Sparkling Cucumber Basil Lemonade Cocktail

I have been following Lily Diamond's blog, Kale & Caramel, and Instagram (@kaleandcaramel) for years and so enjoy it. Her unique kitchen approach includes recipes not only for deliciously fresh food (like these Crispy Lentil Smashed Potatoes) and drinks (like the cocktail below), but also for DIY beauty products (like this Blackberry Basil Healing Face Mask).  

Her first book, Kale & Caramel,  just came out and it is BEAUTIFUL. Having grown up in an apple orchard in California where we grew a lot of our own vegetables, I think there's something so valuable about connecting to plants in the place that you live; watering them, feeling their leaves, watching them grow, picking them, eating them, having your hands and feet in the dirt. Lily grew up in Hawaii among a bounty of edible flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables in her backyard which informs her kitchen approach. This connection to plants and dirt and place is often difficult to maintain when you live in a more urban area without things readily growing around you, but Lily talks about how using fresh herbs, flowers and other plants in the kitchen can help you retrieve that connection. She calls it a "return to wildness", which I think is so valuable, grounding, and healthy. 

Here's Lily's recipe for Sparkling Cucumber Basil Lemonade from her new book. (her pic below, plus my little watercolor illustration above.)

Sparkling Cucumber Basil Lemonade

serves 2

preparation time: 5 minutes

3-inch length of cucumber, chilled and coarsely chopped (about ⅓ cup), plus cucumber slices for garnish 2 to 3 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus lemon slices for garnish

Add the chopped cucumber to a blender or food processor with the basil, lemon juice,still water, and honey. Blend until smooth,then distribute evenly between 2 glasses.

Add the sparkling water, again splitting evenly between the glasses. Drop in a few ice cubes, and garnish with cucumber slices, lemon slices, and basil as desired.

1⁄4 cup still water 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar

3⁄4 cup sparkling water, or more to taste Ice cubes, for serving

* * *

Lily suggests making it a cocktail by adding gin, vodka, light rum, or cachaça. Yes, please. Cheers!

Recipe and drink photo copyright © 2017 by Lily Diamond from KALE & CARAMEL: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Photos copyright © 2017, Lily Diamond

Mother's Day Brunch

In case you're hosting a brunch for Mother's Day next weekend, and stressing over what to serve, I've got you covered! If you have my Forest Feast Gatherings book, you can serve the entire Brunch menu on page 95 (done, and done!). The star of that menu is an easy, make-ahead frittata loaf...recipe below.

Zucchini Frittata Loaf + Ruby Mimosa Punch from the Brunch menu in Forest Feast Gatherings.

Zucchini Frittata Loaf + Ruby Mimosa Punch from the Brunch menu in Forest Feast Gatherings.

Serve it with grapefruit mimosas, a green salad, a fruit salad and some pastries, and call it a (Mother's) day! For more ideas, see this menu from the archives.

PS: Looking for a fun foodie gift? How about these placemats?!

Cheers to Mom!

Za'atar Sweet Potatoes and Garlicky Kale + The OPP Cookbook

I love listening to podcasts while driving and Jessica Murnane's is one of my favorites. In fact, one of my favorite interviews I've ever done was by her on her One Part Podcast– she asks great questions! So I was super excited to meet her in person last year when I was in Charleston. We met for a drink while she was in the middle of working on her first cookbook. I remember her telling me she was looking for a photographer and considering Nicole Franzen, who I thought would be a dream to work with (who I love to follow on Instagram and who she ended up choosing!). 

Her book, One Part Plant: A Simple Guide to Eating Real, One Meal at a Time, was just released and I was so excited to get a copy in the mail recently to see just how beautifully it turned out. The book is full of recipes that are vegan and gluten-free, although that's not really in the tag line. Instead it's about choosing to eat at least one plant-based meal a day, which can be very healing and make you feel great. After being diagnosed with endometriosis, she began eating a plant-based diet which basically healed her, and that prompted the OPP movement. He recipes are delicious, clever and colorful...and of course beautifully shot. Plus she is always wearing super cute outfits in the book (and in real life) and has a fabulous design sense. 

Here's her recipe for Za'atar Sweet Potatoes and Garlicky Kale from the One Part Plant cookbook. YUM!

Check out Jessica's website, follow her on Instagram @jessicamurnane, and buy her book here.

Congrats, Jess!

Weeknight Dinner Party Menu + Romaine Salad Cups

Now that we have 2 kids, I find that we are having people over even more, especially in the evening. We have cocktail hour outside with our guests while Ezra plays in his jammies, then we put both kids to bed and enjoy dinner with friends. The key, however, is having the food made in advance. This week we had a small weeknight dinner party for 4 people and I did an easy, make-ahead menu. To make a very simple menu seem more special, I did twist on the usual salad presentation, and doctored up some box brownies.

The fun part I thought was this "salad", in which I put toppings inside of Romaine leaves. You can really fill them with anything you might put in your usual salad, just chopped up smaller, and they look pretty out on a platter. 


Guests brought wine, which we had outside before dinner, along with a bowl of nuts (simple!).

  • Broccoli Lasagna
    • Sauté finely chopped broccoli and thin slices of red onion with garlic and olive oil. Layer the broccoli mixture with no-boil lasagna noodles, ricotta, and marinara. Shredded mozzarella on top. Bake at 375ºF for about 45 minutes. I prepped the lasagna ahead and popped it in the oven about an hour before we ate.
  • Romaine Salad Cups
    • Lay Romaine leaves out on a platter and fill with your favorite salad toppings. I used grated carrot, sliced bell pepper, diced red onion, feta crumbles and sunflower seeds. I made a simple dressing by mixing store-bought pesto in a jar with a splash of red wine vinegar, and a little more olive oil.
  • A nice baguette! (With butter, of course.)
  • Cashew Butter Brownies
    • For dessert, I made a box mixture of brownies according to package instructions. I poured the batter in a pie dish (a little prettier), then I placed dollops of cashew butter (you could use almond or peanut) and used a wooden skewer to swirl it around. I made this ahead and left it in the fridge until we sat down to dinner. Then I popped it in the oven to bake  while we ate so it would be warm out of the oven for dessert.

Happy cooking and have a great weekend!