Category: BLOG POSTS

Make Up Brush Cleaning

Let’s talk makeup brush cleaning.  I have to that admit that until recently mine have been pretty gross.  An example of my short term solution has been to brush them on the back of my hand so that old shades of shadow or blush wouldn’t transfer onto whatever color combination I would apply next.  I know, disgusting.  However, I decided to make a change to this heinous habit and wanted to share my three tips to my new, hygienic brushes.

The first step is nothing news worthy, but it is simply to cleanse them with a mild cleanser.  There are numerous brands out there and Sephora offers many different high end brands which may work well, but my fave is good ole Johnson’s Baby Shampoo.  It is gentle and definitely gives my brushes a good cleanse.  Nothing fancy, nothing expensive, but definitely effective.

The second step is to soak the brushes in warm, soapy water a for several minutes.  After soaking give them a good rinse with cold water until there is no more color in the water you are rinsing the brush in.

Finally the third step is to dry them and this is where I have found the real magic.  You see I have always hated washing my brushes (aside from being lazy) is because they never held their shape or felt the same way once I washed them, until now.  Enter KLOUD City White Cosmetic Pen Sheath Make Up Bresh Netting, oh and the best part is that you get 40 for only $8.95 on Amazon.  All you do is slide these babies over your damp makeup brushes and they not only dry perfectly but the brushes hold their shape.  Voila – clean make up brushes that work like new. Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 7.18.40 PM Not only is makeup brush cleaning important in keeping blemishes away, it is also waayyyyy more sanitary.  Do you wash your makeup brushes regularly and if so what is your favorite way to wash them?  I would love to know.

Sweet Brown Sugar Dutch Baby Recipe

I love when a recipe only uses one pan or pot.  As the primary person cooking in my house I am all about less mess which is why I love this Sweet Brown Sugar Dutch Baby Recipe that is made in one pan.  For those unfamiliar with Dutch Babies they are similar to a popover, but they are sweeter and are much larger and flatter.  This is due to the large round skillet Dutch Babies are cooked in as opposed to traditional popover pans that are deeper and look more like muffin tins.

There are so many reasons I love this recipe, I am just going to list them (after all I do love me a list):

  1. One pan (yes, stated above but I love this so I am mentioning again)
  2. All ingredients are those I always have on hand
  3. This is one of those recipes where countless variations can be made – extra sugar, no sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, berries, apples, lemons, lemon zest, orange zest…you get the idea.
  4. Easy to make
  5. Looks impressive

I usually make this as a breakfast treat served with warm maple syrup, a touch of velvety butter and some fresh berries.  However as noted above, the variations are limited to only ones imagination.  One thing to note as that these will puff up in the oven but once you remove the little “baby” from the oven it will deflate as you will see in the pictures below.

IMG_5487 OK, so you need to try making on of these.  Not only are they so simple to make, these are so much less work compared to pancakes.  Aside from not having to flip flapjack after flapjack I actually prefer the taste of dutch babies with its light, eggy consistency.  These are so good (and easy) though don’t just make this for breakfast make it whenever!  Lunch, snack, dinner – why not?

Hope you try these and love them as much as my family does!

Sweet Dutch Baby Recipe
2  eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Berries, dusting powdered sugar, maple syrup (optional and to your taste)

Place a 10 inch cast iron skillet inside oven and preheat oven to 475 degrees.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs with a whisk until light. Add milk and stir. Gradually whisk in flour, sugar, nutmeg and salt.

Remove skillet from oven and reduce oven heat to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt butter in the hot skillet so that inside of skillet is completely coated with butter. Pour all the batter in the skillet and return skillet to oven.

Bake until puffed and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle the top of the Dutch Baby with brown sugar.  Return to oven for two more minutes.  Remove promptly and sprinkle with powdered sugar, maple syrup, fruit or whatever you like.



Giada De Laurentiis Turkey Larb Recipe

One of my favorite parts of cooking, besides of course eating, is to be able to recreate a delicious dish from a restaurant.  Even better is when I am able to make that dish just as good.  I recently was at a Thai restaurant where I tasted a Larb dish that was spectacular.  In an effort to recreate this dish I perused the internet and came across  Giada De Laurentiis Turkey Larb recipe.

The Larb I ate at this restaurant was savory, spicy and very fresh thanks to the addition of what seemed to be a generous amount of lime juice.  Once I came across Giada’s recipe I knew that I had a winner.  I loved how the ingredients were fresh, simple and my favorite part was the citrus based dressing which brings the perfect amount of tart freshness that I absolutely love.

While I have yet to perfect other Thai dishes such as Pad Thai and Panang Curry that are favorites, this Larb is super simple and delicious.  My deep love of Thai food will keep me on the hunt and working towards making the perfect Thai dish, however in the meantime this one is a keeper and one I will continue to make over and over.

Giada De Laurentiis Turkey Larb Recipe

1/3 cup fresh lime juice, from about 5 limes
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons fish sauce*
2 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1/2 red onion, diced
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 (4-inch) piece lemongrass, minced (about 1/4 cup)*
1 Thai chile, such as prik kee noo, or 1 serrano chile, stemmed and thinly sliced*
Kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey, preferably dark meat
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated
1 cup brown rice (this is not part of Giada’s recipe, but I served mine with brown rice and loved it)

Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lemon juice, fish sauce and honey. Set aside.

Larb: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, shallots, lemongrass, chile, and salt, to taste. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey and season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat and vegetables are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the dressing to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mint. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spoon the turkey mixture onto the lettuce leaves and arrange on a serving platter. Serve with sticky rice.


America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara

Yes, the title is correct – A Light AND Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara. I recently picked up a magazine featuring the best light & healthy recipes of 2010 from America’s Test Kitchens. I absolutely love America’s Test Kitchens because not only are their recipes full proof, they explain the science behind the recipe and I find it fascinating.

For this lightened up Spaghetti Carbonara they used ingredients such as fat-free evaporated milk and mayonnaise to create a creamy sauce without a ton of added fat. I would have never thought to use these ingredients in a carbonara, but let me tell you – it is fabulous and the calorie/fat content isn’t so shabby either. Coming in at 410 calories per 1-cup serving, this comes in way under an original carbonara recipe and I didn’t miss the original one bit. I hope you enjoy it as much as my husband and I did.

Light & Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara
(adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

2/3 c. Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
1/4 c. fat-free evaporated milk
2 T. mayonnaise
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 ounces Canadian Bacon, chopped coarse
2 slices bacon, chopped coarse
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. pepper
1/3 c. dry white wine
1 pound spaghetti
1 T. chopped, fresh parsley

Process the cheese, evaporated milk, 1 1/2 T. of the mayonnaise, egg and egg white in a food processor until smooth, about 15 seconds; leave the mixture in the food processor.

Cook the Canadian bacon and bacon together in a 12-inch non stick skillet over medium heat until the fat has rendered and the bacon is browned, about seven minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Add the garlic and pepper ot the fat left in the skillet, and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the wine, bring to simmer, and cook until thickened slightly, about one minute. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring four quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 T. salt, and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with the remaining 1 1/2 t. mayonnaise until coated.

With the food processor running, slowly add the wine mixture and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water to the egg mixture, and process until smooth and frothy, about 1 minute. Immediately pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss to combine, adjusting the sauce consistency with the remaining reserved cooking water as desired. Stir in the bacon and season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

My Favorite Cookbooks of All Time

I love cookbooks, they are one of the only actual books that I still enjoy buying.  I have become so accustomed to purchasing books on my Kindle and while my Kindle is great for reading a novel, I am unable to truly appreciate or peruse a cookbook easily on the device.  So while I try my best to avoid clutter, when it comes to cookbooks I just can’t resist.  Here are a collection of my all time favorites, I hope you enjoy my selections and hopefully see something new.
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

I have collected every one of Ina Garten’s cookbooks over the years and all are amazing, however I have to say that this one is my favorite.  Everything I have ever made tastes delicious and so many of the recipes have become regular favorites that I cook time and time again.  Some of my favorite recipes include Ina Garten’s Pan-Fried Onion Dip (always a crowd pleaser), Cheddar Corn Chowder (the perfect soup on a cold evening), Gazpacho, Grilled Salmon Salad, Turkey Meatloaf, Filet of Beef Bourguignon, Outrageous Brownies and the amazing Coconut Cupcakes.  These are just a few of the dynamite recipes that are favorites, but believe me when I tell you I have yet to make a recipe from this cookbook that isn’t fabulous.

Pasta & Co. by Request
If you live in the Seattle area, chances are you have heard of a little deli by the name of Pasta & Co.   Inside of this deli are freshly made salads, artisan meats, cheeses, gourmet spreads, dips, crusty bread and don’t even get me started on the smell of this place.  This is one of those gems where you walk in and are immediately stricken by the freshness of herbs, olive oil and all around deliciousness.  This book offers up so many delicious favorites that are staples at Pasta & Co. and have been a favorite of mine.  Now, if you have time (and if you don’t live in the area you have no choice really), the recipes in this book are definitely worth making and will not disappoint.  Some of my favorites include

Neiman Marcus Cooks

One of my very best girlfriends came over with this book one night and after perusing I knew I had to have it, and order it I did the second she left.     The book in itself is worth buying as a coffee table book for its grandiose size and extraordinary pictures, but the recipes are truly spectacular.  Some classic Neiman Marcus recipes include their Popovers with Strawberry Butter, the Neiman Marcus Salad Trio (featuring chicken salad, egg salad and tuna pecan salad) and Mandarin Orange Souffles.  The Chicken and White Bean Chili are favorites along with the fresh and flavorful homemade salad dressing recipes.   There is also an amazing chapter devoted just to cocktails – skinny cocktails too!  Perhaps the food didn’t sell you, but if you are in the market for a good new set of cocktails this book will not disappoint.

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Mesa Mexicana

For the past six years my girlfriends and I go to Vegas once a year for our annual girls trip and we always have the best time.  We have our routine which includes laying out by the pool, drinking amazing cocktails, shopping, laughing our butts off and of course eating delicious food.  We have a couple of tried and true restaurants that we always visit and one of these eateries is a place called the Border Grill at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.  The Border Grill is a restaurant that was started by Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken and Mesa Mexicana is the cookbook with many of the dishes found at the Border Grill.  Favorites include their salsa recipes, specifically the Tomatillo Salsa and Pureed Tomato Salsa Cruda.  Other favorites include the Turkey Tostada Salad and the Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak.

How to Grill

My husband got into grilling a few years back and this is the book he bought.  I was skeptical at first since I had never heard of it and from the outside looking in, it just didn’t look like the kind of cookbook I would normally buy – think very utilitarian.   Boy was I wrong.  Every single recipe that my husband has ever made from this book has been delicious and has recipes that are very different from any other cookbooks that I currently own.  Amazing recipes include Ginger Soy London Broil, Asian Grilled Beef Salad, Bourbon Brined Pork Chops, Asian Flavored Vegetables Grilled in Foil Packets and Barbecued Cabbage.

Do you have any favorite cookbooks?  I would love to hear any recommendations!