Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins

My Bear absolutely loves sweets. ¬†I’m currently still in the transition of going paleo and eating clean, however, one can indulge every now and then, right? ¬†Last Thanksgiving, we hosted both our families and I was stressing to figure out what to prepare. ¬†I have minimal baking experience. ¬†So I needed something easy and straightforward and most of all tasty! ¬†I stumbled upon this recipe and it was a hit. ¬†It’s one of my Bear’s fave fall recipes — and he loves cream cheese. ¬†It was a great compromise for flavor (cheese cake is appalling to me, but it’s my Bear’s fave) and texture. ¬†For all the new bakers out there, give this recipe a try (see link at the bottom: huge props to The Novice Chef¬†for this outstanding recipe!).


yield: 18 MUFFINS

prep time: 12 MINUTES

cook time: 18 MINUTES

total time: 30 MINUTES



  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (pure pumpkin puree)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 375¬įF. Place paper baking cups into muffin pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar and brown sugar.
  4. Beat in eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Slowly whisk in the flour mixture, until there are no lumps. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in sugar, egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.
  6. Top each muffin with about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture and use a toothpick to swirl it into the batter. This will not look smooth, but it will bake up much prettier.
  7. Bake muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Mimi’s Chinese Chicken

This was one of my childhood favorites. If I wasn’t feeling well, I would drink the broth. I loved the tenderness of the chicken after being boiled. There was a ton of flavor! And I used to love pouring the sauce over rice as I really disliked the texture and blandness of white rice.  Thank you Mimi for teaching me one of my faves!


  • 5 drumsticks (may be frozen or thawed)
  • 5 star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
  • One Thai Chile or red pepper flakes
  • One small dab of honey or agave (very small)
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • One bag of Asian spice pouch (either brand found at the Asian market) — see pics below

1. In a 3 quart sauce pan, place drumsticks in water (just enough to cover the drumsticks). Cover pan and bring to boil (med-high heat). 

2. Once boiling, skim off fat before adding spices. 

3. Add all spices. Stir well to make sure all ingredients are mixed. Water should still be boiling at this point. Boil one minute longer after all ingredients mixed well. 

4. Decrease temperature to med-low for 30 minutes (if frozen or until chicken meat looks like it’s almost falling off the bone). Keep lid on (do not lift lid to check on meat). 

5. Turn off heat after 30 minutes. 

You may use liquid as broth. It’s great for soup, broth to drink, rice topper, seasoning of veggies, etc. 


Restaurants tackled on the World’s Top 50 restaurants

World’s Top 50 resties — 2014

It took me about 5 years to build up this list.  The amount of work and attention to detail that these restaurants perform is incredible.  In the same trip, I ate at Geranium and Noma.  At the time, Geranium was #50 and Noma was #1.  The two were almost indistinguishable.  2 fave restaurant in the US: Per Se and Alinea.  Bravo to the chefs and staff.  My culinary journey was nothing short of a blessing.

The 2016 World’s Best Restaurants list and with my updated dining list from 2015-2016:

  • (6) Mirazur
  • (7) Mugaritz
  • (10) Asador Extebarri
  • (12) Quintonil
  • (16) Azurmendi
  • (17) Piazza Duomo
  • (21) Arzak
  • (25) Pujol
  • (31) Nihonryori RyuGin
  • (46) Combal Zero

Juicer and Blender Greens Recipe

This recipe is from a friend of mine and it looks absolutely delicious! Can’t wait to try it. ¬†See below.

One Juicer

One Vitamix
Huge handfuls of dark greens (kale, collard greens, etc you need a ton of leaves to get any juice at all — best to just grow them)
Small amounts of veg flavor bits (ginger, garlic, fresh herbs, whatever)
Frozen fruit chunks (mixed berries, cantaloupe, etc — think Costco) (frozen beats fresh for that milkshake texture)
1.37 dollops plain Greek yogurt

Toss the greenery and veg flavor bits into the juicer to make an intensely green juice, almost undrinkable, we’re talking wheatgrass juice intensity.¬† You can throw in a tomato or carrot for variety but chlorophyll overkill is the goal.

Now go take the frozen fruit and make a fruit smoothie in the blender with it, only instead of using fruit juice or milk to thin it out and make it blendable, use the intensely green juice.  Throw in the yogurt.  By adding frozen fruit chunks, go for the texture of a thick milkshake that stands up to a spoon.

Result:¬† a dark, substantial, delicious, intensely green thing with the consistency of a chocolate shake.¬† The fruit cuts the green bitterness without over-sweetening, the frozenness of the fruit makes it cold and thick, and the yogurt gives it that dairy-dessert-ness.¬† It’s green tea ice cream on steroids, and when you drink it, you feel insanely healthy.


My aunt has been a proponent of holistic and raw foods and healing for over 15 years. I remember vacationing out to Cali when I was a kid and she’d educate me about clean eating, sustainable food sources, always giving back to nature, positive energy, etc. As a kid, I didn’t appreciate these life lessons as much as I should have. However, I have seen its benefits firsthand and really do subscribe to a healthier way of life… Not just in nutrition… But physically and mentally because it’s all linked! A beautiful balance can be achieved when all these aspects are aligned. Here is a recipe I found online that is similar to my aunt’s. And she calls that big gross thing floating in the kombucha “the mother”. ūüĎć



It’s a zesty tangy liquid gold of a probiotic. Down the hatch! Cheers!

Skillet-Roasted Whole Chicken #recipe #chicken #holidays #family

It’s soon becoming that time of year where fall and delightful aromas¬†engage the holiday spirit. ¬†People become nicer and partake in the festivities. ¬†So why not jump on the bandwagon? ¬†I came across this recipe while flying back from Kuaui and it looked delicious! ¬†Here’s the recipe:

The chopping stage:

Getting the chicken ready:

The cooking process:

165 F in the breast! Chicken is done!

Plating of the chicken with some garnish:

And I paired it with some quartered potatoes:

Side of asparagus:



The Verdict:


The chicken was deliciously moist.  The lemon and herbs helped awaken the flavor without being overpowering.  The juice from the chicken was probably my favorite.  The culmination of rich flavor, zing, and herby aroma beckons my tastebuds.  My unladylike self wants to drink the juice directly from the cast iron pot!

The asparagus paired with the lemon made for a nice zesty combination. ¬†Overall, it was a very satisfying meal with¬†lots of smiles around the table. ¬†I’d say this recipe was a winner!

Eric Ripert’s Sauteed Cod and Mustard Greens

Sautéed Cod With Greens

Total Time: 30 minutes Serves: 4


¬ľ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

1 teaspoon plus 1 small shallot, minced

3 tablespoons canola oil

8 cups mustard greens, stems removed, torn into rough pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon butter

Fine sea salt

4 (6-ounce) cod fillets (about 1¬Ĺ inches thick)

Freshly ground black pepper

What To Do

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, make vinaigrette: Whisk olive oil together with lime juice, soy sauce, ginger and 1 teaspoon minced shallot until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

2. Make mustard greens: Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add greens and cook, tossing, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, small minced shallot and butter to pan. Sauté until aromatics soften, 2-3 minutes. If pan looks dry at any point, add a small splash of water. Once greens are tender and brightly colored, after about 5 minutes total, season with salt to taste. Set greens aside and keep warm.

3. Make fish: Set a large ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat. Pat cod dry and lightly season with salt and pepper. Pour remaining canola oil into the pan, and once oil begins to shimmer, lay the fillets, flat-sides down, into the hot pan. Once a thick golden crust forms on underside of cod, after about 5 minutes, transfer pan to oven. Roast until fish turns white all the way through, about 4 minutes.

4. Remove pan from oven and, securing the top of each fillet with your hand and the bottom with a fish spatula, gently flip fillets. Return pan to oven and roast fish 1 minute more.

5. To serve, divide mustard greens among four plates. Top greens with cod fillets. Whisk vinaigrette once more and spoon it around greens. Serve immediately.