southern inspiration: biscuits & mac

Last week, I celebrated my friend’s bachelorette party in my favorite city: Nashville, TN! From spending a night at Tootsies to doing yoga with goats and sipping on the sommelier’s best recommendations at Belle Meade Winery, I was able to visit so many new places in Music City on this trip. Nashville has so much to offer, and it truly never disappoints! Check out my travel guide for Nashville if you want to read about some of my favorite experiences so far!

One of the best parts about Nashville is the amazing food you can find anywhere you go in the city! I have been craving some southern comfort foods ever since I got back, so I decided to share my favorite recipes for homemade biscuits and mac & cheese! Hopefully these recipes help you feel like you are chowing down in the south!

Buttery Biscuits
• 3 cups of all-purpose flour
• 4 tsp of baking powder
• 3 tbsp of sugar
• 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
• 1/2 tsp of salt
• 3/4 cup of butter, cold, plus additional butter to melt
• 1 cup of whole milk
• 1 egg

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Prepare the cold butter by cutting it into small squares so that it is easier to work into the biscuit dough. Keep the butter in the fridge until it is needed.

Combine all dry ingredients into a large bowl. Then, incorporate the cut butter into the dough. Small pieces of butter should show through the mixture.

Add in the milk and the egg, and mix it together to combine. The dough will have a sticky feel, and the butter pieces should still be visible.

Flour a surface where you can roll out the dough. Sprinkle additional flour on the dough and knead it — add more flour to reduce stickiness if necessary.

Roll the dough until it is about 1 inch thick to cut into round pieces. If you do not have a biscuit cutter, you can use the rim of a glass (it makes a perfect circle every time!).

Once the biscuits are cut, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Melt down butter and brush the tops of the biscuits before putting them into the oven.

Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. For an extra buttery taste, cut the biscuits open before they cool and place a small square of butter inside to melt before serving!

Mac & Cheese

• 1 box of large elbow macaroni
• 1/4 stick of butter, melted
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 2 1/2 tbsp of flour
• 2 cups of milk
• 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
• 1/4 tsp of dry mustard
• 4 cups (or 1 bag) of Sargento 4 Cheese Mexican blend
• Breadcrumbs (Panko or Plain!)
• Salt and pepper, for taste

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Boil a pot of water and cook one box of shell pasta. Once the pasta has been cooked and drained, sauté the onion over medium heat.

In a large bowl, add the pasta, melted butter, onion and flour. Then, pour in the milk slowly.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and pepper.

Mix all ingredients, and add in the shredded cheese. Transfer the mix to a pan for baking and top with breadcrumbs.

Cook for 30 minutes, covered. Once done, sprinkle some extra breadcrumbs on top. Serve and enjoy!

red, white & baking for the 4th

Bring on the parades, parties and fireworks! Tomorrow is the 4th of July, and I am so excited to spend the day with family and friends, honoring this country, our freedom and those who have fought so hard to protect America and its people.

My family has been hosting a party on the 4th of July for as long as I can remember, and it is definitely one of my favorite family traditions. The celebrations kick off tonight with a sleepover at my parents’ house before walking up the block to my town’s parade the next morning. After the parade, we switch into complete party-mode! From making sure the flag is waving proudly to constructing a menu of foods that everyone can enjoy, it truly takes a village! With a full night and day planned, the easier the menu items are to make, the better!

One of my favorite desserts to make for parties is a trifle dish — and no, I am not talking about Rachel’s English Trifle; I am talking about my Stars, Stripes & Trifles dish! It only requires six ingredients, a trifle dish and a knack for stacking! Read on for how you can make this dish to bring to your own 4th of July BBQ!
Note: I used a small trifle when constructing this dish. 1 cake mix will be good for a large trifle, but you may need to double the rest of the ingredients!


Stars, Stripes & Trifles

Ingredients
• Yellow Cake Mix
• Vanilla Pudding
• Cool Whip
• Fresh Strawberries (large container)
• Fresh Blueberries (large container)
• Jar of Cherries (1 large)

Directions

Bake the yellow cake mix according to package instructions; let it cool completely before assembling dish.

Once cake has cooled, cut into small pieces. Layer the cake, covering the entire bottom of the dish.


Spoon in vanilla pudding on top of the cake, completely covering it.

Cut strawberries into quarter inch pieces and layer to cover the pudding layer. I double-stacked strawberries here!


Add a layer of cool whip to cover the strawberries.

Layer blueberries on top of the cool whip layer.

Repeat the layering process until almost at the top of the trifle dish — cake, vanilla pudding, strawberries, cool whip, blueberries. Keep in mind that the point of the dish is to showcase the red, white and blue stripes layered throughout, so try not to put too much pressure on each layer as you are adding on, otherwise the layers will merge together.

Once the dish is almost filled to the top, cover the final layer with cool whip.
Note: Try to use cake or strawberries as the final layer, as blueberries will be used on the top of the dish.

Use the jar of cherries to decorate the rim of the trifle. Be sure to dry the cherries before placing them on the cool whip layer to avoid the juices dripping down the dish.

Once the cherries cover the entire outer rim, fill in with blueberries.

Keep the dish refrigerated until ready to serve.


God Bless the USA — and trifle dishes! I hope you enjoy this patriotic twist on dessert! Happy 4th of July everyone!

simply local: french baking

IMG_8061It was a quiet Saturday morning in Sur La Table, except for the whirring of a food processor and the clanking of the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer as dozens of macarons were being prepared in the kitchen.

Connor and I signed up for our first baking class together, and we had such a great experience. We were lucky to be two of five members of the early morning Valentine’s Day-themed macaron-making class. Our chef for the day welcomed us and showed us a demonstration of exactly how to prepare our macarons, and then we were on our own to re-create the recipe.

The instruction was informational and thorough, and our chef was standing by in case we had any questions. We learned the proper way and order in which to mix our ingredients to create our macaron shells, how to properly pipe the macarons and how to make our own fillings — champagne buttercream and chocolate ganache with strawberry jam!

IMG_8062The macarons were absolutely delicious, and it was such a fun date for Connor and I! We loved trying something new together, and we are excited to try making them again on our own!

If you are interested in making your own macarons, combine these five simple ingredients to make 35 sandwich cookies, and fill them with your favorite type of filling!

  • 4 oz of almond flour
  • 7 oz of confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 oz of egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar
  • 3 1/2 oz of granulated sugar

Preheat your oven to 300º.

Combine the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar until blended (either in a food processor or mixed in a large bowl). Sift the mixture and separate it into thirds.

Using a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, pour in your egg whites and add the cream of tartar directly in the middle to start making your meringue. On a medium speed, start to slowly add in your granulated sugar. Continue to whip until you reach a stiff peak. Note: If you are going to add food coloring into your mixture for your macarons, add it in between medium and stiff peak of the meringue.

Then, take a third of the flour mixture and fold it into the meringue mixture. Once it has been combined, pour in the rest of the flour mixture and continue to fold it into the meringue. Combine until it is glossy and the batter reaches the consistency of a brownie batter.

Pour your mixture into piping bags and pipe with a plain, round tip onto your baking sheet. These cookies should be about the size of the bottom of a shot glass. Be sure to keep your piping bag straight up, at 90º.

Let the macarons sit out for about 30 minutes or so, until a firm skin forms on them. To make sure they are ready to be baked, lightly graze the tops with your fingers. If there are no dents, they are ready!

Bake for about 16 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let sit and cool before removing from the pan and adding filling.

Happy baking!