Monday, December 9, 2013

An Adventure in Baking

On Sunday, my friend, Christina, and I began our adventure with making French macarons. Christina has been wanting to attempt to make these for a while and we've both spent WAY too much time on the Internet searching for recipes to try and tips for making the perfect macarons. We had 4 recipes to try and thank goodness we did, because we ended up throwing two batches away! 

First we measured out all of the ingredients using a kitchen scale...most recipes give ingredients in grams/ounces.

After everything was measured, we beat the egg whites until foamy (most recipes recommended using eggs that were 1-3 days old and at room temperature)
While that was being done, Christina sifted the almond flour and the powdered sugar.

Time to add the caster sugar!

After mixing on high for several minutes, stiff peaks began to form. The way to test it was to flip the bowl upside down...if nothing falls out, it's ready!
After the egg/sugar mixture was ready, we added in the sugar/almond flour mixture and stirred it in. It was very critical to not stir more than 50 times!
Once the batter was ready, we put it into a piping bag.

Then it was time for Christina to pipe the batter onto the macaron mat

It's important to let the batter sit out and dry for about 25-30 minutes. This gives it time to settle.

Once they were in the oven, we were both very curious to see if they grew "feet," and Christina kept a close eye on them!

SUCCESS!  This was our very first attempt and we were thrilled!

Time to make the filling - for these ones we did a salted caramel buttercream filling.

We added red food coloring to the filling to make it a little more festive.
We had many more attempts - here's one with a chocolate ganache filling.

These ones just have plain vanilla buttercream with yellow food coloring.

Final result - all nicely packaged in the cute containers that Christina bought!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Week in Food

I've never been a meal planner...I'm terrible at thinking ahead on Sunday during my weekly trip to the grocery store. However, my friend told me about eMeals and Groupon happened to be offering a 50% off coupon!  I went to the eMeals website and selected the "Vegetarian for Two" meal plan. Every week they send me a list of 7 dinners and they even include a grocery list, which made the weekly shopping trip super easy.  

This week I was introduced to all kinds of new flavors and foods, things I would never have even thought to try!  So, here's a week in food:

Monday: Stuffed Acorn Squash and Spring Mix and Apple Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette 

Tuesday: Feta with Sautéed Leeks and Carrots and Warm French Bread with Sliced Tomatoes

Wednesday: Tofu Sloppy Joes and Kale Chips
(I'm aware this looks like vomit...but I promise, it was delicious!)

Thursday: French Onion Soup and Mixed Green Salad with Goat Cheese and Cranberries

Friday: Eggplant Parmesan and Lemon Butter Green Beans

Saturday: Cannellini Bean Wraps and Sliced Cinnamon Apples
(I forgot to take a picture of the apples before we devoured them)

All in all, I'm quite excited about this new eMeals plan.  None of the dinners took longer than 30 minutes to make and everything was delicious. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


On 23 November, Brian received a free 13-lb turkey from his landlord! We decided it would be fun to throw a "pre-Thanksgiving" for some of our fellow classmates. Early Sunday morning I started to prepare for the feast...with only one oven, timing is critical and I wanted to have as much stuff prepared as possible before Charlie (the turkey...yes, I named him) had to go into the oven. I started with the stuffing, which I made vegetarian.  I found a great recipe by Emily Harris and the only modification I made was to include mushrooms.  It's nearly impossible to go wrong in cooking when you add two sticks of butter! 

After I got the stuffing in the oven, I started on the mashed potatoes. I stuck to a recipe from the Pioneer Woman, and they turned out to be great....again, might have been the butter (and cream cheese).  Seriously, the recipe required that you put pats of butter all over the top of the potatoes before they went into the oven!

After those were ready to go into the oven, I just placed them to the side. They would get cooked right before the guests got here. Then I got started on the sweet potatoes.  I've never made these before, so Brian helped me out with the "how to" of it all. 

These also were put to the side for baking right before dinnertime. By this time, it was time to get Charlie ready for the oven. I figured it was important to give him a name to honor him, haha. This was all Brian though...I wasn't willing to play with the dead bird. 

 And this is about the time I forgot that I had a camera....silly me took the majority of the pictures while cooking!  Anyway, here's at least two pics that I did get when everything was ready.
Final spread of food!

Time to eat!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Autumn Leaves

A few weeks ago, I wandered down Broadway Street here in Fort Leavenworth with my camera. The leaves were at the peak of their change and it was a beautiful, brisk day. In addition to the gorgeous leaves, I also snapped some photos of some of my favorite houses. Here are some of my favorites!

Couldn't resist trying to catch a photo of this little guy!  He was nice enough to sit still while I switched lenses.

Stopped by a little antique shop as well, and took some fun photos.