Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Style File - Nicole Richie/Gwyneth Paltrow

Hurricane Sandy has given me the opportunity to lounge around and click away on my laptop. I decided to share some style inspirations from my two favorite ladies. I adore Nicole's bohemian, edgy style but also lust after Gwyneth's classic and effortless wardrobe.  My two favorite pieces you ask? Nicole's white studded leather jacket and Gwyneth's striped sweater with blue patches.  "I want it. I want it now daddy!" Think Willy Wonka not sugar daddy with this quote. Just thought I'd explain. :) 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kitchen Ninjas

Hoarder. Yes, it has a negative connotation but it can be a good thing. In my case, I used to be hoarder of kitchen gadgets and supplies. I've learned over the years that there are only certain things I reach for over and over and over again. They have helped me tremendously and cannot imagine a kitchen without them.  Please keep in mind, I have a tiny condo kitchen. I need every gadget to have multiple purposes since I'm lacking in space. To be honest, I never thought kitchen space was ever a factor when it comes to making great food. If you have the passion and greed for food, anything is possible in the happiest and the most delicious part of the home.  I'm also kind of feeling generous so I've included one of my standby meals when I'm in a rush but need something healthy and satisfying.

These are what you call hybrid knives. If you combine a chefs knife and a cleaver, you get santoku knives.  Amazing. Cutting vegetables is such a breeze and what I love the most about it is that because of the wide blade surface, it can scoop   up what you've chopped and allow you to drop into the pans without making a messy trail of onions and garlic.  I've used this as well to slice meat. No complaints here.
This is my little kitchen engine that could! I must use my Black and Decker toaster oven everyday and trust me, it's not just for toasting bread either. I've made cakes, roasted chicken, ribs, baked smashed potatoes, muffins, and so much more.  This is also more energy efficient that using your oven. Less clean up too for a lazy person like me. :)

I highly recommend you scour stores for egg shaped bowls. The functionality is insane. Because its shape, mixing and whisking is made easier.  There is a natural spout and that makes pouring your batter into pans so easy. I got mine from Target during Easter (duh..eggs) but I'm sure they are avail anytime. They just wouldn't be in pastel colors. Bummer.

I love hybrids. Can't you tell? This combo of blender and food processor was a must for me and when I bought it a couple years ago, it was pretty expensive. I had remorse but I don't now!!! One of my most used gadget in my kitchen. Hands down! It also doesn't hurt that I have the light blue version of this Cuisinart. Makes me happy every time I make my smoothies. It's the little things hence the name of my blog. 

You're probably thinking what the heck is this? This is a small bent pan whisk. In some other countries, it's known as a french whisk. This is fab for whisking eggs and when you're making your own salad dressings. I use this for mixing everything! I've had mine for almost 10 years and the coils are still intact!! I call this my magic whisk. :)  I bought mine at www.fantes.com. I haven't seen this anywhere else so it's the only site I can recommend. What's even better is that this is less than 10 bucks!! I think I need to purchase a back up don't you think?!

I don' really understand why an electric water kettle is not popular in the States. Every other country swears by this and is a staple in their kitchens! When I lived with my parents years ago and I was just starting to get into cooking, this was one of my first purchases. It cuts time from the boiling water process by more than half. Its also great for making tea everyday. My parents got so dependent on this that they asked that I leave mine behind and just buy a new one for my place. Gladly I obliged. 

These are the only frying pans you will ever need. Trust me. Calphalon makes amazing non stick pans. They are not made of teflon which is contreversial. There's been research that teflon causes cancer so cooking with it is a no-no in my book.  These two pans are usually sold in packs. Worth the price. 

Fried eggs can be such a drag to flip. Problem solved!! OXO is the only brand I trust with this very bendable spatula or flipper or whatever its called. lol. I have two of these. So darn handy!! Check out your discount stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx or Ross for thses. Shouldn't cost more than 7 bucks. Pick me one up too k? jk. 

Raggedy and used up. That's the why I love them! If my wooden spoons can talk. Boy, would they have stories! I can't  not include them. They are especially perfect for non stick pans. I still have the ones I bought when I was a broke college student. I think I'm gonna give them to my future son/daughter as a family heirloom. Only I would think of wooden spoons as heirloom. I guess its natural since food and cooking is such a big part of my family and friends.  Huge.

Finally, here is my first ever recipe post and hopefully not my last. This is a hybrid (there goes that word again) of many recipes I've read. It's very easy and healthy. Also, you can easily purchase the ingredients ahead of time and keep in your freezer and cupboard. Great after a long day in the office or school.

Seafood Pasta

What you will need:
- 1 pound dried pasta/1 packet. Spaghetti or linguine is best.
 - salt and pepper.  I prefer sea or kosher salt.
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, sliced thinly. Less if you're scared of the funk more if you're nasty. Sorry. :)
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 bag or 4 cups frozen seafood mix.  You should be able to find this in your local supermarket. If not, check out your asian markets. It comes in 1 pound bags.  You can also use frozen shrimp.
- white wine. Your choice but make sure it's wine good enough to drink too.
- 1 bunch of cilantro. You don't have to chop. I just tear with my hands.

1. Turn on heat to high for the pot of water to boil.  Then, add a handful of salt and packet of dried pasta. Stir to spread the love around. Follow packet instructions.
2. While pasta is boiling away, place pan (preferably one with a lid) on the stove. Add olive oil, sliced garlic, and pepper flakes. Turn on heat to medium. I almost never add garlic to hot oil because I don't like the acrid taste of burnt garlic. I want this to be mellow.
3. Once you smell the lovely scent of garlic,  you may add the seafood. It's ok if it's still a little frozen. Lovely broth will come out of it. You an also turn the heat higher to medium high.
3. Cook until no longer in frozen clumps. This can take about 5 minutes. 
4. Add a pinch of salt to the simmering seafood and broth. 
5. You may add the white wine at this point. I don't have an exact measurement because it depends on how much liquid your frozen seafood gives off. I add mo more than 1/2 cup since pasta soaks up a lot of liquid. This is your call. Don't be scared. 
6. Put the lid on the pot and let the wine and broth reduce a bit. 2-3 minutes. Make sure to take your pasta off the heat and drain. 
7. Add the pasta to the pan with the seafood and wine sauce. 
8. Season with salt and pepper.  Pepper is lovely here.
9. Garnish with cilantro and voila. 

This serves 2 hungry people and 4 if there is something else served with this deliciousness. I hope you like it!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Five Things

Hola amigos! I'm back! I thought I'd tread back lightly by posting some beauty products I've been really enjoying. I must admit, I've been on a skincare/makeup bender lately.  It's a love affair I can't seem to stay away from. As much as I love cooking and running around town in search of the best ingredients and restaurants, I think its important to indulge in beautification once in a while. Ok, all the time. :) I don't want you to worry though. There'll be plenty of (food)yumminess to come. 

This is a miracle in a bottle and the label says it all.  I apply this immediately when I feel a pimple.  You just take a cotton swab and dip into the pink stuff on the bottom and dab directly to the zit. Make sure to NOT shake the bottle. The pink is supposed to be settled in the bottom.  I recommend to leave this on overnight to get the full effect.  This reduces the size greatly.  If your breakouts tend to be more cystic than normal, you may want to use the buffering lotion. It will work better.  This can be purchased at your local Sephora or Ulta. 

First and foremost, I want to thank my girl Mara "Romantonio"!! She  introduced me to this little purple bottle.  I'm hooked! Not only does this primer smooth out your skin, it also evens out your skin tone! I do not like it when I look like a lobster in pictures and this stuff,  is the cure.  The purple tones down the redness greatly. I also have combo skin which means I can get a bit greasy. Eeew right?! This somehow provides a matte finish. I don't wear foundation unless its a special occasion so I wear powder and bronzer on top of this. Fantastic. I hope this never gets discontinued. 

Hands down, The Body Shop is becoming my favorite brand.  I still like Bath and Body but it's got nothin on this UK brand.  Their body butters are amazeballs!! I'm on my third tub right now and trust me, I will go through many more in my lifetime.  I don't want to state the obvious. Yes it smells good and yes it's very moisturizing. Hi. My name is Pia and I don't like to waste. I can be a bit extravagant but never wasteful. I love that I can scoop every product out of this container unlike some lotion bottles.  I don't ever have to cut the bottle in half so I can scrape! Oh please. I know you do it too. :):) Ok ok. This is a bit pricey but I got all my body butters at Marshalls for less than half the cost. I'm sure this can also be found at TJ Maxx. I'm just going to have to make sure to check their website during holiday sales because I've seen it sold for the same price as discount stores and it's with free shipping. 

What have I been doing to my face for all these years? I've been destroying it with toners that strip all the moisture  out and leave me with this dryness that is uncalled for! Ladies and gents, I have found my all time favorite toner. Drugstore toners just don't cut it anymore for me.  When you put this on your cotton pad, it will come off gel-ish but when applied to your skin, it goes on like water.  I'm so impressed when I check out my cotton pad and see all the dirt and leftover makeup left behind by my cleanser. Please please please please try this. I'm so happy to have found this toner, I can cry. Dramatic. That's me. Seriously. Run to a The Body Shop store or Ulta!

I was so desperate to find a new facial moisturizer that I resorted to Facebook.  I had posted a question about favorite facial moisturizers.  A couple of my friends recommended Aveeno and after much research ( yes, I research everything before I purchase, dork is the word) I decided to give it a shot. Boy, am I glad I did!  I have natural redness on my face and some uneven discoloration. I feel this balances it out because of the soy ingredient.  I've used products in the past with soy and it really worked with taking away some acne marks. I figured this would do the same and so far so good.  I love the pump too! You don't have to worry about getting too much product in your hand. It's just the right amount. When it's cold and wintry here in the DC area, I will probably apply two pumps every time just to make sure I'm moisturized for the entire day. 

I know what you're thinking. Yes, I can count! There's just no way I can leave this out. Once again, big ups to my girl Mara! She had gifted me with a couple of these brushes for my birthday last month and now, thanks to her, I might have to purchase the entire set! No, I shall try to control myself. wink wink. They are fabulously soft, great applicators, chic (check out the handles) and will not damage your bank account. Personally, I think some makeup brushes are just way too expensive. Ahem...MAC.  In the past, Eco Tools were my fave but I think these Real Techniques brushes have taken over.  You can purchase these online or at Ulta.

- Pia