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Quick and Easy

Cozy Beef Autumnal Stew with Creamy Cauliflower Mash

Dinner, Fall, Healthy, Quick and Easy

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

Hasselback Butternut Squash with Walnut Gremolata

Quick and Easy, Sides, Thanksgiving, The Holidays, Vegetarian

Thanksgiving is like the cooking Olympics. Even people who don’t typically cook, cook. People who don’t typically bake, bake. It’s a time when you really have to roll up your sleeves and get busy—that Thanksgiving table depends on you!

I like to think that this hasselback butternut squash is the side dish anyone can make—no matter your cooking and baking skill level. It’s super simple, achievable and most importantly, beautifully delicious.

For this post, I teamed up with ALDI, which is a great and affordable place to head to for all things Thanksgiving. I went there to stock up on everything from baking ingredients (flours, sugars, etc.) to nuts (their walnuts are amazing) and oils (vegetable and olive oil).

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Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Biscuits, Breakfast, Quick and Easy, Thanksgiving

Even though I was born in the South (hi Fulton county), my love for biscuits didn’t begin until I went to high school and would leave my four hour tennis practices depleted and hungry. Luckily there was a Popeyes right by the courts, but I never wanted to ruin my dinner completely so instead of getting chicken and a whole plate, I’d just order two biscuits with a side of butter and honey. Oh man, they were SO good.

That experience turned me into a hardcore biscuit-loving human. I love biscuits of all kinds but to be honest, ones made with shortening are it! And guess what, I’ve never baked them. I’ve always opted for full butter. And yes, they’re good, delicious even, but they’re not like this. I’m here to say that if you’re shy to bake with shortening, so was I but we’re here together, let’s do it!!

Last week I had the pleasure of going to lunch with Carla Hall and she was so amazing. We talked for a few hours about all sorts of things. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little nervous before, but once I sat down I was like, why was I so stressed?! She’s such a beautiful person, even better in person than what you see and know from TV.

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Pumpkin Tahini Loaf

Breakfast, Fall, Quick and Easy, Scones & Muffins, The Holidays

Sometimes recipes are accidents. Does this ever happen to you? Where you add, like, one spice to something and then it turns into something else. Or maybe you accidentally mess something up and it’s a becomes a happy accident?

Billy told me that he was bored so he put peanut butter on a slice of pumpkin bread and it turned out to be amazing! So when he came over the other day and I was like, “I wanna make a twist on pumpkin bread,” he suggested I use tahini. I thought hmm…ok let’s try it. We were SHOCKED at how good it was. It didn’t sound awful but also didn’t sound like an absolute winner. You all, it was a winner delicious!

So here we are…

Whenever people ask me, “I’m not a baker, what should I bake as my first go?”

I always suggest a quick bread or cookies.

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Delicata Squash Ricotta Baked Shells

Dinner, Fall, Pasta, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

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.

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Masala-Chai Carrot Cupcakes with Spiced Maple Frosting

Cakes, Desserts, Fall, Quick and Easy

I’m currently in the middle—what I like to call—autumnal chaos. I am busy editing photos every night until 10pm, which also means I’m consuming a large amount of reality television. I’m incredibly embarrassed to admit that I have watched every.single.episode of Shahs of Sunset and I have so many opinions about them. The other day I went to their neighborhood (West LA) and I was like, “If I run into one of them…I won’t be able to control myself!” I was bummed I didn’t see them.

One recipe that was at the very top of my to-make list this season was to fall-ify carrot cupcakes. This is inspired by some ras al hanout carrot cupcakes in Casablanca: My Moroccan Food.

Carrot cake is already filled with spices but with these cupcakes we’re just adding WAY more, while also adding some other spices in the mix.

These cupcakes are glorious to freeze. And then thaw in the fridge when you’re ready to eat and serve.

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Chai-Spiced Apple Skillet Cake

Cakes, Fall, Quick and Easy

This is the time of year where Los Angeles weather is totally erratic. One day it’ll be 90 degrees and then two days later you’l need a sweater and some hot coffee to get your day started. By now, I know which one I get excited about.

I’m currently wearing a sweater so I feel like it’s appropriate to discuss this chai-spiced apple skillet cake with you all. I wanted to provide a recipe that is super easy. Something that you can throw together in a one, two steps max. This skillet cake is it!

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Brown Butter Scallops with Sautéed Kale, Shishitos Over a Bed of Polenta

Dinner, Fall, Quick and Easy, Summer

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.

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Very Crispy Waffles with Salted Honey Butter

Breakfast, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

I’m currently high in the sky on my way back to Los Angeles. I just spent the last few days in Madison, Wisconsin (I loved it there—more to come!). But it’s the weekend time so it’s time to start thinking of what we’re gonna do tomorrow and Sunday morning. And I will personally vouch for these guys.

I put this recipe in The Cozy Coloring Cookbook a few years ago (I can’t believe it came out two whole years ago) and realized I have never ever shared it! This recipe was developed by Billy, while I was developing another recipe. Sometimes we work that way. I’ll give him an idea, a jumping off platform, he’ll do the research and begin. And then I’ll work on something else and by the end of our trials we usually have things for the other person to try. And then we tweak and adjust from there.

These were inspired by the waffles at Dinette in Los Angeles. Maybe the best waffle I’ve ever had. It’s super crispy and hella sweet (not my favorite aspect of them) and then they’re topped with sea salt and some maple syrup. THEY ARE SO GOOD. We headed down the street from where I used to live to eat them together.

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Roasted Tomato + Hatch Chile Soup with a Grilled Cheese (of course)

Quick and Easy, Soups, Summer

I had a dream that I directed a documentary about La Croix. I honestly have no idea what prompted this insane dream. Yes, I love that sparkling water but for it to appear in my dreams as my next creative venture is a bit weird. But maybe they have an exciting backstory—who knows!

Anyway, I know that everyone is screaming FALL at the top of their lungs (especially Michael’s Craft Store. I mean they had autumnal wreathes in July). And yes, maybe I caved and ordered a slice of pumpkin loaf at Starbucks like two days ago, however, I am a huge advocate for stretching each season until the last very bit.

Tomatoes are pretty much at their best toward the end of summer. They are juicy and delicious AND the best part is that it’s not super hot in Los Angeles right now so a bowl of soup isn’t totally out of the realm of possibility.

While this soup does take a bit of time due to the tomatoes roasting, it’s super hands-off. The tomatoes roast in the oven with the hatch chiles. And then it’s just blended all up with a bit of cooked onion and garlic. One more trip to a pot to simmer and that’s it.

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