Tag Archives: gluten free

my finished DIY Christmas pine wreath

pumpkin spice waffles, good bubbles + how to make a holiday wreath

Well, we finally got a Christmas tree a little over a week ago. If we are lucky, maybe we’ll even decorate it before the 25th! Not a likely story. So far, the potted evergreen bears only a loosely hung string of LED lights on its small branches. But it is so adorable just as it is!

This is the first year that Steve and I purchased a living Christmas tree. We even have a spot in the front yard dedicated to its earth-bound arrival in late spring. I scoured the rows of now-small evergreen trees at City Floral and found the perfect one. It’s a little crooked, but its trunk is strong and solid. On the way to check out, I spied some loose tree trimmings in a box and was instantly inspired to create a handmade wreath.

Luckily, one of my favorite garden bloggers, Erin of Blackberry Burrow, had recently posted a beautiful evergreen wreath tutorial, so I took down a few of her tips and made an adorably wild wreath happen.

Armed with an obscenely large cup of coffee, alongside my new Christmas tree buckled in the passenger seat of my car, I set out to find a sturdy wreath frame and some floral wire. And some bubbles for later. Because I love bubbles.

That was last weekend. My boyfriend and I were gifted a day off together, which never happens in the month of December, when life is blowing by at full-speed at the restaurant. Late nights, late mornings, baggy eyes {thank God for concealer!}, and copious cups of coffee are all commonplace this time of year. But those wouldn’t bog us down that day. Not one bit.

Steve and I have an annual tradition of compiling a holiday playlist and even burn it out, old-school-style, on a CD. Kind of a “best-of” compilation of music that catches our ears throughout the year. While Steve was mixing a first-pass at the computer, I set out to make my first-ever evergreen wreath. But first, more coffee and some pumpkin spice waffles. I’ll get to those in a moment.


how to make your own evergreen wreath


  • floral wire
  • evergreen boughs, branches, or pieces
  • a wire wreath frame {found at craft stores or a floral shop}
  • yard scissors or “pruners”
  • wire cutters
  1. Forage for stems and boughs from evergreen trees or grab some from your local florist. Erin suggested gathering branches after a winter storm, but since we had been experiencing 75-degree weather, that wasn’t an option for me. I found some at City Floral here in Denver. I even saw that Whole Foods sold evergreen pieces for only $5 a “bouquet” – not a bad price.
  2. Bunch together a few branches of evergreen and tie together with a few wraps of floral wire. Depending upon the thickness, I used either three or four branches. You may also trim the branches along the way, if you want a more uniformly sized wreath. You can always trim it later, though.
  3. Set out your wreath base on your working area. I used this 18″ wire wreath base from Michael’s.
  4. Using your wire cutters, clip a long piece of floral wire. Take your first “bouquet” that you tied together and tie it securely to the wreath frame. In the third photo below, you can see the back of the frame and notice how I secured the groupings of evergreen pieces.
  5. Stagger the next evergreen bouquet a few inches away from the first one, sort of layering each time. Continue in this fashion, until you reach the place, where you began. It’s really that easy. Now you can decorate it or leave it in its unruly, woodsy glory!

So, yeah, I was super stoked with my results! I actually ran out of evergreen pieces during the wreath-making process, so Steve kindly trimmed some of our overgrown bushes in our yard and came to the rescue. The little blueish pieces and the long, wispy pieces are from his handiwork!

We took a break to make some pumpkin spice waffles from Cookie + Kate. I made only a few adaptations from her original recipe. You can find her detailed post here. I am constantly inspired with her vegetarian cooking and creative ways to make healthy treats taste delicious.

I also had a bottle of Prosecco to taste and review, so I figured I’d taste it in the morning and make mimosas with the leftovers! And just in case you’re someone who needs a little brush-up on how to make the perfect mimosa, I’ve got that covered, as well. This post I wrote at the Kitchn a few months back will definitely hone your mimosa-making skills.


pumpkin spice waffles {gluten-free}


  • 2 1/4 cups oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice or cloves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 packed pumpkin purée
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  1. In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together until combined.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together. Add the remaining wet ingredients and stir until thoroughly blended.
  3. Now add the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Stir just until combined. There will be some small clumps, and that’s okay. Let the batter rest for about 10 minutes. Now is the time to preheat your waffler.
  4. Once the time’s up, give your waffle mix one more toss with a spoon. Waffler sizes vary, but I found success scooping out a hefty 1/2 cup onto the surface of my waffle iron. This is the one that I use, but I am dying for a Belgian waffler {swoon!}.
  5. I took Kate’s advice and preheated my oven to 200 degrees, so that I could make the entire batch of waffles and place them in the heated oven, until I was ready to serve them. This was perfect advice!

  • Make your own oat flour. If you don’t have oat flour on hand, simply toss 2 1/4 cups of whole oats into a blender, until the oats turn into a fine flour.
  • Freeze your own pumpkin purée over the summer. Since I grow so many pumpkins and squashes, I always have pumpkin purée on hand. I roast up a batch of two or three, purée the roasted pumpkin, scoop out 2-cup portions, and freeze them in plastic bags. There’s no need to purchase any from a can!
  • Make these waffles ahead and freeze them. I placed them in freezer bags and removed as much air out of the bag as possible. I have enjoyed them multiple times over the past week!
  • Get creative. I infused my maple syrup with fresh thyme and added toasted pecans. I have definitely done this before, and here is the proof.


Nino Franco “Rustico” Prosecco, Valdobbiadene Superiore, Italy, MV


  • On the eyes – bright, pale straw.
  • On the nose – floral overtones, supported by golden delicious apple, green melon, white peach, and orange pith.
  • On the palate – This is a leaner style Prosecco and is great if you don’t gravitate toward bread-like, biscuit-y sparkling wines. It is moderate in acidity, has a chalk-like finish, and definitely showcases all of the aromas listed above. Delicious on its own and complemented with a little grapefruit juice!
  • On the table – Excellent with oysters or shellfish.
  • On the shelf – about $16.
  • On the ears – paired with SOHN‘s “Artifice” from the album, Tremors. I am freaking in love with his sound and am bummed that I missed him, when he passed through Denver earlier in November. The entire album is gorgeously written, and his haunting vocals deliver the words poetically. A couple of his tracks definitely made it to our Best-Of playlist. I’ll post a link soon, and if you would like a hard copy {ie: a compact disc}, I can make that happen, too. I’m all about music swaps!

Have an inspired, authentic, and profoundly creative rest of your week!

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!

toasty whole grain granola with dried cherries + dark chocolate

I am just settling in this afternoon, back from a week-long vacation on Lake Burton, in north Georgia. And by vacation, I mean family reunion. Contrary to what most might assume, the break away from work was refreshing, no family feuds ensued, and the scenery was breathtaking. Any worries we had on the trip were quelled, once we turned the key to our front door: the houseplants didn’t die, the cats made it alright, and the garden surprisingly flourished.

I am taking a short break to write this post, before we deal with the “unknowns” in the refrigerator. I am thinking that a lot of what is still hanging out in the fridge will go straight into the compost. I don’t feel bad about that. The unused food will soon be recycled into soil for our garden’s vegetables and herbs. Even though the trip was relaxing, I am still in vacation mode and want to set up our workweek right. In addition to preparing a versatile quinoa salad for the week, we are also assembling one of our favorite kitchen staples: granola. This particular version, however, definitely carries a theme of indulgence and decadence. Vacations have got to be stretched out as long as possible, right!?

I have been making riffs on granola for years. It is a nutritious and versatile treat that can be made quickly and can utilize scraps and leftovers from your baking cabinet. I tend to make versions that incorporate remnants of oats from a baking experiment, nuts and seeds from a spring hike, and dried fruit that just isn’t tasting quite good enough by itself. I just toss them all with a bit of oil and add some sugar and bake until crisp and golden. Sounds easy, right? It is. Here is a basic granola recipe that I use for everyday breakfasts and snacks, along with a couple of delicious variations.


toasty whole grain granola with dried cherries + dark chocolate


  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped coarsely
  • 1/8 cup golden flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped coarsely
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • sea salt or cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 an 8-ounce dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped {you can snack on the other half, while making the granola. You’re welcome. I like to use anything by Ritual Chocolate, made here in Denver. You’re double welcome.}
  • good handful of dried cherries, to taste
  • pinch of cinnamon, optional
  • dash of vanilla extract, optional {you can guess that I use Oh, Lady Cakes’ vanilla extract …why wouldn’t you, unless it’s sold out?}

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Toss all ingredients, minus the chocolate and dried cherries, in a large bowl, making sure to coat evenly with the oil and maple syrup.
  3. Spread the oat and nut mixture onto a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. You should smell the toasty, cozy aroma of roasted nuts. Be sure not to over-bake. Burnt granola is not the best kind of granola.
  4. Once baked to perfection, set aside and let cool.
  5. Toss cooled granola into a bowl and add dried cherries and dark chocolate. Pour mixture into a large Mason jar or anything with a tight lid. You’ll want to keep this fresh and out of the way of humidity.
  6. Serve by itself or along with some skyr {Icelandic yogurt} or Greek yogurt. You can add fresh fruit, if you don’t have dried fruit on hand. This recipe yields one large, quart-sized Mason jar, plus 1 1/4 cup extra.

I have been seriously enjoying the cherry season this year. My recent brandied cherries turned out perfectly, and I have pitted and dried some more, just to capture their essence of summer. To dry your own cherries, you can either easily dehydrate them in the oven or in a food dehydrator. This is the one that I use most frequently.

I am officially off to clean out the refrigerator and finish up the granola project. I have some leftover, week-old sangria that held up quite nicely, while we were away. I just might have to pour myself a glass and sit out in the backyard. Speaking of sangria, you can read my most recent post at the Kitchn, featuring the best red wines for summer sangria, here. Pour yourself some and make your shopping list for granola. Or simply scour your cabinets and make a “kitchen sink” version of your own! Cheers!