Triple berry jam (vegan) cakes with (vegan) cream cheese frosting.

Triple berry vegan cupcakes!

Oops, I did it again. I successfully tricked people into eating vegan cupcakes & they were none the wiser! Of course, there were a *few* tells: the texture of the cupcake, and the frosting texture of course. However taste-wise, there were no complaints!

I used that triple berry maple bourbon jam (from last month) in them, and wow. The moistness of the cupcake was just heightened with that addition. Yes, they are indeed messy though. That’s the price you pay for this kind of moist cupcake with jammy goodness.

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Down south style bourbon peach tea.

Bourbon peach sweet tea!

Truth be told, I’ve never really been a bourbon girl. When I was younger, the only liquor I drank was mixed in drinks like a “Madras” or “Long Island Iced Tea” or a plain ol’ rum & coke or something. I never acquired a taste for Jack Daniels, unlike my female college peers (or so they said- liars). And then later on as I got older (& realized some things do not mix well) I just stopped altogether with any kind of so-called hard liquor, and stuck to either beer or wine. Except for Jameson of course, which is a staple around here. Irish coffees!

But Jay is a bourbon guy and so I’ve come to find that there are a few that I quite enjoy with ice or in a drink, and some of those I even like straight up. There’s always a lot to choose from here (as of the time this post is being written there are no fewer than 24 bottles of bourbon/whiskey/etc on hand), so there’s enough to taste & sample & find out what I find to be good (Russell’s, James E. Pepper, and good old Maker’s Mark) & what equates to gasoline (Old Weller Antique).

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Friday Fifteen: Summer love.

Old bottles filled with flowers on the porch table, mixed with Ball jars & candles. Classic.

Wow, it’s been forever since I did a Friday Fifteen! As a matter of fact, it was about 6 months ago. Sorry about that, guys. Bad blogger. But I’m back in action now… and I’ve got some sweet stuff to share! Tomorrow is the first official day of summer, so let’s run with that. SUMMER TIME, AND THE LIVIN’S EASY.

(Ten points to you if you immediately began rapping “And Bradley’s on the microphone with Ras M.G.” An extra 10 points if you then began thinking of Porgy & Bess. Zero points awarded to you if no song went through your head at all after reading that.)

But however many points you have in this little game, it doesn’t matter. Because it is, indeed, summertime. Or at least it will be in two days.

Friday Fifteen: Summer love.

  1. Tea lights in mason jars & flowers in old soda bottles. Like you see above, it’s just classic for summer nights. Add a traditional red gingham tablecloth and you’re set. Plus, it’s a really cheap but beautiful way to decorate for a summer party.
  2. Uhm YOU GUYS. Speaking of parties- I bought my WEDDING DRESS(!!). It’ll only be a year on June 20th that we’ve been engaged… figured I should get around to doing some planning now. Haha. And I also started looking at venues! I might actually get married sometime this decade. EXCITING.
  3. Now that the weather is warm, I’m DYING for fresh bruschetta. Bring on tomato season, already, please. PLEASE.
  4. It’s also now seafood season. On Long Island, where I live, were surrounded by beautiful water so there’s always lots of fish to be eaten. Which makes me crave some Southern pickled shrimp; and don’t worry- it’s not what you think! There’s no vinegar involved.
  5. Speaking of shellfish: how does a Connecticut-style lobster roll sound? Pretty damn good, right?
  6. One of the coolest ideas ever… a BUNDT PAN HANGING FLOWERPOT. I have to do this with the copper bundt pan that belonged to grandma Dotty, ’cause seriously it’s this exact one.
  7. STRAWBERRY LAVENDER CARAMEL. Yes.
  8. If you’re a salsa lover, I highly recommend Gustavo’s Salsa. It’s a local business (based out of Brooklyn, NY). If you like smoky flavor & a versatile salsa that can just as easily be used as a marinade then this is for you. Make the effort to order some- it’s made in small batches & well worth the shipping fee. Seriously. Buy some.
  9. If you’re in or around the NYC area, think about taking a trip to the Queens County Farm Museum (especially if you have kids). I wrote all about it last year, and I think it’s a really enjoyable way to spend a day! Plus, if you purchase eggs or flowers from them, you’re supporting their efforts. You can also go to their website & “fund a farm animal“!
  10. Theres a chunky salsa I buy in my local market that’s made by them on premises, & it has cucumber & jalapeño in it. I love it! The cool cucumber and the heat of the jalapeño combined with the tomatoes & onion makes it extra special. So this watermelon salsa intrigues me.
  11. If you’re looking for the perfect easy summer cocktail, no muddling, no mixing & no complicated ingredients… then this is the one for you: a Woodchuck Shandy. Two ingredients, plus a slice of lemon.
  12. And if you have kids, here’s a kid friendly drink: sun tea! You can brew it right outside your front door on a crazy hot day & watch it brew! Or… you can make some cold-brew tea in your fridge on a rainy day. Get the directions here.
  13. I am loving Penny Dreadful on Showtime. Creepy, gory, summer-TV-show goodness.
  14. My new favorite coffee: Native Roaster‘s NYC Diesel. Amazing coffee by another local (this time Queens-based) company. Gotta support our local businesses! And when they’re this good, it’s easy to do. I’ve been making myself a full French press of it a few times a week, and saving half for iced coffee. You might’ve seen this photo of it on my Instagram.
  15. I’m super psyched because I get to use this awesome DIY potting bench Jay made for me on the regular. From transplanting herbs, rooting seedlings and planting new plants, to clipping & sorting fresh flowers to make arrangements, and even as an outdoor buffet table when we eat outside. It’s been so convenient! And it took him ONE DAY to make! If you have Kreg tools & want to make your own, here are the instructions.

DIY potting bench using a Kreg jig (link for instructions).

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Strawberry vinegar.

Easy strawberry infused vinegar!

Happy June, everyone. It’s finally here! BERRY TIME! We’ve all been waiting patiently for some fresh fruits (other than citrus of course) to spice up our kitchens. And for jam/jelly-making of course.

Sometimes though, we end up with a surplus of something. Or some runts that aren’t quite good enough for eating fresh, and didn’t make the cut for making jam with or baking with. And that’s when we need to use those for something else. And why not an infused vinegar?

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Triple berry maple bourbon jam.

Triple berry maple bourbon jam!

Boy, berries can be messy.

I forget this from year to year, until I have some & I’m making jam & it splatters everywhere & it looks like I’ve been doing illegal surgeries in my kitchen sink.They’re so pretty though. So I forgive them their trespasses, for they know not what they do. And they’re summery, so it stands to reason I’m ready to start using them.

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Olive oil cake with orange zest, rum & pistachios.

Orange, pistachio & rum olive oil cake.

Yeah, I know. I know. It’s the beginning of June, and “who wants to be baking in a hot house?” I get it. I really do, no one knows better than I do about how horrid it is to bake a big complicated cake or bread in 90° weather.

But… this is OLIVE OIL CAKE. It’s easy. It’s refreshing, citrus-y, it travels well and it has rum in it. It’s like the perfect summer cake.

Believe me.

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Simple summer cocktail: Woodchuck shandy.

Keep it cool with a Woodchuck shandy!

When I was asked to try some summery recipes involving Woodchuck Hard Cider, I couldn’t possibly say no. Hard cider is one of my FAVORITE drinks. I could drink hard cider all day long & never get tired of it! However I usually associate it with autumn or the colder months.

Which I’ve now learned is a really silly idea, because Woodchuck has some amazing spring & summer ciders!

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