Cha’s Empanadas

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One of my favorite things to cook (and eat) are empanadas. They’re honestly super easy to make even though there are many steps to it. I may sound biased but Caribbean empanadas are my absolute favorite. South American empanadas are slightly different, but still tasty. They use a corn flour dough and are baked. In the Caribbean, we fry everything!

Empanadas can be an appetizer or great finger food if you’re hosting a party.  They can also be stuffed with pretty much anything. Puerto Ricans usually fill them with beef, chicken, shrimp or cheese. Some fill them with a slice of boiled egg as well, but of course that’s optional.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of ground beef (or any ground meat you prefer)
  • 1 pack of Goya discs
  • 1/2 envelope of Goya Sazon
  • 2 table spoons of Goya Recaito
  • Adobo, salt and pepper to taste
  • Cheese and/or a boiled egg (optional)

Seasoning the meat should be first. In a pan over medium heat, let the recaito cook for about 2 minutes and let it cover the entire pan. Add the meat, sazon, adobo, salt and pepper and let the meat fully cook.

When the meat is done cooking, you’re ready to make the empanadas! Starting off with one disc, you can fit about 2 tablespoons of ground meat on to the disc. If you decide to add an egg or cheese, you will put it on top of your meat. For this post, I used boiled eggs.

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Next, you’ll fold over the disc in half and press down the edges and seal it with a fork.

 

Once this step is all done, heat up a frying pan with oil and begin frying the empanadas until they are golden brown on each side. Drain the oil out by placing the cooked empanadas on plate with a paper towel. When all are done, the only thing left to do is eat and enjoy!

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Wash Day: Makeup Brushes Edition

DSCN1539Just like my hair, my makeup brushes have a wash day. I wash my brushes once a week, but if I’m feeling lazy, I can stretch wash day for 2 weeks. But I do not recommend doing that! Washing your makeup brushes is a tedious and time consuming task but it has to get done for flawless application. So, put on some music or listen to a podcast and let’s get to work!

Why do we need to clean our makeup brushes anyway? Aside from poor makeup application, when you don’t wash your brushes, you are contributing to bacteria build up. You’re hoarding all the eyeshadow, foundation, concealer, etc., in your makeup brushes. Dirt, oil and dust can be found in them too, which can and will lead to breakouts and irritable skin. AND… If you happen to share makeup brushes, whether it be with your sister, mother or roommate, you are now making yourself prone to viral infections. If you are going to share makeup brushes, please, please, please, be careful! Taking care of your brushes will increase their lifespan and each fiber on each brush will surely thank you!

There are many cleaners out there made specifically for make-up brushes. I’ve tried a couple of them but haven’t found one that I really loved. I happened to be talking with a freelancer at Sephora and she told me she washed her brushes with baby shampoo. My initial reaction was, “Baby shampoo?!”. But then it really all made sense in my head. There are no parabens, no alcohol and if this stuff is safe to use on babies, it sure is safe to wash my makeup brushes. There is sulfate in it, but that’s totally fine since we need to clean all that makeup build up.

A bottle of baby shampoo would last me about 6-8 washes and leaves the hairs of my brushes feeling super soft and looking good as new. Since using baby shampoo, I find that my brushes last longer throughout the week. In addition to using baby shampoo, I also use a brush cleansing palette by Real Techniques. It has textured surfaces to clean in between brush bristles for a deep cleaning. The surfaces on the palette are made to thoroughly clean small, medium and large brushes. I purchased my palette at FaceValues for $14.99 and it can be found anywhere Real Techniques is sold.

Cleaning time:

If you have any beautyblenders or makeup sponges, run them under water and scrub the shampoo into it. Keep adding shampoo if needed and squeeze it underneath running water to ensure that all the makeup and shampoo suds are out of there. Do not use the cleansing palette for your beautyblenders, as this can ruin them.

For brushes, rinse them under luke warm water first, then add a drop of baby shampoo to your brush cleansing palette. Repeatedly, make circular motions on the palette using the textured surfaces according to your brush size. Squeeze out all the suds and excess water. If you see the water coming out of your brush is not clear, keep scrubbing until it is! Once all your brushes are clean, lay them flat to air dry on a towel overnight and when you wake up, your brushes will be all dry and ready to go!

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What’s your method to washing your makeup brushes? Share in the comments below!

3 Ingredient Cookies

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Up until recently, I’ve been trying to maintain a healthy diet. Keyword: trying. Not going to lie, I could eat like there’s no tomorrow. But I also know that summer is right around the corner and losing weight starts in the kitchen.

If I had to pick one snack to eat for the rest of my life, it would be cookies. Oreo cookies,  wafer cookies, chocolate chip cookies, rainbow cookies, sprinkle cookies, Italian cookies… You name it, I eat it. But I had to find a replacement for all those unhealthy cookies and tried to make a healthy cookie that can be my everyday snack. Once I found something easy and tasty, I wanted to share it with you. So, here it is!

This is a recipe for a 3-ingredient cookie that will take you no longer than 30 minutes to make from scratch. Not only that, but you won’t feel as guilty eating it! If you’ve ever had banana bread, this cookie tastes just like it! My favorite way to eat it is if its warmed up, but you can have it cold too. I like to take some cookies with me to work and enjoy it with my midday cup of coffee.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 Bananas
  • 1 cup of Oatmeal
  • Raisins

First, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and then you’re going to start by mushing the bananas until they have about the same consistency as baby food. I started with a spoon and later on used a fork to break down the smaller banana pieces. Next, add your one cup of oatmeal. I use cinnamon flavored oatmeal and add just a little extra cinnamon for flavor. You can use any oatmeal flavor you’d like for this recipe. Last, but not least, add just a little less than a handful of raisins. I know not everyone is a fan of raisins, so you can always replace it with walnuts or chocolate chips!

Scoop your cookie dough out with a spoon and shape them into semi-flat circles. Place them on to a cookie sheet or a pan layered with butter or cooking spray and pop them into the oven for 15 minutes. Take them out of the oven and let them cool off completely. Once they’re cooled, enjoy!

 

What are some of your favorite healthy snacks? I love to try out new recipes. Leave them in the comments below!

Coconut Oil 3 Ways

Coconut oil has definitely earned its right to be called a superfood. When I first heard about all these things you can do with coconut oil, I thought it was all lies. But after trying out a couple of these things for myself, I must say – BELIEVE THE HYPE! Coconut oil might be the healthiest thing you can have in your kitchen and it has multiple uses for your skin and body.

Before we get into it, lets talk about the benefits. First and foremost, the best kind of coconut oil you can get is organic and unrefined. This is the purest form and has the highest antioxidant levels. Organic and unrefined coconut oil is extracted from fresh coconuts, while protecting all its beneficial properties.  Coconut oil is considered a healthy fat and can be consumed to improve cholesterol. When used on the skin, it helps cracked or flaky skin heal faster and can help soothe psoriasis and eczema.

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Here’s a picture of the coconut oil that I use. I found it at Face Values for $9.99.

Make-Up Remover

Aside from make-up wipes, if I’m feeling extra oily one day or I just have way too much make-up on, coconut oil will definitely help me take off any hard to remove make-up. I simply scoop out about a quarter hand full of coconut oil from my jar and begin rubbing it on my face and the oil with break down all of my make-up. Then to clean off the oil, I take a warm, damp wash cloth and wipe everything off.

If you’re anything like me, you have oily skin. My skin will produce oil like there’s no tomorrow. Here’s the thing: when there is no oil on your face, your skin will think it needs to produce oil. However, you can manipulate your skin by rubbing coconut oil on your oiliest areas. Then your skin will say, “Woah. There’s too much oil here. Let me stop for a bit.” Good oil will take away bad oil. Makes sense? Great!

Hair Moisturizer

I once had a manager that was Indian and she would always talk to me about Indian hair. She told me when she was a young girl, every Sunday her mother would rub coconut oil into her and her sister’s hair and that’s how, she said, her hair was so long and shiny. After encouraging me to do try it, I of course did. Obviously, my hair didn’t miraculously grow to the ground, but I did notice more shine and less frizz. Coconut oil will give you shiny, frizz free, moisturized hair. But don’t for get that scalp your hair comes from! When you massage coconut oil into your scalp, you are opening up your hair follicles to promote hair growth.

I found that when I heat the coconut oil in the microwave for about a minute before putting it in my hair, I get the best results. Section your hair in half and start from tip to root. I encourage you to start from the tip because this is where your hair is the driest and when you get to the root, massage your scalp. Then usually I leave it in for an hour, or if I have nothing planned that day, I leave it in the whole day. Make sure to wash out all the oil from your hair. We don’t want oily skin OR oily hair.

Cooking Oil

Yes, it’s true. You can cook with coconut oil. As I said before, coconut oil is filled with tons of antioxidants and healthy fats. So why wouldn’t you want to cook with this superfood? My favorite thing to eat when cooking with coconut oil is a fried egg. Simple and easy, right? Typically, I would use an entire tablespoon of butter just to cook one egg but with coconut oil, all you need is a teaspoon. Let the oil dissolve in the heat and cook your eggs how you normally would.

Protein Packed Hair Masque

Over the years, I have slowly grown to love my natural curls. It took a lot of TLC to get my curls to where they are today, but I want them to be better! Last summer, I did a no heat challenge for 3 months and I noticed that my curls were getting tighter and best of all, I was finally seeing some growth. However, once I started straightening my hair again, (maybe only 5 times the past year), I really neglected my hair’s health.

After much research, I finally found an all natural restoration hair masque that works great for my hair! This is a protein packed hair masque, so you should only use this if your hair is super dry, brittle and if you experience a lot of breakage. Too much protein in your hair can cause your hair to seem limp and straw-like.

Here’s the ingredients you need for this protein packed hair masque and the benefits of each:

  • 1 Avocado: Rich source of proteins, amino acids and vitamins and helps soothe the scalp
  • 1 Egg: The best source of protein for your hair and helps prevent hair loss
  • 1 Banana: Contains a great amount of potassium that helps soften the hair, prevents split ends and breakage
  • Coconut oil: Adds moisture, healthy fats with protein and antioxidants that deep conditions, heal and promotes hair growth
  • Castor oil: Carries Omega-6 which accelerates blood circulation in the scalp resulting in hair growth
  • Honey: Helps regulate and retain moisture

I start by whisking my egg in a bowl and smashing the banana so that it has a mushy consistency. I find that doing this to the banana helps it mix better into the masque. I combine the egg, banana and avocado into a blender and use the ‘Puree’ function and let the blender do its thing for about 45 seconds. Next, I’ll add the coconut oil, castor oil and honey into the blender. I didn’t put any measurements because it truly depends on what you feel your hair needs. This time, I use ‘Liquefy’ until everything is smoothed out.

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This is how the masque should once it comes out the blender

The actual application may be a little messy, so I suggest using an old t-shirt. Part your hair however you’d like, (I usually part in fours) and begin with the section where you feel needs the most care. Apply the masque from tip to root and once you get to the root, massage the section to stimulate your hair follicles. Once the masque is in your hair, leave it in for an hour and be sure to thoroughly wash your hair, then style as usual.

After using this masque, I noticed how much softer my hair became, the definition of my curls and how they appeared to be less frizzy. I’ve been using this masque about every 4-6 weeks and I know it’s going to take me a while to get my hair where I want it to be but regardless, I have been loving the results so far. I hope this masque works out for you too!

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Before Masque
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After Masque

Soft Skin is Always In!

I’ve recently took a Spring Break trip to the beautiful South Beach, Florida. While it was about 40 something degrees up north in New York City, I was having fun in the sun. Unfortunately, the heat and the sun dried up my skin by the time I made it back to NYC. So, I wanted to share with you how I used African Black Soap products to restore my skin back to greatness!

First off, if I’m wearing a full face of make up, I like to make sure that I’m removing ALL of it. I use Neutrogena make up remover wipes to take off my make up after a long day but I always feel like it never cleans beneath the surface. So to get a deeper clean feeling, I use Garnier SkinActive’s All-in-1 Micellar Cleansing Water, which not only cleans the make up that was left behind, but it takes away dirt and oil on my face, leaving my pores feeling refreshed!

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Something else that became part of my skin routine is Shea Moisture’s African Black Soap Acne Prone Face & Body Bar with Shea Butter. This soap has really helped control the oil in my T-zone and the clinical acne I used to have on my forehead. I rub the soap over my face in circular motions about 3-4 times week and rinse it with cool water.

For a mask, I absolutely love Shea Moisture’s African Black Soap Facial Mask with Tamarind Extract and Tea Tree Oil. This mask hydrates my skin and again, controls the excess oil in my T-zone. And even though the packaging doesn’t say it, I really feel like it helps lighten my dark under eyes. I use this mask only once a week and I apply it with a flat foundation brush. I leave it on for 15 minutes before I rinse it off with cold water.

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And of course, last but not least, moisturize with your favorite moisturizer. At the moment, mine is Ahava’s Time to Hydrate Night Replenisher. This lotion is on the pricier side at $51, but for a drug store brand, my favorite is Cetaphil’s Moisturizing Lotion.

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Black soap is a gentle cleanser and is commonly used by people that suffer from rashes, dryness and other skin conditions. Here are some of the great benefits of African Black Soap:

  • Improves skin tone
  • Helps heal problem skin
  • Reduces inflammation and skin irritations
  • Improves skin tone
  • Acts as a deep cleanser

There are many other uses for African Black Soap. What do you use it for and how has it improved your skin? Share in the comments below.

ipsy’s Glam Bag!

Since I’ve taken an interest in the beauty industry, I am always eager to try out new products. However, there is usually a trial and error process when you’re trying to find a product that you love and works for you. In the beginning of 2017, I signed up for ipsy to receive 5 beauty sample every month and honestly, why didn’t I sign up years ago? For only $10 a month, ipsy will send you a glam bag filled with 5 beauty samples whether it’s skin care, cosmetics or beauty tools. When you first sign up, you’re asked to take a beauty quiz so that your monthly glam bags are customized for you.

This month, my glam bag was pure perfection. I always know immediately when I see a metallic fuschia packaged envelope in my mailbox that my glam bag has been delivered. For the month of March, I received the Affinitic Snail Cream by Ladykin, Eyebrow Highlighter Pencil in Ivory by Chella, Freematic Eyeshadow in Marisa by Doucce, tartiest quick dry matte lip paint by tarte cosmetics and my favorite product in my glam bag, the Luxe Pro Blending Brush by Skone Cosmetics. I loved this glam bag mainly because these were products that I’ve heard of before, but never got the chance to buy.

I would definitely recommend ipsy, especially if you’re still trying to find what beauty products you like and don’t like. It’s super easy to sign up and it is definitely budget friendly. There are also many other perks to your membership with ipsy like earning points towards bonus products and tutorials of the products in your glam bag. You can check it out for yourself on ipsy.com.

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My ipsy Glam Bag for March!