Brown Sugar Scrub

I’ve never tried any homemade face products before–mostly because I was afraid it would irritate my skin. Tonight I tried making a brown sugar scrub, and I must say I was impressed! My skin is at it’s peak winter dryness right now, and the scrub was the perfect amount of exfoliation and moisture. I have a nice exfoliating scrub that I got from a facialist when I got a facial before my wedding, but I feel like this easy brown sugar scrub was way better. The brown sugar is very concentrated and feels like it’s really exfoliating your skin without having to scrub hard and irritating your face. With my old scrub and most store bought ones, it feels like there aren’t enough of those tiny little beads to get the job done.

It might not look pretty, but it makes your skin super soft!

Here’s the recipe (from http://www.laurenconrad.com)

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

~1 tbsp milk

If it feels too stiff while mixing, add a little more milk to thin it out. It’s pretty easy to eyeball it to get the thickness you want. If your skin is really sensitive, you can try heating it up in the microwave to melt some of the sugar so it’s a creamier mix. Leave on for 15-20 minutes or however much time you have. Just as a warning though, this can result in a fairly messy situation so I would recommend wearing a shirt you don’t care about and putting a towel around your neck for any drips because the mask doesn’t dry. It’s easiest to just take a bit and apply it with your fingers so it goes on evenly and then you can scrub it on gently. Say hello to soft skin!

This one’s for all the avocado lovers

I love avocado. Egg in a basket with avocado? Yes please. Avocado in my salad? Always. Avocado and pretty much any Mexican dish? Of course. So when I saw a recipe online called “Avocado Fries,” I was intrigued. What else could I possibly do with this wonderful fruit that is so painstakingly perishable? When you only want to go to the store once a week, you’ve got to come up with some creative ways to use the same ingredient before it goes bad. I made some changes to the recipe I found online. It’s supposed to be healthier to bake them, and I also added the butter for more flavor.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 large avocado

1 large egg

2 tbsp butter (melted)

1/4 cup flour

3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Salt for seasoning

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425. Half the avocado and then cut around edges of the skin to loosen it. Once you have removed the skin, slice the avocado vertically and cut according to what size fries you want. Set out three small bowls, one each for the flour, egg, and bread crumbs. Melt the butter in a pan or in the microwave, and then mix with the egg. Prepare the cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Take the avocado slice and roll it in the flour, the egg mixture, and then the bread crumbs. Set each slice down on the sheet, and once you have breaded all of them, sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Then bake them in the oven for 20 minutes.

Once you take them out of the oven, give them time to cool. But not too much time, because they taste best very warm! Expect a crunchy salty outside, and enjoy the buttery avocado-y goodness on the inside.

Homemade Pomodoro

The last time I tried to make my own spaghetti sauce it ended in disaster. The whole apartment smelled like warm tomato juice, and not in a good way. I have two tips for you if your cooking experience consists of assembling cooked pasta with a can of store-bought sauce. First, don’t cook hungry. I’m almost positive the reason why my first sauce didn’t work out was because I was already hungry, cranky, and impatient. Today we had a late lunch, and at 6pm neither of us were hungry. But I was bored, so I thought why not tackle another pasta sauce. When I was done making the meal, Drew commented that he still wasn’t that hungry yet. Ten minutes later, both of us had finished our bowls.

My second tip is that you should do basic research on the components of your recipe and find out why certain ingredients are included, if they aren’t already explained in your cookbook. I made a variation of the “Spaghetti with Salsa di Pomodoro” recipe from my Williams-Sonoma Italian cookbook. The onions and carrots add a sweet flavor to the sauce that balances out the acidity of the main ingredient, which is tomatoes. I made some changes and added fresh garlic just because I had some. I also ignored the snooty suggestions from my cookbook, like only “use vine-ripened plum tomatoes in summer and the best-quality canned tomatoes, such as Italy’s superb San Marzano variety, the rest of the year.” I literally used the cheapest version of these ingredients that exist at your average grocery store, and it still tasted delicious. I can only imagine how it would taste with all the best ingredients.

Ingredients (makes 4-6 servings, I cut it in half for 2)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 carrots, finely chopped

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

2lb (1 large can) Roma tomatoes, chopped

Salt & Pepper (sea salt if you’re fancy)

Fresh basil leaves, shredded (I just used dried basil leaves from my spice rack)

Grated Parmigiano cheese

1lb spaghetti (I used angel hair)

Directions

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large frying pan, add chopped carrots, onion, and garlic and stir frequently until carrots are tender. 10-15 minutes.

Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper and cook on high until the sauce bubbles. Then reduce to low and simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.

While the sauce simmers on low, boil water with a few dashes of salt and then cook the pasta until al dente. Once the pasta is done (you can always use my favorite test–throw a noodle against the wall and see if it sticks), if the sauce looks too thick for you, drain most of the water from the pot but leave a little bit left with the pasta. Pour pasta and leftover water (if necessary) into the sauce and toss in the pan, heat on low. Add the basil and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.

Toss again, then remove from heat and add 1/2 cup cheese. Then serve immediately. You can also put more cheese and basil on top of the pasta in the bowl if you want it to look pretty for serving to guests.

White Wine Sangria

SANGRIA |sa ng ˈgrēə| noun

A Spanish drink of red wine mixed with lemonade, fruit, and spices.

ORIGIN Spanish

Literally ‘bleeding’ ; compare with sangaree

Time: 5-7 minutes

Ingredients: large bottle of favorite white wine (I used Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio), 2 white peaches, 4 strawberries, orange juice, and sprite.

Combine bottle of wine wine, 1/4 cup orange juice, and sliced up fruit in large pitcher. Chill in refrigerator. Add 1/4 cup sprite right before serving over crushed ice.

Scrumptious Blackberry Pie

The key to baking an amazing pie is the perfect pie crust.

Store bought crusts will never have the same just-out-of-the-oven buttery flakiness as a homemade pie crust. You also don’t need overly fancy baking tools and gadgets to bake a satisfying pie.
This recipe has served me well, from midsummer fourth of July barbecues to wintery Christmastime treats, it will hit the spot for all your friends and family (unless one of them is way too obsessed with only chocolate desserts to branch out–you know who you are–Jeff Eyman).
Pie Crust Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
Mix the flour, salt, and cut the shortening together in a large bowl. Mix water and white vinegar in small bowl. With an electric mixer, or if you want to get an arm workout, mix the liquid ingredients in the large bowl. You might have to cut up the shortening so it mixes easier, but keep stirring until the ingredients form a dough.
On a cutting board or clean flat surface, flour the surface and your hands, and pat the dough in a ball and knead it with your hands until it becomes less crumbly. If the dough becomes too sticky, add some more flour. Separate the dough into half, for the top and bottom crusts, and set one half aside. Roll out the first ball with a rolling pin until it’s about 9 inches wide and across. Transfer to pie pan.
Blackberry Filling
  • 4 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca
  • Cinnamon and extra milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse blackberries in a strainer before putting in a large bowl. Add sugar, flour, milk, and tapioca. Mix together in bowl and then fill into pie crust in pan. After rolling out the second crust, place on top of the pie filling in the pan and mend edges together. Cut small slits in top of pie and sprinkle with milk for browning and cinnamon for an extra kick. Bake in oven for 45-50 minutes, let cool on stove or rack, and try to fend off the pie lovers.