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Are you ready for our frosé recipe? If you haven’t tried it (and please tell us you have!), frosé is frozen rosé wine. Basically, it’s a mashup between a frozen cocktail and that quintessential summer wine. Now, most frosé recipes are sickly sweet. And some people complain that freezing rosé removes the character of the wine. So Alex and I set about to create a frosé recipe that was not too sweet AND tastes like rosé. We think we were successful, and so do our friends who very willingly volunteered as our taste testers! Wondering how to make frosé? Keep reading!

How to make frosé (frozen rosé)

Frosé is very simple to make: the hardest part is thinking ahead. If you can, whip up the frosé recipe the night before, then blend and serve the day of. Despite the name, it’s not just rosé that’s frozen: simply freezing rosé makes it bitter and flat-tasting. A frosé recipe includes sugar to offset the bitterness (usually made as a simple syrup), and strawberries to add some color and additional flavor.

What is all natural frosé?

To put the A Couple Cooks spin on frosé, we wanted a healthier frosé recipe that was pretty simple to make. We also wanted to keep the character of rosé intact. Many frosé recipes can be sickly sweet, so we decided to make a frosé with no refined sugar. Here we’ve used honey to make a naturally sweet frosé (you can also use maple syrup for vegan). There’s only 1 tablespoon for 6 drinks, which keeps the frosé recipe just sweet enough.

The kicker in this frosé recipe is that we found a trick: we add a splash of room temperature rosé when serving! This makes it just sweet enough (since freezing rosé dulls the sweetness). It also brings in a nice slushy texture.

Have you tried a frosé recipe? Are you into this all natural version of frosé? Let us know in the comments below!

Looking for more naturally sweet cocktail recipes?

Here are a few other naturally sweet drink recipes:

This recipe is…

This All Natural Frosé recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free.

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All Natural Frosé (Frozen Rosé)

(1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 1)

5 from 1 reviews

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 6 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Blended
  • Cuisine: American
Description

Wondering how to make frosé (frozen rosé)? This all natural frosé recipe is simple, refined sugar free, and tastes just like rosé!

Ingredients
  • 1 750mL bottle rosé wine (one you like to drink; we like ours on the dry side)
  • 8 large strawberries (about 1 1/2 cups ripe strawberries, halved), plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup for vegan)
Instructions

Open the rosé and pour 2/3 cup into a glass measuring cup; set aside for when serving.

Remove the tops of the strawberries and cut them in half.

In a blender, blend the remaining rosé, strawberries, and honey until smooth and fully combined. Then pour the mixture through a strainer and into a covered baking dish.

Transfer the baking dish to the freezer and freeze at least 6 hours, or overnight. (The alcohol in the mixture will keep it a slushy texture instead of freezing solid.) Blend the mixture again until it comes to a fluffy texture.

To serve, place the blended mixture into a glass. Then pour a splash of rosé into each glass (this step is important: it gives the final texture and brings in the character of the rosé). If desired, garnish with strawberries and serve.

Keywords: Frosé, Frozen Rosé, How to Make Frosé, Drinks, Cocktails, Summer Drink, Summer Cocktail, Rosé Wine, Wine, Wine Cocktail

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This Ultimate Grilled Veggie Burger was created in partnership with Kroger. All opinions are our own. 

Are you ready for the ultimate grilled veggie burger? Alex and I have seen so many veggie burgers fall apart on the grill over the past 10 years. So we are beyond excited to share this recipe with you: a veggie burger that doesn’t fall apart on the grill and tastes delicious! There’s even a video! It’s part of our 6-episode Summer Barbecue Series hosted by Alex, me and our friend baking blogger Tessa from Handle the Heat. Alex, Tessa and I created six brand new summer recipes for you and the entire series is sponsored by Kroger as part of their #RedWhiteandBBQ summer resources. Three of the recipes are healthy vegetarian recipes from A Couple Cooks and three are Tessa’s delicious baked goods, each featuring ingredients we found at our local Kroger store. See our video below!

GIVEAWAY: We’re giving away a $100 Kroger gift card to celebrate the launch of the Summer Barbecue Series! Head over to YouTube and add a comment on the video to enter! US only, ends June 29 at noon PST.

Ready? Watch the video: how to make grilled veggie burgers!

Ultimate Grilled Veggie Burger - YouTube

Watch our entire Summer Barbecue Series!
Why make a grilled veggie burger?

As you may know, Alex and I aren’t fully vegetarian. But we eat vegetarian about 90% of the time, so this A Couple Cooks website is full of our everyday healthy vegetarian recipes. Since we’re what we call flexitarian, when we fire up the grill for summer entertaining often Alex will just eat a real burger! However, I eat vegetarian recipes even more than he does (maybe 97% of the time), so typically I’d prefer vegetarian grilling ideas. There are lots of vegetarian grilling ideas that are outside of a bun (like these grilled nachos), but sometimes you just want a big burger, right? So we’ve created this easy veggie burger recipe for when you want to eat vegetarian at a summer barbecue. And we promise, cross our hearts, that this veggie burger doesn’t fall apart on the grill! In this recipe, we’ve featured Simple Truth Organic Garbanzo Beans and Kingsford charcoal for the grill.

What are your grilled veggie burger tips?

It’s actually kind of hilarious how many times Alex and I have made grilled veggie burgers that flopped. I think we might have grilled veggie burger PTSD, actually! The reason that it’s so difficult to make a veggie burger that doesn’t fall apart on the grill is that, newsflash: it’s not a meat burger! Molding together a bunch of vegetables and grains does not necessarily equal the consistency of a burger. Problems with grilled veggie burgers are that they’re too dry and crumble on the grill, or they’re too mushy, like the consistency of mashed potatoes. After 10 years of experimenting, we have some grilled veggie burger tips for you! Here are all our secrets to a veggie burger that doesn’t fall apart on the grill:

  • Rice: In this grilled veggie burger, we’ve used rice to make a firm texture. It also helps the visual appeal.
  • Walnuts: We’ve also added some walnuts, again to create a firm texture.
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans): Chickpeas are main veggie here; we mash them with a fork to keep some of their texture as well.
  • Flour: The flour acts as a binder to hold everything together. You can use any type of flour, including gluten free flour if desired.
  • Egg White: We tried to make this recipe vegan, but unfortunately it needed another binder! Egg white is the final secret ingredient to keep everything held together. (If you’re adventurous and want to try a vegan sub like flax egg, do so at your own risk!)
  • Barbecue sauce: We painted our burgers with barbecue sauce to get a color and shine that looks similar to a beef burger.

And how does the grilled veggie burger taste?
To us, this easy veggie burger recipe is truly the best we’ve ever made. And we still can’t believe how beautiful it turned out! It doesn’t taste exactly like meat, but the experience feels just like eating a burger and is incredibly tasty in its own way. Even better, it’s truly a veggie burger that doesn’t fall apart on the grill. How about you: would you try this grilled veggie burger recipe? Tell us in the comments below.

Looking for more summer barbecue recipes?

Here are the other summer barbecue recipes in our Summer Barbecue Series!

This recipe is…

This Ultimate Grilled Veggie Burger recipe is vegetarian. For gluten free, use gluten free flour and gluten free buns.

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Ultimate Grilled Veggie Burger

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  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: American
Description

Want vegetarian grilling ideas? Finally, here’s a delicious Grilled Veggie Burger that doesn’t fall apart on the grill, and our grilled veggie burger tips!

Ingredients

For the burger

  • 1 cup white rice (2 cups cooked)
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 15-ounce can Simple Truth Organic Garbanzo Beans
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or gluten free)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg white
  • Barbecue sauce

To serve

  • Guacamole or other creamy sauce
  • 1 tomato
  • Lettuce leaves
  • 6 hamburger buns (gluten free if desired)
Instructions

Make the rice according to the package instructions. If making the rice directly before grilling, quickly cool it by spreading the rice into a single layer on a sheet pan and placing it in the freezer for 2 minutes until it cools. Otherwise, you can make the rice in advance and refrigerate until using. 

Preheat a grill to medium heat.*

Mince the garlic and onion. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the the onion and saute for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and saute for for 2 more minutes until golden and translucent. Remove from the heat.

Roll over the walnuts with a rolling pin until they are fine and crumbly.

Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Place them in the bottom of a large bowl and mash them with a fork. Mash until about 90% of the garbanzo beans are mashed; a few can remain whole.

Measure out 2 cups of the rice and add it to the bowl with the garbanzo beans. Then add the onion and garlic mixture, 2 tablespoons olive oil, walnuts, flour, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, black pepper. Mix together, smashing any rice clumps so that everything mixes evenly. Stir in 1 egg white, then mix until everything comes together into a sticky dough.

Using your hands, form five or six 1-inch thick patties by firmly patting and squeezing the dough together (making 5 results in a very thick burger; making 6 makes moderate-sized burgers). Set the patties on a baking sheet or plate for grilling. Brush both sides of the burgers with olive oil.

Place the burgers on a grill and grill for 10 to 12 minutes on one side, until firm and grill marks appear. Gently flip the burgers and brush them with barbecue sauce. Grill for an additional 10 to 12 minutes on the other side, then serve immediately.

To serve, place the burgers on a bun, topped with guacamole or another creamy sauce, tomato and lettuce (or other burger toppings of your choosing).

Notes

*You can also bake this grilled veggie burger if it’s not grilling season! Preheat an oven to 375F, then bake for 30 to 40 minutes until evenly browned on both sides, flipping once. Brush both sides with barbecue sauce, then return to the oven for 2 minutes.

Keywords: Burger, Veggie Burger, Veggie Burger on the Grill, Grillable Veggie Burger, Grilling Recipe, Grilled, Summer Recipe, Grilling Season, Veggie Burger that Doesn't Fall Apart on the Grill

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A Couple Cooks - Recipes for Healthy & Whole Living

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This No Mayo Potato Salad was created in partnership with Kroger. All opinions are our own. 

Next up in our Summer Barbecue Video Series is one of the best recipes we’ve ever created: this incredible no mayo potato salad! Potato salad without mayo? Yes! This is the best healthy potato salad recipe and it’s even more delicious than that classic picnic potato salad with loads of mayo. Want to learn our secrets? Watch our Summer Barbecue Series video below! It stars Alex and me with our friend, blogger and author Tessa from Handle the Heat. Alex, Tessa and I created six brand new summer recipes for you and the entire series is sponsored by Kroger as part of their #RedWhiteandBBQ summer resources. Three of the recipes are healthy vegetarian recipes by me and Alex and three are Tessa’s baked deliciousness, each starring ingredients we found at our local Kroger.

GIVEAWAY: We’re giving away a $100 Kroger gift card to celebrate the launch of the Summer Barbecue Series! Head over to YouTube and add a comment on the video to enter! US only, ends June 29 at noon PST.

Ready? Watch the video: how to make no mayo potato salad! 
Incredible No Mayo Potato Salad - YouTube
Watch the entire Summer Barbecue Series!
Potato salad without mayo?
Why make a potato salad without mayo? A few reasons. First, classic potato salad is traditionally set out on a table in the heat of summer. But most food safety guidelines (and your mom!) say to not leave out foods with mayo for over an hour in the heat. Making potato salad without mayo gets rid of this problem altogether! Also, no mayo potato salad is vegan and dairy free, perfect for serving to guests of all diets.  Finally, Alex and I are not against mayo, and we include moderate amounts of mayo in part of our healthy diet. However, this no mayo potato salad makes up for the mayo with healthy, real food ingredients, so we’d say it’s a healthy potato salad too. The best healthy potato salad we’ve ever had, in fact! Are we convincing you yet? In this recipe, we featured two star ingredients from Kroger (and got everything else there too!): Vlasik dill pickles and Simple Truth Yellow Mustard.
(Me and Tessa during the video shoot!)
What’s the secret to no mayo potato salad?

Instead of mayonnaise, our secret ingredient in this no mayo potato salad is…cashews! That’s right, we’ve made a vegan mayonnaise out of cashews, and man is it good. How to make vegan mayonnaise? It’s very simple to make vegan mayonnaise, the basic steps are:

  1. Soak your cashews. Soaking cashews makes them break down enough to form a creamy texture when blended. Using a high speed blender is best for blending the cashews, but you can also use a regular blender and soak a bit longer. The longer you soak the cashews the better. Soak them overnight if you think of it; otherwise, you can get away with just soaking them while you’re making the remainder of the salad.
  2. Blend the soaked cashews with seasonings. Once the cashews are soaked, give them a whir with the remaining ingredients. In our cashew mayonnaise recipe, yellow mustard plays a key role, along with white wine vinegar, garlic powder, and maple syrup to soften the flavors. The result is a very, very tasty creamy spread that tastes like mayonnaise, but fully vegan and dairy-free!
How about the secrets of classic picnic potato salad?

The second secret of our best healthy potato salad to discover was, what are the other elements in a classic picnic potato salad? You know, the kind your Grandma makes, or the kind you can pick up from the grocery deli counter. I wanted to meld our no mayo potato salad concept with the classic version. I did quite a bit of research into classic picnic potato salad, and here’s what I found:

  • Use Yukon gold potatoes. Yukon gold potatoes are perfect for classic picnic potato salad because they hold their shape when boiling, and also absorb the creamy sauce.
  • Sprinkle vinegar onto the warm potatoes after boiling. This trick really does make for that tangy taste that’s typical of classic picnic potato salad.
  • Use pickles. I used to not like pickles and sometimes they still freak me out, but they’re essential to a classic picnic potato salad. Even Tessa doesn’t like pickles (see the video!), and she couldn’t stop eating this salad.
Is it really the best healthy potato salad recipe?

To us, our No Mayo Potato Salad really is the best potato salad we’ve had. It tastes like your favorite deli counter potato salad, but more vibrant and delicious because it’s a healthy potato salad that’s made from all real food ingredients. A friend of mine tested the recipe for us and texted me that it was out of this world and a huge hit with her family!

So there you have it! Is our no mayo potato salad the best healthy potato salad recipe? Or best potato salad recipe in general? Tell us in the comments below.

Looking for more summer barbecue recipes?

Here are the other summer barbecue recipes in our Summer Barbecue Series!

This recipe is…

This No Mayo Potato Salad recipe is vegetarian, gluten free, vegan, plant-based, refined sugar free, and naturally sweet.

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Incredible No Mayo Potato Salad

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  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
Description

Potato salad without mayo? This No Mayo Potato Salad may be the best healthy potato salad you’ve ever had. It tastes just like classic picnic potato salad!

Ingredients

For the potato salad

For the cashew mayonnaise

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Simple Truth Yellow Mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions

Place the cashews in a bowl and cover them with water. Soak them while making the recipe, at least 30 minutes if using a high speed blender and about 1 hour for a regular blender. If you think ahead, you can soak the cashews overnight before making the salad. (You also can make the cashew mayo in advance.)

Boil the potatoes: Quarter the potatoes, keeping the skins on. Place them in a large saucepan filled with cold water. Bring it to a boil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until tender when pricked with a fork. Drain and rinse the potatoes under cold water. Allow to cool slightly, then peel the skins off with your fingers and cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Place the potatoes into a bowl and sprinkle with the white wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix and let stand until ready to assemble.

Slice the celery stalks in half lengthwise, then thinly slice them. Thinly slice the green onions. Mince the dill pickles.

Make the cashew mayonnaise: After the cashews have soaked at least 30 minutes (more, if time), drain them. In the bowl of a blender, place the cashews, water, olive oil, yellow mustard, white wine vinegar, maple syrup, garlic powder, and kosher salt. Blend on high for several minutes until smooth and creamy. (Makes about 1 cup; store refrigerated if making in advance.)

In the bowl with the potatoes, mix in the cashew mayonnaise, celery, green onions, pickles, 1 tablespoon yellow mustard, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving.

Keywords: Potato Salad, Potato Salad without Mayonnaise, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Plant-Based, No Mayo Potato Salad, Picnic Recipe, Barbecue Recipe, Summer Recipe

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These Loaded Grilled Nachos were created in partnership with Kroger. All opinions are our own. 

This past month we’ve been working on a secret project that’s being revealed…now! Guess what? We made a 6-episode cooking video series for you! It’s called the Summer Barbecue Series and it stars Alex and me with our friend, blogger and author Tessa from Handle the Heat. Alex, Tessa and I have been working hard to create six brand new summer recipes for you and the entire series is sponsored by Kroger as part of their #RedWhiteandBBQ summer resources. Three of the recipes are our everyday healthy vegetarian recipes and three are Tessa’s baked perfection, each starring ingredients we found at our local Kroger. (More on the series below.) These Loaded Grilled Nachos are the first up in our series and man, are they good. When Alex made them for me the first time, I was completely surprised with how flavorful they were. So without further ado, here’s the first video in our series: Loaded Grilled Nachos!

Ready? Watch the video: how to make nachos on a grill!
Loaded Grilled Nachos - YouTube
The Summer Barbecue Series is a 6-episode video series that we dreamed up with our friend Tessa. Tessa runs Handle the Heat baking blog and she adds a sprinkling of science to her approach. She’s got a fabulous YouTube channel and book. We met in Detroit, hit it off, and dreamed up a collaboration to get us in front of the camera. We were so excited to bring on Kroger as our partner and create 6 new summer barbecue recipes with ingredients you can find at their stores.
Why grilled nachos?
Grilled nachos are a perfect grilled recipe to wow a crowd for summer entertaining! Making nachos on the grill brings a smoky, charred flavor to the nachos and they look stunning in a cast iron skillet. They’re a fun summer recipe to share with guests on the patio. You can eat them as a main dish with a side salad, or as an appetizer for a summer happy hour. Our grilled nachos feature our best nacho toppings to make them out-of-this-world good. In this recipe, we featured two star ingredients from Kroger (and got everything else there too!): Mission tortilla chips and Private Selection salsa.
How to make nachos on a grill?

The basic concept of how to make nachos on a grill is to place the nachos in a cast iron skillet, cover it with foil, and grill it for a few minutes to melt the cheese. But Alex and I wanted to amp up the grilled flavor in these grilled nachos. Instead of just a few minutes on the grill, Alex had the idea of grilling the nacho toppings! So in this recipe, we’ve used the grill not once but twice: once to grill the veggie toppings, and then again to melt the cheese. Grilling the vegetables for the nacho toppings amps up the smoky, grilled flavor so it’s there in every bite!

If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, it’s not necessary for this recipe. You can use any grill proof pan for the recipe, including an aluminum sheet pan.

What are the best vegetarian nachos toppings?

If you follow Alex and my story, you’ll know we’re not fully vegetarian. But we eat vegetarian about 90% of the time, so most of the recipes on this website are vegetarian and vegan recipes. And our cookbook is a vegetarian cookbook (named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious!). So we’ve become experts in making vegetarian recipes taste meaty and delicious, satisfying for everyone around the table. So what are the best nachos toppings, from a vegetarian perspective? For this recipe, we used these vegetarian nachos toppings:

  • Quick “refried” beans: We smashed pinto beans with salsa and stirred in some garlic powder and salt for a quick topping that tastes like refried beans. You also could use canned refried beans.
  • Grilled vegetables: We used the grill twice in this recipe, first to grill up vegetable toppings for the grilled nachos to infuse that smoky flavor. This recipe has red bell pepper,  jalapeño peppers, and red onion, but you could use any vegetables you like.
  • Cheese: Cheese is a must for nacho toppings! (Stay tuned for a vegan nacho cheese recipe we have in the works.) We found it’s best to place the cheese on top of the beans layer so that it stays gooey, instead of right onto the chips which makes it harden.
  • Guac: Another favorite vegetarian nacho topping of ours is guacamole: it adds a super savory, creamy deliciousness to each bite!
  • Cilantro: Cilantro makes for stunning confetti and adds a fresh undertone as vegetarian nacho toppings!

To us, these are the best nacho toppings: but what are we missing? What are your favorite nacho toppings? Tell us in the comments below.

Looking for more summer barbecue recipes?

Here are the other summer barbecue recipes in our Summer Barbecue Series! Here’s the entire playlist.

  • Incredible No Mayo Potato Salad
  • Ultimate Grilled Veggie Burger
  • Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies
  • Vanilla Sheet Cake with Grilled Strawberries
  • Cheesy Skillet Cornbread
This recipe is…

This Grilled Loaded Nachos recipe is vegetarian and gluten free.

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Loaded Grilled Nachos

(1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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5 from 1 reviews

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 main dish servings, 8 appetizer servings
  • Category: Main Dish, Appetizer, Side Dish
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: Mexican
Description

Wondering how to make nachos on a grill? These Loaded Grilled Nachos take summer grilling to a new level with the best vegetarian nacho toppings!

Ingredients
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans
  • 1/2 cup Private Selection Salsa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 ounces Mission Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips
  • 1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • 1 large green onion, thinly sliced
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Guacamole, for garnish
  • Torn cilantro leaves, for garnish
Instructions

Heat a grill to medium heat.

Prep the veggies: Cut the bell pepper in half, top-to-bottom, and remove seeds and pith. Cut the stem off the jalapeños and use a paring knife to carefully remove seeds, leaving peppers whole. Cut the onion into quarters top-to-bottom, leaving the bottom root attached the pieces stay together on the grill. Place the peppers and onion into a bowl, then drizzle them lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Grill the veggies: Place the peppers and onion directly onto the grate and grill for 6 to 10 minutes until charred and slightly tender, turning occasionally. Remove from the grill and use for topping the nachos (below).

Make the beans: Drain the pinto beans and add them to a small bowl with the salsa, olive oil, garlic powder, and kosher salt. Mash with a fork until all beans are mashed and the texture is similar to chunky refried beans.

Assemble and grill the nachos: Place the tortilla chips into a medium cast-iron skillet or grillable pan. Top the chips with the beans, then cheese, and then the grilled veggies. Place the skillet on the grill until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

Load the nachos: Top the finished nachos with sliced green onions, sour cream, guacamole, and torn cilantro leaves.

Keywords: Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Mexican, Nachos, Grilled Nachos, Grilling Recipe, Vegetarian Grill

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Last weekend Alex and I went to our local farmer’s market and I posted a photograph on Instagram of our bag of produce, complete with garlic scapes. What to make with garlic scapes? I asked. We were both completely surprised by the amount of engagement of this topic. So many people had something to say about how to use garlic scapes! Grilling them was a popular choice, but the most popular of all: garlic scape pesto. I was surprised by the amount of interest around garlic scapes since they’re very niche, seasonal produce. Alex and I have been writing a vegetarian food blog for 8 years, and in the early days a farmer’s market find like garlic scapes would have minimal interest. So we’re so very excited to learn that so many of you also are wondering what to make with garlic scapes! Here’s a bit of info on garlic scapes, followed by our garlic scape pesto recipe.

What are garlic scapes?

Garlic scapes are the stalks that grow out of bulbs of garlic. They’ll eventually bloom flowers if you don’t harvest them, so they’re typically harvested before flowering. You can recognize garlic scapes from their long and curly stems. Garlic scapes are similar to scallions, but have a much stronger, garlicky flavor.

Where to buy garlic scapes?

When are garlic scapes in season? You’ll find garlic scapes popping up at your farmer’s markets in early summer: mid-June and early July. They likely won’t be available at a supermarket, so a farmer’s market is the best bet for where to buy garlic scapes. You can also grow garlic scapes in your garden!

What part of the garlic scapes do you eat?

When Alex and I started making our garlic scape pesto recipe, we actually had to search the internet quite a bit to understand what part of the garlic scapes to eat! We finally found out that you remove and discard the bulb end (where the end flairs and turns a bit white). You also remove any tough stems from the other end of the garlic scape (this may have already been done prior to purchase). Once you’ve done this, you can chop the garlic scapes into pieces and process them into the pesto.

What to make with garlic scapes?

Garlic scape pesto was by far the most popular suggestion to our question on Instagram about what to make with garlic scapes. For our garlic scape pesto recipe, we used walnuts instead of the traditional pinenuts, because they’re cheaper and we typically have some on hand. We also added basil, which helps to amp up the green color and provide another flavor to complement the garlic.

After tasting I will say, a little goes a very long way with this garlic scape pesto! Instead of eating it off of the spoon like I did, I’d consider spreading a thin layer onto grilled meat or pizza dough, or swirling a bit into yogurt and adding salt and pepper to make a delicious yogurt dip. Remember: it’s potent stuff! So you’ve got fair warning.

The other popular answer to our question about what to make with garlic scapes was to place them on the grill and grill for a few minutes until charred. I love this idea and would love to try it out. However, we like the garlic scape pesto since it makes quite a bit and you’ll be eating off of this jar for weeks.

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Garlic Scape Pesto (How to Use Garlic Scapes)

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  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean
Description

Wondering what to make with garlic scapes? Here’s a simple garlic scape pesto recipe. Use it with grilled meat, spread onto pizza, or swirl in a yogurt dip!

Ingredients
  • 8 garlic scapes (1/2 cup chopped)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more if desired
Instructions

Chop the garlic scapes: Remove and discard the bulb end of the garlic scapes. Then remove any tough stems from the other end of the garlic scapes and chop them into small pieces.

Place everything except the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Then turn on the machine and drizzle in the olive oil. Add additional olive oil if desired for a runnier consistency. The resulting pesto is very garlicky, so use it sparingly!

Keywords: Pesto, Garlic Scapes, Garlic Scape Pesto, What to Make with Garlic Scapes, Food Processor

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This California Salad with Avocado Oil Vinaigrette was created in partnership with DeLallo. All opinions are our own.

Our Pretty Simple Cooking book tour took us all over the country, and on the road we stayed in the homes of friends or family. I love seeing what’s inside people’s kitchens, and on these visits one thing stuck out to me. Several times, I noticed avocado oil sitting on the counter. Olive oil is pretty standard, but I was intrigued: why avocado oil? When I asked this question to separate friends, they all had a similar answer. Avocado oil is a neutral-tasting cooking oil with a very high smoke point, so it’s perfect for sauteing and frying. And, it has a unique flavor that’s delicious when drizzled over salad greens or whisked into an avocado oil vinaigrette. Is avocado oil the trendy new thing? Yes, but it seems like it’s here to stay! And after making this healthy avocado oil vinaigrette, we’re hooked.

All about avocado oil

When DeLallo came to us to create a recipe with their extra-virgin avocado oil, we didn’t know much about avocado oil. Healthy avocado oil salad dressing is one place to start, but there are all sorts of ways to use this healthy oil. Here are a few things we learned about avocado oil:

  • Avocado oil comes from the first cold press of the fruit, and has all the health benefits of raw avocados. It’s loaded with healthy monosaturated fats and antioxidants, and is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals.
  • The flavor is nutty, buttery, fruity and mildly sweet, just like a fresh avocado.
  • The oil is ultra-versatile with a high smoke point, perfect for drizzling, dressing, dipping, marinating and high-heat cooking.
  • DeLallo avocado oil is made with fresh handpicked Chilean Hass Avocados and is produced in Chile.
  • Each bottle contains the oil of about 12 whole avocados!

How to make homemade salad dressing with avocado oil

So, how to make homemade salad dressing with avocado oil? It’s essentially the same as other dressings that you whisk together at home, with one caveat. While making this avocado oil vinaigrette, we learned that avocado oil doesn’t act the same way as olive oil. Using the amount of acid (citrus or vinegar) we’d typically use in an olive oil dressing resulted in a watery consistency when we used avocado oil. There was no emulsion, so the dressing didn’t stick to the salad greens. So in our avocado oil vinaigrette recipe, we’ve cut the vinegar and added more Dijon mustard to carry the texture! The resulting avocado oil vinaigrette is perfectly creamy and tart, perfect for any salad.

What’s a California salad?

To go with our healthy avocado oil salad dressing, we came up with this California salad. We made up the name California salad, since it’s loosely based on a salad we had in LA while on book tour in California! While our salad ended up pretty different from the original one, it’s incredibly delicious and a perfect way to show off the flavor of the avocado oil and vinegar dressing. The salad features greens, chickpeas, fresh dill, and ricotta salata cheese, a delicious cheese we ate on several salads in California and loved. If you can’t find ricotta salata cheese, feta crumbles work as well.

Also, all of the fresh salad ingredients here were purchased at our local farmer’s market and grown by our favorite farmers at Full Hand Farm. So I guess you could call our version an Indiana Salad…? Make sure to shop local where possible!

How about you: have you tried avocado oil? Would you make this healthy avocado oil salad dressing? Let us know in the comments below! As always, show us on Instagram if you make our salad or dressing by tagging @acouplecooks and @delallofoods.

How to find avocado oil

DeLallo is our favorite avocado oil, and good news! You can find it online here, or in a local grocery that carries DeLallo products.

This recipe is…

This California salad with avocado oil vinaigrette is vegetarian, gluten free, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free. For vegan and plant based, omit the cheese.

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California Salad with Avocado Oil Vinaigrette

(1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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5 from 1 reviews

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: Salad, Side Dish
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: American
Description

Avocado is the new trendy oil–but it’s here to stay! Here’s how to make a delicious avocado oil vinaigrette.

Ingredients

For the avocado oil vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup DeLallo Extra Virgin Avocado Oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 small garlic clove, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

For the salad

  • 1  to 2 heads Boston lettuce or fresh high-quality local baby greens, enough for 8 cups
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 green onions
  • 4 radishes
  • 15-ounce can chickpeas, optional
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Torn fresh dill
  • Ricotta salata, sliced or feta crumbles (omit for vegan)
Instructions

For the avocado oil vinaigrette: Measure out the avocado oil into a glass measuring cup. In a medium bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, grated garlic, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Then gradually pour in the avocado oil, whisking constantly, until fully integrated and a creamy emulsion forms.

Wash and dry the lettuce and chop it into bite-sized pieces (if using baby greens, no chopping is necessary). Use a vegetable peeler to peel the carrots into ribbons. Thinly slice the green onions and radishes.

If using chickpeas, drain and rinse them, then mix them with a drizzle of avocado oil, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper.

To assemble the salad, place the greens on the serving bowls or plates. Top with chickpeas, carrots, radishes, almonds, torn fresh dill, and ricotta salata or feta crumbles, then drizzle with avocado oil vinaigrette.

Keywords: Salad, Avocado Oil Dressing, Avocado Oil Vinaigrette, Avocado Oil, How to Make Homemade Dressing with Avocado Oil, Homemade Dressing, Healthy Avocado Oil Dressing, Healthy Salad, Side Salad, Summer Salad

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Our garden is finally at the point of giving us beautiful salad greens each day. Since local strawberries are in season, we had the idea to combine them with our greens to make a killer strawberry salad! Strawberries are a natural pairing with the acidity of a balsamic vinaigrette. In fact, Alex and I learned about pairing strawberries and balsamic in an Italian cookbook where the balsamic vinegar is used in a classic Italian dessert (here’s our spin on it!). Here I used our favorite vinaigrette method to whip up a creamy honey balsamic dressing using local honey and Dijon mustard. Paired with spicy red onions and some toasted almonds, it was a simple and delicious way to enjoy them!

How to make homemade salad dressing?

Making homemade salad dressing is cheap and easy. It’s also a healthy alternative to using purchased salad dressings, which can contain additives and preservatives! When Alex and I first started cooking at home, we were inspired by several books to throw out all our store bought salad dressings and star making homemade salad dressing! We loved that using just a handful of ingredients, we could whisk up salad dressing that was made of real food and skipped any added ingredients.

The key to how to make homemade salad dressing is to have the correct ratio of acid to oil. In the past, Alex and I liked to cut back on the oil in our dressings, but having enough oil is important to get a creamy emulsion. If you want less oil, use less of the overall dressing! Plus, using a healthy fat like olive oil is part of our philosophy of a healthy diet, so I now am happy to consume olive oil!

Another important thing for how to make homemade salad dressing is to use a medium bowl and whisk in the oil gradually. Whisking in the oil gradually is key to forming a creamy emulsion, which allows the dressing to stick to the salad leaves instead of being too wet.

What’s in your best strawberry salad?

Strawberry salad is a pretty classic dish, so our best strawberry salad stays true to form. Here’s what’s in our favorite strawberry salad recipe:

  • Local strawberries: If at all possible, finding local strawberries is the number one key to a good strawberry salad! If you don’t have access to local berries, try to buy in the summer when strawberries are in season and find the ripest strawberries that you can.
  • Creamy honey balsamic dressing: As I mentioned, strawberries are a natural pair with the acidity of balsamic vinegar, which makes the berries shine! See above for our tips on how to make homemade salad dressing. It’s so simple, you’ll never go back!
  • Cheese crumbles: We like to add cheese crumbles to our strawberry salad, but they’re not necessary for a killer salad. For vegan, simply omit the cheese crumbles and use maple syrup in place of honey in the dressing. Our favorite cheese crumbles are feta cheese and blue cheese.
  • Nuts: We’ve added nuts for crunch in this salad, and you can use any you’d like! Here we recommend pecans or sliced almonds.
  • Red onion: The color and flavor of red onion is our final touch to bring a savory flair to this salad. One tip we have is to get rid of onion breath!  If you soak the slices of red onion in cold water for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving, it mellows the flavor and softens the risk of onion breath.

Let us know if you try try our strawberry salad recipe in the comments below!

Looking for more homemade salad dressing recipes?

Here are a few of our favorite homemade salad dressing recipes:

This recipe is…

This strawberry salad with honey balsamic vinaigrette recipe is vegetarian, gluten free, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free. For vegan, use maple syrup in place of honey and omit the cheese crumbles.

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Strawberry Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

(1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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5 from 1 reviews

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Italian
Description

Want a salad with strawberries? With creamy honey balsamic dressing, this strawberry salad recipe is tasty and features how to make homemade salad dressing.

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 2 cups ripe strawberries
  • 8 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds or pecan pieces
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • Fresh ground black pepper

For the balsamic vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Wash and slice the strawberries. Wash and dry the salad greens.
  2. Thinly slice the red onion Tip: To mellow the flavor, soak the onion slices in cold water for about 20 minutes prior to serving, then drain.
  3. Optional: In a small saucepan over medium heat, toast the nuts for a few minutes until they are golden brown, stirring frequently and watching carefully so that they don’t burn.
  4. Make the balsamic vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey and kosher salt. Then gradually whisk in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time until fully emulsified and creamy.
  5. To serve, spread the greens on a plate and top with strawberries, red onion, almonds, feta cheese crumbles, vinaigrette, and several grinds of black pepper.

Keywords: Strawberries, Strawberry, Strawberry Salad, Vinaigrette, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Dressing, How to Make Homemade Salad Dressing, Salad Dressing, Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

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It’s officially summer, and our latest invention for the season is these acai bowl popsicles! What’s a better summer project than healthy homemade popsicles? Homemade popsicles are a perfect activity for both kids and adults. And these acai bowl popsicles are easy and delicious, loaded with fruit but no refined sugar. They’re a play on the popular acai bowl, one of my favorite foods. I’ve had refreshing acai bowls just about everywhere, from Indianapolis to Nashville to a food truck in Montana. Here, Alex and I have taken the flavor of an acai bowl and made it into superfood popsicle form! Because who wouldn’t want to eat an acai bowl…on a stick? Keep reading for how to make homemade popsicles, in the style of that ulta delicious smoothie bowl.

*This post is especially for Popsicle Week, a fun week organized by Billy of Wit & Vinegar where food bloggers around world make popsicle recipes — just for fun! Click over for all the new popsicle recipes.

How much do you love acai bowls? Or have you never had one? Tell us in the comments below.

Wait, what’s an acai bowl?

If you’re never had an acai bowl, it’s a smoothie bowl made with the superfood acai berries. Many times the bowls are sprinkled with toppings like fruit, granola, coconut and almond butter. The berries grow on palm trees and are native to Brazil. Acai bowls are a popular dish in Brazil, and they’ve now become very popular here in the US because of their apparent health properies. Acai berries are known as a superfood, and are loaded with antioxidants and lots of other nutrients. There are lots of superfoods that are just as great and easier to access here in the US (blueberries, for example), but the acai berry brings a unique flavor and is fun to experiment with!

How do I find acai?

Acai berries are native to Brazil, but due to the popularity of acai bowls, packs of frozen acai pulp are now widely available online or even in stores. We found acai pulp packs at our local Whole Foods. Sambazon is a well-known brand that sells acai and has sustainable harvesting practices.

How to make homemade popsicles?

Making homemade popsicles is a fun summer project and allows you to customize your pops to flavors you could never find at the store! You can also control the added sugar and ingredients to make for healthier popsicles. All you need to make healthy homemade popsicles is a popsicle mold: here’s the popsicle mold that we use.

For this acai bowl popsicle recipe, we’ve used frozen acai pulp (see above), frozen pineapple, apple juice, and a bit of maple syrup. Because freezing a popsicle decreases the perception of sweetness, this mixture is a lot sweeter than we’d make a typical acai bowl. Take note that if you try the unfrozen mixture, it will taste much sweeter than the frozen popsicle. This is something we’ve learned while researching how to make popsicles with fruit.

We hope you love the recipe: let us know what you think in the comments below!

Looking for more healthy homemade popsicle recipes?

Here are a few of our favorite healthy homemade popsicle recipes:

This recipe is…

This acai bowl popsicle recipe is vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, plant based, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free.

Print
Acai Bowl Popsicles

(1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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5 from 1 reviews

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 3.5 hours
  • Total Time: 3.5 hours
  • Yield: 10 to 12 popsicles
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Freezer
  • Cuisine: Healthy
Description

Love both acai bowls and healthy homemade popsicles? These acai bowl popsicles are an easy homemade popsicle recipe, full of fruit and refined sugar free.

Ingredients

7 ounces frozen unsweetened acai pulp
1 1/4 cups apple juice
3/4 cup frozen pineapple chunks
2 tablespoons maple or agave syrup
3/4 cup raspberries
1/2 cup granola
Unsweetened shredded coconut, for garnish

Instructions

Remove the acai pulp from the package (running it under warm water for a few seconds helps). Break each package into a few pieces and place it in a blender. Blend with the apple juice until smooth.

Add the pineapple and syrup and blend again until smooth.

Place the raspberries in a small bowl and loosely chop them with scissors.

Pour the mixture into the popsicle molds, leaving about 1/2” of space at the top. Place the raspberries and then a bit of granola into the top of each mold.

Place the popsicle sticks in the centers, and freeze for about 3 hours until frozen solid. When frozen solid, run the pops under warm water to remove them from the molds. If desired, sprinkle with coconut before serving (it’s more for a garnish and quite a bit falls off, but it looks cute!).

Keywords: Popsicle, Acai Bowl, Naturally Sweet, Refined Sugar Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Fruit, Juice, Acai

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While we were in California on our book tour, Alex and I took a few vacation days between our stops in San Francisco and LA to do something very important: drink wine in Sonoma wine country. Our friends from Indianapolis flew in to join us on this very important quest. And it wasn’t just four adults: we had baby Larson in tow! At the time Larson was 14 months old, so we weren’t sure how visiting Sonoma wine country with a baby would go. However, we were pleasantly surprised that wine country is baby friendly. And really, Sonoma is everyone friendly–so if you’re not a parent of a baby or toddler, keep reading too! (We also went to Big Sur, which was incredibly worth a stop.)

Why Sonoma and not Napa?

Sonoma vs. Napa: which to pick? Eleven years ago, Alex and I visited Napa Valley. We knew nothing about wine, we just knew that Napa meant “fancy wine country.” So we went to Napa: and loved it. This time around, we decided to stay in Sonoma since we heard that Sonoma wine country is less commercial and touristy than Napa has become. If we had more than 2 days, we would have also driven to some Napa wineries. However, we had more than enough things to do in Sonoma to keep us busy for weeks! We loved our stay and would heartily recommend Sonoma wine country.

Where should I stay in Sonoma?

Our Airbnb could win the ‘Cutest Airbnb on the Pacific Coast’ award. It’s called the Zen House and on some tree-lined land outside of the main strip in Sonoma. The entire aesthetic of the property was incredibly Zen: the architecture and design reminded me of when I was in Japan. Check out this living room! We saw both wild turkeys and deer outside the window on various occasions; it felt very peaceful and serene. (This specific Airbnb was not baby or toddler optimized, so we watched Larson constantly when he was awake. We’d recommend it for adult parties in a heartbeat, or people with very good toddlers.)

What was the best winery in Sonoma?

By a mile, Scribe Winery was the favorite of any wineries we visited in Sonoma. (Unfortunately Alex missed it since he was with Larson napping!) We did the culinary tasting with the wines, so instead of the tasting room our tasting was at the hacienda, a beautiful old home with an expansive patio area. It was light food not intended to be a meal, but it was incredible: olives, a crisp salad with blue cheese dressing and dill, a whipped feta crostini with brocolli. It was the first winery we visited, so going from a car trip to a sunny patio overlooking a vineyard was pretty ideal. The hacienda was just lovely and we had a view right into the beautiful kitchen. The culinary tasting is a little pricey, but absolutely worth it! Nab a reservation before you go. Here are a few shots from Scribe Winery, in our opinion the best winery in Sonoma.

What other wineries did you enjoy?

Of the wineries we visited outside of Scribe (so good, so good!), our favorite other wineries in Sonoma were:

  • Benziger Family Winery: It’s a biodynamic winery, which is a hyper sustainable way of farming (like organic, but more rigorous). It has beautiful grounds. We did a tasting, and then grabbed a lovely crisp white and munched on some cheese and crackers that we brought.
  • Imagery Winery: This one is a sister winery to Benziger, so it was also biodynamic. We had a tasting here and enjoyed a port & chocolate tasting too.
  • Gundlach Bundschu: Referred to by the locals as GunBun, it has lovely grounds and great wine. Here we nabbed a bottle and sat by the lake, eating wine and cheese.
  • Gloria Ferrer: This place we came especially for the champagne tasting. It was pretty good, but the views were even better.

Is wine country baby friendly?

Toting around a 14 month old isn’t necessarily the ideal way to hit up wine country. However, yes: wine country with a baby works! And we had a fantastic time with Larson in tow. We carried him in our LILLEBaby carrier, which is very comfortable to wear (and he loves being in it). With the carrier, he was free to nap when he was tired–which at this age he refuses to do in his stroller. It was also easier than a stroller since it’s not as bulky.

Are babies allowed in Sonoma wineries? Yes. Are babies allowed in Sonoma stand-alone tasting rooms? No. We tried taking Larson to a tasting room in the Sonoma city area and got shut down. So, wineries: yes, tasting rooms: no. Having a toddler around did make things a little more complicated due to nap times. Larson had one 2 to 3 hour nap during the day, so we had him go to the Airbnb with one of us. Since we were travelling with another couple, Alex and me would trade off on being at the Airbnb during nap time and the other person would go out with our friends.

So would we recommend visiting Sonoma wine country with a baby? In our experience, it worked great–though we have a pretty well-behaved baby (or really, toddler). If you have kids that are a bit older, it might be hard to occupy them in wine country. However, we’d love to hear from any of you who have experience visiting wine country with a baby or older children! Let us know inf the comments below.

Would you recommend any restaurants in Sonoma?

Honestly, it was hard to find good restaurants in Sonoma! We had a friend who knew the area help us with recs, and we found less than we expected to write home about. Our favorite turned out being a traditional Mexican restaurant called El Molino Central. We got takeout and ate it on our Airbnb patio and it totally hit the spot.

Another thing we loved was getting picnic ingredients and eating at the wineries! Most of the wineries had outdoor areas where you could eat your own food, accompanied by some of their wine. A few times we brought along a bunch of cheeses, crackers, bread, olives, chocolate, and a few premade salads: which really, is the best meal around!

What about you: do you have any Sonoma restaurant recommendations?

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In between our book tour stops in San Francisco and LA, we had a few days of vacation. After two days in Sonoma, Alex, Larson and I decided to head to Big Sur for a day on our way to LA. Honestly, we weren’t quite sure what we were getting into. Most of what we knew about Big Sur was iconic Instagram photos showing insane cliffs and magical sunsets. But when we got there, finding the best sunset view in Big Sur was a bit more difficult than planned. Here’s how to find the best views in Big Sur (and if you’re hardcore, our Big Sur photography guide).

What exactly is Big Sur?

If you don’t live in California, you might be asking the same question. Big Sur is a region of coastline in California known for its massive cliffs and rugged beauty. It’s not a town, or even a state park. But it’s full of gorgeous natural beauty, so when traveling between San Francisco and LA, many travelers opt for the Pacific Coast Highway route instead of the shorter US 101. Without stopping, the 90-mile stretch of Big Sur takes about 2 1/2 hours to drive, which means you can experience it in just one day. For our trip to Big Sur, we had only one day to experience it. Next time, we’d spend more time and stay in the region because it’s just that beautiful.

How do you know how to find the best views in Big Sur?

Here’s the kicker about Big Sur. There aren’t signs that say, “This way to the amazing view”. It’s a long highway with what seems to be hundreds of little pull-offs to take in views of various quality. Also, the views absolutely  depend on the weather. When we arrived in Big Sur, it was very cloudy, so it was hard to tell what were the “good” views. However, we persevered and because of it, we got a huge treat at the end (scroll down).

Overlooks

When you drive into Big Sur, you’ll see what seems like an endless stretch of beautiful bright blue water. Even with the cloudy weather early in the day, we were still able to get some good views. We decided to do an initial “drive by” where we drove the entire Big Sur stretch and got out at every opportunity that we were inspired. And, we started scouting for a good spot to come back at golden hour / sunset. That’s when the real magic happens (scroll down).

Fun fact: at the very beginning of Big Sur is the bridge from Big Little Lies, called Bixby Bridge! If you’ve seen the show, you’ll know the opening sequence driving across the bridge set to the song Cold Little Heart by Michael Kiwanuka. Unfortunately we didn’t get any great pics to share here, but it’s another fun Big Sur landmark. Just make sure you download this song before crossing (we forgot to and didn’t have cell service, so we had to sing it to each other!).

McWay Falls

At the far south end of Big Sur, you can take a short path out to a cove with a waterfall called McWay Falls. Even with clouds, it’s very beautiful, and it’s totally worth the drive and walk out to it. Part of the trail was closed, so we weren’t able to get as close as we were hoping. Even so, McWay Falls was on our short list of places to come back to at golden hour / sunset. But we had no idea what the sunset view would look like, and whether it would be the classic Big Sur shot that we wanted.

Pfeiffer Beach

A little after mid-day, the sun started to poke through the clouds and we couldn’t be more excited! Larson had gotten in a little car nap, so we headed to Pfeiffer Beach to poke around. It was incredibly beautiful, as you’ll see from the pics below. We’d absolutely recommend spending time on Pfeiffer Beach! Larson got to dip his toes in the ocean for the first time. At first he was surprised and scared by the cold water, but after giving it a chance he loved it. If you’re wondering how to get to Pfeiffer Beach, it’s a turnoff just north of the Big Sur Bakery, and it’s a 15-minute narrow bumpy drive before you get to the parking lot outside of the beach. (Here’s a map.)

Rocky Creek Bridge — Golden Hour Magic

The biggest decision of the day was, Where is the best sunset view at Big Sur? If you’re not familiar, golden hour is that brief time period of the day where the sun is low enough to cast an indirect golden light over everything it touches. It makes for the best photos of landscapes because instead of harsh overhead light and lots of shadows, the entire scene is bathed in a warm glow. We knew golden hour would be the best chance we’d have at a good photo in Big Sur. But since we’d only seen all the vistas under a veil of gray clouds earlier that day, it was difficult to choose. Alex and I spent at least an hour discussing the merits of McWay Falls and the Rocky Creek Bridge viewpoint we’d seen earlier in the day. I knew it was a little silly, but I felt a lot of pressure riding on this decision. We’re in Big Sur for ONE DAY, so we have to choose wisely. What if we blow our only chance at the iconic Big Sur photo?

Alex convinced me that we should go back to Rocky Creek Bridge to take photos, mostly because of logistics. McWay Falls was still a bit cloudy, and if it have a great sunset, we’d be too far away to get back to Rocky Creek Bridge. This decision was a risk, because I’ll show you the Rocky Creek Bridge “before” shot. Here’s what we saw at the Rocky Creek Bridge overlook earlier in the day, covered in clouds.

BEFORE (Rocky Creek Bridge Photos)

But at golden hour, around 7:10 pm in late April, it was an entirely different story. The clouds had cleared off for the most part. But from the road, I still wasn’t impressed. Alex, though, had climbed down into the lookout area. Hey, you HAVE to see this, he shouted to me. And when I climbed down and turned north, my eyes teared up involuntarily because it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. (Literally. That’s not hyperbole.) It truly looked otherworldly. And it was the most special moment, because what once looked gray and lonely was suddenly golden and breathtakingly beautiful. Here are a few of the Rocky Creek Bridge photos we captured at golden hour. And this, THIS, is why you come to Big Sur.

AFTER (Rocky Creek Bridge Photos)

 

What should I do to prepare for a trip to Big Sur?

There’s no town center of Big Sur, and minimal gas stations to refuel. Also, the cell service is spotty. So our best tips are:

  • Start out with a full tank of gas and plenty of water and snacks
  • Download maps to your phone, since you’ll need to access them offline
What if it’s cloudy?

As I mentioned above, it was cloudy for much of the time we were in Big Sur. When we shared about the clouds on Instagram, we had a lot of people chime in to agree that it’s often cloudy in the morning and early afternoon in Big Sur. If this happens to you, never fear! Stick it out until sunset, and it’s likely the clouds will burn off.

Is there any good food?

Big Sur doesn’t have a town center, making it hard to find good eats. However, a local friend turned us on to Big Sur Bakery. It’s open all day, in the morning serving great pastries and the evening serving incredibly high-quality, delicious food. We got a fantastic, beautifully constructed salad and this tasty mushroom pizza with fontina. We requested to sit outside, since we had Larson in tow. He was able to wander a bit and we enjoyed a killer view with killer food. Big Sur Bakery is not to be missed!

So that’s it! All we know about how to find the best views in Big Sur. Have you been, or are you looking to go? In the comments below, please let us know your thoughts and other favorite photo spots!

A Couple Cooks - Recipes for Healthy & Whole Living

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