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Raspberry Swirl French Macarons

Fun fact, it's been exactly 5 years since I last posted a recipe for French Macarons. I tried three times and it was such a struggle! My final try was almost perfect, almost. But it was such a struggle to get there, and I wasted too many ingredients I never tried again! Well after seeing a Tasty video for some strawberry swirl macarons, I was inspired to try it again. I didn't have high hopes going into it. I figured it would be a fail in some way, so that's what I was prepared for. I was so surprised that they were far easier than I remember them being and they turned out perfectly!!! I do wonder if the climate has anything to do with it... I was living in Utah 5 years ago, and now live in Texas where it is much more humid. Hard to say. If any of my Utah friends try this recipe, let me know how it goes and if you run into any troubles!

Here is all that you will need;

3 eggs whites, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1¾ cup powdered sugar
1 cup almond meal/flour
2 drops red food coloring

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Dash of salt
Raspberry jam

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Keep beating and slowly add sugar. Once you have added the sugar, increase the speed to high, and continue beating until stiff peaks form, this will take about 5 minutes. 

Sift powdered sugar and almond meal over the egg whites. I toss my powdered sugar and almond meal into a food processor to help ensure it's really fine and then I don't worry about putting it through a sifter. You could also use a blender if you don't have a food processor. But just using a sifter will be fine! If you notice in the pictures my macarons have little specs on them, that's because I bought my almond meal at Trader Joes, and their meal is not super fine and you can still see the shell of the almonds. Using a sifter may keep these out, but you will likely still have some in there. This won't really affect the baking, but if you don't like how the specs look, just be sure to buy super fine almond meal. 

Fold the dry mixture into the egg whites, keeping track of how many times you stir, try to do only 30-50 stirs. Make sure to not overmix or the macarons will not rise. Once the batter reaches a lava-like consistency, transfer half the batter to another bowl and add the food coloring. Mix until just combined. Do not overmix! This part is tricky to get the right consistency, watching videos really helped me to get an idea of what I needed to be looking for.

Carefully put the white and pink batters into a sandwich bag, putting one on one side, one on the other, trying to keep them from combining too much. Seal the zip lock top and cut the corner off the bag.

Pipe 1½-inch dollops onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I print out this template for my macarons and try to keep the piping within the lines. You could also trace your own circles on the back side of the parchment paper, just be sure the ink if not in contact with the macarons! You want to use parchment paper, not wax paper or tin foil! You could also you a baking mat, but I haven't tried that so I can't speak for how well that will go! I do love my baking mats, I will have to try that next time! 

Let the cookies rest for 30 minutes, or until they are no longer wet to the touch. 
While resting, preheat oven to 285ºF. Some recipes recommend an hour but I have found 30 minutes to be fine, even in my humid climate. Make sure they are not near the oven as the heat from the oven could make them spread out! I had one pan on the counter just next to my oven and that ruined them! 

Begin to make the filling by mixing the cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk and salt in a bowl until smooth. Transfer to a ziplock bag or piping bag and set aside until ready to fill. You can just use a spoon to add the jam, but I like to also add the jam to a bag to make it a little easier to place in the center of each macaron.

When the cookies are dry to the touch, bake for 15 minutes until they have risen to form a “foot.” Be sure not to undercook them. They should not stick to the parchment paper and should lift off easily. If they are sticking, cook for 2-3 more minutes. 

Make sure to cool completely before filling, about 10 minutes. To fill, pipe a circle of the cream cheese mixture around the edge of one cookie and place a small dollop of jam in the center. Sandwich with another macaron.

If you don't eat them all in one sitting (hahaha who does that?!?!) make sure to keep them in the refrigerator! 

This recipe is adapted from Tasty. They made a great video that inspired this post;


Rexy Boy!

In February just before Valentine's day, we added a furry addition to the family! How it came to be is quite the funny story.... Dave's boss invited us over for a Superbowl party at his lovely home. He and his wife are seriously the nicest people! They also had a big, sweet doggy that we got to meet. They mentioned that they were looking at rehoming him as they are looking to travel abroad more. Well, they asked us if we would be interested in adopting him. We decided to have him over for a "sleepover" for a couple nights and of course, by the end, we were smitten. I do feel bad as he is used to a lot more space than what we currently have now, but we try to get him out a lot and give him lots of love, and hopefully it won't be too long till we will have a nice, big yard for him! Rex is a very sweet, mellow, old boy. He is really is the perfect first dog for us. We are so glad to have him as part of the family!

Homemade Pork Dumplings

I have become rather obsessed with making homemade dumplings. I watched a YouTube video from the Brothers Green all about how to make different types of dumplings and I was amazed at how easy it looked! So I had to give it a try! There was an amazing dumpling place near Dave's work in VA (I have raved about it a number of times, Dumpling Queen!) but nothing we have found so far in Texas even comes close! 

This blog post will be huge! But please don't allow it to intimidate you! Once you get the hang of these, you will find they are so easy and actually far better than ones at restaurants! (Except for Dumpling Queen in VA of course....) These have become part of our weekly meal rotation! I crave them constantly! Your first few tries may be a bit of trial and error, but I promise, once you get the hang of it, you will be just so damn pleased with yourself! 😂

Now if you don't feel like reading a novel, I made a little video which covers all the steps for how I make my dumplings. I'm not the best videographer, so forgive me! But if you want some more in depth explaining, continue below!

What you will need;
1 lb. ground pork
1/3 head of green cabbage (traditional recipes call for napa cabbage but I have used both and don't notice any difference once it's all cooked up!)
1/3 white onion
3-4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp ginger (I use ground ginger because I'm lazy! I don't honestly feel like it makes a huge difference!)
2 scallions
½ tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce (1 for the veggies, 1 for the pork)
1 tsp sugar
Splash of rice wine vinegar
Dash of salt and pepper

So... I never actually measure anything out. In the video you may see me adding more or less of what I actually state above.... I've made these so many times, it's easy for me to just eyeball it! For all the veggies, I basically just stuff as much as I can into my food processor and once it's full, call it good. And then drizzle on top all the sauces and seasonings. You could cut everything by hand, but I would really recommend using a food processor or even a blender and just gently pulsing it all so it's finely chopped. You don't want it to be mush, but you also don't want large chunks as it won't cook as well. If you have a hand chopper that would work really well too! 

Anyways, once you have all your veggies chopped up, however you choose to go about that, dump it into a large mixing bowl. Add in your ground pork, and an extra splash of soy sauce (1 tbsp) and mix it all together. 

I like to wrap my dumplings on a large cutting board. I have ample room to wrap up the dumplings and them somewhere to place them once they are wrapped. If you don't have a large board you could just use two large plates. You want to moisten both where you will
be doing the wrapping as well as where you will be placing the wrapped dumplings. This will help them avoid sticking to the surface which can then cause them to tear. You also want to have a small little cup of water to dip your fingers in while you wrap the dumplings. You want to make sure the wrappers are nice and moist to prevent any tearing. 

Now, in the video, you will be me actually using square wonton wrappers. My grocery store doesn't carry dumpling wrappers so I just get the wonton wrappers and honestly using either one is fine. I do live pretty close to an Asian food market so sometimes I will go and stock up on proper dumpling wrappers. But, really, they cook up pretty much the same. The dumpling wrappers are quite thick and rarely tear, so they are a bit easier to fold. If you want to pan fry them, they do tend to crisp up a lot more than the wanton wrappers do, but since they are thicker, they take a bit longer to cook. The wonton wrappers are thinner so they can tear much more easily, but they are bigger so you can fit quite a lot more filling into them. They also cook up a bit quicker. I think they are quicker to fold together because I just simply pinch each corner together, as apposed to the round wrappers, I have to fold and pinch. Personally I actually like using the wanton wrappers more just because I can put so much more filling into them so I don't have to make as many, but really either way, it doesn't matter, it won't make any big difference and they will be super yummy either way!

Anyways... Once you have all your dumplings wrapped up, you want to heat a skillet with oil (veggie or olive is fine) over medium-high heat. Once your pan is nice and hot, add the dumplings. Cook until the bottoms are nice and brown, about 7 minutes. Add about 1/4 cup of water, just enough to add a thin layer of water across the bottom of the pan, you don't want the dumplings submerged, and add a lid to allow them to steam until most of the water has cooked off, about 7-10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, make your dumpling sauce. Super easy to whip together and far better than straight soy sauce!

All you will need;
2 tbsp soy sauce (I always buy low sodium)
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
Sriracha to taste
A dash of sugar
A dash of chili powder

And just stir all that together and you are ready to go! 

That's it! Honestly, finding the wrappers, and in some stores, finding ground pork, can be the biggest struggle of the entire process, but once you get a hang of it, and find a way to fold them that is easy for you, these will become a family favorite! Please let me know if you give this recipe a try! 


Christmas in Utah

Ok, still working on catching up, so far behind! Finally on to Christmas in Utah. This post will be a novel, but if you don't feel like reading, feel free to just watch the little vlog we put together! It's one of my favorite videos I have ever edited together! 

It's sad how long it had been since we had seen lots of Dave's family! I am so glad we managed to be there and catch up with lots of people. There were still lots of people we missed out on seeing, hopefully, it won't be too long till we get to visit again! Or if y'all want to enjoy some yummy tacos and BBQ you are always welcome to visit! We officially have our guest room all decorated and ready to go! Maybe I will share some photos of it soon...

We told Dave's family we were flying in late Wednesday night, but we actually flew in late Tuesday night. Dave's dad usually is up late, so we were pretty sure he would be up even though we didn't come until about 1. And sure enough, luckily he still was awake. I think we gave him quite the scare! If you haven't seen the video, you have to check it out, it's so funny! 

In the morning we went to see the new Provo temple. When we were first married we lived just a couple blocks away and made our way over once we saw the dark plumes of smoke. So sad to see such a beautiful building, entirely hollowed by fire. I love how little of it they changed, but it has such a different and special spirit now, different from any other temple. It made me think, that while sin can hollow us out, leaving us broken and empty, the Gospel of Christ, our Savior and His gift of the Atonement can heal and restore us, making us even better than we were before. A really special place! 

Then we got breakfast at Gandolfo's. I forgot how amazing that place was! I used to go there all the time with my dad in the mornings. It was the best treat if he was willing to drive me early there and then drop me off to school. Such fond memories. If you are living in Utah and don't know what amazingness a breakfast sandwich from Gandolfo's is, you are seriously missing out! GO, NOW! I always got their Upstate. Oh their bread is so good. Seriously, I am salivating just thinking about it.

We spent the day with family, seeing the cute new house Julie, Dave's sister and her family are building. It's crazy to think this was our first time meeting her youngest, Daniel! He is so cute! And was quite intrigued with Uncle Dave's beard! (see video!)

That afternoon I went to visit my Grandparents. They are all buried in the same cemetery. It did make me a little sad that I hadn't been able to see my Mom's parents before their passing since we had moved out of the state. But it's comforting to know I will see them again.

That night we celebrated "baby" Blake's birthday who really isn't so much a baby anymore! I think he is 7 now! So crazy! Mom made an awesome Star Wars cake for him! Mom has been making some really fun and pretty cakes! I told her she needs to start selling them!

The next morning I woke up early to try to get some shots of our temple, the Timpanogos Temple. I wished we had had time for a session! Always will be my favorite place, especially early in the morning. Just before we moved, Dave was working very close to there. Since we only had one car I would drive him to work and then head to work myself, but I usually had a couple hours to kill. I would often park at our temple and read my scriptures or just watch the sunrise behind the temple. So pretty.

After that I got to see my best girlie Michelle Belle, see her cute new house and enjoy breakfast at Kneaders! I'm so glad I got to visit with her and catch up! Love you girlie!

That afternoon Dave and I had a few last Christmas gifts to get so we went to City Creek (it was SO CRAZY! No surprise) but it I love that mall! It's seriously such a beautiful mall. Just as the sun set it started to snow as we walked over to see the lights at the temple come on. It was honestly magical! I honestly teared up realizing how much I had missed it. If we ever move back to Utah I want to live in downtown SLC! There is something so special about that place. 

We wanted to go to Red Iguana for dinner but the wait was over an hour! We were starving and were pretty ready to get out of the city, so we decided to try Cubbie's on the way home. SO GOOD! One of the best burgers I have probably ever had. And their buffalo blue cheese fries are to die for. 

The next day we got lunch at DP Cheesesteaks. (Yes, I realize this post is 90% about food. Don't judge me.) You may recall when we were living in VA and took a trip to Philly. We've been on the hunt for authentic Philly Cheesesteaks. NOWHERE has come even close. Except DP Cheesesteaks. They are so spot on. Honestly, oh my gosh, they are like straight out of Philly. But without having to deal with the insane crowds! Utah, you are so lucky to have DP Cheesesteaks. Killer food and always the friendliest service. Dave's all time favorite place. Get the mushroom pepper with whiz! Trust me. 

The next day was Christmas day! It was a fun day spent with family. We got quite a lot of snow in the night, the roads were a little scary! Living in Texas I worried I would really miss snow and winter weather. But after being in Utah and being reminded what it's like to deal with icy and snowy roads, scraping ice off our windshield, I'm pretty happy to not have to deal with it in Texas! That afternoon I got to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins. Their new neighborhood has quite the view of Utah lake! That evening Dave's family got together to play games. It's always so crazy and fun! 

One of our last days we went with the family to see Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them. I couldn't believe the crowds at the movie theater! It was an absolute mad house! Nomi our niece had been told it was a Harry Potter movie, so she kept asking throughout the movie "I want to watch a Harry Potter movie!" Haha. 

After the movie, we had some empanadas and did a delayed birthday celebration for Dave. His mom made this awesome cake that looked like a tree stump with a checkered pattern on the inside! 

The next day I was able to visit my cousin Britney and her adorable family. I was so glad to finally get to meet her sweet baby girl Addie! Such a doll!

Our last day we did lunch with a few of Dave's siblings. I forgot how much I missed Rubio's! That place has some of the best shrimp tacos! Our copycat recipe is almost as good, almost. That evening a bunch of family met as at Cubby's for one last meal before we hit the road for the airport! 

That's pretty much all, we just spent lots of time visiting with family and eating yummy foods. There are so many people we missed out on seeing! We hope to come back soon when the weather is still warm so we don't have to deal with snow and ice! We just bought a guest bed and it's welcome to anyone who wants to come for a visit! We would love to have you! Bravo if you actually read this long novel!

Here's the little vlog from the trip! Honestly probably one of my favorite videos I have made!

Mahi Mahi "Rice" Bowl

Every time I go to Costco I consider buying their big bag of frozen Mahi Mahi. It's a bit pricey, so I always decide against it, but this time I actually grabbed it. Dave had sent me this Paleo Mexican Burrito Bowl recipe that he requested I make. The original recipe called for beef, but I figured I could easily sub in whatever other protein I would like. Obviously, you don't have to use Mahi. Beef, as the original recipe calls for would be great, or chicken too! The base of this recipe is riced cauliflower, something we have wanted to try for a while! To me, it wasn't anything similar to rice, but it was still pretty yummy! I simplified the recipe a bit. I've learned how to make shortcuts in recipes making them a lot quicker and easier, but just as yummy! Hopefully you enjoy! 

Here's what you will need;

For "rice";
Cauliflower (I used 1/2 of a head)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 an onion, diced
1/2 a jalapeno, diced (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil

For protein; 
Protein of your choice (Mahi, tilapia, shrimp, beef, chicken)
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tablespoon olive oil

Toppings of your choice;

Cilantro Lime Dressing (optional)
1 packet dry ranch dressing
1 cup milk
1 cup greek yogurt (or mayo)
1 bunch cilantro 
1/2 jalapeno
1 juiced lime

For the cauliflower rice, first you will need to chop and wash your cauliflower. To make "rice" I threw it in my food processor and hit the chop button a few times until it was the texture I wanted. You can also use a blender, just using the pulse button so it doesn't get blended too finely. heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat, adding onions and garlic. Sautee until browned. Add cauliflower "rice" and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook till slightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine all seasonings and add to protein. If using fish or chicken like I was, I just patted it into both sides of the fish. Heat a pan with olive oil over medium-high heat, and add protein. Cooking times will vary depending on what you are cooking. For the Mahi, I seared both sides, once seared I lowered the heat to medium, and continued to cook another 5 minutes.  

For the cilantro lime dressing, just throw all the ingredients in the blender and chill until ready to serve! We usually have a jar of this stuff in the fridge. It's similar to the dressing you would get at Cafe Rio, and is so yummy over anything!

Serve protein over "rice" base and top as you would like (see suggested toppings above).

And that's it! Pretty simple! This recipe is so versatile, you could add so many things, totally change the flavors, and it would still be really yummy! I think next time I will add some chipotle seasoning and add black beans and maybe grilled corn! You will have to let me know of any yummy adjustments you make!