Pumpkin Crisp

Pumpkin Crisp

Pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving tradition – problem is, I am not a fan. I enjoy the flavor of pumpkin but I find pumpkin pie to be too dense in pure pumpkin.  I am a heavy carb kind of a girl – a real white flour and butter kind of a gal, if you catch my drift.  So I need to share this recipe for Pumpkin Crisp that is pure heaven.

As a child my mom being the traditionalist that she was always served pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner so growing up I just passed on turkey day dessert.  All this changed several years ago when a dear neighbor told me about this Pumpkin Crisp that she makes.  A buttery crust houses a delicious pumpkin filling and a buttery, sugary crust tops that.  The crumb crust gets crisp, yummy and melts deliciously into the decadent pumpkin filling.  I love the dish and so does everyone that tries it.

I should also add, that it is simple.  No crust to roll out and nothing fancy. I hope you try it and like it as much as my family does.

Pumpkin Crisp
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
Ice Cream or Fresh Whipped Cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Set aside 1 cup cake mix for the topping. Combine remaining cake mix, 1 egg, and melted butter or margarine. Pat into a 9×13 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, 2 eggs, spices, 1/2 cup sugar, and milk. Pour pumpkin mixture over the cake mix crust.

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup cake mix and 3/4 cup sugar. Cut in 1/2 cup softened butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle mixture on top of pumpkin mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 minutes.

I like to cut this into 12 servings, but you could make the squares smaller or larger depening on how “stuffed” you are after Thanksgiving dinner. :)

A Great Hostess Gift – Homemade Irish Cream

A Great Hostess Gift – Homemade Irish Cream

I get so excited when I find a new recipe that will make a good hostess gift and this is definitely one of those recipes. It is for homemade Irish Cream Liqueur. It tastes better than Bailey’s, makes an amazing hostess gift and couldn’t be easier to make. Here you are:

Original Irish Cream


1 cup milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup Irish whiskey
1 teaspoon strong coffee
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a blender, combine heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, Irish whiskey, instant coffee, chocolate syrup, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Blend on high for 20 to 30 seconds. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Shake well before serving.

Gaga for Goji Berries & Their Many Health Benefits

Gaga for Goji Berries & Their Many Health Benefits

I have gone completely gaga for goji berries & their many health benefits!  These dried gems are my new  favorite snack to munch on and to include in my favorite recipes.  From granola, yogurt and salads, these versatile berries offer a plethora of health benefits in a tiny, delicious bite.

So, what makes goji berries so great?  Not only are they loaded with anti-oxidants, these little treats have helped me feel more calm, energetic and find myself sleeping better.  After turning 40 I have tried to  incorporate superfoods in my diet more and more and goji berries are one of those superfoods.

I purchase my goji berries dried from the bulk food section at Whole Foods.  I find that they are the most cost effective way to purchase them, although in a pinch you can also find them on Amazon.

I can’ wait to share an absolutely delicious, healthy fudge recipe that incorporates goji berries as well as a few other superfoods.  Stay tuned…


Beauty Blender Dupe

Beauty Blender Dupe

I have a love affair with my Beauty Blender.  I am always switching up my beauty products, however I rarely stray from my beloved Beauty Blender for long.  I have tried numerous imposters, but nothing has come close to this magical sponge, until now.  Beauty Blender Dupe, I have found you…

The dupe is the new H&M Precision Makeup Sponge that retails for $3.99.  The cost of a Beauty Blender is $20, making the H&M version 80% less, a HUGE savings!

The H&M Precision Makeup Sponge is identical in size to the Beauty Blender, however when dampened the H&M sponge is about 15% larger.  The actual dampened size doesn’t make a difference in the end makeup result, however I thought I would mention it.

In checking what each of the sponges was made of, the Beauty Blender states that it is made of non-latex foam while the H&M sponge is made of 100% polyurethane, which does not contain latex as well.

All in all, I would definitely give the H&M Precision Makeup Sponge a try.  Even if you hate it you are only out $4 (there is a $5.95 shipping fee, but shipping is free on H&M if you spend $50+).  I definitely think it is worth a try.  I would love to hear how you like it.

Super Simple, Fast, Budget Friendly Spaghetti Bolognese

Super Simple, Fast, Budget Friendly Spaghetti Bolognese

Have you ever slaved over a meal to only have your family either not eat it or simply give you that indifferent look while they force it down?  If you haven’t you’re lucky, however unfortunately I have had this scenario happen to me more than once.  So, I can’t begin to explain my shock when I made this Super Simple, Fast, Budget Friendly Spaghetti Bolognese that my crew loved.  In fact they claimed this was the best bolognese I have ever made.   Uh, ok…noted, I will never slave over my more complex bolognese sauces in the future.

So let me explain how this easy recipe came to be.  I became discombobulated and dizzy on Monday.  I thought I was just experiencing a bad headache, however when I continued to feel like I was on a moving boat on Wednesday I decided to go to the doctor.  I can’t tell you how relieved to find out I had vertigo.  All I can say is I was sooooooo relieved to be diagnosed with a medical condition and know that this was not all in my head.

Since I wasn’t able to get to the grocery store for some fresh ingredients (and because my family had not had a home cooked meal in days) I decided to throw together a spaghetti bolognese.  Ingredients are simple pantry staples with the exception of some basil, garlic and parmesan I had on hand.  There is no lengthy simmering of sauce and because I used 93% lean ground turkey the meal was low fat as well.

So here is my recipe for Super Simple, Fast, Budget Friendly Spaghetti Bolognese.  I hope you enjoy

Super Simple, Fast, Budget Friendly Spaghetti Bolognese
(serves 4-6 people depending on how hungry your crew is)

1-2 T. olive oil
1.25 lb. lean ground turkey
1 – 28 oz. can tomato sauce
1-4 garlic cloves minced (I use 4 and it is super garlicky so you may want to start with 1 to be safe)
1 beef flavoring packet from Top Ramen (remove beef flavor packet and either discard the noodles or save noodles for later)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 – 1 tsp. crushed red pepper, to taste
salt and pepper to taste
basil to chiffonade
1 lb. spaghetti*, cooked according to package directions (reserve about a cup of the cooking water)
*I use gluten free, but use whatever you have on hand

cooking bolognese sauce
cooking bolognese sauce

Heat large saucepan over medium-high heat with olive oil.  Brown ground turkey (after it cooked, because the meat is so lean I do not drain the fat out, but you certainly could if you’d like).

Add tomato sauce, garlic, beef flavoring packet, onion powder, and red pepper flakes.  Simmer on medium low heat about 10 minutes and taste with salt and pepper.   If sauce reduces too much or is too thick to your liking, add a bit of the reserved pasta water.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.  Place in pasta bowls or plates and sprinkle with basil and parmesan cheese.

spaghetti bolognese closeup

Make Up Brush Cleaning

Make Up Brush Cleaning

Let’s talk makeup brush cleaning.  I have to that admit that until recently mine have been pretty gross.  An example of my short term solution has been to brush them on the back of my hand so that old shades of shadow or blush wouldn’t transfer onto whatever color combination I would apply next.  I know, disgusting.  However, I decided to make a change to this heinous habit and wanted to share my three tips to my new, hygienic brushes.

The first step is nothing news worthy, but it is simply to cleanse them with a mild cleanser.  There are numerous brands out there and Sephora offers many different high end brands which may work well, but my fave is good ole Johnson’s Baby Shampoo.  It is gentle and definitely gives my brushes a good cleanse.  Nothing fancy, nothing expensive, but definitely effective.

The second step is to soak the brushes in warm, soapy water a for several minutes.  After soaking give them a good rinse with cold water until there is no more color in the water you are rinsing the brush in.

Finally the third step is to dry them and this is where I have found the real magic.  You see I have always hated washing my brushes (aside from being lazy) is because they never held their shape or felt the same way once I washed them, until now.  Enter KLOUD City White Cosmetic Pen Sheath Make Up Bresh Netting, oh and the best part is that you get 40 for only $8.95 on Amazon.  All you do is slide these babies over your damp makeup brushes and they not only dry perfectly but the brushes hold their shape.  Voila – clean make up brushes that work like new. Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 7.18.40 PM Not only is makeup brush cleaning important in keeping blemishes away, it is also waayyyyy more sanitary.  Do you wash your makeup brushes regularly and if so what is your favorite way to wash them?  I would love to know.

Sweet Brown Sugar Dutch Baby Recipe

Sweet Brown Sugar Dutch Baby Recipe

I love when a recipe only uses one pan or pot.  As the primary person cooking in my house I am all about less mess which is why I love this Sweet Brown Sugar Dutch Baby Recipe that is made in one pan.  For those unfamiliar with Dutch Babies they are similar to a popover, but they are sweeter and are much larger and flatter.  This is due to the large round skillet Dutch Babies are cooked in as opposed to traditional popover pans that are deeper and look more like muffin tins.

There are so many reasons I love this recipe, I am just going to list them (after all I do love me a list):

  1. One pan (yes, stated above but I love this so I am mentioning again)
  2. All ingredients are those I always have on hand
  3. This is one of those recipes where countless variations can be made – extra sugar, no sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, berries, apples, lemons, lemon zest, orange zest…you get the idea.
  4. Easy to make
  5. Looks impressive

I usually make this as a breakfast treat served with warm maple syrup, a touch of velvety butter and some fresh berries.  However as noted above, the variations are limited to only ones imagination.  One thing to note as that these will puff up in the oven but once you remove the little “baby” from the oven it will deflate as you will see in the pictures below.

IMG_5487 OK, so you need to try making on of these.  Not only are they so simple to make, these are so much less work compared to pancakes.  Aside from not having to flip flapjack after flapjack I actually prefer the taste of dutch babies with its light, eggy consistency.  These are so good (and easy) though don’t just make this for breakfast make it whenever!  Lunch, snack, dinner – why not?

Hope you try these and love them as much as my family does!

Sweet Dutch Baby Recipe
2  eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Berries, dusting powdered sugar, maple syrup (optional and to your taste)

Place a 10 inch cast iron skillet inside oven and preheat oven to 475 degrees.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs with a whisk until light. Add milk and stir. Gradually whisk in flour, sugar, nutmeg and salt.

Remove skillet from oven and reduce oven heat to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt butter in the hot skillet so that inside of skillet is completely coated with butter. Pour all the batter in the skillet and return skillet to oven.

Bake until puffed and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle the top of the Dutch Baby with brown sugar.  Return to oven for two more minutes.  Remove promptly and sprinkle with powdered sugar, maple syrup, fruit or whatever you like.



Beauty Empties

Beauty Empties

I am a bit of a YouTube junkie when it comes to beauty videos.  My absolute favorite type of beauty videos to watch are those called, “empties”.  These videos consist of products that someone has used completely and they share whether or not they would purchase the product again.   What I love about these videos is I feel that you can’t really gain a complete opinion of a product unless you have used the whole item.  I find that the tell tale sign of a really good product is after using it all actually repurchasing or trying something new.

Speaking of products I love, I actually want to start another series of products I tried and hated.  But for now, these are products that I have emptied out and my take on whether or not the item is worth repurchasing.

Too Faced Primed and Poreless Skin Refining Face Primer: Potential repurchase, but I plan on trying others first. This product has a tint to it and one of the beauty gurus I follow on Instagram had a picture of her skin using only this primer and not other makeup. She stated something to the effect of, “I can’t live without this stuff.” Her skin looked gorgeous so I thought I would try it. I thought it was pretty good, however my skin looked nothing like the gal on Instagram.  Maybe it was a filter, maybe I am just old but I would not be able to wear this primer solely alone if I wanted to have flawless looking skin.

Oribe Maximizing Thickening Spray: Not repurchasing.  I thought this worked OK, but not great.  At $32 a bottle I want spectacular and I felt something equally as good could be found for quite a bit less.

Redken Heat Styling Thermo ActifNot repurchasing. This product was just OK, however I wasn’t blown away at all and felt there was no noticeable difference in the condition of my hair.

Anastasia Brow WizRepurchase.  I adore this product!  It provides perfect precision, a wide range of colors and mine always lasts me a couple of months.  For perfect brows it is definitely worth $21 and I have already repurchased this item.

NYX Cosmetics Hi Definition Photo Wand ConcealerRepurchase. I love this concealer!  It is creamy, doesn’t crease and has excellent staying power.  With a price tag of only $4.99 this is my favorite drug store concealer.

MAC Prep & Prime in Light BoostNot repurchasing.  I liked this product enough to use it up, however at $26 I felt that I should have loved it.  I found the NYX concealer referenced above to be superior to the MAC Prep & Prime.

Dior Show Maximizing Lash Plumping SerumRepurchase. I already purchased another one.  Not only does this product maximize lashes no matter what brand of mascara I use, I never have a problem with having my mascara feather of bleed.  Even though this item costs $28.5o it does last me a couple of months and I personally feel the investment is worth it.

Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara: Repurchase! Of all the products listed this is my absolute favorite!  I love long lashes and this is the only mascara that never, ever transfers to my under eye area.  At $10 a tube I always have at least one tube on backup and can’t foresee not using this product in the years to come.

Do you have any items you adore and can’t live without?  If so, I would love to hear about them!

Giada De Laurentiis Turkey Larb Recipe

Giada De Laurentiis Turkey Larb Recipe

One of my favorite parts of cooking, besides of course eating, is to be able to recreate a delicious dish from a restaurant.  Even better is when I am able to make that dish just as good.  I recently was at a Thai restaurant where I tasted a Larb dish that was spectacular.  In an effort to recreate this dish I perused the internet and came across  Giada De Laurentiis Turkey Larb recipe.

The Larb I ate at this restaurant was savory, spicy and very fresh thanks to the addition of what seemed to be a generous amount of lime juice.  Once I came across Giada’s recipe I knew that I had a winner.  I loved how the ingredients were fresh, simple and my favorite part was the citrus based dressing which brings the perfect amount of tart freshness that I absolutely love.

While I have yet to perfect other Thai dishes such as Pad Thai and Panang Curry that are favorites, this Larb is super simple and delicious.  My deep love of Thai food will keep me on the hunt and working towards making the perfect Thai dish, however in the meantime this one is a keeper and one I will continue to make over and over.

Giada De Laurentiis Turkey Larb Recipe

1/3 cup fresh lime juice, from about 5 limes
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons fish sauce*
2 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1/2 red onion, diced
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 (4-inch) piece lemongrass, minced (about 1/4 cup)*
1 Thai chile, such as prik kee noo, or 1 serrano chile, stemmed and thinly sliced*
Kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey, preferably dark meat
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated
1 cup brown rice (this is not part of Giada’s recipe, but I served mine with brown rice and loved it)

Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lemon juice, fish sauce and honey. Set aside.

Larb: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, shallots, lemongrass, chile, and salt, to taste. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey and season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat and vegetables are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the dressing to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mint. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spoon the turkey mixture onto the lettuce leaves and arrange on a serving platter. Serve with sticky rice.


America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara

America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara

Yes, the title is correct – A Light AND Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara. I recently picked up a magazine featuring the best light & healthy recipes of 2010 from America’s Test Kitchens. I absolutely love America’s Test Kitchens because not only are their recipes full proof, they explain the science behind the recipe and I find it fascinating.

For this lightened up Spaghetti Carbonara they used ingredients such as fat-free evaporated milk and mayonnaise to create a creamy sauce without a ton of added fat. I would have never thought to use these ingredients in a carbonara, but let me tell you – it is fabulous and the calorie/fat content isn’t so shabby either. Coming in at 410 calories per 1-cup serving, this comes in way under an original carbonara recipe and I didn’t miss the original one bit. I hope you enjoy it as much as my husband and I did.

Light & Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara
(adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

2/3 c. Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
1/4 c. fat-free evaporated milk
2 T. mayonnaise
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 ounces Canadian Bacon, chopped coarse
2 slices bacon, chopped coarse
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. pepper
1/3 c. dry white wine
1 pound spaghetti
1 T. chopped, fresh parsley

Process the cheese, evaporated milk, 1 1/2 T. of the mayonnaise, egg and egg white in a food processor until smooth, about 15 seconds; leave the mixture in the food processor.

Cook the Canadian bacon and bacon together in a 12-inch non stick skillet over medium heat until the fat has rendered and the bacon is browned, about seven minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Add the garlic and pepper ot the fat left in the skillet, and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the wine, bring to simmer, and cook until thickened slightly, about one minute. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring four quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 T. salt, and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with the remaining 1 1/2 t. mayonnaise until coated.

With the food processor running, slowly add the wine mixture and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water to the egg mixture, and process until smooth and frothy, about 1 minute. Immediately pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss to combine, adjusting the sauce consistency with the remaining reserved cooking water as desired. Stir in the bacon and season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.