San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

Functional Girl: A column
by CJ LEGARE

Functional Girl CJ LEGARE

Dear Functional Girl: Lately my eyes have been so puffy in the morning and all of the de-puffing eye creams with good reviews seem cost a fortune. I’m in college and seriously broke. Do you have any tricks for a girl on a tight budget? — Connie H.

Dear Connie: Puffy eyes are so frustrating and I’ve found that even those expensive creams don’t always work the way they should. Here are some of my favorite, cost-effective tips for keeping your eyes puff-free:

  • Drink at least two liters of water a day. When your body is fully hydrated it keeps fluids flushing through your system rather than retaining them.
  • Try sleeping on two pillows as excess fluids can drain more efficiently when your head is elevated. More importantly, make sure you’re getting enough sleep!
  • Keep your eye cream in the fridge. The chill will help to sooth your skin and reduce swelling. Try St. Ives Eye Stress Gel. It’s under $4, and the second item on its ingredient list is cucumber, which has proven anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Caffeine-based creams tend to be highly effective, but most are fairly pricey, so cut out the middleman and go straight for the tea. For very little cost you can purchase a large box of basic black tea bags. Keep two moistened bags in the fridge so they are chilled and then place them over your eyes for 10 minutes.
  • Keep two spoons in the freezer at all times. Place the rounded bottom of the spoon under your eye for instant soothing and de-puffing. Be careful if you have sensitive skin, though, as extreme cold can cause redness and irritation.

If, when all is said and done, you’re still sporting a little under-eye baggage, work with your make-up to finish the job. Use a concealer that is slightly darker than your skin tone to make the under-eye area appear to recede. Put mascara only on your upper lashes for a bright-eyed look. Finally, draw attention to your lips with a bold, flirty shade.

Dear Functional Girl: I tried your strawberry shortcake recipe and loved it. Got any good dinner recipes? — Angie P.

Dear Angie: I’m so glad you liked the Strawberry Shortcake! I must confess it’s a little odd for me to offer up culinary advice. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not exactly at home in the kitchen.

But there are a few items I make very well: pancakes, cinnamon toast, grilled cheese, chocolate chip cookies, Alfredo sauce and Mexican lasagna — the latter being my very own creation and the dish I’m going to share with you. I’ve made this inexpensive, delicious casserole for friends, family and business colleagues. It’s a home run every time and has earned me the reputation of being a proper cook.

Let’s start with the ingredients. You’ll need:

  • 18 HEB Corn Tortillas
  • 2 cans of Hill Country Enchilada Sauce (I prefer hot, but you can use mild or medium)
  • 3 cans of Hill Country Refried Black Beans
  • 1 bag of HEB Sharp Cheddar shredded cheese
  • 1 bag of HEB Frozen Spanish Rice
  • 1-½ lbs of HEB Ground Beef
  • 1 pouch of Taco Seasoning
  • 9 x 13 glass casserole dish

Cook and season your beef to taste. If you have dietary restrictions, feel free to substitute shredded, seasoned chicken. To prepare the rice simply follow the microwave instructions on the bag. Combine all three cans of black beans into a microwave safe bowl. Add a little water and microwave until steaming. You want the beans to be the consistency of an easily spreadable paste.

Start by lightly coating the bottom of the casserole dish with enchilada sauce. Next, create a layer of six corn tortillas. They will overlap slightly. Brush on a coating of enchilada sauce and repeat for a total of two layers of six tortillas. Spread a layer of beans on top of the tortillas. Top the beans with a layer of rice followed by a layer of beef. Finish with a layer of cheese and a heavy drizzle of enchilada sauce. Make sure to drizzle around the edges of the dish as well. You’re going to repeat this entire process with one minor change. The next layer of tortillas will be a single layer as opposed to double. The trick to properly distributing the ingredients is to make the bottom portion of the dish a little heartier. Use a little more than half of everything for the bottom portion and you’ll have just enough to finish off the dish with no leftover.

Bake in a 325-degree oven for 45 to 60 minutes. Let it sit and reconstitute for five to ten minutes and serve! I like to eat it with fresh avocado and my husband loves sour cream with his. I hope you enjoy and let me know if Monday becomes Mexican Lasagna night in your house too.


Functional Girl CJ Legare lives in Kyle with her husband, Joshua, and is addicted to 2 percent organic milk. If you’ve got a question or comment for Functional Girl, email her here. She blogs at http://functionalgirl.com/

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