Her recipes are inspired, and her photography is clean and classic, as seen in her Butter Cookies, Classic Napoleons, and Pumpkin Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies seen above. If you’ve been wondering who’s behind that cute little wedding cake avatar, here’s our chance to get to know her better. Everyone, say hello to Tracy!
Tracy (sugarcrafter), as she’s known here at Tasty Kitchen, lives in upstate New York with her husband of almost 5 years (they have an anniversary coming up this summer!). The “totally geeky” couple met in college, where they earned their engineering degrees. She’s a technical writer who loves her job, but fortunately for us, she loves baking, cooking, and blogging even more. (She says that she even enjoys cleaning, calling it “oddly relaxing.” I’m hoping she’ll come over to my house and oddly relax here a bit.)
Tracy calls her blog Sugarcrafter because she loves baking sweet stuff and cake decorating. So you know this post will be showing off some of the amazing delights in her Tasty Kitchen recipe box, like the lovely dishes below that feature chocolate and berries. Chocolate because maybe—just maybe—it’s a Tasty Kitchen favorite item, and berries because in the summer, Tracy can’t get enough of them.
Clockwise from top left: Cannoli Cupcakes, a decadent Chocolate Pomegranate Mousse, a summery Very Berry Pie, classic Chocolate Crinkles, a wonderfully refreshing Strawberry Sorbet, and a rich Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake.
But there’s more to Tracy’s repertoire than desserts. She admits that she knew nothing about cooking, and when she was first starting to learn, she was terrible at it. She may have gotten by without it in college, where she relied on ramen and the dining hall for meals. But marriage changed all that. So she started with some of the basics armed with the Betty Crocker Bridal Edition cookbook, which was a wedding gift. Before long, she realized that she liked cooking and loved baking. For someone who confesses to once setting spaghetti on fire (we’ll get the scoop on this later), she certainly has come a long way. Just look at some of her main course recipes below.
Clockwise from top left: Szechwan Shrimp, Rosemary Tomato Artichoke Tart, Sesame Chicken that looks so much better than anything delivered, Eggplant Parmigiana, and cute little breakfast Quiche Lorraine Tartlets.
Another thing that she never dreamed she’d be able to do is make her own bread. And yet, not only is she a regular artisan bread maker, but it sure looks like she’s got a handle on all the other kinds of breads too, from sandwich loaves (like the Honey Oatmeal Bread below on the left), to Pumpkin Muffins, or the fall favorite quick bread Classic Pumpkin Bread.
Tracy has some delicious side dishes as well, although they look so good that they just might upstage the main course. She uses sweet potatoes to make her Roasted Sweet Potato Fries seen below, as well as a Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sauce. She gets creative and makes pumpkin the star of her Pumpkin Bisque, but is also quite comfortable with a straightforward Southern classic below: Hushpuppies. And her Tortellini Antipasto is just the right grilling or summer outing companion.
Of course, true to her blog name, her artistry really shines when it comes to the sweet stuff. She does, after all, consider herself mostly a baker. Which is why it’s no surprise that her favorite kitchen tool is her KitchenAid mixer, used for baking cakes and cheesecakes and kneading breads. Or that she panics when she realizes she’s out of flour. I’d panic, too, if I knew how to make some of the goodies that she makes but had no flour with which to make them. Here are just a few more of her stunning desserts, including a few that don’t require flour. (Tracy sure knows how to do contingency planning.)
Clockwise from top left: Espresso Ice Cream, Rhubarb Crumble (Tracy loves rhubarb in the summer), Cranberry Sandies, Pumpkin Spice Latte and Pumpkin Blondies (can you tell she loves pumpkin when it’s in season?), and simple, delicious Candy Corn Kisses.
Are you getting hungry looking at her recipes? I know I am!
I’d show you even more of her recipes, but we might run out of space. And I really want to get to that story about that time you set spaghetti on fire. So I’ll step aside for a while and let Tracy answer some of our questions. Take it away, Tracy!
Q: What do you enjoy most about cooking?
A: I enjoy the creative outlet it gives me, but most of all, I like to bake and cook for others. A table full of people engaged in enjoying the food and having great conversation is one of the things I love most.
Q: Any favorite chefs or food celebrities?
A: I’ve always loved Paula Deen. She’s such a sweet and welcoming lady; watching her on TV instantly makes me feel comfortable and like I can absolutely tackle whatever dish she’s making. I love it when celebrities are down to earth like that.
Q: What is your go-to dish or meal?
A: Pizza. Since I always have homemade dough on hand, it’s easy to throw on some toppings and have dinner ready in about a half hour.
Q: Do you have a most memorable kitchen flop ever?
A: When I was first learning to cook in college, I had an incident with spaghetti. Having always watched my mom just throw it into the pot, I did the same, not realizing at the time that her pot was a lot bigger than mine. A bunch of spaghetti spilled out into the burner and caught on fire, and I panicked! Fortunately, my roommate was there, and she helped me put out the fire. Still, it was really embarrassing.
Q: What gives you the most trouble in the kitchen?
A: Basically, any recipe that requires peanuts/nuts, such as macarons—although I have made my own version with ground sunflower seeds. I’m severely allergic, so I’m always on the lookout for nut-free alternatives.
Q: What food item do you always make at home and never buy at the store anymore?
A: Bread. I just love having fresh bread around the house, both artisan loaves and regular sandwich loaves, which are easily frozen for later use!
Thanks for answering our questions, Tracy! I’m sure everyone will agree that you’ve come a long way from burnt spaghetti.
If you want to see Tracy’s recipes here at Tasty Kitchen in all their glory, head over to her recipe box and be prepared to start getting hungry all over again. And visit her blog, Sugarcrafter, where she gets to merge her three favorite hobbies: baking, writing, and photography. In it, she shares both her successes and her flops, and hopes that it will benefit bakers and cooks of all skill levels and help you believe that you can conquer any recipe.