Caramelized Sweet Potato Foccacia

I get on these kicks where I’ll just eat the same thing every day for weeks on end.

And it doesn’t bother me one bit.  I like routine.  I like knowing what to expect.  I like finding something and sticking to it.

I’ve been eating a lot of popcorn lately.  Like a lot.  Every single night, before I go to bed I eat popcorn.  I can’t stop!  I love it.  It’s all crunchy and salty, and virtually no calories.

Who thought of this?  Genius!

Before popcorn it was black beans, salsa, and avocado.  Yum.

I ate oatmeal with peanut butter and honey for like a year straight.  I’m not even joking.  I was obsessed.

In high school I got into cottage cheese with wheat thins.  Then, my freshman year of college I ate Seeduction Bread from Whole Foods practically every night.  (Disclaimer: that is the best bread ever. Ever.)

When I moved to Portland I lived downtown and across from my apartment building was a little coffee shop.  I went there to get a coffee every afternoon and munched on a Kashi bar while I sipped my drink.

There have been Fiber One, diet coke, and hot tea kicks too.  Another recent one is scrambles or frittatas for breakfast.  The list goes on and on.

But I wonder, what does this say about me?

Possibly that I’m loyal?  At least to the food I eat.

How about that I enjoy structure.  Or control.  Hmm, both.

Maybe just that I’m weird.  Thats probably it.  But, I enjoy it all the same.  I’ll get on my kicks and I’ll stay on them as long as I want.

What food kicks do you get on?

I bet if you tried making this focaccia bread you wouldn’t want to stop eating it.  You know why?  Cause it is uh-ma-zing!

It takes a while to make.  Its a process, but its totally worth the time.  Even if you just stop at the caramelized sweet potatoes, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.  But I completely recommend making the whole thing.  Here’s why:

Sweet potatoes, cheese, salted pecans, and rosemary.  I don’t think I need to say more, but I will.

The flavors meld together nicely.  The sweetness of the potatoes, the tangy, salty bite of the cheese and pecans, with the aroma of pine-like rosemary lingering in each bite makes for one happy mouth.  Since I used whole wheat flour, the crust is dense and adds a nice texture to the whole dish.

For me, this is a treat.  Not a “food kick”, but a special occasion.  I’ll enjoy it, and I’ll also be looking forward to my popcorn tomorrow night.  Thats just how I am…

Caramelized Sweet Potato Focaccia

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart.


  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast, from 2 envelopes
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water, about 110 degrees
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl, pan, plastic wrap, and drizzling
  • 3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (you can certainly use all purpose)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups grated (about 4 ounces) Dubliner Cheese (The original recipe calls for aged Gouda)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (mine were also salted)
  • 1/4 cup packed small fresh rosemary sprigs and leaves
  • Caramelized Sweet Potatoes (See recipe below)


  1. Stir the yeast, sugar, and water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Let stand until mixture is foamy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add oil, flour, and 2 teaspoons salt to yeast mixture. Mix on medium-low until dough comes together, 3 to 5 minutes. Raise speed to medium, and knead until dough is very smooth, about 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer dough to an oiled medium bowl. Loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously oil a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet. Spread dough into sheet. Flip dough to coat both sides with oil, and stretch dough into corners of sheet. Lightly cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until dough comes to just above rim of sheet (3/4 inch) and is very billowy, about 30 minutes.
  5. Uncover dough; sprinkle lightly with salt. Sprinkle evenly with cheese, walnuts, and rosemary. Top with caramelized potatoes, overlapping and pushing them into dough in places. Bake 5 minutes. Rotate sheet; bake 15 minutes. Rotate sheet again; bake until edges of crust are golden, about 5 minutes. Drizzle with oil. Let cool slightly before serving.
Caramelized Sweet Potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sweet potatoes; cook, turning occasionally, 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine and stock; simmer, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add brown sugar and salt; cook, carefully turning potatoes to brown both sides, about 20 minutes.
  3. Transfer caramelized sweet potatoes to a plate. Let cool slightly.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Banana Bread

I’m procrastinating. I’m a procrastinator.  I don’t want to be!  I promise.

It’s just so much easier to convince myself that looking at blogs, reading Women’s Health Magazine, and watch Nigella Lawson on the cooking channel are much better ideas than reading about the people who moved west in the late 19th century.

Yeah, the Oregon trail is neat.  Their lives were strenuous.  Their story is fascinating.  But I still don’t want to read about it.  Not right now anyway.

Plus I’m feeling kind of sick and that means I shouldn’t have to do homework, right?

Instead, lets talk about Nigella for a minute.  My boyfriend informed me today that he thinks she’s hot.

My response?  “Uh, yeah she is.”

That woman is so beautiful!  And she makes everything sound so appealing with her soothing, English-accented voice.  I’m jealous.  I really can’t blame him for crushin on her.

Maybe now he’ll understand why I have a crush on Robert Pattinson.

Hmm, maybe not.  I don’t think that one can be explained.

  You know what can be explained?  This awesome pumpkin, banana bread!

Thats right.  Pumpkin and banana together in one flavorful, slightly sweet, completely tasty bread.  Its a combination that works beautifully.

The flavors meld together nicely, yet stand on their own enough for both flavors to be distinguished.  

And yes, I added chocolate chips.  You’re welcome.

Seriously though, I love chocolate chips in quick breads.  They soften just enough to easily bite through, yet maintain their shape.  It’s a delicious flavor and texture sprinkled throughout this bread.  I throughly enjoy it.  I’m certain you will too.

Guess what!  You can make a loaf of bread, or cute individual muffins.  I did both.  You can too!

Or just do one or the other.  Whatevs.

And then, while you stuff your face with this delicious fall bread, you too can procrastinate.  Turn on Nigella, or pop in a RPattz movie.  I won’t judge.  Just do your thang.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Banana Bread

Adapted slightly from Rebecca Thinks…

Makes one large loaf or about 16 muffins


  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Heaping 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (add more or less if you like)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease loaf pan or muffin tin, or line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Whisk together bananas, pumpkin, oil, and eggs in a large bowl.
  4. Add flour mixture to pumpkin banana mixture.  Stir until just combined.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Fill loaf pan or divide batter into muffin tin.
  7. Bake until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  About 40-45 minutes for the loaf pan and 30 minutes for muffins.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack or eat while still warm!
Yummy!  Enjoy!

Chocolate Espresso Tart

I love weddings.  Loooove them.  Ever since I was little girl I’ve been enchanted by weddings.

The white dress.  The flowers.  The dancing.  The cake!  The vows.  The kiss.

All so romantic.  Just like a fairy tale.

Well, until you actually plan a wedding.  Then the details all seem like a nightmare.  Not that I’ve had personal experience, but I’ve heard of and witnessed a few.

Plus, Father of the Bride is one of my favorite movies of all time.  I used to watch it like everyday when I was little (seriously).   I even thought I wanted to be a wedding planner when I was in high school.  Now, not so much.  I don’t think I’m that organized and I hate talking on the phone.  Two essentials for wedding planning.

Anyways, all this babbling about weddings is leading somewhere.

My friends Tina and Chris just got married!  What a beautiful wedding.

Tina was gorgeous in her empire waisted, white gown. Chris looked dapper in his tux.  Orange, red and yellow dahlias filled mason jars, while candles and the sounds of Frank Sinatra offered a romantic ambiance.

Their love filled the tent.  It was contagious.  The way they love each other is truly inspiring.  The way they look into each others eyes would make anyone long for a romance like theirs.  God blessed them with each other.  So beautiful, so unique.  so special.  Its sort of a mushy kind of love.  But in a really good way.  Not the annoying kind of way.

The food?  Delicious!

Por Que No?, local taqueria, did the catering.  Fresh, homemade corn tortillas, yummy tamales, and salsas out the wazoo.  It was perfect.  Plus, lots and lots of sangria.  I may or may not have indulged in a little too much of that.  But enough about me…

Lets talk about these tarts!

An almond crust with bits of ground espresso filled with rich, dark chocolate truffle filling and topped with a chocolate covered espresso bean.  Can you say chocolate heaven?

If you can, that means you should make these!  They look elegant and beautiful, but won’t leave you slaving in the kitchen for hours.  I made these little chocolate jewels as wedding favors for Tina and Chris’s guests to take home.  A little piece of themselves (they both love chocolate and coffee) for their guests to take with them.

If you don’t want to make mini tarts the recipe can easily be made into one large tart for a dinner party or function, or for you to get down on all by yourself.  If you choose the latter option take it slow.  This will put you in a chocolate food coma real quick.  You’ve been warned.

I like the mini tarts myself.  My own mini dessert makes me feel special.

Chocolate Espresso Tarts

Makes about 16 mini tarts


  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 Tbsp ground espresso
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp coconut oil, melted

Truffle Filling

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips (at least 60%; I used Guittard)
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk (I used Thai Kitchen coconut milk)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix together almond meal, espresso, sugar, and salt.
  3. Stir in coconut oil until dry ingredients are moist and clump together slightly
  4. Press crust into tart/cupcake liners.  The liners I used were self standing so I baked them on a cookie sheet, without the cupcake pan.
  5. Bake crusts for about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  6. To make the truffle filling, heat coconut milk in a sauce pan until the edges of the milk start to simmer.
  7. Place chocolate in a large bowl.
  8. Pour milk over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes.  Don’t stir!  Just let it sit there.  I know its hard, but you can do it.  Its important to let the chocolate melt before stirring.
  9. After 5 minutes, stir chocolate and milk together.
  10. If you’re making mini tarts, I suggest transferring the chocolate into a pourable measuring cup.  This makes it easier and a little bit cleaner!
  11. Fill the tart molds as full as you want.  I left a little room at the top just because I like the way it looks.
  12. Put tarts into the freezer for 5 or so minutes to speed up the setting of the chocolate.
  13. Top the tarts with a chocolate covered espresso bean.  And you’re done!

*If for some reason your chocolate did not completely melt just place bowl over a double boiler and stir until it melts in with the rest.

~A special thanks to my mom for helping me with the favors.  She made all the lovely tags and helped package them too!  Thank you, mom!

Blackberry Whole Wheat Scones

I love scones.  They are my favorite breakfast treat by far.

I love them more than croissants or doughnuts, bear claws or quiche.

When I first moved to Portland I scoured through the most popular bakeries looking for a delicious scone.  When I finally found the best at Baker and Spice Bakery I was hooked.  That was my weekend breakfast treat… every. single. weekend.

My boyfriend, Josiah, and I would go on Saturday mornings.  We’d lingered through the farmers market by my apartment, let the anticipation build a little bit, and then head over to the bakery for coffee and breakfast.  These particular scones are filled with cranberries, almond flakes, and oats.  They’re dense and buttery, sweetened mostly by the dried cranberries.  Thinking about them makes my mouth water and my heart long to have one right in front of me.  They are truly heavenly!

When I moved out of downtown and to the suburbs, I didn’t make it over to Baker and Spice as much as I would have liked to.  But, one fateful day my darling mother signed up for a baking class through Baker and Spice’s sister store, Sweet Wares.

And guess what they made?  You are correct, those precious scones.  Needless to say when I thought of making scones this week I went straight to that recipe.  And here’s how it turned out.

I made some adjustments.  Not because I thought the recipe needed it, but because I was curious to play around with it, and also because I didn’t want to go to the store.

1). I used blackberries instead of cranberries, 2). I used ground almond instead of almond flakes, and 3). I used all whole wheat flour instead of a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose.

The end product is a buttery, hearty scone with that faint sweetness that I love.  While I did enjoy the blackberries, I suggest trying frozen blueberries or huckleberries instead.  The blackberries are harder to work with since they are so much larger.  Of course, you can stick with the original and add dried cranberries if your heart so desires.

Whatever you choose, these scones will be a lovely treat any day of the week!

~If you live in or have the chance to visit Portland and are looking for a great bakery I whole heartedly suggest Baker and Spice.  The space is warm, friendly, and inviting with lots of places to sit, eat, and linger over coffee.  And the pastry case is stocked full of goodies… it’s kind of ridiculous.  They have a great array of both sweet and savory items.  You will surely find something for everyones taste buds!~

Blackberry Whole Wheat Scones

Makes about 18 scones


  • 4 cups  whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 sticks butter
  • 2 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cup almonds
  • 2 1/2 cups blackberries
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk plus more more brushing
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cut butter into cubes and add to the flour mixture.
  4. Cut butter into the flour until it is the size of large peas.
  5. Stir in the oats, almonds, and blackberries.
  6. Add the buttermilk and stir just until dry ingredients are moist.
  7. Turn out dough onto the counter top and divide into 3 equal lumps.
  8. Press each lump into a 6″ disk then brush with buttermilk and top with turbinado sugar.
  9. Divide disks into 6 equal triangles and place on baking sheet.
  10. Put scones in freezer for 10 minutes before baking.
  11. Bake scones for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
*These scones freeze really well and are a great treat to have in your freezer for unexpected guests, or if you just get a craving for one!  Simply freeze scones on the baking sheet for about 30-40 minutes.  Remove and wrap scones in plastic wrap and place in a sealed bag.  To bake frozen scones directly from freezer, just add 5-10 minutes on the baking time and you should be set!
Baked scones will last for 3 days in an air tight container at room temperature.