Make or break

Oh, hi! You’ve probably been sitting here with bated breath waiting for me to write something new. I know. It’s been a while. I’ve been really bad at updating anything that requires more than 140 characters. But it’s all been for good reason… at least I think so.

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Gluten-free/ Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Or rather– the only cookies I’ve been eating for months now.

I cannot believe I haven’t posted this recipe because really, it’s the bees knees.

The flavor is right on, the texture is perfect, and they’re so easy to make. If you stock the ingredients regularly (you should if you have a paleo-friendly pantry) you can always have chocolate chip cookies on your plate in about 20 minutes, from beginning to end.

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Beauty Basics

It’s no joke when I say I’m a beauty product junkie. Definitely not as much as some beauty bloggers (which I am not), but I have more products than I need. I like trying different things and seeing how they work, how long they last, what kind of texture they have and the effect they have on an overall look. I’m talking makeup, creams, lotions, oils, you name it.

But even with all the stuff I have and use at different times, with makeup and beauty, less really is more. I don’t really wear much makeup on a daily basis, especially in the summer. But what I do like to keep up with is skincare. When your skin is in good condition, you don’t really need a whole lot to look great.

I have become religiously devoted to washing my face everyday, morning and night. No matter how tired, drunk, sleepy, whatever. Just wash your face. Use an appropriate face wash to make sure you’re not dehydrating your skin with each wash. Also, avoid very hot water since it strips you of natural oils that are meant to keep your face looking nice and plump.

After you wash you have a couple options: you could go straight to moisturizing or use a toner, a serum or oil and then moisturize. It all depends on the needs of your skin and what you want to gain from your beauty routine.

Totally not me but she has really nice skin!

Totally not me but she has really nice skin!

I’ve been using Tarte’s Maracuja Oil on my face before moisturizing, and lemme tell you: it is worth every penny. At $45, I cringed, too. But I had used a sample previously, which I loved. So I bit the bullet and I have not regretted it. I bought almost a year ago and am only down to half the container. With this oil a little bit goes a long way, and it can be used on hands, neck and decolletage. I use it mainly at night, but it’s light enough to be used during the day– just make sure you use wear some sun protection, too.

As far as moisturizing for me, I am partial to Burt’s Bees Royal Jelly line, but I also love using coconut oil. It all depends on how my skin feels on what day. Oil moisturizes a bit more, but it absorbs very quickly and leaves no discernible residue.

If you want the benefits of a moisturizer and very light skin coverage, a good option is either BB cream (tons of brands) or tinted moisturizer. I’ve used both Tarte‘s and Laura Mercier‘s. They are both really good products, but I find that Laura Mercier’s has better coverage and still feels really light. Tarte’s feels more like moisturizer with a little color.

I purchase a lot of my beauty products at Ulta and Sephora. I told a friend recently, if you’re a newbie to this or are trying a product for the first time, get thee to Sephora. They let you try products, they’ll help  you find the right shade of makeup and if you ask they will be happy to give you a large sample to take home. Truly helpful when you don’t want to plunk down a large chunk of change for something you’re unsure of.

When in doubt, I love looking through Makeupalley.com. They have extensive conversations and reviews millions of products. Always do your research!

So, that’s what I use for my skin. Have you tried any product that has completely changed you skin, for better or worse?

Chocolate Chili from ‘Well Fed’ by Melissa Joulwan

During the cold months in Texas (I laughed at that phrase), I love making soups and stews. One dish that is often requested ’round here is chili. I’d stopped making it for a while because it was such a bore. Probably just a notch above fast-food chili. Blech.

So, imagine my surprise when I opened up Melissa Joulwan’s “Well Fed” cookbook and find not just this amazing recipe for chili, but CHOCOLATE chili. No, it’s not some crazy Willy Wonka concoction. The chocolate just adds depth to the slightly acidic chili powder in the seasoning. It is such a delicious dish and worth every minute of simmering. Whatever you do, DON’T skimp on time. Let it simmer for the full two hours (!).  You will not regret it. Continue reading

Meyer Lemon Semifreddo

The saying goes “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Phil Dunphy says “when life gives you lemonade, make lemons, life will be all like ‘whaaat?'” But I say, “when life gives you Meyer lemons, make something incredible.”*

This is essentially what semifreddo is. Neither ice cream, nor custard nor gelato, but a mousse. I LOVE CUSTARD, if you haven’t noticed yet.

Also, egg-based equals rich and fairly simple. This is one of the recipes you need to embrace and hold on to tightly. Make it on special occasions when you want to ‘wow’ without much fuss. The first time you make it you might be all “LOL, I don’t know what I’m doing.” That’s ok. I was, too. And I was making it for a dinner party. And my boys were running around the house like maniacs (so business as usual).

Meyer Lemon Semifreddo has to be my favorite of all time. I do love a good tiramisu, a rich brownie and of course, creme brulee, but this is the genius fusion of two flavors that don’t immediately go together. Cream and lemon– Meyer lemons. If you’ve never had a Meyer, you’re in for a treat. They are like the cuter, better tanned, smoother skinned, more complex sibling of the yellow lemons you see at the store. This fruit has a deeper, warmer color to it and the peel is smoother. You may think you can’t tell the difference, but if you were to make a side-by-side comparison of the two you’d know right away.

I don’t want to knock regular lemons. They are great for so many things! But Meyers were made for desserts. Their scent is subtly sweet, as is their flavor. The rind is intensely fragrant, with floral hints. The juice has a milder acidity than that of your run of the mill lemon but sweeter. Yes, a sweet lemon. If you had a sliding scale, limes being on one end (the most sour) and a sumo citrus (like a mandarin, but even sweeter), the Meyer would be found right before the mid-point. You can see I’ve put a great amount of thought into my ode to Meyer lemons. They do make me feel quite poetic. Want to woo me? Give me lemons. Continue reading

Super-Lazy Beef Hash

This is what you get when you have a pound of hamburger in the fridge and don’t really want to make the usual. You take the few odds and ends that you have and you make magic. The secret to getting the best flavor out of the beef is using worcestershire sauce and apple cider vinegar. It brings out a bit of tang that rounds out the richness of the meat really well.

The vegetables I had on hand were bell peppers, sweet potatoes and baby spinach but remember, the key to this is lazyness. Don’t focus so much on the ingredients, just get the seasoning right. It turned out to be a really easy vehicle for getting vegetables into the meal without having to make a salad. And yes, blasphemy– no onions or fresh garlic because I was all out.

Yes, salads can be easy. But sometimes you just want magic in a skillet, you know?

Move over Hamburger Helper. Here comes Super Lazy Beef Hash. Well, as soon as it gets off the couch. Continue reading

Science Timez: Cornstarch and water

I’m sure we’ve all made some concoction in our lifetime that contains cornstarch. It’s amazing ability to thicken liquids to a velvety smooth texture knows no bounds. From the Mexican beverage atole, to Thanksgiving gravy, it is ubiquitous in most western kitchens.

I don’t use it for cooking much anymore, now I mostly use arrowroot powder. But since I had a box of it left in my pantry, I figured it had to be used for something rather than just throwing it out.

Enter my friend Sara, who showed us this awesome sensory experience at a couple’s massage class yesterday. Granted, I’d heard of this experiment before, but hadn’t actually tried it. After giving it a go in Sara’s office, I knew this was something the kids would love. Bonus points: it’s not just fun, it’s EASY to clean up, as long as it’s done in disposable bowls. You just throw it in the trash. Or you can probably compost it, too.

It washes right off with water. A damp paper towel will get it right off surfaces. I am in love with this stuff. Luckily, the boys were, too!

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