The Audrey Project

Confessions of the curious mind

I am safe and I am challenged. 

Deconstructing the inevitable

I woke up angry. First 3 words that popped in my head when the alarm went off, “Fuck this shit.”

Not the best way to start any morning, what more a Monday morning. So I stopped and asked myself: Why am I so angry? What’s driving this dread?

  1. I was cranky because I didn’t wake up well rested. 
  2. I knew I had a billion things that I needed to do and that people needed from me.
  3. I knew that my schedule is packed this week with no clue of when I was going to find time to do actual work. 

Trying something new in my attempt to not walk around angry and feeling helpless all week. 

  1. Let’s try to go to bed earlier (10pm gasp!) and wake up earlier (let’s try 5.40am and see how we feel about it)
  2. Make a list. What’s urgent & important? What can be reasonably and humanly completed this week? Draw a line. Say no or some things will just have to wait. 
  3. Schedule time to (a) review your day (b) answer emails & identify which ones need to be added to the list vs which ones will have to wait. Do not reply to all emails. 

Let’s see how this goes. One week. 



    Fluffy coconut flour pancakes with bananas & strawberries


    Tired of eggs for breakfast and craving something warm and fluffy and healthy? I love this fluffy banana and coconut flour pancakes. Yes, yes, I know there are still eggs in this recipe but you won’t even notice it’s there.

    This recipe is paleo-friendly! And if you’re like me, where you believe in little rewards throughout your Whole 30 diet, then this is Whole 30 “friendly” too and this makes for a satisfying breakfast while staying away from sugar and gluten!

    Makes approximately 6-7 three-inch pancakes


    Pancake Batter

    • 4 eggs
    • 1/4 coconut milk (substitution options: regular milk or almond milk)
    • 3 tbsp coconut oil (substitution option: vegetable oil or apple sauce)
    • ¼ cup coconut flour
    • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    • Butter or oil to grease pan

    To make it vegan: Substitute 1 egg with 1/4 applesauce; in total 1 cup of applesauce for this recipe. I used Earth Balance vegan butter to grease my pan because who doesn’t love butter! Note that I haven’t tried the apple sauce substitution, so if  you do, tell me how it turned out and make sure you keep the coconut/veggie oil otherwise your pancake mix is going to be too runny.

    Pancake Toppings

    • 2 banana sliced; you can also add blueberries or strawberries
    • Lemon zest for topping
    • Maple syrup for topping (optional)


    1. Beat eggs, coconut milk and coconut oil together.
    2. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients of coconut flour, baking powder and sea salt.
    3. Add dry ingredients to the egg mix. Mix together until pancake batter is smooth with no lumps.
    4. Grease your skillet or pan with butter or oil. Use about 3 heaped tablespoons of batter for each pancake if you’re stickler for even sized pancakes like me!
    5. Cook on medium to low heat, about 3-4 minutes per side before you flip it. I usually do the lift and peek test. Sneak your spatula under a pancake and if you see a beautiful light brown on your pancakes, flip!
    6. Your pancakes are ready! Shower your pancakes with your favorite toppings and some lemon zest on top — trust me, it totally uplevels your pancake game.
    7. Here’s a tip: I love bananas for my topping because it gives the pancakes a natural sweetness. If you don’t like bananas, add 1 tbsp of coconut or brown sugar to your pancake batter.

    For the love of the bake

    I love to bake. And I approach baking the way I approach most things in life — with at polar spectrums. I love carrot cakes because it’s fuss-free (except for shredding carrots; yes, I’m fully aware that I can buy pre-shredded carrots but where’s the fun in that?) and likelihood of failure is super low. I also love macarons — the French ones mind you — which are beautiful little bites that are notoriously finicky and take a ton of patience.

    Even when work was stressful or boring, the smell of freshly baked flour, sugar & eggs always gave me a sense of joy. Now that I’m taking some time off work to find my center and figure stuff out, I find myself gravitating even more to the art of baking. If I had an endless expense account and a waistline that never expanded, I would bake everyday. Since I can’t afford pastry school right now, next best thing? Learn the old school way — Youtube videos! Just kidding. I love my books and there’s nothing like touching, smelling and reading a heavy cookbook around the kitchen. Here are my top picks — I’m on the waitlist for some of these at my local Oakland library and since I’m watching my spending, I have Pierre Hermé Macaron sitting in my Amazon cart.


    From top, L-R:

    Pierre Hermé Macaron: The Ultimate Recipes from the Master Patissier

    I have to confess — when I was in Paris, I preferred Laduree’s macarons to Pierre Hermé. But thinking about it, it wasn’t a fair comparison because I had Laduree’s at the store, immediately after we ordered it; while I had Pierre Hermé after it had been in my bag for a few hours and it was a little squishy. I’m really annoyed that there are no Pierre Hermé boutiques in the U.S. while there are a ton in Asia — 14 in Japan (mind-blowing!), two in Hong Kong, one in Macau and one in Bangkok! What’s interesting is that reading a few blogs about the book, it sounds like it uses the Italian meringue method instead of the French and I’ve only tried the French method. This calls for some experimenting this week! Also, the reason why I didn’t include Ladurée Macarons even though the book looks gorgeous is because the reviews on the book aren’t great.

    The Art of French Pastry

    I generally try to avoid cookbooks that are text-heavy or ones that focus too much on photos and not much on illustrations of technique. Flipped through this book on Amazon and liked how it gives a home baker like me some good foundational skills and tips but not going overboard into the professional pâtissier realm. The book is by Jacquy Pfeiffer, cofounder of the French Pastry School in Chicago, can’t go wrong there.

    Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere

    Dorie Greenspan kept coming up in my search for baking and pastry cookbooks and that’s no surprise because she’s co-authored cookbooks with the likes of Pierre Hermé, Daniel Boulud and Julia Child, so it’s no surprise that Dorie’s books on the must-have list of most chefs.  I chose this book instead of “Baking: From My Home To Yours” (November 2006) because it was newer (published October 2014) and well, the cake on the cover won me over. Mmm, chocolate.

    Bouchon Bakery

    This one’s on my list because The French Laundry is on my list of restaurants that I have to try, even though some friends have commented that the four to five hour experience is a little overpriced and stuffy.

    Baking Illustrated and The Baking Bible

    I’ve had success and rave reviews with every recipe that I’ve tried from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooks Illustrated magazines. While I wasn’t a fan of their “Cooking Fresh” compilation, our copy of “Guide to Grilling and Barbecue” gets thumbed through everytime summer comes around. If you love reading about the science of food and handy tips, this one’s for you.

    The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum is another book that appeared on a lot of must-have lists recommended by chefs. And I can’t say no to a book that with that cover! You can almost smell the butter in between each flaky layer.


    The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry and Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft

    These are my “something to aspire to” books. Not surprising considering one of the books is from The Culinary Institute of America. A ton of theory, a ton of detail and not for the fainthearted home baker. It’s heavy reading for sure and something that I will attempt one day, just not today.


    Best Lasagna Ever


    Love this recipe from Cooks Illustrated. Hands down, one of the best lasagna recipe ever. Tried & true and tastes great, even with all the random adjustments I’ve made along the way. Below is the original recipe from America Test Kitchen and here is a PDF of the magazine pages, as it includes step-by-step photos illustrating how to the goodness all comes together — lasagna ingredients assemble!

    Several adjustments I’ve made to make it my own:

    • Replace heavy cream with whole milk
    • Used fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes
    • Added diced carrots to add more veggie to my meals

    COOKS ILLUSTRATED Simple Lasagna with Hearty Tomato Meat Sauce

    Serves 6 to 8


    Tomato-Meat Sauce

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
    • 6 medium cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press or minced (about 2 tablespoons)
    • 1 pound meatloaf mix or 1/3 pound each ground beef chuck, ground veal, and ground pork (see note*)
    • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
    • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes , drained

    *Note: If you can’t find meatloaf mixture for the sauce, or if you choose not to eat veal, substitute 1/2 pound ground beef and 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, for the meatloaf mixture.

    Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Pasta Layers

    • 15 ounces ricotta cheese (whole milk or part skim) (1 3/4 cups)
    • 2 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/4 cups)
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
    • 1 large egg , lightly beaten
    • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles from one 8- or 9-ounce package
    • 16 ounces whole milk mozzarella, shredded (4 cups)


    1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add ground meats, salt, and pepper; cook, breaking meat into small pieces with wooden spoon, until meat loses its raw color but has not browned, about 4 minutes. Add cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and only fat remains, about 4 minutes. Add pureed and drained diced tomatoes and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low and simmer slowly until flavors are blended, about 3 minutes; set sauce aside. (Sauce can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days; reheat before assembling lasagna.)
    3. Mix ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, basil, egg, salt, and pepper in medium bowl with fork until well-combined and creamy; set aside.
    4. Assemble first lasagna layer according to illustrations below. Repeat layering of noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and sauce two more times. Place 3 remaining noodles on top of sauce, spread remaining sauce over noodles, sprinkle with remaining cup mozzarella, then with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Lightly spray a large sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna. Bake 15 minutes, then remove foil. Return lasagna to oven and continue to bake until cheese is spotty brown and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes longer. Cool lasagna about 10 minutes; cut into pieces and serve.

    STEP-BY-STEP Assembling Lasagna

    1. Smear entire bottom of 9- by 13-inch baking dish with 1/4 cup meat sauce. Place 3 noodles on top of sauce.
    2. Drop 3 tablespoons ricotta mixture down center of each noodle. Level by pressing flat with back of measuring spoon.
    3. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup shredded mozzarella.
    4. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce evenly over cheese.


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