Outfit of the Day: Black, white & gray V. Zebra

Top - Anthro; Skirt - Anthro (2008); Tights - Target; Boots - Thrifted via Franklin Square Design; Jacket - H&M (2009); Belt - Sample; Earrings - Anthro; Necklace - Anthro; Hair - Braided Mohawk

Date: Sunday, October 24

I was debating whether to title this outfit "Black, white & gray" or "Zebra". In the end, I am leaving both titles to address their relevancy.

"Black white & gray": This title is pretty obvious due to the color scheme in my outfit. I'm sticking to a palette that I love and mixing things up with prints and texture. Additionally, I LOVE this venue due to the mural. The diverse faces with the word "TOGETHER" show an awesome unity amongst different races. NOW, you should see the "black, white & gray" tie in...wink, wink.

"Zebra": I felt like I looked like a zebra in this outfit. My hair totally looked like a zebra's mane and I was wearing a black and white striped top. I should have worn this on Halloween and perhaps someone else would have seen the zebra tie-in? Then again, maybe not.

I promise that this will be the last time I post two separate titles, lol. I just couldn't help myself for this one because I felt so passionate about both of them.

Crabbiless Crab Cakes

Tangent first...Have you noticed how vegetarians will name things known for the meat, and just add "-less" or the name to it for it to be vegetarian? Something like "Kobe Beef-less Steak", which will be a piece of tofu marinated in steak sauce. Or "chickpea tuna", which will be chickpeas, relish, mayo and mustard blended to look like tuna. This is one of the things that amuses me about vegetarian food names. On to the dish...

Crabbiless Crab Cakes from The Imus Ranch Cookbook
Serves 6

2 cups grated zucchini *about 2 zucchini
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Combine the zucchini, bread crumbs, cheese, onion, egg, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl; shape the mixture into 6 cakes. Heat the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the cakes and cook 7 to 10 minutes on each side, turning once, until golden and cooked through.

I cooked these cakes for my mom brother when I went home last weekend. They were DELICIOUS, we all agreed!!! Their aroma filled the house as I cooked them, causing me to salivate since I was STARVING. I served them with a side salad. The serving size was NOT enough for 6 people, I made 4 cakes. BTW, my bro is awesome - recently he's been willing to try things I cook, even though they are meatless. After he tried the cakes he gave me a pat on the back and said, "Hey sis, you're starting to be as good as mom.." a compliment nonetheless. This is going to become a staple in my book of meals. I plan to keep a zucchini on hand at all times to whip this together when I need something quick and tasty. I am going to make it again this weekend.

Outfit of the Day: Denim HEART Football

My regularly scheduled outfit pics were temporarily taken by my 11-year old brother when I went home last weekend to watch him play football...my brother, DJ - he's a dapper fellow, isn't he?
The pic below shows what I look like when I cheer him on...

Shirt - J. Crew; Jeans - Joe's Ex-Lover via Anthro; Shoes - Sperry for J. Crew; Earrings - Anthro; Necklace - Anthro; Watch - Swatch; Hair - Braided Mohawk

Date: Saturday, October 23

I went home last weekend to watch my brother play in one of his football games. Naturally, I didn't want to wear a dress at the game, so I tried a denim-on-denim look. I didn't love it in the end. I forgot my belt, forgot some bracelets to add some flavor and there was something about this hairstyle that I ended up disliking. Can't quite put my finger on it (re: hairstyle). Anyway, I'm still figuring out the denim^2 look. I do wear this shirt ALL THE TIME with non-denim items, so perhaps I'll just stick to that.

Just in case some of you are wondering...I did braid my hair myself. Typically, I'd almost classify myself as a bad braider however the end result of this style doesn't show it. I'll probably write a separate post about this style another time.

Washing & detangling hair video

The title explains it all. I know most of the people who follow my blog probably have this down to a tee, however, it may be helpful for random stopper-byers or other natural newbies - enjoy! Also, I do enjoy seeing how other people detangle their hair...I know, I'm a total hair nerd.

Quinoa Pilaf with Curried Sweet Potato Mash

When I became a pescatarian, I read a LOT of vegetarian books to make sure that I received the right nutrients and grains in my daily meals. Quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah") was one of the items that showed up very frequently in my books. It seems to be a part of every non-meat eaters diet. Quinoa is low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, and higher in protein than any other grain. It is a complete protein in itself! Now you can see why it's so popular!

Quinoa Pilaf with Curried Sweet Potato Mash from the Top Chef Cookbook

2 large sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons EVOO, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon mild curry powder
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

1 1/3 cups quinoa
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium leek*, cleaned and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 vegetarian sausage links**, diced
4 shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried cranberries

*Leeks are like green onions' momma's - they're bigger versions of the green onion and are slightly more bitter in taste, it's also in the first picture
**I used the Tofurky brand and bought the Kielbasa flavored sausage

For the Curried Sweet Potato Mash:
1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1" cubes. Put the sweet potato cubes in a large bowl and coat with the oil. Add the curry powder and salt to taste. Place in a greased baking pan, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 50 minutes, or until softened. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.
2. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and transfer to a food processor. Add the butter and lemon juice and process until smooth.

For the Quinoa Pilaf:
1. While the sweet potatoes are roasting, rinse the quinoa until the water runs clear. Put the quinoa in a medium pot over medium heat and add 2 cups of boiling water. Add salt to taste, then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and cook for about 18 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the spiral germ separates from the grain. Set aside for 5 minutes, then fluff the quinoa with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. In a medium saute pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, leek, and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the sausage, mushrooms, sage, and salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the sausage is cooked through and the mushrooms have softened.
3. Add the cooked vegetables and dried cranberries to the quinoa and stir to combine.

Let me start off by saying that I have been afraid of quinoa since I made a FAILED tabbouleh dish last year. Tabbouleh is another veggie dish which includes bulgur (a cereal grain made of durum wheat).  In summary, the tabbouleh tasted like whole grains with onion and I have strayed away from any other "veggie grains" ever since, lol. I only gave this quinoa pilaf a try because it was in the Top Chef Cookbook, so I figured it had to be halfway decent.

I did mess up some of the ingredients, per usual. For starters, Whole Foods was out of fresh sage, so I used sage powder. Then, I the "smart one", bought UNSWEETENED dried cranberries. Why? For some reason I thought I needed unsweetened ones - and FYI, my list just said "dried cranberries". I realized I bought the wrong ones when I took a bite and tasted the bitter unsweetened cranberries, smh. I also didn't process the sweet potatoes in a food processor because I didn't feel like cleaning it afterwards. All that being said, you may be surprised to still see that I LOVED THIS DISH. The flavors of the quinoa and sweet potato mash were SO complimentary - sweet with a little bit of tangy/sour. I just know that the addition of the regular sweetened dried cranberries would have really set it off. This is a great dish, it was great re-warmed, lasted long and surprisingly wasn't too expensive. Try this one at home!

Reflections and ultimatums

This picture is from August 2008, right after my big chop, so much has changed in my life since then!

When I moved to Philadelphia, I was excited for what the adult life would bring me. In moving here, I found out a lot about myself. I learned to appreciate me for my triumphs and failures, strengths and flaws and more importantly my outer and inner beauty.  I don't want to get any more sappy on you, so I'll cut to the chase.

I have been building my wardrobe since I graduated in 2008. My college wardrobe was limited, which is fine, because I was in college to get an education - not to be fashionable. I have been shopping for clothes because I really did NEED basic items - jeans, tights, tops, etc. Sometime between then and now, I have realized that I really have a working wardrobe, yet I have continued to shop. So I am posting this ultimatum today: I am not going to shop* - period - until MARCH 2011!!!

*Shopping includes all retail purchases not limited to: clothes, shoes and accessories. I do need a pair of winter boots, and that will be the ONLY purchase I allow - period. Only one pair, and I already know which ones I want.

FYI, I have thought about writing this post for the past....mmm...6 months. Some people may actually identify me as a shopaholic. Some people being bf, lol. I don't think it's that serious - I mean, I love to shop, but I do not put myself in debt for clothes. However, I may use potential saving money for shopping, which is just as counterproductive.

My friend Marie aka Mrs. J from Watch Me Dress is featuring a series called "Shopping My Stash". She has re-inspired me to really committ to making my curent wardrobe work for me. After watching "Black in America: Almighty Debt" and evaluating some of my life goals - hello grad school? - I realized that I need to make a change for my future. So, I'll be shopping my stash through March 2011. I am writing this to document my committment. Pray for me ya'll!!!

BTW, if any other shopaholics, or others want to join me in this 5-month stint, please join me and let me know - we can motivate each other to resist glorious sale racks, beautiful silks, pristine heels and other items that we "need".

Outfit of the Day: President's Club

Top: Anthro; Skirt - Sample via Anthro; Scarf - Anthro; Tights - Anthro; Shoes - Urban; Earrings - Urban; Ring watch - Lotus via Anthro; Jacket - The Limited (c 2006); Broach - Anthro; Hair - Pin up on braid out hair

Date: Saturday, October 16

On Saturday, I had a sorority chapter meeting to attend, which calls for business casual attire. It wasn't until I looked at these pictures that I realized - I totally look like a past president with my hair and scarf! Not EXACTLY like a past president, but the style is similar. Also, I hold no president position, however I love that I totally unintentionally channeled president's past with my swiped hair and bouffant-like scarf.  Speaking of president's - I hope everyone who reads this is registered to vote and actually VOTES in the upcoming primary. Here's to a great weekend!

Salmon Pasta Salad

FINALLY - I find another affordable pescatarian meal! FYI pescatarian basically means that I do eat seafood, but no other meat.  This salmon pasta salad is a wonderful healthy option for lunch. It's quick, packable and delicious!

Salmon Pasta Salad from So Easy by Ellie Krieger
Serves 4

2/3 cup plain Greek-style nonfat yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon minced fresh dill, or 2 teaspoons dried 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 14 oz can wild red salmon, drained, skinned and boned, cut into chunks
1 10 oz package frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 lb bowtie or corkscrew pasta, cooked according to package directions and cooled
2 scallions (white and green parts), minced (about 1/4 cup)
8 cups chopped red-leaf lettuce

Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, mayonnaise, lemon zest, dill, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to incorporate.  Add the salmon, peas, pasta, and scallions and toss to incorporate.  The pasta salad will keep up to 2 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To serve, mound 2 cups of the lettuce onto each plate or into to-go containers and scoop about 1 3/4 cups of the pasta salad on top.

This pasta salad was delicious guys. It was SUCH a refreshing lunch and I loved that I really could pack it and bring it to work. It was also super healthy - I got 2 veggies in ONE MEAL! It's a great meal to help you get through the rest of the day.

Throw Back - 70's SOUL

You guys thought I was going to put up a picture from the 70's didn't you? lol I was browsing through pics on my computer reminiscing and I came across this lovely pic. I said 70's because of the afro...gold earrings/accessories/sweater dress. This pic is from December 2009, I went out for my cousin's birthday (she's to my left with the blunt bangs - super cute, right?) for a lovely dinner with friends and family. Anyway, I just thought I would share this pic as I remember getting a lot of compliments on this style.

I created two thick parts for cornrows in the front, added a side part so that the cornrows are braided towards one side and the back is out in afro form. This pic will take the place of my personal hair update this week as I've kept it pretty bland (braids = boring)!

Bonus pic of me and bf from the event - there were a lot of couples there too :)

Perfect Fall Dessert

Those of you who know me well know that I love sweets. Due to this, I am actually no stranger to baking. In fact, I swear by my mom's homemade biscuits and I have made them for many a friend who have come to visit. Considering this, I though it would be a breeze to make this Fig Tart...to my surprise, it was not nearly as easy as it seemed and I was not sure that I got everything right until I tasted it. I have lots of pics for this one - enjoy!

Fig Tart** from The Top Chef Cookbook
Serves 8

2/3 cup pine nuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon suga
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk

4 ounces dried Black Mission figs
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 325F
2. Put the pine nuts in a food processor and pulse to roughly chop. Add the flour, sugar, and salt and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl (see first picture above).
3. Add the butter, egg yolk, and 2 tablespoons water and use a pastry cutter or your fingertips to combine until the mixture resembles coarse meal (see second picture above). For the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

 4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cook the dried figs, sugar, 3/4 cup water, and the vanilla bean and seeds (see pic above) for 15 to 20 minutes, until the figs are very soft (see pic below).
5. Transfer the mixture to a blender, add the cream, and the blend to combine; add the eggs and blend briefly to combine. Set aside.

6.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and remove the plastic. Pat the dough evenly into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Fit a piece of aluminum foil into the tart shell to help it keep its shape; bake for 10 minutes (pic directly below), then remove the foil and bake for another 6 to 8 minutes, until golden brown (pic below pic below).

7. Fill the tart shell with the fig mixture and bake for 24 to 28 minutes, or until the filling is just set in the center. Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

Let me start off by saying that making a tart is NOT LIKE making biscuits, brownies, soda bread or carrot cake - all of which I have made from scratch before. Not to mention taking pics in between baking to document the entire process...is WORK!

Ok, so...second, when I got to STEP 5 I was really confused. In the ingredients, it said to set aside the vanilla bean seeds, yet STEP 5 told me to include "everything" in the blending process. I'm not sure if I followed the steps correctly, but I ended up including the vanilla bean seeds in the blending process but NOT the vanilla bean shell.

Finally, when I got to STEP 7 and had to pour all of the tart mixture into the shell, I had WAAAY too much tart mixture for the shell. LOL, I spilled it all over my stove, and in my oven, LOL!!! I cleaned it up, but that's why there are no pics of the tart filling prior to baking. Also, I ended up baking the tart for a total of 50 minutes. It simply was not solid at any time shorter.

Now all of that being said, this is my first time eating anything fig-related - EVER, and I loved it! It was not too sweet, somewhat nutty and figgy(???). Overall a great fall dessert.

**Because this recipe is from the Top Chef Cookbook (like the cookbook from the show Top Chef), there was an extra addition in the recipe to really entice your palette for this meal. The additions were: three cheeses - pecorino tartufo, gorgonzola and taleggio, honey (for drizzle over the taleggio), sourdough baguette and fig jam. Each person should receive 1 oz. of each type of cheese and one slice of bread, finally top the tart with some jam to finish the meal! I opted out of this because cheese aint cheap :-)

Outfit of the Day: Bohemian Rhapsody

  Dress - Anthro (hand me down); Shirt - Anthro ; Sweater - Anthro (2009); Belt - Banana (2004?) Shoes - Aldo (2006); Earrings - My mom's; Necklace - Etsy; Hair - Princess Twist 

Date: Sunday, October 10

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? When I put this outfit on and looked in the mirror I thought: "YES! I have the PERFECT name for this outfit post: Bohemian Rhapsody!" It was later, when I actually needed to write something about it, that I wondered where I got the term from. I google'd "Bohemian Rhapsody" to find that it is a song by Queen - and not just any song, a song in the Top 500 songs OF ALL TIME. Not knowing if I knew the song, I quickly went to youTube to hear the song.

Guess what - I knew it! In fact, I helped "murder" this song when I was an RA in college! We did something like replacing the "Mothaaa" line with "Mondaaaa" - Monda was the name of our res hall manager.

To my surprise, I wasn't just left out of the loop and simply knowledge inept - YES! Granted, all of that has nothing to do with the outfit, but since I originally thought Bohemian Rhapsody would have something to do with the outfit - mainly being a Bohemian look, I thought I'd try to tie it in. I know that's not happening, but I still like the sound of Bohemian Rhapsody for this outfit so #notchangingathing!

Check out Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody on youTube here.

Vegetarian Empanadas with Spanish Rice

Sometimes I get creative and think of a title outside of the obvious for my food posts, and other times I do not.

Vegetable Empanadas with Spanish Rice from College Vegetarian Cooking
Serves 4-6

2 zucchini
2 potatoes
1 onion
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt & pepper
2 prepared piecrusts *they are in the frozen section and if you let them thaw out - they become your dough...quick & easy*

SPANISH RICE *honestly, I google'd "how to make spanish rice" for this recipe, lol*
1 cup brown rice
2 cups vegetable broth *see trick below :)
1 cup plain tomato sauce
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/4 of medium size onion
2 tablespoons EVOO
4 tablespoons of parsley

Empanadas Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F. Trim and discard the ends of the zucchini and cut into 1/2" pieces. Peel the onion and potatoes and cut into 1/2" pieces. Place the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini, onion, and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain the juice from the tomatoes and add them to the pan. Add the crushed red pepper and cook for 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes are warm. Season with salt and pepper.

Lay the piecrusts on a flat surface and cut each one in half. Spoon 1/4 of the vegetable mixture into the center of one half circle of dough. Wet your finger and dampen the entire edge of the dough, then fold the dough over and press all around the edges with a fork to seat. Cut a slit in the top of the dough and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Bake for 30 minutes*, or until golden brown, and serve immediately. *I needed to bake them for ~45 minutes total.*

Rice Directions (source)
Heat oil over medium heat. Add in the fresh garlic and onion. Saute for 1-2 minutes until softened. Add in dry rice. Stir for about 5 minutes, add in broth and tomato sauce. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Fluff and add parsley.

Vegetable broth tip: Remember how I used a vegetable bouillon in my cheddar cheese soup? Well, did you know that you can use them to make your own broth? The bouillons came 8 to a pack for $1.99. You can get 16 cups servings of vegetable broth from this one pack. Just a cool thrifty trick I recently learned. I'm sure the same rule applies for chicken and beef bouillons!

These empanadas were DELICIOUS! Not to mention I had A LOT OF THEM! I ended up having enough vegetable mix for 6 empanadas!!! With the rice side, one was more than filling. Bf tried them and gave them an 8 out of 10, he said he would eat them again. What would I do without my fearless guinea pig who verifies whether my cooking is a success or failure? Gotta love that guy!

I think I want to bake something this weekend...perhaps homemade pumpkin pie??? It is fall...I'm not sure what I'll end up doing but look for it next week!

Video how-to: Dinosaur

I thought I would do another video tutorial for another one of my favorite updos. There are plenty of tutorials out there showing how to do similar styles, but I guess everyone puts their own twist on things...here's mine.

Home stretch

2010 is ALMOST OVER...ok, we have 3 months left, but still, it feels like time has flown by! Kimmaytube showcased her quarter-way progress in a video last week. That video inspired me to do some length checking of my own :)

    July 2010                                            October 2010*
*One comment about the October pic, I'm starting a new thing to moisturize my scalp  after a wash now by oiling it and CLEARLY it dripped all over my face in the second pic, LOL! BTW - pics were taken with my camera phone.

I'm not mad about it!  Seeing this bit of growth led me to reinforce some of my original goals for the final home stretch!

Hair-Related Goals
Goal #1: Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. In July, I stated that I was going to moisturize daily. Have I been doing this? NO. I have a tough time with this because I do all the work required to stretch my hair, and to add water to it totally destroys all of the stretch work. Moving forward, I will try to moisturize with butter/oil mixes and a *light* mist of water.
Goal #2: Wear protective styles. I've done a pretty good job with this one. However, I'm starting to wonder: Are all protective styles created equal? Last week, I wore a tuck & roll for 2 days and my hair felt SO EXTREMELY moisturized - I thought I was dealing with someone else's hair. Because of this, I wonder if certain protective styles keep moisture locked in better than others, more on this later.

FYI, I haven't seen as many fairy knots this go around...not sure why, but I'll take it!

Non-hair goals that are VERY necessary for me to document
Goal #3: Stay active and join a gym. It's getting cold outside, and I know I'm not going to run when it's 40 degrees and pitch black. I do start a basketball league on Thursday - YAY - which guarantees one good workout/week. However, one workout a week is not enough by my standards, so I need to pay up.
Goal #4: Call a friend. I talked with a college friend of mine this weekend and I LOVED IT. I'm bad at remembering to call people (yes, I'm REALLY bad with this kind of stuff), however I hate excuses so I'm just leaving it as it is.

I don't know about you, but...I see the light!


So, I told a co-worker of mine about my blog and they were (pleasantly) surprised about it.  He is a photographer and was looking to upgrade to a new camera and....he sold me his dSLR!!!! I now have a Nikon d50 dSLR - WHOOP!

I took these pics after a run...

Future pics will be taken with the Nikon unless otherwise noted!

Outfit of the Day: Silk - friend or foe?

Top - Lux Hand Me Down; Skirt - Anthro; Blazer - Banana Republic; Tights - Urban; Shoes - Urban; Earrings - Anthro; Watch Ring - Anthro; Hair - Afro w/ Front Hump

Date: Sunday, October 3

I have a bit of a rant to accompany this outfit.  It begins like this...I had an Open House event to attend for a mentoring group for young high school ladies on Sunday (I am the co-chair of the group).  I knew I wanted to be professional and fly. So, I picked out my outfit 1 week before the event...excited to "LAY IT OUT" on Sunday.

Sunday came...I showered, lotioned, put on my tights and the silk dress I planned on wearing, a cardie, belt and jewelry.  I check myself in the mirror - love the look thus far.  Go to the bathroom, apply makeup, go back out to the mirror to check the finished look and low and behold a glorious oil stain on the CENTER of the dress. It was about 1"x1".  Immediately, I become furious because 1. I'm running late, 2. I still want to take pics for an outfit post, 3. I have no idea what to wear now and 4. I hate effin' silk!!!

I quickly took the cardie, jewelry and dress off - leaving the tights on because it takes too much time to change tights.  I look to my closet to find something to work with the tights - I find the green skirt...look for a top, the Lux one looked like it might work.  Since the top has black highlights, my black booties were an easy go-to and this blazer was the only option for a jacket with the other colors/patterns in the outfit. Surprisingly it all worked.

I put this outfit together in about 2 minutes - literally.  I'm surprised what thinking on the spot did for me on Sunday.  In my usual outfit planning sessions, I would have NEVER put these items together. This just proves that mistakes can turn out to be great triumphs in the end! As my day began silk was my foe, but turned out to be my friend.  BTW - a little detergent and water worked the stain out, so I will have another chance to wear the original dress!