Of Women & Whiskey

I'm in a ladies only whiskey club. That's right, ladies only.

We meet up about once every 2 months. The host usually picks the whiskey cocktail while someone else brings a bottle of whiskey—preferably one we haven't yet tried—and the rest of us bring the food. 

We've had a variety of cocktails over the past year: sazeracs to homemade eggnog to old-fashioneds to whiskey cider. Our favorite whiskey thus far is Defiant which happens to be made in North Carolina. It's the smoothest bourbon I've ever had and prefer to drink it on ice.

Recently I chose this recipe from Saveur for us to try and I have to say it was pretty delicious. I'm a big fan of port wine so it was a pretty easy decision.

For one cocktail, add:
1 oz Ruby Port wine
2 oz Bulleit bourbon (or Woodford Reserve)
1 tsp maple syrup
& a dash of bitters
to a shaker with ice.

Strain and add to a glass with a rosemary sprig and a few frozen cherries. Cheers!

Party dates

Hello! After a long hiatus I'm back. I realized I missed sharing photographs, recipes and stories on the blog. I also felt like a needed a more grown up space—with my new last name—so here we are. You might also notice my design portfolio in the navigation. That's because my interests are intertwined and I felt like I wanted to keep them in the same space. 

These dates were made for a friend's birthday party this fall. I simply stuffed fresh dates with goat cheese, orange zest and pistachios. Not only were they easy to make, but they travelled well on the back of my bike.

The hardest part was stuffing the cheese inside the date. I let the cheese sit at room temperature in a small dish, then added a bit of water to thin so it was easier to spread. You could probably use a pastry bag (or a plastic sandwich bag with a cut corner) to fill the date as well.

Feel free to swap the ingredients with your favorites or try this blue cheese and pecan recipe or this bacon wrapped recipe. Your friends will love this savory and sweet party snack. 

Ricotta stuffed shells

Everywhere I looked last week, recipes for stuffed shells kept popping up. I took it as a sign and decided to try out this recipe. I don't often make pasta so my husband was pretty excited for a change. Plus with my half marathon training schedule in full gear, I was excited to try this as well.

I served this alongside an arugula salad and our favorite vinho verde since it was 70 degrees that evening. This meal would make an excellent meatless Monday dinner. You could also double the recipe and freeze half for later.

Ricotta stuffed shells
Adapted from Fork Knife Swoon

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion diced
1/4 tsp salt
1-28 oz. can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1-14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp red wine
20-25 jumbo pasta shells
3/4 c part-skim ricotta
1 c shredded mozzarella
1/4 c shredded parmesan
1 organic egg
1/4 c minced basil
1/4 c minced arugula
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

Heat olive oil over low-to-medium heat. Add the onion, cooking until transparent and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and oregano. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add a splash of red wine and balsamic vinegar. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a big pinch of salt to the water, then add the shells. Cook for 12-15 minutes until al dente. Remove from heat, strain, and rinse pasta with cold water to stop from cooking further. Set aside.

While the noodles are cooking, make your ricotta mixture. Mix the remaining ingredients together into a large bowl.

Ladle half of the tomato sauce into a large 9x13 in. casserole dish. Pick up a jumbo shell,  fill with about a tablespoon of ricotta mixture, close the shell and set down into the pasta sauce. Repeat until the dish is full or you run out of filling. Ladle the remaining tomato sauce over all of the shells. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly before eating. Garnish with parsley and serve with an arugula salad.

A little chocolate doesn't hurt

I'm not the most thoughtful person in my household, that would be my awesome husband. He's an excellent listener and the best gift giver I know.

I always feel pressured to find that perfect gift on holidays. I'd much rather show my love throughout the year when I find a gift I know a friend would enjoy. Sharing my love of cooking and passion for health is what I really want to share with people. I find myself giving edible gifts of chocolate, kale salads, baked goods, recipes or cookbooks. What better gift than to inspire someone to get back in the kitchen, right?

I stumbled upon this quote this morning and thought it was perfect. "All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." - Charles M. Schulz

My sentiments exactly. Enjoy some chocolate treats like these from a local Raleigh favorite, Escazu Chocolates, or make your own. But be sure to share with someone you love. Happy Valentine's day friends!

Magical spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash is a cousin to butternut, acorn and other winter squash. I enjoy eating winter squash this time of year because it's comforting without being heavy. When spaghetti squash is baked and scrapped with a fork, its flesh breaks up into noodle-like strands. This vegetable makes a delicious gluten free pasta-like dish. Pretty magical, right? We don't eat a lot of pasta around our house, but we really enjoy this dish.

Squash is like a sponge, it will soak up whatever flavor you want. Lately I've sautéed my squash noodles with onion, garlic and herbs. I have a neighbor who swears by garlic and chili oil.

How to cook spaghetti squash

1 spaghetti squash, cut in half with seeds removed

Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes depending on the size. Remove from oven. Once cooled, scrap the flesh with a fork until it's all broken up into noodles.

Pesto spaghetti squash
1 spaghetti squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp spinach
1 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
4-6 tbsp pesto
parmesan to garnish

Cook the spaghetti squash according to the directions above.

Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat. When it starts turning transparent, add the garlic and herbs, stirring until fragrant. Now mix in the spaghetti squash and spinach. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

Remove from heat. Mix in the fresh basil, pesto, and garnish with parmesan. Enjoy with Sara's lentil meatballs or grilled chicken.

Cherry orange couscous

Fall is here and it's almost Thanksgiving! How did that happen so quickly?

I feel like I've been a little off balance lately. When I start feeling this way I take a step back, shut my computer off, go outside for a long run, pick up a book, and cook up a storm. I also load up on fresh fruit and vegetables.

This is one of those feel good salads. It's easy to make and ready to eat in about 10 minutes. I've been making variations of this bean and grain salad on the weekend. I pack it for lunch during the week along with a bowl of soup or sweet potato wedges. You could also add leftover grilled chicken to this if you need more protein.

Cherry orange couscous
1/2 c couscous
1 can of garbanzo beans
3 tbsp of tangerine or orange juice
3 tbsp of walnut oil
1/4 sea salt
1/4 c of fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/2 c of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 c of baby kale or spinach
1/4 c dried cherries
1 oz goat cheese (optional)

Bring 1/2 c of fresh water to a boil. Add the couscous, stir well and cover. Remove from heat and set aside for five minutes.

Mix the juice, oil, and salt together in a small dish. Add the garbanzo beans, kale, herbs and cooked couscous to large bowl. Immediately pour the dressing over and mix well. Add the cherries and garnish with goat cheese. I like to put a lid on the bowl and give it a shake, so everything gets mixed up well. Enjoy!

Carrot ginger apple soup

Soup's on!

A warming bowl of veggie-based soup is not only delicious but good for you too. It's a creative way to get more vegetables into your diet and the flavor combinations are endless. Plus it's perfect paired with cooler temperatures.

Carrot is one of my favorite soups to make because I almost always have a bag in the fridge. I picked up this beautiful baby ginger at the farmer's market along with a few jonagold apples. I'm a big fan of bold-flavor soups (like curry) but sometimes I want a humble soup where the vegetable shines. This is exactly that. What are you favorite soups this time of year?

Roasting is a quick way to add a lot of flavor to your soup, if you don't have broth on hand or are short on time. We all know soup tastes better the next day when the flavors have had time to meld.

Carrot ginger apple soup
6 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 onion, diced
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp or more of diced jalapeno
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp fresh baby ginger
4-6 cups water or veggie broth
1/2 tsp tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
juice of 1 lime
garnish with fresh herbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add carrots to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tbsp coconut oil and sprinkle with cumin seeds and 1/4 tsp salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes, then remove from heat.

Heat the remaining coconut oil in a soup pot. Add the onion, mustard seeds, jalapeño and remaining salt. When the onion is translucent, about 5-8 minutes, add the apple. Stir, cooking for a few minutes, before adding the garlic and ginger. Cook until pungent. Stir in the roasted carrots and 4-6 cups of water (depending on how thick your carrots are). Bring to a boil, simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat, add the lime juice and tamari, blend until smooth. Add salt or more lime juice to taste. Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve over top brown rice alongside tahini greens or with a grilled cheese.

More soup ideas for fall:
Curried tomato
Roasted garlic & cauliflower
Roasted tomato & carrot soup with socca croutons
Smoky split pea
Roasted parsnip
Beautiful beet soup
Curried sweet potato

An unlikely pairing

I'm training for a half marathon in early November and along with that comes a regular training schedule. I run 3-4 days a week and cross-train for 2. I do my longer runs bright and early on Sunday mornings. As my distance is increasing, so is my appetite. Instead of loading up on empty carbs, I eat wholesome meals and snacks with healthy fat and high-quality protein. I'm eating more eggs and even some chicken.

This is one of my favorite snack combinations lately: tahini and molasses. I know it may sound weird, but it's delicious. Tahini contains more protein than milk and it's rich in iron too. It's great on bananas or slathered onto toast for pre-run fuel. I've even used it as an alternative to frosting on carrot cupcakes.

Is anyone else training for an upcoming race? Have any tips to share? Happy Friday friends!

Part three: Get outside the city

The best way to see Iceland is to rent a car and drive Ring Road. There are a lot of day or weekend excursions that leave from Reykjavik, if that's your thing. I can't speak to it since we planned our own adventures.


Gulfoss falls (golden waterfall)
Majestic waterfalls outside the city with a great cafe at its base.

Great Geysir
On the way to Gulfoss you'll pass the geysirs, so you may as well stop. Plus it's pretty cool to watch them erupt.

Black sand beaches anyone? Vik is a small town right on the south coast. We stopped at the cutest cafe for lunch, Sudur.

Svartifoss waterfall at Skaftafell National Park
Stunning. Worth the hike up.

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
Icebergs! Glaciers! Oh my! Seriously a must.

Blue Lagoon
Yes, it's touristy but you should do it. When else will you swim in a geothermal pool?

And the side of the road
Seriously there are so many picturesque moments along the highway that you'll want to stop and capture the breathtaking Icelandic scenery.


Frost & Fire Hotel (Frost og Funi)
Awesome hotel with delicious European-style breakfast (bread, cheese + cucumber is my fav).

Laekjarhus cabin
Three of the cutest cabins at the base of these giant mountains. Oh and there was a sheep farm. 15 minutes for Skaftafell National Park where we hiked to see Svartifoss waterfall. A 30-40 minute drive to the glacier lagoon in Jökulsárlón. Stop in Vik and load up on groceries since the cabin has a fridge and stovetop.

And I forgot to mention, this is the Airbnb studio apartment we stayed in for four nights in Reykjavik. It was perfect. South of the city by the university and minutes from the coast which had an awesome paved path for biking and running. Bjorns Bakeri was a block away (which we didnt' realize until the day before we left) and it was only a 10 minute walk to the domestic airport to pick up our rental car.

If you have any questions about Reykjavik or Iceland, let me know!

Part Two: Where to eat in Reykjavik

Let's talk food! A few things you should know right away. Skyr is Icelandic yogurt and it's amazing. You may already be a fan of the Siggi's brand at Whole Foods. You'll see it on almost all menus in some shape or form. It's thick yet smoother than Greek yogurt. I ate vanilla skyr for breakfast or a snack almost everyday. We also saw Appelsin everywhere, which is the Icelandic version of Orangina. I don't drink sodas, but when on vacation...

If you're shopping for a few groceries, stop at 1011 or Bonus stores. I found a few other stores online, but never stumbled upon them on our trip. We picked up bread and cinnamon scones at Bjorns Bakeri near our airbnb flat and a few other necessities from the 1011 (peanut butter, nuts, jam, cheese).


The oldest coffeeshop in Reykjavik and definitely the coziest. It was our favorite cafe, morning or afternoon. We always ordered a cappuccino and swiss mokka. They also served breakfast all day—waffles and toast with cheese were on point.

Kaffismidja Island
They roast their own coffee beans and serve excellent coffee. The only barista to create art in my foam. They don't have a large food menu as coffee is their expertise. I had my first pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant). Why has it taken me so long to order that?


Mar restaurant
We both had the piadina (flatbread) with mozzarella, pesto and tomato with sweet potato fries. Hit the spot after a long walk through the city. Plus there's a nice view of the harbor. Josh wanted to go to see this graphic relief mural.

Icelandic Fish & Chips
We enjoyed spelt-barley battered fish with skyrronaise and roasted rosemary potato wedges. Skyrronaise is the Icelandic version of aioli. Yep you guessed it, it's made with skyr. We had coriander lime, honey mustard, and roasted chili red pepper. Coriander lime won, hands down.

Kex Hostel
I had the celeraic soup, mustard mashed potatoes and a Pale Ale. He had opened-faced pork sandwich with horseradish and cabbage. A hip hostel with a great menu and laid back atmosphere. Worth the walk there.

Bergsson Mathus
I spotted this place because of the food illustrations on the window. We came back the next day and had an amazing lunch. A small menu of rotating salads, soup, and entrees. I had the sweet potato soup and fresh salads (greek salad, pickled vegetables, roasted beets). Excellent place for lunch. Very vegetarian friendly.

Grænn kostur
All vegetarian restaurant with only two specials of the day. We had mushroom soup with homemade bread and hummus.

Perfect place for drinks or dining solo. We enjoyed wine and Icelandic beer at the bar.

Trendy, quirky restaurant by the harbor. I had hot smoked salmon on malt toast with horseradish and chervil. Best salmon ever. Period.

Have you been to Reykjavik? Are there any places I missed? A special thanks to Ashlae for steering us in the right direction with her recommendations. Find more great restaurants from the Grapevine here. Check back in on Friday for one last post on why you should rent a car and get outside the city.

Part one: Why Iceland?

We just got back from an amazing week long vacation in Iceland(!). We spent four days in Reykjavik and two days outside the city. A lot of people have asked why we selected Iceland for vacation, so I thought I'd explain.

Iceland is a magical place. We saw black sand beaches, mountains, luscious green sheep farms, glaciers, icebergs, geysers, and waterfalls everywhere. Once you see pictures like these, you'll begin to understand the fascination with the small northern European country. Everyone says it's like being on another planet and I couldn't agree more. Waterfalls tumble down most mountains and rainbows appear anywhere. Iceland's invested more in their tourism industry since the recession, and it's starting to stimulate the economy.

The population of the entire country is 320,000 while 200,000 reside in Reykjavik. People tend to be reserved and keep to themselves. Icelandic is the national language, but everyone speaks English. Restaurant menus were also translated into English. A lot of homes are painted bright colors in Reykjavik since it's dark and gloomy most of the year. The grey skies really make the colors pop.

Check back for part two on Wednesday as I'll share our favorite cafes and restaurants!

Zucchini basil breakfast muffins

This isn't really a muffin. It's what happens when a muffin meets a frittata. It's gluten free so it contains three eggs along with almond meal and chickpea flour to bind it together. If you are a fan of savory breakfasts like me, then this is a great breakfast option for you.

I think these muffins are best stored in the fridge. You can eat them cold or heat them up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Pack for breakfast on-the-go or serve as part of brunch.

Zucchini basil breakfast muffins
Makes a dozen regular sized muffins
Recipe adapted from Just Bento

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced small
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 medium zucchini, diced small
3/4 c almond meal
2/3 c chickpea flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 organic eggs
1/2 c plain greek yogurt (I used Siggi's)
3/4 c fresh basil, shredded
1/2 c shredded parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 12-cup muffin tin.

Add olive oil to a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until it becomes translucent. Add in the salt, chili flakes and garlic. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant, then add in the diced zucchini. Cook for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. You should have about 2 cups of the zucchini mixture.

Whisk the almond meal, chickpea flour, baking powder, salt and pepper together in a bowl. In a separate larger bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy, then add the cooled zucchini mixture, yogurt, and basil. Pour in the dry ingredients and half of the parmesan. Mix well.

Pour the batter into the muffin cups and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!

8-hour pizza dough

These days I spend more time planning ahead to make sure we have a healthy, homemade dinner on the table since I have a 9-to-5. Pizza night is simple. I'll make a salad of sorts and serve that alongside the pie. If I didn't plan ahead, my plan B is to use garlic naan from Whole Foods.

I've been using local whole wheat flour and cornmeal from Faucette Farms to make this pizza dough. For local readers, you can find it at the mobile farmer's market, Lomo Market.

I've made this pizza dough with several variations, but this is always my favorite. The cornmeal gives it a nice flavor and crunch that I like. Before I head out the door to work, I'll whip this up, and dinner practically makes itself.

8-hour pizza dough
From Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook
1/2 c cornmeal
1/2 c all purpose flour 
2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp oregano
1.5 c water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, then whisk in the water. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and put in a warm spot (I put mine on top of the fridge). Let sit for 8-12 hours. 

When you get home from work, put on some music (maybe Lee Fields), grab an apron, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet and spread the dough out on it. Cover with a cloth while you're prepping your toppings. Don't let it sit out longer than an hour.

Add tomato sauce or pesto and top with your favorite ingredients. Lately we've been making ours with tomato sauce, summer squash, mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, and basil. Bake 10-12 minutes and remove from the oven. Enjoy! 

Make this tonight: Coconut zucchini noodles

In a cooking rut? This is one of those recipes that will break you out of one. When I saw Jeanine of Love & Lemons post this delicious recipe, I knew I had to try it. We're both big fans of coconut over here. I subbed dino kale for the amaranth greens and pretty much followed her recipe word-for-word. I served this alongside lettuce cups filled with a chilled rice noodle salad similar to this one. It was a great light meal on a hot summer night. Have you had any great dishes lately?

Interested in learning more about graphic design?

Have you heard of Skillshare? You can sign up for a variety of project-based classes at their website. The classes are self-paced and online so you can take them from anywhere. Skillshare gets top notch professionals to teach you the skills of their trade. There's a wide range of subjects covered like photography, writing, design, food, film, and technology.

My very talented husband is teaching the Fundamentals of graphic design on August 6th. The project for his class is to design a promotional poster for your favorite art exhibit. You'll learn some of the basic principles of design like composition, hierarchy, and scale as well as why choosing the right typeface matters. This is a great class for anyone looking to learn more about graphic design. Enroll here if you're interested.

The drink of summer nights

I was first introduced to Pimm's in a park in London. It was March of 2005 and I was finishing up my winter semester abroad. The grey had given way to the sun and everyone was headed outside. Our dorm was right across from Battersea Park so we walked over and found a spot amidst the families picnicking and couples lounging. A pitcher of Pimm's was soon passed around. I'll never forget how refreshing that first sip was.

Nowadays whenever the temperatures soar, we stock our bar with Pimm's. I add in lemon and lime slices, but the cucumber spear is the most important. You can skip the gin, but I like it's botanical note. 8 years ago Pimm's was hard to find in the States, but these days it's carried in most liquor stores.

Pimm's Pitcher 
serves four
8 oz Pimm's
1 oz Tanqueray gin
14-16 oz ginger ale
4 lemon slice
4 lime slices
4 cucumber spear
sprig of fresh basil or mint

Pour the liquor and ginger ale into a large pitcher. Put ice cubes in four tall glasses and pour in the Pimm's mixture. Add a lemon slice, lime slice, and cucumber spear to each glass. Garnish with fresh herbs. Enjoy with friends on a hot summer night.

Blue Bottle coffee granita

We recently spent several days in San Francisco. Me for a design conference, him for pleasure. Our hotel was conveniently located a few blocks away from Blue Bottle coffee. I stopped there each morning for an iced pour over on the way to the Moscone Center. Some afternoons I also stopped by for a pick-me-up. I now understand why Blue Bottle gets such praise. It's more than their exceptional coffee drinks, but a genuine love of the craft.

Back on the East coast with my Blue Bottle beans in tow—where temperatures were back in the 90s—I decided to make a coffee granita. Granita is a semi-frozen Italian dessert, with a texture similar to a slushie. It's made from water, sugar, and flavors like coffee, lemon, almond, strawberry. I found a recipe by Mark Bittman that sounded delicious. I've already made it twice in the past two weeks. I reduced the sugar, increased the cocoa, and added a pinch of cinnamon.

Blue Bottle coffee granita
Adapted from the Diner's Journal
3 cups of freshly brewed french press coffee
1.5-2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/3 c raw sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pour the coffee into a nonstick loaf pan or tray of choice. While the coffee's hot, stir in the remaining ingredients until dissolved. Allow the coffee mixture to cool and then put into the freezer.

Check the granita in 30 minutes or so, and scrap the ice with a fork. Repeat several more times until it's mostly frozen, but a still a bit slushy.

Enjoy as is or top with cream (coconut or whipped). If you store in the freezer, make sure to remove ahead of time, so it has time to melt before eating.

Raw zucchini salad

I've been eyeing raw zucchini salads for some time now, and I finally got around to making my own. I wish I had made this one sooner. It's so refreshing on a hot and humid summer day. And it is hot in Raleigh these days. If you avoid turning on your oven this time of year—because it turns your kitchen into a furnace and makes you break into a sweat—then you'll really enjoy this salad. Plus it's ready in minutes, so you can spend more time outside swimming or drinking cold beverages with friends. Pack this for your fourth of July festivities along with these toasts and a pitcher of watermelon agua fresca (or gin fizz).

Raw zucchini salad 
2 medium-sized zucchini
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp walnut (or olive) oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch of chili flakes
1-2 tbsp grated parmesan
1 tbsp of fresh basil and mint, shredded
handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Rinse and dry the zucchini. Shave off the skin with a vegetable peeler and discard (or compost!). Then shave the remainder of the zucchini into long ribbons and put into a bowl. If you have a hunk of zucchini left, just slice very thinly and toss into the bowl.

Mix the lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, and chili flakes into a small dish. Drizzle over the zucchini and mix well with your hands. Depending on the size of your zucchini, you may want to add more or less dressing to the zucchini.

Top the zucchini ribbons with parmesan and herbs. Place the cherry tomatoes around the edge of the bowl. Serve immediately.

How is it already July? I can't believe how fast this year is flying by. Any big plans for the fourth, friends?

Mixed berry galette

A galette is perfect for those of us who aren't serious bakers. Uneven edges give the rustic tart more character. I used blueberries and cherries, but feel free to add your favorites. I'm thinking peaches next time around. Or if sweet isn't your thing, you could always try it savory.

Mixed berry galette
Makes about an 8 inch galette that serves about six people.

1 c organic whole wheat pastry or spelt flour (or a mixture)
6 tbsp organic butter
, cold and cut into chunks
1 tbsp raw natural sugar

3/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 c ice water

1 c blueberries

1/2 c cherries, pitted

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1/4 c raw honey

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Make the dough first. Pour flour into large bowl along with the sugar and salt. Add the butter, a few chunks out a time, mixing in with your fingers or cut in with a knife. Mix until it resembles a coarse mixture. A few larger chunks of butter are ok. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, as you work it into the dough. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with clear wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour. 

30 minutes later, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the berries, coconut oil, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice together while the dough is in the refrigerator. 

After an hour has passed, remove the dough from the fridge and put onto a floured work surface. Massage with your hands as it will warm the dough, making it easier to work with. Grab a rolling pin and roll the dough out. It’s really up to you how thick you want the crust to be. I like mine anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4 in. thick. 

Now place the filling in the middle of the dough and spread out. Leave about an inch or so free from the edge. You will then pick up the edges and roll over the filling, forming a rustic, open tart. Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick you made your crust. You want the crust to brown lightly.

Remove from heat and let cool before serving. Excellent served with homemade ice cream.

Strawberries, eaten many ways.

Growing up in western North Carolina, we would pick strawberries every summer at Ira Cline Farm. Nothing is sweeter than plucking a bright red, plump strawberry off the vine and straight into your mouth. The warm, sweet juice dripping down your chin. Nature's candy. We'd fill buckets full and my mom would make gallons of freezer jam that would last us into the winter.

Strawberry season is ending now in NC, so last weekend we went strawberry picking. We filled a large plastic bucket for $11 in less than 20 minutes. When we got home, I got to work. I roasted them, mashed into a jam, whisked into a glaze, froze for later and ate a handful while doing all of the above.

If you find yourself with a bucket of berries. Here's a few ideas:
Mix into a salad of spinach, goat cheese, and pecans.
Slice and add to plain yogurt and granola for breakfast.
Make a strawberry version of chia jam. It's easy and good for you today.
Muddle into Erin's tarragon smash or this balsamic smash.
Freeze for smoothies or make into popsicles.
Roast them and pile on top of Sara's gluten free almond cake. See below.

Sara's gluten free almond cake
Slightly adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c raw honey
3/4 c organic plain yogurt, strained (or greek)
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup all purpose gluten free flour
1/3 c raw cane sugar
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and grease with butter.

Mix the wet ingredients together in large bowl—eggs, extract, honey, yogurt, butter. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix together well.

Pour into the cake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Strawberry glaze
1 cup strawberries
3/4 cup plain yogurt
3-5 tbsp powdered sugar

Toss the strawberries and yogurt into a blender until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Whisk in the powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time and mix in furiously. I'm not one to use a lot of powdered sugar, but it helps to thicken the glaze.

Once the cake is cool, top with glaze, roasted strawberries, and sliced almonds. The perfect cake for a picnic.