Saturday, July 30, 2011

Five Favorites

1.  Larabars.  I first saw these on the blogging world and am now hooked on them.  Everytime I pass the Health Food section at Publix I can’t pass up buying one or two of them for a light lunch or snack at work.  I love their simple ingredient list and the fact that they don’t use any chemicals or ingredients I can’t pronounce.  My favorites are the Peanut Butter Cookie and Cashew Cookie, but I also love their newest Blueberry Muffin bar, too!

2.  Messy side braids.  It’s a terribly easy and lazy way to style your hair when you don’t feel like washing it or spending much time on it.

3.  Aloe Vera Gel.  Despite the fact that my husband and I put on sunscreen the last two times we’ve been at the beach, we both got fried.  I put 50 SPF on my face this last time, and well, a pretty weak tanning oil on the rest of my body.  I finally bought some Aloe at the grocery store after our most recent burn a week ago and have been religiously slathering it on a couple times a day.  It is my friend.

4.   Finger nail polish.  Before I started working at Macy’s, I’m pretty sure the last time I applied nail polish to my fingernails was in middle school.  I’m not even exaggerating.  I just had preferred the natural look for so long.  But I picked up a few vain rituals working in the Cosmetics Department, the most recent being painting my fingernails.  FYI, do yourself a favor and save $25—don’t ever buy the nail polish from Chanel.  It lasts about two days and begins peeling.  For the record, I never actually bought the stuff…. I just sneakily did my nails at work a couple times during the slow hours.  

5.  Our latest wall art we acquired at Goodwill for $1.  Lucille Ball is now my comrade in the kitchen.  Just ignore the burn stains on my skillets, please.  ;)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lost in Translation

"I was breaking my head trying to think of an idea this morning."

"Uh... what?!" 

"Breaking my head... you know, like..."

"Racking your brain??"

romper la cabeza = another phrase that doesn't quite translate to English.

The equivalent is "racking your brain," just FYI.  The end.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Eat Your Spinach Smoothie

I've seen these Green Monster Smoothies on the food blog world for a while now, and I've been a little skeptical... can you REALLY taste the spinach??

So I decided to finally try it out at home, and I must say that it is now one of my favorite smoothie concoctions!  I love making this combo right after a long run or a good and sweaty workout.  The greens give you the perfect energizing boost to start your day (or end it)!

Do not let the green color or the fact that this has spinach in it scare you away.  I promise that you cannot even taste it... it literally tastes like peanut butter and banana only.  It's a great way to get your greens in without even really tasting them.

Here's what you need:

Eat Your Spinach Smoothie:
Serves 1-2 people (or 1 really hungry person)

4 Ice Cubes

3/4 C. Sweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

1/2 C. Water

1-2 T. Peanut Butter

1/4 C. Frozen Mango

1/2 Frozen Banana

1 tsp. Agave or Honey

1 C. Fresh Spinach, Washed and De-stemmed

Throw everything together in a blender and blend until the spinach has turned into tiny specks.  If possible, serve in a Butterbeer mug.  Because it's just fun.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Halls Come to Miami


I can't believe it's been two weeks since I last updated the blog.  There's been a lot going on in my life personally, plus we don't have Internet at home yet, which makes it hard to update.

We do have a dining table and a floor rug for our living room now!  Little by little we will be getting more furniture and things for the apartment.

We finally have tons of shelf space for ever-expanding book collection!  And I still have a whole book shelf of books back in Kansas!

Renae and Justin (my middle sister and her husband) came out for a visit last week and they just left a couple of days ago.  I haven't seen them since Christmas and it was just wonderful having them here.  It's pretty amazing that even though I haven't seen Renae in about seven months, it never feels like a day has passed when I do see her.  There's never any awkwardness that happens sometimes with people you haven't seen in a while-- just sheer glee at seeing each other.  Heart-to-heart talks, tearful embraces, belly laughs and lots of "Wengerisms." There's really nothing like having your sister time.

We showed them around Miami and took them to some of our favorite places-- Vizcaya, our beloved French cafĂ©, Coco Limon, South Beach, Bayside, Miracle Mile, and they met most of Israel's family.  We had a wonderful time, and it was so nice to be see family from my side again.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Perfect Lunch

When my oldest sister was here visiting, we created the most amazing lunch out of leftovers from the night before.

Coconut Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Paired with my Homemade Naan Bread, some store-bought hummus and a semi-Greek salad with homemade dressing (not pictured)

It was a picnic lunch on the living room floor.

Coconut Curried Sweet Potato Soup
Adapted slightly from Eat, Live, Run
Serves 3-4

2 Large Sweet Potatoes
1 C. Light Coconut Milk
2 C. Chicken Stock
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Curry Powder
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Chopped Cilantro, for garnish

Bake sweet potatoes at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes, or heat in microwave for 6-8 minutes on each side.  Let cool.  Combine all ingredients (except sweet potatoes) in large pot-- scrape potatoes out of skins and blend everything in a blender until smooth.  Reheat if necessary.

Serve with this.

Elena's Greek Salad Dressing:
Serves 1, maybe 2 

2 T. Plain Greek Yogurt
1/2 tsp. Vinegar
1/2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Agave

Mix all ingredients.  If it still tastes a little strong, keep adding more Agave to sweeten.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

Are you ready for this?

Like, seriously.  I've already teased you enough with just a photo of these and because it's Saturday and because I've had a really crazy day at work, I'm going to give you a present.

I first saw this recipe on Joy the Baker's site and was blown away just by her gorgeous photos of these wonderful creations.  You must make these.  Your jeans may not thank you later, but oh it will be worth it. The cake itself is a little dense, but the frosting totally makes the whole thing.  Get ready for a lot of bowl licking!

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes:
Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup dulce de leche, plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper or foil liners.  Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add butter and sugars.  Beat on medium speed until fluffy and pale brown, about 3 minutes.   Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add one egg.  Beat on medium for one minute.  Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute between each addition.  Stop the bowl and scrape down the sides as necessary. Beat in vanilla extract.
Add half of the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture.  Beat on low speed and slowly drizzle in the buttermilk.  Beat until just incorporated.  Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add the rest of the dry ingredients.  Beat on low speed until just incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and finish incorporating with a spatula.  Try not to over mix the mixture.
Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake pans, filling each liner about two thirds full.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.  Let rest in the cupcake pans before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cupcakes should be completely cooled before frosting.
To make the frosting:
Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  Beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds, until very soft and pliable.  Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the butter and dulce de leche.  Beat on medium speed until well incorporated.  Stop the mixer and add the salt and powdered sugar.  Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and lighter in color.  Generously spoon frosting on top of cupcakes, or use a large frosting tip to pipe on frosting.
Use sprinkles or extra Dulce de Leche on top of the cakes for extra garnish.