Grilled Peaches with Whiskey Caramel and Vanilla Ice Cream


Since we’re in the thick of summer weather, I bet not many folks are willing to turn on their oven these days. That’s perfectly acceptable and nobody understands not wanting to heat up the house better than me. However, I am willing to toss dessert on the grill. Chances are, many of you are grilling up a storm this summer too. I’ve got an easy crowd pleasing dessert for us that just needs a few minutes on the grill.

This has got to be one of the easiest desserts of the summer.It doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, preparation, or time. If you’ve got great quality peaches, store bought ice cream and a bit of caramel sauce, you’re half way there. Add granola for some extra texture or leave it out, totally up to you.




Grilled Peaches:

Yield: as many as you like

Fresh peaches (ripe but not too soft)

Whiskey caramel sauce, recipe here

Almond granola, recipe below


Almond Granola

2 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking or instant)

¾ cup slivered almonds

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

¼ teaspoon table salt (not Kosher)

¼ cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons grape seed oil

1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients, set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring wet ingredients to a simmer. Pour over dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Turn the mixture out onto the parchment lined sheet pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate pan, mix the granola, and continue baking for another 15 minutes.

Let cool completely on the sheet pan. Granola will crisp up when it cools down. Store in an airtight container.

Prepare the Peaches:

Slice peaches in half and discard pits. Brush lightly with coconut oil and place on a grill, cut sides down. Grill just until peaches get their grill marks and then remove.

Serve immediately with whiskey caramel and granola.

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Banana Split Bites with Whiskey Caramel and Homemade Magic Shell


These hot and humid summer days do not call for turning on the oven. Instead, let’s keep it simple and cool down with miniature banana split bites, adult style. What makes these special is the whiskey caramel and homemade magic shell. Colorful sprinkles make it fun. Grab a few spoons and dig in.



Miniature Banana Split Bites

Yield: 6 pieces

1 banana, sliced into 6, 1/2″ rounds

1 pint vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup magic shell chocolate coating

2 tablepsoons whiskey caramel

whipped cream

4 maraschino cherries


Arrange banana slices on a plate and place one scoop of ice cream on top of each slice. Drizzle magic shell over ice cream and top with a dash of sprinkles. Pipe 5 rosettes of whipped cream directly on the plate and top each with a maraschino cherry. Drizzle whiskey caramel around and enjoy!

Whiskey Caramel

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1 cup sugar

1 cup cream

4 oz unsalted butter

2 tablespoons whiskey

Place sugar into a saucepan with enough water to create a sandy consistency. Wash down any sugar that is stuck to the inside of the pan, use additional water if necessary. Bring sugar to a boil and cook on medium heat until it caramelizes to a deep amber color. Turn off heat and slowly add the cream, whisking until combined. Use caution as mixture will release steam and may splatter. Whisk in butter and whiskey. Let cool and then transfer to a container. Will keep refrigerated for two weeks.

Magic Shell

recipe from Serious Eats

yield: 2 cups

250 (1/2 pound) grams dark chocolate, chopped

200 grams (1 cup) refined coconut oil *not virgin or unrefined

125 grams (6 tablespoons) light corn syrup

Combine all ingredients into a microwave safe bowl. Melt in the microwave at 15 second increments until the chocolate is almost all melted, but not completely. Stir gently to combine and the rest of the chocolate should begin to melt and the mixture will become smooth. Make sure not to get the chocolate too hot when melting or it will separate.

Spoon over ice cream and in seconds it will begin to turn from glossy to matte and harden to a crisp shell.

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Peach Scones


Summer fruit is by far my favorite. Our peach trees produce the sweetest, juiciest fruit that I eagerly await each year. And, I greedily hog the first ones of the season for myself. We have a system here that works out very well for me. K prunes and tends to the trees, watering and patiently taking care of them throughout the season. I am nowhere to be seen during this time. As soon as the fruit comes in and becomes ready to pick, I swoop in and select the best ones.

This year we were on track to get the largest yield yet. Sadly, that did not happen since we had a reverse spring and the weather was all out of whack. Many of the flowers fell off and the  few that hung on to turn into fruit turned out small and many cracked since we got a deluge of rain over two days right before picking time. I did not have high hopes for these peaches. Thankfully, I was proved wrong and despite their smaller size and not looking as pretty as in previous years, they were just as sweet and delicious.

We love scones with our morning coffee and a warm batch first thing in the morning is a treat. The addition of fresh peaches makes them even more rich and creamy. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.






adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Yield: 8 scones

1 ½ cups fresh peaches, diced
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen whole + 2 tbsp melted butter
½ cup sour cream
½ cup whole milk
½ cup sugar+ 1 tbsp for sprinkling
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
¼ teaqspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon table salt

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Grate 8 tbsp of butter on large holes of box grater. Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 tbsp of remaining ungrated butter and set aside. Place diced peaches in freezer until needed.

Whisk together sour cream and milk in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. Whisk flour, baking powder, 1/2 cup sugar salt, baking soda, and lemon zest in medium bowl. Add frozen butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined. With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured work surface. Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6 to 8 times, until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper or metalspatula to release dough if it sticks to countertop. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer 5 minutes.

Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Sprinkle peaches evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slightly embedded in dough. Using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.

Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 min. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 min before serving.

To Make Ahead: After placing the scones on the baking sheet, either refrigerate them overnight or freeze. When ready to bake, for refrigerated scones, heat oven to 425 degrees and follow directions in step 6. For frozen scones, heat oven to 375 degrees, follow directions in step 6, and extend cooking time to 25 to 30 minutes

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Plum Palate Cleanser


I have fond memories of Santa Rosa Plums. In fact, these memories run so deep that I am forever ruined when it comes to other plum varieties, they are just not good enough. When we were growing up, our neighbors in the back had a row of these plum trees all lining the dividing wall. In the summer time, the trees would blossom full of plums and the branches would hang way over the wall onto our side. I’m sure you can guess what happened to those plums that crossed over.

Santa Rosa’s are unique in that their flesh is deep red and super juicy while the purple skins remain very tart. I like this combination and spent many a summer enjoying this overflow of free fruit. I also spent even more years without these plums and gave up trying to find them at the local grocery stores. No luck at all, except one time and I bought a bag full, it was like gold. Then, we decided to plant our own trees and now we are lucky enough to enjoy our very own crop, year after year.

Since this sorbet is tart, I like it best as a palate cleanser. In between courses, a very small scoop is a great way to wipe away any remaining strong flavors  from the previous course and prepare for the next. Hope you enjoy!






Santa Rosa Plum Palate Cleanser

Yield: 3 quarts

3 cups sugar

3 cups water

8 cups sliced plums, seeds removed

2 ½ cups simple syrup plus additional

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 large egg, washed and dried

Make the simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve all sugar and continue to boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool completely. When cooled to room temperature, place in the refrigerator. This can be made days in advance.

Chop and pit the plums, leaving skins on. Place all 8 cups of plums in a large, non-reactive stockpot (8 quart pot works well) and add 2 ½ cups simple syrup. Bring to a boil and immediately lower heat to medium low and poach until tender. When plums are tender, remove from heat, cool, and puree in a blender.

Strain pureed plums through a fine mesh strainer and add lemon juice. To determine if there is enough simple syrup in the mixture to yield a smooth sorbet, carefully place the egg into the container with the puree and press it down gently. The egg should float to the surface leaving a nickel to quarter size circle of exposed eggshell. If the area is larger than a quarter, the mixture is too sweet; add water until the egg’s surface closes to a quarter size. If the area is smaller than a dime or egg is not visible at all, add simple syrup.

Completely chill the sorbet base and spin according to manufacture directions. My ice cream maker only holds 1 ½ quarts of liquid at a time so I needed to make 2 separate batches.

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Santa Rosa Plum and Cherry Cake


Santa Rosa plums have officially taken over our fridge. This is the first year the trees produced more than 3 pieces of fruit. It was a huge surprise when we saw the countless tiny green beginnings of immature plums. I didn’t want to get my hopes up since in previous years they have been blown away by the wind or otherwise knocked off before ripening. We also had competition from the birds and probably some racoons too. But, not this year. Those little suckers ripened up all at the same time and all of a sudden we had tons of plums all needing to be eaten at once. The thing about plums is, one can only consume so many before they make their way through the system and let’s just say, we have only one bathroom.

That’s where this buttery cake comes in. Not only is it delicious as a tea time treat, but you can also get away with calling it breakfast so long as you’re washing it down with a cup of coffee or tea. The sweet, tart plums cut the richness and sugary sweetness of the cake. If you want to dress it up even more, a dollop of whipped cream will do just fine and further round out the tartness of the plums. Either way, it’s delicious.






Santa Rosa Plum and Cherry Cake

Yield: 1, 9” cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

4 oz (1 stick) butter, softened at room temperature

¾ cup plus 1 ½ tsp sugar, divided

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

10 santa rosa plums, cut into quarters, pits removed

10 cherries, pitted and cut in half

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9” springform pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together to combine.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and ¾ cup sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour, mix until just combined.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan and top with plum and cherry slices. Combine the remaining 1 ½ tsp sugar with the nutmeg and sprinkle over the fruit and batter.

Bake for 25- 30 minutes on convection setting or until the cake turns golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean- a few moist crumbs clinging to the toothpick and it’s done. Remove to a wire cooling rack and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the springform ring and let cool to room temperature.

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Crystal Cave and Trees of Sequoia


A day after we made it back down the mountain from this  Pear Lake excursion and after a good night’s sleep, we returned to the park for a tour of Crystal Cave. I was really looking forward to this for two reasons: 1. checking out caves is exciting and 2. it would be nice and cool inside, chilly even. The group was large (50 people) and the cave was massive. There was more than enough room for everyone with plenty of space to spare. The downside was there were far too many people to be able to enjoy the tour and getting photos without heads and random strangers in the background proved to be challenging but worth it.

Once inside, this subterranian world will take your breath away. To start, this marble cave has streams meandering throughout it’s rooms and glistening walls of polished rock. If you’re lucky, you might see a newt or two in the stream.There are also stalactites suspended from the ceiling and stalagmites stacked up from the ground and are a true site to see. There is so much texture and natural ornate decor that could only be shaped slowly by time. This is a place that you must see for yourself since the photos don’t even come close to showing a fraction of what it has to offer.



After the cave tour we headed to another part of the park to see the magnificent sequoias. There was more walking but this time on a path all the way down to the General Sherman Tree. Along the way we passed numerous other huge trees and meandering walking routes. You could spend almost a whole day down there climbing up and down the hills and around the trees, like an ant. Consider yourself warned, this is selfie stick land so you’ll be dodging those all the way down.



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Pear Lake

We just returned from a rigorous backpacking trip that was my first introduction to extreme outdoors adventure (I am inexperienced in backpacking and much of outdoor activity, so this was extreme for me). While I recover, K will tell you all about it here:


I’d been wanting to do a backpacking trip for some time now. I asked S if she’d be interested in going to Sequoia to see some big trees, hike to an alpine lake and do some easy fishing. She grudgingly accepted and the planning began.

Pear lake is located at over 9000 feet and surrounded by cliffs. The water is unbelievably clear and fed by snow that melts off of the many peaks surrounding the lake.

The hike to the lake itself is an arduous 6.7 miles. There is over a 2000 foot elevation gain and you feel every inch. Once at the top its a breathtaking site. You’re surrounded by massive granite peaks, fish that breach the water as they go for their next meal and ancient foxtail pines that can live for thousands of years.


Our plan was to stay for two nights but this was not to be as the weather turned foul mid-day the following day. As we were rushing to pack up our gear it started haling. There was no way we’d make through the day, much less the night. The decision had been made and it was a mad dash in the rain to get 6.7 miles down from the back country to the trail-head.

The more time that passes between me the trip, the more I think it was worth every second. It was such a great experience to be in a place most people would never visit or see with their own eyes. My good friend Frank said something about his visit to Macchu Picchu a while back which was, “I’ve never seen a photograph which does it justice.” I agree and can say the same thing about Pear Lake.





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Cocoa Nib Macarons with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream


It’s been a while since I’ve had macarons and I am especially missing the fabulous Pierre Herme kind from this trip. I haven’t found anything remotely close in my part of town so I decided to make my own. At least this way I could get the flavors I wanted, go a little crazy with experimentation, and fix that craving. Done and done.

Since the cocoa nibs worked out so well in this recipe, I decided they would make a reappearance here in the macaron shells. They really intensify the chcocolate flavor and pair especially well with… bourbon! Yes, indeed chocolate+ vanilla+ bourbon = pure satisfaction.







Recipe adapted from I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita

Yield: 2 dozen

2/3 cup ground almonds

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

3 large egg whites at room temperature (aged for at least 24 hrs)

5 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa nibs


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, grind almonds, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder to a fine powder. Sift through a fine mesh sieve. Set aside.

In a stainless steel mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until frothy. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until the whites turn glossy and stiff peaks form.

Add the almond flour mixture all at once and fold to combine with a rubber spatula. Scoop batter from the bottom and fold over the top. Continue until the batter is smooth, but do not over mix. Test a small amount, the size of a quarter by dropping onto a plate. If the batter spreads nicely and does not have a peak, it is ready. If there is a stiff peak, continue folding the batter for a few more turns.

Fill a pastry fitted with a medium size tip with batter. Squeeze the batter onto the prepared parchment lined sheetpan forming 1” circles and spacing at least ½” apart. When the pan is full (you will have 2 separate batches and repeat this process twice), rap gently on the countertop to release any air pockets. Sprinkle cocoa nibs on top of the piped batter. *The second batch will be plain and not have cocoa nibs.

Let sit for 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake macarons for 12- 18 minutes until slightly crisp on top. The tops should not wiggle when pressed slightly. If they wiggle, reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and continue baking for 2 more minutes or until they are slightly firmer.

Place the sheetpan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.


Vanilla Bourbon Buttercream

Recipe adapted from Cook’s Country

Yield: 3 cups

1 vanilla bean, scraped

2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Pinch of table salt

2 ½ cup powdered sugar

2 ½ sticks (9 oz) unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons bourbon

In a standing mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add powdered sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, scrape bowl and add the vanilla seeds, milk, and bourbon and beat until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.


Sandwich the buttercream between one plain macaron shell and a cocoa nib topped shell. Continue until all shells are filled. Place in an air tight container and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight to let the flavors meld. Bring to room temperature before enjoying.

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Shrimp and Chive Gyoza


Anytime we go out to eat at a Japanese restaurant, I always order gyoza which are dumplings filled with a combination of meat and vegetables and then steamed and fried. Alternatively, they are also made with edamame or a vegetarian filling. In my family, we make it with shrimp and sometimes pork. I really like the shrimp version and have tweaked the recipe to make it my own although gyoza can be filled with anything you want.

Something I’ve never tried before now was making my own gyoza wrappers. Usually, we just buy the premade wrappers and call it a day. Not this time. I really wanted a thicker and more chewy wrapper that would crisp up nicely in the pan. If you get a craving for crisp gyoza that are soft and chewy inside, these are the ones to try. The wrappers and dipping sauce can be made the day before. Once you get started, it goes quickly and the gyoza cook up in no time.






Shrimp and Chive Gyoza

Yield: 12 gyoza


6 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

2 tablespoons chopped chives

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sake

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

¼ teaspoon cornstarch

Coarsely chop the shrimp into chunks. Place in a bowl and add all other ingredients. Mix to combine


3 ½ oz all-purpose flour

2 oz hot water

¼ teaspoon table salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with chopsticks until dough is shaggy. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. If dough is too dry, add more hot water, a teaspoon at a time. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and rest for 30 minutes (or overnight). After dough has rested, roll into a cylinder approximately 1 ½ ” thick. Cut in half and wrap the other half in plastic. Slice the first half into six equal pieces. Place cut sides facing up on your work surface. Working with one piece at a time, roll into a 3 ½” circle with a rolling pin. When all six pieces are rolled out, repeat with the other half.

Assemble the gyoza

Place a scant tablespoon of shrimp filling into the center of the dough. Using your finger, moisten half of the diameter with water and fold the dough in half so that the dry half meets with the wet half- begin pleating one side and gently press to the opposite side to seal. Place onto a parchment lined baking pan. There will be unused shrimp filling which can be save for later use.

In a large non-stick pan, arrange the gyoza in a circle formation. Add 1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil and just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, until the water has evaporated and the gyoza have browned on the bottom. Remove from heat. Place a large platter face down on the pan and quickly invert, releasing the gyoza. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

Chili oil to taste

Combine all ingredients and set aside.

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Clams in Miso Ginger Broth


This past weekend we stopped by our local seafood shop and picked up quite a variety consisting of whole fish, shrimp, shellfish, and fish ribs. It was quite a haul. This time, I thought we would try something new and since I really don’t cook clams it was the perfect thing to begin with. We wanted something light in texture with a delicate flavor. I was thinking of an aromatic broth and narrowed it down to miso and ginger- miso for subtle depth of flavor and ginger to brighten it up. Since clams are naturally salty, it is best not to add additional salt to the recipe and it is also why I kept the miso on the watery side. You just want a hint of miso. The broth will be briny and a touch salty on its own once the flavors meld. This dish comes together very quickly and makes for an easy lunch or light starter.





Clams in Miso Ginger Broth

Yield: 2 appetizer portions or 1 serving as a main

1 dozen fresh clams, rinsed well

1 ½ cup water

1 ½ teaspoon red miso paste

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 small knob of fresh ginger, peeled and quartered

1 tablespoon sake

2 tablespoons dried wakame (seaweed)

1 tablespoon butter

1 scallion, sliced thin

In a medium sized skillet, bring the water to a boil and add miso paste. Stir with a wooden spoon until miso is dissolved. Add the garlic and ginger and cover, reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let garlic and ginger steep an additional 5 minutes. Remove garlic and ginger, discard. Add the sake and wakame and bring to a boil. Add the clams, cover and cook, shaking the skillet occasionally until clams open up. Add the butter as soon as the first clam opens, and continue shaking the skillet to melt and distribute the butter. Remove clams as they open and place into a serving bowl. Pour cooking liquid over clams and garnish with scallions. Enjoy immediately.

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