Creamy Cheesecake Tart w/ Guava Swirl

Last week I went to bed dreaming about dessert. Specifically guava cheesecake. I also went to bed with nerves. A LOT of nerves. The RSVP list kept climbing. Which in theory is great, but when you are the sole person responsible for the dessert bar, you get a little anxious. And when that list hits 400, you freak out. An e-mail was sent to the staff: do not under any circumstances try to use the kitchen today. This was serious. The kitchen was mine! It all starts the day before. I prep doughs and I create a game plan breaking down each hour leading up to the event. These are the days I don’t even need coffee, I just run on pure adrenaline. You would think 11 hours is plenty, but that kind of time on event day flies by. I knew I wanted to create a beautiful dessert bar with plenty of options, shapes and flavors.

The Menu

Mini Apple Pies

Mini Pumpkin Pies w/ Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

S’mores Cookie Bars

Cocoa Brownies

Mini Cheesecakes w/ Guava Swirl


Creamy Cheesecake Tarts w/ Guava Swirl: makes 2 small tarts


1-package graham crackers (9 sheets=1 individual package)

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

6 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

½ tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. lemon juice or grapefruit juice

Fresh fruit to garnish

Guava purée:

1 can guava shells in heavy syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place graham crackers in a large sealable bag and crush using a rolling pin until you have fine crumbs.
  2. In a medium bowl mix graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until well combined. Spoon into mini tart pans, pressing firmly as you go. You might not need all the crumbs. Place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese in a stand mixer until smooth. Add vanilla extract, condensed milk and lemon/grapefruit juice. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed.
  4. Add Greek yogurt and beat for an additional minute. Set aside.
  5. Drain guava shells of MOST of the heavy syrup, reserving a little bit to use. Blend guava shells with a little syrup until smooth. If you are having trouble with the blender, add a splash of water. Set aside.
  6. To make the tart: fill the center of the crust with the cheesecake filling until it reaches the top of the crust. Place small circles of guava purée in a circle pattern around the tart. Take a toothpick and drag it gently through the center of each circle, connecting them and making a pattern of hearts. Garnish with fresh fruit and refrigerate at least two hours before serving.
  7. Store extra guava purée in the fridge.


Shaved Carrot Salad w/ Broiled Salmon

shaved carrot saladSometimes when I look at my blog posts or my Instagram feed I think to myself, “people must think all I do is eat dessert and pizza”. Although I love those things, the truth is, I love my veggies and work hard to have a balanced diet. But desserts look so pretty and I bake a lot at work, so you end up seeing only part of my diet. My other confession is that I don’t follow recipes strictly when it comes to savory foods, which makes it harder to write up a recipe after I figure out I like something. IMG_9368My birthday was this month. I’m over the hump of being a quarter century old. An occasion that was met with more bills, more conversations with my mother about starting an IRA, trying to figure out when I should start using eye cream to prevent wrinkles, settling into a new apartment!, wondering what I should do next, daydreaming about travel, celebrating (about 5 times) with family and friends, appreciating that hopefully I’m getting wiser and smarter. Oh and telling people how much they mean to me. Thank you to everyone who helped celebrate my birthday!shaved carrot salad 2This salad is great on its own or you can add some salmon for protein to round out the meal.IMG_9456Shaved Carrot Salad w/ Broiled Salmon: serves 2

2, 6 oz. salmon fillets
3 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. curry powder
1/3 cup loosely packed mint, washed and dried
1/2 cup loosely packed curly parsley, washed and dried
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
1/3 cup toasted pistachios
2 large carrots
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 green onion
2 Tbsp. dried sweet cherries
2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
1. Preheat oven broiler. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place salmon fillets skin side down on baking sheet.
2. In a small bowl mix coconut oil, brown sugar and curry powder. Rub top of salmon with coconut mixture and place under broiler for 8 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, wash and dry mint and parsley. Blend mint, parsley, lime juice and olive oil in a food processor.
4. Scrape down sides of processor and add salt, pepper and pistachios. Blend for 1 minute.
5. Shave carrots with vegetable peeler. Cut sugar snap peas into thin strips. Cut green onion into thin strips.
6. In a large bowl, mix carrots, snap peas, green onion, cherries, sunflower seeds and half of pistachio pesto.
7. Plate salmon fillets with a side of shaved carrot salad. Cover the pistachio pesto and keep in fridge for other uses!

Baking at Work

bakeryI bake in an open kitchen at work. I am the only chef in a sea of people who do post production. People flock to the kitchen as soon as they hear the sound of my mixer or the smell of something baking. If they happen to linger, I’m not shy to put them to work. Hold this, mix that, chop please! It’s a family environment and I love it.

(Blurry photo taken when coworker stole my camera)

(Blurry photo taken when coworker stole my camera)

IMG_9705My two favorite ways to use sad spotted bananas is making banana bread and freezing them for smoothies. Lately this banana bread with jam in the middle and a coconut nutty crumble on top has been making a regular appearance. It requires a little more time and a little more patience, but it’s so worth it. I tried coconut sugar this time with a little coconut oil and I really enjoyed it. IMG_9707If you don’t follow me on Instagram yet, please do! You can find me at and tons of photos of food and adventures!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset


Banana Bread with Raspberry Jam and Coconut Macadamia Nut Crumble

Adapted from Cooking Light Classic Banana Bread


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup coconut sugar

6 tbsp butter, softened

2 tbsp coconut oil, softened

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed really ripe bananas

1/3 cup plain yogurt

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup raspberry jam

1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1/4 cup shredded coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan. Measure all flour, salt and baking soda into a bowl, whisk and set aside. Combine nuts and coconut in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream butter, coconut oil, sugar and coconut sugar until well combined (at least 1 minute). Add one egg at a time and beat well. Combine the yogurt, vanilla and mashed banana. Add this to the wet mixture and mix well.
  3. Next add the flour to the wet mixture and beat on low speed until the flour disappears.
  4. Measure half of the dough into the loaf pan and spread all of the jam down the center of the pan. Add the remaining dough on top, making sure it covers all the jam. Sprinkle the coconut crumble all over the pan and gently pat down.
  5. Create a tinfoil tent for the loaf pan that will cover the whole pan. Pinch it in the center to create a tent and cut a few holes to ventilate. Put the pan on a baking sheet and bake covered for 30 minutes. Pull out uncover and bake an additional 30-40 minutes, checking part way through. If the crumble is getting too brown, cover gently with tinfoil until finished baking. Check the dough right under the crumble with a toothpick. Bread is done when it comes out mostly clean. Cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting. I recommend cutting with a serrated knife.


Stuffed Apricots w/ raspberries and mascarpone

StuffedApricots-2 copyDaniel and I are home from Spain! We really didn’t want to leave though.There is nothing quite like family bonding time over great tapas and beer. Daniel has promised to write a few posts about our trip (including restaurant recommendations!), so you can expect that shortly. Until then, you can snack on these stuffed apricots with me and dream about the Mediterranean. Happy weekend!StuffedApricots-1

Stuffed Apricots w/ raspberries and mascarpone


3 apricots

2 Tbsp. mascarpone cheese

6 raspberries

6 mint leaves

2 Tbsp. chopped macadamia nuts

2 tsp honey

3 apricots

1. Wash apricots. Slice in half and take out pit. Place on a plate.
2. Stuff the center of each apricot with 1 tsp of mascarpone.
3. Wash and dry raspberries. Put on top of apricots.
4. Wash and dry mint leaves. Put on top of apricots.
5. Sprinkle apricots with macadamia nuts and drizzle with honey.

Shredded Kale Salad w/ manchego, almonds and nectarine

ShreddedKaleSalad-1Blog - 358A co-worker saw me eating kale the other day and thought he would tell me a funny story about a client and kale. He said this client ordered a kale salad for lunch one day. This client took one bite of their salad, put the fork down disappointed and exclaimed rather frustratingly that their kale was not massaged. My co-worker started laughing hysterically once he finished the story and I…. well I was thinking, damn I really hate when my kale isn’t massaged too. Blog - 359I mean, come on. It’s not like I would send my kale salad back to the kitchen. But my general frustration with restaurants is not doing vegetables well and this falls under the umbrella of having so much potential and falling short. Personally, I enjoy kale so much more when it is massaged. Yes, it sounds hilarious, but it is so much less bitter. Hence, a massaged kale salad for you today.ShreddedKaleSalad-2Laugh at me all you want until you massage your kale and realize you will be THAT person at a restaurant asking if the kale salad is massaged because you’re hooked.

Shredded Kale Salad w/ manchego, almonds and nectarine: serves 2


1/4 cup olive oil, divided
6 oz tempeh
1 bunch lacinato kale
2 green onions
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
Pinch of salt and pepper
4 cups spinach
1 nectarine
1/3 cup shaved manchego cheese
2 Tbsp. toasted slivered almonds


1. In a medium skillet heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat for 30 seconds.
2. Crumble tempeh into skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Set aside.
3. Wash kale and remove stems. Stack kale and cut into thin strips.
4. Wash green onions and thinly slice.
5. In a small bowl mix apple cider vinegar, honey and salt and pepper.
6. Slowly whisk in 3 Tbsp. olive oil into the vinegar until well combined.
7. In a large bowl mix kale, green onions and half of dressing. Massage kale with hands for 1 minute.
8. Add spinach to kale and toss.
9. Wash nectarine and slice. Add nectarine, tempeh, manchego, almonds and remaining dressing to the salad and mix well.
10. Salt and pepper to taste.

Ricotta & Plum Toast

IMG_9281Growing up I didn’t really celebrate Father’s Day because I was raised by my mom and hardly spoke to my father. So when Father’s Day would roll around, I would acknowledge my friends’ dads who I admired and go on with my day. But that changed a few years ago when I found myself with two father figures in my life who grew to mean so much to me. Last year was both a beautiful and difficult year for me. I celebrated my mom’s wedding and gained a stepfather who treated me like a daughter long before he was obligated to. In that same year I experienced a devastating loss of a truly great man who welcomed me into his family and also treated me like a daughter. IMG_9300Father’s Day will never be the same for me for many reasons. I will cherish the memories, the love and support that I have received and continue to receive from the wonderful fathers in my life. Celebrating you always.


Ricotta & Plum Toast: serves 2

4 slices multigrain loaf
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk ricotta
4 tsp apricot jam
2 plums, washed and sliced
2 Tbsp. chopped hazelnuts
2 tsp. agave


1. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat for 30 seconds. Toast bread in butter 2 minutes, flipping after 1 minute. Set on plate.
2. Spread 1 Tbsp. ricotta on each piece. Add 1 tsp apricot jam and top with plum slices.
3. Sprinkle with hazelnuts and drizzle with agave.


Sourdough & Rye Strata

Strata3copyI try to switch up the breakfast menu at work whenever I am feeling uninspired by the regular routine of items I have on rotation. This Sourdough & Rye Strata is a beautiful result of needing to do something different. I have made a lot of frittatas lately, but this whole strata thing is new to me and I love it! Strata4 copySpeaking of love, my sister took some photos of Daniel and myself when we were on a family vacation in Capitola. She shared the pictures with us and it almost made me cry. It made me realize that we didn’t have any professional pictures of us.Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 12.28.26 PM(Photo Credit: Sorella Muse Photography)

So thank you Nikki for capturing these special moments, I can’t wait to print them!

Sourdough & Rye Strata: serves 6


4 pieces of sliced sourdough bread

2 pieces of rye bread

10 large eggs

½ cup milk

½ cup half and half

1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

8 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half vertically

1 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small cubes

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives


*This dish has inactive time of at least 6 hours to chill in the fridge before baking.

1. Grease a loaf pan with butter. I used a 10×5, so cooking time will vary depending on the size of your dish.

2. Cut bread into big chunks and place in bottom of buttered dish.

3. Whisk eggs, milk and half and half together. Add 1 cup of shredded cheese, salt and pepper and mix well.

4. Pour half of egg mixture over the bread. Press the mixture into the pan firmly and then pour the rest of the egg mixture on top. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of cheese. Top with cherry tomatoes (cut side up) and butter.

5. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours before baking.

6. When you’re ready to bake it, remove from fridge and let stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake strata uncovered until puffed, golden brown and the middle is set (about 45-50 minutes, depending on the size of your pan). I quickly broiled the top for 1 minute to finish setting the middle.

7. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle fresh chives on each slice before serving.

Cinque Terre part 1

Two years ago I returned to one of my favorite places: the Cinque Terre. I visited these beautiful small towns on the coast of Italy when I studied abroad in Rome and wanted to go back ever since. This time, I got to bring Daniel along for the journey. We ate, we drank, we swam, we wandered, we hiked, we learned and we explored the local cuisine through our cooking class+Farmers Market tour.
Cinque Terre _vegetablescinque terre_tomato

Cinque Terre_CheeseCinque Terre _walkingCinque Terre_fagioligroupCinque Terre_Zuchini

Endive Cups w/ Goat Cheese, Strawberries and Champagne Dressing


endive 1Two weeks ago I flew home to celebrate one of my best friend’s upcoming wedding. Getting ready for the bridal shower and thinking about all the bridesmaids made me realize that we have all known each other since kindergarten. Which is pretty impressive given the time, distance and challenges we have all faced since then. If you ask my friend, the bride, she would lovingly tell you a tale about my kindergarten “bully” self who apparently made her cry and then one day I was nice to her and she got so excited. We have been friends ever since.

endive 2We have served at several community service events together, traveled to Japan together freshman year in high school (bonded over missing our mothers), had a crush on the same boy (yikes!), went to countless dances together, “stalked” other boys by walking by their house just hoping that they would come outside (the things we do when we have crushes..), laughed, cried, shared, inspired, motivated, complained, supported each other through college and now we are here. At another momentous life event. I can’t wait to celebrate, laugh and cry with you. You are beautiful inside and out. YOU deserve a lifetime of happiness. I truly meant what I said at your bridal shower, hold each other accountable to your dreams and never stop adding to your LOVE STORY.

XOXO… two weeks and counting!

endive3 copy

Endive Cups w/ Goat Cheese, Strawberries and Champagne Dressing


2 heads of endive, washed and dried (roughly 10 usable leaf per head, so 20 total)

5-6 oz of goat cheese

10 strawberries, washed and thinly sliced vertically (remove stem)

5 kumquats, washed and thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped pecans, raw, toasted or candied all work well

fresh thyme or other herb of your choice to garnish


2 tsp champagne vinegar

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tbs sugar


1. Mix champagne vinegar, orange juice and sugar in a medium bowl. Soak the strawberry and kumquat slices in the dressing for about 10 minutes.

2. Cut each endive leaf from the head without breaking in the middle. Make a clean cut near the base of the head. Make sure all leaves are thoroughly dried.

3. Assemble leaves on a large plate. Crumble and distribute goat cheese evenly by placing the goat cheese in the bottom 2/3 of the leaf.

4. Mix the fruit in the dressing and then spoon the strawberries on top of the goat cheese. Next add 1-2 slices of kumquat. Spoon extra dressing over the leaves and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

5. Garnish with a small piece of thyme or other fresh herb of your choice.

Quick Roasted Carrots

Roasted Carrot Blog 1It was a bright and chilly morning when I woke up in Rome. I was sharing a room and an apartment with 11 other girls. I was taking risks (hello shaving the side of my head spontaneously), I was learning, I was growing, I was becoming even more of an adult. And my adult self felt inclined to get out of bed, go to the train station, look up inexpensive tickets, buy a ticket and explore somewhere new on my own. This was by far one of my favorite days I spent abroad. While the train was gliding through the countryside, I sat patiently waiting and reading. This has stayed with me for years and I often return to this passage.

“For the first time in my life i saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth-that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impact: the salvation of man is through love and in love”

– Viktor E. Frankl

Roasted Carrot Blog

Quick Roasted Carrots


6 large carrots, washed, both ends trimmed

1 1/2 Tbs olive oil

Pinch of salt and pepper

Pinch of paprika

Pinch of cumin

1/4 cup of hummus to garnish (optional)

Roasted almonds to garnish (optional)

Fresh herbs to garnish (optional


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cut carrots into chunk of about 2-3″. Cut the thicker end pieces into half lengthwise.

3. In a medium bowl, toss carrots, olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika and cumin, making sure all carrots are coated well.

4. Place carrots cut side down on parchment paper and cook for 15 minutes or until they are tender and caramelized.

5. Let cool for 10 minutes and plate with hummus, almonds and fresh herbs if you desire.