogs, horses, the occasional goat... Animals were always there to keep me company. Since I moved to my apartment last summer, I've really missed that.

So, I got a kitten. My roommate Rebecca got one too. On March 13, the day before my twenty-second birthday, our friend Anne's cat had a litter of kittens in the back of the family's old Mustang, and she sent around an email to see if anyone would be interested in adopting any of them. Rebecca and I jumped at the opportunity. We first went to visit them when they were a week old, and spent a good 45 minutes fawning over them - 8 teeny tiny chunky fur balls all piled up on top of each other.

And then again when they were 3 and 4 weeks old.
And so on, always under mama's close supervision.
We finally brought home our little bundles of love and hair on the evening of May 15.

Everyone, meet Finnegan (Finn) and Portia.

May 16, 2016

25 things that make me happy (May 2016)

1. Spring rain

2. Cool spring mornings and warm spring evenings

3. Hearing my favorite song on the radio on my way to work in the morning

4. Smoked Salmon

5. Kittens learning how to kitten.

May 9, 2016

Mini Crustless Breakfast Quiche (gluten free)

(All of my recipes are printable, and there's an option to remove the images! Look for the button at the end of the post.)
Good morning, Hanlin Family!

I am not a morning person - never have been, and let's be honest, probably never will be. True, I can compel myself to get up early if my schedule demands it, but if I don't have any pressing business to attend to in the morning... ain't no way. Often, I'll happily forego breakfast for an extra 10 or 15 minutes in bed, but over the past few months, I've become increasingly aware that breakfast is necessary for so many reasons: giving an energy boost after fasting overnight, important nutrients that keep us functioning mentally and physically, and essentially making me less of a grouch. Having lost some unneeded weight recently and wanting to keep it off, having a healthy and filling breakfast is a must to keep from nibbling or over-indulging at lunch. I could go on. But I'm not logging in to preach today.

I have a terrific recipe for y'all today. It's one of my new favorite things. Seriously. It's so good. When I came across these mini-quiche's on Pinterest a few weeks ago, I knew I just had to try them out. And my, were they a smashing success, even though I forgot the mushrooms this time around... Someone remind me not to shove them in the way way back of the fridge next time.

May 2, 2016

feel tiny

Last October, my best girlfriend Aemelia and I had the opportunity to dine in style at The Signature Room, a restaurant on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center in downtown Chicago. It was really an incredible experience, and I'm not just talking about my burger and the subsequent cheesecake.

I love places that make me feel tiny, that remind me of just how small I am in the grand scheme of things. A certain handful of places cause me to feel like this: mountains, oceans and long stretches of empty beach, window seats on airplanes, and when I'm lucky enough to have a view like the one from The Signature Room.
© Iris Hanlin

April 25, 2016

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Pin this image!
... And so continues the 22-year love affair with Mexican food - albeit sometimes Americanized Mexican, as a Guadalupan friend is sure to remind me when she reads this.

For the past few months, I've been avoiding starches and added sugar, and a few weeks ago, I was deeply saddened to discover that my favorite Mexican seasoning mix contains copious amounts of both, along with some chemistry book ingredients that I can't even pronounce. Shame, Old El Paso, shame.

And of course, as would only be my luck, I discovered this after I had cooked a pound of beef in it.

April 11, 2016

Apartment Unpacking Meal: Zucchini, Squash, & Mushroom Side Dish

Hello, Hanlin family!

Two weeks ago, Jacob and I helped some friends of ours move into a new apartment, about 5 minutes from me now instead of ten (yay!) - the same friends at whose wedding he and I met. 6 p.m. to almost midnight on Monday was spent hauling things from one apartment to the other. Some of our other friends brought extra cars and a few trucks, and were a tremendous help - we had everything out of the old apartment by the end of the night. And, I was personally pleased to discover that my new vehicle can hold much more than I originally anticipated.

Anyway. On Tuesday evening, Jacob and I returned to help Tim and Amalie bring some sanity to their new place. Boxes. Boxes everywhere. Amalie and I unpacked and put away the kitchen, and the guys worked their back sides off on the rest of the apartment. It was fun! At least I thought so. Amalie and I joked that I'll be quite comfortable coming over to cook since I now know where everything is in their kitchen.

I figured that providing dinner for us on Tuesday was one more thing Tim and Amalie shouldn't have to worry about, so I took care of it. Plus, they had already fed us pizza the night before. I made my famous salmon recipe - linked at the end of this post - with a side of sautéed vegetables, the latter thanks to a suggestion from a friend. (Thanks, Erin!) She suggested the idea of courgettes (zucchini) and yellow squash, and I added a few other things as well.

So here goes.

April 5, 2016

4 great books I've read lately

Salutations, Hanlin family!

It saddens me that with adulthood (at least in my own experience) comes a dreadful lack of time to sit back, kick one's feet up, and read a book simply for pleasure. Luckily, I've happened upon a man, quite by chance, who shares the same appreciation for reading, so we've lately been making time for a good book or two.

Gals, find one like him.

Anyhow, here are a few good books I've read in the recent past:

1. Out of the Silent Planet (and the subsequent books) by C.S. Lewis.

This is the first book in Lewis's cosmic (space) trilogy, the latter two being Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. Though I never noticed it, these three seem to be some of Lewis's lesser known books, and I forgot just how good they are! I decided to read through the first one again a few weeks ago, and I ended up devouring it wholeheartedly, followed by the sequels.

Apparently, the whole trilogy sprung from a conversation between Lewis and his friend J.R.R. Tolkien, and according to the latter, Lewis said to him that "there is too little of what we really like in stories. I'm afraid we'll have to write some ourselves." And so they did. Lewis ended up winning the bargain with Out of the Silent Planet and went on to write two more books to the series, and Tolkien's The Lost Road was never finished.

April 1, 2016


Hello, Hanlin family!

Guess who's back (back back). Back again (-gain -gain). Hanlin's back (back back). Tell a friend (friend friend)... Okay, I'll stop.

Surprise! I vlogged a bit over the past month. Welcome back to my little YouTube world - I hope you enjoy it.

March 28, 2016

12 Mother Angelica Quotes We Should Take to Heart

Mother Angelica, the foundress of EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) passed away yesterday - on Easter Sunday - at the age of 92. How incredibly fitting that this servant of God, who was always so obviously bubbling over with joy, left for her true home on the day the Church celebrates the joy of Christ's Resurrection.

If any of you dear readers are unfamiliar with Mother Angelica, here is a wonderful post from EWTN recounting her life and accomplishments. Working in Catholic media, I personally owe her a huge debt. The company I work for, Ave Maria Communications, owes its apostolate to the call she issued in the 1990s. This is the article my boss wrote.
"A soul that trusts God is invincible."

March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday

Father, creator of unfailing light, give that same light to those who call to you. May our lips praise you, our lives proclaim your goodness, our work gives you honor, and our voices celebrate you forever.

The splendor of Christ risen from the dead has shone on the people redeemed by his blood, Alleluia.

~ Psalm-prayer and antiphon from the Divine office of Easter Sunday

Happy Easter, Hanlin Family!