20090514mixedreview-product.jpgShelagh Mullen is a career woman with a passion for the culinary arts. In addition to running a successful graphic design business, she teaches cooking classes, caters dinner parties, and has a line of whole grain mixes—oh, and did I mention she's almost entirely self-taught? "Through countless hours in the kitchen and in front of cooking shows on public television, plus a 15-week course at the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, in Pittsburgh, I've learned how to prepare some pretty marvelous meals."

She's also learned how to make some pretty magnificent baking mixes. All contain only organic stone-ground flours and natural ingredients, and they range in price from $5.99 for simple popovers to $12 for molten chocolate cupcakes. For this week's Mixed Review, I tried out the Fruit Crisp Mix ($6.99) and the Breakfast Bisquit Mix ($8.49).

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Fruit crisp is by nature a relaxed and homey dessert, so I appreciated how versatile Shelagh's version was—any fruit at all could be used. Since it's spring, I settled on a combination of rhubarb and strawberries. All I had to do was toss the fruit with a bit of brown sugar and flour, and the topping with 10 tablespoons of melted butter.

A good crisp topping can be difficult to master: too much butter and it comes out soggy, too little and it won't brown. How much cinnamon? Oats or no oats? The She Cooks crisp came out perfectly. The topping was at once crunchy, crumbly, and buttery. There were just enough oats to add texture without that unwanted granola-bar effect. Lastly, the ratio of fruit-to-topping was just right. With fruit crisps, too often there either isn't enough topping or there is too much, and it overwhelms the entire dessert. In this instance, each bite provided a burst of summery strawberry-rhubarb flavor and a hearty crunch.

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For those who may not know, a bisquit is a type of small baked treat that is not quite a biscuit, not quite a scone. The She Cooks Breakfast Bisquits are made with oats, dried cranberries, and white chocolate chips. To prepare the mix, all I needed to add was 1/2 stick of melted butter, 2 eggs, and a tablespoon of water. Then I stirred everything together with a fork, dropped the dough by the 1/4 cup onto a cookie sheet, and baked them for 18 minutes.

The bisquits came out of the oven looking like little haystacks. Fortunately, they tasted much better—kind of like a giant, cakey oatmeal cookie. Best of all, since they contain so little butter I didn’t have to feel guilty about eating one (and a half...) as a mid-afternoon snack.

I would highly recommend the She Cooks mixes to anyone looking for an all-natural alternative to store-bought, processed mixes. They can be ordered on her website, annd while you're there, check out her recipes. I'm definitely going to try the plum upside-down cake that's "baked" on the grill.

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