Saturday, March 28, 2015

Berry, Berry Nice: Mixed Berry Vinaigrette



 


Remember that amazing Peruvian Chicken from a few weeks ago? No, you have not a clue what I am speaking of? Well here it is if you are living under a rock, Peruvian Chicken.

Anyhow I promised to write a follow-up post to that recipe featuring the complimentary items to make a complete meal. Well here is part two, which features a colorful spinach salad dressed in a Mixed Berry Vinaigrette. I am still obsessed with spring, and so I am staying true to the mindset that spring is an excellent time to eat light, and from farm to table. I hope that you enjoy this sweet and filling salad, and vinaigrette.





Ingredients

  • 1/4C Strawberries
  •  1/4C Blueberries
  • 1/4C Blackberries
  • 1/2C Sweet Red Wine
  • 1/2C Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2C+ Olive Oil
  • 1/4C Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (Appx 1 Lemon)
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Pepper
  •  Mason Jar with Lid 

Directions

  • Place all of the berries into a blender. Blend the ingredients on medium speed until it becomes a puree. Add a few teaspoons of water to move the blending process along, if necessary.
  • Pour the puree along with all other ingredients into a mason jar.
  • Place the lid onto the mason jar, and shake the ingredients until completely mixed.
  • Use the Mixed Berry Vinaigrette to dress the spinach salad, which consists of 3C Spinach, 1C Strawberries, 1 Granny Smith Apple (sliced), 1/4C Pecans, & 1/4C Craisins.
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Curls, Curls, Curls: Curls I Do Adore



This post is very spur of the moment based on several requests for my daily hair care regimen. I am more than elated to share, because I am a sucker for all things hair, healthy hair that is! I love everything about hair from short to long, curly to straight, black to blonde, weave to extensions. Trust me when I tell you that my hair history has had an encounter with each and every one of these styles.

I really have an affinity for hair and all that it does to accessorize the personality of a woman. For the past five years I have been a curly girl, as I reverted back to my natural hair texture in June 2010. I love the freedom that comes with my curls, and there is just something about them that gives my spirit ease. I recently chopped all of my long curly locks off in August 2014 simply because I needed a change, and indeed a change is what I received. I am currently in that awkward in between stage of growing my hair once again, and it is far easier this time because I know the ropes of the curly hair journey.

I post pictures on my personal social media pages, and often times I am questioned on my curly girl routine. So, I decided to share what works for my curls, and makes them what I like to refer to as “super popping.” Now keep in mind that works for one curly girl, may not necessarily work for the next. You may need to tweak or bend my regimen, and modify it to fit your lifestyle & specific curl pattern.

When it comes to my regimen I am really big on no-fuss, and I am a pure minimalist. The very reason I reverted back to my natural hair pattern was due to me being sick and tired of being indebted to my hairstylist week after week. So, with my natural hair it has to be quick, fast, and in a hurry!

Cleansing

My cleansing regimen consists of me washing my hair two to three times per week with sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. My personal experience is that the sulfate-free products keep my hair color vivid and does not strip it, and it gives my curls serious definition.  Now while I am a fan of sulfate-free products, I still feel the need to use regular shampoo & conditioner once every few weeks to remove any type of product build-up that I may have acquired. I deep condition my hair once or twice a week, simply because I have color and I need to keep my hair as healthy as possible. I personally do not sit under a heated dryer, steamer, or a cap. I simply slather deep conditioner on my hair while in the shower, and rinse it after about 5-10 minutes. I am not opposed to letting the conditioner set with heat, as I often get the royal treatment when I visit the hair salon for cut and color (shout out to my stylist Donna at Polish Hair Bar-Philadelphia, PA). However when it comes to my home routine, I am not here for sitting under anyone’s heating agent for deep conditioning.

I dry my freshly washed hair using the T-Shirt Drying Method. The method consists of using a cotton t-shirt, which you can cut down the center to elongate. I simply run the cotton t-shirt through my hair in the very same manner that I would use a towel. I personally find that the cotton t-shirt minimizes frizz, and absorbs a significant portion of the water from my super-thick hair. While the cotton t-shirt absorbs the excess water, it does not absorb the moisture from my curls. In fact, my hair is soft and shiny once I remove the towel.

Hydration

My hydration regimen is based exclusively on the L.O.C. Method, which is an acronym for Leave-In Conditioner, Oil, and Cream. It is simply the order in which you apply your hydration products, which helps to lock and seal the moisture into your scalp and hair. This method works wonders for my hair, and I have not wavered from it in months. I use this method to hydrate my freshly washed hair.

Styling

My styling regimen consists of virtually nothing! At this phase in my hair growth journey mousse works best for styling my curls. The brand of mousse I use does not dry or harden my hair, and it does not leave any flakes or residue. So after my hair is cleansed and hydrated, I apply a liberal amount of mousse to my hair and proceed to use my fingers to define the curls.


Finally I use the T-Shirt Drying Method to set my curls. I use the same cotton t-shirt used earlier in the cleansing process, and wrap my hair in the manner of a turban for drying. I move on to my morning routine while my hair dries under the cotton t-shirt wrap. Once I am ready to walk out the door, I let down my hair & run my fingers through it to plump up my curls. I promise my curls are Tracee Ellis Ross drool worthyJ






Products

As far as products are concerned I am not a junkie, and stick to the most natural and readily available. Here is a listing of my staple products for each phase of my hair regimen. Again, these products are my personal preference, and you very well may have to go through a trial & error phase to find what works best for your hair. I hope this helps, and I hope that it answers many of the questions that I am often asked.

Cleansing
  • Shampoo
    • Crème of Nature Sulfate-Free Shampoo
    •  Tresemme Naturals Low-Sulfate Shampoo
  •  Conditioner
    • Crème of Nature Sulfate-Free Conditioner
    • Tresemme Naturals Low-Sulfate Conditioner
  • Deep Conditioner
    • Aussie 3-Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner
    • Eden Bodyworks All Natural Deep Conditioner
Hydration
  • Leave-In Conditioner
    • Crème of Nature Leave-In Conditioner, Spray
    • Curls Unleashed Leave-In Conditioner
  •  Oil
    • Coconut Oil
    • Olive Oil
    • Grapeseed Oil
  •  Cream
    •  Crème of Nature Oil Moisturizer, Cream
    • Shea Butter 
Styling
  • Crème of Nature Argan Oil Mousse
  •  Palmer’s Coconut Oil Hair Milk

Tools
  • Wide-Tooth Comb
  • Cotton T-Shirt
  • FingersJ
X.O.
Shreen 
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lip Locked: The Power of the P.U.R.P.L.E.





AAAAAAHHHHH spring is so close that I can smell it….literally as I type this post, and the fresh air rushes in through my windows. If I have not said this before, spring makes me happy, very happy to be exact. Maybe it is because I am a spring baby, and it is deeply embedded in my DNA…or maybe notL Nonetheless I get very excited with just the thought of the seasons changing. All of the textures and tones that come with spring just get me all in a tizzy, and I like it!

Staying true to my mantra that a good lip can transform you from subpar to superb in a matter of seconds, I bring you my fab faves for all things purple lipstick. I mean a good purple lip just screams spring right?

         

I am in love with all of the options ranging from bright fuchsias to deep grapes. Purple lipstick is a constant staple in my Spring/Summer makeup box, and I cannot wait to make these lips pop! I am excited to serve Barney realness for the next few months! Checkout my fab faves, and feel free to share yours.  

Quick Tip-Get the most out of any lip color by dabbing a bit of flesh tone concealer onto your lips. This provides a neutral canvas for your lip color, and gives you the most pigmented result.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring Forward: Peruvian Roasted Chicken







I live in the Northeastern region of the U.S., which loosely translates into the worst place ever during the months of December through April. Snowstorm after snowstorm, and temperatures that only Elsa from Disney’s Frozen could appreciate. I am beyond OVER the winter season, and so ready to Spring Forward into my favorite time of year. You know….when the sun is glistening off of your skin, daylight does not end until after the seven o’clock hour, and dammit….life just seems so much better! Well I am here for all of that and so much more. 

So, let us get right into the first of many recipes that I have intentions of featuring on the blog. I LOVE all things food, and I am not one of those pesky people who refuse to try new things. The spring season kicks off months of fresh, colorful food that is readily available in abundance. Spring is also an excellent time to eat light, and from farm to table.

One of my go-to proteins during the spring season is poultry. I have kicked this boring bird up a few notches with a Latin influence. Check out my take on Peruvian Roasted Chicken, which I will compliment with a colorful spinach salad with Berry Dressing, and my Summer Sangria. More to come on the complimentary items in future posts. No worries as it will all come together just in time for you to host a feast of your own featuring the entire meal.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5lb Organic Free-Range Roasting Chicken        
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Freshly Squeezed Juice of 1 Lemon (appx ¼ C)
  • 3 Tbsp Minced Garlic or 6 Garlic Cloves, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 3 Tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2 Tbsp Sazon
  • 1 Tbsp Adobo
  • 1 Tsp Oregano, Freshly Chopped
  • 2 Tsp Brown Sugar



Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients listed above, with the exception of the chicken into a blender.     
  2. Blend the ingredients on low speed, until you achieve a paste-like consistency.
  3. Clean and rinse the bird, then pat dry with paper towels to remove excess water. Separate the skin from the breast of the chicken using a sharp paring knife.
  4. Place the chicken into a large bowl.
  5. Pour ½ of the paste mixture under the skin, and directly onto the breast of the chicken. Massage the paste under the skin and onto the breast.
  6. Pour the remaining paste all over the chicken and into the cavity. Massage it onto thebird thoroughly.
  7. Place the bird into the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, and a maximum of 24 hours for marinating.
  8. Once the bird has finished marinating, remove from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature for 1 hour.
  9. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  10. Place a baking rack into a large roasting pan. Spray the rack with non-stick cooking spray.
  11. Place the bird onto the roasting rack, and into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes to brown skin. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees, and continue roasting for 70-75minutes, or until the juices run clear.
  12. Remove chicken from oven, tent with foil and allow chicken to rest for 20 minutes.
  13. Carve chicken and serve alongside green salad, and a glass of chilled sangria!

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Hated It: Sole II Soul Restaurant



I am super excited to post my first restaurant review of the year. I Shreen Shuffled on down to the Soul II Soul Restaurant last Saturday to attend a friend’s birthday dinner. This establishment was supposed to feature upscale, southern cuisine. I was unable to research the restaurant or their menu beforehand because they do not have a functioning website, and their social media accounts have not been updated since 2012, yes you read that right! I was more than a bit skeptical about this place based on reviews posted on various internet, and social media platforms.

My sister-friend who is highly intuitive called it days before we arrived….she said “girl we are in for a night of pure foolishness!” Well, well, well she has yet to lead me to the wrong side of the tracks, and her intuition has a better record than Floyd Mayweather. So, with that said I am going to proceed to break this place down based on Service, Ambience/Décor, Food Quality/Presentation, and Overall Dining Experience.

Service

The staff at this place was the most unprofessional, unseasoned, and unenthused I have ever encountered in my entire existence on earth. Their attitudes were beyond disgusting, requests for dining fundamentals such as water, and silverware went unrecognized for several hours. The facial expressions, and physical appearances of the staff members reeked of “I would rather be anywhere but here.” A staff member named Brian identified himself as the manager, and demonstrated the most dispicable behavior of them all. Even more ridiculous was the fact that he was managing a soul food restaurant, but had a button pinned to his shirt that read “Ask Me How You Can Lose Weight.” I was so confused….was he selling chicken wings or dietary supplements?

We were seated at one table at 8PM, and then we were told that we had to move to another table at 9:45PM. Meanwhile in that time span we had not even received a glass of ice water, let alone a dinner roll. Once we were moved to another table, we continued to wait until approximately 10:30PM to receive our entrees.

Ambience/Décor

Where should I begin? There were holes in the ceiling from an unfinished light fixture project, the heating system was non-existent on a 23-degree evening, and the dining table we were seated at was bowed in the center. The linen was mismatched & very cheap, the chairs ranged from solid oak to plastic folding chairs, and the drink ware consisted of plastic Solo cups. The dinnerware was mismatched as well, and featured everything from plastic picnic juice pitchers to a cereal bowl masked as a breadbasket. I could go on, but this place is not even worth the characters it would take.

Food Quality/Presentation

I will cut right to the chase and tell you I would not let my eight-month-old puppy eat the food this place served. I ordered Fried Whiting with Baked Macaroni & Cheese, and Candied Yams. I received fish that was frozen opposed to fresh, cold macaroni that was the result of a poor reheating attempt, and yams that tasted like day old apple pie. The quality of the food was beyond poor, and the presentation was non-existent. This was the most disgusting southern cuisine I have ever experienced. Most of my family and friends were in agreement as they either picked scarcely over their food, or returned it back to the kitchen all together.

Overall Dining Experience

This was hands-down the most horrific dining experience of all time. I mean this establishment had to have set some type of Guinness World Record for the poorest dining experience. I would recommend that you drive past this restaurant and find another for your own sanity and satisfaction. Sole II Soul Restaurant had a million things wrong with it from the safety hazards in the dining area, to the lack of customer service, and everything in between.  On a scale of 1 to 10, this establishment gets a -5. This has all led to the deduction that I absolutely HATED IT!


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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Skincare Chronicles: D.I.Y. Makeup Removal Pads




I am a makeup kind of gal….period, point to the blank! Now do not get me wrong I am a fan of the au naturale beauty route, and can rock a bare face with best of them. However I LIVE for a good beat!

I love all that goes into getting jouged up for a night out on the town. I also despise everything that comes with removing your “face” at the end of the night…ugggghh I really do. In my years I have learned that while love conquers all, a good makeup remover is a close second. I mean if it can annihilate my waterproof mascara & deep stained lips, then we are in a relationship!

My problem with many of the makeup removal products on the market for mass consumption is that they are bogged down with harsh chemicals, and bi-products that require a periodic table of elements app to decipher. If I have to do all of that, then I am going to gracefully decline. More importantly most makeup removal products are pretty pricey in comparison to the nominal amount of product you get in exchange.

I personally run through makeup removal wipes and solution like there is no tomorrow. So here is where my limited edition frugality, and environmental consciousness go into overdrive. I decided to take on the task of making my own makeup removal pads. Low and behold it took me all of five minutes, and a few products I already had stocked in my home. #winning

I have outlined the tools, recipe & directions below. Let me know if this worked for you as much as it has worked for me.

Tools:

  • Medium Bowl
  • Medium Mason Jar & Lid
  • Cotton Cosmetic Rounds

Ingredients:

  • 2C Distilled Water
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tsp Jojoba Oil
  • 1 Tsp Cetaphil Cleanser (or any other mild facial cleanser i.e. castile soap)

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into the medium bowl.
  2. Place the bowl into the microwave for approximately 2-3 minutes.
  3. Place t he cosmetic rounds into the mason jar while the ingredients are warming in the microwave. Be sure to pack the cosmetic rounds down into the mason jar, as they will reduce in size upon saturation.
  4. Remove the bowl from the microwave, and stir the ingredients together.
  5. Carefully pour the contents of the bowl into the mason jar to saturate the cosmetic rounds.
  6. Place the lid onto the mason jar tightly, and proceed to invert the mason jar to evenly distribute the solution.
  7. Voila…you have D.I.Y Makeup Removal Pads!

FYI….the makeup removal pads store very well as long as they are kept in a cool, dry place. Keep in mind that these makeup remover pads are made with all natural ingredients, and there are no preservatives. So, the shelf life is approximately three to four months. You should not concern yourself in this area, because these babies will be gone long before the end of their shelf life!


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