Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Bellabox April 2014 . . . . . . .

The unveiling for this months Bellabox took place before 8am as I was actually at home to receive the Bellabox, instead of it being tucked in a pot plant like usual (which led me to have a strange and interesting conversation with my postie!).

I have been on the fence about whether to keep this beauty subscription going as it has been a bit up and down. I quite like this months though, so I guess I will be keeping it going for another month!
I really like the new packaging. The little blue box is quite sturdy and good for storing odds and ends once you get a few of them, or even reusing them as gift boxes. They are definitely better than the cardboard envelope things that they had there for a while with the products floating around within.

This month, I am going to take a punt and guess that the star product is the Burts Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Balm is the star of the show, from the bee themed sleeve around the box (which I quite liked, very cute). I have tried this before and enjoy it. It is different from most cuticle creams as it is a lot waxier and doesn't seem to deposit as much product on your cuticles. More like lip balm for your fingers. It does work though. My little dessicated cuticles are doing a happy dance right now.

The next full size product was a Red Earth eyeshadow. Talk about a blast from the past. I thought Red Earth was in the grave. Last time I saw a product of theirs it was in Priceline. I bought a liquid highlighter of theirs that is similar to Benefit High Beam. I could see from the info card that Red Earth can be purchased from their website. I wonder if they will be entering a bricks and mortar store or whether they are just going to stay online. The eyeshadow I received looks very dark grey in the pot so I was a little disappointed, once swatched though I was happy though as the shade is quite sheer and will look great as a wash on the eyelid. It isn't shimmery but has a really nice pearlesent finish.

A small Loreal Base Magique Primer sample was also included. I wanted to try this out so am happy that this was included.

For the eyecream lovers, there is a Indio Eye Rise eye cream. It is anti-aging (aren't they all) with suncream and 'concealing properties'. Will give this little sucker a whirl, everyone loves anti-aging with some concealing properties. 

A Gatineau Aquamemory Moisture Replenish cream was also included. This is more of a luxe sample so will give me a much better idea of the product. It's RRP is $104 though and considering my Origins is only $60, it would have to be pretty special.

There was also a card with 4 Revlon Nearly Naked shades on it. Meh.

All in all, quite like it. Am interested in the eye cream, the cuticle cream pretty much recoups the cost of the box and the eyeshadow is a shade I wouldn't normally wear so takes me out of my comfort zone!.

Friday, 11 April 2014

[COOK IT] Slow cooker aromatic lamb shanks with quince and pearl cous cous

I went a bit crazy at the shops the other week and bought 4 quince. 4 HUGE QUINCE. I wasn't really interested in making something deserty, so decided to make quince paste. I didn't contemplate beforehand how much quince paste it would actually make . . . . . .

So after giving some away, I still have a stash of it in the fridge. Lamb shanks were a bargain buy last week, so quince paste and lamb shanks it is!

I have been loving Moroccan spices at the moment so decided to chuck some Ras El Hanout in to flavour it as then it reminds me of a tagine with the awesome mix of slow cooked meats, some sweet fruit and spices galore.

So, if you feel like a super easy, but tasty meal, read ahead.

Aromatic Lamb Shanks with quince and pearl cous cous

Lamb Shanks 
(serves 4)
2 large lamb shanks (or 4 small)
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
1 heaped teaspoon Ras el Hanout (I bought mine, but a recipe can be found here)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
120gm quince paste
1 can chickpeas
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup beef stock

Pearl Cous Cous
 1.5 cups of pearl cous cous
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon shopped garlic
fresh coriander, chopped
flaked almonds, toasted

1. Turn slow cooker on. Drain chickpeas and place in bottom of slow cooker along with chopped carrots.  Heat up a non-stick frying pan, pour in a little olive oil and brown off lamb shanks.

2. Place lamb shanks on top of chickpeas in slow cooker. Using the same frying pan cook onion until softened and then add in spices. Toast spices for around 1 minute, then add in beef stock and quince paste. Stir until quince paste is dissolved and then add tomatoes. Leave on heat until warm and then pour over lamb shanks in slow cooker. Put lid on and cook for 8 hrs on low or 5 or so hours on high (or until the lamb is falling from the bone, it will differ from slow cooker to slow cooker). I often liked to leave the lid off for the last 1-2 hours to help some of the liquid evaporate and thicken the sauce.

3. Bring salted water to the boil in a medium saucepan and add pearl cous cous. Simmer for 4 minutes and drain, making sure to reserve about 1.5 cups of the cooking liquid. Add butter to saucepan and melt, then add garlic and cook until softened and fragrant. Add in pearl cous cous and 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 4 minutes or until al dente. When done, stir through coriander. Sprinkle with coriander and toasted almonds.

You could use a few different things other than the pearl cous cous i.e. regular cous cous, pasta, mashed potato.

If you don't have a slow cooker, this could easily be made in a dutch oven, cooked for round 3 hours at 160 degrees.