Author: Nastassia

Cruising the Mexican Riviera with Princess Cruises


At the end of last year I went on a cruise of the Mexican Riviera with Princess Cruises. Living in Los Angeles it was such an easy getaway, a short drive to the port in San Pedro and I was off on a 7 day cruise. This was my first large cruise and getting into I really didn’t know what to expect, but I’m happy to report that I LOVED it!

Our Mexican Riviera Cruise included 3 days (4 nights) at sea and 3 port stops to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. In a previous blog post I already shared the incredible Chocolate Journeys they offer aboard all of the ships (check back if you are a chocolate lover!). And later I’ll give you a glimpse into some port stops, but for now I want to give you some tips and tricks to enjoying the sweeter side of your days at sea!

Here are some insider tips to enjoying the best sweets aboard the Ruby Princess:

Pastries from International CafeBreakfast : For breakfast you are going to want to hit the International Café if you are looking for pastries. This is your spot for croissants, muffins, filled donuts, and danishes. It is easy to grab a few treats and a cup of coffee and cozy up to one of the window seats or grab your treat to-go and enjoy them on one of the decks. There are many other dining/buffet options open for breakfast, but you won’t find this assortment of pastries there.



All Day Treat : If you are looking for an after lunch treat, a mid-day snack, or even a pre-dinner indulgence you can always count on the soft serve. Available at the soft serve counter at the middle of the pool, you are able to enjoy endless cones of soft serve. Vanilla, chocolate, or a swirl are your choices and sprinkles are optional (well are they really? who could say no!). And if soft serve isn’t calling to you, you can always go for a milkshake instead.


Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Sweet : I don’t know about you, but I love a good High Tea. And if you are like me and tea is your thing then you are in luck because you can enjoy a sit down High Tea service 3:30pm-4:30pm. Expect to find a selection of tea, finger sandwiches, cookies, cakes, and oh so delicious scones and clotted cream. If you happen to be by a pool or at The Sanctuary have no fear, you can also enjoy tea service al fresco just look around for the servers with the tea carts.

Milk and Cookie Room Service

Not in the mood for tea? Well you have a few options available to satisfy that sweet tooth. Princess Cruises offers a daily ‘cookies and milk break’ featuring you guesed it, chocolate chip cookies at milk. You can find this at the International Café, around the pool areas or you can order it to your room just before or after you nap.

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If you happen to be out and about walking the ship there is one other afternoon treat option for you. Head on over to the Horizon Court where daily you can enjoy a rotating selection of cakes and confections in the afternoon.



Evening Indulgence : Each restaurant aboard the ship not only offers a delicious dessert to end your meal, but you specifically a unique Chocolate Journey treat depending on which dining option you are enjoying. There is always room for dessert and these are not to be missed.

So many sweets, so little time!

Sunset from the Ruby Princess

This post was sponsored by Princess Cruises. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Top 10 Sweets of 2016


This year was filled with so much sweetness it was hard to narrow down a few of the best. I ate cake by the ocean, I devoured my weight in soft serve, I enjoyed new delicious donuts, and so much more. I traveled to new places this year and spent so much time on the road at points it even felt like I was hardly ever home. Along the way I enjoyed some memorable desserts that made 2016 one sweet year!

Here are ten of my favorite confections of the year:

fullsizerender I went to Sydney Australia for the first time this year to visit my good friends that were living there at the time. Beyond what seems like endless beautiful beaches, Sydney has an awesome dessert scene. From my 10 days there it was clear that Sydney was just like me — this city had a major sweet tooth! They have artisan ice cream, nouveau soft serve, elevated lamingtons, pastries galore, and tons of doughnuts. Doughnut Time not only makes small batch, hand-dipped doughnuts, they also have an array of douhgnut shakes. Why have just a doughnut when you can have a milkshake too!


fullsizerender_2I know Sidecar Doughnuts opened in LA at the end of last year, but having it even closer than before has been a game changer this year. Now what used to be an occasional special treat has become a monthly pilgramage. I still love their classics like butter salt, but I come in monthly to check out their specials. Sidecar remains my favorite doughnut in the U.S.!


fullsizerender_3Being a native Angeleno I have been to Univeral Studios more times than I can count. It has been fun seeing how it has evolved and how the rides and space have changed. This year I got myself an annual pass because: it’s an easy trip to get there, Harry Potter (duh!), and so that I can make donut runs. Yes, I’m not even kidding about the donut run thing. In the Simpsons area of the park there are so many fun themed treats, my favorite of which is Lard Lad Donuts. Despite it being amusement park food, these donuts are legit. They come in regular sized and extra large, the later of which is like a big cake with tons of frosting. For added indulgence walk across the way to Phineas Q. Butterfat’s Ice Cream Parlor and you can get a donut sundae!


fullsizerender_5I have a confession to make, I’m not a huge chocolate lover. I’m super picky about it and it’s not often my first choice when ordering dessert. With that said, the chocolate treats aboard Princess Cruises may have changed my chocolate views. In partnership with Norman Love, Princess Cruises offers an exclusive Chocolate Journeys program available onboard fleetwide. There are different chocolate treats at various dining spots on board like this soft serve (which was limitless I may add). My favorites were the select artfully designed deserts available after dinner. This fun and unique offering was one sweet perk of cruising with Princess.


fullsizerender-10I visited Scottsdale this Fall to explore their culinary scene. I did not know what to expect having only passed through the Phoenix area in the past. Not only is this city gorgeous, it is bursting with delicious food. From farmers market sweets stalls to fine dining restaurants to holel dining, this is a city that likes to eat. I enjoyed checking out the local flavor from chocolateirs, olive oil producers that make sweets too, heritage grain farmers, bakeshops, and one of the best ice cream shops – Sweet Republic. They have been in the game since 2008 churning artisan ice cream with milk from local dairies in classic and unique flavors. It was so hard to choose, but I opted for a Toffee Banofi sundae. Go big or go home right?


fullsizerender-9 While in the Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California this October our group enjoyed what for me was one of the best meals I enjoyed this year. It was at Traslomitas, the restaurant attached to the Lomita Winery. I’ve been to the Valle a few times in the past, but somehow each visit I missed Lomita. For what seems like a relatively small place there is seems to be so much to eat and drink. If you make a trip to the Valle de Guadalupe make sure this is on your list and make a reservation at Traslomita. The cooking her is phenomenal set right outdoors next to the winery. And while it may be difficult, save room for dessert because the treats here are GOOD! Pictured dulce de leche banana pudding with fresh whipped cream and toasted pistachios it was gone in 30 secs it was perfection.


fullsizerender-8A little over a year ago I took a flight up to San Franscisco for the day because I wanted to try Mr. Holmes Bakehouse’s famed cruffin that I had been seeing all over Instagram. I’m crazy about my desserts and LA to SF was a short flight. So I take the flight, but I didnt’ get said cruffin becuase they had sold out! So i made my way back to San Francisco this year and finally got a cruffin. They I got a few donuts, a croissant, and a pop tart too. The story doesn’t end there. After getting myself back to San Francisco and finally getting that cruffin, Mr.Holmes Bakehouse opened a location in Highland Park a mere 25 minutes away from me just a month later. So I didn’t need to fly back but cest la vie, now I can have Mr. Holmes whenever I please.


fullsizerender_6Right after my trip to Australia I went on my first ever cruise. It was a Viking Cruise through Provence and the Rhone Valley in France. Lucky for me I was with the best ever travel companions Krista and Aida. Together we ate our way through every market, hall,boulangerie, and patisserie we could find. My favorite of which was Baking Company Avignon. The quaint shop is tucked away down one of the many tiny winding streets in this provencial town. They have pastries, macarons, and merignues here that are perfect on the go while you are exploring the sites.


fullsizerender_1After that trip to France I was lucky enough to get to explore Spain’s Basque country with my best friends. We started in Bilbao for a few days, got a car and drove along the coast. While I loved each of our stops, Bilbao was my favorite and my favorite sweet find in this city were these outrageously gorgeous Carolinas. Carolinas are typical pastries found northern in Spain, specifically Bilbao. They consist of a tart made of puff pastry or pastry filled with cream or coconut cake, and a generous pompadour of meringue. If you are in Bilbao and seek these out, go to Pasteleria Suiza for the good stuff.



When in Rome, don’t miss Pasticceria Regoli. One of the oldest pastry shops in the city, thier sweets still sell out daily. They are known for their maritozzi, a sweet bun topped with heavy whipped cream, which makes a perfect breakfast with a cappuccino at the counter. Cross over to the take-away side of the shop and you’ll be amazed at the variety of beautiful pastries and cakes.

Chocolate Journeys

In partnership with Norman Love, Princess Cruises offers an exclusive Chocolate Journeys program available onboard fleetwide. Love’s creations blend premium quality chocolate and artful design. This fun and unique offering was one sweet perk of cruising with Princess. Each dining option on board has different Chocolate Journey desserts available.


Daily you can choose from delectable chocolate options throughout the day in the Horizon Court Buffet. During my trip I anxiously watched as the selection changed from chocolate muffins to slices of cakes and puddings.


You’ll find Norman Love’s artful chocolate creations on various dining room desserts menus. At the Chef’s Table dinner you are treated to an array of chocolate delights. This special dining experience starts your night in the kitchen with the Executive chef and ends with a what seems like an endless selection of chocolate-y treats.


You can also purchase exclusive Norman Love confections in the various gift shops. AND there is even Chocolate Spa Treatments! You can indulge in a luscious, anti-oxidant chocolate body treatment. You leave smelling like one big chocolate bar.



Suffice it to say, if you are a chocolate lover this is the cruise for you!

Here is a teaser of just one of the desserts you can enjoy. Check out the plating of one of the Chocolate Journey desserts…

Otis Spunkmeyer Holiday Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint holiday cookies

Today is National Cookie Day, and while it seems like there is a national day for everything, cookies are definitely worth celebrating.

I think the timing of this holiday is aptly placed. It aligns so well with holiday cookie parties and setting out cookies for Santa. It would seem that December in general is one big cookie month.

Otis Spunkmeyer Chocolate Pepppermint Cookie Recipe

To help you celebrate I’m taking my favorite Otis Spunkmeyer cookies and dressing them up for the holidays. This is a simple 2-step process that uses Otis Spunkmeyer Double Chocolate Chunk cookies and turns them into the perfect holiday chocolate peppermint treats.

Otis Spunkmeyer Double Chocolate Cookies

All you need are your Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, white chocolate (or bright white candy melts), and candy canes (or peppermint candies). In a matter of minutes your cookies will become gorgeous, festive sweets that you can enjoy while cozying up next to the fire or wrapped up as the sweetest holiday gifts for friends and family. To me nothing gets me in the holiday spirit like chocolate peppermint sweet treats.

Dip your Otis Spunkmeyer cookies into melted white chocolate or candy melts. Add a splash of peppermint extract if you like things minty. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle crushed candy canes over top. Allow to cool.

Holiday Cookie Recipe

You can then box and share you cookies.  Happy Holidays!

P.S. In celebration of #NationalCookieDay tomorrow, Otis Spunkmeyer has a fun chance to win free cookies!  Everyone who enters gets a link for a $1 off coupon.  Check it out!

I’m proud to partner with Otis Spunkmeyer for this holiday cookie recipe. While I am being sponsored by Otis Spunkmeyer for my posts and activities, all opinions expressed are my own, and all claims or program details shared should be verified at or with the appropriate manufacturers.

Otis Spunkmeyer Hot Chocolate Mug Cakes


With the holidays in full swing there is nothing I want more than to cozy up at home. This recipe for Otis Spunkmeyer Hot Chocolate mug cakes is one big cup of cozy. It is warm, chocolatey, and toasty. Everything you want out of a decadent holiday treat. The best part about it is how easy it is to whip up. With only 3 ingredients, no funky stuff, and your mug you are just minutes away from a comforting sweet treat!


In for the holidays Otis Spunkmeyer has released Hot Chocolate Frosted Creme Cakes – hot chocolate creamed wrapped in a chocolate frosted cake. They are every bit as good as they sound. Individually wrapped, they are great purse snacks if you are like me and like to tuck away treats in your bag. They are even better warmed up in this cozy recipe.


You take 5 Otis Spunkmeyer Hot Chocolate Frosted Creme Cakes and fit them snuggly in your mug. Depending on your mug size this could also be 3-4 cakes if your mug is smaller.


Throw in a handful of chocolate morsels in the center of your frosted creme cake filled mug and microwave for a minute or until then are warm and gently melt down at the touch of a fork.


Once warmed, push your creme cakes down a half and inch into the mug with a fork to make room for marshmallows. Top with a generous handful of mini marshmallow and using your home crème brulee torch carefully toast your marshmallows. If you do not have a crème brulee torch you can also toast your marshmallows under the broiler, just be careful when handling your mug afterwards as it will be very hot!

Grab a spoon and maybe some friends if you feel like sharing and enjoy this fun take on a hot chocolate.


Best Donuts in Denver


Denver is a sprawling city like LA with tons of things to do at your fingertips. And similar to LA it has an incredible dining scene. But we aren’t here to talk about dinner, we are here to talk donuts!

I usually visit Denver once a year during the holidays with my boyfriend because it’s his hometown. When we have a free moment between family fun we always go in search of donuts. In fact once of my early blog posts is all about a Denver donut hunt and that was written before the U.S. really got into this donut craze that we are in. So I thought it was about time that we update the list and share with you what is new and tasty with Denver donuts.

Spots like LaMar’s, Walton’s, and Donut House are still around and they continue to sling delectable fried and glazed dough in tried and true standard flavors. These guys aren’t going anywhere and you can always count on them to satisfy your donut desires, but there are so new entries to the market worth checking out too…


Glazed and Confuzed 5301 Leetsdale Drive 80246 This nouveau donut shop churns up fun and fresh takes on a great raised donut. Using fresh, local ingredients you can expect to find playful flavors like the root beer float donut or my favorite the confused Samoa (think girlscout cookie meets donut). This is the place for inventive fried treats!


Fractured Prune 4090 East Mississippi 80246 Fractured Prune is a national chain that I only discovered in Denver. They offer fried to order cake donuts in suggested flavor combos or you can pick your glaze and toppings from what seems like a limitless array of options. New to the game I opted for a French Toast donut and a Carnival donut with rainbow sprinkles. Both were perfectly fried with crisp edges and a melt in your mouth center. Nothing beats a warm and fresh donut!


Habit Doughnut Dispensary 1553 Platte Street 80202 Habit Doughnut and Dispensary is a convenience store meets doughnut shop specialized in one of a kind sweet and savory brioche doughnuts. The doughnuts have hip hop and canibis inspired quirky names and wild flavors and toppings like baileys, whiskey, Red Bull, and potato chips to name a few.


Jelly U 600 East 13th Avenue 1700 East Evans Avenue Around the corner from Denver University is a go-to breakfast spot known in particular for their plates full of tiny fried to order filled donuts. There is a range of fillings from lemon curd to jelly, but the flavor not to miss is the Bhakti chai. Photo credit @tuttletreats.

Sweet of the Week | High Point Creamery, Denver CO


I spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Denver and despite the cold temps I took an afternoon to check out one of the city’s new artisan ice cream shops – High Point Creamery.

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This cute local shop is the perfect neighborhood spot for a scoop. Their flavors range from classics like mint chip to unique seasonal treats like earl grey shortbread. They even have excellent vegan options like vegan coconut creme brûlée (pictured top scoop). I loved that the ice cream was rich and creamy with a nice chewiness. Any new artisan ice cream spots you are loving? Share in the comments below.

215 S Holly St, Denver, CO 80246

Best Thanksgiving Pies in LA

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I don’t know about you, but to me that means PIE PIE PIE! In Los Angeles we are lucky to have a lot of great places to pick up whole pies for our Thanksgiving celebrations. Most of them have the classic pumpkin, pecan or apple pies and a lot of them have fun alternations like cider roasted apple pie, squash pie with coconut whipped cream, and toasted marshmallow spiced pumpkin.

I’m ready for pie, are you? Below are some great places to pick up your Thanksgiving pie no matter where you are in the city (click on the location name to be directed to their menu)!


Otis Spunkmeyer Mini Chocolate Cupcake No Bake Cheesecakes


It’s hard to believe that it’s already October and the end of the year is upon us.   Even though it doesn’t quite feel like Fall in LA, I’m still getting into October and what I like to think of as ‘pumpkin season’. I love this time of year truthfully because I LOVE pumpkin. I feel like there is a large group of us pumpkin lovers out there, am I right? It is one of my favorite dessert flavors. I love to get creative with pumpkin treats and moving beyond pumpkin pie, which brings us to this Fall sweet treat – No Bake Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Cups. (keep reading for the recipe)


Otis Spunkmeyer Double Chocolate Cookie Grasshopper Pie

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There is not denying it, as much as we don’t want it to be true (well I don’t at least) Summer is coming to an end and Fall is upon us. As much as I will miss pool parties and ice cream weather, I do really love the change in temperature and the feeling of Fall. It inspires me to slow down and spend more cozy time at home. It also gets me in the mood to bake and one thing I really love baking in the Fall is pie!


This pie is my in between seasons pie – Grasshopper Pie. It is light and fresh so it reminds me of Summer, but the crust is so decadent and chocolate-y which makes me feel like Fall. Grasshopper pie is a fun, nostalgic treat that was popular in the 1950’s and 60’s. You may remember your mom or grandma whipping it up, I do. It gets its name from the green color that usually comes from using green crème de menthe or green food coloring in the filling. While I love the funky retro color I also like that you can adapt this recipe to use better for you ingredients with no funky stuff.Processed with Snapseed.

Traditionally this is a chiffon pie made with a cookie crust and I’m keeping up with tradition using Otis Spunkmeyer Double Chocolate Cookie to make the cookie pie crust. This cookie crust is super easy to make. It requires 1¼ cups of cookie crumbs – 6 Otis Spunkmeyer Double Chocolate Cookies (1 box) – plus 5 tablespoons of melted butter.

Pulse the cookies in a food processor until they form a crumb mixture. Pour the cookie crumbs into a mixing bowl and add the melted butter. Mix this together until it is combined. Press the double chocolate cookie mixture into a pie pan evenly. Place this into the refrigerator and chill to harden.

The filling requires fresh mint, cream, marshmallows and mint extract. You can choose to use crème de menthe and a few drops of food coloring if you are so inclined in place of the mint extract and fresh mint that I am suggesting.

Steep together the milk and the mint.  Heat together the strained mint milk with marshmallows to form a smooth marshmallow mixture.Whip up some heavy cream to form soft peaks and mix in the marshmallow mixture. Spread the filling into the chilled chocolate pie crust base and chill.

This recipe can be made a few hours ahead or the day before you want to enjoy it. It doesn’t require much and provides so much pie joy. Next time you are feeling nostalgic or just feeling like some pie, go grab some Otis Spunkmeyer Cookies and make yourself at Grasshopper Pie. It will be well worth it!

AND if you need more of a reason to bake yourself a cookie crust pie –   Otis Spunkmeyer has teamed up with No Kid Hungry this back to school season, with limited time “go orange” packaging on all three of their delicious cookies.  For every carton of these cookies purchased, $0.25 cents will be donated to No Kid Hungry, bringing us one step closer to helping hungry children across the country have access to the healthy foods they need. (more…)