Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Healthy Eating just Makes me Love Life

As I mentioned before we got a Bountiful Basket this week so I have been making a ton of awesome dishes full of fruit and veggies. The first dish I made was a hatch chilies stew. I had never really seen or used hatch chilies before. Hatch chilies are just large chillies with a flavor similar to a green pepper. The recipe I used can be found here. The recipe did not specify state how long to cook the stew. I cooked the stew for three and a half hours on high and it seemed to work great.

Hatch Chilies

The Delicious Stew

My New Dining Table with the Stew 
We also got delicious grapefruit I had forgotten how much I love grapefruit.

I also made an Olive Oil cake with red grapes. It was surprisingly delicious and I am not even a huge grape fan. The recipe is found here. I did not have just plain corn meal so I just used some of a corn bread mix I had on hand and it worked fine.

I also made a smoothie with the grapes. I did not get a picture though. It had a different texture because there were pieces of the skin in it. But still tasty and great for an after run boost. 

Here is the recipe:
2 Cups Grapes
1 Cup Milk
Sugar or Sweetener (I used honey) 

Later in the week I cooked up the brussel sprouts we got using a Rachel Ray recipe. They were surprisingly good. If I make these again I will cut all of them in half, as they get more of the flavor that way.

And here is the favorite thing I made this week an apple pear salad with a balsamic honey dressing with feta cheese.  It was so amazing, it felt like I was eating at a gourmet restaurant!

And I still have more fruit and veggies left so I will keep you posted on what I do with them!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bloggers that I Could Not Live without: Garance Dore

This is my second post of my five post series "Bloggers that I could not live without". In this post I am going to  talk about the lovely Garance Dore's blog.

I instantly fell in Love with Garance Dore from the first post I read, five years ago, and have not stopped reading since. My favorite thing about Garance is her complete honesty in the fact that she has problems with zits, mascara, and weight. She is a women who sits on the front row of fashion shows and goes to fabulous parties yet she is just like you and me.

It has been interesting to watch how Garance and her blog have progressed through the years. I started reading right on the brink of her popularity, when she was still trying to get her work known. I then watched as she began to partner more and more with Scott her boyfriend and author of The Sartorialist, eventually gaining a team of assistants, and today she is one of the faces of the NET - A - PORTER campaign. Through all of this you can still see the same honest women that she was at the start. Garance has such a talent for sharing the beauty of the fashion world from a truly inspiring perspective.

Garance's talent for catching women in their completely natural state is part of what makes her photos so compeling. Here is a quote from on of her posts: "We forget quickly. What we remember are the moments when people look the most beautiful and feel most at home in their own skin. That’s what sticks with us, what we hold dear and what is most important, don’t you think?" Below are some examples of this talent, there are many more these are just a few of my favorites.


This sweater is sublime

DJ, Solange ~ Garance Dore Interview

Black in the summer ~ Garance Dore

Garance is also a brilliant artist which you may have picked up from her beautiful script on some of the above photos. Garance actually started out as an illustrator. Here are some of my favorite sketches of hers. She also just released a line with Kate Spade that bears her sketches.

We forget quickly. What we remember are the moments when people look the most beautiful and feel most at home in their own skin. That’s what sticks with us, what we hold dear and what is most important, don’t you think? ~ Garance Dore

Bun ~ Garance Dore

~ Garance


New York vs. Paris partying interesting read, and love Garance's drawing!

Here is my absolute favorite video that Garance and Scott have done if you like this you should definitely check out their youtube channel.

Hope you enjoyed this post about this wonderful blogger. I would love to hear what you think about any of my posts!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mesmerized with Macaroons

I have been mesmerized with macaroons since my first and hopefully not my last trip to Laduree in Paris. They are the ultimate decadent, Parisian dessert. There is something so wonderful about the crunchy yet fluffy texture of these little cookies that is just indescribable. They are hard to find in most places in the US, so I was quite delighted when I saw a DIY button on Miss at la Playa's blog that had a recipe for Macaroons. It has been three years since I saw that recipe and decided it was about time I tired my hand at making macaroons. 

First Trip to Laduree
Due to the fact that macaroon making is infamous for its technical nature I did quite a bit of research on various blogs and found quite a few interesting tips (List of Blogs is found at the end of the post). I ended up applying the tips (highlighted) I found to the recipe found on Miss at la Playa's blog. I may go with a different recipe next time or just try it again with better technique (more on this later), as my macaroons were far from perfect. But I will not give up until I perfect them!

Macaroon Batter:
1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces , 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 egg whites (Many blogs suggest use eggs that are a couple of days old and separating the eggs anywhere from 12-24 hours before and letting them age at room temp)
5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar

I suggest getting all the ingredients ready before hand, like this:

Chocolate Filling½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
4 ounces (120 gr) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 gr) butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (180 degrees C)
(The Givers Log blog suggested preheating to 375 and then turning down to 325 just before placing each sheet in. I feel that part of my problem was that this was too hot for my macroons each oven is different so see what works for you.)

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.

Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes. (Had trouble getting my meringue (whipped egg whites and sugar) right, likely due to a not clean enough bowl and having some yoke in my egg whites)

Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone). (Folding is a crucial step and must be done right. This video from was most useful to me)

Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.

Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the countertop to flatten the macaroons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet. (Many bloggers suggest letting the pipped batter rest for 30 to an hour allowing a film to form and as Givers Log says no film no foot. I let mine sit for 40 minutes)

To make the chocolate filling:
Heat the cream in a small saucepan with the corn syrup. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the pieces of butter. Let cool completely before using.
(I ended up cooling mine in the freezer)

Spread a bit of batter on the inside of the macaroons then sandwich them together. (You can pipe the filling it, but I prefer to spread it by hand; it’s more fun, I think.)
I also tend to overfill them so you may or may not use all the filling.
Let them stand at least one day before serving, to meld the flavors.
Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze. If you freeze them, defrost them in the unopened container, to avoid condensation which will make the macaroons soggy.

Not so beautiful foots :(
The above picture shows how my foots did not turn out, though the cookies were quite delicious. I believe this is most likely due too a bad meringue and cooking them at too hot of a temperature for too long. Hope you learned from some of my mistakes. I am going to keep trying! I will keep you posted on how my next attempts go! I also just got another bountiful basket so I will be sharing recipes inspired by my basket!

Blogs With Great tips:

Miss at la Playa - The recipe

Annie Eats - A very good cook with a more technical description of Macaroon baking, great pictures.

Givers Log - As you can see from my highlighted tips I really liked this blog, she had very clear tips and lots of them.

Tartelle - The queen of Macaroons according to Annie and others, lots of different types of Mararoon recipes on this blog including lots of other fun desserts.

Bellalimento - This blogger details a Macaroon class with Tartelle

Wedding Chicks - This site had some interesting Macaroon flavors such as pumpkin

How to Cook That - This is were I found the awesome video mentioned above

Not So Humble Pie - Has a wonderfully detailed trouble shooting list

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mid Western Art: Barn Quilts

        For the past week I have been visiting my Mothers parents who live in the "heartland" of the United States, in  an old farming town called Dension, Iowa. Dension is best known for being the hometown of Donna Reed an actress in the 1946 film It's A Wonderful Life. They even have a Donna Reed festival every year which is made complete with the Denision hollywood sign.

Photo by: Collin Burnett

          The viewing of barn quilts came as we traveled across the state of Iowa from Dension to Okoboji. Okoboji is a resort town in the great lakes region of Iowa. Okoboji is home to a small amusement park called Arnolds Park. It is also famous for a university that does not exist. Though I was not informed of this before our visit, which began with browsing The Three Sons store. The Three Sons store is a very peculiar store as it is just this poorly put together barn stuffed full of name brands. As I wandered this odd store I noticed clothing branded with Okoboji University; I did not think much of it. Though, I did find it odd that my family seemed so interested in the clothing though no one had attended the university. It was not until I innocently asked my grandfather "How big the university was?" that I found out it was all a sham. Apparently three brothers (hence the store name) started making branded clothing bearing the below seal in the 70's it caught on and is still a running joke. So next time you see an Okoboji University sweatshirt you will be in on the joke too.

So know back to barn quilts. Barn quilts are not made out of fabric but are wooden squares that are painted to resemble quilt like patterns. They are sometimes created to honor a particular person or simply for embellishment. I found these quilts simply fascinating as each is slightly different, yet all are beautiful in there simplicity of shapes and colors. I hope you enjoy the simple beauty of a barn quilt as much as I did.

American Pride

The Barn Quilt pictured below was part of the Sac County Barn Quilt Map

A Less Traditional Quilt

Flower Pot Quilt

A Quilt on the Side of a Nursing Home

Artistic Grain Silos 

Simply American Farm