Currently viewing the tag: "cacao nibs"

banana pecan quinoa cake | the vanilla bean blog
banana pecan quinoa cake | the vanilla bean blog
banana pecan quinoa cake | the vanilla bean blog
banana pecan quinoa cake | the vanilla bean blog

‘Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.’ – Mark Twain

(I ran into these words by Mr. Twain this week. They were much needed after some unkind voices from the past spoke loud and clear unexpectedly. Letting go is never an easy task, aye?)

Read More

banana-chocolate-coffee muffins with whole wheat flour | the vanilla bean blog
I just got the notice, school is closed again due to cold weather. This never happens here in Minnesota, where we complain about the weather always but secretly pride ourselves in surviving it every winter. We are so strong, we can bike through blizzards! My daughter’s face will light up in the morning when she hears the news: you get to stay home yet again. She likes school just fine, but she loves home so much more.

And I like home so much more, too; I enjoy days tucked snug in our little house. But there are moments where the walls feel a bit too close together, and we are bumping into each other all day long, snippy and snappy and dreaming of oceans. We pull out mixing bowls and curl up with the same old books; there becomes less and less to say to each other.

‘Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.’ (The Little Prince)
banana-chocolate-coffee muffins with whole wheat flour | the vanilla bean blog
I risk winter every year outwardly, but it’s taken me many years to begin to take a chance with it otherwise. I tend to fight it at first, but once January has set in, I usually decide to take the plunge. There is snow that muffles all sounds except a mind that won’t quiet, and a moon that seems to burn straight through frosted windows, it’s light cutting through skin and bone. There’s a wind so cold and clear it keeps the senses alive and awake through the darkest of nights. I breathe deep and rush in to ice and dark, and the hope of spring waiting for me, nearby.

A few things:

-Chris Pratt’s Ode To Jean Claude Van Damme (deleted Parks and Rec scene)

-‘My smart little sister says that people are wrong when they talk about how you need to be brave to get out of your comfort zone, travel, and see things. The travel and perspective–the escapism, really–are a privilege. The real courage is needed at home, where the ordinary things don’t change unless you work to make them so, where you face old demons and new challenges, and where you can’t just get on a plane to the next destination.’ –The Yellow House

-I love Izy’s photographs.

-I was terribly excited to find myself on the Food & Wine blog last week. Also, some talk about books + food + other such things over on Paper/Plates.

 

Read More

frangelico cheesecake with cacao nib crust | the vanilla bean blog
I was feeling very un-traditional for Thanksgiving this year, and so when my extended family celebrated our holiday dinner a bit early, I decided cheesecake was in order (sad note: I was too sick to attend said dinner, and sent the cake with my family while I stayed in bed). I made this cheesecake many times while working at the Blue Heron Coffeehouse, but it had been ten years since I had last made it and I was feeling a bit nervous about it (plus I was totally sick). But incredibly it was one of the prettiest cheesecakes I had ever made. Phew.

We made a simpler version of this cake at the coffeehouse; no frangelico or cacao nibs, just straight up cheesecake with a glossy chocolate glaze. It was much sought after; in fact, there was a group of international college students from China that came in daily just for this cheesecake. One woman would order two pieces cut into one big triangle, and a giant iced mocha to wash it all down. She told me she had never had cheesecake before she moved to America, and her eyes would light up every time she ordered her daily double slice. I was always rather awestruck at her afternoon indulgence, and could never decide if eating cheesecake all spring long was the best idea or the worst. Probably the best.
frangelico cheesecake with cacao nib crust
frangelico cheesecake with cacao nib crust | the vanilla bean blog frangelico cheesecake with cacao nib crust | the vanilla bean blog
When Frangelico asked me if I’d like to do another post with them, my mind immediately flew to this cheesecake. I jazzed it up just a bit; adding frangelico (of course) and some cacao nibs to the crust. I like it just as much as the original, and my family agreed it was a perfect Thanksgiving dessert.

[This sponsored post is a collaboration with Frangelico. All opinions are my own (and I honestly enjoy baking and cooking with it). You can check out Frangelico online or on Facebook.]

Read More

no-churn fig + coffee ice cream with cacao nibs | the vanilla bean blog
no-churn fig + coffee ice cream | the vanilla bean blog
no-churn fig + coffee ice cream | the vanilla bean blog
It has always seemed strange to me…the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.
-John Steinbeck, Cannery Row
no-churn fig + coffee ice cream | the vanilla bean blog
Recently Puro Fairtrade Coffee sent me a package that included some of their coffee. I love coffee, and since I have officially moved from ‘liking coffee’ to ‘needing coffee’ each and every morning (and um, afternoon, too), I was very happy to review theirs. I do put a lot of coffee into my body and have invested a lot of money over the years in buying it, so words like ‘fair trade’ and ‘organic’ are very important to me. But the sentence I loved in the email Puro sent me was: we also want to show other companies that people and planet are just as important as profit. Maybe there is a place for kindness and generosity after all.

(You can read more about Puro’s mission here. And, the coffee brews up dark, deep, and smooth. It also tastes amazing in ice cream.)
no-churn fig + coffee ice cream with cacao nibs | the vanilla bean blog

Read More

chocolate chip cookies | the vanilla bean blog

I realized recently that I never posted about my very favorite chocolate chip cookies, and as they were needed for a get-together over the weekend, I found the perfect reasons to (a)make them and (b)take pictures of them. I’ve been trying out lots of other recipes over the years, but these are the cookies I always come back to.

I actually came up with this recipe for a coffeehouse I had worked at, and it is based on a cookie from this lovely cafe. The later cookie was (and still is) great; it’s thick center and scattered chocolate chips always left me feeling content. But I wanted something a little different, like a cookie with crisp brown edges, a chewy-gooey center, balanced chocolate, a bit more salt, and some cracks to grace the top. So I took out some flour and an egg, added vanilla and salt, and then somehow ended up with these lovelies. They are buttery (I won’t apologize!), crispy-gooey, and terribly delicious. So here it is, our House cookie, just in time for swimsuit season. Enjoy.
chocolate chip cookies | the vanilla bean blog
chocolate chip cookies | the vanilla bean blog

{My mother-in-law gave me this scale for Mother’s Day; I love it so and had to work it into a photo. I was highly inspired by Russell’s scale photo  – such a perfect shot.}

{p.p.s. – I don’t know if you’ve heard of Artisan Magazine, but if you have an ipad it’s free! and lovely! and I have a little piece in this issue. Check them out here.}

Read More

raspberry cacao nib sugar buns | the vanilla bean blog

Hello! I come to you today with raspberry cacao nib sugar buns and a giveaway, both of which I’m terribly excited about. I’ve been baking up a storm lately;  this extended winter Minneapolis refuses to let go of is making us all stir-crazy, literally. So we’ve been kneading and rolling and folding and repeating too often for this little family of four. But! these tasty raspberry circles were worth our time, and after enjoying a few, we gladly passed them out to our neighbors.

And, speaking of stir-crazy (I know, cheesy), I am happy to be hosting a giveaway for these lovely wooden spoons by Wind and Willow Home! You may have seen Araya’s gorgeous dipped bowls all over Pinterest, as well as bunnies and planters and candle cups. Today she is giving away a set of wooden spoons – 3 lovely hand-dipped spoons to brighten your kitchen and welcome in spring. All you have to do is leave a comment below! [Giveaway open to all, and please leave an email address! I will pick a winner next Friday.]  The winner is Maria! I’ve sent you an email!

raspberry cacao nib sugar buns | the vanilla bean blog
raspberry cacao nib sugar buns | the vanilla bean blog
raspberry cacao nib sugar buns | the vanilla bean blog
raspberry cacao nib sugar buns | the vanilla bean blog
raspberry cacao nib sugar buns | the vanilla bean blog

Read More

It’s muffins again. I know, I know, I’ve been obsessive. But, they’ve sort of become my go-to snack (no white sugar! or flour!) and I’ve been experimenting with new flavor combinations as friends line up for hand outs. Also, I’ve been having lots of trouble with my original adaption – the more things I add to the base, the more these pretties seem to sink. After much tweaking and snacking I think I’ve figured out a few fool-proof versions for you.

I also have some exciting news – my little site has had a total makeover thanks to the lovely ladies from Wooden Spoons Kitchen. It will be down this weekend while everything switches over, and then back up again Monday morning. I can’t wait to show you!


I don’t know if this is the place for it, but I have to come out and say that I am still terribly upset about how this season of Downton Abbey ended. And yes, I had no idea it was coming, and yes, as [A] has pointed out to me several times it is just a TV show, but I’m still moping around. This has caused me to stay  up way too late and do all sorts of reading about the show, where I found interesting articles about why this outcome is better for everyone and why it’s not the writer’s fault and whatnot. And then of course I’ve spent time chiding myself for caring so much about people who aren’t even real in the first place, and analyzing why books and shows have this kind of power over my emotions.

But, of course, I’ll get over it. And all that lamenting and internet-surfing did actually pay off, as I came across a little interview with Julian Fellowes, who single handedly writes every episode of Downton. He was asked that lovely little question what advice can you give new writers? and his answer spoke to me on several levels. I’m not sure I consider myself a writer, although I’ve always loved to write and do so often. But I found his answer, tenacity, so important to my daily struggles in mothering, and eating well, and how I spend my time, and trusting myself, and, of course, writing.

I’m always a bit nervous about speaking as someone who is successful, but I suppose I’m allowed to. Actually, tenacity is the quality that you cannot do without. I’ve known very talented people who do well and I’ve known very talented people who do badly, and I’ve known not very talented people who do well or badly. The one quality that all the ones who do well have is tenacity. They just don’t give in, and they keep plugging away.

There are moments when you do feel very desperate. You just think nobody is ever going to respond to your work, that it’s never going to happen. And somehow you just have to push through that whether you do it with a big whiskey, or taking a day off, or whatever. You have to push through that sense of not being valued…I think the danger for the young is that they lose faith in the quality that their work has. And yet, that nugget – whatever it is – that is the nugget that will make it happen if they are to be successful. I mean, it’s easy to say, and it’s hard to follow through, but again it comes back to having belief in yourself.  -Julian Fellowes

Happy Saturday. Here’s a special, tasty treat: cacao nib pancakes with coffee syrup. I don’t know if I can go back to plain ol’ hotcakes drizzled with maple. {And, as I’m rather addicted to 8tracks.com, here’s a little morning music mix for you to enjoy your pancakes with.}
When we moved into our house the kitchen we acquired was painted a light beige, but I was way into green [everything was green!] and so I slapped asparagus paint on the walls, loving the shock of color every time I walked into the room. I had come from years of dorm rooms and apartments that were entirely white, and I lamented at the lack of color in my life. So our house was redecorated in every room, in bright green, burgundy, and blue.
But now, this week, we are almost done painting the kitchen white; the ceiling, walls, and woodwork are all the same. Seven years into this space and the loud hues had begun to tire my eyes, make me weary. Stepping into January’s cold winter mornings, I find myself lingering at the kitchen table, soaking in the new white space, a clean slate. The walls seem to be one with the high piles outside: snow and ice and paint all blend together. I sit by the small fire there in our kitchen and stare out the window, recalling all the mornings I was young, I was a pioneer. I left new tracks in the fresh snow, undaunted by the wind or cold…

JOIN MY NEWSLETTER!