garlic herb garden pizza



  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 2 tsp of active yeast
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dry basil
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp of oil


  • Calaloo (aka spinach) $200 GYD/bundle
  • Tomatoes (sliced) $100 GYD/bag of 4
  • Sweet Peppers (diced)  $100 GYD/bag of 4
  • Pineapple (diced) Currently 3 for $500 GYD
  • Shredded cheese $660 GYD/lb
  • Marinara Sauce (homemade or pre-made)


  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour + oil + garlic + herbs + water w/ yeast. I usually leave the yeast in the warm water for a minute before adding to the dough mixture.
  2. Dough should be soft. If it is too moist, add a little bit of flour until the dough is less sticky.
  3. While the oven is pre-heating at 450F, roll out the dough. Sprinkle flour on top as you go to roll them out easier. I like thin-crust pizza’s so I cut my dough into three and rolled each out to about 8 inches.
  4. Chip and put all your toppings on.
  5. Bake in the over for about 15 to 20 minutes.

I catch myself missing food from home like thin crust pizza with stringy mozzarella cheese that melts in your mouth and yummy toppings that fall of the sides with every bite. But thankfully, I’m still able to make a lot of my favorite foods here in Guyana. It’s been fun challenging myself to try new recipes on limited resources. It takes a little creativity and some budgeting, but I get the job done.

Pizza isn’t hard to find in Guyana if you live on the coast. If you don’t go to Pizza Hut or Mario’s, your Guyanese Pizza is about 95% bread, 4% cheese, and 1% toppings. The toppings vary from things like pineapples, onions, sweet peppers to ketchup, hot dogs, corn, and bora (green beans). It’s not what I’m used to, but who’s to say it doesn’t work. That’s the beauty of pizza–you can put whatever you want on warm bread and melted cheese and be happy.

I’m a firm believer in eating pizza as an act of loving yourself. As a health promoter I feel obligated to say I wouldn’t recommend it all the time, but sometimes you just need it for your soul. So when you finally get that long-overdue day to yourself, sit in your stretchy pants and enjoy!


food in guyana: part 2

PAPAYAS: They’re called “papaws” and they are my favorite fruit. You know when it’s ripe if the skin is soft and yellow. At the market, they usually sell them a little unripe so that you can let it sit for a day or two before enjoying. The other day at the market, I scored a papaya bigger than my head for $500GY ($2.50USD) I was proud of my harvest as I saw other people buying papayas the size of softball for the same price. I’m planning on planting one of my own soon and in 8 months time, I hope to see these little pieces of heaven growing in my backyard.


ESSENCE: It’s always the first thing I taste when I bite into a piece of cake. I can always tell when they use it. It’s similar to any extract you might use in your baking, except it’s not extract. I don’t know what it is, but like many things in Guyana, you don’t question it. It’s essence.

BURGERS: If you know me well, you know burgers are my love language. Nothing beats a juicy burger with a beer and fries, am I right? Burgers in Guyana are chicken sandwiches though, unless you’re in my house. Then of course, a burger (according to my 5 year old host brother Jeremiah) is a sliced hotdog slabbed between cheese, mayo, mustard, and ketchup in a bun. Sometimes it’s cheese and mayo. Sometimes it’s just mayo. And lots of it.

SEVEN CURRY: If cook-up isn’t your favorite food, then curry is. And my gosh, seven curry is a wonderful thing. Inside a giant water lily-leaf, this Indo-Guyanese delicacy consists of seven different types of curry. SEVEN. Served on top of rice is pumpkin curry, dahl curry, potato curry, bagee (spinach) curry, belanjay (eggplant), edoe, and catahar. You can eat with a spoon, but come on. There’s no fun in that. The first time I had seven curry was at Meena’s (a family friend and kitchen supervisor at the Psychiatric Hospital) wedding. It certainly was a day of celebration. One for Meena’s happily ever after and one for my tummy.


PLANTAINS: I remember passing by plantains at the markets back in the States, but I never thought to buy them. That was my mistake because I eat these all the time now. When it’s the end of the week and we’ve gone through our groceries, there will always be plantains. I can always count on them. Unripe or ripe, I like them fried.  You can of course boil them with sweet potatoes, mash’em up (or leave in chunks), and eat with some salt fish. Either way, I think me and all of Guyana can attest a tribute to plantains for keeping us full on days we don’t have enough money to buy other things.

BELANJAY CHOKA: Yum. An Indo-Guyanese dish that takes practice to make. It’s quite a lengthy process, at least for a beginner like me, but it’s worth the effort. It’s roasted belanjay (eggplant) stuffed with garlic and mixed with tomatoes, shallots, and celery. One day I was gaffing (aka chatting) with two of my friends, Vido and Kim (vendors from the Corentyne that sell produce on the road), about how much I loved belanjay choka. At the end of our conversation, they generously gave me a few belanjays and a bundle of shallots to try making it myself. And voila! The recipe will be up soon so stay tuned!


Love always,

split pea cook-up

Today, me and my host family worked together to make lunch. Mom made Split Pea Cook-up, my little sister smashed garlic and cut tomatoes like a pro, and I made seasoned-baked fish and a salad to go with it. It was a good Saturday afternoon learning from each other and sharing what we all love–food.

Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m learning recipes simply by watching. This is my first attempt to write it down so bare with me. Come, leh we go!


What is cook-up?

Cook-up is an Afro-Guyanese dish made of rice, coconut milk, some kind of legume/bean, and any rank (aka meat) of your choice. People eat this on several occasions: a baby shower, birthday, BBQ, or just because. It’s a Guyanese home favorite. There are many ways to mix it up and make it taste how you like, but what doesn’t change is how delicious rice is cooked in coconut milk. So freaking good.



  • 1 cup dry split peas (or use 1 can if you can find some)
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1 2/3 cups of coconut milk (or 13.5oz can)
  • 1 cup of water
  • onions (diced)
  • 5 stems of celery w/ leaves (diced)
    • if you’re in America, use about 3.
  • 1 hot pepper (diced)
  • salt/all purpose seasoning (in Guyana, you can use cook-up seasoning)


  1. I’ve never pressurized anything before, but that’s how people do things in Guyana. My host mom gave me these sweet directions to share with you: place pressurizer on med-hot heat, add about 1 to 2 cups of water into the pot, add your peas, cover with lid, and let it pressurize until you hear the first whistle. Host mama says it shouldn’t take long. I’m going to guess between 5-10 minutes.
    • Of course, if you don’t have a pressure cooker and don’t want to boil your peas for a long time, you can just buy the can.
  2. Sautee celery, onion, and hot pepper in some oil on medium heat.
  3. Add split peas.
  4. Pour coconut milk and water.
  5. Add rice into the pot with everything else until it is fully cooked.
  6. Add salt and all purpose seasoning to taste.




  • 1-2lbs of fish (cut into fillets)
    • Sorry, I don’t know what kind we used… but the flesh was white.
  • 3-4 stems of celery w/ leaves
  • 4 tomatoes (diced, large)
  • 1 whole garlic (minced)
  • 1 lime
  • salt
  • soy sauce


  1. Marinated the fish with lime, garlic, oil, and a little bit of salt.
  2. In a one or two large pans, bake the fish (skin facing up) at 450F (or 240C) for 20-30 minutes.
  3. While the fish is baking, cut your celery and tomatoes.
  4. Once the fish is fully cooked, add the celery and tomatoes to the pan.
  5. Lightly pour soy sauce onto the fish. I don’t use much because the fish is already salty. We don’t want to over do it so make sure the fish ISN’T drowning in it.
  6. Place back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes until tomatoes are soft.



Love always,

Strawberry Salsa Chicken Tacos



  • 1 cup strawberries (diced)
  • 1 roma tomato (diced)
  • 1/2 a bunch of cilantro (minced)
  • 1/2 cup green onions (minced)
  • 1 jalapeno (diced)
  • 3 limes
  • salt/pepper
  • chicken breasts
  • sour cream
  • 3 cheese blend
  • corn tostadas


  1. Wash and chop up all your fresh ingredients.
  2. Mix together strawberries, tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, and 1/2 of the diced jalapeños to make the strawberry salsa.
  3. Squeeze one lime and sprinkle some salt into the mix.
  4. Marinate chicken with 2 limes, salt, and pepper.
  5. Cook marinated chicken breasts on med-high temp.
  6. Ensemble your tacos with a corn tostada, sour cream, chicken, cheese, and then the strawberry salsa on top!

They kind of take a bit of work with all the chopping, the cooking, and then putting it all together before you can sit down and eat… but man, they are so worth it. Homemade tacos are my favorite. I think I have the best times with friends and family over them. And I don’t know why or even how, but I can eat like 6 tacos (or more) when they’re made at home. There’s nothing like it 🙂


Love always,


Turkey Pastrami Sandwich on Ciabatta


  • 2 slices of ciabatta bread (or any loaf you fancy)
  • 4-5 slices of turkey pastrami
  • 1 egg
  • red-leaf lettuce
  • 1 tomato (sliced)
  • 1 cucumber (sliced)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1-2 slices of swiss cheese
  • white onion (sliced)
  • butter
  • spicy brown mustard


  1. I started off by slicing all my vegetables (tomato, cucumber, onions) so that when it was time to put my sandwich together, I’d have everything ready.
  2. Next, I started frying my egg on med-high temp. I like mine runny so I went with a simple over-easy. Set aside on a plate once cooked.
  3. After, caramelize your sliced onions.
  4. Now, toast your bread. I usually toast mine on a pan bc I never thought to invest in a toaster when I got to college. Either way is fine! On a pan, I melt a small square of butter and place the bread right on top.
  5. Once your bread is nice and toasty, lay the swiss cheese on each side. Then your onions, red-leaf lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, the egg, avocado slices, and spicy brown mustard all in between. I like putting my deli meat at the top of my sandwich (but that’s just me).
  6. Press down on the sandwich, cut in half, or just dig right in!

It’s been awhile since I’ve spent more than 10 minutes in a kitchen. May was one busy month. With the end of the semester, celebrating my friends graduating college, weddings, and all the other little things in between I had to keep up with I haven’t felt like I’ve gotten any rest since the beginning of April. I can hardly believe it’s June already… Geez.

With all that said, I am so happy that I am able to take things slow today. My morning was spent having an exciting conversation with a sweet friend over a cup of coffee, taking my time at the grocery store, spoiling myself a little bit by buying locally made bread, and building myself a sandwich that reminded me so much of my childhood. Although it’s a little different than the Pastrami Sandwich from Little Luca’s in San Francisco, the taste of peppered deli meat and mustard took me back to when I’d go to the beach with my Papa.

I still have a pretty full day ahead of me, but it was so good for me to take care of myself in this way. Rest is important. Even if you like being busy and feel more like yourself when you are.

I learned that when I tore my ACL. Before that, I was running a million miles per hour working to make ends meet, struggling to make good grades, being at this meeting and being at that event–I could hardly keep my head on straight. Then in a moment, my knee buckled in all the wrong ways and I was forced to sit down.  It was a hard 6 months of stillness because being still meant I couldn’t run. And at the time, I was running away from everything.

Without rest, our eyes grow a little weary and our bodies become a little weaker.

Maybe “rest” looks like a day full of Netflix or sleeping or painting or running or whatever.  I’ve shared this before, but for me it’s cooking. Sometimes I paint, but cooking up something delicious restores me in ways nothing else can.

Love always,


Spring Steak Salad


  • Any cut of steak (I basically chose my steak based on what was the cheapest cut)
  • blue cheese
  • strawberries
  • blackberries
  • arugula
  • kale
  • baby spinach
  • red-leaf lettuce
  • sunflower seeds
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • pepper
  • salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)


  1. Cover a skillet in olive oil and begin browning the garlic.
  2. As the garlic cooks (which is honestly the best part bc omg the smell), season the steak simply with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Lay the steaks on the skillet and cook each side for about 15 minutes on each side at a medium temp. SIDE NOTE: I hardly ever eat steak (let alone make it) so the fact that they came out a PERFECT medium-rare… I felt like I really impressed myself tonight. My parents would’ve been proud. Especially my mama bc she’s the queen of grilling meat.
  4. While that’s cooking and smelling delicious, wash and cut your berries.
  5. Next, make the homemade balsamic vinegarette. It’s actually pretty simple. Just pour 1/4 cup of olive oil and about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar into a dipping bowl. Throw in some pepper, salt, and maybe a little bit of garlic and voila! Or… you can just buy balsamic vinegarette. Whatever you feel like doing 🙂
  6. Chop your steak once it’s done!
  7. Lay your greens on a plate, add the berries, the sunflower seeds, THE CHEESE, the dressing, and of course your steak and enjoy!!!

Love always,

Tuna Salad + Gouda Cheese Melt



  • 3 cans of tuna (in water)
  • 1 cup of celery (minced)
  • about 3/4 cup of plain non-fat greek yogurt
  • 3 boiled eggs (diced)
  • Pepper
  • Butter
  • Gouda cheese
  • Your favorite bread (I like sourdough, but I used oatnut bread)


  1. Boil eggs for 15 minutes. Let cool and then dice them.
  2. While eggs are boiling, mince the celery stalks.
  3. Add eggs, celery, greek yogurt, and pepper to the tuna in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  4. Toast your bread with butter. SIDE NOTE: If you have a panini press, your life is golden and all of this will be so easy to do. I personally don’t have one, but I think everyone should because they’re amazing. Anyway, if you don’t that’s ok! You can use a pan too. Just set temperature at medium-high, add butter to the pan, and lay the slices of bread down.
  5. Once both sides are slightly toasted, add slices of gouda cheese onto one piece of toast (or both) and the tuna salad onto the other. Place the slice of bread with the cheese on top so that it melts down into the tuna.To help with melting the cheese properly, I press down on the sandwich.
  6. One night I added sautéed kale to my sandwich and it was SUPER good. So maybe you might wanna try that one day too.

The great thing about making tuna salad (besides the fact that it’s freaking delicious) is that it’ll last ya a few days. Enjoy!

Greek Orzo Salad


  • 2 cups of orzo
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh parsley (minced)
  • 3/4 cup of grape tomatoes (cut into halves)
  • 1 can of olives (sliced)
  • 1/2 cucumber (quartered)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • feta cheese


  1. Boil the orzo until it is soft. Should take about 12-15 mins. Once it’s fully cooked, drain and then rinse with cold water. Chill the cooked orzo while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Next, make the dressing just so it’s out of the way. Mix the olive oil with 2 tsp of pepper, the garlic, and squeezed lemon juice. It’s super simple, but you definitely don’t have to make your own greek dressing if you’d prefer to use something else.
  3. Cut your parsley, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers.
  4. Once orzo is cold, you can add all your fresh ingredients.
  5. Mix in the greek dressing.
  6. Add a couple pinches of salt.
  7. Stir everything together well.
  8. Sprinkle some feta cheese on top and enjoy!

Even though my roommate thinks I ate nothing tonight, a bowl of this salad is actually filling. It’s also light enough in the tummy that you won’t feel bad eating two chocolate chunk cookies afterwards. Well, at least I didn’t 😉

This literally has nothing to do with Greek Orzo Salad, but it crossed my mind while I was cooking. I do my best to stay away from prideful feelings about being a single, twenty-something year old. Instead of talking up my singleness by bragging about the “freedom” I have to be in a relationship with Netflix and pizza, I don’t really say anything about it all. That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with doubtful (sometimes painful) thoughts about the matter.

I don’t have a play by play about how you can spend your singleness better because I’m learning how to do that myself. But I can encourage you and I can remind you that singleness just means that you’re single. It doesn’t mean that you’re alone.

I’ve learned that singleness and loneliness are not always as synonymous in meaning as much as they look alike in circumstance. I think this is true no matter how badly that weird ache in our heart feels when we see people fall and be in love, and wish and wonder when it’ll be our turn. It’s ok to admit you feel that way. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.

Yea, you and I are single. There is no guarantee for either of us that we’ll end up living those sweet fairytale-like married lives. Geez, I may never get married and I’m sure that’s going to be a hard reality to accept. This post isn’t just another anthem for single people to down play being in a relationship, but a reminder that it’s a beautiful season. A changing, painful, and purposeful time of your life.

Love always,


Penne Pasta w/ Meat Sauce


  • Penne pasta (1 box)
  • Newman’s Own Tomato & Basil pasta sauce (1 jar)
  • 1lb ground beef
  • salt & pepper
  • dried rosemary, oregano, basil
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • crushed red pepper


  1. Boil the penne pasta. You can obviously do this at any point while you make your dinner, but when I make a pasta dish, I always boil the pasta first and prepare everything else as it cooks. It should take about 15 mins.
  2. Brown the ground beef in garlic & dried ingredients. As you can tell in most of my recipes, I don’t have any accurate measurements for spices. I know it’s not very helpful, but it’s kind of a learn-as-you-go kind of thing. Just a word of advice, start with a small amount, mix, and then taste until you’re satisfied. You’ll get the hang of it as you become more familiar with how each spice and how much of it brings out certain flavors of your food.
  3. Ok, moving on. Once your meat is fully cooked, drain the oil from the pan into a separate bowl.
  4. Pour the pasta sauce into the pan and stir in the meat thoroughly. If needed or desired, add more spices to add more flavor. The crushed red peppers are totally optional… but I love spicy food. Like a lot. And I pretty much add crushed red peppers or hot sauce or anything that adds a kick to what I eat.
  5. If your pasta isn’t fully cooked and soft by now, then just let your sauce simmer until it is.
  6. Drain the penne pasta.
  7. Mix the sauce with the pasta and bon appetito!

Fall weather in the middle of winter, driving around town in a jeep with the doors off, dancing in the back seat with my girlfriends, adventuring off the trail at Lake Fayetteville, eating chicken fried rice from my favorite food truck, catching up with other sweet friends, getting a good run at the park, and sitting outside eagerly trying to finish a great book before the sun sets… My heart is so full from this weekend.

I know that I haven’t posted a recipe in awhile, but I was happy to do so tonight 😊

There’s plenty of things that I feel like talking about, but I don’t quite know how to express this sudden lightness I have felt in the last month. And to me, this lightness is extraordinary. Thinking about where I’ve been and all the things I’ve gone through… this lightness doesn’t feel temporary. It feels valuable. Precious. Real.

Savory Breakfast Bowl


  • 2 over-easy eggs
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup kale
  • chopped scallions
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • grind rosemary, oregano, and basil blend


  1. Cook your eggs over-easy (or sunny side up) on med-high heat and then set them aside.I’m gonna let you in on a little trick that I do to make them perfectly runny. Once you crack the eggs into the pan, add a small amount of water once the whites aren’t raw anymore. Put a lid over the eggs and let them steam for about 3-4 minutes, or until the outer layer of the yolk is faintly white.
  2. Sauté your kale lightly in olive oil. The kale should remain bright and should not look wilted. Set aside.
  3. Make your oatmeal. You can certainly make more than 1/2 cup, but remember it expands when cooked.
  4. Once oatmeal is made, season it lightly with salt and pepper.
  5. Lay sautéed kale in the middle of your oatmeal and then top it with your eggs.
  6. Garnish with chopped scallions and a little bit of grind rosemary, oregano, and basil
  7. Add more salt/pepper if necessary.

I eat oatmeal with chocolate chips every morning of everyday. So when I stumbled upon a picture of oatmeal and eggs, I was a little skeptical about how that might taste. But trust me when I say that everything in this bowl eaten together is SO good. It was filling, yummy, savory, and made me feel great about the restful day I have ahead of me.


Love always,
Melanie Zimmerman


Sausage Tortellini Soup

Time: 30-40 mins

6-8 servings


  • 4 italian sausage links (mild)
  • 2 1/2 cups of cheese tortellini
  • 2 1/2 cups of kale
  • 2 red bell peppers (diced)
  • 1/2 onion (diced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbsp dried rosemary, oregano, and basil blend
  • salt/pepper
  • 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups of water


  1. Cut italian sausage links into meatballs about 1in wide and cook them at medium heat
  2. Sauté onions, garlic, and red bell peppers in olive oil for about 8 mins (or until bell peppers are soft) on medium-high heat
  3. Add crushed red peppers, rosemary, oregano, and basil
  4. Let the spices cook with the vegetables for about 5 minutes before adding the chicken broth and water
  5. Add kale and diced tomatoes
  6. Stir broth and add salt/pepper/any other spices until you like the way it tastes. I added a ton of crushed red pepper to give it the spicy kick I love in pretty much everything I eat.
  7. Once the italian sausage meatballs are fully cooked, add it to the broth
  8. Add cheese tortellini into the broth and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  9. Soup is ready to enjoy once the tortellini is soft!

I thought my Ratatouille was good… Just wait until you try this on a cold night 🙂

This little “project” I’ve started has been great… and not because I’m successfully using any fancy ingredients from a farmers market, entitling myself to teach anyone how to be healthier, or cooking for a particular audience. Of course it would be a dream to have access and enough money to buy the freshest ingredients (it would also be a dream to have thousands of followers who look at my recipes and little blurbs about life) but I’m a college student working, going to school, learning how money is involved in so many decisions I have to make, and understanding that living a simple life is pretty awesome in every way, even if I’m the only witness to testify so.

If there is something heavenly about this project that I have noticed and experienced so far, it is how easily my eyes are set on joy rather than on my worries. I think I’ve spent college stressing, crying, and pulling my hair out questioning every decision I make and focusing all my energy on all the “right” things I need to be doing.

Am I choosing a career challenging enough to impress those around me? Am I going to make enough money? Am I ever going to be engaged? Have a family? a career? My own home and the whole picket fence too? Am I doing enough?

I’m sure what little audience I do have in this world could attest to similar thoughts at some point of their twenty-something years.

It has been those sort of questions that have left me anchored to the world, but it has been through cooking, I feel more and more like I’m joyfully living and suffering for heaven. I’m much more drawn to being more thankful than I am to feeling sorry for myself. Yes, I can humbly say that I still wonder about these things and still struggle with my own set of challenges with them, but no matter what my circumstances are, I love cooking (even when I don’t feel like it) and I experience something so good out of it every single time.

I love what I’m able to create, what I’m able to give, and what I’m able to receive through it.

Love always,


Nutella Coconut Puff Pastries



  • 1 pre-made puff pastry sheet
  • Coconut flakes
  • Nutella
  • 1 egg


  1. Preheat oven at 400 F
  2. Unfold the pre-made puff pastry sheet (maybe one day I’ll make my own from scratch, but the ones from Walmart do just fine) and cut into 9-12 squares
  3. Whisk the egg and brush the yolk over the puff pastry sheets
  4. Put a spoonful of Nutella in the middle of each square
  5. Sprinkle the coconut shavings
  6. Fold opposite corners towards the middle. Use a little bit of egg yolk to hold the corners in place. I didn’t take a picture of it (my bad) but it should look kind of like a cannoli. Kind of… Moving on haha
  7. Bake for 12 mins. Pastries should be a light golden brown when taken out of the oven.
  8. Drizzle Nutella, add a little more coconut if you’d like, and sprinkle some powdered sugar over those babies.

This was the first time we had ever used puff pastries, so when we checked on these treats about 10 minutes into baking… They had exploded haha No worries, after you add a few more toppings, the pastries will look pretty irresistible.

I thought about only taking a picture of a “perfect” pastry to share, but I felt like it would almost take out the fun I had making these with my cousin and old roommate. It would also take out how hilarious these pastries turned out.

I don’t know how… but this dessert reminded me that some things–plans, relationships, and even desserts you try to whip up to impress your friends–can still be perfect and amazing (and delicious) even when it doesn’t turn out or look like what you wanted it to.

It might be an ugly puff pastry, but maybe after you watch these pastries explode into deformed footballs in your oven and you take your first sweet bite into them… You’ll see what I’m talking about 🙂

Love always,