Boston Uprising Macarons

Boston Uprising Macarons

I’ve been looking forward to introducing this new series for a long time! I was inspired by Victoria over at Pixelated Provisions, who started a series last year featuring each of the Overwatch League (OWL) teams as popsicles. Such a cool project, right?! Well I love OWL probably nearly as much as she does and I’ve been so excited to try and mimic her brilliant idea. But instead of something easy and awesome like popsicles, I decided to choose something complicated, but delicious! Every other Sunday through this season of OWL I’ll be posting a new team-inspired macaron! So let’s learn how to make macarons! By the way – if you don’t already follow Victoria, please go do that right now! She’s incredible, her food always looks divine, her plating is unbelievable, and she’s super nice to boot!

But first, let’s talk about the Boston Uprising. When I first heard there was going to be an Overwatch city-based league I was ecstatic. And then they announced there would be a team from Boston. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a Boston fan. My dad was a fan, which meant I was a fan – born and bred, live and die. So I knew the Uprising had to be my team. But stage one was so hard on my heart. They struggled, they lost, they, well, weren’t great. But I never stopped loving them, and by the end they proved to the world that they were a better team than you could have ever dreamed. They pushed through troubles and trials and came out with the only perfect stage and a place in the finals.

True to the Boston spirit, they are once again the underdogs in season 2. But as they’ve shown in the past, and proved on Thursday, they aren’t going anywhere but up. I’m so proud of those boys and all they work to accomplish. And I’m excited to continue to love them through this next season and the future! Boston UP!

Boston Uprising Macarons

Fair warning – this post is going to be a long one. Macarons can be intensely complicated things, and I didn’t go easy on you for this first one. There are three components to this macaron, but first and foremost, there’s the shell. Easily the hardest part. They may take you several tries to get it right (it took me 10 to be able to consistently make them), but don’t let that bother you. I have faith in your abilities! If you want an insanely good tutorial, check out Indulge with Mimi. I learned all my tips and tricks from her!

Let’s start with a few things that are very important for making a good macaron.

  • Your eggs should be room temperature. Most of the time I don’t think it matters, but with macarons it really does. There’s something about a room temperature meringue mixing with the almond flour and sugar that makes a big difference in your shell quality.
  • Everything should be free from water. This includes any bowls, whisks, or spatulas you use. Water can cause a meringue to split, and that would completely defeat the purpose of making one!
  • Folding in the dry ingredients to the meringue is called macaronage and it is the most important step in this entire process. If you fold too little, you’ll get grainy macarons that will be lumpy. If you fold too much you’ll get flat, crunchy macarons without any feet. It’s a really delicate process that may take you a few tries to get right. But I have faith in you. You got this. The final macaron batter should look like honey or lava, and should run from your spatula slowly and without any breaks.
  • Only use gel food coloring. The other kind has water in it, and we really don’t want to add any excess liquid to your meringue. It’ll completely ruin the meringue. So, for the sake of your mental health, only use gel!
  • The rest is extremely important. If your macarons don’t acquire a dry outer coat they won’t bake properly.  Never skip the rest.
  • In order to make sure your macarons are baked properly, the top shouldn’t move if lightly jiggled during baking. If there’s any major movement, the insides are still raw. Be patient – it can even be better to overbake than underbake a macaron shell.

We are making a french meringue macaron – probably the most simple of the meringues. It’s as simple as making a french meringue, folding in some dry ingredients, and piping into circles. So let’s start by separating your egg whites from your yolks. One egg contains about 30 grams of whites, so this recipe will take about 3.5 eggs. Put the yolks aside in a bowl (to be used for the curd later) and place the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Let’s make the meringue now! Add a whisk attachment (or use a bowl and hand whisk and watch as your arm falls off) and turn on the speed, slowly bringing it up to high. Continue to whisk until the eggs are frothy, then add all the cream of tartar at once. Continue whisking until the eggs start to form soft peaks.

At this point we want to add the sugar. Now, a lot of people add it a tablespoon at a time to prevent grainy meringues. Honestly, I’ve never had a problem, and with a macaron you probably can’t tell anyway. So just add the sugar around the bowl (not all in one spot) and continue to whisk on high until stiff peaks form. These peaks should not, under any circumstance, fall over if you tip the bowl or the whisk upside down. You want the meringue completely stiff. The entire process should take between 8-10 minutes, depending on your mixer.

Next comes the hard part – the part that’ll screw everything else up. We are going to fold in the flour and sugar. But first things first – let’s mix together the dry ingredients. You really need to mix with your hands here. Add all the powdered sugar and almond flour to a bowl and stir with your fingers. As you’re mixing be sure to rub all the large almond chunks out of the mixture. These will completely screw up your batter, so we definitely don’t want them in there.

Now we start the macaronage. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients and the food coloring to the meringue. Now gently fold by passing your spatula down the center of the bowl, scraping around all the edges, and around the bottom, finishing by folding that scraped-up portion back over itself. Down the center, around the edge, flip over. Repeat that process until the batter resembles, as I’ve mentioned above, lava. While you’re folding you should be trying to push a lot of the air out of the batter. We actually, in spite of making a meringue, don’t want a ton of air in the batter. To remove it simply push the batter up against the side of the bowl prior to you reaching the correct consistency. This video will maybe hopefully help with your ability to see what I’m talking about!

Once the macaron batter is ready simply fill a piping bag fit with a large round tip with your batter. Pipe a big blob in one spot on a piece of parchment paper or silicone mat, trying to keep your piping pressure consistent. To get equal size circles you can either find a good template online or simply count the seconds you’re expelling your batter. The second method won’t be perfect, but it’ll be easier and close enough! It’s my favorite method.

Once all the macarons are piped simply bang the baking sheet on the counter a few times to remove any air that remains (to prevent weird holes) and allow them to sit out at room temperature, for 30 minutes. This rest will allow a good skin to form on the macaron.

When the macarons are almost done resting preheat your oven. When it’s done preheating bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack for 12-15 minutes. Just make sure you check it before you pull them out, like I talk about in the notes, to ensure they’re properly baked.

After the macarons are baked leave them on your baking sheet until they’re completely cool. If you don’t they’ll still be slightly sticky and the centers will come out of the shell and stick to the mat. It’s horribly annoying. So just be patient and they’ll come off really easily!

While the macarons are baking/cooling you can make your curd and your buttercream. Honestly, the curd takes a while to cool, so let’s do that first! It’s much easier than the shell – I promise. We need to cook the curd over a double boiler, so use a stainless steel or glass bowl that fits securely in the rim of a small pot. Add enough water to boil in the small pot, but ensure that the water level won’t touch the bottom of the bowl. It should be about 1-2 inches of water. Bring water to a simmer.

Then blend your blueberries until pureed. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but as smooth as you can get. Add the blueberry puree and lemon juice to either a stainless steel or glass bowl and add the sugar. Whisk this together and add the yolk (saved from the shells) and whole egg. Once you add the eggs you need to whisk continuously to prevent the sugar from cooking the yolks. It sounds weird, but the sugar can actually do that to the yolk and make it grainy.

Put the bowl over the simmering water and whisk until the curd thickens. It’ll happen around 180F, for those of you with a thermometer. But in reality, you don’t need one. You’ll be in the middle of whisking, feeling like it’s taking forever, and then you’ll feel it thicken. You’ll be able to see it sticking thickly to the whisk and to the bowl, it’ll feel sluggish and look delicious. When this happens, remove the bowl from the simmering pan and add the butter all at once. Whisk until the butter is incorporated and then allow to cool until the curd reaches room temperature. You can speed this up by putting the bowl in the fridge and whisk from time to time to release the heat.

Now, 2 elements down, let’s make the third! It’s one of my favorite things in the world – a lemon Swiss meringue buttercream. If you’ve never made a Swiss meringue buttercream it;s the most amazing thing in the entire world. I thought I hated frosting, even homemade frosting, but I realized what I really hated was American buttercream. A solid, Swiss buttercream is thick, creamy, and not overpoweringly sweet. It’s perfect, though a lot trickier to make.

Start by separating your eggs whites from your yolks. Guys, I’ve had to find a lot of new recipes for all the yolks I have leftover from the frosting I’ve been made… But I digress. You’ll add your sugar to the whites, put them back over that double boiler we had for the curd, and whisk until the mixture reaches 160F. This time you’ll want to have a thermometer – it’s very important the eggs reach at least 160F to kill off the threat of salmonella before you eat it. There’s not really a visual cue for this, either, so you’ll need something to help you.

When the correct temperature is reached add the whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high until the bowl starts to feel cool and the mixture gets thick and shiny. At this point you’ll start adding the room temperature butter, one tablespoon at a time. It’ll take a while to get through all the butter. And, in the process, the mixture will start to look curdled. You’ll panic that something went wrong. I promise, nothing went wrong. Just keep adding butter and keep whisking and it’ll become smooth and buttery and delicious.

While this is wash and zest the lemon and juice it. You’ll be tempted to just use pre-juiced lemon juice. Don’t. Fresh-pressed lemon juice is a little sweeter and a little more acidic. Everything will taste better if you just get in the habit of always having lemons on hand.

When the buttercream is smooth and homogeneous you’ll add all the lemon juice, zest, and the yellow gel food coloring. Continue whisking until the buttercream comes back together. It’ll feel like it splits again, but be patient, it’ll come together, get thick, and creamy.

Now, all the elements are made! It’s time for assembly.

Match up the macaron shells to size. Turn one side over to prepare for adding the buttercream and the curd. Add the buttercream to a piping bag and pipe a ring on the outside of the shell. Fill the center of the ring with the blueberry curd. Now cover with the other shell and make a sandwich.

One thing to note about macarons – they taste significantly better the next day. Everything looks so pretty you’ll be tempted to eat it right away. Don’t! Make these the day before you want them and then enjoy them the right way. When you let macarons sit the shells soak up some of the flavor from the fillings, making them seems more tender and less sweet. It’s worth the wait!

Boston Uprising Macarons

  • Servings: about 16 2 inch macarons
  • Difficulty: difficult
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Blueberry and lemon macarons inspired by the Boston Uprising

Macaron

  • 100 grams egg whites- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar- 75 grams baker’s sugar- 125 grams almond flour- 125 grams powdered sugar- blue gel food coloring

Blueberry

  • 98 grams blueberry puree (about 1/2 cup blueberries)- 85 grams sugar- 25 grams salted butter, room temperature- 1 egg- 1 egg yolk

Lemon

  • 75 grams egg whites- 75 grams sugar- 143 grams salted butter, room temperature- 2 tablespoons lemon juice- zest of one lemon- yellow gel food coloring

Macaron

  1. Separate your egg whites from your yolks, reserving one yolk for the blueberry curd. Place the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer2. Add a whisk attachment to the stand mixer and slowly increase the speed, bringing it up to high.3. Whisk until the eggs are frothy and then add all the cream of tartar at once.4. Continue whisking until the eggs form soft peaks. Add the sugar around the bowl and continue to whisk on high until stiff peaks form. The meringue should be stiff and peaks should not fall if turned over. The entire process should take between 8-10 minutes, depending on your mixer.5. Measure all the powdered sugar and almond flour to a bowl and stir with your fingers. As you’re mixing be sure to rub all the large almond chunks out of the mixture.6. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients and the food coloring to the meringue. Gently fold the dry into the meringue by passing your spatula down the center of the bowl, scraping around the edges, finishing by folding that scraped-up portion back over itself. Repeat that process until the batter resembles lava or honey. While you’re folding remove the air by pushing the batter up against the side of the bowl. 7. Fill a piping bag fit with a large round tip with your batter. Pipe in a steady stream onto one spot on a piece of parchment paper or silicone mat, trying to keep your piping pressure consistent. To get equal size circles either find a template online or count the seconds you’re expelling your batter.8. Once all the macarons are piped bang the baking sheet on the counter a few times to remove any air that remains and allow them to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes.9. Preheat your oven to 320F. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 12-15 minutes. The shells should be stiff, the feet shouldn’t jiggle, and the top shouldn’t shift if gently moved.10. Leave the macarons on your baking sheet until they’re completely cool.

Blueberry

  1. Create a double boiler by choosing a stainless steel or glass bowl that fits securely in the rim of a small pot. Add enough water to boil in the small pot, but ensure that the water level won’t touch the bottom of the bowl. It should be about 1-2 inches of water. Bring water to a simmer.2. Blend your blueberries until pureed. Add the blueberry puree and lemon juice to the chosen bowl and add the sugar. Whisk this together and add the yolk and whole egg.3. Put the bowl over the simmering water and whisk until the curd thickens. The curd will reach around 180F, will stick to the whisk, and feel thick. 4. Remove the bowl from the simmering pan and add the butter all at once. Whisk until the butter is incorporated and then allow to cool until the curd reaches room temperature.

Lemon

  1. Separate your eggs whites from your yolks.2. Add your sugar to the whites.3. Place the bowl over a double boiler and whisk until the mixture reaches 160F.4. Whisk until the eggs reach a temperature of at least 160F, measured with a candy or instant-read thermometer.5. Add the whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high until the bowl starts to feel cool and the mixture gets thick and shiny.6. Add the room temperature butter, one tablespoon at a time. In the process, the mixture will start to look curdled, but keep adding butter and keep whisking and it’ll become smooth and creamy again.7. Wash and zest the lemon and juice it.8. When the buttercream is smooth and homogeneous add all the lemon juice, zest, and enough yellow gel food coloring to change the color to bright yellow. Continue whisking until the buttercream comes back together.

Macaron

  1. Match up the macaron shells to size. Turn one side over to prepare for adding the buttercream and the curd.2. Add the buttercream to a piping bag and pipe a ring on the outside of the shell.3. Fill the center of the ring with the blueberry curd.4. Cover with the other shell and make a sandwich. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Happy Valentine’s Day! To tell the truth, my husband and I don’t actually celebrate this one… Not that we have anything against it, but with birthdays and holidays so close to this date it just feels like too much to celebrate yet another holiday where giving gifts is recommended. So tonight we will be celebrating by eating take out and watching Overwatch League, which has finally started up again (YAY!). But, in honor of the holiday, I have the least romantic dish possible to share with you. Guys, I don’t know why I didn’t plan this better, but I totally spaced that this post would come out on a holiday celebrating love. So instead of sweets, dessert, or even a romantic dinner option, I bring you Cream of Mushroom Soup…

Cream of Mushroom Soup
time and difficulty

I need to admit something. I relied heavily on the recipe of Cafe Delites for this one. I’ve never in my wildest dreams thought of making cream of mushroom soup from scratch. Frankly, the only time I use it is in my stroganoff recipe. So I needed a lot of guidance to even know what direction to head in. I changed a few things, made a few additions of my own, but definitely check her recipe out if you want the pure, unadulterated version!

We start by chopping mushrooms, dicing onions, and mincing garlic. All pretty basic stuff at this point.

Next, heat some butter in a pot… or dutch oven (you guys know me so well) over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until golden and shiny. Then add the garlic and stir for just a minute or so. Garlic burns so easily and we don’t want to overdo it. When everything smells nice add the mushrooms and salt and pepper and saute until they start to change color and become soft. We don’t really want to cook them too much or they’ll be rubbery at the end.

When everything is ready add the seasonings and flour and stir until everything is completely coated. Then we deglaze the fond. I’ve talked about deglazing before and it’s my favorite way to ensure that all the seasonings stay in your dish. Just add a few tablespoons (or splashes, we aren’t fancy here) of your chosen broth to the pot and scrape the bottom until all that delicious brown stuff comes up.

Once it’s all off the pot add half the remaining broth to the pot and stir continuously until it heats and starts to thicken. Then add the remaining broth, stir until combined, and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes. It’ll start to thicken up and smell delicious. If it doesn’t look thick enough for your tastes at this point simply add some flour to the pot and whisk it until there’s no lumps. Allow to cook for a few more minutes until it thickens.

Add all the milk and allow to heat until barely simmering. Add more salt and pepper as needed and serve while it’s hot! This soup will even save for a few days to add to other recipes you may have (like the aforementioned stroganoff). It actually turned out way better than I thought it would! I’d eat it as it is next time, just because it smelled so delicious!

Link’s Veggie Cream Soup:

  • Fresh Milk
  • Rock Salt
  • Any Mushroom
  • Any vegetable, herb, or flour

Cream of Mushroom Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A savory, fragrant cream of mushroom soup

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons salted butter- 1 medium yellow onion- 2 garlic cloves- 1 pound fresh mushrooms (can be white or brown)- 1 teaspoon kosher salt- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper- 1/2 teaspoon oregano (or 1.5 teaspoons fresh oregano)- 1 teaspoon thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme)- 10 fennel seeds- 1 bay leaf- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour- 4 cups vegetable broth (for vegetarian) or beef broth- 1.5 cups milk

Directions

  1. Chop the mushrooms into bite-size pieces. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. 2. Heat the butter in a pot over medium heat.3. Add the onions and saute until golden and shiny.4. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.5. Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper and saute until they start to change color and become soft.6. Add the seasonings and flour and stir until everything is completely coated.7. Deglaze the fond by adding a few tablespoons of your chosen broth to the pot and scrape the bottom until all the brown bits are removed.8. Add half the remaining broth to the pot and stir continuously until it heats and starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. 9. Add the remaining broth, stir until combined, and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes. If it doesn’t look thick enough at this point simply add some flour to the pot and whisk it until there’s no lumps. Allow to cook for a few more minutes until it thickens.10. Add all the milk and allow to heat until barely simmering. Add more salt and pepper as needed and serve while it’s hot!

Meat Stew

Meat Stew

We’re back! We’re finally back! And you know what? It feels good.

Now, raise your hand if you, like me, prefer winter to summer. Really? That few? Come on! Winter is way better than summer. With that delightfully chilly weather, sweaters and sweatshirts, heated blankets, hot cocoa, and warm, thick soups. It’s the best time of year for most of my favorite things and I love it! Plus, there’s nothing like sitting near a window watching new-falling snow, reading a book under a cozy blanket, and drinking delicious hot chocolate. I’d take that over blistering heat and sweaty armpits everyday.

But enough about me, let’s get on to this stew, surely something we can all appreciate in the next few cold weather months.

Meat Stew
difficulty and time meter

So this recipe is a bit of a departure from the photo. Yes, they really just show three pictures of meat stew with varying degrees of large chunks. But I didn’t want to bore you or your tastebuds with a new take on my new favorite stew recipe. And since Link himself can make this with bird, let’s go along that route and make a thick, creamy chicken and wild rice soup.

I start with chicken breast. I mean, yes, the recipe calls for drumstick, but who has time to scrape meat off the drumstick bone? Certainly not me! So chop the chicken into 1 inch or smallerish pieces. Then dice your onion and get ready to cook!

Add some oil to the bottom of a large pot or (you knew I was going to say it) a dutch oven. Heat on medium high until hot. Add all your chicken at once, season with the salt and pepper, and cook until the outsides are nearly cooked, about 1-2 minutes. Add all the onion and stir together until the chicken is completely cooked on the outside, another 2 minutes max. This means no pink is showing on the outside, but they’ll definitely still be raw on the inside! We want that. It’ll mean the chicken with finish cooking with the rice and not get rubbery.

rice to the chicken

Add all the rice and stir and cook until the rice is fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. It’s really not that much. It should only have been about 5 minutes from the time we first started cooking the chicken.

chicken, broth, herbs

Add 4 cups of the chicken broth and the remaining seasonings, and bring to a nice, rolling simmer. Nothing too fancy, just enough to be considered a simmer. Cover and let it simmer for 1 hour 15 minutes. Yes, I did say that correctly, and yes, it’s very specific. We are walking a fine line between cooked rice and rubbery chicken. I’ve found that 1 hour 15 minutes is kinda that happy medium. If it goes a little long, I don’t think it’ll ruin the dish. If it goes a little short, I hope you’re okay with slightly underdone rice.

Meanwhile, chop the carrots and the celery. Add them all at once with another cup or two of the chicken broth at the end of the 1.25 hours. Bring to a simmer and then check for seasoning. Add more of anything (but mostly the salt and pepper) at this time.

Then add the milk and flour. Whisk the soup together until all the flour is completely mixed in with no lumps. Allow to simmer and thicken for 10 minutes, or until the carrots are soft. Serve in your favorite winter bowls and enjoy!

close up

Meat Stew

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
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Creamy Chicken and wild rice stew with carrots and celery

Ingredients

  • 2 large chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 5-6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt or garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable (or other) oil

Directions

  1. Dice the chicken into 1 inch pieces.
  2. Dice the onion
  3. Add oil to the bottom of a large pot or dutch oven. Heat on medium high until hot.
  4. Add all the chicken at once, season with the salt and pepper, and cook until the outsides are nearly cooked, about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add all the onion and stir together until the chicken is completely cooked on the outside, another 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add all the rice and stir and cook until the rice is fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. It should only be about 5 minutes from the time we first started cooking the chicken.
  7. Add 4 cups of the chicken broth and the remaining seasonings, and bring to a rolling simmer.
  8. Cover and let simmer for 1 hour 15 minutes.
  9. Chop the carrots and the celery while the stew is cooking.
  10. Add them all at once with another cup or two of the chicken broth at the end of the 1.25 hours. Bring to a simmer and check for seasoning, particularly salt and pepper.
  11. Add the milk and flour. Whisk the soup together until all the flour is completely mixed in with no lumps.
  12. Allow to simmer and thicken for 10 minutes, or until the carrots are soft. Serve in your favorite winter bowls and enjoy!

Mom’s Beef and Broccoli

Mom’s Beef and Broccoli

As I’ve mentioned before, my mom lived in Taiwan for a few years in her twenties (for more information about why, feel free to DM me on Instagram or Twitter).  This means that, not only did she come home with some amazing experiences, but she came home with some amazing small-town, authentic Taiwanese/Chinese recipes.  But this one is my favorite.  And in a post dedicated to my wonderful mother, what better recipe to share than my favorite thing she taught me to make.

My mother is incredible.  She’s easily one of the most dedicated, hardworking people I’ve ever met.  She had a successful career, raised several kids, and always managed to find time to get things done around the house.  Her energy and willpower seem limitless.  It’s quite inspiring to watch her (and also a little daunting)!  She’s strong and opinionated, determined and fierce.  And she’s my hero.  I mean, I’m pretty sure my mom is Wonder Woman (*recently confirmed by my dad).  She doesn’t see it- she’s always got one reason or other for how she can do everything and still find time to read about 2-3 dozen books a year – but I know the truth.  And while I can’t be her and do everything under the planet successfully and efficiently, I’ve learned so much about the person I can be from her.  So this post is dedicated to my mom, for the example she is and the life she taught me to live.  Thanks, mom.

Mom’s Beef and Broccolitime etc

Guys, this recipe is really easy.  In fact, it may seem so easy that you’ll wonder if it’s even worth eating.  Yeah, it’s a little basic – like all good homemade classics are – but I think it’s so good I’ll literally find excuses to drink the leftover sauce.  It’s so good you’ll probably stop eating beef and broccoli at restaurants because it won’t taste quite like this…

First, and always, we start the rice.  Come on, you’re old hats at this by now!  Rinse the rice, add water up to your first knuckle, turn on the rice cooker.  Again, if you don’t have one of those Christmas is just around the corner…  Maybe it’s time to splurge on the most-used gadget in my kitchen.

Then let’s slice the steak into long, thin strips.  Preferably about 1-2 inches long and 1/8-1/4 inch thick.  To make it easy, slice against the grain.  You see the way the muscle lines flow?  Slice perpendicular to that.  It’ll make a cleaner, easier cut.  Place all the meat in a bowl and add enough soy sauce to submerge, but not drown the meat.  It’s a fine line.

Wash everything (knife, cutting board, counter) so there’s no cross contamination.  Then rinse and cut the broccoli.  We want to keep just the florets in bite-size pieces.  I usually cut the stalk off and then break the broccoli up.  When you cut broccoli, sometimes the floret breaks apart, so this is my recommendation.  You can remove or leave as much of the stalk as you want – me, I remove as much as I can.  Place the broccoli in a separate bowl.  Then wash and dice the green onions into 1 inch pieces and separate into 2 piles.

When the rice is done (or nearly so) get out your trusty wok.  I guess you could try and make this in a frying pan, but it won’t cook the same and it may not taste the same.  Also, it’ll probably take way longer to cook.  But if you try it, let me know!

oil and onionsAnyway, add half the vegetable oil to your wok and turn the heat on as high as it’ll go.  Two things about this are important: 1) turn the heat up as high as it’ll go.  Trust me.  A proper stir fry, a proper wok, is cooked over very high heat.  Because of the way a wok works, things’ll get mushy and take forever if you cook it low.  And 2) use vegetable, canola, avocado, or some other high heat oil.  DO NOT cook this with olive oil.  The oil can’t handle those temperatures and it’ll burn, baby burn. 

Add half the green onions to this oil and wait until the onions start to sizzle and pop.  When they do, you know the oil is ready.  Add all the meat and soy sauce together (it should be nicely marinated by now) and cook, stirring frequently/continuously, until the steak is brown on the outside, but still probably pink on the inside.  Depending on how much liquid you added you may need to push the meat up out of the liquid onto the sides.  We don’t want the meat to boil, we want it to fry.  This’ll take between 2-4 minutes.

remove the steak

Remove the steak carefully, I don’t want any burns on my conscience, and put it into a new bowl – or the same bowl, but washed.  Again, no cross contamination here!  Add the remaining oil and green onions and wait for the sizzle and pop.

When you hear it, add the broccoli and stir until it’s completely shiny, about 1 minute.  At this point, make a well in the middle of the broccoli so the wok shows through and add all the cold water at once.  Quickly cover and allow the broccoli to steam for several minutes, or until tender.  Check after 3 and see how it’s doing – add more water if necessary, but be quick, we don’t want the steam escaping!

cook together

When the broccoli is ready add the steak and sauce back to the wok and stir until everything is well-mixed.  Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes so the broccoli can soak up all that delicious soy sauce.  Serve over rice and enjoy!

close up

Mom's Beef and Broccoli

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Delicious beef with broccoli in a soy sauce marinade

Ingredients

  • 1 pound london broil or sirloin steak – 1-1.5 cups soy sauce – 4-5 large broccoli crowns – 1 bunch green onions – 1 cup very cold water – 4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil – 3 cups calrose or other sticky rice – enough water to cover the rice to your first knuckle

Directions

  1. Rinse the rice and add water so that it comes to your first knuckle when your finger rests on top of the rice. Add the lid and turn on the rice cooker. 2. Slice the steak into long, thin strips, preferably about 1-2 inches long and 1/8-1/4 inch thick. 3. Place all the meat in a bowl and add enough soy sauce to submerge, but not drown the meat.  It’s a fine line. 4. Wash and cut the broccoli into bite-size florets. Place the broccoli in a bowl. 5. Wash and dice the green onions into 1 inch pieces and separate into 2 piles. 6. When the rice is done (or nearly so) add half the vegetable oil and half the green onions to your wok and turn the heat on as high. 7. When the onions start to sizzle and pop add all the meat and soy sauce together and cook, stirring frequently/continuously, until the steak is brown on the outside, but still pink on the inside. You may need to push the meat up out of the liquid onto the sides. This will take between 2-4 minutes. 8. Remove the steak carefully and put it into a new bowl – or the same bowl, but washed. 9. Add the remaining oil and green onions and wait for the sizzle and pop. 10. Add the broccoli and stir until it’s completely shiny, about 1 minute. 11. Make a well in the middle of the broccoli so the wok shows through and add all the cold water at once. Quickly cover and allow the broccoli to steam for several minutes, or until tender, about 5-8 minutes. You may need to add more water halfway through. 12. When the broccoli is ready add the steak and sauce back to the wok and stir until everything is well-mixed. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes so the flavors can meld together.

    Serve over rice and enjoy!

Veggie Cream Soup

Veggie Cream Soup

Alright, guys, I think I’m about to throw you for a loop.  After checking recipes, matching BotW photos, and deciding on what I want to make, I’m making a change up to my recipes.  Now, I have a Veggie Cream Soup already made.  But the BotW photo is much more orange, the Cream of Vegetable Soup is more creamy, and I wanted to make cheese soup.  Because, quite frankly, I don’t love Cream of X soup.  I utilize it in other recipes to make other things, but I never actually just eat Cream of X soup.  So I’m renaming my last veggie soup Cream of Vegetable soup, after all, it’s veggies, cream, and soup.  And the new and improved Veggie Cream Soup, is about to follow!

Veggie Cream Soup

time and difficulty

Basically, folks, we are making cheese soup.  And while I have photos one way, I’d really like you all, please, to follow what I say, not what I show!  It’ll make sense when I start describing what’s going on.

Start by chopping all the veggies up into lovely bite-size pieces.  Carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower can go into a bowl together, but keep the onions separate.  When everything is diced heat a heavy-bottom pot (or, I guess, any pot) and add all the butter but 3 tablespoons.  Add the onion and saute for 1 minute.  Then add the other veggies and saute for 2-3 minutes, until shiny and starting to soften.  

shiny veggies

Here’s that part where you get to ignore what I’ve done and pay attention to what I say!  I have you add the extra butter and flour to the sauteed veggies, but the roux really struggled to come together, and without a solid roux, the likelihood that your cheese will break is pretty high.  And, for me, I can handle that, but I don’t want that for you people at all!

So now we’re just going to remove the veggies and put them in a bowl.  Then, add the 3 tablespoons of butter, melt it down, add the flour slowly, and make a nice roux by whisking continuously.  I have photos from the old Veggie Cream Soup…  Pretend like they’re from this recipe.

Add the milk 1 cup at a time and whisk until completely mixed.  This’ll thicken the milk.  Continue with the remaining milk.  Then add the cream and chicken or vegetable stock (your choice to make this vegetarian!) and stir in the veggies, salt, and pepper.  We don’t add a lot of salt because the cheese is salty, so don’t be tempted to add more.  It’ll feel bland at this step.

veggies and liquid

 

Here’s the next step, and it’s an important one for winding up with a nice, smooth soup instead of a cheesy broken mess.  Don’t let the soup boil.  It should simmer, barely bubbling, to cook the veggies, but it shouldn’t boil.  Keep an eye on it.  If it boils you may not get a great soup.

cheese added

Simmer it for 10ish minutes, or until the veggies are tender and delicious!  Then remove from the heat and let it sit for a few minutes until it cools slightly.  This is like adding chocolate to cream – if you do it while it’s too hot the fat will break out and won’t be able to reform properly, so you end up with a mess.  Cheese into hot things is the same.  So once it’s cooled slightly, add the cheese, 1 cup at a time, and stir until smooth and creamy.  And then eat it all while you can – you won’t really feel like stopping!

close up

Link’s Veggie Cream Soup:

    • Fresh Milk
    • Rock Salt
    • Any Carrot or Pumpkin

Veggie Cream Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A creamy cheese soup with broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.

Ingredients

  • 1 large broccoli crown – 1/2 head cauliflower – 3 medium carrots – 1 small onion – 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter – 1/3 cup all-purpose flour – 4 cups milk – 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock – 2 tablespoons heavy cream – 1 teaspoon kosher salt – 1/5 teaspoons black pepper – 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Chop the carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower into bite-size pieces. Place these into a bowl. Dice the onion and keep separate. 2. Heat a heavy-bottom pot on medium and add all the butter but 3 tablespoons.  3. Add the onion and saute for 1 minute. 4. Add the other veggies and saute for 2-3 minutes, until shiny and starting to soften. 5. Remove the veggies and put them in a bowl. 6. Add the 3 tablespoons of butter, melt it, and add the flour slowly. Make a roux by whisking this constantly until thickened and yellow. 7. Add the milk 1 cup at a time and whisk until completely mixed and thickened. 8. Add the heavy cream and chicken or vegetable stock, stir in the veggies, salt, and pepper, and stir until combined. 9. Simmer the soup, barely bubbling, to cook the veggies, about 10 minutes. 10. Remove from the heat and let it sit for a few minutes until it cools slightly. 11. Add the cheese, 1 cup at a time, and stir until smooth and creamy. Serve hot.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time | The Game That Defines Sheikah Plate

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time | The Game That Defines Sheikah Plate

Hey, everyone! It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means – a new recipe! But I wanted to do something a little different. Yesterday my post for one of the most amazing collaborations went live. Normal Happenings has been running a series every day since November 1st on The Games That Define Us. 35 AMAZING collaborators have written up their feelings about the game that has meant the most to them. If you’re ready to shed some tears and experience some feelings, please go check out every single post. They’re all wonderful. But I’m reblogging mine here today because A) I want you all to read it and B) I created a special recipe homage to my favorite game of all time. So while it’s not Breath of the Wild, it’s still Zelda. Here’s The Game That Defines Me: Ocarina of Time.

Normal Happenings

<< Previous | Adventure Map | Next >>

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Audio

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introductionJust a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Well, do we…

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Happy Thanksgiving and Salt-Grilled Gourmet Meat!

Happy Thanksgiving and Salt-Grilled Gourmet Meat!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  Here in the U.S., and especially for me, this holiday is all about food.  Growing up, my mother would get up at an ungodly hour (for a holiday) to make everything from scratch on Thanksgiving day.  We’d tumble out of bed and start to help out when we could.  Now, as an adult, it’s become a tradition to get up as early as mom and stand around the table as she teaches us how to properly make pie crust, make stuffing from scratch, and roast a 30 pound(ish) turkey.  Thanksgiving for my family was about passing on the traditions of cooking, of learning and honoring those who came before you with family recipes and family stories shared over an entire day of cooking and eating together.  It’s the best way I know how to truly observe this holiday – with thankful hearts toward the people in my past who have made this holiday possible.

This year, that also means you guys, the faithful blog readers.  I feel so blessed and honored that so many people follow my blog and comment on my posts.  I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to learn how to better express myself through cooking.  And I feel grateful so many of you are so supportive of me, in spite of my long breaks between posts and ghost status on social media lately.  Thanks for all you do to help me become the best I can be!  And, in honor of the from-scratch people who were up at the crack of dawn (I love you, mom!) to make dinner, here’s a reblog of my Thanksgiving turkey recipe – Salt-Grilled Gourmet Meat.


It’s the second of two Thanksgiving posts and the day is almost here, which means this recipe is just in time!  So open this up, thaw your turkey (properly), and let’s make a turkey.

Raise of hands, how many of you have ever made a turkey before?  Really?  That few?  Well don’t be intimidated.  I promise it’s a lot easier than it sounds or looks.  Quite frankly, it’s just like any other salt-grilled meat recipe we’ve already done, with a few adjustments, of course.  And you’ll love the finished product.  It’ll be picture perfect and deliciously juicy for all your guests/family!

Salt-Grilled Gourmet Meattime and heart meter

Now, you should have started thawing your turkey by now following the instructions provided with your turkey (they almost always come with instructions).  It can take up to 4 days to thaw a turkey (depending on the size) in the fridge.  If you need to speed up the process you can fill a sink with cold water and place the turkey in.  Continue checking the water to make sure it doesn’t get too warm.  Drain the water every 1/2 hour and refill with cold water again.  Do this for roughly 8 hours.  It’s easier to thaw in the fridge but in a pinch, this other way will work.  Just whatever you do, please thaw it correctly!  I don’t want to be responsible for any food poisoning here!

turkey ingredients

We start with what’s called a brine.  Now, there are several ways to brine a turkey but I’ve chosen the easiest of them all.  You have enough to do on Thanksgiving – no reason to make it harder.  The brine with a turkey is the same principle as with pork – it tenderizes the meat and allows the juices to stay inside instead of the bird getting dry and gross.  It also negates, with an extra step, the need for basting!  That’s two time savers here people.  We’re on a roll!

You’re going to need to remove the bird from the packaging and take out any extras they throw in for the really hard-core people a.k.a the giblets and the neck.  Open the bottom of the turkey and they should be in there.  It’ll be a long neck and a packet of weird mushy stuff.  If the packet isn’t in there check where the neck is supposed to be attached.  Sometimes they put it up there to be sneaky.

Once everything gross is out pat the turkey dry with paper towels and coat it with kosher salt and pepper.  Be generous, it’ll help!  Allow the turkey to sit, with the salt and pepper, at room temperature for 1 hour to take off the chill.  The skin will be crispy and delicious if you do it that way.

While the turkey is warming up wash the sage and oregano or thyme, slice a medium onion into quarters, and remove the skin from 6 garlic cloves.  Place these inside your roasting pan, or if you don’t have excess cash floating around to buy a new pan for one meal a year (like me) a normal 11X15 cake pan.  If you want to get extra easy buy one of those disposable cake pans, like my mom does, and just throw it away when you’re done.  Whatever will fit your turkey comfortably will work!  Line the bottom of your pan with these ingredients, putting the onions in the corners.

buttering the turkeyThe next step is almost as important as the brine.  It’s also, for those of you who are a little squeamish, the grossest part of the entire affair.  Rub the room temperature butter all over your hands.  Then rub the entire turkey with those hands, pausing to get more butter if needed.  Make sure the entire bird in covered in the butter to make sure there’s an even crisp to the skin.  A safety note, just because I’m a microbiologist, please don’t reuse any butter you may have touched with raw poultry again.  Just throw it out and save yourself a horrible bought of food poisoning.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  It’s very important you don’t go much higher than that because most glassware will shatter if you do and that would ruin your entire night.  If you’re using metal feel free to go up to 450°F.  Put your turkey in the pan and put your pan in the oven on the middle shelf.  Close the door and walk away for 45 minutes.  Plenty of time to get started on literally 1 million things to be cooked for dinner.

turkey in the pan

Once the turkey has been roasting for 45 minutes take some tinfoil and cover the breast of the turkey, molding it to keep it in place.  It’ll help trap in the moisture and make for a much more juicy bird!  If you need to make a piece of tinfoil bigger to cover the whole turkey simply fold over the edges of the foil together and press down to seal.  It’ll work.  Trust me.

Lower the temperature of the oven to 350°F and bake for the remainder of the time.  Here’s a handy, dandy chart for approximate times if you need one.  It’s all based on pounds, really, so make sure you know the poundage of your bird beforehand.

9-11 pounds: 2 1/2 hours

12-14 pounds: 3 hours

15-17 pounds: 3 1/2 hours

18-20 pounds: 4 hours

21-23 pounds: 4 1/2 hours

24+ pounds: 5+ hours

turkey thermometerTo check if the turkey is done you’ll need an instant read meat thermometer.  You can buy them in any grocery store this time of year for about $5.00.  It’s worth it.  You’ll use it again (maybe…).  When the time is up stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, making sure you aren’t touching any bones.  Allow the thermometer to read.  Your turkey temperature should be 165°F.  If it isn’t, your turkey needs more time to cook.  Mine took an extra 20 minutes to get up to temperature.  If you need to check again make sure you check in a different spot than the first time!  If you want to be extra careful, check in the breast under the wing, as well.  The temperature is much more important than the color.  Any turkey could have a pink coloring naturally, but if it got up to 165°F or higher, you’ll be just fine!

Remove the turkey from the oven and cover loosely with foil for at least 30 minutes to allow the turkey to rest.  This equalizes the juices inside so you have perfectly moist, delicious meat.

foiled turkey

Remove the turkey from the pan and start slicing!  There are several excellent videos if you google “how to slice a turkey”.  I think you’ll be alright!

While someone is slicing you can make the gravy.  Technically this isn’t part of the recipe but who eats Thanksgiving turkey without gravy?  Remove all the herbs, onions, and garlic, and pour all the drippings into a pot and add all the chicken or turkey stock.  Heat the liquid to a boil and, while you’re waiting, make the cornstarch mixture.  You could use a roux if you feel like it, but that takes longer and we are all about making Thanksgiving easy here!  Mix the cold water and cornstarch together until dissolved.  Once the liquid is boiling slowly add the cornstarch slurry to the drippings.  Stir and continue to heat until thickened.  If you need it thicker, just add more cornstarch liquid.

Serve with all the Thanksgiving trimmings and have an incredible time!

turkey leg

Link’s Salt-Grilled Meat

    • Raw Gourmet Meat or Raw Whole Bird
    • Rock Salt

    Salt-Brined Roast Turkey

    • Servings: dependant on turkey pounds
    • Difficulty: moderate
    • Print

    Turkey

    • 1 Turkey
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt per pound of turkey
    • 1/4 tsp pepper per pound of turkey
    • 1/2-1 cup butter, room temperature, based on turkey size
    • 7 sprigs fresh oregano or thyme
    • 5 sprigs fresh sage leaves
    • 6 garlic cloves
    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 instant read meat thermometer

    Gravy

    • 1 pan turkey drippings
    • 3 cups chicken or turkey stock
    • 1/4 cup cold water
    • 3 heaping spoonfuls cornstarch

    Directions


    1. Thaw your turkey according to the packing instructions, generally refrigerated for a few days. If you need a quicker thaw, fill a sink with cold water and place the turkey in. Drain the water every 1/2 hour and refill with cold water. Continue this process for 8 hours until the turkey is thawed.
    2. Remove the bird from the packaging and take out the neck and giblets. These should be located inside the turkey at either the bottom or the neck holes.
    3. Dry the entire turkey with paper towels
    4. Coat the turkey in the kosher salt and pepper.  Allow the turkey to sit, with the salt and pepper, at room temperature for 1 hour to take off the chill.
    5. Wash the sage and oregano or thyme.
    6. Slice the onion into quarters.
    7. Remove the skin from 6 garlic cloves.
    8. Line the outside edges of a glass or metal cake pan large enough to hold your turkey with the aromatics, putting the onions in the corners.
    9. Rub the room temperature butter all over your hands, coating them completely.
    Then rub the entire turkey with those hands, pausing to get more butter if needed.  Make sure the entire bird in covered in the butter.  A safety note, if you touch any butter with turkey or turkey-covered hands please throw it away to mitigate the risk of food poisoning.
    10. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Put your turkey in the pan and put your pan in the oven on the middle shelf.  Close the door and bake for 45 minutes.
    11. Once the turkey has been roasting for 45 minutes take some tinfoil and cover the breast of the turkey, molding it to keep it in place. If you need to make a piece of tinfoil bigger to cover the whole turkey simply fold over the edges of the foil together and press down to seal.
    12. Lower the temperature of the oven to 350°F and bake for the remainder of the time. Please see the chart in the body of the post for the correct times.
    13. Insert the instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, making sure you aren’t touching any bones.  Allow the thermometer to read.  Your turkey temperature should be 165°F or higher. If the temperature is not quite high enough, roast the turkey until the temperature reads the correct amount.
    14. Remove the turkey from the oven and cover loosely with foil for at least 30 minutes to allow the turkey to rest.
    15. Remove the turkey from the pan.
    16. To make the gravy remove all herbs, onions, and garlic, and pour all the drippings into a pot. Add the chicken or turkey stock and bring to a boil.
    17. Mix the cold water and cornstarch together until dissolved. Once the drippings are boiling slowly add the cornstarch to the drippings, stirring to mix.
    18. Stir the gravy and bring it back to a boil. Add more cornstarch and water if a thicker gravy is desired.