Posts Tagged ‘sugar’

Rainbow Fruit Pizza Tart

This Rainbow Fruit Pizza Tart will create spontaneous smiles with a sugar cookie crust, vanilla Greek-cream cheese filling and a rainbow of fruit.

Rainbow Fruit Pizza Tart 3

Silly me forgot to tell you something last week – I had a phone interview for a job! I thought it went very well and was also given a writing assignment afterwards to complete within a week. I sent it back a day early and am now waiting to see if I make it into the next stage of the interview process. Of course in the mean time I am still working on other applications. The job market is too rough out there to be idle between interviews.

Rainbow Fruit Pizza Tart 1

I also have not been idle in the kitchen department. I thought for sure I would have to cut back on the amount of posts per week but I’ve been able to coast along as normal. Thank goodness because ideas have started coming out of my ears. This fruit pizza isn’t a novel concept but that doesn’t mean it is any less fun. I technically made the rainbow backwards since red has a longer wavelength than violet and therefore would be on the outer edge of a rainbow (nerd alert). I prefer purple over red anyway, but regardless of technicalities you cannot help but feel happy from just looking at this colorful fruit tart.

Rainbow Fruit Pizza Tart 2

One year ago: Guiltless Avocado Alfredo Pasta with Spicy Chicken
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Meyer Lemon Chess Pie & Zulka Pure Cane Sugar Giveaway

Earlier this year I was introduced to Zulka Pure Cane Sugar, an all-natural and unrefined granulated sugar, and was very pleased with it after testing it out in several recipes. Today, I’m writing to let you know about Zulka’s Holiday Bake-Off contest! To celebrate the holiday season, Zulka is hosting a Holiday Bake-Off Facebook contest for a chance to win $500 to Sur La Table! Entering is easy:

  1. Create a recipe using Zulka Pure Cane Sugar
  2. Upload the recipe with an image of your creation to Zulka’s “Bake-Off” Facebook tab by December 22 for a chance to win a $500 gift card to Sur La Table!

I know I am not giving you much warning with the deadline only being a couple of days away, but if you needed an excuse to bake any more festive treats for the holidays now is the time! To sweeten the deal, I am also giving away a bag of Zulka to one reader! Just use the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this post (giveaway ends Sunday night).

But before you rush off to enter the contest and giveaway, you really should stick around for this recipe I made. It’s a chess pie recipe from the days when my parents lived in Texas. My mom included this recipe in the recipe box she gave me when I left for college many years ago but I did not make it until now. In her directions she said to use lemon juice, coconut, or crushed pineapple. With Meyer lemons in season right now, there was an obvious winner.

Being that this was the first ever chess pie that I have made, I was a bit nervous to share it with people who had grown up in the South and ate this pie on the regular. To my satisfaction it passed the test. I was told that they had had regular, buttermilk, and chocolate chess pies but never lemon – and they liked it! Sounded like a good candidate for me to enter into Zulka’s Holiday Bake-Off ;-).

Meyer Lemon Chess Pie

Two years ago: Pecan Fruit Cake
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Pumpkin Baklava Bars

After making peanut butter baklava bars I immediately knew I wanted to try it out with pumpkin for the holidays. As much as I loved the peanut butter version, how could it not be just as good if not better with pumpkin? With the cinnamon, honey, and nuts floating around in there it was meant to be.

The result is what I imagine would happen if pumpkin pie and baklava got together and made babies. With a sugar cookie base, pumpkin-walnut filling, crispy fillo topping and completely coated in honey, it’s two deserts in one. As a bonus it’s easy to make and  therefore should definitely make it for your upcoming festive gatherings.

Pumpkin Baklava Bars 1

As far as the job search is going, I have applied to many, but no hooks just yet. I just have to keep applying for those which interest me and I am qualified for and hope for the best. I probably should track down contact numbers to HR or whoever I can find to inquire about my applications. Unfortunately several to which I have applied explicitly say that calls are not welcome. Ugh… Thankfully I have a couple little projects to fiddle with in the lab to keep me busy in the meantime and will be resubmitting my paper now that I have finished addressing reviewers comments. Having that paper in press will definitely improve my CV!

Pumpkin Baklava Bars 2

One year ago: Baked Purple Sweet Potato Doughnuts with Marshmallow Glaze

Two years ago: Gluten-Free Cake Batter Pancakes
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Peanut Butter Baklava Bars

A few years ago, my friend Brandi made baklava bars that had a sugar cookie base and was topped with a walnut filling and crushed mini fillo shells. Not only were they much easier to make than traditional baklava, but they were incredibly good. Surprisingly it took me until now to share this with you. However, it should come as no surprise that the recipe shared today is for a peanut butter version.

Peanut Butter Baklava Bars 1

Instead of walnuts in the filling I used peanuts and added in peanut butter. Since peanut butter is a loyal companion to chocolate, the honey used for the glaze was chocolate honey (which I previously shared in my healthier cookie dough fondue post). In the end you get a classy dessert, with the comforting effect of peanut butter and chocolate. Ohio State may be having a BYE week, but that doesn’t mean I’d miss a chance to post a PB+C recipe!

Peanut Butter Baklava Bars 2

One year ago: Pork Chops with Pineapple Fried Rice

Two years ago: White Chocolate Coconut Chili Macadamia Nut Cookies
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Hazelnut Praline Paste

Have you ever heard of hazelnut praline paste? I know I didn’t until a recipe I wanted to make called for it. When I looked into buying some, it definitely was not a inexpensive item to purchase. So I sought out ways to make my own and sure enough found a recipe out there on the internet. It’s kind of like making your own Nutella but without the chocolate. Some of you may be saying “No chocolate? Why bother ?” – I say, why not? Although I am not a chocoholic (unless it is paired with peanut butter), I still think that those who are would enjoy this spread. Afterall, it’s hazelnut praline ground into a spread! I am not sure there is any way to say no to that. And actually, I ended up using it in combination with chocolate in a recipe which will be shared tomorrow.

One year ago: Pumpkin Danish
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Homemade Yellow Cake Mix

Boxed cake mix comes in handy for more things than just making cupcakes for a last minute party. Cake mix can also be used as the base of bars (such as the ones I posted yesterday), as an ingredient in pies, frosting, ice cream, and most popularly on my blog in different kinds of cake batter dips.

To use this homemade mix, I measured out 18.25 oz (about 2-1/2 cups) to use in place of a box of yellow cake mix indicated in yesterday’s bar recipe. And it worked great! Although I haven’t tried making an actual cake with it yet, at least I know it can work for recipes that call for it as one of their ingredients. I constantly have half-used boxes of cake mix from the creations that pop up in my kitchen.

This would likely also work to make gluten-free cake mixes since I know they make gluten-free all-purpose flour and cake flour. Just be sure to add some xanthan gum. To take it a step further, if you could find a lactose-free nonfat dry milk powder you could even make a lactose-free cake mix (using margarine instead of butter of course).

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Review: G.H. Cretors’ Popped Corn & Peanut Butter and Chocolate Popcorn

Popcorn is everywhere. At the movies, sporting events, parties – you name it. Along with it’s frequency, it is no surprise that there are a variety of flavors to satisfy everyone’s cravings. G.H. Cretors has taken it a step further by introducing a sweet and salty combination of caramel corn and cheese corn in the same bag, called the Chicago Mix. (G.H. Cretors also makes Kettle Corn, Caramel Nut Crunch with fresh roasted cashews and almonds, as well as “Just the Cheese Corn” and “Just the Carmel Corn” for those who do not agree with the combination of sweet and salty.)

This new mix is made using a special, “mushroom” variety popping corn, contains only all-natural ingredients, is free of GMOs and certified Kosher. The caramel corn is made the old fashioned way: by hand, in copper kettles. Cane sugar, brown rice syrup (a non-GMO alternative to corn syrup with a lower glycemic impact) and real butter is heated over a flame and then stirred slowly by hand to develop its rich complex flavor and crunch. For the cheese corn, real cheddar cheese is melted in special kettles and then gently mixed with locally-grown, air-popped corn.

But the real question is, does it taste good? Cheesey popcorn is wonderful, as is caramel, but together? I wasn’t sure what I would think of this particular sweet and salty combo. When told that I would be sent the caramel and white cheddar popcorn separately in addition to the Chicago Mix, I was convinced that I would end up preferring it that way. But I am here to tell you that those segregated bags are just plain wrong. These two kinds of popcorn were meant to be together in one bag.

To continue the pairing of sweet and salty, I decided to make my own version using their Kettle Corn and adding my favorite sweet and salty combo ever – peanut butter and chocolate! We are only at week 2 of football season so I truly hope you are not tired of having your Saturdays filled with this pairing. I myself find it difficult to imagine ever growing tired of it. This popcorn involves a caramel-ly peanut butter coating with a drizzle of melted chocolate. You could even add in peanuts or miniature Reese’s cups.

Find out more about G.H Cretors on their Facebook page, and be sure to check out their current sweepstakes!

P.S. This week a #14 Ohio State plays at home vs. UCF.

One year ago: Buffalo Chicken Meatball Subs
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Banana Peanut Butter Cup Muffins

I hope that most of you are aware of the “shoes” video from several years ago, which I watched far too many times and friends and I still quote to this day. But did you know that the same guy also made a “muffins” video? It starts out all innocent then gets a little weird and takes a turn to the creepy side. Yet whenever I make muffins I always have it running through my head (followed by “OMG shoes”). Oh yea, did you catch that? I made you muffins that’s why I am talking about this random youtube video.

Thankfully these muffins contain no glass despite their sparkly nature on top. I promise those are just coarse granules of sugar ;-). And their insides are definitely not filled with blood but with banana and miniature peanut butter cups! I wish that’s what my insides were made of. Then again with how many I’ve already eaten that may actually be the case.

“I’m baking muffins asbestos I can!” – Come on, admit it. That video is at least a little amusing.

One year ago: Orange Strawberry Banana Smoothie


Makes 12 muffins


3 very ripe bananas, mashed

4 Tbsp melted butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup 100% whole wheat flour

3/4 cup mini peanut butter cups

Coarse white sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas with melted butter and sugar. Mix well. Add the egg and beat well.
  3. Sprinkle in salt, baking soda and flour. Then, gently fold in miniature peanut butter cups. Be careful not to overmix!
  4. Divide amongst greased muffin tins and sprinkle tops with coarse white sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.

Source: Adapted from Eat, Live, Run.

Disclosure: The mini peanut butter cups and sparkling course sugar came from a giveaway I won on The Heritage Cook.

Halloween Brownie Roll Out Cookie Sandwiches

Happy almost Halloween everyone!  I feel like the fall holidays are always overshadowed by Christmas every year. Halloween and Thanksgiving have yet to pass and Christmas music is already being played and all the stores have their winter holidays sections ready to go. Don’t get me wrong, all that shiny stuff does make me happy, but we gotta take care of the darker side first.

Yes my friends come to the dark side, we have cookies! (Oh my goodness I am sorry I had to. The entire time I was making these I kept thinking of that shirt.) But seriously, these arn’t your typical cut out sugar cookies – they’re chocolate! Although they are not as chocolatey as I had imagined they would be so it’s a good thing there’s frosting sandwiched in between. Frosting makes everything better, especially when it is cream cheese (at least I think so).

More Halloween ideas:


Makes 18 cookie sandwiches, or 3 dozen cookies



3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 cup butter, softened

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract


6 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 Tbsp milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Food coloring


  1. Mix together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar together. Followed by the eggs and vanilla.
  3. Gradually add the dry flour mixture into the wet mixture. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Roll out the cookie dough on floured counter to 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie dough cutters to cut into desired shapes: cut out cookies using pumpkin or skull outline side of cutter. Then, use the other side of the cutter to create skull or pumpkin faces in half of the cookies.
  6. Bake on a lined baking sheet for 10 minutes or until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffed. Transfer to a cooling rack.
  7. Meanwhile, make the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, butter, confectioner’s sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Add food coloring and mix thoroughly. Spread about 1 tablespoon filling on each non-face cookie and top with a cut-out cookie.

Source: Idea from Target’s Halloween double-sided cookie cutter set. Cookies discovered on Lovin’ From the Oven, originally from Smitten Kitchen. Frosting adapted slightly from Alton Brown on Food Network.


Petri Dish Cookies

Many bakers make gorgeously decorated cookies that look too immaculate for a regular day person to accomplish. It’s this thing called royal icing, and it involves outlining, flooding and a bunch of little decorating tools. Sounds kind of daunting, which is why it took me so long to try for myself.

Ever since I saw a picture of these petri dish cookies, the lab nerd in me knew I had to join forces with my baking-side to make them. Since our lab just moved into a new facility and the ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled to be today, I figured it was the perfect time to conquer my fear of royal icing. But I wasn’t about to do it without a little help. Thanks to Michelle at Brown Eyed Baker and her wonderfully helpful tutorial on “How to Decorate Cookies with Royal Icing“, I bring to you these slightly unappetizing-looking, yet completely adorable (okay maybe I’m alone on that one) petri dish cookies!

Although there are a lot of steps, it’s pretty simple when you break it all down (and assuming you have all the necessary tools).


Makes approximately 30 3-inch diameter cookies


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 stick plus 2 Tbsp (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 batch royal icing (recipe below)

White nonpareils


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.
  2. Working with a stand mixer, perferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated – because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finish the job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy and malleable.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. To make roll-out cookies, shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)
  4. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  5. Working with one packet of dough at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of ¼ inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies – I used a 2-1/2 inch diameter round cookie cutter. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for rerolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving about 1-1/2 inches between the cookies. (This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cutouts; if so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.) After you’ve rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.
  6. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 8-9 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.
  7. Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches. Allow cookies to cool completely before decorating.
  8. Outline the cookies with the royal icing. Place some of the icing into a disposable pastry bag fitted with a #2 tip and coupler and outline the outside of the cookie. Keep the tip about 1/2-inch above the cookie while moving it allows the icing to lay on the cookie more easily. Make sure that the outline is pretty well set before moving on to flooding the cookies (generally by the time  you are done outlining the first ones are already dry).
  9. To the remaining icing, slowly start adding a few drops of water at a time, until the icing reaches an almost liquid consistency. The test here is to pick some icing up with a spoon and let it drizzle back into the bowl – the drizzle should disappear into the bowl within 10 seconds. Once you have achieved this, you are ready.
  10. Either fill a squeeze bottle with the thinned icing or transfer it to a disposable pastry bag with a 1/4-inch hole cut off the end. Now squeeze in the icing to almost completely fill the inside the cookie. Then take a toothpick and gently use it to distribute the icing to any empty spots. Sprinkle with white nonpareils.
  11. Allow to dry completely before storing. The cookies will keep at room temperature in a tin for up to 1 week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.



4 cups powdered sugar

2 Tbsp meringue powder

5-ish Tbsp water

1/8 tsp Buttercup Yellow icing color (this color is extremely close to the YPD media we use to grow yeast in lab)


  1. Mix all ingredients on low speed for 7-10 minutes or until the icing loses its shine. Add more water by the teaspoon if it appears too stiff, or more powdered sugar if too thin. At this stage you want to be able to pipe it easily.
  2. Color the icing and then cover the container with a damp paper towel. It is key when working with royal icing not to allow it to dry out.

Source: Sugar Cookies from Brown Eyed Baker, originally from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 146-147. Royal Icing and Tutorial from Brown Eyed Baker.

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