Vanilla Extract

Kitchen Tip – Easy Way To Get The Cap Off A Vanilla Extract Bottle



If you’ve ever known the struggle of baking cookies and not being able to get the little cap off of the vanilla extract bottle, this one’s for you.

Here’s the secret –

Wrap a few thin rubber bands around the cap of the vanilla extract. The rubber bands make the smooth metal of the cap easier to grip. The bottle of extract should be a breeze to open after that.

I use the rubber bands that come wrapped around vegetables like kale, or green onions, or bunches of cilantro or parsley. It’s a thrifty solution, and makes baking with vanilla extract much much easier.

This idea for this came to me when I was testing the recipe for the maple vanilla sugar cookies. For a moment I was concerned that I was not going to be able to get the cap off of the bottle of extract, and I actually thought for a second “Do I really need vanilla in this recipe?”

The answer was “Yes. You do need vanilla in maple vanilla sugar cookies.” So I had to come up with a solution pretty quickly, and here we are!

I hope that this kitchen tip helps you to never again be held back from your baking dreams by another difficult to open vanilla extract cap!

Happy Baking!


Cashew Whipped Cream

Cashew Whipped Cream – Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan


This cashew whipped cream is a great alternative to store bought whipped topping, and it’s super easy to make.

On it’s own, this cashew whipped cream isn’t super flavorful, but poured over a fresh summer peach it is absolutely spectacular, and it gives a wonderful creaminess when dolloped over mini pecan tarts, or pumpkin tarts at Thanksgiving.

Once it’s blended, you can add another tsp. of maple syrup, or a little more vanilla to taste, but the pie fillings will already be quite sweet, so try the cashew cream on a tart with some pie filing before adjusting the flavor of the cashew cream.

The oil may seem like a little bit of an odd addition, but it gives the cashew cream a little extra richness, and rounds out the flavor of the cashew whipped cream along with the sweetness of the maple syrup.

If you’re making a lot of tarts, you can easily double this recipe if need be. You can make this in advance and then keep it in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.


Cashew Whipped Cream

Makes about ¾ cup.


½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp maple syrup

½ cup raw cashews (soaked overnight)

5 ½ tbsp. water

1 -1 ½ tsp avocado oil, or any neutral flavored oil (optional)


1. Soak the cashews overnight, and drain. Add the cashews to a blender along with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.

2. Spoon over fresh fruit or mini tarts. Serve.

Note – If you forget to soak the cashews, you can boil them for 50 minutes (it’s a long time I know, but they plump right up), adding water the pot occasionally if the water runs low. Drain them and allow them to cool to room temp before using

Pecan Tarts

Pecan Tarts – Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan


These pecan tarts are awesome! They really taste like pecan pie. The pinch of salt really makes these mini pecan pies sing. I hope that you love them as much as I do.

You can make the filling ahead of time, and just stir through the toasted pecans through right before serving. I’d make the candied pecans the day you want to serve them so that they stay crunchy.

This recipe makes 4 tarts, which is sort of a funny amount, so I’ll put the measurements for 12 tarts at the bottom of post just in case you want to make 12 instead. You may have to slightly adjust the cooking times for the bigger batch of toasted and candied pecans.

You can use this recipe to make the gluten free tart shells.


Pecan Tarts

Makes 4 tarts

For the filling

¼ ts. vanilla extract

1/3 cup raw cashews

3 tbsp. maple syrup

6 diglet dates – about a scant 1/3 cup

1 tbsp. water

pinch salt


1. Grind the cashews in a food processor until they look like breadcrumbs. Scrape down the sides of the processor occasionally, and add in the maple syrup and blend until the mixture looks like heavy cream, with little bits of cashews running through it.

2. Chop the dates into ¼ inch dice and add them to the cashew mixture. Blend for 3-4 minutes until relatively smooth, a few lumps of cashews or date here and there are ok.

This is what the mixture should look like when it’s done.


3. Scrape the mixture out into a bowl and set aside.

Toasted Chopped Pecans

¼ cup whole pecans


1. Chop the pecans into ¼ inch dice. Cook them in a dry pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until toasted and fragrant.

2. Add the toasted pecans to the cashew mixture and stir until mixed through.

3. Allow the pan to cool, then carefully wipe out any tiny bits of leftover toasted pecans with a bit of folded paper towel, as they can burn when you use the same pan to cook the candied pecans.

Candied Pecans

12 whole pecans (3 pecans per tart) about ¼ cup

2 tbsp. maple syrup


1. Toast the whole pecans until fragrant in a dry pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently so they don’t scorch.

2. Add in the maple syrup and stir the pecans constantly for another 30 seconds, then take the pan off the heat. Continue stirring the pecans off the heat until the caramel coats the nuts.

3. Pour the candied pecans onto a silpat or a piece of parchment paper (on in pinch, a lightly oiled plate) and arrange them with two forks so they aren’t touching each other, and allow to cool.

Don’t touch the hot caramel or the candied nuts until they are cool. It’s super tempting to touch hot sugar, but you don’t want to burn yourself.

If you stir the nuts too long over the heat, the syrup can crystallize, and the coating on the pecans can go cloudy and rough textured. If this happens, it’s ok! It just means that the pecans will be extra crunchy, and they will still taste great.

4. Add about 1 ¾ tbsp. of filling to each tart shell. Top each tart with 3 candied pecans (4 candied pecans is two sweet, and 2 isn’t sweet enough) and serve.

Getting the leftover caramel off of utensils and saucepans is really easy. Just put the caramel covered utensils in the pot that you candied the pecans in, pour in some warm water and let the pan sit for an hour or two. The sugar will dissolve into the water, and you can just pour it out and put everything straight into the dishwasher.

For 12 tarts

For the filling

¾ ts. vanilla extract

1 cup raw cashews

½ cup + 1 tbsp. maple syrup

18 diglet dates – about a scant 1 cup

3 tbsp. water

3 pinches of salt

Toasted Chopped Pecans

 ¾ cup pecans

Candied Pecans

36 whole pecans (3 pecans per tart) about ¾ cup

6 tbsp. maple syrup