Archive for the ‘FOOD’ Category



farro salad | designlovefest

farro is a grain that i often overlook. i’ll make brown rice or quinoa but never farro. i attended a baby shower last weekend with a great farro salad and it made me want to make one for all us. my aunt has been raving about the vinaigrette from Nobu (recipe here) which gave it an asian kick but it would also be good with a drizzle of quality olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. we also used pearl mozzarella instead of the more traditional feta that you often see in these types of salads and i much preferred the mozzarella for its milder taste, it didn’t over power the other flavors. also, as a side note – i just read an article about why homemade salads aren’t as good as restaurant salads and they said it’s important to salt your greens. seems obvious but something i often overlook. what are you making these days? i’m always looking for new ideas. especially quick, easy dinners that include some type of vegetable because i’m terrible at eating them! – joanie

farro salad | designlovefest
farro salad | designlovefest

what you’ll need
serves 5
• 2 cups uncooked farro
• 1 cucumber
• 1 lemon
• 1 pint cherry tomatoes
• arugula
• red onion
• fresh herbs of your choosing – parsley, mint, cilantro (whatever you have on hand!)
• peral mozzarella

farro salad | designlovefest
farro salad | designlovefest
farro salad | designlovefest

• start by cooking your farro as it will take about 30 minutes or so. then chop all of your veggies, this salad is super adaptable so you can easily edit with what you have on hand. mix up the dressing (recipe here!). put a large spoonful of farro in a bowl, top as desired with chopped vegetables and cheese, drizzle with dressing and serve!

farro salad | designlovefest

styling by: joanie cusack and ivan solis
photos by: ivan solis
see more recipes here




quinoa crusted chicken | designlovefest

we just returned from a few days in austin where we indulged in so much good food. we were on a mission to try as many restaurants as possible in our short time there so we really had to pace ourselves. it was well worth it! now i’m back home and ready to get in the grove of cooking for myself instead of eating out. ivan has been wanting to make quinoa crusted chicken for awhile now and we decided to give it a go. i’m always a little cautious of recipes that require frying but this was simple and hard to mess up. you could season the chicken a number of ways and i also think it would work with zucchini to make it vegetarian. the salad can be a combination of anything you have on hand and want to throw together to make a “house salad” of sorts. and the dressing is from Ivan’s mom, it’s the right kick of lemon without being overpowering. you could also skip the salad and just make straight up chicken tenders, always a good option! – joanie

quinoa crusted chicken | designlovefest

quinoa crusted chicken tenders:
• 3-4 thinly sliced chicken breasts
• 2 cups quinoa flakes (found in health food stores)
• 1 cup flour (seasoned with a bit of salt, pepper, oregano, smoked paprika or Italian seasoning)
• salt and pepper
• 2 eggs whisked

quinoa crusted chicken | designlovefest
quinoa crusted chicken | designlovefest

house salad:
• 3 romaine hearts
•  1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halved 
• 1 medium cucumber diced
• 1 cup shaved parmesan
• 1 12oz jar of artichoke hearts (jarred not canned!)

• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 lemon juiced
• 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (more to taste)
• 1 teaspoon mustard
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano

quinoa crusted chicken | designlovefest

• I like to buy chicken breasts that are already thinly sliced, it cuts down on cooking time and cooks more evenly. you could always pound the chicken breast too to make it thinner. cut the chicken breasts into long strips. season with salt and pepper. whip two eggs in a small bowl and set aside. coat the chicken in the flour, continue to dip each one in the egg and then coat with the quinoa flakes. quinoa flakes are steam rolled, so cooking them ahead of time is not necessary. if you can’t find them in store you can buy them here on amazon.

quinoa crusted chicken | designlovefest
quinoa crusted chicken | designlovefest
quinoa crusted chicken | designlovefest

• in a medium frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. cook the chicken for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. set aside on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

quinoa crusted chicken | designlovefest

• to make the salad, chop the romaine hearts and add the cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, and parmesan cheese. for the dressing, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, rice vinegar, mustard, salt and dried oregano in a small bowl and whisk together. drizzle over the salad and toss! top with the chicken and enjoy!

quinoa crusted chicken | designlovefest

styling by: joanie cusack and ivan solis
photos by: ivan solis
see more recipes here




churros with chocolate sauce | designlovefest
churros with chocolate sauce | designlovefest

this is my family’s go-to chocolate sauce recipe and i haven’t found anything that beats it. the source is the original Joy of Cooking but it is not included in their current version of the cookbook. we typically serve it over ice cream or dip graham crackers into it but today we decided to pair it with churros. something ivan and i have been wanting to make for awhile. the chocolate sauce is insanely easy to put together and can be made right before serving. it has this great granulated texture and it’s not too sweet which is key. it keeps well in the refrigerator and can be re-heated as needed. i hope you make it and love it as much as we do. if you’re short on time and hosting a party i’d say skip the churros, buy some ice cream at the store and just make the chocolate sauce. also, we show chocolate chips in the picture but that’s because it’s all we had on hand. buy bars of unsweetened chocolate – joanie

churros with chocolate sauce | designlovefest
churros with chocolate sauce | designlovefest

churros (adapted from
makes 16 mini sized churros 
• 2 cups water
• 2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 4 tablespoons coconut oil
• 3 1/2 tablespoons white sugar (plus more for coating)
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon salt
• canola oil

hot chocolate sauce:
12 servings 
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 4 oz good quality unsweetened chocolate (bars or squares not chocolate chips even though that’s what we show)
• 1 cup half and half
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

churros with chocolate sauce | designlovefest
churros with chocolate sauce | designlovefest

to make the chocolate sauce: mix all of the ingredients except for the vanilla in a sauce pan and heat. stir until dissolved and it comes to a boil. boil without stirring for 7 minutes. remove from heat and add vanilla.

to make the churros: in a medium pot, heat 2 cup of water on medium heat. mix in the sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract, salt ad bring to a boil. remove from heat and add in the 2 cups of flour. stir all the ingredients using a rubber spatula until mixture forms into a ball. in a cast iron skillet heat canola oil to 375 degrees F. its a good idea to fill up the cast iron skillet about 1-2 inches of oil so that the churros will cook more evenly.

churros with chocolate sauce | designlovefest
churros with chocolate sauce | designlovefest

• fill a piping bag with a medium star tip on the end. once the oil is hot squeeze out long strips and cut with scissors to the desired length. fry until golden brown on all sides, about 1 minute (if the oil is too hot they will brown quickly and not cook on the inside). once cooked, remove churros onto paper towels to soak excess oil and to cool a bit. in a small bowl mix 1/2 cup white sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. roll churros in the sugar and coat evenly. serve with the hot chocolate sauce.

churros with chocolate sauce | designlovefest

styling by: joanie cusack and ivan solis
photos by: ivan solis
see more recipes here




bri and i just returned from a very extravagant weekend in napa so a healthy lunch was in order. ivan dreamed up this little combo and it was so delicious. the quality of your salmon does matter, we got ours from whole foods, center cut filets and it was about $18 for three servings of sustainable raised farmed salmon. you could also spring for the wild caught salmon if it’s in your budget. also, ivan toasts his rice before cooking it which is something i’ll be doing from now on, it really brings out the flavor. bri and i are going to dinner at the newly opened Red Herring tonight. they are doing an 8 course tasting menu with wine and cocktail pairings. super excited to try it out, it’s owned by the cutest husband wife duo and it’s supposed to be amazing! -joanie


honey and lime salmon:
• 3 fresh salmon fillets
• salt and pepper
• 1 garlic clove
• honey
• 1/2 lime juiced + more for serving

cherry tomato salad:
• 2 cups cherry tomatoes sliced
• 1/4 cup feta cheese
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 cup basil chopped

cilantro lime brown rice:
• 2 cups brown rice
• 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
• 1 lime juiced
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/4 white onion diced
• 1 garlic clove diced


preheat oven to 375. in a medium sized pot heat the olive oil on medium heat. cook the diced onions until they begin to be translucent. add the brown rice and diced garlic clove. stir until rice has slightly toasted about 5 minutes. add 4 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of salt and cook 40 minutes on low heat. remove from heat and add the lime juice and cilantro.


on a baking sheet, lay tin foil. lightly coat the surface with olive oil and place the salmon fillets. garnish with salt and pepper, lime juice and the 1 garlic clove diced. bake for 10 minutes. remove and brush honey on each fillet. set your broiler on high and bake for an additional 5 minutes. keep vigilant to prevent them from burning.


to make the cherry tomato salad, slice 2 cups of cherry tomatoes. mix with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, feta cheese, basil and sea salt.


styling by: joanie cusack and ivan solis
photos by: ivan solis
see more recipes here



Italian meatballs | designlovefest

i had never made meatballs until about a year ago and now i’ve made them 10 times. they are so simple and can be paired with so many things – arugula salad, brown rice, pasta, roasted veggies and now cauliflower mash. the addition of toast was unnecessary but i went to jon and vinny’s a few weeks ago and had their meatballs served with toast and have been completely obsessed ever since. if you’re in los angeles you have to go and try them. this whole meal is ideal for a group, meatballs come together quickly and you can set them out on a platter with a mound of ricotta cheese, roasted tomatoes, some grilled bread and a bowl of cauliflower mash. there’s something for everyone! – joanie 

Italian meatballs | designlovefest

i use Alice Water’s Italian meatball recipe from The Art of Simple Food as the base and edit it depending on what i have on hand. meatballs tend to be very forgiving, measurements don’t have to be right on, you can use turkey instead of beef, or onion powder instead of garlic, add tomato paste or use panko instead of country bread and it will all work out in the end (for the most part).

what you’ll need: 
serves 4-6
• 1 lbs ground grass-fed beef
• 3/4 pound ground pork shoulder
• 1 cup torn-up pieces of day old country style bread
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1 small yellow onion -grated on the large holed side of a box grater
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 garlic gloved pressed into a paste (or finely chopped)
• 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
• 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
• pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
• 1 egg lightly beaten
• 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Italian meatballs | designlovefest
Italian meatballs | designlovefest
Italian meatballs | designlovefest

– preheat your oven to 400 degrees. mix the milk and bread crumbs together and set aside to soak. season the ground meats with salt and pepper and then add all remaining ingredients. mix gently with your hand, do not over mix. add the bread crumbs, squeezing out an extra milk and mix again. gently form the meatballs by hand, place on a baking sheet and cook for 10-12 minutes until just cooked through.

Italian meatballs | designlovefest
Italian meatballs | designlovefest

cauliflower mash 
• 1 head of cauliflower
• half a stick of butter
• 2 oz cream cheese
• 2 teaspoons sea salt
• 2 tablespoons milk

making the cauliflower mash

• in a pot bring 3-4 cups of water to a boil. cut the cauliflower into florets and cook for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes very tender. drain all the liquid and add the butter and cream cheese. stir constantly to melt the ingredients. transfer the ingredients to a blender (or use an immersion blender). blend on low speed and slowly add the two tablespoons of milk. add the salt.

Italian meatballs | designlovefest
Italian meatballs | designlovefest

roasted tomato on toast 
• 8 small tomatoes on the vine
• olive oil
• salt
• 6-8 slices of bread
• ricotta
• chili flakes

making the roasted tomato on toast

preheat oven to 375. on a baking sheet, lightly coat the tomatoes with olive oil. garnish with salt. place in the oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until skin has puckered and tomatoes are a bit soggy.

brush olive oil on the sliced toasts and pan fry them. brush a layer of ricotta onto each toast and lay 2-3 tomatoes. garnish with olive oil and chili flakes.

Italian meatballs | designlovefest
Italian meatballs | designlovefest

styling by: joanie cusack and ivan solis
photos by: ivan solis

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