Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dairy Made Easy Cookbook By Leah Schapira & Victoria Dwek, Review



I'm on a roll with these cookbook reviews lately! I know I've said I don't use cookbooks much but after this one, I take that back. There is so much this specific cookbook has to offer that I haven't seen done elsewhere, and that has made it a very important part of my cooking latley. It's not sitting and collecting dust, I can tell you that much. In fact, I have been cooking and baking from it ever since it landed on my doorstep. You might already know of this cookbooks authors, because their reputation in food is untarnished. If you do not, know this: they are the authors behind an entire "made easy" series and are also the famous founders of the popular kosher cooking site cookkosher.com.


Here's what I think of this cookbook:

How it Looks: Bright and refreshing. I admire the light quality of it's cover with the combination of pastel shades and bright words. It's inviting and enticing! I quite like that it was created in soft cover too which makes it easy to open and use. 

What's inside: Upon flipping through this cookbook you will find several fantastic dairy recipes which are of course just perfect for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Shavuos. The pages are colorful and cheerful just as seen with the cover and the photography and plating skills are up to par too! The recipes themselves are written out clearly with a numbered method just as I personally prefer.


Extras: A complete kosher cheese guide is included at the start of this book and I think that is just genious. I also love the "Make it Light" section which helps those of us who are dieting to make some of the recipes a little more "skinny". Little notes added to each recipe describing some of the inspiration behind it makes it more personal. I find that this a great way of getting to know the authors. 

What I don't Love: Now that you know all that I think is fantastic about this book, let me tell you one tiny thing I'm not so thrilled about. It's the lack of fish recipes. I've said it before but I'll say it again. This category seems to be left out in many different cookbooks and since I love cooking different types of fish, it is a little disappointing. 


Recipes I look Forward to Preparing: 1) The cheddar broccoli soup has a really interesting parmesan crisp garnish and it is now on my to do list. 2) The ice cream desert with cheesecake bites is also tempting, I'm thinking of changing it up a little bit to add some extra flavor to those little bites. 

I have already prepared the cheese toasts and they were amazing! If you have this cookbook, that one looks like it's simple and easy, but it is the best cheese toast I've ever tasted and it changes everything if you pair it with a soup. 

Overall: The cookbook itself is beautiful in appearance and excellently written too! If you are looking for a cookbook filled with fish recipes, this is not the one. But it makes up for it in many other ways. I will be utilizing it a whole lot this Shavuos and I recommend it to anyone who loves their dairy foods.  

Have you purchased this cookbook yet? What do you think of it if you have? If not will you?

Let me know in the comments form, I would love to hear from you! 

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Gigi.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Recent Beauty Favorites (March, April & May 2014)


It's been a while since I shared the beauty related things I've been using and enjoying most. That is partially due to a lack of time and also because of there weren't enough stand out things to talk about! I've decided to do these posts/videos less often for that reason for now. Instead I will do a round up from about 3 months or so at a time. As with all my beauty favorites, there is a video to go along with this post so go watch it here or read till the end of the post where I will insert it as usual. Here is what I've been loving from the beauty category recently:


Products Mentioned:


It's been all about the bright colors as well as products that assist in illuminating and brightening. Spring is certainly here and I am basking in it's glory! One color that makes it's appearance alot is a certain shade of mint green I cannot get enough of. 


I even snuck in some little extras from something that didn't impress me so much, to a fashion favorite and also this amazing snack I've been loving. It's called Vintage Italia pasta chips*. If you have never tried these, you need to. Look for them at your supermarket and find the brand on istagram for recipe ideas!

If you liked this video please let me know by giving it a "thumbs up", you can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel here

Have you tried any of these products? What were your most recent beauty favorites? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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Gigi. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Lumene Radiant Touch Refreshing Foam Cleanser Review





As a beauty blogger I get to test a whole lot of products from the skin care and makeup categories. Of them all, cleansers seem to be what excites me most lately. I really enjoy putting my makeup on, but even more so I love to remove it at the end of the day and relax my skin for the night. I've talked about the importance of a skin care routine before. Cleansing your face daily will be most beneficial to how your makeup applies, so finding a cleanser that works well for you will be a life saver. If you don't feel like being too spendy, there are great drugstore options to choose from, including this one which can be found at walgreens and all over the web.  As the summer time nears, my skin begins to make the transformation from dry to oily in the t-zone area. That means I need a good cleanser that gets into the pores and tones but doesn't dry my skin out. Although I much prefer my exfoliating choices, this one certainly gets it done!

What Lumene has to say about it: "A foaming face wash that naturally promotes a bright and refreshed complexion. Lumene Radiant Touch Refreshing Foam Cleanser is a creamy formula that lathers up to a gentle foam, lifting impurities, dirt and debris. Unique arctic cloudberry oil enhances your skin's natural radiance, revealing vibrant, healthy skin after each wash. Perfect for normal to combination skin."



Texture: I'm not totally fond of the actual consistency as it's quite thick, a little sticky and definitely doesn't foam as it's claimed to. Like I said before, I much prefer exfoliating formulations. I also really like one that is cooling and gel like. This one reminds me of Philosophy's Purity Made Simple Cleanser in so many ways. 


Scent: The scent is decent. I think it smells quite floral in a soapey kind of way. If you aren't too fond of scented products you most likely won't love this.  To me, it isn't a real changing point. 



Performance: I think this does a great job of scrubbing my skin totally clean and completely removes any makeup on my face. It definitely leaves behind a slightly sticky residue on my skin if I don't wipe it off really well with a warm washcloth. Meaning it takes a bit longer to work with then some of my other favorites. 




Packaging: The colors are bright and vibrant and the container itself is user friendly too. I like that not too much squeezes out of the tube at a time, therefore the amount of product needed is what you get.  


What skin types will this suit best: I think it's going to be excellent for normal to combination skin types like it says on the packaging. Because of the scent it may cause problems for those with sensitivities to fragranced products. It's not extremely moisturizing or targeted towards toning the skin to hinder oil production, so therefore I'd recommend the very oily or very dry skin typed individuals to find something more suitable if this doesn't do the trick. 

Overall: 


This product itself is a fairly decent one. It does a great job of cleansing the skin without stripping moisture or causing over compensation of oil production. It smells alright and the packaging works well, plus the price is unbeatable! 


Have you tried this cleanser? If you have, what did you think of it? If you haven't, do you want to?

Let me know in the comments form! I would love to hear from you! 

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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XX.
Gigi. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Blueberry Cranberry Cheesecake Pops Recipe


Growing up, we'd pour grape juice into plastic cups and stick a plastic fork or spoon in the center. Then began the agonizing wait till it would solidify and transform into the best summer treat. But popsicles aren't just for kids anymore, not when you can add some tequila and create a sophisticated frozen desert. I can't believe it took me 6 years of food blogging to finally pick up some popsicle molds. These were the first experiment to be put through them, and with that kind of success it will not be the last. My only rule, no biting. It's just cringe worthy to me. Anyone else have a pet peeve with popsicle biting?


Shavuos will be here soon and with it comes cheese cake galore. Combine that with the great warm weather we've been having lately and this is the obvious essential! My son thought these were awesome. Now your kids can get involved in the holiday preparations and they will be thrilled with the results! Think of frozen yogurt with a berry cheesecake flavored twist and you will understand what these are all about!   

The ingredients are actually what you will need for any old cheesecake, so baking the leftovers is a great option, I know because I did just that. Also, these berries are what I had in my freezer but you can really go with any you prefer- strawberries, blackberries, mango or even banana, the options are endless. In regards to my diet, don't worry it's still going strong. Hopefully I'll get around to sharing some of those lower calorie foods I've been eating with you all very soon.  I did treat myself to one of these as a weekend treat and I cannot explain to you how worth it that was.  If you do want to customize this to be more of a skinny version, you can opt for a sugar substitute and low fat cream cheese. 


Blueberry Cranberry Cheesecake Pops

Yields: About 13 Pops 

Ingredients: 

1 (8 Oz) Container of Whipped Cream Cheese 
1/3 Cup Sour Cream 
1/3 Cup Confectioners Sugar
1/3 Cup Apple Juice
1/2 Cup of  Frozen Mixed Cranberries and Blueberries
1 Packet of Cinnamon Graham Crackers (About 5-7 Pieces)
1 Tablespoon Butter, Already Melted

Method:

1. Start by measuring the cream cheese, sour cream and confectioners sugar out into a large mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to combine these ingredients.

2. Put the frozen berries into a blender or food processor and add the apple juice. Pulse until completely smooth. If you'd like larger pieces of fruit in your pops, let the blender go for less time. 

3. Pour the fruits mixture in with the cream cheese one and use the mixer to bring the two together. 

4. Spoon the mixture you've created into the popsicle molds and leave about an inch at the top for the graham crackers. Smooth out the tops with the back of the spoon and put them to the side while you prepare the crumbs. 

5. Use a food processor or blender to break down the graham crackers into very tiny crumbs, almost dust like in texture. Then add the melted butter and mix well until you have a soft crumble. 

6. Put two tablespoons of the graham crumbs at the top of the popsicle mold to fill it the rest of the way and then pack it down very gently with a spoon so it's pretty even looking. 

7. Carefully add your popsicle sticks or the plastic pieces that come along with many molds and then freeze for about 5 hours or until they have completely solidified. If you going with popsicle sticks, you may want to cover them with a plastic wrap or bag so that they don't get freezer burn. 

8. Once they have solidified, run the mold under warm water until the stick feels a bit loose and gently pull the finished posicles out of their molds. If you attempt to do it when they are straight out of the freezer, the popsicle stick can often pull right out leaving you without the popsicle part. 

9. All that's left to do is enjoy. Serve right away and refreeze any leftovers preferably before they melt. 

Hoping you'll try this recipe! If you do, please do let me know how it goes in the comments form below or by way of any of my social media.

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Gigi.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Pop of Pink Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial


It's been absolutely ages since I sat down to write a blog post. I hope all of you- my readers are doing well! I'm not going to give a million excuses for where I've been, everyone knows what it is like when life pulls you in several directions. The good news is that I've done alot of shopping and cooking which means lots of recipe posts and hauls coming your way! What could be better?

Lately, I'm on a roll with these eye makeup tutorials. Today I uploaded a video to my youtube channel, detailing this fun smokey eye with a twist. It is a fun way to get glamorous while keeping it light and "springey" (is that even a word?) with a pop of pink at the center. Plus it's utilizing my Smashbox photo op trio in wavelength as I mentioned I'd show in the last eye makeup tutorial post. If you'd like to see how I got the look, go over and watch the video now, or read till the end of the post where I will insert it as usual.


Here's how I got the look:

Products & Brushes Used:


1. Use fingers to pat a cream shadow all over the lid and just below the lower lash line as well. Then layer the nyx jumbo eye pencil over top of it. 

2. Blend the woodwinked eyeshadow through the crease. And then add the pink shade called "papaya" to the center of the lid with the mac 239.  Then tap the color gilt onto both sides of it and blend it through the crease gently. Go back in with the pink shade if it disappears at all. Then using the pencil brush, blend the same black shade just under the lower lash line. 

3. Smudge some black liner into the upper waterline and add mascara to the upper and lower lash line.

4. Use a bright ivory shade to highlight the brow bone and inner corner of the eye and add the yellow color called "golden rod" over top of them just slightly. 

5. Then add lashes if you'd like. Go over them with a little more mascara to blend those lashes with the your natural ones. 

6. Go over the band of the lashes with a bit of liquid liner. I like a graphic liner with a wing but feel free to go with what you like. 

Let me know what you think of this look? Is it the kind of look you would wear this Spring and Summer? I think it'll be great for any party in the upcoming seasons! Let me know if you give it a try, leave a comment below, I love hearing from you!

 

If you liked this video please let me know by giving it a "thumbs up", you can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel here

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Gigi.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Joy of Kosher Cookbook by Jamie Geller, Review



Jamie Geller. The face behind Joy of Kosher. I remember the first time I ever heard her name. It was long before she made that big move to Israel and it was my mother who introduced me to her cookbooks. You see, my mother is a kindergarten teacher and has been for many years. She's one of the best too!  If I lived any closer to her, my son would be in her class. Of the many children taught by her were two of Jamie's own children. At the end of the year parents all over the world gift their kids teachers with thoughtful items to show their gratitude. It just so happens that the years my mom taught her girls each coincided with a new cookbook release.  And what she gave my mom in closing were....you guessed it, her brand new cookbooks. That's when I first heard of Jamie. And I've been inspired since. You should have seen my moms face when I showed her this latest release, she absolutely loved it!


Here's what I think: 

How it Looks: The outer appearance is bright and cheerful. In size it's a bit heavy and large which you will already know I'm not crazy about in a cookbook. That dish on the cover speaks on it's own of the mouthwatering recipes inside. This will certainly prove exciting to any reader who comes across it on amazon or in a book store. 

What's Inside: With over 200 recipes to follow from weeknights to Shabbos and Yom Tov, no wonder this book is so massive. The font is a little smaller then my proffered cookbook layout but at the same time there is alot of very informative particulars squeezed onto each page. Beautifully plated and photographed, are the dishes to correspond on each page opposite a recipe.  Pictures are what a make a cookbook in my mind because being a very visual person, I can't always picture what a dish may look like once finished just from a title and recipe.  In that aspect this cookbook is a treasure trove. 

Extras: I love when authors offer wine options and fun variation ideas so on finding that within this cookbook I was excited! She's also included gorgeous pictures of each of her family members and a journal like introduction at the start of each section (salads, soups, meats etc.) which was fun but not necessarily something I'd expect in a cookbook. For my mom it was a way of catching up with her family and seeing how much her girls had grown so I think that is definitely going to be something of predilection once again.


What I love: 1) The quality of her photos is simply AMAZING. I for one know that preparing those shoots cannot be easy and I have a far way to go with picture taking. It is also a great source of inspiration to me as a plating enthusiast. 2) The fact that there is an additional section along with every single recipe offering an easier way to throw it together or exciting methods to jazz it up for entertaining guests perhaps.  3) There are alot of unique ingredients sprinkled throughout the book and as discovering new flavors is a food bloggers paradise, that is my favorite element.  

What I don't love: 1) I personally don't love the whole journal approach throughout this cookbook. But that is definitely my own opinion. My own mother instantly proved to me that there will be other outlooks on that. 2) There is a lack of fish and pasta/dairy recipes in comparison to chicken, soup and meats. That is what I search for first upon opening a cookbook so it was a slight disappointment. 



Some of the recipes I most look forward to preparing:

I've already used her recipe for Garlic Honey Brisket multiple times since it arrived at my home. It was a big hit! If there is one recipe to try immediately after purchasing, that is what I recommend to every one of you. Otherwise I can't choose just one dish so I'l just say I want to cook my way through this entire book in the next months. That Tart Green Apple Pie Ala Mode is certainly a desert my father will appreciate. It's on the top of my list to make for him. 

If you don't know the first thing about Jamie Geller and her Joy of Kosher empire, go and have a look at her website here. Her beautiful smile and sincere love for food is invigorating! I have yet to meet her in person but I feel like I already know her through my growing collection of her books and my frequent visits to her site.  You'll love her too!


Overall:

I love the general appearance of this book.  As far as the actual recipes go, there is something in here to suit house wives, working women with the need for quick meal ideas and even those chefs that enjoy experimenting with their foods. It's a bit over sized and journal-like  in some ways but the recipes are fantastic and so I can look past that easily. If I had to choose a favorite amongst the books she's had published in the past it'd definitely be Quick & Kosher: Meals in minutes since it's easy to read and great for busy moms like me.  
*This item was sent to me for my consideration, all opinions stated here are solely my own.

Hoping this cookbook review will be useful to you if you were unsure of any of the details! 

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Gigi.
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