Quick tips for a novice in the kitchen

If you’ve never particularly been fond of culinary arts, have only entered the kitchen just for the time it requires for you to either grab something from the refrigerator, and are now facing the fact that you might have to start picking up some kitchen skills, you will want to keep on reading!

Many of us are now realizing that possessing culinary skills is becoming a must because: a) dining out is costly; b) you may not always get food that truly flatter your taste buds; c) your waistline continually will expand as you eat out. If you have made the conscientious decision to take on cooking, I’m hoping to help you start at least with these following tips:

  1. Start with quick cooking grains – no matter the meal, a quick cooking grain will help minimize errors. Quinoa is one of my favorites because of its versatility and also as a great source of iron, protein and magnesium, you are sure to have a very healthy component to your meal. If you are not a fan of quinoa, you can easily substitute with one of the following grains: couscous, bulgur wheat, or healthy pastas made of the previously mentioned grains. If you are a real novice and need further guidance, you can search online through websites such as foodnetwork.com or allrecipes.com for step by step recipes. I’ll start you off with this list from Fitness Magazine: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/dinner/healthy-quinoa-recipes/?page=1
  2. Select a protein that is easy and quick to cook – my go to protein sources are boneless/skinless chicken breast and seafood: shrimp or snapper fillet to be more specific. These proteins are easy to clean and take usually less than 30 minutes to cook. They are as error proof as ingredients can be and require little experience to make a successful meal with them. You want to ensure that you properly clean them: shrimp needs to be deveined and the connective tissues need to be removed from the chicken breast. Once they are properly cleaned, you can be as adventurous with your seasoning or simply go with salt and pepper. Be sure to thoroughly cook your protein especially your poultry as you risk contracting salmonella poisoning if consumed undercooked. You can refer to the step by step guides following for more assistance: cleaning chicken: http://enchantedspoon.blogspot.com/2011/02/kitchen-basics-how-to-properly-trim.html; deveining shrimp:  http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_peel_and_devein_shrimp/
  3. Invest in great seasoning – the seasoning is what can differentiate a bland meal from an exceptional one! While many people think that producing a great tasting meal requires some of the fanciest seasonings, I’ve always thought that the more natural the seasoning, the better the taste. Some of the best spices to use as seasoning include: garlic, pepper, onion, and thyme (depending on the dish). In addition to these, I like to use lime in the cleaning process but it also enriches the taste especially with seafood. For a more depth in the flavor, you may use a small quantity of mustard and hot pepper. For my quick seasoning blend, see my DIY article: http://glamgirlonthego.me/2015/04/23/is-it-worth-it-to-diy/

It will take some practice before you start to feel comfortable in the kitchen, however, the essential part is that you decide to take on the challenge, start with something small and keep practicing until you feel comfortable enough to move on to more complexed recipes. Remember that you’re not alone in your journey, there are many outlets that will help you find new easy recipes to help sharpen your skills such as allrecipes.com or foodnetwork.com. Keep practicing and remember that your taste buds will guide you through the process. You may not become the next “it” chef but I promise that you will definitely learn your way around the kitchen.

Enjoy!

Reese

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Stepping out of your comfort zone with your wardrobe

How many of us can describe our personal style of dress in less than five minutes? While it might be a mix of fit, colors, length, and possibly a few designers; we all can pretty much define our personal style in a quick conversation. However, have you taken a closer look at your wardrobe to realize that the majority of your closet is a) predominantly of one shade of color, or b) there is not much variety in the styles or patterns? We tend to be creatures of habit and while there is nothing wrong with that, sometimes it’s good to step out just a tad out of your comfort zone and experiment a bit with different styles. Fashion is ever changing but your style is unique and you should be able to learn how to incorporate various pieces into your wardrobe and make it fit. No matter your style, here are three tips on how to step out of your comfort zone:

  1. Add color: let’s face it, our closet is mostly full of clothes in our favorite color and various shades of said color! Next time you’re shopping, conscientiously pick a color that is opposite to those that you tend to gravitate towards. If you tend to wear dark colors, start by picking a white article of clothing or a pastel one and slowly move towards something brighter over time. Rome was not built in a day, and neither will your acceptance of bright colors. At first, it will be best to try to simply pair a dark color with a lighter one until you feel comfortable with lighter tones.
  2. Experiment with fabrics: curious about the leather look but unsure that you want to wear a pair of leather pants? Try a pair of pants with leather trim! Find an article of clothing that incorporates an edgier fabric without being too out of your comfort zone. Whether it is lace, leather, or crinoline, just be sure to keep the rest of your outfit simple so that the statement piece stands out best.
  3. Accessorize: the best part of accessories is that most of the time they are less expensive (unless your statement is diamonds), and are even easier to incorporate in your outfit. Accessories are also an economical way to keep up with the trends. Remember when neon colors and leopard prints were the rave? Imagine if you had flooded your closet with tons of pieces from that trend? However, if you purchased a neon pink belt, you’re still able to pair it with a cute outfit without looking “fashionably outdated”.

Overall, the goal should be for you to continually find ways to keep your wardrobe looking stylish and trendy all the while taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s nice to occasionally take part of a trend without compromising your personal style. In the end, you want to be comfortable in whatever outfit you pick, and knowing how to properly include a few of the latest fashion trends into your wardrobe is key to establishing your own style.

Have fun!

Reese

How to rediscover your backyard

As the summer winds down, some of us still have not been able to take a vacation. While for some, it might be a question of schedule; for most of us, it is usually due to financial reasons. Usually, when planning a vacation, the biggest expenses go to the transportation (plane ticket or car rental) and the lodging. We are so focused on leaving town for vacation that some of us probably have no clue about the many touristic places located right in our own backyard! So, if you have been putting off a vacation due to financial reasons, consider the following options:
Center for performing arts – how many people visit New York and have a Broadway play on their list? While your local performing arts center may not feature some of the A list names you may see on Broadway, you will still be able to catch some of the most famous acts playing there as many of these shows are always on tour. While you might not catch Hollywood’s heartthrob, you also will be saving lots of money!
Tour your city/town – depending on where you live, your tourist destinations will vary but one thing is certain: you will find some amazing facts about any city! So whether you live near the water or the mountains, schedule a city/town tour. Start with your local tourist information center for a list of your city/town’s most iconic locations and choose those that appeal to you. If you live in a larger city, contact one of the many companies specialized in city tours and join them.
Enjoy the natural sites – if you live in a coastal city, take a trip to the beach. If you live near mountains, go on a hike. Whichever one applies to you, just be sure to really take the time and enjoy being in nature: listen to the waves, bask in the sun (with proper sun protection!), take a deep breath at the top of a mountain and take in the beautiful view. You will find these sites to be quite relaxing, no matter which one you do, nature is a very effective source of peace.
Participate in events – if you have not done so, create an account with one of many websites promoting various deals throughout your area. They usually list all types of specials in your area ranging from concerts, shows, spa deals, or any special events that may be happening in your area. These are great money savers as they have events that are sometimes as low as $8!
There are still a few weeks left to enjoy summer, so I hope you will be able to take some time to yourself to ensure that you relax and take a break from your daily responsibilities. While you may not leave town as you were probably hoping to do, I guarantee you that you will definitely discover a lot of new places that you did not know existed in your city! Remember, it is imperative to your health (both mental and physical) that you take some time to recharge. Weekends and/or a day off are not enough, you need to take time to remove yourself from your daily activities and give yourself time to appreciate the simple things in life for a little while.

Enjoy!
Reese

Saying no does not make you a bad person!

Do you continually find yourself in situations that you really should have avoided but felt compelled to say yes? Then you are just like me! So many of us are always afraid of saying no because we feel some kind of obligation to always want to please others even if that means that it will be to our detriment. We always want to be available and sometimes it does not always turn out for the best. While there are many reasons why saying no does not make you a bad person, I’ve selected the following three instances as reasons why sometimes it is good to say no:

  1. You’re spreading yourself thin – if you already have a busy schedule, saying yes when you should be saying no would cause for you to spread yourself thin and ultimately every aspect in your life will suffer including this task that you felt obligated to take on! In a work environment, this can be very serious and may even cause for your leadership team to view you in a negative light. In a personal setting, you risk to create tension between you and your loved ones if said task is not completed to the level expected.
  2. You are in over your head – whether professional or personal, you should never take on a task that you know that you are clearly not qualified to complete. There could be so many repercussions and professionally this can even lead to negative reviews and in some cases, your termination. Be true to yourself and know your limits, no one has the answer to everything and can do all things; so if you are really interested in helping, maybe you can volunteer to help find someone best suited to complete the task and offer your assistance to that person.
  3. You are taking time out of your personal time – yes, you read it right! Everyone deserves to have some type out of the week (preferably out of the day) slated just for you. Whether you decide to rest and catch on your sleep, or simply indulge in your favorite activity such as cooking, reading, or Netflix binge watching: it’s your time! Depriving yourself of this special time is cutting out some relaxation time for your mind and body to reset. While others may not understand it, don’t allow yourself to be guilted into doing something when you already had planned to spend that time on you.

No matter the reason, most of the time when we say no, it is not out of contempt. There is usually a reason and you are not obligated to state your reason, as that usually gives the other person an opening to try to convince you and thus make the situation increasingly uncomfortable. Keep in mind that you reserve the right to decline to participate in any activity/event at any time, provided it is an option. Life is about choices, and you should not let others make you feel bad for exercising that right. While it is your right to decline, be sure that you are doing so in a polite and respectful manner because ultimately, it is usually the delivery of your response that earns you the negative labels.

Cheers,

Reese