Just when you thought dessert couldn’t get any better, we’re hitting you with a delicious, rich, luscious treat that even those of you who are vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free can eat! I mean, it’s kind of magical.
Let’s get into it! There are two things about this sweet coconut rice pudding that make it extra special. First, frozen cooked white rice. Have you used this stuff yet!? It’s A-MAZING. I prefer Whole Foods 365 brand frozen cooked rice. Its seriously changed my rice-eating life—perfectly cooked grains of rice are flash frozen and bagged for your convenience, I mean come on! If you can’t find it, no worries, homemade white rice works just as well. Hint: You could also use leftover from your Chinese takeout order.
The second thing that makes this dessert so special is the coconut milk. It gives the pudding all of its creaminess and a little hint of exotic sweetness. Look for light coconut milk to slim things down a bit. You don’t really need all of the heaviness of full fat coconut milk here, since the recipe’s so simple and subtle.
If you really want to take this dessert over the top, serve the rice pudding in DIY fresh coconut cups. Here’s what you do: Find yourself some coconuts. I was surprised by how many grocery store had ‘em! Take the tip of a meat thermometer or clean screwdriver and punch out the 3 holes at the top of the coconut (FYI usually only 1 or 2 will yield to puncturing! Don’t worry if you can’t get all three); drain coconut water into a glass—drink that, lady! It’s good stuff.
Next, one coconut at a time, hold coconut with a kitchen towel in your hand. Use the dull side of a heavy chefs knife to firmly whack all the way around the coconut’s diameter at its widest part (think, like, it’s equator). Keep going around and around until the hard outer shell begins to give way. This might take a few laps, so don’t get frustrated. Open the coconut and separate into two halves. Fill with rice pudding!
If this seems totally crazy and excessive, forget it! Scoop your pudding into pretty glass bowls and call it a day. Either way, you’ll want to eat a whole tub of this fast and fancy treat—let us know what you think.
photos by Erin Phraner
- 4 cups frozen cooked white rice, thawed
- 1 (13.5) ounce can light coconut milk
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Optional: Fresh coconuts, for serving
- Bring the rice, coconut milk, sugar, vanilla bean and vanilla extract to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, simmering, 15 minutes or until thickened slightly.
- Transfer pudding to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. Scoop into small glass bowl or serve in fresh coconut cups. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
I’ve always loved the idea of making my own soap. Much like making homemade body scrubs; a bit of craft and a little bit of cooking are both involved! When it comes to soap scents I generally prefer clean or floral combinations like oatmeal, lavender, lemon, or milk & honey because they are subtle and more gentle on the skin. A couple of weeks ago I made a batch of homemade Honeycomb Soap. A combination of goats milk soap and organic honey formed into a “honeycomb” shape using a surprisingly easy technique. The results were just too sweet! Here’s how I did it…
Note: I make soap the semi-homemade way using a pre-made soap base. Quite honestly I am terrified of the from scratch mad-scientist method of mixing lye and other ingredients that could potentially be very dangerous. Plus you can find all sorts of high quality soap bases online which are quick and easy! Simple. Also, this soap has a very light and natural honey-milk scent. If you want to bump up the honey, you may want to add a few drops of a honey fragrance oil.
Step 1: Chop soap base into cubes and place pan over low heat.
Step 2: Stir soap with heat-proof rubber spatula or wooden spoon until completely melted and no lumps remain.
Step 3: Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup honey. Set aside.
Step 4: Lightly spray soap molds with non-stick spray, wiping them down until lightly greased.
Step 5: Cut bubble wrap into shapes to fit the bottom of each mold and press into bottom.
Step 6: Pour hot soap into molds using a 1/4 measuring cup. Cool completely before removing from molds. *They should pop right out but if not use a butter knife to loosen edges.
Step 7: Carefully peel bubble wrap away from soap revealing the “honeycomb” pattern. Package and gift away!
photos by Leah Bergman
Have you ever made soap? What is your favorite scent to make? I think I’ll experiment with a floral blend next. Also, if you want more inspiration, check out my recipe for Black Tea and Lemon soap.
Creating a cocktail always involves a little magic. There’s an obvious element of potion-making, mixing the contents of all these bottles together; a bit of this, a bit of that. But also, every element brings change and is changed by the others. In the end, you wind up with something wholly different than its parts. That’s the real magic of cocktails: the magic of transformation. And the magical, transformational effect I’ve come to love most this summer is so simple that I’m sure you’ll love it too: drink-changing ice cubes!
Picture it if you will: serving your guests that refreshing classic cocktail, the Gin Rickey. A simple glass of gin, lime juice, and club soda. A palatable summer afternoon drink, light and breezy for porch sipping. But the minutes go by, and, with each sip, your guest’s demure cocktail slowly transform into a very different classic: the fruity, flirty Singapore Sling! Et voilà!
They say the method of a trick should never be revealed, but I’m quite happy to lay it all out– and it’s really not that difficult. The secret lies in creating ice cubes made of a super concentrated, fruity syrup. Believe me, very minor work for something that will make your guests go AHHH! And you only need to add one or two “loaded” cubes to your drink alongside regular ice cubes, so the base cherry syrup recipe will actually stretch for multiple rounds of cocktails.
Not super into cherries? Mix up some watermelon, or roasted plums! Anything that goes with limes and a large splash of gin. Do you have an interesting combo of summer fruit? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what you’re mixing up!
photos by Elana Lepkowski
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 ounces Gin
- 4-6 ounces club soda
- 1-2 Singapore Sling Ice Cubes, plus non-flavored ice cubes for the glass
- 1 cup diced cherries
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ ounce Maraschino Cherry Liqueur
- 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
- In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and then simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and cover for an additional 30 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine sieve, pushing down on the cherries to release all of their juices.
- Set liquid aside and store in an airtight container.
- In a highball glass filled with regular ice cubes, combine lime juice, gin and club soda.
- Add in Singapore Sling ice cubes and top with a splash more soda. Stir gently to combine.
- *Save those sugared cherries for topping yogurt or ice cream!
You know that feeling when you overthink something so much you don’t see what’s lying right in front of you? In this case, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh was literally lying right next to me on my nightstand for a couple of months before I realized it was the perfect selection for Freutcake Book Club’s late summer read. I started the book awhile back but got distracted and didn’t end up finishing it. Well, that’s half the story; the other half is that I didn’t really want to finish it. I was enjoying it so much I didn’t want it and my experience with its beauty to end too soon! But now I think it’s time to fully indulge…
The Language of Flowers follows main character Victoria Jones as she turns eighteen and is emancipated from the foster care system. Victoria is hostile, mistrusting, and hard to understand yet you find yourself rooting for her at every turn. She has a unique ability to understand the “language” of flowers (a fascinating way to express thoughts and emotions that was created during the Victorian times) and uses this knowledge to find a job, help others, and eventually find a place where she belongs.
As I sat reading late last night, I completely started crying. Not just watery eyes – full on tears streaming down my face. I don’t remember the last time a book has done that to me, perhaps never. So I hope this mushy confession prompts you to grab a copy for yourself and join us over the next few weeks as we read The Language of Flowers. You won’t regret a single moment (or tear) you spend on this brilliant novel.
photos by Leah Bergman
And stay tuned for our Freutcake Book Club meeting inspired by the novel and an online discussion coming late September. I promise, you’ll never look at flowers the same way again!
August-September Book Club Selection:
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Questions about book club? Email us!
I finished my college years long ago but I still love the fresh start that back-to-school time brings! It’s the not quite summer, not quite fall time of year when re-setting goals, cleaning that scary pile of to-do lists, and sprucing up the wardrobe all feels appropriate. I may not have classes to attend, or lectures to sit through, but I love these pieces all the same! Who wouldn’t want this very grown-up back pack or a modern wool varsity jacket? How fun! What’s on your wish list this year?
National food holidays make you do crazy things, like developing a sudden Sunday afternoon craving for s’mores so badly that you whip up a batch of S’mores Rice Krispies Treats. No camp fire needed, just a few ingredients, melted and mixed and you’re biting into gooey marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker in no time flat. Ya, food holidays are dangerous like that.
But let’s face it, during the summer months, a national holiday is hardly necessary to celebrate with s’mores. They’re just as much a part of our all-American summer food culture as cherry pie and the good old fashioned hamburger. Remind me to make hamburgers soon!
Of course, if you have a wee-bit more time, you can always take this recipe up a notch by covering the top with additional mini-marshmallows and toasting the bars under the broiler until the ‘mallow begins to brown and puff. Although to be honest, these bars will do the trick all on their own with plenty o’ melty marshmallow throughout.
From Gooey S’mores Bars, to S’mores Rice Krispies Treats and S’mores Brownie Bites—one can hardly have too many variations on the classic recipe! So, let’s enjoy what’s left of our S’mores Summer, who’s with me?
photos by Leah Bergman
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1 (16oz) bag mini-marshmallows, plus 1/2 cup for garnish
- 5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
- 5 graham crackers
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- Grease a 9x13" pan and set aside.
- Break or chop graham crackers into small bite sized pieces. You should end up with about 1 1/2 cups.
- In a large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add (16 oz) mini-marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
- Stir in Rice Krispies and toss until well coated.
- Fold in graham crackers and chocolate chips.
- Evenly spread mixture into prepared pan and top with additional 1/2 cup of marshmallows. With greased hands or a greased spatula, press evenly into pan.
- Allow to cool before cutting into squares.
- *If you want to add a toasted s'mores topping, cover the entire pan with mini-marshmallows and toast under a (low) broiler just until browned and puffed. Allow to cool before cutting.
Simple, delicious & strong; this cocktail doesn’t need much more than a hot summer day and a reason to drink it! This weekend I’m making a round of Apricot Bourbon Smash Cocktails to beat the heat—care to join me?
It has taken me years to acquire a taste for Bourbon & Whiskey and quite honestly, it is still one of those alcohols that I only drink on rare occasion and with just the right blend of ingredients. Generally I enjoy my Bourbon cocktails on the sweeter side, mixed with lots of fruit, and very well chilled. The secret to this Apricot Bourbon Smash comes from a sweet homemade puree of fresh summer apricots, sugar and lemon juice. The smooth quality of fresh summer apricots mellows out that oaky bite that comes from Bourbon-Whiskey and makes this an ever-so-pleasant cocktail to sip.
A generous amount of fresh mint, torn and shaken over ice, gives this cocktail all of the qualities of the most refreshing mint julep. And if you’ve ever sipped on that classic drink you will know there is nothing that pairs with summer heat quite like a Mint Julep.
Serve over ice in a mason jar and garnished with an extra long sprig of mint to perfume the drink even more. You are bound to make these again and again. I promise.
photos by Leah Bergman
- 2 oz bourbon-whiskey
- 2 oz apricot puree (recipe follows)
- 1/4 oz lemon juice
- 3 mint leaves, plus more for garnish
- 8 apricots, pitted
- 2 Tbs lemon juice
- 2 Tbs sugar
- In a food processor or blender, puree apricots, lemon juice and sugar. Strain through a fine mess sieve and discard skins. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine bourbon, apricot puree and lemon juice. Tear mint into the shaker by hand.
- Shake until well chilled and pour into a mason jar filled with ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Get your paws off of that jarred marinara sauce, darling! It’s summer. Treat yourself to something that’s fresher, healthier, more flavorful and just as simple to whip up. This No-Cook Tomato Sauce Pasta is a staple in my weeknight dinner rotation once the sweet, juicy heirlooms pop up in the market. Gah! I love it. Basically, you whizz up tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil…toss in pasta. Done. You can do it. I know it!
Here’s the thing: You could very easily chop the tomatoes by hand. I started doing that but quickly got lazy and moved the whole project over to the food processor—the job’s done in seconds this way! If you don’t feel like pasta, use the no-cook sauce as a topping for grilled steak, chicken or fish. Ooh! You could even just spoon it over crostini for a quickie appetizer.
If you’re feeling adventurous, experiment and mix-in other things you have in your pantry. Sliced olives would be awesome. Capers. Dried oregano. Red pepper flakes. No one knows your taste better than you (and you really can’t mess this one up). Give it a try and let me know what you think. Psst! The more salty parmesan cheese you add, the better it tastes. Enjoy!
photos by Erin Phraner
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 4 large ripe tomatoes
- 1 large handful fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- Good-quality parmesan cheese, for grating
- PANTRY STAPLES: Extra-virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook at the label directs.
- Trim any gnarly bits off your tomatoes, then cut into quarters and add three to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse 15 to 20 times until finely chopped. Add the remaining tomato and pulse about 5 times or until coarsely chopped; transfer tomato mixture to large bowl. Stir in basil, garlic, about 1/4 cup olive oil, two big pinches salt, and pepper to taste.
- Drain the pasta. Toss with the prepared sauce. Divide among plates and top with lots of finely grated parmesan cheese.
Everyone knows that Jason is an ice cream fanatic—ice cream and surfing that is. If I were to keep our freezer stocked with nothing more than a couple gallons of his favorite ice cream flavors, he would be happier than a clam. Although he doesn’t much care for clams—let’s just get to the Frozen Dark Chocolate Covered Banana Bites already!
Over the weekend we stopped by Whole Foods where Jason spotted Chocolate and Salted Peanut Covered Frozen Bananas in the ice cream case. He had to have one.
I was so shocked that he chose a (much healthier) frozen banana over his usual scoop that I made a batch of Dark Chocolate Covered Banana Bites with all the fixings for him the very next day. I may have gone a wee-bit overboard but I couldn’t resist rolling them in sweetened shredded coconut, peanut butter chips, salted peanuts and chocolate sprinkles. Who needs healthy anyway?
I started calling them chunky-little-monkey bites because they were rolled to the max in as many tasty little tid-bits as one bite of banana could possibly hold. Of course you could mix things up any way you like and roll your bites in chopped walnuts, toffee bits, crushed cookies or rainbow sprinkles. The possibilities are endless!
Of course Jason requested one tray “plain” rolled in nothing more than salted peanuts. Like his (very particular) ice cream flavors, the man knows what he likes. That’s fine, more chunky-little-monkey bites for me! So, what are your favorite frozen banana bite toppings?
photos by Leah Bergman
- 4 (firm but ripe) bananas
- 2 cups dark chocolate chips
- 2 Tbs canola oil
- 4 cups salted peanuts, chopped
- 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
- 1 cup peanut butter chips, chopped
- 1/2 cup chocolate sprinkles
- Prepare 1-2 trays for freezing by lining with wax paper. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan over low heat, combine chocolate chips and canola oil. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes to cool.
- Place toppings in small shallow bowls for easy rolling. *make sure to chop ingredients small for easier coating!
- Slice banana into 1/2" thick slices.
- Using a toothpick or cocktail pick, dip banana bites into chocolate and quickly roll in desired toppings. Place on prepared sheet pan and remove toothpick.
- Repeat with the remaining bites. You may have want to go back and sprinkle additional toppings on some bites.
- Freeze 3 hours or until firm before serving. After freezing, you can store in a ziplock bag for easy storage.
- Tip: Freeze peanut butter chips before chopping and rolling for a firmer texture.
This past weekend was a dream. It consisted of nothing more than catching up on life and as boring as that might seem, it was the most satisfying thing in the world. Saturday, I finally had a chance to work on making a set of Painted Rope Votives, a project that I have been planning to make for our apartment for quite a few months now. Last fall Marisa and I made these twig votives, one of my favorite projects of all time, and this is a more summery version! Plus they bring such a warm summery ambiance to the room.
To make these Rope Votives you will need:
4-Clear Glass Votive Holders
3 9′ spools white cotton trim
hot glue gun
votives and tea lights
DecoArt Americana Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Paint, 2-Ounce, Flamingo
Step 1: Starting a the top of the votive, apply a thin line of hot glue around the edge and quickly follow with rope. Pressing onto the glass to secure.
Step 2: Continue working your way down the votive in a spiral pattern.
Step 2: When you come to the base of the votive, cut the rope at a diagonal and glue the end down.
Note: I made two votives completely covered and two with just three rows of rope at the bottom. For this option, start gluing rope at the bottom versus the top.
Step 3: To add a painted band to the bottom of each votive, invert votives and paint the bottom three rows. Or get creative! Try painting a spiral, different colored rows or the entire votive. I would love to try painting these solid gold.
Step 4: Insert candles! For the votives that are completely covered in rope, I used small tea light candles to keep the flame away from the rope. For votives with just a small band of rope at the bottom, I used larger votive candles.
I absolutely love the way these turned out! I might even have to make some larger versions using hurricanes and actual rope. What else can I use to cover votive holders?
photos by Leah Bergman