Friday, August 5, 2011

Girls' Night

I am about to embark on yet another trip up to New England before my final year of grad school starts.

What better way to start the final vacation than with a spa night?

After a mani/pedi sesh...

I began to assemble ingredients in order to make my own spa products!
Final Products: Oatmeal exfoliator, Yogurt Mask, and Sugar Scrub
I used the following recipes taken exactly from Our Best Bites.  The red colored writing are my comments about the various treatments.

Sugar Scrub
By Sara

1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C white sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cloves
Oil: olive oil*, almond oil, grape seed oil, apricot oil, jojoba, etc.
optional: a few drops of essential oil, such as cinnamon--I used olive oil
Mix all ingredients together.
Guys, this was amazing! You can use this from head to toe in the shower, scrubbing in circular motions for about 3 minutes.  Not only did you smell great after, but I am still touching my arms a day later--you come out of the shower with silky, soft skin!  
And, all of these ingredients can be found in a well-stocked kitchen--score!

After a quick steam (just with boiling water, but they have great suggestions of other steams in the above link), I began withe exfoliator.
Facial Time  
By Sara

Oatmeal Exfoliator

2 t oats 
1 t baking soda
warm water
Place oats and baking soda in a small bowl and add small amounts of water just until it comes together in a spreadable paste. About 1 1/2 t should do it. Use your fingers to rub it on to your face in circular motions. Massage for 1-2 minutes and then rinse off with warm water and pat face dry.
This was very messy (to put it nicely!)--however, that being said, I believe that it did exfoliate my face.  I am not sure if I will use this every time between the steam and the facial mask because it was so messy, but it was worth the try!
Honey Yogurt Mask
1/2 T honey
1 T plain yogurt
1 t cucumber pulp (I didn't have a cucumber, so I just used the first two ingredients)

This did wonders for my face--after I took this off, I felt like I actually had a professional facial!  I felt a little like Mrs. Doubtfire with the mask on, because it dripped off my face a bit : )
See what I mean!?
Sara has other kinds of facial masks as well on her site, so please look for other options!

This was such a fun time, and I loved how everything I needed to create these products were found in my kitchen! The results were amazing and I definitely will be using these products again!

Thursday, August 4, 2011 Home

Chinese takeout has gotten a bad rep.  Known for it's fatty, fried, "non-Chinese" appearances, Chinese takeout is not always viewed as the most tasty, or healthy for that matter, ethnic food.
But here's an exception. Omigoodness people, this is amazing.  In fact, both my roomie and Pat claim that this is their favorite recipe that I make.  Wait, what about this and this or THIS? O well, to each his/her own : )

Sweet and Sour Chicken
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen

2 chicken breasts
Salt And Pepper
1 cup Cornstarch
1 egg
¼ cups Canola Oil

1/2 cups Sugar
4 Tablespoons Ketchup
½ cups Vinegar (I used red wine vinegar, but you can really use whatever you have on hand)
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Garlic Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Heat canola oil on stove top.  (Note: the first time I made this, I used olive oil, but it didn't crisp up the way it should! Therefore, I highly recommend using Canola or vegetable oil for pan frying.)

Cut chicken up into chunks.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Dip in egg wash (lightly beat egg and add a tablespoon of water).  Dredge in cornstarch.
Pan fry the chicken pieces in the oil.  Do this for 4 minutes or so; until the outside is brown and crispy but the inside is still uncooked.  Place chicken in a cooking pan.
Mix sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic pepper in a bowl.
Pour over chicken. 
Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Serve over rice (or if your roomie can't wait that it by itself!).

You can also make a double batch of this sauce and cook it in a saucepan until it is thickened.  However, this amount works for us, and we just spoon the leftovers in the pan onto the chicken! 
The sauce is right on, and you really will want to eat it with a spoon!  This stuff tastes exactly like the sweet and sour chicken from your favorite Chinese restaurant (without the questionable meat or extra calories from frying!).  It is so delicious, and since you can control the ingredients that you are using, it is much healthier (and cheaper!) than the takeout version.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lemon Yogurt Cake

Ever have a day that just draggedddd? I can't believe it is only Tuesday!

After a long week that still has a long way to go, it sure means a lot to come home to something as delicious and as flavorful as it was the first day you made it!
Taken from Ina Garten's cookbook, Barefoot Contessa at Home, Lemon Yogurt cake is a fail-proof recipe that I have used countless times to get rid of the last stubborn lemons and leftover plain yogurt from the week.  It lasts for days, staying moist from the glaze that you drizzle over it shortly after baking.


Lemon Yogurt Cake
By: Ina Garten
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt (I ground it a little in my mortar and pestle to ensure that the granules dissolve)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest (1-2 lemons, depending on size)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (using the lemons that you zested!!)

Glaze (optional)--with the sugar/lemon mixture after baking, I omit this glaze, but it looks delish!
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
In another bowl, whisk yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.

Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
Fold in vegetable oil.  
Pour in pan and bake for 50 minutes.
While the cake is in the oven, mix 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar on a stove until sugar is dissolved.
Cool for only a few minutes (5 ish) and then drizzle lemon and sugar mixture on cake.  Let cake cool.
If you wish to use the glaze, mix powdered sugar and lemon juice together, and then pour over cake.

This is the lemon cake at almost 4 days old--YUM
Hello there, beautiful!

Not only is this cake delicious, but it is healthy too---it has fruit and nonfat yogurt!!! The sugar/ lemon glaze is key, which keeps the cake moist for days (if it lasts that long)!  Ina Garten, flawless as always, has done it again!

Monday, August 1, 2011

O Monday, Monday

Ever have a case of the Mondays?  Well here's a remedy that will be sure to get you out of the slump! 

In just 5 minutes, you can have a delicious drink that will be sure to bring you back to happier when you were on vacation.   I had a similar drink when I went to Nantuckett, with the boy, Liz, and Lloyd.  It had tequila, blueberries, and mint--sooo good! After seeing Jess doing a margarita with strawberries, I knew I had to try to replicate the drink that I had when I wasn't working...for two weeks...and my idea of a busy day was walking on the beach.

I had one of these on Saturday while watching Beauty and the Beast--this may sound juvenile, but I am a firm believer that Belle is the best princess...  She read books, wouldn't settle for that jerk Gaston, and looked past outside appearances to the big heart that was the beast!
*Le sigh*

Anyways.. I hold firm to the fact that since alcohol was involved, this was an activity that adults can do without being embarrassed and I highly recommend it!!

Especially when you drink this...
Blueberry Margarita
Inspired by How Sweet Eats 
1.5 shots of Tequila
2 shots of Cointreau (or if you aren't a grad student...Grand Manier)
2 shots lime juice
2 shots blueberry simple syrup (recipe below)

For simple syrup, start with this as a base.  ----I made a huge batch of this about a month ago, and still use it when I have a margarita craving : ) 

Add simple syrup and one cup of blueberries to a blender.  Pulse until combined.
After---the color is gorgeous!
 Fill a glass with ice.  Add all ingredients.  Stir/Shake.  Enjoy!!!! 
Notice the flecks of blueberry and THE COLOR! So refreshing :)

I think this would have been fabulous with mint, but alas, I didn't have any mint.  So I added an extra half a shot of tequila to balance it out (....). 

Delish! Belle would definitely approve!