My summertime blues.

The weather has turned here in Seattle. Maybe just temporarily, but for the past week it's been a full-on Seattle summer. Impromptu BBQs, shoulder-to-shoulder walks around Greenlake and day drinking on my favorite Bottlehouse patio. Though somehow, even with the warmer temps and much-needed Vitamin D, I'm having an unusual case of seasonal depression - the opposite, in fact, of the typical Seattleite. The longer days and sunnier skies remind me of a different time - memories of last summer and the way things were. A stark difference from the summer that lies ahead.

So even on this gorgeous evening, when I should be out in the sun and enjoying every last drop of daylight, I just stayed put.

I needed to bake.

Without a plan or even a craving, I went to the cupboard to see what I was working with. What inventory could I turn into a little goodness? I went straight for the comfort food. The classic chocolate chip cookie. But lurking in the cupboard and typically reserved for a little salad topping....hazelnuts. Why not, right? I looked at Hugo and thought, "let's go nuts."

Chocolate Chip + Hazelnut Cookies
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped (You can substitute with any nuts or just leave them out all together.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat the butter, sugar(s) and vanilla extract in a large mixer until creamy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, combining well between each addition. Gradually add in the flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts, making sure to get a nice, even distribution throughout the cookie dough. Drop/spoon onto an ungreased baking sheet. (I use a pretty big spoonful!)

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

If summertime blues are such a thing, this classic sweet was the perfect cure for me tonight.  


Turning Trix in the Kitchen

While I don't think this necessarily qualifies as a baked good, it certainly performs like one. "Ooohs" and "Ahhs." Big grins. Cavities on the cusp with just a glance.

This weekend I'm headed off to Vashon Island for the Seattle Works Board Retreat. It's our annual meeting of the minds where we talk direction for the organization, tackle big challenges ahead, get all introspective about our mission and, my favorite parts - connect with fellow board members and get re-engaged overall. We spend lots of time brainstorming, mind-mapping, group-thinking - all that retreat-y stuff. Naturally, I figured we'd need some brain food.

This playful and unexpected take on the Rice Krispy Treat is the perfect mix of sweet...and well, sweet. It should certainly provide that sugar rush we'll so desperately need as we're 10 hours in.

Trix Cereal Treats
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
  • 1 bag of mini marshmallows
  • 1 box of Trix (around 12 cups)
  • Non-stick cooking spray
1. Place the marshmallows and butter in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove and stir until completely melted together and smooth.
2. Add your Trix! Toss. Coat. Turn. Coat. Make sure it's all covered. (I used a little non-stick cooking spray on the spatula to avoid the crazy stickiness.(
3. Spray a 9" x 13" pan (think Pyrex dish) with cooking spray and spread the Trix mixture into the pan. Pack it in and press it down, smoothing over the top with your "non-stick" spatula.
4. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to firm up. Cut into your desired shapes! Store in an airtight container...or (who are we kidding?!) eat right away!


When life hands you lemons...make Lemon Bundt Cake.

It's been nearly two years since my last post. To say that a lot has happened, well, that would be an understatement.

I've had some of the best moments of my life coupled with the worst. I found a best friend, fell in love, baked him a load of goodies, sold my house and moved to his area code, said "yes", planned a wedding, picked the dress, the flowers, the pies (yes, a pie tasting was involved!) and ordered over 150 mason jars for some homemade salted caramel sauce favors. (Lofty yet sweet plans.)

But then, just when I least expected it...whoop! That good ol' rug called life got pulled right out from under me. He changed his mind and our plans changed.The ring came off and the big day never came.

Needless to say, I've been just going through the motions since the new year and things have been a bit surreal. Luckily I have friends and family (and an adorable little pup, Hugo) to walk beside me (or drag me) as I start putting one foot in front of the other to move forward and start over.

Throughout this period of incredible change, one thing has remained - the solace I find in baking. The calm and concentration it offers me. The feeling of creating a lovely package of goodness and the joy that sneaks back in when I see someone take that first bite. The attention needed so that my mind can take a break from my current reality and focus on the chemistry and creativity of baking. It busies my mind and feeds my soul.

So as I re-dedicate myself to baking more and dwelling less, here's the first of many new favorite recipes to come. This is a sunny cake that's dying for a summertime brunch. It's an adaptation from the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten. I made a few substitutions - swapped out the buttermilk for heavy whipping cream in a moment of "I'm not going back out to the store." I also skipped the glaze and added some macerated strawberries for color and sweetness - a nice touch against the citrus.

Lemon Bundt Cake with Macerated Strawberry Coulis
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream. (Or buttermilk, at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour your favorite, fancy bundt pan.
    Cream the butter and 2 cups of granulated sugar in the bowl of your Kitchen-Aid fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.
    Sift together the flour, baking power, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the heavy whipping cream and vanilla. Add the flour and whipping cream mixtures, alternating each, beginning and ending with the flour.  Once mixed, pour the batter into your bundt pan, smoothing the top. Bake for 50 minutes to just over an hour - until a cake taster comes out clean.
    Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice into a small saucepan and cover over low heat until the sugar dissolves. (I used sugar and orange juice as I mistakenly used up all of my lemons for the zest and juice in the batter. Oops!)
    When the cake is done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and set on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon (in my case, orange) syrup over the cake, allowing it to soak in. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
    For the macerated strawberries
  • 1 quart strawberries, hulled and quartered - about 4 cups
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
    Toss the quartered strawberries with the sugar and juice.  Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes - I let them sit while the cake was baking and cooling. After the berries and sugar have macerated and become very juicy, remove 1/2 of the berry mixture, put it in a food processor and puree until smooth.  Return it to the rest of the berries and set aside until ready to use.  
    The next and final step is the most crucial - invite your friends over, slice and serve this baby with a spoonful (or three) of the strawberries and sit back and appreciate this little slice of sunshine that you just created.