3 DIY Christmas Gifts You Need to Start Now

Categories: Sugar Rush

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Rachel Miller
Limoncello Christmas present.

If you couldn't tell by the Halloween candy already being pushed aside for candy canes, Christmas is coming. In lieu of gifting people with more stuff (since we are currently trying to purge junk), I've decided to make delicious edible presents this year. Every year I intend to do this, but typically end up remembering the week before Christmas.

It's prep time now. My goal for what needs to get started now: (some fresh items like cookies, jams, granola, and s'mores kits will be made right around Christmas) limoncello & grapefruit-cello, spice pear vodka, and vanilla extract.


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How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Categories: Sugar Rush

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Rachel Miller
Red Kuri squash.

Perhaps you have some distant memory of your mom roasting pumpkin seeds on pie tins for you. I do. As a kid I didn't appreciate the pumpkin seed. I just wanted to get to the pumpkin pie or pumpkin roll. Now as an adult, I want those toasty seeds. Mostly to artistically sprinkle on top of the pumpkin pie or pumpkin roll, but they are still a precious, crunchy commodity.

Last fall we taught you how to roast your pumpkins here, but don't forget about those seeds. They take a little work, but they are a well worth it fall treat. Plus, they look beautiful on top of your pumpkin pie or pumpkin loaves.


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How to Bake in Your Vacation Rental

Categories: Sugar Rush

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Rachel Miller
Cooking and baking at a beach house for vacation.

So you're going to rent a beach house with your significant other's family? Brave soul. I just made this trip, and made it home in one piece, albeit sandy. Since I'm a pastry chef, of course, I was asked to make goodies for everyone.

A generic list of available kitchen equipment was on the website for the beach house rental, but I was unsure of what else could possibly be included. Did they have a mixer? A microplane? A chef knife? No one knew. I couldn't exactly bring mine on the airplane, so what do you do now?

Here are some tips and some kitchen hacks for those of you considering doing some cooking and baking in your vacation rental.

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Bakeware Maintenance Basics

Categories: Sugar Rush

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Rachel Miller
Bakeware takes a little work but is worth the maintenance.

Bakeware can be a very expensive investment, and maintaining it should be a priority. However, sometimes it's hard to stand and dry every groove of your bundt pan, especially when that delicious cake is gleaming on your cake stand across the kitchen. (If you missed our post on how to turn out the perfect bundt, refer back to it here.)

In order to keep creating those perfect cakes and delicious baked goods, you have to have the proper tools, and that does include some maintenance.

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The Trick for Making the Best Bundt Cake Ever

Categories: Sugar Rush

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Rachel Miller
Bundt pans.

It's a tale that's as old as time. Baking enthusiast sees bundt pan on clearance rack. Purchases said bundt pan, then races home to create an epic bundt that will be ooh-ed and ahh-ed over at the dinner party. Baking enthusiast places bundt in oven, and revels in smugness at the beautiful cake to come.

Bundt emerges hot and ready. Baking enthusiast tries everything to remove cake from pan. Bundt is in pieces. Baking enthusiast has fallen to pieces as well. Weeps in corner eating delicious pieces of crumbled cake and drinking wine straight from the bottle.

What, that's never happen to you?

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I'm on a Diet! What Can I Have for Dessert?

Categories: Sugar Rush

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Rachel Miller
Fresh, ice cold watermelon for dessert.

Once, when working in a health food restaurant, a disgruntled mother approached me. It was an open kitchen and one of the servers had pointed me out as the pastry cook. She wanted to know what her children could eat off the dessert menu since they were lactose-intolerant, gluten-intolerant, allergic to nuts, and didn't like chocolate.

"Fruit?" I suggested.

She threw my ingredient book at me and stormed off. I wasn't trying to be cheeky, but I really didn't have much dessert-wise that would fit every dietary issue her kids had. We did gluten-free, but those options included nuts. We did ice cream, but it used goat's milk. And chocolate was all over that dessert menu.

In restaurants, most adopt the attitude, "If we can, we will." I gladly would have cut some fruit for her kiddos. We want you to have the best experience as well as a great meal in our establishment. Unfortunately, not only do we not know the guidelines for every diet that exists, but there are times when we just don't have the ability to make substitutions.


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Make Your Own Nut Butters

Categories: Sugar Rush

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Rachel Miller
Pistachio-Cardamom Butter and Cashew-Cinnamon-Nutmeg Butter.

I don't know if you have strolled down the nut butter section at your grocery store lately, but the options for nut butters are exploding past just peanut butter or almond butter. Cashew butter, blended nut butters, and nut butters with a variety of added spices have arrived to shake up toast, sandwiches and anything else we dare to spare a little spread.

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How to Preserve Everything from Leeks to Raspberries

Categories: Sugar Rush

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Rachel Miller
Freezing blueberries for use later.

When I was little, I remember my grandmother and great grandmother putting up fruits and vegetables for the winter. We had a root cellar in the basement, lined with wooden plywood shelves that held the jars of tomatoes, beans, jams and jellies, and a couple random bottle of sparkling grape juice, that I would try to negotiate out of the cellar and into my cup.

My mom reminisces that her parents would always put up pears and peaches in simple syrup, which was their dessert every night after dinner.

We now live in a world where you can get any vegetable or fruit year-round, and the need to can or "put up" seems unnecessary. So why should you do this and how do you even begin?

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Flavored Simple Syrup: How to Make It, How to Use It

Categories: Sugar Rush

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Rachel Miller
Cardamom simple syrup added to soda water.

Simple syrups are often found behind your favorite bar, used to flavor and add a bit of sweetness to your cocktails. Equal parts sugar and water (or liquid), they can be flavored with a multitude of things, but if you aren't mixing up cocktails every night, what else can you use them for?

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How to Make Your Own Almond Milk

Categories: Sugar Rush

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Rachel Miller
Fresh, homemade almond milk.

I grew to love almond milk in college, back when I discovered it on the shelf at the small market where I worked. I enjoy the taste of almond milk, and love adding it to smoothies, oatmeal or pastries. Lately there's been debate over just how healthy it is, but if you're lactose intolerant, the fact remains that it's a great alternative to cow's milk.

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