Sara Trice

Just a programmin', bellydancin', cake bakin' kinda girl



Bye Bye, Silicone Bakeware

I received the America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book for Christmas this year, and while leafing through it, I came across the “10 Baking Gadgets You Don’t Need.” First on the list was “silicone bakeware.”

What? Are you kidding? Nothing sticks to it! And … well ok, I’ll bite. Why not? “In our testing, we found that plastic doesn’t conduct heat very well and muffins and cakes did not brown properly.” I thought I’d try a test of my own, so this morning I made up a batch of banana chocolate chip muffins and made one half in my silicone bakeware and the other half in my trusty ol’ metal muffin pan.



The bottoms aren’t shown here, but the bottom of the muffin baked in the metal pan was nicely browned, while the bottom of the muffin baked in the silicone pan looked as pale and anemic as its top did. The sides of the silicone-pan muffin seemed almost burnt as well. That’s enough to convince me.

One thing I have found the silicone muffin pans good for, though, is freezing portions of chicken stock in pucks for easy storage. Other than that? I think I’m done with silicone.

Om Nom Cornbread

I love Jiffy brand cornbread mix. I like to keep a few boxes on hand at all times. It’s great with soups, chili, stew – most hearty American meal-in-a-bowl foods can benefit from a side of cornbread. It’s probably too sweet for some tastes, but I like a sweeter cornbread. (Hey, I never said I was a real southerner. I only lived there 9 years.)

Now, I don’t begrudge the Jiffy company at all. In fact, I support them whenever possible because they are a good company that treat their employees right and sell an honest product. But sometimes I forget to pick some up, or I run out, or they’re out at the store.  So I went poking around for a copycat recipe.  Turns out it’s not really that hard.

It’s not going to taste exactly like the Jiffy mix as written, because they use lard in the mix, and the below uses oil. Don’t freak out (unless you’re a vegetarian?), because lard probably isn’t as evil as you think it is.

Corn Muffin Mix
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix this up and store in a  sandwich-size bag. Makes about 1 1/3 c. (8.5 oz) mix.

To make, add: 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk

(If you have a recipe calling for a box of Jiffy Cornbread mix, add the “mix” above and the oil.)

To bake, beat the egg with the milk and oil, then fold into the mix until moistened. (If it seems too thick, add a little more milk.) Bake in a 400°F oven in a paper-lined (or use non-stick cooking spray) muffin tin. Makes 6 muffins.

I like adding 1/2 c. cheddar cheese and a can of green chiles before baking.

DIY syrups!

I’ve seriously been neglecting this blog, apparently. I started a new one, which you may find amusing:

Anyway, I made some syrups because I remembered helping my Mom making pancake syrup when I was a kid, and for the life of me I couldn’t remember why I wasn’t doing that. Sure, it’s not “real” maple syrup, but hey, it’s better than most of the stuff in the store, and a load cheaper. It doesn’t have any corn syrup, and the debate on that issue notwithstanding, at least if my friend who’s allergic to corn and corn products comes over, she can have some pancakes and syrup.


  • save glass jars from other products (salsa, spaghetti sauce, etc.) and reuse them**
  • use clean wine bottles and some pourers with hinged lids or syrup pumps
  • oil bottles with pourer
  • plastic condiment bottles (the squeeze kind you might put ketchup in, I’ve found these at dollar stores, big box stores or restaurant supply stores)
  • Syrup dispensers with handles

I generally prefer something you can close or cap, since you’ll be storing these in the fridge and they can pick up smells from other foods.
**To clean and get the smell out of glass jars, follow these instructions. If you don’t want to wait that long, put 1/4 cup of baking soda in the jar with 1/2 cup of water, put the lid on tight, and shake for 5 minutes.

Maple syrup:

1 c water
1 c white granulated sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 tsp maple extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 tsp butter extract (optional)

In a saucepan, boil the water, then add the sugars and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the flavoring(s). Let cool and store in refrigerator.

Homemade simple syrup:

(for flavored coffees, hot chocolates, etc.)
1 c water
2 c white granulated sugar
1 tsp flavored extract (peppermint, vanilla, almond, hazelnut, etc.)

In a saucepan, boil the water, then add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the flavoring. Let cool and store in refrigerator.

Homemade chocolate syrup:

(straight up stolen from Pennies on a Platter)

1 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Combine the water and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium while stirring to dissolve the cocoa. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Bring to a boil and heat for 3 minutes, watching carefully to avoid boiling over. (Turn down the heat, if necessary.) Remove from the heat and mix in the salt and vanilla. Let set to cool. Use a funnel to pour into a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to two months.

Sara’s notes: 

  • Give this your full attention. It only takes 10 minutes, so no walking away, lest you potentially have a burned, boiled-over chocolate disaster.
  • Use a whisk and keep whisking throughout or you’ll get scorched chocolate.
  • Be very careful with doing this on an electric stove. I have gas but I imagine you wouldn’t want to do more than med to med-high heat, since it doesn’t respond as fast and when it starts boiling it GOES.
  • If you have an empty 20 oz. plastic bottle, maybe from a previous purchase of chocolate syrup or some other condiment, this recipe fits almost perfectly in it.

Spicy Garlic Wing Sauce

Alas, I have no picture to go along with this post. Maybe some other time when I make them I’ll add one. I stole this recipe wholesale from Gourmeted, and didn’t alter it a bit – and let me tell ya, it has quite a kick.

1 cup Frank’s cayenne pepper sauce (I used Smokin’ Joes since it was on sale at Jewel. $0.88 for a pint! Not bad!)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1) Combine all ingredients except egg yolk, water, and cornstarch for sauce of your choice in a small saucepan.
2) Heat sauce over medium heat until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
3) Remove pan from heat and allow it to cool, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
4) While sauce cools, vigorously whisk egg yolk with 2 teaspoons water in a medium bowl for about 2 minutes or color is pale yellow. Whisk in cornstarch until dissolved. (I used my immersion blender.)
5) Drizzle sauce mixture into egg yolk mixture in a steady stream while rapidly whisking. This will create a thick, creamy emulsion that will prevent oil from separating. (Again with the immersion blender.)
6) Cover sauce and chill until needed.

As far as wings/drumsticks to go with this, I suggest Alton Brown’s method of steaming and baking the parts which is very well illustrated at Paul’s Travel Pictures.

Black Bean Soup

I’d have to say this is one of my favorite new (to me) recipes. I found it on Food Network’s site, and you can too. I left out the ketchup and halved the Worcestershire sauce, just because the last time I thought those flavors were a little overpowering. I also ditched the cilantro because I don’t like it. (I’m one of those weird-palate people who think it tastes like soap.) Oh, I also hit it for a little bit with the stick blender at the end of cooking so it thickens up. Next time, I will probably take the bacon out after it gets crispy and put it back in at the end, as is noted in some of the comments on the Food Network site. Oh, and they’re not kidding about 8-10 servings – this makes a lot of soup.

Black Bean Soup

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