About Sara MacSorley

Working for science education and outreach everywhere. This blog is a place to share resources about marine science, science communication, and getting women interested in science.

Brownie Cupcakes

Who doesn’t love brownies? These brownie cupcakes from Giada De Laurentiis were a big birthday hit at work. They were pretty dense though as a full size cupcake. Next time I make them, I’m going to try mini cupcakes instead.

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Preheat your oven to 350 and get out your cutest cupcake liners.

For the cupcakes, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 (21 oz) box brownie mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 4 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 3 cups powered sugar, sifted

Mix together the brownie mix, eggs, oil, and water until blended. Add the walnuts and chocolate chips. Fill your cupcake liners and bake for 22-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before frosting.

To make the frosting, use a mixer beat the cheeses together. They should look fluffy. Then slowly add in the powdered sugar until its the consistency of frosting. Spread, add some extra mini chocolate chips on top, and dive in!

*Dairy free, Vegetarian

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Lemon bars

Starting my new job, I knew I wanted to do something special for each of my team member’s birthdays. For the first birthday celebration, the lady of the day’s favorite flavor was lemon. I decided to make classic lemon bars for the first time. Plus I made candied lemon slices for an extra lemony garnish.

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First, you make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 in pan with oil. Line the pan with foil leaving as much overhang on the edges as possible. Grease the foil with oil too.

  • Vegetable oil for greasing the pan
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

I don’t have a food processor (yet) so I mixed the ingredients with my immersion blender. Mix together the butter, flour, sugars, and salt until the dough forms. Press the dough into the pan to shape your crust. Back for about 25 minutes until golden, it will smell amazing.

Then you want to make the filling.

  • 4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks 
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice, about 8 lemon’s worth

Whisk together the eggs and yolks with the sugar and flour. Add in lemon zest and juice.

Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Pour the filling into the crust and back for about 35 minutes until set. Let the pan cool and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Lift the bars out of the pan by the foil and slice into bars. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, add candied lemon slices, and pucker up!

*Vegetarian

Nutella Muffins

I have never been a fan of peanut butter, Nutella though (a hazelnut spread) is a different story. I love it on toast, apples, and definitely in these muffins. The recipe is great because it uses things I normally have in my pantry and doesn’t require a special trip to the market. That came in handy during Blizzard Nemo – why not bake during a blizzard, we had power.

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The original recipe from Baker Street makes about a dozen muffins. The only change I made was softening the Nutella in the microwave for 30 seconds first – this made it easier to swirl into the muffin batter.

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups + 2 tsp flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used soy milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • About 1/3 cup Nutella

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease your muffin tin or go easy clean up and use muffin/cupcake liners.

Whisk together your sugar and egg first. Then, whisk in flour, baking power, salt, and nutmeg. Last, whisk in the oil, milk, and vanilla.

Fill each muffin cup with batter about 2/3 full. I use a small ice cream scoop to get even muffins, 2 small scoops is the perfect amount.

Add a small spoonful of softened Nutella to each muffin cup and swirl with a toothpick or fork. Bake for about 15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Manga manga!

*Dairy free if you use soy or almond milk, Vegetarian

 

Homemade hummus

I’ve been meaning to try to make my own hummus for a while now. I finally remembered to buy tahini and gave this recipe from Simple Recipes a twist. I roasted half the chick peas for a little extra flavor and it turned out great!

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  • 2 cans chick peas – 1 roasted, 1 rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2/3 cups tahini
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add all the ingredients together in a blender and puree until smooth. I like to use the immersion blender for easy clean up.

Use as a dip with crackers or veggies, or use as a spread on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.

*Dairy free, Gluten free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Roast chick peas

These are a great little healthy snack and super easy to make. I saw them first on the How Sweet It Is blog and have tried a few variations since then. I’ll usually make a big batch and split them up to take to work for the week.

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  • 1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Cracked pepper
  • Lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat your chick peas in olive oil and add pepper and lemon juice to taste. Lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Shake the baking sheet once in a while so they roast evenly.

Let cool and enjoy.

*Dairy free, Gluten free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Pumpkin pancakes

Every Sunday my dad, grandmother, and whoever else from the family can go have breakfast at Denny’s. Its great to hang out with the family when I’m home to visit, especially when they have pumpkin pancakes on the menu.

Since pumpkin is everywhere this time of year, I decided to try to make them on my own.  I used this recipe from Food.com and it worked out pretty well.

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  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch all spice or clove
  • 1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 6 Tbsp pureed pumpkin
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 egg

Whisk all your dry ingredients together – flour, sugar, baking powder, spices, salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together all your wet ingredients – egg, milk, pumpkin, melted butter. Fold the mixes together.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Pour in about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes.

Serve with butter and syrup.

You’ll want to stock up on canned pumpkin puree so you can make these all year long. Yum!

*Vegetarian

Apple honey bake

Its almost the end of apple season but I wanted to work in a few more treats. I made this bake for the first time visiting my aunt in North Carolina. I was tasked with dessert and this is what came out of the ingredients at hand. It was a hit.

You can make as many servings as you like, this recipe is for one large serving.

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  • 1 large apple, cored and chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 3-4 chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup pecans or walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in an oven safe bowl and bake for 45 minutes or until apples are tender.

Serve alone or a la mode.

*Dairy free (sans ice cream), Gluten free, Vegetarian, Vegan (with butter and honey substitutes)