Lemon Buttercream Macarons

Happy Tuesday, friends!

I’m writing this from my beautiful balcony, enjoying the sunshine and a persistent summer breeze. It’s 10 a.m on my day off, I have a homemade almond milk latte in hand and a whole day of fun ahead of me. This is bliss, y’all!

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For the longest time I told myself I liked the season of summer the least. I considered it kind of boring and pretty overrated. I mean it was the best as a kid (no school! endless slumber parties! pool days!), but as an adult it just felt sort of blah. Maybe it was because when you live in L.A every season feels like a minor variation of summer. It lost it’s allure. Or maybe I just hadn’t figured out how to summer as a grown-up. Y’all. That has changed.

I have been loooving this season again. Going on runs in the warm sun, laying out by the pool with several good books, grilling almost every day, gardening, scheduling slumber parties and lake house trips and baseball games and concerts at every opportunity. And of course, getting inspired by all the bright summer-y flavors!

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Yaaas, people. Give me all the citrus. I started off the fun with lemon buttercream macarons, the world’s most notoriously finicky cookie, and this was my first batch in two years (linking to that post so we can all laugh at my photo quality and post organization back then…oy). I know what you’re thinking. Does that mean I’m a wizard? Yes. Yes it does.

As far as I can tell, these are the perfect little treat for so many reasons. They’re decadent and light at the same time, so you won’t feel super guilty about enjoying a few. They’re sweet but also tart. They’re fun to bring into work and share with colleagues. They’ll wow at any dinner party. Enjoy one after an average dinner at home and feel a little elevated. I froze these and will be making more flavors over the course of the month so I can gift them to my mama when I see her in July, as a belated mother’s day present (her only request was “nothing matcha”, ha!).

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Lemon Buttercream Macarons

ingredients

1 cup + 1/2 lb powdered sugar

3/4 cup almond flour

2 large egg whites

1/4 cup white granulated sugar

lemon yellow food gel

1/2 cup butter

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

directions

sift 1 cup of powdered sugar and 3/4ths cup almond flour into a large bowl. whisk to combine, then set aside.

add the egg whites to a metal mixing bowl and start whisking on one of the lower settings (I start with a 4 on my Kitchenaid) until the egg whites start to look frothy. add half of the granulated sugar to the egg whites, then increase the speed to a medium (7 for me) until whites start to foam. add the remaining granulated sugar, then increase the speed to high (9 works well) and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.

remove the bowl containing the meringue from the stand mixer. add half of the dry ingredients directly into the bowl containing the meringue, then use a spatula to gently fold meringue around and over until the dry ingredients are well incorporated. add the remaining dry ingredients along with 2-3 drops of food coloring gel, and continue to fold the batter. avoid over-mixing by going slowly. the batter is ready when it falls off the spatula in ribbons, but isn’t runny.

transfer the batter to a piping bag with a large round tip. pipe small, uniform circles onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper by holding the piping bag at a 45 degree angle to sheet. make sure not to overcrowd the sheets.

once finished with piping the batter, take each cookie sheet and carefully but forcefully bang the bottom of each corner on the countertop, to help release air bubbles in the batter! let the cookies sit for 35 minutes. preheat the oven to 305 F while you wait.

bake the cookies on the top shelf of the oven for 15 minutes. remove from the oven but let the cookies cool completely before touching them.

while the cookies cool, make your lemon buttercream by creaming butter in a clean mixing bowl. add the lemon zest to the butter and mix to combine. then add the 1/2 lb of powdered sugar. finally mix in the lemon juice.

transfer buttercream to a new piping bag and pipe frosting on the underside of one cookie. sandwich with another cookie of roughly the same size. repeat over and over again. enjoy!

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Alright. Time to read by the pool, go to a yoga class, and grill myself some Thai chicken satay skewers for lunch. Summer, y’all!

Whole30 Lemon Butter Scallops w/ Garlic Collard Greens

You guyyys!

Whole30 Day 2. Done. BOOM. I’m having my classic Day 2-5 headache on account of all the sugar withdrawal. Feels great! Not. I’m drinking lots of warm lemon water and eating leafty greens for good vitamins and minerals and stuff.

Speaking of lemon and leafy greens!

I made lemon butter scallops with sautéed garlic collard greens. Wait, sorry. That sentence didn’t do it justice. I made soft, pillowy, melt-in-your-mouth, subtly-tart scallops that rest atop a bed of bright, comforting, juicy collard greens. Yes, much better. And today I’m sharing them with you! You. Are. Welcome.

*Disclaimer, obviously since this is a Whole30 recipe I use ghee instead of butter. That doesn’t sound as good though. Whatevs, let me live.

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January Whole30 is nice ’cause it gets my creative food juices flowing after feeling a little bogged down by the traditional dishes of the holidays. A nice way to start the year!

Although, to be fair, part of this dish is inspired by something we ate for this years Christmas dinner. My brother-in-law made baby collard greens we found at the farmers market and I’ve honestly thought about them every day since. So here we are!

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Ok, here are the deets:

Lemon Butter Scallops with Sautéed Garlic Collard Greens

ingredients:

for the scallops:

10 large scallops

Juice of 1 large lemon (2-3 tbsp)

zest of 1 lemon

3 tbsp fresh chives, chopped

3 tbsp ghee

salt

for the collard greens:

2 tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 bunch (or about 6 large leaves?) of collard greens, washed and roughly chopped in big pieces with the last bit of the stems removed.

1/2 cup water

salt

directions:

for the scallops:

Pat the scallops dry. Sprinkle one side of the scallops with salt.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add some ghee so that the bottom of the skillet is covered.

Put the salt side of the scallops down on the skillet to sear, and sprinkle some salt on the other side of the scallops. Let the scallops cook for just 1 minute and then turn heat down to medium-high and add more ghee to the skillet so that the scallops don’t stick to the skillet.

Sprinkle 1/3rd of the lemon zest, 1 tbsp chives, and 1 tbsp of lemon juice over the scallops. Cook for about 3 more minutes and flip the scallops. Add more ghee and another tablespoon of lemon juice to the skillet.

Cook for 4 minutes, then remove the scallops from the skillet and place on a plate to hang (you don’t need the paper towel that’s pictured). Collect the juices from the skillet in a little bowl, you can use this as a sort of dressing later (or not!)  

meanwhile, for the collard greens:

Add olive oil to a deep-ish sauté pan and heat over medium heat.

Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and golden.

Add the collard greens and a sprinkle of salt, then pour the water over the collard greens. Cover the sauté pan and steam for 10 minutes, until the greens are tender and the water is completely evaporated. Remove from heat.

Plate the greens. Add scallops on top. Sprinkle some zest, chives, and if your heart desires pour some of the scallop juice over the whole thing. Eat immediately!

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Enjoy, friends!

Triple Lemon Cake for Cassie’s Birthday!

So, I’m gonna just say something most of us are probably already thinking: It is freaking hard to make friends as an adult.

It is essentially my job to just talk to people all day, and this still remains true. It’s simply difficult to transition from being acquaintances to being real friends with people nowadays. Also, if you work the days and hours I do, the opportunities to meet potential friends are minimal. It’s no real wonder that most of the friends I have in Los Angeles are my coworkers.  So when one of my favorite coworkers celebrated a birthday last week, I knew I had to make her a special cake for the occasion.

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Cassie (the coworker in question) loves a good lemon-y treat, so I chose to make her the “triple lemon layer cake” from one of my favorite food bloggers, Erin of Cloudy Kitchen.

I love spending the day baking. It really slows you down, both mentally and physically. Something like meditating, no? You really have to focus, so no letting your mind wander too much and you can’t really multi-task. Cakes, specifically, aren’t my favorite thing yet. Frosting a cake is a skill many take for granted. But I really love the practice, so here I am.

Also, cakes can be super humbling. If you’re like me (read: an amateur) there’s always something that kind of goes wrong with a cake and how you handle it can be really telling & formative. I feel it’s worth mentioning that I only have one 9-inch cake pan. Which means I had to make each layer individually. YUP. Hence, lessons in patience and preparation. I also realized too late that I didn’t have enough lemons to make the amount of lemon juice the recipe called for, so while one layer baked I had to run out and get more lemons so I could make the curd and frosting. But, I dealt with it and the cake turned out incredible.

Seriously, it was such a hit at the office birthday party! I’m still on Whole30, but come on, I had to take one little bite. I needed to know if it was actually good, or if everyone was just being nice. Worth it!

And obviously, I had to document it all here.

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I tried something new with this cake and attempted a styled top. I really loved how it turned out, almost like a flower!? Usually I’m too intimidated. And then, in an inspired moment, I added some of my favorite edible gold heart “sprinkles” to the outer edge. With the green ribbon on my new cake carrier, doesn’t it look so spring-like?! Gets me so excited for my second favorite season that’s right around the corner!

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So okay. That’s about it. Back to more regularly scheduled Whole30 content. Hope you all had the very best weekend!