Mini Stuffed Peppers

Happy Taco Tuesday! As most of you know, I love a good Taco Tuesday and I am always looking for creative new ways to sass up my Mexican food recipes. I whipped these little cuties up for a dinner party, and they were a huge hit. What I love about  these mini stuffed peppers is that they are gluten-free and vegan! If you want to add a little bit of gooey cheese, you can do so to some or all of them just before you pop these little guys into the oven. I also really liked that I could make them ahead of time, bring them to the dinner party, and pop them in the oven when I got there. They cooked up in no time, and I was able to serve a hot appetizer, while the hostess with the mostess put the finishing touches on the main course. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did and please let me know your thoughts.


  • 1 Bag of Mini Rainbow Peppers, I used 6 for this recipe
  • 1/2 Cup of Quinoa, cooked
  • 1/2 Can of Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 Jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 Yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 Tsp. Cumin, or more to taste
  • 1/2 Tsp. Granulated Garlic, or more to taste
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Pepper
  • 2 TBS Cilantro, minced
  • 1 Tsp Ghee or Olive Oil
  • 1 Avocado, pitted and smashed
  • Salsa, optional
  • A few TBS of Sassy Sauce, optional
  • Pepper Jack Cheese, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cook your quinoa. You can follow my quinoa recipe, just know that you will have extra to use in your other weekly meals.
  3. Empty, drain, and rinse your black beans. Set a side.
  4. Cut peppers in half, removed stem, seeds and any membrane so that they look like little cups. Set aside.
  5. Add the ghee or olive oil to a saute pan, lightly saute the onion, garlic and jalapeno with the cumin and granulated garlic for 1-2 mins (just to take the edge off). Set aside.
  6. Once the quinoa is cooked toss it into a bowl with the onion, garlic and jalapeno mixture.
  7. Mix in the cilantro and half or a whole can of black beans. It just depends how black beany you want it. Feel free to toss a couple of tablespoons of salsa in this mixture if you are feeling sassy.
  8. Season quinoa mixture with salt and pepper and add more cumin and granulated garlic if you want. Set aside.
  9. Arrange your peppers into your baking dish.
  10. Layer each pepper with a little sassy sauce if you want to keep it vegan, or place a little bit of cheese in the bottom of the pepper. You can also use both the sassy sauce and the cheese in the bottom of the pepper if you want the best of both worlds.
  11. Fill each pepper with the quinoa mixture and set it back into baking dish.
  12. Top with a small thin slice of pepper jack cheese if that is you thing, or don’t if you want to keep it dairy free.
  13. Bake for 25 minutes, just to warm everything up, to cook the pepper a bit and to melt the cheese if you are using it. You want the pepper to maintain its crunch so that you an easily pick it up.
  14. While your peppers are cooking, mash-up one avocado and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  15. Remove the peppers from the oven and top it with a dab of avocado and a few drops of hot sauce if you need more spice. YUM!Mini Stuffed Pepper w cheese

I added cheese to some of mine and both versions were delicious!

Happy Taco Tuesday!


NYC to SD Route

After two and a half years of living in Manhattan, Derika and I decided that we missed the ocean, the sand, and the sunsets, so we decided to head back to San Diego for a little change of pace. When we left New York on February 12th it was 8 degrees, and when we got to San Diego a week later on February 19th it was 80 degrees!  As you can see from the photo above, we did not take the most direct route from New York City to San Diego. Who doesn’t love a good road trip!? Our main goal was to hit some distilleries, eat some amazing food, and to get as far south as we could to escape the treacherous driving conditions. Below I outlined our route and the fun things that we found in each city along the way. Enjoy!

New York City


We left NYC in the late afternoon on February 12, 2016, right after our movers finished up loading up our apartment into their truck.

Absolute Bagels  – On our way out-of-town we stopped at my favorite bagel shop to fuel up before we hit the road. Do yourself a favor and get their garlic chive cream cheese on an everything bagel and thank me later.

NYC Bagel


Ristorante Ottaviani – If you are passing through Cumberland, Maryland and you need a bite to eat, we would highly recommend this cute little Italian restaurant. Ristorante Ottaviani has plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options.


Our main goal for Kentucky was to go to Louisville, get Derika some BBQ, and go to some bourbon distilleries…this is exactly what we did.

Feast BBQ – You can’t really go wrong with bourbon slushies, fried pickles, BBQ tofu and pulled pork. Soooooo goood and even the vegetarian was happy at this BBQ joint.

Akasha Brewery – After your BBQ, walk across the parking lot and try this brewery, their beers were great and they also have games for you to play while you are sippin’ on beer.

Akasha Brewery

Kentucky Distilleries

Bourbon tasting is nothing like wine tasting. You have to go on a distillery tour in order to taste the bourbon, so this made it very difficult for us to see all of the distilleries on our list. If you are limited on time or just need a few suggestions,  I would recommend Bulleit, Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, and Jim Beam.


Tennesee Sign

Jack Daniel’s Distillery – We went way out of our way to make this stop happen, but it has been a bucket list item for a long as I can remember. This place is an adult playground for Jack Daniel’s lovers, and you can also buy quite a few things that you can’t get anywhere else. If you are ever in the vicinity (which is not as easy as you think, because it is in the middle of nowhere) of this distillery, do yourself a favor and go!


We spent Valentine’s night in Birmingham, Alabama and checked out a cute diner in downtown Birmingham for our Valentine’s date night.

Birmingham sign

John’s City Diner – I know that diner food does not seem very Valentiney, but the food is way beyond diner fare and they have so many vegetarian options. We especially fell in love with their mac and cheese and their tasty elderflower old-fashioned cocktails. Holy Cow!!!!



Since we had already went so far south to get out of the bad weather, we decided that it would be a good idea to pop into New Orleans for lunch.  I mean, who doesn’t want to eat beignets for lunch!? If you have an afternoon to spend in New Orleans, here are a few of my suggestions.

To get into New Orleans you have to cross the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. It has been a goal of mine to listen to the Be Good Tanyas, Lakes of Ponchartrain song, while crossing this causeway. So this totally had to happen on our way into New Orleans.


Alberto’s Cheese and Wine – I have always wanted to try a muffuletta sandwich, but vegetarian versions are nearly impossible to find…until now! They make them here and they are amazing! Just look at this sandwich, I don’t even love olives and I loved this sandwich!

Muffuletta at Albertos Cheese and WIne

Cafe Du Monde – You can’t stop in New Orleans without stopping at Cafe Du Monde for a beignet, because they have the best beignets and coffee in the french quarter. This is what powder sugar dreams are made of!

Cafe Du Monde beignet

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop – You can’t leave New Orleans without getting a road soda aka a hurricane. I don’t love super sweet cocktails, but I love the hurricanes at Lafittes. The atmosphere is great, their hurricane cocktails pack a punch, and they are the perfect combo of sweet and alcoholic. Yum, Yum, Yum!


Welcome to Texas Sign


The Original Lupe Tortilla – We got to meet up with Danie, one of my old culinary school buddies at Lupe Tortilla, which was an awesome treat!

Danie and Dani at Lupe TortillaIf you are hungry and need an easy stop off of I-10, that has good Tex-Mex food with a lot of vegetarian options and great margaritas then Lupe’s is your place.

lupe tortilla houston

Bucc-ee’s – If you don’t have time to stop for lunch and want something on the road. Stop at this Texas institution. Bucc-ee’s is the biggest rest/truck stops that I have ever seen! If you can’t find what you are looking for here, I think you might have a problem.

San Antonio

The San Antonio River Walk – It has been on my list to check out the San Antonio River Walk. This is a great place to stay the night, so that you can stroll the cute River Walk, (which is so flippin’ adorable) and check out some of the cute bars and restaurants. It looks the best when it is all lit up at night. Some of our favorite River Walk places are listed below.

Riverwalk San Antonio

Boudro’s Texas Bistro– Stop at  Bourdo’s for table side guacamole!

Also wash the guacamole down with one of their prickly pear margaritas.

Prickly Pear Cactus Margarit - Boudros

The Esquire Tavern – This is a great place to check out some live music, get a great bite to eat, and sip on some epic cocktails in an amazing atmosphere.

Esquire Cocktails San Antonio
El Paso

Cowtown Boot Company – It was a bucket list item to get a pair of cowboy boots while we were in Texas. We stopped at Cowtown Boots in El Paso to see if I could get a pair of boots….holy cow they had boots for miles!

I also found my next dinner table… 😉

Cowboy Boot Table

We each left with a new pair of boots…Winning!

New Mexico

We spent the night in Las Cruces New Mexico, because I am obsessed with New Mexico’s hatch green chili sauce, and I wanted to get as much of it as I could in a 24 hour period. Below are some of my food and drink recommendations

Andele Restaurante – This was a great mexican restaurant with a salsa bar, homemade tortillas, hatch green chili sauce,  and solid mexican food.

The Shed – We stopped at The Shed on our way out of New Mexico and I have to say this is the best breakfast that we had on the road. Everything is made from scratch and I would recommend ordering a side of the green chili sauce to slather over whatever you get. I have to warn you though, their hot green chili sauce is no joke!

The Shed Las Cruces

The Double Eagle – Take a quick stroll and shop around the cute Old Mesilla, and stop into the Double Eagle for one of their award-winning Margaritas!

Margarita - Double Eagle



Dateland Travel Center – Make sure you need to stop for gas in Dateland, Arizona so that you have an excuse to get the best shake of your life. I had no idea what to expect, and I didn’t even want one, so I just took a sip of Derika’s shake. At that moment I had wished I had gotten my own. It was seriously one of the best shakes that I have ever had. Look how happy it made her!



The River City Grill – If you are stopping in Yuma and want something a little fancier than In n’ Out, pop into The River City Grill for a nice glass of wine and a bite to eat. To my surprise, they have a cute back patio and quite a few vegan AND vegetarian options on the menu. I got a tofu curry that was served in a coconut. 🙂

Yuma Dinner

Yuma was our last stop before we rolled into San Diego!

8west Sign

Minus the crazy weather, this was one of the best road trips that we have ever taken. We got to add a few states to our travel list, we went to a bunch of great distilleries, and we ate some amazing food. We also ate a lot of random things on the road when we were trying to save time.

Here are some honorable mentions if you are a vegetarian on the road….

Taco Bell – I got my first ever vegetarian crunch wrap on this road trip, and I have to say that it will do the trick if you are in a pinch while traveling.

Crunch Wrap

Waffle House – I have not been to a Waffle House in decades! This was my first time at a Waffle House as a vegetarian. The staff was super friendly, the coffee was strong and the omelette was decent.

Waffle House Omelette

Big Boy – I used to go to Big Boys with my grandma all of the time when I was little.  I can’t even remember the last time I ate at one.  We stopped off for a quick breakfast, which was decent and I even got to do a quick photo shoot with Big Boy himself!

Me and Big Boy

In n’ Out Burger – This was by far my favorite fast food chain that we stopped at while we were on the road. They have an amazing grilled cheese on their secret menu and make sure that you get it animal style and thank me later.

Thank you so much for following our food and cocktail journey across the US, I hope this list inspires you to get out and do something fun!

Double D Road Trip Sign

Safe Travels!


In November, Derika and I went to Bermuda to catch a little sunshine and to watch the world rugby classic. I am really excited to write about this trip, because this is the first time that we have gone to the same place twice for a vacation. Derika and I started dating in 2004 and in November 2004, we went on our first vacation together to Bermuda. We were living in Michigan at the time; I didn’t have any stamps in my passport and I’d never seen the magical blue-green water that I had seen on TV. So we decided to pick the closest destination that could check those items off of my bucket list and off we went. This was us then…

us w rocks

I mean… look at those baby faces!  We were only 24 years old!

This is us in Bermuda in November 2015.

Dani and Derika Beach

If you ask me, it looks like we are getting younger. 😉

It was ALL my fault that we ended up going to Bermuda for a vacation. Usually our travel policy is that we try to not go to the same place twice, because there are so many amazing places in the world and not enough time to see them all.

Last spring, Derika and I were at a rugby fundraiser for a high school team that she coaches. After a couple of cocktails, I thought that it would be a good idea to bid on a silent auction trip to Bermuda to watch the rugby classic. My excuse at the time was that I would bid on this trip so that people would follow suit, and we would end up raising more money for the team. However, that is not how it ended up working out. The evening progressed and as we were walking out of the event, I noticed our name on the board of winners for the silent auction!? How is it even possible that no one else bid on the trip to Bermuda!? It now looked like we were headed to Bermuda to watch some rugby, and by sheer coincidence it just so happened to be almost 11 years exactly to when we had first traveled there!

The first time that we went to Bermuda in 2004, I didn’t do any research and we pretty much just winged everything. My main focus was to frolic on the magical pink sand beaches and hang out with Derika. For our second trip I had those same goals, but I also wanted to check out the culinary scene and watch a little rugby 🙂  Bermuda is a pretty chill vacation spot and perfect for relaxing. The weather was not the best when we were there this past November, so I did not get to spend as much time on the beach as I would have liked. It all worked out though, because the weird weather just forced us to get out and about to see what else Bermuda had to offer.

Here is a map that you can quickly reference while you are reading this post. I also linked all of restaurants and activities to local websites, so make sure you click on the titles for even more info. Below you will find some of my recommendations for eating and playing in Bermuda.


Getting Around

You can’t really rent a car in Bermuda, so the only choice that you have to get around is to use one of their spendy cabs or you can be adventurous and rent a scooter. Renting a scooter is a super fun way to get around the island, but it is also is kind of scary. In Bermuda they drive on the opposite side of the road and they give you very little scooter training before they send you off on your own. Aside from those nail-biting factors, we ended up renting scooters on both of our trips. We didn’t die either time (even though we came close a couple of times) during both of our trips and so I would highly recommend it!

Me in 2004

Me in 2004

Me in 2015

Me in 2015

Where to Stay

In 2004 we stayed at the Fairmont Southampton. It was a gorgeous hotel with its own private beach that you could access via the hotel trolley. The hotel was really close to Horseshoe Bay, which is a great place for snorkeling or just hanging out by the beach.

In 2015 we stayed at the Elbow Beach Hotel, which also had its own private beach. What I really liked about this hotel was that you could either stay in the hotel area of the resort, or you could stay in what felt like your own little cottage with a lanai. We got a cottage and it felt like our own little piece of paradise even with all of the dreary weather…

Dani in Rain

Eat Like A Local

With our scooters we were able to scoot and eat all over the island. Below is a list of our favorite places to grab a bite to eat. I broke it up by cities so that you can find a great place to eat, no matter what part of the island you are on. It just so happens that all of these places are super vegetarian friendly. 🙂

Elbow Beach

Cafe Lido

We got lucky that the hotel we were staying at had a great selection of food any time of the day.  We enjoyed cocktails by the beach.

Beach Cocktail

We even popped into Cafe Lido for breakfast and dinner on the day that we were able to hang out at the beach all day. I enjoyed a great veggie burrito for breakfast and an awesome tagliatelle pasta for dinner.


The city of Hamilton was by far our favorite city to hang out in Bermuda. I just loved the cute streets, all of the great shops and awesome restaurants. Below are a couple of places that we fell in love with during our visit.

Devil’s Isle

Devil’s Isle is a great seasonal farm to table restaurant that uses fresh and local ingredients to create really creative dishes with a ton of vegetarian options. They have a great outdoor patio and their cocktails are totally on point.

Rosa’s Cantina

Rosa’s is a great Tex-Mex restaurant in Hamilton. We ended up eating at this restaurant twice while we were in Bermuda. We stopped off here the first night for a cocktail and some nachos.

Rosas Nachos

We ended up coming back a day or two later for a full meal. I really loved their veggie quesadilla and Derika got lettuce wrap tacos. They have a ton of vegetarian options and how can you go wrong with mexican food.

Cafe Cairo

Derika and I grabbed dinner at Cafe Cairo after one of the rugby games. This place had great mediterranean food, like hummus and falafel and it apparently turns into a hopping night club in the evening. We just went for the food, but you should stay for the dancing and let me know how it is.

Naval Dockyard

On a rainy-ish day we decided to scoot over to an area of the island called the Naval Dockyard to go shopping and grab lunch. It took us about an hour by scooter, minus the time that we lost when Derika’s scooter just shut off while going down hill with a bunch of traffic behind her. With only a few extra gray hairs, we made it there in one piece and the drive was really beautiful. The Dockyard is where all of the cruise ships dock so it is pretty touristy, but we did manage to find a place to grab a beer and a bite to eat.

Frog and Onion Pub

This is a great place amongst all of the tourist chaos to grab a beer and some tasty onion rings if you are feeling snacky, or a burger and a vegetarian shepard’s pie if you need something more substantial. They have a great patio that is perfect for an afternoon beer and people watching.

Frog and Onion Onion Rings

St. George’s

We also scooted over to the other end of the island on another rainy day, the weather in Bermuda in November is kind of a crap shoot. We heard that St. George’s was a cute town to check out so we hopped on our scooters and were on our way. St. George’s is really really tiny, but with a little strolling we found a cute place to get out of the rain.

White Horse Pub

We did pop into a couple of shops and managed to find a place to eat called the White Horse that had a nice patio that you could even enjoy in the rain. We got to enjoy lunch with these guys who were also trying to escape the rain.

Bermuda Birds

I even got lucky and found a veggie burger on their menu that was decent.

White Horse Burger

Swizzle Inn

Swizzle Inn Sign 2

While you are zipping around the island, you are bound to get a little parched and maybe even a little snacky. I highly recommend stopping at the Swizzle Inn for you all of your Rum Swizzle needs. There are two locations on the island and we stopped at both, purely for research purposes. What is a Rum Swizzle, you ask? A rum swizzle is Bermuda’s national drink that has a combination of rums, orange, lemon and pineapple juices, falernum (local sweet syrup) and a few extra secret ingredients. It just so happens that the Swizzle Inn is the creator of this epic vacation drink. Swizzle into this place for a rum swizzle, and be careful because this drink will give you a little extra swagger to your step in no time.

Other Adventures


If rugby is your thing I would recommend coming out for the Bermuda Ruby Classic in November. All of the games were held in the evening so you can enjoy the beach all day and then catch a little rugby in the evening. How perfect is that!? If we continue to live on the east coast, I would love to add this event to our yearly activities.

Bermuda Rugby

Crystal Caves

Last but not least, in 2004 Derika and I did the Crystal Cave Tour. I am still thinking about this tour 11 years later if that says anything. If you have some free time on your hands, I would highly recommend these caves. I really loved the underground crystal clear pools on this tour, and you really have to see them for yourself to believe it.

us crystal caves

I hope you enjoyed our adventure and hopefully some of these suggestions will add a little extra sparkle to your trip.

Happy Traveling!







Spiced Granola

Oh man, it has been way to long and I am so sorry that I have been so MIA lately. I finished culinary school in August, wrapped up my kitchen internship in October, and since then I have been working at a farm-to-table restaurant in the West Village called Mas Farmhouse. Besides getting my butt handed to me in the kitchen on a daily, I am still teaching yoga, traveling a ton and gearing up for the holidays. I am hoping that I will soon be able to settle into some sense of a routine that incorporates blogging a lot more, and sharing my travels and the fun new recipes that I have been working on. While I get all of my ducks in a row, I thought that I would share this super simple and healthy granola recipe. I have been trying to make a savory gluten-free granola for a while now, that I can eat on the go or add to my granola in the morning. I love granola, but a good gluten-free granola is not cheap when you go through it as quickly as we do. This recipe makes a ton and you will even have left over oats , so that you can easily make a second batch, because you will for sure run out. Also feel free to add whatever your little heart desires to this recipe, this is just what I had on hand at the time.  Enjoy!


  • 4 Cups Gluten-Free Oats (rolled or old-fashioned, not instant)
  • 1 Cup Sliced Almonds
  • 1 Cup Pepitas
  • 1 TBS. Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 Tsp. Salt or (Truffle Salt)
  • 1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp. Garam Masala
  • 1/2 Tsp. Mild Curry Powder
  • 1/3 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 4 Tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract


  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, use a spatula to stir together oats, almonds, pepitas, salt, garam masala, curry powder and cinnamon.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the coconut oil and honey. Bring to a light simmer over medium heat stirring constantly with a whisk to get the sugar to dissolve and the mixture to come together. Once it comes together and simmer about 30 seconds, remove from heat.
  5. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
  6. Pour the hot liquid mixture over the oat mixture in the bowl. Stir well with a large spatula. Spread granola on the cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake at 300° until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Once or twice during the baking time, pull out and stir well and put back in for the remainder of the baking.
  7. Remove the granola from the oven. If you want to add in dried fruit, add it now. Cool granola completely. If you want smaller chunks, stir several times while it cools so that it doesn’t harden into large chunks.
  8. When cooled, use your hands to break apart to the size you want and store in an airtight container.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.  If you are looking for a gluten-free granola that is paleo and omits the oats, you should check on my Not Your Granny’s Granola’.


I am alive!  I am so sorry about my lack of posting, but things have been a little bit crazy with culinary school, teaching yoga and trying to finish up a restaurant internship. I am finally starting to see the light and the end of the tunnel and I have some really good news! It is officially official, and I can hardly believe it, but I have graduated from culinary school and I am now an employed chef working at the Little Beet Table, a gluten-free restaurant in NYC. It is so crazy that I had the idea to attend culinary school in February and by September I am a real live chef!  All I have to say is that if you are thinking of going to culinary school you should definitely do it. Over the past few months, I have grown in so many ways and I have learned so much.

When I was thinking about going to a culinary school, one of my biggest fears was signing up for a two year culinary program. Two years seemed like such a long time, and what happened if I hated it. I knew that I did not want to commit the next two years of my life to going to school, so I was super excited to find a culinary school like the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI). NGI was so in line with my personal values and interests and their chef in training program was only five months! My first thought was that I could do anything for five months. So I took the leap and that is what has been consuming my life lately.

As I was going through the culinary program learning ALL of the things a weird thing happened.  I was learning so much and having so much fun, that I started to wish that the time would slow down a bit or that I would have signed up for a longer culinary program. I just felt that the amount of information that we were covering was a lot in such a short period of time. At times it felt like too much for my brain to absorb. Also there were some things in the program that I wish we could have spent more time on and some things in the program that we did not cover that I wish we would have…like cheese and wine. Mmmmmm….cheeeese!

Anyway, I really wanted this post to recap all of the amazing things that I learned and got to do at school and had the full intention to blog about, but never got the chance too. But I realized that I could never accurately recap all of the amazing things that happened while I was in school. So this post ended up being one of my hardest to write. Fortunately, I ended up getting lucky that an amazing classmate of mine put together an awesome video that neatly wraps up my past six months into a lovely seven minute video. I don’t think that anything I write could possibly do a better job of giving you a glimpse of what culinary school is like, so I will just let this video do it for me. Thanks Madeline for putting it together, I will cherish it always!

Enjoy the show!




Lake TahoeOver Memorial Day weekend, Derika and our friends Emily and Tetler spent the weekend in Lake Tahoe to attend our friend’s wedding. I’ve never been to Lake Tahoe, so I was super excited to spend the weekend there. We were only able to stay the long weekend since I am still in culinary school, so I know that we had to make the most of the small amount of time that we had there. We crammed a ton into three days, so I thought that it would be fun to give you a quick recap on how you can squeeze the most out of your time there. We were not that much of sporty spices while we were there, due to the weather, so this is my guide on how to successfully eat and drink your way around the lake.


Let the drinking adventure begin 🙂


We arrived into Reno on Friday night; it was just a little over an hour drive to our Airbnb. During our three nights in Tahoe, we stayed at this Airbnb and loved it. We could not snag a place on the lake, so we settled for the next best thing. This cute cottage is perfect for four people, super close to Tahoe City for a day of shopping and it has a lovely hot tub for morning and evening dips.
Since we spent one of our free days at the wedding, we only had one full day to be a tourist. Since it was supposed to rain and I had never seen the lake, we decided that it would be fun to drive around the lake. This adventure would only take you about 2.5 hours without stops. It took us the better half of the day after all of the stops that we made. 🙂

1. Start your Day off Right with an Awesome Breakfast/Lunch at the FireSign Cafe.

FireSign Cafe

We actually stopped at the FireSign Cafe on our way out of town, but I highly recommend it.  We waited a little while but they have a really cute coffee shop right behind the cafe where you can hang out. This place is great for vegetarians and meat eaters, their menu is huge, and I will definitely go back on our next visit.


2. Stop in Tahoe City for a Beer and some Tots at the Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company.


3. Check out Emerald Bay.

Emerald Bay
Our Emerald Bay stop was a crowded one, but we managed to find a place to park so that we could snap a quick group photo of us in front of Emerald Bay. This is one of the best views of the lake and I would highly recommend it.


4. Twinkle your Toes in the Lake.

Twinkle Toes
The south side of the lake is really touristy, so try to stay away if you can. We ended up stopping in a really cute park just after we passed the south side of the lake, so that we could stretch our legs and twinkle our toes in the water.


5. Go to the Hyatt’s Pier 111 Bar at Grab a Cocktail in the Sunshine.

Pier 111
A friend of mine told us to go check out the restaurant at the Hyatt on the north end of the Lake. The restaurant was a bit crowded, but we noticed a bunch of people hanging out on the Pier so we thought that we would go and check it out. Come to find out that there is an awesome bar at the end of the pier. It was the perfect place to enjoy the lake in the sunshine. The first photo on this post is also from this pier.


6. Stop at the Lake Tahoe Cali/Nevada Border and Take a Selfie.

Cali-Nev Border


7. Grab a Beer, Snacks and Play Some Cornhole at the Mellow Fellow.

Mellow Fellow is located right at the California-Nevada border, so after you are done taking your selfie, you need to stop here. We loved their beer and sausage selection, and their awesome patio where we played cornhole for the better part of the afternoon.


8. Stop of at Gar Woods for a Wet Woody!

The stop at Gar Woods was Emily’s fault. She use to go here when she was younger and said that her mom loved the Wet Woody cocktails. Once I heard the name Wet Woody, I knew that we had to stop. This place has a full bar, but everyone in the place is drinking Wet Woodys. These drinks make you feel like you are on vacation, and are so so amazing/ridiculous, and boy do they pack a punch! Go there and enjoy a great afternoon on their patio.

The weekend flew by, but we had a great time in Tahoe and I would love to go back.  I hope you enjoyed my little adventure and have fun trying our some of my recommendations.


Happy Traveling!


I can’t believe it, but I have already been in culinary school at the Natural Gourmet institute (NGI) for over 6 weeks now! Over the course of that time we have simmered, poached, baked, sautéed, sweated, boiled, scrambled, steamed, blanched, mixed, toasted and broiled some of the most amazing food that I have ever made or had. I have also eaten more grains, seaweed, vegetables and seitan than a girl knows what to do with. To my relief, I am not as overwhelmed as I was at the beginning, I am finally starting to get my groove on with my morning commute, and I am loving every minute of it.

I have to say that if culinary school is on your bucket list I would highly recommend it. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and I have to say that it is such an amazing feeling to have.

Over the past seven weeks, I have been shocked by how much we have been able to cover in the short time that we have been in school. I am having a hard time recapping everything that I have been doing over the past couple of weeks, so I thought that I would outline a typical day in the life of a culinary student. I want to paint a better picture for you, just in case you are considering quitting your job and becoming a full-time culinary student. 😉

Ok, Let’s Do This…

5:15am– The alarm goes off and I try not to drive Derika crazy by hitting snooze ten times over. I slump out of bed, and over the next hour I shower, eat, watch a little Robin Meade on HLN and try to get myself ready to deal with the subway. I like to give myself a little extra time just to relax in the morning, because the subway ride can get a little intense. (If I am not teaching a yoga class in the morning the alarm would go off at 7:00am and I would leave the house at 8:00am).

  • 6:15am– Leave the house and walk (if it is nice out) to Unity Yoga to teach my morning class.
  • 7:00am– My yoga class begins.
  • 8:00am– My class ends, I quickly rinse off, change, and rush off to catch the subway to school.
  • 8:10am– I squeeze myself onto the subway that is packed like a can of sardines. I’ve now officially become a New Yorker and cram my headphones into my ears (I am obsessed with these). This seems to help as I try to drown out the uncomfortableness of random people’s body parts brushing up against me. Sometimes the subway is so full I swear my feet are not touching the ground.
  • 8:40am– I hop off the subway and pop into a Starbucks for some liquid energy, where they may or may not know my name at this point. 😉

Killing the morning commute

  • 8:50am – I sprint to school taking a little bit longer of a route, so that I can pass by not one, but two doggie daycares on my way. Look at how cute these guys are!


  • 8:55am– I arrive to school with just enough time to do the shuffle in the co-ed locker room with my classmates, as I try to hurriedly get into my chef’s uniform without flashing anyone in the process.
  • 9:00am– If I am the classroom steward that week, I have to arrive 15 minutes early to class. It is then my job along with another classmate to collect all of the supplies for our class that morning and set it all up for the chef.
  • 9:15am– The chef takes attendance. If everything has gone as planned, I am in class, in uniform and ready for the morning demo or lecture. This mostly involves just listening and note taking, but sometimes it also involves some chopping, prepping and maybe even a little bit of cooking.


  • 12:15pm– We are released for our one-hour break. This hour is the fastest of the day, so I usually just hang out in the classroom/kitchen swapping bites of my lunch and cooking tips with my classmates. I try to pack a healthy salad on most days to balance all of the food sampling that I will be doing later in the day.

Healthy Salad

  • 1:00pm – Part of my stewarding responsibilities is to arrive 15 minutes early from lunch to help get things set up for the afternoon portion of class.
  • 1:15pm – The chef takes attendance and we get ready for a quick lecture and an afternoon of cooking.
  • 1:30pm – The chef breaks our small class of 14 up into groups, gives us our cooking assignments, and we spend the rest of the afternoon cooking things like this, this and this. So much FUN!
  • 3:30pm – We plate all of our dishes and get a chance to taste everything that we have made while getting some feedback from the chef and my classmates.


  • 3:45pm – We pack up more leftovers than I know what to do with, and then we start to clean up the kitchen.
  • 4:15pm – We are released from class and I head up to the locker room to change and get ready to deal with the subway during rush hour.

If it happens to be a Thursday that I’ve signed up to help out with the NGI Friday Night Dinner Series, I get to stay at school a little bit longer 😉

  • 4:30pm – I head to another kitchen in my school to assist the chef and the students that are in charge of the dinner for that coming Friday. Over the course of the evening, I chop, prep and cook whatever they need help with.
  • 7:30pm – We have a quick break to snack on some amazing food that was prepared by one of the chefs at school.
  • 7:45pm – We are back at it, and continue to prep for the next day.

Dani and cookies

  • 9:30pm – We are finished prepping and cleaning, and I head up to the locker room to peel off my well-loved and very dirty chef’s uniform.
  • 9:40pm – I leave school and make my way to the subway.
  • 9:55pm – I hop on the subway and head home to do it all over again the next day.

Not all days are this long, this is just one of the more challenging days that I have had, and yet I still wake up the next morning excited to do it all over again. I just feel super lucky to have the opportunity to do this program and I am excited about the life long friends that I am making. I know that I am only seven weeks in, so I might have to edit this post at the end of my program when I don’t have as much pep in my step, but for now I am enjoying the ride!


Irish Curry Sauce
Derika and I went to Ireland in 2008 and had the time of our lives. We started in Dublin and road tripped the whole southern half of the country, stopping wherever our little hearts desired or whenever we got thirsty. Let’s just say there was a lot of Jameson and Guinness consumed…

Being a vegetarian, I was worried that I would have a hard tome finding things to eat in Ireland. As I suspected, Ireland was not super duper vegetarian friendly, but I manage and was actually able to find a decent amount to eat. A couple of things that really stand out in my mind was the amazing vegetable soup served with brown bread and the pounds and pounds of curry sauce and chips that I consumed. I still daydream about that curry sauce!

For St. Patrick’s Day this year, my Irish friend Tori and I went to Molloy’s Irish Pub in NYC, for some Guinness and some curry and chips. Somehow we managed to squeeze into a seat at the bar, where I got to order Tori her first Irish car bomb. This girl right here is a TRUE friend 😉 The bar was slammed, but we decided to brave it and order curry and chips to go with our Guinness. We waited forever, but we eventually got our chips, and to our delight they were amazing! I am so going back to Molloys for these chips!

Of course right when our chips arrived, the bar went ALL St. Patrick’s Day on us and decided it was the perfect time to have a small person dressed as a leprechaun hop onto the bar, I know so weird right!? This leprechaun then proceeded to run up and down the bar dumping shots of Jameson into everyone’s mouth while jumping over our lovely curry chips. It was so bizarre, disturbing, and very challenging to try to eat our chips while all of this was happening.

Molloy's Irish PubGosh, that leprechaun was creepy!

We ended up having a blast and somehow managed to walk out of there alive! But of course I dreamt about leprechauns and curry chips that whole night. I woke up the next day wondering if I would be able to create my own curry chips at home minus the leprechaun…Hmmmmmm.

The other day I invited Tori over for my famous Vegetarian Philly Cheesesteaks. Since I had a real live Irish person coming over, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to try to whip up some curry fries as an appetizer. This is what I ended up coming up with and it has the Irish stamp of approval from Tori. 😉 Don’t let the list of spices intimidate you, I was able to scrounge up all of these from my spice cabinet, and if you don’t have some of them, they are super easy to find at the store.

Curry Fries Ingredients


  • 2 TBS Ghee, or Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • 1 C Onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 large apple, peeled and diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Inch Ginger, minced
  • 2 TBS Mild or Medium Curry Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Turmeric
  • 1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp. Ground Coriander Seeds
  • 1 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 TBS Gluten-Free Flour
  • 1-2 C Vegetable Stock
  • 1 Tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or Tamari
  • 1 Tsp. Turbinado Sugar
  • 1 TBS Tomato Paste
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste


  1. In a small bowl prepare your spice blend by adding the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, ground coriander seed, and cinnamon, and set aside. (I used a medium yellow curry powder, because I like my food to have a little kick.) Look how pretty it looks!Spice Blend
  2. Add the ghee or oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 7-10 minutes to caramelize them a bit.
  3. Add the peeled and diced apple to the pan and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  4. Toss in the minced garlic and ginger and stir.
  5. Add the aromatic spice blend and stir.Apples and Spices
  6. Mix the spices, onions, and garlic together as they cook for another two minutes, so that all of the flavors can get to know each other and become friends.
  7. Add the gluten-free flour or your sauce thickener of choice. Cook it over medium heat for two minutes, stirring frequently being careful not to let the flour burn to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Gradually add the veggie stock stirring constantly. Scrape the bottom of the pan as you mix everything together. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer the sauce.
  9. Then add the tomato paste and a teaspoon of Braggs or tamari, to add a little sass to the sauce. Mix everything together and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  10. Turn off the heat and let the sauce cool a little bit before you blend it. If you don’t have time to cool off your sauce before you blend it, just use extra care and make sure you hold the blender lid down. You don’t want a volcano mess to erupt into your kitchen.
  11. I ran mine thought my Vitamix, and it only took about a minute to get a smooth consistency. Adjust your blending time based on what type of device you use to blend your sauce.
  12. Return the sauce to the pan and turn the heat back on low. Bring it to a simmer while you are getting your chips ready for the sauce.
  13. You’re ready to serve your curry sauce with your chips or fries. You can make your own fries (recipe coming soon) or you get a higher quality store-bought variety. I am currently obsessed with these fries that are made by Kettle Chips. I found them at Whole Foods Market. They are so good!Kettle Fries

Prepare your fries and either serve the curry over the fries or with the curry on the side and eat the living crap out of it.

Fries and Curry Sauce


Follow Your Dreams

All right friends, I am squeezing this one in right under the wire. I can’t believe that it is already the end of April and I am just posting my first This & That Thursday post! I am currently in week two of the culinary program at the Natural Gourmet Institute and I am having ALL of the fun. I am just a teeny bit overwhelmed, which I guess is to be expected. It is worth it though, because I am doing something that I really love. We have just started to cook up a storm this week, and I am super duper excited about all of the things that I am learning. I really can’t wait to start sharing everything with you guys.

Over the past week we have been learning about every fruit and vegetable under the sun, and we also learned how to fry ALL of the things! Fried things are still healthy if they are vegetables, right? 😉

Fried Veggies!

In addition to frying all of the things, I have still managed to find some time to fall in love with a few things. So I thought that I would whip together a teeny list of things that I am currently obsessing over right now.

  • I really really want to subscribe to THIS for their undie of the month club! I mean how could you not want to be in and undie of the month club!?


  • I have been fermenting the heck out of all of the things with THIS awesome fermentor. If you like pickled things, this will be your new best friend.


  • With the fermentor that I have mentioned above, I’ve just made the most mind blowing kimchi with THIS secret spice.


  • I love a good burrito, and I love THIS cute video of someone that loves burritos just at much as I do.


  • Even though I already have about 5 of them, I am so so in love with THIS mala. I think that I might need it.


  • I am obsessing over THIS fair trade company that gets their goods from Thailand. If you need a great gift for a friend check out this awesome company.


Sorry for the short list, but I hope the video will makes up for it. Do something that scares you in May and have ALL of the fun!!

Happy Spring!

Santorini Fava Bean Hummus

Derika and I spent our ten year anniversary in Santorini Greece in July of 2014. Both of us have always wanted to go to Santorini, so we decided that our ten year anniversary was the perfect time to make the trip. We had such an amazing time; you can read about our adventures here and you can check out some of our favorite places to eat here. Santorini is famous, food-wise, for a few things: yellow split peas, tomatoes, and wine to name a few. The white wine grapes are called Assyrtiko, and you can see them growing all over the island.

So Derika was going to order a flight of six and somehow I swooped in and this happened!

The most common way to prepare Santorini’s yellow split peas is in a dish called “fava.” Fava has nothing to do with fava beans. It only uses Santorini yellow split peas. (Fava beans are used very rarely in Greece, because a significant chunk of the population is allergic to them.)

As for the Santorini tomatoes, you will find them in all of the salads, and see them growing all over the island. I actually think that they are the best tomatoes that I have ever had.

Enjoy the cute Santorini tomatoes.

Derika and I fell in love with the fava bean hummus and we ended up eating it at almost every sit down meal that we had. I loved it so much; that I actually bought some dried fava beans from a street vendor so that I could make it when I got home. These beans look a lot like red lentils when they are dried, and I’d suggest using red lentils for this recipe if you can’t find Santorini fava beans in the States. The locals prepare the fava beans into a paste like hummus. It is served warm at meals, or cold as a snack with bread. It is really quite delicious, especially when you top it with crispy capers, diced red onion and a squeeze of lemon!

Santorini Fava Bean Hummus Ingredients


  • 1 C Dried Santorini Fava Beans (or Dried Red Lentils)
  • 3 C Water
  • 1 Small Red Onion, finely diced
  • 1/3 C Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 Tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 C Olive Oil
  • 1 TBS Capers, drained
  • Lemon, 1 Slice
  • White pepper, to taste


  1. Rinse your dried fava beans (or lentils) until the water runs clear.
  2. Add the fava beans to a large pot along with 3 cups water, 3/4 of the red onion, the apple cider vinegar, and salt.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and skim off any white foam that forms on top.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer for 60 minutes, or until the beans are cooked through and the mixture has formed a creamy paste. Feel free to add more water while cooking if needed.
  5. While your hummus is cooking, add 1 tsp. of olive oil to a frying pan, heat it up and then add the capers to the oil. Saute the caper for 5-7 minutes until they are a bit crispy. Set aside.
  6. Once the beans are done simmering, whisk the olive oil into the beans until you get a smoother consistency. I whisked my hummus instead of running it through a food processor, because I like it a bit chunkier. Feel free to run it though a food processor if you would like it smoother.Whisked Fava Bean Hummus
  7. Let your hummus cool off for about 30 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
  8. Transfer the warm finished fava bean hummus to a plate.
  9. Top it with a drizzle of olive oil, the fried capers and the rest of the diced red onion.

I really liked making this traditional dish and found it a wonderful alternative to basic hummus. It is definitely something I’ll keep in my repertoire when I am making Greek or Middle Eastern food at home. It is a great high-protein meal that is vegan and gluten-free!

Santorini Fava Bean Hummus