My May Beauty Favorites

It’s time for another beauty favorites. First up is the Three Part Harmony soft cream by Origins. I discovered Origins last year and what I like about them is that they use a lot of natural ingredients. This lightweight cream helps produce natural collagen to help repair the skin. I’ve been using it morning and night for a couple of weeks already and my skin feels more toned and moisturized. I also love the slight citrus smell that it has.

I also tried Origins Flower Fusion Sheet Masks. It was my first time trying on a sheet mask and I liked the results. They left my skin feeling very soft. Pieter was just not a big fan of how I looked while wearing it 🙂 and my cats were also quite curious of how I looked.

I’ve added some new Smashbox items to my makeup routine. I tried the Photo Finish Primer Oil and loved it. I just apply two drops on my face and it is quickly absorbed. It leaves you with a dewy skin and of course it allows your makeup to stay put. It has lavender oil which makes it smell amazing. In combination with the primer oil, I’ve also been using Smashbox Studio Skin 15 hour wear hydrating foundation. It glides on easily and gives you a nice medium coverage, but you can always build it up a bit more. I liked that it didn’t clog my pores and it does last the whole day.

Another favorite is the Smashbox Full exposure Eye Shadow Palette. I tend to always go for neutral colors when it comes to eye shadows and that’s why I love this palette. I especially love the golden colors. They have high pigmentation so you don’t need a lot.

Last but not least is Glamglow’s ThirstyMud hydrating mask. It has a sort of caramel smell. I leave it on my face overnight and I wake up with ultra-soft and hydrated skin.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and Youtube channel.

Food Photography Background Tutorial + First Vlog

A long time ago, I used to have a tutorial here on how to make a food photography background but I decided to erase it since the quality of the video wasn’t very good. I’ve been wanting to make a proper one since then. So I decided to include it on my first vlog. I thought of  showing you guys a bit more of my daily life, from events to restaurants, to some cooking and traveling. On this one we went zip lining in the Hague, tried some new restaurants and visited the blue forest in Belgium.

So if you would like to see/know anything in particular, do let me know.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories.

Buffalo Chickpea Tacos with Avocado Sour Cream & Cucumber Noodles

Finally whipping up new recipes. Things have been so hectic lately. We are still working on our apartment and food styling projects have kept me super busy. The last two projects I did, were actually in France. We shot in Senlis (about an hour from Paris). The picture below is the garden of the small hotel where I stayed.

And we also shot in Arles in the south. Such a beautiful town. Loved all the colorful streets.

I never thought I would be traveling with luggage full of tableware. There is a first for everything :). They were cool projects but after arduous days of cooking a lot on set, I had no energy to cook anymore. So I took a little break from recipe testing. But now I am back with Taco Tuesday. Roasted chickpeas with buffalo sauce, cucumber noodles for some crunch and avocado sour cream. Super simple and minimal effort.

This recipe makes 12 small tacos.

Ingredients:

For the buffalo chickpeas:

300grs of canned chickpeas, drained

1 tablespoon of Maizena

150ml of buffalo sauce (I used Frank’s)

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

For the avocado sour cream:

1 avocado

Juice of 1 lime

125ml of sour cream

Salt to taste

A pinch of onion powder

Pinch of celery salt

Extras:

2 Cucumbers, spiralized or julienned

A handful of thinly sliced radishes

12 small tortillas

 

Start by preheating your oven to 180C/350F. Drain and pat dry your canned chickpeas with paper towels. Add the Maizena and mix well. Then add the buffalo sauce and maple syrup. Mix well until all the chickpeas are coated in the sauce. Place them in a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Baked them for 30 minutes. Stir half way through the cooking. Then turn the heat up to 230C/450F. Roast them for an extra 20 minutes. Stir after 10 minutes.

Using a spiralizer or a mandoline with a julienne attachment, slice the cucumbers. Then squeeze them to get rid of the excess water. Place them in a sift with a large bowl underneath until ready to serve

To make the avocado sour cream, just blend all of the ingredients until smooth.

Warm up the tortillas in a pan. Then stuff each with some of the cucumber, chickpeas, radishes and a drizzle of the avocado sour cream. Enjoy!

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories.

My March Beauty Favorites

This is a new section where I will be sharing my current beauty/skincare favorites. I’ve been obsessed with makeup since I was a teenager. I love experimenting with it. When I still lived with my parents, I would do my mom’s makeup when she would go out. But it is only since last year that I actually have a skincare routine. I wish I would have started in my early 20s but better late than never.

First up is Gisou Honey Infused Hair Oil. I’ve been following Negin Mirsalehi on Instagram for a few years now and I’ve always loved her hair. So when she created her own hair-care line I was very curious. Honey is known for having a lot of health benefits so why not try it in a hair product? What I usually do is apply the serum on my wet hair, let it air dry and then apply a little bit again after styling it. It leaves my hair soft without weighting it down. And after styling, it helps with flyaways. I just use a few drops which I warm up in between my hands. It doesn’t leave my hands (or hair) feeling greasy and it smells incredible!

Another one of my favorites happens to also have honey. Kiehl’s Pure Vitality Skin Renewing Cream is made with red ginseng root and Manuka honey. This type of honey from New Zealand is known for having high antibacterial properties. This cream is very thick so a little bit goes a long way. It is absorbed quickly and it leaves my skin feeling very soft and moisturized.

A new favorite also from Kiehl’s is the Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil. This lavender scented oil does the trick for removing all my makeup. I have combination skin and this hasn’t made me break out.

Smashbox is one of my favorite makeup brands. I’ve been using their photo finish primer for years. Even when I used to work in a professional kitchen, it would keep my makeup put in all that heat. I use this Primer Water as a setting spray when I have long days and I don’t have time to retouch my makeup. It absorbs very quickly and also keeps my skin hydrated.

Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain by Benefit is an oldie but goodie. I used to use it a lot and I don’t even remember why I forgot to buy it again. I’ve started using it again and I love it. It has the right amount of color to brighten up my face, especially on days where I’m too lazy to put on lipstick.

Poutmud Fizzy Lip Exfoliating Treatment by GlamGlow is a lip scrub that fizzes once it gets in contact with water. It smells amazing and helps me keep my lips soft.

Ka-Brow from Benefit is a cream-gel for your eyebrows. I love it because I have very thin eyebrows. It’s great at filling them in and making them look thicker.

And last but not least is the Yves Saint Lauren Vernis À Lèvres Vinyl Cream. I have the 401 color which is a beautiful red. It is very easy to apply and has high pigmentation. It stays put without drying my lips and since this one is a cool red, it makes my teeth look whiter.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories.

 

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Banana Cake

This is an oldie, but it was in need of a picture update. I love banana cake. It is one of the easiest cakes to make. And so far this is my favorite version. You can make it in the traditional loaf pan, but this time I used a 22cm square baking dish and I only made half of the recipe. I wanted to decorate it with banana pieces cut into stars. I recommend that if you want to use the star bananas, to only do it if you are making half of the recipe or use a larger baking sheet to spread the batter more. As the stars are so small, they will probably end up sinking to the bottom if the cake is too high.

We are having some friends over for dinner tonight, so this will be our dessert. I’m also excited that at least one of our house projects is done. The background in this picture is the dinning table that Pieter and I made. We couldn’t find a table that we both loved, so we decided to make it ourselves. And I am so happy that we did because I love it and it is unique. We still need to make the bench with the same wood and then do some chair shopping for the remaining space.

Ingredients:

4 ripe bananas, mashed (it is important that they are ripe)

1 cup of sugar

2 eggs

125gr butter, melted

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

2 teaspoons of baking powder

5 teaspoons of milk

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

½ cup of peanut butter

1/3 cup of cocoa powder

Extras:

Bananas for decoration (optional), I used a small star cookie cutter

 

Preheat the oven to 180/350F. Line an oven dish or loaf pan with parchment paper.

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, except for the peanut butter and cocoa powder.

Place the peanut butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. This will make it easier to mix.

Divide the mixture into 2 bowls. Mix the peanut butter with half of the batter, and the cacao powder with the other half. Spoon the batters into the prepared mold, alternating flavors. Once you’ve spooned all of the batter. Use a knife to swirl the batter around and create a marble effect.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If you make half the recipe like I did, It will take about 25 minutes to cook depending on the shape of your baking mold. When it’s done it will be golden and just use the toothpick method to double check if it is cooked through.

Allow the cake to cool down before slicing it.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories.

 

Chocolate Caramel & Puffed Quinoa Pecan Bars

If you follow my Instagram stories, you probably saw that I was making these bars yesterday. It’s been a while since I’ve made a new dessert bar, so it was due. These are decadent, not overly sweet and they have a hint of heat from the chipotle roasted pecans. And they are very easy to make, without any corn syrup or candy thermometer. I got some questions already of where I get chipotle powder in Amsterdam. I bought it at Tijn’s toko close to the Albert Cuyp market.

This recipe is for a 22cm baking square dish.

Ingredients:

For the roasted pecans:

180grs of pecans

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

2 tablespoon of maple syrup

3/4 teaspoon of chipotle powder (optional)

Pinch of salt

For the puffed quinoa crust:

2 cups of puffed quinoa

3 tablespoons of butter, melted

1 vanilla bean, or 1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla essence

3 tablespoons of icing sugar

1 egg white, slightly beaten with a fork

For the chocolate caramel:

1 cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of water

6 tablespoons of salted butter

1 1/2 cup of heavy cream

120gs of dark chocolate, chopped

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Pinch of sea salt

 

Start by roasting the pecans.  Preheat your oven to 200C/400F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the pecans with the vegetable oil, maple syrup, chipotle powder and salt. Spread them in a single layer over your prepared baking sheet. Roast them for 15 minutes, stirring half way through.

To make the puffed quinoa crust, first melt the butter and preheat your oven to 180C/350F. If you are using a vanilla bean pod, add the vanilla beans to the melted butter and mix well so that it dissolves. Then add the vanilla butter to the puffed quinoa, icing sugar and egg white. Mix well. Line your baking mold with parchment paper, also cover the sides of the mold so that it is easier to remove the bars later on. Place the quinoa mixture into the prepared mold and use the back of a spoon to evenly distribute it and press to make it compact. Bake it for 15 minutes. Then remove it from the oven and allow it to cool down.

To make the chocolate caramel, place the cream in a bowl and microwave it for 45 seconds. Then add the chopped chocolate, vanilla essence and salt.  Microwave it for 30 second intervals till the chocolate has melted. Mix in between. Set it aside.

In a large medium saucepan, add the sugar and water. Let it melt over medium heat until it becomes amber in color. Swirl the pan around from time to time. Then lower the heat to low and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Stir with a heat-proof spatula until all the butter has melted. Then add the chocolate cream that you made before. Stir constantly over low heat for 10 minutes until it becomes a thick sauce, like fudge. Then turn off the heat and keep stirring for 2 minutes to allow it to cool down and become thicker.

Carefully pour the chocolate caramel evenly over the quinoa crust. Swirl it around so that it covers the edges. Carefully place the pecans on top in a single layer. Let it sit in the fridge to set for at least 5 hours.

Store them in an airtight container in the fridge. I’d like to take it out before eating since I prefer them when they are at room temperature and the caramel is chewier.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories.

 

Clam Chowder Spaghetti

I love clams and I should definitely eat them more often. They are so easy and quick to cook. To keep the cooking time short for this recipe, I used fresh pasta and dried spices. So no cutting onions and garlic. You can skip on the bacon if you are vegetarian and use a bit of smoked paprika for extra flavor. Perfect comfort food for a lazy day.

Ingredients:

500grs of scrubbed cockles, clams or vongole

250grs of fresh spaghetti or the pasta of your choice

150gr of chopped bacon

200grs of crème fraiche

200ml of cream

3/4 teaspoon of onion powder

3/4 teaspoon of garlic

3/4 teaspoon of celery salt

Pinch of cayenne

Kernels of 2 corns on the cob

100grs of baby spinach

5 tablespoons of chopped chives

 

Rinse the clams under cold water for a couple of minutes. Discard of any that are open and don’t close when you tap them.

Place the chopped bacon in a large pan over medium heat. Stir from time to time until it is fully cooked. Then add the crème fraiche, cream and spices

Mix well until the crème fraiche has dissolved into a sauce.

In the meanwhile, cook the pasta as instructed on the package.

Add the corn and clams to the sauce. Cover the pan with a lid until the clams open. This will take about 3-4 minutes. Discard of any that didn’t open. Then add the spinach, cover it with a lid for 1 extra minute so that it wilts faster. Mix well and then add the cooked pasta.

Mix well so that the pasta is covered in the sauce. Taste for salt. Serve straight away and enjoy!

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories.

 

London Baby!

Pieter and I went to London for a weekend at the beginning of the month. I was super excited as it was my first time, plus I had heard so many good things about the food scene over there. And sure did we eat well. I wish we could have stayed longer. I had so many places on my excel sheet (yes, I like to be organized when I travel) but 3 days was just too short.

We stayed at a very nice Apart hotel called Leman Locke which was walking distance from the Aldgate metro station in East London.

We started off with bubble waffles at a stand called Nosteagia. The first night we walked through Leicester Square and went to Shake Shack. I’ve seen pictures of their burgers on Instagram and really wanted to try them. They were really good! The next morning we woke up very early to go to Notting Hill. I really wanted to see all the beautiful and colorful houses there. 

The most popular being on St. Luke’s Mews, where Love Actually was shot. So we walked a bit through this neighborhood and ended up having breakfast at Farm Girl. A very cozy and healthy café on Portobello Road. We had the Rose Latte, avocado roast with a poached egg and the buckwheat berry pancakes with amber maple syrup, cranberries and hibiscus. We were surprised on how fast our order came out. It was very busy on a Saturday morning and they still got our order out in no time plus our waiter was very friendly.

After that we went to Maître Choux. The shop is eye candy with all the eclairs on display. They were also delicious by the way. And the eating tour didn’t stop there. Next on the list was Dominique Ansel’s bakery. We shared one Cronut and one of their frozen S’mores. The Cronut was great but if it wasn’t because I was stuffed, I would have ordered another S’more. That chewy marshmallow with Tahitian Vanilla ice cream was heavenly!

And then it was time for lunch. We headed to Breddos tacos.

A nice taqueria in Clerkenwell. We had the Kung Pao pork belly, the sweet potato and cochinita pibil tacos. Plus an octopus tostada, queso fundido and agua frescas. Those chili sauces they give you with tortillas at the beginning were exactly my cup of tea. If you want to go, try to arrive early. By the time we were done eating there was a line outside.

After all the eating we headed towards Westminster Bridge to get a glimpse of Big Ben. After getting up so early and doing quite a lot of walking and eating, we decided to go back to the hotel to chill a bit before meeting some friends for dinner.

We met them at Rosa’s Thai Café. Both Pieter and I love Thai food. Both our friends highly recommended this place and since Punky is Thai and her husband Jeroen lived in Thailand for a while, we trusted them. And it was good! We had the calamari, salmon red curry, papaya salad, grilled spicy sausages, stir-fried aubergine and rice. Thinking about it makes me salivate. It was too dark to take pictures but we enjoyed every single dish. They have 7 locations in London so it is worth a visit. Walking back to our hotel, we stumbled across St. John. A restaurant I have been wanting to visit ever since I saw it on one of Anthony Bourdain’s show years ago. So we decided to go in for just a quick bite. I must say that I am very lucky to have a husband who enjoys eating as much as I do, and who said: “We are here now, so let’s just go in”, when I saw it. We sat at the bar, shared the pudding and the very famous roasted bone marrow with parsley salad. Well worth stretching our stomachs a bit more.

On our last day, we decided to visit Neal’s yard. The place is exploding with colors. Since we were there quite early, the shops were not open yet. But we got some nice pictures without other people which was also nice.

For breakfast we went to Caravan Restaurants (the one on Bankside).We had the kimchi pancake with pork belly, gochujang ketchup & sunny duck egg. And the salt beef brisket hash, pickled cucumber & poached eggs with hollandaise. The food and service was great.

Afterwards, we met our friend Jeroen again at Liberty London. It was great to get a little tour of the city from a local.

 

After the tour we headed to Chinatown for some ice cream. I was looking forward to trying the Taiyaki ice cream from Chinatown Bakery.

 

Afterwards we walked to Milk Train café for some more ice cream. Their soft serve ice cream comes with a cloud of cotton candy, so of course I had to try it (Thank you to Frank for the recommendation).

I had the black sesame one and it was divine! We then headed to a pub to finally sit down and have some lunch before catching our plane back to Amsterdam. A few metro stations were close and since we were worried about time, we decided to just take a cab back to the airport. Like usual I feel asleep during the ride but woke up to a pink sky close to the airport. We left with our feet hurting but with happy bellies and new memories. With a flight of under an hour from Amsterdam, I hope we can go back soon. London, you were awesome!

 

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

Peanut Butter & Sea Salt Caramel Popcorn

The other day we had unexpected friends over and while they started opening some beers in the kitchen, I made some kettle corn to snack on. This is what I love about popcorn, it’s so easy and quick to make. The variety of flavors you can add to it is basically endless. And this Peanut butter popcorn is such a divine combo! I’ve partnered with Calve Peanut Butter to create this recipe. It’s crunchy, salty, sweet and addictive. The perfect snack for movie night and it also makes a nice edible gift.

This recipe makes 1 large bowl of popcorn.

Ingredients:

For the popcorn:

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

105grs of popcorn kernels (1/2 a cup)

For the Peanut butter & sea salt caramel sauce:

100grs of sugar (3/4 cup)

45grs of butter tablespoons of butter (3 tablespoons)

105grs of water (¾ cup)

75grs of Calve smooth peanut butter (1/3 of a cup)

1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt

1 ½ to 2 teaspoons of baking soda

Brush one very large bowl with vegetable oil. If you don’t have one large enough, grease two medium ones. Keep in mind that you need to have enough space to coat all the popcorn in the caramel.

Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.

In a large pan with a lid, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the popcorn, cover and keep the pan moving until all the kernels have popped. Transfer the popcorn to the greased bowl. Remove any unpopped kernels.

Add the sugar, water and butter to a medium pan. Cook over medium heat until it becomes a light golden color. This will take about 10 minutes. Swirl the pan from time to time.

Remove the pan from the heat. Quickly add the peanut butter, sea salt and baking soda. Stir with a wooden spoon until it is all well combined.

Pour the peanut butter caramel sauce over the popcorn and mix well. Spread the popcorn over the prepared baking tray. Allow it to cool down. Once cooled, you can break them apart into smaller chunks. It will keep in an air-tight container till the next day. Enjoy!

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

Peanut & Ginger Zoodles with Thai Styled Mango & Carrot Slaw

Some meatless Monday inspiration. A very fresh salad packed with a lot of crunch since I kept the zoodles raw. If you don’t like them raw, you can always sauteed them in a pan and make this into a lukewarm salad. The Thai styled mango and carrot slaw balances out the richness of the peanut & ginger sauce. I love peanut butter, but it was only since I moved to the Netherlands that it became part of my diet. I love to add some to my porridge during winter.

Calve peanut butter became a staple in my pantry. It’s the brand my husband grew up eating, so it made sense for him to introduce it to me. Ever since, I haven’t looked back. So I’m very happy to have partnered with them to create this recipe, using their original peanut butter. If you love peanut butter, stay tuned because I have a snack recipe coming soon. Pieter and I were in London for the weekend, so more pictures and hotspots are coming to the blog soon too.

This recipe serves 2-3 people.

Ingredients:

For the zoodles:

4 zucchini

For the mango & carrot slaw:

3 carrots, shredded (I used rainbow carrots)

1 mango, julienned

5 tablespoons of chopped coriander

For the Thai styled dressing:

1 tablespoon of minced ginger

Juice of 1 lime

4 tablespoons of olive oil

4 tablespoons of white vinegar

1 teaspoon of fish sauce

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of honey

1 teaspoon of brown sugar

1 small bird’s eye chili, finely chopped

Pinch of garlic powder

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

For the peanut & ginger sauce:

2 tablespoons of minced ginger

130grs of Calve smooth peanut butter (1/2 a cup)

2 tablespoons of ginger syrup (or honey)

4 tablespoons of sesame oil

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

2 tablespoons of water

2 tablespoons of white vinegar

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon of chili bean sauce

Pinch of garlic powder

To make the zoodles, I used a mandoline with the julienne attachment. I stopped when I got to the core. You can also make them with a spiralizer or a potato peeler. If you use a potato peeler, just slice it into ribbons and then using a knife, cut it into julienne. You can also buy the zoodles at the supermarket if you don’t feel like making them. Set them aside.

To make the Thai styled dressing, just place all of the ingredients in a jar with a lid. Close it and shake it until it emulsifies. Set it aside.

For the peanut and ginger sauce, place all of the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

Right before serving mix the carrots, mango and coriander for the slaw with the dressing (remember to give it a good shake before adding it to the slaw).

Divide the zoodles between 2 or 3 bowls. Add the peanut & ginger sauce. Finish it by adding the slaw. Eat right away. Enjoy!

I like the zoodles raw since this is a cold salad. But if you don’t, you can always sautéed them in a pan for about 1 minute with a little bit of olive oil.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.