food

Easy Faux Beef Tips Recipe

It’s been a while since I did a recipe post. To be truthful with you all, my winter cuisine tends to be boring and predictable. I order a lot more food (mostly Indian, Ethiopian and Thai dishes) and, when I do prepare my food at home, it’s a simple situation (soups, sandwiches, and casseroles).

But today, I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes. I cook it at least once every couple of weeks during the cold months, but I almost never use precise measurements. That is, until today! I made this and took my time writing down the amounts of everything that I included. At the end, this is what the finished dish looks like:

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My easy faux beef (beef-less) tips

My father tried this and he couldn’t believe that it is vegan! Since I make enough of this to last a few days (or to share), my portions are generally large, But don’t worry: this recipe is for 4 people (cut in half for a smaller amount). Enjoy!

Easy Beef(less) Tips (serves 2)

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1.5 tbsp oil (you can use butter substitute, olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 bag Gardein Beefless Tips
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1 large potato, cubed into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp Sicilian bread dipping mix (more info after the instructions)

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add onions and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally (this takes anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes). Make sure to stir to prevent the onions from sticking to the pot.

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Gardein’s Beefless Tips are great for this recipe

Next, add broth, water, carrots and potatoes to the pot. Stir until well combined. Reduce heat to low-to-medium heat. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add beefless tips and all seasonings. Stir well until seasoning is well distributed. Cover and allow to cook until all vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally (totaling 15 to 20 minutes). Serve hot.

I usually enjoy this with a glass of red wine (preferably a Malbec, my favorite).

As far as the bread dipping seasoning, I use one that I got from a discount store (I can’t remember which – probably the Dollar Tree – but I can’t guarantee that it is readily available everywhere). The closest thing I found is an organic Sicilian Bread Dipping Mix on Amazon. You can easily whip up your own version by using a standard Italian seasoning and adding a little salt and a few red pepper flakes.

Do you have any beefless tip recipes to share? Please share them in the comments below!

reading list

Reading List: January’s Book

I’m almost done with December’s book so I’m looking ahead to want I want to read in January.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Book of the Month is just one of the many books I read monthly, so sometimes I don’t always get around to finishing it. However, I’m a big believer in trying to stick to my word and do what I set out to do. So here’s to actually reading all of the books I add to the Reading List in 2018!

There’s a lot of pressure for me to pick the right book for this month. After all, it *is* January’s reading selection, and I *am* a fan of starting the year on the right foot. So yeah, pressure . . .

But since I have a very LARGE goal that I want to accomplish in 2018 (more about that in an upcoming post), I guess I should start the year off with a book that directly supports that goal. So, the book I’ll be (re)reading is The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. It’s been a while since I read it, and I hadn’t yet read it in it entirety, so now seems like the perfect time.

I mean, a four hour work week sounds dreamy, right? Who doesn’t want more time to do the things that they enjoy? And I have a LOT that I want to enjoy in the years to come. No time like the present to start creating the reality that I want!

food · relaxation

Grown-Up Hot Chocolate

After having a long and draining work week, I was ready to kick off my weekend and enjoy the holiday. To celebrate, I made one of my favorite treats, a cup of hot chocolate.

But, I don’t make any old hot chocolate. I dress mine up considerably, so that it’s the kind of sumptuous treat that I savor slowly as I forget whatever stresses me. It’s perfect for unwinding at the end of a demanding week (like I mentioned) or for cuddling by the fireplace on a snowy evening. It’s an exquisite way to end your day, no matter the occasion.

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Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Bronzed Butterfly’s Grown-Up Hot Chocolate

  • 1 pack Swiss Miss regular hot chocolate with marshmallows
  • 1/4 (3 mini bars) Hershey Chocolate Bar (my preferred one is the Special Dark, but the milk chocolate works fine, too)
  • 1/4 teaspoon butter flavored extract
  • 2 Rolo candies
  • 6-8 oz hot water (almost boiling)
  • (optional) 1 oz rum or vodka (I used Smirnoff vanilla vodka in mine)

Combine  hot chocolate powder, butter extract, and 1 crumbled mini Hershey’s bar in a cup. Add 1/3 hot water and stir until all solid ingredients are mixed. Add Rolo candies and the remaining crumbled mini Hershey’s bars and add 1/3 more hot water, and stir until all ingredients are melted. Add remaining hot water and stir again. If adding optional ingredient, stir in last.

style

Review: Leezeshaw Dress

I was hesitant to do this review, because I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t recommending a poorly made product. Leezeshaw is one of the many Chinese companies that sell clothing on Amazon, and if you have ordered from one of these companies before, you know the problems that can occur.

For starters, most Chinese vendors use Chinese fit models, which means that the clothing is fitted to the bodies of women that are overwhelmingly rectangular-shaped (not much difference between the bust, waist and hip measurements). This is okay if you are also rectangular-shaped, but for women with hourglass, apple, or cone shapes, this means that the garment will not fit properly.

There’s also the issue of size conversion. You have to carefully read the item descriptions to see how to convert from Chinese to US sizes. One misstep, and you’ll have a garment that doesn’t fit and costs a fortune to send back. I’ve done this and ended up just giving the item to charity: shipping it back to the vendor wasn’t worth the cost or hassle.

So it’s with careful consideration that I’m bringing you this post. I purchase this Leezeshaw dress last winter, right before New Years Day. I ordered it in a size large (even though, in US sizes, I bounce between sizes 6 and 8). The dress has a vintage shape that appealed to me. I am pleased to say that this dress was a home run: 

I’ve worn it to work multiple times, and it is still in fabulous condition. I wash it in a lingerie bag, just to prevent some of the damage that can come from washer machine agitation. Here’s how the dress looks while wearing it:

Since this shade of white is more like a winter white, I’ve worn it all year round. The dress has long sleeves, so it’s suitable for cool days but it’s unlined, so it can also be worn on warm days, too (it’s perfect for offices that believe that subarctic air conditioning temps are appropriate during the summer). During the winter months, I often layer this dress with leggings and a silk slip underneath for warmth. I also wear knee-high boots that offer even more warmth.

This dress is elegant and classy, and it’s also affordable at $25.99. I am considering adding some more Leezeshaw pieces to my wardrobe soon!

beauty

Winterproof Your Skin

Friends, if you start on a routine TODAY, you will be buttery-soft by Christmas – I promise!

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If you start taking care of your skin, you’ll be softer than these munchkins (courtesy of Daily Monitor)

With the air steadily getting colder and drier, I’ve been getting back into my winter skin routine, which involves shielding myself from the elements, heavier moisture and more intense exfoliation. It’s funny – the skin on my face is combination/oily, so I tend to stick with water-based, oil free facial moisturizers. But the skin below my chin is so dry: I could rub down in vegetable oil and it would be just fine LOL!

This time of year, I’m focused on exfoliation and hydration because these are a surefire way to get soft skin. The trick to exfoliation is to *carefully* double up, using both mechanical (body scrubs, body brushes and exfoliating mitts) and chemical (acids that remove dull, dry skin) products. I use a body scrub once a day, and a mild chemical exfoliant twice a day. I like both Shea Moisture’s body scrubs as well as St. Ives. I find that Shea Moisture’s products have finer, grainier scrubs that really buff away dull skin, but St. Ives is less expensive and not as grainy.


In place of the scrubs, I occasionally use my Korean bath mitts (I’ve written about them previously). But if I use the mitts, I  avoid using the scrubs for at least 3 days afterward. The mitts do a great job of getting rid of dry skin.

As far as chemical exfoliants go, I rely heavily on AmLactin. The lotion is gentle enough for daily use but extremely effective. I use it twice a day on all of the skin below my chin, and it has every inch of me feeling soft and supple. This one is a two-for-one: it exfoliates and moisturizes simultaneously.

I pay careful attention to my skin when using exfoliants. If I feel a bit sensitive (that sometimes occurs with the skin on my chest and upper arms), I’ll either skip my scrub or my AmLactin. I also apply an additional layer of AmLactin to my feet right before bed, because the skin on my feet isn’t as sensitive as the rest of my body. I recommend that you pay careful attention to how your skin reacts and adjust accordingly.

Those are the products I use for soft skin all winter long! Do you have any product recommendations? Please let me know in the comments below!

luxury · style

Affordable Cashmere? Yes Please!

Happy Monday, friends! It’s feeling more and more like winter with each passing day. As much as I hate to let summer go, I realized that I needed to put away my lightweight blouses and bring out my cozy sweaters and scarves. I must admit, I was excited to bring out my cashmere sweaters: I love the colors (deep raspberry and lime green) and feel of my sweaters. Not to mention, using Dryel has kept them looking incredible.

 (This is great for keeping your cashmere in tiptop shape)

I’ve had these sweaters since last year, when I decided it was time to invest in some nicer wardrobe pieces. I found a great place for getting cashmere for less than $50 a sweater (feel free to double check the prices: I was hard pressed to find cashmere sweaters in the $70 range). I purchased my sweaters from Stein Mart, which had lots of different colors and cuts, starting at less than $40 per sweater. If you have an eBates account, you can even get cashback on your purchase, bringing your cost down even more.

(Boatneck and v-neck are just two of the necklines offered in Stein Mart’s cashmere sweaters)

This season has different shades from last year, but there is still a good variety to choose from. If I wasn’t saving my coins, I’d definitely buy a couple more sweaters: the prices are spectacular! You can check out the sweaters here. If you know any other places that have affordable cashmere, let me know in the comments below!

music

Currently Listening To . . .

Happy Sunday, darlings! Every year, I wait until December to break out one of my all-time favorite songs. It seems just silly to listen to winter-themed songs at any other time of year!

I’m a fan of anything that makes me think of cuddling under a huge blanket with a cup of hot chocolate. And Sarah Vaughan’s version of “My Favorite Things” just symbolizes everything cozy about wintertime.

Her perfect vocals, the pared down instruments, and the timeless lyrics come together exquisitely. Enjoy!