Growing up on an Air Force Base, Monica showed such an affinity for biochemistry, that one of her first paying jobs was at NASA. Her passion for art eventually won out, leading her to earn a MFA in Fine Art from California Institute of the Arts. Monica applied her artistic talents to baking and cookie decorating, launching two online sweet shops -- Pent Up Cookie Company and Mack and Jane. Her baking style is less scientific and more intuitive, producing customizable treats that are as fun and bright as her smile. But Monica’s greatest source of joy is her family, including husband Josh, teenage daughter Jordyn and new baby Aspen.

Besides being a tenacious mom and baking entrepreneur, Monica is an integrative nutritionist and an avid acoustic shower singer. Follow her on Instagram.

Q&A with Monica
When did you start baking, and why?
I started baking in early childhood, younger than 7. My mother spent a lot of time in the kitchen and always made a boxed pound cake for my dad each week with a powdered sugar glaze. I remember staring at that thing under the clear cake dome wanting some. Each day that went by the cake would absorb the glaze and get gooey. It was hot under that dome! My dad never complained though! I started baking when my mom got cancer in 2001. I took on making that cake! My glaze was on the side. Upgrade! :)

What are the specialty ingredients you can’t live without?
I can work with anything and tend to not be thrown off by much, except I MUST HAVE flaky salt.

What’s your signature dish?
I think most people ask for my chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream. I also make savory food. I think my signature dish is a curried chicken and apple salad.

Who do you love to bake for?
People who don't like sweets. They do now.

What does holiday baking mean to you?
Holiday baking means extra weight around the thighs to keep you warm. I'm alllllll about that life!

What’s your favorite holiday baking memory?
My favorite holiday baking memory is being home for the holidays with my younger sister and parents and our mom busting out the boxed cookie dough mix by Krusteaz and Betty Crocker premade frosting for us to make sugar cookies for Santa. We'd make at least 100 for no reason and since that frosting doesn't "dry" they would all be laid out over every flat surface in the house! Ridiculous, but amazing.

Meet The Bakers