Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Macarons Part Deux

As promised, I attempted to make French macarons once again to take home to my family for Thanksgiving.  Typically, when I’m home, I’ll make some sort of cake or cookie and the only people out of my family of six that will eat it will be mom and myself.  My brothers and dad aren’t big on sweets and my sister is allergic to gluten, so pretty much whatever I make she can’t eat.  

So this year, I thought it would be perfect to make macarons to take home since they are made with almond flour so are gluten-free.  I figured at least my sister would be able to contribute to the consumption of the goodies this time around. 

I used the same base macaron recipe as last time but changed up the flavor to vanilla.  I used a basic vanilla buttercream for the filling.  I was really crossing my fingers that my macarons would come out big and fluffy like my favorite Bouchon Bakery macarons in NYC.  But alas, they did not.  The first problem was that I was making these at 2am (those of you who know me realize I don’t really operate at this time).  As I was cracking my eggs to drop the egg whites into the bowl for the meringue, I may have inadvertently dropped some yolk in…and then my egg whites + a little yolk didn’t quite form those stiff peaks as directed.   

I ran out of space on my cookie sheets, so I decided to experiment and made a few "Macaron Mini Muffins" in my mini muffin tin.  Um...why didn't anyone ever think of this before?  These came out delicious and I didn't have to worry about piping out a perfect circle!  Next time, I'm sticking to my Macaron Mini Muffins!

Anyways, as you can see, I can’t quite compete with the pros yet, but I have to say the macarons were still delicious.  Luckily, my family has never eaten macarons, so they don't know the difference =).  

Recipe I previously used is below (with a couple tweaks) as well as the vanilla buttercream recipe I found on the Food Network website.

Macarons for the fam

Monday, November 22, 2010

Apple Bread

Yet another recipe passed on from one of my coworkers – apple bread.  I always have Fuji apples at home and all of the other ingredients in this recipe are already in the pantry.  In my opinion, these are the best kinds of recipes because you don’t have to do any extra shopping.  I also got to try out our brand new food processor to chop up all of the apples, yay!

Another amazing thing about this recipe is it makes a TON of bread.  It makes two full loaves, but I opted to make mini apple muffins with the other half of the batter.  I topped them off with some chopped pecans for an added crunch.  As always, I sampled both the loaf and the mini muffins, and both came out so moist and delicious! 

Slices of deliciousness

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bacon Biscuit Stuffing

My wonderful coworkers put together this recipe book for me with their favorite recipes, and there’s one I have been dying to try: Bacon Biscuit Stuffing. What better time than the holidays to give this a shot (though I would be more than happy to eat this all year round).  Honestly, can you really argue with a stuffing that has a buttermilk biscuit base AND bacon? Didn’t think so.  

I went the easy way out and bought two packs of refrigerated biscuit dough for this recipe in lieu of making the biscuits from scratch. 

In an effort to healthify this recipe, I used turkey bacon – obviously, not as good as the real deal, but brings out that nice bacon-y flavor to the dish.  When I pulled the finished product out of the oven, I was so excited to sample it I couldn’t help but dig in right away.  And then I kept going back for more. 

All I have to say is this: try this recipe now! You and your tummy will not regret it.  


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cookie Sampling: Ruby et Violette

After lunch with my coworkers last week, we decided to check out a cookie shop I recently discovered in the area.   I remembered reading a food blog post about the “best chocolate chip cookies in NYC” that featured Ruby et Violette in the top ten.  I was so excited to see that such a famed cookie establishment was in my neighborhood.

Ruby et Violette isn’t your ordinary cookie shop – they have a huge selection of flavors (apparently over 100 throughout the year), and the only recognizable flavor is “Perfect”, their rendition of the classic chocolate chip cookie.  It’s a very cute little shop that’s all white inside and has some café style seating inside.  Besides cookies, they also sell various kinds of brownies and ice cream (definitely something I’ll be sampling during my next visit)

As I approached the counter and eyed the 20 different flavors of cookies available that day, I was a bit overwhelmed.  There were so many cookies to choose from, and being the cookie monster that I am, I wanted them all.  But alas, being $2 / cookie (and that was the “special of the day” too, typically $2.50 each), I decided it was best not to drop $40 on cookies.  I opted to get six different cookies to split with my husband.  Behold, the chosen ones:

Top: Perfect, Friday Night Foosball, Peanut Butter Chip
Bottom: The Breakup, Carrot Cake, Cookies 'n' Cream

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Raspberry Chocolate Macarons

While my husband and I were in Paris for our honeymoon, we of course sampled many of the culinary delights this beautiful city had to offer and even managed to satisfy my seemingly insatiable sweet tooth.   Chocolate croissants, nutella and banana crepes, chocolate tarts, cream filled beignets, coconut flan, panacotta, crème brulee, chocolate truffles - you name it, there’s a very good chance we consumed it.  One of our favorite dessert items was the dainty little macarons from Laduree.  You take that first bite and it’s like you’re floating off to a happy place – there’s that hard exterior shell, immediately followed by the soft and chewy interior …and finally, you hit the gold mine.  The creamy deliciousness that is the filling inside the macaron.     
We came back to NYC thinking we had eaten enough sweets to last us at least a week; but alas, our craving for the macaron was too strong.  And so, I decided to attempt to recreate those morsels of bliss. 

As you can see from the pictures, they are not quite up to Laduree standards.  I had some issues with controlling the size of my macarons (fortunately, my husband and I don’t have a problem with bigger cookies).  Also, the pan I had on the lower rack of the oven overbaked and came out flattened and slightly on the crispy side (also didn’t stop us from devouring them all).  Needless to say, I would say it was successful for the first try, and I’ll definitely be trying this recipe again before Thanksgiving!
Trying to beat those egg whites

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Penne a la Vodka

Lately, I’ve been craving pasta, so I thought I’d try to make one of my husband's favorites that has now become one of my favorites – Penne a la Vodka.  He loved ordering this from Fresh Basil when he was working late nights at his old job.  I used Giada’s recipe, but added diced jalapenos for an extra kick.  I originally wanted to add spicy Italian sausage as well, but my local supermarket didn’t have any so I settled for turkey sausage to get some protein in the dish. 

This may sound dumb, and though I realize it’s called Penne a la Vodka…did anyone know the sauce really contains vodka???  I definitely did not.  I don’t have any vodka on hand, so I had to pick some up from the liquor store.  I bought one of those small 8oz. vodka bottles – made me feel like an alcoholic as I grabbed my brown paper bagged bottle of vodka and stuffed it into my purse.

Time to get cooking!  The base of the vodka sauce is a simple marinara sauce – Giada’s recipe mentions you can use store bought sauce which is what I would normally do; however this time, I figured if I’m going to try to make homemade vodka sauce, I might as well make it from start to finish.  Otherwise, I’m most definitely all about shortcuts that save me time.  Less time cooking equals more time eating! 

This dish is fairly easy to make and doesn’t take too long.  One thing that tripped me up was the simmering of the vodka in the tomato sauce – 20 minutes was not enough to reduce the sauce.  I sampled after 20 and 30 minutes, yet it still had a strong taste of vodka.  I ended up simmering for almost 40 minutes to burn off the excess vodka.  After that, the rest of the recipe was straightforward.  We ended up with delicious homemade Penne a la Vodka!

Sauteing the veggies for the sauce

I cooked. I ate. I had food coma.

I’m just your average 25-year-old woman living in New York City who happens to have an obsession with all things related to delicious food.  I have a humongous sweet tooth that I have failed to tame, but I try to counterbalance my sweet indulgences with some gut busting workouts at the gym a few times a week.  I am by no means a chef, but I love to cook (and eat)!

Most of the recipes I attempt are fairly simple for the everyman with ingredients that are easy to get your hands on and a cook time that won’t consume your entire day.  I have two reasons for this:

1)  More cooking time = less eating time.  Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy cooking.   Ever since I was a little girl, the reason I cooked something was so I could eat it. The thing is, the more time I spend cooking means I have less time doing something I like more…eating, one of the main drivers of my cooking exploits.

2)  Cooking ain’t cheap in the Big Apple.  I would love to try out recipes with a long list of extravagant ingredients, but that would take a big toll on my modest bank account.   I always find myself scanning recipes and immediately crossing off options that have ingredients that are pricey or difficult to find.  Simple and inexpensive are key.

Sharing is caring, so of course I love to cook for my family and friends - especially my husband.  We both love trying new restaurants around the city, but there's something to be said about a nice home cooked meal prepared by my loving hand (very cheesy I know).  

As for the title of this post - people who know me well would understand, I'm known for eating a lot and passing out from food coma shortly after.  I'm not a glutton by any means (though it may sound like it), but when something tastes so good, sometimes I can't resist!

Come join me on my food adventures and feel free to share any comments or suggestions!