I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but me and sheet cakes have a thing. It’s not an old relationship at all. In fact, this guy right here was kinda the first sheet cake I’d ever made. But once I made that one, I was like WHOAA. This is WAY better than a big, layered cake because it’s a million times less stress and time. I also think that anyone, AND I MEAN ANYONE, can decorate a sheet cake.
It just takes some swoops and swirls with a trusty off-set spatula and that’s it. I mean, even a butter knife could do the trick.
Here’s the trick—I found—to making those bomb-ass swirls: You gotta plop all the frosting right in the center and then push it out. It really works splendidly. It also takes under 5 minutes. If you mess with it too much then it starts to look too purposeful.
I remember being a little girl and going with my mom to the Estée Lauder counter, watching her try on lipsticks, perfume and buying compacts of powder. I always acquainted it to my mama looking so pretty and majestic. That’s why even now, Estée has always been one of the go-tos (their Advanced Night Repair Serum is something I’ve worn for like 5 years straight—I love it!).
I was super pumped when I got the opportunity to create three cocktails inspired by their classic fragrance, Modern Muse.
The smell is so fresh and clean and lightly floral. I know a lot of women are loving more musky smells nowadays but I always and forever want to smell like I just showered and then ran through a field of flowers.
When I smelled Modern Muse for the first time, I immediately loved the freshness with hints of jasmine and honeysuckle in the scent. I wanted to create cocktails that were inspired by the smells but still tasting super delicious.
Here are the smells and feelings from the scent that inspired the cocktails:
1. Hints of jasmine.
2. Light floral notes like honey suckle.
3. A refreshing aroma that felt like a warm day (but not too warm!).
I’m currently getting all prepped to go to Italy on Tuesday and I’m so excited. Josh has psychotically made maps, coursing our tentative eating schedule. The past few weeks I’ve been purposefully eating on the healthier side so that I could save myself for loads and loads of pasta. I think it has been a wise decision.
One of the health-ish meals I’ve been making is this one-pan harissa chicken dish. It is SO delicious and Israeli couscous are my new favorite thing. They have such delicious toothsome texture.
For this recipe and post, I’m super excited to partner with GreenPan and their healthy, ceramic, non-stick pans. They are so gorgeous in person (the bronze is super pretty) and I love that they’re safe to cook with and super easy to clean.
I love these pans because they’re coated in Thermolon, making them safer and healthier to use. They’re super resistant to high heat (zero fumes come off the surface) and the coating, made from a sand derivative, will never flake or peel onto your food. All pluses!
The surface of the pan was ideal for searing this chicken and getting a super crispy skin and crust on it. And I didn’t have to use a ton of oil (also a plus) so the meal is pretty light.
Right now you can get a limited edition 5-piece set for their 10th anniversary. An extra bonus? The All frypans are currently 20% off through October 24th! GET UR PANS!
Lately, I have been living my life for anything one-pan/one-pot. I’ve been craving ease and I think you have too because anything I make that can be made in one vessel, you guys have made over and over, which of course makes me so pumped.
I go to Italy on Tuesday! AHHH!! I’m so excited. But also there’s, like, that crazy panic that ensues when you’re going to be gone for a long time. I’m feverishly trying to meet a bunch of deadlines I have. And I’m also trying to wash clothes and make sure I have enough underwear and socks for eight whole days. I also wanna look kinda cute but haven’t had the time or energy to go shopping or do any of that. I KNOW, LIFE IS HARD!
I’m also super excited about Fenty Beauty. I’m going to try and find some time this weekend to head to Sephora to get some stuff for my trip. I’m super excited to try out the tones of the foundations because the shade range is huge! I think that’s rad. And no one is a bigger badgirlriri fan than meeeeee!
Let’s talk about this baklava now because it’s SO GOOD.
When I first moved to LA, my friend Setu took me to this place and she forced me to order her new obsession—this milk and honey milkshake. It was so long ago and yet I remember them vividly. I was thinking the other day, why aren’t there more milk and honey things because the combo is so soothing and delicious.
For this almuerzo, Western Union engaged me to participate in their “On the Map with Western Union” program where they are exploring the inspiration and innovation that different heritages inspire. Western Union asked me to share my story about how my upbringing has influenced my cooking and how their mobile app is a super easy way to send money to different parts of the world. This almuerzo is going to focus on my heritage, stay tuned for more on the mobile app and how easy it is to use!
The first food I ever learned how to cook was Peruvian food. My mom is from Peru, a country I grew up learning about through her. My mom would play old Peruvian boleros (ballads) by Luchas Reyes (she’s like our Celia Cruz) while she’d simmer chicha on the stove and sing along and sometimes cry because her music is just so beautiful.
I remember having friends over and having to explain to them that the drink was made from purple corn. LOL. The looks I’d get! But they’d all love it because it’s a drink that is flavorful and perfectly spiced and just delicious.
My mom was a young mom and literally the only dishes she knew how to make (minus a chicken broccoli casserole she learned from a back of a soup can!) were all Peruvian. I now realize that the flavors of Peru absolutely shaped my palate.
If you’ve had Peruvian food, you know that it’s very spicy. My mom always cooked with heat. I was like 5 years old eating dishes with ají amarillo—which are bright yellow Peruvian peppers that are VERY spicy—in them. Peruvians put them in everything from sauces to soups to pastes. Ají amarillo paste sits on nearly every Peruvian table and is used as a condiment—it’s SO good.
And a lot of Peruvian food is very acidic (see: ceviche and causa). It’s food that has a lot of flavor and balance and pulls influences from Asia (there are a lot of Asians living in Peru), Africa and Spain, all while using indigenous, Peruvian ingredients.
Even now, in dishes that aren’t Peruvian, I find myself making sure that acidity is very prominent and always, always adding some form of heat. I love adding a dollop of ají amarillo to everything from salad dressings to marinades for chicken or fish (not traditional at all but such a good move!).
My mama was in town for a few weeks and I took advantage of having her here to make a little almuerzo (lunch). Growing up, Sunday almuerzo happened nearly every week and it was a big deal. There was cooking ALL day long and it was my favorite.
My mom and I tried to recreate a bit of that Sunday almuerzo nostalgia with this lunch. We made lomo saltado but veggie (she no longer eats meat); there was papa a la huancaína (my favorite!); pie de limón which looks like a normal lime/lemon pie but is so unique in texture and ease; and lastly, my mom’s chicha.
Today I’m sharing with you two recipes, one for pie de limón (my mama’s favorite!) and chicha (recipe straight from her).
The pie de limón is unlike a lot of other lemon pies. Traditionally this calls for Peruvian lemons which are much smaller than American lemons and are super acidic. So I made do and combined limes and lemons. We always did this growing up. Similar to how I add both limes and lemons to make the pie de limon, if we couldn’t find Peruvian peppers, we’d use jalapeños or habaneros as a substitute. The filling is super easy because it’s not a ton of ingredients and there’s no tempering the custard. The texture is SOOOO good.
I spent this past weekend in Seattle, chilling at Create + Cultivate, where I spoke on a panel about food and digital media. It was loads of fun and I met so many cool, interesting, awesome people.
I also spent the weekend biting my finger nails, worried about Florida. It looks awful and I think it’ll take a day or so to really know the extent of the damage. Hoping and praying for everyone’s safety!!
OK, let’s talk about cookies. I love cookies. And recently I shared the Cozy Chocolate Chip Cookies with you and they are pretty much one of the top recipes of 2017 on this lil’ blog.
A lot of people have made them and it makes me so happy. I met someone at the conference and she told me it’s her family’s new go-to cookie recipe and that made me so happy. One of the bonuses that we both agreed on: it doesn’t require to soften any butter so there’s really immediate satisfaction involved.
I feel like baked brie is kinda basic bitch-ish. It’s not all that revelatory. It’s nothing new. But I feel like this version–while not groundbreaking–is SO good.
This thing also gets more points because it’s really easy to throw together. It takes like five minutes to assemble and like ten minutes to bake. It also doesn’t require a lot of ingredients.
And the payoff is HUGE! The soft walnuts and crunchy pistachios with the warm figs are delicious. The thyme adds a nice aroma and the honey adds some nice sweetness.
This appetizer isn’t super sweet, so if you’re in the mood for more sweetness, toss the figs in a teaspoon of brown sugar.
I served this whole thang with Bubs + Grandma bread, which is a local Los Angeles bread maker. If you live in LA, you can get it often times at farmer’s markets or at Cookbook (in Echo Park). But if not, then this would be delicious with any good bread or crackers.
Are you feeling fall vibes?! It’s been so hot lately but I’m super excited for fall to arrive.
Meatballs might be my favorite food in the entire world. I strive to eat them ALL THE TIME. It doesn’t always work out but I really do try.
I eat healthy ones when I’m vibing that paleo/Whole 30 lifestyle.
I like legit ones that I like to think I would eat if I lived in the movie Goodfellas.
And then there are these fine things: eggplant veggie meatballs.
You can serve them to all your friends who don’t like meat but also don’t like fake meat. Also people who like meat love them too.
If you know me then you know that I was LATE to the eggplant game. I lived my life for years hating it but I love it SO much now. This sabich is still one of my favorite things to eat and the thing I love most on that sandwich is the deng harissa eggplant—it’s too good!
These meatballs come together pretty easily.
We do have an extra step and that’s cooking the eggplant down a bit and then blending it all up in a food processor with a bunch of other delicious things.
I like to use a non-stick pan for this so that I don’t end up with crumbly-broken meatballs. These are definitely more fragile than your traditional meatball.
I served this over cauliflower puree and pesto and it was the perfect healthy meal. If you’re looking to cut down on some time, serve it with store-bought pesto and some sautéed cauliflower rice.
Are you guys chilling this weekend? After a little bit of a crazy few weeks, I was lucky enough to be able to relax most of the weekend. I slept, I tried to stay cool (it was literally 105F every single day, help us all!), tried to stay away from the crazy fires, washed clothes and went to a bbq for a friends birthday. It was all good.
This weekend I’m headed to Seattle for Create + Cultivate and I just learned that Issa Rae is the keynote speaking and it has me a little scared/shy/excited to meet her!! EEEE! I love her so much. I’m actually leaving before she hits the stage so who knows if I get to meet her BUT if you haven’t watched Insecure DOOO ITTT!
It is my favorite show on TV right now; it has be DYING every single episode. And every time an episode is done I’m like UGGGHHH I wish there was more!
Let’s turn our attention to this late-summer galette because it is SO good. At the base of the galette, underneath the peaches is a baklava-type of mixture and it is B O M B. It’s spiced and crunchy and flavorful. It gives the entire thing such a good flavor and texture.
We’ve lived in our beloved lil’ Echo Park apartment for a long time but we’ve been kinda outgrowing it and looking for a new place for a while so when Josh’s dad moved out of state (for a new job) and asked us to move in to takeover his house for the next 5 years or so, the timing was perfect.
Before we officially move in, we’re renovating the kitchen. And by renovating I mean tearing every single thing out, knocking down a few walls and starting from scratch. I have never done a renovation before so it say it is a bit of a dream is an understatement. It’s also a bit overwhelming because there are SO many choices and decisions and I fully understand why people hire a designer to help them.
Initially we were gonna start the renovation back in June but I’m so happy that we waited because it really gave me time to understand what would look best in the space. I really believe that kitchens, and frankly any renovation, should complement the house itself.
The house is a bit like an English cottage. It’s cute with red brick, built in the 1920s. There are beautiful green vines growing on the outside and SO many roses in the front yard and in the backyard. It’s quite adorable and it’s the perfect size (not too big, not too small). It has charm like no other but it does need a bit of love in the kitchen department.
At the beginning of this whole venture, I thought a lot about what I wanted from a kitchen and I kept coming back to super modern, clean style cabinets with cozy, sweet colors.
This is what I had in mind:
I was really into completely flat cabinets with little leather handles (we all know those can’t be durable, I was picturing myself with frosting on my hands ruining those things).
But this felt too sterile and new for the house. I’m so happy I came across Devol Kitchens, a kitchen designing duo in England, because they create the perfect kitchens for this house.
I’m absolutely obsessed with the inset cabinets (spoiler alert: custom cabinets were way too expensive so we’re going a cheaper route) with calcutta marble, sage green, warm tones.
All my Scandinavian kitchen dreams flew out the window when I came across their kitchen designs. Every single one of them made me want to bake and cook in these spaces. None of them looked too fancy or fussy.
They looked durable and sturdy. They have a bit of an old feel while still feeling relevant and new.
The layout of the kitchen has been formatted. Demo starts today!! WOOHOO!!
And of course here are the before photos. Two walls are coming down. The original windows are going to be peeled and restored with new hardware. The old 50s tile is going to be scraped off the walls and ceiling and the laminate floors are going to be ripped up and trashed.