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hautepepper

September 2017 – Stitch Fix Review

Have you heard of Stitch Fix? I am sure you have but just in case. Stitch Fix is a fashion subscription service where a stylist hand picks 5 different clothing items or accessories for you to try on and potentially purchase. They charge a $20.00 styling fee that is then applied to any of your purchases. You can get a fix sent as frequently or as infrequently as you want and you don’t have to purchase anything if you decide not to (note: you lose the styling fee if you don’t buy anything). Everything you get is a surprise and you have 3 days to try things on and decide which items to keep, mail back what you don’t like and repeat. More FAQ on SF here.

This year I am sharing my reviews of my fixes (when I remember…#bloggerfails) and you may have already caught the one I did in January or February. I changed the frequency of my fixes and also had some not so great ones (meaning not super flattering) so that is the reason for some of the gaps in posting. I want to post as frequently as possible but also want to be mindful that if the boxes aren’t exciting there might not be a huge value to you. I am not an easy size to fit in all cases so sometimes I get a box where things are just not gonna work and that might be more of my stubbornness than anything else.

For this box I asked my stylist for flats because I am in dire need of new flats. I also emphasized getting some pieces that would work well when I am transitioning from work to night. It is the season of events and I find myself needing to go from work to networking event or cocktail reception. Overall, I think my stylist, Cassie did a great job of trying to match my asks with what they have in the Stitch Fix inventory. I am still loving my Pinterest board to death and constantly tweaking it.  If you are going to do SF you really need to consider investing some time in a Pinterest board and keeping it up to date with your latest fashion likes, loves, and “OMG cannot live withouts”! I don’t want to waste anymore time so let’s get right to it!

Disclaimer: I was not paid or compensated by Stitch Fix to share my thoughts or promote their service. However, I have listed my referral link in the post which grants me a credit if you sign up for your own fix. 

  • MIA – Nona Laser-Cut Flats $49.00 

I asked for flats and Cassie definitely delivered! These are the cutest things and the color is perfect for fall. I love the detail and the ankle strap. I could probably own a pair of these in multiple colors and be a happy camper. I don’t think you can go wrong with something like this in your wardrobe and the price is great.

Verdict: Kept

  • 41Hawthorn – Carla Crochet Detail Blouse $58.00

When I pulled this from the box I was really excited by the pattern and design. Upon further inspection I felt that there was something off with the sizing. The label indicated that it was my size but it didn’t look anywhere close to that. You know how sometimes you can pick up two items that are identical in the store but have completely different fits. I have heard that this has something to do with when a shirt is cut from the fabric or some of the sort. Anyhow, I couldn’t get one arm through this one so I can’t give you the full effect. I am sure with the proper sizing it would be great!

Verdict: Returned

  • Collective Concepts – Katelynn Dress $78.00

I love dresses! I usually walk directly to the dress section of Nordstrom because I obsess over dresses. I love the print on this one! It is a simple style and the print is unlike anything I have in my wardrobe now. I can wear this with boots or flats. I can throw a jean jacket over this or a blazer. It works on so many levels! This was a great find by Cassie and I think she knew I would love it.

One thing I love about dresses like this is that it doesn’t have an zippers or crazy straps to deal with. A simple slip over the head and off you go. I have so many dresses with zippers that require serious effort in zipping and a lot of crazy arm twisting. I love it when a dress can be put on easily, I know many of you are with me on this one.



Verdict: Kept!!

  • Daniel Rainn – Anike Faux Leather Trim Leopard Print Blouse $68.00

I usually tell Cassie I want to try something new and different. I think when I first set up my profile I said I didn’t want animal prints or faux leather. I have since changed my mind. I really do like adding different things to my wardrobe and I am not afraid to play with prints and textures. I like how this shirt looks from a design perspective but I am not sure I love all of different aspects to it. I know, I know, I said I was ready to try new things. I really am but maybe I need to do it in small doses. It does look cute one me though…

Verdict: Returned

  • 41Hawthorn – Jahana Cargo Vest $68.00 

Cassie clearly knows I have a love of vests. I think she even said it in my note. So, of course I was really excited to see this light weight vest jacket in my fix. It even has a hood! I am always looking for something that works well as a jacket or covering in fall since the weather can change drastically throughout the day. I love the toggle strings on this one, it kind of reminds me of the kind of toggles you find on rain coats. The vest also had an adjustable string in the middle to allow for better fit if needed. Love the pockets and buttons too. My only question is do I have too many vests in my wardrobe already? I think the answer might be yes.

Verdict: Returned (Mostly because I have too many)

In Summary: 

I think this was a fairly decent fix and I feel pretty confident that Cassie knows me and my style! I am glad I was able to add some fun pieces to my wardrobe this fall. A lot of the time I make decisions based on budget. Some items would be welcome additions to my wardrobe but I don’t want to go crazy. If it isn’t something I must have then I usually hold off.

Hopefully this review was helpful to you. If you are looking for fun ways to up your wardrobe game then I think you should give Stitch Fix a try. If you just want to see me looking silly trying clothes then stay tuned for the next fix!

 

Rosemary-Lemon Roasted Chicken

Summer is over friends. WAHHHHHHH?!?!?!

I don’t know why it feels like summer is over in flash when you are an adult. Like wasn’t it just May? I am fairly certain there was some weird time/space leap that made it September…

When I was a kid I remember thinking anything was possible during summer. You could fall in love, go on an epic adventure, or solve a mystery…wait maybe that was just in some pre-teen coming of age movie. Anyhow, now that we are all adults summer has a different meaning. Most obviously, we work during the summer, blagh! I would at the very least exchange my ability to stay out past 10:00PM for the chance to have the summer’s off. I envy all of those teachers out there.

Ok, don’t be fooled, I am only slightly sad about the ending of summer. I am a HUGE fan of Fall. Did you already know that? I bet you did. I probably plan out my fall the way a pre-teen plans out their summer. I am always excited to do all of the things and eat all of the fall goodies and drink all the pumpkin spice latte’s. I am the most basic b***h and I am absolutely ok with it.



Fall is the perfect time of year to do a roasted chicken. One reason being that most people don’t want to run their ovens in the dead of summer. I think another reason they are great for fall cooking is that if you don’t eat it all in one night then you can use the leftover chicken for other meals throughout the week. This reason is the reason I love making a roasted chicken on a Sunday night. It’s like getting a two (or three) for one Since I am usually cooking for two I know that we will not eat an entire chicken in one night so I plan a few meals throughout the week that will use chicken (I like to make enchiladas!).

I like this recipe because it is so basic and you aren’t doing too much to the chicken. If you go too crazy on the seasonings it will make it hard to use the chicken meat for other things throughout the week so I usually do a simple preparation on my roasted chickens. You can always dress up the chicken with a gravy or sauce after you cut it up. I ended up making a simple chicken gravy for this one when I made it, I even used the pan drippings!

If you have hesitated to make a roasted chicken in the past because of cookware I can tell you now that I have made a chicken in so many different cooking dishes. I have used pyrex pans and roasting dishes. In this case I use a deep cookie sheet with a wire rack. If you have any of that in the house then you should be just fine. So, get to it, you’ll thank me later!

Rosemary-Lemon Roasted Chicken

Category: Entree

Yield: 4

Rosemary-Lemon Roasted Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 4lb. Chicken
  • 2 Tbsp. Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary Minced
  • 1 Whole Lemon
  • Cooking String

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Combine salt and rosemary in a small bowl.
  • Using your fingers, create an opening between the skin and flesh of the chicken (careful not to remove the skin completely).
  • Gently rub the salt and rosemary mixture under the skin and let sit for an hour or longer.
  • Before baking prick the lemon all over with a fork and place in the cavity of the chicken.
  • Tie the chicken legs together and place in roasting pan.
  • Roast chicken for 45 minutes or until a thermometer reads 175.
  • Skin should be golden brown and crispy.
  • Remove from oven and cover for an additional 15-20 minutes before carving (remove lemon before carving).
  • Notes

    Recipe adapted from The Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook

    Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://www.hautepepperbites.com/2017/09/07/rosemary-lemon-roasted-chicken/

    Summer Vacation 2017: Santa Barbara, California

    I can’t believe summer is nearly over already. Where did the time go?!?! I guess I will stare at these pics from our summer vacation to help prolong summer as long as possible (I am really excited about fall too but for now, let’s enjoy the sun!).

    If you have ever been then you already know how gorgeous it is; it is nick named the American Riviera. It is a popular weekend getaway spot for the rich and famous and even home to some of the rich and famous (ahem, Oprah). The sights and bites make it easy to see why.

    Our vacation was actually a wedding, reunion, and vacation all in one. The hubby is from SB so when we got the invitation to attend the wedding of one of his childhood besties we decided to extend the stay and enjoy some time with family and friends. Hope you enjoy the recap and if you plan a trip to SB in the future feel free to reach out for suggestions.

    First a quick recap of the wedding which was a beach wedding with the reception at a popular events space in Carpinteria, CA. I didn’t take pictures at the ceremony (sorry) but here are some of the highlights from the reception.

    I loved the color scheme they chose. What you don’t see are the adorable chandeliers that they had hanging throughout the venue. So adorable!

    I only took pictures of the salad course for some reason. I was probably too excited to get on the dance floor (true story). I do recall enjoying this panzanella salad!

    Whenever we come back to SB the hubs usually requests a visit to the zoo. It is probably the prettiest zoo you will ever go to. You can take a nice leisure stroll through the hillside while checking out the animals and the California plant life.

    After the zoo we went to have a brew and bite in the new Funk Zone. It is like the one stop shop for California wines and micro brews. I found a brewery that had a dog as a mascot, Lama Dog, obvious choice.

    The tacos are from a small restaurant in the tap room called Nook. They had tri-tip tacos as a special and since we were in the home of tri-tip we couldn’t pass these up. Tri-tip is a huge fave but hard to find on the east coast, if you go out west make sure to get some!



    One night we enjoyed the most amazing meal made by our dear friend AJ who works at a very popular sushi spot in Downtown SB called Arigato. He reserved us a seat at the sushi bar and passed amazing dish after amazing dish. I am sad he doesn’t live closer so that we can enjoy his creations every day. Also, he’s a Jiu Jitsu instructor so if you are in need of a great meal and jiu jitsu lesson he’s your guy. Tell him I sent you.

    I absolutely loved this Toro Tuna Belly (below)! Can this be in my life always?

    I ate a lot of other great food during our vacation, mostly tacos and seafood. Somehow tacos and/or seafood made it in to at least one meal during our trip. Here are some of the faves.

    Jeannine’s is a popular bakery and breakfast spot. We went here one of my first visits to SB so it is kind of a tradition now. I had a Chorizo frittata full of veggies.

    Bouillabaisse is all of my favorite things in one dish. Give me all the shellfish and calamari. Thank you!

    McConnell’s ice cream is a local fave, they even served it at the wedding!

    When we weren’t eating we were relaxing and enjoying the break.

    My in-laws have a pretty nice layout with a pool! I probably spent every afternoon poolside and as a result came home with a pretty substantial tan haha. Ah, paradise!

    Can this be my house please?

    I am gonna end the recap with a picture of me and Arthur, the ring bearer, from the wedding. Dogs were pretty much a constant while on vacation and I made sure to hug them all!

    Tropical Fruit Salsa

    My Friends!

    It is like the summeriest of summers out there. For the most part we are getting gorgeous weekends which is AH-MAZE-ING. The week days have been rather rainy; I think I heard them say on the news that it has been one of the wettest July’s in history…blah! As long as my weekends can be spent outside soaking up the sun and working on my tan I am a happy chica. If you throw in a pool I’ll be extra happy!

    I am writing this blog post as I watch the marathon of the Hunger Games because I can’t tear myself away. I could literally watch these over and over. Clearly, I am still a 13 yr. old girl on the inside (er, outside?). I recently took a personality test for work and it told me that I have the same personality type as Peeta. As I thought about it, I realized that this is probably fairly accurate and explains why I had no interest in the Katniss and Gale love story. It must be that whole bleeding heart, caring about anyone and everyone thing that we have in common. I will take it! Side note: how do you feel about personality tests? I happen to think they are pretty accurate but I don’t know if others agree. It can be a tough pill to swallow when you read a summary of all your shining attributes and perhaps, some of your less awesome attributes. I guess, you are who are. I know I am who I am.

    Anyway, if you have been a long time follower of HPB then you might have seen this recipe before. Back in the day when we lived in DC. I wanted to bring it back and boost the photo quality since it is a great recipe and the pictures I had before did not do it justice (don’t bother looking, I already trashed it). I look back at a lot of my older posts and think about giving them an upgrade. As a blogger I do wonder about the value of taking time to go through the posts every now and then to see which ones could benefit from an update. I feel like it is my job to give you newer content and new recipes but it might not be worth it to take a look at some of my older content. To my fellow bloggers, what say you?  Do you update your content and if so, how frequently do you do this? Leave your thoughts in the comments. 



    As another note on this recipe I will say that you certainly don’t need to make your own chips but why wouldn’t you? I have learned that it is always more fun to make your own chips or tortillas. The other benefit of course is adding your own toppings like I do here (cinnamon & sugar). I learned how to make this recipe with the homemade chips but I wont fault those who’d like to save the time and purchase their own chips. If it helps, it is actually very easy and fun to do!

    I like to bring this dish to summer brunches or picnics because it is a bit different from the other dishes you will see on the picnic table. It is also a sure way to impress your friends and family when you display it in a pineapple. It could be considered a dessert or appetizer depending on your mood. It has always been a crowd pleaser and I don’t think anyone will complain no matter when you decide to put it on the table. I hope you enjoy it!

    Tropical Fruit Salsa

    Category: Appetizer

    Yield: 12

    Tropical Fruit Salsa

    Ingredients

      Salsa
    • 1 Pineapple Diced
    • 1 Mango Peeled and Diced
    • 1 Navel Orange (Supremed and Diced)
    • 1 Red Onion Diced
    • 1 Jalapeno Minced
    • 1 Bunch Cilantro Minced
    • 2 Tbsp. Honey
    • Juice of One Lime
    • 1 Tsp. Kosher Salt
      Tortilla Chips
    • 10 Flour Tortillas Cut into Triangles
    • 2 Tsp. Cinnamon
    • 2 Tsp. Sugar
    • Oil for Frying

    Instructions

  • Combine all fruit in a bowl with the honey, lime juice and salt.
  • Add to the fruit the peppers and cilantro, toss together gently and refrigerate for at least an hour. While the salsa is chilling make your tortilla chips.
  • Instructions for Tortilla Chips
  • Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.
  • Fry the tortillas in oil, turning them once.
  • Once they have turned a golden brown you can remove them from the oil and place on a plate with a paper towel.
  • Sprinkle the chips with the cinnamon and sugar mixture before they cool.
  • Serve the chips with your tropical salsa topped off with cilantro.
  • Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://www.hautepepperbites.com/2017/07/17/tropical-fruit-salsa/

    Lavender Shortbread and Mulberry Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

    Happy day after the 4th of July!

    For those of you who live in the U.S.A. I hope you had a great holiday. I am a huge fan of birthdays and the 4th of July is like a birthday that everyone celebrates (well, every American that is). My 4th was filled with food, family, friends and of course, Independence Day the movie. I am actually cheating a little because I am watching the sequel instead of the original. I don’t hate it. I love alien movies so, this movie could have the worst acting and I would still sit down and watch it. The other night I refused to turn off Men in Black II even though we own it and I have seen it a million times. I am just a sucker for those aliens I guess.

    Anyway, this post is not about aliens or the 4th of July except that this would have been a great recipe to make for the fourth but I am horrible at planning ahead, sorry! I bring you this recipe because one, it is delicious, and two, it represents something that means a lot to me.



    I live in Pittsburgh, uh duh, and I am lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where I have access to fresh food and in fact, I have several choices for grocery stores and markets well within a reasonable distance of where I live. That is not the case for many people in my city or around the world. There are some amazing organizations out there that are making it their mission to solve hunger issues and access to fresh food that are far too prevalent in our society. One of those organizations is called 412 Food Rescue. The amazing folks at 412 deal primarily with the issue of food waste; by collecting perfectly edible food that would normally go to waste and delivering to communities in need; they are addressing two major issues at once. They are total rockstars!

    The reason I have gotten involved with 412 is because of their Hidden Harvest program. Through HH we rescue or glean fruit from trees around the city and the edible fruit goes to neighborhoods in need, the inedible fruit gets turned into value-added products that help further the mission of 412 (learn more here). Last year, we organized a team through work and harvested apples and crab apples from around the city. It was such a blast that the minute we wrapped up and weighed our apples we knew we had to do it again. So we signed on to do a whole season of harvesting this year and our inaugural outing was harvesting mulberries.

    I grew up eating mulberries from the trees in my neighborhood, didn’t you? I already knew how delicious they are and to think that they are just growing everywhere meant there would be no shortage of berries ripe for the picking (ha!). After a few hours and a few dedicated volunteers we picked over 50 pounds of mulberries. Sweet!  The best part of picking the fruit is meeting people on the street who were curious about what we were doing picking fruit in the middle of the day wearing matching shirts and looking nothing like your typical fruit harvesters (if there is such a thing). Every person that stopped by learned something about 412, their mission, and a very hands on way that they could get involved. I love how easy it is to get people excited just by showing them how excited you are. This is definitely the best way I have every helped promote the mission of an organization by doing something that I also happen to think is extremely fun. 412 had arranged for our mulberries to go to a local ice cream maker called Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream where they were turned in to a lemon ice cream with a mulberry swirl. I love Millie’s and love how close they are to me so I can visit as frequently as I like. As an added bonus, a portion of the proceeds from the ice cream sale went back to 412.

    So, I am not going to lie, I was basically the most excited that the mulberries I picked with my own two hands were going to be made in to an ice cream by one of my favorite ice cream spots. Um, dream come true!

    Holding some mulberries I picked during Hidden Harvest

    When I got my hands on “my ice cream” I knew I had to do something special with it. I devised these ice cream sandwiches as a result. I love lavender and had a suspicion it would go well with our lemon mulberry ice cream. I was right!

    At first I was a bit nervous about making a shortbread cookie since I had always gotten the feeling that they were somewhat difficult as cookies go. I am not really sure where I got that idea from but these turned out to be super easy and I am kind of kicking myself for not making these sooner. I should do my best to not assume that everything related to baking is hard. My friends and family need to encourage me to bake more so I can get over my unfounded anxiety.

    These sandwiches turned out great and were a special way to enjoy the fruit of our labor…see what I did there?! If you want to make these with your own ice cream I would suggest some sort of blueberry or lemon ice cream, or both?

    Lavender Shortbread and Mulberry Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

    Category: Dessert

    Yield: 6 Sandwiches

    Lavender Shortbread and Mulberry Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

    Ingredients

    • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
    • 1/2 Cup Cornstarch
    • 1/4 Tsp. Salt
    • 1 Cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter at room temp
    • 1/2 Cup Superfine Sugar
    • 2 Tbsp. Dried Lavender finely chopped
    • 1 Pint Mulberry Ice Cream or Other

    Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a medium bowl sift together flour, cornstarch, and salt.
  • Mix butter and sugar using a mixing bowl on medium speed for 4 minutes or until mixture is creamy and smooth.
  • Add in lavender and mix until combined.
  • Slowly add flour in batches, mixing after each addition.
  • Once all flour has been added, mix dough on low until the dough begins to form large clumps and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
  • Spoon dough out on to a cutting board covered in flour and shape in to a disc.
  • Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Once chilled, lightly dust flour on a cutting board and gently roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick.
  • Using a biscuit cutter or other round cutter, cut out discs from the dough and gently place on cookie sheet.
  • Bake cookies for 20-25 minutes or until they start to brown on the edges.
  • Remove cookies and cool on pan for 5 minutes before handling.
  • To assemble sandwiches:
  • Take two cookies and turn upside down.
  • Place one scoopful of ice cream on one cookie.
  • Gently top place the other cookie on top and apply light pressure to even out the ice cream.
  • Wrap sandwich in plastic wrap or foil and freeze until ready to eat.
  • Notes

    Cookie recipe adapted from Cookies, Brownies & Bars cookbook by Elinor Klivans.

    Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://www.hautepepperbites.com/2017/07/05/lavender-shortbread-and-mulberry-ice-cream-cookie-sandwiches/