Tag Archives: macaron

Visiting Wine Country

26 Jul

I haven’t posted in over a week! I apologize for that but I’ve been keeping busy and having fun with life rather than updating the blog. I’ve also been slightly stressing about having to return home because I’ll have to deal with school and the real world again. I keep my mind off it by reading the great books I find at the library.

grapes soaking up the sun, upper house in the distance

One of the highlights of this trip was when I got to visit a private estate vineyard in Calistoga, CA, which is in the Napa Valley. Brian’s friend’s family owns this vineyard and we got to visit them for a relaxing weekend. They were really kind to host us and we had a beautiful weekend there. The dogs and cats had free range of the property and were adorable. We got to swim in the man made pond, relax on the hammocks, have a picnic by the pond, grill up some delicious steaks, catus, veggie kabobs, enjoy wine, be with good company and simply take in the views. There’s nothing like looking out your window to see mountain tops, looking down the hills to see fields of green grapes, or star gazing in pitch darkness.

I’m posting these pictures without naming the vineyard because it is a friend’s home so I want to respect their privacy. It’s so beautiful that I had to share.

part of their wine cave

the gorgeous pond we went swimming in

I made and brought hummingbird muffins so we would have breakfast/snacks. Hummingbird muffins have banana, coconut flakes, pineapple and walnuts. I used this recipe and substituted the oil for a cup of apple sauce and 1/4 cup olive oil. The only thing we had to make was a big pot of coffee. On Sunday, we did make whole wheat buttermilk waffles for breakfast. They were so satisfying.

hummingbird muffins

We didn’t do much touristy stuff like go on wine tastings or eat at fancy restaurants so I’ll have to go back another time for all that. On the way home we stopped at Pizzeria Tra Vigne in St. Helena, Ca for a casual linner (lunch-dinner). We ordered a Ducati pizza (mozzarella, marinara, capicola, mushrooms, spicy Italian sausage and sun dried tomatoes) and Fettuccini alla Bolognese. Both were good but I’ve had better pizza. We also had a mandarin orange Italian soda, which was so good we stopped at BevMo to get the Torani syrup and seltzer water to make our own.

We also stopped in Yountville, CA to walk around the main strip. They had amazing art exhibits. When I get a nice big house I will come back here to get paintings to decorate. We grabbed a snack of French macarons at Bouchon Bakery. They were the biggest macarons I’ve ever seen. Really freaking good.

vanilla and hazelnut macarons

Nutella Macarons

15 Mar

Recipe and instructions from Baking Bites.

macrons filled

This is my second attempt at macarons. The first time I made it with almond meal purchased at Trader Joe’s. They came out okay but they had a big air pocket inside and didn’t rise very tall. I didn’t even bother filling them. That was the French macaron recipe by Tartlette.  Google “Tartlette macaron tutorial” for the pdf. This time I used the more difficult Italian meringue recipe and they came out much better with more of a cookie than air. The recipes are very different from each other so I haven’t decided which is better. I ground my own hazelnuts (~$4) with a coffee grinder because hazelnut meal was $12 a bag. I had four trays with one tray being completely ruined by being placed on a bottom rack at 335 degrees. I kept messing around with temperatures and timing. I think they come out best in my oven at 325 degrees for 13 minutes.

macarons cracked
The horror!!! The disappointment!! Why are these cookies so hard to make?!

macaron shells
Finally, the last tray that came out had perfect tops and feet.

macaron stack
Filled with nutella buttercream.

Nutella Buttercream

1/2 cup butter at room temperature (1 stick)
1/2 cup nutella
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Cream the butter using an electric mixer.
2. Blend in the nutella and vanilla extract.
3. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
(If it’s too thick, thin out with milk one teaspoon at time. If too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar).

open macaron
Om nom nom. So good. You can still see an air pocket.. don’t know what I did wrong.

Sorta Irish bento (bento 17)

15 Mar

Spring break has started which means procrastination time. Bento backlog from last week.

bento 17
Rice with furikake, corn beef, corn, carrots, wonton, homemade chocolate hazelnut macaron.