Chocolate French Macarons with Huckleberry Buttercream

French Macarons are one of my loves in the kitchen.  It’s a process.  It’s like ritualistic in a sense. If you only want to half ass make them then don’t bother-They aren’t going to turn out 😉 however… if your up for – go for it, they are rewarding little delights! I’ll give you my best advice on the journey to making your best Macaron.

To prep: 2 large baking sheets on the thicker side. Parchment paper lined. A larger icing bag fitted with a round tip. I twist the end closed and put a clip on the end so when filling nothing comes out. I then stand it upright in a vase or pitcher with the top folded down so it’s ready to go. Get your kitchen aid mixer out with the whip attachment in. Get out another semi large bowl for your dry ingredients. Measuring cups, a spatula, a wire mesh strainer and you’re ready to start!

This book has given me my best information and lead me to the most success when baking Macarons. 

I go off this recipe. Sift together 1 cup of Packed almond flour with 3/4 cups of packed confectioners sugar, 1/4 cup of cocoa powder and a pinch of salt into the medium large bowl for dry ingredients (You must sift them). Set aside.

You must age your egg whites or at least let them sit on the counter until they are room temperature or else they won’t get fluffy when you’re whipping them.

For the meringue add to your clean mixing (no residual oil) bowl 3 egg whites, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, 3/4 cup fine sugar. Whip on setting 6 for about 8-10 minutes just until stiff peaks form. You’ll be able to flip the bowl upside down and the meringue won’t move.

Next add half of your dry ingredients to your meringue and with your spatula whip around outside of the bowl and press the mixture down against the bottom every few circles. Add the remaining dry and repeat stirring until you can lift the spatula and the mixture falls off it like a ribbon. When this happens you are ready to add it to your prepared icing bag.

Piping your Macarons is next.  (Picture below is not the chocolate ones but added for a reference)

Make small inch to inch and a half circles about 1 inch apart on the parchment paper lined bake trays prepared. When making the cookies keep the tip low and steady in one place in center of Macaron. This helps to keep air out of them. When done making Macarons bang the trays on the counter about 8 times to get any air out. After about 30 minutes they should have a film or a firm top you’ll know what I mean. Bake one tray at a time. Have oven set to 220 and bake a medium top self for 15 minutes. Turn oven up to 350 and bake for another 10 minutes. You’ll know they are done when you can touch the top and it doesn’t slide. Remove from oven and set parchment paper on a wire rack. They should pop right off the paper. Do same procedure for other tray.

For huckleberry buttercream in a mixing bowl I added 1/2 cup room temperature butter, 1/4 cup huckleberry syrup, 2 cups confectioners sugar and whipped on medium high speed for 6 minutes ( until fluffy). Spread a small dollop inside 2 shells and viola!!!

 

Smokey Spinach Balls

We made Smoked spinach and feta balls the other day and they are so simple and really good. We also smoked tuna steaks, cooked buckwheat soba noodles and spiralized some carrots and cucumber then topped it all with chopped cilantro. I love cilantro! Nutritionally cilantro leaves and stems are rich in vitamin A, C, and K also including some dietary minerals. Flavor wise to me it adds a fresh citrus feel to dishes.

If you don’t have a smoker I’m sure this recipe could be modified to an oven and maybe you could add a dash of liquid smoke to add that flavor!

What to do:

2 -small tuna steaks cooked in smoker to advised done-ness. Tuna is one of those foods that everyone is different on how they like it prepared so I’m not going to get into that!

1 -package of frozen spinach – thawed and drained as much as you can.

1 -8 oz container feta crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

dash of cayenne

mix all of these ingredients in a large bowl and form small balls.

I then added some bread crumbs to a little dish and rolled the balls until they were covered.

Next we added them to a piece of cedar paper (can find at grocery store next to fish counter) and put them in the smoker for 1 hour at 120 degrees. We used apple wood to smoke.

1- package of buckwheat soba noodles cooked according to package instructions. Once cooked and drained add them back to the pot and add your favorite Szechwan sauce.

1 -carrot

1/2 English cucumber

small bunch of cilantro roughly chopped

I used the veggetti to spiralize the carrot and cucumber

Top your noodles once plated with these last 3 ingredients and add your spinach balls to the side and your tuna (if made) and viola! We accompanied this dinner with a delicious crisp Gewurztraminer from Nimble Hill Winery in Tunkhannock. 

Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Burrata cheese


img_1838When your fiancé says this might be his favorite vegetarian dinner this far… you get a little excited  😊 .  When fall comes around I crave butternut squash. My mom gave us a few the other day and I couldn’t wait to roast one. We’ve also had a container of burrata cheese in the fridge for a week and I have been wanting to make a great meal to top it off with! I love burrata cheese so much, and I’m hungry writing this…ahh!

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You’ll want to roast the squash mixture at 410 degrees for about 45 minutes so good idea to get that going and you can work on something else while it’s in the oven.

Here is what to do.

line a bake sheet with parchment paper and add the following:

1 butternut squash peeled and diced into 1″ cubes ( if you cover it first and microwave for 2 minutes it peels easier!)

4 red bell peppers cut into 1″ pieces

1/2 zucchini cubed

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp garlic powder

fresh sage and thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Get everything mixed up and in the oven it goes.

Half way through mix it around so bottoms don’t get burnt.

Once out of the oven I topped it with fresh basil, scallions, and a ball of burrata cheese. We had watercress in our bowls and topped it with the butternut squash, burrata mixture and drizzled it all with a little balsamic! Yum!

img_1839Eat burrata ! Thank me another day 🙂

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Enjoy!

A Week of Vegetarian Lunch Wraps!

I’ve been wanting to share this post for awhile now. My fiancé and I both work in a really small town. With that being said lunch options are scarce. But even more so, healthy lunch options are very scarce!! I also don’t really like to spend money on lunch unless it’s like a brunch or something and we are out and about. Since we have been together I have created Nate’s lunches mainly from the nights before dinner. It’s rare to not have food leftover with whatever I make.

Wraps are a perfect option to add all sorts of yummy fillings!

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Mondays wrap was smart balance mayo, diced veggies, and feta stuffed hot cherry peppers.

Below was Monday nights dinner. Roasted sweet potatoes, beets, red onion, and purple green beans with some radishes and a cayenne pepper sliced fresh. Then topped with some edible flowers from the garden! Pretty right?!

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Tuesdays wrap was hummus and topped with the veggies feta cheese and pumpkin seeds.

Tuesday nights dinner I made a filo dough crust pizza

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Wednesday he got a pizza wrap!

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Wednesday night I made zucchini burgers and above Thursday’s wrap was zucchini patty with a chili pepper in adobo sauce, feta, mayo, tomato, avocado.

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Lastly Friday, I made scrambled eggs, black beans left over from our nachos we had Thursday night, hummus, and tomato.

There you have it! A great way to use up left overs and create interesting food combos!!

Enjoy!

Pulled Jackfruit Tacos – Vegetarian

imageI’m one hundred percent, hands down, sold on the jackfruit craze. I had been talking about ordering some cans for months now. Finally I committed and ordered 6 -20oz cans online. We also recently bought ourselves an electric smoker. Sunday morning we got the smoker ready and cracked open 3 cans of the jackfruit-rinsed them and drained them. We put them on a pan and smoked them for 4 hours at 220 degrees- flipped them once during.  We used Apple wood chips for smoking which smell incredible.

With about 30 minutes left I diced up a few onions and sautéed them in about 1/3 cup of grape seed oil until they turned translucent. I added some freshly minced garlic and sautéed a few more minutes. I then added a bunch of spices.

3tbsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp chipotle chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground coffee

salt and pepper

Next I added 1 tbsp of flour

Then lastly juice of 1 lemon

Once the jackfruit came out of smoker and cooled a bit all you do is take a piece and split it up between your thumb and index fingers – giving it a shredded pulled pork look. We were shocked with how similar it looked!! Once done, we added it all to the cast iron pan that had the sauce – reheat a few minutes and you’ll be ready to go!

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As far as other taco ingredients go we used corn tortillas, avocado slices, chopped tomatoes, chopped lettuce.

(Someone also decided to add it to a hot dog bun below😆)image

We seriously were obsessing over the jackfruit for hours- it’s so awesome! It turned out so moist, and flavorful- I promise… Any and all meat eaters will approve.

let me know if you try it and what you think please! Totally new pantry staple in our house!!

enjoy!

Grilled Pizza

Pizza night! Friday night last week we hung out with my parents and mom and I grilled 2 big pizzas and some smoked Gouda stuffed Jalapeños. ( sorry forgot to photo those!) It has been forever since making a meal with my mom, it was really nice quality time!

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If you don’t own a pizza stone- do yourself a favor and buy own. Then cook pizza on it on the grill. They get this amazing crispness to the crust without burning. This was a simple recipe and might be at the top of my favorites list!

for the crust: this makes 2 pizzas!

1 package rapid rise yeast

1 cup warm water

combine yeast and water- let stand 5 minutes.

1 3/4 cup flour

1 cup processed oatmeal

1tsp salt

In food processor add flour and salt process a few seconds. Add yeast mixture through cute process until ball forms. Place in oiled bowl. Roll out as desired.

I like to spray the stone with cooking spray then sprinkle some corn meal before laying the crust down.

while getting toppings ready it’s a good idea to get grill going.

toppings in this order:

homemade pizza sauce- if not store bought

Sprinkled garlic powder

shredded mozzarella cheese

circle provolone slices

circle mozzarella slices

fresh thyme, basil, and oregano diced up and spread over pizza

cracked pepper

Looks good right?!

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Grill about 15-20 minutes on medium heat setting. Be very careful getting pizza stone off the grill- it’s extremely hot!!! And kind of heavy!

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Enjoy!!

Cucumber Summer Salad

So many cucumbers in the garden- anyone else?!imageThis salad stands alone or is great as a dip! Here is what I used:

2 fresh cucumbers diced

3 radishes diced

1 can Lima beans cooked

1 big bunch of cilantro chopped

1 sprig parsley (2 tbsp)

2 jalepenos diced fresh- less if don’t like heat

3/4 cup feta cheese and blue cheese mixed

salt and pepper to taste

toss everything together and serve! Enjoy!!

Zucchini Noodles with Sautéed Radish and Radish Leaves Pesto

I spent my Tuesday evening after work weeding the garden and re-staking up my tomato plants. While busy yanking out unwanted roots, I planned dinner in my head. Lots of zucchini ready… So I will vegetti a zucchini for noodles. We have lots of radishes that need to come out of the garden so I’ll sautée them so they become a little sweeter. I always feel terrible throwing out their perfect condition green tops… So radish leaves pesto it is. My sweet peas didn’t turn out with a great harvest but the few that I have I’ll microwave steam. imageWe also have about a half dozen baby corn on the cobs ready so I’ll steam those as well.  Ok I planned a garden dinner!imageHere is what to do:

1 zucchini- spiralized with what ever tool you own. I have the vegetti

1 bunch of radishes thinly sliced

(Tops reserved for pesto)

I steamed in microwave the baby corn and the peas I pulled from garden. Set aside until final steps.image

To make Pesto: all in food processor-

3 small yellow onions chopped up

1 small block Parmesan cheese probably 2 oz.

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup walnuts

radish greens well rinsed.

1 small bunch of cilantro

1 tsp Himalayan sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

dadh of cayenne

3 tbsp olive oil – more of less depending on your preference of texture.

Process and set aside.image

Radishes I sautéed in tsp avocado oil until lightly browned. Once browned I added in the zucchini with about 1 tbsp of cooking sherry. Tossed it all in pan for about 5 minutes. Then transferred to a bowl added corn and peas, salt and pepper, then mixed in some pesto and viola!

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Zesty and Messy Corn on the Cobb

Sunny summer Sunday afternoon grilling brings such joy at our house! Grilling smells so good, it’s a smell that I’ve always loved. It takes me back to being a kid -chowing down on cheeseburgers my mom would grill up! Ironically I make lots of veggie burgers and fish now but nonetheless still smells amazing. I’ve been midway running a marathon multiple times and run past people out grilling and I instantly get hungry from the smell, haha!

This past Sunday we returned home from a vacation at Rehoboth beach and decided to grill. We made Corn on Cobb and topped it with a little sauce I whipped up and some feta. Grilled Zucchini. An Asian inspired coleslaw. And salmon burgers.

Below is the cornimage

 

Asian style slaw:

shredded 1 small cucumber, 1 carrot, 3 radishes, pinch of salt and pepper, 1 tsp rice vinegar, 2 tsp sesame oil, handful fresh chopped cilantro, 1 Serrano diced, 3 tbsp sesame seeds lightly toasted in the oven, 1 avocado diced, 5 cherry tomatoes halved.

Garden Zucchini: I simply speared a garden zucchini. Put on foil for the grill and drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled salt, garlic powder, and pepper on them. Grilled until light char marks or your taste preference.

Corn on the Cobb: peeled the husks off and spritzed with olive oil. Grill until lightly browned or your grill preference. While it was on the grill I made the sauce of:

1/4 cup smart balance mayo, 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 1/2 tsp cayenne powder, 1 tsp chipotle chili powder, sprinkle of salt. Stir it up.

Once corn is finished on grill spread the mayo mixture on top of corn then sprinkle with feta cheese. Place back on grill to melt the feta a little bit.

Salmon slider burgers (we bought from Wegmans ) cook until desired liking.

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Let me know if you try these please! And more importantly, Enjoy!

Matcha Green Tea Smoothies

imageSome mornings you might need a little extra energy boost. This here is a perfect smoothie to do the trick. Matcha green tea powder is so tasty and has great health benefits in just one teaspoon of the powder. When I first got it I made macarons of course and lots of smoothies!imageWhen purchasing matcha green tea powder it might be a little tricky to find but I have bought mine from Amazon or at Wegmans in the natural baking isle. Surely most health food stores carry it.  Aside from matcha tasting delicious here is a list of health benefits.

Is packed with antioxidants including the powerful EGCg
Boosts metabolism and burns calories
Detoxifies effectively and naturally
Calms the mind and relaxes the body
Is rich in fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins
Enhances mood and aids in concentration
Provides vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium
Prevents disease
Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar

This all equals awesome- right?!

Here is a typical smoothie I make with it added into it.

greens  (spinach or kale)

tablespoon chia seeds

teaspoon matcha green tea powder

teaspoon cinnamon

tablespoon almond butter

1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1 banana

1/4 cup blueberries (optional)

milk preference/ suggestions

cocunut water/ almond milk/ skim milk/ water

blend blend blend – drink!

sometimes I drop a few ice cubes in it after and it’s so good!

enjoy!