Monthly Archives: September 2018

The sweet secret of spiced-pear muffins

Lately I’ve been playing around with date sugar in my kitchen, and I’ve become increasingly sold on it as an alternative sweetener.

Date sugar is not a true sugar; it is a naturally sweet dried fruit — dates — finely ground to resemble white granulated sugar, and it can be used to replace true sugar in many recipes. Because date sugar contains the fiber, minerals and antioxidants of the whole fruit, it offers a more healthful alternative. This kind of sugar doesn’t work as a replacement in all granulated-sugar recipes, though. Because it does not dissolve easily, it is not suitable for stirring into drinks or as a caramelizing agent, and its subtle yet distinct date flavor won’t work with all dishes.

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Upcoming Houston wine events and tastings

Screening of “Grand Cru,” a documentary about winemaker Pascal Marchand, and wine tasting presented by Avondale Food & Wine: River Oaks Theatre, 2009 W. Gray. 6 p.m. Wednesday. $20-$45.

Cakebread Cellars wine dinner: Ouisie’s Table, 3939 San Felipe. 6 p.m. Thursday. $125 plus tax and gratuity. 713-528-2264 or

Duckhorn wine dinner: Fleming’s Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 2405 W. Alabama. 6:30 p.m. Friday. $99. 713-520-5959.

Wines of Chile Tasting: The Houstonian, 111 N. Post Oak. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Free. Reserve by Thursday at

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A dish that makes spiralizing worth it

I have been slow to spiralize. For one, I didn’t have a spiralizer — and didn’t really want another large tool cluttering up my countertop. Then there is the whole idea of using a vegetable instead of pasta. It might look close, but the taste and texture are anything but. And don’t get me started on the word “zoodles,” which I apologize for using and promise never to write again.

Yet zucchini are everywhere in the last gasp of summer, and it’s still too hot to really cook, so I caved in and bought a little handheld spiralizer. The reason? I wanted to make a zucchini-noodle dish that caught my eye in Kim-Julie Hansen’s new book, “Vegan Reset,” a guide to eating a plant-based diet for 28 days.

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A cinnamon-scented French toast with a crispy nod to crème brûlée

When I told one of my favorite people at the office that I was working on a recipe for French toast, he looked at me incredulously. Without an ounce of meanness he asked, “Do people not know how to make French toast?”

After escaping the spiral of self-doubt that naturally followed, I decided that even if you roughly know how to make French toast, there may be a few things you can learn from my recipe. And if you don’t have a recipe? Well, now I’ve got you covered there, too.

I started with this Deluxe Cinnamon French Toast from cookbook author Lisa Yockelson that I had originally tested more than three years ago. I remember loving its crunchy exterior, but I wanted to streamline the recipe a bit.

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This herbaceous take on a blondie is crispy, gooey and impossible to stop eating

I tend to hoard cookbooks at my desk, waiting to flip through them when I’m on the lookout for something new/interesting/delicious/fast/easy. “Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb” by Hayley McKee had been languishing on the shelf for the better part of the year. The cover features a “naked” cake adorned with greenery and blooms, and frankly all I could think of was flower crowns and the gawd-awful scent of potpourri so potent that you can taste it.

Well! I am so glad my not-so-green thumb took another flip through the book — and you will be too when you get your hands on a batch of these one-bowl Salted Honey Bars With Thyme.

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