Archive for the ‘FOOD’ Category



i made from Bon Appetit last week when i was having friends over and it was so good we ended up eating straight from the bowl on crackers. it’s packed with parsley and mint which are both really good for you so i’m going to file this under “healthy.” it’s also much less expensive to make than most pestos because it doesn’t call for pine nuts which are really expensive. this appetizer is so good and so easy. you can broil it right before your guests arrive so it’ll be hot, or you can broil it and eat the whole thing between two people, like ivan and i did 🙂 – joanie

what you’ll need:

• 1 french bread loaf
• 1-2 cup cherry tomatoes
• 16oz log of mozzarella cheese
• olive oil
• salt and pepper
• basil as garnish

• 2 cups mint
• 1 cup parsley (stems removed)
• 2 garlic cloves
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 tablespoons golden raisins
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

• in a blender or preferably a food processor, add the ingredients for the pesto minus the olive oil. on low setting slowly drizzle over the olive oil until there is a smooth consistency. set pesto aside.

cut the french loaf in half and drizzle olive oil over the top of the bread. cover the bread with slices of mozzarella cheese. slice the cherry tomatoes and add to a bowl, toss with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. evenly disperse the tomatoes on top of the mozzarella cheese.

set oven to broil. place the french breads in and broil until cheese melts and bubbles and bread is slightly toasted around the edges.

once removed from the oven add spoonfuls of pesto over the french breads and garnish with fresh basil and more tomatoes. cut into mini or bite size portions and serve while hot.

images by:  
styling by: joanie cusack 



grilled chicken bbq quinoa salad | designlovefest

it’s almost memorial day weekend which is basically the entrance of summer and all the fun things that come along with it! but most importantly, summer eating! spring to summer is one of my favorite transitions at the farmer’s market, i love seeing all the produce come in weekly and how it changes throughout the months. sweet corn season can’t come soon enough! if you’re BBQ’ing this weekend we made this grill ready salad which we topped with chicken but any meat on the grill would do. if you’re making it for a smaller group, have people individually dress their salad to keep from the whole thing getting wilted and the leftovers will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator. happy memorial day weekend! – joanie

grilled chicken bbq quinoa salad | designlovefest

serves 5-6 people

what you’ll need:

• 2 chicken breasts
• 1 can of corn drained or 2 fresh ears of corn
• 1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
• 1 cup cilantro chopped
• 1/2 red onion diced
• 1 avocado diced
• 1 head of romain lettuce sliced
• 10 tortillas
• grape seed oil
• 1 cup quinoa cooked
• barbecue sauce (we loved using trader joes brown sugar bbq sauce)


• 1 cup sour cream
• 1/4 cup buttermilk
• 2 tablespoons fresh dill
• 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 lime juiced

grilled chicken bbq quinoa salad | designlovefest
grilled chicken bbq quinoa salad | designlovefest

• pile 10 tortillas and cut into long strips, then cut those strips in half to create smaller ones. in a medium pan filled about 1 inch deep heat up grape seed oil. fry the strips on each side turning over every 30 seconds till golden brown. remove and set on paper towels.

• salt and pepper your chicken and grill till fully cooked. once removed from the grill brush with the bbq sauce.

• make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a blender and blend until well incorporated.

grilled chicken bbq quinoa salad | designlovefest
grilled chicken bbq quinoa salad | designlovefest
grilled chicken bbq quinoa salad | designlovefest

• to assemble the salad lay out the quinoa, red onion, cilantro, black beans, corn, avocado, romaine lettuce, tortilla strips and chicken out on a bowl. toss to combine with the dressing and serve while fresh.

grilled chicken bbq quinoa salad | designlovefest
grilled chicken bbq quinoa salad | designlovefest
grilled chicken bbq quinoa salad | designlovefest

if you have leftover tortilla strips, dip them in the dressing! it’s sooo good!

grilled chicken bbq quinoa salad | designlovefest

images by:  
styling by: joanie cusack 





 image via

i’m fairly certain we all have those recipes that we reach to when we aren’t feeling inspired in the kitchen, or we’re having people over or we just want something tried and true. i have mine, which i’ll share below, but i’d also like to know what your go-to recipes are, family favorites, things that are predictable but not boring, that you can make on a semi-regular rotation without really getting sick of them. i find myself gravitating towards things that allow for leftovers, pasta bakes that are just as good re-heated, soups that last all week, things like that. here are my go-to recipes and i’d love to know yours! – joanie p.s. after i put this list together i realized that a lot of my meals are not healthy but these are genuinely what i make! i’ve always adhered to the rule, eat what you want, just don’t eat it all! 

from spoon fork bacon: i’ve simplified this by using dried herbs, double the shallot and skipping the turnip and using water instead of veggie broth and it’s still excellent. keeps well, and is really satisfying. i’ve made it over a dozen times and it’s always good.

image via

from the woks of life: sounds exotic but once you make this once you’ll realize how approachable it is. and it’s reallllly good, i highly recommend trying it.

: the first time i made this was a couple of months ago and i’ve made it 4 + times since then. it’s super easy, inexpensive and a no fail recipe. i double the parmesan but everything else i do exactly as they say. i thought that using a high quality tomato paste was important but i’ve used the 89 cent option from the store and it works just as well.

 image via

: my sister introduced me to this recipe and it became a household favorite. it’s basically fancy mac + cheese with veggies. the ton of added kale makes me feel better about the loads of dairy in this recipe. we’ve added chicken sausage to it before which is also good if you’re wanting something with meat. this holds up really well and is great re-heated with hot sauce.

image via

chicken curry: this recipe that we shared on the blog awhile back and that we still get DM’s about to this day. easiest meal in the world, and soooo good!

cast iron pizza: i keep trader joe’s frozen pizza crusts in the freezer and pop them out when we’re in a pinch. it’s easy, completely adaptable and who doesn’t love pizza?!

chicken noodle soup: a tried and true recipe for me. i’ve been making this for 6+ years and still love it.

go-to recipes | designlovefest

and that’s about it! i’d love to hear your go-to recipes!



angel food cake | designlovefest

i have to start by saying that Ivan had never had angel food cake!! i couldn’t believe it. i hadn’t had it for years before last week and had never made it from scratch. i forgot how wonderful it is; light, fluffy, subtle almond and vanilla flavor wrapped in a thick layer of whipped cream. it’s strawberry season here in California again (YAY!) and this cake felt like the perfect way to celebrate. i included a picture of how we cooled the cake below because i remember watching my mom doing this when i was a kid and being utterly confused why the cake pan was resting upside down on a soy sauce bottle (also, the fact that this cake has to completely cool before taking it out of the pan is torture), but it’s an important step, don’t skip it! – joanie

angel food cake | designlovefest

Angel Food Cake
recipe adapted from allrecipes. com 

• 12 egg whites at room temperature
• 1 1/4 cup cake flour
• 1 3/4 cup white sugar
• 1/4 salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon almond extract

angel food cake | designlovefest
angel food cake | designlovefest

now, i’m going to be honest and say that i overworked the egg whites this time around, you want to whip them and then immediately, gently fold in the dry ingredients. this cake is delicate so treat it with care!

• start by sifting together your flour, sugar and salt, do this five times and set aside.

• beat your room temp egg whites until stiff peaks form, then add cream of tartar and the vanilla + almond extract. gently fold the egg whites into the dry ingredients and pour into an un-greased tube pan (make sure the inside of your pan is really clean and really dry!).

• place pan in a cold oven and turn oven to 325 degrees, cook for about 1 hour, ours needed 55 minutes. until cake is golden and bounces back when you push on the top.

• place the pan upside down on a bottle (as shown above) until it is completely cool. once cooled, use a knife and run it along all the edges to loosen, turn the pan upside down on a plate and hit the bottom until the cake falls out.

angel food cake | designlovefest
angel food cake | designlovefest
angel food cake | designlovefest

we topped ours with whipped cream (to make – just beat whipping cream, a splash of vanilla and a bit of white sugar until soft peaks form!) and sliced strawberries but it would also be great served with ice cream!

angel food cake | designlovefest
angel food cake | designlovefest
angel food cake | designlovefest

happy strawberry season!

angel food cake | designlovefest
angel food cake | designlovefest

photos by:
styling by:



last summer i went on a serious pizza kick, making it at home with dough from trader joe’s and all sorts of produce from the farmers market. i was making it on a baking sheet for the longest time because we have a pizza stone but it won’t fit in my oven from the 1950’s. and then i realized i should be making it in our ! it’s the perfect size and i pre-heat it in the oven before putting the dough inside so the bottom actually gets crispy which is one of my biggest complaints about homemade pizza, i hate a doughy crust! a cast iron pan is a total must have in a kitchen, really inexpensive and if you maintain it well it will last you a lifetime! one of my favorite ways to make a pizza is to make the base a super simple cheese pizza and then throw together a big salad and serve it directly on top with a little olive oil and lemon! it’s seriously delicious and a pretty balanced meal if you ask me. – joanie 

what you’ll need:

• 1 package of pre made pizza dough room temperature (from Trader Joes)
• olive oil
• 1/2 red onion diced
• 4 – 6 cups arugula
• 1 avocado diced
• 1/2 lemon juiced
• parmesan cheese
• 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (more or less based on your desired cheesiness!)
• 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
• 1 shallot thinly slice
• salt and pepper to taste

• preheat oven to 425 degrees. place cast iron in oven to heat up for at least 20 minutes.

• fry the shallots: put about 1 inch of oil on medium heat in a pan. once hot, add the thinly sliced shallots and fry till browned. remove and set aside on paper towels.

• remove cast iron from the oven and brush with olive oil. carefully stretch the pizza dough into a circle and place into the cast iron, covering the bottom. brush dough with olive oil, spread a layer of mozzarella cheese and garlic slices on top of the dough and bake the pizza for 15 minutes. you want your cheese to be golden brown!

• in a large bowl place the arugula. add the red onion, avocado, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper

• once the cast iron is out of the oven place the arugula salad over the pizza and garnish with shaved parmesan and the fried shallots. cut into slices and serve while hot. enjoy!

do you have any fave cast iron recipes?!

images by: 
styling by: joanie cusack + ivan solis

see more recipes HERE
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