Valentine’s Cooking Class This Sunday!

Hey lovely people! My friends have offered up their art studio space for a cooking class this Sunday taught by yours truly! The class is inspired by Valentine’s Day, so treat yourself, bring your bestie or your forever valentine. You can get tickets at Eventbrite. Here is a sneak peak at the menu!


Strawberry & Mascarpone Baked Challah French Toast
Quinoa, Millet & Buckwheat Hash w/ Fried Eggs & Fresh Vegetables
Espresso Chocolate Date Truffles
*Surprise recipe and drink!

Hope to see you there!

Fig Butter & Nutella Challah

Awhile back I posted about making Smitten Kitchen’s Fig Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah recipe, which I enjoyed, but I thought the filling was scarce to feel like a filled bread. If I am going to fill a bread, I want it to be noticeably different than a plain bread. So I decided to revisit this recipe and use a different fig filling that was more flavorful. I love Kim Boyce’s Fig Butter recipe from Good to the Grain, but I cut down on some of the spice so I could pair it with Nutella.

I used this loaf for breakfast the next day by gently reheating it in the oven for some slices and turning some of it into Challah French Bread! For more pictures and advice about rolling out the challah you can check out the original recipe from Smitten Kitchen here.

Fig Butter and Nutella Challah


2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet of active dry yeast)

¼ cup honey

2/3 cup warm water (110 to 116 degrees F)

1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for the bowl

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons flaky sea salt, such as Maldon or 1 ½ teaspoons table salt

4 cups all-purpose flour


½ cup sugar

1 cup red wine

½ cup port

12 oz. dried Black Mission Figs, stems removed

1 cinnamon stick

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened

1 cup Nutella plus extra based on your love for Nutella

Egg Wash:

1 large egg

flaky sea salt for sprinkling


I only baked mine for 30 minutes and it was ready to come out. Directions here say 35-40 minutes, so keep a close eye on it in the last few minutes.


To make dough with a stand mixer: Whisk the yeast and 1 teaspoon honey into warm water, and let it stand for a few minutes, until foamy. In a large mixer bowl, combine the yeast mixture with remaining honey, 1/3 cup olive oil, and eggs. Add the salt and flour, and mix until dough begins to hold together. Switch to a dough hook, and run at low speed for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to an olive-oil coated bowl (or rest the dough briefly on the counter and oil your mixer bowl to use for rising, so that you’ll use fewer dishes), cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size.

To make the dough by hand: Proof the yeast as directed above. Mix the wet ingredients with a whisk, then add the salt and flour. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to come together. Turn the mixture out onto a floured counter, and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until a smooth and elastic dough is formed. Let rise as directed above.

Meanwhile, make fig paste: In a saucepan combine sugar with ¼ cup water and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add the figs, red wine, port and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until figs are very soft and liquid has reduced by about half (takes about 25-30 minutes). Take figs off the heat and let cool. Take out the cinnamon stick. Once cool, place figs and their liquid in a food processor and process until very smooth. Add the soft butter and process again. Set aside.

Insert filling: After your dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured counter and divide it in half. Roll the first half of the dough into a wide and totally imperfect rectangle (really, the shape doesn’t matter). Spread ½ cup Nutella evenly over the dough, stopping short of the edge. Repeat with 1/2 cup fig butter and spread evenly over the dough. Roll the dough into a long, tight log, trapping the filling within. Then gently stretch the log as wide as feels comfortable (I take mine to my max counter width, a pathetic three feet), and divide it in half. Repeat with remaining dough,1/2 cup Nutella and ½ cup fig butter.

Weave your challah: Arrange two ropes in each direction, perpendicular to each other, like a tight tic-tac-toe board. Weave them so that one side is over, and the other is under, where they meet. So, now you’ve got an eight-legged woven-headed octopus. Take the four legs that come from underneath the center and move the leg to their right — i.e., jumping it. Take the legs that were on the right and, again, jump each over the leg before, this time to the left. If you have extra length in your ropes, you can repeat these left-right jumps until you run out of rope. Tuck the corners or odd bumps under the dough with the sides of your hands to form a round.

Transfer the dough to a parchment-cover heavy baking sheet, or, if you’ll be using a bread stone, a baker’s peel. Beat egg until smooth, and brush over challah. Let challah rise for another hour, but 45 minutes into this rise, preheat your oven to 375°F.

Bake your loaf: Before baking, brush loaf one more time with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in middle of oven for 35 to 40 minutes. It should be beautifully bronzed; if yours starts getting too dark too quickly, cover it with foil for the remainder of the baking time. The very best way to check for doneness is with an instant-read thermometer — the center of the loaf should be 195 degrees. Let cool at least 20 minutes before cutting into it.

*You can keep leftover fig butter in the fridge for a month.

Winter Stew

photo (2)I woke up this morning to a lot of rain, so I decided to switch up the menu at work today and offer this winter stew. I didn’t have a recipe this morning and wasn’t planning on posting it, but a few people asked for the recipe. So here is a rough sketch of what I created this morning. I would love to hear if you make it or add anything to it. Hope you’re all staying warm and cozy!


2 Tbsp olive oil

2 shallots, sliced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

4 garlic herb chicken sausage links or vegetarian sausage links, cut into cubes

2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 can of cream corn

4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

½ tsp red pepper flakes

½ tsp dried thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

3 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp flour

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

bread for dipping


  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a stock pot. Add shallots and cook for 3 minutes. Add bell peppers, garlic and sausage and cook for about 8 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Next add the chickpeas, cream corn, chicken stock, red pepper flakes, dried thyme, fresh rosemary and fresh thyme. Bring to a rolling boil and keep it there for 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low and stir. In a separate small saucepan whisk butter and flour over low heat until well combined. Whisk in ½ cup of soup liquid into the roux. Add the roux into the soup pot and mix well. Cook soup on medium low for an additional 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 365 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the cheddar cheese into a very thin layer on the baking sheet, leaving some holes because the cheese will spread. Bake until golden and crisp, about 7-10 minutes. Let cool completely and break apart with hands to top soup.
  5. To assemble soup, Scoop out into bowls, top with toasted bread, fresh thyme and crispy cheddar.

‘Tis The Season!

Gifting1I went to World Market over the weekend and it was already packed with holiday shoppers. There were parents yelling at their kids to stay close to them, people frantically looking for all the best deals and people wide-eyed and stressed over finding the perfect gift. That was me. The wide-eyed, heart pumping, minor freak out about the holiday season and gift giving. It is so easy to get caught up thinking about gifts for so many people and you end up spending $100 on lotion and bath soaps that looked cute. Although it is a nice gesture, I feel that many bath soaps and lotions go unused.

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When I was younger, my mom, sister and I would bake all week before Christmas and then wrap up all our goodies and go visit our family and friends on Christmas Eve to give them our treats that we baked with love. It was crazy, hectic, tons of fun and a time for us all to bond. Around the holidays I always reminisce about this week we would spend together. Which inspires me to get in the kitchen, bake up a storm and go visit loved ones to let them know I am thinking about them. For me, creating these edible gifts is a way to celebrate the season with loved ones, let someone know that I am thinking about them and that I cherish them.gifting3

Ideas for edible gifts:

Apple Galette


Cherry Pecan Granola

Chocolate & Peppermint Marshmallow Bark

Coconut Ganache Bourbon Balls

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Date & Nut Bread





RugelachRugelach always catches my attention. They are beautiful little cookies that look intimidating to make. I was browsing through The Kitchn and found a recipe that looked divine. The dough comes together easily and rolls out beautifully. I am putting together my list for holiday treat boxes and I am definitely going to include these! I tried the classic honey walnut filling and Nutella with chocolate chips. Let me know if you try different versions of the filling!Rugelach2


Recipe by The Kitchn: makes 64 cookies 
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package (8 ounces) cold cream cheese, cubed
2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 batch filling (see ideas below)
Powdered sugar

*** My notes: I didn’t have powdered sugar, so I used a little bit of flour to roll out the dough and it worked fine. I took mine out after 18-20 minutes of baking.

1. Combine the flour and salt. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to mix.

2. Mix in the cream cheese and butter. Scatter the cubes of cream cheese and butter over the flour. Pulse 10 to 12 times until coarse crumbs form.

3. Mix in the yolk and vanilla. Whisk together the vanilla and yolk in a bowl, and the pour them over the butter-flour mixture. Run the processor continuously until the dough starts to clump together and form large curdlike pieces.

4. Refrigerate the dough. Turn the dough out onto the counter and gather the pieces into a ball. Divide into four portions and flatten each into 1-inch thick disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate the dough at least 2 hours or up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months (thaw in the refrigerator before using).

→ When ready to bake the rugelach, preheat the oven to 375°F and prepare your fillings.
5. Roll out the dough. Sprinkle your work surface generously with powdered sugar. Take one disk of dough from the refrigerator and let it warm on the counter for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle the surface of the dough and the rolling pin with more powdered sugar. Roll the dough from the center out into a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Don’t worry if a few cracks form near the edges. Use more powdered sugar as needed to prevent sticking.

6. Spread with filling. Spread the filling in a thin layer evenly over the surface of the dough. Make sure it goes right up to the edge of the dough.

7. Slice and roll the cookies. Slice the dough into 16 wedges, like a pizza, using a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Roll up each wedge, beginning at the wide outer edge and moving inward. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Make sure the tip is tucked underneath.

8. Chill the cookies. Refrigerate cookies on the baking sheet, 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare remaining batches.

9. Bake the cookies. Bake the first tray of cookies until golden-brown, 20-25 minutes. Cool on the sheet, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack. Bake the remaining cookies.

Cookies will keep in an air-tight container at room temperature for about a week.

Ideas for Rugelach Fillings:
• Nut Filling: In a food processor, grind 1 cup walnuts and 1 cup pecans until they break into tiny crumbs, 30 to 40 pulses. (Be careful of over-processing and making nut-butter.) Combine the ground nuts in a bowl with 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) melted butter, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

• Fruit and Jam Filling: Warm 1/4 cup marmalade, apricot jam or raspberry jam in the microwave until it liquefies. Stir in the 1 tablespoon sugar. Set aside to cool until no longer steaming, still liquidy. Pulse 2 cups (roughly 10 ounces) dried fruit, such as apricots, cranberries, cherries or currants, in a food processor until it breaks down into tiny pieces. To assemble, spread the jam onto the rugelach dough; sprinkle the dried fruit on top.

• Peanut Butter and Chocolate Filling: Warm 1/2 cup peanut butter in a microwave until it liquefies. Spread over the rugelach dough; sprinkle with 1 cup miniature chocolate chips.

Additional Notes:
• Freezing Rugelach: The disks of dough can be frozen for up to three months; thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using. The shaped cookies can also be frozen for up to three months. Arrange cookies on a baking sheet, making sure they do not touch, and freeze until solid. Transfer to a freezer container for long term storage. Cookies can be baked straight from the freezer and may need an extra few minutes to bake.

• Making Rugelach by Hand: If you don’t have a food processor, just cut the cream cheese and the butter into the flour mixture using your finger tips or a pastry cutter, just as you would for pie crust. Sprinkle the yolk mixture over the top and fluff the dough with your fingers until it feels heavy and can hold together when pressed into a ball. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as instructed.

• Halving This Recipe: Nix the egg yolk and cut the rest of the ingredients in half.


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.