The Chico Chai-cino

Have you ever fallen in love with a chai? I have...

Sarah Adams, the owner of Chico Chai, is responsible for my locally-brewed organic chai obsession. This bosslady also happens to be a delightful gal who is sustainably focused in business and in life. In the interest of reducing plastic waste from her company, she just introduced refillable glass bottles for their strong brew chai concentrate. The concentrate itself is perfectly in balance — mildly spicy, mildly sweet, never short in deliciousness. In celebration of Chico Chai's packaging makeover, I thought I'd create a little cocktail and raise a glass to Miss Sarah! Special thanks to my girl Alanna for introducing me to Nocino, a liquor derived from green walnuts, which gives this simple shaken cocktail a little something special! 

Chico Chai-cino

1/2 cup almond milk (I like Pacific brand unsweetened vanilla)
4 Tablespoons spiced rum
2 Tablespoons nocino liquor
2 Tablespoons Chico Chai Strong Brew chai concentrate
2 drops hazelnut OR almond extract
The tiniest pinch of sea salt (I like Jacobsen Salt Co.)

Combine all the ingredients together in a mason jar over a few cubes of ice (or even better, use crushed ice). Put the top onto the mason jar and shake like heck for a few seconds. Pour through a strainer into a fancy lady glass. Or for all y'all with cocktail shakers: you're smart, just use that ;) Note: minor separation will likely occur due to the nature of almond milk.

Makes two cocktails.

Thai Coconut Curry with Chickpeas + Cauliflower

I can't think of many meals more comforting than a creamy, dreamy coconut curry loaded with fresh veggies. After years of just winging it (I have an issue with following recipes, guys!), I've finally worked it out well enough to actually write down and share here. Miracle?!

One of the best things about this recipe is that you can swap out the veggies with whatever you've got on-hand or what's in season — for example, sometimes I use roasted sweet potatoes instead of chickpeas or switch out broccoli for cauliflower. The same goes for the toppings...if you don't have crushed peanuts, sprinkle some omega 3-packed hemp seeds, and if you don't have either one, try garnishing with some fresh chopped herbs. If you don't like tofu either simply leave it out or try another protein like sautéed tempeh or Quorn veg chicken chunks. Switching it up keeps it fresh and exciting for people like me that make it really often ;-)

Thai Coconut Curry with Chickpeas, Tofu + Cauliflower


  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, for sautéing
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, trimmed & quartered
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated (or you can use 2 tsp. powdered ginger when in a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (I recommend Spice Society)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • Splash of white wine, for deglazing
  • 1.5 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 Tablespoons white miso
  • 1 can diced tomatoes or 2 small fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (my all-time fav is this brand
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into small florets (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup baby kale or spinach, chopped (optional)
  • 1 8 oz. package (1 cup) extra firm tofu, drained and cut into small squares and sautéed in oil until crisp (I prefer Hodo braised tofu — no draining necessary!)
  • 1 lime, juiced (I use the Kaffir variety whenever possible as its scent and flavor are unmatched) 
  • Salt to taste (you'll likely need a lot more than you think...add little by little until you're happy with it!)
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked as bag instructs

Topping ideas:
Parsley or cilantro, chopped
Crushed peanuts
Hemp seeds


Prepare quinoa as the bag instructs and set aside. Warm coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Once melted, add chopped onion and carrot and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until it begins to brown. Add in chopped garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and all spices and cook a few minutes more. Pour in a bit of white wine (no more than a few tablespoons) — just enough to deglaze the pan and scrape all the browned goodness off the bottom of the pan. Add in the veggie stock and tomatoes and let mixture simmer for 15-30 minutes (longer is better).

Carefully remove the lemongrass stalks and transfer mixture into a Vitamix or blender and pulse until completely smooth. Transfer back into pot. [Note: Technically, you can skip this step if you prefer a lot of texture in your curry — in fact, the photos featured in this recipe were taken before I altered my recipe to include this step. It's insanely delicious either way, I've just found that I quite enjoy the upped creamy factor by Vitamix-ing at this point].

Add coconut milk, chili sauce, chickpeas, kale/spinach (if using) and continue to simmer over low heat. In a wok or nonstick cast iron pan, sauté diced tofu in a few tablespoons of high-heat safe oil (such as safflower or canola) until brown and crispy. Place tofu on paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil and add the cauliflower until desired texture is achieved (this depends on floret size, but it usually takes me about 5 minutes). Add the cauliflower, tofu, lime juice, white miso, and salt to taste. If the mixture is too thick for your liking, just add a little more veggie stock or water and up the spices accordingly — if you want it spicier, add Sriracha, or additional chili paste. At this point, you can really mold this recipe and make it you own!

Place quinoa into a bowl, cover with curry, and sprinkle with desired toppings. Serve hot with a lime wedge on the side and enjoy!

Grilled Asparagus + Tofu Summer Rolls

It's official...happy spring! In my opinion, there's no better way to welcome this vibrant time than cooking with oodles of bright, in-season veggies. As you may have gathered from my Instagram feed, this blog, and my portfolio, I'm pretty infatuated with fresh vegetables and I strive to practice and support the farm to table movement every day. 

Tofu side rant. I pretty much have a bowl of it marinating in my fridge at least once a week. It's a staple in my quick lunch stir-fries and salad bowls, and the perfect companion for burritos and thai peanut noodles. Don't worry, I've done my research on soy (here's a fairly comprehensive history via Bon Appetit from 2014) and it's perfectly fine to consume in moderation. In fact, it's been proven time and time again that soy actually decreases the risk of cancer and diabetes across the board in both men and women, and normal consumption could actually lower your cholesterol. I always choose organic non-GMO tofu — my favorite brands are Wildwood and Hodo. When prepared properly, tofu is easily one of the most delicious, protein-packed, and versatile readily available ingredients.

Okay, let's get down to business: I absolutely adore stuffing my face with summer rolls this time of year, but I make them very infrequently. Why? They're somewhat time-consuming, require a fair amount of ingredients, and mastering the rolling technique takes practice. All of this said, the hard work always pays off! Alanna and I set out to refine our current summer roll recipes and together managed to create possibly the best roll of my life! When our powers combine...

This recipe is just gorgeous — everything from the flavor-bomb marinade and dipping sauce to the perfectly grilled asparagus and tofu.

And the colors! Spring personified. 

When Alanna and I cook and shoot together, it's a true collaboration. Usually, one of us has an idea about a recipe we want to perfect...then we decide on ingredients, and tend to figure out assembly and technique along the way. It's all very organic (only like a little pun intended). We often play off of each others' style concepts or shot ideas and always utilize our collective hand modeling skills for one another! It's an inspiring creative process that surefire ends in consuming copious amounts of homemade food and at least one (or three) lady cocktails with a dear friend.

Guys. Big news. Because of this shoot, I can now effectively roll a summer roll like nobody's business! Exciting, no? Click through to Alanna's incredible blog, The Bojon Gourmet, for the recipe and more behind-the-scenes stories that make me laugh out loud.

Artist Spotlight: Mikey Kelly

When I lived in Orlando and worked in nonprofit arts, studio visits were second nature — I spent so much time with local artists learning about their crafts, watching them in action, and helping them learn more about available artist and project grants to apply for. Here in Napa, I've been focused on my clients in the food and wine realm, so art has taken a bit of a back seat. That said, there are a wealth of exciting, talented and vibrant artists here in the Napa Valley, and I'm very lucky to know a few of them. I recently visited the studio of my friend and neighbor Mikey Kelly located right in downtown Napa. His drawings and paintings are created through a repetitious network of hand drawn lines. The pieces are painstakingly beautiful and are extremely intriguing to see up-close and in-person! Sculptures, drawings, paintings, light fixtures: this guy does it all, and does it well. His many art forms are present within his warehouse-style workspace. Enjoy the tour!

Napa also offers a self-guided Open Studio Tour every September, where you can go check out dozens of local artists in their element. But some of these incredibly talented artists (like Mikey!) keep their studios open year-round by appointment only for guests to visit. Just a little nudge to scratch the surface in the Napa Valley – there's so much to see and do (before and after you eat and drink).

Visit Mikey's website or follow him on Instagram.

Sonoma Photo Adventure

Showing out-of-town friends around my home, the Napa Valley, has become second nature to me. But last week I decided it was about time to do a little exploring in neighboring Sonoma County! So in celebration of my gal Alanna submitting her final cookbook manuscript (pre-order here!), she came in from San Francisco along with her sweet friend Jessica, and off we went! Here's a little vignette of our day of photo adventuring whilst rocking our ever-present food (& wine) babies. Because let's face it: that's what you do in Wine Country. SO MUCH FOOD. ALL THE TIME.

First stop was the somewhat iconic Fremont Diner, who holds the title for my favorite chocolate malt around and also has delicious house-made pickles, pimiento cheese, and avocado toast. 

We did our fair share of gawking over the early spring blooms around Sonoma...

Then we were thirsty, so we decided to try out some sparkling wine on the porch of a castle. Yup, Domaine Carneros is a castle. Psssst...word to the wise: if you go here, ask to try their Ultra Brut Sparkling and Late Disgorged Brut Cuvee Sparkling — they're the two best, yet aren't offered within the standard tasting menu.

Then it was off to one of my most personally frequented spots around the 'hood, Scribe Winery, because any friend of mine simply needs to experience this view, their dry Riesling, and the amazing folks that make this winery a must-see experience in Sonoma.

And finally, we landed about 30 minutes up the road at the exceedingly charming Glen Ellen Star. Known for their woodfired vegetables and pizzas, I have three words for you: Tomato Cream Pie. Imagine the best creamy tomato soup you've ever had, but on top of a pizza and paired with fresh mozzarella. Of course this pizza is the one thing I didn't photograph (it got too dark, and we wanted to eat it too badly to snap anyway). Lucikly the vegetables, like the woodfired cauliflower with almonds and tahini, and the salads are equally as scrumptious and gorgeous.

Be sure to follow along on Instagram for my everyday adventures!