Monday was National Margarita Day. We don’t know who comes up with these random food holidays or how they get started, but somehow, we seem to hear about them the day they happen. Our schedules are fairly flexible so it keeps things exciting for us when these culinary affairs unexpectedly appear. A few weeks ago, we were in the kitchen about to make vegetarian matzo ball soup for the blog, when we realized everyone online was posting about National Chocolate Cake Day. You can’t ignore a sweet holiday like that, so we followed our instincts, baked a cake instead, and made the soup the following day. And how can you pass up an opportunity to start off your week making delicious margaritas first thing on a Monday morning?! Sure, it may have been 8am, but it was 5 o’clock somewhere plus it was Washington’s birthday, so we had to raise a glass to honor the father of our country, even if we hadn’t had our breakfast yet. And as appropriate as cherry margaritas would have been to recognize his 282nd, another idea blossomed. One of our favorite local Mexican restaurants, Cacao Mexicatessen, makes the best margaritas, and we thought if there was one recipe we’d like to make, it would be theirs. Even though they are closed on Mondays, we crossed our fingers and sent them a message on Instagram asking if they would be willing to share their recipe with us. Not only did they immediately respond on their day off, but were gracious enough to email us the recipe and said we would be welcome to post it on our website. So in celebration of this momentous holiday, as well as a belated toast to our first president, we thank Cacao, and nobly introduce you to these most-delicious jalapeño-cucumber margaritas.
On Saturday we hiked Fish Canyon Falls, over five miles of breathtaking trails lined with shady oaks, blue agaves, and multi-colored wildflowers carpeting the hillsides glowing with fragrant white sage, located in the Angeles National Forest just thirty minutes from our home. The winding path follows a clear stream, and because of the recent winter rains, it was rushing through the bottom of the canyon, creating a peaceful soundtrack of flowing water nearly the entire time. At the end of the trail, we were greeted by a majestic 3-tiered, 80-foot waterfall that was cascading in full force. It was a beautiful day and we were so happy to discover yet another hidden area of natural beauty so close to the city. After spending the morning hiking through the woods, stumbling upon abandoned cabins, and adventuring in the hills, we came home to find a package waiting for us on our doorstep that we had been anticipating for several months. Our friend Emilie (theclevercarrot.com) just wrote her first cookbook and we were so excited for its arrival, especially after seeing so many other bloggers making beautiful creations from it and posting photos and rave reviews online. Epicurious named The Clever Cookbook as one of “spring’s best cookbooks” and after browsing through this gem and making one dish so far, we clearly understand why. It is filled with inspiring recipes that we can’t wait to try: cauliflower bolognese, chai pancakes with cinnamon butter, banana cloud cake, and the list goes on! Today we are so excited to share this easy zucchini and brown rice gratin from her book that has graced our kitchen twice this week and has already become one of our new favorite dinners.
Imagine you are walking barefoot down a private, serene beach at sunset, cool silky sand beneath your feet, with the calming sounds of waves gently crashing on the shore, and the glowing orange sun shimmering on the water as an occasional seagull flies overhead. No one else is around, yet you feel so comforted by the warm sea breeze blowing through your hair. A light ocean mist caresses your face as you admire the first glimmering star in the darkening sky. You open your eyes to realize that you are standing in your kitchen and you just had a sip of your first Granada Sour. It takes you a moment to adjust, as if you just woke up from a pleasant dream. But in reality, you were in the same place the entire time, and only a few seconds had passed. Let us explain.
Regardless of this uninvited heatwave here in Los Angeles—yes, it is literally 90 degrees today—we want to believe or at least pretend that it is still winter. Trust us, we are not complaining one bit, but 90 in February is a little extreme, and it would be nice to experience all four seasons equally. We have a dream! Speaking of balance, we dedicated the first half of this month to making cookies, caramels, and sweet Valentine’s Day desserts, so today we are honoring the yang to our yin and sharing a delicious risotto recipe, adapted from one of our favorite cookbooks, The Veganomicon. And since it is still technically February, asparagus season has officially begun and it is the perfect time to start making some meals with it! This creamy risotto highlights this healthy winter vegetable in the most flavorful way possible: sautéed asparagus tips are cooked separately until golden and crispy while the remainder is sliced and cooked gently with Thai basil, fresh mint leaves, loads of shallots and seasoned with chopped garlic and a spicy serrano pepper for heat. The risotto is simmered with a fragrant homemade broth filled with fresh lemongrass, ginger, crushed garlic, and soy sauce. Even though Mother Nature has hastily decided to pour a glass of Sangria, start eating ice cream bars, and sport a bikini, we are going to sit here patiently and enjoy one of our favorite dishes as though it was winter.
Recently we were browsing Instagram and stumbled upon a photo that would change the way we looked at desserts forever. It was one of those moments where the whole world seemed to stop, everything fell silent, and all that existed in that very second was this magnificent dessert staring back at us like love at first sight. It was a No Bake Cookies-N-Cream Cheesecake, perfectly swirled into a mini-glass cup speckled with oreo crumbs and crowned with an oreo cookie. This was our first time ever hearing of a no-bake cheesecake and we immediately headed over to Angela’s Mind Over Batter website to learn more about the source of this intriguing creation. What we found there, in addition to her delightful recipe, was a gorgeous site filled with stunning photography, writing so funny that we couldn’t get through a post without laughing out loud, and yes, even more imaginative flavors of no-bake cheesecakes: Lemons-N-Cream, Pumpkin Pie, Blueberry Lavender Cream, and Strawberry Vanilla. This holiday weekend, we wanted to share an easy dessert that would be romantic, beautiful, and something that you could quickly whip up in less than thirty minutes, so we created these no-bake strawberry cheesecake parfaits inspired by her site: a crunchy graham cracker crust is topped with the most silky and rich vanilla cheesecake, then layered with fresh strawberries and drizzled with a tangy strawberry puree. Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and should truly be recognized 365 days a year, and we promise we are not just saying this just as an excuse to eat this picture-perfect dessert every day!