Hello, hi, hello! I’m finally back in Los Angeles, tucked in my very comfortable bed with Amelia sleeping on my feet. When I got back, I immediately told her all about the cute dogs I saw on the road. Mostly telling her how grateful she is for having a warm bed and a constant stream of food, but she’s shrugging her shoulders at me. Typical.
In my brain a few weeks ago, I was craving cacio e pepe but I also wanted it to be cheesy. Cacio e pepe enthusiasts and purists will scoff at this recipe but the rest of us who love cheesy cheese and black pepper, will love it. I can’t win them all.
This recipe is sort of a simple base for a stovetop macaroni and cheese. Except it has way less salt (because of the Parmesan-Reggiano), some mozzarella and it requires that you save the pasta water (just like traditional cacio e pepe). That extra pasta water will loosen it up a bit and make it even creamier and more delicious.
Whenever I was a little kid, I used to come home and make Kraft Mac n’ Cheese and would ALWAYS put a ton of black pepper on top. That is the inspiration behind this recipe.
The Dodgers are in The World Series and I have never been more emotionally invested in any series ever. Lol. I don’t even watch sports but I grew up going to Dodger games. I grew up eating Dodger dogs. So, I’m a fan. And, I live in Echo Park, which means that Dodger stadium is literally walking distance so…well, honestly I don’t know how that has anything to do with me being a fan but I am!!
This week I’ve been screaming at the television (so unlike me) and it’s been fun! Also, it’s finally feel like fall (even tho I know I said that yesterday). I’ve been craving warm, cozy foods more than ever. I posted this recipe on the Instagram a while back but I wanted to repost it here so it’s a printable recipe and easier to find.
Ahhh Italy (part 1)! This was my very first time visiting Italy and it was really, truly a beautiful and memorable experience. I loved Italian culture, the cobblestone streets, aperitivo time, old buildings, shopping and of course, the food.
The first stop on our trip to Italy was to Verona, a small town that literally looked like Epcot straight out of Disney World. As we were walking the streets, I was like this all sort of looks familiar! But this is the legit real thing!
Phew! We are on the home stretch with the kitchen, I just know it. The cabinets have been assembled and are being installed on Wednesday and I couldn’t be more excited. I feel like once they’re in, I’ll be able to see the kitchen come to life. After that it’ll be backsplash and then appliances. I feel like then it’ll start to feel real! I CAN’T WAIT!
What should I make in my new kitchen? I’ve been thinking about it for a long time? Should I make something ambitious like a pretty pie or should it be chill…like breakfast? That is TBD!
Let’s talk about this pot of dreaminess right quick.
I’ve been dreaming about lasagna roll-ups FOR A LONG TIME! Why…I have no idea. I think I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Pinterest and sometimes, when I’m really hungry and, like, haven’t eaten all day, I get mesmerized by those long pins. I saw one of lasagna roll-ups and while they might’ve looked a lil’ trashy, I still wanted them!
Here’s my version! I made an eggplant marinara sauce that was soooo tasty, I wanted to put it on spaghetti squash. I also took some ricotta and added some lemon zest and salt and Italian parsley (basically, I flavored it up!).
I took the cooked lasagna sheets and smeared a bit of ricotta on there, added a spoonful of marinara sauce, cheese and then rolled them up.
Honestly, I thought this was going to be a sloppy mess but the ricotta acts like a glue and makes them stay in tact, on their sides.
If for some reason, they slide around and are acting all loosey-goosey, you could easily just put them seam side down.
I added a baked ‘em and then added a bunch of cheese on top toward the end. They were magical and delicious and fun to eat and look at.
The kitchen is coming along (more on that soon). And this year I’m so happy to be in a new home because I’m super excited about decorating for fall. At our Echo Park apartment we never got any trick-or-treaters because we lived on an insanely steep hill and our apartment was hidden from the street.
BUT, the house that we’re moving into is in a neighborhood where tons of kids come to in order to get a++ candy.
Another thing that I can’t wait to do is set-up the entire kitchen with all of my kitchen items. This pretty blue Crofton Cast Iron French Oven and this Cast Iron Saucepan are from ALDI! If you head into the stores starting Wednesday, you’ll see them (but only for a short time!). ALDI has a range of beautiful cast iron items on sale throughout the fall and winter seasons.
And let me tell you they are such good quality. The pots heat up evenly (very important!), are heavy bottomed (so they are perfect for literally everything including cozy stews, soups and everything in between), super affordable and the enamel coating makes them super easy to clean.
To kick off the fall season and to break in these new pots, I wanted to make something very seasonal and pumpkin-y.
One of my favorite pumpkin/squash recipes is from The Year of Cozy and it’s the chorizo-spiced squash soup. I took that idea and applied it to this pasta dish and it is SO good.
Pumpkin puree (this organic puree is also available at ALDI this fall and is super affordable and the consistency is amazing!) is cooked with the spices that traditionally go in chorizo sausage. The spices go in but this dish is still very vegetarian—no meat whatsoever!
I mixed it with the pasta and a bit of the pasta water to thin it out and topped it with chopped up pepitas. It’s a recipe that comes together in about 20 minutes and it’s delicious.