Category Archives: sweets

cherry + vanilla + coconut milk ice pops {vegan}

I made these cherry + vanilla + coconut milk ice pops a couple of weeks ago. They disappeared all-too-quickly – within, like, two days! Or so I thought. I was cleaning out my freezer yesterday and, to my delight, found that one had slipped under some frozen blueberries. It was waiting so patiently for me to find it! Needless to say, I went out to the garden, sat down, and tried to savor it slowly. These are some my favorite ice pops to date.

It was almost like I was immediately rewarded for taking the time to clean out my frozen storage department. I have been following along with the Kitchn’s twice-a-year “Kitchen Cure”, a step-by-step revamp of your kitchen over the course of a few weeks. I am not quite up to date with the assignments, but I have the best of intentions to get my kitchen into shape, since our recent remodel. An upcoming {and long-awaited} blog post on the process and the details will definitely happen in the near future. We are awaiting the delivery of our range hood, and then we can complete the final tiling!

Until then, let’s enjoy some cherries!


cherry + coconut milk ice pops {vegan}


  • 9 ounces full-fat coconut milk
  • 12 ounces ripe cherries, pitted and fully blended
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  1. Combine the coconut milk with 1/8 cup of the agave nectar and the vanilla. Stir to incorporate.
  2. Evenly divide the mixture into six ice pop molds and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, purée the pitted cherries and add the remaining 1/8 cup agave nectar and the lemon juice, mixing together thoroughly. Set aside.
  4. Once the 10 minutes have passed, slowly pour and evenly distribute the cherry mixture over the coconut mixture. Freeze for 30 more minutes.
  5. Now you can add the stick and continue freezing for another 3-4 hours.
  6. Wait patiently, and then eat them UP!

We grabbed some cherries from the Pearl Street Farmers’ Market here in Denver and also hand-picked our own sour cherries at Berry Patch Farms in Brighton. Aside from eating them right out of the box and making a couple of batches of ice pops, we have made a summer fruit bake, baked a cherry pie, fixed some brandied cocktail cherries, and mixed up some amazing cherry bourbon smashes.

I’ll close with some shots from a recent trip to Berry Patch Farms. This organic, family-run farm is about 30 minutes north of our house, but the trip is always worth it. We brought home some free-range, fresh eggs, colorful flowers, herbs, and vegetables. This past trip, we picked cherries {first time ever!}, and it was so much fun. We arrived about an hour before they closed, so we hustled and managed to quickly pick about eight pints. It helps to have a 6’4” boyfriend to score the cherries at the top, that no one else had gotten that day!

XO,

Jayme

summer berry crumble bake {vegan and gluten-free}

Like most of you out there, I have been hitting the local farms and markets, as often as I can here lately. I tend to bring home so much fruit or produce that I don’t have enough time to deal with it all. It is just so fresh vibrant and super tasty right now; it’s hard to resist. I was immediately inspired by a recent post by another Denverite, Ashlae, of Oh, Ladycakes. She made the most beautiful summer fruit pecan crisp, and I knew it was meant specifically for me {that’s so true!} and my ridiculous stockpile of summer fruit, waiting in the depths of my refrigerator.

I am seriously ready to pump some more life into my, well, life, and this blog. If you are a new reader, you may see some delicious posts or a colorful photo, but you have also probably noticed I have been a little out of sorts, down, and scattered, as well. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but I feel like a marionette many of my days. Like someone else is pulling the strings and calling the shots, but I can’t respond or talk back because I am just a doll on a string. I am in desperate need of balance.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my garden, I like my job as a sommelier, I love taking the time to cook a thought-out meal, and I even find gratification in staging shots, photographing, and documenting all of these things. I just miss being able to sit still and reflect, to devote 100% of my attention to a friend over coffee, and to feel like I have permission to escape up into the mountains and detach for a few hours…or days.

I find great peace simply chopping fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Sometimes, I really enjoy following a simple recipe and getting lost in the preparation, not trying to compose a creative concoction or interpretation. This is the kind of recipe that you can get lost doing. You gather, wash, chop, assemble, bake, and enjoy. I’d love for someone to actually make this for me tonight, but instead, I will write about the time I enjoyed it this past week.

I present to you my vegan berry crumble bake, inspired by Oh, Ladycakes’ summer fruit pecan crisp. It’s easy and oh-so-rewarding. And it is completely versatile, since you can substitute any fruits that are in season, when you happen across this post! Be sure to grab a can of full-fat coconut milk to make some extra coconut whipped cream for the garnish.


summer berry crumble cake


  • 1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 pint blueberries
  • 20 or so cherries, pitted {optionally sliced in half}
  • 1/2 pint blackberries
  • 1/8 cup raw sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk or almond milk
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If you are anti-oven because of the summer heat, you can totally make this dessert in the grill. Just monitor the temperature and place the baking tin on a stone or baking sheet.
  2. Wash and slice your fruit and set aside in a medium bowl.
  3. Toss the fruit together with the sugar and vanilla and set aside to incorporate.
  4. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt the coconut oil with the coconut milk, just until the mixture is warm.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, almond flour, cinnamon, and sea salt.
  6. Stir in half of the coconut oil mixture into the flour mixture, using a fork to integrate. Add the remaining half of the coconut oil mixture, until the texture looks like coarse crumbs.
  7. Stir in the oats and nuts of your choice. I had almonds on hand, but pecans would be perfection.
  8. Evenly divide the fruit mixture into baking tins. You can use a 9 by 5″ loaf pan or use a mini-loaf pan, like I did. Top the fruit mixture with the crumble mixture.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until the crumble is nice and toasty brown.
  10. Let cool for 30 minutes, before serving.
  11. Serve with coconut whipped cream!

The boyfriend and I couldn’t finish these berry crumbles in one sitting, so we scooped out the dessert into small, ceramic bowls and heated them up, when we were ready for more. Topping the crumbles with coconut whipped cream is a perfect match, but when we ran out, So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream was a great stand-in.

Signing off with some photos from the mid-July backyard garden. Things are moving along quite quickly, almost too quickly. In about two weeks, we will have more tomatoes than we know what to do with. Time to prep all of the jars down in the basement, so we can do some canning!

And let me know if you have any tried-and-true organizational or anti-stress techniques. I will take notes and put them into practice! Cheers to a more uplifting post over the next couple of days. I am working on the up-and-up!

XO

 

strawberry shortcake {dairy-free and gluten-free}

I am really having a difficult time focusing and staying on task lately. In fact, I have an imposing deadline looming over me right this very moment, as I type. I am definitely placing some of the blame on this crazy heat wave for at least some of my lack of enthusiasm. We all know that we feel better, once we’ve tackled our projects, so why do we procrastinate and endure that itchy, uncomfortable feeling of putting things off?

I’ve brought up this topic before; it is definitely a recurring theme in my life. I find that I frequently become the most creative and productive, when I am pushing off something big, but doing that is a double-edged sword. I end up taking on more projects or coming up with great ideas, while postponing that all-important one. That’s where these shortcakes came in yesterday: a tasty and distracting diversion that supplanted my original goal of completing three writing assignments. The shortcakes turned out amazingly well, and I temporarily felt accomplished. About those writing assignments? They are still inchoate, but I am at least enjoying something tasty, as I scramble to finish my goal tonight.

I definitely enjoy my fair share of butter, cheese, and cream. I am finding, however, that my body truly feels better, when I abstain from dairy. It is just rather daunting, as a baker and cook, to realize that you have to change some of your practices and learn how to create delicious food without those components. I feel like I have just mastered baking, so it is a challenge to learn new techniques and find substitutes, so that my treats still taste great and have a palatable consistency. I have had quite a few failures, but this particular dessert came through. Baby steps. And my boyfriend, who is the biggest critic on all things delicious, gave it his well-earned nod of approval.

I didn’t even need to add a lot of sugar because the berries are tasting amazing right now. If only I could grow some in my garden! For some reason, they just don’t like the soil in my backyard. That’s okay, though. There are plenty of other things that are coming along quite nicely right now. Zucchini is just about to take off, and the dill and parsley are cranking. Salads have become a daily staple around here, which balances out my craving for sweet things.


strawberry shortcake {dairy-free and gluten-free}


  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 pound organic strawberries
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • coconut whipped cream {see recipe below}

This recipe is a slight adaptation from the Nourishing Home. I stumbled upon this blog, when I was looking for almond flour shortcake recipes, and I am completely inspired by the recipes I encountered. Alright, ready for some shortcakes? Me, too.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift together the almond flour, baking soda, and sea salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla.
  4. Separately whisk together the eggs and incorporate into the coconut oil mixture.
  5. Mix the coconut oil mixture into the almond flour mixture. I used a fork to break apart any clumps and distribute the moisture evenly. See the texture in the photo with the closeup of the fork.
  6. Form the shortcakes into six equally sized balls of dough and place on a parchment paper-lined baking pan. I flattened them out slightly. Kelly mentions that you can roll out the dough and use a cutter for interesting shapes. I opted for the drop biscuit approach.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown in color.
  8. Let shortcakes cool before serving.
  9. While your shortcakes are baking, you can assemble the strawberry topping. Simply hull the strawberries and slice them up. Place them in a bowl and add the raw sugar and lemon juice. The sugar will incorporate with the berries and become a lovely consistency for your shortcakes.
  10. Once the shortcakes have cooled, split them in halves and layer with strawberries and a dollop or two of whipped coconut cream.


coconut whipped cream


  • one can {15 ounces} full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • agave nectar to taste {2-3 teaspoons}

This was my second attempt at making coconut whipped cream. The first attempt was a fail because I purchased the wrong coconut milk. Be sure to select full-fat version, from the can, without any guar gum. I credit Angela from Oh She Glows for my success. Her tutorial on how to prepare coconut whipped cream is comprehensive and easy to understand. I won’t attempt duplicating her steps. Just go to her site and bookmark the recipe!

Simply refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk overnight. When you are ready to make the whipped cream, invert the can, open the top, and drain out the watery substance into a separate container. {You can use that leftover, nutrient-rich coconut water for your smoothies!} You will be left with the pure cream at the bottom of the can. Spoon this out into your mixer and blast until creamy and smooth. Add any sweetener or vanilla, and enjoy! It is my new staple in the kitchen. I keep a few cans in my fridge, so I will always have a vegan whipped cream option on hand.

Well, send me some luck tonight! I am successfully caffeinated and prepped for a marathon writing session. I hope everyone’s fourth of July celebrations were fun and filled with all things celebratory and delicious. Mine surely was; although, I didn’t go out to view any fireworks. Kinda bummed about that, but there’s always next year. Cheers! And let me know of any favorite gluten-free recipes that you’ve been enjoying lately. I am upping my repertoire weekly!

coconut + raspberry + spring peach freezer pops

Is it possible to still be jet lagged after a week of being back home? If not, I must be the exception to the rule. Last week, at this very moment, I was flying over Kansas, making my way back to Denver from the most memorable and exciting trip I think I have ever had. I spent a week in the Burgundy region of France and made the towns of Dijon and Mâcon my home for much too short of a visit. I ate, drank, photographed, walked, explored, documented, and relished all that France had to offer, during the limited time I was there.

The trip was thought-provoking, paradigm-shifting, life-changing…what else can I add to this train of hyphenated descriptors? Joking aside, I did come back changed. And not just circumstantially changed, as if change were a byproduct of my experiences. I was intentionally and purposefully changed. If you let it, travel can open your eyes to compelling sights, contrasting cultures, and different means of thought. It can also focus and open your eyes upon yourself: how you think in a completely different context, why you act the way you do, how you react when out of your element, who you truly want to be, and why you care so much about what people think. And why you deem others’ opinions so important.

As I sit here this late afternoon, poring over my notes and tweaking hundreds of photos, while the rain pitter-patters outside my window, I am reminding myself of how free I felt overseas. How alive and observant I became. How intensely focused upon my senses I was. Why do we so frequently become complacent in our daily lives and routines? Why is it that we so often need a big change or slap in the face to make us see things differently?

I didn’t speak French, save the seven or so pertinent phrases I taught myself on the flight over {thank you, SpeakEasy French app!}. Despite the language barrier, I let myself open up to chance, meeting interesting people along the way, finding myself in unfamiliar circumstances, and forcing myself to react the way I wanted to. I slowed my pace, I listened more, I tasted with intention, and, eventually, I sighed deeper than I’d sighed in months. I wanted to take this feeling home with me and perpetuate it. Live it.

Greeted with a severe case of exhaustion from a delayed flight, a lengthy layover and an immediate reentry to my job, I quickly, but temporarily, lost my post-vacation buzz. I am finally feeling more refreshed today. Memorial Day was filled with bustle for us. We visited the garden center and purchased replacement plants for our garden. A recent hail storm decimated most of our newly planted seedlings. We pouted for a short moment, dealt with our sense of no control, and chose to replant, even if it costs us a bit more money. What more can you do? The trip to the garden center revived our excitement, and we came home ready to fill the backyard with veggies and herbs.

All of that hard work made us thirsty for something sweet and refreshing. A quick peek on Instagram at Fork Knife Swoon‘s photo of creamy coconut and blood orange ice pops propelled me to the grocery to grab some fruit and make my own. These turned out pretty darned delicious and were super easy to create. Another lesson on taking the time to make and enjoy something beautiful and satisfying. Thank you, France, for the much-needed tutorial on those subjects.


Coconut + Raspberry + Spring Peach Freezer Pops


  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 peaches, sliced
  • 1 heaping cup raspberries
  • 1/8 cup agave nectar {sweeten to taste}

In a mixing bowl, whisk coconut milk, vanilla, and agave nectar until incorporated and creamy. Set aside. In a blender {I used my trusty Vitamix}, purée the sliced and pitted peaches until smooth. There is no need to remove the skins. Set the peach mixture aside. Separately purée the raspberries until smooth and set aside. I had to add a little water to the berries to get the action going. You may also use frozen fruit, if you do not have fresh fruit at your fingertips.

For a creamy freezer pop, as Laura suggests, combine all of the ingredients until incorporated and divide evenly into six molds. I chose to layer my three components for a striking presentation, but I think I will combine them all next time, for a smoother and less icy consistency. Evenly pour the coconut milk into the molds and place them in the freezer for 10 minutes. Slowly pour the peach mixture next, followed by the raspberry mixture. I used a chopstick to drag some of the color down to the bottom of the mold, where the coconut milk was resting. Freeze for another 30 minutes and then add the stick or top of the mold. After 4 more hours of freezing, my 6 pops were ready.

These fruity freezer pops turned out to be the most delicious part of our day, along with reviving our vegetable and herb garden. We eventually graduated to a more adult form of celebration and drove down to my favorite wine shop, Divino. We found a couple of gems, and cracked a bottle of Richard Betts’ newest wine, “My Essential” Rosé. Refreshing, crisp, and satisfying. It was an essential component to a very memorable Memorial Day.


Richard Betts’ “My Essential” Rosé, Grenache, Provence, France 2013


  • On the eyes – a delicate kiss of pale salmon.
  • On the nose – floral, freshly picked red berries.
  • On the palate – dry, crisp, lean, with racy acidity and balanced fruit.
  • On the table – enjoy alone or with a friend, in the garden or on the porch, with some chèvre or simply solo.
  • On the shelf – about $13.
  • On the ears – paired with Empire of the Sun’s “Alive” from their album, Ice on the Dune. This song seriously makes me happy and makes me feel, aptly, more alive. “Loving every minute, ’cause you make me feel so alive. Alive.” That’s pretty much how Memorial Day went down this year, with so much gratitude.

bourbon maple pecan pie | paired with vin santo

Yes, I am still defiantly avoiding a juice cleanse or a green smoothie marathon, almost two weeks into the new year.  And I do not apologize if this pecan pie recipe tempts you past your threshold and sends you back to your pre-2014 indulgent self.  You will honestly thank me, if this happens.  Pecan pie is a dessert staple, a baking “rite of passage” in my family, that always makes an appearance at every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner at my house.  In fact, the recipe I swore by for years was found on page 392 of the Cotton Country Collection, from the Junior League of Monroe, Louisiana.  This past holiday season, I decided to stray away from the corn syrup that is almost always a primary ingredient in this sweet, southern standby, and opt for sweetening with maple syrup and brown sugar, instead.  I am officially converted.

Not shown: I also added a small dollop of Talenti’s Tahitian Vanilla Bean Gelato, and it really set off the flavors in the pie.

Ingredients:

  • dough for a 9″ pie {this is the one I use}
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup grade B maple syrup {yes, B is better}
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla {The Real Deal is my standing fave}
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place your chilled dough onto a lightly floured piece of wax paper.  Flatten into a disc and cover with another piece of wax paper.  Roll the dough evenly in each direction, until the dough will fit nicely into a 9″ pie pan.  Crimp the edges to your liking.  I spied some beautifully designed pie crusts here.  Chill your pie dough in the refrigerator, while you are assembling the filling.
  3. Chop the pecans and spread onto a baking sheet.  Toast pecans, until they become aromatic, for about five minutes, watching vigilantly, for they tend to scorch quickly.
  4. Remove pecans, set aside, and turn the oven up to 375 degrees.
  5. In a medium saucepan, combine syrup and butter on medium heat, until melted and incorporated.  Do not let the mixture boil.
  6. While the butter is melting, beat eggs in a mixing bowl.  Add brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, flour, and salt.  Whisk this mixture into the maple syrup and butter mixture.
  7. Bring to a slow, bubbling simmer and stir for five minutes.
  8. Remove saucepan from heat and add chopped pecans.
  9. Blind bake your pie crust for five minutes and then pour pecan filling into the pie crust.
  10. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the center is no longer in a liquid state, but still remains “jiggly.”

Tip:  Bake your pie a day before serving it.  On day two, the texture is perfect, the filling has integrated, and the pie holds together better.  The trick is not sneaking a slice during the waiting period!

You can definitely enjoy this pecan pie alone or alongside a bourbon on the rocks; however, if you can score some Vin Santo {translated, “holy wine”}, an Italian dessert wine, you just might experience the most perfectly paired ensemble.  Sigh.  And if you have not yet discovered the luxury and deliciousness of dessert wines, this may very well be a great place to start!  Need a good breakdown on sweet wines?  Read this brilliantly simple guide or skim over this one.

Castellare, S. Niccolo, Vin Santo del Chianti Classico, DOC, 2005

Breaking it down:  Castellare is the producer; “S. Niccolo″ is the name of the bottle; Malvasia and Trebbiano are the grapes; Vin Santo is the style; Chianti Classico is the region within Italy; and 2005 is the year the grapes were picked.  This sultry, amber-hued dessert wine is made from grapes that are harvested, dried in a ventilated room, and then fermented in small oak barrels.  The wine is aged five years in barrel and another six months in bottle.

  • On the eyes  –  brilliant amber, with rich, golden tones.
  • On the nose  –  toasted pecans, dried apricot, dates, golden raisin, browned butter, toffee, and spice cake.
  • On the palate  –  golden raisin, spice cake, buttery caramel, balanced sweetness and acidity, with a toasty, long finish, hinting at bitter black walnuts.
  • On the table  –  perfect accompaniment to shortbread, oatmeal raisin cookies, fruit tarts, and nutty pies.
  • On the shelf  –  around $25.
  • On the ears  –  I couldn’t resist pairing this duo with a track from the Avett Brothers.  “Kick Drum Heart” from their album, “I and Love and You,” highlights my excitement for this bourbon + maple + pecan pie.  The words are incredibly sweet and touching.

DSC_000

Sunday was an exceptionally productive day, as far as home improvements go.  I know that I am overdue on posting an update on our kitchen remodel, but we are waiting for the back splash tile and the cabinet hardware to arrive.  Soon, I promise!  That afternoon, we hauled out the table saw and finished making cuts for our hallway door frames and an oak shelf to provide a perch for some of our houseplants.  They’ve been living in a cluttered stack, under the front windows, and are ready for a better home.  Finishing that project this morning!  Closing with photos from Sunday afternoon…

Bitter and windy, despite the sun’s warm rays.

Steve getting ready for finishing the shelf.

Our houseplants’ current home: no room to stretch out or thrive. Problem solved very soon and very cheaply! I see a post in the making…

Our little Ash cat, getting used to her cat carrier, so that an upcoming trip to the vet will be a little less scary.