Faux Fancy Pear & Brie Puffs

05AE1CEA-A85A-467B-90D2-774EFF828F48Fancy is fun! Getting dolled up and sparkly is a welcomed rarity in the midst of my eat-cookie-butter-by-the-spoonful-in-my-stretchy-pants-and-Ugg-boots lifestyle. But fancy can also be draining. Glitz and glam don’t come free, y’all! Well, it’s the same with food. That’s why sneaky tricks that make gourmet food preparation easy and carefree are everything!

It’s faux fancy. And we don’t have to let anyone in on our dirty little secret.

I was invited to spend Christmas with my boyfriend’s practically professional chef of a mom. I helped the family unpack her newly renovated baker’s kitchen, and let me tell you, a kitchen that loaded belongs not to the shy of stove. These were high stakes, people, and I had to bring my A game. It was my opportunity to impress the panel with something really…well, fancy.

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But I had also just road-tripped after flying a tiring four-day while recovering from the flu to my mom’s very limited pantry (thanks for hosting us, Mommy!) for an extremely short and action-packed holiday weekend. There was much to be done, many to be seen, and not a heck of a lot of time to fit it all in.


Yule log with life-like merengue mushrooms, made by Darrel’s mom, the baking wizard


So while I was celebrating with my cousin’s family on Christmas Eve, we started looking through this great finger foods cookbook. Imagine, an entire book devoted to finger foods! Why hadn’t I thought of that?! Anyway, I came across a recipe for Goat Cheese and Apple Puff Pastry Tarts. I loved this concept. For starters, cheese and fruit is the perfect flavor combination. It’s salty and sweet, creamy and fresh. The two are so beautifully in sync, their partnership is both the envy and covet of all other food couples. Fruit and cheese is a fancy gourmet oeuvre that is laughably easy to prepare. Now set them atop a flaky, buttery pillow of puff pastry, and you’ve got yourself an impressive, yet effortless hors d’oeuvre. My mouth was watering just from thinking about the crispy crumbs.

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At that, I knew I wanted to take this recipe and customize it. My boyfriend loves pears, possibly more than he loves me. And I think Brie is the bees’ knees. Together, they are magical. I decided to round out the flavor of the tarts with the savory-sweet richness of honey-caramelized onions. And I finished it all off with aromatic fresh thyme. Thus was born the Faux Fancy Pear and Brie Puffs.

A funny thing about me is that I have no clue how to cook for small groups. It’s the whole army, or nothing. I assume it stems from my upbringing of watching my mom cook for a biggish family. Whatever the reason, I can’t seem to get it right. So, of course I made way too many tarts for our dainty little group. When I came to the door boasting two large baking sheets full of puffy, peary goodness, they got some good laughs in about my intimate-group-cooking shortcomings.

Well, guess who ate just about every last tart! You betcha. I took it as bona fide proof that this elementary recipe had big, grown-up flavor. Joke’s on them!

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Faux Fancy Pear and Brie Tarts


  • frozen puff pastry (2 sheets)
  • 10 oz. brie, sliced into 2 in squares
  • 2 pears
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. honey
  • Fresh thyme


  1. Coat the bottom of a pan with olive oil. Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally until deeply brown. About 45 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 415°. Cut each puff pastry sheet into 4 squares and then each square into quarters. Set slightly apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Place sliced brie atop the pastry.
  3. Slice the pear thinly and evenly into 2-3 inch pieces.
  4. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of caramelized onions over the brie. Then fan out a few slices of pear on top of that. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes until the puff pastry is cooked through and golden brown along the edges.
    IN ADVANCE: The pastry squares can be topped with the cheese, covered, and refrigerated over night. Slice the pear and top pastries just prior to baking.

New Beginnings


With the New Year comes a renewal of self. It’s a time of reflection, when we get to look back on the year (or years) past and make changes and commitments to become a better version of ourselves in the year ahead.

2017 was an incredible year for me. It was most definitely not without its struggles. But somehow through those challenges, I gained a lot of insight into my weaknesses and the strength I needed to overcome the obstacles that seemed to have become a pattern in my life.


From my newfound strength, I found new friendships, new love, and new experiences. I traveled more than I had in all the years since my studies abroad in Southeast Asia. I have built upon friendships that are dear to me. I have forged lasting relationships with good people I have met along the way. I have embraced my career for all the opportunities it presents to me and all the experiences that unfold in my life because of it.

But alas, I am still not perfect! It’s hard to imagine, I know. Jokes aside, though, I realized that in all the excitement of 2017, I lost track of something that makes me happy: writing. I got complacent with my time and energy by not carving out a place for my writing. I have cooked up many a storm, and I have shared many a meal with those I love across much of this world. But for some reason, I did not commit to sharing those experiences here.

The holiday season was when it really hit me. On several different occasions, I was confronted about the case of the lost food blog and where in the cyber world Whimsy Kitchen and it’s quirky posts they had once enjoyed following had ever vanished to. I was told of neighbors who had never met me and friends of friends who had loved my recipes and reading about what I had to say. In all honesty, I was a bit surprised at the inquisitions because I had always figured that my friends and family read my blog as a show of support. And hey, I’ll take all the support I can get! but I didn’t realize that people–strangers–actually enjoyed it.

So, after catching some feelings about it all over too much pie, too many spiked ciders, and a lot of quality time with my loved ones, I came to a decision–a Resolution, if you will. I resolve to take Whimsy Kitchen Seriously. I resolve to continue to cook and to continue to write about and share my experiences with you all right here.


So here’s to the New Year and a new beginning!




Flygirl Meal Prep

I’ve been flying for a year, and I’ve always packed my food pretty well. But, as of March 1st, I’m working my first line ever! For those of you who are unfamiliar with aviation lingo, that means that I am no longer working on an on-call basis, as I have a predetermined schedule to which I’ll abide for the month. This changes the game, big time, people! Now I know well in advance where I’ll be going and for how long I’ll be away. I know if any meals are provided in the hotels, or if there’s a favorite restaurant nearby that I want to visit. Most importantly, it means I have time to plan and prepare my meals ahead of time so I can eat like a bonafied tin can (airplane) QUEEN!

I took full advantage of the free day before my trip to cook up a storm, and I am so grateful now, as I happily–and healthily!–stuff my face in my layover hotel.


Healthy, hearty, well balanced menu for my four-day pairing (fancy flygirl speak for a trip).

•Spicy black bean and sweet potato rice bowls with jalapeño lime ranch.
•Moroccan carrot salad with dates and feta.
•Broccoli chicken mac n cheese.
•Hard boiled eggs
•Coconut almond overnight oats spiced with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, and honey.
•Cucumbers, blueberries, cilantro, apples, oranges, lemon, tortillas, red pepper dip, hummus, kombucha, tons of teas, and some soft licorice as a treat.
•Will be adding sliced turkey, chocolate chocolate muffin, cold brew coffees, and raw greens 🌱🥒🍏🦌


Sweet Potato Black Bean Bowls with Spicy Lime Ranch

Sweet Potatoes
  • 3 or 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2-1 t. paprika
  • salt to season
Black Beans
  • 2 cans black beans + their cooking liquid
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 2 t. lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (membranes/seeds make it spicier, so remove depending on preference)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
rice ‘n’ thangs
  • 3 c. cooked rice (I used multigrain, but you can use whatever you prefer, including quinoa)
  • 1/3 c. pepitas
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
  • roughly chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 c. feta cheese
Spicy lime ranch
  • 3/4 c. ranch dressing
  • 1/4 c. pickled jalapeños, finely minced
  • 2 t. lime juice
  • 1/4 t. paprika
  • (optional) 1-2 t. jalapeño juice, if you like your food to hurt a lil’ bit!
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss sweet potato cubes in olive oil, paprika, and salt. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper/silicone baking mat. Bake 35-40 min. Toss sweet potatoes half way through roasting. Set aside until ready to assemble. Cook your rice if you don’t have any already on hand.
  2. While sweet potatoes are cooking, add beans, onions, garlic, cumin, chili powder, jalapeños, and cilantro to a medium pot over medium heat. Bring to soft boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until ready to assemble rice bowls.
  3. Combine ranch dressing, jalapeños (and jalapeño juice if you choose), lime juice, and paprika.
  4. Once ready to assemble, remove beans from heat. Add lime juice to beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Assemble: Add rice, then beans with a slotted spoon, then sweet potatoes, then pepitas, feta, and dressing.