Pumpkin Chocolate Macarons

 

 

 

 

Several months ago, I embarked on a beautiful tour of Europe which included a visit to the gorgeous city of Paris.

While there, my diet consisted of: croissants, crepes, and lots and lots of macarons.

No this wasn’t the healthiest few days of my life, but perhaps the happiest. On my last day in Paris I swore that when I went back to the states I would learn how to make these light, pillowy sugar dreams so I could transport myself back to the gilded streets of Paris, even if just for a moment.

 

So I finally attempted to climb pastry everest. As you will see below, I mixed in my fall cravings with this Parisian classic, and came up with this recipe.

Did these taste good? You bet!

 

Did half of the shells crack or fall apart? Yes, indeed. But it’s more motivation for me to tweak my recipe and find out what works and what doesn’t. However, this is a solid foundation recipe and I hope you too will attempt to climb this tasty meringue mountain with me.

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Pumpkin & Chocolate Macarons

By Pleading and Pasta (C) 2013

3/4 cup almond meal

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

3 Tbsp sugar

1.5 tbsp of cocoa powder

2 large egg whites

FILLING

1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups  powdered sugar
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

 

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (Note, oiled foil WILL NOT work)

2. Put regular sugar and egg whites in a mixer and let mix for 7-10 minutes until stiff peaks form.

3. Meanwhile, sift together the almond meal, confectioner’s sugar, and cocoa powder.

4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients by folding the dry ingredients in. You want to do at least 25-30 turns on this particular recipe. “Knock” the air out of the merengue by turning and smearing the mix.

5. Put the mixture into a plastic bag for piping.

6. Pipe equally sized circles onto the parchment and lightly bump and shake the pan so the batter settles.

7. Cook for 10-12 minutes. Cookies should pop off the parchment.

8. Remove from pan and let cool and make the icing.

9. For icing, mix all of the icing ingredients together. To make the frosting more stiff, add small amounts of confectioners sugar until desired consistency is reached.

10. Put icing in a bag and pipe onto cookie shells. Put one on top of the other and serve!

Eat with all of your heart, mon ami,

 

G

 

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Lime Glazed Sweet Potatoes

photo 3When I think of sweet potatoes I usually imagine changing leaves outside, snuggling into a warm sweater, and gearing up for the holidays. However, this nutritious staple can be eaten year round, and when dressed up with a summer twist, it hits the spot just right!

Lime Glazed Sweet Potatoes

1 lime

3 tbsps honey

olive oil

cilantro to taste

salt/pepper

3 large sweet potatoes

  1. After washing, cut the potatoes into very thin strips. I prefer them to be thinner because they cook quicker on the stove top. Leave skins on if you prefer.
  2. On medium heat, warm olive oil (enough to lightly cover the pan) and add sweet potatoes. Sautee for 5-7 minutes until cooked.
  3. In bowl, mix honey, lime, cilantro, and salt and pepper.
  4. Throw mixture into the sautee pan with the sweet potatoes and stir continuously until coated and the liquid evaporates. Make sure not to leave it or else it may burn with the sauce.
  5. After a couple minutes, remove from heat and serve!

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This side dish pairs nicely with a light seafood dish, or is great all by itself!

Eat with all of your heart,

G

Baked Orange Chicken

 

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Keeping up with the trend of food I crave, and decided to learn how to make, here is a recipe for homemade baked orange chicken.

The kicker on this recipe, is that you actually forget halfway through eating it that it’s pretty good for you in comparison to its deep fried counterpart. I served this recipe on a bed of quinoa instead of rice to make it even healthier. The quinoa nicely soaked up the rich and tangy orange sauce and made for a delightful and light meal!

 

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Baked Orange Chicken

Pleadings & Pasta 2013

4 chicken breasts, cut into cubes

Panko bread crumbs

salt and pepper

One egg, beaten

Sauce:

1/4 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

2 tablespoons Sriracha

1 teaspoon cornstarch (or 2 teaspoons flour) to thicken the sauce.

 

  1. Mix panko, salt, and pepper into a bowl.
  2. Take the cubed raw chicken and dunk it in the beaten egg mixture.
  3. Then take the chicken and dip it into the panko mixture and place on an oiled cookie sheet.
  4. Continue until all are done and put in the oven at 400 degrees. Cook approximately 15 minutes until the panko is niceand crispy and the chicken is cooked within. Place the stove on broil quickly if you need to give the panko an extra crisp.
  5. Remove from oven.
  6. Prepare the sauce by mixing all the ingredients except the corn starch into a pan to boil. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes then add the corn starch and keep stirring until the sauce thickens. (Feel free to double this recipe if you want it really saucy!)
  7. Mix the baked chicken tenders into the sauce, and serve immediately over rice or quinoa.

 

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I loved the sauce so much, I decided to pour the rest on top!

 

Eat with all of your heart,

 

G

Kick Ass Pad Thai

Pad Thai is my go-to for Asian takeout. Words cannot express how much joy a fresh batch of pad thai brings to my soul.

For many years now, I dreamed of being able to conquer the pad thai recipe. It truly has been my Everest. I would research “authentic pad thai” and get frustrated, or intimidated, and give up. To be honest, I was afraid to ruin this coveted dish I adored so much with just an “ok” version of my own doing.photo 1

However, for some strange reason I mustered up the courage, I researched endlessly, put together a combination of several recipes and added a few tweaks of my own, and finally did it. Yes, I made Pad Thai. Not only did I make it, but it tasted wonderful. Not only that, I loved it so much that I started to make it an ungodly amount of times until I got it down and could make it in my sleep. And now today, I share with you the crown jewel of my recipe box.

This recipe stands for more than just deliciousness. Nay, it stands as a reminder that you can achieve the impossible. It stands for a symbol of not being intimidated and for believing in yourself. And, when this beautiful recipe came into creation, it marked a time where I found my passion for cooking re-ignited, and inspired to push my own limits of my culinary creativity.

So with that, I present to you, kick ass pad thai!

Kick Ass Pad Thai

Pleadings & Pasta 2013

  • 8 oz. Thai rice noodles (or enough for 2 people), linguini-width, available at Asian grocer
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped chicken breast or tofu
  • Marinade for Chicken/Tofu: 3 Tbsp. soy sauce, 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander/cilantro
  • 1/3 cup crushed peanuts
  • olive oil or sesame oil for stir-frying, and lots of wedges of lime
  • PAD THAI SAUCE  (Highly suggest doubling this in proportion to the number of noodles you have and adding it to taste. Loved this sauce and wanted more of it on my noodles!)
  • 3/4 Tbsp. tamarind paste dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water (look for tamarind at Asian or Indian grocer)
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce+ more to taste
  • 3 tsp of Sriracha Sauce (I added some more because I love the kick)
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar (can add a bit more if you want a richer sauce)
  1. Bring a large pot of pot to a boil and dunk in your rice noodles. Cook until firm, you don’t want them too mushy so you can fry them later. Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking. Set aside.
  2. Make pad Thai sauce by combining the sauce ingredients together in a cup. Stir well.
  3. Marinate chicken for 10 minutes. Stir well and set aside. (For a vegetarian option, use tofu! Marinade and prepare the same way).
  4. Add a little oil to the pan, and add the tofu or chicken and cook until done.
  5. Add the noodles, and pour the Pad Thai sauce over. Using two utensils, use a gentle “lift and turn” method to fry noodles (like tossing a salad). Stir-fry in this way 1-2 minutes. If you pan is too dry, push noodles aside and add a little more oil to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Stir in bean sprouts.
  7. Place noodles in plate and top with lots of fresh cilantro, onions, and peanuts. Add fresh lime wedges to squeeze over each portion.

There are no words, other than YUM!

Eat with all of your heart,

G