Thursday, May 30, 2013

Recipe: Health-IER Blueberry Scones

I love the kind of breakfast where you can grab and go.   That's not to say that I don't like to sit down with a hearty breakfast platter of scrambled eggs, Belgian waffles drowned in maple syrup, etc. but for those busy mornings when you just need to grab and go, scones are my favorite.

Because I'm a blueberry fanatic, I make my scones with blueberries every chance I get.  You can definitely substitute other fruits or fillings such as cranberries or raisins.  I'd add orange zest to the mix to give a hint of citrus.

2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tbsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
half a stick of butter softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 - 1.5 cups of Greek yogurt (I use Chobani Vanilla flavor)
About 1 cup of blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Thoroughly mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
3. Cut in the softened butter.
4. Add the Greek yogurt and vanilla extract.
5. GENTLY fold in the blueberries.
6. On a lightly floured surface, press the dough into a rectangular log.  Cut the log into little triangles.

(Please ignore my picture borders.  I'm going a little nuts playing with a new camera app)

7. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is beautifully golden brown.
8. Let cool.  Can be stored in the refrigerator for a week.

Pair with jam, jelly, or my favorite, lemon curd.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Recipe: Vietnamese Ha Noi Style Turmeric Fish with Dill aka Cha Ca Thang Long

One of my husband's favorite Vietnamese dishes is Cha Ca Thang Long.  I had 2.5 pounds of tilapia in the fridge and was bored with the thought of making another blackened tilapia dish with mango salsa.  No recipes online piqued my interest...until my ADD kicked in and had me wandering off in my thoughts and suddenly remembering that my mom's birthday is coming up.  Mom's is from Ha Noi / Hai Phong (north Viet Nam)...Ha Noi.... Ha Noi style fish!!!  Yes, welcome to my mind.  It's no where near as fun as inception but at least it's still somewhat entertaining.

Wow - off on a tangent again.  Back to the point of this post...

1 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp minced ginger
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of fish sauce
1 tsp of fermented shrimp paste (mam ruoc)
2 tsp of sugar
1 tsp ground white pepper
4 tbsp of olive oil

2.5 pounds of tilapia
Nuoc cham
1 sweet yellow onion, sliced
1 bunch of scallions, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch dill, coarsely chopped
1 package of vermicelli
crushed peanuts

1. Combine all marinade ingredients into a mixing bowl and thoroughly mix.

2. Cut the tilapia into 1-2 inch pieces.
3. Marinate the tilapia for at least 1 hour.  Cook the vermicelli noodles according to package directions.

4. Heat a cast iron skillet and drizzle some olive oil.  Sweat the onion and scallions.  Set aside.
5. Now with soybean oil (or vegetable oil), drizzle over the cast iron skillet.  Cook the fish.

1. Place vermicelli onto a plate or bowl.
2. Top with the fish.
3. Top the fish with the onion mixture.
4. Garnish with crushed peanuts, chopped dill, and fried shallots.
5. Spoon the dipping sauce over the plate to your desire and enjoy!

This is a deconstructed plated version of what the dish is suppose to look like.  I ran out of peanuts when I took this photo, but you get the idea!

Note: This dish is typically eaten with mam tom (Vietnamese shrimp sauce) but that stuff is acquired taste because it is pungent!  Nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce) is not as pungent and is still just as good of a substitute.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Review: Josie Maran Products

I was first introduced to the use of Argan Oil as part of my skin care routine in January 2011 when Josie Maran launched the Argan Oil.  What is argan oil?  It's a plant oil produced from the nuts of the Argan tree in the semi-desert region of Morocco.  The extraction process is extremely labor intensive, the process of which perfected by the women native to southwest Morocco.  

Advertised as follows by the Josie Maran Cosmetics website: "Commonly referred to as 'liquid gold' or 'The Gold of Morocco,' Argan Oil is an incredibly rich source of Vitamin E and essential fatty acids.  It has astonishing healing, conditioning and anti-aging properties to keep your skin and hair nourished and revitalized and to keep you looking beautiful from head to toe.  Argan Oil is not only a 'super food' for the skin and hair but for the whole body.  Having twice as much Vitamin E as olive oil including vital antioxidants, Argan Oil plays a major role in a healthy diet and is commonly used in traditional Moroccan recipes."

Hats off to the Moroccan government for assisting in the establishment of female collectives in 2002 to manufacture Argan Oil as a means to provide women in rural Morocco with a steady income, fair wages, good working conditions, literacy, and other education classes.

Argan oil moisturizes and nourishes skin (great for those with dry skin!), hair, and nails.  It's also safe to use on babies.  It's used for its culinary properties, cosmetic values, and medicinal purposes.

When the Argan Oil began working its magic on my face after I began using my Clarisonic Mia again, I became obsessed with the entire line.  

In January 2011, I met Josie when she first launched her Argan Oil.  When you're already looking and feeling like crap from a recent surgery, it's not the best idea to stand next to a supermodel haha

 Fast forward to May 25, 2013: I went crazy at Sephora at South Coast Plaza buying Josie Maran's products.  To my delightful surprise, she was there greeting fans and signing autographs for customers who purchased her products.  Again, it was another "roll out of bed" hair day for me.  Josie, on the other hand, looked her usual gorgeous supermodel self.

The contraband purchased (left to right): Argan Infinity Cream, Argan Illuminizer, Argan Matchmaker Serum Foundation, Argan Love Your Lips Hydrating Lipstick and Argan Cleansing Oil.  The Cleansing Oil was a gift with purchase.

Argan Matchmaker Serum Foundation in Light/Medium: Let me start by saying I love using BB Cream.  However, I may be switching over to this argan foundation.  This foundation is formulated with Chameleon Pigments, which break down upon application to match the color of your skin.  Chameleon Pigments is a breakthrough color-match technology that suspends over fine lines and wrinkles to detract visible signs of aging.  You don't need to moisturize before you apply this foundation since argan oil is infused into the formula.

I normally only use argan oil during my nightly skin care routine.  I was very hesitant about using this foundation as I don't like using argan oil during the daytime.  I'm already oily in my t-zone and do not need a shinier complexion as a result of the argan oil in this formula.  However, to my pleasant surprise,  my skin remained matte (I DID apply powder to set the foundation in anticipation of an oily t-zone) while still FEELING nourished and dewy.  While the foundation first appears white before application to the skin, it truly does end up matching your skin.  The only con I can think of is that this product doesn't have SPF.  You will need to apply your own SPF.  However, because it doesn't have SPF, it is great for photography!

Absolutely mind blowing.  Retails for $42.

Argan Cleansing Oil: Don't hate me but click HERE for my review on Cleansing Oils.  There is no doubt that I will be switching brands to Josie Maran's.  Retails for $32 for 6 fluid ounces or $11 for the travel size 1.9 fluid ounces.

Argan Infinity Cream: Advertised as "One creamy oil, infinite possibilities."  This formula not only can function as a face moisturizer, but it also functions as an eye cream, lip balm, body hydrator, hair conditioner, and can also transform powder products such as eye shadows and blushes into a cream product for summer application.  It starts as a cream and then melts into an oil to provide the same benefits as the pure argan oil.  EVERY MAKEUP ARTIST MUST HAVE!  Retails for $28 for 2.2 fluid ounces.

Argan Illuminator: This skin brightener can be mixed with your foundation to provide an all over subtle and natural bronze and glow.  Applied under your eyes to rid yourselves of those pesky dark circles.  It's seriously "sleep in a bottle."  Applied before eyeshadows and it functions as an eyelid primer.  Retails for $28 for 1 fluid ounce.

Argan Love Your Lips Hydrating Lipstick in Happy Honey: Aside from the Infinity Cream, this lipstick can also provide your lips with hydration.  The color is smack in the center while an Argan Oil infused balm surrounds the color.  I was told by a Josie Maran Cosmetics associate that the application of this lipstick is so foolproof that you can apply it without a mirror.
Love the idea of an argan oil infused balm but because of the design, I wouldn't apply this without a mirror if I were to use it as a lipstick.  I wouldn't be able to apply the color portion of this lipstick to fill my lips without it getting messy from the balm.  I would definitely have to use a lip brush if I want the color to apply where I desire it to go.  Thus, I'd use this as a tinted balm.  My lips have been extremely chapped this week but one application of this and my lips thanked me.  Retails for $22.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush

Advertised as being infused with "natural clay harvested from the banks of the Amazon River and naturally baked by the sun," this blush promises to last for 12 hours on all skin types.  Amazonian clay minimizes oil for oily skin.  Those with dry skin will benefit from the nourishing and hydrating properties of Amazonian Clay.

Winner of the 2011 Allure's Best of Beauty and a Sephora Bestseller, this blush is formulated without parabens, mineral oil, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs, and Tricl.  The clay is obtained from the basin of Amazon River where the clay is at its highest nutrient concentration.  The nutrients are further locked in by the baking from the sun.  At this point, the clay is then shaved down to a finely milled powder and infused into Tarte's formulas.

Two of the line's most popular colors are Dollface, a light pink, and Exposed, a nude.  I opted to try Dollface to not only test the longevity of the product but also the color pay off.

Color me impressed.

The blush itself comes in a colored plastic compact that matches the color of the actual blush you purchase, which I like.  The blush itself has a soft texture to it.  I use the Real Techniques blush brush to apply this product and it applies beautifully - no streaky or harsh lines with a smooth application.  It has good color pay off and can be layered for a more intense look.

So did it last 12 hours?  You bet it did!!  In fact, after at the 13th hour mark, even after I took a nap, I woke up to find the color still on my face.  This could very well be because of the primer that is in my bb cream, but I've worn other blushes with a different primer and it never lasted past 4-5 hours.

As someone who hates doing touch ups throughout the day and is always searching for long lasting makeup, I love this blush!

Retails for $26.

Verdict: Tres Bon!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: Maybelline Color Whispers

Maybelline Color Whispers
Swatch Left: Who Wore it Red-er
Swatch Right: Lust for Blush

Lip color on model: Lust for Blush

The problem with Target is that you never JUST buy what you intended on buying before entering the store.  This is exactly what happened to me over the weekend.  Going into Target is always a mini ADD trip for me.  I get distracted from the shiny objects (read: makeup).  Among the shiny objects: the Maybelline Color Whispers.  After perusing the various colors available, I grabbed two: Who Wore it Red-er and Lust for Blush.

I am ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY UNEQUIVOCALLY in LOVE with Lust for Blush.  I tend to gravitate to pink lip colors so I was naturally drawn to this color but upon applying it in the parking lot of Target (yes, I get THAT excited with new purchases), it was like love at first sight.

Creamy buttery application with a pigmented glossy finish, the Lust for Blush lipstick reminds me of the staple MAC Creme Cup.  However, I do believe this lipstick has more color pay off.  The Who Wore it Red-er color is a plummy red that also has a glossy finish.

The formula is definitely moisturizing and lasts just as long as any other MAC lipstick.  These are also comparable to Revlon's Lip Butters.  However, the Color Whispers smell so nice!

At $7.49, this lipstick is worth the money!  The Lust for Blush will be a staple in my makeup bag.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Featured Recipe of the Week: Chimichurri Sauce by Live, Laugh, Cook, Eat

Photo by Live, Laugh, Cook, Eat

It's something special when you are privy to recipes concocted by award winning home cooks.  I always think recipes are a looking glass of a cook/chef's style.   When I tried this chimichurri recipe, well, now I can't wait to try the rest of Live, Laugh, Cook, Eat's recipes.  The mildly bitter flavor of the Italian flat leaf parsley paired with oregano, made brighter by red wine vinegar and lemon juice, with a kick from crushed red peppers and garlic, highlighted by a hint of cumin, and all tied together by EVOO...delicioso!  I love me a good sauce and this one is DEFINITELY being added to my repertoire.

Before you pass over this recipe for as mere sauce, keep in mind, the master mind behind this recipe, Laureen Pittman of Live, Laugh, Cook, Eat, was ONE POINT away from winning $25,000 on Food Network's Ultimate Recipe Showdown for her Paniolo Steak with Wicked Wahine Chimichurri recipe. So without further ado.....

Wicked Wahine Chimichurri
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, tough stems removed and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until you have a sauce the consistency of a loose paste.  Do not puree completely.  Transfer to a bowl and enjoy at room temperature on your favorite grilled meat or seafood.

Can be stored up to 3 days in the refrigerator before oxidation occurs, darkening the color of the herbs and causing the flavors to lose their freshness.

I paired this with my Asian Marinated Flank Steak.  Click HERE for the recipe!
Bon appetite!

Recipe: Asian Marinated Flank Steak

This was a serious random mixing of ingredients with no rhyme or reason for measurements...and when my husband exclaimed, "WOW!" well...I knew I had to share.

3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp sesame oil
4-5 cloves of garlic (adjust to taste)
1 tsp chili garlic oil
1/2 tsp minced ginger
3 - 4 lbs flank steak
ground pepper (I prefer white pepper)

1. Prep the flank steak by scoring its surface across the grain.  This helps the marinade to absorb into the meat for more flavor.  Place meat into a sealable plastic bag.

2. Combine all ingredients into a bowl.

3. Pour the marinade into the bag with the flank steak.  Marinade over night in the refrigerator (at least 2 hours).

4. Spray a grill pan with cooking spray (healthier!) or spread a pat of butter all over the surface of your grill pan.  Grill each side of the flank steak for approximately 4 -5 minutes for medium rare.

5. Let rest before slicing the flank steak thinly and at an angle.

Bon appetite!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Recipe: Avocado Shake - Healthier Version

Avocado shakes are a staple Vietnamese shake.  While avocados are generally paired with savory dishes here in the U.S., they are considered more a "dessert" ingredient in Viet Nam.

Following up on a photo I posted onto my Facebook page (follow me!) the other day, I decided to post a healthier version of the Avocado Shake.  This shake is typically made with sweetened condensed milk.  However, I swapped it out for honey to make it healthier, and it was still just as yummy.  Hope you enjoy!

1 handful of ice cubes
1/2 cup of milk
1/3 cup of honey (adjust to taste)
1 avocado

Place all ingredients into a blender.  Blend.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review: Clarisonic Mia

The first time I heard about the Clarisonic was in 2010 when a girl friend of mine started using it.  She has eczema and was telling me how this product had been helping her skin.  Considered a cleansing system (not an exfoliator!), this product helps clean your skin 6x better than manual cleansing.  As a result, skin is left softer, smoother, and cleaner.  Serums and moisturizers sink into the skin better thus yielding a more effective use.  Advertised to also reduce oily areas, dry skin patches and blemishes as well as minimize the appearance of visible pores.  Gentle enough to use twice a day.

I was intrigued.  However, I was not intrigued enough to get the most expensive model out at the time.  I settled for the cheapest model, which at the time was the Mia.  It arrived with the Sensitive Brush Head and a 1 oz bottle of Clarisonic's Refreshing Gel Cleanser.  I opted to use my own cleanser.

I have to admit my skin doesn't give me that much problems.  I get the usual acne during my hormonal rage each month, but other than that, I'm a pretty lucky gal.  Hence, when I used this back in 2010, I didn't see a change in my skin at all.  Within 3 months, this product was collecting dust in the back of my cabinet in the powder room....

...and then I hit my 30's... and started getting congested skin around the chin area.  My skin just needed a "wake me up."  Out came my Clarisonic and within a week, my skin noticeably improved.  The skin congestion around my chin cleared up and whatever blemishes I had on my forehead and nose bid me a quick adieu.  My skin feels super clean after each use, yet does not feel like its moisture has been stripped.  Coincidentally, the Josie Maran Argan Oil is finally working on my face.  I had used the Argan Oil before without using my Clarisonic and the Argan Oil didn't do anything for me.  Now that I'm using the Clarisonic to cleanse my face, the Argan Oil seems to be working and moisturizing my face without breaking me out.

Clarisonic, I will never doubt you again. I will never go without you ever again.  Pinky swear.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Recipe: Blueberry Banana Milkshake

It's only early May right now but in California, it's practically summer.  One of my favorite breakfast options during the summer is to make milkshakes.  Maybe it's the childhood memories of my mother always indulging me with a McDonald's milkshake when I was a little girl every time I was let out early during half days at school, but I absolutely love a great milkshake.

I tried to make a healthier alternative to McDonald's milkshake by using blueberries for their antioxidants, bananas for their potassium, Greek yogurt, and instead of sugar, I opt for organic agave nectar.  Quite frankly, I've made this milkshake without any type of sweetener because the fruits used provide enough sugar for my taste, but for those with a sweeter tooth, agave nectar is a healthier substitute to good ole granulated sugar.

1 cup blueberries - frozen to keep your drink cold!
1/2 of a banana
1/2 cup of Greek yogurt (I prefer Chobani)
1 cup of milk
1 tbsp of agave nectar (or honey)

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Do you enjoy milkshakes?  What flavor milkshake do you prefer?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Makeup for Katie - Dramatic Evening Look

Katie was back to get her makeup done to attend a wedding.  This time, she wanted dramatic eyes.  This fun lovin' gal has an affinity for blue on her eyes so I went with just that!

Smashbox's CC Cream in Light Medium
Ben Nye concealer
Make Up For Ever Super Matte Loose Powder on T-Zone area only

Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer Potion
MAC e/s in Wedge
MAC e/s in Soft Brown
MAC e/s in Mystery
Sigma Paris Palette, e/s in Seine
MAC Limited Edition Chenman Love Cycle e/s
Maybelline Color Tattoo Metal 24 Hour Eye Shadow in Electric Blue
Urban Decay e/s in Foxy
MAC fluidline in Blacktracks 

Benefit Hoola
Nars Orgasm
Sigma Paris Palette - Versailles

MAC - Pink Plaid

Check out the day time look I previously gave Katie by clicking HERE!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What's in My Makeup Travel Kit

Let me introduce you to what I use to store my toiletries, hair accessories, and makeup for when I travel.  Henri Bendel, how do I love thee for this ADORABLE Large Hanging Weekender Bag.  This is one of the bestsellers at Henri Bendel.  Compact yet stores a lot of items.  

And this is what it looks like when opened.  This bag can hang inside of a hotel bathroom for convenience.  I use the compartment all the way to the left to store hair accessories (bobby pins, hair ties) and other knick knacks such as safety pins.  I use the middle compartment to store toiletries such as qtips, eye makeup remover pads, lotion, skin products, contact lens solution, contact lens case, deodorant, lotion, tweezer, and razor. 

The right compartment stores all of my makeup.  Here's the break down:

Real Techniques Stippling Brush
Real Techniques Powder Brush
Real Techniques Multi Task Brush
Real Techniques Blush Brush
Real Techniques Pointed Foundation Brush
Real Techniques Domed Shadow Brush
2 - MAC 217 Brush
MAC 224 Blending Brush
MAC 219 Pencil Brush
MAC 212 Flat Definer Brush
MAC 249 Large Shader Brush
MAC 263 Small Angle Brush
Smashbox #21 Arced Liner Brush

Makeup (left to right) - all in travel friendly sizes (less than 1 ounce)
OCC Lip Tar in Kava Kava
MAC Select Cover Up in NC20
Make Up For Ever Aqua Brows
Maybelline Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner (below the Aqua Brows)
Make Up For Ever Duo Mat Powder Foundation (below the gel eyeliner)
Dr. Jart Black Label BB Cream
DUO glue in dark
Urban Decay Primer Potion
MAC false lashes
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil in Perversion (below the false lashes)
YSL Touche Eclat in 1.5 (below Perversion)
Lorac Pro Palette
Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush in Dollface (pink compact)
Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette (below Lorac)
Tarte Mineral Powder Bronzer in Park Avenue Princess (right of Naked Basics)