Mini Blueberry Pies (V) by audrey gebhardt

When I was a kid my family would spend a week on a lake in New Hampshire every August and it was the BEST. 

We would paint rocks and jump off docks and make up songs to sing and play cards all night and sneak onto private islands to collect dozens of solo cups full of wild blueberries. 

vegan blueberry pie

There was one year that we showed up at our house and there was a family of bats living inside so we spent the better part of the afternoon ushering the bats outside with our beach towels and bags of potato chips.

There was the year that we stood on the side of the road staring at a field for a good hour waiting for a moose to show up, until a sheriff came along to ask us what we were doing.

One of the early years, I thought that "Here Comes the Sun" was the only song that existed because Uncle Frank played it on repeat for the whole week. Literally, I thought it was the only song ever and that it was all of music.

There was the last year that we went to blueberry island and the water police came kicked us off the island that did not belong to us. The place with the secret cabin and giant boulder that we would climb and feel like we were on top of the world. I was probably 10, and I cried a lot holding that cup full of my final Blueberry Island blueberries. 

Back in those days we would just eat the blueberries by the handful, but now when I have a surplus I would turn them into something a bit sweeter.

These blueberry pies are charming and adorable and come together so quickly. You can make them into a regular size pie and I would probably still want an invite to your house.

Vegan Blueberry Pie

Mini Blueberry Pies (Vegan)
makes 24

1 olive oil pie crust (I know I link back to this one all the time, I truly just don't see a reason to ever make another kind've pie crust again. It's the easiest and the flakiest and so versatile)

3 cups blueberries, washed & picked through for stems
2/3 c sugar
3 TBSP cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375. 

Roll out the pie crust to 1/8-1/4" thick. Cut into 24 circles using a 3" round cookie cutter.

In a medium bowl, combine the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. 

Gently press the circles of pie dough into mini muffin tins, and spoon enough of the blueberry mixture into the crust so it's heaping over the top. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the blueberries cook down and the crust just begins to turn golden.

Allow to cool completely in the tray before running a knife around the edge to loosen and pop out.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days!

xo
Audrey

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake (V/GF) by audrey gebhardt

It wouldn't be fair to this dessert to call it a brownie. 

Vegan/Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cake

There are hundreds of health food junkies out there running around calling recipes similar to this 'Sweet Potato Brownies' but that's just not okay. 

Because a brownie- a brownie needs to be dense. A brownie feels like dead weight in your hands. It sticks to the roof of your mouth it's so fudgy. It has a crackly shiny top and just a 1" square is enough to satisfy.

That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with what this is- it's just simply not a brownie. It's a light, fluffy chocolate cake with a depth of flavor and ZERO DAIRY, GLUTEN or REFINED SUGAR! 

Are you kidding me? I wouldn't have believed it either. This cake is unbelievably decadent and moist and you won't even miss the sugar- I promise.

vegan gluten free peanut butter chocolate cake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake (vegan/gluten free)

1/2 c almond butter
1/2 c cooked sweet potato (from an actual baked sweet potato, not canned puree)
1 flax egg (1 TBSP flaxseed meal + 2.5 TBSP water)
6 TBSP maple syrup
1/4 c cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 c coconut manna
1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP maple syrup

Start by making the flax egg- in a small bowl combine the flaxseed meal and water and set aside for five minutes until it firms up.

Preheat the oven to 350 and line an 8x8" pan with parchment.

In a medium bowl, combine the almond butter and sweet potato with a fork or whisk until smooth and creamy. Whip in the flax egg and maple syrup until combined. Whisk in the cocoa powder, vanilla and baking soda. 

Pour the batter into the parchment lined baking pan, bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Once the brownies have cooled completely in the pan, prepare the peanut butter frosting.

DO NOT SHAKE the can of coconut milk. Open the can and scrape the top into a small bowl, saving the transparent liquid in the fridge for smoothies at another time. Beat the coconut cream until it's light and fluffy like whipped cream. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, beat the coconut manna with the peanut butter and maple syrup until completely combined. Fold in the whipped coconut cream until smooth and spread over cooled cake. 

Store cake in fridge until you're ready to serve. Prepare for people to propose to you when they take a bite. And then tell them it's made with all wholesome ingredients!

xo
Audrey

Cheddar Grits with Roasted Baby Broccoli by audrey gebhardt

One of the greatest compliments I've ever gotten was from a coworker who grew up in Alabama. 

Cheddar Grits with Roasted Broccoli GLUTEN FREE

She said to me, 'you're the closest I've found to a Southern Belle outside of the south.'

I have been trying to live up to that title for about five years now, wearing the fullest skirts whenever possible, drinking everything out of fancy glasses, never arriving to somebody's home without full arms, and eating grits for breakfast perhaps a little too often.

The first time I had grits was in Charleston, on a trip dripping with mystery and charm. Since then I've realized that cheesy grits are basically the next best thing to mac n' cheese when you're gluten free! Not only do I love the flavor of roasted broccoli with cheddar, I also feel much better about eating a bowl of cheesy carbs when there's something green in the mix. 

This recipe comes together in a half an hour and though I find it to be a perfect cozy breakfast, it's also a great side dish!

Cheddar Grits with Roasted Broccoli GLUTEN FREE

Cheddar Grits with Roasted Baby Broccoli
makes two hearty servings, four sides

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP butter
1/2 c stone ground grits (I got mine at Trader Joe's)
1/2 c milk
4 oz mild cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 tsp black pepper

1 bunch broccolini
2 TBSP olive oil
pinch salt
pinch pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 and trip the ends off of the baby broccoli.

Toss the baby broccoli in olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet in the preheated oven.

While the broccoli is roasting, prepare the grits. Bring the vegetable stock, salt and butter to a boil. Stir in the grits and bring the temperature all the way down to the lowest temperature possible (low and slow is the secret to creamy grits!) so it's just gently simmering. Stir quite often for about 15 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the milk and cook for about ten minutes more before stirring in the cheddar and black pepper to serve. 

Remove the broccoli from the oven when it's crisped and the flowerheads are just browned. Serve over grits in delight.

xo
Audrey

Watermelon Sherbet by audrey gebhardt

There are plenty of words in the English language that I avoid saying altogether. 

3-Ingredient Watermelon Sherbet

Having grown up in a very Italian area, I am distraught when I have to speak, "ricotta" aloud. 

Mozzarella is not a simple one either.

Don't even get me started on bruschetta.

The worst part is, I loved Italian class more than all of my others. I love love love the language and I know how to annunciate these things properly, I just know I'm opening myself up for unwarranted ridicule by doing so.

Sherbet fits in that category too. It's a word that sounds wrong no matter how it falls out of your mouth. The kind've word that when you order it at Friendly's, you just point to it on the menu to dodge the discomfort of saying it out loud to your server and everyone else around you. 

The best part about this being a blog and not a Youtube channel is that I get to share this magical recipe with you and none of us have to say the word. Which most definitely is not sher-bert.

I see you in your mid-summer glory, cubed melon sitting in the back of your fridge that's juuuuuuust starting to get a tiny bit slimy around the edges. Not slimy enough to throw out yet but also not crisp enough to eat right now. Let's do something about it, shall we? 

I made this with nothing but watermelon but I suspect it would work well with cantaloupe and honeydew as well, or perhaps a combination? MAYBE A MANGO?!

You don't even know it yet but you're like an hour away from the dreamiest creamiest fruitiest sherbet on the block.

3-Ingredient Watermelon Sherbet

Watermelon Sherbet
Makes 1 quart

~4-5 cups cubed watermelon, frozen solid (at least 1 hour)*
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp salt

*This is a rough estimate because we all have a different definition of cubed. My cubes are about 1". For me, this was 1/2 of a smallish watermelon (not a personal tiny one, a regular small one).

In a food processor, combine all three ingredients and process for about five minutes until all of the chunks and seeds have been swallowed up by the sea of pink. 

Freeze in an airtight container for about 3 hours before serving.

I served mine with cacao nibs and lime zest, reminiscent of the ever-nostalgic watermelon roll! 

xo
Audrey 

Meyer Lemon Blackberry Cake (GF) by audrey gebhardt

I started my first business when I was 14 without having ANY idea what I was getting myself into.

Gluten Free Lemon Blackberry Cake

It really all started when I was in 3rd grade, and I really REALLY wanted the book "A Smart Girl's Guide to Money" from the Scholastic Book Fair (best day of the year). I think this might've been the only time I ever once in my life heard the word 'no' from either of my parents (I am extremely lucky and I know it). It was the best no I could've ever gotten. My mom's reasoning was that she always bought me these books that I never read, and that if I really cared that much about this book I could take it out from the library and take notes on it. 

I ended up doing exactly that, filling out an entire spiral bound notebook that I titled, "I Wanna be an Entrepreneur" and that was it for me. I wrote business plans for everything from a birthday party business, to a craft summer camp that would be held in my backyard (I was planning on being the head counselor at eight years old), to babysitting services (again- I was 8).

Gluten Free Lemon Blackberry Cake

I am so grateful for that no, because without it I would not have read that book nearly as thoroughly as I had to when I was copying it down into my notebook. 

Fast forward to the end of 9th grade. I had been decorating cakes with my mom for a few years for various cousin's birthdays, communions and every holiday under the sun. I decided that I had gotten good enough at my craft that people were going to pay me for it! It can't be that hard, right? At the time it felt so simple, all I had to do was say, "hi, this is a thing I do and you can pay me for it". So I did what anyone would do in 2009 when they want to get paid for something, I created a blogspot website complete with prices and a few photos of my creations and Plays With Food went live. 

Meyer Lemon Blackberry Cake

I had the lemonade stand effect at first after handing out my first batch of business cards (actually business magnets) to everyone within a 1/2 mile radius of Wantagh High School. People ordered cupcakes and cakes from me because I was undeniably sweet as pie and it was cute that I started a business. Looking back at my work, it wasn't all that great and to be honest most of it was made from a box with canned frosting. It might've been full of processed sugar and strange stabilizing substances, but it was also full of passion and drive and effervescent love that only a kid can create when they are excited about something. 

I remember the first time someone told me I wasn't charging enough for what I was doing- I was handing Mrs. Harclerode her daughter's communion cake for 100 guests that I had charged her $60 for, which I felt pretty good about at the time! Holding three $20's feels like a lot when you're 16 and you seemingly made this money appear out of thin air by doing something you love! She took the cake from me and with the most genuine shock looked at me and said, 'you should be charing $200 for this cake!'. That's when I started taking myself seriously. I switched to scratch-baking almost immediately and realized that this was more than a fun thing I did for the heck of it. 

Here I am, nine years, thousands of cupcakes, countless wedding cakes, dozens of baby showers and first birthdays and Christmas pear tarts later- diving back into the catering world. I took a bit of time off to explore being a young twenty something, traveling alone and staying up until the sun came up and moving across the country. I took time off and realized that I miss it. I miss being part of everyone's celebrations. The happy days- the ones where people that love each other gather and eat and drink and be merry. 

Here I am in Denver, starting where I started almost a decade ago- a little less naive, a little more serious and a LOT more stoked to join your party. 

Let's have some cake about it, shall we?

Gluten Free Lemon Cake

Meyer Lemon Blackberry Cake (Gluten Free)
makes one 8" cake (enough for 8-10 guests)

3 c gluten-free flour
1.5 tsp xanthin gum
1/3 c cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (16 TBSP) butter, softened
zest of 2 meyer lemons (or regular lemons)
2 1/3 c sugar
6 egg whites + 1 whole egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 c buttermilk (or 2 c almond milk + 1 tsp white vinegar)

2 c fresh blackberries
juice of two meyer lemons (or regular lemons) ((use the lemons that you zested for the cake!))
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp cornstarch

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 lb confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans, preheat the oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the gf flour, xanthin gum, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Rub together between your fingertips until the zest is evenly distributed and the sugar is fragrant. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg whites, egg and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating until everything is totally combined (about 1-2 minutes more). 

Slowly stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture juuuuuust until combined. Now slowly add 1/2 of the buttermilk (or almond milk mixture) and stir just until combined. Repeat with 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture and the rest of the milk, finishing with the last of the flour mixture.

Distribute evenly between the three greased baking pans and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed into with a finger. Let cool in pans for no more than five minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, make the blackberry filling! 
In a small saucepan, combine the blackberries, lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a simmer over a medium flame then lower the heat to low and keep bubbling for about ten minutes, until the berries start to break down (you can push a few of them against the edge of the pan with a fork to help them along but don't break them all up!). Whisk in the teaspoon of cornstarch then remove from the heat and allow to thicken. Let this cool allllllll the way down before assembling the cake or you will be a very sad baker.

Make the buttercream!
In the bowl of your stand mixer, slowly mix the softened butter and confectioner's sugar until it's all cohesive. Once there are no more bits of sugar flying around your kitchen, crank up the speed on the mixer to high and add the vanilla. Let that go- scraping the sides of the bowl once in a blue for about five minutes. I mean it, five minutes. You want this buttercream to be hella fluffy.

To assemble the cake:
Level any layers that need leveling. What I mean by that is, get eye level with your cakes on their cooling racks and if they have a huge dome you're gonna want to cut across the top to make them all even. 

Place a little dollop of buttercream on the center of the platter you are assembling the cake on, center the first cake on the platter. Using a piping bag, pipe about a 1/2 border of frosting around the top edge of the cake (almost like you're making a fence to hold the filling in, which you are). Pipe a small amount of frosting inside the fence you just made and spread it out evenly so the entire topside of the cake is frosted. Spoon about half of the blackberry mixture on top and spread that out evenly as well. Top with the next cake and repeat this whole process.

Now you should have a three-layer, unfrosted cake. Dollop about 3/4 c of frosting on top of the cake and start spreading out until you get to the edges, then spread along the edges to kind've seal the filling in. Here's where you get to have some fun with it. I kept the top of my cake extra frosted and took a spoon to add bits of the leftover filling to the cake as I was frosting it to create that streaky thing that you see. 

You are the artist. This is the cake that you get to be the boss of. Go ahead! Tag me on instagram if you make this one @audreygebhardt, I'd love to see what you come up with!

xo
Audrey

Heirloom Tomato Tart with Sunflower Pesto (V) by audrey gebhardt

Do you know how many grown adult men in this country don't eat raw tomatoes? 

Heirloom Tomato Tart

They will eat all of the pizza, endless bolognese, put raw eggs in their smoothies, drink the broth of another animal's bones, spit their phlegm across three lanes of traffic and still push the tomatoes from their salad off to the side. 

I don't entirely blame them though, you know why? 

Vegan Tomato Tart

They're being served something entirely unlike what a tomato should taste like. 

A tomato should taste like the sun, exploding in your mouth. Warm and soft and delicate and bursting with bright flavor. 

Vegan Heirloom Tomato Tart

The tomatoes we see in our grocery stores are often much closer to their plastic play kitchen friends than they are like the real deal juice-dripping-down-your-chin sweet-as-candy still have a bit of dirt on them tomatoes we should be eating. 

If there's a man in your life that you've been trying to get to eat tomatoes for years, now is the time. Mid August-early September is when they are prime and ripe and perfect. Run-don't walk to the farmers market because in a blink they'll be gone. Heirlooms are best, give them a gentle squeeze and if it gives a little you're in business. If The Man needs further coaxing than just a slab of tomato with salt and pepper, wrap the tomato in flaky pie crust over a bed of pesto and you will change a life. 

***I made this pesto with sunflower seeds because they're so much cheaper than pine nuts and less flavorful so the basil can be the real star of the show. Also, it's nice to think that if you're eating the seeds of your favorite flower you are that much closer to becoming just like a sunflower. 

Vegan Heirloom Tomato Tart

Heirloom Tomato Tart with Sunflower Pesto (vegan)

1 olive oil pie crust

1 c basil leaves, washed and stemmed
1/2 c raw sunflower seeds
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

2 large or 3 medium heirloom tomatoes
2 TBSP olive oil
pinch salt
pinch pepper

Prepare the pie crust (this can be done up to three days in advance and left to chill wrapped in saran wrap in the fridge).

In a medium saucepan, toast the sunflower seeds over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes until they get toasty and smell nutty, shaking them around occasionally. 

In a blender, combine the basil, sunflower seeds, olive oil, salt and peppers. Blend until combined, adding more olive oil if it's too thick to blend but not too much because you want this to be a pasty olive oil- just to the point that you can spread it. 

Preheat the oven to 425. Roll out the crust so it's about 18" in diameter and 1/4" thick. Transfer the rolled out dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the pesto out on the dough, leaving a 3" border around it. 

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-1/2" slices, cover the pesto-ed part of the crust with tomatoes. Fold the edges of the dough over the tomato, pressing to seal any cracks along the bottom seam.

Drizzle the whole tart with the remaining 2 TBSP of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 425 for 35-45 minutes, until the edges turn golden and the tomatoes are roasted and wrinkly. 

Cool and serve at room temperature. 

xo
Audrey

 

Grilled Cinnamon Pineapple Shortcakes (GF) by audrey gebhardt

I went to Hawaii kind've on a whim this week last year.

Grilled Pineapple Shortcakes

I was on a 'finding myself, I'm gonna buy one one-way ticket at a time and see where I end up' trip.

I showed up on Oahu at the same time that the first swell in months had shown up, which meant that the friends I had there were in the water for 18 hours at a time, surfing way above my pay grade while I explored alone.

The first day, I drove up to the North Shore and stopped at this roadside smoothie shack. I had heard such phenomenal things about the pineapples there that I ordered an entire pineapple and ate it all while chatting with the girl who worked there. I made plenty of friends that week exploring on my own, some of them I'm still in touch with!

Grilled Pineapple

An hour later I found myself writhing in pain on the beach, like my stomach was eating my body from the inside out.

Dear reader, do not eat an entire pineapple by yourself. You will probably regret it. 

Since then, I've discovered that if the pineapple is cooked (grilled), my stomach can handle more of it than if it's raw! I guess the heat changes the levels of acid or something like that. 

Not only that, but grilling pineapple gives it this caramelized sweetness. In this version, I added some cinnamon sugar just to up the dessert factor since the biscuits and whipped cream are not all that sweet.

Grilled Pineapple Shortcakes

Grilled Cinnamon Pineapple Shortcakes
makes 6

gluten free biscuits
6 Tbsp butter
2 1/2 c gluten free flour (I like Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 c brown rice flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 egg
1 c almond milk
3 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp white vinegar

grilled cinnamon pineapple
1 whole pineapple, peeled and sliced into 1" thick rounds
1 Tbsp white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon 

whipped cream
2 c heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Make the biscuits:
Preheat the oven to 450, line a baking sheet with parchment. 

Dice the butter into 1/2" cubes, freeze for fifteen minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the gluten free flour, brown rice flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Whisk to combine.

In a small bowl, combine the almond milk, heavy cream and vinegar. Allow to sit for five minutes or so (this will cause the milk to curdle, you want that! This adds the traditional buttermilk flavor you're looking for). Whisk in the egg until combined.

Using a pastry blender, mix the frozen butter chunks into the flour mixture until it's all cohesive and the butter is the size of small peas. 

Fold in the milk/egg mixture juuuuust until combined. 

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, pat the mixture out until it's about 1 1/2" tall. Use a 3" round cutter to cut the biscuits (or just slice into squares, we're not picky here).

Transfer the biscuits to parchment lined cookie sheet, bake for 15 minutes until they just begin to lightly brown around the edges. Cool completely.

Grill the pineapple:
Heat the grill to medium high, place the rounds of pineapple on the grill & close it.

In a small bowl, stir the sugar and cinnamon together.

After about ten minutes on the grill, flip the pineapple over (it should be pretty caramelized with nice char marks on this side already, if it's not give it a few more minutes).

Gently spoon the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the already grilled side of the pineapple (from this point on you won't flip it again or your grill will be hella sticky). Close the grill and cook for another ten minutes or so, until the cinnamon mixture is bubbling on top and the bottom side of the pineapple is nice and caramelized as well.

Remove from grill and cool completely.

Make the whipped cream:
In a medium bowl, add the heavy cream and vanilla. Beat with an electric beater for about two minutes until soft peaks form (don't overmix or you'll have butter!)

When the biscuits and the pineapple are completely cool, cut the pineapple into chunks (removing the hard core). Slice the biscuits in half, top them with a nice dollop of whipped cream and pineapple and repeat. 

These keep beautifully in the fridge for about a day in an airtight container! 

xo
Audrey

 

Strawberry Smoothie Bowl by audrey gebhardt

This is the strawberry smoothie bowl that I eat for breakfast every.single.day. It keeps me full, energized and satisfies my morning (all day) sweet tooth!

When I was making this this morning I started to think about routines, and how our body falls into such a pattern that most things we do are unconscious. I really recognized this after I had moved out of the house I lived in for 23 years and went back two months later to pack up a few remaining things. It was so strange how even after two months of not being somewhere, my body had the exact same pattern as it always did. Pull into the driveway, hit the garage door opener, walk in the house as I lock my car with my right hand, kick off my shoes, immediately walk through the kitchen to the living room to open the front door and check the mail. 

The first time I did that it felt like there was a ghost of a previous version that took over my body momentarily and knew what to do for me. It got me thinking about where else in my life my pattern has become unconscious. Kind've like how when you are a commuter your morning schedule is perfected down to the second. You look at the clock in your car at 6:27 each morning as you get out to hop on the train. 

Where in your life are you a zombie? What part of your routine has become so monotonous that you no longer need to think about it? What would it be like to switch it up and make yourself a smoothie bowl instead of just grabbing that same cup of coffee on your way out of the house? Could it feel like a treat?

Vegan Strawberry Smoothie Bowl

Strawberry Smoothie Bowl

1 1/2 c frozen whole strawberries
3/4 c unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c orange juice
1 scoop Plant Based Vanilla Protein

to top:
1 TBSP Justin's Vanilla Almond Butter
coconut flakes (I get the unsweetened ones at Trader Joe's)
chia seeds
raw pecans
strawberries
honey

In a blender, blend the first four ingredients for a little longer than you think you need to- this is the difference between a kind've smooth smoothie and a dreamy fluffy creamy smoothie.

Top with whatever you'd like! Sometimes I add chocolate chips, other times I add granola, sometimes I top it just as it's pictured! The world is your oyster!

xo
Audrey