I’m Kristina - freelance graphic designer, backyard farmer, cookbook reader, project starter, and new mom to a gorgeous little boy.

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Archive for the ‘recipes + food’ Category

March 24, 2015

Instacart grocery delivery

Two words: Game. Changer. That’s really all you need to know.

Here’s the 1 minute pitch on why you should use Instacart. Pick what you want from your store of choice (Whole Foods, for me), place order, go about your business, and magically 2 hours later your groceries arrive, hand-selected by a real live human.

First order comes with free delivery, and after that it’s a pretty nominal fee, considering you don’t have to get in the car with your kids and buy 57 items that you don’t really need. Even with the delivery fee, I think it actually saves money since you don’t buy anything but what’s on your list.

Nothing short of revolutionary. For reals.

Use this link for $10 off your first delivery!

October 15, 2014

Homemade fruit fly trap recipe

I realize that summer is officially over, but as you may have heard it’s never going to end in Southern California. And with summer and hot weather, come my favorite household pest… the fruit fly.

There’s no one who can spoil a glass of wine quite like a fruit fly, is there? Not to mention their constant mission to speed the ripening and rotting of anything fresh left out on the counter. Which is like everything delicious during the warmer months of the year! Tomatoes, peaches, melons, figs. They all have to stay out and the drosophila just won’t leave any of it alone. But I have a solution that has changed everything. The fruit fly suicide bath.

Two ingredients, one jar, days of fruit fly free living.

Pour about an inch red wine vinegar into a jar. Add one drop of dish soap. Leave on counter, preferably near where they like to congregate.

It is GENIUS. The soap breaks the surface tension of the liquid, so the flies can’t sit on top of the vinegar. They are unable to resist the sour sweet rotting smell and sink directly to the bottom of the jar. I’ve been keeping a jar like this out on the counter since June. When I haven’t seen any in a few days I usually dump it out and wait for their return, then make a fresh batch.

I assume eventually things will cool off here, but in the meantime this keep things in the kitchen feeling much more civilized.

September 11, 2014

Reports of a juice cleanse

A few weeks ago I did my first juice cleanse. I posted it about it on Instagram a few times and some of you were curious how it went. First, I lived to tell about it! I bet you were wondering.

Let me start by saying the people at Urban Remedy were incredibly helpful in getting me set up with the cleanse I wanted to try. I chose their Purify Cleanse because I wanted to make sure the one I did wasn’t just tons of fruit juice, but instead mixed in some greens and such too. I am also stevia-adverse and while some of their juices contain stevia they were more than happy to customize my cleanse to include options that were unsweetened. Nothing against stevia at all. It’s just not my thang.

Brock and I decided to do the cleanse together, which was awesome. You kind of need a partner in this sort of endeavor, if you ask me. And two years into becoming a family of four, we were both in need of a restart of sorts. We are busy, we both work (him way more than me, but still), we have two kids, we are just starting a huge renovation project, there are days when we are just beyond maxed out. And preparing a delicious, healthful meal for dinner for the two of us ends up at the bottom of my list. A lot.

We’re both vegetarian and have done numerous cleanses in the past so to be honest I figured we would sail through the juice thing with no problems. Plus it seems like *everyone* is doing a juice cleanse these days, which makes it seem very achievable. And it IS. But it’s not so easy, I have to tell you! I think Brock spent three days sipping turmeric lemonade in a fetal position under his desk at work. Poor guy.

I found the mornings the hardest and by evening felt pretty good. I do not see much joy in getting out of bed without a cup of coffee or tea to look forward to, I have to admit. Which is the perfect example of why it was probably good to be forced to take a few days off. Cleanses in general are fantastic for breaking habits that don’t serve your best nutritional interests, and being that I don’t have a ton of time to devote to delicious meals for a whole foods cleanse (my usual choice), a juice cleanse seemed ideal.

Here’s how it works. You decide on a start date. Order your juice. And it arrives via FedEx on ice the day before. Which means you have no choice but to start or watch 30 bottles of juice go bad in your fridge. I LOVE that aspect of this particular program. No putting it off once you commit!

I also allowed myself some sprouted almonds throughout the day and a plain avocado at night as a treat. I feel strongly that cleaning up your diet for some time, whether it’s with a juice cleanse of something less extreme is an incredibly beneficial exercise and something that I will always incorporate into my lifestyle. But the truth is that pure juice is really hard! Especially when you’re trying to juggle work and kids and life at the same time. It was a great compromise to add a few raw snacks here and there, and the humor that Brock and I found in our experience was totally worth it. Not to mention the vitamins and vegetables my kids unsuspectingly drank while they stole sips from me.

As you can see Dash is enjoying his yam and burdock root “smoothie” while he watches an episode of Little Bear. Double treat!

So the big question… should you do it? Absolutely. If your curious, it’s a great exercise in restraint, it gives your body a break, it’s full of vitamins, and it’s delicious. Will I do it again? TBD.

January 2, 2014

Carrot coconut soup

I think it’s safe to say that this is a perfect lunch soup for the quiet, calm days of January. Possibly my favorite month of the year, or at least it feels like that when Christmas is finally packed up and we can get back to living.

It’s from the November issue of Bon Appetit, but I’ve fiddled with the recipe to make it just to my liking. Though it’s really delicious as printed, but you know me and recipes.

It’s simple and velvety and sweet and savory all at once. And rich, but all good things seem to be. I think you could actually leave out the butter entirely and just use a bit of olive oil (or even coconut?) if you’d like. The coconut milk gives it plenty of lovely body on it’s own.

Carrot coconut soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1/2 stick of butter
2 pounds of carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 inch piece of lemongrass, halved
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cups (or more) veg stock or water
1 can unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
cilantro for serving

(If you happen to have thai lime leaves in the pantry, I would add one or two of those too.)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and season with salt. Cook for a few minutes, then add the carrots, ginger, and lemongrass. Cook until the carrots are soft-ish. Stir in the stock and coconut milk and a bit more salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are soft. The original recipe says 40-45 minutes, but I think it really only takes 30 or so.

Puree in the blender (vitamix if you have for ultra smoothness!), then reheat in a clean saucepan, thinning with extra stock if you like.

Top with chopped cilantro leaves.

Happy New Year, all of you.

December 19, 2013

The best toffee recipe

It really is, you guys. And I’ve had a lot of toffee. Now, I’ve never actually made another recipe so I might be a bit biased, but I’m telling you this one is perfection.

And since there seems to be some interest in the recipe (according to this instagram photo), I thought I would repost the link here so you don’t have to go digging through archives to find it. I actually did a full-on step by step tutorial, which is good. But the photos are a little meh and make me feel like I’m showing off my middle school art project. It’s kind of hilarious that my iPhone photos now are better than my DSLR photos from a few years ago, isn’t it?

I give you…

the best toffee recipe, ever.

Guaranteed crowd pleaser. Promise.

September 27, 2013

Beet popsicles

Kay so these? If you’re a crazy mom like me and measure your worth by the number of vegetables you can convince your children to eat, these are for you. Beets! In popsicle form! Imagine the vitamins.

Plus they have organic greek yogurt for a nice protein boost. And they’re yummy. In kind of an earthy way. But I swear your kids won’t even notice. That’s the beauty of the popsicle.

Recipe is up on 100 Layer Cakelet!

June 10, 2013

Raw zucchini salad

This salad was a pretty happy accident. It’s inspired by one that Melanie showed me how to make years ago, that I’ve been making faithfully every summer since. But I made a few changes to it this time, mostly because I didn’t have everything on hand and sometimes I just cannot bear to get in the car and go to the store. Especially when we have so much growing out back at the moment. You’ll see by the only photo I snapped, we (I) devoured it.

We’ve been trying to have Sunday dinner as a family in the backyard. I love it. But sometimes I don’t start prepping in time and before we know it it’s 5:30 and the kids need to eat and it’s overwhelming to try to feed 4 of us in 1/2 an hour. But I was determined last Sunday. I started prepping early in the day (slicing and salting zucchini, boiling french lentils) and by 5 I was throwing together this salad. The original recipe calls for tomatoes (and squash, basil, and walnuts), but I didn’t have them. And was starting to despair that it wouldn’t be delicious enough to even eat, let alone BLOG.

And then kitchen magic happened. It was a true necessity = invention moment. Be warned, as per my ongoing discussions with Jamie via Instagram, my recipes are loose. But believe in your own approximate measurements! You can always add salt or acid at the end if you need it. And note, you need an hour of resting time for the zucchini before you can move ahead with the salad so plan accordingly. Here goes:

First zucchini of summer salad
(You know, when you’re crazy excited to eat them?)

3-4 zucchini and squash
coarse sea salt

1 big-ish shallot, minced
lemon juice and/or white wine vinegar
sea salt
pinch of sugar (maybe, I kind of forget)
yummy olive oil

chopped, toasted walnuts
mint, basil, or any other herbs you have around

Thinly slice zucchini and squash, preferably with a mandolin. I do this right into the colander, but if you don’t, set the slices in a colander and then sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Let sit for an hour (or more), preferably in the sink or over a plate to collect the drips. At this point I like to wander off and do something else for a while, especially if I’ve started the squash early enough in the day. But you could just plunge ahead with your prep.

While the zukes are resting, make the dressing. Combine the shallot and vinegar with a hearty pinch of sea salt in a large bowl. How much vinegar? Enough to generously cover the shallots. You’re making enough dressing for the whole salad, so however much you think you need. (Do you hate me? I would.) Now, I normally use lemon juice here. But I didn’t have a lemon so I decided to be brave and try vinegar. It’s possible that this is the key, I’m not sure. But I do encourage you to try the vinegar if you’re up for it. If you prefer lemon, you can go for that too. I usually do.

Let the shallots macerate in the vinegar for 10 minutes or so. Again, longer is fine. I’m mostly sure I added a teeny bit of sugar to the mixture too because I was afraid of the vinegar. Give it a go, I bet it won’t hurt. When the shallots have sufficiently softened, whisk in a few glugs of good quality olive oil. Whisk whisk whisk. Then taste. If it tastes good, time to move on! If it needs a bit more of something, add it.

You’ll probably finish the dressing well before the squash is ready. If so, do something else. Or you could prep the other ingredients so it’s not a mad, messy rush at the end. How novel! One day I will learn about that. Wash and pick through arugula (straight out of the garden is the best, but it comes with caterpillars and dirt and such). Toast the walnuts. Clean and chop the herbs. Or leave them whole if you’re lazy like me.

When you’re ready to move on, rinse the salt from the zucchini. Re-whisk the dressing if it’s been sitting too long. Add the squash to the dressing in the bowl. Mix it up well and taste. Maybe add the herbs too. At this point I left it alone again for a bit. I was making a lentil salad too and setting the table and drinking a beer and such so it wasn’t totally on purpose, but I do think it helped to develop flavor, you know? Kind of like lightly pickling the zuke slices. When you’re nearly ready to eat, add the arugula, avocado, and walnuts. It should be pretty darn tasty at this point. If not, you can always add a bit more salt, some pepper, some lemon juice, some olive oil… whatever you think is missing.

Truthfully I’m not sure why this salad was so darn good. But it just was! I think part of it was the my expectations were reeeeal low, since I was missing the key ingredient. And also (not to be too too annoying about growing food), it makes a huge difference when your veggies and herbs come from the dirt and go straight into the kitchen. Can’t even compare your own bright, fresh squash to the sad ones you find at the grocery store. And don’t even get me started on arugula. It’s a whole different green when you grow it yourself.

That being said, who wants squash? Because they are getting mighty sad on my kitchen counter.

January 14, 2013

Easy family dinners

I’m not big on new year’s resolutions, I have to admit. But I LOVE the possibility that the start of a new year brings. Magically, with the turn of a page on the calendar, the slate is clean and we can start fresh. Don’t you wish we could be in this mental state more than one time a year?

I do.

One thing I’m working on for 2013 is making better family dinners. Meaning dinners that the kids will eat and we will eat, even if we don’t do it together nearly enough. Sara and I were discussing the importance of actually planning meals and ingredients ahead of time, and it has me motivated to put a little more effort into that part of our life again. I know I never wrote the post on what it was (and is) like to become a family of four, but you can probably guess by my lack of posting that it’s been a wee bit challenging. My friend Jessica and I, who have kids who are exactly the same age, call those early days and months “the dark ages”. Need I say more?

But thanks to the new year, we’re having a bit of a Renaissance around our house. Things are brighter, and easier, and more fun. And part of that is knowing what we’re going to eat for dinner, instead of frantically throwing something together 10 minutes before the kids need to eat. The key right now is that I know Dashiell will eat it (mostly), that I can grind it up for Forrest, and that Brock and I will also actually enjoy it once they’re both happily asleep.

Here are some of my go-tos:

Red lentil soup – popularized in our house when Jora made it for lunch at her house a year ago. It’s delicious, flexible, fast, and with very little thought, you can always have the ingredients on hand. I make it a point to keep a jar of tomato paste, dry red lentils and a few onions in stock at all times.

Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce (with pasta) – Again insanely delicious, especially for it’s simplicity and ease to prepare. I always have at least one can of San Marzano tomatoes in the cupboard for just this recipe. We eat it with pasta, a veg and a crunchy kale salad, or just by the spoonful.

Spaghetti Squash casserole – I use the basic recipe from True Food Kitchen, but instead of a can of pureed tomatoes, use Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce! Makes it extra yum. Plus I throw in extra veggies or even tofu, if I want to get crazy. This was actually Forrest’s first non-baby food and he literally scarfed it down. (More on feeding the second baby in a later post. Hopefully?) Last night I made it with bits of kale and since I didn’t have enough mozzarella on hand, I filled it out with cheddar. Flexibility is the key here ’cause I can’t always be driving to the store when I’m missing one measly ingredient.

Taco bar – Which entails a giant pot of homemade beans, corn tortillas, a crispy cabbage salad and whatever toppings we have on hand. Salsa, guac, cheese, and cilantro are actually plenty for a yummy dinner. (This doesn’t work quite as well for Forrest, but he doesn’t mind mashed up beans with some seasoning.)

Melanie’s Tortilla Soup – Easy as pie to prepare, especially if I have left over pinto beans on hand (though canned works fine too). Meets all criteria, especially the kid one. They both love it.

Quinoa Cakes – I make these all the time and it turns out that once you have the basic binding ingredients down, you can use whatever you want to fill it out. I’ve used brown rice when I didn’t have any quinoa ready. I’ve add bits of kale or chard, cooked lentils, different cheeses, kernels of fresh corn, peas… really it’s very flexible. The kids eat them alone (I pick one apart for little Forr, since he doesn’t have any teeth just yet), and we usually eat them with a salad. I like leftovers for lunch with avocado and fresh mint on the side.

Homemade pizza (using Blake’s secret crust recipe) – I probs don’t need to really ‘splain this one much. Pizza = delish for everyone. Except Forrest. Admittedly we haven’t made it in the last month or so since he starting eating real food, but if he’s anything like his brother and my husband, it’s only a matter time.

Now I want to hear what you all make for your families. As you can see, we could use a few more options. Any must-trys? Would love a good enchilada recipe, if anyone has one.

Do share!

November 19, 2012

Gorgeous food collages

I’m not entirely sure what to call these actually. The only thing that’s certain is that I love them and I begged my friend Julie to send me the big pics from her phone so I could share them. Do any of you follow Julie on Instagram? She’s an incredibly creative lady and an exceptionally great home chef, who used to blog but has since forsaken it for IG. We can’t blame her, can we?

She started a little series ages ago making patterns with her spoils from the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. It’s evolved into a really beautiful little piece of the social media megasphere… one that I look forward to every week. (No pressure or anything, Jules!)

Since lots of you like to cook, I thought you might find her creations inspiring. Wouldn’t you love to hang prints of these in your kitchen??? Maybe if we give Julie enough encouragement, she’ll start an etsy shop and sell them to us. Hellooooo super sweet and simple holiday gifts for the chef on your list.

There are soooo many. Here’s a bunch that I love:

Would you buy, or what!?

Thanks so much, Julie!

August 21, 2012

Quinoa salad with lemon-tahini dressing

By special request via Instagram… the quinoa salad recipe. So, here’s the thing. Not really a “recipe”, more like throw some things together and call it delicious. But I will share what I have. It’s a knock-off of a salad that Joan’s on Third does, but it’s so obvious you’ll be like, how did I not think of that?

Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing


2 cups quinoa, prepared as usual (Don’t forget to let it drain!). If possible make this at least an hour or so ahead so it has time to cool before you make the salad. I sometimes make it in the morning and just leave it out in a bowl until I’m ready to use it.

1 can chickpeas (or cook your own if you’re awesome and/or don’t have a new baby!)
Cilantro, chopped
Parsley, chopped (you decide how much of each you like)

(I use this dressing from a fave Orangette recipe as a guide, and gussy it up a bit.)

1 shallot, minced
Juice of 2 lemons
Grated zest of 1 lemon (do this before you juice one of them)
2 cloves minced garlic
Olive oil

Let’s make the dressing first. Combine the shallots, garlic, lemon juice, zest, and a large pinch of sea salt together in a bowl. Let the shallots and garlic macerate for at least 5 minutes. 10 is maybe better. Whisk in a large blob of tahini. Probably a 1/4 cup? Maybe a little more. You’ll have to trust your cooking skillz here because I didn’t measure, and you need a little more sauce than the Orangette recipe calls for. Whisk til nicely combined. Then add as much olive oil as seems to make sense, plus some more salt. And if you like, a bit of water. Taste it, (it’s probably delish), and then add whatever you think it needs.

I usually add the dressing to the quinoa first, to make sure it’s nice and coated. Then I dump in the rest of the ingredients, mix, and that’s pretty much it. You might need to add a bit more salt (I like me some salt), or olive oil.

This salad is super duper flexible and you can add lots of things to it to make it even more tasty. Like:

Sunflower seeds
Chopped tomatoes
Oil-cured olives
Preserved lemon
All of the above!

It’s generally a crowd pleaser, but also super simple. And makes for a perfect picnic/potluck contribution.

I’m so glad it’s summer.