current beauty favorites

I’ve been trying to take good care of my skin during this transitional weather and find that it loves milky cleansers and more hydrating products like facial oils. Here are some things that I’ve been enjoying lately.

Lancome Lait Galatée Confort Comforting Makeup Remover Milk

My mom introduced me to this cleansing milk and my skin has been loving it so much. I use it on my face either dry or wet and the scent is so gentle and soft. I’ve been using it for a few months and it’s definitely a staple in my beauty routine now.

Lancome Tonique Confort Re-Hydrating Comforting Toner with Acacia Honey

This toner is a must for me after using the cleanser. The two are a match made in heaven! The smell is divine.

KIEHL’S SINCE 1851 Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil

This has been the first step in my cleaning routine and I use it to remove makeup. I’ve been enjoying it so much that I even use it on makeup free days to give myself a facial massage- so relaxing and aromatic.

KIEHL’S SINCE 1851Midnight Recovery Concentrate

This has been my go to facial moisturizer for the past few weeks. This combination of oils is wonderful, applies like a dream- not greasy or heavy AT ALL. It sinks into my skin immediately and I wake up to the softest skin I have ever felt. I now understand what all the hype around this product has been about.

L’OCCITANE Cleansing And Softening Shower Oil With Almond Oil

This is my current favorite body wash. My skin has been super dry lately and using this in combination with a thick body cream or oil has been working well for me. I really enjoy the almond scent.

TARTEQuench Lip Rescue – Rainforest of the Sea™ Collection

This lip balm is great for those days when I don’t feel like wearing lipstick but just want a hint of color plus lots of hydration. It works well on top of lipstick as well.


This has been my signature scent for years now and I just fell back in love with it after having used some other perfumes. It is perfect for this time of the year and will always be a classic. I don’t think I can ever be without having this scent in my collection.

What are your current beauty favorites?





pasta with cauliflower



I feel like every time I make this pasta, we say we need to make it at least once a week- it’s just that good. I know it’s hard to believe that such few and simple ingredients would lead to such a flavorful dish, but this is surprisingly delicious!! Try it and watch it get devoured.

The only time consuming part of the recipe is the time required for the cauliflower to actually cook down–but be patient because you do want it to get really soft and creamy, almost cheese-like. My mouth is watering even as I type, thinking about how good this is! I hope you like it as much as my husband and I do. It will convert all the cauliflower haters out there, I promise.

recipe courtesy laura in the kitchen 


  • 1 Head of Cauliflower, core removed and florets cut into small pieces
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp of Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Hot pepper Flakes
  • 2 Cups of vegetable Stock
  • 2 Tbsp of Fresh Chopped Parsley
  • 1 cup of Freshly Grated Parmiggiano
  • 12 oz of Short Rigatoni or any other short cut pasta
  • 2 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Bread Crumb Topping:

  • 1 cup of Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp of Fresh Chopped Parsley
  • 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
  • ½ tsp of Fresh Lemon Zest


    • 1) Fill a large pot with water, sprinkle in some salt and bring to a boil.
    • 2) In a large skillet with high sides, add the oil and garlic and let it sizzle over medium heat, add the hot pepper flakes and cook them for about 30 seconds or until the garlic is lightly golden brown and fragrant.
    • 3) Add the cauliflower, season well with salt and pepper and sauté for about 8 to 10 minutes or until most of it is turning a lovely golden brown color.
    • 4) Add the chicken stock and turn the heat down to medium low. You can cover the pan with a lid if you would like at this point.
    • 5) Allow the mixture to cook for about 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is nice and tender.
    • 6) When the cauliflower has about 10 minutes left to cook, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to packaged instructions. Reserve ½ cup of the starchy cooking water.
    • 7) Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the cauliflower, add the starchy water along with the butter, parsley and cheese and cook the mixture together for about 1 minute on medium heat until the sauce thickens and coats all those pieces of pasta.
    • 8) Add the pasta to a large platter and serve as is or make the bread crumb topping.
    • 9) To make the topping, add the oil to a skillet and let it preheat over medium heat. Once it’s nice and hot, add the bread crumbs, parsley and lemon zest and let it toast up for a few minutes or until the mixture has a lovely golden toasted color all around and the bread crumbs are crunchy.
    • 10) Sprinkle this mixture all over the top of the pasta. Serve immediately!



kiehl’s skincare routine

Kiehl’s has always been one of my favorite skincare lines and I’ve been a huge fan of their ultra facial cream, which I enjoy using every evening as the last step in my routine. I recently started incorporating more of their products into my routine and have been loving it so much that I’ve started to having all Kiehl’s skincare routine every other night.

Recently walking into the Kiehl’s store was such a pleasant experience and I got lots of great tips and information (and free samples!) from the knowledgable sales associate. I highly recommend going to one of the stores and chatting about your skincare needs with one of their associates. I find their products to soothe my skin, the scents are very relaxing and never irritating in any way. It’s just an overall fuss free line of products and does what it claims to. Most importantly, I enjoy getting “unready” when I use these products, which is nice because sometimes skincare can seem like a chore. I just love Kiehl’s!

Please note I haven’t been paid to write this post and bought all of the products myself. 

Here’s my Kiehl’s skincare routine:

Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil: I’ve tried several cleansing oils as they are my preferred method for removing makeup. There is something so soothing about massaging cleansing oil onto your face as you feel your makeup just melting away. I have not used a makeup removing wipe ever since cleansing oils have come along and don’t think I ever will. This particular oil smells so lovely! It feels like I’m at a spa getting a facial. It also does a wonderful job at removing my makeup and prepping my skin for the next step. I apply 3-4 pumps onto my hands and massage onto my dry face and let the oil work its magic before adding water to emulsify and remove my makeup. 


Cucumber Herbal Conditioning Cleanser: This is a really gentle, gel/lotion cleanser which foams minimally. I stay away from foaming cleansers, since they strip my skin of its natural oils which dehydrates my skin. This cleanser is gentle enough that I don’t feel that squeaky clean feeling (which is terrible for your skin) yet effective enough that my skin feels clean and soft. I enjoy the cucumber scent as well. 


Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner: This toner has calendula (marigold) petals in it, which makes it incredibly effective at soothing and refreshing the skin. I love the scent so much! 


Midnight Recovery Concentrate: This is a Kiehl’s bestseller and probably the product that   I am most excited about. It is a facial oil that restores the appearance of skin overnight. For those of you who might be afraid to try a facial oil, don’t worry! Facial oils are helpful for keeping skin’s vital hydration locked in and they have incredible, instantaneous skin-smoothing properties. This one is extremely light weight and immediately sinks into the skin. It is full of botanical oils such as  lavender essential oil and evening primrose oil. The scent is so relaxing it can help put you to bed. I apply two to three drops onto my face and neck. 


Ultra Facial Cream: To me, this is such a neutral, unoffensive cream. It almost seems like it has no ingredients, which isn’t true, of course.  It has no scent, has such a silky texture that melts right into the skin and never irritates. This is my hero product from Kiehl’s and the reason why I fell in love with the brand to begin with. I don’t think I can ever be without a tub of this in my bathroom vanity. I think I’ve managed to convince my husband to love it too, since I’m pretty sure there’s another tub of this in his bathroom vanity as well:) Kiehl’s also has a separate men’s collection. 


In the mornings I’ve been using this serum in place of the midnight recovery concentrate and have been loving it. It gives my skin an immediate boost of hydration while leaving it silky smooth and ready for makeup application. I have normal to dry skin right now so I do apply a thin layer of this SPF on top for some added hydration and most importantly sun protection! For my eye cream, I use this one from Estee Lauder and have been enjoying it so far. I’ve heard great things about the avocado eye cream and the midnight recovery eye , both from Kiehl’s so they’re on my “to try” list.


So do Kiehl’s products work? If I were to ask myself this question, I see that the proof is written all over my face. I am very happy with these products and how my skin is looks and feels. What is your favorite Kiehl’s product? I have yet to try their body products so let me know what you think of those as well!









ESTÉE LAUDER Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II and Advanced Night Repair Eye Concentrate Matrix

IMG_4361.jpgIt is no surprise that I love this brand, especially for their skincare. The advanced night repair serum has been a favorite of mine for quite some time now, as I’ve been using it for over two years now. I recently stopped using it and then wasn’t using it consistently. Just a few weeks ago, I started to incorporate it back into my regular skincare routine and have noticed a huge difference in the overall texture and clarity of my skin. It feels and looks more well rested when I apply this serum. I can’t say that I notice a difference when I haven’t used a skincare product, other than this one. This really is my “miracle” serum. See my review here. 

More recently, the company has come out with a new eye serum.  

IMG_4360Since I was looking for a new eye cream anyway and I love the ANR so much, I thought I would give this one a try. I’m definitely not disappointed! This serum/ cream has a lovely texture to it, which I find glides on like butter when massaged on with the applicator. It sinks in immediately and is perfect for both am and pm. I’m really happy with this purchase and highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for extra hydration along with anti- aging benefits in their eye cream.

I think I’m an advanced night repair lover for life! It wakes up my skin even when my body is feeling exhausted and has been a true skin saver. I hope you give this line a try!




roasted vegetable paella

The best paella I’ve had was when I visited Spain and since then I had been looking for a vegetarian paella recipe. I’m so glad I found this one with roasted veggies. If you’re a rice lover like I am, give this one a try!

recipe courtesy Ina Garten 



  • 2 pounds Holland bell peppers (red, yellow, and orange), cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 2 pounds fennel bulbs, tops and cores removed, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound baby eggplants, unpeeled, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 large red onion, 3/4-inch-diced
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (3/4-inch-diced) yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 cups Spanish paella rice, such as Calasparra
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, undrained, such as Mancini
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (not regular paprika)
  • 5 to 6 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 ounces freshly grated aged Manchego cheese
  • 1/2 cup pitted Manzanilla or Cerignola olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Position two racks evenly spaced in the oven.

Put the bell peppers, fennel, eggplants, and red onion in a large bowl, add 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper, and toss. Divide the vegetables between two sheet pans and spread in one layer. Roast for 45 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a 14- to 16-inch paella pan or large (11-inch) Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Add the yellow onions and saute for 6 to 8 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and saffron and cook for one minute. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat the rice with oil. Place the jarred peppers (including their liquid) and paprika in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until pureed. Pour the mixture into the paella pan, stirring to combine, and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of the hot stock and 2 teaspoons salt and cook uncovered over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, as you would cook risotto. Continue to cook the rice over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring in 1 cup of hot stock at a time whenever the liquid is absorbed, until the rice is al dente

Add the vegetables to the paella, add one more cup of stock, and stir carefully. If the paella is dry, add more hot stock. Off the heat, stir in the Manchego cheese, olives, and scallions. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.




best of beauty 2017

As we near the end of the year, I wanted to round up my absolute beauty loves this past year. I have some new favorites that I’m really excited to share with you!

In terms of skincare, my focus has been hydration hydration hydration! I find that my skin has really been loving products that hydrate and plump it up. It has been dehydrated so finding the right products to hydrate and nourish my skin without making it look greasy has been essential. I fell back in love with some old loves, like the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum, and wonder why I ever stopped using it! My favorite skincare brands this past year have been Farmacy, Fresh, and Kiehl’s.

Best in Skincare:

best makeup remover–  FARMACYGreen Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm with Echinacea GreenEnvy

 best facial cleanser–  FRESH Soy Face Cleansing Milk

best facial scrub– OLEHENRIKSEN Transforming Walnut Scrub

best facial moisturizer– KIEHL’S SINCE 1851 Ultra Facial Cream

best facial sunscreen– MD solar sciences   

MURAD Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++

I chose two here because the MD Solar sciences works best for summer since it helps to mattify the skin while the Murad is great for the cooler months.

best anti aging product- Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II

 best facial mask –KIEHL’S SINCE 1851 Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask 

best eye cream– BELIF Peat Miracle Revital Eye Cream


Best in Makeup:

best lipstick – MARC JACOBS BEAUTY Le Marc Liquid Lip Crème

best lip gloss – Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss

best lip balmNivea kiss  of milk and honey

best blush- Nars Orgasm 

best eye shadow palette–  Urban Decay Naked Smoky palette 

best eyelinerMac modern twist kajal liner 

best mascara– TARTE Gifted™ Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara

best concealerNARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

best tinted moisturizer: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30

best foundation– BOBBI BROWN Skin Foundation SPF 15

best makeup brushes- real techniques

Best in Hair:

best shampoo and conditioner– Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Smoothing Shampoo & Conditioner 

I love how soft this leaves my hair. I haven’t switched to anything else in close to a year and that says a lot.

Here are some of my favorite body products:

Favorite shower gel: Aveeno Skin Relief Nourishing Body Wash, Coconut

Favorite shower oil: L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil

Favorite body cream: Shea Butter Ultra Rich Body Cream and a recent favorite AERIN Beauty Rose Hand & Body Cream

Favorite hand cream: Almond Delicious Hands and Roses et Reines Hand & Nail Cream

Best fragrance: 


What are your beauty favorites? What has made a significant difference in your skincare or makeup routine? Please let me know in the comments!





winter skincare routine

Now that the weather has started getting cooler, I had to switch up some things in my skincare routine. So far this routine has been working well in keeping my skin hydrated and healthy.

My morning routine:

FRESH Soy Face Cleansing Milk-– This has been my go to cleanser for morning and night and I absolutely love it. I’ve been using only cleansing milks instead of foaming cleansers and have seen a difference in my skin.

thayer’s witch hazel toner– This has been go to toner for over a year now and I prefer it to many high end toners I’ve tried. Not only does it smell amazing, it keeps my skin clear and removes every last trace of makeup.

kiehl’s ultra facial cream– This is hands down my favorite moisturizer. I have been using it for around a year now and it never disappoints. It sits beautifully under makeup and sinks in like a dream into my just washed face when I get out the shower. It is lightweight, hardly has any scent and is a no fuss moisturizer that delivers hydration and softness to my face. I’ve been using this now for about one year.

my evening routine:

Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm with Echinacea GreenEnvy™–  

I remove my makeup with this cleansing balm, which I’ve been using for a little less than three weeks now. I’ve really been enjoying it so far and would definitely repurchase it. It has a light scent which is very pleasant.

SEPHORA COLLECTION Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover- This has been a very effective makeup remover in taking off all of my eye makeup. I don’t usually need to use it unless I’m wearing heavy eye makeup. If not, the cleansing balm is enough to remove all my makeup. 

FRESH Soy Face Cleansing Milk

thayer’s witch hazel toner

BELIF Peat Miracle Revital Eye Cream– Ive been using this eye cream for just under a year now and I’ve enjoyed how rich and hydrating it is.


Around two to three times a week I like to exfoliate using this walnut scrub. I like that the texture is quiet grainy so I can feel it exfoliating and removing dead skin cells. This leaves my skin baby soft.

ESTÉE LAUDER Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II- I don’t use this every night but on the nights that I do, my skin feels healthier and more youthful the next morning. It just looks like I’m really well rested even if I’m not! 

What is your skincare routine? Are there any products you would recommend?





holiday menu

I love cooking and baking any time of the year, but there is something special about making holiday meals. I love the way the whole house smells wonderful and there is anticipation of a great meal to come. The best part is sharing delicious food with the ones you love.

Here are some of my favorite holiday dishes:

  1. Fettuccine with White Truffle Butter and Mushrooms: recipe courtesy Ina Garten 



  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepperKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 ounces white truffle butter
  • 8.82 ounces fresh fettuccine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish


Add 1 tablespoon of salt to a large pot of water and bring it to a boil.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing often, until the mushrooms are cooked and the liquid has evaporated.

Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and rinse out the pan.

Pour the cream into the saute pan and heat it over medium heat until it simmers. Add the truffle butter, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, lower the heat to very low and swirl the butter until it melts. Keep warm over very low heat.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander and add it to the truffle cream. Add the chives and mushrooms and toss well with tongs. Stir in the Parmesan. Serve hot in shallow bowls, garnished with extra chives and Parmesan.



FullSizeRender-19 copy.jpg


6 cups mixed salad greens
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (from half of 1 fresh pomegranate)
1/2 cup (4 oz.) feta or gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 cup balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below), or your favorite
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

3. Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread: recipe courtesy Ina Garten 



  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
  • 8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
  • 3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers


Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don’t overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.


4. cinnamon rolls: recipe courtesy Pioneer woman 



For the dough:
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 scant teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon salt
For the filling:
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup ground cinnamon, for sprinkling
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, plus more as needed
For the maple icing:
  • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple flavoring or maple extract


For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat; do not boil. Set aside to cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.

Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour.

Remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl.

Remove half of the dough. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 by 10 inches, with a long side facing you.

To make the filling, pour 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar!

Beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly toward you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls will be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together.

Transfer to a cutting board and, with a sharp knife, make 1 1/2-inch slices. One log will produce 20 to 25 rolls. Pour a couple of tablespoons of melted butter into several pie pans or baking dishes and swirl to coat. Place the rolls in the pans cut-side up, being careful not to overcrowd.

Repeat the rolling-sugar-butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cover each pan with a kitchen towel and let rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towels and bake for 13 to 17 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the icing: In a large bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, butter, coffee and salt. Splash in the maple flavoring. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add more sugar, butter or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be thick but still pourable.

While the rolls are still warm, generously drizzle icing over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor. They only get better with time…not that they last for more than a few seconds!

5. Snickers Brownies: recipe courtesy Laura Vitale 



  • 1/2 cup of Unsalted Butter, softened at room temperature
    10 oz of Semisweet Chocolate, melted
    1 cup of Granulated Sugar
    1/4 tsp of salt
    2 eggs
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2-1/2 tbsp of Cocoa powder
    1/2 tsp of Instant espresso powder
    1 cup of Chopped up Snickers


1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8×8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper making sure it comes up the sides a bit, set aside.

2) In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs and mix well.

3) Add the melted chocolate, mix to incorporate. Add the flour, cocoa, espresso powder and salt.

4) Mix until everything is combined and the pieces of snickers and just mix to mix throughout the batter.

5) Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan, bake them for about 35 to 40 minutes, allow them to cool completely before serving.

OPTIONAL BUT HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Drizzle caramel (my husband makes his own) and then some coarse sea salt on top!!
6. Caramel Apple Pie: recipe courtesy Laura Vitale 
7 cups of Tart Apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tsp of Lemon Juice
Zest and Juice of Half of a Small Orange
¾ cup of Walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup of Brown Sugar
¼ cup of Granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp of Corn Starch
¼ cup of Caramel Sauce (I have a recipe for that too!)
2 tsp of Ground Cinnamon
1 9” Unbaked Pie Crust

For the Streusel Topping:

¾ cup of All Purpose Flour
2/3 cup of chopped Walnuts
¼ cup of Granulated Sugar
6 Tbsp of Cold Butter
Extra Caramel Sauce for Drizzling over the top


1) Place the pie crust in a 9” pie plate. Spoon the caramel sauce in the bottom of the pie crust and set aside.

2) In a large bowl toss the apples with the lemon juice, orange juice and orange zest. Add the chopped walnuts, cornstarch, both sugars and cinnamon, toss to coat.

3) Add the apple mixture in the pie crust with the caramel sauce at the bottom.

4) In a small bowl combine all the ingredients for the streusel topping and mix with your fingers until the butter is evenly distributed through the dry ingredients.

5) Sprinkle streusel topping over the apples and place the pie plate on top of a baking dish. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Let it cool completely.

Slice and drizzle over some more caramel sauce and enjoy!

Please don’t forget to have this a la mode and maybe some of that caramel sauce drizzled over the ice cream as well. 
What’s on your menu for the holidays?





sephora haul

I wait for the Sephora VIB sale which happens twice a year, but this time around the wait seemed to be especially worth it. I had completely run out of so many of my beauty essentials so I eagerly waited for Sephora to announce their sale dates. I took full advantage of the sale this time around by stocking up on my favorites and decided to try out some new products. I figure since it’s almost my birthday, why not treat myself? Here is what I purchased and why I love it:


Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm with Echinacea GreenEnvy™– 

I have the honey mask by this brand and absolutely love it. The philosophy behind the brand is that of farm fresh ingredients, which I really appreciate. This balm is very light weight and feels so soft and luxurious on the skin, without leaving any greasy residue on the skin. Highly recommend this if you are in the market for a new cleansing balm which will feel like a pamper routine.


Kiehl’s Since 1851 Ultra Facial Cream – 

This is hands down my favorite moisturizer. I have been using it for around a year now and it never disappoints. It sits beautifully under makeup and sinks in like a dream into my just washed face when I get out the shower. It is lightweight, hardly has any scent and is a no fuss moisturizer that delivers hydration and softness to my face. I learned my lesson the hard way and now have two back ups of this.


Since I don’t get pedicures too often during the colder months, I like to have a pamper night where I put on one of these masks and do my own nails. They are a great excuse to put your feet up and relax- you literally can’t walk around in them. They leave my feet super soft and the experience is just so relaxing.  I enjoy the lavender and almond.

Kiehl’s Since 1851 Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 

I need to have a lip balm on me at all times and this one was does the trick. It’s not at all greasy and protects my lips from cold air. I like to use this before going to bed as well.

Murad Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++ 

This is an excellent daytime moisturizer that has a good amount of SPF and also does not leave the skin greasy, sticky or with a white cast. I especially love to use this in the summer months. I love that it smells like oranges:)

SEPHORA COLLECTION Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover 

This product really surprised me. I have used drugstore and high end eye makeup removers and have found this to be comparable if not better than many high end ones I’ve used in the past. I don’t have to tug in order to remove my eye makeup and it doesn’t feel heavy at all. I will definitely be repurchasing this one.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF 15 Golden Honey 5.75

Bobbi Brown foundation has quickly become my favorite foundation for every day. I started using it during the summer and the formula is great to wear year round. This  feels like I have nothing on my skin, yet provides my skin with the most natural coverage. You have to try this foundation to understand how lightweight yet beautiful the finish is. It is a very thin consistency which immediately sinks into the skin and becomes part of it. This foundation has truly transformed my standards when it comes to face makeup. Since getting it, I have yet to reach for another foundation. Truly remarkable product that is highly underrated in my opinion.

Rosebud Perfume Co. Rosebud Salve Rosebud Salve 

I keep this lip salve on my night stand tablet and use it before going to bed. It keeps my lips hydrated throughout the night and the tin lasts forever. Ive been enjoying the rose mint scent.

OLEHENRIKSEN Transforming Walnut Scrub 

This is a new scrub for me and I’ve been using it for about a week now. I love how soft it makes my skin and the small bits of walnut are so satisfying- I know my skin is being exfoliated.

Fresh Soy Face Cleansing Milk

This has been my go to cleanser for morning and night and I absolutely love it. I’ve been using only cleansing milks instead of foaming cleansers and have seen a difference in my skin.

Buxom Full-On™ Lip Polish Dolly

This is a great gloss to wear on top of literally any lip color. I love how it gives just the right amount of shine. It does tingle a little but not enough where it bothers me especially since I wear it over my lipstick.

NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Annapurna

I had heard so many good things about this foundation and I do enjoy the matte version so I thought I would give this one a try. I really like it! The color matches my skin tone perfectly. It’s a great every day foundation and nice to alternate with my beloved Bobbi Brown.

What goodies did you pick up from the Sephora VIB sale?







the best tomato soup.

This is the best tomato soup ever. My husband has been requesting it ever since the first time I made it. This recipe was inspired by delicious tomato soup we recently had with my dear Father in law. The tomato soup there was smooth and creamy and so comforting  along with grilled cheese. I decided to make my own version, keeping it light yet flavorful with some small chunks of roasted tomatoes. I think roasting the tomatoes makes all the difference here.




  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained,  juice reserved
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced Fine Or Grated
  • 1 whole Onion, Finely Diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 32 ounces Vegetable Broth
  • 1 cup Water
  • a splash of  Heavy Cream
  •  Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley (or dried parsley)
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil (or dried basil)
  •  Croutons


Heat oven to 450°F. Lined rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut the canned tomatoes in half lengthwise and place facing up in a  single layer on the foil. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes- the liquid will have evaporated and the tomatoes will have a nice color with roasted edges by then. Let them cool slightly and set aside.

In a large pot, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat, then add onion and garlic. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir it in, cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Add roasted tomatoes with reserved juice. Stir together and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, longer if you have time. Add the mixture to a blender and carefully puree, still leaving some texture to the tomatoes. Add cream, salt, pepper, parsley, and basil, and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Serve soup hot with a few crispy homemade croutons on top and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

The croutons are a cinch to prepare- just heat up some olive oil and butter, sprinkle in some Italian seasoning- then add cubes of your favorite bread. You will know the croutons are done once they’re nice and crispy- after about 10 minutes.

Please note: Be very careful when blending the hot soup in the blender. If you cannot get your husband’s assistance like I do, please wait for the soup to cool before blending! Another option is to use an immersion blender.

What is your all time favorite soup?