Category Archives: Dessert

Life Lately

I’m having a hard time believing that we are already halfway through December and Christmas is just a mere few days away.  I feel like the month (year) is flying by and I’m not even prepared.  I still need to bake cookies and watch all my holiday favorites! That being said, here’s a glimpse into life lately:

I never blogged about it but after we ran the Big Sur Half Marathon we drove down to Solvang to hang out at our favorite winery and stay for the night.  We had dinner at Succulent Cafe and these brussels sprouts were amazing and I can’t stop thinking about them.

brussels sprouts and bacon

The restaurant also had these cool little lights in mason jars and I want to re-create this in my house.

mason jar lightsNow that it’s FINALLY feeling like winter here I’m all about the tea, all the time.  Holiday teas are in full rotation around here but I also love matcha green tea with almond milk. With a side of Christmas tree.

tea and christmas tree_1I’m also still on the rose train and love throwing together a little cheese/fruit/nut plate and enjoying a glass on the weekend.  It’s my own little happy hour.

wine and cheese

I’m currently trying to come up with more recipes to use Dark Chocolate Dreams so I don’t just eat it straight from the jar…

flourless chocolate peppermint cookies

We had friends over for a paella party and I didn’t snap a pic of the paella!  But I did get a shot of our half-eaten appetizers.

paella party tapasKarla got me the Thug Kitchen cookbook for Christmas (because she’s the coolest) and I made the maple oat banana bread from it.  Amazing.

thugkitchen

I made peppermint bark this weekend so now I can officially say the holidays are here.  I think I need to make my salted coconut almond bark next.

peppermintbark_slabAnd just for good measure, here’s a pic of Pip.

pippageNow who’s ready for Christmas?

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Christmas is just a little over a week away, so obviously we need to talk cookies! This year I participated in the great food blogger cookie swap and not only was it a lot of fun, but by participating you helped raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, which was the main reason I signed up for the swap.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014

I’ve done a few cookie swaps already with some of my fellow blogger friends, but for this one we were assigned people based on our dietary needs which was awesome.  Since the bloggers I had couldn’t have nuts, I went with my favorite tried and true recipe: oatmeal chocolate chip cookies adapted from the Tartine cookbook (seriously, if you haven’t made these yet, DO IT).

Loaded Oatmeal Cookies Close UpMy first set of cookies I received came from Heather from Majorly Delicious.  She made salted caramel bars, and as expected, they were amazing.

My husband pretty much devoured two right on the spot, and we ended up freezing a couple to have as a frozen treat when the mood strikes as well.  Heather was also SO great in listing out all the ingredients she used as well as the brand so I could double-check to make sure there weren’t any hidden allergens in there.

Our next batch came from TammyJo from the Chocolate Cult, and they were chocolate banana cookies. Banana and chocolate are pretty much a harmonious combo (as is banana and pb) so these were great.  Loved the tin they came in as well!

Last but certainly not least, Betsy from Java Cupcake sent her easy chocolate chip cookies with holiday sprinkles!  And really, you can’t go wrong when sprinkles are involved.

I loved that the 3 batches of cookies I received were all so different and I felt really reflected each blogger’s personality.  The cookie swap definitely got me in the holiday spirit and I can’t wait to do some more holiday baking this month.

Chocolate Oatmeal Pecan Cookies (adapted from the Tartine Cookbook)

Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup coconut oil, softened
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp almond milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup white chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Lightly grease two baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
2. In a mixing bowl blend your flour, baking powder, baking soda and oats and set aside.
3. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer (or you can whisk by hand) beat your coconut oil until creamy and begin to fold in your sugar. 4. Add your eggs one at a time and continue to mix until well blended.
5. Add your milk, vanilla and salt to your wet mixture and then slowly fold in your dry ingredients.
6. Lastly add your pecans and chocolate chips and continue to mix until everything is nicely combined.
7. Scoop spoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet and flatten. You may need to wet your hands a bit since the dough will be sticky.
8. Place cookies in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Remove cookies from oven and let cool, then enjoy!

Chocolate Oatmeal Pecan CookiesInterested in participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap?  Learn more here.

Fireside Tavern in Costa Mesa

I’m very lucky to live in a part of Orange County where delicious new food establishments seem to be popping up all over the place.  I had heard a lot of great things about the Fireside Tavern in Costa Mesa for quite some time now and the Englishman and I finally decided to give it a shot.

What makes Fireside Tavern unique is that it is located inside the Crowne Plaza Hotel.  I’ll admit, I was first turned off by the idea of dining at a hotel restaurant, but after reading that Chef Scott Brandon (who also opened The Crow Bar and Kitchen and Linx) was behind the helm, I decided to go check out Fireside Tavern with an open mind.

The restaurant has a nice, cozy pub feel to it and a great outdoor patio space so it almost feels like you aren’t in a hotel at all.  The bar offers a variety of different beers on tap, a selection of various wines and some signature cocktails.  The Englishman and I decided to dine at the bar and started our evening off with a glass of wine and a beer.

Fireside Tavern in Costa Mesa DrinksFor our starter course, we went with the Charcuterie and Cheese Board which came with a variety of different cheeses, meats and a grilled seedy bread.

Fireside Tavern in Costa Mesa meat and cheeseThis board had a great selection of meats and cheeses and was the perfect start to our meal.  I would’ve liked to have seen what cheeses were included on the board (I think it was goat, blue, gouda and cheddar) but it was still tasty regardless.

For dinner, the Englishman went with the Tavern Mac n’ Cheese which was cooked in a small cast iron skillet and came with homemade noodles and sausage and a variety of different cheeses.

fireside tavern in costa mesa mac n cheeseI don’t usually order mac n’ cheese at restaurants and only had a couple bites of his, but it was good.  The sausage and cheese complemented each other perfectly and I loved the peppery watercress that was placed on top for garnish.

I went with the Tavern Cobb which came with egg, avocado, bacon, turkey, lettuce, tomato and cheese.

fireside tavern in costa mesa cobbCobb salads aren’t necessarily the most exciting thing to order, but when they are good, they are good.  This one was good.  The turkey and bacon both had a nice smoky flavor to it which really enhanced the salad.

We also split an order of the Hand-Cut Fries which came with a spicy ketchup and lemon aioli.

fireside tavern in costa mesa friesI loved the little spicy kick that came with the ketchup and thought the fries were cooked to perfection and perfectly seasoned.  I don’t know if it was just because we had gone for a 7 mile run earlier in the day and I was craving salt, but the fries were some of the best I’ve had in a long time.

When it came to dessert, I wasn’t feeling inspired by any of the options, but when our waiter told us that the Adult Milk and Cookies came with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies made in-house I was sold.

fireside tavern in costa mesa cookiesI’m convinced nothing beats a delicious chocolate chip cookie and these cookies delivered.  They were warm and had the right balance of chewiness and crispiness to them.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of the adult milk made with baileys and vodka, but it was a fun spin on a classic childhood dessert.

I was really impressed by the Fireside Tavern.  I love that they do happy hour 7 days a week (from 3-7!) and have a seasonal menu.  I can definitely see myself returning here and trying some of their other offerings like the roast chicken, burger and grilled cheese.  And of course the fries.

Grilled Pineapple Dessert

On the 4th of July, the Englishman and I were doing some shopping at Sprouts when we spotted a sign that said Maui Gold pineapples 2 for $5.  If you recall from my Maui pineapple post, Maui Golds are a rare commodity on the mainland and when you find them, you buy them.  We practically trampled over some of our fellow shoppers to get our hands on the delicious fruit, and immediately decided to make a grilled pineapple dessert to go with our 4th of July feast.

I’ve been meaning to grill pineapple for a while now, so it was definitely fate that these wonderful Maui Golds fell into our hands.  While most grilled pineapple dessert recipes recommend you soak your pineapple in rum before grilling, I decided to try something different and used some of Veev’s new Coconut Colada instead.

Grilled Pineapple Dessert Veev Coconut CooladaRemember Veev?  I partnered with them last fall when I created a flourless chocolate cake to pair with their PEARsecco, and the team was kind enough to send me a bottle of their Coconut Colada to try, which has the lovely flavors of a pina colada without the extra sugar and calories (each serving is 125 calories and sweetened with agave nectar).

While it is perfectly acceptable to drink Veev on its own over ice, I decided to use is as a base for my grilled pineapple dessert and it was delicious.  I just added some cinnamon, vanilla and a pinch of sugar to the Veev Coconut Colada mixture and then covered some pineapple slices in it.

grilled pineapple dessert veev shotIf you have never grilled pineapple before, you are missing out!  The grill really brings out the sweetness in the pineapple and it is the perfect dessert to serve over some ice cream.  Of course it is preferred if you use Maui Gold pineapples, but I won’t hold that against you if you don’t use them.

Grilled Pineapple Dessert pinGrilled Pineapple Dessert

Ingredients:

1/2 pineapple, cored and sliced into spears or rings

1 oz Veev Coconut Colada

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

Pinch of sugar

Directions:

In a small bowl mix your Veev, cinnamon, vanilla and sugar.  Gently place each pineapple spear or ring in the bowl and cover with the mixture.

grilled pineapple dessert bowlPlace your pineapple spears on a grill and let them cook.  You will want to monitor the pineapple and flip as needed so the pineapple does not burn.

grilled pineapple dessert grillOnce your pineapple is warm and begins to get dark grill marks, remove from the grill and set aside.

grilled pineapple dessert spearsYour pineapple will be perfect as is to enjoy as a dessert, but if you want to take it to the next level, spoon some ice cream of your choice into bowls (I used vanilla coconut milk ice cream) and cut your pineapple into small pieces and place on top of the ice cream.  I also had some of Larabar’s renola that I used for a grain-free nutty topping.

grilled pineapple dessert bowlServe and enjoy!  The Veev adds a wonderful flavor to the pineapple but this recipe can be made with rum, or without any alcohol.  The grilled pineapple is where it’s at.

What’s the next fruit I should grill next?  I really want to try grilled peaches.