Monday, August 26, 2013

Featured Recipe: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde

One of my favorite go to sauces is one introduced to me by Insatiably Epicurious.  She stumbled, almost quite literally, across this sauce in between running to her connector flight.  With 20 minutes to get from one end of O'Hare Airport to the other end, she barely made it to her connector flight because she HAD to stop to order a sandwich from Chef Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill.  (Seriously - you know you're a major foodie when you risk missing a flight home so that you can get a morsel of Chef Rick Bayless' food.)  Apparently, it was the best sandwich she ever had because of this sauce.  About a month later, when she made this for me, I had to agree with her brilliant assessment.

For more details of the sandwich and her hilarious escapade at O'Hare Airport, visit her blog post HERE.

Special Equipment

10 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
4 jalapenos, seeded and stemmed
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 small onions, quartered
2 limes, juiced
Fresh ground pepper (Note: I prefer white pepper)

1. Set oven on broil.  Place tomatillos and jalapenos on baking sheet.  Place about 6-8" under broiler for about 5 minutes or until tomatillos begin to blacken and soften.

2. Turn tomatillos and jalapenos to roast other side.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

3. Remove the blackened skin from tomatillos.

4. Place onions, cilantro, lime juice, a pinch of salt, a few twists of fresh ground pepper, tomatillos, jalapenos and their roasting liquid into a blender.

5. Taste and adjust accordingly.

This will keep in the fridge for weeks.  You can enjoy this with any type of meat.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

BeautyCon 2013! Who's going?

There's still time left to register to go!  Admission is free as long as you register.  See all of your favorite YouTube Beauty Gurus in person + check out the beauty and hair booths participating.  For more information, go to!

Hope to see you all there!

-VinMaquillage aka T

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Featured Recipe: A Blog of Salt's Sweet and Sour Wings

I'm forever in search of a great Asian Chicken Wing recipe.  Correction: WAS forever in search.  There is nothing more comforting than digging into a batch of wings or drumsticks that is paired with a yummy sauce.  However, ranch dressing or bleu cheese can get pretty boring and pretty fattening quick.  When one thinks of Asian wings, one usually expects something involving soy sauce or fish sauce as an ingredient.  Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across A Blog of Salt's Sweet and Sour Chicken Wing recipe that has neither!  Instead, her recipe features oyster sauce, another staple Asian sauce.

Many thanks to Insatiably Epicurious for introducing me to A Blog of Salt.  Hop on over to A Blog of Salt's page for more delicious Vietnamese and Vietnamese fusion recipes!

With A Blog of Salt's permission, I'm sharing you this delish recipe.  Her recipe involves deep frying the chicken, which makes this meal a solid 5 star.  However, I modified her recipe by baking the chicken to allow variety so that those intimidated by deep frying can also enjoy this dish as well.

So without further ado, here is the BAKED version:

20 chicken wings/drummettes
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vinegar (note: I use rice vinegar)
chili paste to your liking (note: I use 1tsp of Huy Fong Vietnamese chili garlic sauce, adjust to taste)
1 tbsp garlic

Special Equipment
9 inch skillet

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Salt your chicken wings and or drummettes and place them on a lined baking sheet.  Bake the chicken for about 45 minutes or until the juices run clear.

3. Towards the end of the baking time for the chicken, in a separate mixing bowl, combine the oyster sauce, sugar, vinegar, chili paste, and garlic.  Add the sauce into a skillet.

4. When the chicken is done baking, remove them from the oven and immediately heat the skillet over medium heat.  The sauce should start turning syrupy as it reduces.  Keeping the heat on medium, add the chicken to the skillet and toss, making sure to coat each piece.  The sauce will adhere to the chicken as it continues to reduce.  There should be no liquid left when you're done coating.

Remove from heat and garnish with scallions.

If you enjoy chicken, check out my Healthy Buttermilk Oven "Fried" Chicken!

Bon app├ętit!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Products I Will Not Repurchase

1. Make Up For Ever Duo Mat Powder Foundation
I'm a fan of Make Up For Ever products.  Absolutely LOVE their matte velvet plus foundation.  Absolutely love their lab shine lip gloss (specifically #S2).  Absolutely love their aqua line.  Thus, it pains me to say I will not be repurchasing a product from them.

It's a great product: oil free and mattefying makes it great for my combination skin.  Further, it has great coverage.  I believe it's actually the fullest coverage of foundation that MUFE has.  The finish is also pretty natural.  With that said, I've chosen not to repurchase this product because it contains talc and a paraben, ingredients which have been linked to cancer.  Talc is actually listed as their first ingredient.  Read my previous blog post HERE to understand why I choose products without talc and parabens.

2. Benefit's Hoola Bronzer
I may be starting an uproar with the makeup community and all Benefit fans by listing Benefit's Hoola Bronzer as a product I won't be repurchasing.  A makeup cult favorite, this bronzer gives a gorgeous matte and natural color to virtually all skin tones.  Unfortunately it contains talc and parabens.

3. Shu Uemura Anti Oxi Cleansing Oil
One of the earliest blog posts I wrote was about cleansing oils. (Click HERE to read) I was introduced to cleansing oils by way of Shu Uemura's Anti Oxi Cleansing Oil.  I virtually sang praises for the idea of cleansing oils but was remiss in looking at the ingredients as it was a gift.  When I finally sat down and looked at the ingredients, I stopped using this cleanser cold turkey, got into my car, and drove straight to the nearest Sephora to buy a new cleanser.  The first ingredient listed for this cleanser is mineral oil, an ingredient where evidence has found it to be carcinogenic You can read about mineral oil in further detail HERE.  I will always be grateful to this specific cleanser for poppin' my cleansing oil cherry, but regretfully, we must part ways.

4. Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Radiant Touch
Speaking of mineral oil, another product that contains it is a HUGE HUGE HUGE cult favorite among make up artists: the YSL Touche Eclat.  Hop onto YouTube and after a search, you will see what a huge sensation this luminizing pen is.  It is indeed a great product that truly brightens the skin to a gorgeous radiance but my skin is more important to me.

5. Josie Maran Argan Matchmaker Serum Foundation
I'm happy to report that my decision not to repurchase this foundation has nothing to do with ingredients.  Josie Maran is renown for a healthy line of beauty products all infused with argan oil.  If you want more information regarding the benefits of argan oil, read my post HERE.

This foundation was ultra hydrating and moisturizing for my skin, which is expected with argan oil infused in the formula.  Better yet, the chameleon pigments in this foundation break down upon application to match to my skin.  Gone are the days of struggling to find the right shade of foundation for your skin.  This foundation makes it so easy.

However, I'm a medium to full coverage foundation gal.  This foundation was light coverage.  Just not my cup of tea.  For all of you light coverage gals out there, this foundation truly is worth a shot!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 2013 Ipsy Glambag!

Mid-month marks the arrival of my monthly Ipsy Glambag.  After the few sneak peeks I saw online I was extremely excited for this month's Glambag.  This month's theme is Glamour Academy, reflected on the logo of the makeup bag.  Anything Glamour suits me just fine!

I have been dying to try Michael Todd products and Urban Decay's Revolution Lipsticks based on the rave reviews I've heard and read about.  Lo and behold Ipsy delivered them straight to my door!

 I was extremely excited to find out a Michael Todd product was going to be in this month's glambag.  I have been hearing oodles about this line.  Made for all skin types except sensitive skin, this face mask uses pumpkin mixed with glycolic acid to exfoliate your skin.  This line boasts to be organic so that's a huge plus since you all know what a freak I am when it comes to the ingredients I put on my face.  (Read about that HERE) Some users reported a stinging sensation, which I suspect is due to the fact that they have sensitive skin.
As for my first impression, I have combination skin and did not experience the stinging sensation at all.  The smell of pumpkin reminds me of Thanksgiving for obvious reasons.  I kept the mask on for 10 minutes and then rinsed it off.  I love how the product easily washes off leaving no residue.  Did it make my skin feel smoother?  Yes.  Did it hydrate my skin?  Sure.  Did it perform any better in terms of hydration than my other masks?  Not particularly.

Good product but will I purchase it?  I'm not so sure.  It's affordable, especially with the 30% off coupon for Ipsy members but...I'm willing to spend more money for  GlamGlow's Super Clearing Mud Treatment.

I saw that Ipsy gave the Jojoba Charcoal Scrub to certain Ipsy users.  I wish I was given a sample of that instead of the Pumpkin Mask.  I've been looking for a cheaper alternative to GlamGlow's Super Clearing Mud.  

Still a good product but I'm still looking.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you will have heard about Smashbox's primer by now.  I know there are two schools of thought when it comes to primer but based on what I've observed, I tend to believe it depends on your skin.  Foundation just seems to last on my face so this didn't help my foundation last any longer.  However, my mom loves it.  It really does fill in her lines and wrinkles and makes her foundation go on smoother.  The texture is smooth and silky and never once broke me or my mother out.

I'm not a mascara gal - I'm allergic to most mascaras out there.  I was intrigued by the idea of "lash booster" mascara by Pixi Beauty, but upon seeing a paraben in the ingredients list I nixed the idea of even trying this.

Mica Beauty Cosmetics are advertised to be free of preservatives, chemicals, dyes, talc, oils, and other fillers.  This eyeshadow in the color bronze can be mixed with clear lip gloss, clear mascara, and clear nail polish to add pigment to the lips, eyes, and nails.  

This is how it swatches on my hand.  Gorgeous, huh?
However, even with a base on my eyes, the pigmentation didn't transfer as well onto my lids as it did on my hand.  Easy fix: spritz MAC's fix plus and go with a wet technique for more pigmentation.
Overall, I like this eyeshadow because of the good ingredients and the gorgeous color.  I'm all about the neutrals!

Last but not least, Urban Decay's Revolution Lipstick in color 69.
Sidenote: Urban Decay just can't resist with risque names, even when it comes to lipstick (hello, Naked Palette anyone?)! 
Um HELLO creamy, nourishing, hydrating, long-lasting, and PIGMENTED!  One coat is seriously all that's needed for a full coverage lip product.  69 is a gorgeous bright red with pink undertones.  I usually gravitate towards deeper reds so I was surprised this was so easy to wear for a brighter red.  

Overall, I'm quite happy with this month's Ipsy Glambag, especially because I think I hit gold with the Urban Decay lipstick.  I got to try two products that I've been dying to try (UD lipstick and Michael Todd product), got a sample size to take for travel of a product that's been tried and true (Smashbox), and was introduced to a new line of eyeshadows comprised of healthy ingredients (MICA).  I wouldn't have used the mascara regardless of what brand it is due to my allergies anyway.  Always a bonus when you can store great products in a cute makeup bag like the one that came this month.  A huge merci beaucoup, Ipsy!

Click HERE if you want to sign up for Ipsy Glambags!

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Recipe: 5 Spice Carnitas

Carnitas, or little meats, is one of my favorite Mexican dishes.  I had a 4 lb hunk of bone in pork shoulder in the fridge waiting for me to make Bun Thit Nuong, but I was in the mood to experiment.  And so came the birth of this 5 Spice Carnitas recipe.

4 lb pork shoulder, cut into cubes

Marinade Ingredients
1 tbsp Chinese 5 spice powder
2 tbsp sesame oil
4-5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp fish sauce

Braising Liquid
Chicken stock
1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp Chinese 5 spice powder

1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients and allow the pork shoulder cubes to marinade overnight.

2. Heat the oven to 350F.

3. Heat 2 tbsp of canola oil in a 5 quart dutch oven.  Brown the pork shoulder cubes.  Work in batches if you have to because if you overcrowd the meat, it will steam the meat instead of brown it.

4. Add enough chicken stock so that the pork pieces are 2/3 of the way covered.

5. Add the Chinese cooking wine, oyster sauce, 5 spice powder, and hoisin sauce.

6. Braise the pork in the oven for 3 hours.  Turn the pork a few times to ensure even cooking.

7. Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the pork to a platter to allow the pork to cool.  Once cooled, shred the pork.  

8.  Work in batches if you must: Transfer the shredded pork into a non stick skillet.  Add enough of the braising liquid to the skillet so that it comes halfway up to the pork.  Bring the mixture to a bubble.  This will assist in further infusing the pork with flavor.

9.  Remove the pork and add a bit of oil to the skillet.  Working in batches, return the shredded pork to the skillet and cook over medium high heat until the pork is crispy and caramelized.

Enjoy the carnitas over tortillas with your favorite sauce.  Here, I used salsa and a roasted tomatillo salsa verde.  For an Asian flair, serve the carnitas with a steamed Chinese bun, pickled vegetables, and hoisin sauce.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ingredients in Cosmetics I Watch Out For

I have a gal pal who I religiously consult when I want to try a new product.  I literally name the product and she goes on a discovery expedition to find out what the ingredients are.  If the product has ingredients she disapproves of, I will not purchase the product or return it if I've already purchased it.

EVEN IF a product is listed as au naturele, my gal pal and I still make a conscious effort to look over the ingredients because ingredients like mineral oil and talc are natural but are still linked to harmful effects.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a scientist, chemist, doctor, etc. so if you have any light to shed or updated information to share on these ingredients, please feel free to do so.  This is a friendly forum meant to discuss ideas and disseminate information so let's please be cognizant of that.

Here are ingredients that I watch out for when shopping for cosmetics and skin care products:

1. Parabens: A preservative used to prevent microbial growth BUT has been controversially linked to breast cancer tumors.  It can disrupt hormone function that is linked to breast cancer tumors.  Parabens can also be a skin irritant causing allergic reactions.

2. Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum): A liquid by product of the distillation of petroleum, industrial plants use mineral oil as a lubricant for parts (such as inside cars) and textiles.  While it is an emollient, there has been evidence that it has a carcinogenic effect (2008 study by Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University).  It also may clog pores causing acne break outs.  While there is literature that states that the highly refined and purified mineral oil found in cosmetics and skin care products is noncomedogenic, I still won't put this on my face if I can help it.

3. Talc: A mineral mainly made up of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen, talc in its natural form may contain asbestos.  It has been suspected of possibly promoting cancers of the ovaries and lungs.

4. Sulfates: A group of detergents found in hair and skin products.  The most commonly used sulfates are sodium laurlyl sulfate (SLS), sodium dodecyl (SDS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).  SLS has been shown to cause eye damage, cancer, and is also a skin irritant.  Most commercial toothpastes contain SLS.  A major brand that I'm aware of that doesn't contain SLS is Sensodyne.

5. Synthetic Fragrances: Unfortunately, because fragrances is considered a trade secret, cosmetic companies are not mandated to disclose their use of synthetic fragrances in products.  They can cause allergic reactions and can trigger/cause asthma.  I suffer from asthma so I need to watch for this in products I purchase.  The best thing to do is to choose products with no added fragrance.

6. Synthetic Dyes: The most common synthetic dyes in cosmetics are derived from coal tar, a by product of petroleum.  See the discussion under mineral oil as to why I avoid petroleum.

7. Petrochemicals: These are chemicals derived from petroleum.  Again, see the discussion under mineral oil to understand why I avoid this.

8. Phthalates: Linked to hormone disruption, this plasticizer (substance added to plastic to increase flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity) has also been linked to breast cancer and endocrine disruption.

9. GMOs (genetically modified organisms): In some cosmetics, there are derivatives from from genetically modified organisms (plants/animals).  These are considered a health risk because of the fact that the ingredients do not occur naturally - nature is being tampered with.

10. Triclosan: A bactericide that unfortunately has been linked to heart disease, heart failure, and hormone irregularity.  It also has been linked to impairing muscle function and skeletal muscle contractility.  It was also initially registered as a pesticide in 1969.

Again, these are just ingredients I personally watch out for.  I'm aware there are literature out there that will say otherwise in terms of the health risks these ingredients may or may not have.  I'm just sharing with you all MY personal preference when it comes to what products I put onto my skin.

I've stopped using some of the cosmetics and or skin products I have as a result of the ingredients listed above.  Likewise, I've stopped myself from purchasing a number of products (even holy grails in the makeup world) because of the above listed ingredients.

Hope you enjoyed this post!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Recipe: HealthIER Yogurt and Blueberry Pancakes

I woke up with a huge craving for pancakes.  I was wondering what to do with the remaining blueberries so I figured...why not throw them into pancakes?  I love being able to use Greek yogurt in baking and cooking at every opportunity possible.  Since I had some Chobani yogurt in the fridge, why not use them in the pancakes, too?  I was delighted the pancakes turned out just as fluffy, healthier, and no less satisfying to eat.

Dry Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour (or whole wheat)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients
3/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used Chobani yogurt vanilla flavor)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 cup of blueberries
powdered sugar (optional)
olive oil cooking spray

1. Sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl

2. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg and yogurt together.  

3. Add the milk to the egg and yogurt mix.  Mix together.

4. Add the lemon juice and honey (the amount of honey you use will depend on how sweet you prefer your pancakes).

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix.  The batter will be a little lumpy.

6. Gently fold in the blueberries.

7. Lightly spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray.  Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter per pancake.  Brown both sides.

8. Garnish with powdered sugar, blueberries, bananas, raspberries, blueberries, or any other fruit to your heart's desire.  

Serve with a light maple syrup or honey.