Sweets

Vanilla and Spice Pancakes

Have you ever had the cheap, fake vanilla extract that's water with food coloring, alcohol, and sugar? The J.R Watkins' brand is the exact opposite of that. 

I was pretty thrilled when I was sent pure vanilla extract and baking vanilla, which has even more extract flavor, to test out. I decided to bring luxury into something pretty common - lobster mac and cheese anyone? - in order to really see this ingredient shine.

Vanilla and Spice Pancakes

Double Chocolate Rosemary Brownies

When I was sent rosemary extract from J. R. Watkins, the flavor I requested because I'm obsessed with that herb, I was stumped.

Do I put it in a savory dish? I could. Will it turn my dish green? No. Maybe it can go into something sweet? Yes! I had success with the flavor combo of rosemary and coffee in my cookies, so it had to work in a brownie. And boy, did it. Messing with a brownie recipe is pretty sacrilegious, so I decided to use Alton Brown's tried and true approach ... but with more chocolate. 

Double Chocolate Rosemary Brownies

French Toast with Roasted Apples

You bet your bottom dollar that we're about to talk about some luxurious french toast, but first, we're going to talk about the food warmer that inspired this recipe. 

I have an obsession with feeding people. To the point that I don't need anyone around to cook enough for 10 (which I responsibly save as leftovers, no food waste here). That's why I was incredibly happy to get the Bella food warmer at Seattle Goodwill. My momma-in-law, who has a knack for finding a good deal, was the one that picked this one out, knowing that I was looking for a way to keep food warm at gatherings. It's completely brand new. All I had to do was give it a good wash and it was ready to go. That's the beauty of Goodwill: you really never know what people are going to donate, which makes their items that they're no longer using into your little treasures. 

French Toast with Roasted Apples

Apple Fritters

With Valentine's Day fast approaching - I'm sure EVERYONE celebrates this holiday, right? - I thought I'd put something a little sweeter on the menu. Sure, I'm always preaching that I'd rather have another steak than a stacked chocolate cake, but today I'm making these for the husband. He doesn't share my cravings, mostly because he's vegetarian, but also because he could devour a bag of Halloween candy in a sitting ... which just made me realize why we buy so many sweets that day when we only get 2 neighborhood kids knocking on our door. 

These fritters include the beloved apple that is so abundant in my part of the world. I've also paired these with the icing that I've used before on the blog instead of glazing the whole fritter. They like flirting instead of being all over each other. 

Apple Fritters

Crock Pot Apple Butter

Autumn in Washington State is a magical time in our farmers markets. There is a bounty of squash, hearty greens and of course the mighty apple. 

In the state where most apples are born in the good 'ol U. S. of A., I was amazed that my born and raised Northwestern husband didn't know what apple butter was. Of course, not every family from the same region eats the same meals, but I have a feeling my (half) southern roots might have given me a higher chance of exposure to the buttery gold. I knew I had a task - nay, an obligation - to make this a familiar spread in our household.

Crock Pot Apple Butter

Blackberry Crumble

Blackberries usually make me think of clam digging. Us youngsters would have to go with the adults to up their seafood counts - I'm sure no one ever did that - and we would run a muck all over the rocky Northwest beaches. My favorite part, besides trying to start fires on my own, was finding all the blackberry bushes everywhere on the beach paths. I still think about the salty air, and my grandmother that's no longer with us, when I see the berry bushes all over my neighborhood. I think that's also why when it comes to the few desserts I'll actually want, this crumble is on the list. 

Blackberry Crumble

Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

I would eat a mushroom over a cupcake any day of the week. 

I have to say, I do indulge into the white crystals when the uncontrollable temptation wins. But sugar, savory morsels will always win with me. 

This is why I love fruit, especially when it's grilled. There's a natural sweetness that comes out that caramelizes to perfection. This dish is paired with a kiss of sweetness in the whipped cream, then topped with a sprinkle of brown sugar. Because if you're going to eat sugar ... eat the sugar.

Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Rosemary Coffee Cookies

Saying that people living in the Northwest consume a lot of coffee would be like saying "Did you know that Koreans eat rice?". There are tea drinkers in the mix and - blasphemy - some of us drink both. But what I love about this place that I call home is that there are vast varieties of that cup of joe we adore so dearly. You want a darker blend? Smoother? A little acidic? Maybe some apple notes? You got it. 

Now, what does one do when they are addicted to an ingredient? They use it in different forms and put it in everything. This is how it ended up in my cookies, alongside rosemary which is just as abundant as java in this town. Walk down any suburb around Seattle and you'll see huge rosemary bushes that look like they've been there since the beginning of time. 

I love my city. 

Rosemary Coffee Cookies

Orange and Nutmeg Muffins

Sometimes I feel like I get the short end of the stick for breakfast since I prefer savory over sweet. Especially now that I'm on this baking kick, I can't help but notice that sugar is king. Then I found this basic muffin recipe from Epicurious and remembered that I get along with the less sweeter cousin of the cupcake. Even better, this is great for a quick bite in the morning without feeling like you need to go to the dentist. Plus, with the added Vitamin C, we're off to a great start! Speaking of orange, I love how it's a perfect companion for nutmeg. It almost makes the kitchen smell like the holidays all over again.

Orange and Nutmeg Muffins

Simple Icing

Ahh February. Love is in the air. Sweets are all around. Awkward Valentine's exchanges are a plenty. I vote that it's perfectly fine to Treat Yo Self, because who knows what you want better than you. I'm more of a savory gal myself, but icing makes me think about my mom and her cinnamon rolls. She would make everything from scratch and make huge batches that I could share with my friends. Now that's love. This icing is simple and easy to make, but makes anything you top it with special. 
 

Simple Icing