WALNUT MACARONS WITH LIMONCELLO BUTTERCREAM

Don't these look good? They are almost too pretty to eat...I said almost! With Easter ahead of us, these spring like coloured macarons would be perfect to serve to guests, after you've all had your big Easter dinner. Now with the addition of limoncello this would obviously be a very "grown up" treat and definitely not for the kiddies. The lemon liquor would give this cookie a nice tart kick, and the creaminess of the actual buttercream part would I think help mellow the kick from the alcohol. I will have to give these a try myself sometime soon.

Just to note here: this recipe is brought to you by California Walnuts

Recipe and photo from California Walnuts. Permission was granted prior to posting.

*Disclaimer: the recommendation to use California walnuts is strictly from California walnuts and from the creator of this recipe. Food Tastes Yummy does not fully endorse products.*


Makes 25 Sandwich Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F

Baking time: 12-15 minutes per batch

Macaron Ingredients:
  • 1 cup icing sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup California walnut crumbs
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature

Limoncello Buttercream Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 3–4 tbsp limoncello
  • 1 lemon, zest only

Walnut Macarons:

Preheat oven to 375°F

In a food processor, add 3/4 cup of icing sugar and walnut crumbs and pulse. Set aside.

With a stand mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites until foamy. Reduce speed to low while adding remaining icing sugar (1/4 cup), then increase the speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form (approximately 8 minutes).

Sift walnut mixture over egg whites, and gently fold until the mixture is smooth and shiny. If desired, for a variation of colours, divide macarons batter into three bowls and fold in 1 to 2 drops of food colouring into each bowl before piping and baking.

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch (1 cm) plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch (2 cm) rounds 1-inch (2.5 cm) apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. To flatten any peaks, dip your finger in water and gently press down on the macarons.

Tap the bottom of each baking sheet to release any trapped air bubbles in the macarons. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking.

Place 1 baking sheet in the oven at a time and turn oven down to 325 F. Bake for 12-15 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 F, for 5 minutes then reduce back to 325 F for the next batch. Continue until all macarons are baked. Let cool before removing from parchment.

Limoncello Buttercream:

For the buttercream, combine butter, sugar, limoncello and lemon zest in a stand mixer and whip on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.

Sandwich two similar sized macarons with 1 tsp (5 mL) of filling.

Serve immediately or stack the macarons between layers of parchment in an airtight container and freeze for up to three months.
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THE BETTER BUTTER CHICKEN

If there is one Indian dish that most people have heard of, it's butter chicken! It just has the right combination of spices, the sauce is succulent and smooth (because of the butter of course!), and it just melts in your mouth. The chicken is cooked until fork tender, and pair it with fragrant basmati rice and you have a match made in heaven! It is undoubtedly one of my favourite Indian dishes, but like most dishes I make, I can't get myself to use a ridiculous amount of butter. At least if I make it, I can't do it! That's why I leave the chefs to do their work at the back of the restaurant and I eat unknowingly. Not wise I know, but sometimes I indulge! (one of my guilty pleasures I have to admit!). So I found this lighter and healthier version of this famous dish, with all the bells and whistles I love about it. It was a big hit at my household, and I'll definitely be making this again sometime soon! I highly recommend it folks! Give this a try tonight!

Adapted from "The Better Butter Chicken" recipe, from The Looneyspoons Collection. By: Janet and Greta Podleski. (Copyright 2012).

Serves 5

Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1-1/2 cups onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp gingerroot, grated
  • 1-1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp each: ground coriander, ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp each: ground cinnamon, ground cumin
  • 1 can (28 oz.) no-salt added diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1-1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp each: salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole cooked rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat cut up 
  • 1/3 cup light (5%) sour cream
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
  • Hot cooked basmati rice (to serve) OR eat with naan bread

1. Melt butter in a deep large skillet, over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are tender. This should take a good 4-5 minutes.

2. Add in the gingerroot, chili powder, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add in the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for a good 10 minutes. Making sure to stir occassionally.

3. Add cut-up chicken and the light sour cream. Simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped cilantro. Serve over the cooked hot basmati rice and seriously enjoy!!

Cook's Tip: If you don't have rotisserie chicken, don't fret! Use 3 lean cooked chicken breasts, cut up into cubes and add them in!




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PUMPKIN SPICE MUFFINS WITH CHOCOLATE CHIPS & WALNUTS

Looks beautiful on this simple white plate, doesn't it? I just love anything muffin, but I especially like muffins when they're more on the guilt-free side. It makes me feel like I'm doing my body a favour, instead of packing it with more non-sense carb calories! I had bookmarked this recipe about a month ago, and just had it in my "I will eventually get to it" pile of recipes. What appealed to me was the use of pure pumpkin, whole wheat flour, grated carrots and of course chocolate chips (no duh there!). Pumpkin is of course loaded with beta-carotene, which helps the body protect itself from harmful cancers and diseases (thanks wikipedia!). I figured this would be a great way of getting my little girl and of course my whole family eating more nutrient packed foods like pumpkin. Hey, with kids anything "muffin" or "bread-form" will get them eating I think. Of course, for my little girl I omitted the nuts but if it were just me I stick in the walnuts. After I baked these babies up, I gobbled them up...really fast! These do not taste like they're good for you. I highly recommend giving these a try and giving all of the fussy eaters in your life a try of these too. Gobble these up folks!

Adapted from the "Pumpkin and Spice and Everything Nice" recipe, from The Looneyspoons Collection cookbook. By: Janet and Greta Podleski. (Copyright 2012).

Makes 12 muffins (if baking in muffin pan)
Makes 16 muffins (if baking in 9" square baking pan)

Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees F.

Baking time:
20-22 minutes (for a muffin pan)
45-50 minutes (for a 9" square baking pan)

Ingredients:
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran or whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup or liquid honey
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted or extra virgin olive oil (I used this)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup carrots, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (can use pecans)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly spray or line with papercups/parchment paper, a 12-cup muffin pan or a 9" square baking pan. Set aside for now.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, wheat bran/whole wheat flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, yogurt, maple syrup, butter or olive oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the grated carrots. Add in the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir using a wooden spoon until just moist. Fold in the mini chocolate chips and walnuts. The batter will be a bit thick.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the 12-muffin cups or pour all of the batter into the square baking pan. Place it into the oven and bake it for 20-22 minutes for the muffin pan OR 45-50 minutes for the square baking pan. Insert a toothpick into the center of the baked muffin, and if it comes out clean then it's done! Cool completely, and slice if necessary. Enjoy!

Cook's Tip: Since this muffin has the addition of fresh vegetables, I find that these types of muffins spoil quickly. So keep these in an airtight container for no more than 2-3 days. Eat them fast!




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Now I know what you're thinking FTY readers... Nancy never takes food pictures along side cookbooks??? (ok maybe that didn't warrant three whole question marks butttt). You know, this time I thought this recipe needed to be taken along side a really great cookbook that caters to kids tastebuds. As a mom of a little toddler, I can tell you first hand that most kids need to develop their tastebuds slowly. Let's face it, eating is an art, it takes time to try different types of foods and it equally takes time to appreciate things that you put into your mouth. I found this book, Top 100 Finger Foods by: Annabel Karmel to be a great inspiration for me. She put simple and tasty recipes into the book that can cater to the kid in all of us. Here is a simple tomato sauce from the book, that she says could be used as a dipper for her arancini recipe or used as a topper for pizzas. I like to simply serve it with small ditali pastas, that are really great for little mouths. I will say here, if you're a new parent and don't know what to make for your kids - go buy this book! This has great ideas for party eats too. Enjoy!

Adapted from the "Quick Tomato Sauce" recipe in the Top 100 Finger Foods cookbook. By: Annabel Karmel. (Copyright 2009).

Serves 3-4 (child portions)

Ingredients:
  • small pkg of ditali pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 (14-oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • salt and pepper, to season

1. Put on a large pot of boiling water and add in a little salt to season the pasta itself. Follow the package instructions and cook the pasta to desired doneness; drain and leave aside for now. If serving the pasta to a little toddler I suggest cooking the pasta past al dente. Those little teeth cannot crunch those pasta pieces too easily.

2. In a large shallow skillet, heat the oil on medium high heat. Add in the diced shallots and garlic, and saute for about 2 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly.

3. Add in the remaining ingredients and bring it all to a boil. Squash the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Keep the sauce at the same temp for a good 15 minutes, making sure to stir frequently. The sauce should eventually come together and have a thick consistency.

4. Add the cooked pasta into the sauce and cook the pasta with sauce on medium heat. Once the pasta has heated through, turn the heat off and serve warm. Make sure to cool the pasta a bit longer for the little ones!




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EASY WHOLEWHEAT LEMON BLUEBERRY LOAF

If you're looking for a quick bread recipe that is easy, healthy, and yummy (since we are food tastes yummy after all! hehe) then just by clicking on this post, I believe you have found what you were looking for! This is yet another recipe from one of my new cookbooks The Looneyspoons Collection by: Janet and Greta Podleski. To be honest here, I was a bit skeptical as to the taste of this loaf; since 1) there was no picture and 2) I wasn't sure how the lemon zest, berries and whole wheat flour would mix together. I knew that it would turn out, but I didn't think it would be "sweet" enough for my taste. But being the avid cook that I am, I didn't say "NO!" I just kept on and on until my baking quest was finished! Ok I realize that I am being a little dramatic but long story short, I baked and I ate. Anddd you know what readers? Me liked! Then hubby liked! My parents liked! Andd the big test of all, my little girl, who knows what she likes and doesn't likes...she loved it! So there you have it folks! It is a sure healthy winner in my family, hope it is in yours too :) Happy Snacking!

Adapted from the "Berry Maniloaf" recipe, from The Looneyspoons Collection cookbook. By: Janet and Greta Podleski (Copyright 2012)

Makes 1 (9 x 5-inch) loaf

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Baking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup lemon-flavoured yogurt (see note)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp lemon zest, grated
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (or can substitute: raspberries)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray with cooking spray or line with parchment in a 9 x 5-inch loaf baking pan and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine both flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside for now.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, eggs, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture, and stir just until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Gently fold in the blueberries.

4. Pour the loaf batter into the prepared pan and place it into the oven to bake for 50 minutes. You will know when the loaf has finished baking, when you stick in a toothpick into the centre of the loaf and it comes out clean. Cool the loaf in the pan for a good 10 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and let it cool completely, then start slicing. Enjoy it with a cold glass of milk or a warm cup of tea!

Cook's Notes: According to the authors, they say that if you cannot find lemon yogurt, then you could simply substitute it for vanilla yogurt. Then add in 2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and increase the lemon zest from 1 to 2 tsps.




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BREADED HERBED SALMON BAKE

Ah, salmon! You're a fish that I always have on hand in the freezer. It's honestly my go-to fish of choice for my family at dinner time. I don't think I have to remind all of you FTY readers about the nutritional benefits of eating this fish; rather I think I'll talk about how good this recipe is... Whenever I cook with fish one of my favourite ways of cooking it; is baking it! Simply put, the fish stays both moist (as long as you don't overcook it of course), and keeps its shape; which always looks fantastic when you're serving it. This baked salmon has a crunchy breadcrumb topping with thyme, paprika, dried oregano, and lemon zest, but what makes this salmon a bit zingy too is the yellow mustard that I use to glue the breadcrumb mixture to the salmon. Mustard and salmon after all are a match made in Heaven, if I do say so myself. Serve this baby up with some nice roasted veggies, like asparagus and sweet potato and dinner is served!

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Baking time: 18-25 minutes (depending on size of salmon fillet)

Ingredients:
  • 4 small salmon fillets
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced thin

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with a sheet of aluminum foil. Then take the salmon fillets and place them right on the prepared baking sheet; making sure to space them apart for even cooking. Set aside for now.

2. Take a small mixing bowl, and assemble the crumb mixture: add in the breadcrumbs, grated garlic, paprika, thyme leaves, lemon zest, dried oregano and a drizzle of olive oil. Using your clean fingers, mix the crumb mixture gently to distribute the ingredients. You want the breadcrumbs to be coated with the oil so they can crisp up while cooking.

3. Take the yellow mustard and dollop 1 tsp each on top of each salmon fillet. Using a small teaspoon, spread the mustard evenly onto fish. Then take 1-2 slices of tomatoes and place them right on top. Spoon the crumb mixture evenly right on top of each fish fillet. Don't be shy sprinkle it all on and pack it in gently.

4. Place it into the oven to bake at 425 F and let it bake until cooked through, but not overcooked. This should take around 20 minutes. If the fish flakes using a fork it's done! Serve it along side veggies and a baked potato and eat!




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"GOOD FOR YOU" CHICKEN CHILI

Now I know that it is now spring folks, and I am the first one to say that this recipe is a taddd late on the blog, but I still think this is worthy of posting! I first made this recipe a couple months ago, during one of those cold wintery months. I experimented with this recipe particularly because my hubby said that he rather not have chili with ground meat in it. Surprisingly, I actually know quite a few people that are not huge on little ground meat pieces floating in some soupy mess. I wanted to make chili at least once this winter so I experimented with this new recipe that I was tinkering with. I decided to add little pieces of lean chicken breast meat (I guess no surprise there!). I added all sorts of (not your usual) veggies into this chili and served the hot bowl with no sour cream, but rather pieces of ripe avocado. Turned out to be a delicious and healthy bowl of messy chili. Enjoy folks!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 2 chicken breasts, halved lengthways (3xs), then cut into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp sweet dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger powder
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 small broccoli head, small florets only
  • 1 small can of corn, drained
  • 1 cup chicken stock, or use more as needed
  • 1 (28 oz.) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (14 oz.) red kidney beans, drained (don't need to rinse, optional)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • 2 ripe avocados, sliced thin (to serve)
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese, grated (to serve)

1. Take the 2 chicken breasts and slice them each lengthways, three times. Make sure you hold the chicken breast firm so you don't cut yourself. Cut them into strips, then dice small pieces. Place them into a small bowl and set aside for now.

2. Preheat a large heavy bottom pot, on medium high heat, and drizzle in 1 tbsp of oil. Add in the diced onion, garlic, salt, pepper, chili flakes, and sugar. Saute the onion mixture for 2 minutes, then start to add the spices and herb: chili powder, dried basil, and ginger powder. Stir and cook the spices for a minute or so. Turn the heat down to medium.

3. Add in the veggies now: carrot, red bell pepper, zucchini, broccoli florets and corn. Cook for 2 minutes, then deglaze with the chicken stock. Use more stock if you want your chili a bit more liquidy. Add in the canned diced tomatoes, and the red kidney beans at this point. Stir to combine. Cook with the lid on, making sure that there is enough of an opening for the liquid to boil out a bit. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer away for a good 15-20 minutes; you might need longer if you find it still too liquidy for your taste.

4. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add in the chopped parsley and the lime juice. Taste for seasoning, and adjust accordingly. Turn the heat off, and let it cool a bit so your chili eaters won't burn themselves. Serve warm with avocado slices on top, and a good sprinkling of parmesan cheese.




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