About a year ago, I promised myself I wouldn’t say anything about the election. Mainly because it’s EVERYWHERE and so many things make my eyes roll and make me SO angry but it’s over now. And I’m so glad I stuck to it—until now—because I feel like this probably was one of the only places where it wasn’t all about politics.
A Cozy Kitchen is about corgis and pie and meatballs. What connects us–no matter what our political opinions–is our love of food and fun.
I’m the first generation in this country. Recently my tia Cecilia started a private Instagram where she shares really old photos of my family when they first arrived to The States. Everyone was so young, so unknowing and so incredibly brave.
Can I tell you something? Making this coloring cookbook was A LOT harder than I expected. Mainly because I am not an illustrator nor have I ever worked with one until this book.
Amber Day-—who is so amazingly talented—-drew every illustration in this book. I want to talk about the process because I found it interesting and surprising and a lot of the time I felt like a fish out of water.
When I first started the project, I wanted the recipes to be really, really easy. My publisher and I agreed that the recipes should be simple—-achievable by anyone and easy enough such that cooks could spend the time coloring, too.
I ventured off into my wormhole to come up with a list of recipes that I would test and shoot (just for color and appearance reference), and then Amber would draw them.
What I didn’t realize is that so many of the things that I love to make are brown: light brown, medium brown, dark brown. All the browns! And/or they’re white.
Sometimes something will be brown with white glaze or frosting on it. Think about it. Chai Scones? Brown. Cinnamon Rolls? White and brown. Pie? Mostly brown. Quick bread. Brown, brown, brown, brown-—which, in coloring world, equals BORING.
There is nothing worse than boring. Bad is better than boring.
I didn’t think that would be that much fun to color if it was just brown recipe after brown recipe so I had to think about food in terms of color. What would be the most fun to color (and eat)?
Regular buttercream frosting on a chocolate cake became pomegranate frosting and black and white cookies became matcha and black cookies.
It was super strange to think about food with color at the forefront of my brain. I don’t think it’s an exercise I’ve ever experienced before. Super challenging for me actually, not gonna lie.
Amber and I both thought that taking my photos and having her illustrate them in a similar style would be great. “Let’s make photo-realistic illustrations,” we thought.
While, yes, some of the illustrations are based off of my photos, we found it to be kind of not that…fun?
Amber took some liberties, which you can with illustrations, so now we have sprinkles falling from the sky, berries bursting out of a cocktail and ingredients flying into a blender for avocado dressing.
We wanted to make the illustrations FUN and WILD and a little weird.
The illustrations ended up being SO different than what we’d imagined. But I think they’re so much more interesting than just preciously propped overhead shots.
We also wanted to include some types of illustrations that exist in all sorts of coloring books, like patterns and kaleidoscopes. We wanted there to be a lot of variety in terms of intricate, will-take-you-a-long-time-to-color illustrations with a few sprinkled in there that would maybe only take an hour.
The goal was also to have every illustration and set-up slightly different.
We wanted the illustrations to have variety.
Inevitably there are some recipes that are white and brown (read: coconut tres leches) so we got around that by illustrating the steps. We did this with a few of the illustrations and I think it worked out super cute.
FORMATTING THE RECIPES
Initially the recipes were supposed to be almost like non-recipes but I didn’t stick to that because that is not my forte haha. I want to give ratios and I also love to bake, which can’t really be done without a list of ingredients and directions.
So, we ended up typing all the recipes up and it just made everything feel cleaner and more cohesive. Amber drew illustrations around the recipes, depending on what the negative space was like on each page.
The cover for The Year of Cozy was the inspiration, as well as a few others (I love this coloring book cover and this one).
The problem with me is that I hate clutter haha. I know a lot of coloring books are all about intricate patterns and teeny things to color. I struggled with this idea because I like things to be simple. I favor minimalism over a bunch of stuff. But coloring books need to be full! I agreed with that.
Here is a super early iteration of the cover.
And then we had to color it and have Casey Lignon do the lettering.
And there you go! That’s da book-making process.
If you live in LA, please come! There will be coloring, snacks, dranks, ME and lots of chill time. It’s at Light Lab in Atwater village, if you haven’t been, it’s so beautiful. It should be loads of fun.
Amelia is so fun. I’m not sure if you saw but she made an appearance on Martha Stewart’s Instagram. Is this me gloating? YES IM VERY PROUD OF HER. Bringing Amelia into our little family has been the best decision because she makes everything that much more fun.
She makes ordinary walks fun. Have you ever seen a dog get scared of a trash bag? That happens. She makes friends with everyone, including every child she’s ever met. She’s genuinely so happy all the time that it’s hard to be mad at life’s little annoyances.
We go on picnics with her all the time, which is sometimes difficult because she tries to eat our food. One time she ate someone fancy prosciutto! Someone I didn’t even know. Luckily he thought it was funny but OMG HOW EMBARRASSING!
When Stella & Chewy’s reached out to me for their Everyday Awesome campaign I was happy to tell my story about how Amelia make everyday awesome for me.
Amelia LOVES their food.
We started bringing a small snack for Amelia on picnics so she gets it in her brain that she also gets to eat, which hopefully will make it so she doesn’t eat our food. Amelia eats mostly raw so Stella & Chewy’s is perfect for her.
She’s actually been eating it since she was a baby and she loves it! We use Stella & Chewy’s as a meal mixer so we’ll mix this into dry food (if we’re on a picnic or on a roadtrip) or add it to the pumpkin puree and veggies she eats (at home).
I have been on the verge of almost getting sick for almost a month. And I have this strange pain in my neck. I have no idea what’s wrong with me but I think it’s a combo of maybe overworking myself and just being too scared to go to the chiropractor to get it fixed. I’m probably the absolute worst at going to the doctor because I hate it. It’s time-consuming and it’s scary all wrapped into one. So instead I’ve been subsisting off of wellness shots and wellness formula pills every single day. Let’s hope it works! My neck is another story. I’ve been thinking of getting this fancy pillow to help with my neck pain. Is this stuff interesting?
It’s not, I’m sorry. In other news, I went to Yeezy last night and IT WAS AMAZING.
Kayne reminds me of childhood but instead of childhood like as a little kid, it reminds me of being in my teenage years and early twenties when I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. It’s nostalgic in a whole other way. Kanye reminds me of my navy blue Jetta that always smelled a delicious combo of fast food and weed.
It took me a while to warm up to Saint Pablo but once I did I was hooked on that too.
I was hoping to get a glimpse of Kim but she was a no show.
Let’s talk chicken and dumplings!
This is my new favorite iteration of them because it combines cornbread into the mix and who doesn’t love cornbread?
If I were to make this again, which I will soon, I might fold some diced jalapeño into the dumplings so they’re a little spicy and sassy. If you want to be crazy, you can mix in some cheese, too.
This bowl situation is all for Cynthia’s (from Two Red Bowls) virtual baby shower. Everyone’s recipes are made in a bowl! Cynthia’s lil’ baby Samuel was born last week! Welcome into the world, little angel! He is so ridiculously cute. Congrats, Cynthia and family!
And a big hug to my homies Alana and Steph for organizing it (you can also see everyone else’s posts under #threeredbowls on the Instagram.
I can’t believe the time has come where it is actually appropriate to talk about what we’re making for Thanksgiving. It’s ok to say where we’re going to be for Christmas. And it’s ok to start thinking about what the table is gonna look like and who’s gonna gift who what.
It’s just too much for me. It feels rushed, like too much too soon so I’m starting slowly. I’m warming up to the idea that the holidays are near and I’m starting with this smoked gouda cheesy mashed potatoes. It feels right.
This is also the kinda recipe that doesn’t really require any particular holiday to exist to enjoy.
For this post, I teamed up with ALDI to bring you my new-favorite mashed potatoes, along with spiral cut double brown sugar ham. TIS THE SEASON.
Mashed potato-making is serious business for me. I have some rules, albeit chill rules.
#1 – They must be boiled to the point where they’re almost a little overcooked.
#2 – And then drained and set out to dry for a bit. We want creamy mashed potatoes, not watery.
#3 – A potato ricer is a must. The texture will be so fluffy and beautiful.
#4 – Don’t be shy with the butter, milk or sour cream
This smoked gouda is just the ticket to make them a liiiitle bit different but still super classic and delicious.
The trick to adding any cheese (besides super soft ones like brie or goat cheese) to mashed potatoes is grating it very finely. Use the teeny tiny grater on your box grater. This way the cheese will easily melt in the mashed potatoes and you won’t have to do much stirring or heating up.
Pairing it with this ham with ALDI makes everything a gigantic breeze because all you have to do is stick it in the oven for an hour at 350 degrees F and most of dinner was taken care of! This means more time can be spent on making these mashed potatoes pitch perfect.
I feel like I could write forever how much I love these potatoes but I won’t bore you any longer.
More Thanksgiving stuff soon, soon! This year is gonna be fun.
It’s fun to think about because you prob don’t think about it all that often. The first thing I ever baked was probably a batch of alfajores with my mom and Tia Emilia. Or it might’ve been a Duncan Hines cake from a box with my mom. I can’t remember but it was definitely one of those!
The third thing I ever baked was probably beer bread because a friend of mine told me that it was something I couldn’t possibly mess up and she was right. It is one of those things that requires a handful of ingredients and absolutely no kitchen skills at all.
Tomorrow we’re headed to a Netflix-themed Halloween party with my friend, Cassie, who works at the company. This entire week has been spent working and recipe testing and shooting. And in addition to that, I’ve been worrying if my costume is going to hit the mark. Halloween is probably my least favorite holiday and I usually stay home like an old person and eat candy.
I really wanted to bring Amelia and dress her up like Eleven but we all know that she would never, ever tolerate a blond wig on her head. And seeing her in a bloody dress might genuinely creep me out! Check my Insta-stories for all of my costume details this weekend—it should be fun(ish).
In other more chocolate-y news, I have this fine dessert for you today. I teamed up with the most delicious, decadent, luscious chocolate maker: ScharffenBerger to create my chocolate ombre dreams in form of a cake.
I’m not going to lie, creating and developing this recipe hurt my brain. There was a lot of math! What I didn’t want was anyone (including myself) to have to make four separate batches of cake batter and frosting. I wanted to create one of each and then mix in the different amount of chocolate to make them different. After a few tries—success!
The frosting is maybe my favorite thing in the entire world because it is cinnamon-y and a little spicy and tastes SO much like Mexican chocolate.
And surprisingly, the ombre frosting isn’t too difficult. You sort of just slap on the different colors and use a bench scraper to combine them!
I kept the topping super simple with a handful of ScharffenBerger cacao nibs and a sprinkling of pearl sugar.
Today is National Chocolate Day, so here’s to hoping you’re eating chocolate (and hopefully making this cake!).
Yesterday I drove up a super windy road to the prettiest Spanish-style house way up in the Hollywood Hills. There was a garden, gigantic pool, beautiful seating areas everywhere and a kitchen the size of my apartment. I was lucky enough to team up with HauteLook and Le Creuset to host a cooking demo for these tasty lil’ veggie mini pot pies.
The day started with me getting there to set everything up and put all of my ingredients into pretty little Le Creuset cocottes. There was lunch and refreshing mocktails from A Vintage Splendor. The demo was super casual, like talking to a bunch of friends. We talked pie crust (I used this one but added no sugar), what the low-down is on roux, why thyme is probably the most important herb in fall, and lots more!
There was also a super pretty and fun DIY with A Fabulous Fete where we made the most gorgeous gift boxes that I wish I could build for each and every one of you.
A bonus though is that I’m hosting an amazing giveaway with Le Creuset X HauteLook on my Instagram right now! Here’s what you can win from Le Creuset:
Set of 2 Mini Cocottes
Revolution Spatula Spoon
Le Creuset Signature Round Dutch Oven
It’s probably the warmest and coziest of flavor combinations. It makes me want to put on a fluffy sweater and sit on my couch, watching tv or looking at the internets with Amelia by my side.
You might be wondering why oh why the internet is exploding with all the pumpkin things. It’s because there’s a #virtualpumpkinparty hosted by Aimee + Sara! It’s kinda like the pumpkin version of popsicle week, which is also a gigantic favorite of mine.
Tomorrow I have a book signing at Anthropologie in Santa Monica from 2pm to 4pm. There will be cookies! After that I have to race home, change clothes into something fancier and a lot less cozy and head to my friend Teri’s wedding. Phew!
This past week has been HOT HOT in LA. And last weekend I was in Atlanta and it was hot there, too. And this past week it was v v warm in NY. I don’t know where fall is but I’ve been craving something super refreshing yet still very autumnal. For this post, I teamed up with Truly Spiked & Sparkling which is a new-to-me spiked sparkling water.