Friday, January 29, 2016

Beauty Product Review: OZ Naturals Ocean Mineral Facial Cleanser

My skin can typically handle a lot. It doesn't become easily affected by temperature change or trying new or a lot of different products at once. Since I like to take good care of my skin, it's always great when I can try out new cleansers.

I recently had the opportunity to sample the OZ Naturals Ocean Mineral Facial Cleanser. I love anything having to do with the ocean and many body washes I've tried have been ocean-scented. 

Unfortunately, what I was hoping to be a fresh, maybe slightly salty smell was not what I experienced with the product. Instead, I was overwhelmed by the chlorine, more medicinal-type smell. 

The product itself is gentle on the skin and great for beauty lovers looking for more organic products. There are no parabens, alcohol, or sulfates and it is created to be beneficial for all skin types. 

I feel this cleanser would be best for those who have oily skin because it doesn't irritate or leave a film behind. It washes clean. The product itself works well, but I couldn't overcome the smell. 

This is a sponsored post by BrandBacker. All opinions remain my own.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sunday Night Suppers: Crockpot Carnitas

I've been inspired again by The Pioneer Woman. I learn so much from her shows; mainly how to make quick, easy and flavorful meals. Being a carnitas lover, I finally decided to take the plunge and try them for myself. TPW made hers in a dutch oven, but I used my trusty crockpot. 

The beauty of crockpot meals is that you add a bunch of good stuff to the pot, cover it, and then hours later after you've ran your errands, taken a nap, and marathon watched a new show on Netflix, your dinner is ready. 

I combined TPW's recipe with a few I found online and came up with what turned out to be delicious carnitas. I bought a 2 lb. pork butt (or shoulder, which I think is essentially the same), and rubbed a few teaspoons of olive oil all over it. Then, rubbed in salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin. 

I then chopped one yellow onion, three jalapenos, two limes, and two oranges and added it all to the pot. Squeeze in the lime and orange juice first and add two bay leaves. 

At first I was apprehensive about not adding any liquid, but the longer it cooks, the pork begins to create its own juices. Trust me when I say, you don't need to add any liquid, but you do need to add more salt and cumin than you think. 

After nearly six hours on high in the crock pot, the pork will be ready to easily shred. If not sure, poke at the pork and see if it falls apart. I used two forks and added the pork, peppers, onions, and part of the juice to a Tupperware dish to store in the fridge.

Typically, you'd eat your carnitas right away, but due to other plans, we had them the next night. One of my favorite parts of carnitas is when they're crispy, so I added a little bit of olive oil to a pan and turned the heat to medium high. I added the carnitas, onions, and peppers in a thin layer and pressed down with a spatula. In a few minutes, they began to crisp. I flipped them over and did the same to other side. 

My husband loved them and so did I! Serve with warm tortillas and top with pico de gallo. For sides roll up corn on the cob with chili butter and cotija cheese in foil. Roast in the over for 20ish minutes on 450 degrees. I also made canned refried beans, but added chicken stock to thin them out and added some cumin.

The recipe is delicious the first time around and tasty as leftovers. Plus, the pork butt was only about $7. Another supper success!

Next crockpot recipes to try: kalua pork and black bean and chorizo soup. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Roasted Chicken and All the Veggies

For someone who doesn't make a huge effort to eat vegetables (besides potatoes), I was able to use everything from my last CSA box before getting the new one today. One of the vegetables that I was nervous to use was fennel. Technically, I think this is an herb...plant...root something? 

I have never cooked with fennel, but lo and behold Ree Drummond a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman came through with an episode that featured chicken with fennel. I don't know about you, but I am a devout Food Network watcher, her show in particular, and record every episode so that I can watch them before going to bed. What can I say? It's soothing. 

In this particular episode, she made sheet pan meals and one of them was chicken thighs roasted atop a bunch of vegetables. Easy. In the crisper, we had carrots, onion, green beans, and the fennel. I bought a lemon at the store and chicken thighs, which together totaled under $7. 

Similar to what she had done on the show, I mixed olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice and dipped the chicken thighs in it before laying them on top of the cut up vegetables. I  squeezed more lemon over everything and sprinkled with a little more salt and lemon pepper seasoning. 

Into the oven (on a foil-lined sheet -- her tips are so great!) for about 50 minutes at 425 degrees and we had a healthy and inexpensive meal. 

I paired it with rice and beans, which was easy to make, too. Just use one can of kidney beans, one cup of chicken broth, and then add a package of frozen rice. The key is to simmer the kidney beans and broth together for awhile until it becomes thick. Then, add a lot of seasoning! I added salt, garlic powder, a bunch of cayenne, and bay leaf. They turned out really delicious! I'll add andouille sausage next time and make it a full meal. 

The fennel, which I have read has a licorice taste, was similar to an onion texture with a sweet-ish, almost citrus taste. It worked well with the dish. 

The thing I'm figuring out as I cook more and more at home is that I have been under-seasoning my food. It's not just lacking salt, but actual seasoning. I mean lemon pepper is a god send and I love heat with nearly anything. If chicken and vegetables seem too plain for you, think about spicing them up. What I made was enough for Sunday night supper plus leftovers for two. 

Budget-friendly and healthy -- win for us!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Beauty Product Review: HASK® Macadamia Oil Moisturizing Hair Care Collection

The weather in sunny, Southern California doesn't get quite as cold as the rest of the country, but the chillier, drier temps can still do a number on my hair. I have thick, long, heavy hair that tends to be on the dry side already, so anything that will add in extra moisture is a must-have for me. I have tried going a day or two without washing it to give my hair a rest, but can't bring myself to do it. It requires daily washing! 

What a savior products like the HASK®  Macadamia Oil Moisturizing Hair Care Collection are for those who want to give their hair a "healthy drink," so to speak. When my hair is at its driest, my hair will soak up anything added to it quickly. This goes for my skin, too. 

Macadamia oil is a great beauty ingredient for both the hair and skin because it's nourishing and hydrating. For the hair, it leads to shinier strands and more conditioned hair. The HASK® shampoo formula works into a nice lather and rinses clean, meaning that there isn't a film left behind that can be the case with certain oil-based products. The conditioner is best left on the hair for a few minutes before rinsing out with extra love given to the ends. The brush that comes with the collection helps the oil to be distributed evenly through the hair and helps gently detangle any knots. 

The shampoo and conditioner can be used daily, while the deep conditioning treatment can be saved for once or twice a week. I usually reserve Sunday nights for hair and face masks -- like a mini-beauty night to end the weekend as a treat.

After three days of using the products, I have noticed an extra softness to my hair and the oil (just a little bit will do!) helps tame frizz for styling. I tend to have hairs that need smoothed out, especially if I wear my hair in a ponytail. It helps my hair look sleeker and more pulled together.

HASK®  products can be found online or in your local drugstore or beauty store. There is also a selection of other types of oils to use on your hair. I haven't noticed a difference between argan, coconut, or macadamia oils in products -- they all work well for me. 

If you're looking for a product that will nourish your hair during the winter months or keep it healthy in the summer, this is a good one to try. It absorbs well into the hair, but doesn't leave it feeling greasy. 

I am trying new products all the time and fortunately, my hair adapts well. What's your favorite hair care product? 

This is a sponsored post by BrandBacker. All opinions remain my own.