Monday, November 30, 2009

our christmas

Christmas is quickly approaching, and for that we are excited. We put up most of our stuff the week before thanksgiving. Christmas decorations are so beautiful and cozy and we wanted to enjoy them for longer this year.

We like holiday traditions a whole lot. Some passed down from our families, some we started our first christmas together. We make monkey bread every christmas eve. Bark the tune of jingle bells until his parents dogs join in. Go see a movie on christmas day. And one of my favorites, he writes and records a special christmas song and plays it for me first thing christmas morning.

This year we're adding an advent calender to the list. Its a cute and fun way to write little notes and give small gifts the days leading up to christmas. Plus it was a fun DIY project.

Some of my favorites from around our house..

Our cat, tofu, is having the time of his life with the christmas tree. He climbs to the top every night while were sleeping, so we wake up to half the ornaments on the ground. It's tiresome redecorating the tree EVERY SINGLE morning..

Here he is when we first put it up

phew! that was long. i hope you all are having as much fun this season as i am.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Chocolate macarons with dark chocolate ganache

I have been obsessed with french macarons since the first time i saw them. There is something about the texture and colors that lure me in, EVERY single time I come across them. When we were in Paris, I was stopping constantly to peek inside windows to see all the different colors and crazy flavors. And if those melt-in-your-mouth treats weren't 3,60EU for two, I would have bought two of each flavor at Pierre Herme. I think they had like… 20 different kinds (?)… In amazing shades of green, pink, purple, white, silver, blue, black and more. PH is definitely heaven for the macaron obsessed.

I had been meaning to try my hand at them for awhile now, but it sounded daunting and I wanted to do plenty of research and spend time reading hundreds of recipes.

And it paid off, because it was a success on my FIRST TRY. I couldn't believe it. I literally ran around the house screaming "THEY HAVE FEET!", which i hear is what frustrates us new comers. It was a huge check off my "baking fears" list. It really was an easy process, don't be scared to try.

I used the recipe from David Lebovitz, but read and reread many of Tartelettes posts on macarons.

Chocolate Macarons with dark chocolate ganache
Macaron Batter
1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces, 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.

Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn't quite fine enough.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you're alone).

Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.

Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

To make the filling:
Melt dark chocolate in microwave safe bowl. Once melted, add cream until desired taste and consistency.

Recipes coming in the next couple days:
Sweet and sour tofu with asparagus (vegan)
Chocolate peanut butter pie (vegan)
Cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce muffins (perfect to use up thanksgiving leftovers)

Plus DIY christmas decorations that are too cute.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

things i love today

1. my husband. he took me to paris.

2. amazing tights

3. creative lights

4. glitter (especially on taylor)

5. christian louboutin shoes. its my dream to have a pair.

6. pretty blonde hair

p.s. hooray for christmas, its such a magical time of year. we've been decorating for it the past few days. and josh and i have lots of christmas traditions that make it that much more special each year. soo looking forward to it.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Yes, just like starbucks. This is a latte that makes people swoon. Even my coffee-hating husband loves these lattes. It is now about $8 (!!!) for us both to have one, and since we would rather buy things like craft supplies and comic books I thought i'd give some of the at-home recipes a try. I made a few changes to the recipe that I saw on Kitchn. And HOLY MOLY, I swear to you it is identical! If you are fan of the perfectly spiced, creamy orange beverage, please give this a chance. And go buy yourself something REALLY worth spending your money on. Pumpkin spice latte

1 cup milk (i used pumpkin spice SILK)
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree (i would use more since my milk was slightly pumpkin flavored)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup espresso or 1/4 cup REALLY strong coffee (use more if you want a strong coffee flavor)

In a glass jar with lid, combine milk, pumpkin puree, and sugar. Shake vigorously until slightly foamy, and microwave for one minute. Shake again, and microwave again. Repeat until foamy and hot. Add vanilla extract. Pour into mug, with a spoon holding back the foam. add espresso. Then top with the foam. Voila!

Don't try to photograph with a hyper kitty around, or you might end up with this situation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

5 things i love today

five things i love today:

1. foxes

2. french macarons

3. drinking tea

4. copeland

5. pretty lipstick

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

(click on picture to see full size)

I love fall. Most people do. The weather is perfect just about everywhere. The trees are gorgeous, in all the stages of yellow,
orange and red. My birthday is in the fall. My anniversary is in the fall. But one of the best things about fall is the pumpkins.
Especially when it comes to pumpkins in baking. (and lattes!)

Since we we're gone for all of october, I had a bit of catching up to do. And I have some lofty plans to squeeze in all the pumpkin recipes I can. But I had to start somewhere so the day after we got home, these babies were in the oven. They are the epitome of fall, and goodness they are delicious.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins (adapted from Pioneer woman recipe)

  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • ½ cups Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1-½ teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • ½ teaspoons Nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Earth Balance Margarine or Butter - Cut Into Pieces
  • 1 cup (heaping) Pumpkin Puree
  • ½ cups Evaporated Milk (I used soymilk)
  • 1 whole Egg (or egg-replacer equivalent)
  • 1-½ teaspoon Vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease 12 muffin tins.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Cut in butter with two knives or a pastry blender until it is fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin, evaporated milk, egg, and vanilla. Pour pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Add raisins. Fold gently until mixture is just combined. Pour into a greased muffin pan—batter hardly ever fills all twelve unless you keep it down to 1/2 full.

Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove and allow to cool.