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When I was 14 I prepared Christmas dinner for my brothers, my dad and I. My dad agreed to let me cook every dish I wanted to experiment with and took me out grocery shopping the day of Christmas Eve. My years of watching food network would finally pay off and I would have the kitchen all to myself. So naturally, in good Portuguese fashion, I made way too much and we all ate WAY too much.

This experience was important because it helped me realize my love for menu planning, and I found out I was actually good at it. When others enjoy the food I am preparing it is the ultimate reward, and this experience had me hooked.

Every year I have at least 1 potluck and my aim is always to make the dish that EVERYBODY is talking about. So I channel my inner 14-year-old Shandra and get cooking.

Recently, I made an Heirloom Carrot Tart with high hopes, and it did not disappoint. Fresh and colorful heirloom carrots and shallots are sautéed until sweet and tender, scattered across a buttery puff pastry and a creamy ricotta base and finished off with festive thyme. There is a vegan version as well that I have posted and it too is so, so tasty.

I hope you guys are finding your holiday celebrations as exciting as I am. If you are looking for advice on what to bring, or questions on how to cook a particular dish don’t hesitate, just comment below!

Enjoy your weekend everybody!

Heirloom Carrot Tart

1 Medium shallot, thinly sliced

6 different color (orange, white, purple, red) heirloom carrots, scrubbed, thinly sliced into coins (mandolins work best for the job)

2 c ricotta cheese

1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder

1 Teaspoon Sugar

1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

1 tbsp fresh thyme

1 egg


Preheat oven to 400 f.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and cook, tossing occasionally, 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Prepare the cream filling by mixing ricotta, garlic and onion powder, sugar, sea salt.

Spread cream filling on top of puff pastry, leaving a 2-inch margin. Place sautéed carrots and shallots on top, and then sprinkle with fresh thyme. Mix egg until well combined, brush margin of pastry with egg wash. Place in oven, uncovered and bake for 12-15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.