Almond ricotta cannoli cake with fresh fruit.

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

Almond ricotta cannoli cake with fruit.

July 4th was America’s 240th birthday, and July 5th was my mother’s (definitely not 240th) birthday. So every year I usually ask her what she’d like me to bake for her and I do the baking on the 4th. This way, she gets to squeak out two days worth of celebrations.

This year she gave me quite a few suggestions, but I decided to make something I haven’t made in a while: ricotta cake.

Almond ricotta cannoli cake with fruit.

While this cake looks incredibly complicated, fancy and difficult to make… it is not. The hardest part is pitting the cherries and cutting the fruit. For real. It’s an absolute breeze that requires no mixer (none at all) and nothing more than a few bowls, a whisk and a wooden spoon. It’s a good old fashioned easy cake.

The cake itself is just ricotta cheese, eggs, melted butter, baking powder, flour, sugar, salt and either almond extract/lemon zest or orange zest. The “frosting” is ricotta, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract. That’s it.

I swear.

Almond ricotta cannoli cake with fruit.

You don’t even really need the “frosting” on top, a nice sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar is good too. I just wanted to up the ante for mom’s birthday.

And besides who doesn’t love cannoli cream? Fools. That’s who.

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Whole cherries in coconut syrup.

Last year, I made whole canned cherries in a light almond syrup. This year, I knew I wanted to do something different, but I didn’t know what. Enter: coconut.

Cherries in coconut syrup.

I heard from my dad about a coconut, cherry and pistachio cake (because he wanted me to make it, natch) and I thought maybe I could use coconut in the canned cherries to spice things up a little bit. Plus I figured, I have enough cherries to experiment and play around… and if it doesn’t work out, whats the worst that can happen?

So I made just two pints of this experimental blend. And it turned out pretty sweet!

Canned cherries in coconut syrup.

I used real coconut, but I suppose if you aren’t thrilled with the slightly cloudy look of the syrup, you can use coconut extract.

I actually cracked one of these bad boys open fairly quickly. I served it over ricotta mixed with a little sugar, with a sprig of fresh mint. A simple, gorgeous summery dessert.

Cherries in coconut syrup, served over a sweetened ricotta with fresh mint.

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Sour girl cherry jam.

Sour cherry jam.

I met Scott Weiland once, back when I was 16, in 1997. It was the height of Stone Temple Pilots fame, 92.3 WXRK (K-Rock) was the hottest rock station, and I was a punk rock kid who happened to love some good ol’ “alternative.”

Why am I telling you this? No reason. Only because the entire time I made this sour cherry jam, I sang “Sour Girl.”

She turned away… what are you lookin’ at?

She was a sour girl the day that she met me…

Sour cherry jam.

Sour cherries are something I rarely get my hands on. I find them so rarely here, and when I do they’re usually something ridiculous like $6 a pound and they don’t look all that great. But this year, as part of my yearly Canbassador-ship for the Washington State Stone Fruit Commission, they sent me not only sweet cherries, but these gorgeous sour cherries.

Sour cherry.

This is my fourth year being a Canbassador, and let me tell you- the fruit from Rainier Fruit and Washington State just gets more beautiful every year. Over the years, with this gorgeous fruit, I’ve made vanilla brandied peach jamnectarine basil preservespeach & pepper salsavanilla bean sliced peaches in syrup, a beautiful (and easy!) peach, bourbon & black walnut crostatamint julep peaches, which were such a hit around here I’ve already had pre-requests for them if I get a batch of fresh peaches. I also made grilled peaches with ricotta cream & honey, which were also amazing and a great use for those peaches not suitable for canning (too many soft spots, overripe, not ripe enough, etc). Last year there was a triple stone fruit crisp, spiced nectarine jam, nectarine & blackberry jam with purple ruffles basilcanned cherries in a light syrup, cherry preserves with jasmine green tea, mini-cherry pies made with Pimm’s No. 1 Cup and a cherry sauce I served with vanilla panna cotta.


Sour cherry jam.

Anyway, usually I make all kinds of fancy jams and jellies, with unique ingredients. But I felt like these sour cherries needed to just be appreciated for what they are. So here we go… a basic, simple, sour cherry jam. No bells and whistles. Just jam.

SOUR CHERRY JAM (via Serious Eats)


  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons Pomona’s Universal Pectin
  • 3 pints sour cherries
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons calcium water (included in the Pomona’s packet)
  • 1/4 teaspoon unsalted butter


  1. Combine the sugar and pectin in a medium bowl.
  2. Pit the cherries and transfer them to the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse the cherries 8 to 10 times, until they are coarsely chopped but not pureed. Measure 4 cups of the cherry puree and transfer to a large, heavy bottomed pot. (Discard any remaining cherries or reserve for another use.) Add the lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cherry pieces have softened and are beginning to break down, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir the calcium water and the butter into the pot with the cherries and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the sugar-pectin mixture and return the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for one minute.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and skim any foam from the surface of the jam with a cold metal spoon. Ladle the jam into hot sterilized jars and process them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Sour cherry jam made with Pomona's.

If you, too, have been canning up a storm so far this summer, or you plan to be, add the Sweet Preservation “Of Course I Canned!” badge to your blog. Click here to view & save the file, then add it. Also be sure to visit for recipes & FAQ’s.

Of Course I Canned!!

Soundtrack: Stone Temple Pilots – “Sour Girl”
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Peanut butter maple syrup!

Peanut butter maple syrup.

I’m baaaaaaaaack! And with something totally fun and awesome and kid-friendly and husband-friendly. Peanut butter maple syrup. As in, peanut butter mixed with maple syrup, all ready to pour over waffles and pancakes. Or ice cream. Or cake. Or salad, if you’re kinky. Whatever, no judgement.

I know I’ve been gone for a long time. But work is crazy, life is crazy, and I’m trying to balance it all with renovating parts of our house little by little. There have also been some “family emergencies” mixed in that weren’t so pleasant, and some not so great news as well as some awesome news. We’re all okay, so don’t worry or be concerned. Just the usual life kinda stuff interrupting my blogging reverie!

Peanut butter maple syrup.

*sigh* No excuses. You can stop playing the violin for me now, I know I should be posting more. But honestly, I haven’t really even been cooking much lately. That will change I promise- our garden is in full swing and it’s time for jams and pickles and goodies!

So… this is not my idea. I got this idea from Jess Seinfeld (yes, Jerry’s wife) on Instagram. However I thought it was brilliant, and that it could be adapted to anything. Like, for example, mix some strawberry jam with maple syrup and butter and you have strawberry maple syrup! GENIUS.

Peanut butter maple syrup!

You can also use ANY KIND OF NUT BUTTER. Sunflower, almond, peanut, pistachio (is that a thing?), whatever. Whatever floats your boat.

All you have to do is gather up:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut butter
  • 1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter (or other butter)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Melt the butter over low heat. Add the nut butter, whisking the entire time, then pour in the maple syrup. Whisk like crazy until it’s all combined and smooth. Pour in a jar, or right over your pancakes.

Peanut butter maple syrup.

Isn’t it so gorgeous???

Like I said, the same principle applies to any kind of jam or butter product. Even a fruit butter, I’m sure, like apple butter or pumpkin butter would work. Think of how a blueberry maple syrup would be! GAH!

I bet.. and this is me just being wild ‘n’ crazy here… you could make peanut butter and jelly maple syrup. Wow. I just blew my own mind. 

Peanut butter maple syrup.

I’ll be back soon with more recipes- including more yummy stuff involving Rainier cherries! And other super cool stuff. I promise. I never lie to you, do I?

In the meantime, go have some fun with your nut butters. Heh.

Soundtrack: “Ex’s and Oh’s” – Elle King
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Blueberry mint & honey jam muffins.

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

Blueberry honey & mint jam muffins, using the best muffin base EVER.

It’s always a mouthful, these titles of mine.

These muffins are also known as boredom muffins. Or “3 am craving muffins.” Or “muffins you make when you wanna eat a muffin and you need to use up that jar of jam.” Like blueberry mint honey jam that I made last spring.

Blueberry honey & mint jam muffins, using the best muffin base EVER.

Jam made with honey doesn’t last as long as jam made with sugar, so I like to use it up before the year mark. This jam was perfectly fine and delicious and probably would’ve stayed that way until June or July, maybe even longer… but I didn’t want to chance it. Homemade jam is best eaten fresh or within the year if canned

The main thing here isn’t so much the jam- I’ve talked about that before. It’s the muffin recipe. This is my go-to tried & true muffin base.

Blueberry honey & mint jam muffins, using the best muffin base EVER.

As gorgeous as these look, you don’t have to use jam in them. You don’t even have to use fruit. This muffin base makes an amazing basic recipe that you can switch up any way you want. Add coconut flakes, dried cherries and sliced almonds. Add sliced banana. Add chocolate chips. Add fresh berries. Swirl Nutella in the top before baking. Use up the remnants of a jar of jam like I did.  I bet it’s great plain with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg mixed in. ANYTHING you can imagine, you can do. The base lends itself perfectly to any additions at all.

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Chocolate toffee sea salt matzoh treats.

Getting bored of eating unleavened bread? Are you certain that you’re going to wind up with leftover Matzoh? Lemme upgrade ya.

Chocolate toffee sea salt matzoh.

You most definitely read that correctly; this is chocolate toffee sea salt matzoh. It’s like matzoh candy. Matzoh bark. I know I’ve left you guys hanging without any posts since April 1st. I hope this makes up for it, ’cause it’s pretty awesome.

Chocolate toffee matzoh with sea salt.

Matzoh, for those of you who don’t know (where do you live, under a rock?!) is an unleavened bread usually-not but not always- made for and eaten at Passover.

There are numerous explanations behind the symbolism of matzo. One is historical: Passover is a commemoration of the exodus from Egypt. The biblical narrative relates that the Israelites left Egypt in such haste they could not wait for their bread dough to rise; the bread, when baked, was matzo. (Exodus 12:39). The other reason for eating matzo is symbolic: On the one hand, matzo symbolizes redemption and freedom, but it is also lechem oni, “poor man’s bread”. Thus it serves as a reminder to be humble, and to not forget what life was like in servitude. Also, leaven symbolizes corruption and pride as leaven “puffs up”. Eating the “bread of affliction” is both a lesson in humility and an act that enhances the appreciation of freedom.

Another explanation is that matzo has been used to replace the pesach, or the traditional Passover offering that was made before the destruction of the Temple. During the Seder the third time the matzo is eaten it is preceded with the Sephardic rite, “zekher l’korban pesach hane’ekhal al hasova”. This means “remembrance of the Passover offering, eaten while full”. This last piece of the matzo eaten is called afikoman and many explain it as a symbol of salvation in the future.

The Passover Seder meal is full of symbols of salvation, including the opening of the door for Elijah and the closing line, “Next year in Jerusalem,” but the use of matzo is the oldest symbol of salvation in the Seder.

Passover this year started on April 22 and is ending on May 1. There’s still a few days to enjoy this during the holiday, but you can even enjoy it long after. Who says you can’t have chocolate covered matzoh after Passover ends? No one. And if someone says that, don’t talk to them anymore. You don’t need that negativity.

Chocolate toffee matzoh with sea salt.

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Joyeux anniversaire!

Kiss me! (celebrating our 1-year wedding anniversary)

A year ago this coming Sunday, April 3rd, I got all dressed up in a black dress, went to Manhattan City Hall and married one of my favorite guys. Then we ate a fantastic dinner with our families & close friends and partied it up to the wee hours of the morning.

I actually can’t believe it’s been a year– time flew by. Of course, it feels like we’ve been together forever because we have… it’ll be 13 years together (total) this July. It’s a crazy ride we’ve been on, from meeting as 19 year old “kids” to getting married & buying our first home. From my mother’s cancer diagnosis, to adopting our Indy boy, to my nana Agnes’s passing away, and then his grandma Dotty’s passing away, from my hyperthyroid illness to my hypothyroid state and it’s current bullshit, all the drama in-between, and all the good things like our engagement, anniversaries, birthdays, trips, concerts, European world tours, promotions, job successes, and of course, our marriage. And the day-to-day life isn’t so bad with this guy, either.

I love you, Jay. And its been a privilege and an honor to share my life with you the past (almost) 13 years. And this one year of marriage, even more so. I look forward to many more.

Rings on our invite.

And since I’ve shared so much of our lives with you, my readers, in the past couple (okay, not really a couple… more like over NINE YEARS!), I feel like we’re all family. So thank you all for being the best, and for always being so cool. I love you guys, too.

If you’re a new reader or if you just want to take a trip down memory lane with us, click the picture below to read the original wedding post from last year. Now that we’re a year out from it, I’m happier now than I was then about how we did it our way. I vehemently believe weddings are personal; no one should tell you how yours should be. Each one should be unique and true to who and what you are as a couple.

Click here to read all about our wedding | April 3, 2015

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