New Month, New Topics!

I absolutely cannot believe that it’s already October, but I can’t say i’m disappointed because I always look forward to this time of the year!  Even the smell of the air around this time makes me happy and brings to mind some of my favorite memories.  Since we’ve made it to the beginning of fall, I’ve planned for a lot of cool weather and holiday-inspired posts to spread the spirit during this spooky month ahead.  Check out the topics that I’ve listed below for a peek into what kinds of posts you’ll see me publish over the next few weeks- get excited!!!

A step-by-step tutorial for a yummy fall-inspired dessert

A sincere reflection about my most memorable trip ever taken

Three fitness classes that you should add to your fall routine ASAP

One of my favorite fall ingredients that makes weekly cooking much easier

Delightfully tacky or downright distasteful- my thoughts on Halloween costumes

The perfect holiday party dress

Things that I’m currently coveting….(see what they are on the blog TOMORROW!)

Homemade Macarons!

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Over my Christmas break, I decided to break in my new Macaron baking kit that my parents got me for Christmas.  I knew I had a difficult task ahead of me because I’ve always read and been told that macarons are only for the expert bakers, but I figured it was worth a shot.  The kit that I used is sold by the company, Lékué, which is sold in U.S. stores such as Sur La Table or online.  It came with a recipe book for a few different macaron flavors, including the one I chose for Tiramisu Macarons.  The first difficulty I ran into in effort to make these pastries was trying to find all of the unique ingredients.  I found the icing sugar, ground almonds/almond flour, instant coffee, mascarpone, and powdered cocoa at Whole Foods, but I had to purchase the amaretto at Total Wine and the basic ingredients at Harris Teeter.  I also had to buy a sieve at Target since I didn’t have one of my own at home.  It was quite the frustrating search but I was happy to get home with everything I needed to make these delectable sweets.

The kit I used

The Macaron kit I used

Since the English recipes in the included recipe book were translated from either Spanish or French, they weren’t very clear and resulted in quite a bit of confusion while I was cooking.  For example, one of the steps asks to sieve icing sugar, which had to be done with the cheap sieve I bought from Target.  Unfortunately, the sieving was a disaster and not only did I lose a bit of the sugar, but I also had to use the unsieved sugar in hope that it wouldn’t make a big difference to the final product.  Therefore, if you try out this recipe, I urge you to invest in a really good sieve and if that doesn’t work, just nix that step because it didn’t seem to noticeably affect my macarons.  Another issue that arose from the confusing recipe was during the step that requires one to whip egg whites, sugar, and salt until it becomes a thick meringue.  I’d never made meringue before so I had no idea what it needed to look like and how long I needed to whip the ingredients.  While pouring the batter onto the baking mat, I learned that I didn’t whip the mixture enough and it came out much thinner and less airy than it should’ve.  The thinness of the mixture could’ve also been partly due to the missing icing sugar that the sieve stole from me in the recipe’s previous step.  The last mishap that I encountered in my baking adventure was associated with my purchase of instant coffee and the vagueness of the recipe.  I think that the grounds from the coffee I bought were too large and needed to be either ground more finely with a food processor or simply purchased in a finer or even liquid form.  I don’t think that the coffee issue heavily affected the flavor of the macarons, but finer grounds could’ve definitely distributed the coffee flavor more effectively.

Aside from those three recipe issues and hard-to-find ingredients, my macarons surprisingly turned out delicious and almost perfect!  The flavor of both the filling and shells was really tasty.  The only major issue was in the shells, which weren’t as fluffy and thick as they should’ve been.  If you’re a baker and have been too intimidated by the fancy ingredients and somewhat complicated process to make your own macarons, I hope this post urges you to take a chance and try them out.  I received a lot of compliments on my macarons and they were definitely worth the small mishaps and tough ingredient search.

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Fruit and Greek Yogurt Breakfast

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Yesterday, I finally took the time to deseed my HUGE pomegranate from The Fresh Market.  This unique fruit is now back in season and available in the supermarkets again- YAY!  Pomegranates and grapefruit are the two fruits that I really look forward to buying when this season hits.  Even though pomegranates aren’t exactly the best fruit for instant satisfaction because of their tough deseeding process, they’re worth getting for their delicious and super healthy seeds.  In addition to being yummy and healthy, the seeds are also really versatile.  They can be frozen and added to smoothies or used fresh in salads, desserts, and various breakfast dishes.  Today I’ve decided to share with you my favorite greek yogurt meal that can be boosted by adding pom seeds for a filling and healthy breakfast.  Check out my easy recipe below for this yummy fruit-filled greek yogurt breakfast!

Ingredients: 

  • any brand of plain 0% greek yogurt (my favs are Chobani, Fage, and Voskos)
  • ½ banana
  • ¼ cup pom seeds
  • handful of blueberries or any other fruit (ex: strawberries or pineapple)
  • handful of granola
  • agave sweetener

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Simply cut up your fruit and add all of the ingredients into a bowl. Top it off with a drizzle of agave syrup and eat up!

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Personal Pesto Pita Pizza Recipe!

My roommates and I love to make this recipe for dinner every few weeks!  It’s a great option if you’re craving comfort food for dinner but also want to stay on the healthy track.  It’s also super easy and quick to make!  Since the pizza will be a personal size, you can put whatever you want on it, but I definitely suggest trying the delicious recipe that I’ve listed below.  My roommates and I also sometimes serve a veggie on the side such as sautéed zucchini or a salad, but the pizza alone is great if you aren’t starving!

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Ingredients (per pizza):

–       1 Whole wheat pita (whole round)

–       Crumbled feta cheese and skim milk shredded mozzarella cheese

–       Basil Pesto Sauce

–       Fresh spinach leaves

–       Baby bella mushrooms

–       Sundried tomatoes (I use halves in the jar with extra virgin olive oil)

–       Dried oregano and basil leaves (from the spice rack)

–       Ground black pepper

–       Grated parmesan cheese (for garnish)

–       Grilled boneless and skinless chicken breasts (I usually marinate mine before cooking for  better flavor)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450º F.
  2. Slice your washed mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and grilled chicken and set aside.
  3. Spread the pesto sauce on the pita followed with some of your feta and mozzarella cheese.
  4. Load up your pizza evenly with the spinach, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and chicken and then top with a little bit more cheese.
  5. Top it off with some dried oregano, basil, and pepper to your taste.
  6. Place the pizza on a big baking sheet or right onto the oven rack and cook for about 8 minutes or until the crust is slightly crispy.
  7. Carefully remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese on top for garnish.
  8. Let the pizza cool for a few minutes and then DIG IN!  Enjoy!