A Cozy Kitchen: Designing a Kitchen (without a Kitchen Designer) 

Kitchen

If you hire a kitchen designer they will do a lot of the work for you. They’ll pair your style of cabinets with flooring, give you backsplash options, scour the internet for lighting options and sink options, etc. It sounds like a dream, honestly, but we didn’t have it in the budget to hire a kitchen designer and the job also kinda sounded like fun! I was up for the challenge!

I’ll be completely honest, designing this space took a lot of time and I understand why people hire designers. BUT, if you have the time and love design, I think you’ll enjoy the process.

Before we started this project, I hadn’t really thought about what I wanted in a dream kitchen. Crazy I know, but I just hadn’t given it much thought. I learned a lot along the way so I wanted to share what worked for me and what I would do differently in the future. If I could go back, I still wouldn’t have hired a kitchen designer. The process was fun!

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Spring Cleaning the Kitchen Part 1!

Adventures, Kitchen

Spring cleaning is in full effect in casa cozy and if I’m being real, cleaning/organizational stuff is not my strength. I love for things to be tidy, organized and look like a Pinterest image at all times, but the truth is, cooking and shooting food makes a gigantic mess.

The kitchen looks like a bomb went off probably 80% of the time. At the end of each shoot/bake day, we clean up everything, but there’s still, like, grime on the hood and frosting speckles on the back of the tile, so today I’m showing you what I’m doing to do a deep clean for Spring in the kitchen.

For this post, I teamed up with Brandless, which is my new favorite website to buy all things cleaning and more. Here are some reasons why Brandless is dope:

1. Everything on the entire site is $3 or less.
2. Shipping is a flat fee of $5 for orders of $35 or more. And for $36 a year you’ll receive unlimited free shipping with their B. More Membership.
3. All of their cleaning supplies are nontoxic and smell like a dream. Seriously the smell combinations are delicious and will make your house smell like a field of flowers.
4. Ordering everything online makes it super easy.
5. All of their branding and labels are so pretty and cohesive.

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Vegetarian Bao Buns

Appetizers, Dinner

Soft. Fluffy. Luscious. Pillow-y. A dream.

These bao buns are what my carb dreamzzzz are made of. They’re so delicious and soft and before now, I had no idea they were so, so, so simple to make at home.

If you make them the legit AF way, the way you’re supposed to, you’re going to take pork fat and render it and pour it into this bread dough. But, I found that butter (a bit easier to find and deal with) is just as good. I adapted this recipe from David Chang’s recipe.

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A Cozy Kitchen Renovation: Review on Ikea Cabinets with SemiHandmade Fronts

Kitchen

When I first started looking at kitchens, the ones that stood out to me the most, the kitchens I kept pinning and repining were all from Devol Kitchens. Their kitchens are so dreamy. I love the in-set cabinets that just melt into the boxes. I love how cozy and classic and rich they feel. And if you have the budget, Devol Kitchens will actually design your kitchen lay-out and ship a whole set of cabinets to you. They start at around 60k. LOLL. That was not in the budget, unfortunately. Not even close.

SO, I got a bid from a cabinet maker and it was closer to 20k for what I was looking for (shaker-style cabinets that had that in-set). That price tag still hurt, so I did some more research and came across Semi Handmade, a company that makes fronts that fit onto Ikea boxes.

Like everyone who was broke AF in their 20s, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Ikea. A few years ago, I vowed to rid my entire apt of anything Ikea so I was a bit timid when it came to this cabinet process. It’s safe to say that the cabinet process still resulted in a love/hate relationship! LOL. Still the same—nothing has changed!

So here is how the process went down (I’m including prices just to be transparent and informative but of course this will vary depending on the size of your kitchen):

1. Measuring Kitchen – If you’re getting custom cabinets, the process for it usually goes like this: demo, space is cleared out and then the entire space is measured and custom cabinets are built for the space. This is not a bad way to do it. Of course, this is why some kitchen renos take a ton of time.

With Ikea, they sub-contract a company that comes to your house and measures your kitchen space. These measurements then get put into your “profile.”

2. Kitchen Design Time– You have to make an appt with Ikea to design the space. There are also companies that will design it at your house in the space. This is the route I wished I had gone because it’s easier to imagine. Continue Reading

Spicy Jalapeño Pepperoni Pizza

Pizza

I am currently flirting with the idea of doing a Paleo diet for 30 days. And when I say flirting with the idea, I mean, I’m entertaining it…for like 10 minute increments and then I try and imagine if I could go 30 days with no wine and pizza. Truth is: I’m great at eating healthy for about 2 days and then something happens…

1. I bake a cake and want a slice…or two?
2. Friends come over and a bottle of wine opens up…
3. I meet a friend for dinner and how can we say no to fried calamari on the menu and maybe we should order the mozzarella sticks, too?!

Balance is oh so hard. That’s why I love Gaby’s new book, What’s Gaby Cooking. It’s all about California living! And the food is filled with beautiful salads and healthy things like salmon on skewers with basil vinaigrettes…and then there’s the fun stuff: burgers and tacos and lots of pizzas. It’s about living that good California life that I adore so much.

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Spring Vegetable Pot Stickers

Dinner, Healthy (ish), Quick and Easy, Spring, Vegetarian

Last month I made pot stickers for the first time and I have to say, I was V impressed with them. They’re now one of my favorite things to make at home and are a million times easier than I thought they were. And yes, most of that has to do with the fact that I don’t make my own dough for the wrappers; even though that also doesn’t seem that hard to make, so maybe next time I’ll give it a try.

There were some days last week that felt like summer but I refuse to let go of spring for a long time. So we’re still in full effect with spring on this here blog for a long time.

These are filled with mashed peas (and some whole peas). The addition of sautéed buttery leeks also adds a nice flavor note. These are SO good. I love them so much.

The flavor here is all about sautéed leeks and barely cooked peas. The inspiration behind these pot stickers comes from Lisa Lin’s Instagram. Do you follow her? Her food looks so good. I could stare at it all day long.

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A Cozy Kitchen Renovation: Tips on Working with a Contractor for the First Time

Kitchen

I’m really excited about this post because I really should’ve researched tips on working with a contractor BEFORE I started. I would also like to preface this post by saying that this is my only experience with a contractor so obviously take this with a grain of salt.

How do I say this gently?…I didn’t LOVE working with my general contractor. But as I asked around to some friends, I found that our experiences were very similar. My contractor wasn’t on the job the entire time, there were mistakes that happened and I didn’t know what I was looking for or how to fix them. There was miscommunication, lack of communication, people not showing up on time, people not showing up at all, delays, etc. This is apparently super normal!

Every industry I’ve worked in, I’ve never experienced this so this was sort of a shock to me haha. Call me naive. Regardless of my experience, if I were to do another renovation, I’d absolutely use a contractor again.

Here are some benefits of using a contractor:

1. Insurance – They are insured. Meaning if they do work on your house and the roof caves in, their insurance will kick in and pay for the repairs. If one of their workers hurts himself/herself while working on your home, their workers’ comp will kick in. Their work is insured and so are their employees. Huge plus!

2. Licensed – All contractors are licensed. Actually probably not all but make sure you’re hiring a licensed contractor. This means that if you need to pull a permit with the city of wherever last minute, they can do it. Licensed also means they usually know what they’re talking about. Ours absolutely did know what he was talking about.

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Soft Chewy Citrus-Poppy Seed Cookies

Cookies, Desserts, Spring

Monday was 96 degrees in LA. I literally don’t understand anything anymore.

This week has been a doozy since the beginning of it was spent attempting to get my life in order (read: taxes), which I did and feel wonderful about! YAY! I feel like starting a blog is all fun and games until you have to file taxes, then owe $$$$ and then it gets very real. Now that that businass stuff is settled, I can go back to concentrating on more fun stuff, things I actually enjoy like cookies and cake and salads.

Yes, salads. I’m brainstorming so many salad ideas because I’ll usually make the same salad for days, weeks in a row and then get super bored and then vow to never eat it again. If you’re eating any new-to-you-cool salads, please leave some suggestions in the comments below. NOW, for these cookies, which are way cooler than salad…

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A Cozy Kitchen Renovation Reveal Part I

Adventures, DIY, Kitchen

OMG I can finally tell you that the entire kitchen is done done DONE. It’s an amazing feeling and I love the way it turned out. As you know, I started this process a long time ago!! There are a lot of bases to cover so I’m not going to cover everything in this post, instead I’m going to separate the posts into three or four posts.

This one is all about the reveal! I love dramatic before and afters and I have to say, the before photos show a pretty intense makeover.

This was my first ever renovation and I learned a lot. I also designed this space myself, which was another huge learning experience.

INSPIRATION
Let’s start with the inspiration. The house itself is an English-style cottage so I wanted to be true to the house. I wanted it to fit within the style of the house so I went with shaker cabinets. What I didn’t want? Was an all-white kitchen. I wanted something with a bit more style but at the same time, I wanted to make something that would be sellable and not too custom.

Here are some BEFORE photos that show the dramatic change:

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Yogurt-Marinated Ras al Hanout Chicken Skewers

Dinner

April is the month I’ve vowed to get my shit together. Every single day I have a different task assigned. I’ve scheduled a day to go through all of my clothes, props, old bills, etc. I want to purge! And tomorrow, is going to be a very fun go-to-the-accountant-day. Tax season is here—FUN! Honestly, I have a feeling it’s not gonna be that bad. But I do have a drink and dinner scheduled with friends so I’m hoping it’ll help A LOT.

I’m also trying to get things prepped in the morning for dinner at night. A lot of times people are like, “what do you make for dinner?” And I’m going to be 100% honest, I don’t always have the best answer. Sometimes it’s cereal, a salad I throw together, scrambled eggs, take-out. But I’ve made these about three times since I photographed them for the blog. They are so good and easy to put together.

This recipe comes from my friend Molly Yeh’s new book YOGURT. Yes she wrote a whole book about yogurt and it’s amazing. It’s a cute short stacks book and I just love it.

I also used her pita recipe and it was the fluffiest most delicious pita ever. I made little sandwiches with it. The past few times I’ve made the chicken, I’ve left out the pita because I try to not eat too many carbs at night. So I just paired it with a salad and bam! So good.

The chicken chills out in a bowl in the fridge with a yogurt marinade filled with a bunch of delicious things like red onion, seasoning, lemon juice and more. When you’re ready, you can grill them OR you can do like I did and just bake ‘em on a baking sheet in the oven.

You won’t get that beautiful sear or char like from a pan or grill but the oven is pretty hands off (ideal for me) so I went that route.

It’s the perfect weeknight meal.

Here’s a link to Molly’s new book and her blog!

Yogurt-Marinated Ras al Hanout Chicken Skewers

Prep Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 40 minutes

Serving Size: 2 to 4

Yogurt-Marinated Ras al Hanout Chicken Skewers

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ras al hanout
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon harissa
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, smahsed
  • 3/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 to 2-inch cubes
  • 1 bell pepper and 1/2 red onion, chopped into 1 to 2 -inch pieces, to add to the skewers (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, salt, ras al hanout, sugar, harissa, oil, onion, garlic, mint, juice from half of the lemon and about 12 turns of pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon). Fold in the chicken to evenly coat the cubes, then cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. Soak 8 wooden skewers, adding bell pepper and onion (if using) in between the pieces.
  2. For grill or grill pan cooking instructions:
  3. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook the skewers, turning them occasionally, until they're deeply browned on all sides and cooked through.
  4. For oven cooking instructions:
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. Cook the skewers for about 20 minutes, until cooked all the way through. Rotate them at the 10 minute mark for even baking.
  6. Squeeze with the juice from the remaining lemon half. Serve with rice or salad or in pita.
http://www.acozykitchen.com/ras-al-hanout-chicken-skewers/