Valentine’s Day Edition: Ladurée French Macarons

Ladurée French Macarons
A few years ago, I posted a recipe for Ladurée macarons that seemed to be a big hit with readers. I thought making a special Valentine’s Day edition would be fun. Same recipe with a cute Valentine’s Day Twist. Just grab some edible markets from Amazon and turn these classic treats into a special Valentine’s Day dessert.

This is a macaron shell recipe from Ladurée — the crème de la crème of macarons in the world! And I whipped up the filling recipe myself…

Makes approximately 50 macarons
Bake at 300F
Macaron Shell Ingredients
2 ¾ cups + 1 tbsp (275 g) fine almond flour
2 cups + 1 tbsp (250 g) confectioners’ sugar (aka powdered sugar)
6 +1/2 egg whites (room temp)
1 cup + 1 tbsp (210g) granulated white sugar
3 drops of whatever food coloring you desire
Directions for Macaron Shells:
1. Combine the ground almond flour and the confectioners sugar in a food processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture resembles a fine powder {do not over mix or you will end up with paste! Nooo!}. Sift through a sieve to remove any lumps.
2. In a large bowl {I use my KitchenAid}, whisk 6 egg whites until foamy. Once they are frothy, add a third of the granulated sugar {precisely 83.3 oz}. Whip until the sugar has dissolved. Add another third of the sugar. Whip for 1 minute. Add the last third of the sugar and whip for one minute. Egg whites should be glossy and hold soft peaks. Using a spatula, delicately fold the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar into the whipped egg whites. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining 1/2 egg white until just frothy. Then add it to the final mixture, folding gently to slightly loosen the macaron batter.
3. If you only want to make one color of macarons, then add your desired food coloring to the batter bowl. If you want multiple colors, divide your batter into separate bowls and add coloring to each. Try not to over mix.
4. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag {you can also use zip lock bags with a cut corner}. Pipe small macaron rounds 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto a  lined baking sheet. I like to line mine with a silpat or this fancy macaron mat. Parchment paper will also do. Lightly tap the tray on the counter to release any air pockets. Allow the macarons to sit uncovered for 10 minutes, so a thin dry coat forms on the top {you should be able to gently touch them without the batter sticking to your finger}. Now they are ready for the oven. Only bake one tray at a time. Bake at 300F for approximately 15 minutes or until they form a smooth shell and little foot.
*You can prepare the next tray while you wait for the first batch to bake.
5. Ok here is where you’ll need to be extra patient. Wait until the macarons have completely cooled before peeling them off the mat. If they stick, they are not ready. * My method {because I’m impatient} to speed things up, try placing the hot baking sheet on top of cold damp dishtowels. This can cut your waiting time in half!
Macaroon Filling Ingredients
8 tbsp jam
4 tbsp soft butter
splash of whipping cream
Fills approximately 50 macarons
{If you want to make different flavors on a smaller scale just measure 2:1 ratio for jam and butter}
Macaron Filling Instructions
Easy part!
1. You can use any flavor you want. For these macarons, I made different flavors for each color — peach, strawberry, blueberry and chocolate. Mmmmm. My friend gave me some amazing homemade jams that I mixed with butter and a splash of whipping cream.  Your measurements will vary depending on how much filling you want for each flavor. Just mix jelly, butter and whipping cream until you reach a semi-solid consistency at room temp. This one is pretty hard to mess up.
*I used Nutella for the chocolate hazelnut filling.
Good luck my friends!
Ladurée French Macarons
Ladurée French Macarons

One Skillet Spinach Shakshuka

One Skillet Shakshuka
It’s been cold, rainy and wildly windy for the past few days, so staying in my PJ’s until 12 and making a big shakshuka sounded like the best thing to do! It’s an easy one-skillet recipe that originated from northern Africa and is now served all over the Middle East. Lots of spicy flavors, sliced onions, peppers, tomato, feta cheese and eggs. I added some spinach for a fun twist. Serve with crusty bread or chapati style flat bread. Mmmmm. It’s the best – especially when you cook those eggs just right! And it makes the whole house smell wonderful!

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion (thinly sliced)
1 red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
4 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 (28oz) can tomatoes with juices (chopped)
salt (to taste)
black pepper (to taste)
3 cups fresh spinach (chopped)
½ cup feta cheese (crumbled)
6 eggs
cilantro and parsley (chopped)

In a cast iron skillet, cook onions, bell peppers and garlic in a tbsp. of olive oil until browned. Add spices and tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add spinach and stir until wilted. Turn off heat. Add feta cheese and eggs. Place in preheated 350F oven for 10 min or until egg whites are cooked and the yolks are just beginning to harden around the edges. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro and parsley. Serve with crusty bread or chapati style flat bread.

One Skillet Shakshuka


Healthy Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash

Healthy Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash | A Bit of Bees Knees
Twice baked spaghetti squash with lean turkey, roasted gaaahlic sauce and low fat mozzarella. Hub says it’s better than pasta! I agree!

Ingredients:
1 spaghetti squash (cut in half)
4 oz lean ground turkey meat
preferred seasonings to taste (I used Cavender’s All Purpose Greek seasoning)
1 cup Emeril’s All Natural Roasted Gaaahlic Sauce (you can find it in the store or make it from scratch)
1 cup low fat mozzarella cheese
fresh basil

Directions:

-Cut a spaghetti squash in half. Scoop out seeds and place face down in a deep dish pan with 2 inches of water. Bake in oven for 30 minutes at 350F.
-Remove squash from oven, drain water and use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti strands. Place the strands in a bowl and set aside. Keep the squash shells.
-Cook turkey with preferred seasonings and then mix with spaghetti squash “noodles”
-Repack the spaghetti squash shells with the “noodle” and turkey mixture making sure that each shell is evenly packed
-Top each squash half with 1/2 cup of roasted gaaaahlic tomato sauce, and 1/2 cup low fat mozzarella cheese and fresh basil
-Place back in the cooking pan and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese has melted.
Healthy Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash | A Bit of Bees Knees

Coconut Cabbage Thoran : A Southern Indian Dish

Thoran112
Thoran is a coconut cabbage veggie dish from Kerala – Southern India. Our friend and chef Shravan was kind enough to teach me how to make a few of his Mama’s recipes while we were cruising along the jungly backwaters in Alappuzha. His cooking was some of the best home homestyle food we had in India! Before Dan and I left the country he helped make a list of all the spices I would need to recreate these dishes back at home.

Coconut Cabbage Thoran

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
5 curry leaves
1 clove garlic (diced)
1 small green chili (chopped)
1 1/2 onion diced)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups finely chopped green cabbage
kosher salt to taste
1 cup freshly grated coconut

In a large pan, heat oil until simmering. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves and garlic, stir until fragrant. Add chopped chilies, onions, turmeric and cumin powder. Stir to ensure the spices don’t burn.  Add cabbage. Stir until the cabbage is coated with oil and spices. Cover with lid and let cabbage cook, stirring occasionally ~ 5 min. Add freshly grated coconut and stir until  mixed. Season to taste with salt and serve hot with rice, daal, or puris (crispy puff bread).
cooking
^^^Meet the chef! Shravan is on the left. His mom taught him how to cook – great job Mama! During the dry season he works as a chef on the rice boats. Shravan and Raj (on the right) were two of the three guys that accompanied us on our float through the backwaters! It was such a blast – crammed into that tiny galley with the engine humming, pans sizzling, amazing smells and misty water rainbows out the kitchen window. It was a very cool experience. A tad shhhhweaty but so awesome. Thanks for the cooking lessons friend!
FullSizeRender-89
I saved my spice shopping for the end of the trip in Kolkata. I ran around New Market, following scouters through a maze of shops with my giant list of spices… “Does any one have Valampuli??? What the heck is Valampuli!?” I have know idea, but it’s on my list. Facepalm. Hey Google? 😉 Looking back on it, we had a lot of fun. I found many of my spices in the attic of a saree shop (because everyone sells a little bit of everything around here). A boy helped me scoop spoonfuls of turmeric, tea masala and Kashmiri chili powder onto an old-fashioned scale. We sat there on the floor filling little bags with spices and sealing them with a candle flame he had melted to the floorboard. I love moments that. Our pantry at home officially smells like India.
1933415_10154001800543728_573127134842019395_oThoran 1.1
IMG_8708
IMG_8714


Seared Ahi Tuna With Crispy Panko

Panko Ahi

My Grandpa went fishing the other day a caught a huge tuna! We were lucky enough to reap the reward! Thanks for sharing Grandpa. Here’s what Dan and I decided to do with it…

What you’ll need:
{Serves two}

8oz tuna steak
6 tbsp. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic {pressed}
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 cup Panko
2 tbsp. olive oil {for frying}

Directions:
-Cut 8oz piece of raw tuna in half
-Put Panko crumbs into a medium sized bowl {set aside}
-Mix the soy sauce, pressed garlic and sesame oil in a medium sized bowl
-Dip each 4oz tuna steak into the soy sauce mixture and then roll them in the Panko crumbs
-Place each tuna steak into a frying pan with olive oil
-Fry each side of the tuna until the Panko is golden brown
-Cut the tuna into bite site pieces — center should be pink

Enjoy!