How to make coconut whipped cream

Coconut whipped cream

I’ve heard from a lot of people that making coconut whipped cream has proven to be a serious challenge – often times they can’t get the coconut milk fat to separate from the water, even after the can’s spent a good 24 hours in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, this has little to do with your cooling chamber and a lot to do with the stabilizers used to keep the coconut milk fat suspended in the liquid; the ingredients in some cans just won’t allow the two to separate.
Stabilizers aside, the other culprit is too much air – which you can avoid by picking up the can of coconut milk and giving it a gentle shake. If you can hear the liquid sloshing around, you need to put it back on the shelf – chances are this can is a dud as far as making coconut whipped cream is concerned. What you need to listen for is a small pocket of air that moves around, making a soft gurgley sound. This method has proven to be effective in finding cans of coconut milk that encourage milk fat separation. In other words, it’s never let me down. Not once.
If you don’t feel confident in your ability to differentiate between sloshing and gurgling, Thai Kitchen will be your best (and safest) bet. In my experience, it’s the only brand of coconut milk that has consistently produced good quality whipped cream. If you’re rolling your eyes because their cans are lined with BPA – I knooow. It pains me, but I suck it up and buy it because I’m not a fan of buying $2 cans of coconut milk that yield separation only 50% of the time. Which is what usually happens when I bring home Native Forest coconut milk with high hopes of turning it into whipped cream. When in doubt, buy a few different cans and experiment to see which brand works best for you. But for the love of Buddha, do not try to speed up the process by freezing the can. You’ll be left with a solid block of coconut milk and a half-exploded can. Not that I know from experience, or anything.

Refrigerated coconut milk
The good stuff
We be whippin'
Iced coffee with coconut whipped cream
Strawberries and coconut whipped cream
DUDE

Notes: My favorite thing about this recipe is that it’s super customizable and can take on whatever flavor your little taste buds desire. Strawberry? Muddle some strawberries and mix them in. Lemon? Squeeze in a bit of juice and add some zest for an extra kick. Chocolate? I think you know what to do. You could also go crazy and add some whiskey and a bit of caramel sauce. And then use the boozy whipped cream to smother your favorite chocolate bundt cake. Or you can enjoy the creamy white stuff, in its simplest form, atop your favorite caffeinated beverage, with fresh fruit, or with strawberry-coconut shortcakes (which are coming soon).

COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM

1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
2 tbsp powdered cane sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the top layer of white, fatty goodness into a decent sized mixing bowl (discard the coconut water or save it for smoothies). Blend the chunks of coconut milk with a hand mixer on high speed for 15-20 seconds, just until the mixture turns to liquid. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add the vanilla extract and blend on high speed for 1-2 minutes, until light and creamy. Whipped cream is best served immideately, but can be stored in an air tight container for up to three days. It will harden in the fridge, so when ready to serve, simply blend with a hand mixer on high speed until creamy again.

Yield: about 1 1/4 cups

Single serving deep dish apple pie | for Thom, with love

Single serving deep dish apple pie | for Thom, with love
Introducing for Thom, with love – a new series documenting the small batch recipes I create for my favorite man, chock full of love. Over the course of the past half decade, I’ve witnessed Thom eat his fair share of baked goods – and in the process I discovered that sometimes all he needs is a single serving of chocolate chip cookies because the man has no self control when cookies are involved. And if you leave an entire batch at his disposal, he’ll eat them all and ask you to make more. Then he’ll eat those, too, and complain about his stomach aching and you’ll decide it’s time to start developing small batch recipes. So if your favorite person is like Thom, surely they’ll appreciate these recipes. And so will you because they can be thrown together without having to dirty heavy mixing machines or three baking sheets or every single measuring device you own.

The recipes, they’re good. Straight forward and equally as delicious as a full batch, but without all of the elbow grease required to scoop 36 cookies or roll out a 10″ pie crust. The selling point, for me, is that small batch recipes don’t produce any waste. Not that anything really goes to waste around here because I’m the lady who shows up at my neighbor’s door at 10 o’clock at night, begging her to take a container of brownies away because Bad things will happen if you don’t. The other selling point is the expression on Thom’s face when he realizes I’ve made something special just for him.

Friends, I’ve been saying it for years: the best way to a man’s heart is, without a doubt, through his stomach.


Pie crust ingredients
We be (pastry) cuttin'
Apple
Apple filling
Heart cutouts
Ready for the oven
Single serving deep dish apple pie | for Thom, with love
Single serving deep dish apple pie | for Thom, with love

Notes: If you prefer a sweeter pie crust, feel free to increase the sugar to one full teaspoon. But I promise you won’t require it if you fill the pie with the full 6 teaspoons (2 tablespoons) of sugar. This recipe requires the use of one deep dish 4″ tartlet pan (although I suppose a ramekin would work, as well). I got my tartlet pans in a set at Williams-Sonoma, but if you like getting ripped off, you can get them individually at Sur la Table (my least favorite kitchen store in the history of kitchen stores) (look at the price difference per tart pan – $5.66). Greedy asswads.
SINGLE SERVING DEEP DISH APPLE PIE

Crust
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/2 tsp cane sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
3 tbsp vegan butter, cold
2-3 tbsp water, ice cold

Filling
4-6 tsp cane sugar
1 tsp potato starch
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
One medium apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp lemon juice, optional

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly oil a 4″ deep dish tart pan; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter, using a pastry cutter or two knives, until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few larger chunks. Add two tablespoons of the water and mix with fingers until a smooth dough forms. If the dough feels a little dry, add a bit more water. Knead the dough for 1-2 minutes then wrap with plastic and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 
To make the filling, stir together the sugar (I used 5 teaspoons), starch, and cinnamon. Add the apples and lemon juice; toss to coat and set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/4″ thick. Fit to prepared tart pan, making sure it’s pressed into the bottom into the scalloped edges. Roll a rolling pin over the top of the pan to remove the excess dough. Fill with apples. Roll the remaining dough scraps, cut with a mini heart shaped cookie cutter (dip in flour if sticking to dough), and arrange on top of pie. Brush with a bit of soy milk and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Bake at 350˚F for 35-40 minutes (if you notice the hearts starting to brown, put a piece of tin foil over top of them after about 25 minutes). Let cool for 10 minutes then serve. Can be refrigerated in an air tight container for up to two days. 

If you’d prefer to assemble the pie and save it for later, remove the pie from the freezer when ready to bake and let it thaw for about 20 minutes. Follow baking instructions above. Unbaked pie will keep frozen for up to 6 weeks in an air tight, freezer proof container.

Yield: 1 4″ pie

Salted chocolate-pretzel peanut butter cookies

Salted chocolate-pretzel peanut butter cookies

You are King Midas.
You have the power to turn everything around you to gold. 
You are a wonderfully gifted and eternally beautiful person, 
And I thank the winds every time I think of you.
•     •     •

Thom‘s words of wisdom during a time when I felt as though my entire world was crumbling beneath my feet. If your world is crumbling (or even if it’s not), just remember – you are King Midas.

Let’s turn everything to gold.

Pretzel sticks
Pretzel flour
Creamy peanut butta
Mini chocolate chips
Salted chocolate-pretzel peanut butter cookie dough
Salted chocolate-pretzel peanut butter cookies

Notes: Cookies can be made gluten free by replacing the flour with a gluten free flour blend + 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum and the pretzels with gluten free pretzels. If you prefer your cookies light and fluffy (opposed to thin and chewy), don’t smash the cookies with a fork – lightly flatten them with the palm of your hand. I use Jif natural peanut butter in this recipe because it’s really fucking delicious – but if you’re opposed to the company, use a different natural peanut butter. Just make sure it’s smooth and creamy. SERIOUSLY. If you want to replace the shortening with vegan butter, that will work – but the cookies will be a bit more oily. Also, someone try this recipe with salty potato chip crumbs and let me know how it turns out. Or graham crackers. Oh, and to make finely ground pretzel crumbs, simply blend pretzels in a food processor for 1-2 minutes – tada!
SALTED CHOCOLATE-PRETZEL PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup sucanat
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 flax egg
2 tbsp non-dairy milk
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup finely ground pretzel crumbs
1/4 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
Coarse sea salt
, for topping

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two large baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening, peanut butter, sugars, and vanilla extract using a hand mixer on high speed for one minute. Add the flax egg and milk; beat until incorporated. Stir in the salt, baking soda, flour, and pretzel crumbs with a wooden spoon; mix until combined then stir in the chocolate chips.

Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets and flatten with a fork. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Chill baking sheets in freezer for at least 15 minutes – this helps the cookies retain their shape, so don’t skip it. Bake at 350˚F for 10-12 minutes (one sheet at a time). Transfer to wire rack to cool then store in an air tight container. Will keep for up to three days.

*Frozen cookies can be stored in the freezer and baked as needed.

Yield: about 30 cookies

Yellow cake with creamy chocolate frosting | a birthday cake

Birthday cake

Two weekends ago we celebrated a birthday. My birthday. A quarter of a century birthday. There was an intimate dinner with my favorite man at my favorite restaurant, a party with all of my favorite people, and one of my favorite bands – Sigur Rós – in the flesh. It was a soul soothing three day stretch that I will carry deep in my heart for the next 12 months. And then I’m sure there will be another celebration of epic proportions because, as it turns out, my people know how to have a good time.

Despite the streak of awesomeness that accompanied my special day, it wouldn’t have been a birthday celebration without cake (or pie, if you’re Thom). So I’m here to share the recipe for the best (seriously) (no, really) vegan yellow cake with chocolate frosting – and if you’re skeptical, I’ve got about 20 people who can back me up on that claim. I’m also here to tell you about HOW AWESOME IT IS when you finally work up the courage to get all of your random groups of friends together in 400 square feet of living space; the entrepreneurs, the ones who just moved from Ohio, the feminists, the ones who don’t drink, the bacon eaters, the ones with big people jobs, the ones who don’t have jobs – you get the picture. For a long time I hesitated amalgamating all of these people because, well, it seemed like a recipe for disaster. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of disasters.

Icelandic sprinkles
Perfect round top
Frosting in the making
We be icin'
Birthday cake
Birthday cake
Birthday cake

Except on my birthday, apparently. Because when it came time to send the invites (and by invites I mean create an event on that one social networking site on which we all spend too much of our precious time) I said fuck it – it’s my party and although it’s likely the only thing a lot of them will have in common is the fact that they’re friends with me (I’m happy to report this was disproven the night of my party), I couldn’t imagine celebrating my birthday without the feminists and the bacon eaters and all of my other favorite people. So we crammed about 20 of them into our living room and devoured cake and ice cream, and drank too much whiskey – and some of them hung around until 3 in the morning before the birthday girl decided it was time for bed because OH MY GOD I HAVE TO WAKE UP IN THREE HOURS. And I did. Without a hangover, even.

I trucked through the final day of celebration just fine until about 8PM when we settled into our seats at the show. After 30 minutes of waiting patiently, Sigur Rós came on and the voice of one thousand angels sang me into a 15 minute slumber. Which leads me to believe that maybe the secret to getting tiny humans to sleep is to play them ambient post rock instead of lullabies. Because if that shit can knock out a grown woman – upright in an uncomfortable plastic chair, at a concert – I’m pretty sure it’ll soothe a milk drunk babe into evening hibernation.

Parents, play your little ones Sigur Rós at bedtime and let me know if my hypothesis is correct.

And since I have you here – with cake – I figured now is the appropriate time to do a little shameless self promotion because HAVE YOU SEEN THE NEW BADGE IN MY SIDEBAR? SAVEUR nominated this little site as one of the Best Special Diets Blogs of 2013, and if you have the time to register (it literally takes one minute) and vote before Friday 19 April, I’d kinda sorta love you. I’m up against some pretty big names so, even if Oh, Ladycakes doesn’t reign victorious, I’m just stoked to be nominated among some of my favorites. I mean, what a super awesome kickass honor.

Notes: Recipe can be double to make two 8-9″ cake layers. The recipe below makes one 8-9″ layer or two 6″ layers. If doubling the recipe to make 8-9″ layers, you’ll need to bake the cake for upwards of 30 minutes. Maybe a few minutes longer. If you don’t have cake flour, sift together 1 1/4 cups and 1 tablespoon unbleached flour + 3 tablespoons potato starch. You’ll need to sift the mixture several times before using it. If baking cupcakes, add 1/4 cup of batter to each liner and bake for 16-20 minutes. If you want a bit more rise out of your cupcakes, add an additional 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder (I stick on the lower end for cakes because I don’t like leveling). Using turmeric as coloring is kind of tricky – if your turmeric isn’t superfine, it’s not going to be a good route to take for food coloring, so just skip it. 

YELLOW BIRTHDAY CAKE WITH CREAMY CHOCOLATE FROSTING

Cake
1 cup minus 1 tbsp non-GMO soy milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups unbleached cake flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Small pinch ground turmeric, for color
3/4 cup cane sugar
6 tbsp non-GMO canola oil
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pure almond extract

Frosting
1 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered cane sugar
3/4 cup cacao powder

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two 6″ spring form pans with parchment paper; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar; set aside for 10 minutes. In another small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, starch, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and turmeric; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil, sugar, and extracts. When the buttermilk has formed, alternate between mixing the flour and buttermilk into the sugar mixture in halves. Add the flour first, then the buttermilk. Once all of the flour has been added (but you’re still left with 1/2 of the buttermilk) whisk the crap out of the mixture until most of the clumps have disappeared. (Don’t whisk too much or else you’ll overwork the gluten.) Whisk in the remaining buttermilk.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake at 350˚F for 24-26 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Once the layers have cooled, cover with plastic and refrigerate until you’re ready to frost (cold cakes are easier to frost).
While the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting by creaming the butter, shortening, milk, and vanilla extract on high speed until fluffy. Sift in the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until fluffy. If you’re going to pipe the frosting on the cake, you’re going to want something a bit thicker. If you’re just going to spread it on, add a tablespoon or two of non-dairy milk and beat until fluffy. Cover the frosting until ready to use.
To ice the cake, line a cake stand (or plate) with four pieces of parchment paper that overlap at the ends; set aside. Remove the cake layers from the freezer (level if needed) and place one of the layers in the middle of the prepared cake stand. Spread 1/2 cup of frosting onto the top of the cake, then sandwich with the second layer. Spread about 3/4 cup of frosting on the top of the cake and smooth it out to cover the cake with a light crumb coat. Refrigerate the cake for 45 minutes, until the frosting is solid. Once solid, spread the remaining frosting onto the cake. I like to do a second coat, covering the cake completely, then I refrigerate it for 30 minutes. Once the icing is hard, I use the remaining frosting to cover the cake and use the back of a spoon to create the appearance of a messy cake. Cover cake with plastic until ready to consume. Cake will keep for 3-4 days.

Yield: 6-8 slices

Raw lemon goji berry bites

Raw lemon goji berry bites

Today marks 90 days until a jet plane carries us across the Atlantic and drops us in Europe until the middle of November. Which means I only have three months to prepare myself for the period of time where life isn’t going to be as comfy and effortless as it is right here in Denver, Colorado. In my cozy loft, in the heart of downtown, with enormous windows and a killer nighttime view and the best burritos in town within walking distance. 1/2 block walking distance. I’ve been weaning myself off of the gym and green smoothies, and have been trying my best to whittle down the pile of crap I want to take to a sensible amount I need to take. I’m anxious, can you tell? I just need these next three months to fly by without a hitch, because it’s hard to concentrate when you have something this big looming on the horizon.

So, for the next 90 days I’m going to be constantly reminding myself that in the very near future I’m not going to be able to eat my typical vegetable heavy diet or wash my hair with my favorite shampoo, just because I like the way it calms my natural waves. I won’t be seeing familiar faces, spending early mornings lifting heavy things, or keeping up with the demands of taking a bunch of vitamins I don’t really know if I need, but I swear make me feel better. I’m trying to prepare myself for the fact that I’m going to be showering in flip flops, sharing rooms with strangers, and eating a bunch of food I probably wouldn’t touch if we were still in Denver (pizza marinara, I can’t wait to get my hands on you). But despite any impending difficulties or metaphorical bumps in the road or having frizzy hair every single day of the trip, I think I’m going to experience four of the most spontaneous and adventurous months of my life. Europe, I can’t wait to see you.

Meyer lemons
Goji berries
Raw lemon goji berry ingredients
Raw lemon goji berry bites
Raw lemon goji berry bites

Notes: If you’d prefer to use cashews in place of almonds, knock yourself out. I haven’t tried any other type of nut so I can’t recommend anything else. The goji berries can be replaced with any dried berry; cranberries, acai berries, etc. Cherries would probably work well, too. Whole Foods sells goji berries in their bulk section, and a half a cup ran me about $3.
RAW LEMON GOJI BERRY BITES

2 cups raw almonds
Pinch of Himalayan salt
10 medjool dates, pitted and soaked for 15 minutes
Juice and zest of two meyer lemons
1/2 cup goji berries, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, optional

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the almonds and salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and lemon juice/zest; pulse until combined. Transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl and mix in the goji berries and coconut with a wooden spoon. Using a 1 teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll into round balls, if desired. Freeze for 30 minutes then transfer to an air tight container. Will keep in freezer for several months but I doubt they’ll last that long.

Yield: about 85 bites

10 days in Ireland

The Long Hall at Trinity College
Kegs at the Brazen Head
Guinness at the Gravity Bar on St. Patrick's Day
Christ's Church
Flowers at Cornucopia
Flowers
Leftovers from St. Paddy's
Temple Bar

DUBLIN

Aside from our time spent in North Antrim, Dublin is my favorite place in Ireland – the city is full of character and the locals are cheeky and extremely entertaining. We spent four days roaming aimlessly through crowded streets, soaking up the city’s history and filling our bellies with delicious Irish food.

Eat
The Winding Stair – hands down, one of the best meals I’ve ever had. If you visit Dublin and miss this place, you’re a fool.
Cornucopia – hearty, vegetable loaded eats
Kitchen – Thom and I have made it a priority to have a special date night here each time we visit. The atmosphere is super cozy and the chef is willing to accommodate each and every diet.
Queen of Tarts
Brick Alley Café – cozy up to a table in the back and order a coconut hot chocolate

Drink
The Brazen Head – second oldest pub in the world. Established before the Magna Carta was issued!
Guinness Storehouse – I don’t care if you don’t like Guinness, this place is a must visit. Especially on St. Paddy’s.
M O’Briens
Baggot Street Mile – highly concentrated area of pubs. Thom, my dad, and brother visited a majority of the pubs the night before St. Paddy’s and.. had a damn good time.

Go
Grafton Street – we didn’t do much shopping, but the shops are filled with pretty things.
Dublin Castle
George St. Arcade – market filled with a lot of quirky stuff you don’t need.
Sleep
We stay at the Waterloo House any time we’re in Dublin. The breakfast is filling and the house is located a brisk 15 minute walk from the city centre. The rooms are nicely sized, king beds are comfy, and the house has a very cozy feel. I think it’s one of my favorite things about the city.

Dunseverick Castle
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Thom crossing Carrick-a-Rede
Basalt columns at Giant's Causeway
Dunluce Castle
Cedric at Dunluce Castle

NORTH ANTRIM

You need at least two nights up in the Bushmills/Ballycastle area if you want adequate time to see everything North Antrim has to offer. Aside from sightseeing, there isn’t much to do – but you’ll likely be so worn out that you won’t have it in you to rage at a pub all night.
Eat
Thyme & Co – surprisingly good (for Ireland) coffee
Drink
Sleep
Craig Cottage never lets us down. Rosemary, the head lady, is an absolute gem and goes above and beyond. During our first trip two years ago, Thom got washed over by a wave at Giant’s Causeway and she washed/dried all of his clothing. And prepared him tea and warm biscuits. She’s the kind of person you want taking care of you while you’re in the North.

Stuff at An Pucan
Coffee with poppa at Pura Vida
Fancy wrought iron fence
Scones at Griffin's Bakery Cafe
Latin Quarter, Galway
I spy a handome guy in the window
Floral arrangements on the street

GALWAY

Galway is a coastal city situated on the Western side of the Republic. There isn’t a lot to do as far as sightseeing is concerned, but it’s a great stopover before heading to the Aran Islands. Many of the pubs have live Irish music, and there are a handful of quaint restaurants scattered throughout the city centre.

Eat
Kai Café and Restaurant – sources local, organic produce daily
Pura Vida coffee house
Revive Café – best latte I had the entire trip
Drink
An Púcán – live music every night after 9
Go
Sleep
We stayed at a terrible place during our first visit two years ago, but this time we stayed at the Park House per recommendation of a friend. It was enjoyable, but I think I’ll put a bit more effort into searching for a B&B next time around.

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
View from the top
Beamish
Foodie
Alley in Limerick
Mickey Martin's

LIMERICK

I wouldn’t necessarily say Limerick is a must-see, but we stopped over due to the weather being not so great for visiting the Aran Islands. It was nice to have a day with nothing to do, so we wandered the streets and I spent too much money on candy and baking powder and pretty sprinkles.

Eat
The Grove – vegetarian eats; open until they run out of food
Jack Mondays Coffee House
Fitto Cafe – Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. At the corner of Roches/Anne Street.

Drink
Mickey Martin’s – local pub with a great atmosphere and old men who sit outside and blow you kisses as you leave.
Flannery’s Bar

Go
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
King John’s Castle to open summer 2013
Dunnes Grocery Store – I spent a good hour just staring at the pretty packaging and loading up on candies not available in America (crispy M&Ms, dark chocolate KitKat, real Haribo bears, etc).

Sleep
The George Boutique Hotel is a favorite. I’m not usually a hotel person but I love the central location of the place, as well as the chic style. There’s a restaurant in the lobby and they have outstanding service. Like, deliver balsamic vinaigrette to your door two minutes after calling reception and asking for it, good service.

Devenish Island
Kilronan Castle
Until next year, Ireland

HONORABLE MENTIONS

We didn’t make it to the Aran Islands this time because of the weather, but it’s an absolute must if you plan on visiting Ireland. We went during our first trip and fell in love. Be sure to grab a knit sweater from the Aran Sweater Market and hire bikes to see the Island. We stayed on Inishmore, but if you have four or five days free, hop around to see each of the Islands. Accommodations (on Inishmore) aren’t the greatest, but what do you expect on an island of only 400 people?
The Cliffs of Moher should also be on your list, but like the Aran Islands, we didn’t head that way due to weather. Doolin is a nearby village and you can take the ferry from there to the Aran Islands – but only if weather permits.

If you’re looking to stay in a castle, I highly recommend Kilronan Castle (pictured above). It’s a great place to stop when breaking up the part of your trip from Northern Ireland back to the Republic. Enjoy breakfast and dinner in the restaurant (although dinner costs a pretty penny), and go for a morning run around the grounds – you won’t be disappointed.

We did the Ring of Kerry and the Southern part of the Republic our first go around and weren’t impressed – which likely has something to do with the fact that we were visiting in March, before anything had bloomed. We weren’t fans of Cork so I don’t recommend going there for anything besides kissing (or licking, if you’re Thom) the Blarney Stone.

Random tips:
– Hire a car to get around the country. Tour busses are for sissies.
– Tipping in crispy M&Ms is acceptable when you have no Euros.
– Not tipping at all is also acceptable.
– You will not find soy milk (soya) at a coffee shop in Bushmills.
– Speaking of coffee, Irish coffee is not good. Think of briny truck stop coffee, but worse.
– You’ll be hard pressed to find a B&B/hotel for less than $100 a night.
– You’re looking for the toilet, not the restroom.
– Fuck is word you’ll hear often. Embrace it.
– Meat and potato restaurants are more than willing to accommodate special diets.

More photos can be found here.

Sweet potato cinnamon rolls with boozy caramel glaze

Sweet potato cinnamon rolls with boozy caramel glaze

I suppose it’s important to preface this with the story of my brother. And how for a brief moment he entertained the idea of meeting us in Dublin over St. Patrick’s Day weekend to surprise our father – because Thom and I surprising him with tickets to Ireland wasn’t a strong enough recipe for a heart attack, as it was. I probably shouldn’t joke about heart attacks because my dad eats a lot of butter. Whatever you picturing right now, multiply that by ten.

I kid, but the man likes his butter. And who am I to tell him to eat less of something that’s capable of clogging his coronary arteries and starving one of the most vital organs in his body of blood and oxygen? I have a lot of nerve, caring about the overall health and well being of the man who will eventually become the grandfather of my children. But that’s not the point. This is about my brother and his plans to visit Ireland, remember? Well, the plans fell through once he realized he had prior obligations with work. Which annoyed the shit out of me because he works a lot and I don’t get to see him as often as I’d like. He loves what he does so I shouldn’t complain, but sometimes I do because I like spending time with my brother more than twice a year. Which means I should probably go back to Ohio more often. But who really wants to go back to Ohio more often?

Anyway, this is no longer about my brother. This is about us and how we got into Dublin at 8AM Friday morning, with a Thom who was adamant about getting a SIM card before we left the airport. So after he ran my dad around Terminal 1 looking for the Vodafone store, he came back with a working mobile device and we were on our way, in a taxi with a gray haired Irish man who has never stepped foot off the island. (I think it’s worth noting that he has plans of visiting the US in a few years, so it’s really not as pitiful as it seems.) He dropped us at our B&B and we were told by the head lady that she could hold our bags, but our rooms wouldn’t be ready until noon. I was a little irritated, but it was my fault as I’m the one who dropped the ball on informing her of our early arrival.

We be mixin'
We be cuttin'
Sweet potato cinnamon rolls
Boozy caramel glaze

Thom had other plans, anyway. Plans that involved a long walk through the city, around Stephen’s Green, and to a side of Dublin I had never seen before. We passed four or five establishments that looked like they’d be able to feed a person with dietary restrictions such as my own, and I started getting grumpy because I needed food. And coffee. And just when I was about to be all SERIOUSLY DUDE WE’VE BEEN WALKING FOR 25 MINUTES AND I’M TIRED AND MY FEET HURT AND I REALLY NEED SOMETHING TO FILL THIS EMPTY BELLY, we rounded the corner to see my brother standing in front of Cassidy’s Pub with luggage and the biggest, stupid grin on his face.

In typical girl-who-grew-up-with-five-brothers fashion, the first thing I did was stop and shout NO FUCKING WAY! And just when I was about to start crying (sleep deprivation, hormones – you know the deal) I ran toward him and went in for a hug, and thought about how he deserved a good ass kicking for lying to me. But also the Brother of the Year Award because he got me. He got all of us (with the exception of Thom) good.

Psst! Photo updates here and here.

Sweet potato cinnamon rolls with boozy caramel glaze
Sweet potato cinnamon rolls with boozy caramel glaze
Sweet potato cinnamon rolls with boozy caramel glaze

Notes: I use canned sweet potato puree but fresh puree should work as well. I’ve also made these with pumpkin and they’ve turned out great. Feel free to replace the sucanat with brown sugar if that’s all you have on hand. If you’re not into boozy caramel glaze (that’s a shame), substitute a simple glaze of powdered sugar, non-dairy milk, and a spoonful of molasses – it’s my go-to glaze when I’m too lazy to make anything else. I bake these rolls in a jumbo muffin pan (two!) because I like when they’re perfectly round. But you can bake them in a regular square baking pan, you’ll just need to cut them into 12 pieces instead of 9. And bake them for 16-18 minutes.

SWEET POTATO CINNAMON ROLLS WITH BOOZY CARAMEL GLAZE

Dough
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water, 105-110˚F
1/4 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup cane sugar
3/4 cup sweet potato puree
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
3 1/4 cups unbleached flour, plus more for rolling
1 tsp fine sea salt

Filling
3 tbsp vegan butter, softened
1/2 cup sucanat
2 tbsp ground cinnamon

Glaze
1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
1/2 cup sucanat
1-2 tbsp Irish whiskey

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl; set aside. Add the water to a small bowl and lightly stir in the yeast; add a pinch of sugar and set aside until foamy (15-20 minutes). In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then stir in the sugar, sweet potato and milk just until warm and sweet potato has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes (if you don’t let it cool, the heat from the mixture will kill the yeast). Add 3 cups of the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment; mix for 10-15 seconds. Add the sweet potato and yeast mixture, then mix dough on medium-high speed for 6-7 minutes. If the dough is not pulling away from the sides of the bowl, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. I achieved a perfect dough with two additional tablespoons. But if you live in a humid climate, it’s likely you’ll need to add the full 1/4 cup. Once the dough has finished kneading, transfer it to the prepared mixing bowl, cover with a towel, and store in a warm part of your house until the dough doubles, about 2 hours.
Lightly oil two 6 cup jumbo muffin pans; set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough out into an 18×12 rectangle. Spread with butter then cover with brown sugar and cinnamon. Starting at the long end, tightly (seriously, I said tightly!) roll the dough into a log, then cut it unto 12 even pieces. Transfer the rolls to the prepared pan, leaving even space between. Cover pan with a towel and allow the rolls to rise for one hour. Bake at 375˚F for 12-14 minutes. Allow to cool in pan.
To make the glaze, start by opening the can of coconut milk and separating the thick, white milk fat from the water. Add 1/4 cup of the coconut water to a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Whisk in the sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for 5-6 minutes, whisking only a few times, then stir in 1 cup of the coconut milk fat (you may have more or less, depending on your can of coconut milk – that’s ok). Reduce the heat to medium and boil the mixture for 5 minutes, whisking every minute or so. If you added less than 1 cup of coconut milk fat, you’ll want to cook the mixture for an extra minute or two. Off the heat and stir in the whiskey. Transfer the glaze to a glass jar and drizzle over warm cinnamon rolls. You can store the rolls in an air tight container for up to three days (I recommend not drizzling with glaze until ready to consume). Glaze can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Yield: 12 rolls