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like apples and monkeys

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Recipe: apple cinnamon caramel monkey bread

After 48 hours of a funtastic trip (more on that in a later post), I am back in the saddle – or rather, I am sitting in front of my computer. Neva is curled up in her doggy bed, exhausted from 48 hours of non-stop playtime with several other puppies (dog camp). She wanted to go straight to bed the moment we brought her home, but she had enough of a stink on her that we insisted on giving her a bath. Since the sun was already down and the winds were blowing, we put her in the tub for a rub-a-dub-dub. Neva jumped out of the tub, twice. But after a few minutes under the warm water, she resigned herself to her fate, quietly whining as streams of dirty brown water swirled at her feet and on down toward the drain. Now she’s a fluffy fuzzball, all clean and cuddly and cute.


neva feels a treat is the least she deserves after the indignity of her bath



This recipe is a longish one, so it’s best to dive into it now. A (complimentary) box of beautiful Piñata apples from Stemilt Growers arrived on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago. The last time they sent me a shipment of fruit (pears), we ate them straight up because they were so sweet and juicy. This time, I actually held out and saved some of the apples for baking. Piñatas are excellent for snacking as they deliver a nice balance of tang and sweetness, but they are also great for baking. You can easily substitute Granny Smith or Fuji apples for this monkey bread – anything with a little tartness to it.

Let’s start with the filling. The recipe I followed called for three apples. My Piñata apples were on the large side, so I suspect I had a lot more apple than the recipe anticipated. The good news is that the end result is great despite the extra wrangling of apple pieces in the dough. Make your apple filling first. It will need time to cool after you sauté it because it gets added to the bread dough.


apples, sugar, butter, cinnamon, lemon (juice)

peel, core, and dice the apples

toss the apples, cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice together

add the apples to melted butter in a sauté pan

when the liquid has simmered away, let the apples cool



**Jump for more butter**

there’s a surprise

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Recipe: pistachio surprise truffles

Someday, I will catch up on sleep. Jeremy and I have both had several nights in a row of staying up late to work and getting up early to work (or ski). Of course, we both recognize the importance of getting enough sleep, so one night we made a concerted effort to get to bed before midnight in the hopes we’d be able to sleep in until 7 am. Except we have been experimenting with Neva’s sleeping arrangements where we leave her crate door open overnight and have a regular doggy bed in another corner of the bedroom. Neva had other ideas, as Neva usually does. She decided to leap up onto the bed at 2 am – scaring the hell out of both of us since she doesn’t really worry about where she’s landing. After gradually pushing us to our respective edges of the bed, Jeremy put her back in jail (her crate) and shut the door. By 5:30 am she was rattling the door, clamoring to be let out. Puppy training has morphed into a quasi roommate training.


inner peace… inner peace… inner peace…



Back in December, I discovered some frozen homemade pistachio paste while counting my bags of huckleberries in the chest freezer (I do this periodically – it makes me feel better). Pistachio paste is like almond paste, but made with… pistachios. And it’s green. I kinda love the stuff. Since it was the holidays, I took the pistachio paste out to make some truffles to give to friends. I’m not much of a truffle person because of all that chocolate, but I’ll make an exception for these.

pistachios, cream, chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar, corn syrup, almond extract, water



Pistachio paste can be hard to find, although Love’n Bake makes a nice one if you can get your hands on some. I’ve resigned myself to making my own pistachio paste as it is pretty straightforward with the exception of peeling the pistachios. If you can find unsalted, raw, shelled, and peeled pistachios, or you don’t care about peeling your pistachios, then the paste is as simple as placing four ingredients in a food processor and pushing the ON button. If you are compelled to peel your pistachios, this is the method that has worked best for me: boil the pistachios, dunk them in ice cold water, pat them dry, peel the skins off. The skinning is the tedious part that takes an hour or more depending on how meticulous you are about the peeling. Play your favorite podcast, radio show, music, whatever. It helps to take your mind off of the crazy.

boil the nuts for a minute or two

submerge the nuts in ice water

pat them dry on a dish towel

the skins should peel off easily



**Jump for more butter**

dreams of wild things

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Recipe: huckleberry bread pudding

When it is full-on winter outside, people’s brains go into overdrive dreaming of warm, tropical places and summertime. My feed is filled with pictures of bare feet on beaches, palm trees, swimming pools in sunny locales. It’s not something I can honestly relate to, but I understand that this is what my friends desire. Jeremy and I? We love to frolick in snow. It is what we talk about with longing during the throes of summer – how much we miss gliding over and through the snow, or feeling the delicate kiss of blower powder on our faces.


me dropping into the powder

jeremy catches a little air



From what I can tell, Neva loves winter even more than summer. She spent all of 8+ miles running her face through the snow on Saturday’s ski tour. It’s as if those bazillion little snowflakes give her an extra jolt of energy. Jeremy noted that she calmed down a tad after the first 6 miles, but even as we got back to the car, she was alert and ready for more action. Of course, once home, she passed out for a long and happy nap in the sun. Such is the life of a happy pup.

neva sports a snowbeard

that rare moment when neva and banjo are simultaneously sitting still



More than a month had passed since my last ski tour with Erin, so we took the opportunity to catch up with one another on the climb. We discussed “Making a Murderer”, family visits, and new locations to scout for porcini, chanterelles, and huckleberries this summer. I told her that I had dreamt of chanterelles one night over the holidays, and then of foraging huckleberries the following night. She smiled and nodded as our skis silently sliced through the soft white fluff underfoot.

My obsession with huckleberries is only slightly diminished in their off season. For the other eleven months of the year, I think of different ways to incorporate those nomalicious berries into various recipes (and where else in Colorado I should look for huckleberry patches). Those of you without access to fresh or frozen huckleberries can easily substitute blueberries, raspeberries, or blackberries in this croissant bread pudding. Any kind of juicy berry should do. But let us be clear… wild Maine blueberries – as delicious as they are – are not huckleberries. I’ve had both and hands down, hucks win.


croissants, cream, sugar, eggs, huckleberries, butter, vanilla extract, milk, lemon (zest)

butter your ramekins

slice the croissants into bite-size pieces



**Jump for more butter**