Jul 31, 2013

Spinach salad with Mac and cheese

Making store bought food healthier is always a challenge. I promised my brother some recipes for a nicer dinner even if its store bought. This is one such meal. I have a few others in my mind - a ten minute pizza, a ten minute thai curry. I will post those over the next few weeks.



A simple box mac and cheese does fine in a hurry, but the bland cheese and pasta taste needs a bit more to keep me full. I make this super quick spinach salad to go with it.

Ingredients :

Spinach - 1 bunch
Sliced Almonds
Raisins or craisins
Vinegar - 2 tbsp, I used raspberry vinegar for some extra flavour
Parmesan cheese shavings

Method:

Toss all the ingredients in a bowl and serve with your favourite mac and cheese. Simple! You can also see that I added a little dried basil to the mac and cheese for even more flavour.

Do you have any recipes to turn store bought dinners into a healthy meal?

Jul 29, 2013

Haul : Old Navy, Ann Taylor and Kohls!

My wardrobe really was in need of some shirts and tops for work/casual meetings. You remember I shared a picture of my closet here.. I needed to do some serious shopping and fill the gaps.

These are a few purchases for my work/ casual outfits for summer/fall! I still need to purchase some shoes and jewelry and then I am done for July/August.

Old Navy shirt  - $14.97
Absolutely LOVE the bright pink of this shirt. So perfect for summer. I got this in a size S. Its a light airy 100% cotton button down. So its the ideal shirt to throw on over jeans or shorts for a quick outing.


Derek Lam for DesigNation - $19.20
I bought these two shirts on clearance at Kohl's. The material feels like silk but is polyester, so saving on the dry cleaning costs. The first one is from Apt 9. Its sold out online (sorry!). The purple pink one is a size S and the silver/grey is a Medium, but it doesn't look too baggy and I wasn't about to pass on the deal.


LC Conrad Lace top - $30
I am so much in love with top. Its just so beautiful, from the lace to the leaves to the little pom poms, just so pretty. This beauty is for my birthday. Size S.

Similar
There is a story behind this skirt. I went to the Ann Taylor store and tried this on in the mini version. I absolutely loved the lace and the color but I couldn't justify $70 for a mini skirt. So I did some internet sleuthing and found one solitary Ann Taylor navy blue lace pencil skirt on ebay. I pounced on it and here it is, in all its glory! I got this in a size 8 for reference. 

Initial neckalce - $19.99

Lastly, I found this beauty in Target. It is sterling silver and my first initial necklace. So pretty!

Just a quick shot to show the fit of the skirt and top.
What did you buy over the weekend? I would love to see your haul!

Jul 24, 2013

The ten minute make-up routine!

I didn't wear any make-up till I was 20. I slowly started getting into beauty when I was gearing up for my engagement ceremony. I was so uncomfortable that I wiped it all off just before the ceremony and went in bare-faced. I have come a long way since then and I understand now that makeup when applied correctly enhances your features and helps you look polished and groomed. Over the last year, I have experimented with a few products and I now have two routines - the quick and easy look and the more elaborate and formal look.

If I am at home, I do not wear a stitch of make-up. My skin is free to breathe. Stepping outside the house to the post-box or to take Maddie for a walk, I add a tinted lip balm. I tend to look like a washed out zombie without some colour on my lips The rest of the time I wear subtle variations of a look with the following products!

The complete line up!

Face
Olay CC cream
Benefit Girl Meets Pearl
Neutrogena Mineral Sheers - Tan 80
ELF powder brush
I use a pump of the Olay moisturizer - CC cream (with a touch of foundation) everyday. I add a tiny amount of the Benefit "girl meets pearl" highlighter and mix them both together for a very subtle glow. I use the Neutrogena mineral sheers foundation as a setting powder  I apply it with a fluffy ELF brush. I am in the shade Tan 80.

Eyes
Wet n Wild eyebrow palette in Ash Brown
Maybelline Line Stiletto in Black
Revlon PhotoReady concealer in Medium Deep
I don't line my waterline on a regular basis. I line near my upper lash in the corners of the eye with the Myabelline Line Stiletto in Black. Sometimes I use the Neutrogena pencil eyeliner if liquid eyeliner seems too dramatic for the situation. The Wet n Wild Ash Brown eyebrow palette is perfect and I fill in sparse areas in my eyebrow with light feathery strokes. The Revlon photo ready under-eye concealer works also to highlight the area. I am in the shade Medium-Deep.

Cheeks and lips
Nyx stick blush - Hibiscus
Maybelline color whisper in Rose of Attraction


 To add a little color to my face, I use the Nyx stick blush in Hibiscus. Its a deep coral rose which looks natural on my darker skin. Just  a swipe of the Maybelline color whisper in Rose of Attraction gives enough color to my lips without looking too made up.

I alternate these products with some other ones I have. I switch up to Boots No 7 brown eyeliner. or Nyx electric blue eyeliner or use a different shade of lipstick once in a while. This basic routine is easy to customize  You can add in colors and products of your choice. I HATE taking off mascara, so I never wear it but if I am meeting someone semi-important, I curl my lashes and apply a coat of Clinique high impact mascara.

This routine does not include a primer, foundation, lip tint, bronzer etc. These, I use only for important occasions. I will post about my heavy(er) makeup routine next week. What are your go-to products on an everyday basis?








Jul 19, 2013

Tomato Asparagus Risotto

My husband is a huge fan of risottos. Me, not so much. But I bought some Arborio rice the other day and was eager to use it. So, I went with a recipe that was a fun little twist to the cheesy, mushroom ones. It was perfect for a hot summer dinner.



Ingredients - 

Arborio rice - 2 cups
Vegetable broth - 2 cups
Tomatoes - 2 (chopped)
Onion - 1 (chopped)
Tomato paste - 2 tbsp
Corn - 1/2 cup
Broccoli - 1 cup (just florets)
Asparagus - 1 cup (chopped)
Spinach - a bunch
Parmesan - 1/2 cup (grated)
Butter - 1 tbsp
Salt
Pepper
Dried herbs (I used basil)


Method - 

1. Heat butter in a pan and saute the onion. Once the onions are cooked, add the rice and broth.
2. Close the pan and wait for the rice to cook. Give it an occasional stir to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. It took a good 45 minutes for me. Check on the package for exact cooking time.
3. Once the rice is almost cooked, add the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes and mix well.
4. Add all the vegetables and let steam as the rice finishes cooking.
5. Mix in parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
6. Serve with a little parmesan on top and a sprinkle of the herb of your choice.

Though the rice takes a LONG time to cook, you don't have to stand over it. Its a very simple recipe once you cook the rice. And cooking the rice is SO simple. Just boil the rice and broth together till soft.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Let me know if you try it and if you have any feedback to share.
Thanks for reading!









Jul 16, 2013

Paris Part 2 : Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées and a sparkly Eiffel Tower

The best view of the Eiffel tower was from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. It also provided a great view of Champs Elysées. We were lucky that it never rained when we were there but it also never get dark until after 11PM. So my desire to take pictures of a sparkly Eiffel Tower on the dark was crushed. It still was an amazing experience and one of the highlights of the Paris trip.

I went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe with the Museum Pass and stood at the very edge to take the best pictures of the Eiffel Tower. I went there an hour early and stood rooted to the spot. Other tourists slowly started streaming in, all looking for the very spot. Some waited, pouted, jostled, commented. But I didn't move from the place for the whole entire hour, though I was freezing and my legs were cramping. So if you love the pictures of the Eiffel tower, let me know because they were hard won ;)

Picture heavy!!!

A mini Arc de Triomphe

Champs Elysées



Sparkle sparkle!!!


Postcard worthy!

Jul 10, 2013

The Breakfast Cookie!

I don't know if this recipe is out there in the internet but I claim the genius of inventing it! This is the best breakfast recipe that I have ever eaten! I LOVE banana-walnut combination. But pancakes are too thin and muffins are too much. I needed a happy medium and here it is!


Ingredients:

Flour - 1 cup
Eggs - 1
Banana - 1
Chopped walnuts - 1/4 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Salt -a pinch
Baking soda - a pinch

Method -

The secret to this technique is using a sandwich cookie pan. Mix the ingredients together to make a smooth, lump free batter. Pour in the cookie pan and bake for 9 minutes at 350F and 3 minutes at 375F. Makes 6 breakfast cookies!
You could serve these with a little bit of whipped cream to dress it up or plain if you are in a hurry. Yummy both ways!








Do let me know if you try this recipe. What are some of your favourite fruit based breakfast ideas?

Jul 7, 2013

Summer Essentials: White Haute!

Trends may come and go but nothing beats the versatility of a white top and blue jeans combo. The trick with making a white top pop is to pick one that has a little something extra to it. It could be a textured fabric, a unique collar or a fun silhouette. Additionally if its a 100% cotton, you know that your skin can breathe in the summer.

Here are some of my favourites! All of them are a 100% cotton.

J.Crew Swiss dot tuxedo shirt - $88 
Banana Republic embroidered bib shell - $69.50 

Mango cotton top - $34.99
Gap white top with tassels - $33.99

Mango pocket cotton blouse $19.99 


Which one is your favourite? What are some other versatile combinations that you like for summer? 

Jul 2, 2013

Catching up on Instagram - June!

Here are a few of my favourite pictures from Instagram last month!


Mango salsa tortilla bowl from Qdoba

Maddie is learning to sit on command, with the help of homemade sweet potato training treats!

Chole!

I only hate coffee in the liquid form. Anything else mirrors heaven!

A pretty purchase from World Market to store jewelry!

Waiting patiently for a rogue piece of broccoli or peas!

Jul 1, 2013

Pasta Salad with Orange Champagne dressing

Summer is upon us and with temperatures hovering at 93F today, feeling lethargic is not rare. I wanted to make dinner that was fresh and lively and settled on this pasta salad. It was a simple and super fun recipe and not even remotely intimidating.


 Ingredients:

Whole wheat farfalle pasta
Onion
Tomato
Spinach
Broccoli
Craisins
Walnut pieces
Orange champagne vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste.


Method : 

I didn't list the quantities of ingredients. Just add more of what you like and eliminate what you don't like.
Cook the pasta in boiling water. Drain and run in cold water.
Chop the vegetables fine and toss them with the pasta and vinegar.
Add salt pepper and pepper to taste. Serve cold!

The orange champagne vinegar gives such a fruity fresh taste. I add onion since its so good for health and I love its taste but be careful not to put in too much. You can use cherry tomatoes. They would look a lot better, I am sure. There are infinite ways to change this up to suit your needs, so have fun with it.

Like I said, this is the simplest recipe. I know a lot of you want to cook and are looking for something ridiculously simple and an alternative to frozen food. This is the recipe you are looking for. Doesn't involve doing anymore than boiling water! Hope you enjoy it!