Monday, March 28, 2016

Loaded-Up Pretzel Cookies

Taste of Home churns out some delicious recipes.  Loaded-Up Pretzel Cookies are another recipe that will be a classic.  Like their name, they are loaded up with pretzels, M&M's, and coconut.  They remind me of another recipe from Taste of Home, Crisp Graham Cookies, that I've been baking since High School.  I usually bake them for road trips and since we are going on one next week, I thought it would be fun to whip up some cookies, but something a little different.  Cookies freeze well so I stuck half the batch in the freezer for our trip and am currently trying very hard not to eat the other two dozen that are fresh, all today.  I've only had two today but they are hard to resist and I don't trust myself with cookies.  My twins were excited to try a fresh baked cookie, so I also couldn't resist taking some photos of their little toddler hands, eating cookies. 

Loaded-Up Pretzel Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups miniature pretzels, broken
  • 1-1/2 cups flaked coconut
  • 1-1/2 cups milk chocolate M&M's


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  2. Shape 1/4 cupfuls of dough into balls; place 3 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 dozen.
Editor's Note: To make smaller cookies, shape rounded tablespoons of dough into balls. Bake as directed.

This recipe from Taste of Home was found here.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Georgetown Bites 2016

The eclectic and artsy Georgetown neighborhood in south Seattle held a food event yesterday called Georgetown Bites.  "A taste of Georgetown" was the description and it summed it up perfectly.  For a set of five tickets for twenty bucks, you could stroll into any participating restaurant, bakery, coffeehouse, bar, and chocolate shop, and receive either a pizza and beer, a burger and fries, wine tasting-whatever the businesses chose to sell.  They sold the tickets in sets of five and each additional ticket was five bucks.  That way, by the time you used all the tickets, you probably were able to sample a fair amount of spots. 

We started at Stellar Pizza, but we used three of our tickets right away so we could all get a pizza slice, a salad, and the special cocktail they were offering.  But one ticket for the slice, salad, and cocktail was a really good deal.  I was surprised by how much the businesses gave for one ticket.  What a great event for the area and a nice way to drive more customers to the local businesses.  The slice was small so it was more like a sample but the Caesar salad was nice and the drink had cucumber, vodka, and lemonade.  It hit the spot on a sunny Saturday afternoon.  The pizza tasted awesome as usual, I love their red sauce, and they offered two kinds.  One was a Sicilian meat with sausage and red peppers and the other had Yukon potatoes and onions. 

Then we wanted to sample something sweet so we walked to Ellenos, a Greek yogurt spot.  We had never tried it and with one ticket we received two containers of yogurt, another great deal.  When you walk in to the shop, it is small but nicely laid out and the yogurts are displayed like gelato.  They had a mixed berry with fresh berries on top and a caramel one that was like dessert when I sampled it.  I ended up choosing the lemon curd and the latte yogurt.  The lemon curd tasted like cheesecake and was very rich and filling.  The latte one had a nice coffee flavor and was perfectly thick like a Greek yogurt should be.

With one ticket left and still a little hungry because our pizza slices were so small, we decided to head to Zippy's and split a burger.  We've been there several times and we love their burgers.  They are super fresh and hand formed with 100% chuck which is grinded every day.  By the time we were done eating and walking around Georgetown, we were full and our food tour of the neighborhood was complete!

Stellar Pizza & Ale Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Zippy's Giant Burgers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Simple and Healthy Banana Muffins

These healthy muffins really worked for me.  Just two bananas, two eggs, a sprinkle of salt, a dash of nutmeg and a little vanilla, and a little time in the oven and you've got some tasty muffins to start your day off right.  I saw the idea for these on Facebook, one of those videos where they show the dish being made.  Their recipe was a little off so I improvised and I was happy with my muffins.  They used four eggs and baked theirs in a 200 degree oven.  I also thought some seasonings and vanilla could only help, too.  I lined my non stick muffin tin with raspberries in some and chocolate chips in the others.  I got eight small muffins because I didn't put too much batter in the cups.  When I tasted a muffin with chocolate chips right out of the oven, it was so good I forgot it was only Monday for a minute.  Isn't that fun when food and the right drink can do that?  Forget about junk food.  When we create and eat something nutritious and delicious where we know where it comes from, it's that much better. 

Banana Muffins

2 bananas, on the ripe side
2 eggs
a sprinkle of salt to bring out the flavors
a dash of nutmeg
1/2 t. of vanilla extract
powdered sugar and fresh raspberries for a garnish when the muffins are done

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a muffin pan or get your non-stick muffin pan out.  Mash the bananas in a medium bowl with a fork.  Add the eggs and stir until well mixed.  Add salt, nutmeg, and vanilla and blend together.  Put several raspberries in the bottom of each muffin cup or any mix-in you desire.  Pour batter evenly over the raspberries and bake for 12-15 minutes, keeping an eye on how they are bake.  More time may be needed since I originally baked mine in a 200 degree oven for 12 minutes, I ended up upping the temp to 350 and baking for ten more minutes.  Slide a knife in the center of a muffin and if it come out clean, the muffins are done.  They will be very moist and more like a custard than a muffin.  They are best warm and fresh, out of the oven.  I made mine the night before and they re-heated for 25 seconds in the microwave just fine.  Then as a topping, you can sprinkle powdered sugar on top and add fresh raspberries.

Does this recipe sound familiar?  A couple of weeks ago, I made banana pancakes using ripe bananas and eggs.  So the same idea, and still so good and also good for you.  Happy eating and baking!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Dim Sum at Ocean Star

I know, I know.  Another dim sum post.  I wasn't going to do a review or take any food photos during our family's lunch at Ocean Star.  We celebrated my husband's Grandma's birthday and a bunch of us were there.  I brought my camera to take photos of people not food, but when I saw the doughnuts I was inspired to take a photo.  So here we are again.  The doughnuts were warm and puffy and covered in sugar.  Is there even such a thing as a bad doughnut?  There were also egg tarts which are always pretty to photograph.  We ate a lot of dishes, including cow's stomach.  Well, I didn't, but I watched others eat some.  Does that count? My boys' favorite was the sticky rice and I really loved the honey walnut shrimp.  I thought the pork spare ribs looks interesting with the jalapeño on top. 

Ocean Star has been open about a year and it used to be Sun Ya before that.  They have remodeled and it looks way better.  The lobby is welcoming with soft colored maroon chairs and the restrooms are really nice now, too.  Sun Ya's restrooms were actually pretty scary so I was happy with the new and improved ones.  They installed a light colored wood paneling on the walls, brightening the space and giving it a calm look and feel.  All of the chairs are a sage green, adding to the tranquility of the space.  Their lot is still free which is rare in Chinatown.  Ocean Star is a good find in the heart of Seattle's Chinatown. 
Pork Spare Ribs.

BBQ Pork Buns.

Pork Dumplings.

Ocean Star Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Italian desserts for a little bit of la dolce vita

The Italian phrase la dolce vita means "the sweet life" or "the good life".   The Italians believe strongly in living out this saying and one place they don't scrimp is their desserts.  You can never go wrong with any Italian dessert and even though I haven't been to Italy, I still find many different variations here.  Some are more authentic than others and I'll never really know how they compare to the dessert in Italy until I visit, but I get the idea and love what I've tasted so far. 

Biscotti from Tutta Bella, in Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood.

Cannoli from Gelatiamo in Bellevue, WA.

Cheesecake with mascarpone cheese and fruit. 

Chocolate Mousse Cake from The Old Spaghetti Factory in Seattle.

Chocolate Pizzelle cookies from Pizzeria Gabbiano in Seattle.

Affagato from Via Tribunali in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood.   This particular Affagoto was a scoop of hazelnut gelato with a shot of espresso poured over it. 

A piece of Cassita Cake from La Medusa in Seattle's Columbia City.  Cassita Cake is Italian sponge cake with a marzipan filling and topped with chocolate frosting and hazelnuts.

Tiramisu from Tutta Bella in Columbia City.  Tiramisu is a coffee-flavored cake with lady fingers, mascarpone cheese, and flavored with cocoa.

 Italian Love Cake, made at home. The Ricotta cheese filling is what makes it an Italian dessert.   

Panna Cotta with berries from Café Lago in Seattle.

Mango Gelato from Vancouver, BC.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes for National Pancake Day

Happy National Pancake Day! To celebrate, I whipped up some pancakes for breakfast.  These don't have flour or milk, just bananas and eggs, a little bit of baking soda, and a splash of vanilla.  They are healthy, or were healthy, until I added some chocolate chips and a little syrup.  But you know, no carbs and all that.  I keep buying bananas, hoping that my sons will eat them.  But they seem to be afraid of fruits and veggies.  But still I keep trying to feed them healthy and am trying to find sneaky ways to do it.  So banana pancakes it is!  The bananas were spotty and ripe and I am tired of baking banana bread so I got on Pinterest and saw these pancakes.  They are really easy to make and they turned out really tasty, too!  The whole family loved them and I'll probably make them again in a couple of days.  I have more ripe bananas. 

Banana Pancakes with Chocolate Chips

two ripe bananas
four eggs
1/4 t. baking powder
a splash of vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips, or how many you want, really!

Heat your pan and grease it.  While your pan is getting hot mash the bananas with a fork and add the eggs.  Whisk together until well mixed.  Add baking powder and vanilla and mix some more.  Then add the chocolate chips.  Use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to drop the batter until circles in the hot pan.  Wait a few minutes and flip.  Cook evening on both sides until browned.  Makes about 10 pancakes, depending on the size.  Top with fresh sliced bananas and more chocolate chips.  Recipe adapted from here.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

La Medusa

La Medusa is a romantic, lively, and warmly lit Italian restaurant in Columbia City.  They focus on using the Northwest's freshest ingredients and giving it a Mediterranean flair.  Their menus change seasonally to reflect what's fresh and in season.  La Medusa's dishes are from the Sicilian region of Italian, meaning salty and nutty flavors, that leave an impact on the diner and keeps them ordering more.  There is something for everyone, from seafood dishes, to spaghetti with marinara, to hot skillets filled with roasted vegetables.  I found all the flavors to be incredible.  I sat back and relaxed while or server coursed our food beautifully, leaving us to really enjoy everything. 

I started with a glass of red wine from Sicily that I thought was light with the perfect amount of acidity, not too full bodied, and with just a hint of fruitiness.  I knew it would pair well with whatever I ordered and I was correct.  My husband chose a Manhattan because sometimes, one just wants a martini.  To eat, we stared with some bread, which is from Columbia City Bakery.  It was so, so good and it had green olives in some slices and nuts in other slices.  There was a nice variety of bread and it went well with our Baked Cacio Cavallo Cheese- a large portion of baked cheese with spicy pepper vinegar and oregano.  One bite of that and I about fell off my chair.  I want more cheese now as I'm writing this, please.  If some melted cheese was so good, I knew the flavors in our next dishes wouldn't disappoint either.  My husband and I decided to share everything so we could try more things.  Next, we ate the Roasted Cauliflower Gratin which had pinenuts, golden raisins, and a spicy butter.  It arrived hot and ready to dig into and the spicy butter gave the dish the perfect amount of heat, which we wanted on a cool, winter evening. 

Then our pasta arrived.  We went with the Campanelle and Talleggio Pasta which was creamy and cheesy and tossed with Brussels Sprouts and pinenuts.  I was excited about the Brussels Sprouts since I had been craving them and I like eating produce that's in season.  All the flavors went well together and the serving size was very large, perfect for sharing.  By the time we started in our pasta, we were getting full though from the cheese, cauliflower, and the drinks. 

There's always room for dessert though.  Even if you have to ask for a box because you know you only have room for two bites.  So we ordered the Cassita Cake, also from the Columbia City Bakery nearby.  This cake, an Italian cake typically served at weddings,  is a sponge cake with layers of marzipan and topped with chocolate frosting with hazelnuts.  It was so, so moist and so unforgettable.  That marzipan is some wicked stuff.  It leaves an impression on your taste buds and you want more and more.  The Cassita cake was a sweet surprise and a perfect ending to our dinner out. 

Their menu is written on a board and changes regularly to reflect the seasons.

My husband's Manhattan, in a frosty martini glass, ready to drink.

The fresh bread was served with olive oil.

Our memorable and very tasty cheese. 

The Roasted Cauliflower, ready to eat up!

My husband also ordered a gin martini with a twist.  It was very strong so we shared it. 

You can't go wrong with a big bowl of house-made pasta on a Saturday date night. 

Serve me up some, pretty please!

And finally, the perfect piece of cake.  It actually made it home and we finished it the next day!

La Medusa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato