All posts by Breanna

Homemade Ricotta-Stuffed Ravioli

This awesome recipe (full instructions here) utilizes homemade ricotta cheese and wonton wrappers to make ravioli from scratch! Notice that they make the ricotta by using only lemon juice and whole milk, then letting it strain for a half hour.

What about the chemical makeup of ricotta cheese means that you only need whole milk and lemon juice? Why don’t you need rennet and the more complicated process that we followed to make mozzarella cheese in the lab?

Hong Kong-Style Egg Tarts

Hello! I love these videos from Buzzfeed – they’re really entertaining to watch and they have a lot of different types of cuisine. We worked with eggs last week, specifically with egg whites. However, this recipe focuses mostly on using egg yolks.

Based on what we know about the chemical differences between egg yolks and egg whites, why would this recipe focus on using the egg yolks? Why is there a difference in consistency between the tart dough and the egg mixture that is poured into the tart?

How To Make Dairy-Free Cheese

Many people are dairy-free, mostly for dietary reasons, like lactose intolerance, although vegans make the choice to be dairy-free as well. Many people with lactose intolerance dearly miss cheese because it’s super delicious and is so many foods. Additionally, buying dairy-free cheese at the supermarket can be extremely expensive. While this method is probably not inexpensive (it calls for macadamia nuts, which are about $17/lb on Amazon), it is interesting to watch.

The recipe is simple – 2c raw mac nuts, 1/4c raw pine nuts, 1/2c water, 1TBSP lemon juice, 1tsp apple cider vinegar, 1/2tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp sea salt. You just blend all the ingredients together for four minutes and refrigerate for 15 minutes. You end up with a soft cheese with a consistency similar to cream cheese or Brie, and can also freeze it in a block in order to grate it for shredded cheese.

What is it about the chemical make-up of nuts that makes them a good soft cheese substitute? Would you eat this on pizza? Should dairy-free cheese that is bought at the store be considered heavily processed?


Buttermilk Pancakes are the Best!


In a pinch and you’ve run out of buttermilk?

Lemon and Milk 

In a 1-cup measuring cup, add 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.  Top the lemon juice with with skim, low fat or whole milk.  Stir and let sit for two minutes.  After two minutes, your milk is both acidic and curdled.  Perfect!

Yogurt and Milk

Mix 3/4 cup plain yogurt with 1/4 cup of milk.  Stir and make it a quick substitution for buttermilk.

Milk and Cream of Tartar

Mix 1 cup of milk with 1 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.  To ensure that the mixture doesn’t get lumpy, mix the cream of tartar with 2 Tablespoons of milk.  Once mixed add the rest of the cup of milk.  Cream of tartar is an acid and will simulate the acidic environment of buttermilk in a pinch.

There’s lots of ways to substitute ingredients when you’ve run out of things. What’s an easy substitute you like to use?

Mislabeled Food Leads to Allergy Risk


By Breanna Bellatti

A popular Starbucks pre-packaged food wrap, the Edamame Hummus Wraps, were mislabeled for allergies, as they might contain pieces of Thai Style Chicken Peanut Wraps. This means the Edamame Hummus Wraps might contain peanuts, despite their lack of peanut-allergen labelling. The products that are affected by this mislabelled were assembled on 16 February 2016 and expired three days later, so they should no longer be in Starbucks cafes.

However, despite the danger being gone, this sort of mislabelling raises the question: If you have food allergies, how can you be sure you’re safe when eating food made by others?

Why Do Astronauts Crave Spicy Food in Space?

It’s an odd question, but has a simple, chemistry-related answer. Astronauts “puff up” in space due to the lack of gravity, as the majority of bodily fluids are no longer confined to the lower limbs. This swelling impacts their taste buds, making it more difficult to taste duller flavors. However, things like spicy food have a strong flavor and thus can be tasted.

Because of this, astronauts have been known to crave Tabasco sauce when they’re up there, which makes sense. If you can barely taste anything, you’re going to need to really assault your taste buds with intense heat and flavor.

–> What is it about the chemical makeup of spicy foods that makes them have a stronger flavor?

Astronaut with Tabasco Sauce