Chocolate Leaves and a Lime Yogurt Parfait

chocolate leaves

for the garnish:

  • Non-toxic leaves! **I used lemon and camelia leaves: the lemon leaves showed the most veining, the camelia’s ended up being too smooth for the chocolate to pick up any shape**
  • 4 oz. chocolate **I used 70% cocoa dark chocolate**
  • 1/2 teaspoon shortening

Wash and dry your leaves and melt down the chocolate and shortening in the microwave. Only put it in for about 20 seconds at a time and then stir–chocolate is a bit moody, if you try and heat it too fast it will bind up and be a chalky, gross mess. Once the chocolate is melted, coat the BACK of your leaves, put them chocolate side up on parchment and let them harden (I popped mine in the freezer and they were ready in about 30 minutes). Make sure you get them pretty thick so the leaves are solid even once you peel them off (too thin makes the chocolate see-through). After they’ve hardened, the chocolate should peel right off. Use some tweezers or a sharp knife to help you get started if it’s sticking a bit. 
chocolate leaves

for the base:

  • Vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Grated lime rind

Grate lime rind into the yogurt and mix. Garnish with a few of the chocolate leaves and you’re done:lime yogurt parfaitchocolate leaveslime yogurt parfait

I think I say this every time I find a new dessert but this is really, really my new fav. It’s hardly even a dessert at all actually: The greek yogurt is good for you (it’s got proteinnnnn) and the tiny, teeny, itty, bitty sliver of chocolate? Who’s counting that? A lot of modern desserts are sickly sweet, but did you ever read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books? She always wrote about the family having canned peaches and fruit for dessert and that simple thing always sounded so delicious. Some things are pretty sweet without really being sweet at all.

 – <3 A. 

Chocolate Week

blueberry chocolate shake

It’s chocolate week at VMMV. Somehow, every recipe I was stumbling across and wanting to try to see if it might be a new, often-used addition to my recipe box–chocolate was involved. So I decided why not just make a week of it: I’ve got a (fairly) healthy truffle recipe and lots of tasty things to share with you this week so stay tuned! I had planned this week’s chocolate party to coincide also with my first payment of a painful amount of cash for my grad program—to help ease the ouchies just a bit—and just because I ended up doing the painful deed last week didn’t make it any less horrifying. At some point this will all be worth the nose wrinkle and eye squint when I click “submit payment,” but for the moment, bring on the truffles people…bring all of them.

Get the recipe for this shake here. It’s an interesting mix of maple syrup, blueberries, chocolate, nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon. I used nonfat milk but it was a bit thin so I would go with something not quite as non-fatty and thicker. Sometimes healthy just isn’t worth it.

blueberry chocolate shakevmmv recipe boxvintage muse modern viewsI dipped a few blueberries in chocolate for garnish and wowzers, I think I might just keep a pan-full of those always handy in the freezer for the next few months as I trek through my first quarter. They’re just the little boost of pleasure I need to face the word “homework” rearing its ugly head again on my daily planner. *sigh* Those months I thought I was graduated sure were nice.

– <3 A. 

Lemon-Lime Granita

lemon lime granitaingredientsgranitaI’m on an Italian kick I guess this month. I found this recipe in my tea party book and thought it sounded perfect for the still-scorching August days. A granita is an Italian dessert made from sugar, water, and whatever flavoring or juice you decide to add. This one mixes lemon, lime, and a hint of basil:

  • In a saucepan, slowly bring the sugar, water, and rinds to a simmering boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
  • Add the lemon and lime juices**if you’re using juice straight from the fruit, you’ll have to strain after this step. I used the pre-juiced lemon and lime juice so I didn’t need to strain it**
  • Add the chopped basil
  • Pour the syrup into shallow containers and cover with cling-wrap**I used two pie pans. Don’t pour too much in or it will take forever to freeze!**
  • Check the syrup after an hour and break it up with a fork **sort of like you’re raking the syrup**. Repeat at least two more times to get a pile of little crystals.

I ended up leaving mine in the freezer overnight and the next morning it was still completely usable so if you wanted to make this the night before a party, it would totally work. If your freezer is a little more hardcore and freezes it too hard so you can’t “rake” it into crystals, just pop it in the frig and let it soften a bit. It’s super refreshing and you don’t need a lot of it, granitas are meant to be just a snippet of something sweet after a heavy pasta dish etc. It’s something different from the usual ice cream and it looks so chic served in little bowls–the perfect end to a summer an August night.

lemon lime granitalemon lime granita

– <3 A. 

A Caponata Twist

eggplant caponata

Apparently it’s giant vegetable week. No jokes this time around though, these giant eggplants aren’t pinned together with straight pins, they’re legit, ginormous purple wonders.

Caponata is a Sicilian dish usually made with eggplant, olives, and capers in a sweet and sour sauce. I mixed the veggies up a bit and left out the capers 1. because I didn’t have any and 2. because I don’t like them anyway but it still turned out seriously delicious. eggplant 



  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and toss 1 inch eggplant chunks with 2 Tbls. of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast for about 25 minutes, turning occasionally.
  2. Heat the other 2 Tbls. of oil in a skillet and add chopped onion, zucchini, and olives. Once they begin to get tender, throw in the chopped tomato. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add 1/2 cup water to the skillet, the 2 Tbls. of vinegar, and the sugar. Cover and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half (it took about 6 or so minutes for me).
  4. Add the roasted eggplant pieces to the skillet and coat with the sauce mixture.
  5. Top toasted bread slices with the caponata for an appetizer, or mix in with pasta or meat as a sauce for an entree.

The original recipe called for green olives instead of black, celery instead of zucchini (you could use green bell pepper as a substitute too) and capers (which I left out completely) so you can pretty much tweak this recipe whichever way your vegetable cravings swing. Also, a recipe that can be both an appetizer or an entree!? I’m all about that kind of multi-tasking. I only used half of my roided-out eggplant but one normal grocery store eggplant would be perfect.

eggplant caponataeggplant caponataeggplant caponata

– <3 A.

Watermelon Strawberry-Lime Pops

watermelon strawberry lime pops

watermelon pops


  • 2 cups watermelon (cut into small cubes)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries (cut into halves)
  • 2 Tbls. lime juice
  • 1/8 cup sugar (or to taste)

Blend watermelon, strawberries, lime juice and sugar in a blender. Pour into dixie cups and allow to partially freeze. Insert popsicle stick and pour another few drops of mixture around the hole made by the stick. Allow to freeze overnight before serving.

watermelon strawberry lime pops

I had to cut little round circles of parchment paper for the bottom of the dixie cups because a trial popsicle run made with water came out with a piece of dixie-cup-paper stuck to the bottom so the parchment helped to keep everything non-stick. Also, taste your blend of watermelon and strawberry after each tablespoon addition of lime juice as well as sugar–too much lime juice will make it too sour depending on how your fruit tastes, and too much sugar will make it sicky-sweet. I made about three batches of this and got about thirty Dixie cups total and they were absolutely delicious, refreshing, and (besides the teensy bit of sugar) completely healthy. The dixie cups are a little more difficult to work with than the plastic popsicle molds you can buy, but the shape is so much more rustic and vintage looking, it’s worth it. Besides, nothing says summer like sticky fingers and fruit on a stick. I made these guys for my 108 degree Fourth of July and they were quite the hit amongst that temperature-misery.

I had the best, best, besttt time on my trip. So many good times they’ve bled into Monday and I haven’t had a chance to unpack my camera so those pics are coming just as soon as I get adjusted back to real life…whew it’s hard! Happy new week everyone!

– <3 A. 

Shortbread Jam Stars

shortbread jam stars


shortbread jam stars

shortbread jam starsHere’s one of two promised recipes I made for the Fourth. This one was adapted from Ina Garten’s shortbread recipe you can get here. And oh my, after you get over the shock of 3/4 pounds of butter, just suck it up and try it because this recipe seriously works. I only had to bake mine for about 11 to 12 minutes because I was going to make a jam sandwich out of them so I rolled them out pretty thin. Take them out when they are just barely tinged with light brown. Also, since I made them on a 108 degree day, I had to keep popping the dough into the freezer in order to get the star shapes to peel themselves away from the dough-ball and not turn into maimed-looking star-fish. So, if you’re baking on the surface of the sun too, there’s a little tip for you. The cookies came out so flaky, buttery (I hope after 3/4 lbs.!), and divine. I alternated blackberry and raspberry jam in between and left a few thicker ones sans-jam just in case there was a jam-hater among my party. By the end of the night, the humidity had at last even gotten to the jam-stars, crumbling at a harsh touch, but in support of their glory I have to tell you that the crumbs bothered no one: faces went down to plates and tongues just licked up the crumbly goodness.

– <3 A. 

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Blueberry Mojito

blueberry mojito

blueberry mojito

blueberry mojito

blueberry mojitoMy mum had her first ever Anthropologie experience recently and we celebrated it by taking away two of these little opal beauties. They’re from a company in Ohio who uses vintage molds to make these fabulously thick, opaque-edged tumblers. Living in a miniscule slightly backwards town with Target as pretty much your sole, major retailer could be a nightmare for some people but hey, it’s got it’s perks, because no one from a big city (ok, normal city) could get the euphoria from a trip to Anthro like I can. Being easily enthralled is an under-appreciated trait.

You know those Pier One commercials that have a little shopper wandering the aisles until a product starts talking to him/her? Some of them are cute, some are creepy, and some are just dumb, but the point is that these glasses were screamin’ at me just like that: “blueberry mojito, blueberry mojito, BLUEBERRY MOJITO!” so, I obliged: get the recipe here and enjoy your weekend! (oh, and check out this post to add a little something to your party drink)

-<3 A. 

When Things Start Slipping

watermelon cake

watermelon dessertThere is a point between control and out of control when things just start slipping. Nothing too terrible has really happened, or isn’t likely to happen, but you have that uneasy feeling that life has slipped a bit. When your head is so full of dates and deadlines, of people and problems, of mundane to-do’s and big wishful thoughts that everything begins a slow-mo slide down from the control tower of your brain.

This “cake”? It became a metaphor for that emotion: I tried to make that beautiful and brilliant watermelon cake for Father’s Day, have you seen it on Pinterest? It looked so refreshing and so easy and I was super excited to give it a go for Dad’s day. But about ten seconds into icing the watermelon with my cool whip frosting, I realized this was not going to be a very merry dessert. Nothing sticks to watermelon, did you know that? I really want to know how other people do it because from the moment I began frosting to the moment I realized I was NOT going to serve this guy, my icing did a slow, sad, soggy slide down the sides of my melon and concluded in creating a watermelon-juice-soggy-moat at the bottom of the fruit dome. MMmmmm, now doesn’t that sound delightful? I did try to regain control, in fact, all things considered it was a fairly heroic attempt: I added the raspberries I was going to decorate the top with to try and give the icing a bit of a grip, but this only succeeded in quickening its descent downward. Then I thought, well, why waste the sugar-coated walnuts? That might add some much-needed crunch to the mess so I threw those on as well, and, because the walnuts I guess wanted to add to the whole effect of the fail, they decided to be rancid and that at last concluded my attempts of cake-salvation.

I guess if metaphors give us morals then the moral of this one is, if things are slipping, something’s gotta give because if you don’t choose to throw something out, trust me, it will slip all by itself, despite your best struggles to save.

 – <3 A. 

Other VMMV Recipes (that worked!) 

header  DSC_0701-002  lemon cheesecake cocktail

    Coffee Squared               Lemon Raspberry Cake       Lemon Cheesecake

Coffee Squared

coffee cupcakes

coffee cupcake
coffee whipped cream

*use 1/8 if you don’t like your icing too sweet, add up to 1/4 cup if you do!vmmv photography

coffee cupcakes

coffee cupcakes

For the macchiato cupcakes, I followed this recipe, except I exchanged coffee extract for the vanilla and made my own coffee whipped cream icing. Macchiato cupcakes + coffee whipped cream icing = coffee² cupcakes for two. All the recipes out there now for single chocolate chip cookies, or cupcakes for two etc. are pretty smart. It’s such a great way to save half a dozen cupcakes/cookies from drying out and going to waste, and it’s also a great way to save yourself from eating half a dozen too many simply because they exist. Happy saving waste and waistline, and happy drinking eating your coffee beverage!

 – <3 A. 

Other VMMV Desserts: 

   strawberry chocolate bowls   DSC_0611-001   DSC_0263-001

Strawberry-Chocolate Bowls   15 Minute Cream Puffs           Lemon Scones

Strawberry-Chocolate Bowls

strawberry chocolate bowls

chocolate strawberry bowls

chocolate strawberry bowls

strawberry-chocolate bowlsAren’t these so cute!!?? Balloons, chocolate and a filling of your choice and in about 20 to 30 minutes you have an elegant dessert.

  • Blow up your balloons to any size you want (smaller balloon = smaller bowl).
  • Wash and dry the balloon so your chocolate doesn’t taste like balloon!
  • Melt down your chocolate either over a double-boiler or in the microwave (microwave is so much faster, just make sure you melt it in 30 second intervals, stirring in between so you don’t burn the chocolate)
  • Dip the balloon down into the chocolate (you may have to spoon it on the balloon as well to get the chocolate to come up the sides high enough to make a bowl-shape)
  • Place the balloons on a cooking sheet with non-stick parchment paper on the sheet and chill for 20 minutes.
  • Pop the balloon by making a tiny hole at the top to let the air out slowly and you have left behind a perfect little serving dish made of chocolate.

I wanted to keep it light and fairly healthy so I just filled mine with some cut strawberries, and topped it with a spot of whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and a mint leaf for garnish:

strawberry chocolate bowls

strawberry chocolate bowls

strawberry chocolate bowls

strawberry chocolate bowlsIt’s such a fun twist on the usual chocolate-covered strawberries and these little bowls are actually way easier to make and eat. Summer dessert perfection I say…happy Friday!

– <3 A. 

 original chocolate bowl recipe via

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