Aug 27, 2013

Creamy Polenta with Roasted Vegetables

The tube polenta from Trader Joe's is one of my favourites to cook with. I made fries with them here and a made a lovely Mexican dish here. This time I wanted to make a creamy porridge with a hearty helping of grilled vegetables on top.

Ingredients - 

Tube of Polenta from TJ - 1
Asparagus/Broccoli/Zucchini/Anything you want to use up.
Olive oil
Taco seasoning

Method - 

For the creamy polenta - 

1. Dice the polenta into small cubes and put them in a saucepan on the stovetop. Add enough water to cover them and set the stove to medium heat.

2. Every few minutes, stir the polenta. they will start breaking down, so keep stirring and adding enough water till they reach a porridge consistency. 

3. If the polenta is cooked but there are a few cubes remaining, break them down with a quick whisk  and turn of the heat. They will cook in the leftover heat while you cook up the vegetables.

For the vegetables - 

1. Wash and drain the vegetables and chop them up into even sizes. 

2. After patting them dry with a paper towel, toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic.

3. Roast them in the oven or grill them or saute them. My tip is to use a panini grill, place the veggies on there and close the top for a super fast grilling.

4. Serve on top of the creamy polenta.

The dish is vegan but if you would like to add some dairy, add a dollop of sour cream on top or some grated parmesan cheese.
Its a really really simple dish which is super fast and SO nutritious. I hope you like it. What are your favourite dishes with polenta?

Aug 23, 2013

Makeup routine : Special Occasion

I had a ton of people tell me that the makeup I wore on my birthday was really good. I posted my earlier ten minute makeup routine here, so I thought I could use my birthday picture to illustrate my special occasion makeup.

This routine takes around 15 minutes, so not that much of a difference but its a little more elaborate than the other one.

The line up

For face, I moisturised with my everyday cream which is the Olay 7 effects CC cream. I mix it with a couple of drops of Benefit's "girl meets pearl" . I apply a little extra to my cheeks since they are so dry.

I have tried the Smashbox primer and Benefit's Porefessional and the Benefit one works the best on me. Its lightly tinted but I take a very small amount and apply to only my t-zone and on my eyelids.

I apply the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind in Tan only to the lower/outer half of my face and blend it to the upper half. I leave my under eye triangle, forehead and nose untouched.

I powder my T-zone with the Neutrogena Mineral Sheers in Tan.

 For eyes, I have been on the hunt for a nude matte eyeshadow and I have had no luck with that. This Maybelline eyeshadow in "Cinnamon Spice is nude but shimmery, so it works perfectly for an understated but dressed up look.

I used the Maybelline gel liner in black to line my eyes and waterline.

The Wet n Wild eyebrow palette suits my needs to fill in any sparse areas.

Lastly I concealed my under-eye area with the Revlon PhotoReady concealer in Medium Deep.

I curled my lashes with an ELF eyelash curler and applied one coat of Benefit's "They're Real" (My birthday gift from Sephora).

Cheeks and lips

I kept the cheeks simple with this Bouncy blush from Maybelline in the shade Plum Wine. The blush is pretty pigmented, so a light brush of colour is enough for a natural look.

For lips, I debuted my Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet lipstick in La Raffinée. Its a shade lighter than my lips, so it was perfect for brightening up my look. The colour didn't really last through the meal but I applied only one coat and blotted it, so I wasn't expecting it to.

Lastly, I dusted the ELF HD powder all over my face. It is supposed to give you an airbrushed effect in pictures. It is very light and translucent and I really think it looks really good in pictures. This is a great dupe for the SmashBox photo finish powder.

There you have it. It is a pretty simple face routine. I am such a newbie to the whole makeup thing, so I have no idea how to blend in multiple eyeshadows and get a pretty smoky effect. I do love experimenting though and if I manage to find an easy way to do it, I will share it here for sure.

What are some of your holy grail beauty products? Do you have a recommendation for a nude matte eyeshadow?

FTC disclaimer : None of these products were gifted. I bought them all with my own money.

Aug 14, 2013

A wonderful 27th birthday!

I had the most amazing birthday today. Amazing is such an over used word but it was. The celebration started 12 hours before the actual bday due to time zone difference in India. I was so touched when all the friends I had left back home remembered and wished me. After staying up and chatting with my parents, my brother and all my friends in India (fitness challenge fail), I woke up to my in-laws' wishes. I walked into the living room to find it decorated with balloons. I LOVE balloons and I always get so excited when my hubby puts them up on my birthday.

Maddie checking out the balloons

I got a cute card from Maddie and my hubby with her paw print.

I spent the day chatting with so many wonderful friends and snacking on all the chocolates that my hubby gave me(another fitness fail).

My husband surprised me with a pair of beautiful pearl earrings from Macy's. I am just astounded that he remembered and bought something that I have been wanting for such a long time. He has such good taste.

I was excited for dinner at a dog friendly restaurant which had a cute doggie menu. The rain threatened to ruin it but we just went ahead to a different restaurant and had dinner in the rain. We went to the Redmond Bar and Grill. They were so sweet, they gave Maddie dog treats and a water bowl. We had nachos, burgers and a flourless chocolate cake-vanilla ice cream combo. (major fitness fail). They gave us the dessert compliments of the manager :)

I also wore my Chanel lipstick for the first time. Love it so much! I wore the lace top from Kohl's, the Ann taylor lace skirt (again) and the Nine West sandals from last year.

Top - Kohls
Skirt - Ann Taylor (similar, in black, in burgundy)
Shoes - Nine West via Ross
Necklace - Target
Watch - Fossil

Tomorrow is my tamil birthday, I will probably make some kheer, wear a sari (after forever) and visit the temple. Thanks to everyone for thinking of me today and wishing me the best. And thanks to lovely hubby for getting better at surprises ever year and making me feel so special.

Aug 13, 2013

Making good better: Ballet flats with heels.

Ballet flats are obviously a wardrobe must for anyone. They are comfortable and cute and great for running errands and quick trips. While I love my ballet flats, I do find them tiring my feet out in a couple of hours. So what could be comfortable and versatile while offering a tiny bit of arch support? Ballet flats with a bit of a rise.

Here are some of my favourites,

Cole Haan Astoria - $198

Banana Republic Peggy ballet heel - $128
Steven Loafer - $89.95

Nine West Quancy flat - $61.99

I am waiting for a good sale to come by to pick one of these up. Have you tried ballet flats with a small heel? Are they more comfortable than ballet flats?

Aug 7, 2013

Semi Home-made Thai Green Curry

There are somedays where you just absolutely cannot come up with anything to cook though your pantry is full. This recipe is for those days. You will have a fab meal with the least effort.

I have been wanting to make thai green curry for the longest time. But the ingredient list is pretty complex and this is my shortcut way of making it.

Ingredients -

Trader Joe's thai green curry sauce
Vegetable - carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, potatoes, green beans
Tofu if you have it.
Coconut milk if you have it.
2 tsp of oil

Method -

Sauté the vegetables for a couple of minutes and let them cook in their own juices in a closed pan till semi cooked.
Add the simmer sauce and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Add a splash of coconut milk after turning off the heat.
Serve hot with rice/noodles.

The only work I had was to chop up the vegetables. If you are feeling even lazier, just mix with a bag of frozen asian stir fry mix. I can't guarantee the taste with frozen veggies though but with fresh veggies, this is a delight to eat. I love Trader Joe's. It is my happy place and I really love that their mixes are healthy and not full of filler ingredients. This was really flavorful and tasty not bland like most of the ready made mixes I have tried from Target.
I will try to post a couple of semi-home made meals since I know many of you are working full time and are unable to make "from scratch" meals at 7.30 PM. Let me know if you try this. Do you have any semi home-made favourites?

Aug 5, 2013

Fitness challenge + Outfit post + Haul

The last time I started the 30 day shred, I fell off the band wagon on the 5th day. I didn't quit on fitness, I still hiked a couple of miles a day but the shred, I couldn't keep up. I also did a fitness challenge with my friend (which kicked my butt). This week, I was planning to start a new - one vegetable a day challenge when Ash pinged me and asked me to join in her challenge. The rules are very simple -

1. Eat healthy - One vegetable a day (for me). No Dessert ( for her)
2. 30 Minutes of exercise everyday - 30 day shred / yoga-pilates
3. Got to bed early - 11PM for me and 10.30 for her.

Today was the first day and I am so excited that my husband agreed to join me in this challenge. Its a lot of fun and hopefully we can turn this from a challenge to a habit with a few modifications.

I wore a fun outfit today that I wanted to share. I know I bought the lace skirt for my birthday but patience is definitely not my virtue.

Polka dot top - Banana Republic (similar)
Navy lace skirt - Ann Taylor (similar, in black, in burgundy)

I had a meeting today that needed a casual but professional outfit and this one fit the bill perfectly. I wore simple black ballet flats with this.
Today was also my first drive on the 520 from Redmond to Seattle. I was so nervous but it went smoothly. Yay!

I also a bought a few things over the weekend. I returned some items and bought a couple of tees from Target. This t- shirt is SO soft and is going to be my new go-to through fall. I used up my Kohl's cash and birthday $5 gift card and bought these pretty nail colours.

Essie - In Stitches

In Stitches is a pretty watermelon colour and Bahama Mama is a deep rich plum thats perfect for fall. Both these colours look really good on darker skin tones. I also got the Essie "Good to go" top coat and it really does dry nail polish fast.

I ordered a skirt and top from The Limited during their 50% off sale. I love the skirt but the top is very loose on me, so I will be exchanging it for a S size. The skirt is a simple micro stripe summer skirt. 

I went to Marshall's in Bellevue to buy some new shoes but they don't have a great selection there.
Funny story, I drove all the way to Bellevue after dropping my husband and Maddie at the dog park. A few minutes later, my husband called me all excited that Maddie was swimming for the first time. So I threw shoe shopping out of the window and went back to the park. We had such a fun time letting her swim and sharing ice cream cones.

I also bought an artificial plant and this pretty mannequin to store my necklaces. The flowers were $12.99 and the mannequin was on clearance for $10. Such a steal!

The same mannequin for $15

What did you do over the weekend? Any adventures you would like to share?