Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Beauty Must-Haves

I love reading product reviews and recommendations, especially when they relate to beauty products. I've always had a bit of an obsession with beauty and cosmetic products so I don't tend to be the most brand loyal. {Always wanting to try the latest and greatest item}

However, there are a few products that are the exception to the rule. The products below are all products that I love dearly and use on a regular basis....


Maybelline Dream Mousse Blush: Since I am very fair, a little bit too much blush can easily make me look like a clown. I don't like applying blush with a brush because I feel like it's always too much or too little. Hence why I really like Dream Mousse Blush. You use your finger to blend it in and it's super smooth and velvety so it will spread around and look natural. I love the natural, "dewy" look that it gives my skin.

Triple Moisture Shower Cream from Bath & Body Works: This stuff is SERIOUSLY moisturizing! I'm not the best about remembering to put lotion on regularly so I use this stuff with a loofah in the shower to keep me from getting dry.





Detangler Comb: A long time ago I read something in a magazine about how using a regular brush to comb wet hair is extremely damaging and causes breakage. Ever since then I've used a detangler comb to brush through my wet hair and I swear this is why I don't have issues with split ends, damaged hair, etc. Make sure it is a wide-toothed comb though, not a normal one.




Biore 4-in-1 Self-Foaming Cleanser: My sister in law introduced me to this face wash a year ago and ever since I've been loyal to it. {Which is saying a lot for me b/c I'm a total brand switcher usually.} It leaves my face feeling sparkly clean but not dry, as many foaming washes tend to do. Plus, one little pump is all you need for the entire face so it lasts a looooong time, which is good for my wallet.



Carmex: Nothing else I've found keeps my lips as soft as Carmex. I also like that the tingly Carmex makes my lips ever so slightly more pink when I wear it, which I think just makes my whole face look better. I have one tube in my purse and one by my bed.


What are your beauty must-haves??

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Turkey Buggah, Turkey Buggah

What's for Dinner? 4/27/2010
Turkey Burgers!


This dinner was a plate full of deliciousness.

And can I just say that I was SHOCKED to look back at old posts and not find a single turkey burger featured in one of my What's for Dinners?!? How did this happen?! We loooovvveee turkey burgers! Shame on us!

On the side:
-Grilled brocc
-Oven potato & parsnip fries

Yes, I said parsnip fries. Wipe that disgusted look off your face right this instant! I got this idea from the lovely Katie at Health for the Whole Self. As you know, I recently cooked with parsnips for the first time ever and I really enjoyed them. So I figured why not give them a shot as oven fries!

Turns out, they're delicious! {Not that I didn't trust you Katie!!} They reminded us a lot of sweet potato fries, with a slight sweet factor to them. Definitely give them a try. I made them the same way as Katie, by coating them in olive oil, salt & pepper and then roasting in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

And just because I'm really digging the photos I took tonight and can't choose just one, here's a bonus pic of tonight's dinner.

No, that's not two turkey burgers on one bun that you're seeing. Our burgers puffed up while cooking and ended up looking more like giant meatballs so we sliced them in half to better suit the bun.

Alex's Turkey Burgers

-1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
-small palmful of grated parmesan cheese
-1.5 Tbsp Worcestershire
-1.5 tsp Hickory liquid smoke
-1/2 tsp dried minced onion
-1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash seasoning
-sprinkle of Lawry's Seasoned Salt on the formed patties

Mix all ingredients, except Lawry's, together and form 3 or 4 patties. Then sprinkle the Lawry's on the patties. Grill until internal temp reaches 170 degrees, about 15 minutes. {FYI our patties puffed up and rounded out big time so make them super flat and thin.}

Monday, April 26, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner

What's for Dinner? 4/26/2010

Once again, we had no food in the house and no time to go to the grocery store. So we improvised with stuff we had in the house and made breakfast for dinner. It was a random assortment of things: toasted croissants, scrambled eggs with cheese, avocado and a meatless sausage patty. Alex had bacon instead of the meatless sausage....and I may have had a piece or two of the bacon too. :)


Now back to watching Dancing with the Stars. Jake Pavelka is such a cheese!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Buffalo Cheddar Chicken Breasts

What's for Dinner? 4/25/2010

This was another one of those nights where we had no idea what to make. All we knew was that we had chicken breasts thawed.


I ended up just pouring some Frank's Red Hot Sauce over the chicken breasts and letting them marinate for about 30 minutes. Then I baked the breasts at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking I sprinkled some shredded cheddar on top.

It turned out tasty...{but what thing covered in buffalo sauce DOESN'T taste good?!?}

Green beans, mashed potatoes & a dinner roll rounded out a nice meal.

Topsy Turvy

Introducing our Topsy Turvy tomato and herb planter:


We're hoping it grows us lots of yummy stuff this summer! The plants included are cilantro, mint, basil, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, jalepenos, sage & thyme.

Busy Week Recap & My Mom's Famous Chicken Salad Recipe

I've been MIA this week because it was a crazy busy one! Here's a recap:

MONDAY:
I went to the grocery store after work and quickly realized that it was a BAD idea to grocery shop on a Monday evening. The place was crazy! It took forever to get through the store and the checkout lines. By the time I got home we were starving so any plans we had to cook a "real" dinner went out the window. Luckily I had just purchased a rotisserie chicken so we plopped some chicken on a plate, microwaved some veggies and warmed up some dinner rolls. Definitely not what I had planned but it worked in a pinch.

TUESDAY:
I got word earlier in the day that my BFF had her baby girl! We had plans to head out their way after work to see the baby (they live about 45 minutes from us). However, when the time came around Alex wasn't feeling very well and we didn't want to expose the baby to any potential illness so we didn't end up going. We didn't have the energy to cook dinner so we went out to Cheddar's.

WEDNESDAY:
After work we did actually go out to visit Kim, Ricky and their new baby girl, Audrey Grace. She was so beautiful! We ate dinner on the way out there at a place that specializes in "Chicago style stuffed pizza". It was quite tasty! Here are some pictures from our visit with the baby:

Me with Baby Audrey






THURSDAY:
Thursday night I hosted Bunco at my house! I kept the food simple and made my mom's "famous" chicken salad (recipe below) served on mini croissants and Copycat La Madeline Tomato Basil Soup (click the link for recipe).

Mom's Famous Chicken Salad
Source: Mom

1 rotisserie chicken, deboned & chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
½ onion chopped
1-2 Cups of red seedless grapes, slice in half (to taste & color)
¼-1/2 cup of toasted & chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
2 packets of Splenda
Salt (to taste)
Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
¾ cup light Helmann’s mayo (adjust to your taste)
Juice from half a lemon

Combine all ingredients…I usually chop by hand…but, you can also put in food processor for finer chopping if you’re making finger sandwiches, etc.

FRIDAY:
Date night! After the crazy busy week we had Alex and I were needing some time to reconnect. So we went out to dinner and then to a movie. We saw the movie Date Night and it was really cute!

SATURDAY:
Game night at our friend's house. They served brats & burgers and we played several games throughout the night. Game nights are ALWAYS fun and intense with our group of friends!

Phew!! I'm exhausted just typing all that out! Thank goodness this coming week looks to be a little less busy (knock on wood).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lightened-Up Shepherd's Pie {What's for Dinner? 4/18/2010}

{First off, sorry my what's for dinner? posts have been MIA the past two days! I worked a concert on Friday night and we went to our little friend Autumn's 3rd birthday party on Saturday night. Hence, both nights we ate dinner out and about. Nothing to report.}

When we were trying to decide what to eat for dinner tonight I pulled out an old April 2008 issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray that I kept. I flipped through it and landed on this lightened-up shepherd's pie recipe that I had dog-eared way back when. It looked perfect for a rainy Sunday night dinner so we went with it.

It's not a standard shepherd's pie, which I like. Ground beef instead of lamb, mushrooms instead of peas, carrots AND parsnips. I had never cooked with parsnips before so I wasn't sure what to think of them. I'd say they are basically like a cross between a carrot and a potato.

The only thing I didn't like about this recipe is that it was split up into waaaay too many steps. I thought they could be combined into less steps so I tried that out. See my changes below. Just keep in mind that if you make it the way I did, you need to use a giant, deep skillet in order to fit all the components. If you don't have a giant skillet like I do, then do it the way it was originally written.

Now please don't judge a book by it's cover here....it is CERTAINLY not photogenic, but still extremely tasty!



Shepherd's Pie
Source: Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine - April 2008

INGREDIENTS:

* 2 pounds small yellow-fleshed potatoes, halved {I used red potatoes}
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 10 ounces cremini mushroom slices {I used baby Bella mushrooms}
* 2 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
* 2 parsnips, cut into 1-inch pieces
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 pound 93-percent lean ground beef
* 1/4 cup flour
* 1-1/2 cups beef broth
* 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
* Salt and pepper
* 3/4 cup 2-percent milk
* 1-1/2 pounds baby spinach

DIRECTIONS:


1. In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes and enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to the pot; cover.

2. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over high heat, add the mushrooms {I added the carrots, parsnips and onion at this point too....make sure you use a giant, deep skillet if you do it this way} and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Arrange in a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish in an even layer {I omitted this step} .

3. In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add the carrots, parsnips and onion and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 6 to 7 minutes {omit this if you did it my way}. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the beef broth and tomatoes and simmer {At this point I also added the baby spinach to the pan and let it wilt down}, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Ladle the meat mixture {into the pan} over the mushrooms. Reserve the skillet {no need if you did it the way I did}.

4. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400°. Add the milk to the potatoes and mash. Season with salt and pepper.

5. In the reserved skillet, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook, turning, until wilted, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a colander; press to extract any liquid. {I omitted this whole step...see above where I added the spinach to the meat mixture}

6. Arrange the spinach over the meat mixture {omit this if you did the spinach like I did}, then spoon the potatoes on top. Drizzle with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Haircut Reveal

I got a haircut today! It had been about 5 months since my last one so it was much needed. I decided I wanted to keep the length but I still needed a change. So I found this picture of the lovely Reese Witherspoon and decided it would be my inspiration:

The inspiration


And here's the finished product:


The haircut

The bangs look a little awkward to me but I think they'll look better when I style them myself. The stylist flat ironed them which I think makes them look a little too sharp. Overall though, I really like it.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What's for Dinner? 4/15/2010

Our go-to meal: spaghetti with hot Italian turkey sausage. Yum!!



P.S. I didn't update last night because I went out to dinner with my girl friends. Alex had frozen pizza and beer, in true masculine style. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

He Thinks He's a Model

Do you like the new hair do? I think it looks quite fetching!


My husband, the model.




{It's a wig from a Halloween costume that he stumbled across while cleaning out his closet.}

Chicken Fajitas {What's for Dinner? 4/13/2010}

Fajitas are such a great thing.

Have you ever met someone who doesn't like fajitas? I haven't! Plus, they're so easy. There's no secret to them or long, drawn out recipe. It's just grilled beef or chicken on tortillas with toppings.



We bought some of the pre-marinated Cilantro & Lime chicken breasts from the grocery store, which were perfect for fajitas. The toppings included onion, bell pepper & jalepeno grilled in aluminum foil packets, pico de gallo, cheese and sour cream {not pictured}. We served refried black beans {from a can} on the side.

Really Good Repeat {What's for Dinner? 4/12/2010}


Recognize this? That's because it's a repeat! I actually featured this meal as my very first What's For Dinner? post back in January. It was good then, and it's good now.

I seriously cannot praise this recipe enough! I know it may not look like the tastiest thing in the world, but OH MY...the flavors just pop and burst in your mouth.

Plus, the whole thing from start to finish takes about 20 minutes. Did you hear that? 20 minutes!

Here's the recipe again, in case you missed it the first time: Seared Skirts Steak with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes (click link for recipe)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mediterranean Pizza {What's for Dinner? 4/10/2010}

Yum yum! This was all Alex's idea to make Mediterranean Pizza tonight. I was pretty much planning on us going out to eat or ordering takeout tonight because I thought we didn't have anything in the house to make. Little did I know, while I was napping Alex cranked up the bread machine to start making pizza dough. He's a smart one, I tell ya! I'm so glad we didn't end up going out....this was delicious and much nicer to our wallets. :)


We used the same pizza dough recipe that we always use but made a half batch, which is perfect for one large pizza.

Here's what the toppings consisted of for our Mediterranean Pizza:
  • Pesto, spread over the dough
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Onion
  • Sundried Tomatoes
  • Feta Cheese Crumbles
  • Grilled Chicken Chunks {leftover from earlier this week}
  • Italian-Blend Shredded Cheese
It's a great combo! Try it sometime!

All Grilled, All the Time {What's for Dinner? 4/8/2010}

This was a great all-grilled dinner. We grilled the chicken after marinating in Stubb's Chicken Marinade for about an hour. We love that marinade!! A friend of ours {Hi Sara!} introduced us to Stubb's Chicken Marinade when she had a bunch of us over to her house one time and made grilled chicken. Ever since then, we make sure we keep a bottle of the stuff on hand at all times. It's garlicky, citrusy, and yummy! Plus, the chicken turns out nice and juicy!


Alex also decided to grill our vegetables...he grilled a whole head of broccoli and some sliced tomatoes. He wants me to tell you that the key to grilling the whole head of broccoli is to cut the bottom off so that it lays flat on the grill rack. To the broccoli he drizzled olive oil on it and then rubbed in some minced garlic, red pepper flakes and salt & pepper.

For the tomatoes he sliced them up and laid them on the hot grill. Grill for about 5 minutes and then flip them. Once flipped put olive oil, garlic powder, black pepper and red pepper flakes on them and cook for another few minutes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

You Got Chops! {What's for Dinner? 4/7/2010}

When my husband told me he was going to grill the pork chops we had on the menu last night, I was more than a little concerned. When he told me he was just going to sprinkle spices on them, instead of marinating them, I was REALLY concerned. In my experience, pork tends to get dry very easily and be pretty bland. I thought these chops would probably end up that way.

Well, I was wrong. {Alex stop reading this and rejoicing that I admitted I was wrong....it only happens once in a blue moon!} The chops turned out surprisingly juicy and flavorful!


On the side we made mashed sweet potatoes and sauteed spinach.

To make our mashed sweet potatoes we just mash boiled sweet potatoes with a dollop of margarine/butter and a squeeze or two of honey.

To make our sauteed spinach we just put tons of fresh baby spinach in a saute pan (pile it up high) with minced garlic, olive oil and salt & pepper. Toss and cook until all the spinach wilts down.

Both of these sides are super easy and really good!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Philly Cheesechickens? {What's for Dinner? 4/6/2010}

Sorry I've been MIA! We spent Easter weekend with my family and did a lot of eating out. It was great! I won't rehash it all since I forgot to take any pictures and you probably don't care much anyway. :)

So moving on, this is what we had for dinner tonight:

Chicken Philly Cheesesteaks {Cheesechickens?}


They were great! It's pretty easy to make these. Just cook up some thinly sliced chicken with onions, bell peppers and seasoning, place in a hoagie roll and melt provolone cheese on top.

We served oven sweet potato fries on the side. Great dinner!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last night I had a coffee to go to so Alex was on his own for dinner. When I got home he informed me that he had cooked an amazing steak dinner and even took a picture of it in case I wanted to blog about it. He's so stinkin' cute!

So without further adieu, here is the dinner:


Oooooh! Ahhhhh! Such pretty colors! And it's making my mouth water just looking at it!