Monday, June 20, 2011

French Macarons

Not to be confused with coconut macaroons.

Have you ever seen these little cookies? I think they are becoming trendy. Maybe they'll be the next fad. Like cake pops. But better.

Max and I first tried macarons last year when I bought a box of them from a local French cafe. We were instant fans. We have been wanting to try making some for awhile, but I'd heard they are tricky. So we studied up a little before attempting to make them.

I don't know what all the potential pitfalls are, but I thought they were actually fairly easy. Our batter came together just fine, and piping them onto the pan was easy enough (although messy). I have large tube cake decorating tips, but I imagine you could just cut the corner off of a zip lock bag and that would work fine.

We did have one problem when it came to baking. Our first pan of cookies, baked on a dark teflon coated pan, came out perfectly. Our second and third pans, light-colored aluminum pans, came out gooey and we couldn't get all of them off the pans without destroying them. We cooked them longer, but I think we still didn't cook them long enough. They looked set, but they sank as they cooled. So make sure you wait till they are brown around the bottom edges. Next time, we'll err on the side of overcooking instead of undercooking our cookies.

If you're interested in trying them, these are helpful resources.

Demystifying Macarons (PDF -- Includes recipe we used)
Joanne Chang demonstrates (YouTube)

We added lemon zest to our batter and made lemon buttercream frosting and lemon cream cheese frosting to go on them. I preferred the lemon cream cheese frosting because it wasn't quite as sweet. I also tried using some leftover chocolate ganache frosting I had in the fridge and it went together surprisingly well. I think some kind of a raspberry frosting filling would have been fantastic. Maybe we'll try that next time.

There are so many flavor possibilities with macarons that I can't wait to try them again!

Monday, June 13, 2011

California Eggs Benedict

A few months ago my husband made the poached eggs from Good Eats. He makes them almost every Saturday now and the whole family loves them. I occasionally make mine into Eggs Benedict, which is great but a little heavy. I found this amazing recipe for California Eggs Benedict and wanted to share. It is amazing. You really can't go wrong with avocado, basil, roasted tomatoes and cheese sauce. Check it out. 

California Benedict
From Katie Sweeney

6 roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise into four thick slices
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flesh of 1 1/2 avocados, diced
3 tablespoons basil, julienned
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/3 cup white cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Nutemg, for sprinkling
4 large slices of sliced sourdough, lightly toasted
4 poached or fried eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the tomato slices on a baking pan covered with foil. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 40-45 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  2. In a small bowl mash the avocados to make a spreadable paste. Mix in the basil, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add the milk and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. It will thicken. Remove from heat and add the cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  5. To assemble, spread each piece of toast with a thick layer of mashed avocado (about 2-3 heaping tablespoons). Cover with 4-6 slices of tomato. Top with a poached or fried egg. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the cheese sauce over the top of each egg. Enjoy with a knife and fork immediately.
Serves 2-4.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Melanie's Root Beer Bundt Cake

I decided to go back to the beginning of Delish time and try the Root Beer Bundt Cake. I think it was the first recipe posted? I was living in Ecuador at the time and I didn't have a bundt cake pan, plus root beer was very difficult to find, so I wasn't able to make it. Recently, I saw it pop up on a couple food blogs that I follow which was a reminder to try it out!

This past weekend we had some friends over for a BBQ so I figured it would be a great opportunity to make it (because as much fun as it would be, I just can't eat a whole cake by myself!). Everyone said they really liked it and they all ate it, but maybe they were just being nice because it wasn't my favorite cake.

First of all, like others said, you just can't taste the root beer (I used IBC brand). The chocolate is just too overpowering, but yummy though! Also, the instructions say not to overmix and that it should be lumpy, but to me that was a bad idea because I had little flour clumps in my cake piece. Not pretty or appetizing. The frosting was yummy, but I put it on while the cake was still warm (they suggest to cook it the day before- I wasn't that organized) so the frosting sort of slid down the cake. It tasted ok, it just didn't look as pretty as the picture in the book.

So, despite it not tasting like root beer, having flour clumps, and melty frosting, it still got eaten up. It was a decent chocolate cake, I just don't think I'll make it again. Oh, and serving it with vanilla ice cream is absolutely essential!

that's a ton of frosting!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chili x2

This is the Sweet Potato Chili that Danielle recommended.

So, here I am, two months after requesting chili recipes. I made them both!

I made the Chipotle Chocolate Chili from Melanie first. Despite everything she said and everything I've read on adding chocolate to savory dishes, I still thought that putting it in would somehow give a hint of chocolate-y flavor, but now I know for myself that is not the case at all. It just adds extra depth, exactly like Melanie said. I almost didn't add it, but I'm really glad I did! I decided I had to risk it after test-tasting and thinking it seemed to be missing something. I really liked this chili and my family did too. My husband loves chipotle flavor and I wish so much that I loved it, too, but I prefer it to be subtle, so the diced tomatoes I used were the Mexican-style ones with chipotles in, rather than the chilis in adobo sauce, which I find to be too strong for me.

The Sweet Potato Chili from Danielle was good too! I did miss the meat flavor some (not the meat texture, though--this chili has great texture and the sweet potatoes are a good addition), but I think that's partly my taste buds expecting meaty flavor since my brain knows I'm eating chili. I'd give this one a shot again before trying another vegetarian chili. I cooked it in the crock pot and it smelled so delicious all day while it was simmering! The spices on this one are really nice.

Thanks again, Danielle and Melanie, for providing those recipes!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chicken Quinoa Stew

I finally made something blog-worthy! This Chicken Quinoa Stew was pretty amazing. I found it here:

If you haven't heard of quinoa, or if you have heard of quinoa but haven't cooked with it, you should definitely make this recipe to try it out! I first heard of quinoa while I was living in Ecuador because it orginates in the Andes Mountains there, but it has recently become a lot more popular here in the U.S. Quinoa is a grain that I like to describe as a cross between rice and pasta, but the grains are teeny tiny. It's very healthy because it's super high in protein and a good source of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. It's also gluten-free! It doesn't have much flavor, but just adds texture.

We told my 2 1/2 year old boy that the quinoa were monster eggs, and he gobbled it right up. His exact words were "monster eggs good!" And I'm happy that he's eating something good for him.

I love making stews and soups because they are so healthy and always delicious! This stew has a nice spicy kick to it that could be doctored up or down, depending on your spiciness preference.
Also, the recipe says to cook the quinoa beforehand, but I had to simmer mine for 20+ minutes to get the potatoes tender enough, so you could probably throw the uncooked quinoa in with the potatoes and it would get cooked while you simmered. It would save you time and a dirty dish.

I wasn't going for presentation with this picture, but you can see waht it looks like.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grasshopper Cake

Long time no post! I'm still here and rarely cookin' anything blog-worthy since my kids never eat what I make...with the exception of cheese burgers, chicken nuggets, PB sandwiches, pizza...and I can't really think of anything else they will both eat. Not kidding.

I finally made this cake! I'm so glad Jeff's birthday gave me an excuse.

I am happy to say that I mastered the frosting! Okay, so I failed miserably the first time and had outstanding success the 2nd. Here are my secrets:

1. Use a narrower pot. I don't know why this made such a huge difference, but I reduced the 1st batch for 30 minutes and the 2nd batch in the narrower sauce pan reduced much better.
2. Don't bother trying to mix it to cool it. I think this is a silly way to let something cool. Sure it might cool a bit faster, but don't waste precious energy...just let the reduction sit for an hour or 2 until it is room temperature with absolutely no warmth.
3. Do not use soft, but cool butter. Use the butter straight out of the fridge and cut it into cubes. This is the only way I use butter anymore. It makes my cookies much softer. If you let butter get too soft it is going to separate and never return to its original form.
4. In addition to the above changes I also replaced some of the milk with some heavy cream. However, I don't think it is necessary if you use the method I've said.

I can't wait to eat this cake!!!! I had to blog about it now cause otherwise it would never happen.

The end product. I used Oreo Thin Crisps to make little sanwiches and they were perfect.

Use a pot like this...

Not like this...

Squint your eyes to get past the slight blur, but there is a little of both batches in this bowl. The failure on the bottom right and remnants of the success around the bowl. I had to use a bit of the bad batch since I only made 1/2 a batch the 2nd time. You can definitely taste the difference, but it will be okay. Certainly didn't have another 3 hours to make it again.

And can someone please tell me how to train this dragon?

Isn't creating food is exhilarating isn't it!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Great Dessert for a large family function: Cake Doughnut Bread Pudding

Recipe: Cake Doughnut Bread Pudding

I've made this for the past few years now for our Christmas Eve dessert. Its a big hit and the only changes I make are no raisins and we don't do the rum sauce since there are a few kids and some people who don't drink.

This recipe is from the food network and Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello specifically.

Cake Doughnut Bread Pudding

Prep Time:
15 min
Inactive Prep Time:
10 min
Cook Time:
45 min


8 to 10 servings

Bread pudding:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
16 cake doughnuts

Rum sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound confectioners' sugar
Dark rum, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, combine butter and sugar briefly, just until it forms into a ball. Add eggs, heavy cream, cinnamon, and vanilla, and process until blended.

Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Break up the doughnuts into 1-inch pieces and layer in the pan. Scatter the raisins over the top. Pour the egg mixture over the doughnuts; soak for 5 to 10 minutes. You will need to push doughnut pieces down during this time to ensure even coverage by egg mixture.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 10 minutes to brown the top. The doughnut bread pudding is done when the custard is set, but still soft.

Make the rum sauce: melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan, and take off the heat. Add confectioners' sugar to the melted butter and whisk to blend. Add rum, to taste. Pour the sauce over the bread pudding and allow to soak in

A Favorite Recipe of mine--and a family pleaser

Made this meatball soup from the Williams Sonoma Soup Cookbook.
Albondigas with Beef-and Tortilla Meatballs


1 lb lean ground beef
4 eggs
1/2 small red onion finely chopped (for meat balls)
3/4 cup crushed tortilla chips
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground pepper

7 cups meat or chicken stock
1 can (1 lb) tomatoes with their juice
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp red pepper flake
2 carrots corsely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped (for soup)
1 bay leaf

In a mixing bowl, stir together the beef ( you can use turkey or ground pork instead) eggs, onion, tortilla chips, cilantro, oregano, salt, cumin, and pepper. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Put the stock in a large sauce pan. Add the tomatoes, crushing them slightly with a wooden spoon, along with the sugar, red pepper flakes, carrots, celery, onion and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Moistening your hands with cold water, form the beef mixture into balls 1-1 1/2 inch in diameter and slip them carefully into the simmering stock. Cover and simmer gently until the meatballs are cooked through and the vegetables are tender about 20 minutes.

Discard the bay leaf. Taste the stock and adjust seasoning.

Notes: I used some corn chips I had for the tortilla chips and used a 1 lb can of chopped tomatoes. This was a great soup especially on a cold night. I didn't take any pictures so you'll have to make it yourself.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Home Runs.

I get most of my recipes from blogs or websites.

I have a few that will knock your socks off.

My husband and I fought over the leftovers. 
I followed the recipe exactly. I didn't know that onions could be so amazing. 

I just so fantastic. 
I add extra veggies. I also make a few healthy adjustments. 
But if you make it as is... oh ya... your welcome.

So easy. 4 ingredients. 
I was sneaking these until they were gone. 
I think about them all the time.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I recently cooked with barley for the first time. I'm not exactly sure why I never used it before, I guess I just never came across a recipe that called for it. Until a few weeks ago that is. A food blog I frequent is I love this blog because most all the recipes are winners! I make at least one recipe from this blog each week, if not two or more. Recently two recipes calling for barley were featured: Split Pea Soup with Barley and Ham (you can find the recipe here), and Southwestern Chicken Barley Chili (find it here). They both sounded delicious so I made them both.

(sorry, no picture of the chili)

I LOVED the split pea soup! It's a slow cooker recipe and was very easy. The flavor and texture were phenomenal. My husband was skeptical but he loved it and even ate all the leftovers. The chili was alright but I thought it needed more salt and seasonings. It tasted more like taco soup rather than chili, but that's ok because taco soup is yummy! It isn't a slow cooker recipe, but it probably could be adapted to be one.

I really like the texture and flavor the barley added to both of these recipes. I would like to add more grains to my diet and barley is such an easy grain to cook with. If you've never cooked with barley, try one of these recipes! I know we're getting out of soup and chili season, but if you're like me you enjoy them all year round.