Spicy Pumpkin Butter

spicy pumpkin butteringredients

  •  4 cups pumpkin puree (two 15 oz. cans)
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • chopped hazelnuts (or walnuts) for garnish.

**If you don’t want the butter spicy, just don’t add the cayenne pepper. It’s a nice balance to the sweet though so you could also dial it back to 1/4 tsp. if you want a more subtle spice. Also, if you’re not a maple syrup fan, add honey instead!**

Combine all ingredients except the nuts in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook uncovered for 25 minutes stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool. The original recipe said the butter can be ladled into jars/freezer containers leaving 1/2 inch space at the top and kept in the refrigerator for a week or the freezer up to 6 months! This recipe gave me an entire quart of butter, but if you got the teeny little jars, it would be such a good hostess gift for the holidays along with a loaf of bread. Plus, it only takes about 5 minutes to dump all the ingredients together and 25 minutes to cook. A one-pot wonder is a pretty fabulous find because even with all my best intentions, drinking pumpkin lattes and watching You’ve Got Mail for the 1000th time sounds way better than a day spent baking.

spicy pumpkin butterspicy pumpkin butterspicy pumpkin butter

I’m thinking of trying it next on some scones, or maybe pancakes, or a muffin, or…you get the idea, yes?

Happy Friday everyone! This weekend I’m helping put the flowers together for a wedding and studying for midterms…quite the combination that I’m not really sure how it came about but at least it’s the weekend! Coffee and late night pumpkin butter runs are on the cue I think.

original recipe from BH&G magazine

– <3 A. 

Handmade Peach Frozen Yogurt

handmade peach frozen yogurthandmade peach frozen yogurthandmade peach frozen yogurthandmade peach frozen yogurt

  1. Blend three and a half cups frozen peaches (coarsely chopped) and a half cup plain yogurt (I used greek yogurt) in a blender or food processor. **I had to add the peaches a little bit at a time to get the blender to blend it up until smooth, a food processor might work better** 
  2. Mix together superfine baking sugar and the lemon juice and then pour slowly into the peach-yogurt blend.
  3. Freeze until almost solid **I let mine sit overnight because in typical recipe-test fashion I started this about 30 minutes before bedtime but a few hours would work too if you start it at a reasonable time of day!** and then serve!

Oh my goodness you guys, this stuff is bomb. Handmade frozen yogurt in three steps with four ingredients without an ice cream machine?? Who knew. It’s September and fruit is kinda on the decline but peaches are still in season and Cali is still not really ready for Fall weather so frozen yogurt isn’t too strange to make. Besides, even if it is a bit chilly wherever you are, this stuff is just so peachy good, it’s worth the goosebumps.

– <3 A. 

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. 

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.

June: Highlights

june vmmv highlights

june vmmv highlights

1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. | 6. |

 I am honestly becoming really rather worried about the state of these months. I hardly even get used to the idea of being in one and it’s over. June has been a month for gaining some satisfaction for long-made plans: I’m two-thirds of the way through my annoyingly difficult tests for my new adventure, I finally got admitted to my program (for all of modernity’s speed, Universities still like to kick it old-style and snail crawl every move), my blog has begun to do some behind-the-scenes shifting (yay, yay, yay!) in the very capable hands of someone you will hopefully learn more about in the near future, and I’m beginning to see little light glimmers at the end of some tunnels I felt like would never reach fresh air again.

Even though I think I put on a pretty convincing facade, I’m really not a very patient person. I want things done and I want them done NOW and I will plan and organize and work hard to get them done unlesssss those things that need to be done are out of my hands and then the oh so helpless feelings of relying on other people begin to gnaw away at my (I admit it!) control-freak self. Thankfully, while I was patiently desperately, tearfully, and whining-ly waiting pacing this month, I did seem to have some excellent time with my wonderful dad, made a few treats, tried a few projects, and had a good stiff drink (sort of). I also began to come to terms with a new path even though sometimes things slip a bit, and in the end was reminded for the 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 time that I should probably not worry so much?…yeah, it’s a good idea at least, isn’t it?

– <3 A. 

Vintage Muse Modern Views: Handwritten Recipes

handwritten recipes

There’s something wonderfully nostalgic about handwritten recipes. Complete with jam stains, a coffee cup ring, embedded crumbs and fading ink, handwritten recipe cards can instantly transport you to another time and another kitchen. Of course, we now have a sort of digital recipe book with the wonderful world of endless online recipes and the Food Network’s monopoly on thousands if not millions of recipes available for almost any meal you’re craving at the click of a search button. Yet, after spending a recent Saturday afternoon clicking through 1036 Google results for a recipe I recently liked, made, and promptly forgot where I found the directions, I decided I was going to bring handwritten recipes back to my kitchen and end these ridiculous, time-sucking searches.

handwritten recipes

Of course keeping it simple is the whole point of this project. Modern options of endless creativity are fabulous but don’t you ever get sick of them? Don’t you ever just want to do it the old-fashioned plain way? In honor of simplicity, I was going to just use index cards but I remembered my Vintage Tea Party book had beautiful, free printables available (print them here) that were perfect to feature the title of whatever recipe I was working on, so I decided to get just a little fancy and use them as my template:
handwritten recipesA very wonderful friend gave me a vintage writing set complete with dipping ink and a fountain pen that I finally found a worthy enough project for, but of course that isn’t essential, a regular pen would be just grand. Write your title on the front of your card, add the ingredients and directions to the reverse, and you’ve instantly made your own memory that you’ll never have to Google again.

After I wrote my recipe cards, I reaffirmed to myself that I needed to keep doing this, I was rather saddened by my hideous modern handwriting compared to the old recipes in my box. Oh well, it’s a step in the right direction.

handwritten recipes

handwritten recipesEtsy has hundreds of super cheap, vintage recipe boxes, both sophisticated and fun ones in case you’re searching for your own. They also have some great options for organizing your recipe box with handmade dividers in case you’re a bit organization obsessed. Whatever you desire though, simple, plain, fancy, or cute, write your recipes down! This generation is dangerously veering towards leaving nothing tangible behind when we take our laptops and go, and this is just a tiny way of changing that.

– <3 A. 

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A Valentine Breakfast

valentine breakfast

Breakfast in bed has never really had a huge appeal for me…something about balancing food in your sheets, keeping the juice from dousing your pillow, and being greeted with food at the moment you emerge from sweet slumber never quite sounds like something I want. But, a valentine breakfast doesn’t have to be served up in bed to be special. When Valentines day falls during the week, sometimes a dinner out doesn’t quite have the romantic, oh-this-is-divine feel. More like, oh my, its 9:00 P.M., we haven’t been seated, the whole world of happy couples are also waiting for a table and I have to go to work tomorrow with this late night Italian food in my tummy…yes, I love you, ok, good, goodnight. Are you beginning to see where I’m going here? Yes, WAIT UNTIL SATURDAY, have a lovely quiche heart for breakfast, and ring in another year of love the simple way. The original recipe came from good old Martha Stewart, but, I changed so many things about it in order to get the filling into my heart shapes, I’m posting my version as well:

ingredientsvalentines breakfast The original recipe called for handmade dough (no thanks, I don’t have time) but I used my trusty Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust. Roll it out super thin with a rolling pin once you pull it from the frig though, otherwise you’ll get too much crust with your quiche and you won’t taste the yummy filling. I got my heart-shaped pie-maker at Target. It’s pretty nifty, the back of it doubles as a cutter, and then you just plop in the dough pieces, fill it with whatever you want, crimp it closed, and bake:

valentine breakfast quiche Don’t overfill the hearts or else you’ll rip the crust. It didn’t seem like I was putting much filling in, but once I ate one, it was plenty of food for a filling breakfast.

filling:2 ingredients

Cook the bacon first until it’s nice and crisp. Then, in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and one egg, adding the rest of the eggs. In another bowl whisk sour cream (or you could use creme fraiche like the original recipe) and milk. I used nonfat milk to make it a bit healthier but the original recipe called for whole milk. Add the salt, pepper, and thyme to the cream and milk and then whisk them into the egg/flour. Put the zucchini ribbons in a pan, saute them for a few minutes in the leftover bacon fat, pour the egg mixture over the zucchini and scramble for 20 minutes on medium heat. Mix in the bacon bits at the end and then spoon in a little of the filling into the pie crust and sprinkle with gouda cheese. Crimp the pie crusts closed, place on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes at 375° until golden brown.

The original recipe told me to just pour the filling into the crust without first cooking it, but I wanted to use my heart-crimper and if I had poured runny eggs into the center of those I would have had a huge mess. Plus, this way ensures your filling gets cooked. Before removing the filling from the stove to fill the hearts, taste a bit to see if its close to being cooked through.

valentine recipe

valentine breakfast hearts

Valentines is usually a day for sweets, chocolate and things, but, a girls gotta eat, right? I’m in love with these quiche hearts, there’s so much potential with them: you could change out the veggies, leave out the bacon for a completely vegetarian option, or play around with the herbs (use basil perhaps instead of thyme) to get a pretty special change from the usual, sweet valentine treat. If you’re too exhaustified on Valentines night, have a go at these breakfast beauties come the weekend, it will definitely be worth the wait.

– <3 A. 

sources: original recipe inspired by Martha stewart | coffee cup image via dianeeastman.com

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Quinoa-Cucumber Cups    Lemon Cheesecake Cocktail         Engraved Truffles

Engraved Tea Truffle-Hearts

valentine truffle recipe via the vintage tea party book Today is another shout-out to my beautiful Vintage Tea Party book. I’ve been  saving this truffle recipe for my Valentines countdown, and at last I get to share! How fun is it to be able to give your Valentine chocolates you made yourself and personally engraved with their initials!? So far all the recipes I’ve tried from Angel Adoree’s lovely book have been a huge success and this was no exception. A little chocolate, tea, and cream and I had myself a plateful of Valentines truffle love:

engraved truffle recipe via the vintage tea party book
I hardly made any changes to Angel’s original recipe so all the credit definitely goes to her for these beauties. Her recipe calls for “extra-thick” cream. I don’t know if that’s just a British thing because all the grocery stores I went to just had heavy whipping cream so I chose to believe it’s the same thing, and, it seems like it is because it worked perfectly. Angel also used loose tea, I just ripped open two teabags and used the crushed leaves and it worked just as well. The tea gives a really fantastic, subtle flavor to the chocolates. Of course, if you don’t like Earl Grey I’m sure you could use a different tea, or, just completely leave the tea out and have a simple chocolate truffle. Angel also said to use a mixture of dark and milk chocolate. I went a little heavier on the dark since I’m a little partial to the stuff but you can do whatever your heart desires.

valentines dessert recipeI pulled the chocolate out of the refrigerator after only about 20 minutes. It wasn’t quite set up all the way but I wanted to cut out my hearts and stamp them before the chocolate got too hard. Angel used a cookie cutter for her hearts but I could never find one small enough so I just used a knife and I think I actually got a better edge using the knife. For the initials, any unused, rubber stamp works perfectly. After I cut and stamped the hearts, I put them back into the refrigerator to set up for a few more hours before taking the hearts off the baking sheet.

valentines dessert recipe

valentines truffle recipe

valentines engraved truffle recipe

engraved truffle heartsengraved truffle hearts

 Besides chilling, the whole process only took me about 20 minutes. How can you beat that for a personalized Valentines gift? Yum, yum!

– <3 A. 

Recipe source: The vintage tea party book by angel adoree

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A Christmas Miette

I love when friends suggest blog-ideas, it makes me feel like I’m writing for the people I love instead of just writing for myself. It was one of these dear friends who suggested I use the term “miette.” It’s a french word meaning “crumb” and since recipes are a little piece (crumb) of this blog, I thought how perfect it was!

So, here’s a Christmas crumb for this week’s recipe: Persimmon drop cookies with dark chocolate chunks…yum, yum!

Persimmon Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Persimmon cookies are a rather dark-horse in the holiday recipe list. I’ve discovered that many people have never heard or even tasted them, and I’m always shocked because they’re so delicious and a nice change from the usual flavors of Christmas.

Persimmon Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Persimmon chocolate chunk cookie recipe

1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup persimmon puree
2 and 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. each ground cinnamon and nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate (or raisins) 
1 cup chopped nuts

A note on Puree:

Really the only thing unusual about this recipe is the persimmon puree, otherwise, it’s just like a chocolate-chip cookie. If you’ve never had a persimmon, and are getting a little worried at this point about including a strange fruit into your Christmas-treat-list, don’t be! The flavor, once baked, is extremely mild and oh-so-delicious. There are two common kinds of Persimmons floating about that you might have heard of: the Fuyu and the Hachiya. The ones you need for this recipe are Hachiyas:

Persimmon cookie recipe

If you wrinkled your nose at that picture, sorry! To bake these fruits into yummy little miettes though, you have to wait until they are super soft and ripe. Once they are, just cut out the little top-notch and spoon out the inside of the fruit. I needed about three fairly small persimmons to get a cup:

persimmon cookies

If the persimmon is ripe, the skin pretty much slides right off, but I always put the puree into a glass measuring cup to make sure no little pieces slide off into my cookies. Stir the baking soda into the puree and let it stand for about 5 minutes until it thickens.

  • Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt (I usually add a bit more spice if you like an extra cinnamon/nutmeg flavor but you don’t have to).
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar; beat in egg, then stir in the persimmons.
  • Add flour mixture to the large bowl until it forms a soft dough, then stir in the nuts and chocolate (or raisins). I used crushed, dark chocolate pieces from a larger bar but you could, of course, just use chocolate chips.

Persimmon cookies

persimmon cookies

  • Place on an ungreased, baking sheet and bake in a preheated, 350° oven for about  12-15 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and centers spring back. (makes about four dozen)

persimmon cookies

And that’s it! These cookies are the perfect mix of spice, fruit, and of course chocolate, that just screams– Christmas!

holiday dessert recipes

holiday dessert recipe

holiday dessert recipes

I’ll admit, while taking these pictures I couldn’t resist eating far, far too many of them, and even crumbs, once compiled, are quite the meal! Hope you enjoy, I’ll warn you though, they’re irresistible!

– <3 A.