Life, love, work, guilty pleasures and keeping it real.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Reese's Birthday Delight

I wanted to prepare dessert for my Dad's birthday celebration, and most of all I wanted to try something new. While I love to cook, and {like to think I am pretty good at it} I am awful at baking. I think I lack the patience and 'exact measurement' skills to be a successful baker. In my quest to show up with something tasty, beautiful and from "full scratch" (quote by Mikey) I discovered a gem of a recipe.
Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes...
I found this recipe and directions on Hoosier Homemade.
These cupcakes were to die for! They were extremely rich and dense- but a fabulous treat!

Chocolate cupcakes:
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
4 large Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper cupcake liners. In a separate bowl, combine cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla. Add dry ingredients, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Gently fold in Peanut Butter Cup pieces.

Divide batter into cupcake liners. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Because the batter was SO thick and dense, it did not rise like the boxed-cake mixes I am used to so I filled the cupcake liners more than I normally would once I stuck the second batch in the oven.

Peanut butter frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup Peanut Butter
3 tablespoons milk, or as needed
2 - 2 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar

(I ended up adding almost a cup more powdered sugar and more milk until it was totally fluffy. I also added a teaspoon of vanilla extract).

Cream butter and Peanut Butter until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with a little milk at a time. Beat well, until desired consistency.
This frosting is like WHOA... it is the inside of a Reese's!

Frost cupcakes and garnish with a Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Two hours later, I present to you...
my first entirely from scratch AND successful dessert.

Because it is uber rich, I served it with a vanilla bean ice cream. It was a total hit!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fresh ta' death...

In an effort to help minimize my large ass, be an impressive wife and do what I love to do... I decided to try something super simple and healthy for dinner this evening. It's a compilation of my favorite Greek'ish items.

What this really has turned into is the Greek version of my ever-changing Mexican dishes (think chicken tacos, gourmet chicken quesadillas, chicken Mexican'ish salad, Mexican casserole, the list goes on and on). I have key ingredients that I always have on hand and always make something delicious with: chicken, onions, green peppers, cilantro, beans, spanish rice, tortillas, cheese, etc. I am started to also keep more Greek'ish items on hand in addition to my rice and bean staples. More of these fresh ta' death staples include: tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, garlic, Greek yogurt and lemon.
Rather than making the more time consuming (and totally delicious) Greek meal favorite {I have recently posted here}, I took some of those ingredients and made something fast, exploding with flavor and all fresh ingredients. What does this also mean? It's healthy!!!
I call this my Greek Chicken Salad served with Lemon Basmati Rice

I took chicken and marinated it in a bowl with:
Olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
Dried oregano
Fresh minced garlic
Just a touch of salt and pepper
*I then broiled the chicken for about 7 minutes on each side
Raw chicken is so nasty
I chopped up 2 cucumbers (peeled and de-seeded)
2 roma tomatoes
about 10 grape tomatoes
red onion sliced very thin (to your liking)
small handful of parsley chopped super fine
diced/crumbled a 1/2 brick of feta cheese

See tzatziki recipe here

I served a little bit of rice with this dish to balance the acidity from all of the veggies (my tummy is crazy and would not appreciate me if I did not).
I used basmati rice, which you can find at an Indian or Iranian specialty market
I first browned the rice with just a splash of olive oil
Added a few dashes of fresh lemon
Cooked as normal

Once the chicken was done, I let it cool for about 2.5 minutes since I have absolutely no patience. I mixed it in with the salad and voila!

I served the salad with tzatziki and rice on the side. We decided to mix it all together and it was a total delight!

I was nervous since I had never done this before, but I was fairly certain I would love the flavor since it encompassed all of my favorite fresh ingredients. Well ladies (and maybe some gentlemen)... I give to you our new favorite dish....
Machel's Greek Chicken Salad

Monday, June 14, 2010


One of our latest tasting adventures:
Castello Monaci's Primitivo Piluna 2008

My new love of bolder reds has led me to want to try more and more Italian reds. Mikey loves red wine at its boldest; the deeper, richer and more intense, the better. I am now just starting to feel this passion toward the spicy and audacious flavors found in these Italian wines.

The Castello Monaci winery is located in Italy... "Not far from the town and the sea, on the road which goes from Lecce to Taranto, at the gates of Salice Salentino, surrounded by centuries-old vegetation, are located the vineyards of Castello Monaci." Uh- yes please!

I did some research on the Primitivo grape, and what I found was super interesting:
Recent testing has shown Primitivo to have the same genetic make up as the popular California grape, Zinfandel. Wines made from Primitivo have the same notes of plum and spice, like Zinfandel, but different growing soils and climate, change the grape characteristics.

I loved this delicious wine...
It was fierce. Fruity. Hints of chocolate. Simple. Rustic.

I loved that it paired perfectly with our chicken and mozzarella raviolis, but also enhanced the flavors of my chocolate dessert. What makes this wine even more exciting? You're getting a TON of bang for your buck at only around $13/ bottle.

Have you tried this wine before? If so, please comment on your rating!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Unconditional Love Items

There are those 'items' in life that you don't necessarily have unconditional love for, rather they have an unconditional love for you. These items range from: shoes, nightgowns, accessories, chocolate and of course products. This unconditional love from them is created by the simple fact that they do not care what size you are. Pre-marriage slim or happily married chunky- my shoes, nightgowns, {all things} chocolate, my accessories and all my beauty products still love me the way I am and treat me oh so right.

With my bigger ass I got in a slump. I was feeling ugly every day. Then I said: "self, you still have some great shoes, you have discovered fab beauty products that assist with your face and hair, you have an abundance of accessories and you regularly enjoy chocolate." I basically decided to work with what I have. Would I look better and feel better if I lost some pound'age? Hell yes. It's easier said than done and I am still working on it.

Accessories: Those items which have an unconditional love for you and can quickly add some oomph to any look or outfit. Think - jewelry, bags, scarves, belts, sunglasses, pins, hats, tights, headbands, clips, etc... the list goes on and on!

I have always been a huge fan of all of these aforementioned items. Of all of them, I have the most jewelry. For me jewelry is an easy way to transform any outfit, and many times it can be done without spending a fortune. Coordinating my jewelry with my outfit makes me feel more put together and it can alter the style of the same outfit. I 'collect' jewelry from everywhere. Most of my pieces are from: Express, Forever 21, Arden B and Bebe.

One of my favorite looks is dressing up a solid black or white top with some big statement pieces- a large bib necklace, a long necklace with big earring and bangles, or smaller pieces of jewelry and a bright belt.

Depending on the look you are going for, sometimes less is more. Sometimes it's hard to fight my urge for more. Working at bebe for years, I HAD to wear a minimum of 3 accessories (or was it 4?) in addition to stilettos (no wedges) at all times.

These are the pieces I wear most often. I keep them all hidden on our window sill behind the curtain. I got all of the stands at Tai Pan. I have a great idea for hanging my earrings, I just have not gotten around to creating it yet. {Look for it in the future}.
I love love love this jewelry box. It's vintage, it's my Grandma Gallegos' jewelry box that she gave to me years ago. This box is most often a disaster- usually a knotted mess of post earrings, bracelets and rings. Somehow bobby pins end up in there as well as pretty much any surface of our house, and lets not forget the dozen I see in the vacuum when emptying it!For the pieces I do not wear as often, and just do not have room for get stored in this handy 4-drawer tower.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Art of thee Eyebrow

We have all been there: a boring night, you sitting in the bathroom sink with your face up against the mirror plucking away. Caught up in the moment, you have officially over-plucked your once perfect brows. Once I get going I have to remind myself, "Machel, put down the tweezers." While I pluck every day, or every couple days, I leave the major shaping to waxing about once a month. Clean-up maintenance, fine. But to get the perfect shape, the perfect arch, the perfect thickness, I suggest you see a professional.
I LOVE my good eyebrow days. They are usually the days after a wax and color. One of my favorite things in life: getting my eyebrows dyed. It gets all my light hairs that normally don't show up to SHOW up, thickening my brows, intensifying my look and making me feel more Kardashian'ish. Between these color sessions, I fill my brows in with MAC's Handwritten eye shadow, using their brush #260. I tap my brush in the color, tap off the excess and apply the color starting at the arch and working my way down to the end and then fill in the 'beginning' portion of my brown (the thickest section), doing this section last so it does not look evil being too dark.
If you have over-plucked, no worries. Let them grown in for a bit and then make an appointment with a professional so they can shape your brow and you can continue to let them fill in from there. There are 'waxers' at merely every salon where you already go to get your hair done, so call your salon and find out who can do it. {My Mom does mine}.

Brow Inspiration:
The Kardashian family all have amazing brows- bold, dark and thick!

A small thing, your brows, can make a big difference in your face. Your overall appearance becomes more polished and dramatic.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Mani and I ...

This one goes back to my roots... where I thought getting a new color of polish to coordinate with your lipstick was something everyone did every few weeks at the Estee Lauder and Lancome counters - thanks Mom.
This has to do with my passion for products. Variety. Wide Selection. The More the Merrier.
I find it therapeutic to give myself a good mani every five days... I am painting a couple of times a week. Making Mikey cringe at the sound of my file shaping my nails. I also bask in the joy of keeping my toes perfectly polished every seven days as well.
I always start by soaking my cuticles in warm water with a gentle moisturizing soap (I usually use some bubble bath or shampoo). I push my cuticles back with my metal pusher and trim them too. Huge pain once you start, you have to keep up with it every few days. I used to always use a primer, but I do not always have the time or patience for that. I do however ALWAYS use a top coat. My Mom told me about a new she recently tried, I plan to get it soon and let you know what I think!

There is nothing like a freshly-painted mani or pedi... it's like instance confidence boost. It helps me to feel more put together and just hella fresh! Whether I choose a light neutral, a soft pastel, a hot pink or a bright or deep red... it just makes my outfits feel much more complete. Manicured is a good way to put it!
My color selections change with the seasons... here are my favorites right now! (Do I love OPI? Yes! I also really love Essie's line).

A Good Mandarin is Hard to Find - My Mom picked this one up for me and I was unsure about how orange it is... it looks great on. I like it on my hands, but love it on my toes!

That's Berry Daring... so great for summer and I love it on my hands and toes!
Dutch Tulips... a classic fav for me. I love everything about this bright red!
A Shorts Story - my Sister Emily was
rocking this Barbie pink a few weeks ago
and I obsessed over it until I became an owner.
This is thee perfect pink for summer.
Lucky Lucky Lavender... love this color, it is more subtle than the other
but still packs a punch of Summer color!
My Sister, Emily, introduced me to Shrek Forever After Collection.
I am in love with Rummple's Wiggin'... a really pale lilac.

If you have an absolute favorite color, please share it here!!!