Hi Friends, this Summer I created some new work for Chandler Art Museum. This show was such an honor to be apart of, and if your local go see it in person! If not enjoy the images below. (To see these photographs in person, they will be up at chandler art museum until October 31st, 2019.)

TITLE CARD: "Beautiful Insects"
2019 Digital Color Prints

“Insects are typically disgusting, and we work hard to eliminate them. This piece draws on the idea of looking at nature in a different light. Instead, inviting these insects into the picture again. “



beautiful insects still life

beautiful insects still life


These past five weeks I immersed myself into a Baking Class, the idea being I wanted to learn more. But ultimately, face my fear of cooking school. Shamelessly, I have to admit I had this whole Julia Child Movie moment in my head, classrooms that are light and Airy with inspiration everywhere. This was far from the case.

The Culinary program at scottsdale community college, isn’t a “sparkly”setting. More lackluster, the room is small, filled with 6 working stations to host pairs of two, the equipment is scarce, and the kitchenaid mixers are run down. There is even a cockroach scurrying across the floor that has decided to flee the building because it would rather be somewhere else.

Enter my first day, I walk in I’m right on time 5pm sharp. It seems everyone has already arrived and set up, I baffled. I take note and realize on time actually means 15 min early. The teacher or CHEF, starts talking, telling us “we are diving right in First Mise en Place and then please DON’T start baking”. Everyone scurries to the shelves and I’m left standing there, dumbfounded. Already feeling behind, I tell myself to Focus! What is the girl next to me doing? DO the same, I tell myself to do the same. So, I go follow. With containers and digital scales in our hands we come back to the station, I turn to the girl next to me and ask “what the F is Mise en Place” ? “Everything in Place, she says”. Using her hands she waves them at her already weighed ingredients for the cream scones we were making. I hadn’t even started. I turn my scale on, it doesnt work. I go to get another one, they are all gone. Fuck. I take another breath, but somehow manage to calm myself. Savanah my teammate kindly offers hers when she is finished and we actually SCALE the rest of the items together. THANK GOD.

The rest of the class is smooth, but I realize It's been years since working in a bakery setting, or coffee shop and I can’t quite remember how to set up the 3 part sink but try hard to ignite the thought stored deep in my brain. Class consists of 4.5 hours of hands on baking, as well as rolling up your sleeves and doing mundane things like cleaning dishes, floors and equipment. Chef, makes the small unglamours room feel Big, Bright and full of life. Half way through class I’ve forgotten about the coacroah and found myself well on my way to scaling baking and having the time of my life! Once I realize that the fears of this class have subsided, I take a big deep breath and press on.

Below I have included the CIA ( Culinary institute of America’s Pie dough and apple pie we made in class!) Happy Baking friends,

x Nicole


PIE 2small.jpg


3-2 -1 PIE DOUGH


  • 3 lbs All purpose flour
  • 1 oz Salt
  • 2 lbs Butter, cut into pieces, chilled
  • 1 lb Cold Water



  1. Combine the flour and salt in a electric mixer (like a kitchenaid). Add the butter and blend with the paddle attachment on medium speed until pea size nuggets form, about 3 min. For flaky dough, you are looking for ½ to ¾ inch pieces of butter. For mealy dough you are looking for almost a coarse cornmeal consistency. Add the water all at once and continue to mix until the dough just comes together.

  2. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling. ( the dough can be held under refrigeration for three days or frozen.



Apple Pie Makes one 9inch pie

6 to 8 apples, peeled and cut into 1/4inch slices
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt Egg wash (1 egg to 1 tablespoon milk, beaten)
Coarse sugar, as needed


  1. Prepare crust using the All Butter Double-Crust, bottom crust fitted in pie pan and chilled, top crust rolled out into a 11-inch round.

  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and set the rack in the lowest position. Using a pastry wheel, cut twelve 1-inch-wide strips of dough from the top crust. Set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Toss to combine. Immediately layer the apples in the prepared bottom crust, arranging and pressing them to eliminate gaps and air pockets.

  4. For the decorative top crust, watch THIS LINK step-by-step techniques to prepare.

  5. Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle liberally with coarse sugar.

  6. Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pie and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue baking until bubbly, 60 to 70 minutes more. Remove the pie from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Let cool for 2 to 3 hours. The filling will continue to thicken and set as the pie cools.




Spring and Summer are my favorite times to eat fish. But I really could eat seafood everyday all year round. Lately, I've been into fresh, easy and fast. This wild alaskan salmon dish checks all the boxes and it’s so easy you can cook it with your eyes closed. Well maybe you might want them open? Either way let’s get cooking!

easy baked fish recipe

Serves 4-6 people

Ingredients: **

4-6 WILD ALASKAN SALMON Fillets (please no farmed fish)
1 bulb of fresh fennel
2 blood oranges
2 full garlic bulbs
Pink Salt + Fresh Ground Pepper

COOKING TOOLS: oven, Non-toxic metal sheet pan, paper towels and prep plate, chef knife and cutting board.


1.PREHEAT the Oven to 325 degrees.
2.Grab your prep plate, take 2 sheets of paper towels and place on the plate. Gently, clean your salmon fillets, pat dry and place on top of the paper towels.
3.While they hang out slice your blood oranges, and cut the end of your bulb of fennel off. Set Aside. (TIP:The bulb can be cut up and eaten or saved for later.) Once dried place your salmon fillets on top of the sheet pan, drizzle with MCT OIL. Sprinkle Pink salt + Fresh ground pepper on top. Place one slice of Blood orange on each fillet. Then gently pick apart the fennel and place on top of the orange. Take the remainder of the Fennel and place next to the Salmon. Last, take your bulb of garlic and place on the pan. (You can break it apart a little too. )

4.Bake for 15-20 min. It's done when SALMONS flakes to touch of fork in the thickest part of the fillet.

TIPS: If you can’t afford wild alaskan salmon, you can replace it with mahi mahi, wild cod or anything for that matter. To Serve the salmon with a summer salad, white rice, or even boiled potatoes topped with butter. Our favorite way to have it is paired with seaweed and white rice! Enjoy!

-Cheers Nicole x


Name *



Hello Friends,

Sometimes the best recipes stem from only what is stocked in the fridge at the moment. You know, when it gets bare and you can’t bring yourself to do another weekly shop. As my kids are growing it seems I am constantly running out of food! So we barely have leftovers, but I do have staple ingredients lying around. Garlic, ginger root, onions, carrots, celery, fresh herbs, always cilantro and basil. In the pantry, canned beans, tomatoes, chicken bone broth and veggie broth stock the shelves. That way when I am in a pinch, I can easily throw something in a pot and walk away, while I  to tend to the chaos of after school activities. Inspired by the classic the many leftovers in the fridge after hosting our first “classic” thanksgiving meal a beautiful hearty soup was born.

Leftover Chicken Soup Recipe


2 cooked Cornish Hens (or 1 fully roasted chicken)

2 sweet onions

4 celery stalks

2 carrots (I used my roasted carrots from the night before!)

2 cloves garlic

Fresh Ginger (about half the size of your pinky finger)

2 - 16 oz chicken bone broth (free range organic is my preference, I like Pacific Brand or you can make your own stock) White wine (you actually like to drink, I love Sauvignon blanc)

2 cans of cannellini beans (eden brand is great, they pressure cook and Soak them, so they are great on your digestive system)

2 -3 cups of fully cooked mixed potatoes, Japanese sweet, white, red… you get it! (roasted from night before, or boiled then add them to the pot, don’t add raw potatoes to your soup, it will soak up all your broth)


1 bay leaf

fennel leaves

fresh oregano, thyme leaves, sage, rosemary


Fresh ground pepper

Other things you may need:

Olive Oil, or avocado oil for frying your veg

1 large stock pot, with wide bottom (Dutch oven work great too)

1 wooden spoon

Chef’s knife

Cutting board


First chop all your onions, carrots, celery, place in one bowl set aside. Take two garlic cloves with the peel on, place one on your board and with your knife smash down, take off the peel and set aside the garlic. Repeat.

Place your stock pot on the stove, turn on the stove to medium-high heat add in your Avocado oil, when its good and hot add in your onion carrots and celery mixture to the stock pot. Then add in salt and pepper to taste, (small amounts at a time here if you aren’t experienced). Add in your whole garlic. Then Add in ½ cup of wine while the pot is good and hot, then bring the stove down to medium heat. Cook until the onions are clear, then add in both smashed garlic cloves. While that is making magic, roughly chop your herbs and add those to the pot. If things are good and cooked, turn the heat to low.

TIP: Be sure to stir your saute every few min so it will not burn, I like to feel things out when cooking, smell also helps so be sure to use your senses as a guide in the process!

Pull apart the chicken meat and bones, add them to the pot, and set aside the carcass for other use or discard altogether.

Open your cannellini beans, thoroughly rinse and drain beans and put them in the pot. Add in the fully cooked potatoes from last night's roast, ( or pre boiled potatoes). Cut about 1 inch long of fresh ginger root, toss this into the pot whole. Add in your Bay leaf as well.

Give everything a good stir, turn your heat up to high, now it’s time to to add in the bone broth to the stock pot. Let it boil for 5 min on high, when you see it bubbling, give it a good stir and bring your heat down to low and let simmer for min of 45 min - 12 hours depending on when you will be eating. The longer it sits the more time the flavors have to melt into each other. After the 45 min on low heat, you can taste if it needs more herbs, salt or pepper.

Serve with crusty bread and salad to make a glorious dinner!




green smoothie recipe

Healing your gut || 

Hi Friends, 

These last few years I’ve been on this rollercoaster journey to heal my body from its “autoimmune attacking nonsense”. No longer will I use the terms, “My body is attaching itself”, as this just gives it too much power. Instead I’ve chosen to change my language to “Your body has the power to heal itself”. Honestly, it wasn’t until these last few months that I actually believed it, in my heart, mind, and soul. It also wasn’t until I adopted that mantra I started to see real results, now I’m in the process of fine-tuning my health for good.

Currently I’m reading “ The plant paradox by Dr. Stephan Gundry. In this book he talks about how the good foods aren’t really good” and the real medicine to heal autoimmune disorders (and desires) some forms of cancer, dementia, are through a different approach. Its not just about throwing pills at your system, but going to the root, healing your gut! Your gut has the power. He also educates you about lectin's and how they affect your body, and if you choose to eat them, how to prepare them differently to easily digest. It’s pretty mind blowing! (Well at least a Nerd like me thinks so).

When it comes to the diet part of the book now it’s a pretty “extreme” regimen. For myself I was at the point where I was doing most of it. For others if you are on more of a traditional diet, but looking for answers on how to improve your health, it’s really worth it to give it a shot. I cut my inflammation in half the first 3 days I started. As of 3 weeks now I have been NAISD and Allergy medicine free. (I was on Allegra D and taking over the counter pain meds for my extreme periods). And if you know me, I wasn’t really functioning without them either. Instead I switched to supplements like turmeric + stinging nettle for allergies and inflammation. Which aren’t putting holes in my gut like those NAISDS. Did you know that just taking one just one over the counter pain pill is like swallowing a grenade, and then it explodes and puts tiny holes in the walls and lining of your stomach! Crazy, so instead of fixing your pain you are actually making it worse.  (Same goes for antibiotics, that’s a blog post for another day)

For the first time I feel like its working. It hasn’t been easy, but I have this strength inside that tells me to keep going, it’s all worth it. See, the best part is you just are you. Do what you have to do to be the best version of yourself. For me right now, it’s trying new weird, Zen things to get my body + mind to connect to each other to feel good. That might be different for you. It’s about works for your body, and you are the only one steering that ship. With brainpower + food who knew that combination could actually work? (AND IT DOES)! I’m excited about the new gumption I have been feeling, and I hope you find yours too.

Thanks for listening. Below is a recipe for Green Smoothie from “The Plant Paradox”, by Dr. Steven Gundry, MD.

Cheers!   - Nicole

Green Smoothie recipe | Cleansing | detox


1 cup chopped romaine lettuce

½ cup baby spinach

1 mint spring – with stem

½ avocado

4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon

3-6 drops stevia extract

¼ cup ice cubes

1 cup filtered or tap water

TIP: add spoonful of moonjuice probiotics for extra kick, or vital reds to the smoothie.


Place all of the ingredients into a high powered blender( if you have a Vitamix thumbs up, a magic bullet should work too). Blend on high until smooth and fluffy. If its thick add 1 tablespoon of water blend and repeat until thinner.

You can store for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Green Smoothie Recipe

easy granola and vegan whipped cream recipe

Lets chat about business. I want to be real for a min as well; it’s not as easy as everyone says it is. Its one big game, even if you are prepared for the test.  Business is a bitch.

Sometimes I find myself having a clear direction and path, along with creative ideas energy, then I get in the way of myself.

I get insecure, I want approval, and I have a hard time jumping into my ideas because of the things that happened in the past. (Which I am working on not doing.) Do you know what I mean? By getting in the way of yourself? 

For the last 2 weeks I have been on what I like to call a creative high. Upward spirals, downward spirals, and so many “great” ideas my head may burst into a thousand tiny pieces. I want to get them all done, right now, at this moment, I cant seem to get the pen to paper fast enough, I’m brilliant. And then not….

So I say farewell to insecurity, and would like to say I’m diving off the board, into the deep end. Sink or swim, Join me on this ride?


Vegan Whipped Cream


2 Cans full fat organic coconut (chilled in refrigerator the night before)

About ½ cup of organic confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

An electric mixer, or kitchen aid with a whisk attachment and metal bowl


Fill your metal bowl with ice, dump out after about a minute. Open your coconut milk, the fat and liquid should be separated, at this point dump the liquid in a jar and save for later. (you could make coconut water or use for a sauce) Take the coconut fat and place in the bowl, then add in the vanilla paste,  and the powdered sugar. Turn your machine on low for about 1 min then speed it up for about 2-3 min. You want to get a lot of air in there to get it nice and fluffy.

Once you see the consistence change into airy and light , you have your vegan whipped cream. (Taste it to see if it needs more sugar. )

Gluten free Granola:

Ingredients :

¾ cup avocado oil

6 cups old fashioned gluten free rolled oats

1/3 cup honey or coconut sugar

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 cup chopped roasted almonds

1 pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a large baking dish or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together; oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla paste and salt. Once this has mixed add in the oats, nuts, and cinnamon, stir all together until combined.

Then place evenly spread the mixture onto your lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-35 min or until golden brown. When finished, cool for about an hour, then break apart into chunks.  This can be stored up to 2 weeks (if it lasts that long!)

Cheers Friends - Nicole 





Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches

How to make an ice cream sandwich Part 2


Gluten / Dairy Free Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies


2 Vegan Baking butter sticks

2 Cups brown sugar

2 Room temp. Eggs

1 ¾ cups Gluten Free Flour

2/3-cup Raw Cocoa Powder

2 teaspoons Baking Soda

5 Ounces Finely Chopped Good quality Dark Chocolate bars

1 cup Peanut Butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla


In a large bowl, or kitchen aid mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs. You will know when it is done because the mixture will be fluffy and airy.

Next add in baking soda, gluten free flour, and cocoa powder until combine. Add in your peanut butter and chopped chocolate.

Cover the dough with airtight seal, such as plastic wrap or a container. Let sit in fridge for 1 hour or up to the next day.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with Parchment paper. Place about one tablespoon of dough onto the baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 min, turning your cookie sheet halfway through bake time.


To make the Ice Cream Sandwich:

½ pint or pint of vanilla bean ice cream(make your own, or choose your favorite store bought)

6-12 gluten free chocolate peanut butter cookies


Ice cream scoop

Take your cooled cookies facing down, spread ice cream layer on each side. Then smash together. Cover with plastic wrap and store in freezer. Repeat until all the cookies are gone!


Hipster Affogato Recipe : Coffee with Ice Cream, Nicole Lee

Some may say my obsession with Coffee is only because I am a millennial. Or I’m a hipster. All we do is sit in coffee shops and waste away our days. Now I think people have our generation all wrong, we appreciate things, where they came from, how they are made, how they taste so on. We want to slow down and take in life and not let it pass us by. 

I would also politely disagree that my obsession with coffee began when I was a young girl. My Italian Heritage didn’t spare me that, growing up around the kitchen table coffee was served morning noon and night. Fresh espresso, served straight up, with desserts to follow. Usually my mother would give my sister and I a cup filled with milk and a splash of coffee in it. I was probably 7. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. As I got older my passion for coffee grew stronger, I feel deeply in love with coffee, the way the beans were roasted, the process of making a French press, how some blends tasted different than others. I learned how Folgers coffee is in fact different than fresh roasted beans! If you cant tell I am sorry for your palate.  Naturally I spent most of my teens, into adulthood working at coffee shops.  (I am pure dork for sure).

As of late I have been on the hunt for a new local coffee spot here in Arizona, Starbucks has me thoroughly disappointed because although I understand what Howard Shultz is doing for his business I feel that’s it is becoming more like McDonalds. He is killing me.

Recently I found, Cartel Coffee Lab, which is of course filled with hipsters and even I feel out of place when I first stepped in. It wasn’t until I got some guts and asked the girl taking my order how to make my shots of espresso not taste so acid? She told me how to order my drink, gave me some knowledge, (which was great, my drink was perfect. I was hooked! Now, I spend my days contemplating driving a half hour each way to get my fix? Worth, it? Yes. I promise. Anyway I am really off on a tangent, you have probably skipped over to the photos by now. (I don’t blame you; I’m joking if you can’t tell.)

When I am not out enjoying a coffee, I have been making a lot of coffee at home. French press of course, (note to self: I need to invest in a pour over).  Occasionally I will add in some of my vanilla bean ice cream to change things up, it’s so good.

Some refer to this as an Affogato (“Drowned”) the Italian term.

You take a scoop of vanilla ice cream or gelato and place it in the cup, and pour a shot of hot espresso over it (espresso not expresso!).  If you don’t have espresso you can just use a French press. I thought I would share a simple recipe and some images I took to inspire you to make your own Affogto at home! It will change your world.

To make a simple Affogato:


-French Press coffee maker; pour over coffee maker, or Stovetop Espresso maker works great. If you are privileged enough and have a fancy set up that works well too.

-Fresh ground coffee beans, Espresso blend, or your favorite brew. (The stronger the better in my opinion)

- Vanilla ice Cream (dairy free, or regular works either or)

- Boiled water

-Espresso cups (these are smaller than regular coffee cups because of the portions) you wont be making a huge cup of coffee here, think portion control at its finest)


-French Press: You would take 2 tablespoons of ground coffee beans and place in the bottom of your press, once the water is boiled pour on top of the grounds fill with water to the fill line. Set the lid on top without pressing it down. Set timer for 4 min, once it goes off, push down your press and its done.

-Stovetop Espresso Maker – this is a two-part contraption depending on your model. Take it apart; fill the bottom half with water. Then there should be a little basket fill that with ground espresso beans, leave a little room because you will be screwing it back together. Then place on the stovetop and put the maker on high heat, once it starts boiling and whistling the coffee is done.

(Also see your user manual it will give you proper instructions)

Then get your ice cream fill the espresso cup with a scoop of ice cream, pour over the hot espresso and serve immediately!


-Cheers, - N


Works sited :

An Affogato (Italian, "drowned") is a coffee-based dessert. It usually takes the form of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso

Starbucks : 


Cartel Coffee

Espresso maker 

Pour Over

French press


Recipe: Building a Cheese board 101

Lets chat about cheese. Interestingly enough I am allergic to dairy, a devastating discovery I was in denial about for the first 26 years of my life. Until I found an allergist, what he explained to me was astounding. You crave what you are allergic to. What? Really? No way! I love Cheese, Butter and all things dairy. I love the creaminess, I love the way it makes a dish savory, or adding a pat of grass-fed butter to olive oil in the sauté pan and watching it do a magical dance to the vegetables I am cooking.

Now cheese does not equally feel the same about me, as it gives me chronic migraines, ear infections, sinus infections, brain fog and well the list goes on. Since my discovery of my dairy allergy I have given up dairy completely. Much to my surprise life has been smooth sailing without it. These days I find myself entertaining with Cheese instead of eating it, channeling my inner love of it towards others instead. Making cheese plates is a great communal food, conversation food most of all its an easy thing to throw together for any occasion. When it comes to putting together a cheese plate there are basics to follow, but you don’t have to be rigid about putting something amazing together!  

Cheese board Building 101: building your board

So we don’t over complicate things I will simply stick with the basics here. This will be a simple single cheese board with 3 cheeses, for about 2-4 people. If you have more guests and are having a dinner for a party of 6- 8 people I would just simply do the same for one more board of 3 cheeses, or one more with 5 cheeses. It really depends on if you will be serving other food later in the evening. Sticking to 3 to 5 cheeses keeps it simple and doesn’t overwhelm anyone.

Materials and Ingredients:

-Wood, Slate or Marble cheese boards. 

(Note: Sticking to these surfaces makes the food look lively and appealing.)

3 – 5 Different Cheeses, a Goat, a Sheep and a Cow

(note: these could consist of: sheep Brie, grass-fed cow cheddar, and soft goat chevre. Or if you are unable to find a mix of GOAT –SHEEP- COW, stick with a regional theme. You could get All Irish cheeses, French cheeses, or an assortment of local cheeses. Remember their aren’t any “rules” and whatever you choose will be great!

-Layering items: Fig Jams, Raw Honey, or even fresh preserves. Salted nuts, Olives, or Other antipasti like cured meats or wild Alaskan smoked salmon items work well. Fresh berries, or seasonal fruit is a nice touch.

 (Note: The key here is use what you have in the fridge first, then hit the store.)

1 loaf of Bread, or Crackers or both:

(note: Sourdough, French Baggett’s or Country loaf bread. Hearty Crackers such as Mary’s superseed (which are gluten free). Water crackers or artisan crackers are a nice touch.

Mix of Red/ White Wines and Beer:

(Note: handy staples; French Pinot Noir, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and either Prosecco or a bubbly Rose’. These are all easy sipping wines that aren’t too heavy or light. There is no need to fuss over the perfect pairing wine, just grab your favorites. Or even encourage your friends to bring their favorite to share! Beer: Local brew, or Stella Artois is always a hit.)

Extras: Cheese knifes, table cards with cheese labels on them, Pellegrino (sparkling water), basil or mint herbs to garnish.

Directions; Building a cheese board

Take your cheeses and place them on the plate. Assort them a few inches apart from each other. Then add in your honey or jam. Place your berries, nuts, garnish around the cheeses, mostly to one side of the plate, most people place these items to one side, because people are cutting their cheese in the other direction. Then place cards of the names of the cheeses around them, you can add your olives or meats to the same board or in bowls next to it. I usually try to make the board so full that its almost running off the board, or you could do the opposite and do it really simple and minimal. Either way I try to add a garnish to give it some color!

cheese boards how to

Final Notes:

When picking out your cheese, head to places like Trader Joes. If you are on a budget, you can get your whole spread their for under 100; including wine, bread, crackers, cheese and so fourth. If you aren’t on a tight budget head to a local cheese market or even whole foods, they tend to have a larger section to choose from. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions! There are lots of friendly people there to help you along your way. Good Luck Friends, happy entertaining!


sources : 

(This is not a sponsored post )

Mary's Gone Crackers :

trader joes :

whole foods :