Author Archives: Sarah
Being a mother is the most challenging, exhausting, amazing experience. Now that my children are more than 3/4 of the way to adulthood, I realize I could of never made it through the stages of their lives without the mother's in my life. These women are not limited to my biological mother, they are women who I cherish for many reasons. These amazing women will always hold a special place in my heart and each and every Mother's Day I celebrate their presence in my life.09 May
The new Grand Rapids Farmers market officially opened here in Michigan this past weekend! I love the farmers market; the sights, the smells and the people that gather to purchase fresh picked fruits and vegetables and baked goods. I love that small business owners, local farmers and the occasional home cook are given the opportunity to support themselves and grow their businesses. I even love the crowds.... But what I love most of all is the inspiration I gather from wandering the different vendors. It's magical.07 May
Did you know that chocolate meringues are low in fat? They also can be easily converted into a sugar-free treat perfect for those on a low sugar lifestyle or concerned about refined sugars. They are also an exceptional gluten-free treat (even with the Nutella)!29 Apr
Molasses ginger cookies have always been one of my favorite cookies. I love the crispy edges, soft center and intense flavor. The rich intense flavor of molasses is the perfect complement to ground ginger and our natural ginger flavor. You can find molasses cookies in abundance during the holiday season. It seems as though everyone has their own version for this spicy and flavorful cookie. They tend to disappear, much like the elusive Peep or chocolate covered cherry, until the same time next year. Why not make them all year round? One type of this cookie I have consumed over the years is the classic boxed ginger cookie, hard and, well... hard! These are useful for making crusts on cheesecakes and that’s about it. The second type I have had is the cake cookie...puffy and light, but yet not quite there in the texture category for me. I prefer my molasses ginger cookies to be crunchy on the edges, but soft and chewy in the center. The addition of coarse sugar adds that crunch and texture every cookie needs! If you’re like me, this is the perfect cookie recipe for you!24 Apr
Bread pudding and soufflés are two of the pastries that I have never made...can you believe that?! To be completely honest, I hadn’t even tried either one until a recent trip to New Orleans. I have a difficult time ordering desserts such as bread pudding when I am dining out because; a) I bake for a living, and b) If I am going to order dessert, it has to be unique and absolutely decadent. I have never really thought of bread soaked in a custard as either decadent or unique. Boy was I wrong! The bread pudding I had was creamy, sweet and absolutely decadent. I knew I had to put that on my checklist of desserts to recreate when I got back home. The recipe I chose is an adaptation of the recipe that is used at Bon Ton in New Orleans. I substituted the whiskey sauce for a creamy and delicious vanilla crème anglaise and omitted the raisins (I just don’t like raisins in pastries!). I also added chopped white chocolate (I like Callebaut chocolate), and I have to admit that it was absolutely divine!22 Apr
Many people have special recipes that are passed down from generation to generation. They are coveted for their sentimental value, ties to family tradition and heritage. I have been blessed to have a few of these, in addition to family keepsakes from my husband’s side of the family.
My husband’s mother has made pecan pie for special occasions for as long as he can remember. When he was grown and out on his own he asked for the recipe to carry on a family tradition…. The conversation went something like this…. "Mom, can I have the Herman recipe for pecan pie?" Her response… "Go get a pen and paper, and I will read it to you. Are you ready? Go to the store, pick up the Karo syrup and turn it around. The recipe is on the back!" I have never laughed so hard! Over the years I have come to realize why she used that recipe. It works! Actually, it works really well! I continue to use a variation of the recipe to this day, for both pies and bars.18 Apr
Lemons are such a versatile fruit! They can easily transition between savory and sweet applications, are perfect for a classic roasted lemon chicken or a sweet lemon pound cake. Our lemon glazed pound cake incorporates both fresh lemon juice and our delicious lemon extract.15 Apr
I visit the Beanilla distribution warehouse from time to time to discuss posts, pick up product and just to say hello to fellow employees. The moment you step into the building the intoxicating aroma of vanilla hits you. It is absolutely delicious! During a recent visit I asked my fellow teammates if they had any requests for posts. Natalie, our warehouse manager, was more than eager to provide me with suggestions. One of the most delicious and trendy requests was for a caramel bar. Smooth and creamy homemade caramel sits on top a layer of salty and crunchy coconut base, and the entire bar is then slathered with delicious high quality dark chocolate. These bars are rich, decadent and highly addictive. I hope you enjoy them, Natalie!10 Apr
There are moments in our lives that are defined by the food that we share. It may be a special occasion, helping a relative create their signature dish, or a favorite restaurant. As a chef, most of my life has been defined by food; cuisines that are unique to the regions that we have resided in, and the friendships we have formed. The Midwest evokes memories of barbecues and Sunday dinners with beloved friends. The Pacific Northwest brings back memories of Thai cuisine at Thanksgiving, lovingly crafted by our friend’s elderly mother. A picnic lunch of fresh raspberries and French cheese/baguette spread out on a park bench in Paris, or a favorite breakfast with a close friend in sunny San Diego are also memories that I have.06 Apr
My house is full of the aroma of baked goods; raspberry crumb bars, gooey caramel pecan bars and, my personal favorite, cinnamon pecan coffee cake. There is something very special and incredibly delicious about a really good coffee cake. The perfect way to start, or end, any day! This coffee cake is moist and rich, with sweet ribbons of cinnamon, and pecans enhancing the double-fold Madagascar vanilla extract that is used in this recipe.03 Apr
The sun is out, the birds are chirping and the temperature is slowly climbing above freezing. I look out my office window and see the neighbor kids playing basketball in short sleeves, couples walking their dogs and others slowly emerging from winter hibernation. Spring seems to have finally found us! In celebration of green grass, fresh flowers and bountiful farmers markets to come, I have decided to celebrate with a bright and tangy tart -- a Meyer lemon and orange tart to be precise. Meyer lemons are a specialty lemon that is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. They are typically sweeter and less acidic than traditional lemons making them a perfect choice for desserts and pastries.01 Apr
I have been struggling to eat healthier, exercise more and limit the amount of sweets I consume throughout the day. Most days I am really good at it, but some days not so much.... I have expressed to you in previous posts that I have no problem eating chocolate cake, cold out of the fridge for breakfast, but I haven't told you my ultimate weakness! I love anything salty and sweet, especially sea salt soft caramels. I can't get enough of them, and all my healthy eating willpower flies out the window whenever I am near them. I made a batch to photograph, posted it to Beanilla and then sent them over to my neighbors. My neighbors were very happy to be the recipients of the caramels, and I was utterly proud of myself and my willpower. Yah for me!!!
Fleur de Sel caramels are soft and creamy, sweet and salty and relatively simple to make, as long as you bring the mixture to an exact 241 degrees using a candy thermometer. A few degrees either way can result in caramel hard candies or a delicious bowl of caramel soup. Delicious, but not what we are striving for!30 Mar
My child's school counselor called me a few weeks back, and my first instinct was, "Oh, no! What did she do?" The counselor laughed and reassured me that my daughter is a model student and they were actually calling for me. "Oh, no. What did I do?" Luckily, it was a friendly call to request my presence at the middle school career day. After a brief conversation of what would be required of me, I politely accepted the offer and went about my day.27 Mar
It’s been a long but productive week, and it’s only Wednesday! By mid-week I am very ready for the weekend, and tired of cooking. Takeout would be a simple solution, but not always the healthiest choice. So, when I am tired, my simple recipe of choice is mango salsa. Bright, sweet and fruity mango is diced and combined with spicy jalapeño, juicy red tomatoes, red onions and chopped garlic. The addition of a Tahitian vanilla bean to my salsa adds a sweet and floral flavor and enhances the natural sweetness of the mango. Mango salsa with Tahitian vanilla bean is the perfect complement to grilled fish, sautéed chicken or savory flank steak fajitas.
The combination of fresh fruit, crisp vegetables and vanilla may seem like a strange concoction. I assure you that it is incredibly delicious!25 Mar
There is no aroma quite as comforting or as intoxicating as freshly baked bread. The art of bread-making dates back to the ancient Egyptians; grains were cultivated, and a simple mortar and pestle were used to grind the grain into a very course flour. The first bread was unleavened, similar to a tortilla or a naan bread. The addition of yeast to these breads began when wild yeast was attracted to the ground grains and "contaminated" them, and then the warm climate and the addition of water activated the yeast and caused the dough to rise. Although the ancient Egyptians had no working knowledge of how the yeast microorganisms caused the dough to rise, each time the dough would rise they would remove a small piece to add to the next batch of dough. In modern times this would be considered the mother. Many bakers have one or two mothers that they start their artisanal breads from, assuring consistency in flavor from one batch to another. I have worked with many artisanal bread bakers that keep a storage container that holds the original mother from when they began their career as bakers. They feed and care for it as if it was more precious than gold.