Fourth of July Firework Macarons

I totally meant to have this recipe up and posted 6 days ago, but I was in vacay mode pretty much the minute I stepped onto my first plane. Sorry!

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I’m back now, unpacked, semi-organized (I had the forethought to deep clean my apartment before I left so I came back to a pristine home and a bunch of struggling plants) and I guess ready to get back to real life. Kind of. I could have used an entire month of vacation, to be honest. At least my real life has been pretty good lately!

So, these macarons. I made them as part of a variety pack for my mama as a belated Mother’s Day gift. They’re Fourth of July themed, as you can see from the red, white, and blue vanilla buttercream stars piped in between the two cookies. As a fun surprise I also added some pop-rocks to the mix! When you bite into the macaron itself, you get a popping, firework sensation right in your mouth!

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Fourth of July Firework Macarons

ingredients

for the macaron shells

1 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup almond flour

2 large egg whites

1/4 cup white granulated sugar

for the buttercream

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1/8th tsp salt

1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp heavy cream

red and blue food gels

1 packet of strawberry poprocks

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 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 vanilla buttercream by creaming the butter in a clean mixing bowl. add the sugar, and mix on low until the sugar is incorporated into the butter but there are still small clumps present. add the remaining ingredients, and mix on medium until the buttercream is smooth and fluffy.

divide the buttercream into 3 bowls. add & mix in the red food gel to one bowl, the blue to another, and leave the 3rd bowl containing the white frosting alone. transfer each frosting color to separate piping bags, each fitted with a star tip.

pipe individual dollops of frosting onto one macaron cookie, alternating colors throughout. repeat with half of the shells. sprinkle pop rocks on top of the frosting, then sandwich with another, clean macaron shell. enjoy immediately!

*macarons can be frozen then moved to the refrigerator right before you’re ready to eat them. however, the pop rocks lose effect during this process.

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Whole30 BBQ St. Louis Style Ribs

Here’s a nerdy fact about me: sometimes I watch Bon Appetite youtube cooking videos in my free time. Like, on a lazy Saturday morning in my bathrobe. Claire is my favorite. (Molly, too!) I’m truly obsessed with her attempts to make gourmet versions of classic candies and junk foods, like Snickers bars and Pringles.

So I was down the Bon Appetite rabbit hole one night a couple weeks ago, and all of a sudden I was watching Claire make St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs. Until that moment, I had no recollection of ever craving ribs. Like, I can honestly count the number of times I’ve eaten ribs on one hand. But watching her grill those things, I had a hard.core.hankering. 

The thing about whole30 is it’s not uncommon to crave foods that you usually don’t care about. I regularly had dreams about tuna melts this month. But after a full week of thinking of nothing else other than juicy BBQ ribs, I decided I had to attempt a whole30 version.

You guys. They did NOT disappoint. I made them TWICE this month (effectively doubling my lifetime count) and would happily do so again and again and again. Plus, how perfect are these for your SUPER BOWL PARTY TOMORROW?!

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Everyone has an opinion on what style BBQ is the best. The whole30 BBQ sauce I made is vinegar-y, in the true and beloved style of the Carolinas. The ribs are bigger and fattier than baby back ribs, because of where they come from the pig. The smokey char is, like, divine. I can’t really verbalize how it feels to have meat just melt off the bone into your mouth, but I feel like the sensation should be bottled.

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Whole30 BBQ St. Louis Style Ribs

ingredients:

3/4 cups balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup water

6 oz tomato paste

2 tbsp yellow mustard

3 tbsp coconut aminos

1 tbsp + 1 tsp garlic powder

3 tbsp + 1/2 tsp salt

rack of st. louis style ribs

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp cayenne

chopped parsley, for garnish

directions:

preheat the oven to 350 F.

combine 3 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne in a small bowl. take ribs and with your hands rub the spice mixture all over both sides of the ribs until they are completely coated. (if you need more rub, make more. it depends on how big your ribs are.)

get a big piece of aluminum foil and wrap the ribs in it so that they’re completely covered and none of their juices will be able to drip out. you can see claire’s method here.

cook the ribs in the oven for 2.5 hours.

meanwhile, make the bbq sauce! add the balsamic vinegar, water, tomato paste, mustard, coconut aminos, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp salt to a saucepan over medium heat. stir to combine and simmer everything together for 5 minutes so that all the flavors can marry. transfer the sauce to a mason jar for storage.

after 2.5 hours, remove the ribs from the oven. heat a large grill pan over very high heat.

coat one side of the ribs with some of the bbq sauce, then place that side down on the grill pan and cook so that the bbq sauce caramelizes. meanwhile, coat the other side of the ribs (should now be facing up) with more sauce and flip. repeat this process 3 or 4 times.

finally, remove ribs from grill/grill pan. cut the ribs for individual serving. top with parsley and serve with additional bbq sauce for dipping.

enjoy!

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I’m forever changed. These ribs changed my life. Where I was indifferent before, I am now a very firm advocate. Ribs for dinner, regularly.

As for the super bowl tomorrow…I still don’t know where I stand. I’m beyond over the Patriots, but rooting for the Rams is also counterintuitive to me. I’ll probably just watch it for the commercials and Maroon 5. 😉

Whole30 In-N-Out Burger (Protein Style & Animal Style!)

This post is dedicated to Mark, who loves a good In-n-Out burger. ❤

I was never so obsessed with the food itself, but I can’t deny that there was always something fun about chowing down on that Insta-famous burger when I lived in LA. It might have been that when you see the classic red palm tree pattern you’re just thoroughly reminded of L.A, which in turn conjures up all these other appealing, idealistic images of that town: bougie eateries, glamorous Hollywoodites, the beach, etc. Or it could be that ordering a “double double animal style protein style” is just simply more fun than ordering “a quarter pounder with cheese”.

Regardless when I saw this recipe for a Whole30 In-N-Out Burger, I knew I had to try it. Whole30 fast food dupes are probably the most fun recipes to make and figure out. And Mark will undoubtedly ask for this once he moves away from L.A, so better to perfect it now so that he gets as close to the real deal as possible. He deserves that!

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So for anyone who isn’t familiar with the In-N-Out lingo, it’s like this: a “double double” is two burger patties. “Animal style” refers to this special animal sauce & heavily caramelized onions that they add to the burgers & fries. “Protein style” means to wrap the burger in a bunch of lettuce, as opposed to using a traditional hamburger bun. So, it’s not uncommon to order a “double double cheeseburger, animal style and protein style”. That’s what this recipe is for, minus the cheese.

My order would always be a double double cheeseburger protein style & a chocolate shake. Mark would get the double double cheeseburger animal style, animal style fries, and a vanilla shake. So you can see this is truly RIGHT UP HIS ALLEY!

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The real star of this recipe is the animal sauce. You can tell in our orders above that while I never really cared for it (I like my burgers no-nonsense), Mark is all about the animal sauce. With that being said, in this case it’s what takes a good burger and turns it into an In-N-Out burger. And this stuff is GOOD. Sweet and tangy, but not overpowering.

The other thing to remember about animal style burgers is the caramelized onions. These are crucial. You caramelize them for seriously 30 minutes. Again, I typically prefer onions lightly sautéed or even raw. But I can’t deny that it makes the whole burger taste totally authentic.

Pro tip: Make these items the night before. Especially the ketchup and mayo that are needed for the sauce. The onions can be reheated and the sauce can be stored in a mason jar in the fridge, which makes the whole project seem just a tad more manageable (although it’s fairly easy anyway so whatever). 

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Whole30 In-N-Out Burgers (Protein Style & Animal Style!)

ingredients:

1 egg, room temperature

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

8 oz tomato sauce

6 oz tomato paste

6 oz water

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

6 tbsp & 2 tsp coconut aminos

1/2 tsp garlic powder

salt & pepper

2 tbsp dill pickles chips, chopped into small bits + more chips for garnish

1/2 tsp white vinegar

2 white onions, finely chopped

1 medium head of iceberg lettuce

1/2 lb ground beef

1/4 cup yellow mustard

1 tomato, sliced

directions:

First, make whole30 compliant ketchup and whole30 compliant mayonnaise. To make the mayonnaise, place 1/2 cup of olive oil and the egg in a wide-mouthed mason jar. Use an immersion blender and move from the bottom of the jar towards the top to emulsify and form the mayo. Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, apple cider vinegar, 5 tbsp of coconut aminos, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. Combine these ingredients well and simmer until ketchup is slightly reduced. Transfer the ketchup to a mason jar and let cool completely in the fridge.

To make the animal sauce, combine 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons of the ketchup, 2 tbsp of chopped dill pickles, the white vinegar, and 1 tbsp + 2 tsp of coconut aminos in a bowl. Mix until well combined.

In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the onions and a couple pinches of salt and immediately bring heat down to medium low. Stir the onions occasionally and allow them to caramelize and brown. This takes 15-20 minutes. Eventually, when the onions are browning and they start to look a little dry, add a tablespoon of water. Continue to cook until they look a little dry again. Add another tablespoon of water. Cook until really, really caramelized. Finally, transfer them to a bowl and allow to cool.

Take the ground beef and season with some salt and pepper. With some of the beef, form a little meatball. It should be about 1- 1.5 inches in diameter. Flatten this into a patty. Make it REALLY, really thin. Like so thin that you think “this won’t work”. The patty will shrink and thicken as it cooks. Trust me!

In a fresh grill pan, heat last bit of olive oil over medium high heat. Once pan is really hot, add the patties. Immediately squirt some mustard onto the top facing sides of the cooking patties, and spread the mustard around a bit. Cook for 3 minutes on one side, then flip so that the mustard side is down. Cook again for 1 more minute. Remove patties from heat.

To prepare your lettuce buns, hold the iceberg head so that the stem faces up. Twirl the iceberg head so that the lettuce leaves appear to fan out to the left and right of the stem. Get as close to the stem as possible, position knife so that handle is facing you and blade is facing directly out from you, and cut to the immediate left and right of the stem. You should have one flat piece that includes the stem but no round leaves, and then two half-spherical shapes of mostly lettuce leaves. Discard the flat stem piece. With the two half-spherical parts, gently separate 2-3 concave lettuce leaves out at a time. It’s best to make sure each “bun” is actually 2-3 pieces of lettuce so that you have more support for your burger.

Finally, assemble the burger! Take one lettuce bun and add a tablespoon of animal sauce. Then add a couple of dill pickle chips. Next add a tomato slice, followed by the first beef patty. Add some caramelized onions. Top with another beef patty, some more caramelized onions, and a little more sauce. Cover with the other lettuce bun. Wrap the whole thing up in some parchment paper (another classic west coast fast food move) and eat immediately.

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Day 19 of January Whole30 and I’m a little bit in disbelief that we’re 2/3rds finished! I’ve loved getting creative in the kitchen again and getting some control over my sweet tooth. But I won’t lie, I’m so looking forward to eating a tuna melt and enjoying some chocolate again. 😉