Food and the City Yum

February 01, 2018

QUICK + CHEAP FACE MASK FOR A BLOATED FACE


Let me set the scene.

It's 1AM, you wake up to pee, and you decide to go grab some water on your way back to bed. You walk into the kitchen and bam. You're greeted with a reminder about the amazing pasta that you have leftover from dinner. 

You fight off the urge as long as you can, it's 1AM after all, but you give in and find yourself twirling spaghetti on a fork in front of the fridge. Casual.

Orrrrr how about this little scenario ---

It's Sunday. 2:00 in the afternoon and you're just now wiping the crust out of your eyes. You turn over to your phone (obviously) and see 14 text messages from your friends all asking the same hard-hitting question: "what the fuck happened last night?"

You're terribly hungover and decide that basic human functionality will not be apart of your day's agenda, let alone finding the strength to cook a meal. Solution? Seamless, take-out, allll of the chips, and the mini twix bar that you found in your couch cushions. Today was a fucking wash, but you enjoyed yourself and feel okay.

Fast forward to the next day, and your eyes are met with an inflated version of yourself staring back in the mirror. All those carbs, man. All those damn freaking carbs.

The problem? Water retention. Lymphatic Drainage. Temporary weight gain. And we've ALL been there.


I tend to carry most of my bloat in my face. I've been this way my entire life, and for my entire life, I've absolutely hated it. I know that when I eat pizza dinner, the next day I'm going to have to deal with feeling like a human marshmallow, but somethings in life are just worth the discomfort, naw-what-I'm-sayin-sayin. (however now I make GG pizzas every day to get my pizza fix and rarely have to worry about the dreaded bloat anymore!)

ANYWAY - we surely all know my love for a contoured face runs madly (MADLY!) through my veins. I'm obsessed with face products, but especially ones that focus on anti-aging, tightening, lifting, contouring, filler-in-a-bottle type of shizz. It most definitely stems back to my lifelong struggle with water retention in my face, and for that, I feel I've earned an imaginary degree in educating others on ways I've been able to reduce the issue. 

Seriously, I want to be lifted, tightened, and toned every. single. day, so I'm confident that I've tried almost every single product on the market. 

GIVE ME ALL OF THE FUCKING SERUMS, SEPHORA, GIVE ME THEM ALL. 

January 17, 2018

5 Ingredient Mini Apple Pie Cakes



Apple pies? After the holidays? Really Mel? Really? Does blog strategy and/or posting relevant seasonal content mean anything to you ?????

I'm sorry! I get it! But hear me out.


I wanted nothing more than to post this recipe just in time for the holidays. However, you see, the holidays got so far away from me, that I'm surprised I even showed up to Christmas dinner. November and December seriously flew by so quick over here, so much to that point that I still have all of my Christmas decorations up because I feel like I missed out on quality christmas decoration enjoyment time. Plus, couple that with the fact that I should just change the name of this blog to "Mel and her Muffin Pan" entirely (see below for more recipes!), and you'll arrive at the creation of these mini apple pie cakes.


The difference here, though, is that this isn't even really apple pie, so technically it shouldn't be considered a seasonal dessert. Except for the fact that, ya know, apples are indeed a seasonal fruit and all.

But like, not really? The supermarkets always have them, so why can't we always eat them in pie form? Why, from January-October, are we only allowed to eat them as they are? I petition that apple pie becomes a fully acceptable dessert to consume all year long.

ALL IN FAVOR SAY PIE!

Haha.. get it? Pie.


Mini Apple Pie Cakes

1 box white cake mix (just the mix!)
2 4oz containers (or 2 cups) of unsweetened applesauce
1 cup water
1 medium sized apple
1 1/2 tbs sugar
1 1/2 tbs cinnamon + 1 teaspoon

Preheat oven to 325 and grease your mini muffin or donut pan. 

In a large bowl, combined dry cake mix, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, applesauce, and water. Mix everything until it's well combined and batter is smooth. Set aside.

Dice your apple into tiny pieces (slices about 1/2 the size that you'd normally keep them for regular apple pie) and toss them with 1 tbs sugar + 1 tbs cinnamon. Fold only HALF of the sugared apples into the batter and set the rest aside. 

Spoon batter into your pan, then top each one with a couple of remaining apple slices. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until edges are brown and they are no longer wet in the middle. While that's in the oven, grab a separate dish and combined the remaining cinnamon + sugar to make a topping for the cakes. 

After cakes have cooled completely, give them a few spritz of butter spray (I use the yellow I can't Believe It's Not Butter bottle!) and sprinkle on your cinnamon sugar topping!

Enjoy!

If you liked this recipe, you'll LOVE these:
3 Ingredient Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins
3 Ingredient Funfetti Donuts
3 Ingredient Apple Cinnamon Donuts


January 08, 2018

3 Ingredient Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins


I used to be obsessed with those single serving packs of mini chocolate chip muffins as a kid. You know, those ones that come in the white plastic bag, that were almost always impossible to open, and only contained, like 4-5, mini muffins that you scarfed down within minutes. I would pack them in my lunch each day for school, and was just truly enamored by these tiny little muffins.


And if we're being honest, nobody liked the blueberry ones. Nobody. I remember being so upset whenever my brothers got to all of the chocolate ones before me, like that scene out of Home Alone when Kevin realizes there's no more plain cheese pizza.

It was a sick obsession, you guys.


Fast forward to present day, and most recently, my newfound obsession with making mini donuts and cakes, and here we arrive at these chocolate chip muffins. I made a million and one batches of mini donuts over the holidays, and this was just one the many varieties that came out of my kitchen during that faithful time.

Not only were these a hit, but my brother, who is none short the critic, ate about 90% of the container that I brought over on Christmas Day.

So... there's that.



3 Ingredient Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 box white cake mix (just the mix!)
1 1/2 4oz containers (or 1 1/2 cups) of unsweetened applesauce
1 cup water
mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 and grease your mini muffin or donut pan. 
(my pan only yields 48 donuts, so I had to do this in two batches.)

In a large bowl, combined dry cake mix, applesauce, and water. Mix everything until it's well combined and batter is smooth. Toss in as many chocolate chips as you'd like and fold them into the batter.

Spoon batter into your pan and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye on them! 

Allow muffins to cool before popping them out of the baking tray and serving.

Enjoy!

If you liked this recipe, you'll LOVE these:
3 Ingredient Funfetti Donuts
3 Ingredient Apple Cinnamon Donuts

December 22, 2017

How to spend the weekend leading up to Christmas

Christmas is less than 3 days away my friends, and if you haven’t already lost your mind, rest assured that there’s still plenty of time to have a mental breakdown. HAHAHA, JUST KIDDING, JUST KIDDING.

IT’S FINE.

I’M FINE.

*rocks slowly in the corner*

My bank account doesn’t have a burning hole at the bottom of it and my emotional state isn’t in complete shambles or anything.

LOL, life’s good! I swear!


On a serious note, we tend to spend much of the holidays stressing over them instead of actually enjoying all of it.  What’s the point in wasting 3 hours on Pinterest on a quest to find the best donut recipe to make for your pals if you’re not going to eat a bunch of them yourself? What’s the point of recording every Christmas movie that comes on TV if you’re not actually going to sit down and watch them? What’s the point in pretending to be immersed  in the holidays if the joy that it brings is the last thing that you’re feeling?

Holiday shopping dictates most of this, because we put so much stress on trying to find the perfect gifts for our loved ones, we truly forget the magic that floats throughout the air this time of year.

With holiday travel upon us, office parties in full force, and everyone seemingly dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s before 2017 comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to finally chill the hell out, drink that glass of eggnog that you hate (c’mon, nobody realllly likes eggnog) , and enjoy what’s left of the holiday season.


1)   First things first, get the big stuff out of the way. I’m a big believer in lists. I find that I get the most done if I have it written done somewhere. Something about checking it off as a completed tasks makes accomplishing it that more satisfying. Go over your list (& check it twice! Hahaha get it? Like Santa.) (I’m sorry) and make sure you’ve gotten all of the super important things out of the way before you begin the process of winding down. If you wind down first, it’s only that much harder to get back on the productivity train. Complete any and all work that you have left, do the dishes, finish wrapping the gifts, and gods sake please remember that you need to go buy a new roll of paper towels.


2)   Unplug, but stay in touch. It would be inaccurate to pretend like social media doesn’t completely take over our lives sometimes. I’ve been to parties, I’ve been to functions, and I’ve sat across the table from someone who had their nose deep into their phone while their finger scrolled away instead of  engaging with the person in front of them. I’ve been guilty of it myself, which is why I feel it’s safe to say that we all do it. We all do it without even realizing it, which is even scarier. While it’s fun to post that cute picture of you and bae wearing ugly sweaters, or standing in front of a 94ft tall Christmas Tree, sometimes unplugging altogether is the way to go in order to truly be in the moment. The reality isn’t as linear, because most of us still need social media to keep in contact with our loved ones or stay on top of the news. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, one of my favorite apps that I have on my phone is Baaz. I use Baaz to stream all of my feeds in one place, that way I don’t have to check a million different apps at once. It gives me the ability to engage with my audiences across every platform with the tap a send button, and also allows me to catch up on trending topics that I want to read about. It’s helped me to not only stay on top of the business side of things (i.e making it easier to post consistent content), but it’s also become the app I turn to first when I have a little down time, like riding the subway home. Before I arrive at my stop, I’ve updated my own channels AND read an article about why Harvey Weinstein is a piece of sh*t.

If you haven’t downloaded the Baaz app yet, I encourage you to do so, and then request me so we can be pals. It’ll be the perfect app to have on hand while spending time with your family, since you’re able to stay some-what unplugged while still remaining up to date on things!

3)   Take advantage of last-minute sales. I used to be a huge fan of black Friday before realizing that a lot of retailers tend to have the same sales (if not better ones!) the week leading up to Christmas. It’s because we don’t have a title for the occasion that these sales can easily go unnoticed, therefore many people believe they only have Black Friday or Cyber Monday to score great deals. False. So, so false. Not only is every retailer fighting against each other for your last-minute gift shopping dollars, but most of them are trying to clear their inventory to make way for 2018 arrivals.  Take note that these types of sales are the best kinds for buying clothes that are still in season, just marked down to make room for the new year. Ebates is my favorite way to keep track of this, + the extra money back helps too ;)

4)   Indulge in a little self-care. I’m going to take a shot in the dark here and assume that you don’t typically give yourself a manicure and a facial every single night. I’m also going to take a shot and assume that not only has it been approximately 3 weeks since your last nail salon visit, but you’ve also abandoned your skin and let the winter weather completely destroy it. Ok, maybe that last part’s just me, but hey, what’s a girl to do when she’s prone to dry and itchy skin in the winter? It’s hard out here on these mean NYC streets!

Take one of these nights to stay home, try out some of those products that you’ve been hoarding in your bathroom for the last 3 months, and indulge in a little TLC! Exfoliate, cleanse, tone, condition -- + don’t forget to light some pretty candles while you serve your skin and hair allllll of that good good. Wear a big fluffy robe with cucumber slices under your eyes and paint a fun color on your toes for an impromptu pedi. Do anything that helps you feel refreshed and spoiled.
 


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5) Celebrate the holidays with your friends. A lot of us (if not all of us) would make the argument that our friends are our extended family in disguise. Family we were meant to meet one at a time, at school, on vacation, or even on the internet. It’s the type of family that is there for you in different ways, and for a lot of people, the type of family that you see the most of. With everyone scrambling to make it home to their “real” families this Christmas, don’t forget to carve out some time this week to raise a glass to the pals who are always there. If holiday shopping has left your pockets feeling light, invite them over and chill on the couch with a $3 bottle of Trader Joe’s wine and bake some holiday cookies. Whatever you do, don’t let the (beautiful) chaos of the holidays make you miss the plethora of bonding to be had!

December 21, 2017

How To Make Frozen Coquito (coconut eggnog)


There are two types of people in this world. Those who like eggnog, and those who do not.

I am one of those people who does not.

In fact, not only do I not like it, I actually think it's pretty gross. Something about drinking raw egg yolks, man, I just can't get behind it.

All I picture in my head when I think of eggnog is some meathead monster crushing weights at the gym after chugging a gallon of the stuff from his plastic GNC protein shaker while making uncomfortable grunting sounds as he admires himself in the mirror.

And nobody likes the meathead monster at the gym chugging protein shakes from his plastic GNC protein shaker while making uncomfortable grunting sounds as he admires himself in the mirror.

Don't be the meathead monster at the gym chugging protein shakes from his plastic GNC protein shaker while making uncomfortable grunting sounds as he admires himself in the mirror.


Now, don't get me wrong, I'm still allll about the consumption of eggnog because it's presence means one thing and one thing only -- CHRISTMAS IS HERE -- and anything that represents the coming of Christmas is okay in my book.

I just hate the stuff. It's gross. So let's just agree to disagree and put that argument behind us. Glad we're on the same page with things.

However, there's another holiday drink out there that just doesn't seem to get as much universal love as eggnog, and that, my friends, is Coquito.

December 20, 2017

Whole Foods Spice Crusted Bone-in Standing Rib Roast


It's no secret that I spend a great deal of time in the kitchen. I make it a point to cook dinner at home at least 5 nights a week, that way I can splurge on the weekends or go out for an impromptu happy hour and not feel so bad about it. As I've gotten older, I've realized the importance of cooking at home, and how not only does it save a ton of money, but I actually enjoy the task of putting a meal together. It feels less like a chore, and more of an adventure every time I get to play with a new recipe!

But, as much as I love to get creative in the kitchen and make everything from scratch, sometimes it's a little easier (& more cost efficient!) to already have it all done for you!


A few weeks ago to celebrate the birth of our Christmas Tree (lol), we had my brother and his girlfriend over the house for a little sunday evening football watching. It was the weekend after Thanksgiving, and not only were we waaaay turkey'd out, but I had spent so much time in the kitchen the days leading up, I wanted nothing to do with cooking. Enter; Whole Foods catering, also known around these parts as my secret dinner party throwing weapon.



I placed my order online a couple of days beforehand (we already knew that they would be coming over that Sunday!), and headed into my Whole Foods the morning of to pick it all up. I traveled around the store to each station (i.e to the butcher for my meat, to the prepared foods section for everything else, etc) and each item came out packaged and ready to go! Everything besides the rib roast had already been prepared, so all I had to do was pop it in the oven once the meat was cooked and we were ready to get this mini dinner party started.

On the menu:

- 1 Spice Crusted Bone-in Standing Rib Roast
- Mac & Cheese
- Sauteed Green Beans
- Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
- Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Vegetable Platter + jalapeno hummus (amazing!)

So basically, food for 8, when really, there was only 4 of us.

Hey -- I told you it was right after Thanksgiving. Our stomachs had e x p a n d e d, okay?



After getting home and putting all of the prepared foods away, I opened up the rib roast that I watched the butcher prep in front of me, and was ready to take this baby on! Full disclosure, I'm not a red meat eater, so not only had I not a clue as to what I was looking at, I couldn't even tell you the first thing about cooking a rib roast.

Or really any roast, for that matter.


The roast didn't come with cooking instructions, but with a little youtube search and *just 1* mental breakdown, I was able to find a super easy way of tackling this baybay!

Basically, you crank your oven to 375 and roast this beauty for just about 2 hours (or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.) Allow meat to rest untouched for 10 minutes, then cut off the butchers twine and carve away! I had to hand the knife over to my boyfriend to do the carving since I didn't want to screw it up, but result was this GORGEOUS (awesomely crispy), perfectly cooked bone-in standing rib roast.


Now, let me preface this next statement with that my brother is the biggest carnivore on this planet. He loves his steak, and he eats it often. Needless to say, the man knows meat, and that man said it was the best rib roast he has ever had.

While I'd love to take full credit for this (whaaaat with having to put the meat on a pan and open & close the oven a few times), it was because of how perfectly seasoned and proportioned the meat was is what made it unstoppable. That's allll thanks to the awesome Whole Foods butcher who prepped it up for me, and nothing to do with my 5-star skill in reheating the potatoes in the microwave while the meat rested.

Joking! They went in the oven! (which btw, those were a m a z i n g too)


So would I use Whole Foods catering again? Absolutely freaking yes. Not only did everyone enjoy the meat, all of the other prepared foods that we picked up were outstanding. The maple roasted brussel sprouts were out of this world, and I could live off of the fingerling potatoes. A few minutes in a hot oven and everything heated beautifully!

I wanted to fill you guys in that this service is always available at Whole Foods (because I didn't know that!), and also because it's holiday party CRUNCH TIME -- and if you decided to throw a last minute shindig, I highly recommend using Whole Foods catering for all of your food! That way, not only is the hard part done for you, you'll actually be able to SIT DOWN at your own party instead of being a slave to the kitchen. 

Putting our meal together was almost too easy, to the point that I thought no way can it taste good, but the second we all took a bite of our food we all had the same reaction.

"I can't believe how good this is."
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