This weekend I’m headed to, like, four or five holiday parties, which is crazy amazing. Thank you, friends, for inviting me! I’m usually super low-key in the month of December. It’s often a time for me to chill with Amelia with fluffy socks in bed but I have to say, I’m super excited!
The next week is a whirlwind while I tie some loose-end-of-year ends, get my holiday shopping done and prep for some traveling.
During this holiday season, I like super simple little meals and snacks. This is as simple as can be: three main ingredients, complementing flavors and it comes together very quickly!
For this post, I teamed up with Ozery Bakery. If you’re unfamiliar with their bread, then you’re in for a delicious surprise. I keep their whole wheat buns in the freezer, and whenever I need one, whether it be for a grilled cheese like this or some bread in the morning for avocado toast, I just remove one from the freezer and warm it up—super easy.
Yowza, do you have your gift-giving situation all dealt with?
This year, if I’m being completely honest, I thought of doing zero presents. I know that this sounds sappy but I have everything I want with just the presence and health of my family and friends. Joshua and Amelia are all I need in this dark, dark world. Haha.
I didn’t really want anything, but then I realize people want to give you something so I wrote a short list of some jewelry I wanted. And then added some clothes. Like, if you’re gonna ask, I’m gonna tell you what I want haha. Josh is probably regretting asking me but you know \_(ツ)_/¯
One of the most popular recipes on this blog is this Chai Tiramisu. I’ve been thinking of making it with different types of tea and earl grey came to my mind because it might be one of my favorite teas next to chai. When I went to London a few years ago, I drank SO much of it and slept very little; the caffeine level is kind of intense.
Luckily this dessert doesn’t have THAT much caffeine in it so it’s definitely something you can enjoy and then have a nice night of sleep.
I finally got a tree! Woohoo! And I’ve been decorating the house trying to get it as merry as can be. This includes a gigantic garland, a bunch of little trees and strings of pretty lights. And yes, this has also included fights with Amelia over her stealing my ornaments. This happens every single year so it’s not anything surprising. There have been years where we’ve put a metal guard around it, creating a barrier between her and the tree. But it’s not really that chic, you know?!
Another thing I’ve been tackling is my gift-giving. I’m an all at once type of shopper. I creep and plot and plan and then I just go on a shopping spree and buy everything, so it’s all done at once. I hadn’t gone on my shopping spree yet and was struggling to find a gift for Josh’s dad but I found the perfect idea for him from Ace Hardware and just had to share it with you: this Limited Edition Weber Kettle Premium grill! This one is Christmas-red and is super affordable at just $199.
To test it out, I partnered with Ace Hardware to give the grill a bit of a test run and I have to say, I think I grilled up the perfect winter-y meal. I recommend this grill for anyone who is looking for a gift for the cook or the grill-master in your life.
Last week I woke up early and headed to the flower market, which is one of my favorite activities. While it’s always kinda chilly and damp at the flower market, it’s also beautiful and full of life, especially during the holidays.
I decorated the kitchen with a beautiful garland, I bought gorgeous little ceramic houses and mini decorative trees. But, as of like this last weekend, I still had my fall pumpkins at the doorstep. Lol. Life is busy and this season moves so quickly for me!
I’m glad I was able to take some time this weekend and decorate the proper way. I also spent some time eating these marshmallows in a warm cup of cocoa and let me tell you they are SO good.
For this post, I teamed up with KitchenAid® and their Artisan® Stand Mixer, which is one of the tools in my kitchen that I pretty much use every single day. For years, I baked without one and life was so much harder then. Why is a stand-up mixer amazing, you might ask? Here are some things that I love about it:
1. KitchenAid Stand Mixers are really good quality. You will buy them once and they will last you a VERY long time.
2. You can make a wide-range of things in a Stand Mixer. Remember my mashed potatoes? I mix all sorts of things in it. It’s not just for baking.
3. A lot of steps are now hands-free. If you’re creaming butter and sugar together (the first step in a lot of cookies), you can just let it do its thing while you get the rest of the ingredients together. It allows you to multi-task.
Now that work has started to slow down and I can concentrate on being festive AF, I have decided to list some of my favorite Christmas/Holiday movies. And then maybe you can tell me your favorites because for the next couple of weeks I am preparing myself to just chill and watch movies. And maybe bake a few things, sparingly.
1. Little Women – Winona Ryder at her best. Kirsten Dunst SO YOUNG. Annie McDowell love her!
2. It’s a Wonderful Life – I maybe know every word to this movie. Take a wild guess who currently reminds me of Mr. Potter? Lol.
3. Elf – I mean, it’s just a classic.
4. Home Alone – I still kinda almost cry at the end when he sees the old man in church.
5. Love Actually – Hugh Grant at his best—I miss him, wish he was still acting.
Am I missing any? I feel like I must be. Oh I was going to put The Christmas Story on there but honestly that movie always creeped me out. The dad and his creepy-ass obsession with the leg lamp; the mom washing out the kid’s mouth out with soap; and them having a depressing Christmas. That movie is a bummer. Maybe it’s more honest than most Christmas movies but I need some magic.
Anywayyyzzz, welcome to the post where I’m reorganizing the beloved “tres leches cake.” I like to think that maybe I simplified it with uno leche. Lol. The only leche that’s in this cake is the horchata. In case you are unfamiliar with horchata, I will break it down for you in a list (because I love lists):
We are thick in holiday season and I couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming break. I’m excited to chill and cook leisurely in fluffy socks.
This recipe is on my to-make-again list because it is so good and chill to make. In the world of gratins and scalloped potatoes there is a lot of controversy as to how you make them. A lot of recipes call for simply adding the potatoes to a casserole dish and then pouring cheese and heavy cream on top of the potatoes. I disagree with this method in an incredibly strong way. While it requires an extra step and admittedly isn’t as easy, a roux (a.k.a. a cheese sauce) must be made. This way there is no coagulation, just a silky smooth and tasty cheesy experience.
1. KitchenAid Stand-Up Mixer – I feel like a broken record, but this really is the perfect thing to give someone. I love this pistachio color but if your favorite person loves another color, well, they have a ton to choose from!
2. Wilton Decorating 55 Piece Set – I own this and have put this on gift guides before and that’s because it’s amazing to have all of these tips in one place. Also Wilton shows what the tips do on their Youtube page in case you‘re not sure what kinda design will come out!
3. ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide – I’m going to be completely honest with you, I was not a fan of anything sous vide’d. I didn’t think it was that realistic for home cooks, but I bought this for Josh last year for Hannakah and he has used it so many times and I am now completely converted. I’m actually going to try and do caramelized white chocolate in it this week and am excited!
4. Vitamix – I love my Vitamix. I recently used a Ninja and I actually like it too. It’s much cheaper, works just as well. The only downside compared to the Vitamix is that it’s a bit louder than I’d like. But oh well! I do have my eye on upgrading my Vitamix to the one you see!
5. Instant Pot – Ok, so I’m gonna be honest: I don’t own an Instant Pot (yet). It’s on my holiday wish list. I’ve used my friend Billy’s and I think it’s amazing. Should I do a few Instant Pot recipes?
6. Le Creuset Dutch Oven – Dutch ovens are a staple in every kitchen. I love that Le Creusets are enamel coated, distribute heat evenly, are pretty and highly functional. I use my 3 1/2-quart every single day of my life. The 4 1/2 quart is the most functional—you can use it for stews, candy and even for baking bread. The possibilities are truly endless.
7. Food Coloring Set from AmeriColor – I think AmeriColor has some of the best colors in the food coloring game. They are very pigmented and I love how little you have to use in order to achieve your desired color.
8. NordicWare Cast Iron Bundt Pans – NordicWare did a whole exclusive line with Amazon and the results are pretty beautiful. I love intricate bundt pans and they make ones that are good quality with beautiful designs.
9. Pyrex Glass Container Set – I recently was gifted this set from a shoot I was on and man, was I excited. I love that it stacks perfectly. I love that it’s glass and totally reusable.
10. Stasher Reuseable Silicon Bags – One of my goals for 2018 is to cut down my waste. I have my eye on these reusable bags to use for everything from storing a leftover sandwich to using it to sous vide something or using it when I go to the bulk bin (instead of using a plastic bag). I plan to give these as stocking stuffers.
1. The Year of Cozy – Hello hi this is my book. And yes, technically this is self-promotion but I personally think that this would be a great gift.
2. Love Real Food – I love Kathryn Taylor’s blog, Cookie and Kate. This book crushed it this year (look at all those positive reviews!). If you know someone who loves making vegetarian meals, this is a winner for sure.
3. Salt Fat Acid Heat – I LOVED this book. I feel like everyone—no matter your cooking level—can benefit from reading this book. It’s very interesting, entertaining and the illustrations in the book are beautiful.
4. Cravings – Chrissy Tiegan is a fun follow on Twitter and The Insta. I haven’t made any of these recipes but a lot of people have and love them!
5. Sweet – Beautiful baking cookbook from Yotam Ottolenghi and Pastry Chef Helen Goh. It’s a gorgeous book and anyone who loves baking would definitely adore this book.
6. Bravetart – Another good baking book. Bravetart is written by Stella Parks from Serious Eats and I love that the recipes are based on American classics.
7. Mary Berry’s Baking Bible – I am a diehard fan of The Great British Baking Show. In a world of toxic news and politics, I like to watch this show and The Kardashians and I’m not ashamed of that! So, when I was watching a few months ago, I realized I had never baked a Mary Berry recipe—gotta change that!
8. Cook Beautiful – This book is all over the internets. And you know, for good reason. The photos are aspirational (her kitchen! her house!) but the food is approachable and doable and that’s wonderful.
9. The First Mess – For your favorite vegan! I love Laura Wright’s food—it’s delicious and simple and doable at home. I peruse this book all the time and sometimes I’ll add cheese or an egg and make her recipes non-vegan lol.
11. State Bird Provisions – When Josh and I had only been together for a few months, we took a trip to San Francisco and ate at State Bird. We loved our meal there. We sat at the bar and everyone was so nice and welcoming. I received this cookbook and the dessert section is my absolute favorite.
12. Zahav – This is not a new cookbook but it’s a staple. I’ve actually never been to the restaurant but I wanna go.
1. Very Cozy Madewell Sweater – It comes in a few colors and I tried all of them on. Obviously the mauve one was my favorite (pictured here). The fit is super flattering and so super soft. I want to sleep in it.
2. Bagatiba Hollow Hoops – I love these hoops. I actually like a lot of Bagatiba’s jewelry. I’ve purchased a few pieces from them over the last year and I can say that their jewelry is good quality and really beautiful in real life.
3. Fluffy Women’s Casual Socks – I recently bought these socks because they are right by The Year of Cozy at Target (hello sorry being annoying!) and they are SO soft and cozy. And very inexpensive.
4. Patagonia Teddy Bear Jacket – Listen, I dress for comfort a lot of the time and this jacket is just speaking to me right now. I love the beige color so I can just look like a teddy bear at all times.
5. Tilda Faux Fur Topshop Denim Jacket – Is the faux fur a little bit extra? Yes. Definitely. I do love the crop top tho and I love fur. Topshop ALWAYS fits me so small so be sure to size up a bit.
6. Mansur Gabriel Moon Leather Wallet – I’ve been using the same wallet for a few years now and while it’s great, I might need a new one. I do love that my present wallet has a lot of room so I can’t go down to a card-type wallet. I need a mom wallet. I feel like this one would be a good jump.
7. Swell Bottle – When I go workout I sometimes get a Smart Water BUT I’m trying to use less plastic so this is on my gift to myself. Less waste!
9. Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Cotton Sheet Mask – I love Dr. Jart everything. All of their products are nourishing and hydrating. Whenever I travel, I always buy a few of these for when I land so my skin can be all hydrated all over again.
10. Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish Kits – I hate getting gels because they hurt my nails but when I was at the salon recently, a nail technician recommended these Essie Gel Couture polishes and OMG you guys, the color I have on has lasted almost two weeks and I use my hands every single day. Very impressed. These kits are cute.
11. Vans Old Skool Suede Sneaker – I wear these nearly every day and I’ve been wearing them for years. I recently switched from the hightop to the low tops. And I’m undecided which ones I like better lol. They’re great for different reasons!
As of yesterday, I’m almost (not yet tho!) done with work for the year. I cannot even tell you how happy this makes me. I’m celebrating by creating more stuff for this blog and I know that’s technically work but when it comes to holiday stuff, it feels more like fun. I really want to make a yule log with my friend Hourie. We made one years ago and it was SO fun and it ended up being beautiful.
I’m also obsessed with The Big Family Cooking Showdown on Netflix because it’s like The Great British Baking Show but with family drama–how fun! I’m also super excited to sit in bed tomorrow and watch The Crown!!
Okay let’s talk about this cake. I think it’s safe to say that 2017 was the year that I fell in love with the art of “the sheet cake.”
This past weekend Josh gave me his very cute cold so I’ve been trying to lay up in bed and rest. I got some good rest on Saturday AND also was able to decorate the kitchen for the holiday season. I can’t wait to show little glimpses of the kitchen because it’s almost all done and ready. I probably won’t be able to do that until January because we’re still waiting on a few pieces to arrive to get it up and fully running. I’m grateful that I can now make tea and dinner (on the stove-top only)—it feels so nice!
I baked this cranberry apple pie at my apartment and it was inspired by a cable knit sweater. Billy was like, the top should really feel like a sweater. And I couldn’t agree more but I didn’t really know how to do that. We settled on strips of braids and simple strips going only in one direction.
Leading up to Thanksgiving, your girl was exhausted. I’m so glad I took last Saturday to chill out and rest. There was a whole day where all I did was hide under a fluffy blanket and read articles online. I drank iced tea and did absolutely nothing and it was amazing! Highly recommend.
I know the holiday season can be wild and crazy. It tends to be whirlwind, as we drive quickly toward the end of the year. I try and savor it as much as I can. One thing I obviously love doing is BAKING!
YASSS! This holiday season, I have so many delicious recipes that I want to share with you all.
I’m also super excited to share recipes that are wide-ranging: ones that are easy to throw together; a few that are more like “baking projects”; and a couple dishes that are things you can make during the weeknight for dinzzz.
Monday I posted a weeknight recipe. Today (and yesterday) is all about a quick-baking recipe. These cookies are super simple—no mixer or fancy equipment required. These cookies travel well and are so delicious.