My torrid relationship with French macarons…from the beginning

bootstrapslidemacarons

Oh, French macarons, how I love thee. Glorious little confections of meringue and cream. An amalgam of wonderful textures in a wee little cookie. It’s not hard to fall in love with them…unless you’re me. I’m about to say something that may shock a lot of people: I didn’t love my first French macaron. I actually, didn’t even really like it.

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Gossip Girls need food too…

Eek! I know, I know. How could I say such a thing? I just wasn’t impressed. I didn’t get why Blair Waldorf went nuts over those cute little French confections. I was told my heart would skip a beat at first bite. I felt lied to, betrayed. To be fair, I even tried a few more from different places and they grew on me a little but I still felt a little ambivalent towards them. I really, really wanted to love them. They are just too pretty! So I set out to make myself love them and that meant making them myself. Little did I know, they would consume my life for the next 3 years.

Continue reading… (you will be directed to my story at GirlsOnFood.net)

French Macaron Myths

delectable french macarons

The true origin of the macaron is debatable. What we know as a fact is that they started as a single almond meringue shell. It wasn’t until the mid-1800’s or 1900’s (another debate) that they became what we are now familiar with, the French macaron: two shells sandwiched together with filling.

What we can all agree with, though, is that they are difficult to make. Even the seasoned pastry chef still runs into issues. I’ve been making French macarons for about 2 years now, so I have some experience under my apron. I read everything I could find on the internet before I even attempted to try these things. Here are some common myths that I came across that I’d like to address…

1. You pronounce it wrong. (EH…You say tom-ay-toe, I say tom-ah-toe….) 

I think it would be acurate to claim that most Americans pronounce French macarons as “macaroonz”. The French probably cringe every time they hear us say that. In France, and probably most other countries, it is prounounced “ma-ka-rohn”. Rhymes with “on”, “Ron”, “Don-Juan”…

Some say “macaroon” is simply the English translation of “macaron”, however, if we are calling it what it is, macaron seems more appropriate. I say pronounce it however you want: it’s still delicious! 

When some people, mostly older folks, hear the word macaroon, they think of those little coconut bundles that are sometimes dipped in chocolate. Of course, French macarons are nothing like that at all. They are a meringue-based cookie with a filling sandwiched between two shells. The origins of macarons and macaroons are not too different though, so maybe that is the root of all of this confusion.

2. You can’t make them in the rain. (FALSE)

It’s raining as I type and I just finished making macarons. They came out perfect. Don’t let mother nature rain on your pastry parade. I make macarons almost every time it rains. Mostly because I make them 5 days a week so chances are good if it rains, it will be on one of those 5 days. I live in California and we are allergic to rain so we stay indoors. What a better way to pass the time than to bake macarons. 

The only guess I have as to why this myth started in the first place is that rain makes the air more humid, obvi, which is not a favorable environment for macarons. Now in California, the climate is on the dry side anyway so I haven’t really experienced problems related to extreme humidity. I can say that a humid room makes the resting period of macarons take a little longer. 

3. They are very very difficult to make… (TRUE…until you get the hang of it)

I almost cried the 3rd time I made macarons and they were still cracking. I was so frustrated that I gave up for awhile. Almond flour isn’t cheap so I hated wasting it. I read every piece of information I could get my hands on about macaron making before I tried again. After the 5th time, I got the hang of it and it’s been mostly an easy process. I’ve had some hiccups along the way but having a better understanding of the cookie has made fixing my mistakes a lot easier.

4. You have to age your egg whites. (FALSE)

When I first started making macarons, I read that I HAD to do this. It seemed like such a time suck. Some instructions said to leave them sitting on the counter for 6 hours, some said 6 days! 6 days? I could have eaten 100 macarons in 6 days. As the saying goes… “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” I’ve used eggs straight from the fridge, room temperature eggs, eggs I left out for 3 days….always the same result. Don’t bother!

5. You can’t make them with fresh eggs. (FALSE)

I’ve told people this before and they go on about how when eggs get to the market, they are already at least a week old so I am in fact using “old” eggs. Okay, maybe but I’ve also used very fresh eggs. Like REALLY fresh. Once when I was practicing making macarons, I was 1 egg short so I ran outside to our chicken coop and grabbed an egg. Can’t get any fresher than that. No problems.

6. Egg whites need to be room temp. (FALSE)

Although, room temp egg whites whip up a little faster, you’re wasting time waiting around for them to get there. I use cold eggs whites, cool egg whites and room temp egg whites. I always get the same result.

7. You must bake on non-stick Silpat mats. (FALSE)

I didn’t have these when I first started making macarons so I used parchment paper. I perfected my recipe and technique on parchement paper before I tried Silpat. I didn’t have to make any changes to the way I made them, using the different material. There are pros and cons to both. If you don’t have them, use parchment if you don’t want to make the investment. It’s all good!

Is there any information that you’ve read and are unsure about and would like me to address? Let me know in the comments!

Come back soon for my Macaron Tips, Tricks and Troubleshooting posts!

pink french macarons

5 Easy Appetizers // Perfect Party Plates

Here is a roundup of 5 easy appetizers you can take to any party this Labor Day weekend. 

The last thing you want to do while preparing for a party is spend loads of time in the kitchen. These party appetizers are not only crowd-pleasing but super easy to make, leaving you more time to hang out by the pool then sweat your butt off in the kitchen. These are the perfect party appetizers!

 1. BLT Skewers

Who doesn’t love a BLT? These fly off the plate every time I make them. They require a little prep but assembly is a breeze. All you do it skewer a tortellini, a piece of bacon, a chunk of iceberg lettuce and a tomato. You can drizzle each skewer with some honey mustard and call it a day. Get the recipe here.

salad skewers

 2. Caprese Dip

This is the easiest easy appetizer on my list. Add chunks of cheese, tomatoes, chopped basil leaves and some garlic powder to an oven safe bowl. Bake for 20 minutes and serve. Get the easiest recipe ever here.

caprese dip

 3. Bacon Wrapped Little Smokies

A staple at most get-togethers with my husbands family. Every single person takes a plate full. They can’t get enough. You can assemble these a day ahead and keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake. Get the yummy recipe here.

bacon wrapped weiners

 4. Avocado Salsa Rolls

These are one of my favorite easy appetizers that I’ve ever made. I suggest doubling the recipe as I usually eat half of them when I’m plating them. Turn your back and they will be gone….Get the irresistible recipe here.

avocado salsa rolls

 5. Prosciutto and Fig Crostini

I like to save this easy appetizer for fancier parties. A pool full of drunk college guys will not be able to appreciate this gorgeous hors-d’oeuvre. Get the recipe here.

prosciutto fig crostini

 

Check out more of my easy appetizers here.

Spicy Habanero Cheese Enchiladas

homemade cheese enchiladas

I love enchiladas. I may have mentioned this before but I always tell my husband that if I get another tattoo, it’s going to be of an enchilada. Possibly wearing a sombrero, dancing around in a puddle of red sauce. For reals….

Anywho, I found these amazing, delicious, ridiculous habanero flour tortillas from Lucky Habanero at the farmers market and I’ve been in love since first taste. My husband loves them too. Just a house full of tortilla love. They are a fairly new product and I think they may be available at our local SoCal farmers markets only right now but check out their site on where to buy (their salsa is amazing too!). And pin this recipe so you can make them when you get your hands on them! If you are not in SoCal and can’t find these tortillas, don’t fret. You can use regular flour or corn tortillas with this recipe. The sauce will be the winner here.

So, one night I was preparing my easy cheese enchiladas and then I thought maybe, just maybe, you could raise the deliciousness by adding a habanero flour tortilla during the preparation process and it turns out, I was right. And also that I’ve seen Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion 10 too many times.

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I’ve changed the way I make my easy cheese enchiladas a little but they are still easy. I switched from using canned sauce to the homemade enchilada sauce recipe from Gimme Some Oven. It’s seriously so much better than any canned sauce I’ve ever tried and well worth the extra effort. I also always use flour tortillas too. My Mexican friends would slap me but I just love the texture after they are baked and these habanero tortillas are crazy good. They add so much flavor! 

If you love my easy cheese enchiladas, give these a try! I guarantee you will love them even more. And if you don’t then you can slap me too.

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Spicy Habanero Cheese Enchiladas
Yields 6
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Sauce
  1. 2 Tbsp canola oil
  2. 2 Tbsp flour
  3. 4 Tbsp chili powder
  4. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 1/4 tsp cumin
  7. 1/4 tsp oregano
  8. 2 cups chicken stock
Enchiladas
  1. 4 cups grated cheese, pepperjack & cheddar are a great mix (reserve about 1/2 cup for topping)
  2. 6 Lucky Habanero flour tortillas (regular flour or corn tortillas work too)
  3. handful of chopped green onions for topping
For sauce
  1. Heat canola oil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir together over the heat for one minute. Stir in the remaining seasonings.
  2. Slowly add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until thick.
For enchiladas
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Pour some of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a square baking dish, enough to cover bottom. Dip tortillas in sauce to coat (sometimes I skip this step if I don't feel like getting my hands dirty) and fill each with about 1/2 cup grated cheese. Roll and place seam side down in baking dish.
  2. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the tortillas. Sprinkle reserved 1/2 cup of cheese over the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove and sprinkle with sliced green onions.
Notes
  1. Enchilada sauce is best when used right away but you can make ahead and refrigerate up to two weeks.
Delectable http://delectablebakehouse.com/

Australia’s amazing cakes

I was first introduced to the amazing cakes coming out of Australia through Instagram. Thanks to the recent revamp of the Explorer (i.e. Stalker) page, I was inundated with photos of people’s kids, their meals and, most importantly, their desserts. Photos of colorful and eccentric cakes kept catching my eye and they all seemed to be coming from bakers and decorators in the same country: Australia!

They are works of art. Each one unique, over-the-top and amazingly gorgeous. They use bright colors, cookies, candies, flowers, fruits and chocolates to decorate not just the tops but all around. So many layers and elements of gorgeous goodness, I wouldn’t even want to eat them! Here are some of my favorites so far…

Unbirthday

Incredible use of colors, candies and fresh flowers. Their cakes are perfectly over-the-top and eye-catching.

(photos from: un-birthday.com)

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Katherine Sabbath

Possibly her most famous cake, the melting ice cream cone cake, has been emulated by many. All of her cakes are whimsical in nature and brightly colored. She is the master of the dripping ganache and unicorn-like chocolate shards.

(photos from: Katherine Sabbath on Instagram)

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Cakes By Cliff

Cliff’s cakes are designed on paper and reflect his background in architecture. They are works of art with their chocolate sculptures and beautifully arranged decorations.

(photos from: cakesbycliff.com)

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I’d love to hear what you think of these amazing cake designers. Are there others you love too?

Pink Lady Cocktail

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This cocktail post was inspired by the finale of Mad Men. I’m a sucker for anything mid-century. My grandparents lived in a Cliff May designed neighborhood in Long Beach, CA for most of my childhood. They had access to the vacant home next door at one time and my brother, cousins and I used to go inside the house and play. It was the perfect place for us to play with floor to ceiling windows, an open floor plan and a path that went all around the exterior of the house so we could chase each other endlessly. The kitchen was all original and avocado green. That house was like a time capsule and I loved every bit of it and my grandparents house next door. So many memories! It has stuck with me all of these years. I don’t have an avocado green kitchen or anything but I do have a deep love for anything from that era from furniture to tv shows. Like Mad Men.

For years, my girlfriends and I have said we wanted to host a Mad Men style cocktail party complete with costumes and retro hors d’oeuvre’s. The finale kind of snuck up on us and we were busy doing a million other things so this party slipped through the cracks. We still got together to watch the Mad Men finale though and we even ended up making some appetizers and this adorable retro Pink Lady Cocktail to get us in the mood.

Variations of the Pink Lady Cocktail have been around for nearly a century but gained popularity again in the 60’s and 70’s when “girly” drinks became a thing during that time. It’s slightly creamy and a little “Pepto” looking with the perfect balance of sweet and tart. It’s pink and delicious yet dangerous. Pace yourself…

Pink Lady Cocktail
Yields 2
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Ingredients
  1. 2 oz gin
  2. 1 oz lemon juice
  3. 1 oz grenadine
  4. 2 oz cream
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a collins glass filled with ice.
Adapted from Cocktails A-Go-Go
Adapted from Cocktails A-Go-Go
Delectable http://delectablebakehouse.com/
pinkladycocktail2 (864 x 1296)

 

3-Cheese Potatoes Au Gratin

3 cheese potatoes au gratin

These potatoes have been a hit at family gatherings recently and might be my signature dish. Everyone raved about them at Christmas and my mom asked me to make these again for Easter. It’s creamy and cheesey inside with a browned, slightly crisp layer of cheese on top.

They are very easy to make if you have a mandoline slicer. I have this one and I love it. If you don’t have a mandoline then you will need to slice these very thinly by hand with a sharp knife. That sounds awful, I know, so I definitely recommend using or getting a mandoline. It’s so worth it! You’ll want to make these over and over so it’s worth the investment. Plus, you can slice tomatoes easily and cut veggies. It’s a nice tool to have around.

When I was naming this recipe I had to look up the difference between scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin. Apparently, scallopped potatoes is a potato dish that utilizes milk or cream. Potatoes au gratin is a dish that uses potatoes and cheese as the main components. This dish fits both but I went with au gratin because, along with heavy cream, it’s just potatoes and cheese. I used 3 different cheeses in this dish: Cheddar, fresh Parmesan and Gruyere. Gruyere is my favorite “fancy” cheese! It’s a bit pricey but so worth it for the flavor.

potatoes au gratin

potatoes au gratin

3 Cheese Potatoes Au Gratin
Serves 8
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 6-7 medium russet potatoes, peeled
  2. 2/3 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
  3. 2/3 cup Gruyere, grated
  4. 3/4 cup Cheddar, freshly grated
  5. 2 cups heavy cream
  6. 3 garlic cloves (I used the jarred kind)
  7. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  8. 1/2 tsp pepper
  9. 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Slice potatoes into 1/8 inch slices. Set on paper towels to absorb moisture.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cheeses. In another bowl, combine heavy cream, garlic, salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Set aside.
  3. Make a layer of potatoes, overlapping potatoes, in a large, greased casserole dish. Add about a third of the cheese all over the top. Repeat until all potatoes and cheese have been used.
  4. Pour cream mixture evenly over the top. Bake, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes or until bubbly, browned and fork tender.
Delectable http://delectablebakehouse.com/

Butternut Squash and Sausage Casserole

butternut squash and sausage casserole

Ummm…Hi!

Remember me? 

Yeah, I used to post here often and then I just disappeared into a life of utter craziness. I missed you guys! But I’m back. My resolution for this year is this get my shiz together. That means posting to my blog again because, well, that’s what it’s for and I like it! I also kind of feel like something is missing from me without it. True story! 

I started this blog because I felt overwhelmed by my new life as a full time mom and I needed something that was just for me that I could call mine. That evolved into a little homemade baked goods business that has kept me busy for the past couple of months but I’m learning to juggle.

This recipe I’m sharing with you came from another mom of multiples, Pam from Pyjammy.com. I shared this on my personal blog long ago but I feel it needs a bigger audience. This stuff is amazing. It’s so good that Pam called it Squash Crack. It’s addicting and you can’t help but keep eating it. 

You can buy a whole butternut squash and peel and chop it or you can buy the pre-cut squash. I love this recipe because you can customize it. I used pork sausage but you could use turkey sausage, andouille, whatever. You could also use less goat cheese or even a different kind of cheese. Maybe even add onions! It’s very forgiving.

Peeling a butternut squash is kind of a pain in the ass. The shape is awkward and it’s all gooey once it’s peeled so it’s hard to hold onto. But…I did it! I cut the squash into about 1 inch cubes. They aren’t all exactly uniform but who cares. MOST of them are in the 1 inch range. Toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper and sage (lots ‘o sage).  Toss it into a baking dish, 13×9 worked for me, and mix in the chopped sausage. Then sprinkle with the crumbled goat cheese.

Bake, covered, at 350 for about 45 – 55 minutes. It all depends on the size you cut your squash and how tender you want it. I started stabbing it with a fork at around 45 minutes but it wasn’t quite how I wanted it so I let it cook about 10 more minutes and it was perfect! Then, uncover, and let it cook about 15 minutes more so it browns on top.

This is a great dish for cold winter night. Pure comfort food.

butternut squash and sausage casserole

butternut squash and sausage casserole recipe

butternut squash recipe

Butternut Squash and Sausage Casserole
Serves 6
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  2. 1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and sliced
  3. 1 1/2 - 2 containers crumbled goat cheese (about 5 oz each)
  4. 2-3 Tbsp olive oil (enough to coat but not soak)
  5. 1 Tbsp dried sage
  6. salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Toss chopped squash with olive oil, salt & pepper and sage to coat well.
  3. Arrange with sausage in a 13×9 baking dish. Sprinkle goat cheese over the top.
  4. Cover and cook for 45-55 minutes or until fork tender. Remove the cover and continue cooking 15 to 20 minutes or until top is browned. Serve.
Adapted from Pyjammy
Adapted from Pyjammy
Delectable http://delectablebakehouse.com/

Buy Delectable at the Anaheim Farmers Park Market!

I am now a vendor at the Farmer’s Park Market in Anaheim, CA right outside of the Packing House!

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Come see me every Sunday from 10am to 3pm and load up on some baked goodies! The farmer’s market is located right between The Packing House and Anaheim Brewery on Broadway and Anaheim Blvd. I will have prepackaged French Macarons, Chocolate Chip Cookies and lots more goodies including great gifts for all of those holiday parties coming up.

After you chow down on some great food in The Packing House, come and visit my booth outside and say Hi!

french macarons

anaheim french macarons

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14 Insanely Stylish Bar Cart Ideas

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Bar carts are the new black. Well, as far as home decor goes. Everyone is just dying to get their hands on one. Target put one on their shelves and it seemed to disappear in the blink of an eye. Then within a week it was all over Pinterest being all gold and girly. 

Bar carts aren’t a new thing of course. They were a fixture in a lot of American homes during the mid 20th century. Your grandparents probably had one, Mad Men style. My husbands great grandparents had one but they called it a “tea cart”. Sure thing Granny. In the late 1960’s, new homes were being designed with built-in dry bars or wet bars so there was no longer a huge demand for bar carts. My grandparents had a built-in wet bar so we played a lot of “bartender” during my adolescence. Explains so much…

The bar cart is back and, like most people, I’m loving it. Search Pinterest and you’ll find thousands of images of cute styled bar carts, a lot of them gold with pink accents, kind of girly. If I lived in a bachelorette pad, you bet your ass I would have a gold and girly bar set up, but I don’t. My husband would roll it right out the front door if he came home to that. So, here are a few of my favorite bar cart styles that could work in everyday homes. Some of them aren’t actually bar carts, the kind with wheels, but bar “areas” outside of the kitchen.

 1.

elegant bar cart

 photo cred: theglitterguide.com

I love the elegance of this bar set-up. It’s white so it blends nicely with the neutral colored walls and carpet and the gold mugs and cocktail shaker add a nice pop but not too much. I happen to have that same cocktail shaker; get it here.

2.

mid century bar cart

 photo cred: westelm

This mid-century style beverage area is great. It blends in perfectly with the rest of the area so if you removed the decanters and glasses, no one would guess they were ever there or that there was booze in the wall mounted cabinet.

3.

industrial bar cart

 photo cred: refinery29

Ridiculous cute, right? I love when people use industrial style items in their home. Maybe because my parents house had a living room wall covered entirely in corrugated metal when I was growing up. I just have a fondness for metal used in unusual ways, especially when it’s painted a bright color.

4.

chanel bar cart

 photo cred: ellandemmstylestory

 Bar cart on top, magazine holder on bottle. Multi-purpose.

5.

vintage suitcase bar

 photo cred: eclecticallyvintage

Not actually a bar cart, just a vintage suitcase on top of a dresser and filled with booze. Genius!

6.

bar cart

 photo cred: stylemepretty

I dig the dual ice bucket/wine chiller on the side. I also love that even though the cart is mobile, it feels more like a permanent piece of furniture with wall hangings above it.

7.

one kings lane gold bar cart

 photo cred: onekingslane.com

Gold and kinda girly, I know! But if you just remove the pink flowers then it’s gold and awesome with that giant mirror and Lucite bottle holder below.

8.

vintage bar case

 photo credit: delightbydesign

Another bar set up with a giant mirror. I love it! Place a tray on an awesome piece of furniture, antique, vintage or new and you can turn anything into a bar.

9.

sophisticated bar cart

 photo cred: muffytakesmanhattan.tumblr

Now I think I’m just really into mirrors. And neutral colors. Nice, clean and sophisticated.

10.

bar sideboard

 photo cred: designsponge

Here is another one that isn’t actually a bar cart. I’ve always had commitment issues when putting things on top of my sideboard. I love this because most of the cocktail glasses are hidden inside, leaving a lot of room up top to stay clutter free.

11.

diy bar cart

 photo cred: honestlywtf

I pinned this about forever ago and still haven’t gotten around to making it. Just a tray on a stand. You can move this around every time your grandparents visit just to confuse them. But then you might be a jerk….

12.

industrial bar cart

 photo cred: waitinginmartha

Another metal cart! I love! The area around it seems a bit sparse but it works perfectly with the bulky items on the cart.

13.

black and gold bar

 photo cred: ruemag.com

So cute…mostly that geode knob but the gold with the black too. That knob though….

14.

vintage cocktail cart

photo cred: elizabethanndesigns

The best part about a bar cart (with wheels) is that you can take it anywhere with you. The dining room, the bathroom, the backyard…perfect entertaining piece.

Hi! I’m Nichelle

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