Homemade Simple Vanilla Macarons Recipe

January 31st, 2015

I’ve recently been introduced to macarons, and I loved them! The nice crispy shell texture with a soft centre make an amazing treat! Not only do the ones at the store taste good – they look amazing! So, I figured I’d try my hand at making a simple batch of Vanilla Macarons as it appears I have all the ingredients in my pantry! Of course my batch didn’t look great – but tasted wonderful!

Ingredients: Makes about 12
1/3 cup finely ground almond
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 egg whites
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Let’s get started on my first batch of shells! First, we gather all our ingredients so we have everything ready and preheat the oven to 300F.

Then we grind the almonds until they’re fine and then we grind it with the powdered sugar! I figured we do this so that the ground almond is coated with the powder sugar so it doesn’t lump!

Lots of recipes call for sifting the mixture a few times. I tried and I guess my strainer is too fine… it separates the powdered sugar from the ground almonds. The end results wasn’t rough or anything but it’s got some texture as I had to omit the step. So, we go to beating the egg whites until the mixture starts becoming airy and bubbly. At which you will add the 2tbsp of sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Once you got the soft peaks, beat the vanilla extract in.

From here, mix half of your egg white mixture into your almond mixture and mix until they’re incorporated. Then, fold in the rest of the egg white and put into a piping back or a ziploc bag. Then, you can cut out a corner and pipe onto a lined cookie sheet of circles. Then you let them dry for about 30 minutes (or until a hard layer is made)

Once the hard layer is formed by drying it, you can pop them in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until they move off the parchment paper easily. At this point, you can take them out and let them cool while you make the filling.

For the filling…
You can start by taking out the ingredients that you need.

Start with the egg yolks, and beat together the ingredients until it’s even and smooth.

Then, move it to the stove top and cook it until a custard texture

From here, I removed it from the heat and returned it to a bowl and let it cool to room temperature.

When it has cooled, I arrange the macaron shells so that they kind of match each other in relative shape and size. I put a dollop of the butter cream on one side and put the other side on carefully. Once they’re assembled, I put them in the fridge to set. When you’re ready to eat, take them out a few minutes ahead to take the chill off of them. They apparently last up to a week in an air-tight container in the fridge. Ours are often gone way before then!

Signature Palace – Calgary, Alberta

January 30th, 2015

We weren’t sure what we wanted to eat one evening, and we stumbled to the Southwest Calgary and found Signature Palace Restaurant which is in a strip plaza. The place isn’t difficult to find and there’s tons of parking. It seems like it’s a popular place as we kept seeing customers come in and out either dine in or take out!

As odd as this sounds, we started the dinner with an appetizer of Chicken Wings. They were large wings which made the price tag a little more bearable. It was over $10 for the plate of wings but they were really tasty, juicy, and crispy!

We ordered more lunch items of dinner, where we split a Beef Flank Noodle Soup, and the beef flank was tender and the portions was huge. The soup was quite tasty for being a plain soup. There was a few beef tendons which I love. We have always loved beef flank with the flat rice noodles and it made this dish perfect!

Then, we shared another of my favouriets, the Perserved Vegetables with Pork Noodle Soup and this was in rice vermicelli noodle soup – the way I know it to be. Tons of toppings and the portions again was really generous!

Overall, we were pleasantly surprised with the quality of food, and portion of size. The staff was really friendly and the bathrooms were cleaner than expected! This turned out to be a great place and we’re excited to go back one day to try a Chinese dinner here!

Signature Palace

1919 Sirocco Dr SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 246-8883

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge – Jasper, Alberta

January 26th, 2015

We are very fortunate and we’re able to splurge when we want to. When an opportunity came for us to visit Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, we took advantage of it! Our motivation for this trip was to see all the Gingerbread houses that at Alberta’s Fairmont resort. We knew that date the gingerbread house was coming down at this location and there really was only 1 weekend – so we took it! We booked a nights stay and got to experience their Junior Lakeview Suites which was absolutely amazing! This hotel is magnificent, beauty from every angle, inside and out!

We got checked-in and they were awesome at the front desk. All the staff we dealt with are exceptionally helpful and friendly! The key was still an old style brass key which was a neat treat from your typical magnetic room key card!

Once we got into our room, we were blown away from the size of the room. It was beautiful! Once inside, off to the side was a closet and mini bar area which leads you into the bathroom.

The bathroom was about the size of the bedroom itself. It has a double sink, a soaker tub, a stand up shower and of course a toilet! It was quite amazing. The soaker tub was quite a large single person tub which I didn’t get to enjoy – but that leaves room for another nights stay another time!

The shower was all glass with a ledge inside for you to put your amenities on. It’s quite amazing to shower in an all glass shower as you feel like you’re somewhere very luxurious – and you are! It was really a nice touch!

Once you come back to the main hallway, you’ll walk by the bedroom area. It’s got pocket doors to keep the space spacious and open – and almost a pocket window so you can see right outside from the bed! The King bed was nice and amazing and there’s also a TV in the room.

The sitting area was large and spacious with a table for 4 people, with a sofa and chair – it’s a great sitting area!

There’s also a wood burning stove in our sweet, which they give you some newspapers and logs to light a fire if you choose to. There’s also a TV so you can cozy up however you like during your stay!

The patio offers amazing lakeviews and it’s remote and quite. A perfect suite for down time and to enjoy the company you’re with! Our stay was amazing and we can’t stop raving about it and looking to find rates where we can justify another awesome adventure in Jasper!

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Old Lodge Road
Jasper, Alberta, Canada
Phone: 1-780-852-3301

Poppy Brasserie – Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Alberta

January 19th, 2015

I had the pleasure to eat at Poppy Brasserie while were were looking at Gingerbread Houses (Village) while visiting Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. We had no reservations or anything, so we ended up whereever, and it was fantastic! Just located on the lower floor a little tucked aways is this great restaurant!

Once were were seated, with our drink orders taken, they came out with a fantastic bread basket that was warm and fresh! It was quite enjoyable!

We wanted to do a started so we opted for their Seafood Chowder and I must say it’s the best seafood chowder we have had to date. It sounds really odd, but it was fantastic! It doesn’t look like much, but it was creamy and velvety, with tons of flavours and seafood in this chowder!

As this was lunch, we decided we wouldn’t stuff ourselves with a full entree, so we ordered a Bison Burger which was better than expected. It was lean but tender and juicy of a patty. The toppings were minimal and perfect. The spicy arugula, with the with cheddar, smoky bacon aioli, sauteed mushrooms and topped with tomato chutney made a perfect bison burger!

Then, we had their Steak Sandwich which was a generous portion of 6oz striploin steak topped with blue cheese cream cheese on a wedge of grilled sourdough. Everything was cooked to perfection and you felt like you were eating from a true castle!

Overall, the experience here in the chateau was truly magnificent! The food and service was top notch, while the breathtaking scenery – there’s nothing that compares and makes your meal magical!

Poppy Brasserie – Chateau Lake Louise

111 Lake Louise Drive
Lake Louise, AB
(403) 522-3511

The Panorama Restaurant – Banff, Alberta

January 6th, 2015

We were staying the night in Banff and decided we wanted to experience Alpine Lights Mountaintop Dining Experience that was at the Panorama Restaurant at the top of Sulphur Mountain. With this reservation, you get a free gondola ride up to the top and as it’s winter time, you do get a free ride down the mountain afterwards as well!

We were seated by the window and enjoyed beautiful views of the town of Banff and the restaurant itself was quite beautiful! The staff was friendly, the food was wonderful, it truly was a great dining experience!

It was a set dinner that came with this experience and they start you off with some delicious bread! It was actually really tasty and the butter they infused was also quite delightful!

We then got their House Salad which was extremely fresh and delicious! The dressing was perfect, although a little bit over dressed! It was quite tasty for a salad and very interesting and colourful!

Then, the main course was their Prime Rib which was a huge piece of perfectly cooked prime rib and it wasn’t too fatty or anything! It was delicious and we devoured the entire piece of prime rib and potato!

To top off the evening, we got a Cheesecake for dessert and it was really light and creamy! It wasn’t overly sweet or too rich – so it was really how we like our cheesecakes to taste!

Overall, this experience was truly one to remember for a lifetime! The scene was magnificent, the ride of the gondola was quite the experience in the dark going down, and the food was perfectly cooked and presented beautifully. The service was pretty good as well. I think you get a great meal out of this experience and should try it!

Le Beaujolais New Years Eve 2014 Dinner – Banff, Alberta

January 5th, 2015

We’ve been to Le Beaujolais many years ago for lunch and thought it would be the perfect dinner spot to ring in the New Year! We made a reservation for their Gala Seating for their 6 Course Dinner as we have nothing but fond memories of this restaurant! Decorated festively for the New Years, we were glad we came in to celebrate with them!

We sat down and it was quite cold outside, I just wanted a hot drink. As odd as it sounds, I ordered myself a cup of Hot Chocolate which I must say has become one of my favourite hot chocolates! I think they use a marshmallow whipped cream on top – but it made the cup of hot chocolate spectacular!

Once our drinks came and we got comfortable, they came around with the first course which they called Ocean Flavors which was cured Artic Char, Scallop Ceviche and Salmon Rillette. This was an amazing start as it just tickled our curiosity for the amazing dishes to come! Although you can’t really see the scallop ceviche, it was amazing, sweet and tender. The Artic Char was almost juicy although cured and the salmon rillette was my favourite! Almost like a salmon salad without all the other fixings, it was just perfect!

From here, we moved on to the next course their Lobster Duo which was lobster ravioli and butter poached lobster! I love lobster and to put this course down in front of me, I was in heaven! The lobster ravioli was actually filled with lobster meat in a delicious lemongrass bisque topped with the perfectly poached lobster claw makes this a dish to remember into the New Year!

We were then presented with their House Smoked Brome Lake Duck Brest, a beautifully smoked duck breast topped with some Riesling Foam and Port reduction really makes this dish shine! You really taste the smoke on the meat but it doesn’t overwhelm in any way! It was very delightful!

Here’s where we had a choice for the main entree, I went for their Maple and St Germain Glazed Sablefish that was prepared really delicately. The sablefish was perfectly cooked and it sat on a bad of smooth and creamy celery root puree. The sablefish was so flaky and fresh, I’m sure I could have eaten a million of them!

My husband ordered the Filet Mignon Marchand deVin which was a beautifully cooked and a generous portion of Filet Mignon with shallot confit. The meat was perfect in every aspect and very enjoyable. We really loved the Dauphine Potatoes as well as it was fried nicely on the outside and soft on the inside! The perfect mashed potato puff!

Just as we’re so full, there came a Cheese Board and I’m not much of a stinky cheese eater, but luckily my husband is! I enjoyed some Honey Almond toasted break and pear compote, while my husband had the bleu benedictin and le cendrillion with some pieces of toast! He enjoyed it thoroughly and I was waiting patiently for my dessert!

Now came what I was withing for, the Chocolate Surprise 2015 was a beautiful hazelnut mousse in a chocolate cup, topped with coffee foam! This dessert wasn’t too sweet and it was just delicate and delicious! What a perfect way to end 2014! We couldn’t have asked for a better night!

With a full stomach, we were ready to put behind 2014 and we went outside to celebrate the New Years! The staff equipped us with some hats/tiara’s and some noise makers on our way out! Happy New Year!

Restaurant Le Beaujolais

212 Buffalo Street
Banff, AB
(403) 762-2712

Chili Island – Calgary, Alberta

January 5th, 2015

This year for Christmas eve, we thought we were so smart and made reservations to a place that didn’t open. So, we were left on a scramble with a lot of other families looking for a place to eat! We found Chili Island that was opened, and luckily we found a good parking spot as it was busy!

We were seated right away and we were expecting service to be really slow as they were very busy with dine in customers as well as take out. They actually did an amazing job getting food to their hungry customers! We started with a soup, their Gar Tom Khars Soup which was their Thai Chicken and Mushroom soup with coconut milk. I like it because the coconut milk helps with the spiciness of Thai soups! It was delicious and extremely fragrant and flavourful!

Then, we got an order of their Peek Kai yod Sai which was Thai Stuffed Chicken Wings which was really quite shocking! The order had 4 wings which were super sized. The middle portion of the wing was deboned and stuffed with minced pork and other goodies, and then deep fried! It was amazing and gigantic and really quite spectacular as it was something we’ve never had before! I would highly recommend this dish/appetizer but make sure you come with a big appetite!

For the main entree, we shared an order of their Cantonese Chow Mein which is really nicely done! The fried noodles were crispy, using the thin egg noodles and topped with really fresh veggies and meat! The entire dish was cooked well, seasoned well, and priced well! We thought for sure we would have left overs for Christmas lunch, but everything tasted so good we decided to enjoy everything fresh. After you take these noodles home, it won’t be crispy, and we didn’t want it to go to waste!

Our overall experience for Chili Island was it was surprisingly delicious and not exactly overpriced for the food you get and the portions! We had a wonderful time and realized what an amazing job they did, even with such a large rush of customers! I am sure we will be back, with no hesitation!

Chili Island on Urbanspoon

Chili Island

4600 130 Ave SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 726-0733

Harvest Room at Fairmont Hotel Macdonald – Edmonton, Alberta

January 5th, 2015

During our stay at the Fairmont Hotel Edmonton, we decided we would eat our breakfast there and then venture around Edmonton before taking off and starting the journey back to Calgary. We figured we’d grab our breakfast at the Harvest Room the restaurant on their main lobby.

We were seated immediately, and it’s a small dining room so we were shocked we beat the morning rush! We didn’t feel like having their buffet, so we decided we would order ala carte! We figured for sure we wanted to try their Jasper Ave Egg Croissant which was a croissant stuffed with bacon (although they called it grilled ham), fried eggs, cheese, and tomato. There was also some potatoes on the side which was absolutely delicious!

From there, we figured we’d order something sweet, so we settled for their Stuffed French Toast which was my favourite! Tt was a brioche bread stuffed with mascarpone cheese and blueberries, and it had a side of sausage which had lots of links – which was amazing!

Overall, this was a fantastic breakfast. Everything was made fresh so it was hot and tasty and it looked beautiful! We enjoyed our time in this dining room!

Harvest Room on Urbanspoon

Harvest Room – Fairmont Hotel Macdonald

10065 100 St
Edmonton, AB
(780) 424-5181

Tres Carnales Taqueria – Edmonton, Alberta

December 29th, 2014

We were thinking about a quick and simple dinner when we stumbled into Tres Carnales Taqueria which we’ve heard of by Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here”, and like always, John Catucci’s recommendations haven’t failed us yet! We love this place!

We started our meal with their Sopa de Tortilla which is a soup I enjoy making myself! It’s really fresh and awesome here and their chips are deep fried which makes them extra crispy and extra delicious! We enjoyed it thoroughly as they hit it with some lime juice, guacamole and sour cream!

We then ordered some food to share where we picked their Quesadilla Carne con Chile which was magnificent! Once you bite into the quesadilla, the delicious beef that was tender with the melty cheese – this was our favourite for the evening!

We also ordered an order of their Tacos de Pollo which was little tacos with chicken in it! It was really tasty and their tortillas were really tasty and something different!

Overall, we were really glad we decided we wanted to stop in here for our dinner! It’s lighter than what we could have had and it was so tasty! It was a bit on the costlier side, but the quality, freshness and passion really made up for it!

Tres Carnales Taqueria on Urbanspoon

Tres Carnales Taqueria

10119 100A Street
Edmonton, AB
(780) 429-0911

Zenari’s – Edmonton, Alberta

December 29th, 2014

I was in downtown Edmonton one morning and thought I needed some sugar for breakfast. I walked by Zenari’s a few times before I just wandered inside to order some food! This little place is located right across from Holt Renfrew on the main level. It’s pretty easy to find!

I decided I was going to eat cake for breakfast, so I got myself a piece of their Carrot Cake which came in a large slice. It wasn’t cheap, but it was a decent size! The cake was pretty delicious with the perfect amount of cream cheese icing!

Then, to complete my meal, I got myself a Mocha which seems to be the perfect coffee break meal that I turned into a breakfast! The mocha was good, although not different from anywhere else – so it was just costly!

Overall, a neat dining experience! It was quick and simple and I can see lunch rush being extraordinary! The prices are slightly high for a coffee place treat but quite reasonable if you were stopping in for lunch and have pasta, sandwiches, etc!

Zenari's on Urbanspoon

Zenari’s

10180 101 St NW
Edmonton, AB
(780) 423-5409