Author Archives: Sarah
Candied nuts are a wonderful sweet treat any time of the year! I enjoy eating them straight off the baking sheet but they are equally delicious on baked goods or even fresh mixed green salads. A simple salad of mixed greens, blue cheese and French vinaigrette begs for the sweet crunchy candied pecan. In baking candied pecans can be added to fudge, used as a topping for scones or folded into homemade ice cream. The uses for the candied pecan is unlimited!16 Sep
Fall is upon us, and the squash crop is showing up in the grocery stores and farmers markets. I know you were expecting a dessert recipe, but I can’t survive on desserts alone, contrary to popular belief! As fall approaches, my family and I start to crave those comfort foods that make you feel warm and cozy when the temperatures start to drop.14 Sep
Infusing flavors into vodka has gained in popularity over the past few years; I have seen flavors that range from simple to exotic. I tend to lean towards the fruity and sweet so I chose to infuse my vodka with lime peels and Beanilla Tahitian Vanilla beans. I started my infusion by splitting the Tahitian vanilla bean down the center with a sharp chef’s knife, leaving the ends intact, then added fresh lime peels to the bottle. To ensure maximum flavor from the bean and lime peels, the vodka needs to sit for 1-2 weeks.
Tahitian vanilla beans are gorgeous! They are exceptionally large compared to other varieties and are brimming full of vanilla "caviar". They smell sweet and fruity with a touch of chocolate and caramel. True Tahitian vanilla beans from Tahiti are prized for their aroma, size and abundance of vanilla seeds in each pod. Lucky for you, Beanilla is one of the few retail sites that sell true Tahitian vanilla beans from Tahiti!
Upon receiving the Tahitian vanilla bean, I held onto it for about a week before I decided what I wanted create with it. The bean is so special and has such a beautiful aroma and flavor profile that I really did not want to overpower it. Vodka is the perfect vehicle for the flavor of this bean. A good quality vodka has very little flavor and should be smooth and not astringent. This will allow the Tahitian vanilla bean to shine.
Once the vodka has infused, I will photograph the finished product and create a drink especially for you! Stay tuned!!!12 Sep
The original scone was round and flat, usually the size of a medium size plate. It was made with unleavened oats and baked on a griddle, then cut into triangle-like quadrants for serving.
Scones sold commercially are usually round in shape, although some brands are hexagonal as this shape may be tessellated for space-efficiency. When prepared at home, they take various shapes including triangles, rounds and squares. The baking of scones at home is often closely tied to heritage baking. They tend to be made from family recipes rather than recipe books, since it is often a family member who holds the "best" and most-treasured recipe.10 Sep
As a chef, I am often reminded that what I think is easy and uncomplicated, is not necessarily. Chocolate ganache is often thought of as fussy and complicated, and I want to tell you it as simple as 1...2...3. Chocolate ganache originated in France. Ganache is a French term referring to a smooth and velvety mixture of chocolate and cream. Its origin is a little unclear, but it is believed to have been invented around 1850. Some say it originated in Switzerland where it was used as a base for truffles. Others say it was invented in Paris at the Patisserie Siravdin.
Ganache is a simple mixture of hot cream and good quality chocolate. As much as we all love Hershey's, this is not the place for it. I recommend Callebaut, Valhrona or any other high quality dark chocolate. Look for chocolate that contains cocoa butter as the primary ingredient. The higher the quality of chocolate used, the better the flavor and texture your ganache will have in the end.06 Sep
They say that food is the way to a man’s heart. Even though I agree with this, I say crème brulee is the way to a man’s heart!
This is a simple custard enhanced with Beanilla Madagascar vanilla beans, then cooked and chilled, then topped with vanilla sugar and, finally, torched until melted and crisp. A properly cooked crème brulee should be smooth and silky, and the bruleed topping should have a crisp cracking sound when your spoon hits it.04 Sep
In my opinion, breakfast is the best meal of the day. You get to eat a combination of sweet and savory together at one meal and it is completely accepted by the general public! Bacon, sausage, eggs and pancakes compete for your attention -- each equally delicious in different ways. I always save my pancakes for last. Melted butter and sweet syrup -- my mouth salivates just thinking about it!
In our family, pancakes tend to be a Saturday morning treat, but this recipe is easily made the night before or made quickly on even the busiest of mornings. The addition of Beanilla Madagascar vanilla extract adds a sweet, vanilla note to a fluffy and light pancake that you will crave on any day of the week.02 Sep
Italian soda is light, crisp and fruity. A refreshing change from sugary sodas, they can be made with all natural products in any flavor you desire. The most popular flavors are fruit-based, but these drinks can be made with botanicals and even savory herbs. I prefer the fruity version, so when I pulled out my Beanilla Raspberry extract I knew that it belonged in a crisp Italian soda.29 Aug
Homemade Graham Crackers (S'mores Part 2)
As promised, here is part two of the homemade marshmallows recipe that was posted on Tuesday. Homemade marshmallows are delicious and definitely a treat to have around the house. But, what would a s'more be without the graham cracker?
When I was much, much younger, I had a best friend whose mom would give us graham crackers sandwiched with leftover homemade frosting. I still love it to this day!27 Aug
Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows (S'mores Part 1)
Part one? This week I would like to do a recipe for homemade s'mores in two parts, so be sure to check back on Thursday for the graham cracker recipe.
Living in beautiful West Michigan has its perks. Great lakes surround us, beautiful scenery abounds, wonderful communities of friendly neighbors and four seasons. Spring, summer, fall and winter -- that time of year when no one can go to the lake, the cabin, or the beach. Summer is a time for Michiganders to soak up the sun in preparation for winter hibernation. Labor Day weekend is usually the last weekend when we are able to go to the lake, the cabin or the beach house. In celebration of these last days of summer I am presenting you with a quintessential summer camping recipe, s'mores!26 Aug
Fall is just around the corner! I've missed fall, the changing leaves, crisp air, cider and donuts and, of course, fresh picked apples. I remember as a child picking apples right off the trees at a local orchard. They were crisp with just the right combination of tart and sweet.
I contemplated waiting to post this recipe until after labor day, when fall officially starts, but those beautiful apples in the fridge kept calling to me; begging to be made into a crisp, strudel or pie. I begrudgingly, but happily, gave in and pulled them from the fridge. What can I make that is easy, tastes delicious, and strays slightly from the traditional? Almond-Vanilla Apple Tarts! Simple, elegant and oh-so-delicious!!22 Aug
I recently received two very different vanilla beans from Beanilla. Did you know that there are different varieties of vanilla beans that grow in various regions around the world? In each vanilla producing region, vanilla beans are uniquely cured by vanilla farmers through a very labor-intensive process. Curing techniques, which have been passed down from generations of farmers, contribute to the aroma, texture, length, girth and flavor characteristics that make each bean so different, according to region.19 Aug
We recently moved back to the Midwest from sunny Southern California. Although I miss the ocean and mountains, I am thrilled to be closer to family! One of the benefits of being so close to family is the ability to "stop" by and raid my father's garden.
Looking for inspiration for a breakfast pastry, I gathered up my camera and the kids, and drove up to his house. I was very pleasantly surprised by the abundance of tomatoes, but tomato muffins did not sound appealing to any of us, so we continued our hunt. Beneath large green leaves I spied a very large zucchini, and then a second one. Perfect! Zucchini bread it is! The moisture from the zucchini keeps the bread moist for days, and even after it has gone past its prime I have been known to make french toast out of the leftovers. But that's another post...18 Aug
Raspberries are my absolute favorite fruit. The sweet tartness is amazing all on its own, but when paired with lemon you create the perfect combination of sweet and tart. Combine these two flavors into a muffin that is sweet, has a light crumb and is low in fat, and you will have an amazing way to start off your day.
Jumbo bakery muffins are loaded with sugar, fat and calories. Did you know that one jumbo muffin from your local coffee house can total in excess of 800 calories? Add in a latte, and you're almost halfway to a normal daily intake of calories. I don't know about you, but I feel incredibly guilty eating that many calories early in the morning (I'll save those calories for a dessert after dinner). Low-fat muffins often leave a lot to be desired because they are either too dry, too sweet or simply taste downright disgusting. Not this recipe! Delicious, moist, not too sweet and very addictive is the best way to describe this recipe, and at 350 calories per jumbo muffin you can save your guilt and your waistline.15 Aug
I know what you are thinking..... That is a very long title for a dessert. Well, I have to agree, but I couldn't think of any other way to describe in one line the deliciousness that is Vanilla Fleur de sel Dulce de leche.
While living in California I had the opportunity to work for a non-profit that fed low income children. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had as a chef. The children were beautiful and it was a pleasure to introduce them to healthy eating while maintaining a budget. Every Wednesday I would go into the classroom and we would have a kids-kitchen cooking session. Often times I learned about a food item or dish that I had never heard of, due to the ethnic diversity of the children. Once monthly, I asked a parent to bring in a treat that represented their culture or family. This is how I was introduced to sweet, delicious dulce de leche.
"Dulce de leche is a sweet prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a product that derives its taste from caramelized sugar. Literally translated, it means "candy of milk" or "candy [made] of milk", "milk candy", or "milk jam" in the same way that "dulce de frutilla" is strawberry jam. It is popular in South America, notably in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. In Chile and Ecuador, it is known as manjar. In Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, it is referred to as manjar blanco or arequipe, depending on regional variations. In Brazil, it is known by its Portuguese name doce de leite. Dulce de Leche is believed to have been created in Argentina in 1829 in Cañuelas, Buenos Aires”. (wikipedia.com)
The traditional way to make Dulce de leche is to slowly boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk. I find that this method sometimes lacks the complexity in other caramel sauces. So, I altered tradition and adapted my own recipe to include Beanilla Vanilla Fleur de sel. Vanilla Fleur de Sel
Beanilla's Vanilla Fleur Del Sel is hand harvested sea salt from the Brittany region of France. Ground Tahitian vanilla beans are added to the salt to add a sweet floral note. The Fleur de sel adds a complexity to the sauce and the perfect balance of sweet and salty. Dulce de leche beautifully complements classic vanilla ice cream, can be drizzled over cream puffs, used as a filling for chocolate tarts, added to chocolate truffles and sprinkled on caramels or just simply eaten straight off the spoon (my personal favorite!).