Monday, May 30, 2011

Good old Sweet tea with a lemony-herb twist!

sweet lemon-thyme tea
The sun has been out, shinning his wonderfully warm bright rays on us down here and with memorial weekend and summer right around the corner I thought some sweet tea recipes and some awesome tasty BBQ recipes would just do the trick.
I really enjoy sweet tea and I must admit I thoroughly enjoy Micky D's sweet tea, and since I live in the south the tea here is sweet! (just the way I like it)

 But I like the good flavor of sun ripened tea, you know the one that sits out in a glass jug all afternoon basking in the sun. I remember my mom making sun ripened sweet tea, you could see the color of the tea changing as it seeped in the sun.

When I make my sweet tea I like using black tea (sometimes green tea but I 'm focusing on the black teas now)
Tea itself has many good qualities about it, If combined with other herbs and spices you can have a homemade remedy to colds and chills.
Studies show that the antioxidants in black and green teas are highly beneficial to our health.
Black tea not only helps to fight bacteria but also strengthens the immune system.Drinking tea also hydrates the body, and a cup of black tea helps moisturize the skin. Black tea also balances the hormone levels, which fends off stress. Not only does black tea have anti-inflammatory qualities, it also keeps a check on the digestive tracts functioning. It can help reduce stroke risks as it balances the cholesterol level. So that's a lot of health benefits.

Florida sunshine, Family, Slip-n-slides, BBQ and badminton...the Evans way!

Well the last two weeks have been a blast!!! but definitely tired me out...
So DH and I decided it would be fun to drive down to FL for a couple days I thought this the perfect opportunity to bring my little bundles of energy down to meet the great uncles and maybe get some R&R, since their grandparents and aunts and uncles would be in the area. We made a plan for our departure and a crazy one at that! my DH had to work that day 12-7pm, we decided to be crazy and leave right after he got off of work. I would stay home, pack everything, get the kids ready, pack lunches (well dinners), make sure the animals were taken care of...then head up in town and pick up my DH at work and drive the 8 some hours to his parents house...already seeing the crazy part in the plan? well that is exactly what happened....NOT!  the moment DH left for work my oldest thought this would be the best time to "unpack" all the packed bags...and dump all the clothes on his beloved younger brother this was followed by the annoyed cry of my youngest...*sigh*. So on to re-packing everything grrrrr...only to find that my oldest had opened the shampoo bottle and thrown it back into the suitcase resulting in a massively gooey mess in my suitcase "@#$%^^&*&*" .........time to sit and refocus I told myself........sigh.........five min later this is what I hear "splash-giggle-squeal-giggle-splash-giggle-squeal".....What in the world????....I got up out of my quiet spot and headed toward the noise. The noise was coming from the bathroom (Oh noooo!, I thought, anything but that...) can you guess?...yes, my youngest had found out how to raise the toilet seat and was now happily splashing away in bowl...with a big huge grin on his face ;-) and my oldest was in the shower trying out different soaps aaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!!!!!! (add extra emphasis on the aaaaargh part!) this was going to be a monumentally long day! finally got everything packed and the kids somewhat fed (not sure who ate what since they decided covering each other with food was far more fun than plain eating it)  I struggled and pushed the kids in their pajamas. I soldiered on and persisted to pack everything we needed and set it by the front door, the car had been pulled up and was ready to load. I grabbed the first couple of items to place in the car and started to open the door...SCREAM!!!!! my oldest screamed and rushed toward me and grasped my leg and entwined his little body around it (I assume he thought I was leaving without him). I can tell you this much; loading a car with a screaming toddler attached to your calf is far from easy! car was loaded after a grueling hour. at this time the 8 hour drive down was looking far from adventurous and exciting  and more dumb and insane, nothing to do about that now my hubby was waiting... I somehow managed to get everything done to somewhat satisfactory results, and the kids cosied up in the car...we were off to pick up DH. I arrived at his work looking frazzled and very unhappy, I shoved the keys in his hands and hissed "drive!" lol (poor DH most likely was wondering what in the world I had been through and he's learned NOT to ask "are you...ok? honey???" ) After 8 hours we made it to his parents house  (I do feel the need to tell you that even though my kids are crazy when getting ready for a trip, they are excellent travelers in the car and they slept the whole 8hours down) by 3am Sunday morning ...only to wake up at 9am to go to church (I do not advise this!!! grumpiness may occur! and again my kids are champs at traveling!).
DH's brother was only down for that Sunday so naps were out of the question that afternoon, for us adults that is! but we had a great time with friends and family! see pictures below for our awesome Evans experience...We really missed our SIL and nephew in NC though wish you could've made it!
  • Travel blog part one;  The Evans know how to have a good ole time!
My other BIL aka the grill master
Man those were the best burgers EVeR!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My first ever Daring Bakers challenge!!! Chocolate Marquise with a tease of lime and coconut

So...this is my first ever challenge with Daring Bakers (click here to find out more about Daring-Kitchen)

The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

My version of the challenge ;-)
It was the 1st of the month and I was waiting and waiting and waiting...checking the Daring kitchen site over and over just to make sure I hadn't missed the posting of their May challenge.
I had no idea what to expect since this was my first challenge with them. I was excited and nervous.
The past challenges looked like so much fun and were just plain amazing!
The challenge was posted and I eagerly started!!!...what???...How??? I had never ever even heard of any of the things in the recipe...gulp...this was definitely going to be a challenge.
The recipe included so many flavors and techniques I had never tried before like; cayenne in chocolate, tequila in caramel and the marquise alone was magnificently detailed lol
But the whole reason I joined was to learn new techniques and to change my plain and simple cooking skills into Kitchen Diva skills. well this challenge will definitely kick me up a notch if not a couple ;-)

So here is my go at their decadent dessert (this is not for the faint of heart! lol)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Goodnight sleep tight and don't let the steam whistle wake you !!!

So my 1st baby is now two years old! wow time has gone by!
anyways for his birthday his grandparents sent him a play tent...nooo not any play tent...but a THOMAS THE TRAIN PLAY TENT!!!!! (my DS loves Thomas the train!) the play tent was a great gift and he loved it for a full 1 min until he decided it was no fun anymore..and I didn't really blame him,the train tent would collapse (it's one of those foldaway tents) every time my son would crawl in leaving him to push the tent off him and struggle to get out. I sighed and decided to just put it in the corner of his room where all the other banned toys had been put...oh well sorry Thomas!
but as I was placing it in the corner I glanced at my sons bed...hmmm an idea shot to my head!
"Bust my buffers" and "flatten my funnel!" I cried (lol) this is wonderful and it just might work...

One happy train rider!
See the smiling little boy!
 I worked beautifully!!!! the train tent fit perfectly around the mattress (the tent has a connecting ribbon on the bottom connecting the two long sides together, so I slid the mattress over it and it held the train in place)
My son LOVES it and it doesn't budge, he goes to bed happily singing choo-choo!
And I am now a very useful engine...I mean mommy lol!

You can find this lovely tent by clicking here (though I wouldn't bother buying it unless you were going to stabilize it like I did...)

Coconut and lime

Well I guess blogger decided they didn't like my coconut and lime post so they conveniently deleted it (not really they just had some maintenance done and my last blog was deleted :-(...) not what I call fun!
So as I said earlier in my other (deleted) post I am going through a coconut and lime craze this past week! and have been making so many delicious dishes; coconut-lime curry, coconut-lime desserts including these little gems...

Coconut/Malibu rum macaron with white chocolate/lime ganache
These were absolutely delish and I thought even though I fudged a little on the whipping part they turned out OK. the recipe said to use unsweetened shredded coconut, I only had the sweetened kind so used that instead and it turned out fine! The coconut on top of the macaroons toasted lightly during cooking time and where beautiful!
I used the same recipe than my last try at macaroons by Martha Stewart, I followed the tip on how to make coconut macaroons all except for the filling click here to view the original recipe.
And I used an easy white chocolate ganache recipe and just added 1Tbsp lime zest click here to see the ganache recipe (it's the video version)

Hope you enjoy! I did!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What better way to say I love you than cookies in a jar!

To my mother and my friend, I now understand most of the fustrations that came with kids lol and don't blame you at all in fact I will say this : You were right mom ;-) the two words moms love to hear lol
Today is another day God has granted me with my kids and that is a celebration and the best gift of all! so happy mothers day everyday because God saw it fit to grant me another day with these unbelievably precious, rambunctious, goofy, loving, insane and cute little individuals that somehow resemble me lol
so I hope your mothers day is an amazing one and I hope it never ends!

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away. ~Dinah Craik

Mothers day gifts-cookies in a jar
I think these are a great idea and I have been wanting to try these for I did ;-)
Searching for a good recipe (and there are tons) I found this little gem from nestle (click link below)

These little treats in a jar came out really good!

I used quart mason jars-regular mouth (since they were out of wide mouth ones)

I put the recipe on the top of the jar and the lid helps keep it in place

Tada! the cookies turned out beautiful (thanks to my silpat)
mmmm don't lick the screen lol

I found the cutest cute polka dot tags click here to open it ;-)
I used the nestle cookies in a jar recipe just click here to view.
The recipe circles I just printed up in word you can print them here or make your own 

Follow the recipe as is and it will turn out great! enjoy and Happy mothers day!!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Velouté d'Asperges Vertes avec Rambol / Cream of Apsparagus soup with garlic/herb cream cheese

So today I had to use up some asparagus and since DH doesn't come home for lunch and I didn't have much in the fridge and no interest in making a huge meal. I decided to make creme of asparagus soup with the lovely bunch of green stalks lol
so here is the recipe I followed it was delicious!
PS: A good friend of mine taught me how to make homemade croutons and hers blew me away now I can't  buy store bought ones anymore lol
It really does taste a whole lot better with homemade croutons (they really are very easy just pop them in the oven while you are making the soup and voila!)

Starting of course with Asparagus
  • 1 pounds green asparagus
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
  • 1 large spoonful garlic/herb spreadable cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Cut stalks and into 1/2-inch pieces.
Cook onion in 1 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add asparagus pieces and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring, 5 minutes. 

Add 3 cups broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids), and return to pan. Stir in crème fraîche, then add more broth to thin soup to desired consistency. 
Season with salt and pepper. Bring soup to a boil and whisk in remaining tablespoon butter and one big heaping spoonful of the garlic/herb spreadable cheese. mix well until cheese is melted.
Add lemon juice and garnish with croutons.

note: Soup keeps, covered and chilled, 2 days. If making ahead, add last tablespoon butter and lemon juice after reheating.
I added a big spoonful of garlic and herb whipped cream cheese to the soup mmmm
Croutons are the easiest thing ever to make! and I always have left over bread somewhere.
  • 2 slices of older bread
  • 4Tbsp Olive oil (I usually use equal parts of olive oil and butter) 
  • Parsley (or you can mix and match whatever spices you want to go with the meal you are making; Italian spices, garlic salt, ...)
Heat oven to 350 degrees

If you are using both butter and olive oil , melt the butter in the microwave (30sec on high should do it)
mix in with the olive oil.
Mix the spices in with the olive oil, brush the two slices of bread with the olive oil/spice mix till bread is saturated. cut the slices carefully into small squares and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
place in oven and bake until golden brown, turning once half way.

Serve your soup and place croutons in the middle of the bowl...serve immediately.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Raspberry Parisian Macaroons

    So finally I dared to try the famously dreaded french macaroons! They turned out lovely and I am so glad I tried them, they are a little fussy but only if you skim through the directions and don't take the time to prepare all you need ahead of time. I suffer from extreme impatience when I cook, I have the final product in my head and I want to get to that perfection as quick as I can thus rushing and ending up with a less then perfect product. This time I was determined to do it right.
    BTW in the recipe it calls for room temperature egg whites...a lot of people are very wary about this since they believe eggs are to be kept in the fridge.
    In Belgium where I grew up the eggs were often kept on the kitchen counter and very rarely in the fridge so I can safely say that leaving your eggs on the counter for a day won't hurt them a bit!
    If you still feel insecure about it you can test your eggs by gently submerging them in water.
    • Fresh eggs will sink to the bottom of the bowl and probably lie on their sides.
    • Slightly older eggs (about one week) will lie on the bottom but bob slightly.
    • If the egg balances on its smallest tip, with the large tip reaching for the top, it's probably close to three weeks old.
    • Eggs that float at the surface are bad and should not be consumed.
     That said here are the pics and instructions on making these beautiful and scrumptious cookies! have fun...
    There are endless varieties on these delectable desserts. Just add flavoring to the basic batter and voila instant success! Try chocolate, coconut, peanut, pistachio, raspberry, and vanilla bean and I even found a recipe for chai-vanilla bean (pretty psyched about that one)

    I used Martha Stewart's recipe click here to view it.


    • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
    • 3/4 cup almond flour
    • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
    • Pinch of cream of tartar
    • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
    • 3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam, for filling
    First you need to seperate the eggs and let them get to room temperature (I separate them the night before, cover them with saran wrap and put them in the refrigerator until ready to use then I make sure I plan ahead and have them on the counter the morning I decide to make them)

    Make sure you get all your equipment ready to go, so you're not rushing trying to find things the last definitely don't want to stress anymore than you need to with these little desserts ;-)

    I didn't want to pay the $30 to buy already ground almond flour, instead I paid $4.49 for a bag of slivered almonds (without their skins!!!) and blended them to make my own flour. One bag let me make two batches of these lovely cookies so well worth it in my opinion!
    If you opt (like me) to make your own almond flour just follow these simple directions:
    (if not skip to directions)
    Blending the almonds into flour

    Almond Flour
    • Place max. 2 cups at a time in the blender (anymore would make the almonds turn to almond butter instead of flour)
    • Blend the almonds for 20 sec or until it resembles a flour like texture (again longer than this would turn the almonds into almond butter)
    • Sift the almond flour twice before using
    The almond flour after sifting
    The left bowl in the picture picture should resemble your almond flour mixture and the almonds on the right are the courser almonds after sifting.Don't throw the coarser almonds away, I save them and use them for almond crusted tilapia or chicken or whatever else you use them for ;-)

    The almond/sugar mixture being sifted
    Almond flour and confectioners sugar

    •  Next step we are going to pulse the confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined.Sift mixture 2 times.
    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees ( I used my convection oven so heated the oven to 325 degrees).    Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny
    Stiff peaks
    I'm sorry there aren't more good pictures my camera decided to "die" so had to charge the batteries and use my phone camera.
    • Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets (or if you have a silpat use that it's amazing with macaroons), dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. 
    • Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.(I let them stand for 45min)
    • Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees (again since I was using the convection oven I reduced mine to 280 degrees). Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macaroons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees (or in my case 325 degrees), heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees (or 280 degrees for convection ovens).
    Not quite even but it worked out..ready to put in the oven...
    I used organic raspberry jam with seeds
    • Let macaroons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. (If macaroons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macaroons.)
    • Sandwich 2 same-size macaroons with 1 teaspoon jam. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months
    The finished product!
    The perfect texture and mmmm so good!


    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Délicieux Petit-déjeuner/ Delicious Breakfast

    Eggs and I have a love-hate relationship! some mornings I wake up wanting eggs and the next I can't even think about them. when I do feel like eating eggs I enjoy them immensely but only a certain way. My DH knows what I'm talking about, he usually rolls his eyes when I ask him to make "the usual", this "usual" consist of lots of patience and timing because I like my eggs slightly done but not too done lol so poor DH has to time it perfectly so the yolk is still soft but not too soft and definitely not hard.

    J'adore la cuisine française!

     Since Paris I had a great appreciation for all French cooking. J'adore la cuisine française! and have always wanted to follow in their immaculate art and style of cooking, of course to the horror of my family who were very often used as guinea pigs in the process (but thank you for all the times you endured it...even when it included banana lol).Life has moved on and family and kids have taken the place of this dream of becoming the next best french chef...(hardly a realistic dream lol).