Cooking Through The Rona…

Soba Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Greetings, Mystic Meows! 

It sure has been a mighty long time since I’ve written anything here, and I hope that wherever you are, and whenever you read this, that you and yours are healthy, safe, and doing as well as can be. The world sure has changed quite a bit, huh? We’ve all been going through so much emotional upheaval and strife, to put it mildly. Yet in the midst of all of this madness, there is still the need to persevere, adapt, and adjust, so that we can create our own sense of stability and certainty, at least within the safety and comfort of our homes. Even in the most desperate of circumstances, there still lies the opportunities to find our inner power through being creative and finding those therapeutic and uplifting capabilities that we may have forgotten that we possess.

Caldo de Pollo/ Spanish Style Chicken Soup

For meow, as you all know, cooking and food itself is beyond therapy for me. It is my life. My passion. My happy place. The kitchen is where I am most in my element and where I (almost 😜) always know what I’m doing without question. My chosen profession and industry has taken quite a hit throughout the course of The Rona, and I, along with my friends, family, and colleagues have had to literally redefine how we choose to identify ourselves in the culinary world. Carve a new path so to speak… (pun intended… get It? Carve??) Anymeow, this of course applies to every single one of us. Not only are Chefs like myself finding new ways to cook, but so are you, right? I mean, meows went straight to the comfort food zone and started cooking like they may never have before. And It. Is. AWESOME!!!

Spaghetti with Meatballs

Deep Dish Pizza

I’ve never seen so many meows flock to their kitchens and begin the process of attempting to try their hand at cooking and creating things they’ve never made before, in particular, baking! So much so that for a minute, like toilet paper, yeast was hard to find on store shelves, to the dismay of many of my culinary brethren… At least that’s how it was when all of this first started and we had to shelter in place. The emphasis on cooking at home and finding new, interesting, and creative ways to nourish ourselves has brought back a sense of simplicity and purity to the craft that I welcome wholeheartedly. And The Rona has forced meows to REALLY take a long hard look at their own eating habits from top to bottom because now more than ever, nourishment is key, as it always has been, to our health and well being.

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas 

 

As for meow, I’ve been keeping things rather simple in the kitchen, or as simple as it seems to me… and have found myself cooking and craving a lot of dishes that remind me of childhood. Is that happening to anyone else? Or are you being a fancy pants cooking up those hard to pronounce meals? 😛 Or trying foods you’ve always wanted to try like the Beyond Meats or switching things up from maybe eating less meat and more vegetable based and meatless meals? Have you tried gardening and growing your own fruits, veggies, and herbs? Are you crafting more? Making your own clothes, masks, soaps, etc? I WANNA KNOW! If nothing else, I hope that you meows are at least attempting to try something new and different to keep things moving forward and interesting to help keep your minds occupied and in a positive frame.

Sweet Chili Shrimp

And keep on cooking!! Take those food pics and post them! Inspire other meows to go to the store and whip up something new and tasty! Share those precious recipes, too! Your mom’s meatloaf, your dad’s killer kick ass chili, your grandma’s pie dough or cookies, salsa, pastas, rice, soups, potatoes, jams, jellies, pickled veggies, salad dressings, fried chicken, tofu, dumplings, homemade nut milks, gluten free, vegan, plant based, meat based, home based!!! Whatever it may be, share it with the world. You never know how that one little pic or recipe might make someone’s next meal a game changer. I mean, we all still gotta eat! Until our next mystic meal… Take good care of yourselves and Happy Cooking!

Cheers, hugs, and meows!

xo Nikki 🥰✨🔮💕

Follow meow on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tiktok @siknik13 and @mysticmeals

All photos are MINE!!! 🤣😛😉

Plant Based Nutrition and Skincare With Arbonne

Greetings, Mystic Meows!

I’m always fascinated and intrigued by all of the food related products out there on the market that promote wellness and self care. Let’s be honest… Some of these brands aren’t very tasty, but are really good at convincing us consumers that we “need” their products in our lives and have to incorporate them into our daily routines because they’re better for us and easier to use, or just as good and comparable to what we ingest and put into and on our bodies, and use thought provoking catch phrases and words like “Environmentally Friendly”, “Non GMO”, “Vegan” or the new high key deal maker… “Plant Based”. So I decided to start doing a bit more investigative research on this particular subject since food is how I make my living, and as a chef it’s part of my job to be as educated on the subject as possible, and found some incentive from a former co-worker who started using, selling, and promoting a wellness brand that has been around since the 60’s, long before “Going Green” was even a popular thing to say, do, and live by. Hence my introduction to the brand, Arbonne.

I first met Roslyn Aguiar several years ago while we both worked at a restaurant in Visalia, Ca. She’s such a vivacious woman with a great and bubbly personality, and we got along really well. We’ve kept in touch over the years and follow each other on social media. She first started using Arbonne not long after she got married. She and her husband being in newlywed marital bliss put on what Roslyn refers to as “happy weight” and was seeking a way to get her health and weight back on track.

A friend of hers was the regional Vice President for Arbonne and at first Roslyn thought that the products weren’t for her and honestly felt too good for it. You know… “I don’t need that stuff”. 3 1/2 years later, Roslyn had gained 30 pounds and was seeking a way to start losing weight and becoming healthier, so she decided to take the plunge and try one of their Healthy Living Kits, which is a 30 day supply of various protein powders, shakes, and detox teas to help kick start your body into better overall gut health and improve your metabolism. Roslyn was pleasantly surprised by how much she actually enjoyed the taste of the powders, drinks, and teas, and how after the first couple of weeks, she as well as her family noticed the difference in her overall appearance, and well being, as she was beginning to suffer silently from depression due to her weight gain and food intake, which led her to give Arbonne a try and see if it could help to improve things from the inside out. And for her it really did. It made a marked difference in not just her physical health, but more importantly, her mental health as well. She felt invigorated, her mood was elevated and had more incentive to partake in and enjoy the simple pleasures in every day life. A walk outside, the sunshine, engaging more fully with other people. She had gained her confidence back and she credits Arbonne for helping her get her life back to a better place than she had been living before. It was her personal journey with it and her experience that prompted her to become a consultant for the company, and share her story and belief in Arbonne and their products with as many people as possible.

It’s very easy to take for granted how much the foods we consume and the things we put on our bodies can have profound affects on our state of minds and physical fitness. Our skin is the largest organ we all have and things are very easily absorbed through it. It only takes 26 seconds to be exact. All the preservatives, sugars and other chemicals in the foods we eat truly does have influence over our health. So now more than ever, the better educated we are about what fuels our bodies and keeps our skin hydrated and healthy, the better our quality of life should end up being. Arbonne is trying to set the example and lead the way to an alternative with all natural ingredients that helps to achieve a better state of body and mind by providing products that claim to help us try to become better versions of ourselves by offering a line of wholesome goods that simply promotes the idea of wellness. Thus making us more aware of the natural ingredients and make our own comparisons as consumers. It’s crazy how many chemicals, preservatives, and by-products are in most of the every day items we use and put on our skin! We can achieve similar results without all the fillers and additives and research Arbonne’s range of supplements and skin care that are… Vegan, Plant Based, Non GMO, Not Tested On Animals, and Kosher.

I can say that although I haven’t tried it yet, I have seen how Roslyn’s appearance has changed since she started using Arbonne, and how much happier with herself she seems. Her hair is longer and more luscious than it was before, her skin is glowing, and she just looks better than she ever has! I’m waiting on my 7 day sample pack to arrive in the mail so I can see for myself what these protein powders and energy fizz drinks taste like and if there’s any difference in how I feel. Will I have more energy? Will the shakes be satisfying enough to get me through the day? We shall soon find out, dear reader… I am extremely curious. So I’ll have to update you meows in another follow up blog about my results from living a week on Arbonne. As with anything, everyone has different experiences and results when using any kind of supplement, and what works for you might not work for me and vice versa. I’m not looking for a miracle here, but I am looking for better alternatives to things such as pill vitamins and vitality boosters that I can incorporate into my already existing routine. It’s worth a shot.

If you want to learn more about Arbonne and the products they offer contact Roslyn Aguiar and follow her on Instagram so you can see for yourselves the changes the products have made for her and others. If you contact her via text or DM using the code MEOW619 (not an affiliate link, btw…) she’ll wave the $29.00 sign up fee. So check it out and see what you think! They also have make up, too! I was surprised by how many products they offer, and was also impressed. Perhaps you might find something that speaks to you and compels you to give them a go! Thank you meows for stopping by! And I’ll keep you posted about my results for sure! Until we eat again… Happy Cooking! Hey, it’s my catch phrase… Reading is brain food! 😛

Cheers, Hugs, and Meows!

xo Nikki ✨💕

Follow Mystic Meals on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Photos courtesy of renewed.roslyn and Google images

Grilled Mango Habanero Shrimp with Sweet Corn Succotash

Greetings, Mystic Meows!

Im living for all the new seasonal fruits and veggies that are finally making their appearances at the local markets! Cherries are here, but not for long, so my advice is to stock up on them and freeze them! 🍒🍒🍒But this blog isn’t about cherries. (Soon, though…) Corn is looking beautiful right now and I took advantage of a sale and grabbed a few ears.

I already had some shrimp in the freezer, half of a perfectly ripe mango, and as always, a variety of vegetables. I just love the word Succotash! It’s like something you use to cast a spell or invoke magic like speaking the words abracadabra and then seeing what happens next! 😝✨

Succotash consists of corn kernels, and shell beans, like Lima beans, for example. You can add peppers, onions, herbs, olive oil and something acidic like your favorite vinegar or citrus juice. Sugar Snap Peas were looking pretty sexy at the market so I bought some of those and love eating them raw as well as cooked. Since I was grilling the shrimp for this recipe, I decided to grill the corn as well.

I used that half a mango I mentioned, puréed it in my Nutribullet along with a quarter of a habanero pepper, a splash of sweet chili sauce, and some lime juice. I peeled, cleaned, and deveined the shrimp, marinated them in a bit of minced garlic, salt and pepper, skewered them, and grilled them off on my trusty cast iron grill, which has been my favorite new kitchen toy since buying it several months ago.

I basted the shrimp with the mango habanero sauce, which acted like a spicy, yet fruity bbq sauce. It was lovely. If the grill is hot enough, the shrimp will cook rather quickly, while still getting those glorious charred grill marks on them. The sugar from the mango sauce also helps since the natural sugars caramelize nicely with the heat from the grill.

Here’s the recipe I used for the Succotash. This made about 4 cups after adding the other vegetables. As long as you’re using corn as the base, you can add whatever the flippity flap you want to it in terms of veggies and herbs. 😛 I really like this version, though. The combo of raw and cooked vegetables provides crunchiness and flavor contrasts, and is quite healthy on its own since it’s fairly simple and the flavors are clean and pure. It makes a great side dish, is picnic friendly, or you can enjoy it as a salad topper like I did here. 😉✨

Sweet Corn Succotash

2 ears of corn, shucked, cleaned and washed

2 pieces of green onion, sliced thin

1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, washed and sliced in half

1 cup of sliced sugar snap peas

1/2 cup of red bell pepper, small dice

1/4 cup of chopped parsley

1/2 cup of olive oil

The juice from half a lime

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut the corn cobs in half, and grill the ears until they’re nice and marked all around. If you don’t have a cast iron grill at home, just carefully cut the kernels off of the cobs and sauté in a pan with a bit of oil over high heat to quickly cook the kernels and pan toast them, making sure they get some color, but being careful not to burn them. Set aside to cool down a bit. If grilling, once they’re charred a bit and marked, cut the kernels off and again, set aside.

2. In a large bowl, add the tomatoes, green onions, sugar snap peas, red bell peppers, parsley and the corn, and mix together well. Add the olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper, stir and adjust the seasoning. Leave covered at room temp for about 10 minutes. The tomatoes will begin to macerate and create a nice vinaigrette with the olive oil and lime juice, so it’s important to taste it again before serving.

I served the shrimp and the Succotash over some baby lettuces and it was really nice, light, and satisfying. Since I left the lettuce leaves whole, I wound up making little lettuce wraps with the shrimp and corn. It just kind of morphed into a different way of eating it, and I loved every bite!

And there you have it, dear reader! Another mystic meal to be enjoyed again and again over the coming months, and as I said, you can change it up by using whatever you see on your shopping travels. Green beans, heirloom tomatoes, basil… it’s up to you! Have fun with it! Until we eat again… Happy cooking!

Xo, Nikki 💕✨🌽🍤🌶

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CBD Infused Foods

Greetings, Mystic Meows!

Chefs all over the world predicted that in 2019 one of the biggest food trends we would see is the incorporation of CBD in pretty much everything edible. From drinks to pet food, chips to chocolate, chefs are seeing unique opportunities for new cuisine and experimental dining options by the inclusion and infusion of cannibis and CBD oil. Just take a look at what a company called Cannabinoid Creations is doing with CBD infusion.

What exactly is CBD? CannaBiDiol is a compound found in the resin of the cannibis flower, and has a rich medicinal history going back for a long time. As in, thousands of years. Unlike the THC compound, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you “high”, so it’s not going to alter your state of mind upon consumption.

However, CBD research indicates that the changes it causes the body might be beneficial. I’ll link a couple of places where you can learn more about it. So far it’s research has shown that it might relieve pain, depression, anxiety, causes of acne, and alleviate certain cancer symptoms.

CBD Benefits

CBD and the FDA

As far as consumption, there’s a variety of ways in which food is being used to entice us into trying CBD products in the latest health food vitamin, chocolate confection, infused coffee, and treats for our pets. Even fast food chains are jumping on the CBD bandwagon. Carl’s Jr., a West coast fast food chain known as Hardy’s on the East coast, recently announced that it is debuting the Rocky Mountain High Cheeseburger infused with CBD on 4/20. You need to be 18yrs or older to purchase it, of course… But the variety of ways that CBD will be making its way into everything you can think of will be intriguing to see and taste.

It’s an interesting and controversial subject considering that no one can say for sure how beneficial CBD really is for us, but as a chef I can totally see the appeal to incorporating it into recipes as these days it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep consumers engaged and interested in following food trends that aren’t embracing a plant based, sustainable, zero waste mentality. CBD would fall into plant based, I suppose.

I’m looking forward to seeing how creative and inventive chefs and other companies are going to be with it all and what changes people will feel if consuming CBD on the regular. Time will tell! Until next time dear reader… Happy Cooking and Happy Eating!

Cheers, hugs, and meows!

Xo Nikki 💖✨

Follow Mystic Meals on Instagram!!

Photos courtesy of Carl’s Jr., and Google images 😉

‘‘Tis the season!

Season’s Greetings, dear meows!

Wow! I can’t believe it’s December already! Where did the year go? One more month and then on to 2018! I don’t know about you meows, but 2017 was quite an interesting year for me. Lots of ups and downs, unexpected surprises, a lot of hard work and sacrifice, and a whole bunch of memories! Speaking of memories…

The holiday season is where eating, cooking, and food in general take center stage, at least for me 😉 This year for Thanksgiving, the roasted Turkey I made turned out exceptionally good. Literally picture perfect. See? 😉 ( pat’s self on the back… )

My secret? I dry brined the bird. It’s a great way to impart maximum flavor and ensuring crispy browned skin, while keeping the meat tender and juicy! Here’s a simple and easy dry brine rub that works wonders on Chicken & Turkey! For me, roasting low and slow, then turning up the oven temp towards the end really helps with the end results…

Dry Salt Brine Rub :

3 tablespoons kosher salt 

1 1/2 teaspoons dried herbs, such as thyme, sage, and rosemary, or blend

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (14- to 16-pound) thawed whole turkey (not kosher or pre-salted)

The reason for not using a kosher bird is that they typically have a salted solution added to them. Try to find a bird that has no pre seasoning or solutions injected into it. Use half the amount of rub if you’re using a whole chicken instead of a turkey. Pat your bird dry before adding the rub. They key here is get the dry rub under the skin as best as you can, and using the rest all over the outside of the bird. Then let it rest in the fridge, uncovered for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days max. The process of osmosis will draw out the natural juices from the bird, and then miraculously the meat then reabsorbs them, basically seasoning itself from the outside in. So worth it!

This year for Christmas, I’m not sure what I’m going to make. I’m leaning towards cooking some of the ethnic dishes Colombians and Puerto Rican’s typically prepare around this time of year. Pernil, which is roasted pork shoulder, is always a crowd pleaser and perfect for feeding a ton of meows.

Accompanied by yellow saffron rice, beans, salad and a creamy flan for dessert? Yes, meow! I haven’t made a flan in a while and I hope I haven’t lost my touch!

What are some of your favorite Christmas foods to make? I’ll be back here soon with some more recipes that’ll be great for holidays and beyond! But before I go… Lest we forget to make a yummy cocktail for toasting to the season! I found this one on Pinterest and I’m definitely gonna make a batch of these!

Pomegranate Mules

2oz. Vodka

1oz. pomegranate juice

1 Tbls. pomegranate seeds

1 Tbls. lime juice

1 tsp. honey

1/2 cup ice

Ginger beer or ginger ale

sprig of rosemary

In a cocktail glass, stir together the vodka, pomegranate juice, seeds, lime juice, honey and ice. Top off with the ginger beer and add a sprig of rosemary to garnish.

Thank you meows for being here and I hope to hear from you! Happy Holidays and Happy Cooking!

Cheers, hugs & meows! Nikki 💖✨😻

Photo credits by Jay Luna, Google images, Micha Morton and Pinterest 😉

French Onion Soup! 

Do you ever just get stumped on what to cook for yourself or your family? As a Chef, there are times when I can be really whimsical and creative in my own home kitchen. But when you have a picky 2 1/2 year old it gets a little crazy sometimes to think up meals that they’ll eat. To be honest though, sometimes it’s easier feeding my daughter than it is to feed myself!

I suppose it’s because of the repetitive aspect. The food rut. That’s where we tend to make and eat the same foods on a loop, over and over again because it’s either quick, easy, doesn’t require too much thought, or all of the above. We all need some inspiration to help motivate us, right?

Well here in SoCal where I live, the weather’s starting to go through “the change”. 😛 Meaning that the temperature’s starting to get a little colder. Out of nowhere I had this wicked craving to make French Onion Soup. Does that ever happen to you? You start craving something all friggin’ day long and you just have to have it or make it? So, that’s exactly what I did.

I started by slicing up 4 medium sized onions. 2 yellow and 2 red. That just happened to be what I had on hand, but you can use whatever combo of onions you like, including shallots, scallions, etc. They all have a delicious flavor profile that will add to the end result of your soup if you decide to make some for yourself.

Then I added about 1/4 cup of olive oil to my cooking pot ( at medium heat) and added in the sliced onions to begin caramelizing them and cook them down. My goal here is to brown the onions and release their natural sugars without burning them. This, for me, took about 25 minutes.

Once my onions were nice and sexy, I added 3 cloves of crushed garlic, thyme, ( fresh or dried) 3 cups of beef stock (I just happened to have some) and 3 cups of water, salt and pepper. That was it. I let that cook on a medium low flame for about 1 1/2 hours, reducing the broth by at least a third to help concentrate those flavors. I found myself adding more salt and about 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar to help balance that savory sweet taste I was looking for.


Of course you can also use chicken stock, vegetable stock, or plain water to make this soup. Just adjust the seasonings to your liking. This recipe is by no means a traditional version of French Onion Soup, just my way of making it, especially when you have to make changes based on what you have in your fridge or cupboard.

However, another key element to this soup is cheese and croutons! When you order this at a restaurant it typically comes garnished with a crouton completely covered in thick, melted, glorious, golden brown bubbly broiled Gruyere or Comte cheese! Well… I didn’t have any of that 😏 I did have some Swiss, Mozzarella, and some good old fashioned white bread! So I fired up the oven to 350 degrees, put my bread on a sheet pan, added the cheeses and let them get nice and toasty for about 20 minutes.

Then I ladled my soup into a bowl, cut up the croutons into bite sized pieces and placed them right on top of the soup. Man oh MAN was this a delicious meal! Granted, it wasn’t exactly what I would make in a restaurant setting or even be served as a diner, but that’s not the point. I was able to achieve the flavors and textures I was looking for simply by working with what I had, and not letting the lack of certain other ingredients prevent me from making the soup anyways.


I think that’s what happens to us in our kitchens as well… We’ll look around and go, I don’t have this, or I only have 3 of the 5 things I need to make it, and then we end up making something else instead of just giving it a go and thinking outside the box. Cooking requires a lot of compromise and last minute changes, and it’s in those moments that we create something really unexpected. One of the most important things to do when cooking is to keep it simple. Simplicity.

And of course, cook with lots of love. From the heart. ❤️ I was really happy with the way the soup came out and was glad that I decided to make it! I hope this helps inspire you to get in your kitchen and make a soup, or even order a bowl of French Onion next time you go out to eat and it’s on the menu. Thanks a lot for hanging with me! Cheers, hugs & meows!
Nikki Meow

Top photo courtesy of Google 😉

Hot Sssauce is Top Boss, Baby!

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They say some like it hot. Although I don’t take my love of spicy food to the atomic level, I do like a nice kick to certain things from time to time. For example… I love a Gyro or Philly Cheesesteak with Tabasco. I also love me some Frank’s Red Hot on a chicken sandwich or of course, buffalo chicken wings! And then there’s Sriracha to drizzle over some noodles or add the perfect amount of spice when I make my own peanut sauce. And Sambal, and Chipotle, and Cholula, and Green Chili and… Ok. You get my drift, right? There’s a whole world of yummy hot sauce’s out there and they all bring both flavor and heat to the table.
Now my boyfriend Jay takes his love of spice to a whole other level. He’ll eat raw spicy chili’s like Jalapeño’s, Serrano’s, Hot Italian Peppers, Red Chili’s and STILL add more hot sauce on top of that with pretty much every meal. As far as he’s concerned, the hotter the better! What is it about eating spicy food that’s so appealing? I mean, it’s almost punishing if the heat keeps building up as you go, yet it also gives you a sort of rush, doesn’t it?
Here’s a few tid bits I’ve learned along my spicy culinary journey…

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Peppers are members of the Nightshade family and are related to Eggplants and Tomatoes, and although we eat them as a vegetable, technically they’re a fruit. We do that with a lot of produce, don’t we? It’s all in the mind… 😉
Capsaicin is the main bio active compound which provides their unique hot taste and other health benefits. Chili peppers are full of vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin C, which helps support your immune system, and is an antioxidant, Vitamin B6 helps to boost your energy and metabolism, Vitamin K1 is important for healthy bones and kidneys, Vitamin A, which starts out as beta carotene in the chilis, Copper, another antioxidant important for strong bones and healthy neurons, and Potassium, which is a mineral that serves a variety of purposes to the body and may help in preventing heart disease.

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Capsaicin also helps to promote weight loss by giving your metabolism a boost. By the way… If you over indulge while eating something spicy, drinking water won’t cool your mouth down. Capsaicin is lipid soluble, so drinking milk, eating rice or even bread helps to break up the heat.
Capsaicin also has this crazy reputation for relieving certain kinds of pain and is even used in topical creams to rub on particular types of wounds and to alleviate Arthritis! How cool is that? Now I’m not saying to start scarfing down raw chilis or taking shot glasses full of hot sauce as a chaser ( although I’m sure we all know someone who would… 😝) but incorporating some spice to your food life might not be such a bad idea.

Make a spicy pico de gallo, or add some sliced Jalapeño’s to your next bowl of soup or chili. Add some to your eggs. Buy some hot sauces to try out and start sprinkling some on your pasta, rice, steak, fish, you name it. Why not? Just remember not to touch your face, eyes and um… other places without washing your hands thoroughly or you’ll be in for quite a spicy, burning surprise!

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It’s the oils from the chili peppers that sticks to our skin. Dish soap actually works really well at getting rid of hot pepper hands 😉
Well meows… I hope this little blog inspires you to be adventurous and gets your mouth watering for something spicy and delicious. I’d love to hear about what some of your favorite hot sauces and spicy dishes are! Thanks for hanging with me 💖 Cheers, hugs & meows!

Nikki Meow

Disclaimer : Some photos courtesy of Google 😊

Mystic Beauty

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Some of My Favorite Eyeshadow Palettes

Ok… I know this isn’t food related, but over the past few years I’ve really become somewhat hooked on the art of applying makeup. From time to time I’ll be writing about my obsession with beauty and skincare because it’s one of the things I absolutely love, aside from cooking.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my skin was super hyper sensitive to EVERYTHING. I mean, I couldn’t put so much as a lip balm on my lips without breaking out. If I put any makeup on at all, my skin would break out in rashes or acne. I chalked it up to my hormones going haywire cause I was knocked up! 😛
I was sooooo bummed out that I couldn’t wear makeup for not only the duration of my pregnancy, but for a few months after that as well. Took quite a while for my skin to get back to normal. Then low and behold I found out I was getting a free voxbox from Influenster. It’s a subscription service that sends you survey’s and qualifies you for FREE boxes of products to try out, as long as you agree to write reviews about it on all your social media platforms. But we’ll get into beauty and other subscription boxes down the road. 😉
The box I received was a Mary Kay beauty box and this thing was chock full of makeup. Mascara, eyeshadow, lip cream, blush, brushes… Everything I needed to help kickstart my new and improved beauty regime. I think that everyone should make sure that they take time out in their daily life to do something that is what most folks call “me time” or “you time”… Whatever you want to call it, I think you know what I mean. Makeup was my way of making sure that I always did something that made me feel good about ME. When I apply my makeup it’s because I like doing it and it makes me happy.
Since then, I’ve grown quite the collection of makeup and skin care related items. So much so that I have put myself on a “no buy” for makeup because I literally have more makeup than I could realistically use! Unless it’s something unique and I don’t have something similar already in my collection, if I don’t need it, I’m not gonna buy it!
K. Enough rambling. Let’s get to the point already, which is talking about some of my favorite shadow palettes! Now keep in mind that these are just a few of the ones I really enjoy using, and I love all of my makeup, child! Here we go…

The Balm- In The Balm of Your Hand Vol.1

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I think this was sold exclusively at Kohl’s because I haven’t seen this puppy anyplace else. I absolutely enjoy this palette for many reasons. It’s a literal greatest hits from most of their product line. Hot Mama, Instain in Argyle, and Cabana Boy. All 3 are shadow/blushes. 1 Bahama Mama bronzer, 2 Shady Lady shadows in Insane Jane and Mischevious Marissa, 1 Nude’tude shadow in Sexy, 1 Balm Jovi shadow in Lead Zeppelin, 1 Mary Lou-Manizer highlight, How ‘Bout Them Apples Cheek & Lip Cream in Caramel and The Balm Girls lipstick in Mia Moore.

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I mean this is the perfect all in one pallete! And I love The Balm’s packaging. Rocking that 50’s early 60’s retro vibe. The quality of their products are great with high pigmentation, easy to blend, minimal fallout and long wearing. If you see this one, I highly recommend grabbing one. Also makes a great gift. I think I payed $39.00, which I felt was a great value considering everything you get in the pallete. I reeeeeaaaallly hope they come out with a Vol. 2. I will break my no buy rule if that one hits the market! Umkay… Moving on to…

L’Oreal La Palette Nude 2

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At first glance I wasn’t that impressed with this one. However there was something about it that kept drawing me to it. I’m really glad I purchased it because it’s become one of my go to palettes. It has 6 matte shades, and 4 shimmer/satin shades.

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It’s plummy brown shade range I find to be really versatile and I can create multiple looks from this one palette, which makes it great for travel. It has nice buildable color payoff, minimal fallout, blends out well and I also like the duel ended application tool it comes with. It has a sponge tip on one side and a small synthetic blending brush on the other that works rather nicely. I think at the time I purchased this it was $9.99 although I think the price is slightly higher now. Still, I think it’s worth picking up if you’re looking for another all in one shadow pallete. Minus any lip products and blushes 😉
And last but not least…

Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette

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It seems like everyone and their mother already owns this thing. I know I certainly was late to the party on this baby 😛 But boy howdy do I LOVE this one! Aside from the fact that all of the shadows smell like chocolate, which is awesome and not too overwhelming if you have a thing against scented products, but it’s got so much to offer. It has 16 shadows that go from mattes to shimmers, pinks, plums, browns, and highlight shades.

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It’s a gorgeous palette and the formula is top notch. With colors to compliment any skin tone, if you don’t ever purchase another palette in your life, you will not be disappointed with this one. It’s also the priciest on this list retailing for $49.00, but again, it’s worth it. I’ve had mine for over a year and have yet to hit pan on anything… Yet!

I hope you enjoyed this little foray into some of my personal eyeshadow faves. I’d love to hear about what kinds of shadows that you favor to wear everyday! I’ll be writing more about my beauty collection in the near future. Thanks for hanging with me! Cheers, hugs & meows!

Nikki Meow

Honey, Hunny, Huhhneee!

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Honey, Hunny, Huhneee!

We absolutely LOVE honey in our house. We’re almost never without it in our cupboard and our daughter, Nia asks for it by saying “huhhhhneeee!” 😋 Just like my little girl, my own fascination with honey began when I was a child learning how to read. One of my favorite books from my childhood was Winnie the Pooh. I enjoyed looking at the illustrations and got a kick out of some of the shenanigans he would get himself into for his favorite food… “Hunny” 😉
I’ve tried all kinds of honey on my culinary travels and some are far better than others. I find myself purchasing organic honey or straight from the beekeeper at my local farmers market. Wildflower, Orange Blossom, Clover, Tupelo… They all have very distinct colors and flavors. It’s kind of difficult to back peddle into buying and consuming anything less than top shelf golden goodness. Organic raw honey just tastes far superior to most of the store brands that I grew up with.
Most brands of honey are mixed and contain corn syrup or other liquid sweeteners and lose a lot of their nutritional value in the heating process of factory bottling. image Although the price may be a bit higher, I’m willing to dish out the extra bucks for better taste and quality of organic or farmers market honey. Especially since, in my household, we use it for more than just sweetening our oatmeal or tea. Honey has a vast array of uses and has a buttload of health benefits.
The use of honey goes waaaaay back. Like 2,500 years and has been used by so many different cultures for its medicinal qualities as well as it being pretty damn tasty! Here’s a small list of some of it’s various uses and health benefits…

Weight Loss: When honey is consumed with warm water, it helps to digest the fat stored in your body.

Vitamins and Minerals: Honey contains Calcium, Vitamin C, and Iron

Skin Care: There’s a reason that milk and honey are often served together. They both help in maintaining smooth, beautiful skin. Add enough honey to taste in either warm or cold milk. You can also sprinkle a few drops of vanilla extract or even better, half of a fresh vanilla bean for added flavor!

Sleep: Honey helps to trigger melatonin and regulate stress levels in the body, allowing us to just simply relax and achieve REM sleep.

There are like a gazillion other uses and benefits to consuming raw organic honey! It’s crazy how great this stuff is for our bodies and can be substituted for white sugar in almost every recipe. The general rule of thumb for doing this is to reduce the amount in 1/4 cup intervals. So if your recipe calls for 1 cup of white sugar, you can use 1/2 to 2/3rds cup of honey.
Honey also makes killer sauces and marinades. Try making your own honey mustard sauce, or a salad dressing with your favorite vinegar or fresh lemon juice and oil. Honey is so versatile and it’s culinary uses are up to you!
So the next time you’re out shopping or even better, at a farmers market, check out the honey booth and ask for some samples. Even if you don’t end up buying anything, at least you’ll have had your honey fix for the day. I hope this encourages you to get your honey on with your hunny, and be creative with how you use your huhhhhneeee! Cheers, hugs & meows!
Nikki Meow