Pumpkin French Toast

I haven't posted an "indulge myself" recipe in a while. I actually made a delectable vegan sausage with apple cider sauerkraut and homemade onion rings a month ago. I felt that it was so right, it was wrong! I just had to post this french toast recipe even though it's packed with lots of buttery deliciousness. I do believe these things are ok in moderation...along with a commitment to some type of physical activity to follow, lol. Without further adieu, I give you french toast heaven.

Pumpkin French Toast
Serves 4
Adapted from The Chew

1 cup milk
1/2 cup half and half
3 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 Loaf Challah or Brioche thick-sliced and day-old
Powdered sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 Egg White
4 cups raw pecan halves
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons Cornstarch
2 cups apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup butter

Combine all the ingredients (except the bread), and mix well. Soak bread. The night before, or six hours before, dip the bread slices in the milk mixture (one at a time) and place the bread in a glass baking dish. Continue until all the bread has been dipped. Store in fridge.

The next morning, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat or use nonstick cooking spray. Place bread slices in the pan and cook until golden on 1 side, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the slices over and cook until golden brown, 2-3 minutes longer. Wipe the pan out with paper towels and repeat with the remaining butter, oil, and bread.

Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg in saucepan. Pour in apple and lemon juices. Cook and stir constantly until thickened and it comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute and continue to stir. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Serve warm over french toast.

Preheat oven to 250 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the salt and spices. Set aside. In a stainless bowl, beat egg white until frothy. Slowly whisk in the spices. Toss egg mixture with pecans. Spread on prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, gently stirring every 15 minutes or until the meringue is golden. Allow nuts to cool and dry out.

I doubt I would have ever picked this recipe because of all of the butter, oil, sugar, etc. My mom picked this recipe from The Chew, which is one of her new favorite shows ever.

Feature on BGLH!

Hello Everyone,

My retro braid-twist style was featured on Black Girl Long Hair this morning. Check it out here. Thanks for the feature Leila!


Pasta with Lentils

Considering that it's supposed to snow tomorrow, and yesterday was jam-packed for me (read back-to-back meetings). I'll end this week, with a filling, healthy meal great for cool weather. It's tasty, simple, and filling - another good one for the hungry teen, who approved this meal.

Pasta with Lentils
Serves 4-6
Adapted from Food Network Magazine, October 2011 Issue

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth SS: I used veggie broth
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus 1 piece cheese rind (optional)
8 ounces orecchiette or other small pasta
2 14-ounce cans lentils (1 undrained; 1 drained and rinsed)
⅓ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt
Crusty bread, for serving (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is slightly soft, about 2 minutes. Remove 1 tablespoon of the flavored oil and set aside. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Add the chicken broth, 4 cups water and the cheese rind, if using. Bring to a boil, then add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add the lentils along with the liquid from one of the cans; reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the pasta is tender, 10 to 12 more minutes.
2. Meanwhile, whisk 1 tablespoon parsley and 1 tablespoon water into the reserved flavored oil. Stir ¼ cup parmesan and the remaining parsley into the soup; remove the cheese rind (if using) and add salt to taste. Ladle into bowls; drizzle with the flavored oil and top with the remaining ¼ cup parmesan. Serve with bread, if desired.

These pants...

Top - Anthro; Pantts - Anthro; Shoes - Anthro

Date: Wednesday, October 26, 2011

...are friggin awesome! It is rare that I find pants that I love. They don't cut off my circulation, don't fall off my behind, don't lose their elasticity, and they're so comfortable! WIN-WIN-WIN! Considering that the last time I wore some SERIOUS flares was in the mid-90s as a little girl, I forgot how much I like serious flares. I think these might be my new favorite pants.

Little Things

Top - J. Crew; Skirt - J. Crew; Booties - H&M

Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2011

This skirt is a hand me down from my cousin. I feel like it had an astronomical (for me) original price, so I'm quite happy to have inherited something I likely would have never purchased. Another bonus about this skirt, when I opened my Google Reader yesterday, I noticed that one of my favorite style bloggers had the same exact outfit as me! Well...almost the same - her skirt was gold, and she wore her boots with socks. Still - I normally INTENTIONALLY COPY some of her looks. However, this time I managed to get the look on my own. I was so happy. It's the little things.

PS - I took this pic when I got home...notice the change in attitude? ;)


Dress - Anthro; Tights - J. Crew; Shoes - Urban; Necklace - Anthro

Date: Monday, October 24, 2011

I had two options for today's outfit post title, here they are, and these were my thoughts behind them:
1. Green & Brown: Ok, I get it, my dress is green...my tights are brown. That is kind of boring, can't I be a little more creative...
2. Grass: Oh grass, I like it, because my dress is green, and my tights are brown, like the color of grass...and dirt...:-/ Are other people going to see the connection?
3. Grass?: A question mark at the end of the word grass totally confirms the above

Potato Gnocchi with Sweet Potato and Kale

I made this gnocchi a couple of weeks ago when my grandmother was watching Naja because my mom was out of town. I made dinner for everyone, and we all agreed that this was pretty good. It was creamy, and the substitution of squash for sweet potato added a surprisingly desirable subtle sweet flavor. Might I also add that this gnocchi is a heavy, filling pasta - a necessity if you're feeding a hungry man, and/or growing teen!

Potato Gnocchi with Sweet Potato and Kale
Serves 4
Adapted from Food Network Magazine,  October 2011 Issue


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch pieces SS: I used sweet potato since I have been using a lot of squash recently
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh sage
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
1¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth or water SS: I used veggie broth
1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped (about 8 cups)
1 17.5-ounce package potato gnocchi
¾ cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese


1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the squash and cook, stirring, until slightly soft and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, sage, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.
2. Preheat the broiler. Add the chicken broth to the skillet. When it starts to simmer, stir in the kale and cook until it wilts slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the gnocchi, stirring to coat. Cover and cook untilthe gnocchi are just tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and stir in ¼ cup parmesan and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup parmesan; transfer to the broiler and cook until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes. SS: Since I doubled this, I just transferred it to a 9x13" glass baking dish, which worked out just fine!

One note - I doubled this to get it to stretch for 3 days throughout the week, and things still turned out well!

Same Thing, Different Day

Shirt - Anthro; Cardigan - J. Crew Factory; Pants - Anthro; Shoes - Boutique 9 via Anthro

Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ok folks, I have a confession. I wore the same exact outfit as last week - almost. This is not due to a lack of creativity. It's due to a love for a look. I love the androgyny of a loose cardigan over a crisp (or casual) button up. It's one of my favorite looks, and I probably rock a look like this once a week. My apologies for the lack of posting last week, I was very tired and just didn't feel like posting. I got a chance to browse Lucky this weekend, which gave me some great ideas and inspiration for the upcoming week!


Blazer - Urban*; Dress - Anthro*; Shoes - H&M 
*Hand me downs from my cuzzo

Date: Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Have you all noticed how brief my actual writing for my posts have been? I have, and it's a shame because I try to write two full paragraphs, and I stop at one. Like this one today. This will be the second to last sentence in this paragraph. I'm only saying it's ok because I believe I still have "baby brain," which means my mind basically only works half the time...hello brevity, goodbye creativity.

Salmon with Walnut-Red Pepper Relish

I actually made this dish a couple of weekends ago. The salmon was cooked quite to perfection, with a nice blend of fresh herbs, with a taste that was on par to match. The walnut-red pepper relish added additional tang with nice texture and color also. I've never loved a piece of salmon as much as this.

Salmon with Walnut-Red Pepper Relish
Source: Food Network Magazine, October 2011 Issue
Serves 4


½ cup walnuts
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons diced roasted red pepper
1 tablespoon walnut oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 2-to-3-pound piece wild salmon (about 1½ inches thick)


1. Make the relish: Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and bake until toasted, 7 to 10 minutes. Let cool, then finely chop and transfer to a bowl. Add the cayenne, lemon juice, honey, roasted red pepper, walnut oil, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons parsley. Add ½ teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste and toss to combine. (The relish can be made up to 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate.)
2. Make the salmon: Raise the oven temperature to 425°. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons parsley, the chives, lemon zest, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste in a bowl. Rub the herb mixture all over the salmon. Lay skin-side down in a baking dish and roast until just cooked through, 12 to 14 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes, then transfer to a platter and top with the walnut-pepper relish.

I served the salmon with some oven-baked spiced squash and kale chips. The squash was just ok in my opinion, and the kale chips...well let's just say I have yet to perfect them. Thus, I'm only going to post the recipe for the salmon. If you try it - let me know how you like it!

Blue Bling

Top - Anthro; Skirt - Anthro; Blazer Cardigan - Anthro; Necklace - Anthro; Ring - Anthro; Shoes - Jessica Simpson

Date: Monday, October 17, 2011

Yep, this outfit is all blue, and all Anthro. I just took the word monochromatic to a whole 'nother level. Another thing - notice the eyes - Mr. Lazy Eye is gone! You can chalk that up to 5 hours of straight, uninterrupted sleep. Thank you Naja for sleeping so soundly, I've never felt so well-rested (at least over the past 6 months).

Skirt - here
Top - here, here


Shirt - J. Crew Factory; Cardigan - Anthro; Pants - J. Crew; Shoes - Anthro

Date: Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 3 has proven to be successful (at least in the first picture). I think I will be able to do outfit posts!!! I'm excited, as I believe this will keep me motivated to be excited about getting dressed, to mix things up, and to do so on a budget! Have a great weekend!


Shirt - BCBG; Sweater - Anthro; Pants - J. Crew; Shoes - Boutique 9; Necklace - Anthro

Date: Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On Day 2 of inside picture taking I recognize that I either

1. Have a slight lazy eye...or
2. I can only smize with one eye

I'm going to go with option number two ;). One other thing - the adorable part of this outfit (the necklace) is covered up by my sweater in this picture. Whoops! Here's to hoping for an even better Day 3!

Trial 1

Top, Pants - Anthro; Blazer - Banana; Shoes - Urban

Date: Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This is trial one of taking pictures
...at the crack of dawn
...with artificial lighting

It's not terrible, but it's not great either. If the pictures continue to be very poor, I doubt I will post weekly outfit pictures. What do you all think?

Retro Flat Twist/Braid Video

After multiple comments and requests, I carved out some time to film a quick video on the hairstyle I sported last week. The video is very brief - I hope not too brief - but the style is quite simple: Flat twist in the front, and two french braids in the back. This style can be done on all hair types. While my pictures show the style on my natural hair, I straightened it last weekend and did the tutorial on my straightened hair. Also note that the lighting is better - not perfect, but better;) Enjoy!

The Heart of a Mother

My mom's birthday was yesterday. As most of you have observed, this past year has been filled with a lot of changes - many of which I leaned on my mom for support. I do believe that it is in times of change when you see who a person really is. I can honestly say that my mom is truly selfless, strong and all-around awesome! On her birthday, I only hope to let her know how much I truly love her. Now that I am a mom - I only hope that I can offer Naja the love, support and wisdom that my mom has passed down to me. Here's a picture of me and my family out for my mom's birthday.

For her birthday, my family went out to dinner at Founding Farmers. We had a blast eating, laughing and sharing stories. Mom - I wanted to take this time to say I love you. You're the best mom I could have asked for ;).

Retro Twist-Braid Style

**Update - I ended up creating a tutorial for this style, you can find it here on youTube.

It is rare that I find a hair blog exciting these days. However, I stumbled across A Curl's Best Friend and found the content to be fresh and eye-catching. The style I'm "modeling" is a copycat from this post. I love to see new ideas and contributions to the natural hair online community. Shout out to Shanti and Antoinette for doing their thing!

This style is so creative, and retro. It's something I could totally see Autumn rock. I would have never thought to mix flat twisting with braiding in this way. I loved the look as soon as I saw it! I personally think it looks better on Shanti because the "hang-time" adds to the retro feel this style portrays, however my lack of length did not stop me from going for it. *I did this style on stretched hair, and it took me about 15 minutes.

Shrimp & Grits

I haven't posted any pescatarian dishes in a while. I take the liberty on the weekends to cook for my family since I love to cook. Since I'm the only non-meat eater, these meals will typically showcase some sort of seafood option. Last weekend, I made shrimp and grits for my dad, brother and his friend. We all enjoyed this dish. The grits were creamy and cheesy with a little bit of spice. The shrimp and sausage added an additional spicy flavor.

Shrimp & Grits
Source: Adapted from bon appetit, September 2011 Issue
Serves 4

1 cup yellow grits (not instant)
1 cup grated sharp white cheddar
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 jalapeño, seeded, diced
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup 1/3" cubes Tasso, andouille sausage or bacon *SS: I used Tofurky Italian sausage
1 tbsp vegetable oil *SS: You'll need this if your meat is lean or vegetarian
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tbsp butter, divided *SS: I used EVOO instead
16 large shrimp peeled, deveined
1/4 cup (or more) beer
1/4 cup low-salt chicken broth *SS: I used vegetable broth
4 large eggs
1 tbs fresh tarragon *SS: I left this out since it was just for garnish

Bring 3 cups water to a simmer in a large saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Turn heat to low; gently simmer until grits begin to thicken. Continue cooking, stirring often and adding wat by 1/4 cupfuls if too thick, until tender, about1 hour. Stir in cheese, butter, and jalapeño, then cream. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add sausage; sauté for about 3 minutes (or until fat begins to render if using Tasso). Add garlic and 1 tbsp butter; stir until butter melts. Add shrimp. When garlic begins to brown, add beer and chicken/vegetable stock.simmer until shrimp is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet fro heat; set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 tbsp butter to skillet; swirl to melt and cover bottom of pan. Crack eggs into pan and cook until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes.

Spoon the grits into a bowl, making a well in the center. Top with the shrimp, then egg.

I believe the andouille sausage and beer is supposed to be the crowd pleaser in this dish. Even my meat-loving dad enjoyed this dish with my Tofurky substitute. The beer also added great flavor to the shrimp. This meal is great for breakfast, brunch or dinner.

Lavash Pizza with Roasted Eggplant and Arugula

Some dishes are beautiful and delicious, and this pizza surely falls into this category. Lavash is a healthy, Mediterranean bread that is used as the "dough" in this pizza. I would definitely use it again because it's not too expensive, and it stretches more than a batch of store-bought dough! Now onto taste, I only recently have become a fan of arugula. My palette did not seem to like it's bitter taste. The bitter arugula paired with the eggplant and mixed cheeses really plays well with this recipe. I can only imagine how nice this would have tasted with an appropriate wine pairing! I will definitely make this again!

Lavash Pizza with Roasted Eggplant and Arugula
Source: Adapted from bon appetit September 2011 Issue

1 1-1/2 lb eggplant, peeled, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 tsp sea salt plus more for seasoning
 2 tbsp EVOO
Freshly ground pepper
4 8" squares whole wheat lavash
 1 cup small cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup coarsely grated mozzarella
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper
8 cups arugula
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 F. Toss eggplant with  tsp salt in a medium bowl. Let sit between double layers of paper towels for 10 minutes. Pat dry. Return to bowl; toss with 1 tbsp oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until soft and browned, about 15 minutes,

Brush oil on lavash; arrange on 2 or more rimmed baking sheets. Top with next 6 ingredients. Bake until cheese melts, about 5 minutes. Toss arugula, 1 tbsp oil, and juice in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mound salad over pizzas. Cut into 4 pieces.

In summary, brother ate this, dad ate this, and mom ate this, and they all surprisingly enjoyed it.

Blow Out

Blazer - Banana; Top - J. Crew; Jeggings - Joe's via Anthro; Shoes - Lulu's

Date: Saturday, October 1, 2011

Blow out: my hair, and the Michigan v. Minnesota game this past weekend. Michigan - 58, Minnesota - 0. Like taking candy from a baby...hail!