I swoon for a good macaron

So yesterday, as I was coming down with a terrible cold, I set out to make quite possibly the MOST difficult thing you could make. A french macaron. Our friends had invited us to dinner, and I wanted to make something with limoncello and blueberries. So I started googling ways to make a macaron, and there are zillions of recipes ranging from rose flavored to earl grey tea but NOTHING for limoncello and blueberry. I should have known this was going to be trouble just from that clue alone. SO I went a little rogue and found a recipe and tweaked it. I have learned a lot, and I promise you that they did not come out perfect, but it was a valiant effort and a good start I think. So here it goes:

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Blueberry-Limoncello Macarons

Ingredients:

Cookies

  • 2/3 cup almond meal
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • Zest from 2 lemons
  • Blue food coloring

Filling

  • 1 small container of blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons limoncello
  • 1 stick of butter (softened)
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar

Cookies:

  1. Combine powdered sugar and almond meal then sift twice. You need a very fluffy powdery mixture. There will be little seed looking things on the bottom of the sifter, discard them.
  2. In a stand mixer or separate bowl whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until they are frothy (about 1.5 minutes)
  3. As you are whipping the eggs, mix the cream of tartar and granulated sugar together. Add the mixture one tablespoon at a time and whip until there are stiff peaks in the meringue. About 2 minutes
  4. Add the lemon zest and 3 drops blue food coloring to the meringue mixture and whip a few times until it is mixed.
  5. Gently fold half of the almond meal/powdered sugar mixture into the meringue with a spatula. When it is blended, add the second half and fold until it is a smooth and creamy mixture.
  6. Put the batter into a piping bag (if you don’t have one, just put it in a ziplock bag and cut a little hole in the bottom corner) and pipe one inch rounds onto a parchment lined baking sheet (do not use a greased baking sheet there MUST be parchment paper)
  7. Preheat the oven to 280 degrees. Rap the pan a few times on the counter to release air bubbles and to even out the topes and then let the raw cookies sit out at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, this will make them tacky and more firm.
  8. Put them in the oven for 13-15 minutes or until the top is hard. Do not let them brown too much.

FIlling:

  1. Whip the stick of butter until smooth and then slowly add the sugar.
  2. Combine limoncello and blueberries in food processor or blender. Blend until smooth
  3. Add the blueberry mixture to the buttercream mixture. Mix until well blended

Use the filling as glue to stick the two cookies together. Then Voila!

I am telling you that this is really not easy to do. My fist AND second batches were FAR from perfect. However, I found an awesome YouTube video with great tips. Because of the temperamental nature of macarons, you should watch this video before you start baking.

Entertaining with Beth: Fool-proof French Macarons

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Pasta? Nope.

In my quest to quit pasta, I have been experimenting with substitutes.  Spaghetti squash is no exception. I couldn’t believe it but it really does look like spaghetti, and kinda tastes like it too.  It’s a little crunchier, because it is in fact a vegetable but you can use it as a substitute for noodles.  I found this recipe at Real Simple and added some of my own ingredients.
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Ingredients

  • 1  3-pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1  15-ounce container ricotta
  • 1  large egg
  • 4  cups  kale, chopped
  • 1  garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp italian herbs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 2  cups  grated mozzarella (1/2 pound)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle the cut sides with the oil, place cut-side down, and roast until tender, 40 to 50 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, kale, garlic, nutmeg, spices, parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper.
  3. With a fork, gently scrape out the strands of flesh from the spaghetti squash and add to the ricotta mixture. Mix gently to combine.
  4. Transfer the mixture to an 8-inch square baking dish, sprinkle with the mozzarella, and bake until browned and bubbling, 18 to 22 minutes.

I Made a Casserole Y’all!

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So if you read Monday’s post, you saw that I was planning on making a casserole and watching Beyonce all night on Monday night. Well the recipe I provided you was not very good or healthy looking. So when I went to make it, I made an entirely different kind of casserole. Paula Deen would be devastated at my audacity to call this a casserole, since it doesn’t have any “processed cheese product” , “butter” or “cream” anywhere in it. I swapped in quinoa instead of rice, used greek yogurt instead of cream cheese, you get the idea.

What I did make however, was a really tasty, healthy dish that is going to feed Matt and I for like a week. It is even relatively healthy with the extra protein from the quinoa and the greek yogurt. This would also be great for anyone out there with kids (since I pretty much stick to the pre-k diet, I would know) there are no onions or weird ingredients just good yummy “normal” food. Here is the recipe:

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Chicken, Broccoli and Quinoa Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth (if its the condensed kind then thats 3/4 cup of broth and 3/4 cup water)
  • 10 oz. can condensed Cream of Broccoli soup
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded reduced fat Cheddar-Jack cheese mix, plus 1/2 cup for topping
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, cooked
  • 2 cups diced cooked chicken ( I used a whole rotisserie chicken, makes everything easier)
  • parmesan cheese and panko bread crumbs, for topping

Combine the quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 18-20 minutes, until quinoa is light and fluffy and liquid has been absorbed. Set aside to cool for a bit.
Preheat the oven to 400. Coat a casserole dish with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, combine the soup, yogurt, milk, 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, sugar, and spices. Stir in the cooked quinoa, broccoli, and chicken.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with the reserved shredded cheese and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and panko bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let cool slightly before serving

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Happy World Nutella Day!

Yes, it is a real holiday.  You can see that it even has its own official website!  Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso started this whole gig. So, this is serious business. All I could think about was what kind … Continue reading

Meals Schmeals, how about emeals!?

photo (66)I was sitting at my desk one day, minding my own business when all of a sudden, the guy that sits next to me pulls out the most amazing looking flat iron steak salad. I mean that thing looked GOOD. So, naturally, I asked him who made that, him or his wife. To my surprise, he did. Then he started telling me about THE most awesome thing I have ever heard of. www.emeals.com

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Apparently, it’s pretty popular. Basically you get an email once a week with a dinner menu with 7 full meals with the recipes. You also get a full detailed and organized shopping list so that you dont forget anything AND they like to use a bunch of the same ingredients throughout the week so you can save money on your shopping. You pick what kind of menu you want to subscribe to whether its, clean eating, classic meals, simple gourmet, gluten free, vegetarian, the paleo diet, low fat, low carb, and more. They send you something that looks like this:

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So after looking at it and seeing how awesome it was, I had to sign up! I even got lucky and found a Groupon for it. $29 for a full year of dinners!! Pretty sweet, huh? Am I crazy or is this awesome?