Ask Jess: New Recipes, Mood Lifters, Fave New-To-Me brands, and more!

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We’re back with another Ask Jess! Before we dive into more reader questions this week, have you seen our big kitchen reveal!?!?! (I just posted it on Instagram this morning!) Make sure to head over to watch the video if you’ve been curious about our kitchen project! 😉 It feels SO wonderful to have it finally done! 

In other news, I’m excited for a socially distanced catch up with a couple different friends later this afternoon and tonight, and a pretty low-key weekend at home after the past few weekends of being away on our camping trip/visit to the lake house. 

Let’s jump in! 

Have you ever tried to make Indian/Pakistani dishes at home? Trying to explore cooking new dishes and would love any reccos! 

As you probbbably know by now, I don’t really cook with a lot of recipes 😂 so when I make Indian-inspired dishes I don’t follow a specific recipe per-say, but I highly recommend checking out Shaheen’s recipes (she’s one of my besties!) because she experiments with making over her mom’s more intricate Indian recipes and simplifying them for those with a busy lifestyle!

Check out her Easy Butter Chicken, Shrimp Masala with Cauliflower Grits, and Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala. Keep in mind that while some Indian recipes can require a lot of different spices, these are all pantry staples, so you can cook with them a ton and once you have your pantry stocked with a handful of essentials, that’s all you need!! 

Favorite mood lifters when you’re in a funk? 

Going for a walk, writing in my gratitude journal, taking a time out to read a good book, or calling a friend who can always make you laugh! I recommend reading my “Staying Happy at Home” post–it’s full of good pick-me-ups!! Another oldie but goodie, my how to pull yourself out of a rut post! 

New brands you’re pumped about? 

For clothing/accessories: 

I have been loving Outerknown most recently, which has definitely become a favorite new-to-me sustainable brand! (You can see my favorites in my camping packing list post!) I really love this gauzy button-down of theirs I’ve been living in ever since it arrived, and this tee is SO SOFT and I love the cut and colors they offer! 

Similar to Outerknown, I also really discovered Two Days Off, which is another sustainable brand which is WOC owned! I’m on the waitlist for this top when it drops, so I will report back! 

My new favorite earring obsession is Vintage Royalty–I was introduced to her when my friend Amanda was highlighting her favorite Black-owned brands on her Instagram and she makes the CUTEST affordable earrings! They’re also so lightweight, which I love–I have sensitive ears and they don’t give me any issues! 

If you’re looking for great things to gift (or just a treat for yourself) I really love New Origin shop! (Another WOC owned favorite!) She has an awesome online shop that stocks goods from small makers–I get so overwhelmed that I want to buy everything! 😬

Also you know my latest obsession with my fun “Cactus Sunflower” Tevas 😂 I got them for our camping trip but they make me so happy now I wear them IRL all the time!! They’re so fun and so comfy! I haven’t owned Tevas since I was little so it’s been a fun resurgence, ha! 

Two new-to-me favorites on the food/beverage front:

I have become OBSESSED with Forage Kombucha! Have you had it?! They sell it on their website and also at Foxtrot if you’re local to Chicago! The tropical flavor is my favorite! They’re based in Madison, WI! 

Also, Local Foods (if you live in Chicago!) They’re a small local grocery store that used to do most of their business with Chicago’s top restaurants (so you know their quality is top-notch) but they pivoted during COVID to be more consumer facing.

They deliver via Mercato to every Chicago zip code, and they have amazing local produce, super high-quality meat, and really good pre-made goodies that always rotate, like grilling kits (we got this Juicy Lucy kit for this weekend! 😍), taco kits, fresh marinades (we love their Chipotle Lime marinade on chicken and veggies!) etc! OH! And they carry Bang Bang Pie! They also gave me a code that’s good only through the month of July–use JESSKEYS15 at checkout for a discount on your first order!  

Do you think you’ll always live in the city? Do you plan on staying long term? 

I’m not really a long term planner kind of person, but anything is possible and I could see us moving out of the city eventually, but who knows, we’re open!

It’s funny because I would’ve probably had a VERY different answer before quarantine started, but now that the world has changed so much,  I’m starrrtttingg to understand the allure of living somewhere that is on the quieter side and provides the opportunity for more space! 😂  Who knows! Time will tell! We don’t have a specific timeline or plan or anything like that. 

THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY! THANKS TO ALL WHO SUBMITTED QUESTIONS OVER ON IG STORIES! SEE MORE ASK JESS POSTS HERE