Pickled Sugar Snap Peas

Capture the essence of spring with these quick pickled sugar snap peas. Unlike some pickled products, these pickle in as little as 4 hours. Serve them for lunch in place of traditional Kosher pickles or add them to a meat and cheese platter at your next party and watch them disappear so quickly you’ll wish you doubled the recipe!

Capture the essence of spring with these quick pickled sugar snap peas. Unlike some pickled products, these pickle in as little as 4 hours. | cucinakristina.com

We have an abundance of peas on our hands! Pea season is typically long gone by this time in July, but the weather this summer has been on the cool side and it seems to be extending the life of our spring produce. We’re swimming in peas and lettuce and yearning for tomatoes and peppers

I’ve been trying to freeze our produce in small batches as it ripens so that I am not overwhelmed come September and have to spend my entire weekend blanching, freezing, canning, and pickling.  (more…)

Belgian Beer Dinner with Fork and Duvel Moortgat

If you are following me on Instagram, you know that last week my friend Jenny and I had the opportunity to attend Duvel Moortgat’s Belgian Beer Dinner at Fork in Chicago. Fork has been on my list of restaurants to try so I jumped at the chance to go when tickets became available through the Windy City Blogger Collective

I don’t typically drink a ton of beer, but when I do I like to indulge in high quality beers and Belgian beers definitely top my list. Duvel Moortgat is a family-owned brewery founded in 1871. Duvel, I learned, is also owner of the Ommegang Brewery which makes a stout called Chocolate Indulgence that I’ve had before and loved.

After dinner, Jenny and I sat down with Andrew from Duvel, Chris from Lakeshore Beverage, and Chef Tim Cottini from Fork and chatted about the food, the beer, and some of their favorite things. Everyone was super cool and hearing their take on the pairings and dishes made me wish I could go back in time and try everything all over again. 

The Menu

Belgian Beer Dinner with Fork and Duvel Moortgat


Short Film Friday: This Is Where We Live

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. Want to play along? Share your short films with me on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #shortfilmfri.

Short Film Friday. Play along #shortfilmfri

One of the best parts of having summers off is having endless hours to sit in the sun and read. I’ve always been a rigorous reader, but the pile of “to-read” books is always higher than my “read” books during the school year. 

Today’s film is a beautiful stop-motion animation from 4th Estate Publishing. It was shot over a 3 week period and makes you want to dive through your computer screen into this cityscape of literature. The background and characters are all build from books they have published over the last 25 years. Can you spot any you have read? 


5 Ways to Decorate a Chain Link Fence

One of the advantages of living in an urban environment is being blessed with an unsightly chain link fence along your property line. Chain link fences are slowly starting to become available in various colors, but I am willing to bet that the majority of chain link fence owners have something similar to ours. 

5 Ways to Decorate a Chain-Link Fence | cucinakristina.com

I started looking into the cost of covering our chain link fence with a fence kit or a lattice fence panel, but by the time we bought enough pieces to cover the entire length of our yard, we may as well have just replaced the fence completely. Unfortunately, a new fence isn’t in our budget this year so I started to look for ways that I could make the fence less of an eyesore.

The easiest option seemed to be to use the fence as a giant trellis and plant some climbing plants. If you want something organic, climbing plants are a great option. They would add a nice pop of color to your garden and the flowers would be great for attracting bees! 


Crock Pot Bone Broth

This recipe for Crock Pot Bone Broth couldn’t be any easier because your slow cooker does all of the work for you! In addition to being incredibly easy to make, homemade bone broth is rich in nutrients and minerals giving it tremendous health benefits. 

Crock Pot (Slow Cooker) Bone Broth | cucinakristina.com

One of my favorite the kitchen tricks is making my own vegetable broth from kitchen scraps. I keep a gallon sized Ziploc bag in my freezer and throw any vegetable peelings, trimmings, and ends from my food prep in it. When the bag gets full, I dump it into a large pot of water, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for roughly 4 hours. 

Last weekend, I picked up a pound of soup bones from my butcher for $2.19. I planned on making bone broth on Sunday, but it was 85˚ and the thought of having a pot of bone broth simmering away in my air conditionerless kitchen was unbearable. So, I got out my trusty Crock Pot and put it to work.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can make this on your stovetop using a large pot. The downside is that you’ll have to stick around your house until it’s done which can take 24-36 hours. Since most people don’t feel comfortable sleeping, going to work, or running a quick errand with a pot of bone broth simmering on the stovetop, a slow cooker is ideal for this recipe.

The flavor of homemade broth is deep and rich and a thousand and one times better than any store-bought brand or bullion cube on the market. Plus, it is good for you, easy to store, and versatile. 

Health Benefits of Bone Broth

The health benefits associated with incorporating bone broth into your daily diet are plenty, but my top 3 favorites are: 


Short Film Friday: 4th of July Edition

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. Want to play along? Share your short films with me on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #shortfilmfri.

Since Short Film Friday fell on one of my favorite U.S. holidays, I thought I’d share four short films highlighting the 4th of July. The first three are cute animations under 20 seconds and the last one captures the beauty of our country from sea to shining sea in just under four minutes.  

Happy 4th Of July! from Jimmy Simpson and John Provencher


How To Divide Chives

Are your chives looking a little sad? Are they more than 2 years old? Has your plant outgrown its pot? It’s probably time to divide those chives and give them a little more space to thrive. This post will walk you through the steps you need to take to divide your chives so they will keep wildly producing!

How to revive and divide chives | cucinakristina.com

Chives are a great container plant to add to your herb garden because they are fast growers and easy to maintain. They are perennials which means they will live for more than 2 years and go dormant in the winter, but they will pop back to life in the spring. People sometimes confuse a dormant perennial with a dead plant, but chives are hearty and can tolerate pretty harsh winter conditions. If you invest in a small chive plant now, you will have it for years to come.

As with any potted plant, there will come a day when the plant outgrows its pot. The chives in the photo above are about 3-years old and, as you can see, they aren’t looking so hot. The leaves, although vibrant, are wilted and the flowers are shriveled and pale rather than bright and purple. This is because the bulbs have become too crowded and the plant needs more room to grow in order to continue to produce healthy leaves and flowers.

You don’t need to invest in a larger pot to give your chives the room they needs to produce. You can divide the plant into smaller clusters and transfer it into smaller pots. Dividing chives is easy and necessary in order to keep them wildly producing.


Mayonnaise Free Potato Salad

This recipe for Mayonnaise Free Potato Salad is ideal for picnics and BBQ’s because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It only uses 5 ingredients and can be served warm or chilled. Dill and parsley are my herb of choice, but you could use any fresh herb your garden is producing at the time.

Mayonnaise Free Potato Salad | cucinakristina.com

Pssst… listen up. I’m about to give you a secret recipe. A recipe that I never thought about posting because it is so simple to make, it doesn’t make me feel like I am cooking. Yet, every time I bring it to a cookout or serve it at a dinner, people rave about it and ask for the recipe. When I tell them how I made it, they look at me curiously like I am intentionally withholding an ingredient or two so they won’t be able to recreate it at home. I promise that isn’t the case. Here’s the secret…


Short Film Friday – Runaway

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. Want to play along? Share your short films with me on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #shortfilmfri.

Short Film Friday. Play along #shortfilmfri

A few weeks ago, I posted a short animation film called Pilgrim, starring a refrigerator desperately in search of an electrical outlet in the desert. I happened to come across this adorable student film by Susan Yung, Emily Buchanan and Esther Parobek also starring a fridge. 

The expressions Chillie makes throughout the film help you connect with him and the relationship between Chillie and his owner is honest and sweet. I will probably have a hard time getting rid of my old fridge when the time comes!  


Strawberry Habanero Jam

Capture the taste of summer with this Strawberry Habanero Jam. You could eat this right away, but I would advise you to save it for a rainy day when you need a gentle reminder that warmer weather is around the corner. The heat is subtle which makes it a perfect topping for vanilla ice cream.

Strawberry Habanero Jam

I grew up in Orange County, California which is located about 40 miles south of Los Angeles. Orange County was named for the extensive orange groves that used to line the hillsides. In my hometown, there was a stretch of land leading to the freeway that was thickly lined with orange trees and, as kids, we would often play in the groves, climb the trees, and pick oranges, which I don’t think you were supposed to do, but it was the 80’s and things were much less regulated than they are now. Sadly, those trees have since been removed, but I think there may be a few left on the perimeter of the community college at the intersection where this photo was taken.

Orange Groves in Orange County, California

At the end of that stretch leading to the freeway was a produce stand that used to sell the biggest, most luscious strawberries. They would set them out in these huge boxes and since the weather in California is always warm, you could pretty much buy strawberries from that stand year-round. There are only a few occasions that I can remember driving by and seeing the stand closed. 


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