Category Archives: Grand finale

Vanilla Sugar

Yes, you read the title of this post correctly!  I know, I know, I do not use much sugar here at 488, but using artificial sweeteners is NOT an option, and the natural sweeteners that I turn to (honey, molasses, agave nectar, stevia, maple syrup and rice syrup) instead sometimes just do not work.   So when I do bake and need to use sugar, I make sure it is fully loaded with vanilla oils to provide my baked sweets with the absolute BEST flavor!  This is so stinking simple, you will be kicking yourself for not discovering this sooner!  Remember that big bunch of vanilla beans that I convinced you to buy a couple of years ago.  I hope you still have some on hand because all you need to do is chop up a vanilla bean or two and stick them into your sugar jar.  Put the lid on and give the oils time to release into your sugar.   When I get low on sugar or when my beans seem to be losing their oil, I just chop up more! I have had my jar going now for probably 6 years (maybe more), so my jar is packed with beans.

Vanilla sugar!

I usually keep baking sugar in the jar, which has a little finer texture than regular sugar.  Mainly because I like baking with it better, but use what you like!  I am sure you could do the same with brown sugar as well!  I don’t know how powdered sugar would work, but give it a try and let me know what you find!  Anyway, experiment with it and HAVE FUN!


Baklava crunch

This is just sooooo good!

I hate to brag, but I have to say that I make a KILLA baklava!  I mean TO DIE FOR!  Which is why I am not posting that recipe here today…I wouldn’t subject my dear and health conscience readers to that level of indulgence!  Instead, I am sharing the recipe that I use to get my baklava ‘fix’ without all of the calories and fat.  Yes, it is still a decadent dessert, but you won’t feel the need to spend the next 3 days chained to the treadmill after this one!  This recipe will make about 2 cups of the topping which should last quite a while in your fridge or freezer.  Heck, sometimes at about 3 in the afternoon you will find me indulging in a big spoonful of this nut mix served over diced mango (sans the ice cream) as my afternoon snack!  This is behavior that I would not necessarily recommend, but it is a heck of a lot smarter than a big fat cookie or the like!  Hmmmm…I wonder what this would be like with a big spoonful of omega 3 laden flax seed ground in with the nuts??  I will let you know how it works the next time I make this!


Baklava ice cream crunch

Servings:  depends on how you use it!

  • 1 c black walnuts (unsalted)
  • 1/2 c pistachios (roasted and salted)–I buy big bags of shelled pistachios at SAMS
  • 1/2 c almonds (unsalted) almonds
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • dash of allspice
  • vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • 1 ripe champagne mango

Put the nuts, brown sugar, allspice, and cinnamon in your food processor and let it spin until the nuts are finely ground.

Dice the mango.   Sprinkle about 1-2 T of the nut mix over two scoops of ice cream (or yogurt).  Top with about 1/2 of the chopped mango.  Serve with a nice digestif!

Store the remainder of the nut mix in a tightly covered bowl in the fridge or freezer for future indulgences


Amaretto in a canning jar! Ready to be stored for a few months!

Another delicious libation recipe from dear Celine!  Now if I can only get her amaretto cheesecake recipe…WISH ME LUCK!  Oh, make sure to taste the lemon rind when you are finished soaking it in the amaretto.  I think you can find a creative way to use it in a dessert or even as a garnish in a savory dish or appetizer!


2-750 ml bottles or KERR jars with lids

2 c H20

2 1/2 c sugar

Rind from 1 lemon

2 2/3 c vodka

6 t almond extract

2 t vanilla extract

1 tsp chocolate extract

In a sauce pot add the water, sugar, and lemon rind and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20-25 minutes and cool.  Add the remainder of the ingredients.  Bottle and Reserve!