spring is in the air

cream dress via beauty and sass

Every girl should have the feminine dress that is overly girly and just very pretty. This is mine – I bought it many years ago on the sale rack at BCBG and it’s one of my favorites, especially in the spring. Although I wear it in the fall and winter with a denim jacket, that hides some of the lace details that I love in this dress. The great thing about pieces with lace or other embellishments is that it makes the styling easy and effortless. You can look polished with minimal accessories, makeup, and even lazy hair - perfect for spring.

cream dress

BCBG dress (“vintage”, similar here and here)  //  See by Chloe purse (a cute bow purse in blue)  //  Loeffler Randall pumps (similar)  //  Prada sunglasses (ON SALE!)  //  RumbaTime watch  //  Madewell cuff (old, very cool one here)  //  BITE Beauty lip cream in Sancerre

pink bow purse via beauty and sasslace detail via beauty and sasscream and bow via beauty and sasscream lace dress via beauty and sassPhotos by Dan Johnson

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decadent dark chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting

dark chocolate cupcakes with buttercream chocolate frosting

Chocolate cupcakes are totally underrated and have been unfairly overshadowed by red velvet cupcakes. Don’t get me wrong; I love red velvet. Sprinkles is my absolute favorite. But what many cupcake shops and bakeries have made so delicious is just something that I can not get right. It just never tastes the same, so I’ve given up. And in reality, red velvet is a faux chocolate anyway, right?

I don’t cut corners with my chocolate cupcakes. I like lots of butter, lots of chocolate, and lots of sugar. Pure decadence. I’ve been intimidated to attempt cupcakes since starting the gluten free diet because of the flours. So, I was beyond ecstatic when I saw America’s Test Kitchen for gluten free chocolate cupcakes with their custom flour blend. Since I like my cupcakes more buttery, I changed a few of the ingredients from their recipe but kept the flour blend + xanthan gum the same to make sure that the consistency was right.

Have you ever worked with xanthan gum? The texture seemed really sticky when I was working with the batter but somehow the cupcakes magically transformed in the oven. I topped the cupcakes with my favorite buttercream chocolate frosting and the result is something that is no different than a regular chocolate cupcake.

decadent dark chocolate cupcakes gluten free dark chocolate cupcakes dark chocolate cupcakes (gluten free) chocolate cupcakes (gluten free) buttercream chocolate frosting decadent dark chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting recipe

Ingredients (makes 12)

Cupcakes (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup ATK Gluten-Free Flour Blend
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Frosting (adapted from Williams-Sonoma
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a dash of salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners.
2. Put the butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a saucepan. Place on the stove at medium heat. Whisk mixture until the butter is melted and remove off heat. Set aside to cool.
3. In separate bowl, whisk flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt together.
4. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla together. Whisk in brown sugar until well combined. Whisk in cooled chocolate mixture and milk until combined. Whisk in flour blend mixture until batter is thoroughly combined and smooth.
5. Using a large spoon, portion batter evenly into the prepared muffin tin.
6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking.
7. Let cupcakes cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 10 minutes.
8. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow them to cool while preparing the frosting.
9. Have all the frosting ingredients at room temperature. Soften butter and whip in a bowl.
10. Add cocoa powder to butter and mix until well combined.
11. Mix the sugar, heavy cream, and salt in the cocoa powder and butter mixture.
12. Using a mixer, beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, then reduce the speed to low until the frosting gets to the right consistency.
13. Frost the cupcakes and serve!

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3 bb creams that can replace your foundation

3 bb creams that can replace your foundationsIt was nearly a year ago that I talked about bb creams in my bb/cc/dd cream cheat sheet. A lot changes in a year. Now I’m using a BB cream most days and a regular foundation only for special occasions and evenings when I want better makeup coverage.

BB cream is probably the topic I get the most questions about. “Should I use one?” “Which one should I use?”

BB creams are great because they are a time saver and are a moisturizer, SPF, primer, foundation, and sometimes more in 1. Unless you answer yes to one of the below questions, then yes, yes… you should be using a BB cream:

are you spending the day in the sun? 
are you looking for full makeup coverage?

Although BB creams have a SPF, it is not sufficient for spending the day in the sun so be sure to wear a separate sunscreen. If you’re looking for full coverage, then you just need to use a regular foundation since most BB creams have sheer to moderate coverage.

Okay so now you know you want a BB cream. Which should you use?

3 BB creams that can replace your foundation

Although many brands are making BB creams, there are very few that make ones that have enough color options and provide even the slightest bit of coverage to replace your foundation. Actually, there really are only 3 that I could find.

3? What about the loads of other ones? Well, typically if there are only a few shades of BB creams, that means that it is actually a tinted moisturizer and not sufficient to replace a foundation. These 3 passed the coverage test and offer all those great benefits of BB creams – being a primer, moisturizer, sunscreen, and more all in 1.

My personal favorite is Bobbi Brown, since they have a great range of colors for olive skin tones like mine. Tarte and smashbox are also both great alternatives.

Are you using any of these? Have another BB cream you love? Let me know in the comments below.

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the lazy girl’s guide to diffusing your curls

lazy girls guide to diffusing hair - attach diffuser to blow dryerI love the versatility that comes with curls and waves. But all those different hairstyles require time and effort, and sometimes I just don’t have the time. Or, I’m just too lazy. There are days that I just wash my hair, apply some hair product, and let it all air dry. I will even let myself do that and go to work. Not ideal and it doesn’t look all that professional to show up to the office with your hair soaking wet. And to add to it, I just never know what it is going to look like once it dries – curly hair can be unpredictable!

I have friends with curly hair who have sworn by a diffuser for years, and for a long time I didn’t really get it. I would get my hair stuck in a diffuser or push it around and get my hair so much frizzier than it is naturally. Finally I figured out I was doing it all wrong. Not only that, I realized I could use a diffuser to style my hair in 5 minutes (and I have a lot of hair, so this may even be less for you). This is totally a lazy girl win.

What You’ll Need:
small towel (ideally microfiber)
a blow dryer with a diffuser attachment
styling products (including a heat protectant)

What You’ll Do:

Step 1: Once you’re ready to start styling your hair, wrap a towel around your hair gently to squeeze out any excess water

lazy girls guide to diffusing hair - towel dry

 Step 2: Apply some hair product to soften your hair and protect it from the heat of the diffuser. I combine a hair oil with my favorite heat protect (Taming Elixir by Sebastian).

 lazy girls guide to diffusing

Step 3: Distribute the hair styling products all over your hair by lightly finger combining it through the ends.

 lazy girls guide to diffusing hair - finger comb product to ends

Step 4: Now you’re ready to start diffusing. Attach the diffuser to the blow dryer and then plug in your blow dryer and turn it on. Gently place a section of hair into the diffuser and let it sit for a minute before moving onto the next section. Avoid getting close to the roots and do not move the diffuser around.

lazy girls guide to diffusing hair - sit curls in diffuser

Step 5: Once you’ve gone through all sections of your hair for about 1 minute each, apply a soft gel (Sebastian Texturizer is my favorite) to your hair to hold the final style.

lazy girls guide to diffusing hair - finger comb gel

 Step 6: Turn on the diffuser again and repeat the previous step.

 lazy girls guide to diffusing hair - blow dry until 90% dry

Step 7: Within another 2 minutes, your hair should be about 80-90% dry and presentable. By the time you reach your destination, it will likely be fully dry!

 lazy girls guide to diffusing hair

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2 game changing gluten-free resources that you need to check out

gluten free dessertsI’m currently on month 4 of being gluten-free and by each day, it does get easier. I’ve tried a variety of gluten free alternatives and there are some things that are easy to find good gluten free versions of and others that there are not. Pizza = good. Bread and cake = not so much. So as someone who likes to bake, it kinda sucks! I’ve tackled a few dessert recipes (salted chocolate brownies and salted caramel cheesecake cupcakes) that taste just as good as the originals. But the problem with gluten-free baking is that you need gluten in order for baked goods to rise and bind the way they should. Brownies and cheesecake are both dense, so they can easily be substituted with other alternatives without sacrificing taste or consistency.

The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbookamerica's test kitchen gluten free cookbookBreads, cakes, cookies, and muffins, on the other hand, aren’t as easy. And that’s where America’s Test Kitchen comes in. Jack Bishop and Julia Collins Davison (of ATK) have already gone through the legwork involved with gluten-free baking and are now sharing their revolutionary techniques and groundbreaking recipes with us in the “The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook”.  They’ve tested different combinations of flours in muffins, cakes, and cookies to determine which work best. Unfortunately, they also say that there are some baked goods that are just impossible, namely phyllo dough and puff pastries. Cream puffs are one of my favorites. So disappointed.

You can find their recipe for flour (which works best for cookies and cakes) along with a chocolate chip cookie and a dark chocolate cupcake recipe (my next to try out!) here.

Gluten-Free Forever Magazinegluten free forever magazineI know it seems like everyone has a Kickstarter these days. Soon you’ll find me starting one to support this blog, right? Okay, not really. But between all those Kickstarters are those few that are actually really great ideas with great teams behind them. And that’s where the Gluten-Free Forever Magazine comes in. It’s aimed to be a quarterly magazine for “people who don’t want to compromise quality, flavor, or fun while enjoying a gluten-free lifestyle.” I’m totally in.

Behind GFF is a team of food media vets who will be bring recipes gathered from top chefs, authors, and bloggers. Gluten Free Girl has already announced that she will be contributing to the first issue and I’m sure there will be a lot of great recipes that even our gluten-full friends will enjoy. I’m really hoping that this Kickstarter reaches it’s goal so that I can take advantage of GFF so please help out and spread the word! You can take a look at more information on GFF and some of it’s pretty imagery (including the one above) at it’s Kickstarter page here.

Does anyone have any other great gluten-free resources, recipes, or tips? Let me know in the comments.

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the sassy prepster

layered dress by beauty and sass

I always say that if something is mostly work appropriate, then it’s probably not going to make its way into my closet. And sometimes I contradict myself. I immediately loved the flattering silhouette of this Madewell dress with the pleats around the waist and the side panels. Although it can also be worn casually, for my style it is mostly a polished dress I would wear into the office. Since the dress is very simple, I’ve been layering it with a denim shirt underneath and pairing it with ankle boots. It adds a bit of edge to the preppy style and makes a simple dress more interesting. I can wear this to the office and also for some apres-work drinks.

Madewell dress (on sale!) // Topshop denim shirt // Rebecca Minkoff bag // rag & bone booties // RumbaTime watch (find other colors here) // Madewell cuff (old, very cool one here) // Lanvin sunglasses (old, but great deal on the olive green  here) // BITE Beauty cashmere lip cream in Rioja

layered work wear via beauty and sassrebecca minkoff pursemadewell dress and lanvin sunglasses via beauty and sassrumbatime watch via beauty and sasstexting via beauty and sasswork layers with a dress and denim shirtPhotography by Dan Johnson

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curried quinoa, lentil, and yogurt with mango recipe

curried lentil, quinoa, and yogurt with mango recipeOne of my foods is fresh mango and I’m so happy mango season is here.  A ripe mango is juicy, sweet, and just melts in the mouth. While I was visiting my parents over the weekend, my dad went to the local produce store and got me some fresh mangos that were exactly like that.

So I ate some of it fresh (because how could I not), then I used the rest for this recipe. It is inspired by my love of mango in Thai dishes – mango curry, mango fried rice, the list goes on. But I never attempt to make Thai food at home. There are just some things that should be left to the experts. And maybe I’m too lazy.

Quinoa is great for lazy people – you can make a lot at once and refrigerate to use in different recipes. Oh, and it’s nutritious and filling. Back when I first became obsessed with quinoa and was searching recipes, I landed on quinoa with mango and curried yogurt recipe on Epicurious. The curried yogurt reminds me of the flavors that you may find in some of those Thai dishes I love. Over the years, I’ve refined it to my taste and also added lentils to mix things up. It can be served warm and cold, and another great dish to make on Sunday to eat during your busy work week.

mangos via beauty and sass curried lentil, quinoa, and yogurt curried lentil, quinoa, and yogurt with mangocurried lentil, quinoa, and yogurt with mango and sriracha recipe

Ingredients
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
1 firm-ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 small lime
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons ginger powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup dry quinoa
1/3 cup dry red lentils
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 green onions, sliced into tiny pieces
Sriracha (to taste)

Directions
1. Whisk together yogurt, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
2. Rinse quinoa and lentils, then add into a large pot with 3 cups water.
3. Add red peppers and green onions to the quinoa and lentil mixture, and mix.
4. Place the pot on the stove and turn to medium heat. Cook until all the water is absorbed.
5. Mix the cooked lentils and quinoa into the yogurt.
6. Add the sliced mangos to the yogurt mixture.
7. Squeeze in the limes and add Sriracha to taste.
8. Serve warm or refrigerate to eat later in the week cold. I personally prefer it cold!

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