Mocha Sorbet

Mocha Sorbet-6

Warm weather is finally here! (At least it was for a few days until it promptly disappeared from the Chicago area in favor of the more familiar cold, gray days.) But regardless of the current temperature, there’s always a reason for frozen treats – especially ones that combine my two favorite ingredients: coffee and chocolate. I’m not sure there exists a better flavor pairing (but I welcome your ideas in case I’m missing something epic!). They’re a match made in recipe heaven…especially when the chocolate is dark and earthy the coffee bold and rich.

When I make a dessert or other dish that requires coffee, I use a cold-brew concentrate. While you do have to plan ahead since the concentrate takes a while to brew, it yields the absolute best, most robust flavor. Using regular brewed coffee will also work, but when you add sugar, chocolate or other ingredients, sometimes the coffee can get lost if it’s not strong enough. With the concentrate you get a rich coffee taste that holds its own against the rest of the ingredients.

Are you a fan of coffee and chocolate? What are your favorite flavor combinations?

Mocha Sorbet

Mocha Sorbet-4

Mocha Sorbet-3

Mocha Sorbet
Yields 3-4 servings

1 cup sugar
1 cup coffee concentrate (recipe below)
1 cup water
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Handful of dark chocolate chunks (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan, mix together all the ingredients except the chocolate chunks. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the ingredients are fully incorporated.

2. Transfer to a container that can be put in the refrigerator. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture cools completely.

3. Pour the cooled mixture into an ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The sorbet will be very soft. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Transfer to a plastic container and freeze for at least an hour or up to overnight (until the sorbet hardens).

4. Serve and enjoy!

Quick Tip: Don’t have an ice cream maker? Click here for alternative ways to make ice cream and sorbet!

Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate

1 cup coarsely ground coffee – I recommend FreshGround’s Market Blend or Papua New Guinea Water Process Decaf
4 cups cold water

1. Add coffee to a French Press. Pour the cold water over the grounds, ensuring that all of the grounds get wet.

2. Let steep overnight, or for 8-16 hours.

3. After coffee has steeped, use the plunger on the French Press to strain your coffee.

4. Pour brewed coffee concentrate into a container that can be covered and stored in your refrigerator. Discard the coffee grounds.

5. Coffee concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Use leftover concentrate for iced lattes, pudding or granola!

Quick Tip: If you don’t have a French Press, follow the same process except replace the press with another container. When the coffee has finished steeping, strain out coffee grounds using a couple layers of cheesecloth. You can also make a fantastic coffee concentrate using a Toddy Cold Brewer.

This post was originally featured by East Coast Creative.

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired

It’s been forever since I last posted, so I’m long overdue for some life updates and serious recipes. I’ll start with a recipe because pancakes. (Life stuff soon though because soo much exciting stuff has been going on!!)

Anyhoo, if you follow me on Steller or Instagram, you may have seen these decadent little things already. If not, I hope you’re in the mood for some intense spring brunching and a recipe that takes pancakes to a WHOLE new level.

I was playing in the kitchen one day and decided to take a stab at making a real Boston Cream Pie. I did, and it was goooood. I was expecting it to be pie, but it was actually a cake! A two-layer cake with a slathering of vanilla custard in the middle, topped with chocolate glaze. Wonder of wonders.

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired

Boston Cream Doughnuts were a childhood favorite of mine, so now that I had experienced (and loved) Boston Cream Pie too, I wanted to experiment and make a Boston Cream Something-Else. Pancakes seemed like a perfect candidate because I could layer them just like the “pie” and use a chocolate sauce instead of syrup! The result was a raving success.

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired

If you’re a springtime brunch-er, give these a try. Or if you’re just a lover of breakfast and all things vanilla’d, chocolatey and cake-y…OR if you just want these pancakes on the table ASAP. Recipe and detailed instructions are at the bottom!

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired

But before the deliciousness, this is the first recipe I’m posting on the blog that was photographed 100% with my iPhone 6. I’m a tad obsessed with iPhone photography (aka, “iPhoneography”). It’s so easy to take snaps during the cooking process, and so much faster to snag those end shots before all the hungry taste testers turn on you. Let me know what you think of the look!

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired

Check the bottom of this post for a list of the apps I use for editing!

Lastly, because I got a Plus, I’m selling my regular 6 (the one I used to photograph this post)! E-mail me if you’re interested in buying it!

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired

yields 8 pancakes, or 4 “pies”


2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp. pure cane sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. fine sea salt
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla bean paste, or 2 tsp pure
vanilla extract
2 tbsp. melted butter, plus more for the


1 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped and set aside
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups milk
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired


I suggest you make the cream the night before!

Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla seeds in a small saucepan.

Add yolks and whisk until smooth.

Stir in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about 10

Remove from heat and add butter one cube at a time, whisking until smooth.

Stir in vanilla extract.

Transfer pudding to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; chill at least 2 hours, until firm.


Put the chocolate chips into a medium glass bowl and set aside.

Pour heavy cream into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and stir until smooth.

Set the sauce aside and let it cool for about 15 minutes.

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired


Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Add the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Stir until just combined, but still lumpy!

Stir in the melted butter.

Scoop onto a buttered griddle with a 1/4 cup measure and cook until bubbles rise through the batter and the edges of the pancakes are light golden brown. Flip and cook until the bottoms are lightly browned.


Spread a thick layer of cream over one of the

pancakes, then sandwich it with another pancake and spoon a generous amount of chocolate sauce on top.

Serve with hot coffee right away! QUICK!!

Apps I use for editing my iPhone photos:

VSCO Cam – for great filters and manual edits
Snapseed – for manual edits while preserving image quality
TouchRetouch – for spot removal
ArtStudio – for distorting image perspective to straighten lines

A Fruit & Veggie Hashtag Takeover

A Fruit & Veggie Hashtag Takeover - offbeat + inspired

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and Instagram soaking up the visuals like a sponge. My feeds are loaded primarily with food. A few things happen when I stare at beautiful food photography for hours on end — I want to cook, I want to shoot, and I want to eat. The eating thing is usually what happens first. When all I’ve been looking at are rainbow cakes, brownies loaded with candy and every flavor of French macaron known to mankind, I’m most likely to pig out on sugar and butter. Less than ideal, I know…so instead of fighting the urges (and cavities) on will-power alone, I decided it would be wise to follow more health-focused foodie accounts. Not so surprisingly, it became MUCH easier to eat well when I was taking in all that fresh, green goodness instead of just “junk”. The link between what I was looking at and what I was eating was so obvious that when I learned about the campaign Bolthouse Farms was doing to get people hashtagging more health foods and less junk foods, I flipped. Loved it. So let me explain cause it’s SUCH a cool project.

Keep reading!

GF + Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

GF + Vegan Cinnamon Rolls - offbeat + inspired

I love making friends that share my gluten/dairy intolerances. I hate that they have intolerances because of how fun intolerances aren’t (wouldn’t wish them on anybody), but it’s just awesome to be able to feed my crazy ingredient-ly (??) acrobatic recipes to people who will appreciate them for their health benefits as well as their flavors, and say things like, “WHAT?! I don’t have to stop eating ACTUAL cinnamon rolls?!” No, dear friend. No…you don’t!

Keep reading!

Pomegranate, Lime + Ginger Mocktail

Pomegranate + Ginger Mocktail - offbeat + inspired-2

A few weeks ago, I co-hosted a baby shower for a friend. Pre-pregnancy, the guest of honor and I often enjoyed hanging out and talking over a bottle of wine, but considering it was her baby shower (and I’m also pregnant), wine had to take a backseat.

Celebrations like baby showers deserve a festive drink, so I came up with a simple mocktail recipe that can be scaled down for 1 person or made for a crowd. And with Christmas and New Year’s Eve around the corner, I don’t have to settle for sipping a boring beverage when everyone else is toasting with a glass of champagne or a cocktail. I will be celebrating with a tasty mocktail in hand!

Keep reading!

Eggnog “White Russians”

Eggnog "White Russians" - offbeat + inspired

Winter cocktails are my favorite. They’re so cozy and rich! The thought of a cold glass of milk punch or eggnog makes me want to gather all the ugly sweaters I can, make one giant super sweater and climb into it with all my friends while we watch cheesy holiday movies and get warm by the fire. Yes, I’m weird, but you have to admit that sounds pretty amazing.

I’ve never actually crafted my OWN winter cocktail though, so this year I wanted to try a twist on the White Russian. I love the “grown up chocolate milk” aspect of this drink, so I stuck with that and changed it up a little bit by using eggnog instead of cream. It’s such an easy alteration, but the results are SO good. Hangar 1 Vodka with its authentically fresh, clean flavor pulls the whole thing together and gives it a perfect kick.

Keep reading!

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies-6

Ever cook something for the first time and then wonder, “Why in the world haven’t I been making this all along!?” That’s how I feel about shortbread. For some reason, I’ve never made shortbread cookies until this year – but now, I’m completely hooked. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve quickly baked (and eaten) enough of these buttery, sweet, crumbly cookies to make up for all the years they’ve been missing from my kitchen.

Keep reading!

A Jackson Hole Journey + Adventure-Style Cocoa

A Jackson Hole Journey + Adventure-Style Cocoa - offbeat + inspired

One of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring adventures I’ve ever been on happened about 2 months ago in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Before I get into all the details, watch this highlight video! (I am SO excited to share this with you guys…)

How it all came together is kind of surreal, so I’ll try to keep that part brief without leaving anything out. The Jeep brand had been on the hunt for a few social media influencers to bring out to Jackson Hole to experience the mountains and the community, all from behind the wheel of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel. Of course they wanted us to get to know the vehicle itself, but the whole thing was supposed to be more about an adventure. One that created memories and stories — the kind we would take with us and share over and over again. So when they initially reached out to me and asked what things I would anticipate doing in a setting like the Grand Tetons, this was me.

In that moment, I dreamed up my ideal visit to Jackson Hole.

Keep reading!

Homemade Butterbeer + A Trip to the Wizarding World

Homemade Butterbeer + A Trip to the Wizarding World - offbeat + inspired

Confession! I was SUPER late to the Harry Potter party. When the movies first came out, I was actually kind of annoyed by all the hype. I refused to see them in theaters and avoided family movie nights once they were out on DVD. I couldn’t even put my finger on why I was so against HP because I had no idea what the story was even about. But after all the buzz died down, I watched the first one…and was hooked.

All of my siblings love Harry Potter, so watching with them was a lot of fun. There’s so much to love about the story, the characters, the entire world they created. Before I digress into all the spiritual and philosophical parallels that really get me going, I’ll skip to the part where I got to visit Universal Orlando’s “Wizarding World of Harry Potter“, and experienced the BUTTERBEER. Cue heavens opening, angels singing…

Keep reading!

Coffee + Maple Spiced Nuts

Coffee + Maple Spiced Nuts - offbeat + inspired-2

In our house, we always have a dish of mixed nuts set out. I guess I figure that if I have that out as a snack, I’ll be less likely to head towards the pantry for a handful of chocolate chips. (Although, truth be told, it doesn’t always work.)

In anticipation of the holidays, I opted to spice (and sweeten) things up a bit. These mixed nuts are sweetened with maple syrup and tossed with a few of my favorite fall spices. Of course, I add coffee to pretty much anything I can, so there’s also a hint of freshly ground coffee that takes the flavor to the next level.

Keep reading!