Blueberry Lemon Macarons

In honor of my sister-in-law heading to Spain and Paris for a month (so jealous), I made macarons for her bon voyage party, like she won’t get her fill of them in Paris. Let’s just take a moment of silence as we approach the holy grail of patisseries…

…the macaron.

Soak it in. Mmmmmmmm. Ok, that’s good. Now let’s dig into this recipe.

Here’s what I did…

the ingredients. Egg whites, sugar, almond flour, confectioners sugar, dye, candy thermometer, spatula, water,

the ingredients. Egg whites, sugar, almond flour, confectioners sugar, dye, candy thermometer, spatula, water,

trace circles on parchment that can be slid out from under the macarons parchment

trace circles on parchment that can be slid out from under the macarons parchment

almond flour and confectioners sugar

almond flour and confectioners sugar

combined with whisk, making a well for the egg whites

combined with whisk, making a well for the egg whites

2 eggs white and food dye added to make this colorful thick paste

2 eggs white and food dye added to make this colorful thick paste

cover the almond paste to prevent drying

cover the almond paste to prevent drying

place sugar and water to saucepan

place sugar and water to saucepan

beat egg whites until soft peaks form, adding 35g of sugar at this point

beat egg whites until soft peaks form, adding 35g of sugar at this point

heat the sugar until 240º

heat the sugar until 240º

drizzle in the molten sugar syrup slowly while mixing

drizzle in the molten sugar syrup slowly while mixing

meringue holds a firm string of whites when pulled

meringue holds a firm string of whites when pulled

add 1/3 of the meringue to the almond paste

add 1/3 of the meringue to the almond paste

I added a bit more food dye  after the first round of meringue was added

I added a bit more food dye after the first round of meringue was added

add the rest of the meringue to the almond base

add the rest of the meringue to the almond base

fold together and press against the bowl  to combine

fold together and press against the bowl to combine

piping out little mounds just shy of 2", using my template as a guide

piping out little mounds just shy of 2″, using my template as a guide

drying out for about  45 minutes

drying out for about 45 minutes

notice the dull surface, these are dry to touch

notice the dull surface, these are dry to touch

check out those feet

check out those feet

shells matched by size and shape

shells matched by size and shape

shells filled with lemon curd and blueberry buttercream

shells filled with lemon curd and blueberry buttercream

hmmmm...who ate one?!

hmmmm…who ate one?!

handpicked flowers by little guys, macarons and coffee...perfection

handpicked flowers by little guys, macarons and coffee…perfection

showing us some macaron excitement

showing us some macaron excitement

thick, structured and just enough filling

thick, structured and just enough filling

Here’s what you need…

Blueberry Lemon Macarons

Almond Paste: 

150g almond meal

150g powdered sugar

50g egg whites (2 whites)

food dye

dash of salt

Meringue:

55g egg whites (+2 egg whites)

35g granulated sugar

120g granulated sugar

40g water

Measure precisely! Sift flour and sugar together and process in food processor if necessary to make VERY fine. Combine all ingredients in the paste until it is uniform and cover.

Whip egg whites for meringue until frothy, then add 35g sugar slowly until soft peaks form. While on stove heat 120g sugar and water until 240º (just under) then drizzle into whisking egg white on Med. High.

Add 1/4-1/3 meringue into paste and blend together. Add rest of meringue and combine until just dripping of spoon. Texture should smooth out into a smooth circle if piped. (This may take some practice to figure out the right consistency here. I’m not gonna lie, it may take a few batches to nail this aspect…don’t give up!)

Bake at 300º for 15-20 mins. remove from parchment when cool. Once you fill and sandwich together the macarons, wrap them in plastic wrap and let them sit overnight in the fridge to reconstitute the cookie and reach the right texture. They can be frozen too, only let them thaw in their wrapping before serving.

Blueberry Buttercream

butter, blueberry syrup and 10xsugar

(sorry I kinda winged it with this one, basically a buttercream overloaded with syrupy cooked blueberries)

Lemon Curd

Recipe coming soon!

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Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta Dough for Raviolis

As I was cleaning my kitchen today, and taking stock of the gazillion bags of flour on the shelf, I discovered a small bag of Whole Wheat flour that expires….AHHHH…04.30.2015….That’s next week!!!! Gotta use that puppers up so I figured this week I’d make lots of bread and doughs.

First on the list, pasta dough. “Homemade pastaaaa”…(said in my best Homer Simpson drooly voice) is such a treat to have. My kids are also a big fan of it to. Win. Win.

Here’s what I did…

take all the ingredients and combine in the stand mixer

take all the ingredients and combine in the stand mixer

add some water to bring  it together

add some water to bring it together

mix until its one big lump

mix until its one big lump

knead until smooth and divide into smaller portions to wrap up and let rest

knead until smooth and divide into smaller portions to wrap up and let rest

added the  pasta attachment to the mixer... I'm so spoiled

added the pasta attachment to the mixer… I’m so spoiled

Sorry about not having pictures of rolling out the pasta into sheets, but I hand both hands on deck for that and I could guarantee some epic fails if I tried to get an action shot of that process.

after running the dough through the pasta machine until it reached number 7 (very thin) I lay it on the ravioli form

after running the dough through the pasta machine until it reached number 7 (very thin) I lay it on the ravioli form

brushed the edges with egg wash

brushed the edges with egg wash

fill each section with a 1/2 to 1 tsp. filling...or go for the gold... try tablespoon!

fill each section with a 1/2 to 1 tsp. filling…or go for the gold… try tablespoon!

place another layer of pasta on top

place another layer of pasta on top

use a rolling pin to seal the two layers together and form the individual raviolis

use a rolling pin to seal the two layers together and form the individual raviolis

all pressed together

all pressed together

remove the excess pasta from edges

remove the excess pasta from edges

turn out the raviolis and put in the fridge until ready to cook

turn out the raviolis and put in the fridge until ready to cook

if you run out of filling, like I did, you can use the rest of the pasta dough to make spaghetti. These are dry and bunched in little nests for easy storage until I can cook them.

if you run out of filling, like I did, you can use the rest of the pasta dough to make spaghetti. These are dry and bunched in little nests for easy storage until I can cook them.

At this point you’re free to boil them, or even deep fry them for a different approach. I had so many, I ended up freezing had of them for another time. However you utilize this process, your with whatever you fill them, I hope you enjoy the wonderful texture of homemade pasta, and revel in the fact that you just made that! From scratch!

Here’s what you’ll need…

Homemade Wheat Pasta

2 C. whole wheat flour + some for dusting work surface

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

3 eggs + 1 egg for egg wash

1/4 cup (approximately) water….start with less and add slowly

Combine flour, oil, salt and eggs. slowly add in water until it just pulls it all together. Knead by hand about 10 mins until smooth. Wrap in plastic and let rest at least 1 hr. before rolling out. Keep covered to avoid drying out

Ham and Asiago Omelette

Eggs. Incredible edible eggs.

Eggs are a staple in our home. A. Staple.

Delicious, protein packed, versatile, and cheap! A few years ago, we had a small flock of chickens or as I just learned (thanks to wikipedia) the fancy term is, a brood of chickens. Whatever they’re called, it was amazing having fresh eggs, literally at my fingers, whenever I needed them. I say it was amazing, because all the chickens got old, stopped producing enough eggs and went to the big farm in the sky. But I’m excited so say we are building a bigger coup and getting more chickens!! I’ll keep you posted on that little project with coop construction, chick selection and all.

But for now here’s a yummy egg dish that’ll start your day off just swell.

The Ham and Asiago Omelette

Ham and asiago stuffed omelette, topped with big fat slices of tomato

Ham and asiago stuffed omelette, topped with big fat slices of tomato

micro-chives add a fresh onion flavor and a fun garnish

micro-chives add a fresh onion flavor and a fun garnish

sliced ham and aged asiago pack this omelette with a burst of salty, juicy flavor, while the tomato on top cuts it with just enough acidity.

sliced ham and aged asiago pack this omelette with a burst of salty, juicy flavor, while the tomato on top cuts it with just enough acidity.

Here’s what you’ll need…

2 eggs,mixed

3 slices of ham (or more if you like)

1/4 cup of Aged Asiago cheese

2 slices of tomatoes

1 tsp of chopped chives or green onion

salt/pepper

Mix the eggs and pour onto a medium griddle

Lay slices of ham on top like a blanket and shave asiago cheese on top

Fold the eggs in half and again the other way to make a square

top with tomatoes and chive, salt and pepper

enjoy!

Coming up soon…something sweet!

A Sweet time in Princeton NJ

Today was a beautifully sunny and flower filled day. Spring is in full bloom and a picnic at the Princeton Battlefield State Park was calling our names. Armed with PB&J’s, grapes, cheese, and diaper bag, we headed North and made a day of it.

the columns at Princeton Battlefield State Park

the columns at Princeton Battlefield State Park

When lunch was done we headed into the town for a treat. We parked on Nassua St. right in front of this beautiful sign…lucky day!

like a bug to a light I was drawn to this sign

like a bug to a light I was drawn to this sign

we stopped in House of Cupcakes (winner of Cupcake Wars)

we stopped in House of Cupcakes (winner of Cupcake Wars)

My head almost exploded when we had to choose a cupcake. There were like 50 options! I landed on a Mexican Chocolate with a spicy kick…so good!

My sweet takeaway from Princeton. A pistachio macaron and a coconut macaron.

My sweet takeaway from Princeton. A pistachio macaron and a coconut macaron.

It was a sweet day 🙂

Gluten-Free Turkey Meatloaf

I’m a big fan of classic home cooked meals. And, somewhere in the middle of my comfort food heart, sits a little plate (or big one) set aside for meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Mr. Meatloaf was tugging at my heartstrings yesterday morning, (because crazy person that I am, as soon as breakfast is finished, I’m thinking up dinner) so guess what was for dinner….meatloaf and potatoes. Well, turkey meatloaf because we were out of beef, and pierogis because we were out of potatoes. So, turkey meatloaf and pierogis….well, wheat/gluten free meatloaf because I’m following my “limited bread” diet…kinda, and dairy-free because my oldest son has a milk allergy. Whatever kind of dinner I ended up with, it was home cooked, comfort-licious!

Here’s what I did….

meat, eggs, almond milk, oats, onions, savory, parsley, salt and pepper  (pay no attention to the oil and garlic salt...they snuck in without asking)

meat, eggs, almond milk, oats, onions, savory, parsley, salt and pepper
(pay no attention to the oil and garlic salt…they snuck in without asking)

stir the eggs

stir the eggs

add 3/4 cup milk

add 3/4 cup milk

add 3/4 cups oats

add 3/4 cups oats

add some salt

add some salt

add 1/2 teaspoon savory

add 1/2 teaspoon savory

a good bit of parsley, fresh is SO good in this recipe but if all you have is dried, thats ok

a good bit of parsley, fresh is SO good in this recipe but if all you have is dried, thats ok

I had some leftover onions from our cheeseburger dinner...

I had some leftover onions from our cheeseburger dinner…

chopped em up and tossed them in

chopped em up and tossed them in

once all the other ingredients were mixed in, I added the ground turkey

once all the other ingredients were mixed in, I added the ground turkey

plop

plop

so that's what it looks like...kinda...eeew

so that’s what it looks like…kinda…eeew

didn't want to wash another dish so this one's getting some foil

didn’t want to wash another dish so this one’s getting some foil

small loaf pan covered in foil and trimmed up nice

small loaf pan covered in foil and trimmed up nice

sprayed with oil to prevent sticking

sprayed with oil to prevent sticking

rub that baby down

rub that baby down

preheat the oven to 350ºF and let it cook for 50 mins.

preheat the oven to 350ºF and let it cook for 50 mins.

add a spoonful of the meatloaf mixture to pan with 4 tablespoons of butter....the gravy is not dairy free

add a spoonful of the meatloaf mixture to pan with 4 tablespoons of butter….the gravy is not dairy free

add 4 Tablespoons of flour......and it's not gluten free either

add 4 Tablespoons of flour……and it’s not gluten free either

Cook, while stirring, until bubbling

Cook, while stirring, until bubbling

add some Heavy Cream...definitely not dairy free

add some Heavy Cream…definitely not dairy free

add beef stock or beef bullion and water

add beef stock or beef bullion and water

slice the meatloaf when cool enough to handle

slice the meatloaf when cool enough to handle

quickly grill the slices on a hot griddle, coated in Olive Oil, to bring out flavor and color

quickly grill the slices on a hot griddle, coated in Olive Oil, to bring out flavor and color

the grand finale.....Delicious Gluten-free, Dairy-free meatloaf with gravy.

the grand finale…..Delicious Gluten-free, Dairy-free meatloaf with gravy, which is loaded with dairy and gluten. Options people, Options.

Here’s what you’ll need…

Grain-free, Dairy-freeTurkey Meatloaf Recipe

(Adapted from my good friend Kathleen’s recipe)

1 lb ground turkey

2 eggs

3/4 cup almond milk

3/4 cup oats

1/2 teaspoon savory

1 teaspoon dried parsley (use double if using fresh parsley)

1/2 cup onions chopped

1/2 Tablespoon salt

 a few cracks of Black pepper

Gravy Recipe

1 Tablespoon meatloaf mix

4 Tablespoons butter

4 Tablespoons flour

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup of beef stock OR 1 cup water and bullion

Homemade Beignets for dessert

Last night was a great night at our house. We had two great friends over for dinner, the weather was gorgeous (we left the windows and doors wide open, we build-our-own cheeseburgers for dinner and had homemade beignets for dessert.

If you look at my last post, I walked you through prepping the beignet dough or choux pastry, so it could chill in the fridge all day. Tonight, after dinner was put away and cleaned up, we pulled that puppy out of the fridge and made beignets!

this is what the pastry dough looks like after sitting in the fridge all day

this is what the pastry dough looks like after sitting in the fridge all day

I used a Tablespoon size mechanical scooper to drop dough into the oil

I used a Tablespoon size mechanical scooper to drop dough into the oil

As pictured I used my countertop deep fryer, but you could certainly use a dutch oven on the stovetop as well.

floating beignets will soon double in size

floating beignets will soon double in size

removed from oil and dusted with powdered sugar

removed from oil and dusted with powdered sugar

beignets served with, homemade whipped cream     ala Jamie and dipping sauces ala Tim (thanks guys)

beignets served with, homemade whipped cream ala Jamie and dipping sauces ala Tim (thanks guys)

flaky outer shell and fluffy hollow interior

flaky outer shell and fluffy hollow interior

These perfect little donuts are ridiculous! I won’t tell you how many I ate…let’s just say I threw my GI Diet out the window today, out the window and down the street, threw it out like a moldy piece of bread from the bread drawer….I ate a lot of them. It’s kryptonite.

Check out my post from yesterday for the recipe.

Preparing for Beignets

Beignets. Tonight. I. Can’t. Wait.

If you’ve never had beignets before, imagine the best doughnut you’ve ever eaten, then make it fluffier, egg-ier, more deep-fried, and cover in powdered sugar. Even then, I can’t describe the utter perfection they are. Their hollow insides make them PERFECT for dipping into chocolate sauce or raspberry sauce as well as homemade whipped cream.

The first time I ever had beignets was at The Grand Lux Cafe and they were eye opening! I’ve managed to duplicate them somehow and am quite a bit of danger of gaining 50lbs from making them at a whim.

Only weeks ago, I found out beignets are made of Pate a Choux (the pastry that makes cream puffs and eclairs) but whereas the creme puff is baked, beignets are deep fried. What?!

SOooo, I took a reliable choux pastry recipe I had been using and dropped it in super hot oil and, well, it was a very exciting night. It was such a big hit, we decided to bless our guests that we are having over tonight with a fresh batch. I made the dough last night so it has time to chill (and so I have more time to clean my messy house before our guests arrive tonight)

WARNING! Once you try these, you’ll never be satisfied with a regular donut again.

Here’s what you need to do…

8 tablespoons butter on medium heat

8 tablespoons butter on medium heat

1 cup of water

1 cup of water

combined butter and water

combined butter and water

add 1/4 tsp salt

add 1/4 tsp salt

add 1.5 Tablespoons sugar

add 1.5 Tablespoons sugar

in another bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

in another bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

and 1 cup of all purpose flour

and 1 cup of all purpose flour

sift the dry ingredients together ....pretty like snow

sift the dry ingredients together ….pretty like snow

get your biggest wooden spoon out

get your biggest wooden spoon out

stir the water and butter mixture

stir the water and butter mixture

when it starts to boil its ready

when it starts to boil its ready

add the flour

add the flour

start stirring like its going out of style

start stirring like its going out of style

dough starts to form a ball

dough starts to form a ball

cook for 3 more minutes to cook flour

cook for 3 more minutes to cook flour

dough forms a tighter ball

dough forms a tighter ball

transfer dough to the bowl that i used to sift flour

transfer dough to the bowl that i used to sift flour

I get the pot in hot water right away to make for easy clean-up

I get the pot in hot water right away to make for easy clean-up

add eggs 1 at a time and mix until combined

add eggs 1 at a time and mix until combined

getting there...

getting there…

...there

…there

(5 eggs later)

(5 eggs later)

for making beignets, chill the dough. Old lunchmeat containers are the perfect size

for making beignets, chill the dough. Old lunchmeat containers are the perfect size

chill for 4 hours or overnight...yes that is lemon curd on the shelf below...yum

chill for 4 hours or overnight…yes that is lemon curd on the shelf below…yum

Beignets Recipe (Pate a choux)

8 Tablespoons Butter; unsalted

1 Cup Water

1/4 tsp salt

1.5 Tablespoons sugar

1 Cup flour, sifted

1/4 tsp. Baking Powder

5 eggs

powdered sugar

Cook water, butter, salt, and sugar over medium heat until it boils gently

Sift flour and powder together

Add flour to liquid and stir until it forms a dough ball; cook 3 minutes longer

add eggs 1 at a time

Put in container with lid and store in fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

Drop 1 Tablespoon dollops into HOT 365 degree oil (canola oil)

fry 3-4 at a time so it doesn’t crowd the oil

Remove from oil to lined tray, sprinkle with powdered sugar sifted over them

Tonight my guests are supplying the dipping sauces, so I’ll let you know what we end up with and I’ll be sure to get pictures along the way. Check out tomorrows post to see the finished beignets. Can’t wait!!!!!

Homemade Tarter Sauce

Yesterday was a brute.

Laundry up to my ears, a pretty chaotic couple of kids, and i headache that just kept nagging at me. So when dinner time rolled around, I was not at all ready to be creative with it. It was a fish sticks and frozen veggies kind of night.

But, you can’t have fish sticks without tarter sauce. Fortunately, it’s ingredients are always on hand and super quick to make. It can literally be whipped up while the deathly hot fish sticks are cooling to a safe consumption temperature.

This is what I used…

Simple Tarter Sauce

1/4 Cup Mayonaise

3 dill pickle slices, chopped

salt/pepper

lemon juice

start with 1/4 cup mayo

start with 1/4 cup mayo

I chopped up 3 dill pickles slices in liue of relish

I chopped up 3 dill pickles slices in liue of relish

add a few cracks of pepper, a pinch of salt and a 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

add a few cracks of pepper, a pinch of salt and a 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Viola...baked fish and tarter sauce

Viola…baked fish and tarter sauce

Rummage Sale

It’s that time of year again. Grass is starting to turn green, flowers are sprouting up while trees are start blooming, and the good citizens of NJ pull out their dusty stashes of hoarded goods, with hopes of selling it to a starry eyed treasure seekers, DIYers, and the like. It’s Yard Sale Season!!!!

We officially kicked off the season with a humongous church rummage sale (hosted by my home church- whoop whoop) and its really getting me in the zone. Ever since I was a youngin’ I have enjoyed looking through other peoples junk and can always find something cool. But I tell you what, running a rummage sale is a whole different beast!

I have to wrap my mind around “the shopper” and play this crazy back and forth negotiating game in my head to land on the perfect price, one that can withstand a good haggling but is low enough to deter anyone from really thinking hard about buying it. Eventually I got into a groove and was like a pricing Jedi. Workers would just call out a item and boom, I had a price. “Hey, I got a bowling ball in a bag.” And I be like “8 dollars.” Bam. Or “What about this 1970’s standing projector?” “Does it look clean” I’d say…and to a nod of their head I’d reply “4 dollars”…Like a boss.

All in all, I had a long day looking through other peoples stuff and I got some nifty little finds for under 10 bucks. Score. Plus, all the proceeds are funding missions trip to guatemala and the women’s retreat so…double score!

my little Lu testing out the vhs player and the rocking chair

my little Lu testing out the vhs player and the rocking chair

my kid was selling himself for $2...I told him he could get way more

my kid was selling himself for $2…I told him he could get way more

the chaos of sorting

the chaos of sorting

books, books and more books!

books, books and more books!

the wooden tool caddy I didn't get but still desperately want

the wooden tool caddy I didn’t get but still desperately want

Here’s a few tips for running a successful rummage sale

  1. Get stickers, masking tape, and tie on tags to put prices on things (you never know what items will hold what kind of tag.
  2. Use tables, racks, boxes or shelves to display items so they are at eye level or easy height to pick up
  3. Group items by category…Clothing, housewares, books and movies, electronics, large items, kids/baby, boutique (for pricy stuff), etc
  4. LOTS of signage, use bright signs to communicate to shoppers
  5. Bulk pricing to save on stickering everything. i.e.. all shirts $1, or all small toys $.25
  6. Have water bottles and cocoa covered almonds on hand…yum
  7. Ask for help. It’s more fun when you can chat with others and you can bounce price ideas off each other.
  8. Have lots of change and small bills ready for the cashier.
  9. Advertise well
  10. Don’t bring your kids like I did…what was i thinking!

my loot...two cool hanging baskets, 1 pitcher, 1 homemade tablecloth, and killer boots all for $4!!

my loot…two cool hanging baskets, 1 pitcher, 1 homemade tablecloth, and killer boots all for $4!!