Taming the Beast: My Hair

Well, it’s 100% humidity when I wake and stays that way most of the day. My hair is ALL THE WAY OUT THERE! (PICTURE IT) I don’t often post about my favorite products or beauty regimen. Perhaps because it’s not much of a regimen, well it wasn’t in my 20’s. Only since my 30’s have crept in, have I thought it responsible to start doing crazy things like:

  • night cream
  • sunscreen
  • lotion or cream on dry body spots

I’ve always been good about caring for my teeth and generally tried to take good care of myself but my hair….


It started in my early 20’s: natural waves. As an asian, it had always been stick straight. I returned home from college one weekend and my mother asked me:

“did you get a perm?”

The answer was “NO.”

I knew I was in trouble.

As my 20’s progressed, so did the wavy factor of my hair. Kept at bay with a shorter haircut, I didn’t notice it as much. I refused to embrace my part Mongolian gene pool that gave me the kink in my hair. Then I moved to the land of humidity:


Yes, it’s not as humid here as it is where you are…(blah, blah, blah, it’s not a contest) but in my little world, I moved from ZERO humidity, to 100% humidity in the morning, afternoon, and at bedtime.

My hair: it got real excited. 

I started growing it out to donate it and because I was too busy to get it cut in grad school. The wavy/curly/messy/frizz+humidity=terrible hot mess hair.

I started calling in the big guns. My stylist. Who is also my cousin. I was still getting cuts from her when I would return home and explained my predicament. She has yet to let me down!

I am lucky to have great volume in my hair but the natural wavy/curl is permanent and instead of fighting city hall, I’m learning to embrace it. My product arsenal:

My Hair | Domesticated Academic

Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum. This bottle has lasted me over a year so it’s worth the upfront cost of about $17 for the dime size portion you use each day. It helps calm my hair down as it dries without feeling greasy.

Joico Joiwhip mousse. I love the hold without any stickiness to it. While it does cost more than shelf brands, it’s worth it to me. I’ve bought dozens of bottles of other brands, only to be dissapointed later on.

On days I wash my hair, I put some Super Skinny in it and let it air dry as much as possible, even sitting next to a fan to help it dry faster. It volumizes pretty quickly and I only have to hit it with the hair dryer for a minute. I finish it with a good dollop of mousse and then shape it with my fingers. No fuss. The mousse doesn’t flake or anything weird and lasts through a good workout (I sweat a lot).

Hair Products | Domesticated Academic

I don’t always have time to wash my hair and do the full monty each day. On hectic mornings, I rely on dry shampoo. Lately, I’ve been digging Tresemme and Suave. Spray those roots, brush it through a few minutes later, and re-mousse it up!


Summer Pasta Salad with Spinach

Apple Cheddar Salad | Domesticated Academic

You’ll love this salad because it says, “it’s summer & i’m the perfect dish to pass!” This salad = easy. That’s the best part. You can go as light or as heavy on the ingredients depending on your personal preference to carbs, dairy, and dressing. This would also make a great “make your own” dish where you can put out the ingredients and let people assemble their own mini-salads for the meal. Sunflower seeds and craisins would make great additions as well. Get crazy with your imagination on this one! The base of the spinach and pasta are perfect as a starter!

Apple Cheddar Salad | Domesticated Academic

You could beef this up with some grilled protein or serve it as a simple side on a warm night of dining el fresco! The possibilities are endless!

You’ll need:

15 min. + pasta cook/cool time

  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 5 oz rotini pasta, cooked & cooled
  • 2 apple, cored & finely sliced
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar, cubed small
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  1. Lay baby spinach on a large platter.
  2. Top with cooked pasta
  3. Arrange apples and cheese on top of pasta
  4. Sprinkle nuts
  5. Leave the dressing on the side for guests so the apples don’t get soggy

Black Bean Tomato Salad | Domesticated Academic

Black Bean Tomato Salad

Mango Avocado Chicken Salad | Domesticated Academic

Mango Avocado Chicken Salad

Bacon & Caramelized Onion Mac & Cheese

Bacon Macaroni & Cheese {Domesticated Academic}

You’ll love this because it hits every ‘comfort note’ in your brain. Pasta, cheese, bacon, and some crunch from the panko breadcrumbs. This dish is as decadent as they come and in my mind, the only thing missing is a cold beer to go with it and a piece of something chocolate for dessert. This is not for the faint of heart in terms of the ingredients, it does have a lot of cheese! Make this to share and freeze. It freezes like a champ for a quick single serving lunch or night when no one feels like cooking. I promise, this treat is worth the effort every now and then.

Bacon Macaroni & Cheese {Domesticated Academic}

It is possible to make this dish up in one fell swoop in your kitchen or you can do it in stages. It’s up to you. I put the water on the boil, start the bacon and onions, and pre-heat the saucepan for the cheese sauce. While the pasta boils, the bacon and onions are working, and I’m whisking away at my cheese sauce. It is possible! If you’re not quite that confident, make the bacon and onions and set aside. Make the pasta and leave in strainer, and make the cheese sauce last. It’s up to you, but I have faith you can rock this recipe!

You’ll need:

an hour

makes a VERY FULL 9×9 pan when finished

  • 1/2 lb elbow pasta
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion

Cheese sauce:

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2-3 cups milk of choice
  • 2 cups shredded cheese of choice
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • Panko bread crumbs or corn flakes, crushed (optional)
  1. Cook bacon and onions together until bacon is cooked through and onions begin to brown and caramelize in a saute pan. You may like to remove the bacon before the onions are done if you prefer softer bacon. Should take about 15-20 minutes for the onions to brown up.
  2. Remove from heat and drain off any extra grease or set into paper towels to cool. Set aside.
  3. Bring water to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan. Boil pasta to desired doneness. About 9 minutes.
  4. Drain in colander and set aside until you’re ready for it.

To make the cheese sauce:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pre-heat a small/medium sauce pan on medium.
  3. Add olive oil and onions.
  4. Cook until onions begin to get translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir to cook evenly.
  5. Add flour to make the rue.
  6. Whisk the flour into the olive oil. If you need to add a bit more olive oil to make a paste, do so.
  7. Cook rue for 2-3 minutes for a light rue. Overcooking the rue will burn it. Whisk this up!
  8. Add milk.
  9. Continue to whisk.
  10. When the milk is heated through, add the shredded cheese by the handful and whisk to incorporate.
  11. Once the cheese is added and melted into the mixture, it should be quite thick.
  12. Add salt, pepper, garlic, mustard, hot sauce, etc… to taste. This is the perfect time to taste your sauce before adding the noodles. Use your best judgment.
  13. Combine noodles, cheese sauce, and most of bacon/onion mix. Leave some out to sprinkle on top if you want.
  14. Pour mix into a 9×9 pan.
  15. Top with remaining bacon/onions/more cheese/panko breadcrumbs or crushed corn flakes.
  16. Bake uncovered for 20-30 min.
  17. Remove from oven.
  18. Let sit at least 15 min. before serving or it will melt all the skin inside of your mouth. Trust me on this one. 😛

This freezes like magic too. I like to make a big batch (9×13 pan) and freeze at least half. I portion it out into bags and label into 2-3 servings for a dinner and a few lunches. This also makes a killer dish to pass. You can enjoy it and so can everyone else!

No Boil Macaroni & Cheese {Domesticated Academic}

No Boil Mac & Cheese

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese {Domesticated Academic}

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

PB Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

PB Oatmeal Cookies | Domesticated Academic
You’ll love these because they’re simple to put together, require almost no effort, and if you’re a fan of peanut butter, let’s just say HELLO to your new best friend! These are moist, dense, packed with good whole oats and peanut butter, and inherently will leave you feeling less guilty about shoving a few into your piehole. I baked up a batch of these bad boys for a weekend cook out and the plate was almost clean following burger, dogs, salads, deviled eggs, etc…there’s always room for ONE COOKIE!!
I put in the recipe to NOT use natural peanut butter because it’s too oily for these. While it may violate some of your personal beliefs on food and nutrition, you might have to let it slide on this one–you can use the natural pb if you’d like, but don’t say I didn’t warn you……I am trying to cut back on some of the butter in my cookies and while I would be remiss if I didn’t say that butter is truly one of my favorite food groups, sometimes, even I need the gentle reminder that I can still have some sweets without a lb. of butter. Although, if you try to take butter away during sweet corn season, I might actually chase you down for some!
PB Oatmeal Cookies | Domesticated Academic
When I saw this recipe, I was skeptical. No flour? No fat outside of peanut butter? I was more intrigued to make these than anything and like a moth to a flame, I just couldn’t hold back. In my own defense, I did wait a couple of weeks because life has been busy and I’ll be honest here and say one thing: I don’t always have time to cook/bake intricate things or in this case: anything at all. Two colons in one sentence, probably also violating APA code….**sigh**
  • 1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter (not natural)
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup rolled oats (gluten-free if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In small bowl mix together the oats and baking soda; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl beat peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth, about 3 minutes. Mix in dry ingredients with a wooden spoon, then gently fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Roll cookies into 2 inch dough balls and place onto cookie sheet 2 inches apart, then BARELY flatten the top of the cookie with your hand. The dough should be pretty sticky so if you find this method annoying, simply use a cookie scoop to drop the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet. The cookies may not be as round in shape and perhaps a bit thicker, but that’s okay, they will still be delicious.
  5. Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes and remove when edges barely begin to turn a golden brown. The cookies may look a little underdone, but they will continue to cook once you remove them from the oven. Cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining cookie dough. Makes 16-20 cookies.

More oat, cookie, wonderous bites of fun….

Oatmeal Fudge Bars | Domesticated Academic

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies | Domesticated Academic

Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Spinach Cilantro Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

Healthy Spinach Alfredo Sauce | Domesticated Academic
Remember the AMAZING Healthy Alfredo Sauce I sent your way a few weeks back? How could you forget!?!?!?! Here’s another great rendition of the base recipe with some added greens and a kick you’ll love. You’ll love this because it’s healthy, easy, and replaces something that’s extra rich for something that’s still delicious without making you need to worry about your blood pressure or cholesterol.
Healthy Spinach Alfredo Sauce | Domesticated Academic
A-MA-ZZZING. That’s my final word on this stuff. In case you missed the original post (healthy alfredo sauce) this stuff is amazing as a fake out. For this round, I simply took half of the alfredo sauce and set it aside for the ‘white’ version. I left the other half in the blender and added a large handful of fresh spinach (frozen, drained well is fine too) and a handful of cilantro leaves. For good measure, I squirted some sriracha in the blender and turned it back on to blend.
Healthy Spinach Alfredo Sauce | Domesticated Academic
You’ll need:
30 min.

  • 8 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5-6 cups cauliflower florets
  • 6-7 cups stock or water
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper (more to taste)
  • ½ cup milk (more to taste)
  • 1 good handful of chopped cilantro (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup raw spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • sriracha for spice (optional)
  1. Garlic: Saute the minced garlic with the butter in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook for several minutes or until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned (browned or burnt garlic will taste bitter). Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Cauliflower: Bring the water or stock to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and cook, covered, for 7-10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender. Do not drain.
  3. Puree: Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower pieces to the blender. Add 1 cup vegetable broth or cooking liquid, sauteed garlic/butter, salt, pepper, spinach, cilantro, and milk. Blend or puree for several minutes until the sauce is very smooth, adding more broth or milk depending on how thick you want the sauce. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Serve hot! If the sauce starts to look dry, add a few drops of water, milk, or olive oil.
  4. Add parmesan cheese at the end and mix well.

Healthy Alfredo Sauce | Domesticated Academic

Healthy Alfredo Sauce