It’s FRI-YAY! I’m currently preparing to go to Colombia. I’m sort of in shock that I travel in a little over a week to a place that I’ve longed to go to for a long time. I can’t wait to see the little towns and colorful doors and eat arepas.
Truth is, most of my family doesn’t even live there anymore. Everyone left in the late 70s and 80s due to the immense violence and political unrest. Most of my family actually went to Brazil, where now lives an entire new generation of Brazilians. Some don’t even speak Spanish anymore. It’s amazing.
I can’t wait to share more with you soon. BUT FIRST, game day foods! I whipped up this queso fundido because I want to eat nothing more while people yell at the television and I look at my phone and gossip with my friends.
I chose to use corn—which I realize might not be in season for you (and that’s ok because frozen is good, too!)—because we actually had some at the market.
This couldn’t be more easy but it starts with my favorite step and that’s charring the corn and poblano pepper.
If you follow me on the Insta Stories then you know that your girl loves the “polls.” I did a very informative “Thanksgiving Poll” where I asked the people some important and pressing questions.
Things like if they like pie or cake at Thanksgiving. Or if they’re into salads or vegan things. I also asked if they like mashed potatoes or rather have fancy gratins. The results were fascinating and very interesting. Another thing I asked is if appetizers were a must or if, you know, we’re all busy making other things.
Appetizers, as a requirement, came in at an astounding 97% so yes, appetizers are a must on Thanksgiving. The hangry people of the world have spoken!
We’re so cute that we can Pinterest the shit out of any and everything. I will not lie to you: you can do this without putting everything in an acorn squash. You could simply add everything to a ramekin, baking dish or skillet. But if you wanted to, you can put it all in an acorn squash.
I doubled this recipe for you, asking that you buy two acorn squashes so that you can make these for more people. I used and ate only one and Billy and I crushed this by ourselves so feel free to double this recipe below.
Ayyyyye! These are SO good, girlfriends and dude friends.
I am currently in full-on heavy planning for Thanksgiving and this year it feels like SO much earlier than usual. Thanks so much for all your feedback about Classics vs. Twists. It was so interesting hearing everyone’s opinion on it.
I think I feel similarly like all of you: mostly classics on the savory stuff but TONS of twists and fun with desserts.
I think I’m going to bring a few classics. Like how I get the fluffiest of fluffy mashed potatoes and give you some fun twists on desserts.
This fine specimen you see in the photos is something that could definitely be served at Thanksgiving. The big, gigantic bonus is that it uses store-bought pizza dough (and yes, you can make a homemade batch too). It saves on a ton of time so it’s basically just an assembly-type recipe.
Moving to the suburbs of LA has kinda forced Josh and I to explore the chain restaurants of our childhoods. Some are just as good as we remember them. But others….eeesh. I feel like I remember them being so much more awesome back then.
I feel like garlic knots are those things that are still awesome at Olive Garden but why not make a homemade version, especially when we can make it taste better.
This recipe starts with roasting dat garlic.
We’re using an entire head of garlic here and it’s amazing. I just squeezed it out into of bit of room temperature butter with crushed red peppers, salt and dried oregano.
We’re going for classic, Italian-pizzeria type content, ok.
Another big bonus with this recipe is that it uses store-bought pizza dough. Of course, you could make your own but I used store-bought and it saved a ton of time and made me excited to start the assembly process.
I divided the dough into twelve pieces. And rolled them out into strips. THEN I smothered them with the butter/garlic mixture and that’s kinda it!
It rises and then bakes. It is glorious and maybe too cheesy…but then maybe it’s just heaven.
Maybe-Too-Cheesy Roasted Garlic Knots
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Serving Size: 4 to 6 (as an appetizer or a lil' snack)
1 whole head of garlic, top sliced off
1 pound of store-bought or homemade pizza dough
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoon salt (if you’re using salted butter, please leave this out!)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 3/4 cups of shredded mozzarella, divided
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap the head of garlic in a small sheet of foil and place on a baking sheet or in a baking dish. Transfer to the oven to roast for 1 hour. Carefully remove it from the foil. Allow the head of garlic to cool and press the roasted garlic out of the cloves and into a bowl.
To the bowl with the garlic, add the butter, minced Italian parsley, salt, crushed red pepper and oregano. Mix and mash it together until combined. Give it a taste and add a bit more salt if needed.
Lightly flour your work surface and divide the dough into twelve pieces. Listen, this doesn’t have to be perfect. We just want the twelve pieces to be sorta the same size so it all bakes evenly.
Roll and stretch each piece until it’s about 5 inches long. Spread about a half of teaspoon of the butter mixture onto the piece of dough and sprinkle it with a bit of mozzarella, pressing it into the butter. Tie the strip of dough into a knot and transfer it to the cast iron skillet. Repeat until you’ve worked your way through all of the strips of dough.
Brush the top with a bit of the remaining butter (if any) and cover the knots with a clean kitchen towel. Allow it to rise until it’s doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Uncover the cast iron skillet and transfer to the oven to bake for 20 minutes. At the 20-minute mark, sprinkle the top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the tops of the knots are golden brown. Top with more Italian parsley and crushed red pepper (if you like it spicy!).
Tip #1: If you don’t have time to roast garlic, it’s ok. Just add half of the garlic (about 6 cloves) of minced garlic to the butter mixture. Raw garlic is more intense than roasted garlic so that’s why I recommend half of the amount.
Tip #2: I use a cast iron for this recipe but a baking dish that’s about 9-inches round or rectangular will work just fine too.
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.
My favorite part about partnering with Western Union to create a Peruvian brunch together was that my mom actually schooled me big time!! I’ve made these dishes so many times and I thought I actually knew how to make them but turns out every time we talk about a recipe she “accidentally” leaves something out. But this time, I was in the kitchen with her and she showed me every.single.step. I finally—after a lot of years—have learned how to make my favorite Peruvian appetizer, papa a la huaincaína, correctly!
My abuelita, on my dad’s side, looooves Peruvian food (even though she’s Colombian). She’s a pretty eccentric character and has always always found it funny to send me random amounts of money for my birthday (all via Western Union!). One year it was $17.50, the next year it was $22.75 and another year it was $24.50. It’s always a fun surprise to receive a birthday card from her!
When I first started my blog, she—along with my parents—were my only visitors. She barely knows how to work a computer but somehow managed to figure out how to go to acozykitchen.com. It was a struggle trying to explain what a browser was to her but where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Whenever I’ve come out with a book, believe it or not, she’d actually much rather send me the money (via Western Union, actually) and have me send her the book vs. buy it from a store. And every time, I insist that she doesn’t actually send me any money but she would have it no other way! Western Union makes it super easy and seamless for her to send money (and for me to receive it).
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.
I took a sabbatical last week, mainly due to me losing my memory card with all sorts of posts on them. And then I was like whatever, consider this my summer vacation that I’m not going on. So I’m calling it a “memory card summer vacation.”
Tomorrow I’m hopping on a plane to speak at Blogher in hot and humid Orlando, Florida. Should be fun! I’m there for like 24 hours so unfortunately I won’t have time to go to Disney World. I have a lot of fun memories of Disney World, especially grad night where all of us loaded in a bus and drove 3 hours up north to attend. They shut down Disney early and us kids, like a thousand 16 year olds hung out during the middle of the night.
There were SO many kids doing things they shouldn’t have been doing. Luckily my school threatened the day lights out of us with the idea of not possibly graduating so I’m pretty sure none of us brought alcohol/did bad things because the wrath of failure and parents was too much to deal with. FEAR IS WHAT DRIVES MANY OF US! Sometimes it’s not a bad thing.
Anyway, I’ll be back before you know it and then I’m headed to Palm Springs for the weekend with my friend Cassie and of course Amelia is coming because when a pool calls, homegirl is there.
This weekend! There was a good dose of work sprinkled throughout the weekend but there was also time to try a new restaurant (Maestro) in Pasadena (very good) and go and see Wonder Woman (double-thumb ups).
I love going to the movies and I try and go as much as I possible but the past few months there has literally been zero that I even remotely wanted to see. So I’ve been keeping busy with Netflix and I have to say: I highly recommend The Keepers (VERY CREEPY!) and the Thanksgiving episode of Master of None. If you don’t watch the entire season, it’s totally fine, just watch that episode. I made me teary and warm inside. I loved it so much.
Another thing I’ve been researching and thinking about: the Instant Pot. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been very skeptical. I honestly don’t make a ton of beans and I don’t braise a ton of meat so for a long time I was like, who cares!?!? but then I wanted to make hummus and Billy offered to bring over his Instant Pot for hummus-making, so I said, “let’s doooo it.”
These beans cooked in like 30 minutes—it was insane! While they cooked in the Instant Pot, we did other things like talk about how crazy Ramona is and how Sonja ate a whole block a cheese and Luann’s wedding and we also talked about chocolate chip cookies. But we still saved so much time using that thing. I can’t recommend it enough…except I haven’t bought one for myself. Continue Reading
I feel like this week is my week of giving you practical thangs to eat (see: Monday and Wednesday)!
I love gawking at those crazy cheese boards all over Instagram but realistically most of us won’t make one of those. Or maybe we will but it’ll be for a big party or around the holidays when we have twenty people over.
But sometimes I want to eat a cheese plate for dinner but it’s just Josh and me. Or maybe it’s just for a girlfriend/dude friend and me. Or just me and my mom.
I could eat appetizers for dinner and do all the time (especially when Josh is working late or out with his friends and I’m on my own).
Seriously, me wanting to eat an appetizer for dinner is Josh’s worst nightmare. Nothing makes him give me a gigantic eyeroll more than when I tell him, “I’m not really that hungry, I kinda just wanna snack.”NO. He is a meal person. I understand. Most of the time I am too but sometimes I just wanna eat this!
For him, this type of situation constitutes as pre-gaming.
Regardless, I figured I’d share how I build a cheese plate perfect for two:
Ok, so the main objective when I go to the store for something like this is to NOT spend a million dollars.
1. Two cheeses. I like to pick two cheeses that are complementary but opposites. One soft cheese and one hard cheese.
For this plate, I went with a an awesome Irish cheddar (for an affordable/delicious option, I love Kerry Gold cheddar—so good!).
The one soft cheese is from Boursin (it’s another affordable/delicious option). But you could also do brie, goat cheese, camembert. (If you’re feeling baller-istic, I love Epoisses.)
2. Nuts. You only need really one kinda nut snack situation. My favorite are macrona almonds. They’re Spanish and fancy and delicious. The bulk-bin is perfect for the right amount of nuts.
3. Carbs. You need a vehicle for that cheese. On this particular day I had grissini/breadsticks so I included those. But these rosemary salted crackers were also a great option. I think one cracker and one bread item is good.
4. Something pickled. Or sweet. Or both. I went pickled on this particular day so that meant corichons, olives and sweet drop peppers (they’re SO GOOD!). The olive bar at a grocery store is your best bet because you can buy exactly the amount that you want/need.
Some sweet options would be dried apricot, honey, dried cranberries, fresh fruit (apricots, pears, etc.) and/or jams.