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Secret Recipe Club
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012
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Entries in Recipe Swap (7)


French Macarons with Nutella Buttercream 


During the summer of 2008, Joel and I took a European vacation which brought us to Paris. We met up with a friend while we were there and as we were walking down Champs-Elysées, she said we couldn't leave without stopping in to Ladurée for a treat. I remember seeing little sandwich cookies in a case with a line of at least 4 people deep waiting to get their hands on them. I had no idea what the big deal was about them. We left without even getting close enough to see the flavors that they were selling. Needless to say, until I had a blog, I had no idea what French Macarons were. However, they have been popping up all over the internet recently, and I've become a bit curious. A few weeks ago, Joel and I went up to Toronto for the day and while we were there, we discovered a cute little macaron boutique and decided to see what the fuss was all about. I immediately had a case of sticker shock when I saw the price--$2.50 for a cookie the size of a half-dollar?! Since I felt odd charging 1 single cookie, we bought a sampler pack of 6 different flavors, gave them a try, and was immediately surprised by how delicious they were! So, when I was assigned to Carrie's Sweet Life for the Secret Recipe Club style recipe swap this week, I knew right away that I was going to try this recipe for French Macarons, which she got from Martha Stewart. When I started the recipe, I was a bit annoyed with the sifting and piping. I was able to get enough for 12 regular sized sandwiches and 4 mini ones out of the batter. It seemed like an awful lot of work for such a small amount of cookies. However, when I took the pan out of the oven and discovered that my macarons had "feet", I was beyond excited and couldn't wait to give them a try. I whipped up a nutella buttercream instead of the Swiss meringue buttercream that Carrie made, and piped them onto the cookies. I made Joel try one first, and he told me they were perfect. He was right! I am impressed that they turned out as good as they did for my first time making them. I would love to try them again with different flavor combinations. Thanks, Carrie, for finally giving me a reason to give this recipe a try!

For the Macarons:
1 cup Confectioners' Sugar
3/4 cup Almond Flour
2 large Egg Whites, at room temperature
Pinch of Cream of Tartar
1/4 cup Superfine Sugar (I made my own by buzzing regular sugar around in a food processor)

Pulse the confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift the mixture through a sieve 2 times. Preheat at the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium heat until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low and add the superfine sugar. Increase the speed to high and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift the flour mixture over the egg whites and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip. and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet, dragging the pastry tip to the side of the rounds rather than forming peaks. Tap the bottom of each sheet on the work surface to release any trapped air. Let the piped batter stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating half way through, until the macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees. Let the macarons cool on sheets for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. If the macarons stick, spray water under the parchment on the hot sheet--the steam will help release the macarons. Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon of filling. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment paper, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months. 

For the Nutella Buttercream Filling (from Tracey's Culinary Adventures):
6 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened
1/4 cup Nutella
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 tablespoon Milk
1/2 cup Confectioners' Sugar, sifted

In a medium sized bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and nutella until combined. Add the vanilla, milk, and confectioners sugar and beat on low speed until the powdered sugar is just about incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is smooth.  


Chicken Marengo

Chicken marengo

I took a week off from the recipe swap, but when I came back, the theme was "Celebrity Chef" recipe. I submitted a pesto recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis. In return, I got this recipe, originally from Melissa d'Arabian, courtesy of Katie from So Tasty, So Yummy. It was a delicious dinner! I have added vegetables to pasta dishes before, but this dish had such a rich flavor from the addition of the tomato paste, broth, and wine. I made the recipe exactly as it was written, since I figured it would be a pain to use only a portion of the can of tomatoes, and it was enough to feed an army! Joel and I both had a pretty healthy serving size for dinner, a good amount for lunch the next day, and there was STILL some left over! This would be a perfect recipe to make for a crowd. I can see this becoming a new family favorite! Thanks for sharing, Katie!

3 Chicken Cutlets, sliced into thin paillards
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup Flour
3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1/2 Sweet Onion, sliced
8 ounces Mushrooms, sliced
1Yellow Bell Pepper, seeded and julienned
3 tablespoons Tomato Paste
1/2 cup Red Wine
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 (14 ounce) can Diced Tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon Butter

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste, and lightly dredge the paillards in flour. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat; add chicken. Brown the chicken on both sides, about 3 minutes per side, until lightly golden. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate. If necessary, add more oil to the pan. Then add the onions, mushrooms, and peppers and sauté until softened and fragrant, but not limp, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes to cook out the raw flavor. Turn up the heat and add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits that were stuck to the bottom. Let the wine reduce for about 2-3 minutes, then add the broth and tomatoes. When the mixture begins to bubble, add the chicken back to the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is warmed through, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter. Serve over pasta.


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (2)

Pb chocolate chip cookies

I'm a sucker for the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. Unfortunately, Joel does not share that love of mine. The other day in school, one of my resource students was talking about different kinds of cookies that she likes. All of that talk about cookies made me want to get in the kitchen and bake some--particularly peanut butter chocolate chip. I have posted another peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe in the past, which I love, but I wanted to try something different. Enter this recipe from Hezzi D's Books and Cooks…which was perfect, because I was assigned to Heather's blog for this week's SRC Style Recipe Swap! Not only did these delicious cookies take care of my cookie craving, but it made enough for me to share with my students! So thank you, Heather, for making my students happy, which in turn makes me happy!

1/2 cup Butter, softened
1/2 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 3/4 cups Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Chocolate Chips

In a large bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, mix well. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by the rounded teaspoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart from each other. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes for a soft, chewy cookie. Bake for 13-15 minutes for a crisp, golden brown cookie. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.


Lemon Parsley Linguine

Lemon parsley linguine

Sometimes, its the simplest recipes that are the best. The theme of this week's recipe swap was pasta. I received this recipe from Colleen at Does Not Cook Well With Others who adapted it from Bon Appetit magazine.  When I read the recipe, it was almost as if it was written just for us. This was exactly the kind of simple, quick, and delicious meal that we love. The dish is so versatile that it would taste just as delicious paired with chicken, sausage (which is what we did), fish, or shrimp as it would if it stood alone. So if you like simple pasta dishes with few ingredients that result in big flavors, then give this one a try.

1/2 pound Linguine Pasta
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 teaspoon (packed) Grated Lemon Peel
2 tablespoons Parsley, minced
Juice of 1 Lemon
Protein, optional

Cook the linguine to al dente according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until golden, about 1 minute. Add lemon peel and sauté for another 20 seconds, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the linguine (and protein if you are using any) to the skillet and return the pan to the heat. Mix in the parsley. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss until heated through, adding additional cooking liquid if the pasta looks dry.


Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup

DSC 0014

It's recipe swap time again! This week, in honor of the cold weather, the theme of the swap was soup. I had the pleasure of making this soup from Nicole at Prevention RD. I was excited when I got the recipe assignment, and added it to my menu last week. However, when the time came to make the soup, neither Joel or I were in a soup kind of mood. Given the fact that we were leaving for Florida and were running out of time to make the soup, we went ahead and made it, hoping that by the time the soup was done cooking, our mood would change. I halved the recipe so as to not have any leftovers, and we threw together some leftover pasta from the fridge as well. When the soup was done, it looked and smelled so good that luckily, my mood changed and soup sounded like the perfect meal! This soup was deliciously creamy, yet very healthy*. The roasted garlic flavor gave the soup such an amazing flavor. Next time I'm in the mood for soup, I'll definitely be turning to this recipe!

1 head Cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cups Broccoli, cut into florets
1 Garlic HEAD (not clove)
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Butter
2 Celery Stalks, diced
1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
1 Carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Dried Thyme Leaves
1 tablespoon Flour
1/3 cup Dry White Wine
1/3 cup Water
28 ounces Vegetable Broth
1 Bay Leaf
2 teaspoons Fresh Parsley, minced (optional)
1/3 cup Half-and-Half

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the cauliflower and broccoli florets in a 9x14 baking dish. Toss with the olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cut off the top of the head of garlic and wrap it in foil. Place the wrapped garlic on the baking dish and roast the cauliflower, broccoli, and garlic for 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a cast iron dutch oven or medium-large stock pot. Add the onion, celery, and carrot. Saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Whisk in the salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, and flour and continue to cook for 2 more minutes. Add the wine and water, mixing to combine with the flour mixture. Slowly add in the vegetable broth, then add the bay leaf. Remove the garlic cloves from their skin and add to the pot whole. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and broccoli and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Working in batches, add the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until pureed and smooth, or puree with an immersion blender in the pot. Stir in the half and half and parsley. Cook until just heated through. Serve hot. Makes 4 servings, each between 1 1/3 and 1 1/2 cups.

*I don't normally include this information, but Nicole had it posted on her blog, so I thought I'd share--Nutrition information (per serving): 193 calories, 8.5 grams of fat, 7mg of cholesterol, 449mg sodium, 21.3 grams of carbohydrates, 6.5 grams of fiber, and 5.2 grams of protein.