Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Daring Bakers try Macarons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Ok- first of all, I will never go into a challenge ever again feeling a little cocky. This challenge definitely humbled me! I was so excited when I heard this challenge was going to be French Macarons, I had made them before, and each time I make them I feel I get better and better at master the technique. So this was going to be easy!!! Easy peasy I thought, such a simple challenge. Well.....as you can tell from my pictures, I failed miserably! I wish I had some excuse for how horrible they turned out but I don't, it was just a flop, and to be honest I have no idea why! Did I over stir the batter? Was my oven too hot?? Who knows! I have never made macarons that have turned out so horrible, they didn't even have their cute little feet. Anyways, enough of my negativity, although they looked ridiculous they tasted fabulous. I tried out a new French Buttercream which I will definitely make again. It took all I had from not liking the whole bowl! You can get the recipe for the buttercream here This is definitely not the end of my macaron making. This just makes me want to make some more right now to prove I really can do this!! Check out how all of the other wonderful Daring Bakers did here, if you want to see some respectable macarons:)

My sad little macarons...but they tasted so good:)

My French Buttercream, I added in some vanilla extract and
vanilla paste, soooo good!

French Macarons

Actual baking time: 12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.

Equipment required:
• Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
• Rubber spatula
• Baking sheets
• Parchment paper or nonstick liners
• Pastry bag (can be disposable)
• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip
• Sifter or sieve
• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off
• Oven
• Cooling rack
• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)


1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!!!....a little bit ago:)

Ok, so my birthday was a while ago, September 22 to be exact, and I have all these yummy pictures from my birthday that I just have to post, even though it's ridicioulsy late. I had such a wonderful birthday filled with great food and yummy goodies. The Sunday before my birthday we went to my moms for a birthday dinner. She prepared Ina Garten's pot roast which was so delicious! And she made me the yummiest, homemade white cake. I got to be with my little niece who I love to pieces! She tried on her Halloween costume for us and was grinning ear to ear while she was wearing it. I think she knows how cute she looks in that precious costume.

The most delicious white cake, so moist and perfect.
Me and the little chicky- seriously, have you ever
seen anything so cute?!

Ok...this may be even cuter, my husband holding the little chick,
am I the only one who gets all tingly when they see their man holding a baby?
I can hardly wait for him to be a daddy, he looks too
good with a baby:)

I woke up on my birthday to this display of all of my favorite
goodies. Have any of you ever tried rips?? They are sooo good!!!

On my birthday I went to lunch with my mom and sis inlaw at blue lemon bistro,
then went to my moms where she got me some goodies from Dippidee.
This pumpkin cupcake was delicious!

Now this little cookie doesn't look like much, but
it's called a Heavenly Pieces, and it's from Dippidee...and
the name says it all. The first bite will take you straight to Heaven:)

For dinner Micah took me to Chefs Table, one of my favorite restaurants.
I always tell him I would rather you take me to a wonderful dinner
than get me presents. Chef's Table has the most amazing Tuscan
Tomato Soup, I always get that along with the herb roasted chicken. So delish!
It was such a lovely and yummy birthday, and here are the recipes for the pot roast and cake so you can experience the yumminess that I did:)

Ina's Pot Roast


  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 cups good red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in puree
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 3 branches fresh thyme
  • 2 branches fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Dredge the whole roast in flour, including the ends. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear the other side and then turn and sear the ends. This should take 4 to 5 minutes for each side. Remove the roast to a large plate.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the wine and Cognac and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the thyme and rosemary together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Put the roast back into the pot, bring to a boil, and cover. Place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender or about 160 degrees F internally. Turn the heat down to 250 degrees F after about an hour to keep the sauce at a simmer.

Remove the roast to a cutting board. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce. Transfer half the sauce and vegetables to a blender or a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree until smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot, place on the stovetop over low heat, and return the sauce to a simmer. Place 2 tablespoons flour and the butter in a small bowl and mash them together with a fork. Stir into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for seasonings. Remove the strings from the roast, and slice the meat. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over it.

White Cake

from the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book


  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or shortening, softened
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/3 cups buttermilk or sour milk


1. Allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour two 9x1-1/2-inch or 8x1-1/2-inch round cake pans or grease one 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set the pan(s) aside. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add egg whites 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Spread batter into the prepared pan(s).

3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for 9-inch pans, 30 to 35 minutes for 8-inch pans or 13x9-inch pan, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans. Cool thoroughly on racks. Or, place 13x9x2-inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with desired frosting.


For my birthday about a month ago my sister in law gave me a candy making book. I haven't been able to put it down since. I must have looked and read through it 50 times! My husband doesn't get how I can sit down and read cook books for fun:) I was very excited about this book because I haven't ever been into candy making, and I really want to try to make homemade chocolates and goodies for friends this Christmas, so I decided to start practicing with divinity. I loooove divinity! I mean what's not to love?? And it was fairly simple to make, the key is to make sure you whip it enough after you add the sugar mixture into the egg whites. I didn't whip it enough at first and it made softer divinity. After spooning out a few I put the beaters back on and whipped it for a few more minutes and it made firmer divinity that was much better. Can't wait to make these again, however I end up eating way too much!!

This is when I didn't beat it quit enough, it should be
a little thicker than that.

Daphne's Divinity
from Candymaking by Ruth A. Kendrick & Pauline H. Atkinson-a wonderful book!

2 egg whites, at room temp
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. water
2 c. sugar
a few grains of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts, if desired

Line a 15x10 jellyroll pan with waxed paper or butter an 8 inch square pan; set aside. Place egg whites in large bowl of electric mixer; set aside. IN a heavy 3 quart saucepan, combine corn syrup, water, sugar and salt. Place over low heat and stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved. Remove spoon. Increase heat to medium-high and cook without stirring until mixture reaches a rolling boil.

Clip on candy thermometer. Reduce heat to maintain full (but not rolling) boil. If sugar crystals are present, wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush. Cook syrup to 252 F. or hard ball stage. Just before syrup is ready, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Remove syrup from heat and allow boiling to subside.

With mixer on high speed, gradually add hot syrup to egg whites, once you begin to pour, don't stop and do not scrape pan. Continue beating until mixture begins to lose its gloss and holds its shape. Add vanilla, and nuts if desired. Drop quickly by spoonfuls onto waxed paper or pour into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Makes about 40 pieces.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Toasted Marshmallow Milk Shake

A little while ago I was watching "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the food network. This particular episode was called "Sugar Rush", and top chef's shared their favorite sweet. Chef Michale Simon's was a toasted marshmallow shake from Stand in NY. It looked so delicious I wish I could have jumped on a plane to NY right then to get one! Well, I finally decided to see if I could make my own:) I found this recipe, tried it out, and it was amazing! I actually just put down my empty glass and wish there was more in it. My husband raved about it and said that it was the best thing he ever ate:) It was so simple, and you probably have all of the ingredients on hand. I used mini marshmallows instead of the large because that's what I had in my pantry. Sorry about the not so good pics, whenever I take pics at night they look awful because the lighting is so bad.

On a personal note, I have some excited things coming up! Well....exciting to me anyways:) This Sunday is my last progesterone shot!!!!!! After tonight, I will only have 3 more to do!!! I can hardly believe it. I know in a post a little while ago I said I could stop the shots on Oct. 4th, but my Dr wanted me to continue till my 12th week. Also, this Sunday marks my 12th week of pregnancy, and my Dr said that miscarriage rates go way down after 12 weeks. I have felt like this week has been a hurtle I just need to get over, and then a huge weight of stress will be lifted off of me! I know things aren't guaranteed to be perfect from here on out, but I am really excited to start having a normal pregnancy with no shots involved. I have had a shot every night since July 12th, sometimes 3 shots a night-so I am so excited to be done! Plus my bum is getting a little sore from all of the poking and I can't wait for it to feel better!

Toasted Marshmallow Shake
recipe by
chef Spike Mendelsohn's
Serves 4

  • 1 bag jumbo marshmallows
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 2 cups creamy vanilla ice cream
On a medium-size cookie sheet, place 1/2 bag of marshmallows in a row.
Place under your burner in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until completely charred.
Take out of oven and let cool.
Repeat this step but only let the marshmallows toast, so they are slightly burnt.
Take out of oven and let cool.
In a blender, pour milk, sour cream, ice cream and charred marshmallows.
Mix for 5 minutes.
Pour in a large glass and top with 2 to 3 toasted marshmallows.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Delish Homemade Mac n' Cheese

On Sunday I went to my moms for dinner and was so excited to find out that she had made Ina Garten's macaroni and cheese. I had just recently watched an episode with Ina making this dish and was completely salivating while I watched! I couldn't wait to make it, but luckily for me I got to have someone else make it:) It was absolutely delicious, so yummy and comforting. Just what me and the baby were craving:)

Ina Garten's Macaroni and Cheese


  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Is 11 weeks to early to be planning a nursery???

On Sunday I will be 11 weeks pregnant, and already I am obsessed with wanting to decorate the nursery! I wish I knew what I was having it would make things alot easier. If it's a girl I don't want to do a pink nursery, and if it's a boy I don't want to do a blue nursery. I just want it to be full of lots of color...but if it is a girl look at this adorable bunny print from Anna Griffin in her Riley collection. I am absolutely obsessed with it! Do you think it could be used for boy or girl? Some people say yes some say no. If it was a boy and I did use it it would be in smaller amounts and I would pair it with a really cute brown fabric with lots of colored polka dots. My husband said there is no way if we have a boy that he will have a pink bunny blanket:) But it's so dang cute!!!!

And look at this cute stripe that I could pair with it!! If it was
a girl of course:)

Now if it's a boy I think I could definitely use this daring circus print
also from Anna Griffin. Don't you think? My husband might
have to deal with a little pink:)

So I have nothing to say about food right now, just had to get off my chest how obsessed I am with thinking about my little nursery and how badly I want to start a quilt for it! Guess I'll have to be patient:)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More blogging, heartbeats, and granola bars

So admittedly, I have been a horrible blogger! So so horrible that I haven't even blogged about my birthday...which happened September 22nd! I definitely need to get on the ball. So here is my plan. I am committing to blogging every other day for a week. I know I know, to many of you blogger's that may sound pretty weak, but the way I have been at it lately it will be a huge improvement. So the goal, every other day, till next Thursday:)

Some personal stuff, Micah and I heard our babies heart beat for the first time a couple days ago. It was really cool. We even got to see the little guy (or gal) wiggle around a bit. It is just the size of a kumquat so still very small. I go back in 3 weeks to possibly check if it's a boy or girl. Did you know they may be able to tell sex at 13 weeks? We want to find out soon because if it's a boy I will still have to have an amnio to make sure the baby doesn't have the disease. I'm not too excited about that.

Ok, now on to cooking news. I have actually been cooking alot even though I haven't posted about it. A couple weeks ago I decided to be a really cute wife and make my husband some home made granola bars to take to school with him. I used an Ina Garten recipe and absolutely loved it. However I did leave alot of things out. Like...the dates, apricots, and cranberries. I am not a big dried fruit fan. But I did replace them with something even better, chocolate chips and butterscotch chocolate chips! Really yummy! My husband loved them. If you have a chance try them out and let me know what you think!

Ina wrapped hers up all cutesy in parchment paper, I tried that with
a couple of them but it was the biggest pain! Tape wouldn't stick
to the parchment so they just kept flopping open, so for the rest
I used saran wrap.

Ina Garten Granola Bars


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.