Thursday, July 14, 2016


One of the coolest things about being an Allstar is getting to know other Allstars. We all are passionate about food. What a cool find in the June newsletter. My submission to their QA was featured! If you're a regular visitor, or not I'm sharing so you can get to know me a little bit better. (Click the picture to enlarge) :)

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Pretzels galore

In April I posted a blog about an assignment I had involving pretzels. Snack Factory® Pretzel Crisps®. asked the Allstars to create some recipes using their product. Normally, I would jump for joy, but not when my creativity is restricted. 
My two bags of pretzel crisps were actually pretzel crumbs. This was a challenge because any recipe we created required us to keep the pretzels intact. I thought about a sweet and salty effect and decided to go with an S'mores style recipe. I chose to create recipes that served just one. If I learned anything it is simply the Snack Factory company needs to re-think their packaging and use a sleeve-style package in order to keep their product whole.
My recipe for "Sarah's I want S'more pretzel crisps" can be found here.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Crunchy pretzel pieces

Earlier this month I was tasked with the assignment of creating a custom recipe for Snack Factory® Pretzel Crisps®. While I can't share the recipes just yet, I will take the time to give my opinion on the product.

The company wanted us to keep the pretzels whole - after all, the pretzel crisp is the star product. Unfortunately, the company does not have sturdy packaging. Out of TWO bags of pretzel crisps, I was fortunate to have around 20 whole crisps.
This picture of broken pretzels is from ONE bag of pretzel crisps. Ultimately I was not happy with the limitation on creativity. I could have found many uses for the broken pretzels whether it be pretzel crusted chicken nuggets, a pretzel cheesecake crust, peanut butter pretzel bars etc.,
Naturally I either would discard the broken pieces, but instead, I elected to make the famous strawberry pretzel salad and no it's not a salad in the traditional sense, but it's tasty.

I do not know if I will ever buy the snack factory pretzels again. They may be a healthy alternative to most snack food, but they're not for me. I think the company needs to rethink their packaging. It's rather deceptive to see stacks of whole pretzels on their package and to have the contents look like the bag had been drop-kicked.

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Inviting Knorr to dinner

This month has been amazing! I am once again working with Knorr, and this time it's not creating a recipe, but I am using their product to make dinner, and let me say they have some delicious dinners!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

DIY - Round two

Have you ever looked at the ingredients that go into food? Well aside from being able to source food locally, often the only thing you can do is try to make it yourself.

Monday, January 18, 2016

DIY -homemade is best

We are just a little over two weeks into the New Year, and looking back I didn't intentionally set out to make a food resolution, but ironically it happened!

I often find myself buying items at the grocer which I can easily make at home, but really never bothered to do. Think about it. If you're a serious foodie (NO this doesn't mean you simply love to eat, it means you love to COOK and eat!) why buy what you know you can make better at home? Sure there's convenience, but there is also a price to pay. This price is not just in a monetary sense of the word, but in health also. So what food items have I been making at home? Well seasoning mixes for starters.
If you have ever looked at the ingredients for seasoning mixes you’ll see they’re often high in sodium, and sometimes there are ingredients you can’t even pronounce!  This is an amazing taco seasoning mix and you'll actually surprise yourself when you discover how much of a difference there is, not just in taste, but in money saved.
Another area where I've started a DIY trend is with pasta!  Oh momma mia! There is such an AMAZING difference between store bought boxed pasta, and pasta you make yourself! When I visited New York, I was gifted a $100 gift card to Williams-Sonoma; I also had a coupon for 15% off.  I decided to buy the Kitchenaid pasta press attachment!  It comes with 6 presses: spaghetti, large macaroni, small macaroni, fusili, rigatoni and bucatini. 
I decided to try the spaghetti, and made a simple Italian sausage sauce to go with it, complete with some lovely herbs a friend bought while visiting Florence, Italy.  I only wish I could figure out what the ingredients are in this herb seasoning. It's just beautiful with the flecks of purple!!! So if anyone knows the mixture I would love to know myself!!! It looks like parsley, mixed with cayenne, and garlic, but there are also edible flowers I believe?

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sarah's red velvet cake

I am an avowed Red Velvet Snob. I have tried more than 45+ different recipes for it -yes there are that many! After that many recipes, I am sticking w/ my family heirloom recipe. I once made the mistake of sharing this beloved recipe on the cake central website, and while it got rave reviews, there were also amateurs who would frost this beautiful cake with ungodly cream cheese crap stuff; people who believed it had too much red dye, then there were those kitchen experiments gone wrong (ie., using dry chocolate pudding in place of cocoa...what were they thinking?!) and the list goes on. So I removed my recipe...and the uproar it caused!  So another member lovingly re-posted my family recipe tweaking it from 2 bottles of red food dye to 1 bottle. GRRRR!  Yes I growled.  If you want to use my family recipe don't screw it up...don't tweak it...don't use the wrong frosting. In short, please find another recipe to massacre. 
Red Velvet is more than just a "red" cake. It's
of a Devil's Food Cake, but is a vibrant red colour. Some recipes call for the use of vinegar and buttermilk, psst the vinegar is NOT needed. If you have a recipe with buttermilk, the acidity in the buttermilk lends enough acidity to allow the baking soda to go to work.
I'm fortunate enough to come from a line of phenomenal cooks and bakers. These ladies KNOW how to make a red velvet cake, and warning! One mention of cream cheese frosting they will turn up their nose.  As Granna puts it "they're messing it up if they don't use the original frosting!"  Granna actually has a yellowed clipping of what is the first published recipe for red velvet cake and it does NOT call for cream cheese frosting!! We use the frosting from this published recipe, but the cake recipe is our family's. 

The frosting, like the cake, is truly unique! It envolves many cooking techniques, but don't let that scare you away! Well what about the frosting? Mmmm it's buttery, has a slight vanilla taste, and is a light whipped texture. Paired with red velvet cake it's a class act!

First the icing starts off by being cooked -basically making a roux (which is DEFINATELY a southern term) and then it moves to a stage where the roux cools to room temperature.
Meanwhile, you have other ingredients which are being creamed together. 
Then you have the culmination where the roux mixture meets the creamed mixture to become a whipped mixture which although it is whipped, it is not as airy or delicate like a "whipped cream" would be, and yet it's not as heavy or dense as a buttercream or a cream cheese frosting. 
The texture -if the icing is made properly- is delicate in feel, literally like a soft buttercream, but not overly sweet - the icing does have sugar in it, but it is granulated. If I have any particuliar question about the recipe it is simply "is this granulated or confectioner sugar" which I can understand, and most people will think it will come out grainy. Well if you make it properly the granules will dissolve and you'll be left w/ an icing that has a slight hint of a buttery vanilla flavour.

Okay, okay so what about the recipe?  Ladies and Gentlemen I present Sarah's ravishing red velvet cake (Accept no impostors!)  Yes, you will see this same cake (titled: Sarah's red velvet cake tweaked) on cake central, but this is my family recipe.

  2 1/2 cups cake flour
  1 1/2 cups sugar
  3 Tbsp baking cocoa
  1/2 tsp salt
  1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  1 cup butter (not margarine)
  2 eggs
  2 ounces (bottles) red food coloring
  1 cup buttermilk
  1 tsp vanilla

  Preheat oven to 350° F.
  Sift flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda together and set aside.
  Place butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer and beat at medium-speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, add red food coloring (be careful not to splash it!). Add vanilla. Add buttermilk alternately with flour mixture - begin and end with the buttermilk! Scrape the bowl as needed after each addition. 
  Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 28 – 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then gently turn cakes out onto cooling rack to cool to room temperature.
  Frost with the authentic frosting.

Often called "Mary Kay frosting" (we don't know how this name stuck) or some know it as a poor man's frosting - this is the original frosting for red velvet cake!

  1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  1 cup milk
  3/4 cup white vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
  1 cup granulated sugar
  1/3 cup butter, softened
  2 tsp vanilla

  In a saucepan, add the flour and 1/4 cup of milk and whisk until smooth. Add the remaining milk and whisk until well combined. Cook over medium heat until mixture is thickened. Cool completely.
  In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, shortening, and sugar on medium speed for several minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until combined. Add the cooled flour/milk mixture and beat on high for 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Spread on cooled cake

I have NOT tried this with all butter, I won't be offended with this small change, but please NO CREAM CHEESE!!!!

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I am a voluntary Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador and I do not receive compensation for my work with Any product received is only used for experience-based reviews on The Daily Gourmet. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are the sole opinions of Sarah.

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