I'm just a girl, sitting in front of a computer, asking you to read this.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Foods That Double as Great Skin Care Products

Having sensitive skin is the worst. As a teenager, I knew very little about skin care except no matter how many facial washes, astringents, or moisturizers I tried, I still felt like a horrible zit monster. Looking back, I realize I was probably using too many harsh products for my sensitive skin. While I still have some skin issues from time to time, I've found that for my fickle combination skin, natural remedies work best.

In fact, several common foods and pantry items often yield great results when it comes to skin care. Would you believe it that smearing honey all over your face would even your skin tone? How about strawberry juice as an astringent? I'm serious, they're amazing. Here's my list of foods that you might want to work in to your skin care regimen:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer Drinks: Tinto de Verano

After three weeks of baking, we're doing something a little different this week. Annelih, Rhi and I decided to do recipes for summer drinks! Now, I'm not the greatest at making mixed drinks, so I decided to go with something simple and delicious. This week, I'll be sharing a recipe for one of Spain's most popular summer drinks, tinto de verano.

The name translates to "summer red wine," and it's sort of a simpler version of sangria. It's served all over Spain in the summertime and is popular in all sorts of venues, from restaurants to dive bars to family gatherings. One day, I'll finally make it to the land of my people and I'll drink tintos daily at various outdoor cafes and people watch and life will be wonderful. Just wait, it'll happen.

Luckily for me, its super easy to make and until I get to Spain, I can make tintos de verano at home. There are variations on the basic recipe, but all you really need is red wine, a lemon-lime soda of your choice, and maybe some lemon slices for garnish. Generally its made with a carbonated sweet lemonade (the La Casera brand is popular in Spain), but lemon Fanta, 7-Up and Sprite will do as well. I decided to use Jarritos limón flavored soda in mine because its pretty easy to find where I live and its absolutely delicious.

It's also a fantastic neon green color, which is a bonus.

What You'll Need:
Red wine, chilled
Carbonated lemonade or lemon-lime soda
1 Lemon, sliced for garnish
*Rum, optional for added kick

Mix equal parts red wine and carbonated lemonade. Garnish with lemon slices. Add a shot of rum if you're feeling fancy. That's it, you're done! Enjoy with just about anything.

We had it with a puff pastry pizza tonight and it was a perfect light summer meal.

I couldn't resist photographing some in one of my mother's vintage highball glasses:

Be sure to check out Annelih's Mango Pineapple Rum Punch and Rhiannon's Strawberry Mint Fizz.

I'm also participating in Wow Us Wednesdays!

Historic Fashion I Love to Look At But Would Hate to Wear: Women's Fashion in 18th Century France

I think fashion is a fascinating topic. I mean...yes, I enjoy a good wrap dress as much as the next girl, and I think finding a cheap vintage Coach purse on eBay is one of life's greatest small pleasures, but my interests in fashion lie in the realm of fashion/costume history.

Historic Costumes was one of my favorite classes in college because it fed both my inner history and fashion nerd. The more I learned about earlier fashion eras, however, the more I realized I'd never, ever want to wear most looks for more than a short period of time (like 15 minutes, tops). I mean, I consider pants too much of a hassle half the time, I'm clearly not cut out for layers upon layers of undergarments and gowns.

So because I love nothing more than to share semi-useless trivia about various subjects, I thought I might begin a little series where I look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of some of my favorite fashion periods. And where better to start than with the most extravagant of all: 18th Century France.

Before we get into the uncomfortable realities of being a fashionable lady of the French court, let's first talk about why 18th century fashion--specifically, court fashion from about the 1750s to the 1780s--was awesome:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Homemade Twix!

This week for our blogging challenge, Rhiannon suggested we try our hands at homemade Twix. Check out their blogs to see how Annelih and Rhiannon's Twix-making experiments went!

I was a little uneasy about this project, as it seemed very complicated in my head before I started looking up any recipes. I started looking around and I realized that it wouldn't be as bad as I thought. It seemed most recipes made some kind of shortbread cookie, then covered it with caramel and chocolate (or dipped in chocolate).

Well, as it happened, this was a hot mess of an experiment. I'd decided early on I didn't want to attempt to make my own caramel, so I decided to substitute dulce de leche instead. I loooove dulce de leche in cookies (remind me to share one of my favorite alfajores recipe soon!), and I thought it'd be a solid alternative to possibly ruining a batch of caramel made from scratch. Added bonus: it'd be quicker, too!

Despite a few hiccups that resulted in me finishing my Twix at 1 a.m. last night...the cookies turned out great! Not quite like Twix, but pretty delicious none the less. I'm regretting the three I ate earlier this evening...definitely going to yoga tomorrow.

The three parts to the recipe: shortbread, dulce de leche, and the chocolate. For the shortbread, I adapted the Buckingham Palace Shortbread from Sara Perry's Holiday Baking (can you tell how much I love this book?). I only made half a recipe, but I'll post the whole recipe here.

What you'll need:

Shortbread (makes 2-3 dozen 1 to 1.5 in squares)

2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
1/3 cup granulated sugar
(in original recipe, also included is 1/4 cup baker's sugar for sprinkling. I didn't use this.)

Dulce de leche:
1 17.6 oz can of dulce de leche (I only used half, but you may need it all if you make a full recipe). My favorite brand and the one I used is Alpina arequipe (another word for dulce de leche!)

1 1/2 cup of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
about 1/4 cup whipping cream*

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Game of Scones

If I had to pick one food to eat for the rest of my life, it might be scones. An extension of my bread love, my scone love knows no bounds. After making the chocolate almond bread last week, I had some buttermilk left over so I decided to make a batch of cranberry scones.

This recipe is an adaptation of a plain scone recipe from one of my favorite books: Holiday Baking by Sara Perry. I decided to make cranberry scones because they're a favorite in our house, but I also think the scones taste wonderful without any added fruits, nuts, etc.

What You'll Need
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen), roughly chopped
1 cup buttermilk

Scone toppings: Clotted cream, and any jam of your choice (I prefer strawberry or raspberry jam on scones). If you don't want to make your own clotted cream, you can buy Double Devon cream from Fresh Market.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dark Chocolate Almond Bread

I love bread. I could never give up carbs completely because I honestly love bread more than most things. My favorite bread is probably either the chocolate bread or the rosemary boule from Uppercrust in Gainesville. I've planned entire Saturdays around making a trip to Uppercrust just for their bread (...and their raspberry rose pastries. And their sticky buns. Basically, I would buy one of everything in their bakery if I could, its that good).

So when Annelih, Rhiannon and I decided to make bread for the second week of our recipe challenge, I was excited!

And of course I decided to make chocolate bread, come Hell or high water. Luckily I found a recipe for dark chocolate tea bread that was easy to follow (though it was very ingredient heavy and not in any way health conscious). This is a dessert bread rather than a yeast-based bread, but I still enjoyed eating it (and so did my family!). Definitely a recipe I would repeat in the future.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Apple (Pie) Galette!

Hello, hello! This post is a special one for me, because it's the start of a new tradition two of my friends and I are trying out! Two of my friend's from school have food blogs, and we've decided to do a weekly cooking/baking challenge, where we pick something to bake and then post our different interpretations of a dish!

You can find their fantastic recipes here: Rhiannon at Mini Betty and Annelih at Comfort in Cooking!

This week, we chose apple pie. Classic. Patriotic. American.

And being the lazy bum I am, I chose the easiest apple pie-esque recipe I could think of: an apple galette. It's like a pan-less apple pie. Rustic. Free-form. French (oops).

This week has been surprisingly hectic so I also used store bought crust because I wanted something easy, fast, and delicious. I've always thought that the Pillsbury pre-made crust tastes pretty good to be honest. One of these days I'll attempt to make my own crust, but not today.

Anyway, I adapted my recipe from this one over at Pinch My Salt. I did a few things differently (such as buying my own crust, womp womp), but overall this was a great recipe to use as home base, as it were.

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