Hello, hi, hello! I’m finally back in Los Angeles, tucked in my very comfortable bed with Amelia sleeping on my feet. When I got back, I immediately told her all about the cute dogs I saw on the road. Mostly telling her how grateful she is for having a warm bed and a constant stream of food, but she’s shrugging her shoulders at me. Typical.
In my brain a few weeks ago, I was craving cacio e pepe but I also wanted it to be cheesy. Cacio e pepe enthusiasts and purists will scoff at this recipe but the rest of us who love cheesy cheese and black pepper, will love it. I can’t win them all.
This recipe is sort of a simple base for a stovetop macaroni and cheese. Except it has way less salt (because of the Parmesan-Reggiano), some mozzarella and it requires that you save the pasta water (just like traditional cacio e pepe). That extra pasta water will loosen it up a bit and make it even creamier and more delicious.
Whenever I was a little kid, I used to come home and make Kraft Mac n’ Cheese and would ALWAYS put a ton of black pepper on top. That is the inspiration behind this recipe.
First, there’s a recipe I’m gonna make (loosely) based off the book from our Book Club (have you started reading?! have you finished?!?). Get to it!
And then, there is Game Day. I wasn’t thinking I was really going to make anything for The Game…because, well, I don’t even watch football but then I realized a lot of us don’t but we still eat snacks. So, I’m warming up to the idea and am gonna make a few things this Friday to make sure we’re prepared.
Oh and then Valentine’s Day. For a long time, my eyes rolled very hard at V-Day but man, V-Day content is so fun to make. Everything is kinda cheesy and pink and heart-shaped. It’s grown on me big time.
A few weeks ago, Josh made this vegan lasagna and naturally I was very skeptical about it…mainly because vegan cheese is suss. But when it was all said and done and it was dinner time, I took a bite and was like OH OKKKKK.
Are you a freezer person? You know, like one of those people who freezes all type of stuff? I’ve never been big on the freezer…until now! I’m like having a huge moment with my freezer (which reminds me of this song called umm NEW FREEZER).
I swear, come summertime, I’m going to make a big batch of sofrito to add to everything because the beginning of this recipe calls for a small version of it and if it was in my freezer, that means I’d be able to skip a gigantic step.
Ok, moving on…I’m not a huge risotto maker. I mean, I’ve made it a few times but it’s always felt like such a diva-like dish to make. So high-maintenance. It has to really be worth it to me and GIRRRLL this recipe is worth it.
The beginning part is where all the flavor comes from. There’s lots of onion, red bell pepper, tons of garlic, tomato and spices. It tastes like paella but it’s not. And it’s way faster and you don’t have to make it for a gazillion people. It’s that perfect dish for two or for four or for one (with leftovers).
Ok, so firstly I want to say YAY and THANK YOU to all of you for joining Cozy Book Club. I have added a tab at the far right of this blog so all of the posts will live there. I am now on page 250 and OMG this book is fascinating and incredibly interesting. I can’t wait to discuss this.
Now, for this soup. I have an incredibly complicated relationship with soup. I love soup. But I hardly ever make soup and call it dinner. I think it’s because soup, for me, needs lots of other things to be considered a full meal.
I need lots of lots of toppings in my soup. And one of the many reasons why tortilla soup is my favorite is because it has tons of toppings and additions.
This soup is also super, super easy to throw together. The amount of ingredients is scarce but it’s still so flavorful and delicious.
I made this on a chilly night here in Los Angeles (take that description with a grain of salt, especially those living in bomb cyclone areas) and it hit the spot for the whole fam. It’s also the best leftover type soup ever.
I made a vision board on Day 1 of 2018 (because Oprah told me to).
I put all my dreams and hopes onto my vision board. 2017 was the hardest year of my life…even though professionally, it might’ve been my best year yet. Maybe one day I’ll tell you all about it. Right now, I’m just not ready. Maybe I’ll never be. I will say that seeing your family break up is incredibly sad. I do know that so many of you probably know how it feels.
My 2018 vision board is about healing and peace and forgiveness. How do you forgive someone who has never said they’re sorry nor never will? It’s not an easy thing to do. I’m guessing it will be my greatest lesson of 2018. Or at least I hope it will be.
My vision board is about moving towards new career goals.
It’s also about making beautiful work that people find happiness looking at and recreating. I’m so grateful for this space, for the power of creating; it has helped me heal and find happiness over and over and over. I hope I make things until the day I die.
I love the newness type of feel that January has. It’s so fresh and clean and new. I love it so very much. Like everyone else in the world, I’m eating a bit lighter and fresher this month.
Have any of you done Whole30 before? Last year January I did Whole30 and it was a really interesting experience. I’m not doing it this year but I am definitely implementing a few Whole30-approved recipes into my routine because, like everyone else, I need a bit of break from indulgent foods.
For this post, I teamed up with ALDI where I went to gather all sorts of fresh, high-quality and organic foods. One thing that Whole30 requires is that all of your beef is grass-fed and organic. This shepherd’s pie was made with their SimplyNature 100% Grass Fed Ground Beef that is super affordable.
I was perusing The Instagram a few months ago and I ran into a chef making rutabaga noodles. I was like wuuut?! How? I wanted to know. He was tossing the noodle of rutabaga in a pasta sauce and I thought it was amazing! Well, he used the Vegetable Sheet Cutter attachment from KitchenAid® and I was like WOW!!!
When KitchenAid® reached out wanting me to give their Vegetable Sheet Cutter attachment a try, I jumped at the chance to give it a whirl. It is so cool. I actually used it a few weeks ago to make a zucchini lasagna, which also was super delicious. But I really had my heart set on making “noodles.”
This weekend I’m headed to, like, four or five holiday parties, which is crazy amazing. Thank you, friends, for inviting me! I’m usually super low-key in the month of December. It’s often a time for me to chill with Amelia with fluffy socks in bed but I have to say, I’m super excited!
The next week is a whirlwind while I tie some loose-end-of-year ends, get my holiday shopping done and prep for some traveling.
During this holiday season, I like super simple little meals and snacks. This is as simple as can be: three main ingredients, complementing flavors and it comes together very quickly!
For this post, I teamed up with Ozery Bakery. If you’re unfamiliar with their bread, then you’re in for a delicious surprise. I keep their whole wheat buns in the freezer, and whenever I need one, whether it be for a grilled cheese like this or some bread in the morning for avocado toast, I just remove one from the freezer and warm it up—super easy.
I finally got a tree! Woohoo! And I’ve been decorating the house trying to get it as merry as can be. This includes a gigantic garland, a bunch of little trees and strings of pretty lights. And yes, this has also included fights with Amelia over her stealing my ornaments. This happens every single year so it’s not anything surprising. There have been years where we’ve put a metal guard around it, creating a barrier between her and the tree. But it’s not really that chic, you know?!
Another thing I’ve been tackling is my gift-giving. I’m an all at once type of shopper. I creep and plot and plan and then I just go on a shopping spree and buy everything, so it’s all done at once. I hadn’t gone on my shopping spree yet and was struggling to find a gift for Josh’s dad but I found the perfect idea for him from Ace Hardware and just had to share it with you: this Limited Edition Weber Kettle Premium grill! This one is Christmas-red and is super affordable at just $199.
To test it out, I partnered with Ace Hardware to give the grill a bit of a test run and I have to say, I think I grilled up the perfect winter-y meal. I recommend this grill for anyone who is looking for a gift for the cook or the grill-master in your life.
We are thick in holiday season and I couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming break. I’m excited to chill and cook leisurely in fluffy socks.
This recipe is on my to-make-again list because it is so good and chill to make. In the world of gratins and scalloped potatoes there is a lot of controversy as to how you make them. A lot of recipes call for simply adding the potatoes to a casserole dish and then pouring cheese and heavy cream on top of the potatoes. I disagree with this method in an incredibly strong way. While it requires an extra step and admittedly isn’t as easy, a roux (a.k.a. a cheese sauce) must be made. This way there is no coagulation, just a silky smooth and tasty cheesy experience.