September 29, 2015

DIY Black Soap & Tea Tree Face Cleanser

I used to have terrible acne. It wasn’t until well into my 20s that my skin issues were under control. Fortunately my skin and hair have been doing really well for a while now and I attribute that to using mostly natural products.

Black soap has been an amazing product for cleansing my whole body really, however it’s a pain to use on my body in a white shower so I mostly use it for my face and sometimes my hair. I use a lot of hearty oils all over my body and I wear makeup most days. I love black soap because it leaves you squeaky clean, but not so stripped that your skin feels dry.

Tea tree oil is known for its healing antiseptic properties and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce itching and clears rashes over time. I always add some to my shampoo, which has helped my scalp enormously.

Aloe Vera is extremely beneficial for your body inside and out. Externally it can be used to help ease the discomfort of sunburns, minor wounds, cuts, scrapes and rashes, and is very moisturizing.

I have used just plain black soap and that works really well, but I happened to have these ingredients in my house. I use this wash after removing my makeup with banila co. clean it zero (the best makeup remover I’ve ever used) and my skin looks and feels refreshed and clean.

What you’ll need
  • Raw Organic Black Soap (solid)
  • Tea Tree Oil (Optional)
  • Aloe Vera Juice (Optional)
  • Castile soap (Optional)
  • Water
  • Bottle
I filled the bottle with chunks of the black soap (about 1/2 cup). Added about a teaspoon of tea tree oil. Added a few table spoons of Aloe Vera juice, a thin layer of Castile soap, and filled the rest with water. It takes about a day for the black soap to melt and become completely liquid. I recommend using a pump or a container with a thin nozzle for easy use and if you have sensitive skin, leave out the Castile soap and go easy on the tea tree.

September 21, 2015

Salmorejo Recipe

I had very low expectations of this dish when I tasted it during our first night in Seville. But I feel fairly strongly about trying things at least once before I dismiss them. So glad that I did! We tried Salmorejo at a few different spots so I feel that I have a good handle on the flavor profile and the variations in flavor. I read about 10 recipes before I came across this one. I followed the recipe mostly verbatim, but changed a few things here and there to suit my taste.

Not sure how often I will eat this, because, spoiler alert it has a whole baguette in it lol. I suppose when I’m feeling a bit nostalgic I will whip up a batch.

What you'll need
  • 8 Medium Tomatoes: I used heirloom
  • 1 Medium Baguette: they did not have plain so I had a parmesan baguette
  • 1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic: I used 1 small raw clove, but I think roasted garlic would taste pretty amazing in this dish
  • A splash of sherry vinegar: add a half a plash first, and then add more. This dish can get too vinegary. I like a little less than normal
  • 2 Hard Boiled Eggs: you only need two if you plan on garnishing it the traditional way. I didn’t so I only needed one.
  • Sliced Serrano Ham (or Prosciutto): I used prosciutto because that’s what I had in my house at the time.
Put a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil. Cut a small cross in the bottom of each tomato. When the water is boiling add the tomatoes for 30-60 seconds. Remove immediately and place in a cold water bath (a bowl filled with ice and cold water). The skin will peel right off of the tomatoes.

Cut out the cores of the tomatoes and add all the rest to your blender. Blend at high-speed for about 30 seconds until the tomatoes are broken down.

Take all of the "guts" out of your baguette and add them to the blended tomatoes. The baguette should have given about 2-3 cups of guts and you can experiment with how much you add, as this is how you change the texture. I use about 2 cups of the bread guts. Let the bread soak in the tomato juice for about 5 minutes.

Add the splash of vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic and blend until the soup is an even texture and the bread is completely broken down.

Slowly add the olive oil as you are blending at a moderate speed. If it doesn't have the hole, stop and go adding little by little.

Add 1 hard-boiled egg and blend until incorporated. Taste and adjust levels of salt, pepper, vinegar, garlic, and bread.

I like this soup served room temp, not cold, but traditionally it is served chilled. In Spain it was garnished with diced ham and a sliced hard-boiled egg. I wasn’t that into it so I switched it to raw zucchini noodles and a small piece of prosciutto. The contrast in texture was really nice and fresh!

I love making a meal out of a variety of small bites, because I’m greedy and it gives me the opportunity to taste everything I want. :) Now tell me what is your favorite tapa?

Chicken Croquette Recipe

I don’t think I’ve eaten a croquette before Spain. Ok maybe that is a lie, but if I have it was not very memorable…obviously. I actually had to get rid of these, because I kept eating them at every meal.  No bueno. I used this recipe and slightly modified it. I can't wait to try this again, maybe with oxtail instead of chicken.

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon Ras El Hanout seasoning: love this spice and thought the north African flavor would go well with this dish
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • Black pepper
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg: didn’t have this any nutmeg, so I skipped this step. I seasoned the chicken so it wasn’t a problem for me.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup fine breadcrumbs: I pulsed a cup of panko bread crumbs until they were fine
  • Sunflower oil or mild olive oil for frying
In a skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and Ras El Hanout seasoning, and sauté until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter to cool. Cut the chicken into pieces and finely grind with a food processor.

In a clean skillet or sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion. Cook over medium-low heat, until soft and transparent but not yet browned, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer; season with salt, pepper, and the nutmeg (if you are skipping the Ras El Hanout seasoning). Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and keep hot.

Sift the flour into the skillet over the onion and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. It should be a compact and just-moist ball. Spread out the ball in the pan and begin slowly stirring in the hot milk until the mixture is creamy and not too sticky when touched, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and fold in the ground chicken. Cook, gently stirring, for 2 minutes. The mixture should be spongy and can be touched without sticking to your finger.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl to cool. Once cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours until chilled. This will make forming the croquettes easier.

Break the eggs in a bowl and thoroughly whisk. Place the breadcrumbs in a second bowl and flour in a third.

Form croquettes, wetting your hands periodically for easier handling.

Dip the croquettes in the flour, then egg, and roll in breadcrumbs to completely cover.

In a skillet or sauté pan heat oil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low. This is very important! If the oil is too hot you will burn the croquettes.

Use a deep pan to fry; this will cut down on the mess. Do not crowd the pot, cook them in batches until they are golden brown. Serve hot!

September 20, 2015

Top 10 things to Pack on an International Trip

I packed way too damn much. But there were some things that I was so grateful to have and a few other things that I wish I brought. This list is a mixture of both! What are your must haves on an international trip
  1. Lotion wipes: yes they exist I got hem from elf and they actually work! I wouldn’t rely on them in a cold climate because they would not moisturize my skin enough, but for a warm summer climate they were perfect! 
  2. Baby wipes: when hand sanitize isn’t enough. 
  3. Sneakers: I brought my chucks. They were comfortable for all the cobblestone walking we did, they match with everything and they are cute! 
  4. Plug converter: buy a good one! They sell them with the USB connect. Get that one. 
  5. Water filter: this might be the greatest tourist swindle of all time. If you are staying for a while (5+ days) I would pack this. It’s so important to hydrate and you will have to keep buying bottles of water. Don’t stay thirsty my friends. 
  6. Water bottle: we bought water by the gallons and kept filling up water bottles. I brought a medium sized bottle that I didn’t mind carrying around and it was perfect. 
  7. Wi-Fi: “These bars area lie.” I kept saying this everywhere we went. Wee-Fee was mediocre at best in all of Europe for us. I think it’s worth it to travel with a portable Wi-Fi connection. So you can use GPS and communicate with your people if you decide to split up, you can text using whatsapp. 
  8. Washcloth/loufa: Ever tried washing your ass with a small towel? It’s annoying. Not one hotels or the airbnb that we stayed in had washcloths. There are worse things, I know, trust me its worth it to make your life easier. 
  9. Selfie stick: I was so against this when my fried mentioned she was bringing it, but it came in handy when we wanted to take a group pic and actually have it come out flattering, ha! 
  10. Camille Rose Almonds Jai twisting butter: this is strictly for the nappy travelers. No one has time for 50leven hair products. This one product is EVERYTHING. Hold and moisture are my two main concerns and it covers both. Best product I’ve ever used on my hair.

Travel Recap: Amsterdam > Seville > Malaga > Morocco

I haven’t been on vacation for over a year. Well…a real vacation. You know when you go away for more than a long weekend. The point is this vacation was much needed!

We traveled to southern Spain with a stop in Amsterdam. I have never been, so my friends graciously (because they have both been already) agreed to stay for a few days so that I can check it out. I will have to come back and spend a couple more nights. I think four would be perfect.


Of course there are museums and historic spots you can visit. I will do that when I come back and have a bit more time. We did stop at the red light district, because it’s some sort of first timer right of passage.  I could’ve skipped it. Other than museums, I would like to see the windmills and the countryside and do a little bit of shopping! We loved the Heineken Factory Tour. I am not a Heineken drinker, but it tastes different here. Much less bitter and very refreshing. At the end of the tour they have a rooftop overlooking the city and a free canal ride back to their souvenir shop. If you don’t go on the tour you must taxi through the canals. They are beautiful.

We stayed at Inntel Hotel Amsterdam Centre, which was perfect. Do yourself a favor and stay close to everything! We walked most places and took the train everywhere else. Next time I will definitely rent a bike.

English breakfast is wack. Sorry, but it makes no sense to me. Vinnies definitely sells a much more modern version of the traditional meal. This is the only one that I can fuck with. Overall the food was decent, two nights was not enough time to really explore the cuisine around the city. I will have to go back and give it another try.

Southern Spain

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