Making Macarons for Valentine's Day

Last Valentine's Day I wrote about my indifference towards the holiday while loving heart-shaped everything. Here I go being an even bigger hypocrite because I was excited this year! Last year marked the start of a new tradition when Andrew and I made those seriously delicious Jacques Torres chocolate truffles, and this year we decided to take on the super daunting task of making macarons. Dun Dun Dun!

Making Valentine's Day Macarons Salted Caramel Drip

Completely out of fear, I only searched using phrases like "easiest macaron recipe ever made—EVER" until I found one that fit the bill. Ann Reardon's Salted Caramel Macaron Recipe doesn't require aged eggs, rest time, or even caster sugar, so I didn't bother with any traditional French recipes as I was already entirely too stressed about feet! And skirts! And cracks!

Ingredients for Making Valentine's Day Salted Caramel MacaronsSifting Flour for Valentine's Day Salted Caramel Macarons
Whipped Egg Whites for Salted Caramel Macarons

The meringue whipped up so easily, and beautifully, we almost forgot to add in our color. Without any food coloring, we improvised and added a small amount of cocoa powder. "What if the ratios are all off now? What if we over/underfold it?" repeated in the back of my mind continuously, though I probably whispered it in horror a few times to be honest. Then came the worry over not owning an oven thermometer... They're all going to burrrn.

Shells for Valentine's Day Salted Caramel Macarons

But they didn't! We'd nailed it! Sort of. I'm not even going to pretend I completely understand the food science going on here, working with a piping bag was hard enough, but I know we should have rapped the baking sheets on our counter just a little more to release more air. We lucked out with maybe 10 perfect circles, 40-ish ovals, and a few blobs, mostly free of cracks.

Dulce de leche for Valentine's Day Salted Caramel Macarons

Earlier in the day I made dulce de leche to use as filling: as-is and in a buttercream. After everything was out of the oven and cooling, I combined all but a few tablespoons of the dulce de leche, a hefty pinch of salt, and half a cup of butter to make the salted caramel buttercream, which I layered over a bit of dulce de leche. Unreal. My dulce de leche was still a bit too warm and runny when assembling—messy, but absolutely incredible. Ultimately I switched over to just buttercream.

Piping buttercream for Valentine's Day Salted Caramel Macarons

Too eager to wait, we inhaled about ten bare shells while the next set were in the oven baking, then another ten assembled cookies afterward. By the next morning we were practically eating them by the handful. We brought some to Andrew's parents' house Sunday night and even they gobbled them up immediately. They're that good.

Valentine's Day Salted Caramel Macarons

Using the 3.5 cm template from Pure Gourmandise definitely helped as we pipped our shells. Getting them perfect is going to take a lot more practice but we will willingly labor through it! Speaking of which, I had a ton of buttercream left over so we made another thirty macarons last night! Dare I say they're even better‽


Get the Look Beyoncé wore to the FLOTUS' Birthday

I interrupt my regularly scheduled Beyoncé Get the Look post to bring this special Beyoncé Get the Look post in time for Valentine's Day! I was asked to recreate the amazing glittery eye Beyoncé wore to the FLOTUS' 50th birthday party last month and I wanted to save it for a ~special occasion~ because it's such a stunning look.

Beyonce Glittery FLOTUS Birthday Makeup Tutorial
Beyonce Glittery FLOTUS Birthday Makeup Tutorial
Beyonce Glittery FLOTUS Birthday Makeup Tutorial eye open Beyonce Glittery FLOTUS Birthday Makeup Tutorial eye closed

Charlotte Tilbury tweeted one of her gorgeous quads was used to achieve Beyoncé's look so I immediately set out looking for similar colors in my collection. My version leans a little pink but the general idea is the same! On my (chapped) lips I'm wearing Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Pink in the Afternoon (good lookin' out, winter).

A friend of mine also suggested using L'Oréal Infallible Eyeshadows which totally could work by layering Smoldering Plum/Bottomless Java, Amber Rush, and Eternal Sunshine. I don't own all of those shades but I'm pretty sure you'd get a similar look.

Products Used:
e.l.f. Eyelid Primer
Black Opal Color Splurge Eyeshadow Duo in Brazen Flame
ULTA Eyeshadow in Chianti
EMANI Crushed Minerals Color Dust in Cran-Me-In and Peach Attitude
Sonia Kashuk Eye Shadow Quad in Bronzed Beauty
Wet n Wild Color Icon Eyeliner Pencil in Bronze
benefit They're Real! Mascara
e.l.f. Eyebrow Kit in Medium

Beyonce Glittery FLOTUS Birthday Makeup Tutorial Products Used

Beyonce Glittery FLOTUS Birthday Makeup Tutorial

Step 1: Apply burgundy (Chianti) over eyelid and outer crease with a fluffy brush.
Step 2: Soften edge with nude (SK Quad Nude) and blend upward to brow bone.
Step 3: Pat cranberry (Cran-Me-In) onto inner & outer eyelid with eyeshadow brush.
Step 4: Pat rose gold (Peach Attitude) onto center of eyelid with eyeshadow brush.
Step 5: Pat gold glitter (SK Quad Glitter) onto center of rose gold with finger.
Step 6: Apply burnt copper (Black Opal Duo) to crease and blend with crease brush.
Step 7: Apply rose gold (Peach Attitude) as highlight to tear duct.
Step 8: Line lower lash line with brown eyeliner, set with brown (SK Quad Brown).
Step 9: Line upper lash line with brown (SK Quad Brown) using liner brush.
Step 10: Line waterline with brown (Bronze) waterproof eyeliner.

I'm aware that this look would have been 1000% better had I worn falsies. My new goal for 2014 is to enroll in False Eyelash Academy and get my masters in False Lash Application Sciences.


Cheesy Polenta with Sautéed Mushrooms

Polenta is relatively new to me in that I always assumed cream of wheat, grits and basically any kind of stone-ground meal were the same. Isn't it all porridge? I guess the actual differences lay in where the wheat or corn is from and where it's being served. Whatever the case, I'm calling this polenta!

Ingredients for Cheesy Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms Recipe

I love the heartiness mushrooms can give any dish, and it seems mushrooms and polenta go together like, well, mushrooms and polenta. The mushroom selection at my grocery store was limited so I picked up shiitake and a medley of button and oyster (which I can barely look at because they gross me out so much visually). Any kind will do, so choose mushrooms at your own discretion!

Usually I don't fuss over fresh herbs when cooking but I'll say this polenta was all the better for it. If you're like me and can never use your basil (or anything) before it browns, try grabbing those single serving $1 containers if your store has them.

Ingredients for Cheesy Polenta Recipe
Poaching Egg floating in hot water

I poached eggs during the polenta's 10-minute cooking/stirring intervals. Dedicating 4 minutes per egg and allowing them to cool until everything was ready to be served.

I had never properly poached an egg before this! I was always too afraid and relished in the safety of my poaching pods. It was so awesome to watch the egg dance in the swirling vinegar water à la Smitten Kitchen's instructions.

Cheesy Polenta with Sautéed Mushrooms Recipe

This isn't at all difficult to make, or too time-consuming for that matter. It's also kind of perfect for any meal. It can be a hearty brunch, a savory dinner, and leftovers warm up nicely the next day thanks to all the cream and cheese. It's so delicious!

Sautéed Mushrooms
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 shallot, chopped
16 oz mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
6 oz white wine
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Over medium-high heat, cook rosemary in olive oil for 2 minutes. Remove rosemary and discard, add shallots. Cook shallots until translucent. Add mushrooms and sauté for 8 minutes. Stir in white wine, bring to a simmer for 6 minutes. Stir in red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cheesy Polenta
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
32 oz stock (or water)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
8 oz corn grits/polenta
1/2 pint heavy cream
1 cup shredded Fontina
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced chives
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Over medium-high heat, sauté onions in olive oil in a saucepan for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in stock and bring to a boil, add oregano and basil. Pour in polenta while whisking. Turn down heat to low and continue whisking until polenta thickens. Cover polenta and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Stir in heavy cream, cheeses, and butter and mix until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with mushrooms and chives.

Cheesy Polenta with Sautéed Mushrooms Recipe

Serving the cheesy polenta with sautéed mushrooms topped with poached eggs was a GREAT decision. The last time I made this dish I served it with fish, so I wanted there to be a little something more to it and gooey yolks are great on everything! Even under piles of more cheese.