Archive for the 'Pipe Up!' Category

Pipe Up! Cutesy little ideas for half cakes?


I ate half this sweet potato ginger cake, then made the rest into a sunny tropical vacation beach sunrise celebration cake for my roommate because she got a new job. What other things could you decorate a half-circle into? Rainbow? Igloo? Let me know in the comments. ‘

Happy Friday!


Pipe Dream #271: To Be in Good Form – Coffee Coconut Nanaimo Bars

nanaimo bars 4

I have a heritage, and it is partly Canadian.

Nanaimo bars are a classic classic Canadian dessert. In fact, it is one of the only food items that I actually consider Canadian. (This is probably a gross error on my part, and I may have just offended much of my family, but this blog is nothing if not my honest thoughts, come what may.) However, the coconut/coffee/liqueur additions I made are definitely not classic classic. They’re like the other side of my heritage, an veritable cornucopia of European cultures that is not fully described by my Dutch surname.

I’ll spare you the details. (As you may know, discussing your cultural heritage is a classic Minnesota small talk pastime, almost as popular as discussing the snow. I, however, find it even more boring than discussing snow.)

Anyway, the point of the story is that my cultural heritage is not strictly German or Italian or Canadian. And these bars are not strictly Canadian either. They are basically my family history in dessert form. The best form.

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Unlike my heritage, Nanaimo bars are quite possibly one of the most delicious bars you can consume. Equal ratio of nuts to chocolate to frosting all smothered in gananche? Why ever not?

Also unlike my heritage, this particular version of Nanaimo bars is actually interesting. The flavor mash ups are nontraditional and wonderful. An altogether smashing mouth-party of flavor.

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Behold the 1:1 ratio of frosting to base. My most favorite ratio.

Be prepared to spend a good amount of time prepping the ingredients and chilling each layer. You will not be disappointed.

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In good form,


Coffee Coconut Nanaimo Bars

An LH Original, adapted heavily from Cooking Classy

  • 1/2 cup butter, diced into pieces
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or almonds (I used pecans
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons Cafe D’Oro liqueur (or Kahlua)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla cook and serve pudding mix
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, add in brown sugar, coffee and cocoa powder and whisk until well combined. Whisking vigorously, slowly pour in beaten egg. Return mixture to heat and cook for 1 – 2 minutes until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Add in graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and pecans and toss until evenly coated. Press mixture into a buttered 8 by 8-inch or 9 by 9-inch baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer while you make the next layer.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip together butter, liqueur, milk and pudding mix until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stir in powdered sugar and blend until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Spread mixture into an even layer over chilled graham cracker base. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze while you make the top layer.

Melt the chocolate along with butter and coffee in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Spread the mixture into an even layer over the filling layer, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes until chocolate has set. Cut into squares, and store in an airtight container.

Favorite Shots: Popcorn Balls and Other Awful Seasonal Desserts


Ring a ding ding! Opinion time on tha blog.

One of the worst seasonal desserts ever: Popcorn balls.

One of the best festively unique desserts ever: Brownies topped with popcorn.

Try it, you’ll like it. Especially when the popcorn is adhered to the brownies with a layer of melted Rolos and chocolate chips. Duh.

Pipe up! Do you have a least favorite seasonal dessert? I feel like a stereotypical answer here would be fruitcake, but who knows? Maybe you hate buckeyes or something. But seriously, don’t hate those. They are amazing.


Pipe Dream #217: To Answer Precisely – Peach Cobbler + Maple Bourbon Cream Sauce

peach cobbler 3
You know those weird icebreaker questions people ask at functions/college? Not the ones you have to do as the official icebreaker, but the ones that always come up as like “interesting details,” that are actually uninteresting, but we all just pretend.
peach cobbler 5
Examples include:
What’s your sign?
What is your middle name?
Do you like peaches or nectarines better?
Seriously, that last one. I feel like people ask me that all the time. So often, in fact, that I’ve developed a pretty particular answer to the question. I mean if I have to recite my answer, I’d better know it in my head.
peach cobbler 2
There is no fruit in this world better than an in-season, perfectly ripe, non-grainy, ultra-sweet peach. In all cases other than the perfect peach, I prefer nectarines, primarily because they don’t have any fuzz on.
peach cobbler 7
peach cobbler 1
The following cobbler could be made with either, depending on what’s available. The great thing about baking peaches is that all the problems you might have worried about had you been trying to eat them raw (graininess, sweetness, unripeness) dissolve in a happy amalgamation of golden pulp.
peach cobbler 6
peach cobbler 8
Smothered in bizkit and maple bourbon cream sauce. This dessert was actually so good that I ate three servings of it without batting a lash. I didn’t even have to justify in my mind. I just know that this kind of most perfect peach experience only happens in my life every three years, so imma take advantage.
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So what about you? Are you a peach person or a nectarine nibbler? Does it matter? Please take advantage of any late-season stone fruit and make this. Heck, you could try it with flash frozen fruit. While not as delish, probs, the cobbler would still serve as a massively adequate vehicle to transport maple bourbon cream sauce into your mouth.
Peach Cobbler
Adapted from David Lebovitz
For the filling:
4 large, ripe peaches (abbou 2 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup sugar
a squeeze of lemon juice
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the biscuits:
1½ cups (210 g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons sugar
a pinch each of salt and nutmeg + a dash or two of cinnamon
4 tablespoons (2 oz/60 g) unsalted butter, very cold
2/3 cup (160 ml) buttermilk
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon whole milk, half and half or cream
white sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Halve, pit and cut the peaches into ½-inch slices; you don’t have to remove the skin. In a large bowl, toss the peaches with the 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons flour and vanilla. Transfer the fruit mixture to a 2 quart baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, stirring once, until the fruit is warm and bubbly.
While the fruit is baking, make the biscuit dough. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 1½ cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, 2 teaspoons sugar, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Grate the butter on the largest holes of a box grater into the flour mixture. Stir just to coat the butter in the flour. Pour in the buttermilk and stir just until the dough is moistened. Don’t overmix.
After the fruit has baked, drop the dough in six equally sized mounds onto the fruit. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk. Brush the egg wash over the biscuit dough and sprinkle liberally with extra sugar. Return the baking dish to the oven for about 20 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown.
Let the cobbler cool until just warm and serve with maple bourbon cream sauce and vanilla ice cream.
Maple Bourbon Cream Sauce
Adapted from the Pioneer Woman
4 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 cup Whipping Cream
3 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring
1 tablespoon bourbon

Pour the whipping cream into a saucepan. Add the maple syrup, corn syrup, maple flavoring and bourbon, stirring over moderate heat until thickened and reduced by about one-third, which should take 15-20 minutes. Refrigerate the mixture until it is cold and thick, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t form a skin. If you are rushed, you can set the sauce over an ice bath and cool it more quickly.

Pipe Dream #191: To Be A Healthfully Interesting Addition – Coconut Oil Banana Bread

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Coconut oil is so cool. You can read about it here. To sum up:

The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. The benefits of the oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial properties.

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Clearly, coconut oil is multi-purpose, friends. In the case of me, I purposed it for this banana bread, replacing butter or liquid oil with a nutty, space-alien lookin’ fat. It has s super high melting point, so at any point below 76 degrees, the oil is solid.

Incidentally, do you remember that sweet magic shell ice cream topping you can buy? It’s liquid, but then when it hits the ice cream it hardens like a DQ dip cone. Because of coconut oil’s high melting point, you can create your own magic shell with just chocolate and oil! Sweet party trick.

coc oil bread 2

Maybe I should have included chocolate chips in this bread. It would have been like a banana split. With or without, this bread is subtly coconut-flavored and super dense, even after three days. Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried coconut oil in anything else; it seems like it could be a healthfully interesting addition to any number of recipes.

I want to be a healthfully interesting addition,


coc oil bread 1

Coconut Oil Banana Bread

Adapted from Chez Us

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil (or butter)
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 medium-size bananas
1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour (or all-purpose)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the coconut oil on medium speed until soft, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl halfway through. Make sure to scrape down the bowl and beaters a fair amount during the whole process; I found that things weren’t getting as well-mixed as I would have liked.  Add the yogurt and continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the sugar and mix until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and bananas and mix until well combined.  Add the dry ingredients, mixing on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the top is a deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Check it at 30 minutes to make sure the top isn’t browning too much. If it starts to brown too much, cover with foil for the remainder of the baking time.

Pipe Dream #160: To Fake Out Backdrops

I posted one of my dad’s headshots a few weeks ago in the hope that it would keep you coming back to my blog…
:] …and here you are.

Anyway, little known fact: he is actually standing in front of my garage door. I was feeling uninspired, and I figured this was a neutral enough background for a business-y shot. It’s not like I have a studio in my house I deal in natural light, people. But enough excuses.

How often do you do this with photos? Angle strategically to find the perfect background that doesn’t include an off-color or bad lighting or an unattractive advertisement (my particular pet peeve). I feel like I do it all the time, and I can’t decide if it makes me an inauthentic photographer. Oh, art.

If you can, indeed, call these art.

Authentically yours,


Favorite Shots: Depth of Film


I discovered the film grain filter in CS4. Maybe I should just buy a film camera. What’s the best one?


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