• FOOD

    Lime Macarons

    Haha, so, just to be straight up here, I realize I should have titled this “wonky lime macarons”, we’ll chat more on that in a bit.

    When I saw the theme for this month’s Cooks in the Kitchen (hosted by Elah Tree & Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe) was limes I thought it was such a good ingredient because it’s not one I use often. I actually made some steaks this week with some lime in the marinade, intending for that to be my recipe to link up, but once they got off the BBQ we ate them right away, I was too excited about steak to take the time to photograph them.

    So that lead me to search Pinterest for something limey to make. I had been pinning a lot of macarons lately so I thought I’d check if there were recipes for lime macarons and low and behold, there was! Honestly, I had been pinning a lot of these French treats because they looked pretty, but I had never actually tried one (or even seen one in real life), but I decided to try to make them anyway. During this time, Raeca was napping (or supposed to be), so while I was quietly trying to bang the pan against the counter so they would flatten out and look normal; my macaron ignorance, impatience when baking, and silently praying I wasn’t waking Raeca up resulted in my poor little macarons not straightening out like they should have, resulting in these wonky little guys.

    On the bright side, Raeca did end up napping. You win some and you lose some!

    I then tried to decide if I was too embarrassed of these misshapen treats to share them but decided, ultimately I was in this to practice my food photography skills and weird shaped meringues or not, I was going to photograph them!

    LIME MACARONS
    recipe adapted from Amy Rose

    Cookies

    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 3/4 cup almond flour
    • 2 egg whites, at room temp
    • 2 to 3 drops green food coloring
    • 1/4 cup bakers granulated sugar
    • zest of two limes

    Filling

    • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
    • 1 Tbl lime juice
    • 1 ts vanilla
    • 1/8 ts salt
    • 1 to 2 drops green food coloring

    DIRECTIONS

    1. For cookies, line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. combine powdered sugar and almond flour in food processor. Pulse into fine powder, scraping bowl occasionally. Sift mixture into medium bowl; discard large pieces. Add the lime zest.
    2. Beat egg whites in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until foamy. Beat in 2 to 3 drops food coloring. Gradually add sugar, beating at high speed 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture forms stiff, shiny peaks, scraping bowl occasionally.
    3. Add half of flour mix to egg whites; stir with spatula to combine (about 15 strokes). Repeat with remaining flour mix. Mix about 20 strokes more by pressing against side of bowl and scooping from bottom until batter is smooth and shiny. check consistency by dropping spoonful of batter onto place. It should have a peak which quickly relaxed back into batter. (Do not over mix or under mix).
    4. Attach 1/2 inch plain tip to piping bag (or use a Ziploc bag with the tip cut off). Scoop batter into bag. Pipe 1 inch circles about 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Rap cookie sheets on flat surface to remove air bubbles and set aside. Let macarons rest, uncovered, until tops harden slightly; this takes from 15 minutes on dry days to 1 hour in more humid conditions. Gently tough top of macarons to check. When batter does not stick, they are ready to bake.
    5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place rack in the center of oven. Bake 13 to 15 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through baking time. Cool completely on cookie sheets.
    6. For filling, beat 3/4 cup powdered sugar and butter in a large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add lime juice, vanilla and salt; beat about 2 minutes or until smooth. Add 1 to 2 drops food coloring, blend well.
    7. Match same size cookies; pipe or spread filling on flat side of one cookie and top with the other.
    8. Place in fridge or cool area for a few hours.

    So tell me, are you a macaron lover?
    I’m definitely planning on doing another attempt with a different flavor,

    any suggestions what I should try next?

    Also linking up to I Should be Mopping the FloorIt’s Overflowing, The Modest Mom Blog, Nap Time Creations, Moments by the Mile and By Stephanie Lynn

  • FOOD

    Raspberry & Strawberry Smoothie

    Today I thought I would share a smoothie that has been my go-to for the last year or so. I’ve been meaning to share it for a long time and since I’m trying to work on my food photography skills I thought this would be a great “recipe” to do!

    I love making this smoothie on days that I work (I work very part time, usually one or two days a week, as a substitute teacher) and it usually lasts me until the kids go out for the first recess and helps me not feel starved all morning (since when I’m at home I can, and do, snack all day long).

    For this recipe I use frozen raspberries and strawberries since it’s cheaper than buying them fresh (and not always possible to find them here in the winter). The spinach I buy fresh but after a couple days I put it in a bag in the freezer and just pull it out as needed for the smoothies.

    I never actually measure when I make my smoothie so the proportions change a bit each time I make it, but here is the general ingredient list.

    RASPBERRY & STRAWBERRY SMOOTHIE

    • 1/2 cup liquid (I usually do a mix of apple juice and water)
    • 1 tbsp flax seed
    • 1/3 cup yogurt (whatever kind I have on hand, usually vanilla, strawberry or raspberry)
    • handful of spinach
    • 1/2 cup raspberries
    • 1 1/2 cup strawberries (my blender isn’t too great so I actually microwave these for about 20 seconds first)

    Place ingredients in blender in the order listed.
    Then just blend it together!

    Raeca loves these smoothies and I love knowing I’m getting some greens into her since she’s not a fan of them in their natural form.

     Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe you would like to share?
    What is your favorite ingredient in smoothies?

    You can see more of my recipes here.

    All the photos in this post were taken with the Canon 5D Mark II and the 50mm f/1.4 lens.

  • FOOD

    Eatmore Squares

    Wahoo, I’m so excited to be linking up with Cooks in the Kitchen today. Ever since Elah Tree and Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe announced this series at the beginning of the month I’ve been itching to get it on it.

    Now, please don’t get your hopes up, it’s not because I’m an awesome cook or baker. I’m not. I’m also one of the pickiest adults you will ever meet (superior taste buds I tell you).

    The actual reason I am so excited about this link up is because I’ve wanted to push myself to become better at food photography for quite sometime since I find it such a challenge. I obviously know how to use my camera in manual mode (I do teach a whole course on it after all) but setting up a photograph of food is a whole new ball game for me and it’s something I would like to become more proficient at, I may even go as far as saying it is something I would like to master.

    Anyway, back to Cooks in the Kitchen. The prompt for this month was semi-sweet chocolate. Um, yeah so that’s one of my favorite food groups ever.

    Side note: I actually sneeze when I eat semi-sweet chocolate, when I lived at home my mom would always know when I snuck into the pantry for a handful of chocolate chips thanks to that telltale sneeze.

    I have been baking gluten-free ever since Jared’s diagnosis of Celiac Disease last summer (though there is a possibility that may have been a false diagnosis, we should know more in the next few weeks. One can hope!) so I thought I would whip up what has been one of our go-to desserts in the last few months. It is definitely not the healthiest dessert, but with an ingredient like semi-sweet chocolate there was no way I was going to go the healthy route, I’ll save that for future prompts.

    EATMORE SQUARES

    2 cups corn syrup
    1 1/2 cups peanut butter
    4 cups chocolate chips
    5 cups crushed peanuts (we prefer a mix of peanuts and almonds)

    • microwave the first 3 ingredients until bubbly (2-3 minutes)
    • add crushed peanuts
    • spread on 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and refrigerate till firm (approximately 30 minutes)

    What’s your favorite food with semi-sweet chocolate?
    Anyone have any tips for food photography?

  • FOOD,  LIFE

    going gluten-free

    It’s been nearly two weeks since Jared was diagnosed with celiac disease and I thought I would share a little bit about what we’ve learned.

    First of all, the main offenders containing gluten are: wheat, barley and rye but they can hide in foods under other names like: starch, dextrose and glucose, maltodextrin, and malt extract -just to name a few.

    The first couple days after the diagnosis we did a huge purge. All the foods with gluten that I figured Raeca and I would eat on our own we banished to the basement, anything I didn’t think we would eat we gave away; breaded chicken, beef stock, some cereals, crackers, etc, etc. We read every label -it is amazing what gluten is all in -did you know that some shampoos, lotions, make up and lip chap have gluten in them? Even some hand sanitizers! And then the mass of products that may contain wheat because they are processed in the same facility is another huge issue.

    Once we got rid of our gluten I cleaned out every cupboard and drawer, washing all our dishes and wiping away every crumb I could find, reducing the chance of cross-contamination. We also got rid of many dishes and utensils -plastics that are cut are good places for gluten to get stuck in, so we tossed spatulas, strainers, cutting boards, loaf pans, sold our breadmaker (that one makes me sad), our toaster, the toaster oven . . .

    We started looking for the gluten-free isle in grocery stores and Jared began checking his favorite chips for a gluten-free label (who am I kidding, chips and Pepsi were the first things he looked up after the doctor called to tell him -thankfully, those foods are safe 🙂 ). We’ve purchased corn spaghetti, rice spaghetti, white rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum and a whole host of other gluten-free flours and items. Right now I’m loving the Bulk Barn for gluten-free flours and they have a pretty good supply of gluten-free pre-packaged items, though you pay an arm and a leg for them. Yesterday I even found some gluten-free mac and cheese at Safeway, hopefully Raeca will like it.

    A couple days into gluten-free eating Jared was realizing that dairy was also affecting him (I guess the thing needed to absorb lactose can be damaged when someone with celiac disease eats gluten -in very un-medical terms) so we are now also trying to go as dairy-free as possible, at least for the first while. We are currently using soy milk (definitely not my favorite) and just got some Almond Breeze chocolate milk -so far a pretty good replacement, we are definitely going to try almond milk yet as well. Does anyone else have any recommendations for lactose-free milk?

    I actually think Jared’s diagnosis came at a pretty good time (minus the fact that I had just gone grocery shopping and stocked up on pasta -doh!) we were both feeling stuck in a rut meal wise and completely sick of all our regular meals. One thing that you have to understand about us is: we are possibly two of the pickiest eaters I’ve ever met (with the exception of Jared’s grandpa who won’t eat pizza and eats his chocolate pie without whipped cream). Our taste buds have expanded over the last few years but it’s still pretty pathetic -like now I order spinach or lettuce on my sandwich at Subway (but still no sauce, I’m not a sauce-y person) and awhile ago Jared admitting to liking a dessert that had cream cheese in it (gasp!). So, while we don’t like a whole lot of of foods, I think we will be pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones a bit, and that’s a good thing!

    I bought this Company’s Coming GF cookbook for some meal ideas and I was bit disappointed because contrary to what the cover implies, there is not a single pizza recipe in the book. Though, I have to give it some props because I made the chicken tenders from their recipe and we all agreed that they were even better than regular chicken tenders (well, except Raeca, but she hates any food that is “crunchy”, I can’t even make her actual toast for fear of it being too crunchy).

    I’ve also gotten a ton of GF cookbooks out from the library. Some of which I have just glanced at and some I’ve been pouring over the pages of. I might do a bit of a review of the ones I like in a while but right now as a bit of an overview:

    I’m disappointed that I’m not really a big fan of Deliciously G-Free, I’ve been a big fan of Elisabeth Hasslebeck since she was on the third season of Survivor and really wanted to like her book but my first instinct is telling me that there aren’t enough pictures in it for me to actually make most of the recipes.

    The book that I have really been loving is Cooking for Isaiah, possibly for a couple of reasons, the author, Silvanna Nordone used to own an Italian bakery so she’s got to know what she’s doing, and also because her son has gluten and dairy intolerances so in order for the food to get in the book he has to like it, and I’ve already been over the fact that I have the eating tendencies of a kid so it kind of makes sense to me (and bonus: Silvana also has a blog where she shares a lot of her recipes as well).

    Sorry this got so long winded! Gluten-free eating has really taken over our lives right now (it’s even in my dreams) and I thought I’d share all this information in case it is useful for anyone else. I am contemplating sharing some successful recipes we make if I can manage to figure out how to take good food photos (something I currently have zero knowledge of).

    Anyone have any GF resources/cookbooks/recipes they would like to share?

    with love,
    Chantel

     

  • FOOD,  LIFE

    curveballs

    I mentioned last week that we have been waiting for some answers – I haven’t really shared about it on here but Jared has been sick for the last month and a half. He got some tests done a couple of weeks ago and last week the doctor was able to call us with an answer -he has tested positive for celiac disease.

    While it is nice to finally have an answer, it is definitely going to be a learning curve. If you were to stop by our house today you would see piles of gluten-filled food on the counter in my quest to banish all things containing gluten. There are so many things to think about; cross contamination (between foods or utensils/dishes), all the items that may contain gluten and the list of unsafe ingredients is about a mile long and, I think, impossible to memorize.

    Thankfully there has been a big movement towards gluten-free eating in the last couple of years and that will help tremendously. Right now I would love to hear if you have any resources; favorite recipes, blogs, cookbooks, places to buy gluten-free food (which seems to be much harder in Canada than the US and even harder here in Saskatchewan than some of the more populated provinces).

    The beautiful rainbows above reminds me that God is faithful, He will see us through everything.

    I would love it if you would keep us in your prayers during this transition, and especially for Jared, that he will start to see (and feel) some improvement soon.

    with love,
    Chantel

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