Amaya’s First Birthday Party at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym For All Kids

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A first birthday in my family is nothing to be trifled with. For Amaya’s big day, we had to do something that would keep everyone relatively cool, since August in the San Fernando Valley can get up to 100 degrees or higher. My family has taken Maleeya and Amaya to this amazing play space for a little while now, it’s called We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym and they have so many fun things to play with that allow children of all abilities to come together and be in a very safe and loving super fun space. So my sister decided that we would have Amaya’s Snow White inspired First Birthday at We Rock the Spectrum.
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The decorations were beautiful and the atmosphere was so fun. Between food, jumping on trampolines, zip lining and swinging, the kids enjoyed cake and sang happy birthday to my sweet little leo for her big party. I took some time to make a few apple inspired desserts: little Rice Krispies red apples with graham cracker stems and little green leaves and of course, red candied apples as well as a few caramel ones too. The food was inspired by kids’ favorites so it naturally lent way to finger foods.
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Everyone enjoyed themselves on this beautiful day celebrating this lovely little lady who I can’t believe is already one-year-old! Happy Birthday Amaya, Auntie loves you! I’m so glad I could be with you on your special day.
Hot Dog Cornbread Muffins with
Turkey Dog Croissants
7 Dwarf Layered Bean Dip
Fruit Platter and Veggie Platter with Purple Basil
Spinach Pinwheels with Hummus and Mortadella
Turkey Pinwheels with Cheese
Ham Pinwheels with Hummus
Mac n Cheese Bites
Mac n Cheese with Peas and Carrots  
Rice Krispies Treats Red Apples with Graham Cracker Stems
Red Candied Apples
Caramel Apples

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Andy’s Going Away Party

Taco Bar Spread

A couple of weeks ago, Brandon and I cooked for his dad’s going away party. He’ll be out of state for work for some time so we decided it would be nice to get his friends together and enjoy company while he was still in town. Being in the military is a difficult profession and I can’t imagine what our country would be without the help of so many men and women all over the world who sacrifice so much for our safety.

So for this event we had two chefs and one kitchen. Brandon and I have worked together in some kitchen during various times for the last 7 years professionally, at home, or at someone else’s home/event. You can currently visit Brandon at Blush Restaurant and/or Blind Tiger in Santa Barbara, where he is the Executive Chef.

Though most of my time is spent cooking for my family and teaching yoga, it’s nice to prepare a large meal for wonderful people. We decided to have a massive taco fiesta. Our first go with the barbeque ended up not too successful because the grill wasn’t in working order, so we went for the simple charcoal grill that I’m used to and I grilled the food while Brandon cooked inside. I think overall it was a great team effort. Safe travels, Andy!


Carne Asada

Grilled Chicken

Chopped Seasoned Pork

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms and Zucchini

Spanish Bay Shrimp

Mixed Vegetable Sofritas

Chorizo Bean Dip


Salsa with Green Chiles and Garlic

Tortillas and Toppings


Coconut Cream Pie with Bananas and Fresh Peaches

Coconut Cream Pie with Bananas and Fresh Peaches

Grilled Cinnamon Peaches and Pineapple

Grilled Cinnamon Peaches and Pineapple

Rocky Road Pudding Pie

Rocky Road Pudding Pie

Rocky Road Pudding Pie Recipe

Layered dark chocolate and white chocolate pudding in Oreo crust with marshmallows and chocolate dusted roasted almonds

1 Oreo Crust

½ cup cocoa dusted roasted almonds

1 cup miniature marshmallows

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Place cold heavy whipping cream in a small bowl. Whip with a hand mixer till thick whipped cream forms, no powdered sugar necessary. About 3-5 minutes on medium speed.

1 small box Hersheys white chocolate pudding

1 ¾ cup whole milk

Make pudding according to the box directions for pie.

1 small box Hersheys dark chocolate pudding

1 ¾ cup whole milk

Make pudding according to the box directions for pie.

Pour 1/2 of the white chocolate pudding into the bottom of the Oreo crust. Top with ½ cup of marshmallows and pour ½ the dark chocolate pudding on top. Mix the remaining pudding together and fold in the whipped cream till smooth. Top pie with the mixture and smooth into a mound. Top with the remaining marshmallows and cocoa dusted almonds. Refrigerate for one hour or more.




Veggies, salsa and Guacamole Mexican Inspired Catering Taco Bar Ingredients Chicken, Sofritas and Shrimp for Tacos Carne Asada and Grilled Chopped Pork

Carrara Pastries

case pastry
esspresso semi fredo

Years ago, I had a conversation with Damiano about his vision of bringing his family to the United States to build an Italian pastry business in California. Even then, as we spoke I knew that I would see his idea come to full fruition. Damiano is one of the hardest working and most driven persons that I’ve ever met. His passion for flair bartending, all things Italian, his family, and his business is exemplary. When I first met him, he was a bartender, but he’s put that passion on hold to build a family Italian pastry business called Carrara Pastries located in Moorpark, CA. With the help of his brother, Massimiliano Carrara, who is the Pastry Chef, the success of their business has lent to the expansion of a second location in Agoura, CA.


On 05.05.13, Carrara Pastries opened its doors to the Agoura community at their location on Roadside, just off the Kanan exit of the 101 freeway. Both new and old customers flocked to the beautiful and elegant modern storefront in Agoura to enjoy friendly company and beautiful Italian pastries and espresso. Large glass cases of freshly-made delicious pastries line the back of the store. Beautiful photographs and mirrored walls offer a modern, but warm atmosphere.  Not only do they have mouthwatering desserts, everything is prepared fresh with the finest imported Italian ingredients and to accompany your sweets, you can choose from a variety of Italian refreshments and espresso drinks. As the community welcomed Carrara Pastries with open arms, I’m delighted that such hard work can and has developed into this beautiful reality for the Carrara family. As they cut the ribbon and served the deliciously large and gorgeous white cake with fresh fruit and white chocolate, everyone lined up for a slice.


While Brandon and I were there, we couldn’t help but pick up some delicious profiteroles with light pastry cream, a delicious cheesecake and a beautiful hazelnut chocolate cake. Carrara Pastries has something for everyone: large cakes for special occasions, small bites for an after-dinner sweet tooth and everything in between. Massimiliano and Damiano were born and raised in Lucca, Italy. There, Massimiliano studied with top pastry chefs in Italy and trained in the exquisite art of fine Italian pastries. As you take a look at the various pastries, you’ll see things you’ve never seen before and others that you’re very familiar with; this is all part of the charm of this lovely new bakery. The Carrara family is a model for the American dream and with lots of sacrifice, time and effort, they’ve manifested their dreams into reality. Please visit the Carraras at either of their lovely locations and explore the sweetness they’ve created.

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476 West Los Angeles Ave, Unit A-13
Moorpark CA, 93021
Contact: 805.552.4250

28914 Roadside drive, Ste #107
Agoura Hills CA, 91301
Contact: 818.661.9006




Family Dinner in Vegas with Sweets from Jean Philippe Patisserie

I love this time of year! It’s so busy and crazy, but there is just so much love in the air that it makes all the craziness worthwhile.  I just got back from an impromptu trip to Las Vegas with Brandon. Brandon’s family lives in the suburbs of Vegas, about 25 minutes outside of the strip. It’s nice to see the local side of Las Vegas instead of the normal craziness that ensues on the strip, although I do have to admit that we took a couple of quick strolls around down there to see what strangeness we could uncover and what restaurants were serving. Ever since our first trip to Vegas, probably about 6 years ago, we’ve always wandered the strip looking for new culinary inspiration. Some of the world’s top chefs have clumped together in that small strip of land, creating a culinary Mecca and once we get a pile of money, I’m sure we’ll try each one. Here are some previous dining experiences I’ve had in Las Vegas.

During this trip we took the locals route of eating and relaxation, which was all thanks to Brandon’s extremely loving and generous grandparents (Jerry and Carol) as well as his aunt and uncle (Daina and Mike) and cousin Noah. Brandon and I also got to put our cooking skills to use making dinner for the family at Daina and Mike’s house. I love family dinners—they are probably one of my favorite meals to cook because making food for people you love is one of the best ways of showing someone that you care about them.

Brandon and I took a trip with Grandpa Jerry to the local Albertsons and we started in the produce section like we normally would. I always like to choose the vegetables I want to make before the protein because I think, seasonally, it’s easier for me to make decisions on flavors from seeing produce. So we picked a couple of things and went on our way. I think initially we had two very different visions for what we were going to make, but we were ultimately able to bring together a delicious meal.


Ciabatta Crostini with Mascarpone, Mashed Cauliflower, Roasted Herbs, Garlic and Crispy Bacon

Ciabatta Crostini with Roasted Japanese Eggplant, Fresh Tomato, Basil and Sausage

Roasted Stuffed Chicken Breast with Button Mushrooms, Leeks, Thyme and Garlic

Panko-Encrusted Chicken Fingers

Whole Roasted Marble Yukon Potatoes with Herbs and Garlic

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Zest, Chopped Parsley, Garlic and Thyme

Pan-Seared White Zucchini and Japanese Eggplant with Basil and Cracked Pepper

Arugula and Baby Romaine Salad with Fresh Tomatoes and Cucumbers, Sausage, Bacon and Honey Dijon Balsamic Dressing


Brandon bought some beautiful pastries from Jean Philippe Patisserie. He bought a nice variety of chocolate cake, pumpkin cheesecake, flan, and hazelnut chocolate cake. The Pastry shop is located in the Aria Hotel on the Vegas Strip. They have an amazing variety of gorgeous beautifully sugary deliciousness. I suggest you check it out for yourself.





Sweets and Drinks in Vegas

Sin City has its alluring qualities and flashy devilish charms, but hidden amongst the countless yards of alcohol and not so flattering clothing choices, are the sweet and deliciously decadent, which my boyfriend and I found on our trip around the strip. Brandon is the first person I went to Vegas with after I turned 21. We were freshly friends on a mission to seek out some delicious inspiration and new restaurant ideas for growing chefs in a new place. Since then, almost five years ago, one of my favorite pastimes in Vegas is restaurant menu searching and eating.

Our adventure to Vegas was filled with fun trips to different casinos to see menus with seasonal inspiration. On our way around, we decided to stop at a really amazing sweet shop at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace called Vosges Haut-Chocolat.  Every time we go here, there’s always some new and interesting combination of flavors that I need to try and also, some that I always go back to. We looked around for a while, and finally decided on a box of truffles, white chocolate lavender hot coco mix, and chocolate toffee.  The truffles were fantastic, the toffee was eaten before I had any and I could pass on the lavender white chocolate because I’m not a fan of lavender, but it was still pretty delicious.


Later on in the evening, we met up with some of my friends (Thomas and Joanna) for a couple of drinks and another walk along the strip.  We walked from Excalibur down to the Cosmopolitan, where we had drinks at Bond . The Cosmopolitan is one of my favorite hotels in Vegas. If you’re lucky enough to go there, I’d say it’s something to behold— interesting, chic, modern, and beautiful—and this bar was all those things and more. Bond has an interesting combination of stylish modern cocktails or a standard stiff drink.   As we sipped wonderfully well-made drinks with good company, I couldn’t help but think how awesome my friends are.  I had a Berry Long Island and Brandon had a Lemongrass Ginger Kamikaze; both drinks were strong, but still light and flavorful, with fresh juices and high quality liquors.

The trip was one of the best I’ve ever had and I’m sure we’ll have more great adventures in Las Vegas to come.



Cyrus’s 2nd Birthday… The Candyshop and Red Velvet Cupcakes

Today is one of my favorite little boys very special day. I remember the day my friend Katie called me to tell me she was expecting and thereafter, all the midnight to 2 a.m. phone calls and text messages with horrible stories of pregnancy woes, the countless boxes of Little Debbies, and the joyous call and messages on the day he was born. I was over the top involved with work at that time, but I knew, as soon as I saw this little man, I was in love. His name is Cyrus and he is one of the most precious boys I’ve ever met. He stole my heart and made his mom and I retire our dancing shoes and exchange them for baby clothes. We wouldn’t change it for anything. I love this family and I’m so glad I can be a part of their lives.
Best friends! :)
Happy 2nd birthday my sweet little (or, rather, not so little anymore) Cyrus! I love you so much.
We had a sugar coma inducing party, with all things rich and delicious. A full range of soda pops, lollipops, candy and Elmo cupcakes adorned the table, along with other fun foods for all the kids to enjoy. Our theme was a candy shop with tons of fun balloons and little lollipop crazy straws for the sodas.  I have no idea how these kids slept that night, but a little extreme spoiling is what Katie always wanted for her son.
Here are some of the pictures of the festivities.

The cupcakes I made were a red velvet recipe that is a mixture of vegan red velvet and a southern style red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. I love vegan cupcakes because they stay moist for a long time and travel well.
I made red and blue velvet cupcakes and topped these with lollipops and little Elmo faces because he’s one of Cy’s favorite characters.


Red Velvet Cupcakes

4 teaspoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup soy milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Makes 16 cupcakes
Pour soy milk in large bowl with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar and stir until incorporated.  Let stand for at least 8 minutes.
In a separate bowl sift together cocoa, AP flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix together till incorporated with whisk.
After the mixture of soy milk has incorporated, add sugar and oil to mixture and beat on high with hand mixer for 5 minutes until sugar is dissolved.
Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on medium until incorporated, about 4-6 minutes.
Fill cupcake cups 2/3 of the way full and cook for 16-18 minutes on the middle oven rack. The cupcakes are done cooking when a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool and then frost with cream cheese frosting or vegan frosting for full vegan cupcakes or any other desired frosting.
Be a kid at heart.