Orange Buttercream Macarons

Hi from my couch! Again! Forever, maybe!

Okay – week 100 of quarantine. What can I update you on…

I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series and also enjoying a couple of new titles. I was watching too much TV (sometimes when I do this I feel like I turn into a poorly functioning human) so I took a break from movie reviews. I made the most incredible quarantine-themed playlist. I gave up on Hot Balcony Guy after my huge sign went ignored. I signed up for Skillshare so I can learn some new skills (I’m very type A…what can I say). 

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I miss my family, friends, community, etc. But all in all, things are standard and pretty good over here. Thank goodness.

And by “things are standard”, I mean I’ve made another batch of macarons.

This time they’re ORANGE BUTTERCREAM MACARONS. You guys, these sweet, citrus-y cookies? C’est Magnifique.

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Ok. These macarons. How beautiful are they?! I couldn’t stop taking their picture. These babies knew how to werk the camera!!!

If you’ve never had a macaron…what are you even doing?! I am so sorry for you. Please remedy the situation immediately. Make these. It’s so fun and a perfect quarantine baking project because they take some patience and I’m betting you have free time available.

These guys use a basic French macaron recipe with orange buttercream frosting piped in between the two cookies (with real orange juice! hello, vitamin C boost anyone?!) The result is a sweet, citrus-y, delightful, wonderful, splendid, etc. cookie that will. not. disappoint.

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Orange Buttercream Macarons

for the macaron shells

1 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup almond flour

2 large egg whites

1/4 cup white granulated sugar

orange food coloring

for the orange buttercream frosting

4 tbsp unsalted butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp orange zest

1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

orange food coloring

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 the mixture is entirely foamy and mostly white. add the remaining granulated sugar, then increase the speed to high (9 works well) and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form. add the food coloring to the meringue at this point and mix until the desired color is uniformly distributed.

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 orange buttercream by creaming the butter in a clean mixing bowl. add the powdered sugar and mix on high for a minute, then add the orange zest and orange juice. finally add the food coloring and continue to mix until the desired color is reached.

transfer the 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.

optional: paint macarons into lil baby oranges with orange food coloring mixed with a little bit of water.

enjoy!

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And don’t forget to check out the other macaron recipes I’ve shared, because you can seriously never have too many and with these bad boys practice really makes perfect: here, here, here. 

 

 

Summer To-Do List

Happy Friday, everyone! Whew, it’s been a week. I’m so looking forward to the weekend and getting a little recharge in. It’s going to be a fun one with a girls night with my best friend, some easy baking projects, a trip to a new “croissanterie” opening, and preparing for my vacation to Wisconsin next week. I felt inspired by all the activity to put together a list of things I hope to do before the summer comes to an end. Enjoy!

Spend every opportunity by the pool.

This might come as a surprise, but the pool is my favorite form of water to play in/lounge at during the summer months. I have a lot of positive childhood memories of our neighborhood pool during the summer! My apartment building has it’s very own beautiful pool, and I figure it would be stupid not to take advantage of it (if you follow me on instagram, you know I already have been!)

Grill for almost every meal (or almost every dinner).

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Sorry, but it’s scientifically proven that grilled vegetables are better tasting. Also, kebabs are more fun to eat. And burgers. And brat wurst. Oooh, and don’t even get me started on grilling fruit to add to vanilla ice cream!

Go to an outdoor concert.

I bought tickets to see Thomas Rhett with my bff in early August at one of the outdoor venues here in Raleigh, and I’m so excited! I like country music (whatever, haters), but I love it in the summer, outside, with a cold drink in hand!

Visit the lake.

Ahhh, yes. The second best form of water! Going to my summer cabin with my family is always a highlight of the season. There are so many things I look forward to, waterskiing, swimming in the lake, reading on the hammock, biking in the woods, etc. I can’t wait!

Celebrate the Fourth of July.

My family goes all out with a visit to the local parade, a cookout, a bocce ball tournament, and fireworks. It’s the best!

Go to a baseball game at the Durham Bulls.

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I went last night with some friends and thought the park was so cute. It’s no MLB stadium, but it has a lot of good dining options, it’s well maintained, and in an area of Durham I’d love to explore a little more of!

Drink iced coffee on the balcony. 

A real no brainer. Ever since I finished my balcony, I’ve wanted to spend every opportunity out there. I start almost every day off of work with a leisurely coffee out there and it’s the very best!

Make homemade ice cream

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I’m thinking these 90 degree days call for really fun and refreshing ice cream flavors like cantaloupe or key lime pie. Yes?

Have a Harry Potter marathon.

Sure, this might be a to-do list item for every season for me. But the summer is when the new books would be released, it was usually when the movies were released, and it’s the season that holds J.K Rowling’s and Harry’s birthdays (I make it a point to celebrate, as you can see!) It’s time to re-read a book (or sevenand have a movie marathon, maybe on a rainy day?!

Go to a drive-in movie theater (and picnic in the car!)

There’s one in Raleigh I’ve wanted to check out for forever, here! Such a nostalgic activity, it would be fun to pack sandwiches, a cheese board and some wine, and load up on pillows and blankets in the trunk of an SUV!

Read at least 10 new books.

One of my favorite parts of summer is how much reading I get done! Sharp Objects just arrived in my kindle app, and I have loans out for seven other titles that I’m really excited for (I’ll be sharing a summer book review soon!) 

Visit a new spot to eat, drink, or play in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill every week

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I love this city (and it’s neighbors) so much. It seems like every week there is so much to do, something new is popping up or opening, fun events are all over the place! I love using my Offline membership to explore this town, and I want to make more of an effort to do so on a regular basis.

Go on a walk and listen to a really great podcast, at least weekly. 

I mentioned my love for both of these here! Lately the podcasts I’ve been enjoying are Armchair Expert, Asking for a Friend, The Daily, Coffeebreak Italian (see below!), Binge Mode, and The Goal Digger.

Work on learning a new language. 

Recently, I was completely inspired by a coworker who I watched seamlessly transition into speaking fluent Spanish to a client of ours. It was gorgeous and so cool. Mark can do this too, and I’ll admit I’m pretty jealous. I’ve started trying to learn a bit of Italian, since it’s closely related to Spanish (which I’ve studied for years) and because I really want to start planning a European vacation soon. Which brings me to…

Take a spontaneous weekend trip somewhere. 

I’ve had a bit of a travel bug lately, I kind of just want to pack up and fly to Europe and spend the next year there. Since I can’t do that, I figured maybe a semi-impromptu trip to a more adjacent destination might be a good compromise. There are a ton of good destinations in North Carolina alone.

 

 

 

Renters Refresh: The Balcony

When I moved into this apartment, I had big visions for how I would personalize every square inch of it into a space that was cozy, cute, inspiring, and functional. It’s been a total blast bringing those visions to life and I’ve loved sharing my process with friends & followers along the way, so I thought it would be fun to delve a little deeper into how one area in particular came together!

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When I started decorating, I obviously started with the big spots. The living and dining area, the kitchen, the bedroom, all of which are just about finished. Now, I’m shifting focus to the smaller spaces. On the top of my list was the balcony. With the summer months and the warmer weather finally here, all I want to do is be out there drinking iced coffee in the sunshine and enjoying dinners al fresco in the evening! So I knew the time had finally come.

Balconies, in my experience, tend to be the least loved area of the home for us twenty-somethings. More often than not they’re a mess of mismatched furniture and dead leaves/dirt. It makes me so sad. Our old one was like a plant graveyard that also happened to store Mark’s bike and a camp grill. It wasn’t cozy or coordinated, so spending any time out there just wasn’t pleasant. This time had to be different.

My first step in planning was determining what I wanted to use my balcony for. While I love a good lounge chair or low sitting chair/coffee table set up, I knew that wasn’t right for my needs. What I really wanted was somewhere I could drink coffee, eat a snack, and either read a book or do computer work while occasionally looking out onto the bustling street and neighboring shops. Images of coffee shops and cafes came to mind, and then it was abundantly clear – I needed a bistro set!

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Finding the style I wanted was also easy. I’ve been really into European decorating styles lately (namely French countryside) meaning I was looking for some bright colors, natural materials, curved shapes, Chinoiserie prints, pottery, and lots of greenery and flowers. 

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Finally came sourcing everything, from the bistro set to the flowers. I took it nice and slow, and really didn’t settle for anything I didn’t love. I started with the bistro chairs and twinkle lights, both of which I’ve actually had since I first moved in. The next step was the flower boxes and the table, those came from Amazon. I went to a local gardening shop to pick out supplies, pottery, and flowers. Finally, I found just the right rug and trellis to finish everything off. My little oasis!

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So, there you have it. A relatively inexpensive renter’s refresh! My tips to anyone looking to do something similar are: 1. honestly evaluate your needs and desires for the space in question. 2. scour Pinterest and decorating blogs/books/resources for different aesthetics and what they entail. 3. source things slowly and deliberately, and don’t buy everything from just one store (or it will probably look like that store’s catalogue).

Finally, here are some links for ya: bistro chairs // bistro table // trellis // planter boxes // rug // twinkle lights // chinoiserie pot // watering can