Short Film Friday: Fallin’ Floyd

Short Film Friday aims to pass along short films that I find online. I have a massive appreciation for cinema, especially short films and documentaries.

I’m a total sucker for films that tell the story solely through the use of image and music. It reminds me of the Saturday Morning Cartoons I grew up watching in the 80′s. Anyone remember Tom & Jerry (my favorite) and Merry Melodies. Did I just age myself? 

This film is so beautifully illustrated it makes my heart smile even though the subject matter is sad at times. Created by Anikey animation studio‘s Paco Vink and Albert ‘t Hooft, this film is one you’ll need to watch more than once to pick up all of the intricate details. 

Synopsis: After being dumped by his girlfriend, a street musician descends into a dark depression. His everyday life is haunted (and sometimes guided) by a demon on his shoulder.

Running Time: 8:52

How to Make Homemade Tahini

If you’ve ever wondered how to make tahini, keep reading. This recipe for homemade tahini is easy to whip up in your food processor and will cost you a fraction of the cost of buying it in the store. 

how to make homemade tahini

Have you ever roasted your own peppers on your stovetop? It’s incredible easy and they taste so much better than the canned stuff. I do this a lot more in the summer when I have the time to devote to fancy things.

how to roast red pepper

This weekend, I read on David Lebovits’s site that you can do the same thing with eggplant before making baba ganoush in order to give it a smoky flavor. I decided to give it a whirl because I love a good baba ganoush. I make it a lot in the summer because we grow eggplants in our garden and the thought of smoky baba ganoush sounded too good to pass up.

fairytale eggplant growing in our garden

David warns you not to leave the eggplant on the stove for too long because the smoky flavor may become too strong for most folks. Well, I didn’t listen because I am not very good at following directions. Ever noticed there aren’t any baking recipes on this site? That’s why. The result? A baba ganoush that was Way. Too. Smoky. Just as he had warned. 

roast eggplant to give it a smoky flavor

As the eggplant was roasting, I started gathering the other ingredients I needed to make the baba ganoush. I needed garlic, lemon, chili powder, olive oil, and tahini. Gah! I was out of tahini. I considered substituting sun butter for the tahini and crossing my fingers when I saw a jar of sesame seeds in my cupboard. 

Woo! Homemade nut butters are made by whirling nuts in your food processor and adding a bit of olive oil until you get the desired consistency so it makes sense that tahini could be made just as easily.

I am super bummed that the baba ganoush didn’t turn out, but now I have 1/2 cup of tahini so I can experiment quite a bit before we are up to our eyeballs in eggplant!

Homemade Tahini
This recipe for homemade tahini is easy to whip up in your food processor and will cost you a fraction of the cost of buying it in the store.
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  1. 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  2. 4-6 tablespoons olive oil
  1. In a pan over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until they are golden and fragrant. This took me about 7 minutes. Make sure you stir often because, like nuts, they can burn quickly.
  2. When the seeds have cooled, add them to your food processor.
  3. Turn the food processor on and add olive oil by the tablespoon until you get a smooth consistency. I used about 5 tablespoons.
  4. Store in an airtight container in your fridge.
Cucina Kristina

Short Film Friday: Pilgrim

Short Film Friday aims to pass along short films that I find online. I have a massive appreciation for cinema, especially short films and documentaries.

In keeping with the Irish theme that has been present this month, Pilgrim is a short animation by Irish animator, Matthew Darragh. I was once asked in a job interview, “If you could snap your fingers and instantly acquire all of the skills and training you needed for any job in the world, what profession would you chose.” Without hesitation, I answered, “I’d be an animator.” Cute little short films like this are the reason why!

Synopsis: A refrigerator desperately scours the desert in search of an electrical outlet.

Running Time: 3:34

Irish Stew Over Mashed Turnips

Traditional Irish Stew is made with white potatoes and mutton or lamb. This version uses turnips and beef and is sure to be a winner at your next St. Patrick’s Day party!

Irish Stew Over Mashed Turnips

St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, especially in Chicago! For me, it marks the moment when I know we’ve made it through winter. Even though we still have quite a few cold days on the horizon (and sometimes even a bit more snow!), spring is just around the corner and warmer days are ahead of us. 

st. patricks day chicago

Dyeing the river green for St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago!

Since white potatoes are a no-no on the Paleo diet, I toyed with the idea of making mashed sweet potatoes to go with this stew. I opted for turnips because I wanted the “look” of mashed potatoes, but if you think mashed turnips and turnips in the stew will be turnip overload, you could sub parsnips for turnips in the stew.

Traditional Irish stew uses mutton or lamb. I’m not a huge fan of lamb so I used stew meat. My grocery store sells stew meat cubed and packaged. If your grocer does not have stew meat, you can use pot roast or chuck roast and cube the beef yourself. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 

Irish Stew Over Mashed Turnips
Traditional Irish Stew is made with white potatoes and mutton or lamb. This version uses turnips and beef and is sure to be a winner at your next St. Patrick’s Day party!
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Stew Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs. stew beef
  2. 2 turnips, cubed
  3. 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  4. 1 onion, diced
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 bag frozen peas
  7. 6 - 8 cups beef broth (use 6 cups for a thicker stew, use 8 cups for a thinner soup-like consistency)
  8. 1 tablespoon ghee (or fat of choice for browning the beef)
Mashed Turnip Ingredients
  1. 2 large turnips, cubed
  2. 1 tablespoon ghee
  3. onion powder
  4. garlic powder
  5. salt and pepper
Directions for the stew
  1. Season your beef with salt and pepper. In a heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat, melt ghee and brown the meat. Note: You'll have to do this in batches. Do not overcrowd your pot or you will end up steaming the beef instead of browning it.
  2. Once the beef is browned, remove it from the pot and place it on a separate plate or bowl.
  3. Add the onions to the pot, stir and cook until they are translucent (about 5 minutes). If your meat was lean, you may have to add a little more ghee for this step.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the beef broth and stir, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add meat and any juices that have accumulated on the plate back to the pot and bring to a boil.
  7. Add the carrots, turnips, and peas. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Directions for the mashed turnips
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add turnips and cook until they soften. This should take about 15 minutes, but will depend on the size of your turnip cubes.
  3. Drain and return the turnips to the hot pot.
  4. Add ghee and mash the turnips using a potato masher.
  5. Season to your liking with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
Cucina Kristina

Short Film Friday: The Wednesdays

Short Film Friday aims to pass along short films that I find on the web. I have a massive appreciation for cinema, especially short films and documentaries.

The Wednesdays is a live action short film written and directed by Conor Ferguson. I first saw this film in 2007 or 2008 (I can’t remember exactly!) at the Irish Film Festival in Chicago. The Irish Film Festival is one of my favorite film festivals in the city! Every year, I clear my calendar to attend the closing “shorts” night. This film resonated with me and I am happy to have found it on YouTube and be able to share it with you after all of these years.

Synopsis: Feeling imprisoned by old age, Mr. & Mrs. O’Leary, long for a way to feel young again. They finally come across a solution and partake in it every Wednesday. However, their discovery lands them in trouble with the law.

Running Time: 13:43

Summertime Mango Salsa

This recipe for mango salsa has me dreaming of summer! It’s great on it’s own or as a topping for fish!

Mango and Avocado Salsa is a great topping for fish | Cucina Kristina |

We are experiencing the 4th snowiest and 3rd coldest winter in Chicago ever. Ever! It’s likely that this is the worst we’ll see for a long time, but if next winter rolls around and tries to compete for any slot in the top 10 “worst winters,” I’m moving. My husband can come with me if he wants to, but if he opts to stay here, I’ll book a visiting flight for June. I simply cannot take anymore winters like this one! When I woke up this morning and looked out the window to see that it was snowing, this was my EXACT reaction.

Over the weekend, I found myself dreaming of summer. Usually, by this time in March, I am looking forward to spring, but this year I am skipping over spring and looking straight to summer. Nothing reminds me more of warm summer days than fruit salsa. Fruit salsa pairs nicely with a margarita and margaritas pair nicely with sitting on a beach in the sun, amiright? 

Mango and Avocado Salsa is a great topping for fish | Cucina Kristina |

To make this salsa, I combined avocado and mango with traditional salsa ingredients. I added jicama and red pepper to give this salsa a chunkier texture since avocados and mangos are both soft. If you can’t find jicama at your local grocery store, you could add radish, apples, or cucumber for texture.

You can serve this salsa as an appetizer or use it as a topping for fish, pork, or chicken. You could also serve it alongside steak and veggies as a salad or, you can do what I do, and eat it right out of the bowl with a spoon!

Mango & Avocado Salsa
This recipe for mango and avocado salsa has me dreaming of summer! It’s great on it’s own or as a topping for fish!
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  1. 1 ripe mango, diced
  2. 1 avocado, diced
  3. 1 jicama, diced
  4. 1 red pepper, diced
  5. 1 small shallot, diced
  6. 1 clove garlic, minced
  7. 1 jalapeño, finely chopped
  8. 1 handful of cilantro, minced
  9. 1-2 limes
  10. salt & pepper
  1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the jicama then dice into small cubes.
  2. Dice mango, avocado, and red pepper.
  3. Dice the jalapeño. If you want your salsa to have some heat, leave the seeds in. Otherwise, remove the seeds and the rib before chopping.
  4. Finely chop the shallot and cilantro and mince the garlic.
  5. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and use a fork to mix then together.
  6. Squeeze the juice of 1-2 limes into the bowl. Stir to combine and season with sale and pepper to taste.
  1. For tips on how to cut a mango, go here.
  2. For tips on how to cut a pepper, go here.
Cucina Kristina

8 Great Egg-free, Meat-free Paleo Breakfasts

I’m delighted to share a guest post I wrote for my blogger (and real life) friend, Jenny B, over at Honey & Birch. Every week she rounds-up 8 recipes or crafts that she finds around the web. I was really excited when she asked me to write a post for her and even more excited when we came up with the topic, egg-free Paleo breakfasts.

I happen to love eggs, but the two most common things people say when I tell them I’m Paleo are:

  1. I could never be Paleo, I don’t eat a lot of meat and
  2. You can’t eat cereal or bread?! What do you eat for breakfast? I don’t like eggs!

Well, I rounded up some of my favorite egg-free Paleo breakfast options and, by happy accident, they also happened to be meat-free! 
egg-free and meat-free Paleo breakfasts Head over to Honey & Birch to read my guest post and find the links to all of these tasty breakfast options.

If you are looking for more Paleo breakfast ideas follow my Paleo/Primal Breakfast board on Pinterest. I have a good mix of breakfast options there, many of which are not egg-centric. Some recipes, like these shredded pork breakfast tacos from PaleOMG use eggs as a binder, but I assure you there are many Paleo breakfast options beyond the omelette!

Follow Kristina Navarro | Cucina Kristina’s board Paleo/Primal Breakfast on Pinterest.

Don’t forget to check out Jenny B’s full 8 Great archive. I guarantee she’s probably got something you’ve been looking for!

Food Blogger Cookbook Swap!

Food Blogger Cookbook Swap

At the beginning of the month, I signed up for a Food Blogger Cookbook Swap, hosted by Alyssa of and Faith of For the swap, I sent a gently used cookbook from my collection to a food blogger and received a cookbook from their collection in return. 

Which Cookbook Did I Get?

Vegetables: The Most Authoritative Guide to Buying, Preparing, and Cooking, with More Than 300 Recipes by James Peterson.

Food Blogger Cookbook Swap

Vegetables by James Peterson

A big shout out to Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla for sending it to me. Camilla is a writer for Edible Monterey Bay magazine (that’s pretty much my dream job so I am super jealous!) and has quite the collection of recipes on her blog. Go check her out! You will not be disappointed.

I’m super pumped about this cookbook for two reasons. 1. It fits nicely into my Paleo and gluten-free way of life and 2. It has a TON of information about vegetables I have yet to try. For example:

Fiddlehead Ferns

Fiddlehead Ferns

Photo Source: Specialty Produce

Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem Artichoke

Photo Source: With Love, Mags 

and, Kohlrabi


Photo Source: Healing Healthy

It also has a ton of information about how to buy each vegetable, the best way to cook it, how to store it, and how to prep it for cooking. This cookbook is seriously AMAZING! 

How to Prepare Asparagus

One of the cool things I learned from this book was how to properly prepare asparagus. The book states, that “asparagus must be peeled [because it] helps the asparagus cook evenly and makes almost the entire stalk as tender and as delightful to eat as the tip (James Peterson, p. 15).” And to think, I thought restaurants were peeling asparagus for the sole purpose of making it look pretty on the plate. 

I tried this technique the other night and, I have to admit, I was impressed with the results! To peel asparagus, simply lay it flat on your cutting board and peel the stalks using a vegetable peeler.

How to peel asparagus | peeled asparagus

Once peeled, I tossed the stalks in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, seasoned them with Lakeshore Drive seasoning (my current favorite!), and roasted them in a 400˚ oven for 15 minutes. I served them alongside some mahi mahi I had marinating in Three Citrus Garlic Marinade. It was a quick (read: lazy) meal, but it was delicious.

Check out the links below for all of the participating food bloggers. Visit their pages and see which books they received and how they intend to use them!

Participating Food Bloggers in the Swap

A Baker’s House
An Edible Mosaic
avocado bravado
Blue Kale Road
Blueberries And Blessings
Cheap Recipe Blog
Confessions of a Culinary Diva
Create Amazing Meals
Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Cupcake Project
Dinner is Served 1972
Done With Corn
Eats Well With Others
Everyday Maven
Flour Me With Love 
From My Sweet Heart 
Great Food 360° 
Healthy. Delicious. 
I’m Gonna Cook That! 
Je Mange la Ville 
Karen’s Kitchen Stories 
Kitchen Treaty 
Olive and Herb 
OnTheMove-In The Galley 
Our Best Bites 
Paleo Gone Sassy 
poet in the pantry 
Rhubarb and Honey 
Rocky Mountain Cooking
Shikha la mode 
Shockingly Delicious 
Sifting Focus 
Spoonful of Flavor 
Tara’s Multicultural Table 
The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler 
The Suburban Soapbox 
The Whole Family’s Food 

Free Valentine’s Day Printables

Valentine’s Day is around the corner! I love Valentine’s Day and get pretty bummed out when people are negative about it. You do not have to have a significant other in order to spread some love on February 14. You can use this day to let a co-worker, friend, family member or neighbor know you are thinking about them.

Today I have pulled together five free valentine printables from around the web. These would not only make cute cards, but they would also make adorable artwork for a mantle or office desk. Enjoy and make sure to spread some love on Friday!

{You Are Just My Type} - via Kiki Comin 

valentine's day printable vintage typewriter

{Bee Mine Chalkboard Valentine} - via Entirely Eventful Day 

valentine's day printable Bee Mine Chalkboard

{You’re My Cup of Tea} – via Fancy That Design House & Company 

valentine's day printable cup of tea

{Tunnel of Love Ticket} – via Flamingo Toes

valentine's day printable ticket tunnel of love

{Today I Have Loved You For} – via Everyday Cheer

Note: This one is editable so you can fill in the number of days you are your honey have been together. How cute!

valentine's day printable

 Also, don’t forget about my Love is in the Air printable. It’s available for free here!

Love is in the Air paper airplane free valentine's day printable

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Pin It Party: 5 Posts I’d Love To See on Pinterest

I just love a good party, don’t you? I especially love a good pin-it party because it gives me a chance to find some really great blogs and pin recipes, workouts, DIY projects, and posts that I may have otherwise missed.

What’s a pin it party? Glad you asked! You round-up 5 posts from your blog that you’d like to see on Pinterest and write a short entry featuring all of those posts. Then, you visit Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean and add your blog to the linkup. After that, you visit all of the other blogs in the linkup and pin, pin, pin until your mouse runs out of batteries. It’s fun!

Here are the 5 posts I’d like to see pinned to your boards. By the way, are you following me on Pinterest? If not you can follow me here or by clicking the Pinterest “P” up there in the top right.  arrow-up-right-2  See it? :-)


Alright! Here we go!

Need a free printable valentine? I’ve got you covered! This paper airplane valentine was inspired by my students. I actually had to make a rule that there were no paper airplanes allowed at school because it was beginning to look like O’Hare all up in my classroom. 

If you download this design and use it, tweet me a photo or tag me on Instagram (@cucina_kristina). I’d love to see how you use this design and who you give them to!

{Love Is In The Air – A Free Printable Valentine}

Love is in the Air paper airplane free valentine's day printable via


Love is in the Air paper airplane free valentine's day printable via


I came across this adorable origami bookmark on Pinterest and think it is the cutest. This would make a good gift for a teacher, co-worker, friend, loved one, or anyone that loves to read. I used an advertisement from a magazine (repurpose that junk-mail!), but you could use newspaper, scrapbook paper, grocery bags, wrapping paper, or any other paper product you can think of. 

{Origami Heart-Shaped Bookmark}

Origami bookmark heart via

Perfect for the book-lover in your life!

I have to give 100% credit of the next idea to my friend, Debbie. She’s the one that originally made these bad boys and they are my most popular post to date. You can use any gummy candy to make these and they turn out like Jell-O shots, but cuter. All you do is soak gummy candies in vodka for 48-72 hours and good times will be had by all!

{Vodka Soaked Gummy Bears}

Vodka Gummy Bear Jello Shots via

Cuter than your average Jell-O shot!

The downside to winter: dreary days and long, cold nights.

The upside to winter: One pot meals! This pot roast stew is seriously awesome. Make it this weekend. Your tummy will be so happy.

{Pot Roast Stew}

One Pot Meals - Pot Roast Beef Stew via

Do you have a vegetablephobe in your house? Side note: Did you know the scientific word having a fear of vegetables is Lachanophobia? Me either. Now you do. Anyways, if you are looking for a way to sneak veggies into a main course, this recipe will do the trick! I used ground turkey, peppers, and carrots, but feel free to get crafty and add as many veggies as you’d like. I’m going to finely dice mushrooms and sneak those into my next batch of this stuff. Shhhh… don’t tell my husband. :-)

{Turkey & Vegetable Chili} 

Turkey and Vegetable Chili | Cucina Kristina |

But, wait! There’s more! I have participated in this pin-it party in the past. Last time I chose these 5 recipes to post at the linkup.

Lean Green Bean Pin It Party Recipe Roundup via

Pin It Party #2 Posts

  1. Waldorf-Inspired Tuna Salad
  2. Mason Jar Salads
  3. Lemon & Rosemary Roasted Chicken
  4. Mediterranean Zucchini Cups
  5. Wonton Pizza Pockets

I hope you found some awesome new things to pin! Don’t forget to pop over to the pin it party linkup to find more pinnable treats!

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