I’m not trying to brag but I have been invited to two holiday parties already and we haven’t even entered the month of December. This is going to be a very fun season for me! I’m excited.
My neighborhood is very into the holiday spirit; each and every single house on the block already has lights up. In order to fit in with the Jones’, we spent the weekend trying to get our lives together, i.e., getting rid of the squirrel-eaten pumpkins.
In preparation for this season, I wanted to put a mini guide together about Building a Winter Cheese Board!
For this post, I teamed up with Roth Cheese. Their cheeses are so amazing and made in Wisconsin using fresh, local milk from dairy farmers right down the road. The flavors are delicious and rich. While I think they’re wonderful on a cheese board, I also think they’re perfect for grilled cheeses, too; their meltability is on point! They’d also work in a gratin or melted over vegetables.
Here are some pointers on creating a winter cheese board:
Pick Your Cheeses – I went with Grand Cru Havarti, Grand Cru Gouda, and Grand Cru Alpine-Style. I cubed up the Havarti and Gouda for easy consumption. I decided to leave the Alpine-Style in its wedge mainly for aesthetic reasons lol. The Havarti is mild and buttery. The Gouda creamy with a hint of sweetness. The Alpine-Style is nutty. I like for all of the cheeses to complement each other, while all being different to offer some contrast.
Before I head up north to spend Thanksgiving with Josh’s family, I have some aggressive plans to relax:
1.I’m visiting my friend Nicole’s new bakery if you live in LA, GOO!!!)
2.I’m getting a facial, which I haven’t done in like a year or so.
3.I also have a laundry list of things to do like make cranberry sauce, edit photos, and pack up Amelia’s bones so she lets us eat Thanksgiving dinner in peace!
Do you ever do a menial task and then write it on your to-do list only so you can then immediately cross it off? It’s one of my favorite things to do, tbh. If you haven’t done it, try it, it makes you believe you’re more productive than you are! T
I miraculously have a basil plant that I haven’t killed…yet. I gave her a name. And her pet name is Susan. She is strong and vibrant and I cannot tell you how shocked I am that she’s alive and thriving under my supervision and guidance.
I’ve purchased basil plants in the past and every. single. time, I kill them. NOT THIS ONE! Here’s what I have done to aide in prolonging its life:
1. She gets all the water she needs.
2. The sun is her friend.
3. I used this thing called Trash Can that Hilton recommended. It’s compostable fertilizer and it has helped a lot.
4. And I trim her all the time, i.e, make pesto.
Every year Josh makes tomato confit and while I’ve always enjoyed the fruits of his labor, I’ve never taken it upon myself to make it…until now! This is an easy-fied version of his method. And it still tastes delicious.
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!
But sometimes I like to choose fun. And for me, that means adding pasta into the mix. Pasta salad is the best kind of salad. We all know this.
I also love the very American seven-layer salads. They look like traditional Americana dishes to me. Something I never grew up with. My mom didn’t make American foods like this, which obviously made me even more curious.
For this post, I teamed up with French’s. Their Classic Yellow Mustard is a summer (and beyond) staple that adds a pop of flavor into all kinds of summer dishes. I usually make dressings with Dijon mustard but this is proof that yellow mustard also has its place in dressings. This one is a creamy herbed dressing that can be used instead of ranch.
I like my pasta salads to have texture, texture and more texture. The radishes and sugar snap peas add lovely texture. It makes it super refreshing and on the lighter side, which might be surprising considering the fact that it’s a straight-up pasta salad.
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.
It’s FRI-YAY! I’m currently preparing to go to Colombia. I’m sort of in shock that I travel in a little over a week to a place that I’ve longed to go to for a long time. I can’t wait to see the little towns and colorful doors and eat arepas.
Truth is, most of my family doesn’t even live there anymore. Everyone left in the late 70s and 80s due to the immense violence and political unrest. Most of my family actually went to Brazil, where now lives an entire new generation of Brazilians. Some don’t even speak Spanish anymore. It’s amazing.
I can’t wait to share more with you soon. BUT FIRST, game day foods! I whipped up this queso fundido because I want to eat nothing more while people yell at the television and I look at my phone and gossip with my friends.
I chose to use corn—which I realize might not be in season for you (and that’s ok because frozen is good, too!)—because we actually had some at the market.
This couldn’t be more easy but it starts with my favorite step and that’s charring the corn and poblano pepper.
If you follow me on the Insta Stories then you know that your girl loves the “polls.” I did a very informative “Thanksgiving Poll” where I asked the people some important and pressing questions.
Things like if they like pie or cake at Thanksgiving. Or if they’re into salads or vegan things. I also asked if they like mashed potatoes or rather have fancy gratins. The results were fascinating and very interesting. Another thing I asked is if appetizers were a must or if, you know, we’re all busy making other things.
Appetizers, as a requirement, came in at an astounding 97% so yes, appetizers are a must on Thanksgiving. The hangry people of the world have spoken!
We’re so cute that we can Pinterest the shit out of any and everything. I will not lie to you: you can do this without putting everything in an acorn squash. You could simply add everything to a ramekin, baking dish or skillet. But if you wanted to, you can put it all in an acorn squash.
I doubled this recipe for you, asking that you buy two acorn squashes so that you can make these for more people. I used and ate only one and Billy and I crushed this by ourselves so feel free to double this recipe below.
Ayyyyye! These are SO good, girlfriends and dude friends.
I am currently in full-on heavy planning for Thanksgiving and this year it feels like SO much earlier than usual. Thanks so much for all your feedback about Classics vs. Twists. It was so interesting hearing everyone’s opinion on it.
I think I feel similarly like all of you: mostly classics on the savory stuff but TONS of twists and fun with desserts.
I think I’m going to bring a few classics. Like how I get the fluffiest of fluffy mashed potatoes and give you some fun twists on desserts.
This fine specimen you see in the photos is something that could definitely be served at Thanksgiving. The big, gigantic bonus is that it uses store-bought pizza dough (and yes, you can make a homemade batch too). It saves on a ton of time so it’s basically just an assembly-type recipe.
Moving to the suburbs of LA has kinda forced Josh and I to explore the chain restaurants of our childhoods. Some are just as good as we remember them. But others….eeesh. I feel like I remember them being so much more awesome back then.
I feel like garlic knots are those things that are still awesome at Olive Garden but why not make a homemade version, especially when we can make it taste better.
This recipe starts with roasting dat garlic.
We’re using an entire head of garlic here and it’s amazing. I just squeezed it out into of bit of room temperature butter with crushed red peppers, salt and dried oregano.
We’re going for classic, Italian-pizzeria type content, ok.
Another big bonus with this recipe is that it uses store-bought pizza dough. Of course, you could make your own but I used store-bought and it saved a ton of time and made me excited to start the assembly process.
I divided the dough into twelve pieces. And rolled them out into strips. THEN I smothered them with the butter/garlic mixture and that’s kinda it!
It rises and then bakes. It is glorious and maybe too cheesy…but then maybe it’s just heaven.
Maybe-Too-Cheesy Roasted Garlic Knots
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Serving Size: 4 to 6 (as an appetizer or a lil' snack)
1 whole head of garlic, top sliced off
1 pound of store-bought or homemade pizza dough
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoon salt (if you’re using salted butter, please leave this out!)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 3/4 cups of shredded mozzarella, divided
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap the head of garlic in a small sheet of foil and place on a baking sheet or in a baking dish. Transfer to the oven to roast for 1 hour. Carefully remove it from the foil. Allow the head of garlic to cool and press the roasted garlic out of the cloves and into a bowl.
To the bowl with the garlic, add the butter, minced Italian parsley, salt, crushed red pepper and oregano. Mix and mash it together until combined. Give it a taste and add a bit more salt if needed.
Lightly flour your work surface and divide the dough into twelve pieces. Listen, this doesn’t have to be perfect. We just want the twelve pieces to be sorta the same size so it all bakes evenly.
Roll and stretch each piece until it’s about 5 inches long. Spread about a half of teaspoon of the butter mixture onto the piece of dough and sprinkle it with a bit of mozzarella, pressing it into the butter. Tie the strip of dough into a knot and transfer it to the cast iron skillet. Repeat until you’ve worked your way through all of the strips of dough.
Brush the top with a bit of the remaining butter (if any) and cover the knots with a clean kitchen towel. Allow it to rise until it’s doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Uncover the cast iron skillet and transfer to the oven to bake for 20 minutes. At the 20-minute mark, sprinkle the top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the tops of the knots are golden brown. Top with more Italian parsley and crushed red pepper (if you like it spicy!).
Tip #1: If you don’t have time to roast garlic, it’s ok. Just add half of the garlic (about 6 cloves) of minced garlic to the butter mixture. Raw garlic is more intense than roasted garlic so that’s why I recommend half of the amount.
Tip #2: I use a cast iron for this recipe but a baking dish that’s about 9-inches round or rectangular will work just fine too.