Sweet potato hash, buttery salmon benedict, and messy donuts bites at Jelly Cafe in Denver, CO

There are few things that will happily lure me out of bed at 7:00 in the morning – snagging a table at Jelly Café early enough to avoid waiting in an epic queue of hungry hipsters is one of those things.

I was first introduced to the edible bliss of Jelly Café through my then-housemate, McGoo. He’s the ultimate source for the best eats around, and his recommendations are the kind I always follow. Any time he gets excited about taking me somewhere to eat, I can pretty much guarantee that I’m in for a treat.

Walk up to this breakfast haven sitting on the corner of Pearl Street and 13th Avenue any time after 9:30 AM, and you’re guaranteed to be in for a wait. I waited almost two hours once – and I would so do it again in exchange for what I’ll dub the best breakfast diner in Colorado, possibly the entire country.

Before you even attempt to survey the menu, request an order of their famous donut bites – and make sure you get a mix of all the tantalizing varieties. Each fresh puff of crispy dough represents one of four creamy concoctions: crème anglaise, homemade jelly, chocolate anglaise, or cinnamon sugar. Taking the first bite into any given beignet guarantees a dripping mess all over your chin – just let it happen.

Another pre-breakfast treat I love is the selection of funky adult beverages to make your day a bit more pleasant. I’m partial to the Parnold Almer with sweet tea infused vodka and lemonade, but you really can’t go wrong with options like hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, bloody marys topped with shrimp and celery, or the “S’mores,” a Bailey’s brew with fluffed marshmallow vodka, Ghiradeli hot chocolate, and whipped cream.

During one visit to Jelly, I was meeting up with two Floridian friends who were considering moving up to Denver (check out her post on Jelly Cafe about What Tasty Food). My buddy ordered one of the specials, a fizzy libation that listed a Bing energy drink as one of the ingredients. As it happened, the kitchen had just run out of Bing – but fear not, Jelly sent someone sprinting across the street to a convenience store to grab him another. Now that’s service, folks.

The clear stars of this morning extravaganza are the heaping plates of breakfast delight that make it nearly impossible to settle on just one platter. There are temptress dishes like french toast stuffed with bananas and cream cheese, mini sliders stacked thick with pepper pesto sausage frittatas, and bacon pancakes – but I’m loyal to a trio of this restaurant’s finest meals.

The sweet potato hash was the first thing I ever sampled at Jelly Café. The overflowing plate presented to me was loaded with crumbly Mexican chorizo, onions, celery, roasted poblano pepper, cubed sweet potatoes, and red skinned potatoes – all topped with two eggs, toast, and fruity jelly. It’s spicy, it’s sweet, and it’s absolutely amazing.

My second favorite dish is the roasted turkey hash piled high with shredded lean turkey, tender chopped apple, onion, red potatoes, and a sprinkling of tarragon. It’s like a Thanksgiving feast in breakfast form. The third best plate was a more recent discovery, the salmon benedict with peasant potatoes. I had never tried poached eggs before, but Jelly Café converted me into a fan. They serve two poached eggs draped over a perfectly pink filet of seared salmon balanced on artisan sourdough. The entire creation is slathered in their signature dill cream cheese hollandaise – perfection.

Their corned beef hash also deserves an honorable mention for its perfect balance of savory meat and sweet caramelized onion. Really, anything you can fork into your mouth will treat you well.

I hear there’s also a lunch menu – but I’ve never quite made it past the breakfast. 

Need more Jelly? You can connect with them through Facebook,
follow them on Twitter, and check out other satisfied diners’ rave reviews on Yelp!

The five best joints to grab a great meal while visiting Vail, Colorado

There is only one thing I do better than exploring the outdoors, and that’s stuffing my face with tantalizing food. I’m partial to local eateries, but can easily be swayed by any savory wafting scent.

During my visit to Vail, CO, I honestly spent more time gorging my gut than I did burning off those calories on the slopes. My skiing may have only made it to the bunny slopes, but my dining experiences were certainly epic adventures.

Here’s a look at the best places to grab a bite while visiting the luscious mountainside at Vail:

Pazzo’s Pizzeria

Don’t let the restaurant name fool you; I munched on nary a thin-crust nor pepperoni during my visit to Pazzo’s Pizzeria. My mother and I stumbled upon this gem while wandering through Vail Village very, very early in the morning. I had worked up an appetite, so we randomly stumbled into this shop since the idea of a slice of pizza before 10:00 AM somehow sounded fantastic to me.

Of course, there was no pizza to be had. Apparently this place cooks up breakfast, and since I was starving, I decided to nix my early bird pizza fantasies and ordered a breakfast burrito. Holy mother of tortillas – this thing was unreal. I can’t even imagine how large the flour tortilla really was, nor do I understand how all the fillings fit inside the perfectly wrapped giant. The monster was stuffed with scrambled eggs, green pepper, onion, tomato, ham, and refried beans – then slathered with a spicy red chili, salsa, sour cream, and shredded cheese.

I think the picture speaks for itself, but this was hands down the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever had in my entire life. I would drive back to Vail solely to munch on it again – and I’m dying to try their pizza, because it must be phenomenal if their breakfast is this good.

The Little Diner

I already blogged about my adoration for The Little Diner, but this quaint spot deserves mention while talking about the best places to eat in Vail.

The tiny countertop seating area is jam-packed by 8:30 AM, a testament to this little joint’s big servings of awesome. You watch the cooks prepare each meal in the very small kitchen area, and I didn’t see a single thing roll out of there that I didn’t want to dig my face into.

On any other day, the bursting amount of food consumed during a visit to The Little Diner would have left me napping all afternoon with a seriously bloated belly, but it’s the perfect way to begin your day when you’re planning to spend an entire day traversing a mountain with two skis strapped to your feet.

My advice? They open up shop at 7:30 – so set your alarm early if you want to snag a seat without waiting.

Vail Chop House

Sitting directly across from the gondola at the bottom of the mountain, the Vail Chop House provides pristine views of the slopes, and offers a great outdoor patio that is surprisingly pleasant during a sunny day – even if it’s only 30 degrees outside.

My mother and I set up shop at one of the outdoor tables while we waited for my dad to finish up his morning ski runs. At first, we decided to only order drinks. We each ordered an ‘adult’ butterscotch hot chocolate – and it was lip-licking, belly-warming, sticky fingers wonderful. Topped with a dollop of whipped cream, and with liquor perfectly masked by the sweetest of butterscotch liquor combined with the smooth taste of chocolate and Bailey’s; this beverage was divine.

My father finally showed up at the bottom of the run an hour, and four hot chocolates, later. At that point, my belly had digested the massive breakfast burrito from earlier, and was ready to gorge again. We sampled the miniature sliders with a side of fries, and weren’t disappointed.

This place is slightly pricey, but still doesn’t even compare to the majority of expensive eateries found in sophisticated Vail.

Sushi Oka

With two drunk parents leaving dinner plans up to me, I did my usual research on Yelp before deciding to venture to Sushi Oka for our last night’s dinner. I’ve been on a bit of a sushi kick lately, so I wanted to see what Vail had to offer.

We made our way to Vail Village from our Marriott Lodge room via the complimentary shuttle service that runs throughout the vicinity, and quickly found the sushi shop, which I had noticed earlier in the day. We started the meal with edamame and sake, score.

I must admit, while I am smitten with sushi, I’m not the biggest raw fish fan – blasphemy, I know. I ordered a fat roll topped with baked halibut and stuffed with all manner of tasty ingredients like fresh crab and creamy avocado. It was fantastic, as was my mother’s order of pad thai. Unlike the traditional flavors of pad thai, this batch had a unique hint of tomato sauce that we all enjoyed – but be warned, it is extremely spicy.

Moe’s Original BBQ

This place deserves an honorable mention, not so much for their food, but for the atmosphere.

We sauntered over to Moe’s after the first day of skiing, totally exhausted, pretty drunk, and very hungry. Much to my delight, there was an excellent bluegrass band jamming out near the bar. +100 points for the banjo music.

I’ve eaten at a Moe’s BBQ in Denver once, but never got the chance to try their version of my two favorite barbeque stapes: mac-n-cheese and baked beans. Hats off to this joint for totally satisfying my taste buds with thick, sweet beans and hearty mac that filled my belly.

Another +100 for the Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys. My parents and I had a blast munching on ribs, sipping our tall boys, and taking in the great music.

This is admittedly not the most amazing place to eat while you’re in Vail – but if you’re looking for comfort food, no-frills service, and a hospitable atmosphere, you’re in the right place.

I didn’t come to Vail for the food, but the tasty eats I enjoyed before and after my skiing quickly became some of the highlights of the trip. Where’s the joy in spending a day burning calories if you can’t refuel afterwards?

Looking for a casual, chummy stop for an après-ski libation? Check out Garfinkle’s at the bottom of the main slope, a few shops to the right of Vail Chop House. I didn’t eat here, so it didn’t have a place on my list of the best bites in Vail – but I downed my fair share of beverages with my ski lesson buddy Kelsey after our class ended. Strong drinks, reasonable prices, and a great atmosphere for us everyday folk.

Starting a day of skiing in Vail, Colorado with a big breakfast from The Little Diner

The trek from Denver to Vail was a harrowing experience packed with white-out snow conditions, icy roads, and the thrill of reuniting with my parents to explore the wintry Colorado mountains. We arrived at the Vail Marriott Mountain Lodge a bit around midnight, and quickly crashed into plush beds.

In the morning, we woke at the crack of dawn to make an early breakfast at The Little Diner, which had attracted my attention with rave Yelp reviews and claims that it offered reasonable prices – a miracle in this expensive ski town. Arriving shortly after the tiny eatery opened, we easily snagged seats along the U-shaped counter, which offers space for less than two dozen hungry patrons at a time. The cozy, open atmosphere of this little shop reminded me of my favorite Cuban eatery in Miami, Ruben’s. The menu offers a variety of early morning grub, from traditional breakfast skillets to sweet and savory crepes. The small cooking space is situated in the middle of the counter area, so you get a meal and an entertaining experience at the same time. My bar stool sat next to the grill, and as soon as I laid my eyes on huge chunks of sizzling hash browns, I knew I had to try them.

As usual, I ordered the traditional breakfast platter with wheat toast, scrambled eggs (with cheese, of course), homemade hash browns, and extra crispy bacon. My father opted for the chunky french toast – another dish that was prepared right under my nose, and smelled delicious. Always the elegant one of the group, my mother was keen on sinking her teeth into a spinach, mushroom, and egg crepe.

Everything tasted outrageous. Not one for fancy plates and food that looks more artistic than edible, I can always appreciate a home-style helping of hearty grub. I surprised myself by demolishing the entire platter, even though I was stuffed full about halfway through. I regret not snagging a bite of the thick french toast that was sitting just inches away from me at the counter, but I definitely enjoyed a small sampling of the healthy crepe my mother ate.

Don’t let the title or cramped quarters of The Little Diner fool you; this restaurant packs big flavor and breakfast satisfaction into generous portions that will leave you struggling to clean your plate. Being early birds, we were amongst the first handful of people to arrive at the joint, but by the time we left, the diner was jam-packed with eager snow bunnies waiting to load up on savory goodness before hitting the slopes. I wouldn’t have asked for a better way to start my first day of skiing in Vail, Colorado.

Getting stoked on the wintry Vail spirit?
Stay tuned for updates on my very first ski lesson, exploring Vail Village, and more!

Taking a bite out of healthy, convenient fare from Fresh Fit Meals in Denver

Through a stroke of good luck, I recently won a $25 gift certificate to try Fresh Fit Meals, a Denver-based healthy food facility that cooks up convenient and wholesome meals for the on-the-go eater. Since I love to promote great local businesses, I figured I’d share my experience sampling Fresh Fit Meals.
Bon appetite! 

I’ll be the first one to admit that these pre-packaged, microwave-friendly meals don’t exactly look like a divine edible intervention – until you take a bite. Don’t let the fuss-free appearance of these meals fool you; every bite is jam-packed with flavor and spice. A bit peppery, spicy enough to require a refill on my water, and every once in a while I get a nice hint of celery.

As soon as I arrived home from Emerald City Smoothie with my aromatic package, I couldn’t resist digging into one of the containers. My first victim was the “NOLA Dirty Rice.” Looking back at it, I think this was my favorite dish. The turkey was piled generously on top of a bed of savory rice, sprinkled with peas and carrots. I could seriously nosh on this meal every single day.

The “Get Yo Mac On” dish immediately caught my eye, but I was skeptical about the brown grain macaroni; try as I might, I just can’t seem to get on good terms with non-white pastas. Fresh Fit Meals knocked the ball out of the park with this mac. The pasta was perfectly done, and didn’t have that unpleasant grainy taste most “healthy” pastas have. Once again, the ground turkey was the star of the dish, perfectly seasoned with a great kick of flavor.

Could I have added a handful of cheese to my mac? Of course. Am I also a shameless glutton? Yes. I reasoned with myself that it would be a travesty to ruin such a healthy meal with heaps of cheese, so I sliced up some fresh avocado and tossed it into the mix – a perfect idea.

The next day, I dug into the “Sweet Potato Bird” as a late afternoon meal. The thickly sliced turkey looked a bit dry out of the fridge, but as soon as I was done heating it up, the meat was dripping with juice. This dish didn’t quite have the spicy kick of the other two samplings, but it offered a perfect balance of tender turkey meat, earthy rice, and creamy sweet potatoes. Another thumbs up, though this meal wasn’t quite as dazzling as the first two.

My final samplings were the turkey and eggs breakfast tacos. I had a moment of dread when I realized that the tortillas were of the corn variety (I’m a flour snob), but after heating up my meal I was delighted to find that these were some of the best corn tortillas I’ve ever had. Once again, the turkey was perfectly seasoned and kept me coming back for more, but I was a little iffy about the eggs. I’m very fussy about my meat products, so it was a bad move on my part to wait four days to eat the eggs – oops. The tacos also came with a small side of salsa that added a great little burst of flavor to each bite.

I would highly recommend grabbing a few of these pre-made meals to keep you going throughout the week without having to worry about cooking lunch. It was great to be able to pick a dish, pop it in the microwave, and have a healthy, tasty meal at my disposal without having to fuss around in the kitchen. They were ideal for post-climbing dinners when I returned from the rock gym burnt out, famished, and lacking the energy to get down in the kitchen.

The best part?
Our friends at Fresh Fit Meals are extending an offer to the readers of The Morning Fresh:

Get 10% off your order by using the code “themorningfresh10”
now through February 28th!

Be sure to check out Fresh Fit Meals online. Survey their sweeping menu of savory selections, give them a ‘like’ on their Facebook page, and connect with them via Twitter! Trust me, all it takes is one bite, and you’ll be hooked. Finally, an eating addiction that’s actually good for me!

How to make easy pumpkin pie pancakes

It is the season of feasting, and what better seasonal ingredient to overdose on than pumpkin? Our household cranks out pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so it was only time before we started spicing up the mix – with pumpkin, of course.

I recently stumbled across this blog post on Cait’s Plate about a sinisterly simple way to transform your pancakes into pumpkin permeated treats, and my housemate Hannah and I immediately became smitten with the idea of pumpkin spiced pancakes. It really is all too easy; all we had to buy was a can of pumpkin.

So here’s the not-so-secret recipe for adding a little seasonal spice to your breakfast routine. You make your pancake mix like always; any mix will do. We got a nicer brand, simply because according to Hannah, “pancake mix is one of the places in life where you don’t go for the cheaper brand.” – I can stand by that!

Once you’ve got your pancake mix ready to go, the fun comes in. We eyeballed the canned pumpkin addition, but about 1/3 of the can seems suitable. Just plop a heap of that orange goodness into your mix, stir it in, and taste. Spices are definitely your friend for this little cookout – don’t be shy with the seasoning!

Whip it all together, season your batter to taste (we like a lot of nutmeg), then you’re ready to pour your liquid gold onto a frying pan and watch it fluff up into a perfect pancake. I’m not the most skilled pancake attendant, but I did manage to make one pancake in the shape of a mouse. I’m pretty proud of it.

This simple fall-flavored breakfast treat couldn’t be easier to make, which instantly qualifies it as a new favorite. Grab yourself a can of pumpkin, experiment a bit with different spices and tastes, and dig in.

Mean Mr. Mustard in Hendersonville, NC – So nice, I ate there twice.

When I set off at the beginning of this adventure, I was prepared for a month of vagabonding and living out of my car. Upon hearing this, my gracious host in North Carolina set off on a mission to fatten me up with gourmet treats before releasing me back into the wild – and boy, did she succeed.

One of my favorite eats in downtown Hendersonville was a charming cafe perched just off Main Street. Its name is Mean Mr. Mustard, and you might be able to discern from the title that this dainty restaurant is entirely made in tribute to The Beatles. The restaurant owners spared no detail, covering the walls with Beatles art, albums, and other memorabilia. Even the salt and pepper shakers were miniature drums adorned with the band name.


I ordered The Eggman’s Basic, which is your standard breakfast spread with two eggs, hash browns, and bacon – plus a slice of their delicious homemade focaccia bread. I was in absolute heaven with my meal. Any time I go to a breakfast joint, I always order the traditional breakfast platter so I can compare notes with the other eateries I have sampled. To compliment my plate, I ordered a tall glass of “Lennonade,”  which was fabulous.


What really set this breakfast experience apart from any other was the atmosphere of Mean Mr. Mustard. The small building sat only a few handfuls of tables, and the intimate setting was amplified by the wonderful man who sat in the back corner playing acoustic versions of classic Beatles songs. Live music is no shocker for evening meals, but it was a really great way to start the day.

Our meal at Mean Mr. Mustard was so great that Dena and I returned the next morning after our yoga class with a group of hilarious women who kept me laughing for hours. On the second visit, I opted for lunchtime fare, and ordered a half Greek salad with half of a custom-made grilled cheese sandwich. Once again, the culinary creations at this restaurant had my taste buds begging for more. My next trip to Hendersonville will undoubtedly include a visit to Mean Mr. Mustard — and next time, I’m treating Dena whether she likes it or not.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the orchards for an afternoon of apple picking.

Freshly baked cinnamon buns, rolled in BACON – of course I took it there.

I love bacon. I love bacon-covered turkeys for Thanksgiving; I love bacon-cooking alarm clocks – I love bacon. This morning, Niko and I took it to a new level with one of the greatest breakfast inventions ever to grace my kitchen: bacon-wrapped cinnamon rolls.

It’s been a while since I last updated with some tasty climber lady treats, so I figured I’d make my comeback with a bang. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I am obsessed with bacon.


Super simple to make. All you have to do is pan fry a few strips of bacon (we only made three in this batch in case it was a failure), and leave them slightly underdone. Then you unroll your tube of cinnamon buns, and unravel the buns that will be blessed with a slice of bacon.


Line up the bacon on top of your unraveled bun, and then roll that bad boy back up. Proceed with your cinnamon rolls as usual, and don’t forget the icing!


Genius, I know. Now it’s off to the rock gym! We’ll see how well I climb today with a belly full of bacon and cinnamon goodness – but it was totally worth it. Happy Sunday, readers!

Holy Sweet Potato Pancakes!

If the title alone didn’t kick your taste buds into overdrive, check out the photos of the phenomenal breakfast Niko and I enjoyed Sunday morning at the Canopy Road Cafe on Monroe Street in Tallahassee, FL. I have been hearing about the cafe’s famous sweet potato pancakes for months, and after waking up unusually early on this beautiful Sunday morning, Niko and I decided it was high time to sample the treat.

The cafe itself is humble and cozy. Canopy Road is a self-proclaimed “greasy-spoon diner meets modern southern cafe.” No fancy seating or swanky silverware – what you see is what you get at this home-style eatery. The service was lightning fast, and our waitress was quite friendly. I ordered a traditional breakfast with two eggs scrambled with cheese, home fries, white toast and bacon extra crispy. Niko went for a stack of the sweet potato pancakes.

My traditional breakfast spread - two eggs scrambled with cheese, crispy bacon, thick-sliced toast lathered in butter and a pile of home fries. Oh yes! (Photo by: Katie Boue)

Niko's serving of Canopy Road's famous sweet potato pancakes. Smothered in cinnamon butter, crumbled pecans and topped with a dollop of thick whipped cream. (Photo by: Katie Boue)

Our order arrived within about 5 minutes of ordering, which is quite impressive in this town of snail-speed service. My plate was teeming with breakfast goodies, and Niko’s pancakes were outrageous. Two sloppily shaped cakes topped with whipped cream, crumbled pecans and an apple cinnamon syrupy butter – heaven on a plate. My breakfast was perfect, but the sweet potato creations were the clear star of this meal.

After paying the bill, our waitress won my love with an offer for a free sweet tea to-go. That lady clearly knows the way to my heart. Needless to say, a breakfast at Canopy Road Cafe is highly recommended. A meal at this restaurant would be the perfect way to end a hard day of climbing – too bad there aren’t any crags for at least a couple hundred miles.