Almond Strawberry Smoothie Bowl // www.acozykitchen.com

Amazing things always happen to me when I’m at Michael’s. This one time I saw a Marisa Tomei and I was freaking out because I grew up loving her. My Cousin Vinny? I was way too young to watch it but that didn’t stop me from taking peeks from the hallway. I would do that as a kid: sneak out of room at night, sit in the hallway that allowed me to peer straight into the living room while still being out of sight, and watch the movies my parents watched. They had no idea that their “date for two” in front of the TV actually included a third wheel.

Then there was this other time that I saw an older gentlemen in a fly fisherman’s outfit have a meltdown because the coupon on his phone wasn’t working–it was a sight. And then yesterday, as I was shopping for candy-making materials, I turned around to see an old dude slap his wife’s behind. She laughed and playfully slapped him back. While it was a little awkward to witness, it actually made me smile. When you’re young it’s hard to imagine what being married for a long time must be like. Everything is so new and fresh and first-timey at this age. But when you’re older, perhaps flirting with each other is even more important.

Almond Strawberry Smoothie Bowl // www.acozykitchen.com

I went on my run and thought about them, imagining how much life they’ve lived together, how many kids they’ve raised and wondered how many hardships they’ve survived. I do that sometimes: imagine people’s “stories.” I sometimes think going through that much life together can either tear you apart or bond you in a way that is unbreakable. We all wish for the latter. So, him slapping her ass made me happy is all…haha. It made me believe that perhaps love lasting a lifetime really can happen.

I came home and made a rendition of this smoothie bowl. It is, after all, what I have most days either immediately after my workout or for breakfast.

Almond Strawberry Smoothie Bowl // www.acozykitchen.com [click to continue…]

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Blistered Blue Lake Beans with Chili, Mint and Orange // www.acozykitchen.com

My Sunday rituals are strong. They usually start with an early trip to the farmer’s market, followed by lots of recipe testing. I love cooking on Sundays. And then, TV. Lots of that too.

The past few Sundays, I’ve spent watching Game of Thrones and I’m gonna lie, I barely understand what’s going on. Still. But I keep watching, thinking someday I’ll understand every single character, their family, etc. It’s wishful thinking, really.

Silicon Valley is more my steez. Lots of awkwardness and a CEO who wears those tennis shoes that slip on like socks. Those are so strange. Why do those exists?! I don’t get it.

Blistered Blue Lake Beans with Chili, Mint and Orange // www.acozykitchen.com [click to continue…]

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Strawberry Basil Gin and Tonic // www.acozykitchen.com

I was going start this paragraph by saying, “Cocktail season is here!” But then I stopped myself because we all know that it’s always cocktail season on this blog. Duh. This cocktail in particular is seasonal, I suppose, though I see nothing wrong with using frozen strawberries, making this drank doable year-round.

Sure this looks like a pretty simple strawberry basil situation mixed with some gin, but I can assure you it’s a bit more special. I can’t get near strawberries without thinking of adding a dash of black pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. It’s just too easy! So this cocktail has a bit of weird stuff added to it, but do you expect any less from me? No, you don’t.

Strawberry Basil Gin and Tonic // www.acozykitchen.com

In other news, thanks for all your concern with Amelia. I’m happy to report that she’s back to barking a lot, stealing shoes, drinking my afternoon tea when I’m not looking and so on. So she’s better.

Strawberry Basil Gin and Tonic // www.acozykitchen.com [click to continue…]

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Buttery Pan-Seared Artichokes with Ponzu Aioli

Words usually flow pretty easily for me in this space. I just write like I’m having a conversation with you, like you’re here just chilling with me, sitting on my couch looking around my apartment, being nosey as shit. But today I’m kind of wordless. I’m a little mopey.

A strange heatwave has come through Los Angeles, making it kind of dreadful, honestly, and worst of all, Amelia is sick. She has a bit of a stomach flu that I’m trying to cure with brown rice. I’m hoping she sleeps it off. The psycho in me keeps checking her stomach while she sleeps, making sure it’s rising and falling. I have a feeling I’m going to be one of those crazy mothers who wakes up in the middle of the night to check and make sure the kids are still breathing. It’s a mama thing, I bet.

Today we have artichokes, which if I’m trying to make a good little segue, take a bit of mothering. At least in the beginning anyway. The whole act of cutting and trimming an artichoke is super easy, though I imagine even the most experienced cooks have to google it to be reminded exactly what needs to be done. There’s kind of a lot tasks, man!

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Palm Springs Guide // www.acozykitchen.com

I spent this past weekend in one of my favorite cities, Palm Springs. It’s about an hour and half-long drive east of Los Angeles, making it the most perfect weekend getaway to Angelenos. I really really love it out there, even in the summers when the temperatures soar above a hundred. In terms of aesthetics, it doesn’t get more beautiful. It’s a dreamy combination of mid-century meets Moroccan meets Spanish. Palm trees and bougainvilleas line the streets while old cars drive up and down quiet neighborhood roads. It’s a special place.

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I know a lot of people (I’m not one of them) are headed to Palm Springs for Coachella. I thought it might be a good time to give you guys a guide, listing some of my favorite places in Palm Springs. This isn’t entirely comprehensive; mainly because I spend the majority of my time sitting by the pool and shopping. If you go to Palm Springs you should focus on doing absolutely nothing. It’s a good do-nothing vacation.

(P.S. My friend Claire from The Kitchy Kitchen posted her guide to Palm Springs just this past weekend. Check it out Part 1 and Part 2!)

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Where to Eat

For me, Palm Springs is mainly about sitting by the pool, drinking cocktails, reading and thrifting. I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a food destination the way, say, New York or San Francisco are, but there are a few places I really love (and plenty that I have yet to visit).

Tyler’s Burgers – Their burgers are delicious. The place is classic, charming, casual and in a sea of “fancy,” very mediocre restaurants, it’s a total stand-out.

El Jefe – Located in the Saguaro Hotel, super convenient to everything and overall pretty casual. It’s the perfect place if you’re looking for margaritas, some beer and good tacos, though the nachos are my fav.

P.S. There’s nothing better than eating a s’mores while poolside.

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Norma’s (at The Parker Hotel) – In terms of the food, I’ve had a few mixed experiences: rubbery pancakes one time and pretty solid eggs benedict another time, but if we’re being honest, The Parker is mainly about the decor, the colors, the vibe. Everything is so freaking beautiful. However, prepare to pay for the prettiness (hello $18 pancakes!).

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Tinto – Chef Jose Garces’ restaurant, located right next to El Jefe in the Saguaro Hotel. If you’re looking for a nice place to go, eat a few Spanish appetizers and sip on a few glasses of wine, come here!

Hadley Fruit Orchards – On the way out of Palm Springs, stopping for a Hadley date shake is kinda fun. The banana and date is the move. And order a small because they’re just so dang sweet that you won’t be able to finish a medium.

Palm Springs Guide // www.acozykitchen.com

Where to Stay

My boyfriend’s dad has a vacation house in Palm Springs so I’m super lucky in that I don’t have to search for a place to stay. It makes going out there on a whim a reality, which is pretty awesome. In the past, I have stayed at a few hotels in Palm Springs and most of them are pretty lovely. If you’re going with a group, however, I recommend renting a house (see above picture of homemade s’mores). The house rental options are pretty amazing and it’s definitely the more affordable route.

The Parker – Jonathan Adler designed hotel that is so impeccably designed. You won’t be able to walk through the lobby and not want to take at least five Instagram photos. It’s hard! Their lemonade stand out back is dreamy, their pool is divine and beautiful peacocks roam the grounds. It’s on the higher end of hotels, but I say if you can swing it, do!

The Ace Hotel – I love how the rooms at The Ace are decorated. It was one of the first boutique hotels to pop up in the area and I remember going for the first time and being to-die in love with it.

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The Saguaro Hotel- I’ve stayed here a few times and the best part about it is that the beds are comfy and the prices are pretty affordable. The rooms inside are, well, bright. Very very bright.

Korakia Pensione – A gorgeous bed and breakfast that is definitely priced on the upper high end of hotels but man, it is so beautiful. While The Ace is party-central, the Korakia has a different vibe. This is the kind of place you book if you’re looking for rest, relaxation and tasty spa water. Isn’t spa water the best?!

Palm Springs Guide // www.acozykitchen.com

Where to Shop

Honestly, this is my favorite thing to do in Palm Springs; and this comes from someone who isn’t a shopper. I sort of despise shopping, but in Palm Springs it feels different. I always get the sense like I’m on the verge of stumbling upon a treasure that’s been long forgotten about. Here are the places where I treasure hunt:

Sunny Dunes Antique Mall – A large store filled to the brim with everything from furniture to housewares (lamps, plates, etc.). Most things you come across you won’t find appealing but that’s ok, because that’s sort of the name of the game. There will be a few things, though, and it’ll make it all worth it.

The Fine Art of Design – A beautifully curated store that will make you think you’ve stepped into Edith Head’s costume shop. This isn’t necessarily a place where you hunt for treasures; everything is a treasure. Owner, Nicholas Delgado, has done all the work for you. All of the clothes are breathtaking, in mint-condition and really fairly priced, especially considering it’s high-end vintage.

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Dazzles – This one is new-to-me and was actually recommended to me by my friend Whitney (who found out about it from Claire). The picture above of that crazy mid-century dog house is from their “pool area.” Located in an old motel, this places is packed refurbished furniture and tons of glassware.

Victoria’s Attic – I always get lucky when I come to this antique mall. Most of the vintage-y looking props that I use on this blog come from Victoria’s Attic. This place is fully stocked with cool plates, retro glassware and fun vintage kitchen gear.

Vintage Sunday Market – I went for the first time this past weekend and whoa, it’s soooo good. I scored a beautiful Afghani hand-woven rug for a song. I was on a bit of a time crunch or else I would’ve purchased a gajillion other things. It’s not overly crowded, vendors don’t have tons of stuff you have to sift through and everything is fairly priced–you’re bound to find some treasures!

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Ginger Fried Cauliflower Rice // www.acozykitchen.com

Ok, so here’s another dish (besides these Zucchini Noodles) that I’ve been eating every other night. At first I was super hesitant to share this recipe because renditions of this live on so many other Paleo blogs on the internets, but then I figured that since you visit this here site, with all its biscuits and butter and pancakes, that you probably don’t visit very many Paleo blogs, so there’s a good chance that this might be new-ish to you. And plus, this is my take on the very ubiquitous cauliflower rice thingy. Also, if someone was being super technical, this isn’t Paleo because there’s soy sauce and soy is a bean. Ugh. Too many rules, man. I’ve never been good at following rules to a T; I always just pick and choose which ones I think make sense to follow and just do-away with the rest. My dad taught me to question everything so I do, and in my brain I don’t think organic soy sauce is bad for me so there. Let me live!

I really really love this recipe. While zucchini will never taste like real flour noodles, this cauliflower kinda tastes like rice to me. It’s amazing and so healthy and light and filling. Healthy food has to be satisfying to me because then I won’t eat it and I’ll drink smoothies all day.

Ginger Fried Cauliflower Rice // www.acozykitchen.com

Let’s start with the cauliflower rice and its preparation. Most people make cauliflower rice a different way. They pulse the raw cauliflower florets in the blender and then cook it from there. I did this once, to make this dish, and I found the cauliflower way too crunchy for my taste. So, I prefer the blanching method. You just have to be careful when you pulse it in the food processor because it can go from “rice” texture to “mash” texture very quickly.

Ginger Fried Cauliflower Rice // www.acozykitchen.com [click to continue…]

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Baked Brie with Cherries, Pistachios and Caramelized Honey

Last week I was in New York for three short nights and I can tell you from my experience, Spring has not sprung. Being greeted by twenty-one-degree temperatures, AND after a red-eye flight is kind of a brutal (but I had a pretzel later so all was ok). Luckily Spring is near. I’m not a groundhog or anything but I’m staying positive for all of you east coasters.

I’m sure many of you still dealing with Winter’s lingering attitude can’t wait for brunches. Is there anything better than sitting outside, eating with friends while the warmish April sun looks on? I guess when I think of weekend brunching, I think of Spring. It’s that time when we’re just itching to do everything outside, which includes eating. Cocktails and appetizers and pancakes mixed with lunch food. I probably love the mix of foods most about brunch. It’s not just breakfast, but a healthy mix.

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I baked some cheese for when you’re ready to do this occasion of brunching. I’m hoping you’ll be able to do it soon. (If not, don’t worry because baked cheese also eases sorrows. Trust me.) 

Baked Brie with Cherries, Pistachios and Caramelized Honey // www.acozykitchen.com [click to continue…]

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March Stuff!! // www.acozykitchen.com

My dad paid me a visit in late February, while on a 2-day layover to Kuala Lampur. I drove him to the airport where he boarded his Malaysian Airlines flight. Ten hours later I received a text from him telling me his flight to Tokyo was the worst of his life. He then took the second leg of the flight and said it was even worse. The pilot flew the plane straight through a bad snowstorm; the plane jolted up and down for about an hour while the plane’s lights flickered on and off. He said he had never been so scared for his life. For his return flight, he booked another flight on another airline, despite knowing he wouldn’t be reimbursed from Malaysian Airlines. Luckily he made it home safe and sound.

About a week later, the Malaysian Airline Flight 370 disappeared and has yet to show a trace. When I heard the news I started crying. All of the what-ifs played over and over again in my mind. On one hand I felt so happy that my dad wasn’t on that flight to Beijing, but I also felt so terrible for the people whose family members are still missing.

Needless to say, March started off on a super grateful note.

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Quarterly Co. Box Giveaway // www.acozykitchen.com

Giveaway time!

Quarterly Co. is a subscription box service that allows you to subscribe to a a variety of curators like Pharrell, Angie and Ted of Poketo…and even Coco (yes, Ice-T’s gf). Today is all about Chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. They own two of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles, Son of a Gun and Animal. In fact, when I first moved to LA and was super broke, my first splurge meal was at Animal. I have really good memories of that night; there was a biscuit topped with gravy and foie gras.
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This quarter’s box is all about BBQ. The box that’s up for grabs includes:

1. Their recipe for the best BBQ sauce EVER (seriously, Josh has made it a few times and it’s amazing).
2. A bag of wood chips.
3. Two custom-made Hedley + Bennett tea towels.
4. A BBQ sauce brush.
5. Tin of their BBQ rub.
6. Signed note from them.

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To win this giveaway:

1. Visit Quarterly and take a look at Vinny and Jon’s past boxes/sign up for their new Quarterly box, which is coming out in two months, if you like!!

2. Leave a comment here telling me what your favorite BBQ side dish, i.e., mac n cheese, baked beans…you know, stuff like that!

A winner will be chosen on Friday, April 4th at noon, PST. This giveaway is open to US readers only.

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This giveaway is now closed. The winner is Ciana Simpson!!

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March Favorites // www.acozykitchen.com

1. Mindy Kaling on creating the “hard joke.” I like her. I really do.

2. The prettiest recipe I’ve seen all month goes to Ashlae of Oh, Ladycakes. Raw Citrus Cream Cakes. DEAD.

3. Inside Pixar’s Braintrust. Fascinating.

4. My friend Lara paints the most beautiful gem paintings.

5. I’m obsessed with how these slabs of marble match up to create the most beautiful patterns ever.

6. You could say I’m a little obsessed with copper (evidence here), so I was pretty psyched when I saw this Copper Clothing Rack DIY.

7. I had a little interview over on Food & Wine. I’m talking breakfast, blogs I love and all that jazz.

8. Iris Apfel sells her life treasures on One Kings Lane on April 5th! AHH! I’m guessing I’ll be able to afford nothing, but I’ll still take a look.

9. Josh and I have Copenhagen on the brain. Maybe in late October? Have you been? I want to ride bikes around the city and make breakfast in this adorable kitchen.

Favorites from January and February.

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