Keep Your Hair Heathly This Summer

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In this day and age, when long locks are coveted it’s almost impossible to keep your hair healthy. To make up for my everyday hair dryer and curling iron abuse, I started experimenting with hair masks. These are three that I love and totally recommend: Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask, Bumble and Bumble Creme de Coco Masque, and your regular old, household extra virgin olive oil!

Moroccanoil makes your hair smell like you just came from the salon while the Bumble and Bumble smells deliciously like coco! Both instructions suggest combing masks through damp hair and leaving in under 10 minutes before rinsing. I like to do it a little differently. I comb it through dry hair so I can really feel all the dry problem areas that need extra moister, put my hair in a bun, and leave it in overnight. If I don’t have a hair mask around I use the same technique with olive oil, which works just as well! To ensure my pillow cases stays nice and clean I’ll wrap a plastic bag around my hair and tie the handles on top of my head. When I wake up, wash my hair, and start to blow dry I can instantly feel the silky difference!

My hair is very thick so these masks don’t weigh my hair down, so be cautious with these if you have thin hair. Enjoy!

Panzanella

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Panzanella is a classic Florentine dish that simply showcases old stale bread and the juices of plump, ripe, summer tomatoes. Since we are on the brink of tomato season I thought I’d share my favorite salad recipe!

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Ingredients:

4 cups of Chopped Tomatoes ( I like to use all different kinds for color)

4 Cups of Cubed Stale Bread

1/2 Cup Chopped Basil

1/8 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 Tablespoon Sea Salt

1/2 Tablespoon Black Pepper

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First things first, using stale bread is key or it will completely fall apart. If you don’t have stale bread around the house, you can buy bread, cut it into 1 inch cubes and leave it out overnight, or pop it in the oven at 350 for about 5 minutes and it will be just fine. For my salad I chose a rosemary loaf just to add a little more Mediterranean flavor.

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Chop the tomatoes into nice large, but bite sized chunks and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Combine with chopped basil, salt and pepper and let sit for 10 minutes. If your making this salad before prime tomato season they may need a little help so you can add a little but of red wine vinegar to add acidity and liquid that you would normally get with perfectly ripe tomatoes.

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Combine tomatoes and bread, drizzle with olive oil and serve! I love the simplicity of just using these ingredients however some other fun things to throw in are cucumbers, artichokes, and capers!

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Also if you have a ton left over and the bread is getting really soggy you can throw it in a baking dish and cook for 20 minutes at 350 and you’ll have a warm savory bread pudding!

So excited for summer!

Sauteed Zucchini with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

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I hated zucchini my whole life – all squash for that matter. My boss gave me some huge zucchini from her garden and I had no idea what to do with them but didn’t want to say ‘no thanks’. I decided to mix it with my favorite vegetable- tomato, and my favorite herb – basil, thus starting my obsession with zucchini!

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INGREDIENTS:

2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes

2 Medium Zucchini

1/4 Cup Chopped Basil

1 Tablespoon of Butter

2 Chopped Garlic Cloves

1 Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper

Salt & Pepper to Taste

First chopped the basil, slice the cherry tomatoes in half and the zucchini into 1/4 inch wide slices.

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Melt butter on high heat and add the zucchini. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper and garlic.

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Sautee for about five minutes until the zucchini is tender and slightly browned.

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Add tomatoes until they are heated through, about 3 minutes. And finally add the basil for the final minute.

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Now that all the veggies are warm and tender they are ready to serve. This salad can stand alone, or be served along side a protein like my whole grain mustard salmon…

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or tossed with pasta. You decide!

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Extra Versitile Olive Oil

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I love finding new uses for my glass jars and bottles! This bright green bottle used to contain extra virgin olive old from California Olive Ranch. As you know, I use olive oil pretty frequently when I cook, so I didn’t have to wait long to decorate my home with the bottle!

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One way to use this bottle was as a dish soap container. After thoroughly cleaning the bottle, pour in regular dish soap with a splash of water to make it less dense. Top the bottle with a pour spout that you can purchase for under $5.

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Another more obvious way to re-purpose this bottle is as a vase. I filled it with some fresh lavender from my yard and it really made my room look and smell like spring.

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Have a great weekend everyone!

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Braised Fennel and Arugula

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Fennel is the most underrated vegetable. It tastes amazing raw and cooked, and does wonders for the digestion – or so every Italian will tell you.

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INGREDIENTS:

3 Fennel Bulbs

1 1/2 Cups of White Wine

2 Ounces of Olive Oil

2 Ounces of Lemon Juice

1/4 Cup of Sliced Cerignola Olives

3 Cups of Baby Arugula

Braising is a method of cooking that uses both wet and dry heat. Meaning that for this recipe, I pan sear the fennel to get a nice brown crust, and then simmer it in the white wine until it is soft and tender.

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To prepare the fennel, first cut off the top stalks. Slice the bulbs into about half-inch thick disks and discard the hard center parts. Break the disks apart into its natural segments.

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Over high heat, sautee fennel with a little bit of olive oil for about four minutes or until the edges are browned.

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While the fennel browns, prepare the liquids. Combine lemon juice, olive oil and white wine.

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I’m a firm believer in cooking with wine that you like to drink, but that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. I found this bottle of Pinot Grigio at my local market – it’s dry and crisp and was under $7.

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Also slice the olives in quarters and remove the pits.

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Add the liquid and olives to the pan and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-12 minutes until the fennel is tender.

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Immediately toss with 3 cups of baby arugula and serve – no need for dressing!

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I paired this wonderful salad with a panko-crusted halibut fillet. Please enjoy!

Also check out this Roasted Fennel and Citrus Salad- I can’t wait to try it out! : http://loveandcupcakesblog.com/2013/03/22/happy-friday-from-the-kitchen-roasted-fennel-citrus-salad/

Not Your Average Pasta Salad: Lemon Orzo

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This is my favorite go-to pasta salad. Combining orzo with tart lemon juice, peppery arugula, creamy goat cheese and juicy shrimp makes this recipe a show stopper, and it’s so simple to make!

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INGREDIENTS:

1 Box of Orzo

1/4 Pound of Peeled Shrimp

3 Cups of Baby Arugala

2 Ounces of Lemon Juice

2 Ounces of Olive Oil

1 Cup of Artichoke Hearts

1 Cup of Cherry Tomatoes

1/2 Cup Goat Cheese Crumbles

1/4 Cup Chopped Basil

1/2 Teaspoon of Salt

1/2 Teaspoon of Pepper

1/8 Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper

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Cook the orzo in boiling water for nine minutes until al dente.

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While the pasta cooks, I like to make the lemon vinaigrette. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon of both salt and pepper. Immediately pour over strained orzo in a salad bowl and mix through until it coats all the pasta. Let the orzo sit for ten minutes to absorb.

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Once the orzo has cooled slightly, toss with the baby arugula.

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Peel the shrimp and remove the tails. I like to use a medium sized shrimp so that it’s easy to eat. Lightly pat them down with a paper towel to remove any extra moisture. Season both sides with remaining salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper.

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Sautee on high heat with a little olive oil for about five minutes, until the shrimp are slightly browned and no longer translucent.

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While the shrimp cook, I like to prepare the other ingredients. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, cut the artichokes into bite size pieces and chop basil.

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Add everything to the orzo and serve! This can be eaten warm or cold – it’s great both ways.

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Sometimes I replace the shrimp with sausage which is also a big hit! What I like about this salad is that there is a treat in every bite. You don’t have to dig through it to get to the good stuff because it’s all delicious. I hope you enjoy!

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This orzo recipe was inspired by Ina Garten’s which is always fantastic: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/orzo-with-roasted-vegetables-recipe/index.html