Sunday, April 2, 2017

An Eggplant Lover

Eggplant was never one of my favorite vegetable. Growing up, I dreaded dinner the days my mom made her Indian eggplant curry dish. I just remember it being slimy and for some reason it always reminded me of fish.

Well, over the years I've given eggplant second and third chances and it's slowly grown on me. One of the best eggplant dishes I've ever had was the Eggplant with Miso at Nobu. However, I can't afford to go to Nobu as often I'd like. So, typically the eggplant dish I try most often when dinning out is an Eggplant Parmesan.

Recently, while at the grocery store I decided to try something outside my comfort zone of veggies which is typically just onions, bell peppers, and spinach. On any given day our dinner will consist of these three veggies in some form or fashion. I know it's sad, but isn't it also amazing that I manage to stick with the same three veggies and make something different each time? Or maybe I'm just very good at fooling my husband! ;) Anyways, so I picked up a big firm eggplant and secretly told myself it's ok if I completely screw this up.

After looking up a few recipes on pinterest and other various sites, I realized that I didn't have all the ingredients of any one recipe. So, I decided to just wing it with the little understanding I had of the general concept. And guess what? This was was the best eggplant parmesan I have ever had... even my husband agreed!

edited via Instagram

The main ingredients in an eggplant parmesan are typically an eggplant, parmesan cheese (duh?!), some sort of breading, egg to help the breading stick, a little bit of seasoning, marinara sauce, and some bed of pasta to serve the eggplant with.

Here are a few of my tips. Don't cut the eggplant too thick or it will become too soggy. I like to cut mine in less than half an inch rounds. Next, be sure to salt your eggplant well, let it rest for at least 10 to 15 mins, and completely dry off each slice of eggplant prior to continuing. I can't stress how important it is to really take care of the eggplant up to this step before continuing. If you do this, the rest will be easy peasy.

Then simply whisk up 1 to 2 eggs in a bowl, depending on how many eggplant slices you have. In dish mix up some breadcrumbs or panko crumbs with all the seasonings of your choice. I decided to use some regular breadcrumbs and added garlic powder, herb de provence, salt, pepper, and some fresh thyme and grated parmesan cheese. I mixed it all very well together. Line a tray with parchment paper and begin to dip the eggplant in the egg and then breadcrumb mixture and place it on the tray. I made sure to really pat the breadcrumb mixture on to the eggplant well. You can put some oil on the eggplant at this time, but I just lightly sprayed them all with cooking spray. At 350 degrees, cook the eggplant for a good 25 minutes or until the tops start to get lightly brown.

Next, I just used bottled marinara sauce and placed a good tablespoon on each eggplant slice and topped it with a slice of fresh mozzarella. The eggplants went back in the oven for another 10 minutes until the cheese was lightly melted on top. Mean while, I cooked up some linguine pasta I had on hand. This would actually be my second tip. Try linguine versus the traditional spaghetti pasta that is typically severed with eggplant. It makes the dish a bit lighter. Lastly, make a small bed of pasta on a plate and place the eggplant on top. Finish it off with some fresh basil. I must admit that the fresh mozzarella and fresh basil really complete the dish.

So, am I now a lover of eggplant? Umm... maybe! I'm so glad that I tried something outside of my comfort zone. I'm also very happy with how it turned out. I can't wait to make this for my mom the next time I see her and maybe I'll give her eggplant curry another try as well.

Are you lover of eggplant?

Friday, March 31, 2017

A Transitional Floral Dress

Spring is finally here! I'm so happy to be done with the cold weather and all the layering. I'm ready for warm sunny days with a light crisp breeze. Isn't it interesting how the weather has a big effect on our mood? I always feel a lot more energized and happier during the spring/summer months. 

One of my favorite items to add to my closet during this time are dresses! It's one of the easiest things to throw on and get out the door feeling completely put together. And a dress like this one from Target is a must have for me. I can easily transition it from spring to summer and from day to night with just a few additional items. 

I've really been wanting to add an affordable, yet good quality faux leather jacket to my closet and this H&M version fit the bill when it was recently on sale. I really like how it completely changes the look of the dress for a night out. Another great option instead of black is this brown Suede version. I'm totally in love with it, but I'm not sure I could justify the cost per wear for myself. 

I recently wore the first outfit to work this week and got tons of compliments. The material is easy to take care of and the floral print is very well balanced. I would have typically paired the dress with a black or neutral cardigan for work, but adding the yellow really brightened up the entire look. We are required to wear closed toed shoes for work, so I paired it with some simple ballet flats. However, I have been eyeing these sandals from Nordstrom for a while and Target has a very similar pair for less. Unfortunately, I took the photograph late in the day and the lighting wasn't very good. 

If you've been on a look out for a great floral dress that is also very verstaile, I would highly recommend this one.

Side note: I also picked up this off-the shoulder chambray that is really on trend and would look great with these BP sandals or these affordable Target version too. Whenever I'm a little nervous to try new trends, like the off-the shoulder trend, I can always depend on Target for some good affordable options. 

What's your spring/summer staple item?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Favorites | February

February has been quiet a busy month! So much happened this month and it was pretty much all surrounding Riya. With the amazing spring like weather we've been having lately, Riya loves going to the park. We had an amazing time with my entire family mid month and they came in town just in time to see Riya start crawling! I can't believe how much she changes every day and her personality is really starting to shine.

So besides all the wonderful moments I've had with my baby girl this month, which have been absolutely priceless, I also have a just a few monthly favorites to share.

I started using the Day One journal app on my iphone the day Riya was born. This is honestly THE BEST journal app! I have absolutely love it! I was hesitant to purchase it at first since there are several free options available, but I am so glad I did. This application is really ideal for any one who loves to journal. It has so many cool features like location data and adding multiple photos to each entry. Plus, another cool feature is that you can add additional journals within this one app. For example, I currently have a journal for Riya's First Year and as well as a Food Journal all housed within this one application. I found a great blog post detailing the various features here. I also think this app would be ideal for anyone traveling... I really wish I had discovered it a few years ago for our trip to China and Japan.

Trader Joe's Trail Mix Cookies

It is no surprise that Trader Joe's in one of my favorite grocery stores. Besides having amazing food, flowers, and wine selection their customer service is fabulous and their workers just seems like happy people. Recently, I discovered these trail mix cookies and omg! they are so delicious it's hard to believe that their healthy. I would highly recommend them for snack time or anytime.

Baby Brezza

Speaking for food... This has been quiet useful over the past 2 months as Riya has transitioned to pureed foods. There are some great baby food options on the market now, but I really wanted to try to make home-cooked food for Riya as much as I could. Typically I will set the machine up for whatever her meal will be the following day while I'm feeding her dinner. By the time we are done feeding her meal for the next day is already steamed and blended up nicely. I wouldn't say that it's a necessity, but it sure is convenient and fresh!


So I didn't see all the movies nominated for this year's Oscars, but the only movie I was really hoping would get some recognition was Lion. I was so impressed by Sunny Pawar, who plays the child Saroo... he seriously stole my heart! This movie deeply moved me and it's just amazing to think that it was a true story. A definite must see!

It's been very difficult for me to believe what is going on in our country today. I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels this way. I recently came across this TedTalk Podcast I had saved from December. The segment with Suzanne Barakat's story left me with chills on my drive to work and has since stuck with me. A word of warning, her story is quiet graphic but important to be heard. She made an important point about the dangers of remaining in silence. I can't exactly explain it, but I found some comfort and strength in listening to her story and other parts of this podcast. You can also hear Suzanne's entire Ted Talk here

That's it for last month's favorites! I hope this post was helpful or has inspired you to try something new.

Are you familiar with any of these favorites? I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Perfect Spring Sweater

The Perfect Spring Sweater

I hadn't really been interested in shopping after delivering my daughter last June. Although I knew I needed to give myself time to get back into shape, I still struggled with feeling a little depressed and worried about what I saw in the mirror. Over the past month and a half I've been making it a daily goal to take better care of myself (post coming soon). 

I'm already seeing a small difference in the way I look and an even bigger difference in the way I feel. So, I recently treated myself to a small online shopping spree. This sweater was just one of the many amazing finds I picked up from H&M. 

I'm always a bit skeptical about purchasing anything from H&M without trying it on in store. I was already all over the place in their sizing and fit before pregnancy... so you can imagine my current hesitation in purchasing anything online. However, on a the very rare occasion that I do make it out to the mall these days I typically just end up frustrated and find absolutely nothing that inspires me to try the item on. So, when I saw that H&M now offers free in-store returns, plus I had a code for free shipping and a 30% discount, I said... why not?! 

I love putting together outfit options with my recent purchases because it helps me to better understand if the item will bring me joy and add value to my closet. The color of this sweater is a perfect neutral beige. I'm very pleased with the quality and it's a perfect sweater to be worn as is or layered. When I first placed it into my online shopping cart, I imagined that it would make a nice outfit with jeans for a casual day and on skinny trousers for work. And after playing around with other outfit ideas I'm convinced that this is my new favorite sweater and a perfect transition item going into the spring months. 

I know it might be a little too early to be thinking of spring around some neck of the woods, but here in Texas the weather has been in the 70s and with my allergies acting up... spring is definitely in the air! I'm very excited to try out all these looks in the coming months. Majority of all the completer pieces are either already in my closet or I have something very similar. So, this also helps me to visualize outfits that I can keep a mental note for when I'm in a hurry to get dressed for an event. Another reason I love doing these outfit posts is because it gives me an idea of how much I might actually wear a particular item on my wish list. For example, this pegasus necklace from Stella Dot has been on my wish list for over a year, but I have yet to justify the price for the amount of times I think I would actually wear it. I've been on a hunt for something similar, but a bit more affordable. I think it goes perfectly with outfit #3, but I'm not convinced to pull the trigger on it. Come to think of it... my birthday is right around the corner! ;)

To my delight I'm happy with all the items from my recent H&M purchase and I'm most excited about this sweater and the joggers in the first outfit.

Which look is your favorite?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Favorites | January

Monthly favorites are one of my favorite posts. It's a great way to learn and share about new ideas and products. For me it's a little spin off the Three Things Thursday posts I've enjoyed sharing in the past. I'm not sure if these posts will be centered around any theme in the future: beauty products, recipes, books, etc. For now it's a little bit of everything and anything that I've been loving this past month. So let's get started with January Favorites!

I put this on my Christmas wish list after debating on a Fitbit versus an Apple Watch. I think this Fitbit is a perfect fit for me. I've been trying to loose the baby weight, but being active hasn't always been easy. This has definitely helped to motive me to get moving; not only that, I also like how it tracks my sleep and reminds me to incorporate meditation into my daily routine. 

Sweet Potato Enchiladas 

Where have these been all my life?! I've been making black bean enchiladas with verde sauce for years and it's one of my favorite quick and satisfying dinner ideas. Damn Delicious is one of my favorite food blogs and I was super excited to try this recipe. I never thought about adding sweet potatoes before, but now that I have... I can never image making enchiladas any other way!

Laneige Hydration Trial Kit

I'm always on the hunt for a great moisturizer, but this winter I decided that maybe I needed to take a closer look at my entire skincare regimen. With all the rage about Korean skincare lately, I did some research and decided to give this brand a try for two reasons: great reviews and reasonably priced ($30 for 6 products). I'm so glad I did because I love pretty much every single product in this kit. I definitely be repurchasing the cleanser and the water sleeping mask.

I'm a big fan of all-in-one palettes. Christmas is usually a good time to pick one up. This one made it on my wishlist and I was so excited when I received it! The medium/tan palette is perfect for my skin tone. The shadows and blushes are highly pigmented, a good size, and nicely packaged in a hard case. This is a must for a mommy on the go!

Antilop Highchair

Speaking of being a mommy... as with all things baby, when I started looking for a highchair for Riya there were a hundred different options. After doing a little bit of research and speaking with other mommies, I decided to give this super affordable highchair a try. For only $20 bucks, I can definitely say that this highchair would be my number one recommendation!

Lastly, listening to Joel Osteen for just 10 minutes will leave anyone feeling inspired and uplifted (regardless of your religion). This podcast episode has been one of my favorites this month. It has been a great reminder to keep up with my 2017 theme of being kind - to myself and to others, by not being hung up on things that just don't matter in the long run.

So, that's it! January has been a great start to 2017! I hope this post is helpful or has inspired you to try something new.

What were some of your favorites this month?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Theme for 2017 | Be Kind

This year instead of making a list of new year's resolutions, I've been inspired by Aileen from Lavendaire to set a theme for 2017. A theme is a great way to begin the new year with intention.

Recently, I got the chance to catch up on one of my favorite day time shows - Ellen. If you haven't watched her show before, Ellen always starts the show with a funny monologue followed by dancing and ends the show by saying the phrase Be kind to one another. When I heard her say this the first couple of times I watched the show, I just thought to myself... what a nice and positive message to end the show with. But the more frequently I heard this phrase, I started to wonder why Ellen chose the word kind and not nice... why not just Be nice to another?

The more and more I thought about it, I began to dissect the word nice versus kind. I really didn't get much help from the dictionary, but these articles (1 | 2 | 3) did help shed some light on this topic. I don't agree with these articles 100%. Nonetheless, they both have led me to decide on my theme for 2017 - Be Kind.

So here are some goals for 2017 with the intention to be kind.

Be kind to my body
  • walk 10,000 steps in a day 
  • sleep 6 to 7 hours
  • fuel it with natural foods and water

Be kind to my mind
  • meditate once a day (start with 2 minutes)
  • forgive myself and others daily
  • continue to live with gratitude every day

Be kind to others
  • pause before reacting to others
  • do something unselfish for someone every day
  • respect versus just please others

Be kind to my money
  • use it to buy with intention and not always to fulfill a desire
    • this is inspired by Carly's goal to "intentionally dine out"
  • use it to be kind to others
  • respect my purchases

Be kind to my home
  • respect my surroundings and keep it tidy
  • only bring items into my home that bring value and joy
  • fill my home with a positive vibes

My hope is that this theme will help guide me through different areas in my life. Not simply to set goals and feel defeated if I fail to follow through, but with hopes that it will help me to be consciously aware of the intention with which I want to live my life this year. By the end of 2017, I'm hopeful that this intention will be so engraved in my mind that it will lead me to naturally practice kindness moving forward.

What might be your theme for 2017?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Recent Purchases | Nursing Purchases

Nursing Purchases

I thought maternity shopping was difficult, but nursing shopping is sometimes even harder. At least when I was maternity shopping, I could usually just buy a few sizes up and I would be able to cover my growing belly. But nursing clothes are a slightly different story. 

During the first month or so when I was hardly ever leaving the house, the Gillian O'Malley nursing cami really came in handy. They are pretty comfortable and I bought these in every color. I would typically wear them with loose drawstring pants like the ones from Old Navy. They are currently only $11 bucks!  Both these items are super easy to wash and wear. If I wanted to run out the door or was expecting some company to stop by to visit Riya, I would  just throw on an old button down shirt or a cardigan on for a bit more coverage. 

I'm headed back to work soon and although I won't be taking Riya along with me to breastfeed daily (I wish!)... I still needed tops that would give me easy access for pumping. The Express portofino shirts are by far my favorite. I wore them a ton pre-pregnancy as well and I just sized up while I'm trying to get back in shape. I'm loving the stripped one I recently purchased during the 40% off sale.. I also liked their long sleeve front zip blouse. I haven't had a chance to wear it, so I can't comment on how well the zip up really works for breastfeeding or pumping. 

I picked up a few tops from Loft as well. I've already worn the mixed ivy lace bib shell and it looks great with some work appropriate pants and a contrasting cardigan. The fabric is easy wash and wear so I bought them in two different prints. The olive jeggings were an impulse buy since I was getting quiet frustrated trying to fit into my old jeans again. I know it's a little too soon for that so I thought these pants would be perfect for the upcoming fall/winter season. Before heading out the door, I also grabbed a couple of their soft vintage tees in a size up. Although these don't provide full access, they are great to layer on top of the nursing camis. 

The last two purchases are both a necessity in my book. A nursing bra of course! This one from Target is super inexpensive and is functional as well as pretty. I have them in both nude and black. And the skinny credit card holder was a last minute purchase from Express. With having to take a diaper bag with me everywhere I go now, I needed to have a skinny wallet that I could easily throw in the bag. I brought it in this bright red color so it's easy to see and grab. 

These are all my purchases thus far. I think I'll make it through fall alright, but I'm struggling to find some nursing friendly sweaters for the winter. If any of you seasoned mamas have any advice, please do share below! 

What have you been purchasing recently?