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!).
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.
For this post, I teamed up with Gevalia, a coffee brand with a Swedish heritage that is known for making fika (Swedish coffee/snack time) special and delicious.
Easy summer living has been in full effect around these parts.
I’ve been living off of summer-y salads (one of which I’ll be sharing soon!) and have been trying to make plans. We NEVER ever go to the beach. Why?! So Josh and I and a few friends are trying to set some dates down on those calendars and stick to them.
For some reason, when you live on the east side of LA, getting to the beach feels like a huge excursion and commitment but I’m trying to tell myself that sandwiches and iced coffees on the beach will be worth it.
Speaking of iced coffeezzz. We are in what I like to call “Iced Coffee Season.” It’s a season when I rarely drink anything warm, coffee included.
I immediately remember how much I loved The Bicycle Thief and 8 1/2 in college–none of which even take place in Southern Italy–but still…Italy! I remember this roasted plum cake that’s made with a delicious plum syrup spiked with balsamic vinegar and Italian pistachios.
I remember my love for aperol spritzes and how delicious they are when I’m sweating on a hot day.
I’m actually going to northern Italy in September but there’s just something about the Amalfi coast in June and July and August that draws me there like a magnet. Maybe next year. Maybe we’ll go for our honeymoon, though Josh is pushing for Asia. THO WE STILL DON’T KNOW WHEN WE’RE ACTUALLY GETTING MARRIED. SMH.
In lieu of my urge to book and flight and head to southern Italy, I figured I’d transport myself and my longing through taste. Through food. Through drank.
I’m starting this adventure with a kick-off to summer: the Aperol spritz.
And all sorts of ways. What else can we put in them besides Prosecco?
I say lots.
When I was in Copenhagen last year, I went to Baest and had one with apple cider and it was BOMB. It was very fall-like so I think that made sense. But now, as we venture into summer, I say let’s be super basic and try it with rosé.
Here she is with rosé:
I started the drink with about 2 to 3 ounces of aperol, another 3 to 4 ounces of rosé and then topped it off with some sparkling water.
And let’s talk about green olives. They’re traditionally served with green olives and at first it seems a little odd but the brininess with the sweetness from the aperol REALLY works.
And then here’s a grapefruit Aperol spritz.
There’s 3 ounces of aperol, about 2 to 3 ounces of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and then tonic or sparkling water.
I love the tonic addition but if you’re into less sweet, go the sparkling water route.
It’s almost summer, which means it’s beer ice cream float time!
Last weekend, I invited Billy and Steve over and we made some copycat Shake Shack burgers (recipe coming tomorrow!) and served them with beer ice cream floats using some delicious ice cream from Coolhaus.
The first time I had a beer ice cream float was a few years ago, and I’ll admit that before I tried it, I thought it might be a little gross. But, umm, it was the exact opposite.
Beer and ice cream go SO well together, especially when paired properly. And of course, if you have a little kid around or someone who doesn’t drink, you can substitute the beer with cream soda. Cream soda universally will go with all of these flavors of ice cream.
For this post, I teamed up with Coolhaus. I first had Coolhaus back in the day when food trucks were new and cool. I’d go to these food truck parties and I always finished my grazing with some ice cream or an ice cream sandwich from the Coolhaus truck.
Now you’re able to find Coolhaus in nearly every grocery store—it’s so amazing to have watched them grow from small ice cream truck to what they are now. Coolhaus is a woman-owned, LA born business, straight out of the recession—YAS!
I figured I’d do the very difficult job of paring a handful of their ice creams with different types of beers.
Here’s what I paired and loved:
1. Dirty Mint Chocolate Chip with a stout – I accidentally and unknowingly bought a coffee stout. It was surprisingly SO amazing with the Dirty Mint Chocolate Chip, which uses real spearmint and little delicious bits of chocolate.
2. Bananas Foster with a hefeweizen – The bananas foster might be my favorite flavor because I love bananas and the dulce de leche swirl is bomb. It pairs well with a hefeweizen because a lot of hefes have banana-like-tasting notes and the tartness works well with the sweetness of the dulce de leche.
3. Chocolate Molten Cake with a cream ale – At first I thought that the chocolate molten cake would go well with a stout and I tried it that way but it was a bit too rich for me. I liked it better with a cream ale that has some oat-y, malt-y notes that pair well, but isn’t too overpowering, with the rich chocolate molten cake flavor.
This week has been a lil’ bananas. I’m doing a video series for a project today (YAY!) and just getting everything in order from location to what I’m putting on my body has been a good amount of mental work. I’m used to just making things and taking photos of them, not really concerning myself with how my hair looks. ITS HARDER THAN I THOUGHT!
In other more important news, Amelia is about to be wrangled by a new trainer, that we consulted with over the weekend, because she’s caught a bit of separation anxiety, i.e., has a full-on toddler meltdown when I put on my shoes. It’s made leaving the house a bit challenging. If you know corgis, then you know that they’re kind of wild, feral animals.
She also had to turn down an opportunity to be in a commercial for The Crown because the requirements were that she actually had to obey all commands while being in front of camera, while being next to a herd of corgis. She. Can’t. Do. This. It’d be too stressful and the experience of taking video of her in this environment did not outweigh the stress. ANYWAY, my best friend works for Netflix so I’ve kindly asked for an invite to set that day.
NOW, let’s turn our undivided attention to these gorgeous slushies from my dear friend Lily’s gorgeous new book KALE AND CARAMEL.
They are seriously the dessert I will make over and over this summer because:
#1. They are so easy to throw together. Seriously, all you need is an ice cube tray and a blender.
#2. They are healthy-ish. They’re sweetened by honey and orange juice, they’re dairy-free and are so so delicious.
#3. Who doesn’t love the gorgeous pink color from the hibiscus syrup.
Sometimes when I use matcha….actually, make that ALL the time, I ask myself: “Am I being basic?” The answer might be yes. I’m not completely sure. But still, my insecure self returns to it time and time again because it’s DELICIOUS!
And in the afternoon when I need a bit of a pick-me-up and know I can’t handle coffee or an espresso beverage (I’ll be up all night), a matcha latte is the perfect go-to.
And it’s so pretty. And it tastes great. So I guess the answer is that I might be basic. And matcha might be overplayed. But who cares. Trendy things are only lame if they only sorta taste good. (Also: to a lot of people, matcha is not trendy—it’s been around for centuries. And to them, the rest of the world is just late.)
There is a new matcha bar that moved into my neighborhood and it’s so good but most days I don’t feel like driving down the road so instead I like to make a my own version at home.
This couldn’t be simpler.
You put a few teaspoons of matcha powder in a measuring cup and add a few tablespoons of hot water. Whisk it until the matcha has dissolved and then you pour in the remaining water and whisk some more. I transfer it to the fridge or freezer to chill for about 15 minutes.
OMG Whole 30 is officially out of my life and I am happy but still sort of doing it? Yes, I know that’s strange, right? Like if I’m so happy it’s over why keep doing it? The truth is that eliminating some foods for me has been a huge plus.
Ok let’s start at the beginning. I’m going to breakdown my feelings and sentiments thought the process because they weren’t always happy and they weren’t always glowing. There were many times when I really hated Whole 30. And not just because I missed sugar.
I will say that flat-out, if you don’t eat that much meat (I don’t), there will be times where the thought of meat will make you sick.
Ok but let’s start at the beginning:
Day 1 to 5:
This is the part when most people want to die. Haha. You’re sort of in the hangover stage because you miss sugar and alcohol and carbs. But surprisingly this was my easiest time. I think because I was genuinely SO excited to start that I didn’t miss many foods during this time. I ate a lot of meatballs and spaghetti squash.
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.
You know when your mom tells you the same story over and over and over and you just nod your head and act like you’ve never heard it before. This is called being nice. I do this all the time. Love that woman but OMG.
I almost started to tell you that I go to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market every Sunday to buy produce but I feel like you know this very boring story and I’ll probably tell you this story again when I share the rest of this very spring brunch so I’ll just say that this elderflower came from the market.