Marionberry Hazelnut Syrup

You know, when I was growing up far away in Washington, I thought Oregon was weird. It was clearly the least cool of the PNW states (because I had friends and family who lived in neighboring Idaho, so it was the second coolest). But then I moved here to go to college and now I pretty much never want to leave. Oregon snuck in and stole my heart. And now it’s kind of ridiculous how much I love everything Oregon. I get a little proud of all our berries. And our hazelnuts. And our mountains and rivers and our cities. Because Portland is seriously the bomb-diggity. And there’s hardly anything more Oregonian than a marionberry-hazelnut combination. (Oregon’s Willamette Valley produces 98% of the United State’s hazelnut crop. And marionberries were developed at OSU as part of a blackberry breeding program.)

Anyway, as you know, one of my favorite things to do here is pick berries. So many berries. Until our freezer and our stomachs are full. And Steve loves the marionberries. So we pick enough to make a pie. And I made a pie that was a marionberry-hazelnut pie and it was a great idea, except that it was a little too liquid and never stood up to the task of being a pie filling. But it gave me the idea to make a marionberry-hazelnut syrup for pancakes.

Making syrups is super easy if you have a saucepan. Usually I just cook the berries down for 20-30 minutes and leave the syrup a little lumpy because I like that texture. With the marionberries, though, I wanted a smoother texture and I wanted to strain out the seeds. So after cooking the syrup down, I put it in the blender to smooth it out. And then I strained it through a flour sifter. Because it’s silly to have more than one straining apparatus.

marionberry hazelnut syrup


Marionberry & Hazelnut Syrup

Place the marionberries in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, until berries are broken down and nearly liquid (there will still be lumps). Add the hazelnut syrup and remove from heat. Stir together and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Pour berry mixture into blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes, until completely liquid. Pour through a strainer to remove seeds. Serve over peaches as a pancake topping for a very Oregonian summer brunch everyone is sure to love. Because you know we also love our brunch here.

If your syrup is too tart, you can add more hazelnut syrup, or maple syrup to sweeten without changing the flavor as much.

You can store remaining syrup in the fridge for a week or two. I also froze half the batch in a glass jar for later use. If you are going to freeze your syrup, remember to leave 1/2 inch of room at the top to keep your jar from breaking.


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Peach Lemonade is My Favorite

This summer I’ve been obsessed with making homemade lemonade. It’s so yummy. And so easy! And it looks great in those dollar pint bottles from Target with the colored caps. You know, because I need an excuse to buy more of those. But at least a few of them has been given away as gifts filled with lemonade. It feels fancy. And if there’s one thing I love to do, it’s pretending to be fancy.

My favorite has been to make peach lemonade using a peach simply syrup with frozen sliced peaches instead of ice cubes. We’ve put several pounds of our delicious peaches to good use this way.

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Peach Lemonade

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 peaches, sliced (fresh or frozen after thawed)
  • 2 cups lemon juice
  • water or club soda to make 1 gallon
  • frozen peach slices, for garnish

In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil over medium heat. Add peaches and stir well. Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes to cook down. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain peaches from syrup and save for later.* (Apparently you shouldn’t leave them in the syrup or your container could explode. Yikes.). Once syrup is completely cooled, add lemon juice and syrup to a one gallon pitcher and add cold water to fill it the rest of the way. (Use club soda to make a fizzy lemonade that is sure to please.) Stir to combine. Refrigerate for 2 hours to chill completely. Serve with sliced peaches instead of ice cubes for yumminess and prettiness.

*Save your strained peaches to serve over pancakes or ice cream. Or eat by the spoonful.

There you have it. Peach lemonade for a fancy summer occasion, like having family friends over so the kids can play in the inflatable pool while the grownups talk.

Best “Accidental” Chocolate Chip Cookies

So today I accidentally made the most delicious chocolate chip cookies. I was following this recipe but I kept having to substitute things and I was worried they wouldn’t turn out at all. But then they turned out to be really delicious. And so now I am writing this recipe down before I forget it so I can accidentally make them again sometime (soon).

We rushed right out the door to have a picnic in the park with our friends, so I didn’t get any other pictures but this sort of weird one. But at least there is a bite taken out of one of the cookies so that you know for sure that they really are good.


Best Accidental Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 10 ounces bread flour, sifted*
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

*Or 2 cups all-purpose flour, or a little less than 2 cups bread flour. Bread flour is more dense than all-purpose flour, so you don’t need as much of it. And you really should sift it.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. With a mixer, combine the melted and cooled butter, sugar and honey and mix until creamy. Add the vanilla and almond extract. This should start to look a little like cake batter, very liquid. Add the egg and egg yolk and mix thoroughly to combine. Finally, stir in the flour mixture.

With a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips. If your dough is very wet (possibly because your butter wasn’t very cool when you added it), place dough in fridge for 15 minutes. Keep dough refrigerated between batch preparations.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking pad. Scoop up about a half cup of dough and roll it into a fat cylinder. Twist and pinch the cylinder in half and pull apart. Place the two pieces with the torn side up on the baking sheet and repeat until your baking sheet is filled. Be sure to give these ones plenty of room to spread out.

Bake for 11-14 minutes, rotating position of cookies half way through. Do not over-bake. Watch for the cookies to be slightly golden around the edges, but still light and fluffy in the middle. When in doubt, I always think it’s best to remove early as opposed to late.

Frosted Brownie Cookies

If you’ve known me long enough, you know that I like Valentine’s Day. A lot. A friend of mine theorized that we are all very fond of the holidays closest to our birthdays, and maybe that’s why I like it so much. Or maybe it’s because Valentine’s Day is a good excuse to break up the bleary wintery days with pretty notes and chocolate and heart confetti. And to try to talk your children out of store-bought valentines in exchange for complicated handmade ones that are not going to turn out as you are currently envisioning. Sigh.
But let’s get to the point. I made these cookies for Superbowl as a little test. And they passed the test. So I think I will be making more and sending them as valentines to friends near and far. And so should you. Or you could just make some and eat them all yourself. That would also be a good idea.

Frosted Brownie Cookies
Makes 12 large cookies. Adapted from Sweetapolita.

For the Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups high quality semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Frosting
  • 1/2 cup high quality milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup high quality semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon corn syrup
Sprinkles of Choice (I like these.)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a double boiler (heat proof bowl in a pot of water, 1 inch deep), melt the butter and 1 cup of chocolate chips over medium heat, being sure not to let the water boil or spill into the heat proof bowl (if water gets into the melting chocolate it will cause the chocolate to “freeze” and be unusable). Stir every so often until melted and smooth.
Meanwhile, use a fork to sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Set aside.
In another bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the sugar, eggs and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Add the chocolate mixture to this and beat together on medium speed until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 increments, beating on low between each increment. Finally, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out six dollops of batter and place two inches apart on baking sheet. These will spread in the oven, so be sure to give them plenty of room. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies have a cracked appearance. (Do not overcook or the cookies will dry out and taste chalky.) Let cool on pan for 10 minutes, and then on a wire rack for another 10.  Repeat to make the last six cookies.
After the two batches are cooled, make the frosting. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup together, stirring occasionally until smooth. Use a knife to spread the frosting onto one half of each of the cookies and then add sprinkles generously.

Wrap them up all prettily and send them to everyone you love. I’m sure they’ll like them.

P.S. These cookies are very rich, so you don’t need to send a whole batch to each person.

Always Perfect Fruit Salad

My mother introduced me to this fruit salad last summer and I’ve made it countless times since. It is so delicious and wonderful, but is also completely natural, raw, paleo, gluten-free, etc. So basically, it’s the perfect thing to serve at a party because unless someone is on a diet where they don’t eat fruit and mint, they can eat this.

Perfect Fruit Salad
Serves 15-20 as a side

4 peaches, peeled
4 nectarines
4 red or black plums
2 pounds red grapes, cut in half
2 large navel oranges
1/3 ounce mint leaves, chopped or torn very small

You can use any fruits that you wish. I like to make this using whatever fruits are currently in season. Like raspberries or blackberries at the beginning of summer. Peaches now that it is late summer. The only crucial part is the orange and the mint, and beyond that you could choose your fruits based on color or taste preference. I don’t think melons would work well, though. They’re too watery on their own and would counteract the orange. 

Peel the peaches and wash the nectarines, plums and grapes. Pit and dice everything into bite size pieces. Add to a large serving bowl. Squeeze the juice from the two oranges over the fruit. Add the mint and toss together. Set out at room temperature to meld together for at least thirty minutes before servingRefrigerate if you aren’t going to serve until the next day. This tastes better and better the longer it has for the flavors to come together.

Perfect for any time of day and any occasion!

Dutch Baby Pancakes with Lemon Curd and Triple Berry Syrup

Dutch Baby Pancakes are probably my very favorite breakfast basic ever. They’re super easy to make, but they puff up in the oven, so they’re fun and seem kind of fancy. Kids love them. Adults love them. Everyone is happy.

But mostly I love them because they are so simple that they make a great canvas for all your delicious toppings. I feel like every couple of months I get hooked on a different favorite topping selection. Currently Whipped Cream Lemon Curd and Triple Berry Syrup are my go-tos.

I found the lemon curd recipe originally on Kitchen Confidante. I don’t use the zest of two lemons like she does because you have to strain it out at the end and that’s hard to do if you’re cool like me and don’t have a strainer. It seems to work just fine without it. The lemon curd recipe is fun because you can make it once and then keep it in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks, adding it to anything you can think of. It does take a little set up time, so be sure you make the lemon curd the night before, or at least first when starting to make breakfast. You could probably put it in the freezer to speed up the cooling process.

Dutch Baby Pancake
This is the most basic recipe, which serves 2 or 3 people. I almost always make 1.5 times this amount for our family, or I double or triple the whole thing depending on how many people I am feeding and what else I am serving. You can make these in glass pie plates or quiche dishes or Pyrex casserole dishes, or dutch ovens, which I’m pretty sure is where they got their name.

  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk*
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place butter in a 9 inch cake plate and place in oven to melt.
Meanwhile, whirl the eggs on high for at least a minute, until light yellow and bubbly. Add milk, flour and vanilla and whirl until fully incorporated.
When the butter has melted, remove pan from oven and pour batter over the melted butter. Return to oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until sides are puffy and dark golden brown, and a fork inserted into the middle of the pancake comes out clean. Serve as soon as possible.

*If you use dairy milk, this pancake puffs up so beautifully and the edges are really light and crispy and wonderful. If you use a non-dairy alternative like almond milk, the pancake still tastes delicious, but it won’t puff up. It will be a little more dense and rich.

Whipped Cream Lemon Curd

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2/3 cup whipped cream

In a small saucepan, whisk together egg and yolks until combined. Stir in sugar and lemon juice, whisking well until full incorporated. Place over medium heat and continue to whisk until custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter pieces until melted and full incorporated. Allow to cool to room temperature and then place lemon curd in refrigerator for 1 hour to set up. Remove from fridge and stir in whipped cream before serving.

Triple Berry Sauce

  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup marionberries
  • 1 cup boysenberries
  • 1/4-1/2cup maple syrup
In a medium pan over medium heat, reduce the berries by letting them come to a boil and stirring occasionally. Over twenty minutes or so, the berries will break down and condense into a sauce. The longer you cook them, the more smooth and syrup they will become. (I prefer the syrup to be a bit chunky and thick, so mine is done in 20-25 minutes.) Add the maple syrup towards the end of your cooking. You can decide how much to put in based on how sweet you want the syrup (keep in mind the sweetness or tartness of your berries). Strain out the seeds if desired. Best served warm.
This syrup is another thing that can be made ahead of time and used for several weeks as long as it’s kept refrigerated.
Let everyone assemble their own dutch baby slices as desired.

Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Bourbon Sauce

This is one of my favorite summer treats to make. It’s an adaptation of a recipe from Emeril Lagasse’s strawberry shortcake with a bourbon sauce by Craving Chronicles. We had it a few weeks ago at book club. (Book club days are my favorite days.)

Strawberry Shortcake
Serves 10-12

  • 1 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 3 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 pounds strawberries, rinsed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup orange liqueur (like Grand Marnier)
  • 2 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 5 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with butter. Set aside.

Beat together eggs and milk with an electric mixer until frothy. Add 1 1/3 cups sugar and beat on high for 7 to 10 minutes, until thick and pale yellow.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Gently fold together the flour mixture and the egg mixture. Carefully stir in the melted and cooled butter. Pour into baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes, until cake is risen and golden brown and a fork inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let stand at room temperature to cool.

In a bowl with a sealable lid, combine strawberries, orange liqueur and 2 cups sugar. Close the lid tightly and shake everything together until well combined. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, shaking or stirring every so often, until sugar is dissolved. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve the dessert.

Whip cream on high with an electric mixer until thick. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form when you lift out the beaters. Keep whipped cream refrigerated until ready to serve.

Chocolate Bourbon Sauce

  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon or whiskey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine cream and brown sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves and cream just starts to boil. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted. Stir in bourbon and vanilla until smooth.

To assemble:
Cut shortcake into 1 inch squares and divide evenly between serving dishes. Smother in strawberry syrup. Scoop plenty of whipped cream on top and finally drizzle with chocolate bourbon sauce and garnish with additional strawberries, if desired.

Brownie Filled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Our friend Cara came to stay with us a few weeks ago. While planning the itinerary for her trip, she mentioned some Chips Ahoy cookies she liked that had brownies on the inside of the cookie. “And then I realized we could do that, too!” Yes. Yes, we can do that, too.

Behold: Brownie Filled Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Okay, so you can’t necessarily see from the pictures that they have brownies on the inside. But they do. And they taste amazing. You should make some.)

(I could be one of those people who writes 20 paragraphs leading up to a recipe, but I know you all just scroll to the bottom to read the recipe anyway. So I’m going to just keep the scrolling you have to do to a minimum. Isn’t that so nice of me?)

Brownie Filled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brownie Filling:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 5 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and beat in eggs and sugar until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour and cocoa powder. Add to the butter and egg mixture and stir in the vanilla. Place brownie dough in the refrigerator to set for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make your cookie dough:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (With Malted Milk)

  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl combine flour, malted milk, cornstarch, and baking soda and sift together. In a separate bowl beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture, in four increments, stirring throughly between each increment. Stir in chocolate chips.
Once the brownie dough has chilled and is able to be formed into a ball, make the brownie filling by creating small (1/2 inch) dough balls. Wrap the balls in chocolate chip cookie dough to create one-inch balls and place two inches apart on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until just golden. Let cool before devouring.

These are cookies best served out of the refrigerator.

Malted Milk and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the lookout for secret ingredients. They make everything so much better.

But then they aren’t secrets because I usually just tell people about them. But that’s only because I can’t resist because of the resulting goodness. You know?

This is how I feel about malted milk powder. I didn’t know it was a thing you could make stuff with. I didn’t even know where to find it in the grocery store. (Weirdly, it’s by the hot chocolate mix, coffee, tea, that sort of thing. So now you know. And you won’t have to confuse your friendly neighborhood grocer by requesting something they have probably never heard of.)

But now, malted milk is my new secret ingredient that gives cookies that je ne sais quoi deliciousness. Except that it probably isn’t new to everyone. But it’s new to me and I like it. A lot. That makes the following my new go-to cookie recipe.
Malted Milk and Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (about 1 5 oz. box) chopped Whoppers candies (optional, add more
    chocolate chips if you skip these)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl combine flour, malted milk, cornstarch, and baking soda and sift together. In a separate bowl beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture, in four increments, stirring between each increment. Stir in chocolate chips and chopped Whoppers.

Place one-inch dough balls on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, two inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes and then cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack.


S’mores Pie

I don’t know about you. But I’m a huge sucker for s’mores. And pies. Put the two together and you have pretty much made the best summer dessert possible. I’m making this for every barbecue and bonfire I go to these next few months. (So if you don’t want to make it yourself, you can just invite me over.)

I’ve seen a couple recipes like a brownie s’mores pie that seemed like a good idea. But when I saw this one by Two Peas and Their Pod, I knew it would be delicious. (Plus, I like more graham cracker crust as opposed to less, and melted chocolate trumps brownies when you’re making something s’moresy.) I’ve made it a few times and made some adaptations for extra goodness.

S’mores Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) browned butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 16 squares, crushed)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces marshmallow creme
  • 1 XL and 1 Giant Hershey’s chocolate bar
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter and continue cooking until butter is amber in color and has a carmel smell to it. Be careful not to let the butter burn. Remove from heat, stir in brown sugar and set aside.
In a medium bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, flour and baking soda. Sift together. Stir in butter and brown sugar and beat in the egg and vanilla. Divide the dough in half and press one half into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Save the other half for the top.
Spread the marshmallow creme along the bottom of the crust. Break the chocolate bars into their separate pieces and press into the marshmallow creme. You won’t need all of the chocolate pieces, save a handful for the top.

Sprinkle the marshmallows on top.  Complete the pie by crumbling the remaining dough on top of the chocolate pieces and press it down slightly to seal up the pie. There will be little gaps in the top, but that’s okay. Chop the remaining chocolate into little bits and press them into the crust.

Bake for 20 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for 3 hours or so. (The longer you wait for this deliciousness to cool, solidify and meld together, the better it tastes.)

Steve thinks this is the best thing I’ve ever made. He has preemptively requested it for every birthday and special event from now until forever. It really is pretty delicious. I can’t wait to be eating this while watching fireworks on the 4th of July. Perfection.