Nothing says summertime like a fresh bouquet of stems! We've said it before and we'll say it again, Trader Joe's never fails to impress with their stock of fresh flowers. So we made a very deliberate pit stop on our Saturday morning errands to pick up some stems. We fell hard, fast for the beautiful dahlias they had to choose from. And of course couldn't resist the white hydrangeas.

We love to partner bright summer hues with a touch of deep, dark romance. Using three different vases, we arranged the stems. First placing the hydrangeas. Then adding the dahlias and their additional greens. Finally we added some basil and mint stems from our own garden to give the arrangements an intoxicating scent!


Oh Hello Summertime! We love summer (ok, who doesn't?!) but for Stems and Savories it means even more fun floral and flour adventures. Produce is so fresh and tasty. Flowers are bright, beautiful and bountiful. It's an open playground for two gals who love to experiment with creativity.

We decided to start the season off right with a healthy, summer inspired breakfast followed by a trip to Trader Joe's for some fresh stems.

summer yogurt parfait

1 fresh peach (it's peach season. head to your local farmer's market today and pick some up!)
3 strawberries cut in half
handful of blueberries
1 apricot
handful of walnuts
1/2 cup greek yogurt
honey drizzle and a dash of cinnamon

It's pretty simple! Wash your fruit. We like to use this Fruit and Vegetable Wash from Whole Foods.
Cut and place on top of yogurt. Add walnuts and blueberries. Top with cinnamon and honey if you want to add even more sweetness. And enjoy!


Kimberley Hasselbrink is a San Francisco based food and lifestyle photographer who just released her book, Vibrant Food. The book includes recipes for every season of the year. And the best part... the amazing photography that accompanies these recipes. We are awed by the bright, bold colored food she has captured. It's a feast for your eyes and eventually your stomach! Check out her work and enjoy :)


I'm pretty picky about pesto. I feel a little guilty for my high standards, but I honestly usually don't enjoy pesto unless I make it. My most common complaint is that it doesn't have a strong enough basil flavor. That's why the sweet basil pesto recipe I posted last summer calls for so much basil! Ironically, this recipe is pretty much the opposite from that, but I LOVE it. I actually adjusted it slightly from a recipe a family friend used when I was visiting them a couple summers ago. The family owns their own garlic farm, and apparently you have to harvest the scapes (which are these alluring, spiral stems- lots of pictures to come because I'm obsessed with their beauty- that sprout in the middle of June; picture below!) from the garlic plants to improve your garlic harvest because it forces the plant to send it's energy into increasing the bulb size rather than towards the maturation of the the flower and seed that result from the scape if left on the plant.

Anyways, with all of the scapes they harvested, they decided to experiment with using scapes in place of garlic in pesto! At first I was skeptical because the recipe calls for basil on the order of leaves rather than the order of cups of leaves, but then I realized that the pesto isn't featuring the basil- it's featuring the scape! And then... I think I became addicted to it. I ate it on pasta, bread, salad, vegetables, even oatmeal! So, when I saw garlic scapes at the farmers market last weekend, I couldn't resist making it myself. Who knows if that was a good or bad idea- my diet currently once again revolves around garlic scape pesto! Be warned that this pesto is amazing, but it is quite garlicky! You can always cut back on the scapes if you aren't a huge garlic fan, though. But, I'd have to call you crazy. Two notes: I tested the recipe with toasted almonds versus toasted sunflower seeds and I prefer the latter, but it'll still taste great if you only have almonds on hand and want to use those. I also would suggest using a fine olive oil for pesto- no matter the recipe- because I've found that the quality of the pesto directly correlates with the quality of the olive oil!

garlic scape pesto

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (you can substitute with Romano if that's more convenient)
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
juice from half a lemon
2 garlic scapes
5 basil leaves
3/4 cup fine olive oil 

Place all ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Turn the food processor on and gradually pour the olive oil through the pour spout and process until completely incorporated. Store in a jar in the refrigerator (good for about three weeks) or freezer (I've used pesto that's been in the freezer for a year and it's still great!) or serve right away! Embrace the addiction if it hits you like it hit me!


This is a really simple but satisfying recipe that will curb your post-dinner craving for dessert but leave you feeling refreshed rather than regretful! It's not difficult either- it only requires four ingredients and about four minutes of your time! The mint isn't overpowering since you're using fresh leaves; I wouldn't use mint flavoring as a substitute. It's just a nice, mild, twist on the whipped cream:) Plus, mint grows like crazy! If you're considering planting an herb garden but don't know where to start- mint is the way to go. You really can't fail. You just have to be attentive because one day you'll find that it's taken over your entire garden if you aren't careful!

blueberries with homemade mint whipped cream

1 1/2 cups blueberries, rinsed
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/8 cup granulated sugar
4 mint leaves

In a standing mixer (or, alternatively, using a hand mixer), beat the heavy whipping cream on medium for about a minute. Add the sugar and mint leaves and beat on medium high for about three more minutes or until hard peaks form. Pick out the mint leaves, and serve over blueberries! This should be enough to serve four people. Mmmmm and they'll love it!


I've been warned that the beautiful summer sun and warmth comes with quite the humidity in Baltimore! Warm weather always makes me crave salads, but humidity makes me especially crave those that have a bit of fruit on them- I think it's the feeling of instant refreshment and the sweet counter to bitter greens that leaves me so satisfied. Plus, you don't need much dressing on a salad like this since the fruit juice released with each bite kind of acts like a vinaigrette on it's own. That being said, I think I found the perfect "vinaigrette" for salads on such sticky, hot days. My mom gave me a couple of Misto olive oil sprayers a year or so ago that I hadn't actually unpacked until my move to Baltimore, but now I'm excited that I did! Originally I didn't really see the point of them, but now I understand: they are a REALLY easy way to add flavor while reducing the amount of oil you use. I actually filled one with olive oil and one with vinegar, so I just spray my salads with each and I'm good to go! Plus, it's really handy for packing a salad for lunch: if you spray the top of your salad with olive oil and then spray with vinegar, your salad doesn't get soggy before lunchtime! That being said... this recipe is much more of an approximation... I'll provide some guidelines, but you decide how much of everything you want to use!

healthy green and purple summer salad

two large handfuls of red and green butter lettuce
1 handful grapes, sliced in half
1 teaspoon roasted sunflower seeds
olive oil and vinegar via Misto!
sea salt

This is literally the simplest recipe ever! Add your lettuce, grapes, and sunflower seeds to your salad bowl, spray the greens with olive oil and then vinegar (you'll see it build up on the leaves, no need to drench, but definitely coat well), sprinkle with sea salt, and off you go! Again, it's great for lunch salads, and you can do this on any salad you'd like, not just this one! I'm much more of a vinegar fan than olive oil, so I probably use about 1.5 times as much vinegar as olive oil, but you can make it as you'd like! Also, if you don't have a Misto, just use any vinaigrette that sounds good to you. Just keep it pretty simple because the grapes will add all the sweetness you need!


French toast is always a hit. Kids love it, adults love it, I love it! So of course, whenever my housemates and I host a brunch, we always want to make it. The problem is that it's hard to make in bulk and still maintain the warmth and crispiness of freshly made french toast when you're serving a large group. To counter this problem, people have developed baked french toast that is similar to bread pudding: you layer your bread in a baking dish, pour your egg mixture over it, let it sit overnight, and then bake it in the morning. This is of course delicious too, but if I want bread pudding I'll just make bread pudding. If I want french toast, then I want french toast! So, here's a really easy way to make a high volume of french toast that tastes like it just came off the stove!

baked challah french toast

1 loaf challah bread
8 eggs
1 1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Slice the challah bread into 3/4"-thick slices. Whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt together in a large, flat-bottomed bowl. Coat two large baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Dip the bread slices in the egg mixture, making sure to coat well, and then place on the baking sheet. Bake for 6 minutes or until browned on the side touching the pan, then flip and bake for another 5 minutes or until browned on both sides. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar if you'd like and serve away!


Although our gardens aren't yet self-sufficient for bouquet-making so early in the season, that doesn't mean we can't brighten up or living or dining rooms with some stems! Pick some lively-colored stems to serve as the focus of your bouquet, to ring in summer if you will, and then choose some simple and sweet, light colored stems to subtly maintain the youthful presence of spring while filling in the gaps between the summer stems. Then just pick a green filler, and you're good to go!
Make sure to cut the ends off of your stems and pick and leaves off that will fall below the water line in your vase. 
Arrange the bright stems as you'd like, then add your filler flowers.


Sometimes you have stems that have buds too low on the main stem to reach above the vase; I like to make a mini bouquet out of these and put them in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or even on a night table. May as well use them for something, right? Plus, it carries the charm of the bouquet beyond just the living or dining room!

Then you can place the main bouquet wherever you'd like!