Costume idea

I’m so excited Halloween is coming up! It’s one of my all time favorite holiday and I look forward to dressing up every year. It probably goes back to my UCSB days where Halloween was an institution, celebrated all week long. Every year during college I had at least 3 costumes – one for each night on the weekend.

I’ve been busy this whole month but I finally got around to shopping for my Halloween costume. I had no idea what my husband and I were going to be when I came across deer antlers! Sometimes all it takes is just one detail to give you an idea for your whole costume. My husband and I are going to be the Hunter and the Deer this year for Halloween!

Here are some make-up ideas for the deer. It’s pretty popular in the past couple of years for ladies to dress up as wild animals. I bought my deer ears from etsy, brown dress from forever21, and deer antlers from Walmart. I got white eyeliner and fake lashes from Nordstrom.

For my husband, he’s going to be the Hunter. He owns most of his costume already: flannel button down, brown pants, camouflage hat, and brown boots. I bought him an orange turning vest and hunting knife from Walmart. I tried to look for a toy shotgun but no one sells them anymore.

Next up, trial make-up run for the deer make-up. Wish me luck!

Berries brown butter bundt cake

I’m on a mission to bring back bundt cakes and make them cool again. I’ve introduced some bundt cake recipes here in the past but this one was perfect for this summer. The berry season have been going on for an extended time this summer due to our intense heat. Blessing in disguise!

I was inspired by Adventures in Cooking’s Black & Blueberry Brown Butter Cake for this bundt cake. It turned out great to convert her cake recipe to a bundt cake. Plus, way easier to decorate – this meaning, no decorations! I thoroughly enjoyed this cake. It had a nutty taste from the brown butter and warm undertones from the cinnamon. Perfect for the upcoming fall season by using frozen mixed berries!

Berries Brown Butter Bundt Cake
recipe inspired from Adventures in Cooking

Berries brown butter cake:
3/4 cup unsalted Butter
4 eggs, room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 and 1/2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
16 ounces mixed berries (blackberry, blueberry, and strawberry)

Vanilla poppy seed glaze:
1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon poppy seeds


First, brown the butter. Heat the butter in a large shallow frying pan over medium heat until melted. Swirl the pan around a bit every couple minutes to help it cook evenly. The butter should look light brown and golden. It should smell nutty and similar to toffee. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl, mix together the brown butter, eggs, and sugar until blended. Add the vanilla extract and milk and mix until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Gradually add the flour mixture to the batter, mixing at medium-low speed until fully incorporated. Add the mixed berries and stir in by hand. Pour into a greased bundt pan.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 55-60 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the cake from the pan.

Once cooled, prepare the glaze. Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the poppy seeds and whisk until they’re evenly distributed throughout the glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the bundt cake.

Tomato and goat cheese tarts

I invited some friends over for a dinner party for the first time in a long time. This was a couple of their first time over to our place and I wanted to impress them with an easy menu but looked like I had spent all day in the kitchen. Of course I turned to my favorite chef, Ina Garten, for this!

This tart turned out so delicious and it was a easy to make. Anything with puff pasty looks impressive. I assembled the tarts in advanced and refrigerate until my guests arrived. Then I popped them in the oven and voila!

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
recipe by Ina Garten

1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
2 large yellow onions, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, cut into slivers
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces
4 ounces herb goat cheese
2 large tomato, cut into 8 slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

Unfold 2 sheet of puff pastry on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each sheet, staying inside the scored border.

Place 1/2 of the onion mixture on each sheet, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble goat cheese on top of the onions. Place 4 slices of tomato in each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, sprinkle Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

New Orleans 

I’ve been wanting to go to New Orleans for so long now. Something about the mix of cultures and rich history with bold flavors in food and music drew me to this city. A local told me during the trip: “It’s the Big Easy because it’s easy to fall in love with Nawlins!” I totally get why now.

NOLA was filled with friendly people, delicious food, and ornate, colorful buildings and homes. The music clubs playing live jazz music every night on Frenchmen Street brought the night alive for us! It was fun sitting in any of the clubs and watch the musicians perform their piece. It was lively and everyone had so much talent!

New Orleans was filled with delicious, delicious food. Some notable places that made the cut to my list includes:

  • Willie Mae’s – fried chicken
  • Parkway Bakery – oyster po’boys
  • Frankie & Johnny’s – oyster po’boys
  • Acme – chargrilled oysters
  • Royal House – crab claws appetizer
  • Cafe du Monde – beignets
  • Rum House – curry gulf shrimp
  • District Donuts – blackberry blackpeppercorn donut & fried chicken slider

I had a wonderful time in the Big Easy! The people were the friendliest of any town I’ve visited and that made the trip. Until next time, NOLA!

Summer Stylin’

Ah, I’m finally on my “summer” break! I get almost 2 weeks off from nursing school to enjoy what’s left of summer. It feels good to be done with 3rd semester. That was quite the journey but I know I’m going to be a better nurse for it. Saying it was tough is the understatement of the year. But I survived!

I’m heading to New Orleans this Saturday and staying for 6 days. NOLA has been on my travel bucket list for quite some time and it’s exciting to see what the city has to offer. It’s going to be HOT but it’s now or wait another 4 months before I could go. I’ve decided to take on the city (and heat) head on and make the most of my short break.

Here are some summer outfits that I’m loving right now. You can work it with the current pieces you already have. Looking cute while saving some bucks is always in-style!

Pan-seared tuna with couscous and pesto 

My mom’s friend recently gave me a chunk of fresh tuna from a deep sea fishing trip. I’ll be the first to admit, fish makes me nervous. I’ve grown a taste for it but this is over years of starting small and taking baby steps. I have to constantly tell myself, “fish is good for you so eat it!” in order for me to attempt to order it at restaurants or cook it at home. God forbid, if it’s raw – that’s a whole another ballgame that I haven’t learned to play.

But I got this “sushi quality tuna” for free and it’s fresh so what better time to try something new? This recipe is lightly inspired by Bobby Flay and it’s the quick weeknight version. Bobby loves to grill and in the perfect world, I do too. But after getting off a 12-hour shift, it’s just not going to happen.

Pan-seared tuna with couscous and pesto
Inspired by Bobby Flay

1 cup Israeli couscous
1 1/4 cups stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
Minced garlic
Red pepper flakes
EVOO, for vegetables and tuna
Handful of grape tomatoes
2 tuna steaks, each about 1 inch thick
Store-bought pesto


Toast the couscous with EVOO in a saucepan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Pour in stock, cover with lid, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 12 minutes then fluff with fork when done.

Saute the garlic in EVOO in a pan for a few minutes. Add in the diced vegetables, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until done and set aside.

Brush 1 inch tuna steaks with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. In a dry, hot pan, pan-sear the tuna steaks 2 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove from heat once done and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Then cut into medium-size cubes.

Slice the tomatoes in halves and put into bowl. Put in couscous, sauteed vegetables, cubed pan-seared tuna, and pesto. Mix together until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.