Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pumpkin Macarons


Happy Thanksgiving!



We are heading to NYC for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this year, despite the terrible weather prediction. I suppose if we have all the coats, hats, gloves and scarves in the world and expect the worse, it won't be that bad. On top of crossing that off my personal bucket list, we were invited to Thanksgiving dinner with our friends the Weinbergs! A swanky Thanksgiving dinner in a New Yorker's apartment? That's just icing on the cake.

I decided to make some pumpkin macarons for the occasion. Whenever I decide to make a particular macaron, I first Google it and read a ton of recipes and then end up doing my own thing. It's a fun process and they have usually turned out fairly well. My friend Rebecca Rushforth and I got together the other night and created these. Rick and Harrison (my official taste-testers) loved them.

Pumpkin Macaron Shells


2/3 c. almond flour (sometimes called meal)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
3 egg whites at room temperature
5 T. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
Wilton copper gel coloring

Heat oven to 280 degrees and place the racks on the two lowest positions. Cut pieces of parchment paper to fit two cookie sheets perfectly and then draw 1-inch or 1.5-inch circles all over the papers, with pencil, leaving at least 1/2-inch of space in between circles (I found something in my drawer that looked like an inch and traced it).

Sift the almond flour before measuring out 2/3 c. When measuring, make sure to pack it in, as it will be very light weight. Whisk the sifted almond flour, powdered sugar, and pumpkin pie spice together and set aside.

Place egg whites in the bowl of a mixer and start to mix on med-high. When they start to get frothy, add sugar, 1 T. at a time. Move to a high speed and continue to beat until glossy, stiff peaks appear. To test it, pick up the whisk; if the egg white's peak at the top and doesn't fall, they are ready. If it falls down, keep mixing. Make sure you don't over mix (it will become clumpy). Quickly mix in a few drops of coloring and the vanilla extract.

Transfer egg whites to a large bowl. Add a third of the dry mixture and fold it about a dozen times until just barely mixed in and you can't see anymore flour. Fold with a spatula, going up the sides, pushing down the center. Add another third and do the same until incorporated. Finish mixing the rest of the dry ingredients, being careful to fold and not stir. When you lift your spatula, the mixture should pour off like thick molten lava. If it's not flowing when you lift the spatula, it is too thick and needs more mixing.

Use a piping bag with a medium-sized round tip (#10 or #12 works perfectly). Place it in a large cup and fold over the sides. Pour in half of the mixture and twist the top. Start piping the batter into the circles. The best way to do it is to hold just over the pan (not touching) and let the batter come out until the circle is perfectly filled. Then quickly turn your wrist as you lift the tip to try and not leave a tail. Once the first pan is filled, hold the pan with both hands and tap hard on the counter 3 times. Turn the pan so your hands are on the opposite ends and tap again 3 times (helps get any air pockets out and flattens the cookies). Continue until both pans are filled and the rest of the batter is used up. Let them sit on the counter for at least 15 minutes, or until the tops are no longer wet when you touch them. (This could take a lot longer in a humid climate.)

Place the cookie sheets on the two bottom oven racks. You will have to experiment with the cooking times and temperatures, but this is what worked for me. Set the timer for 2 minutes and when it rings, open the door for about 15 seconds (to let any humidity escape), then set the timer for 6 minutes. Once the time is up, change the pans so that the top one is now on the bottom, as well as turn around so the back of the pan is now in the front. Bake for 7 more minutes. To test the doneness, carefully lift the cookie off the sheet. If it comes off the parchment fairly easily, they are done. If the cookie separates in half, bake one more minute, and so on. Cool the macaroons completely, on the pan, before removing.  Find pairs that are the same size and shape and start to assemble your macaron sandwich cookie by piping the filling (with same piping bag and size of tip used for shells) and carefully putting the lid on top until filling reaches all the edges. This particular filling was quite runny, so I would do about a dozen, put them on a plate in the freezer and continue to work until they were all in the freezer.

Completed macarons are best if refrigerated for a couple of hours, or frozen up to a month in a sealed container. At least 15 minutes before serving, remove the macarons from the freezer and keep sealed in the container, with the lid on, until completely thawed.

Pumpkin Buttercream Filling

7 T. unsalted butter, softened
2 egg yolks
1/4 c. granulated sugar
3 1/2 T. milk (I used eggnog for fun and it was wonderful!)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 c. pumpkin butter

Cut butter into pieces and mash with a spatula until the consistency resembles mayonnaise. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then add the granulated sugar and whisk until the mixture lightens to an off-white and you can no longer see the granules of sugar (I use my Kitchen Aid). Add the milk, and whisk to combine. Pour the egg mixture into a small saucepan over low heat, whisking frequently to ensure that the mixture does not curdle or scorch. Cook until the mixture becomes thick and custardy, like pudding. Pour the egg mixture back into its bowl and whisk constantly until it returns to room temperature. Whisk in the butter in three batches, add the vanilla extract and pumpkin butter; stir until smooth and all ingredients are fully combined. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wedding Shower Menu


This weekend I was able to help host a bridal shower for one of my dearest friends, Emily Bennion. She is one of the classiest girls I know, so the shower had to be just perfect for her.


My great friends, Kara McCoy and Olivia Burr, helped with all the planning and preparations. Destiny Bachman helped with the set-up and clean-up. Kate Blair helped with photos and also stayed to help clean everything up, even though she had just ran a half marathon that morning! And, Laura Folkman and my darling sister Elaine even shipped things from Utah for us to borrow! I love great friends that help out.


We wanted the shower to be very classy and have a vintage feel. We knew Emily well enough to know she would really be thrilled to not have to play any silly games, so we planned to just visit with wonderful ladies and eat fabulous food. It ended up being the ideal celebration.


We decorated with antiques linens and china. We used pastels and added a touch of gold and brought in some natural elements to bring in a little fall.


As guests arrived, we had a fancy drink (that I made up 10 minutes before the party started) and appetizers set out, along with vintage beverage napkins. Everyone visited with the bride-to-be for a while until everyone had arrived.


I tried two new recipes for appetizers that I found on Pinterest and both turned out lovely. The cranberry-raspberry brie bites were a hit and would be perfect for any holiday party. I also loved the roasted beet crustini, which were fantastic. The caprese on toothpicks was the easiest thing by far!


Once everyone sat down, we started the luncheon. With the help of these two beautiful young women, Ashley & Cami, everyone was waited on with great attention to detail. They took care of serving the courses, gathering the the used plates and filling water glasses.


They also helped in the kitchen by preparing the courses and washing dishes in between. It was wonderful having them, and it allowed us to focus on Emily and the guests, and made it so we were able to enjoy the meal ourselves.


First course served was a winter spinach salad with oranges and pomegranates. It's one that I've made for years and no matter what new salad I try in the winter, this is always the one I return to. I've never really had a recipe for it, so it will be nice to document it here so I'm able to remember the exact ingredients.


Second, we served my favorite Tuscan tomato soup. I originally got this recipe from Kent Anderson, of the Chef's Table in Orem, Utah. It's a favorite in our family and we make it often. I made two small squares of cheese sandwich "croutons" to serve with the soup.


Our entree was butternut squash ravioli with sage-infused browned butter and parmesan cheese. I really love making fresh butternut squash ravioli, but there was a point that I realized it may put me over the edge to make all of the ravioli from scratch. So, I purchased them from Costco and I'm thrilled with the outcome. Sometimes using prepared foods like this really ends up saving you from being too overwhelmed and I'm happy I cut out a few hours of prep time. I topped the ravioli with browned butter that was infused with fresh sage and then grated some parmesan cheese on it just before serving. This is a technique that Betty DeRobertis taught me when I visited them in Pistoia, Italy. She's one of the best cooks I've ever met.


We served small portions of everything, so that nobody was too full for the amazing desserts. While the guests were eating the meal, Ashley & Cami cleared the appetizers and drinks from the focal table and laid out the desserts, which were amazing!


I had made the Tiffany blue macarons the Saturday before (they freeze beautifully), we made my sister's amazing lemon bars the evening before. Kara and I decided to buy one of the gorgeous fruit tarts from Wegman's the day before; we've both always wanted an excuse to get one of those!


I found some beautiful wedding cake stacked sugar cookies on Pinterest, but they were extremely difficult to decorate. So, I did my own thing and simply used white royal frosting to ice the cookies and then topped them with a decorative candied flower I purchased at a cake/candy supply store in Fairfax. I found a sugar cookie recipe that I really liked from The Decorated Sugar Cookie website. My main go-to sugar cookie is a soft cookie that rises pretty thick and doesn't hold it's shape well when cut out. This recipe was a great one that kept the perfect shape and cooked up nicely. It tasted similar to a shortbread cookie; I loved the taste! I made the circles the week before and froze them. Destiny & Cami frosted them the night before the shower, using a basic royal frosting recipe. Even though they were much more plain than the ones I found on Pinterest, I thought they were really pretty.


The pots de creme is a favorite recipe of mine that is the most simple thing you will ever make, with just  three ingredients. Normally, I put them in individual prepared graham cracker crusts and top them with berries. I wanted a little something with chocolate added to the dessert table, so I purchased these containers at a party store, filled them with the chocolate bliss, and topped with raspberries. I even bought the little mini spoons for them. My friend Kristi Barney introduced me to this recipe and I will forever be in her debt for that!


While everyone nibbled on yummy desserts, Emily opened her presents. She got a lot of lovely things and didn't even get any duplicates. She was moving into their new apartment that day, so she was excited to put all the gifts away.


Kara was in charge of the beautiful invitations and included recipe cards for everyone to fill out with their favorite recipes for Emily.


________________________________________________


Blood Orange Lime Spritzer

1.5 liters of chilled blood orange soda
2 limes, juiced
2 c. water
3 lg. bunches of fresh basil
1 bunch mint leaves
mint leaves & lime slices for garnish

In a small saucepan, heat water until it comes to a boil. Add 2 bunches of basil (don't cut up) and simmer for 10 minutes to infuse the water with the flavor. Remove basil and cool water in the fridge or freezer. In a large pitcher, mix blood orange soda, lime juice, basil infused water, 1 bunch each of basil and mint, and ice. Stir vigorously until the beverage is chilled and flavors have mixed. Pour the spritzer into glasses, garnish with a mint leaf and a lime slice, and add a fancy straw!
________________________________________________


Cran-Raspberry Brie Bites
Recipe from The Curvy Carrot

2 c. fresh cranberries
1 c. real maple syrup
1 c. white sugar
8 oz. brie cheese
crackers (I used Carr)
raspberry jam
mint for garnish

In a small saucepan, heat the maple syrup gently over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Pour the warm maple syrup over the cranberries until completely covered. Refrigerate cranberries until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight (or 30 minutes in the freezer if you are late like I was). Once chilled, drain the cranberries in a colander. Place the sugar in a medium bowl. Using a fork, gently roll the cranberries in sugar until completely coated. Place the cranberries on a baking sheet and let dry, at lest an hour in the fridge until ready to use (or 30 minutes if you are late like I was). Assemble each brie bite by placing a slice of the cheese onto each cracker, spread some jam on top and garnish with sugared cranberries and mint.
________________________________________________


Roasted Beet Crostini
Recipe from Gimme Some Oven

1 loaf baguette bread, thinly sliced
4 md. sized beets, peeled and diced (can mix red and golden if desired)
2 T. olive oil
4 oz. goat cheese
3 T. milk
2 c. baby arugula
honey for drizzling

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. In a bowl (separate bowls if using golden and red), toss beets with olive oil. Spread beats in an even layer of the baking sheet and roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove and set aside.

Lower oven heat to 350 degrees. Spread out bread slices in a single layer on baking sheet, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until toasted. Remove and let cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together the goat cheese and milk in a small bowl until well-blended. Add more milk if you would like a thinner consistency for spreading.

Assemble the crostini by spreading a dollop of the goat cheese mixture on a piece of toasted bread, and then top with arugula and diced roasted beets. Drizzle with honey and serve.
________________________________________________


Caprese Bites

cherry tomatoes
sm. mozzarella balls (I used marinated)
fresh basil leaves

On a toothpick, arrange a mozzarella ball and the tomato, wrapping a basil leaf around it. If desired, you can drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
________________________________________________


Winter Spinach Salad

2 T. red wine vinegar
4 t. honey
2 t. orange zest, grated
2 t. dijon mustard
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. olive oil
6 c. baby spinach leaves
2 navel oranges
1 pomegranate
1 red onion
4 oz. goat cheese
candied walnuts or pecans, if desired

In a blender, mix the vinegar, honey, zest, mustard, salt and oil until all combined. Cut navel oranges by cutting off both ends first, then set orange upright on one of the ends and cut off the peeling and white of the rind. Then slice into circles and cut circles into fourths. Remove the seeds of the pomegranate. (For a great way to do it-show this awesome video to one of your children and make them do it!) Slice the red onion into thin slices. Toss the spinach, orange pieces, pomegranate seeds and onion with the dressing. Top with goat cheese and nuts, if desired.
________________________________________________


Tuscan Tomato Soup

3 T. olive oil
1 lg. onion, small dice
5 c. diced, peeled and seeded fresh tomatoes (or canned w/o liquid)
1 sm. can tomato paste
3 c. chicken stock
1 ½ c. heavy whipping cream (fat free ½ & ½ works too)
1 c. basil pesto (I use Costco & freeze the rest)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium large soup pot. Add onions and cook over moderately low heat until completely translucent. Add tomatoes and allow to warm to a simmer. Add chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for 15 minutes to allow for interchange of flavors. Add whipping cream. Add pesto.  Blend to desired consistency in a food processor or blender, small batches at a time (or use an immersion blender). Return to stock pot. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Makes 1 gallon.
________________________________________________




Butternut Squash Ravioli w/Sage-infused Browned Butter

store bought butternut squash ravioli (I got mine from Costco)
1 cube salted butter
2 bunches of fresh sage
additional sage for garnish

Heat butter until it boils and add the sage, leaving in bunches. Boil for at least 5 minutes, watching very carefully and turn heat down if necessary. Let it simmer while you cook ravioli according to package directions. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and place on a platter. Remove the sage from the butter and pour butter over the pasta. Top generously with freshly grated parmesan cheese and sage leaves. I also love to add some toasted hazelnuts and freshly ground nutmeg, but forgot to add any of it at this point in the shower!
________________________________________________


Lemon Bars

Crust:
1 1/4 c. butter, cold
1/2 c. + 2 T. powdered sugar
2 1/4 c. flour
1/8 + a pinch of salt

Mix sugar, flour and salt together and then cut the cold butter into the mixture until you have very fine crumbs. Spread crumbs evenly onto a jelly roll pan (17.5" X 12" cookie sheet with sides) and press the crust down, working your way all around the pan so that it is evenly distributed. Bake the crust in a 350 degree oven for 10-14 minutes, watching very closely so it doesn't burn or get brown. Cool.

Filling:
4 c. sugar
2/3 c. flour
8 eggs
3/4 c. lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

Mix sugar and flour together. Mix eggs and lemon juice just until combined; don't beat or there will be a foamy surface. Stir dry and liquid ingredients together until combined and very smooth.

Pour filling over cooled crust and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, without browning the top. Sides will get brown, but the entire center should stay yellow.

Remove from oven and immediately take a metal spatula, dip it in powdered sugar and pry the edges away from the sides of the pan. Continue dipping the spatula in the powdered sugar as it gets sticky. Dust a very generous amount of powdered sugar over the top of the lemon bars. Let the pan cool completely in the fridge, overnight works well. When it's cool, carefully cut all four sides off and then cut the lemon bars into equal pieces.
________________________________________________


Tiffany Blue Almond Macarons

2/3 c. almond flour (sometimes called meal)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 egg whites at room temperature
5 T. granulated sugar
1 t. almond extract
Wilton teal gel coloring

Heat oven to 280 degrees and place the racks on the two lowest positions. Cut pieces of parchment paper to fit two cookie sheets perfectly and then make 1-inch or 1.5-inch circles all over the papers, leaving at least 1/2-inch of space in between circles (I found something in my drawer that looked like an inch and traced it).

Sift the almond flour before measuring out 2/3 c. When measuring, make sure to pack it in, as it will be very light weight. Whisk the sifted almond flour and powdered sugar together and set aside.

Place egg whites in the bowl of a mixer and start to mix on med-high. When they start to get frothy, add sugar, 1 T. at a time. Change to a high speed and continue to beat until glossy, stiff peaks appear. To test it, pick up the whisk and if the egg white's peak at the top doesn't fall, they are ready. If it falls down, keep mixing. Make sure you don't over mix (it will become clumpy). Quickly mix in a few drops of coloring and the almond extract.

Transfer egg whites to a large bowl. Add a third of the dry mixture and fold it about a dozen times until just mixed. Fold with a spatula, going up the sides, pushing down the center. Finish mixing the rest of the dry ingredients, being careful to fold and not stir. When you lift your spatula, the mixture should pour off like thick molten lava. If it's not flowing when you lift the spatula, it is too thick and needs more mixing.

Use a piping bag with a medium-sized round tip (#10 works perfectly). Place it in a large cup and fold over the sides. Pour in half of the mixture and twist the top. Start piping the batter into the circles. The best way to do it is hold just over the pan (not touching) and let the batter come out until the circle is perfectly filled. Then quickly turn your wrist as you lift the tip to try and not leave a tail. Once the first pan is filled, hold the pan with both hands and tap hard on the counter 3 times. Turn the pan so your hands are on the opposite ends and tap again 3 times (helps get any air pockets out and flattens the cookies). Continue until both pans are filled and the rest of the batter is used up. Let them sit on the counter for at least 15 minutes, or until the tops are no longer wet when you touch them. (This could take a lot longer in a humid climate.)

Place the cookie sheets on the two bottom oven racks. You will have to experiment with the cooking times, but this is what worked for me. Set the timer for 2 minutes and when it rings, open the door for about 15 seconds, to let any humidity escape. Then set the timer for 6 minutes. Once the time is up, change the pans so that the top one is now on the bottom, as well as turn around so the back of the pan is now in the front. Bake for 7 more minutes. To test the doneness, carefully lift the cookie off the sheet. If it comes off the parchment easily, they are done. If the cookie separates in half, bake one more minute, and so on. Cool the macaroons completely before filling.

Completed macarons are best if refrigerated for a couple of hours, or frozen up to a month in a sealed container. At least 15 minutes before serving, remove the macarons from the freezer and keep sealed in the container, with the lid on, until completely thawed.

Almond Buttercream Filling

7 T. unsalted butter, softened
2 egg yolks
1/4 c. granulated sugar
3 1/2 T. milk
1 t. almond extract

Cut butter into pieces and mash with a spatula until the consistency resembles mayonnaise. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then add the granulated sugar and whisk until the mixture lightens to an off-white and you can no longer see the granules of sugar. Add the milk, and whisk to combine. Pour the egg mixture into a small saucepan and heat over low, whisking frequently to ensure that the mixture does not curdle or scorch. Cook until the mixture becomes thick and custardy, like pudding. Pour the egg mixture back into its bowl and whisk constantly until it returns to room temperature. Whisk in the butter in three batches, add the almond extract, and stir until smooth and all ingredients are fully combined. Pipe or spread onto one macaron half and sandwich between the other. This basic recipe can be flavored and colored however you'd like.

If desired, use Wilton sugar pearls to decorate the Tiffany macarons. When I did this for a wedding shower, I only did a few for display, as I thought they wouldn't taste as good.
________________________________________________


Sugar Cookies
Recipe from The Decorated Cookie

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 t. almond extract
2 1/2 c. four
1/2 t. salt

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and blend well. Add extracts and blend. Mix flour and salt and gradually add to mixture until all mixed in. Put dough in a ziploc bag and chill in fridge for at least 2 hours. Working with about a third of the dough at a time, briefly knead the chilled dough and roll about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes and bake on parchment paper-lined baking trays at 375 degrees for 10-14 minutes, watching carefully for edges that are barely browned.

You can freeze the dough in the ziploc bag. Thaw overnight, or for at least a few hours in the refrigerator in the ziploc bag. If it is too chilled to handle, let sit at room temperature for up to an hour, or until workable. Chilled is good, so don't let it get too warm.

Royal Icing

3 c. powdered sugar
2 egg whites, beaten
1/4 t. cream of tarter

In a mixer, mix all ingredients and beat for about 5 minutes. When decorating cookies using the flooding method, first outline the cookie with a decorating bag with a small tip. Once outlined, let them dry while thin the frosting only slightly with a little water. Use a knife to carefully frost inside the lines. If lines are connected, the frosting shouldn't go outside of lines. Dry completely at room temperature.
________________________________________________


Chocolate Pot de Creme

2 c. Guittard milk chocolate chips
3/4 c. whole milk
1/4 c. butter

Place chocolate chips in blender. Heat milk and butter in small saucepan over low heat, while stirring, just until mixture begins to boil. Immediately pour over the chocolate chips and blend on high speed until smooth. Pour into dessert dishes, or prepared graham cracker crusts, and top with berries. Chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or until set.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tiffany Blue Almond Macarons



Tiffany Blue Almond Macarons

2/3 c. almond flour (sometimes called meal)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 egg whites at room temperature
5 T. granulated sugar
1 t. almond extract
Wilton teal gel coloring

Heat oven to 280 degrees and place the racks on the two lowest positions. Cut pieces of parchment paper to fit two cookie sheets perfectly and then make 1-inch or 1.5-inch circles all over the papers, leaving at least 1/2-inch of space in between circles (I found something in my drawer that looked like an inch and traced it).

Sift the almond flour before measuring out 2/3 c. When measuring, make sure to pack it in, as it will be very light weight. Whisk the sifted almond flour and powdered sugar together and set aside.

Place egg whites in the bowl of a mixer and start to mix on med-high. When they start to get frothy, add sugar, 1 T. at a time. Change to a high speed and continue to beat until glossy, stiff peaks appear. To test it, pick up the whisk and if the egg white's peak at the top doesn't fall, they are ready. If it falls down, keep mixing. Make sure you don't over mix (it will become clumpy). Quickly mix in a few drops of coloring and the almond extract.

Transfer egg whites to a large bowl. Add a third of the dry mixture and fold it about a dozen times until just mixed. Fold with a spatula, going up the sides, pushing down the center. Finish mixing the rest of the dry ingredients, being careful to fold and not stir. When you lift your spatula, the mixture should pour off like thick molten lava. If it's not flowing when you lift the spatula, it is too thick and needs more mixing.

Use a piping bag with a medium-sized round tip (#10 works perfectly). Place it in a large cup and fold over the sides. Pour in half of the mixture and twist the top. Start piping the batter into the circles. The best way to do it is hold just over the pan (not touching) and let the batter come out until the circle is perfectly filled. Then quickly turn your wrist as you lift the tip to try and not leave a tail. Once the first pan is filled, hold the pan with both hands and tap hard on the counter 3 times. Turn the pan so your hands are on the opposite ends and tap again 3 times (helps get any air pockets out and flattens the cookies). Continue until both pans are filled and the rest of the batter is used up. Let them sit on the counter for at least 15 minutes, or until the tops are no longer wet when you touch them. (This could take a lot longer in a humid climate.)

Place the cookie sheets on the two bottom oven racks. You will have to experiment with the cooking times, but this is what worked for me. Set the timer for 2 minutes and when it rings, open the door for about 15 seconds, to let any humidity escape. Then set the timer for 6 minutes. Once the time is up, change the pans so that the top one is now on the bottom, as well as turn around so the back of the pan is now in the front. Bake for 7 more minutes. To test the doneness, carefully lift the cookie off the sheet. If it comes off the parchment easily, they are done. If the cookie separates in half, bake one more minute, and so on. Cool the macaroons completely before filling.

Completed macarons are best if refrigerated for a couple of hours, or frozen up to a month in a sealed container. At least 15 minutes before serving, remove the macarons from the freezer and keep sealed in the container, with the lid on, until completely thawed.

Almond Buttercream Filling

7 T. unsalted butter, softened
2 egg yolks
1/4 c. granulated sugar
3 1/2 T. milk
1 t. almond extract

Cut butter into pieces and mash with a spatula until the consistency resembles mayonnaise. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then add the granulated sugar and whisk until the mixture lightens to an off-white and you can no longer see the granules of sugar. Add the milk, and whisk to combine. Pour the egg mixture into a small saucepan and heat over low, whisking frequently to ensure that the mixture does not curdle or scorch. Cook until the mixture becomes thick and custardy, like pudding. Pour the egg mixture back into its bowl and whisk constantly until it returns to room temperature. Whisk in the butter in three batches, add the almond extract, and stir until smooth and all ingredients are fully combined. Pipe or spread onto one macaron half and sandwich between the other. This basic recipe can be flavored and colored however you'd like.

If desired, use Wilton sugar pearls to decorate the Tiffany macarons. When I did this for a wedding shower, I only did a few for display, as I thought they wouldn't taste as good.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kraut Burgers


Rick's mom made these often for him when he was growing up. I keep forgetting to get her actual recipe (I'm sure I've gotten it numerous times and have lost it), and since we were craving them today, and she was at BYU all day, I had to just go off of memory. They turned out great and the boys devoured them!


Don't let the dough scare you off, as it's so simple to make and only rests for an hour, which is plenty of time to cut everything up and get the mixture cooked thoroughly. This recipe makes 24 large rolls and would be easy to cut in half. I ate two, the boys each ate two, and Rick had four + one later tonight! Hopefully that gives you a good idea of how many to plan on. If you end up with extras, you can easily freeze them, either after they're cooked or uncooked.

Whenever Jane makes these, she will also make extra dough and make "pigs-in-a-blanket" for the kids. They bake the same amount of time, so it's a fun addition when you have younger kids or are feeding a crowd.

Dough

1/2 c. warm water
4 t. active dry yeast
4 T. sugar
1 3/4 c. warm milk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. butter softened
2 t. salt
7-8 c. flour

Dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water (make sure it isn't hot or it will kill the yeast). Once it starts to activate, add all the other ingredients and knead for 8 minutes (either with a mixer or by hand). Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth; let it rise until double (about an hour). Punch down and divide in half. Roll dough out on a floured surface, into a rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into 12 squares. Fill each square generously with the hamburger filling. Fold in two opposite corners, then the other two corners and pinch into a little "purse" so all the ends are secure (making sure to not stretch the top of the bun too thin). Spray cooking spray onto a cookie sheet and place the rolls seam side down. Continue with the second batch of dough, so you end up with 24 rolls total. Let the rolls sit for about 20 minutes to rise (this step isn't completely necessary if you're in a hurry). Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until nice and golden brown. Once they are out of the oven, rub tops with a little butter. Serve with mustard and ketchup.


Filling

1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped
1 lg. onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. sauerkraut (optional)
olive oil

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan, and cook onion until translucent. Add garlic and stir a few times. Add hamburger meat and stir, breaking up the chunks into small pieces. Add cabbage and sauerkraut and cook for at least 15 minutes, until all cabbage is soft and looses it's color. Drain any excess liquid off and it's ready to be used.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mom's Artisan Bread


My mom has made this artisan bread for years and I've always loved it. This last trip to Moab, I wrote down my mom's recipe and directions and we decided to make it today, on conference weekend. I showed Harrison how to make it, so he can whip up a batch for our family now and then. It takes no time or preparation at all and is delicious!


Artisan Bread

3 C. flour
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. yeast
1 7/8 c. lukewarm water

In a large bowl, stir all ingredients together with a spatula, until all the flour is gone. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it overnight.

In the morning, put about 1/2 cup more flour in the dough (which is now full of bubbles) and stir with a spatula, until it’s not so sticky. Use a little more flour, as needed and you can use your hands to knead it a bit until most of the flour is combined. It will still be a little lumpy. Form into a ball.

Dump a little flour on a flour sack cloth and put  the ball of dough in the middle and fold the cloth over the dough. Leave for 2 hours.



After the dough has sat for 2 hours, heat oven to 430 degrees, putting a dutch oven or other pan (that has a lid) in the oven while it preheats. (I just use my biggest stock-pot that is oven safe and has a lid.) Once preheated, remove the pan form oven, spray with cooking spray, place the dough in it, and put the lid on top. Bake for 30 minutes and then take lid off and bake 5-10 minutes longer until the top is brown.

Harrison's first loaf of artisan bread!

Créme Brûléed Chocolate Bundt Cake


Harrison wanted me to make créme brûlée for his birthday, instead of cake. However, we ended up having about 40 people over for dinner, so I was trying to convince him to choose something that would be a better dessert to feed a crowd. We looked in my new cookbook that Rick got me for my birthday, "Baking with Julia," and found this dreamy recipe and we just couldn't resist trying it!

I doubled the creme brûlée part of the recipe, but I think next time I will actually triple it so that each piece has a little more (I've tripled it here in this recipe). The recipe says to top the cake with the créme brûlée, and then torch it, but next time I make it, I will wait until the cake is sliced and on individual plates before topping with the créme brûlée and torch each individual serving. After slicing the cake, a lot of the pieces didn't have any of the caramelized sugar on their serving. I would also serve the raspberries on the side of each individual serving--the original recipe calls for them to be added to the middle of the cake.

If you choose to just make the chocolate bundt cake, and not worry about the créme brûlée topping, it is still a fantastic recipe. It's a type of chiffon cake and was one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever tasted!


Créme Brûlée Topping (tripled from original recipe)

1 1/2 c. heavy cream
3 vanilla beans
15 egg yolks, at room temperature
9 T. sugar

Pour the cream into a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pan, toss in the pod, and stir to mix. Bring just to a boil over low heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together just to blend. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk, continuously and energetically, until the mixture is very pale and hot to the touch. Remove the yolks form the heat. Gradually, but steadily, whisk the cream into the yolks, pod and all.

Put the bowl back over the hot water and let it sit there, with the heat turned off, whisking occasionally, from 5-10 minutes, until the cream thickens. Set the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and allow the mixture to cool, whisking now and then. When the custard is cool to the torch, retrieve and discard the vanilla bean and push the mixture through a strainer into a clean bowl. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (can be made a day ahead).

The Cake

1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
4 eggs, separated
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. water
1 t. vanilla extract
2 egg whites

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-cup bundt pan and dust the inside, including the center tube, with cocoa powder; tap out the excess.

Sift together 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda into a small bowl and then add the salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, oil, water, and vanilla until blended. Whisk the dry ingredients gradually into the yolk mixture; set aside.

Beat the 6 egg whites in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or work with a hand-held mixer. At low speed, beat the whites until they're foamy and form very soft peaks. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining 1/2 c. sugar, beating until the whites are thick and shiny and hold peaks. Fold about one third of the whipped egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it, then turn the yolk mixture into the whites and fold it in gently but thoroughly.

Pour and scrape the batter into the pan. Place the pan on a jelly-roll pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is springy to the touch and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. (My cake was done in 30 minutes, so watch oven closely.) The top of the cake may show some cracks and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool for at least 25 minutes before unmolding it onto a rack and allowing it to cool completely.

Finishing the Cake

2 pints raspberries
1/4 c. + 1/2 c. sugar

Toss the raspberries in some sugar and let sit while prepping the cake. Right before serving, cut cake into pieces and put on serving plates. Put a dollop of créme brûlée topping on each piece of cake and put a few raspberries on the side. Sprinkle each dollop of créme brûlée with a little sugar and work with a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lemon Bars



This recipe is from my sister Jennifer, who is one of the best bakers I've ever known! She's perfected this recipe and it is amazing. It makes a huge batch, which makes it easy to share.

Lemon Bars

Crust:
1 1/4 c. butter, cold
1/2 c. + 2 T. powdered sugar
2 1/4 c. flour
1/8 + a pinch of salt

Mix sugar, flour and salt together and then cut the cold butter into the mixture until you have very fine crumbs. Spread crumbs evenly onto a jelly roll pan (17.5" X 12" cookie sheet with sides) and press the crust down, working your way all around the pan so that it is evenly distributed. Bake the crust in a 350 degree oven for 10-14 minutes, watching very closely so it doesn't burn or get brown. Cool.

Filling:
4 c. sugar
2/3 c. flour
8 eggs
3/4 c. lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

Mix sugar and flour together. Mix eggs and lemon juice just until combined; don't beat or there will be a foamy surface. Stir dry and liquid ingredients together until combined and very smooth.

Pour filling over cooled crust and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, without browning the top. Sides will get brown, but the entire center should stay yellow.

Remove from oven and immediately take a metal spatula, dip it in powdered sugar and pry the edges away from the sides of the pan. Continue dipping the spatula in the powdered sugar as it gets sticky. Dust a very generous amount of powdered sugar over the top of the lemon bars. Let the pan cool completely in the fridge, overnight works well. When it's cool, carefully cut all four sides off and then cut the lemon bars into equal pieces.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

I don't have much time at all for Pinterest, but I sometimes have the urge to browse the various boards of my friends' and see what I might want to try. I've tried quite a few things that I've found, but not many have worked out well enough to want to try again. However, when I saw a picture of Cinnamon Roll Pancakes posted, I thought it would be a fun recipe to try for Sunday morning breakfast. And, wow, were they AMAZING!


Although my finished product didn't look as pretty as the posted pictures, they tasted way better than I had expected. They were so sweet that I think they should be considered more of a dessert than breakfast. As a matter of fact, we had enough batter and toppings left over, that we made them for the missionaries for a dessert after our Sunday dinner and they loved them!

The original recipe that I pinned was this one from www.recipegirl.com



Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Cinnamon Filling:
4 T. butter, melted but not boiling
1/4 + 2 T.  brown sugar
1/2 T. cinnamon

Cream Cheese Icing:
4 T. butter, softened
2-oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. vanilla

Pancakes:
1 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 T. oil

Prepare the cinnamon filling: In a quart sized zip-lock bag, put all three ingredients and mix until smooth. Set aside.

Prepare the icing: In a quart sized zip-lock bag, put all the ingredients and mix (by squeezing ingredients) until smooth. Set aside.

Prepare the pancake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the milk, egg and oil, just until batter is moistened.

Heat a large, nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat and spray with nonstick spray. Use a 1/3 c. measuring cup to put batter on the hot pan. Use the bottom of the cup to spread the batter into a circle about 4-inches in diameter. Reduce the heat to medium low. Once you see bubbles start to form, snip the corner of your zip-lock bag of cinnamon filling and squeeze the filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl, like shown in the top picture (making sure not to get close to the edge). Cook the pancake a couple of minutes longer, or until the bubbles start to pop and then use a metal spatula to flip the pancake (gently). Cook an additional couple of minutes, until the bottom is light brown and then take off the heat and flip onto a plate, with the swirl showing. Snip the tip of the icing bag and pipe some icing onto the pancake.

*You will want to wipe off your griddle/pan and spatula before starting another batch, as they get sticky and start to burn.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Asian Noodle Salad


I have made this for a couple of years and it is hands-down my all-time favorite salad. I got the recipe from the Pioneer Woman. I really love all of the recipes I've tried of hers, but this is one is my favorite. I believe she was inspired by a recipe from the Naked Chef.

I always forgot how much time it takes to cut all the vegetables up and what an incredible mess it makes. It also makes enough salad to feed an huge army, so if you are not feeding an army, be careful! I usually make it and only dress what I need, putting the leftover veggies and noodles in ziplock bags with a little dressing in a side bag, and then toss a small version for lunches the next few days.

I've used Asian rice noodles instead of linguini before, but I didn't like it nearly as much.


Asian Noodle Salad

1 pkg. linguine noodles, cooked, rinsed & cooled
1/2 head sliced napa cabbage
1/2 head sliced purple cabbage
1/2 bag baby spinach
1 of each red, yellow & orange bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 bag mung bean sprouts
1 bunch chopped cilantro
3 whole scallions, sliced
3 whole cucumbers, peeled & sliced
1 10-oz. can cashews

Mix the noodles and vegetables in a very large bowl, toss with the dressing and top with cashews. 

For the dressing:

1 whole lime, juiced
8 T. olive oil
8 T. soy sauce
2 T. sesame oil
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 T. fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded & chopped

I like to put the dressing in my Blendtec blender to insure that everything is chopped super fine, but you can also do it all by hand. 

Key Lime Pie Pops


My dessert club has been a really fun excuse to try new recipes that I would normally never try. I tend to stick with my favorite recipes for desserts and don't usually branch out at all. June's theme was "FROZEN" and I knew I wanted to do some kind of popsicle. I thought it would be fun to do a key lime pie pop and as luck would have it, there was a lot of information on the internet. I found a couple of recipes, played with them, and this is what I came up with.

When cutting the key limes, I was dying at how cute they were. The picture below really doesn't do them justice, as you can't tell how tiny and miniature they are. I wanted to incorporate the lime slice somehow, so I cut a thin slice to put at the top. Not only was it cute, but it also gave the straw something to hold it up. However, when eating the popsicle, once you got to the lime at the bottom, it was really sour. I don't think I would add it when I make them again. 

I used small, clear "shot glasses" from a party store, and cut party straws. For our dessert club, we have to taste so many desserts, that we serve such small portions. These would be fabulous in a normal size popsicle mold.


Key Lime Pie Pops

1 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1 c. half and half
3/4 c. fresh key lime juice (about 2 lbs. of limes)
2 t. key lime zest
1/8 t. salt
2 c. graham cracker crumbs

Combine all ingredients, except for graham cracker crumbs. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for about 5 hours. If you are not using conventional popsicle molds, you can add your sticks after about 2 hours. Right before serving the popsicles, take them out of the molds (run hot water over the mold, if needed) and roll the popsicle in cookie crumbs.