My body is aching. I can’t tell if it’s from rigorous work-outs or just cooking my little heart out this week. Nonetheless, I’m about to get my hair professionally blow dried so all is ok in the world. It’s one of the greatest luxuries. If you’re a woman, you understand this sentiment; if you’re a dude, you’re probably confused why salons dedicated to just blow-drying even exist. The answer: because it’s important and blow-drying takes too long!
Last year I made my favorite Irish Soda Bread in the entire world. It was laced with brown sugar, whole wheat pastry flour and OMG there were whiskey-soaked raisins, which let me tell you, completely changed my mind about raisins.
I used to be one of those people who despised raisins. Like, if I saw a “chocolate chip cookie” to only then realize the CCs were raisins, serious side-eye, my friends. Serious. Nowadays I’m a grown-up who has the ability to enjoy some raisins in her baked goods. I’m an ever-evolving human.
So I’m on this sort of diet thing. It’s not a diet, exactly. It’s more of a don’t-eat-everything-you-want-which-includes-two-doughnuts-in-a-row kind of thing. I’m basically just trying to eat a bit healthier, though tomorrow I’m totally sharing something fun with you.
In the nature of this blog, which is a reflection of what I’m eating and obsessing over, there might be some more healthier recipes popping in and out over the next few months. This will never be a healthy-type blog; I simply love butter too much, but I am almost relearning how to cook and eat in a way. My default is always to finish things with a bit of butter. Bolognese? Finish it with butter. Sear a steak? Top it with a bit of butter? I’m learning how to not cook with so much fat.
I always know I feel better when I work out but it definitely takes effort to get in your car and drive somewhere to work out. I tend to make so many excuses. But right now I’m into it so I’m riding the wave. Also, if all this healthy/workout talk is boring, I’m sorry. Tomorrow I have pop tarts, ok? POP TARTS!
But today, fries that aren’t fries. They’re frauds. Delicious little frauds topped with lemony, garlicky yogurt, Italian parsley and sweet pomegranate seeds.
My whole goal in life is to take ordinary dishes I ate as a kid and make as fancy and fresh as I possibly can. Today’s project: quesadillas. Don’t get it twisted, I’ve indulged in the classic (very American) version of a quesadilla. It usually involved me, after school, needing some sort of snack. I’d sprinkle a gigantic flour tortilla with hot sauce and fill it with a ton of pre-shredded cheese. And there was usually a glass of lemonade and Total Request Live (TRL!!). I always had a soft spot for Carson Daly–he was almost too nice.
Today’s version is different. There’s pretty kale, Alpine-style cheese, a blistered anaheim pepper, a spoonful of beans and a sprinkling of corn. It’s the fancy quesadilla of my dreams.
So they did. And I began tinkering, playing around with different recipes. I love recipe writing, developing, making. It’s maybe one of my favorite things to do ever. And the fact that I can call it a job is dreamy.
My absolute favorite recipe I made are these Rosé Roasted Olives with Blue Cheese. I’ve been wanting to make roasted olives for such a long time. And seriously, the warm blue cheese with the sweet and dry rose and the olives. Ahhh! Best appetizer ever.
There was this Bacon Potato Habanero Cheese Soup that was dreamy, too. It’s the thing you want to eat on a cold day. It’s like eating a gigantic baked potato but lighter and daintier.
And there’s more!
For more cheese-centric recipes, here is the full list:
The Strata listed above is probably tied with the roasted olives. Before trying it out, I’d never made a strata before, which is essentially a baked bread pudding but savory and less bread-heavy. It’s the dream breakfast for house guests. If you’re throwing a bunch, make that! It’s one of those dishes you can make a few hours ahead and then bake-off when people show up.
Basically, make all of these cheese recipes because cheese is the best and is my favorite cure-all.
When I was a kid, my favorite American dish my mom made was Broccoli Cheese Casserole. I’m pretty sure she learned it off of the back of a soup can and every year when my birthday rolled around, I’d request she make this casserole. There was boiled shredded chicken, a few cans of soup (cream of mushroom and cream of chicken!), lots of cheddar cheese and broccoli. It was maybe one of the only ways I’d voluntarily eat broccoli.
I feel like we all have a dish we requested for birthdays or special occasions; it probably wasn’t fancy or elevated or all that impressive, but it just reminds you of home.
This tartine is inspired by that casserole dish and I first ate it at a bakery here in Los Angeles. I was so pumped that their iteration of my mama’s casserole had taken a whole new life, albiet a bit fancier one, it took me back. Way back.
For the full recipe and stuff, head over to PBS Food.
Two years ago today I went on my first date with my now boyfriend, Joshua. Up until that point I had dated all the wrong people; most of them were nice and fine but all were wrong for me. I arrived at the restaurant early and he arrived 15 minutes late, which makes me laugh when I think about it because it’s very telling of who we are.
He picked a (now closed but his amazing wine store lives on!) wine bar called Lou’s. It was a pretty ideal first date spot; it was dimly lit and quiet, but full of people, especially for a Monday night, and they served interesting, hard-to-find-wines with really good snacks. We ordered our respective wines – him a barnyard-y Gamay and I ordered a Malbec. There was a charcuterie plate, a burrata salad with roasted grapes and an order of pig candy.
As we ate, we talked about all sorts of things; happy things, funny things, random things and sad things, too. Josh asked me what my hardest challenge in life was thus far. I answered, and then he answered; and then I remember us just staring at each other, absorbing the other’s answer.
Some would say sad stuff is a terrible thing to talk about on a first date, but that’s where we were in our lives. Josh had just experienced the loss of his mom and I think when you’re really sad it’s hard not to mention it. I’m glad we talked about such things. And plus, I’ve never been good at adhering to dating do’s and don’t's.
The next day I flew to my parent’s house to work on my book and I remember wondering what would happen. I was, for the first time in a long time, excited about getting to know someone, to dive deeper into their life and perspective on the everyday.
We went on a few more dates but a relationship wasn’t something Josh could take on at the time. I was pretty heartbroken and I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t even know him that well! But something just clicked; something with him just felt right. So, I left him alone, but couldn’t forget about him. We ended up running into each other almost eight months later; he was in a better place and so was I. And we’ve been pretty inseparable ever since.
We haven’t been together for a full two years, but the day we sat down for the first time and talked for five hours is a day I love to remember. So, of course, since I’m a romantic, I’m celebrating with Pig Candy.
A life full of grilled cheeses is a good life. If you can enjoy a grilled cheese and some tomato soup, I’m pretty sure it means you know how to chillax. I’m not gonna lie, this holiday season has beat me up. Being sick, alongside too much stuff to do, too many impending deadlines, too many social obligations and too many emails about sales ending soon, has beaten me up. It has all made me crave the week between Christmas and New Years. That week is my favorite week of the entire year; it’s the one week when the emails stop completely, and the thing we’re all supposed to be doing is nothing at all. No guilt about not working.
I recently read an article about guilt and it hit me to the core a bit. I think when you work for yourself, nothing is ever done; you could always be doing more work. This article talks about actually scheduling time in the day to do nothing—it seems strange, counterintuitive and honestly, kind of depressing. Have you tried this?
This year I’m doing something I haven’t really done: I’m editing my wardrobe so I have room for new fall clothes. Who am I?! It kinda feels organized, slightly fancy and something Lucky Mag would tell you to do. I usually read these types of suggestions in magazines while I’m getting my nails done and feel all inspired to do it when I get home but never do. Other things usually end up being more exciting to me. But this year, I’m actually doing it!
Cleaning out my drawers has made me realize that I cannot own enough classic plain white t-shirts. I own a lot of ‘em. And I love ‘em all (minus the ones with food stains on them).
I feel like a classic avocado toast might be food version of a classic white t-shirt. It’s what you could eat every day and not tire of it. Refreshing, simple and so good! I love it.
I teamed up with LeafTV for one last video on my favorite snack EVER! I would include a recipe below but that’s kinda silly. You know what you’re doing when it comes to this.
Omygoodness. I feel like I’ve been gone forever. I wasn’t. I was very nearby, I swear. And I have excuses.
First there was the bout of heat exhaustion that resulted from the terrible Los Angeles heat wave (that has since subsided thank da heavens), combined with a trip to the vintage store to try on, like, twenty, gigantic dresses and getting my hair blown out in a salon that just had their air conditioning break. I felt funny, woozy and started getting cold and sweaty all at the same time. I had a feeling I might be sick, but became even more worried (and sort of depressed) when Josh told me I looked like I was dead, which exactly what you want to hear from a boyfriend. Cute.
Then there was the situation with my server and session files and var files. Good gracious. How boring and confusing all of it is to me. Cheese is so much more exciting, especially when pretty flowers are involved. Zucchini is everywhere, which means so are their flowers. We find zucchini and squash blossoms so very rare and exotic, but in Mexican cuisine they’re actually super common. The taco cart near my house sells zucchini blossom tacos—nothing fancy!
The summer heat has hit Los Angeles and all I want to do is turn up the AC ’til it’s totally freezing, curl up in bed and watch Breaking Bad, but I can’t…because I don’t have AC, so basically I’m dying. A lot of people think Los Angeles is this smoldering, super hot place, but it’s actually fairly mild. Like, the winters are cold and the summers are summery, yes, but the nights get chilly. I likez it.
This whole week people have been freaking about Miley Cyrus; but for me it’s been all about grapes. Sorry Miley and your stupid tongue. Also, those big mascots scared me.
There’s a grocery store that rhymes with Schmole Foods and they actually sell heirloom tomatoes in the dead of winter. (Or at least in California they do.) Heirloom tomatoes in winter go for about $9 a pound, which means that if you tried to make this jam in January, it’d cost you a bajillion dollars. A BAJILLION!
I’m not one to typically take expensive fruit or tomatoes and cook them down and make jam. I always feel like it’s a bit of a waste to use fancy produce to make jam or jelly. Eat ‘em raw, put them in a salad, toss them with pasta. You know, stuff like that. Not jam. “Seconds,” as they call them, however, are kind of perfect for jam. They’re the rejects. Jam is perfect for rejects. Jam is forgiving and actually appreciates overly ripe produce that’s on the verge on being tossed. Pies are kinda perfect for rejects, too.