Elderflower Old Fashioned

Sipping an Elderflower Old Fashioned at home…

The holidays are here! It’s that time for hosting friends and family at home and it’s always good to have some good cocktail recipes on hand for an evening in. Whiskey has been making a comeback for the past five years or more. I can go to just about any cocktail bar or restaurant in my neighborhood and find at least one whiskey cocktail on the menu. Manhattans, Sazeracs, and Old Fashioneds are pretty popular these days. I remember ordering a perfect Manhattan a few years ago and really enjoying it and have been a big fan of whiskey cocktails since. Whiskey cocktails are easy to make at home and my house guests really enjoy them. My favorite whiskey cocktail to make at home is the Elderflower Old Fashioned. This is a fun new twist on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. It calls for Elderflower liqueur as the sweetener instead of sugar cubes.

All you need to make an Elderflower Old Fashioned

Elderflowers are beautiful white flowers with a lovely fragrance and unique flavor and are used to make Elderflower liqueur such as St. Germain. St. Germain goes really well with either bourbon or rye whiskey. You can use either bourbon or rye for this recipe – whichever you prefer or have on hand. This is a cocktail that is meant to be sipped slowly. It’s perfect for after dinner, especially if you’re in the mood for something sweet and boozy instead of dessert. I recommend using Luxardo brand Maraschino cherries as they taste the best and have a natural color. You can use a peeler or a small paring knife to make your orange peel garnishes. It’s a warming drink and is an especially nice treat on cold winter nights. If you prefer it less sweet, you can add 1/2 oz of St. Germain instead of 1 oz. I’m also a big fan of interesting ice for cocktails. I love large ice cubes and have an ice maker that makes fancy, clear ice spheres (Glacio Clear Sphere Duo). Large ice cubes and ice spheres melt slowly and look pretty, so they’re ideal for this drink. If you make an Elderflower Old Fashioned, make sure to take a post a picture on Instagram and Facebook and tag @thefriendlyepicurean or Pin this recipe on Pinterest. Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Clear ice spheres melt slowly and look beautiful.

Elderflower Old Fashioned

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 oz whiskey (rye or bourbon)
  • 1 oz St. Germain (or other elderflower liqueur)
  • 2 drops of Angostura bitters
  • 1 large ice cube
  • Maraschino cherries for garnish
  • Orange peel for garnish


Stir all ingredients together in an Old Fashioned glass, add ice cube, and let rest for about 1-2 minutes. Rub orange zest around rim of glass and serve with orange zest and Maraschino cherry.

Original artwork by www.etsy.com/shop/doodleplix

glacio Clear Sphere Duo | Crystal Clear Ice Ball Maker

Adapted from Saveur: https://www.saveur.com/article/recipes/elderflower-old-fashioned


Pumpkin Pie (vegan)


Thanksgiving is next week and I am ready to make and eat lots of delicious food! Pumpkin pie is definitely on my list this year. I prefer traditional pumpkin pie over other pumpkin desserts because it’s the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert. Pumpkin spice lattes and smoothies are great but nothing is better than actual pumpkin pie. The combination of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove in pumpkin pie filling gives it a lot of flavor, warmth, and an amazing fragrance. The crust is flaky and and not too heavy and balances out the sweetness of the pumpkin filling. If you’re short on time or just not into making homemade pie crusts, there are non-dairy options such as pre-made graham cracker crusts. I have yet to find pre-made vegan pie crust dough. Homemade pie dough definitely requires some extra effort but nothing beats a buttery, flaky, homemade crust in my opinion. I recommend making the pie crust dough ahead of time so that all you have to do is roll it out and pre-bake it the day of (to prevent sogginess).

I used leaf shaped pie dough cutters (from Amazon) to make cute decorative pie crust leaves. I simply rolled out the extra half of the dough and used the dough cutters to cut out the leave shapes. I transferred the leaf cut outs to a foil lined baking sheet and baked them at 350F for about 20 minutes. After the pie was baked and cooled I arranged the baked leaf cut outs over the pie for a pretty overlay. This is optional, of course, but adds a lot of character to the pie. You can wrap the extra pie crust dough and freeze it if you aren’t making the decorative cut outs.


I watched Joy of Baking on You Tube to review the pie crust making process. Make sure you buy extra firm silken tofu (not in the refrigerated section) for this recipe. This kind of tofu works best for vegan quiches, tarts, and pies (see below).

Morinaga Silken Tofu works best for vegan baking.

Pumpkin pie is one my favorite fall desserts – the vegan version tastes very similar to traditional pumpkin pie, but of course the texture varies a little since silken tofu is used as the substitute for eggs and heavy cream. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and make sure to post a picture if you make this recipe. Dont’ forget to tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Facebook and Instagram or Pin this recipe on Pinterest.


  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: medium
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    For the crust: (makes enough for 2 pies)
  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling out dough)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 8 oz (1 cup) cold vegan butter, cut into 1 inch cubes (such as Earth Balance)
  • 6 to 7 tbs ice water
  • For the filling:
  • 1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 (12 oz) box of silken, extra firm tofu
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • For coconut whipped cream topping (optional):
  • 1 (13 oz) can of coconut cream refrigerated overnight
  • 1/4 cup organic powdered sugar


For the pie crust: Preheat oven to 350F. In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and sugar for a few seconds. Add cold butter cubes and continue to pulse until crumbly. Next, add about 4 tbs. very cold water slowly and pulse again. Dough will start to come together a little bit more. Add 2-3 more tbs. water and pulse again for a few more seconds. Empty dough onto clean rolling surface. Form into a disk and cut in half. Form each half into a disk with your hands and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Once dough is chilled, sprinkle clean rolling surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll dough out into about a 11 to 12 inch circle that is about 1/8 of an inch thick. Carefully transfer to pie dish and trim excess dough from edges. Crimp edges with fingers or fork, if desired. Cover center of plate with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Pre-bake crust for about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove crust from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes before filling. For the filling: Place all ingredients into food processor and blend until smooth. Pour filling into crust evenly. Bake at 350F for about 45-50 minutes. Filling may develop cracks if baked for too long. Make sure to check on the pie to keep edges from burning. Cover edges of pie crust with foil toward end of baking time to prevent further browning or burning. Allow pie to cool for at least 20 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight before serving. May store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days. For the coconut whipped cream: Remove can of coconut cream from fridge without shaking it. Carefully scoop hardened top layer of refrigerated coconut cream out of the can and place in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip on high speed adding powdered sugar a few tbs at a time until fluffy. Refrigerate or use right away. Can store leftover whipped cream in fridge for a few days in an airtight container.


Adapted from Simply Recipes pie crust recipe: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_pie_crust/

Adapted from Food Network vegan pumpkin pie recipe:

R&M International 0499 Leaves 2″ Pastry/Cookie/Fondant Stampers, Leaves and Acorn, 4-Piece Set

Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Ceramic Pie Crust Weights, Natural Ceramic Stoneware

Apple Crisp

Fall has arrived and it’s apple season! The weather is getting colder and the leaves on the trees are changing colors to beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. I really love this time of year and apple crisp is one of my all time favorite fall desserts to make. It’s so delicious served warm out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you’re not a pie expert, this is the easy way to have some of the flavors of apple pie without all of the work. I love this version of apple crisp because it’s so simple – only 7 ingredients. I don’t think adding flour, baking soda etc. is really even necessary. The walnuts add crunch and some salt to balance out the sweetness. You might want to reduce the sugar depending on the sweetness of your apples. I used Earth Balance, organic (vegan) sugar, and Nada Moo vegan vanilla ice cream to make this recipe completely vegan. If you’re not vegan, feel free to substitute with the dairy versions.


The longest part of the prep time involves peeling and cutting the apples. Once that’s done, it’s so quick and clean up is easy. I don’t mind peeling and cutting apples… it’s actually pretty relaxing! You only need one bowl for this recipe.

I used Granny Smith apples the second time I made this recipe and thought it came out just perfect. Granny Smith apples typically aren’t as sweet and have the perfect texture and tartness for baking. I also tried using Honeycrisp apples which are delicious on their own, but they were a little too sweet and juicy for this recipe. Making a crumble is super easy. You can use your food processor to quickly pulse the ingredients together or use a fork and slightly softened butter. For the best texture, make sure you don’t puree the crumble mixture or over mix it.

The flavors of the apple and cinnamon really shine in this dessert. It also makes your entire house smell like cinnamon and apples… yum! I like to make it ahead (the morning of) to bring with me to a dinner party or potluck. You can bake it once you arrive and allow it cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving. The best part is when the vanilla ice cream starts to melt into it – the combo is just irresistible! If you make this recipe make sure to take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Facebook and Instagram, or Pin this recipe on Pinterest!


Apple Crisp

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices (about 8-9 cups)
  • 6 tbs butter (slightly softened), plus more for greasing the pan (for vegan version use Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 2/3 cup organic sugar + 2 tbs organic sugar
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream (optional topping)


Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9″ x 13″ rectangular baking pan with butter and set aside. In a large bowl, toss apple slices with 2 tbs sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Spread apple slices evenly into baking pan. Using the same bowl, mix together butter, oats, 2/3 cup sugar, walnuts, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon with a fork until combined but still crumbly. Spread oat mixture evenly over apples. Bake for 40 minutes at 375F. Top should be golden brown and apple mixture will start to bubble a little. Allow to cool for about 15-20 minutes before serving. Top with a scoop of ice cream just before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.


Adapted from an original recipe by Mark Bittman in the New York Times

Spicy Peanut Zucchini Noodle Salad


This summer I’ve been trying to cut back on my calories with lighter meals that are still filling. I’ve been trying to incorporate more seasonal produce into my diet as well. Although zucchini is typically available in the grocery store year round, zucchini season is still going strong. Zucchini is such a versatile vegetable – it’s great grilled, baked, sautéed, and also raw. I like to peel zucchini if I am eating it raw because it gets rid of the bitter aftertaste. I bought a vegetable spiralizer a few years ago and it’s one of the best tools to make a quick, healthy meal (click here for the one I use). Spiralized beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, and zucchini are amazing in salads. This salad is ready in minutes and requires no cooking. The peanut sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. I use the sauce as a dip for vegetable rolls, baked tofu, and also on cauliflower rice. It goes with pretty much everything. Homemade peanut sauce tastes so much better than store bought and is really easy to make. This one is tangy, spicy, nutty, and absolutely delicious!

Homemade spicy peanut sauce

I recommend tossing the noodles with the sauce right before serving so that the noodles keep their shape. This recipe makes a great side dish but can be turned into a light main course by adding your favorite vegan protein such as tofu, tempeh, or edamame. The carrots and red bell peppers add crunch and color. I decided to add healthy micro greens to this recipe instead of a traditional Asian herb such as cilantro. Micro greens have a really high nutrient content vs. regular greens and taste really fresh. They also make any dish look stunning! I definitely recommend giving them a try! They can be used as a garnish for soups, Buddha bowls, avocado toast, or added to any sandwich or wrap for extra flavor and nutrients. Zucchini noodles are tasty and filling and can be used as a substitute for any type of pasta. If you make this recipe, let me know how it turns out by posting a picture on Instagram or Facebook and tagging @thefriendlyepicurean or pin this recipe on Pinterest!


Spicy Peanut Zucchini Noodle Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • special equipment to make noodles: a table top vegetable spiralizer
  • 4 large zucchini, peeled
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 cup micro greens
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, crushed
  • For the spicy peanut sauce (makes about 1/2 cup):
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tbs Tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tbs agave syrup
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs Sriracha sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs water


To make the peanut sauce, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Next, using a table top vegetable spiralizer, make the zucchini and carrot noodles. In a large bowl, toss zucchini noodles, carrot noodles, and red bell pepper pieces with 1/4 cup of peanut sauce (add more to taste). Top with crushed peanuts and micro greens and serve immediately. Best if eaten within immediately.




OXO Good Grips 3-Blade Tabletop Spiralizer with StrongHold Suction

Elotes (Mexican Style Corn)


This year, the Fourth of July was really memorable because my entire family was able to get together. We grilled at my sister’s house and I made vegan Elotes for the first time. It actually turned out really good! Elotes refers to Mexican style corn on the cob. You can find it all over Chicago sold by street vendors or food trucks. It’s really rich and full of flavor but the traditional version is not vegan. This vegan version of Elotes is a really easy recipe with few ingredients. If you’re trying to eat lighter you can skip the vegan butter and reduce the mayonnaise by half. You can find vegan mayonnaise and parmesan cheese in most grocery stores. The vegan parmesan from Go Veggie tastes delicious but has a strong smell that may not be appetizing to some. My nieces and nephews really enjoyed the vegan Elotes but my sister was not a fan of the vegan parmesan… I think nutritional yeast is a great substitute if you’re not a fan of vegan parmesan. Elotes are tangy, buttery, creamy and a little spicy. There’s nothing better than grilled corn in the summer! The cilantro really makes it taste really fresh and the cayenne adds a little kick. If you don’t have a grill you can boil the corn for about 10 minutes instead and still get great results. You can also take the corn off the cob once it’s cooked and mix in all of the ingredients if you prefer something that can be served out of a dish. It’s just as delicious that way and a lot less messy! If you make this recipe make sure to take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram and Facebook or pin this recipe on Pinterest!


Elotes (Mexican Style Corn)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 4 ears of corn, husks removed
  • 2 limes, cut in halves
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter (such as Earth Balance brand)
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (such as Vegenaise brand)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup grated vegan parmesan cheese (such as Go Veggie brand) or nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt


Grill corn for about 3-4 minutes per side – about 10-15 minutes total depending on grill temperature. Corn should be evenly golden brown. Squeeze lime juice on each ear of corn. Spread one tablespoon of butter on each ear of corn. Next, spread one tablespoon of mayonnaise on each ear of corn. In a small bowl, combine cilantro, vegan parmesan, cayenne pepper, cumin powder, garlic powder, and salt. Top each ear of corn with 1/4 of the parmesan mixture and serve while hot.


Mango Turmeric Smoothie Bowl

Mango turmeric smoothie bowl with coconut, dragon fruit balls, blueberries, and edible flowers.

Summer weather makes me crave mangoes! Mangoes were hard to come by when I was a kid growing up in a small town. The juiciest, sweetest ones I have ever had were in India. Growing up, we visited my grandparents in Chennai in southern India every summer. I would look forward to all of the food but the mangoes were just amazing! This smoothie bowl is naturally sweet because of the frozen mango and doesn’t require any added sweetener. I used 2 tsp of Energy by Goldyn Glow to mine. It’s a turmeric superfood blend with maca. I like it because it adds a delicious, slightly spicy kick and has multiple superfood powders all in one. It’s also organic and vegan. You can make your own superfood powder blend at home with turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and maca powder instead. Smoothie bowls are easy to make once you get the hang of them. You will need a powerful blender or food processer and will have to stop the blender a few times to scrape the sides and bottom. You can add extra almond milk if you find that your smoothie bowl is too thick. Once it’s all blended, it should have the consistency of soft serve ice cream. You can top it with your favorite superfood toppings like coconut, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, chia seeds, or even edible flowers. This bright, tasty superfood smoothie bowl is a great way to start your day!

Mango turmeric smoothie bowl in a jar with dragon fruit balls and edible flowers.

Mango Turmeric Smoothie Bowl

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 sliced, frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 tsp Energy by Goldyn Glow
  • Or substitute Energy powder with:
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper


Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor on low speed until smooth. You will need to stop the blender a few times to scrape down the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula. The consistency should be thick and creamy – almost like soft serve ice cream. Once all ingredients are well combined, transfer to a bowl and top with your favorite toppings. Serve immediately.

Mango turmeric smoothie bowl in a jar with blackberries, dragon fruit, and edible flowers.

GoldynGlow ENERGY – Organic Turmeric Superfood Blend with Gelatinized Maca Root