Macaron Recipe and Tips

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These colorful desserts are so stubborn and are known to be one of the most challenging foods to make. I have been a part of the frustrated group of people who have failed several times, but now on my 6th try, I have finally mastered the art of macaron-making and will provide insight on my previous mistakes and the tips you need to succeed.

For the macarons, I used this recipe from allrecipes.com :http://allrecipes.com/recipe/223234/macaron-french-macaroon/

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Macaron baking tips:

  1. COOL TEMPERATURE: the temperature in your home is very important. It must be cool, a minimum of 78 degrees or else the shells will not form while the macarons are sitting.
  2. USE METAL BOWLS: do not use plastic bowls because plastic bowls trap moisture and oil and we do not want added moisture to the batter
  3. BAKING SHEET OVER PARCHMENT PAPER: This one is based on opinion, but I find that the baking sheet results in less browning on the bottom and the bottom of the macaron cooks evenly
  4. CREAM OF TARTAR: I believe that the use of cream of tartar when beating egg whites is important. When I didn’t use cream of tartar, my macaron shells would never form feet. I use about 1/8 tsp.
  5. BEATING THE TRAYS: Once you pipe the macaron shells, drop the trays straight down on the counter 3 times to get rid of air bubbles
  6. SITTING TIME: Some recipes don’t call for the macaron sitting time, but I say it is so necessary. Feet, which is unique to a macaron, is the little ruffled skirt on the bottom of a macaron shell. Let the macarons sit out for 1 hour before baking so the the shells harden, but the gooey insides cook and bubble out to form the feet.
  7. GEL FOOD COLORING: Use gel food coloring instead of liquid food coloring so you don’t add extra moisture into the batter.

Take these tips into account the next time you make macarons, and you wont be spending $2 per macaron anymore!

-Jamie

Skinnier Blueberry Yogurt Cake

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img_1376.jpgI have made this decadent blueberry cake twice, and every time the entire cake disappears within 2 days. I eat a couple of slices and then friends and family members devour it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Cutting the fat content as compared to a regular cake by 1/2 makes this cake more guilt-free, and also it has blueberries in it… so that makes it more healthy? mmm yeah, that’s my mentality.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 stick margarine (softened)
  • 1/2 c. vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c. blueberries
  1. sift the flour and set aside. In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add the egg.
  2. In another bowl, combine all dry ingredients and pour into the butter sugar mixture.
  3. Place the mixture into a round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place blueberries on the top, pushing them halfway down so the top of the blueberries are visible.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes (more or less depending on the oven).
  5. I then finished off the cake with sifted powder sugar.

So, this cake can be quite pricey at grocery stores, but you can make it at home with that secret greek yogurt ingredient! Make this cake and wow your guests and family members!

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

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photo 2 (1)YESSSS Anything lemon related just makes my mouth water and my tummy rumble. I’ve made lemon bars, lemon curd, lemon cake which all made me super happy. But today’s recipe is Lemon Crinkle Cookies! They’re certainly a good Christmas time cookie, but I experimented with them and could not wait to share this recipe! The unique aspect of a crinkle cookie is the cracked texture of the shell. The powdered sugar on top cracks open, revealing the true color of the cookie. I have to say, a lemon crinkle cookies does not look as good as a chocolate crinkle cookies because the light beige/yellow color of the cookie is too similar to the white powdered sugar as compared to a dark chocolate crinkle cookies where the black and white contrasts obviously. Nonetheless, the crinkle effect on the lemon cookie is still visible and absolutely delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 c all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
Place cookies onto baking sheet

Place cookies onto baking sheet

  1. In a bowl, whisk granulated sugar and butter until creamy. Add egg, vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice and whisk.
  2. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients and then pour into wet mixture in 3 batches, slowly using a spatula to combine the mixture.
  3. Once all combined, place powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Using a spoon or mini ice cream scoop, scoop up balls and place into the powdered sugar coating every side. Place onto a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray or parchment paper. Bake in preheated oven a 350 degrees for 9 minutes.
  4. Remove cookies with spatula and cool.

Enjoy!!

Deliciously Delicious: Moussaka (Greek Casserole)

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I first found out about Moussaka when I went to Yia Yia Mary’s. As disappointed as I was because they served me an average sized serving of the moussaka and I really should’ve ordered two because it was so scrumptious, I was so glad I was introduced to the dish and now am able to recreate it at home! The filling for moussaka is very simple to make, but what makes moussaka a moussaka dish is the creamy cheese filling on top. The first time I made the moussaka, my filling was a bit hard and flour-y tasting so I tweaked the recipe a bit to result in a delectable smooth, creamy filing. The cream is so good and obviously not very healthy which is why I have only made Moussaka twice within a span of ten months.

Ingredient:

  • 1 large American eggplant
  • olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground meat (I used 93% lean turkey)
  • 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 12 oz. tomato pasta sauce
  •  2 yellow onions (diced)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp. dried herbs- I used a mixture of parsley,, sage, and oregan

For the CHEESE SAUCE:

  • 1 c. milk
  • 3/4 c. of white cheese: mozzarella, parmesan (I used swiss cheese)
  • 3 tbsp. margarine
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  1. in a bowl toss olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper, and sliced eggplant all together
  2. line eggplant on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees, flipping them halfway through. do not stack them. You may have to do this step twice or three times if your baking sheet is not very big
  3. Heat a little oil in a skillet and add ground turkey until completely cooked. Pour into a bowl and using the drippings from the turkey, cook the onions until brown and add the turkey back in. Add the tomato sauce, garlic, and herbs and cook until all well combined.
  4. In a casserole dish, layer the bottom with eggplant slices, add the meat mixture on top, and repeat the layering process two more times until there are 3 layers of eggplant and sauce.
  5. In a small saucepan, heat the margarine until melted and add flour, constantly whisking so the mixture doesn’t burn. Add the cup of milk and stir for two minutes. Slowly pour in the egg mixture so the eggs don’t scramble. Whisk for another minute and then add the cheese. Whisk the mixture until it becomes completely smooth.
  6. Pour the cheese mixture onto the entire casserole mixture and bake in the oven at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Whew! That’s is pretty tedious but the result is amazing and it is a great fall dish to  serve to guests. Enjoy!

Easy Cornbread Recipe

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I used to think cornbread was dry and tasteless, and I often wondered why people even enjoyed it, But as I grew older, I gradually began to like cornbread and yesterday I was actually craving it. And so I wet to the grocery store and bought a 2-lb bag of cornmeal for $1.04; everything else I has at home because cornbread truly is a quick and cheap staple to make..

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. yellow corn meal
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 3/4 c. frozen corn kernels
  1. combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl
  2. in a large bowl, beat egg and add olive oil
  3. pour dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix with a spatula. Do not overmix. Overmixing will yield a tough cornbread
  4. stir in the corn kernels
  5. In a square pan, or whatever sized pan, spray with nonstick spray and heat in oven at 450 degrees F  for 2 minutes. Take the pan out and pour batter in. Let the cornbread bake for 20 minutes, or more if necessary.

The one thing I love about this recipe is that it has actual corn kernels in it. Many times I eat cornbread without the kernels and although it is absolutely delicious as well, I love getting the munch from the kernels, and in fact, it is cornmeal we are dealing with so I feel the addition of corn kernels takes it up a notch.  When the cornbread comes fresh out of the oven, I like to smear a little butter or drizzle with honey. Fresh out of the oven is the best time to eat it!

Homemade pizza- Great dough recipe

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I’ve ordered pizza countless number of times. I just never get tired of it because of the ooey gooey cheese, decadent tomato sauce, and the garlic and herbs on the crust. But pizza, although considered a cheap food, is not so cheap when you order it really often. My pizza bills seem to pile up! Especially since I like a lot of topping on my pizza, my pizzas can range from $18-30 each! I’ve made several attempts to make pizza and each time my crust has gotten better and fluffier. I still remember the first time I made pizza, I didn’t think yeast would be important so I had a flat, rock-looking pizza dough that tasted like concrete:(. However, my most recent attempt has been the most successful, and I have been most satisfied with Bobby Flay’s pizza recipe. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/pizza-dough-recipe.html

I don’t know whether I will be buying pizza so often anymore since I can make it myself for A LOT CHEAPER and to fit my own taste buds. I am able to add whatever I want on my pizza, sometimes exotic toppings that pizzerias don’t offer, such as capers, shrimp, squid; the toppings sound weird but once on my trip to Taiwan, I ate a delicious pizza with alfredo sauce, mussels, I mean all things seafood. It was unbelievable. The pizza I made today had turkey, spinach, mozzarella and gouda cheese, and basil. Pizza toppings, as I always say, are endless. I say, be brave and add whatever you want! I mean.. no one is judging, right?

Decadent Banana Bread with Nutella Swirl

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Nutella makes everything better, right? So it only felt necessary for me to add nutella to my banana bread (which I was making since the bananas in the kitchen were on the verge of turning black). I really like banana bread but I really LOVE banana nutella bread. Also, this banana bread is extremely moist but it is also healthier since I replaced 1/3 of the butter with greek yogurt. Due to the richness of greek yogurt, it is a great substitute for oil/fats.

Banana bread with Nutella Swirl:

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 6 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup greek yogurt (I used Fage brand)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup Nutella

1. Mash the bananas in a bowl with a fork. Then add butter, eggs, greek yogurt, and vanilla extract.

2. In another bowl combine the dry ingredients. Fold the dry ingredients in with the wet in separate batches. Do not overmix or else the batter will get too tough.

3. Melt the nutella in the microwave for 25 seconds. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and pour half of the batter into it. Add half of the nutella over the top and swirl with a knife. Add the remaining batter and top with the remianing nutella and swirl.

4. Bake for about 45-55 minutes. At about the last ten minutes of baking, keep an eye on the bread, occasionally testing it with a knife to make sure it is baked completely through.

5. Last step: Share it with your friends and family, cause if I did not share, I would’ve eaten the whole thing!

-Happy baking!

Brownie Mix Cookies

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baking…. can’t waittttt

mmm... and I ended up eating 5 of these

Instead of making brownie cookies from scratch, which requires cocoa powder, baking soda, and many extra ingredients, by buying a brownie mix- which often goes on sale for only $1 you get a mixture of sugar, flour, cocoa powder, bakign soda, etc. all prepared. It is so simple and saves time. Here is such a simple and delicious recipe for soft brownie cookies:

1 pkg. (19.9 oz.) Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix
2/3 c. flour 
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3 tbsp. water
2 eggs

Bake for about 9 minutes, I like to turn the oven off early and let them sit a little bit. This way they will be very chewy but at the same time they will be fully cooked. Feel free to add chocolate chips, nutella, nuts, anything to make them more delicious and decadent! Today I went simple and didn’t add any extra ingredients.

Start with a box of brownie mix

Start with a box of brownie mix

combine the ingredients in a bowl

combine the ingredients in a bowl

the mix should have a dense consistency

the mix should have a dense consistency

drop spoonful dollops onto parchment paper for easy clean up

drop spoonful dollops onto parchment paper for easy clean up

baking.... can't waittttt

baking…. can’t waittttt

One Stuffed Quiche!

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For lunch today, a huge homemade quiche was made to feed hungry stomachs. I used a simple quiche crust recipe from Emeril Lagasse on Food Network and filled the insides with anything I found in my fridge that was fitting. I used leftover rotisserie chicken, cubed slices of ham, frozen brocolli, and cheddar cheese. I’m definitely set to make this quiche again, and what I so love about quiches is that anything savory seems to fit into a quiche. Whether it be spinach, bacon, feta cheese, making a quiche is a great way to clean out leftovers from the fridge into something so tasty and hearty.

Delicious pinwheels

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20131117-104023.jpgYou may find pinwheel recipes all around the internet, but I used some ingredients from my fridge and created my own stuffing. With a pack of croissants, you can make these delicious appetizers! I stuffed mine with a mix of goat cheese, prosciutto, mushrooms, and parsley. I think I could’ve added more stuffing in mine. It was my first time making pinwheels so I’ll certainly add more next time!!!

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