Margherita Eggplant Pizza

Margherita Eggplant Pizzas - DC Girl in Pearls

Lately, it’s been Carb City, Population: Me.

Pasta, General Tso’s, Chicken fingers. My diet lately resembles that of a seven-year-old who’s been left home alone. I’ve been on the Kevin McAllister Diet. But while it’s been a fun ride, I need to get a grip on reality and a better fit into my pencil skirts if we’re being totally honest.

Of course, I picked probably the worst possible time to jump on the clean eating bandwagon. Super Bowl weekend practically mandates you to sit on the couch with a big bowl of chips, dip, salsa and guacamole. And maybe some pulled pork. Oh, who are we kidding, definitely pulled pork.

The bad news: worst week to start up eating healthfully again. The good news: these margherita eggplant pizzas are tasty enough to make you forget those sinful thoughts about junk food. But I won’t blame you in the slightest if you top these eggplants with a schmear of BBQ sauce and pile it with pulled pork next weekend. It totally counts as low-carb, right?

Margherita Eggplant Pizzas - DC Girl in Pearls

Ingredients

1 eggplant (cut into about 1/2 inch slices)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt + pepper

Mozzarella

Pizza sauce

Basil + red pepper flakes

Directions

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray and line up the eggplant slices.

3. Brush the slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Place the eggplant into the oven for about 8 minutes and take out once tender.

5. Top with pizza sauce, mozzarella + whatever toppings your little heart desires.

6. Put back into the oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Margherita Eggplant Pizzas - DC Girl in Pearls

Margherita Eggplant Pizzas - DC Girl in Pearls

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Jalapeño Guacamole Grilled Cheese

Jalapeño Guacamole Grilled Cheese - DC Girl in Pearls

When the going gets tough, the tough go grillin’. Cheese, that is. Between Polar Vortex and life going a million miles per hour, comfort food is key. I know, you’re not supposed to turn to food for comfort but it’s supposed to snow tomorrow so screw it.

And let’s be real, what’s more comforting than melty, gooey cheese? Nothing, I tell you. Absolutely nothing.

If I had to think about the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had, my mind instantly goes to the “Thrilled Cheese” from The Big Cheese Truck. * Cue dreamy sequence *

Yes, I dream in jalapeños + guacamole. Thank you, melatonin!

Jalapeño Guacamole Grilled Cheese - DC Girl in Pearls

Ingredients for Tomato Soup

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

4 cups of chicken stock

1 tablespoon of salt + a pinch of pepper

A pinch of red pepper flakes

½ cup of heavy cream

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.
  2. Add the chopped onion and stir occasionally until golden. Then add the minced garlic.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and chicken stock. Stir until combined.
  4. Toss in the salt and pepper and stir.
  5. Add the red pepper flakes, I recommend a pinch but I like their kick so I upped my pinch to a handful.
  6. Bring the soup to a boil and then let the soup simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.
  7. Pour in the heavy cream and stir. Let the soup simmer for about 5 more minutes.

Jalapeño Guacamole Grilled Cheese - DC Girl in Pearls

Ingredients for Jalapeño Guacamole Grilled Cheese

Sourdough bread

Jalapeño Pepper Jack cheese

1 jalapeño

Guacamole (I used store prepared)

Directions

  1. Surprisingly, blistering jalapeños takes away their heat and leaves you with a smoky flavor. The best way to blister a jalapeño is to skewer it and hold it above the stovetop on medium-low heat for 60-90 seconds on each side. Eventually, the skin will break, creating a popping sound. Once each side is charred, place it on a plate and invert a soup bowl over the jalapeño. Let it sit for 15 minutes, it’ll steam and soften the jalapeño.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the grilled cheese as you normally would. Since I was adding guacamole, I toasted the top slice of bread separately.
  3. Layer the grilled cheese with a healthy scoop of guacamole and the blistered jalapeño.
  4. For best results, dip the grilled cheese into the tomato soup!

Jalapeño Guacamole Grilled Cheese - DC Girl in Pearls

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Thirsty Thursday: Dirty Shirley

Dirty Shirley with Sprite Zero and Grenadine - DC Girl in Pearls

Some of my earliest memories are from spring vacation in sunny Florida. Wading into the Gulf of Mexico to collect seashells, building sand castles and going to The Lazy Flamingo for happy hour. I know what you’re thinking but hey, my mom would get a daiquiri and I’d get chicken fingers and a Shirley Temple. Still the meal of champions, in my opinion. The manager even gave me a free tshirt to wear on the beach, which I totally rocked went down to my ankles. Very slimming, I must say.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Shirley Temple not only because grenadine is everything but I loved watching Shirley Temple movies growing up. HeidiRebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Curly Top. All classics. Then you grown up and those fun mocktails turn into cocktails. But I can’t bring myself to give ol’ Shirls the boot so let’s just make up by adding vodka to the party.

Round of chicken fingers + Dirty Shirleys, coming right up!

And can we talk about how much I love these glasses?!? I found them at a thrift shop for $2. Wonderfully kitschy and totally perfect for a Dirty Shirley. Bendy straw is a non-negotiable here.

Dirty Shirley with Sprite Zero and Grenadine - DC Girl in Pearls

Ingredients

Sprite Zero (or any citrus pop – yup, I say pop)

Grenadine

Vodka

Maraschino Cherries (optional)

Directions

Fill a Collins glass up halfway with ice and pour in a shot of vodka. Add the Sprite until the glass is almost full and then top with grenadine. Garnish with maraschino cherries.

You could even go a little wild and top with a splash of Prosecco to give it some extra bubbles!

Dirty Shirley with Sprite Zero and Grenadine - DC Girl in Pearls

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Power Dresses

After a long, crazy day at work, the last things you want to do in no particular order: cook dinner, think abut what to pack for lunch tomorrow and figure out what you’re going to wear. Really, all you want to do is order General Tso’s from Seamless and watch Netflix until you fall asleep. And there is really nothing wrong with that at all. To stop myself from spending so much money on ordering out, I do meal prep on Sundays so on nights when I come home and cannot even fathom the idea of leaving my comfy bed let alone cooking, I’ve got a meal all locked and loaded for tomorrow.

I try to do the same thing for work outfits by planning them out on Sunday but lately, I’ve been slacking. Hey, I’m only human!

Whether you are fresh out of work wear inspiration or simply need to toss on a cute 9-5 look because the snooze button would NOT take no for answer, work dresses are the answers to your prayers. They’re easy to toss on in the event of oversleeping and still give the air of being put together. Add a couple of accessories and we’re in business!

For Monday through Thursday…

How To Style Dresses for Work - DC Girl in Pearls

J.Crew Schoolboy Blazer // J.Crew Factory Draped Shift Dress // Jessica Simpson Nude Heels

Disclaimer: I normally absolutely detest paisley but it was the best example of a shift dress I could find. It’s flowy to forgive your late night Snackfest 2015 and a blazer gives structure to the loose lines of the dress in order to create a flattering silhouette. Throw on your classic nude heels + you’re out the door. TIP: if the shift dress is a single color, add a statement necklace to the ensemble.

For Casual Friday…

How To Style Dresses for Work - DC Girl in Pearls

Lilly Pulitzer Coco Short Sleeve Shift Dress // Sole Society Miia // BaubleBar Gold Tassel Bracelet

WOO HOO!!!! You made it through the week like a champ! But spoke too soon, tomorrow’s casual Friday and you’re not sure how to go about it. Simple: pick a colorful dress with an appropriate hemline and because it’s almost the weekend and you are ready to par-tay (read: sleep forever), go on and get a little wild with the accessories. I’ve been eyeing up BaubleBar’s tassel bracelet, it’s at the top of my baubles wish list! And let’s be real, who has the superhuman strength to resist leopard spots on a Friday?!

Do you have a formula for picking an outfit when you’re too exhausted?

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Favorite Podcasts

Union Market in Washington, DC - DC Girl in Pearls

This weekend was incredible! Baking, check. Reading for fun, check. Eating THE best black bean burger + fries with my college roomie, check. Conquering Making steps towards learning my camera’s settings, check. And I finally hit 10,000 steps on my pedometer yesterday! On a whim, I downloaded a free pedometer on my iPhone because I was curious to see how many steps I take in a day. I knew most of my exercise comes from walking to and from work each day but my god, I didn’t realize how sedentary I’d become until I looked at my pedometer. On a regular weekday, I’m lucky to hit 3,000 steps. No bueno.

So I’ve resolved to get myself walking more (When I say I can’t run, I mean it) and for that I need two things: better weather and entertainment. The weather, I get that I can’t control. And looking at DC’s 10 day forecast, I see not one but TWO snow shower days. Move to DC, they said. It’ll be so warm, they said. LIES!

Controlling the weather is off the table but hey, entertainment can be done. It seems like everyone is hooked on Serial, which makes me wonder: What solid podcasts are out there? Do you listen to podcasts? Recipes, politics, meditation, financial tips, the sky’s the limit! Anyone have a good recommendation for some walking amusement?!

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Time Out

Sunday in bed with Bae-gel

The month of December went by in a blur of wrapping paper, cookie exchanges and ugly sweaters. Now, January is on its way out and I feel like post-holiday life is still settling back into place. The last few weeks have been nonstop with work, friends, projects and some really exciting blog posts for you! Last August, I started using a Nikon to create better quality pictures for DC Girl in Pearls and discovered how much I love photography. I took a class in high school but was pretty intimidated by the darkroom and the many rules and lingo. But for New Year’s, I promised myself I would put on my big girl pants skirt and switch from automatic to manual and no longer fear aperture. I am woman, hear me roar. Or, click, in this case.

My photography resolution led to many other resolutions for this blog: better photos, high-quality creative content and a streamlined site. So I might have a little crazy and enrolled in a bunch of web development, photography and coding online courses. Which has made for many nights spent in front of my computer working until late. I’ve always loved learning new things so it really doesn’t feel like work at all but it didn’t really help the whole beauty sleep department zzzzz…..

This weekend, I managed to carve out some time for myself to just unwind and de-plug. Which was no simple feat since I recently downloaded Trivia Crack. They really weren’t joking around about the name!! I curled up in bed with a book and a jalapeño bae-gel from my favorite Bagels + Baguettes on Capitol Hill. Yup, I’m 25 years old and I put myself in a time out. It did wonders for my energy levels and I feel ready to take on the week! But since today’s a day off, I’m staying in my pjs all day long. Bagel non-optional.

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Weekend Checklist

Flamingo Lights = Wonderfully Kitschy - DC Girl in Pearls

Who else forgot we have a long weekend?! I always mark days off on my calendar AND on my phone…yet still completely forget about them. I’m pretty pumped about this weekend: last weekend was a whirlwind of activity and the weekend before I was still getting over being sick. This weekend I’m excited to get back to baking and maybe even do some DC exploring?! And some quality reading time, too. Perhaps cocktails will have to happen. And maybe this is the weekend I finally start Serial. Thank God we’ve got an extra day to squeeze in all the fun!

Speaking of fun, how awesome are my flamingo lights?!? My college roommate Hayley gave them to me for Christmas but I haven’t found a spot perfect for this flamboyance. Apartment Therapy 2015 is in full force! I WILL be domesticated this year!

What are your weekend plans?

Let’s not forget about some weekend retail therapy ; )

Ann Taylor // 40% off full-price + 60% off sale with code SHOPBIG

LOFT // 40% off full-price + 60% off sale

J.Crew // 40% off final sale with code SHOPNOW

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Pineapple Strawberry Tequila Cooler

Pineapple Strawberry Tequila Cooler - DC Girl in Pearls

My name is Lauren and I’m addicted to tropical, fruity cocktails. I know, I know, the next-day sugar crash alone should be enough to leave me running for the hills. But I can’t fight this feeling any longer. These cocktails make me wish I was lounging in the sunshine on a tropical island with a tiki bar and not a care in the world. Jimmy Buffett really knows what he’s talking about. And lord knows, DC’s weather has been about as far from tropical as you could possibly get. But I got to taste a little piece of paradise on Sunday.

Have you heard of Yacht Rock Revue?

They’re a cover band who play 70s and 80s hits. We’re talking “Rich Girl,” “Take Me On,” and “I Can’t Go For That.” Yacht Rock Revue has a cult following and, true to the band’s name, fans show up to concerts decked out in their finest nautical attire. This means captain’s hats. If I can’t be on a beach, you better believe I’m going to enjoy my tropical cocktail while dramatically singing along to “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Better believe it.

Pineapple Strawberry Tequila Cooler - DC Girl in Pearls

I didn’t want my tropical beverage bonanza to end and decided to create my own but with more of an edge: Hello, tequila. Think of this cocktail as a fruity beverage and a margarita having a fling. And a flamingo who just wants to hang out.

Now where’s my cabana boy?

Ingredients

1 shot tequila

1 can Trader Joe’s Pineapple juice

A splash strawberry simple syrup

Directions

Combine tequila and pineapple juice, top with a splash of strawberry simple syrup. Cheers!

Pineapple Strawberry Tequila Cooler - DC Girl in Pearls

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This post was sponsored by Tervis®.  All opinions and product sentiments are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make DC Girl in Pearls possible!

Pantry Powerhouses

Coming home from work, sometimes making dinner is the absolute last thing you want to do. There are far more important things to do. Like pouring a hefty glass of wine and continuing Friends-fest on Netflix 2015. Kitchen smitchen! It’s Couch City, Population: Me.

But ultimately, in the battle of Hunger vs. Netflix, Hunger typically emerges victorious and I retreat into the kitchen. As much as I’m lamenting, I love getting into the kitchen and whipping something up. Let’s be honest: after a long day, a simple meal may take a teeny amount of extra effort but is such a morale booster. What looks better, a plate of spaghetti for the fourth time in a row or chicken breast topped with sautéed veggies + a dollop of pesto?

I keep my pantry stocked with seasonings and various items to take the basics to the next level. Sometimes, all it takes is a seasoning to jazz up a dish. Think of it like adding a statement necklace to your jeans + white tee outfit. A finishing touch that makes the outfit dish pop!

Must-Have Items In Your Pantry - DC Girl in Pearls

 

Wegman’s Basting Oil: Typically, I reach for the regular EVOO stuff but when I’m feeling a bit fancy, Wegman’s Basting Oil is IT. The oil comes seasoned so there’s really not a whole lot to do besides drizzle it over your veggies as they sauté or as the final touch before you serve the meal (read: eat dinner on the couch, no shame). Basting Oil + Brussels Sprouts + Panko Crumbs = Flavortown. Any Triple-D fans out there??

Dijon Mustard: People seem to either love or hate mustard. Which camp am I in? Let’s just say, when I moved, I had a box dedicated to various Weber’s Mustard products. This could be a contributor to my single status. I can’t help it though and I’ll shout it from the rooftops: I LOVE MUSTARD! Dijon mustard is a rockstar in my avocado tuna salad and also tastes fantastic in a vinaigrette over greens or a cold pasta salad.

Pesto: Probably my favorite sauce EVER. I would eat it straight from the jar if it was socially acceptable. I would easily write a sonnet about my love for pesto. I like it so much, I should put a ring on it. You get the idea. One of my go-to dishes is seared tilapia with sauteed grape tomatoes and a healthy spoonful of pesto. It tastes delicious and keeps me away from reaching for the pasta far too often.

Pasta: Since we’re only 2 weeks past New Year’s, pasta is still very much a four letter word. Growing up in the throes of Atkins Diet-mania, pasta and carbohydrates are very much plastered with red letters. But in moderation, pasta can be a comforting meal! Just be sure to load it up with veggies and take it easy on the sauce. I tend to drown mine in marinara sauce…

Panko Crumbs: I’ve already mentioned Panko once in the post but when I bought them on a whim, I was definitely apprehensive. What do I have to put bread crumbs on? Well, apparently, a lot. Panko makes an incredible topping for mac ‘n cheese, brussels sprouts and as a sear on tuna steak or your choice of protein. 

Balsamic Vinegar: Once you make your first vinaigrette, you never go back. I always try to keep several vinegars on hand to whip up a dressing or marinade. It’s 1/2 vinegar : 1/3 cup EVOO. Sorry in advance for ruining store-bought vinaigrettes for you.

Soup: Trader Joe’s really kills it in the soup department. His canned minestrone soup tastes incredible and is chock full of veggies. If I come home and really just cannot bear the thought of cooking because I will combust if I don’t eat something NOW, I know TJ’s soup is there for me. You can also doctor up the Roasted Red Pepper Soup with a spoonful of pesto and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

Red Chili Pepper: I never know what to say when people ask me if a dish is spicy. To me, a meal isn’t a success unless I’ve managed to unclog my sinuses and there are tears from the heat. If there is one spice I feel like I’m continually restocking, it’s my red chili pepper flakes. If you want just a smidgeon of heat, add a pinch of flakes to the oil heating in a pan before you toss in the veggies or protein.

Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning: In my quickest last-minute lunch, I love just adding this seasoning to steamed broccoli or cauliflower. This cowboy has everything it needs to bring the flavor from your steak to the steamed veggies.

Todd’s Cajun Dirt: Todd’s Dirt is out of this world good. I learned about them a few years ago at the DC Cooking Show. They used the Cajun “Dirt” primarily on chicken but adding a couple of shakes to melted butter will do wonders for your popcorn. You may think I’m crazy. And you may be right. But just trust me on this one.

Ground Cumin: At its simplest, sauté bell peppers + shake generously with ground cumin. Add chicken + brown rice (or quinoa) and you’ve got yourself a Chipotle bowl at home! Bonus points if you have guacamole. You can also use it as a dry rub on chicken or red meat. Talk about a lot of mileage for one little spice.

Not Mentioned: With the Brown Rice + Quinoa Fusili, I forgot to talk about grains. I always keep a box of quinoa in my pantry and Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice in my freezer, it’s almost too easy to make a big batch on Sunday and then just add a 1/2 cup to your dishes throughout the week.

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Colorful Decor To Brighten Up Your Space

Decorating a rental apartment is a tricky business. I’ve always lived in apartments where you can’t paint or wallpaper so right off the bat, you have to work with whatever paint the apartment comes with. Thankfully, the neutral color palette gives you a fresh template to add colorful decor pieces to showcase your personality and special memories.

My favorite decor pieces are the ones that hold the most sentimental value to me. An inexpensive vase turns into a vessel holding my collection of seashells from vacationing by the Gulf of Mexico every spring. A stack of the childhood books I loved the most. A colorful print spontaneously picked up at a fun day spent at a craft fair with good friends.

Which decor pieces mean the most to you?

Colorful Decor Pieces To Brighten Up Your Space - DC Girl in Pearls

 

Ceramic Berry Basket // Moscow Mule Mug // Ceramic Mason Jar // Gingham Salad Plates // Pink Pineapple Print // Shanghai Lotus Candle // Rope Napkin Rings // Cocktail Shaker 

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