I’m shocked to say that I think this might be one of the only stews on this entire blog. When I realized this, I was shook! I grew up eating stews of all kinds because my mother believed in the power of warm food on a cold day. It can turn your mood completely around and feel like you just ate a huge hug.
In film school I was known—and yes, I say this braggingly–to always have the best food on my sets. I would approach local restaurants and ask for a donation, i.e., meals. And they would happily cater our shoots because we were poor college students of the arts and they loved what we created. Panera was one of those places that donated. And on one of the coldest days in October, we had their broccoli and cheddar soup with sandwiches and bread and salads; it transformed everyone’s mood. It was magical to see what the power of a good meal could do for people working hard.
I’m super happy to be teaming up with Panera for this post to speak about their new six-episode video series called Food Interrupted. Each episode follows leaders in the food world as they meet everyday heroes who have dedicated their lives to changing America’s food system. The fifth episode, Meat Interrupted, follows two chefs learning and showing ways to humanely raise animals. They speak about the differences between grass-fed and grain-fed, And the ways cows should live out their lives in fields of grass. It’s a fun watch, here’s a link!
I admittedly don’t eat an enormous amount of meat. I love vegetables (and cake) but when I do eat meat, I try and eat responsibly-raised meat. It’s not always easy for everyone due to access and budget, I totally understand this. However, Panera is committed to using responsibly-sourced, antibiotic free meat in their establishments and I think that’s really awesome. Continue Reading
I’m currently sipping tea, attempting to heal my sore throat that is feeling all raspy and weary. On Saturday night I went to Hollywood Horror Nights at Universal Studios and screamed like the gigantic baby that I am.
Why is that we know it’s fake but believe it’s real. Lol. Our brains are so complicated.
Monsters and gremlins jumping out at me really drained my energy too because I’m currently a lil’ bit exhausted. Luckily I healed my self with a big Cinnabon cinnamon roll and a batch full of shells I had waiting for me in the freezer.
Let’s talk about shells today. Beautiful, big, glorious shells. I honestly have no idea why I don’t make them more. Whenever I make them,I’m like, why don’t I do this needs to be on a weekly rotation.
They’re also an amazing thing to gift. If you have someone in your life who is having a surgery, is sick, having a baby, etc., this is a great thing to drop off their house. They will love you forever.
You can also make this batch and eat half and freeze half.
Do you have an autumnal to-do list? And by “to-do list,” I mean a fun to-do list. I wrote a short one at the beginning of the season and at the very top was “invite people over!” I’ve been super slow on putting together some of the rooms and that’s been stopping me but hey, the den is almost done (post coming soon!) so I figured it was time to get my friends together.
For this post, I teamed up with McCormick Gourmet! I wanted to throw a dinner party inspired by Northern Africa and McCormick made this easy with a new seasoning collection that consists of McCormick Gourmet Organic Harissa Seasoning (inspired by the North African paste) and McCormick Gourmet Organic Berbere Seasoning (an Ethiopian spice mixture).
Autumn is days away. DAYS! Which is so incredibly exciting but I’m still trying my hardest to hold onto the last bits of summer and maybe even merge them with this new upcoming season. See: this dish!
This meal is inspired by a dish I ate a few weeks ago when I went to Madison, Wisconsin to visit the headquarters of Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove. It was such an incredible experience touring the factories where they make their Sub-Zero refrigeration, Wolf cooking, and new Cove dishwashing appliances while learning all about the brand’s commitment to quality. Their appliances are pieces of art. The craftsmanship and artistry that goes into building each product is truly amazing.
Beyond making quality appliances, it was exciting to learn that Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove is also committed to inspiring people to cook and create memorable food experiences. And that’s exactly what happened as we walked through their gorgeous Harvest Haven garden and ate meals in their beautiful barn.
They had everything in that pretty garden. Everything from a 600-pound pumpkin to a greenhouse full of vine-ripe tomatoes—it was truly stunning. It was also sort of magical to eat blackberries off of a vine and then seconds later see the season’s first apples starting to turn red on the tree. Nature is amazing.
I spent my weekend drinking smoothies because I was gigantic idiot and hit myself in the mouth with a medicine ball (I thought it was a sandbag when I slammed it on the ground) and couldn’t eat for a few days. I could speak just fine but chewing wasn’t ok. ANYWAY, I’m back and recovered. Stupidest thing I’ve done in a long time; I’m glad I survived!
I also spent the weekend celebrating my mama’s birthday and took her to see The Waitress—which was SO good. I loved the movie but the play was WAY better so I highly recommend if it comes to your town.
Let’s talk cauliflower gnochhi. I’ve been seeing it all over the internets lately so I wanted to give it a try. I headed to my local Trader Joe’s and followed the cooking directions from Laura’s Insta Stories—not what is on the back of the bag and, to my huge surprise, it tasted pretty good!
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.
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.
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.
True story: Josh was TERRIBLE to date. Especially in the beginning. He’d do that thing where you text someone and they start to text back so you see the bubble show up and then it stays like that for a few minutes, so you wait, expecting a long, meaningful message. AND THEN, the bubble disappears and no text is sent. For days.
When I brought this up to him and told him that I had other people who would be better texters and who actually liked animals (that was a lie, I had no one), he told me he wanted to apologize over cemitas. Everything with Josh was an excuse to just eat something that has been on his list. So I agreed. Josh and I worked everything out obviously. But my takeaway was that cemitas are delicious.
For this post, I teamed up with French’s. Their Classic Yellow Mustard is a summer essential, we all know this. You know how to make a grilled hot dog even taste better? Add yellow mustard. A pretzel? Salad? Yellow Mustard. I also love to add it to sauces and dressings and a myriad of other things for flavorful summer meals.
I’m not gonna lie, I actually didn’t even know how to use a grill until 6 months ago. I’ve always had a gas grill or no grill at all. I lived in Los Angeles for years and years with no outdoor space so please don’t hold it against me! But a few months ago, I got a grill. A bright, pretty red one and finally purchased one of those chimney things and learned how to use it properly. It honestly couldn’t be simpler so I have no idea why I was a little intimidated by it.
The best part of summer—besides copious amounts of watermelon and popsicles—is grilling. I love grilled foods. And I could eat a grilled veggie sandwich every single day. They are so good and light-feeling.
For this post, I teamed up with La Brea Bakery! I love their bread; in this recipe, I used their Telera Take And Bake Rolls, and you can find a coupon to purchase on their site and more summer recipes here. I baked the bread on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes and then sliced the rolls in half and grilled them.