February 24, 2014

Brown Butter Chocolate Maple Pecan Cookies

There has been a noticeably sweet dessert theme around these parts lately, as evident by comments from friends and family members wondering how I am still managing to fit into my pants (and the answer my friends is stretchy denim and elastic waste pants). I've been baking, and we've been eating, a whole lot of chocolaty comfort foods as Brent and I hunker down and try to stay sane during these long winter months. Whether you're knee-high in snow or drowning in overcast and drizzle, I know we're all dreaming of sun-kissed skin, summer berries, cute sandals, bike rides, shorts skirts, I mean, the list goes on and on. I've got a little trip planned to Costa Rica in a few weeks that should bring plenty of sun, hopefully enough to last me until the summer. I wish I could take you all with me, but I do try to pack light.

As excited as I may be, this may sound a little silly but I just can't wrap my head around shorts and bikinis quite yet. I find that it's always a bit of a shock to become fully immersed in tropical heat, warm intense UV rays and salt water, after spending many months cooped up indoors. The intense equatorial sun is always so surprisingly fierce, and I always have to remind myself over and over again that it's important to be stern and diligent with sun screen and avoid the harsh rays, as lovely and as the sun may feel. I've heard stories of friends spending a few weeks developing a base tan in the tanning beds, but the thought of being stuffed inside a coffin-shaped light bulb heat box terrifies me. I plan on bringing an extra large sun hat and plenty of cover-ups, which should do the trick.

February 14, 2014

Banana Bread Doughnuts with an Almond Butter Glaze

I had this idea to combine three of my favorite things and I'm not talking about gin, tonic, and lime, because that was last week, and I'm still recovering. I am talking about banana bread, doughnuts, and almond butter. If there were no rules in life, and you could eat doughnuts twice a day everyday in your underwear, I would. But instead, I indulge in doughnuts once in a while, and eat banana bread much more often, because it's healthy, and to be honest, it makes me feel all good inside. I like my banana bread full of healthy bits, like walnuts, coconut, and whole wheat flour. I like to spread a generous serving of creamy almond butter on top, and wash it down with a glass of almond milk. It is so good, and delicious, and comforting. It's my favorite of the sweet breakfast treats. Sometimes I'll add a big handful of chopped dark chocolate to the mix, which is extra indulgent. This whole ritual, slicing of the warm bread, slathering of almond butter, and then washing it all down with almond milk, and the need for more doughnuts in my life, was all the inspiration that I needed to come up with this recipe.

When creating these doughnuts, I opted for a fairly simple banana bread recipe, nothing to complicated. I left out the healthy bits like whole wheat flour and walnuts, because who are we kidding, these are doughnuts we're talking about here. I've made this recipe two ways: incorporating the chocolate into the batter, and leaving it out and then sprinkling on top. I prefer the later, for the aesthetic appeal and the added crunch. I have been a bit obsessed lately with baked doughnuts. The effort required is substantially less than frying, and in the end, you will probably smell of banana bread and less like a grease trap. These doughnuts are soft and fluffy. Subtly sweet, with a touch of salty. They are the perfect marriage of banana bread and doughnuts. What more could you ask for.

February 6, 2014

everything is going to be all right gooey chocolate pull apart rolls

2014 has started off on a good note. I can see great possibilities and changes for this new year - and hopefully a bit of luck coming my way! For me and many others, this year started off with the fiercest cold snap that I have felt in years. Due to excessive snow and a lack of competence in the Toronto airport, I was forced to pull out all of my patience and humor in life's silly and unforeseen circumstances. Once I got past all of the delays and weather scares, and was actually able to get on a flight back home, I arrived in Seattle, where the air is as pure as it gets.

Brent and I have spent many nights this year curled up on the couch, trying to process plans for the future, which is so hard when typically we can't see past today. We feel as though the next stage of our life, where we want to call home, is here in Seattle. Despite our current green card uncertainties and the long commute to our families, we have weighed the pros and cons and have decided that Seattle is is where we'll stay. We are excited to make that next step in our life. One that involves cutting grass, patching holes, furniture shopping, and creating a little space that is for us. Last week we were approved for a mortgage (which is an utterly terrifying experience). It involved dealing with a smarmy business banker trying to get us to over extend into our retirement savings, to actually writing numbers down on paper. It seemed all so real and overwhelming. It was, however, somewhat reassuring to know that interest rates are at the lowest they've been in a while, and tax benefits do sound like a good thing. We are a little terrified after meeting with our real estate agent, who tells us that many other people here in Seattle all have the same ideas as we do for 2014. I'm thinking that this year will be filled with a lot of uncertainties, and a true test of our patience and determination, but utterly exciting at the same time.