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.
LA weather is the best weather right now because it’s kinda chilly. I walk Amelia in my favorite hoodie and have been baking cookies non-stop this week.
I also started my a new Instagram account called COZY AF. We’ll see what it turns into but it’s currently a place where I’m posting some interior, cozy inspiration.
This week has been crazy in the news and personally it’s been a rough week too. My childhood dog, Chuck, is near the end of his life. He’s lived a long life; sixteen long years. But it still makes it hard to say goodbye. And it’s taken its toll on all of us. The heartbreak doesn’t get easier, though a big part of all of us just want to be happy that he’s lived such a long life. It’s still hard and sad.
In other news, I made a really good pasta salad and it’s really just perfect for the summer. It didn’t photograph all that well but I don’t care if it doesn’t get all the likes on Instagram because IT IS SO TASTY!
I love Mexican street corn (aka elite) so I figured it’d be a good idea to put it in pasta…but then Billy was like…umm..you should make it into a pasta salad. Thank you, Billy, because it was perfect in the pasta salad iteration.
If you’re on the west coast, you’ve most likely been asked that dumb question that everyone loves to ask: “In-N-Out or Shake Shack?”
It’s not really a fair question because the price point on a Shake Shack burger is WAY higher than an In-n-Out Burger AND most diehard LA people will never, ever say Shake Shack. They’d almost rather root for the Yankees.
And while I love LA, I will admit, I always choose Shake Shack. The meat at In-N-Out always makes me feel kinda ill. I once got the grilled cheese and I didn’t feel sick at all so it’s def the meat. So, for me, I’ll always go with Shake Shack because the quality of ingredients sits with me a bit better. But In-N-Out will always be near and dear to my heart and remind me of young childhood and driving up the coast of California.
BUT, we’re not making a copycat In-N-Out burger, we’re making a Copycat Shake Shake burger. WHY?!
BECAUSE THEY ARE DOPE. There have been some good posts on this subject, notably here and here. But luckily, for me, and you, Shake Shack has come out with a book, giving us all a better idea of how things should be constructed and made. Most importantly: the special sauce.
The first step is to butter your Martin’s Potato Rolls. If you’re unfamiliar with Martin’s potato rolls just know they are soft and luscious and so very delicious. You can buy them on the east coast at a whole lot of places and if you’re psycho, or you order them online here.
I searched very far and wide for Martin Potato Rolls in LA and couldn’t find them. It was really annoying. A big part of me even thought of being crazy and buying eight burgers at Shake Shack, hold the meat and sides, so I could get the buns for this post…but then the normal, frugal part of me kicked in and immediately told my-sometimes-irrational-self that she was psycho for even thinking of that.
If you’re lucky enough to live on the east coast, go get them. If you’re a west coaster, you can order them online or just use white buns that are small. 🙁
Either way, you gosta butter them and then pan-fry them. This is what dreams are made of.
Then there’s the meat.
So we made our own blend, with the guidance of their book. BUT you don’t need to. Just go to your grocery store (that has a meat counter) and ask for a blend. OR you can use ground chuck that is 85/15. It will still taste good.
But I did as follows:
I got one pound of sirloin and one pound of chuck.
I chopped them up into cubes and fed them through the meat grinder with the largest opening. And then I put them through again with the smaller opening.
And then we formed round pucks. Not patties. Pucks.
Another thing that I found interesting was that you want the meat COLD. When the fat hits the pan you need it to be cold so it makes a really nice crust.
We pan-fried them on a cast iron with a bit of oil. We also used ghee on one patty and it was a bit too rich for me. But I’m also a baby when it comes to foods with too much fat.
When you flip the patties over, you then flatten them. You will feel like a short order cook. And immediately feel like you should be wearing a hairnet and have a cigarette hanging from the side of your mouth, just like Paula Deen.
You then drape slices of American cheese over the burgers. And that American cheese will melt gloriously.
And then you assemble in this order:
1. Special sauce on toasted, buttered bun.
2. Green leaf lettuce
3. Two slices of roma tomatoes, cut a lil’ on the thicker side.
4. The patty with the cheese
5. Two slices of pickles
And there you have it, a copycat shake shack burger.
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.
I had a full-blown, real, non-working weekend. There was a good dose of working out, dinner at a newly-opened neighborhood restaurant (highly recommend it)! I helped my friend Hourie with her charity bakesale that was sold out in an hour (!!!). There was also loads of salsa and smoothies and working out.
Moving onto cakes, specifically this one. Easter is this weekend, which really is the kickoff to spring brunches. There’s Mother’s Day and spring weather, which makes for ideal brunching-weather.
If you love cakes but can’t find the energy/skillz to decorate them, then the whole ‘sheet cake category’ is for you. They are ridiculously easy. All you’ll need is a proper baking pan and a spatula and a handful of sprinkles.
This strawberry + rhubarb sheet cake is the complete opposite of this Neapolitan number. That cake requires a few cups of coffee and some concentration (or at least the decorating part does).
This cake is made up of the most delicious white/strawberry cake combo ever. I could eat it over and over. And the rhubarb frosting is delicious tart and smooth.
Appetizers for Dinner has always been a favorite of mine. I think it started with an episode of My-So-Called-Life when Rayanne’s mother threw some frozen dumplings in the microwave and Rayanne was super bummed about not being cooked “a real dinner.”
Since my mom was always, like, super healthy and demanded we have a very full/healthy cooked dinner, an appetizer-driven dinner always sounded like heaven to me.
I like to think that this snacking board is the best of both worlds because it’s healthy AND filling enough where you can totally eat it, be full and not feel bad about it one bit! It’s kidlike but totally appropriate for us grown-ups.
For this post I teamed up with my favorite, new-to-me vegetable ranch-flavored chips from Pure Growth Organic! You can find them at places like Amazon.com where they’re super affordable and healthy and delicious.
They’re super light; they almost remind me a bit of a rice cracker but a million times better and more flavorful.
The carrot harissa dip might’ve been my favorite because I had never ever made a dip made of carrots before. I was a bit skeptical when I went through the testing process but the texture was amazing; I mean, I ended up adding walnuts because it was borderline too smooth.
CAKIES! I learned this term from Izy’sbook. I’m not sure if she invented it or if it was around before then. It’s hard to pin-point the origin of very sophisticated terms like that…but if you’re unfamiliar, it’s when a cake meets a cookie.
These are delicious spongey-cake-like cookies that are super floral thanks to olive oil. I used average-ly fancy olive oil. It’s hard for me to buy a bottle of $30 of olive oil AND THEN USE IT, you know?
When I bake with olive oil I still use stuff that’s not THAT expensive. Josh tries to talk me into using nicer stuff but it’s so so hard. I leave the fancy stuff for drizzling on salads or veggies.
I’m currently (trying) to stock pile recipes for fall. I have a feeling the season is going to swallow me whole so this was one of the last summer-ish recipes that I wanted to make.
I’m obsessed with adding fruit to glazes and frostings. You may think that some sort of artificial coloring was added to this frosting but think again, my friends.
I feel like a basic b first thing in the morning (every single morning) because this is basically what I make (give or take the white bean puree or eggs). I’ve been eating something like this, a rendition of it, for like the last two months.
I’ve recently learned a few things about myself lately:
1. I need breakfast. It sets me very straight. And makes me genuinely happy.
2. For breakfast, I tend to lean more savory than sweet. (At least during the weekdays when my days need to be productive and want to feel good.)
3. Italian parsley + lemon juice will forever be my favorite flavor combination. It’s so fresh and delicious. Add a good amount of salt to balance out the salt and it’s something that should be put on every single thing.
As I thrust this only half indulgent recipe toward you, I’m currently on Class Pass (I’m a new joiner) scheduling out all of my workouts for the next week. This is an attempt to balance out my grilled cheese crouton eating with cycling, kicking and boxing and dance moves in this West African dance class I’m contemplating on trying.
These grilled cheese croutons are straight out of Pinterest 2012. It’s not an idea that I invented by any means but when I saw it loooong ago on Pinterest, I thought: GENIUS! It took me forever to actually do it but I finally did; I think it’s best I waited so long. The idea is so old, it’s almost new again.
When I finally got it together and it was time to buy flour, I was like a little scared at all the flour options, and especially scared because they weren’t in English. I reached for my Google Translate app but I didn’t have any service in the damn market so I took a gamble. I went for a big bag, figuring it was most likely all-purpose.
The rest of the grocery shopping was interesting. Baking powder is “bagepulver“. I sorta figured it out. My milk purchased was assisted by an older woman who thought it was kinda funny that I was almost buying kefir. LAWD.
When I got home and started putting all the labels in google translate, I was like OH I BOUGHT RYE FLOUR OK.