The Science of Lemon Meringue Pie {Crust}

I’ve been working as an Associate Scientist for a year now. My passion is still in product development, which I’ve been able to focus on for the past five months. Food science is still a strange word, and negative associations abound (what are you doing to my food??), but it’s ultimately about understanding food ingredients and how they interact with each other and the environment. To increase the common hobby baker to some of the science behind traditional recipes, I’m starting a new series about ingredient interaction and troubleshooting tips along the way. What better place to start than the simple-seeming, overly-complicated lemon meringue pie? This is the first in a series of 3 posts, one for each component of the pie.
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See It All: A Guide to Exploring Maui, Hawaii

So you’re ready to go to Hawaii, and you’ve managed to decide on an island, even- Maui. It’s nicknamed “The Gathering Place”, and it has everything from you need. You just have to know where to find it all. Now that I’ve been able to explore the island three times, I can tell you what an outsider has learned about this slice of paradise. Budgets of any kind can afford an amazing Hawaiian adventure on this gorgeous island. I’ve been there 3 times, and I’ve loved every minute I’ve been able to spend there.
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Perfect Cookies: Shortbread

ccHow is Christmas next week?? I don’t understand it. I decorate for Christmas (well, I decorate the tree while my husband does everything else), I make cocoa and fudge and drink eggnog, but Christmas just never hits me until it’s here, but it’s okay, I still soak it all in. Michael and I get each other lots of presents because we’re really just large children, and we always wait until after his birthday (the 19th) to open them. After our celebration, we’ll head down to our parents’ houses in Iowa. They only live 20 minutes apart, so that’s pretty handy, and we usually split our time between the 2 houses. This year, both our families are having Christmas on New Year’s weekend, so we’re mainly going to relax on Christmas weekend, other than some grandparent visits. I get a lot of time off work and Michael’s done with school for the semester, so it should be a nice Christmas vacation! I do a treasure hunt for the kiddos on my side, and we always decorate Christmas cookies.
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Perfect Cookies: No Bake Cookies

nb-cookOkay, yes, there a million recipes of this out there and they all look the same. But this one turns out soft, fudgy, not sticky, and is completely perfect in every way. And they’re even better the next day!

I had to run to the grocery store before making these tonight. Worth the effort! They’re full of fairly healthy ingredients, so don’t worry when you end up eating them in excess….
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Perfect Cookies: Chocolate Chip Cookies

They’re uncomplicated. They’re buttery. They taste fantastic freshly baked AND a few days later. Introducing…the chocolate chip cookies of your dreams! Crispy edges give way to soft centers. No cakey textures allowed- these melt in your mouth.

It’s Thanksgiving weekend, and what better way to enjoy the time off work than to make some cookies? I just spent an entire morning baking- pumpkin pies, chocolate pecan bars, mini pumpkin cheesecakes, and fresh whipped cream are all done! I also made a batch of these to live up to my promise of weekly, amazing cookies.
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Perfect Cookies: Gingersnaps

Yes, it is time for a new series. This one is going to be all about the perfect classic cookies. I’m still searching for the perfect snickerdoodles (the ones shown here were too dry), but these things take time I suppose. I have found some amazing chocolate chip cookies and double chocolate peanut butter cookies, so those are up next.
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Thanksgiving Plans

I love any holiday that has to do with food, family, and gratitude. This past year has been filled to the brim with awesomeness, and I am overwhelmingly grateful for that.

  1. I graduated college, finally
  2. I got a job before I graduated
  3. I enjoy my challenging job
  4. My husband is able to do school full-time while I work
  5. Wisconsin is all kinds of beautiful
  6. I was able to travel a lot, and even saw the Sequoia trees, a life-long dream
  7. Everyone in my family is healthy and happy


And I could extend that list a lot, but I’d like to focus on the “food” part that I mentioned. I love to cook and bake for Thanksgiving, but since I live 5+ hours away from family, this year I’m focusing on easy recipes. I thought I’d share what I’m going to make! First, from my own brain: I’m wanting to re-make a Pumpkin Turtle Cheesecake I made a few years ago. If that happens, I’ll be sure to share the recipe. Continue reading

Cocoa & Marshmallow Cupcakes

I’m going to pretend like it hasn’t been forever, skip all the rambling and excuses for not blogging, and dive right in. These are worth the wait, I promise:


My mom always made cocoa in a big pot on the stove while we went sledding in the backyard (we had the perfect sledding hill). I helped her a few times when I was little, and then started making the recipe in a cup for myself almost every morning. We dipped hot buttered toast in it, which was amazing.  Continue reading

Steps to Officially Becoming a Food Scientist

Step 1. Take classes on everything from organic chemistry to the scientific study of food and enjoy making donuts but not chemical structures out of toys (seriously, they still do that in college).


0739t0001tStep 2. Graduate and ‘make history’ by being a part of the largest graduating class ever. This translates into the longest ceremony ever, in which I left immediately after getting my diploma cover.


Step 3. Have a big park party with family and friends that includes a popcorn bar and two pinatas. Go out with friends for an after party that consists of laser tag and bowling until 2 AM.







Step 4. Get a job as an Associate Analytical Scientist and try to figure out what that means before starting work 1 ½ weeks after graduation (hint: nailed it. I think).



Step 5. Try to survive as an adult after having the easiest last semester ever! 🙂

Note: My USB port and memory card reader on my computer stopped working, so I’m struggling to upload pictures of some recent baking creations. As soon as I get it fixed, prepare for some addictive recipes!


Meals I Make: Recent Winning Recipes

It’s summer! I’m soaking it up, because fall may be my favorite season, but summer is pretty hard to beat. Plus, this is the last summer where I’ll be off school and work, so I’ve been enjoying the free time. We got all moved in to our new place and I’ve been walking my dog Jade every day! We took an hour long walk this morning while it was still cool outside. The weather has been amazing lately!
I’ve been inspired to make some tropical-themed suppers lately. Fruit is delicious right now, and I got a perfect pineapple and mango. I thought I’d share some of my favorite meals from this week. I’m sorry that I don’t have photos of them all, but the original posts have awesome photos if you need to see them. By the time I get supper made, we just dive in without snapping photos first. I honestly don’t know how food bloggers do it! Desserts are so much easier to capture for me.

These Crock Pot Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Slaw are our favorite new tacos, and I loved that I didn’t have to heat up the kitchen to make them! I left out the sriracha and the brown sugar and we ended up with crunchy, sweet, spicy tacos. It was the perfect blend of flavors and textures!

These Margarita Enchiladas are more complicated, but so worth it. I used this marinade (without the tequila) to make the chicken, then mixed up some homemade enchilada sauce (with half the oil) to make these enchiladas (without the onions, olives, and chilies). I added some sautéed onions and bell peppers.

These Mango BBQ Quesadillas also took three separate recipes, but they’re incredibly simple. I think when you start with fresh ingredients, and even though they take more time to prep, the end results are worth it! These were juicy, full of flavor, plus you can make the sauce and salsa in a blender or Ninja to make it go faster.

If you want a true midwest meal, just make some really excellent steak like these Pan-Seared Riby-Eye Filets and Cheesy Roasted Garlic Corn on the Cob. Maybe throw in some sautéed peppers, fresh tomatoes, or grilled zucchini to balance things out. I have more, but I’ll stop for now. I’m hungry!