Squash, Pumpkin & Chile Thai Soup

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I had squash and hot red chiles in my fridge and my Aunt grew these amazing plum tomatoes in her garden. I added some pantry staples to create an easy weeknight meal filled with spicy/sweet flavors. Crispy, toasted ciabatta bread on the side is optional but absolutely perfect.

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You’ll Need:
1 butternut squash, roasted and diced
Thai coconut milk, 8 oz
Vegetable stock, 4C
Thai red curry, 1T
Pumpkin puree, 8 oz
2 red chiles, diced
Salt & Pepper, dash
4 plum tomatoes, diced

MAKE IT:
In a large pot, combine all ingredients except for tomatoes. Simmer over medium high heat for 30 minutes.

Puree using an immersion blender.

Place diced tomatoes in a bowl. Ladle the soup on top. Garnish with fresh parsley.

I ate a few servings of this but it’s all good because each ingredient is loaded with nutrition! If your family doesn’t exactly like the spice/heat omit the chile peppers and replace with roasted red peppers.

Jerk Chicken with Citrus Salad

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I make this when I’m real lazy and seconds from ordering pizza delivery. Fool-proof and under $10 for dinner. If you’re really hungry, serve with brown rice or couscous.

You’ll Need:
1 pkg chicken thighs (bone-in has more flavor…boneless, skinless = easier to eat…pick your preference)
Jerk Seasoning
Salt & Pepper
1 huge grapefruit, segmented
2 oranges, segmented
1/2 a red onion, sliced into strips
1/4C fresh parsley, rough chopped

MAKE IT:
Preheat oven to 400*F. Season chicken with salt, pepper and generous sprinkle of your favorite Jerk Seasoning. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil. Bake 20 mins.

In a bowl combine oranges, grapefruit, red onion and parsley. Let the flavors marinate while your chicken cooks. I just love the combo of red onion + citrus. Diced finely into cubes, this also makes a good salsa.

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Serve the finished chicken alongside the salad, grab a big glass of wine and relax…you barely cooked! ;-)

Buff Her Skin Exfoliators

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Strawberry Parfait, Banana Bread Pudding, Vanilla Bean Latte. Sounds like I’m making some high-calorie desserts. The deliciousness that you see above…is actually for your skin! Exfoliators, typically harsh and loaded with chemicals, are the complete opposite here. So I started using these a few weeks ago and LOVE them. They don’t make my skin red and irritated like most products out there. And they smell so good I wanna lick them off! ;-) Buff Her House of Exfoliation was started by a gorgeous group of ladies (I love supporting women entrepreneurs)! They were even recognized by Martha Stewart as an American Made business finalist.

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I use the Strawberry Parfait the most. It’s a blend of organic strawberries with natural salicylic acid, perfect for breakouts! Added to that is yogurt packed with lactic acid for a gentle exfoliation and deep cleansing. One of their clients was actually able to stop going to the dermatologist after she used this treatment in her routine.

Support my chicas at http://buffher.com

CaitlinCooks Ciabatta Bread Recipe: How to Make Ciabatta Bread from Scratch…no bread machine required!

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This is the MOST requested recipe on my site…I get at least 10 messages/day requesting the recipe so finally…here it is for all 354,000 of you! There are tons of fancier, more professional ways to make bread and this technique can be credited to my Chef/Profesor from baking/pastry classes (so stop yelling at me in the YouTube comments :-) Haha, enjoy and let me know if you try it out!

How to Make Ciabatta Bread from Scratch

You’ll Need:
3 1/4C King Arthur bread flour
1tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2C water, room temp
1T extra virgin olive oil

Make It:
In a big bowl mix with a spoon the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Pour in the water. Pour in the olive oil. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

Flour your kitchen counter (Baking = making a mess, who cares? Clean up later!) Drop the dough onto the floured surface. Cut in half and grab two bowls that are dusted with flour. Put each bread piece in a bowl and put a blanket over each of them. Let them take a nap for 1 hour.

Take the blankets off the bread and fold the tops and bottoms (see video). When done folding, put the bread back in its bowl with a blanket. Let nap for another hour.

Preheat oven to 450*F. Repeat the folding/napping process above once more.

Dust a baking sheet with flour and a drizzle of olive oil. Stretch bread out the whole length of the pan. Bake at 450*F 30 mins, splash with water every 5 mins.

Slice and enjoy! Xoxo

Scallops with Butternut Squash and Zucchini

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I’m trying to savor every last bit of the summer so I buy all of my produce from local farms. I grab whatever looks good than come up with something later. I grabbed butternut squash, zucchini, onions and red chile peppers.

You’ll Need
1 butternut squash, cubed and boiled until soft (about 12 mins)
Scallops, 1lb
1 zucchini
1 small white onion
1C spinach
3 garlic cloves
1 small red chili pepper
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Chili lime seasoning (I use William Sonomas)

Make It:
– Puree the squash using a processor or immersion blender. Mix in a pat of butter and dash of brown sugar (optional). Set aside.

- Dry the scallops than season with chili lime, salt and pepper. Set aside. Sautee the zucchini, garlic and onion in olive oil. When cooked, add the spinach and take off the heat.

- Preheat a pan with olive oil on higg heat. Sear the scallops on each side (about 6 mins, do not overcook them this ruins their flavor and texture).

- Plate it up and garnish with red chile pepper if you like it spicy. I love the combo of sweet squash with fiery pepper.

Enjoy! Xoxo

Rita Hazan Ultimate Shine Clear Gloss

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My hair’s been driving me nuts. I started taking prenatal vitamins again because I’ve read that helps. In the meantime, I needed a quick fix. At home dye ruins my hair and the salon is way too pricey. I started using a weekly color gloss. Rita Hazan is a celeb colorist with loads of lush locks on her resume – Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez…no other examples needed ;-)
So basically, after shampooing you let the glaze absorb in your hair before washing and using a conditioner.

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I’ve tried it in clear and brown. I like the brown better because it tones down the brassiness in my highlights. When I dry my hair afterwards, I really notice a difference in the health of my hair. And…it stays the next day! I only do my hair 1x/week usually real early on a Sunday morning. I can pretend to be polished and put together when I took a shortcut, love this product. I found this at Sephora but a few online retailers carry it too.

http://www.ritahazan.com

Tuscan Tilapia Recipe

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I used tilapia because it’s affordable and I always have it in for a quick meal when I’m tired. But, you can certainly use another protein -even chicken works well. I used fennel in the puree and salad. Fennel has a sweet flavor and I love it combined with lemon. Mediterranean cultures (most fennel pollen is harvested in Tuscany) use fennel for its crazy health benefits: indigestion, anemia, heart disease, blood pressure to name a few. If you’re a Mom you may have used some form of colic drops for your newborn. Check the ingredients and you’ll see fennel! This is my favorite recipe I created using this powerful veggie.

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You’ll Need
Tilapia filets
2 fennel bulbs
Parsley, huge bunch chopped
2 lemons
Cherry tomatoes (mixed heirloom if you can find them)
Olive oil, splash
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Make It:
-Preheat your oven to 375*. Season the tilapia with salt, pepper and your favorite spice blend. Place on a baking sheet with the tomstoes. Drizzle both with olive oil, place in oven to bake.

-Boil a medium pot of water. Chop the tops of the fennel off and put aside. Dice the remaining fennel into cubes. Boil for 10 minutes.

- While that boils, dice the tops of the fennel you put aside. Toss with the lemon, parsley, salt, pepper and olive oil. You will get this:

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- Drain the boiled fennel and place into a food processor. Add salt and an optional pat of butter. Puree.

- If the fish is slightly browned and the tomatoes charred, you’re all set. Layer the pureed fennel, fish than salad. Serve with tomatoes and enjoy.

XoXo