Tuesday, April 22, 2014

5 Things Tuesday - Beauty Products I'm Loving Right Now

So besides loving to bake and loving sweets, a little too much, ..I am also a great lover of beauty products. I have a slight obsession with skincare products, especially!

Ok, it's more like a crazy-mad obsession. And well, I suppose all those years of wearing sunscreen and taking very good care of my skin are paying off, now that I have hit that big number, ..you know the one where inexplicable hormonal changes start to happen, and you are sort of in the midst of a crisis, a middle life one, apparently. I'm personally embracing 40, ..ha! says the one who cried her heart out on her 40th birthday! I'm ok with it now, though, it took me a few months to get over it, ..after all we don't have a choice, right!? ..and getting older is a privilege!, ..my vain side is fervently trying to absorb and accept that last bit!

But, in all seriousness, I'm very grateful to be here and be surrounded by my wonderful friends and family! And I'm very grateful to have this blog, a place to share my baking passion and sometimes other passions with you all as well. So thank you!


5 Beauty Products I'm Really Loving
 
1. Philosopy - Full Of Promise Dual-Action Restoring Cream
 

This product does what it says it does, which is to firm the skin and give it suppleness. It does both, beautifully! 

"A unique protein-recycling complex powered by proprietary peptides and marine microalgae works to breathe new life into existing proteins, offering your skin protection, restoration, and hydration all-day long. The result: defined facial contours, a healthy boost, and a remarkably youthful glow"

Before purchasing my first jar of this cream, and I'm on my third jar of it now, I had read a couple of reviews that said it felt waxy on application, And that was the case for me as well, however this happens just on application. The cream absorbs so well and creates a great base for make up application, too. My skin is left feeling very smooth, moisturized and with a sort of 'protected' feeling. I honestly don't know how I lived without it, it's definitely one of the best facial creams I've ever tried. Hooked on this! 

I buy mine online at either Sephora.com or Skinstore.com and it retails for $82 CAD for a 2 oz. jar.
 

2. Josie Maran Argan Infinity Cream Intensive Creamy Oil



 
..I love this! I have been using this product every single day since I bought it last month, and it's one of those products I fell instantly in love with! It is the multi-tasker of all time. I use it as a cuticle moisturizer, as a night time facial cream/oil, on my lips, and also to smooth the ends of my hair. And it just works like a charm for all these dry skin and hair conditions!

"One creamy oil, infinite possibilities. This makeup-artist must-have delivers all the moisturizing benefits of Argan oil in a portable, non-greasy, creamy oil form. The innovative formula starts as a cream and melts into an oil, making your complexion more luminous while tightening facial contours and preventing inflammation. Use it to hydrate and gently soothe under eyes, smooth fly-aways, keep eyebrows in place, and condition lips. Mix it with powder blush or eye shadow to instantly transform it into a cream."

This retails for $34 CAD for a 2.2 fl. oz tube! ..and a little goes a long, long way! I bought this little beauty, online at Sephora.com.


3. Scentuals Pure Moroccan Argan Oil




The Beauty World is definitely abuzz with Moroccan Argan Oil and I get why! This amazing oil is one of the rarest oils in the world, growing mainly in Morocco and a few forests in Algeria and Israel. It boasts healing qualities for your skin, hair and body. I've been using 100% Pure Argan Oil as a skin and hair treatment for 2 years now, and I have to say it is one of my favourite plant oils ever. I tend to break out very easily, still and this stuff actually soothes my skin when it is irritated by weather, hormonal changes or for whatever reason. For hair I apply it to damp hair after washing and conditioning, blow dry then a couple of more drops and massage through hair and the shine and softness is unreal! I do not ever want to be without a bottle of this gorgeous stuff!

"When used on the face and body, it helps maintain elasticity, slows the aging of the skin, fights free radicals and is packed full of antioxidants. Use daily to diminish fine lines, crows feet and combat dry, flaky skin. Argan Oil is high in Omega 9 and Omega 3 fatty acids. When used as a hair oil, these fatty acids penetrate the hair shaft and deliver vital nutrients. Argan oil helps impart shine, smooth frizz and treat damage due to colouring and heat styling."


I get mine at Well.ca and it retails for $14.49 CAD for a 1 oz/30 ml. bottle! Great price, for a superb beauty product!


4. Sukin Antioxidant Eye Serum


It's not really an eye serum, but more of an eye cream in regards to the look and texture, and it is fabulous! I discovered this eye cream 4 years ago when residing in Australia. I've been using this product ever since, as an eye cream for the day. I do alternate with other eye products, however this baby is a stable in my skincare regime.

A light-weight texture and it absorbs quickly, leaving my eye area very soft and supple. It also makes for a great foundation and/or concealer base. It doesn't flake or crumble under make up, either and that's another thing I love so much about this eye cream.

It has soothing aloe vera, cucumber and burdock to provide the perfect blend of plant proteins to offer deep rehydration to the delicate eye area. Rose hip, evening primrose and borage oils also help to improve skin elasticity and texture, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

I get this at Well.ca and it retails for $23.99 CAD for a 1 oz./30 ml. bottle.

P.S. I keep my bottle in the fridge and it feels wonderful in the morning to wake up my tired eyes.



5. Olay Complete Defense SPF30



Now here is my all-time favourite facial sunscreen! I never leave home without it, ..rain or shine, snow or sleet, it goes on minutes before I get outside! And it wears under make up beautifully, too, ..or without! This facial sunscreen doesn't give my face a super shiny finale, but rather a slight, dewy finish!

It doesn't break me out either which is always a plus, ..and it's fragrance-free, which is another plus! I normally dislike any type of fragrance in my facial skincare products. Synthetic fragrance in facial products defeats the whole purpose of the products' benefits, in my opinion.

"This light, non-greasy daily formula replenishes sensitive skin with moisturizers including vitamins while SPF 30 provides UV protection.

Add Complete Daily UV Moisturizer to your skin care routine to:

  • Moisturize with a light formula you can use every day
  • Help protect skin with SPF 30 UVA/UVB sunscreen
  • Replenish skin with conditioners like vitamins E, B3 and pro-vitamin B5
Light, Non-Greasy Formula."

Wal-mart or Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix are usually where I get this beauty, and it retails for approx. $12.99, but prices may vary. I've found it on sale for $9.99 CAD, too! Great, great sunscreen for the visage!


Enjoy!


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gluten-Free Banana Bread

One of our favourite baked goods in this house is Banana Bread,..


and you know when your bananas start to look like this pic below,


..it's time to make banana bread! 

 This family's favourite gluten laden recipe for banana bread is this one, but I also like to make a gluten-free version, from time to time to keep my tummy troubles with wheat at bay. So I did some experimenting, and found one I really like, A LOT!

..and my banana bread monster aka Little Dude, loves this version, too. Win-win!

I use Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour, like 98% of the time now for my gluten-free baking, and 'he' barely ever disappoints! So I used him for this recipe, and he delivered big time, once again.


If you want to make this banana bread nut free and/or raisin free, simply omit them from the recipe. You can totally add chocolate chips to this recipe, too, ..or whatever additions you enjoy in your banana bread, to equal one cup.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread
 
 

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes
Amount: makes about 12 servings
Level: Easy Peasy


Printable Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup canola oil or avocado oil
  • 2/3 cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all purpose baking flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Guar Gum or Xanthan Gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed, ripe bananas
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts, and/or pecans, and/or raisins, and/or chocolate chips (optional)

 Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease 9 by 5 inch non-stick loaf pan.
  • Cream together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large bowl with electric mixer.
  • Mix flour, guar gum or xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
  • Mash bananas in another small bowl.
  • Take the dry ingredients and slowly add them to your wet ingredients, alternating with bananas.
  • Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Do not over mix.
  • If adding nuts and/or raisins, fold in nuts and/or raisins.
  • Transfer to pan and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  • It will be done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

 

Enjoy!
 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

5 Things Tuesday - Party Themes (Warm Weather Style)

..with warmer weather coming our way here in Canuckland, well hopefully anyway, I start to get very excited about Summer parties, ..and wearing flip flops, like all the time! Yep, I'm that lady in the Summer wearing those 'fashion-less' flip flops all the time, ..and loving it!



..So where was I, oh yes the parties, well I enjoy organizing them for friends and family, a lot, I'm always volunteering to bake for these parties, at least ..and of course I enjoy putting together a great bash here at our humble abode, too!

Themed parties and candy/dessert tables are still a huge trend, and are not going anywhere, anytime soon! Thank gawd! ..love them! And if you want to know how to create a kick-ass dessert table for your part--ayy, well just ask Amy Atlas, the Queen of the Dessert/Candy Table, she sure knows what she's doing! ..also just do an image Google search for dessert table and thousands of images pop up for them, and you will be instantly inspired and/or overwhelmed! ;) Just have fun with it, and add your own unique and special ideas to the mix.

I'm in the midst of helping a friend organize a birthday party for her daughter's 6th birthday and in doing the 'research' for her 'Sprinkles & Sparkles' theme, I have come across some oh so cute party themes on Pinterest, Catch My Party, Hostess With The Mostess, and across the great wide web.

I've picked 5 I absolutely adore for this 5 Things Tuesday, ..just 5 for inspiration without the 'overwhelm', ..and I hope that you do get inspired by some of them for your next warm weather party or birthday party extravaganza!

Enjoy and happy Tuesday!

1. Sprinkles Sleepover Party Theme

How sweet is this party theme! ..I want this one for my next birthday, but maybe I'll see if Little Mama wants something like this for her 6th bday bash! I love the idea of combining sprinkles and pjs, and yogurt bars! ..I'd probably switch mine out to an ice cream and cocktail bar, but that's just me! ;)

Image Courtesy of Hostess with The Mostess

2. Awesome Retro 50s Diner Inspired Birthday Party


..this party theme is just so rock and roll cool! The colour theme is gorgeous and so spot on to the retro look of a 50s diner! So much inspiration to be had from this party theme! Rock N Roll is here to stay!

Image Courtesy of Hostess With The Mostess

3. Gumballs & Ice Cream Sweet Shoppe Themed Party

This party theme is perfect for warmer weather, and to combine ice cream and gumballs, how clever is that!? Very, I think! Everything looks so sweet and yummy, from the little gumball machine cupcakes, to the bright pink, orange and yellow polka dot cake.


Image Courtesy Of Hostess With The Mostess

4. A Backyard Camping Party Theme

This is so happening in my backyard this Summer, ..a camping party for the kids and big kids, too. I love how this theme has a ruggedness to it, which is cool because after all it's a camping theme and it's outside! The best idea is the outside Big Screen they had for the kids right before bed, ending it with a movie and popcorn! Ammaazing!



5. Surf's Up, Dude Party Theme

Surf's Up, Dude! What a great warm weather theme this is, too, and you can set it up pretty much anywhere, ..inside, outside, inside and outside, ..and if you don't have a pool, or any water to swim in, just go out and get a little kiddie pool and one of those slip and slid carpets and have a blast! I love this theme, lots! Don't you? ..

Image courtesy of Paisley Petal Events

Monday, April 14, 2014

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are not 'normal'? ..and by that I mean these cookies are way tooooo good to be gluten-free! There I said it!, ..I'm still a 'gluten-free stuff ' skeptic at times, especially when it comes to certain baked goods, and cookies are one of those baked goods that I couldn't imagine tasting amazing, unless making them with good ol' all purpose flour.


But I was wrong!, these are so yummy, especially if like me you love a crispy on the edges cookie with a fabulous chewy middle!

..I've experimented quite a bit with gluten-free cookie recipes these past couple of years, due to my tummy troubles with wheat, and I'm a believer of how good a GF cookie can truly be! And the key, at least in my experience anyway, is in the type of gluten-free flour you use! I've experimented with heaps of GF flours, and only one has my heart these days, ..only this one goes into my GF baking recipes now! I'm loyal like that! So since I've discovered Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Flour, it is all I use when baking gluten-free, and a gluten-free flour blend is required.

These cookies bake thinner, and as mentioned above, with a crispy outer edge and a chewy middle finale! I promise you they are TDF (to die for!) My kids and my neighbour's kids (they have 4) love-love-love these! ..helloooo, ..imagine 6 kids under 10 in da house eating cookies, ..crumbs everywhere, screeching at the top of their lungs, ..and playing hide and seek in between mouthfuls! Holy Smokes, I deserve the Mother Theresa award, or something of that nature, for suuuuure! ;) 
 

So without further ado, I introduce to you the very delicious Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.  

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies


 

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 10-12 minutes
Amount: makes about 30, 3 1/2 inch cookies
Level: Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeeze-y

Printable Recipe


Ingredients
  • 1 1/3 cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Guar Gum or Xanthan Gum (used as a 'gluten replacer', binds ingredients)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I used Hershey's Milk Chocolate Chipits, they are gluten free according to Hershey Canada/USA)
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a medium bowl, combine GF flour, salt, baking soda and guar gum or xanthan gum, and mix thoroughly with a whisk or fork.
  • In another medium bowl, mix cooled melted butter, sugars and vanilla extract.
  • Whisk in the egg.
  • Stir in flour mixture.
  • With a spatula, mix the batter for about a minute, do not over mix the batter.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Position rack to middle of the oven.
  • Scoop approximately 2 tablespoons of dough and place 2 inches apart on a lined or lightly greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake until the cookies are a light golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.
  • Once on wire rack, let the cookies cool completely, and enjoy!
  • Cookies will keep in an airtight container for 5 days.

P.S. I decorated this batch with some cute pastel, Easter sprinkles! ..since Easter is just around the corner. Little Mama and I are making some for the Easter Bunny on the weekend, and guess who's dressing up as The Easter Bunny? ..yours truly! ..cookies coming my way!

Enjoy with a big glass of cold, cold milk of choice!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Peeps Cupcakes

Hey you guys, I'm back! ..and I'm excited to share some fun, pastel-coloured, and delicious recipes with you all, ..and just in time for Spring, ..and Easter, too!

Even though it still looks like we are in the midst of Winter out there, ..there is hope for warmer weather now! *fingers crossed* ..'cause like it says on the calendar, Spring is officially here, ..it just doesn't quite feel like it or look like it, though! But Spring weather is coming, SOON!, ..right?! I just know it is!

..so with this 'warm weather hope' brewing in my heart and soul, I'm in a strong mood to bake again, and to bake fun and pretty and colourful things that make me happy, ..and Peeps make me happy! I've had a fascination with Peeps ever since I was a kid.

I could just eat them right up, ..and I do! ..because they're edible! ;)

For those of you not familiar with Peeps, they are marshmallow candies, sold in the United States and Canada, that are shaped into chicks and bunnies. They come in other shapes, too, but for Easter it's mostly about the chicks and the bunnies! 




..I also have a bit of an obsession with cupcakes, as some of you know, and so I decided to put the two together here with this cupcake recipe, and make Peeps Cupcakes! I mean you can't get much sweeter than this, can you?!

..my kiddos helped with making, and eating these, and we had a lot of fun!

Recipe and how to below!


Peeps Cupcakes





Prep Time: 20 minutes
Assembly Time: 10-15 minutes
Bake Time: 18-20 minutes
Amount: 12 standard sized cupcakes
Level: Easy & Fun


Printable Recipe

Ingredients


Cake:
  • 1/4 cup/62 grams butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

Frosting
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Special Things You'll Need:
  • Easter Themed Cupcake Liners (available at Michael's, Walmart, Target, online)
  • Rainbow sprinkles to add to batter (I bought mine at Bulk Barn)
  • Peeps (purple chicks and pink bunnies. I bought mine at Walmart)
  • Piping Bag for frosting cupcakes (you can buy piping bags online, Walmart, Bulk Barn, or even some local grocery stores carry them.)
  • Piping Tip (I used the Wilton 1M tip (Star Tip)
  • Shredded Coconut to make grass
  • Green Food Colouring to colour shredded coconut
  • Candy Covered Milk Chocolate Mini Eggs (Cadbury, Hershey and Our Finest (Walmart brand) make yummy ones)




Instructions


Cake:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line 1 cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  • Combine and stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.
  • Add egg and mix for about 1 minute. Do not over mix the egg.
  • Add vanilla extract and mix for another minute.
  • Add milk. 
  • Alternate 2x each and on low speed the milk and flour mixture into butter mix.
  • Use a spatula in between mixing to ensure you do not get any large lumps in your batter.
  • Add sprinkles and fold in with spatula.
  • Scoop batter evenly into 12 liners, about 3/4 of the way up.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • Remove from cupcake pan and let cool on wire rack.



Frosting:
  • Beat butter for 3 minutes at high speed, until smooth, and then reduce speed to lowest setting, and add the icing sugar and salt. Continue to beat for another minute.
  • Add Vanilla Extract and Whipping Cream, and beat for 1 more minute. Do not over mix once whipping cream is added or the frosting can get too stiff and separate.
  • Pipe frosting with a piping bag and tip, onto each cupcake.
  • Set cupcakes aside for assembly.

Assemble:
  • Colour shredded coconut using liquid green food colouring. Add 3-4 drops to about 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, and mix with a spoon until shredded coconut turns green. You can do this step in advance so it gives the food colouring time to dry before placing on frosting.
  • Sprinkle coloured coconut on frosting.
  • Place one Peep on each cupcake.
  • Decorate with mini chocolate eggs.
  • Eat!



Enjoy!

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