Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pretzel-Crusted Brownies Recipe

I am all about easy recipes, which probably explains how I can't get enough of Rachael Ray, Ina Garten, and Mario Batali. And this is a very easy dessert! I actually don't care for pretzels unless I'm baking with them or they are of the soft variety. I had some left over from Christmas and was thinking about what to make with them. Then, this idea hit me. I'm not saying I'm the first who had it (and whoever did was a complete genius, by the way), because who doesn't love the salty and sweet combination?! I prefer salty to sweet, so this was a perfect dessert for me. On to the good stuff!

Ingredients for Brownies:
(if taking easy route - no judging here!) 1 box of brownie mix prepared like box suggests

or

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup of flour
1/3 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
some Nutella or peanut butter, if you want to be really decadent

Ingredients for Pretzel Crust:
2-3 cups of crushed and broken pretzels - You may want more, this was good for a 9X9 pan
melted butter - I used a little under a cup
1/4 cup of sugar

Cooking Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Prepare brownie mix.
3. Prepare crust mix and spread out evenly on a lightly greased pan.
4. Pour and spread brownie mix on top of the crust.
5. Bake around 25 minutes (or follow your brownie mix directions). Do the toothpick test to make sure it comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool. Cut and serve. Delicious!

If you try the recipe, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. The batch didn't last long in our house!

Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 SAG Awards Best Dressed

I'm going to do this awards fashion post a little differently. I'm only going to show my favorites, because honestly, there just weren't that many bad choices. Even those who chose daring looks pretty much got it right. So here are some of my favorite dresses from last night and I'd love to hear whose look you loved!

sag awards 2015 best dressed emmy lupita julianne viola emma dresses
  • Emmy Rossum in Armani PrivĂ© - When the lights hit this dress? Droolworthy.
  • Lupita Nyong'o in Elie Saab - Any other time I might think this is too busy, but she pulls it off in the best way.
  • Julianne Moore in Givenchy - Redheads in emerald green will always be a winning combination.
  • Viola Davis in Max Mara - HOT! Perfect fit, perfectly accessorized, just perfect.
  • Emma Stone in Dior Couture - I love the risks that she takes. I am quite over the sheer look, but this works and pulls me back in.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal

I got this sample awhile ago and I am just getting around to swatching it for you. This is a highlighting product that I enjoy when I use it, but then it gets lost in my bag and I start using something else. Then it resurfaces and I kick myself for forgetting about it. Keep reading for the swatches and my review, if you like glowy skin!

gold opal becca shimmering highlighter
The Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector comes in five full-size shades and two in a travel-size. It's on the pricey side, with even the small tube being $23CA. There is SPF 25 in the product as an added benefit! I'd say this works best mixed in with your foundation and a little goes a long way. You can apply it on top of foundation, but I find it very hard to get the right amount and not be too sparkly at times. Or maybe you like that kind of thing? If so, go forth with your sparkles and prosper!

The full-sized version of this has a pump, which may or may not be something you like. For me, I rather like the smaller tubes with the little squeeze opening. I'm wasting less product and getting more bang for my bucks (if I had paid for it, that is - yay free samples!). As for liquid highlighters, this is definitely ranked high along with Benefit's High Beam for me.
gold opal becca shimmering highlighter swatch
Left: heavily swatched.    Right: lightly blended.

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

One-Pot Lasagna Soup

I love one-pot meals. This is one of those recipes that you can easily make in a deep pan, a crockpot, or a Dutch oven. I made this last month and it was pretty good, but needed a bit of improvement. So after this last batch, I changed a few things and I am finally ready to share the recipe for this simple lasagna soup. And you only have to wash one pan after? Well, that's just an extra benefit!

I'm going to tell you the ingredients, but some of the spice measurements are best held to your own judgement. I will tell you what spices I used, but you should use what you personally enjoy and taste it as you add. Also, this recipe is for a double batch so there is enough for a large family or leftovers. Leftovers are my jam.

Ingredients:
2 lbs. meat of your choice - I used extra lean turkey
Lasagna noodles - I use a 1/2 of the box and broke them into little pieces.
1 large can of drained diced tomatoes
1 can of prepared pasta sauce or add large can of crushed tomatoes (Sauce = thicker soup. Crushed = more liquid)
6 cups of chicken broth
1 tbsp sugar
Minced garlic - I buy it already minced and use 1 teaspoon (equal to two cloves). Add more if you love garlic!
1 diced onion
1 tub of ricotta cheese
Parsley
Thyme
Basil
Fennel Seeds
Oregano
Pepper

Instructions:
1. Brown your meat. Add the garlic and onions to the mix and let them brown a bit.
2. Add the sugar, spices, tomatoes, pasta sauce, 1/2 of the ricotta, and broth. I buy unprepared broth and just add 6 tablespoons and 6 cups of water right into the pot.
3. When using my Dutch oven or crockpot, I let this cook at low heat all day. About thirty minutes before serving, I add the broken up uncooked lasagna noodles and let them cook in the sauce. You can do this in a separate pot if you prefer, and just add them to the sauce. This soup can totally be done within an hour. But I really recommend allowing the day for it to cook and develop the flavors.
4. When serving, I like to dollop a spoonful of the leftover ricotta on each serving. And if you're a cheese lover like me, adding other additions of cheese like parmesan is absolutely acceptable and welcomed.

I think I covered everything! I've made this twice in about a month's time, so I'd say it is a winner. Super easy and tasty and less work than a traditional lasagna? That's what dreams are made of!

Monday, January 19, 2015

PopSugar's 2015 Reading Challenge

I love a good challenge and I certainly love to read! Have you seen or read about PopSugar's Reading Challenge for this year? I first heard about it on GoodReads, but have also seen it on a few blogs I follow (including this gal!). I've decided to see if I can complete it. Join the challenge with me!

I've already crossed off three so far and I am right on schedule. But you can help me! Recommend any books you've loved in any of the applicable categories. I never get tired of recommendations and I'm racking my brain on some of these!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Best Dressed of 2014

I thought I would feature a few celebrities that I feel really got it right most of the time, rather it be their casual or formal attire. So here are some of my favorite outfits they wore during 2014!

Reese Witherspoon
best dressed reese witherspoon
Emma Stone
best dressed emma stone
Taylor Swift
best dressed taylor swift
Jessica Alba
best dressed jessica alba
Lupita Nyong'o
best dressed lupita nyong'o
Michelle Dockery
best dressed michelle dockery
Whose style were you loving from last year? I think Reese and Jessica are my spirit animals when it comes to style. And Michelle's Oscar de la Renta dress from the Golden Globes is hands down my favorite gown from last year!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Some of My Favorite Products from 2014

Most of these items have been spotlighted many times. Seeing as I did not personally make any beauty purchases for myself, I'm afraid there is not many new things to show you. As a matter of fact, only two of these things are newly discovered from the last year. It's kind of a toss-up between not having too many new things to include and sticking more to what I like. With that said, it was still as difficult as ever to narrow it down to these fourteen. Thank goodness for monthly favorites!

beauty favorites 2014 mac elf lancome mufe naked

Monday, January 12, 2015

Golden Globes 2015: Best and Worst Dressed

Someone went into my archives on one of these types of posts and declared "shut up there are worst dressed" [sic]. First off, to the person who left the comment, your opinion will hold a lot more value in the future if you learn to voice it properly. Now, I have said this before and I will say it again. Fashion is subjective. I am not forcing you to like and dislike the same things that I do. That sure would get boring!

So here are a few looks that I loved, some that I didn't, an adorable couple I can't get enough of, and my usual dose of eye candy at the end!

best dressed golden globes 2015 fashion dresses
Best Dressed:
Anna Kendrick in Monique Lhuillier - The fit of the bodice alone is breathtaking.
Viola Davis in Donna Karan Atelier - Red is perfection on this powerful woman.
Emma Stone in Lanvin - I don't always like jumpsuits, but this the fit is great and there is enough glitz to suit the occasion.
Katie Holmes in Marchesa - Aubergine is a great color on her.
Kate Beckinsale in Elie Saab - Perfectly styled and just the right amount of sparkles.
worst dressed golden globes 2015 fashion dresses
Worst Dressed:
Claire Danes in Valentino - I almost like it, but it's just too much.
Rosamund Pike in Vera Wang - The fit along the chest is all wrong.
Keira Knightley in Chanel - I'm terrified of butterflies (really!) and this does not cure me of that fear.
Tina Fey in Antonia Berardi - Almost, Tina. Almost. You had me until the hem. What is that?!
Kate Mara in Miu Miu - Another almost. Lose the belt and then we're talking!
couple best dressed golden globes fashion men tuxedo
Best Dressed Couple and Eye Candy:
Anna Faris and Chris Pratt - Too much gorgeous going on in one picture.
Matt Bomer - Love the navy!
Jeremy Renner - Not too shabby, Jeremy. Not too shabby.

What dresses did you enjoy? There sure were a lot of risks taken last night. Some paid off and some didn't, but it was great to see!

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