10 Cozy Things to Make in August

Summer

This is what they consider The Dog Days of Summer. Those sultry, hot AF days that feel slow as molasses. I’ve been all over the place this month—some days I feel energetic and like I can take over the world (today is one of those days luckily) and then other days where the heat and sun make me tired.

What has been keeping me energized has been the brainstorming for fall things—I can’t wait!

But first, we have August to enjoy and attend to so here’s a list of delicious things to cook in August.

1. Grilled Veggie Sandwiches with Chipotle Hummus – Chipotles in adobo make everything taste good. FACT. Mix one chipotle in adobo with store-bought or homemade hummus and boom—deliciousness. And then add grilled veggies and some bread. A+++

2. Aperol Spritzes – I recently went to a new restaurant and I ordered an Aperol Spritz which came with a very heavy splash of olive brine and four olives and OMG they just read my mind. I love Aperol Spritzes and these variations make me happy.

3. Freeze Some Cookie Dough – I guarantee you know someone in your life that could use a cookie. Life is hard and lonely and sometimes really sad. And cookies never really cure anything but the gesture of dropping off some frozen cookie dough to a friend will prob make them feel loved. Do it.

4. Blueberry Lime Poppy Seed Cake with Crème Fraîche Glaze – This pound cake is my jam. I love it. I love using wild blueberries because they’re a bit smaller and you get one in every single little bite. The poppy seeds add nice crunch and the crème fraîche glaze gives you that delicious tartness.

5. Grilled Summer Squash Gyros with Tzatziki – I love grilling all vegetables. And this tzatziki sauce is SO GOOD. And so fresh.

6. Late-Summer Peach Galette with Baklava-Like Filling – I’m not a good galette advocate but I do love this recipe because of the baklava-like filling. And these peaches are perfect.

7. Italian Pistachio Cake with Roasted Plum Frosting – This cake is one of the best cakes I think I’ve ever made. It tastes some werk, not gonna pie but it is SO good. The pistachios are rich and nutty and the roasted plum frosting is super bright and pretty.

8. Vegetable Lover’z Pizza – I love summer vegetables more than any other seasonable vegetables. I can’t be alone in this? This pizza celebrates that love.

9. Hatch Chile Cornbread – Hatch chiles are in full effect in the month of August. There’s a grocery store in Silver Lake that roasts them right outside the front doors and they get me every time. I always end up going home with a bag of them. If you, too, find yourself with some hatch chiles, then make this cornbread.

10. Agua Fresca – This is on repeat nearly every single week in my kitchen. I have had the WORST luck picking watermelons. Sometimes they’re not sweet enough, too mealy, etc. I never throw them out, no no…instead I just blend them up and make agua fresca.

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Breakfast Taco Brunch with Heirloom Tomato Pico de Gallo

Adventures, Breakfast, Healthy, Quick and Easy, Summer

Running this blog has taught me so much about people’s allergies and diets. Every time I post, there are usually a few questions like,  “can I make this nut free?” “can I make this without eggs?”  “can I make this meal more plant-based?”

A lot of times it’s hard for me to answer those questions because I never test recipes with variations like that, which makes it tough to get a confident, firm answer. That’s why I’m so excited with today’s post. For this post, I teamed up with JUST to show you their new product that literally blew my mind.

It is an egg-free scramble. It tastes like eggs, it scrambles like eggs and looks exactly like eggs, but it’s magic ingredient? The 4,400 year old legume called mung bean. It’s a delicious, protein-packed, non-GMO, cholesterol-free product that cooks and tastes like a chicken egg.

You simply pour it out into a non-stick skillet and cook it like you would regular scrambled eggs. It’s super simple. The color comes from carrot extract and turmeric. The texture is literally identical—it’s wild (watch this video to learn more!). I love watching the people’s reactions.

I decided to throw a delicious, low-key and easy brunch together that’s also allergen-friendly and plant-based. Everyone has a different diet these days but it’s actually a lot easier to accommodate these preferences than you think. In fact, you might be surprised how much better your meal tastes by doing so! Continue Reading

Spicy Heirloom Tomato Pizza

Pizza, Quick and Easy, Summer, Vegetarian

Billy has been out of town this entire week so it’s just been me trying to paint on buttercream and catching up on a bunch of computer work, i.e., watching Lauren Servido’s videos on Instagram and editing photos. It’s been a glorious couple of days in my week, I have to say. Very peaceful!

You know what isn’t peaceful is Target, man. I walk in thinking I’m going to see summer outdoor patio furniture but instead it was a huge display of back to school drama that just stressed me out. I’m not even in school, haven’t been in years, but I’m stressed for the children—let them play!

I always went back to school in September so late July just seems a bit aggressive, don’t you think? Though, I always did love a some fresh new school supplies. They felt so nice and clean.

Let’s talk this pizza! This is a full summer time pizza. It’s a celebration of tomatoes and spiciness.

It’s very difficult for me to go to the super market or farmer’s market right now and NOT buy an heirloom tomato and a pint of cherry tomatoes. I eat them all the time.

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How to Make a Doughnut Wall

Desserts, DIY

I went to school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It’s a teeny little college town (especially compared to a big city like Los Angeles). I went to a conservatory, which technically means you’re classically trained in whatever you’re studying, but what it really means is that you’re stressed out all the time and you study and work like crazy.

We’d have super early shoots at 6am and I’d always, ALWAYS drive past Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (their original location!) and let me tell you, that “HOT NOW” sign that would light up was like a spark of joy and hope to us all.

Today, in honor of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts’ 81st birthday, I’m teaming up with them to show you how to make a very simple and very cute doughnut wall.

It was much simpler than I had imagined in my brain. I thought a drill would have to be involved and a tabletop wood cutter but it turns out, I was able to streamline it so it was super easy.

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Grilled Summer Squash Gyros with Herbed Tzatziki

Dinner, Healthy, Quick and Easy, Sandwiches, Summer

A few weeks ago I hopped on a plane and went to a place I’d never been before: Burlington, Vermont. I was super excited. In my brain when I think of Vermont, I think of maple trees and green grass, clean air and rolling hills and lots of farms. My imagination was correct because that’s exactly what I experienced and I loved it so very much.

I was invited by Stonyfield to visit their network of organic family farms, learn about their history, present day goals and future. And let me tell you, it was a fascinating experience. Their co-founder, Gary Hirshberg, was so inspiring and warm and charming. (If you want to hear more about his fascinating story, here’s a link to his episode on NPR’s How I Built This.)

The first farm we visited was my favorite because it had what I love on any farm: baby animals. And lots of them.

When we arrived to Julie Wolcott’s farm, she was tardy showing us around because two cows were about to give birth (she assists their births to make sure mama is ok). We ended up meeting the baby calves and they were only an hour old. They were so beautiful, I maybe almost cried a little.

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Elderflower Strawberry Shortcake

Desserts, Quick and Easy, Summer

Someone slid into my DMs the other day and asked me…what’s an easy-ish dessert to make in the summer?!

I immediately responded with STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES. But then I realized I don’t really have a thorough recipe on the blog for this. Which is weird since it’s my absolute go-to because everyone loves them.

It’s also great for a party because you can bake off the biscuits the morning of and assemble them in, like, 5 minutes.

Every summer during my wondrous childhood, my mom would buy these mini sponge cakes that they would sell in cellophane packaging. Next to it was always this strawberry fake-tasting syrup. She would buy them, along with a huge flat of strawberries. This grocery shopping day would make me joyful, truly.

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The Art of the B.L.T.

Dinner, Quick and Easy, Sandwiches

When my mama was pregnant with me, my dad was obsessed with BLTs. He’d make them all the time but there was a problem: my mom’s morning sickness made her nauseous every single time she smelled bacon. So eventually he had to stop. Or he had to go over someone else’s house in order to make them. Very random, fun fact about BLTs for you!!

Maybe this is the reason I love BLTs? I dunno…could be!

Truth is, I don’t eat a ton of bacon. I’m not one of those people who believes bacon makes everything better. Sometimes it’s too rich and too indulgent for me. But for some reason, when bacon is crispy and sandwiched between two soft pieces of bread with a swipe of mayo, crisp lettuce and soft tomatoes, the clouds part and…heaven.

BLTs are summer’s gift, they’re simple, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to give them special love and attention.

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I Love Kyoto, Japan (Honeymoon Part II)

Adventures

After we spent three days in Tokyo, had lunch, we headed to the train station to head to Kyoto.

Thanks to Bourdain, I knew I had to get an egg sandwich from Lawson’s at some point during my trip. Luckily there was one at the train station and even though I was super full, I bought one anyway. I’m so glad I did because the train ride—while only three hours long—was still long enough for me to want a snack.

The sandwich is like every childhood dream come true. The white bread has the crusts cut off, is super soft and delicious. The train was easy breezy. We booked seats in the economy cabin and they were totally great. I hear the first class cabin isn’t that much different, fyi.

When we got to Kyoto we took a cab to our hotel. We stayed at The Four Seasons (again, booked on Chase points!!).

If we went back to Kyoto I don’t think we’d stay there again—even if it was on points. It was kinda too fancy and in Kyoto we wanted something chiller and more centrally located. Our hotel came with breakfast which was nice to have. Josh got the Japanese breakfast a few mornings in a row and he LOVED it.

After breakfast we went to Nishiki Market—which I highly recommend—because the food is incredible. We tried lots of things. Some samples and some purchased. My favorite was this soybean tea—it was so delicious. And this tofu doughnut. I thought the texture was going to be mushy but it was so crispy and fluffy on the inside—SIQ!

It was rainy that day so we walked around with umbrellas for a few hours. It was super nice, actually since it wasn’t cold at all. We headed to Ippudo for some matcha tea. Kyoto is known for its tea so this is a must-stop.

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Raspberry Yogurt Snack Balls

Snacks

A few weeks ago I took a little trip to South Florida to visit my baby cousin, Isabella. She’s not really a baby anymore; she’s eight. She says the funniest things, is obsessed with the Coco soundtrack (same, honestly) and dreams of becoming a soccer player. I love her so much.

We had the best time going to the beach, doing early bake-to-school shopping (honestly she didn’t enjoy his part),

I had been thinking about something that I could make for her and actually travel with. It’s kind tricky because as much as I wanted to make her a cake that looks like Miguel from Coco, that’s the most practical thing when traveling on a plane and such. I also didn’t want it to be too indulgent; a liiiitle bit on the healthier side is a good thing. Enter: snack balls!

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Three of My Favorite Things to Eat For Balance

Appetizers, Healthy, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian, Whole 30

True story: I love butter and cakes and cookies and pasta.

Also true story:I eat healthy most of the time.

I don’t follow a diet nor am I paleo, whole30, vegan, keto or any of that. I like to think that I attempt to practice balance and moderation. It’s something I’m not always great at or successful at achieving but it’s what I strive to do and it works for me. I have a hard time eliminating things completely from my diet, so I eat literally everything, I just don’t eat ALL of it.

Most days I eat pretty healthy and that’s because it makes me feel better about myself. It makes me feel lighter and brighter and keeps my energy up.

These are my three favorite things to keep me feeling all sprightly!

My morning smoothie:
I love having my morning smoothie an hour or so before a later morning workout OR right after a early morning workout.

And then there are mornings where I don’t work out at all and I still drink it.

Here’s what I add:
2 scoops of Vital Proteins Banana Collagen + Whey Protein Powder (I like Vital Proteins because it doesn’t have stevia and just tastes like banana and vanilla)
1 banana (frozen or room temperature)
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
1 tablespoon cacao powder
Small handful of frozen kale or spinach
1/4 cup of frozen strawberries or ice
Small handful of walnuts (more for the top)
1/2 cup of almond milk

I add a few teaspoons of chia seeds and more walnuts on top because your girl likes texture!

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