Make Delicious Meringues

delicious meringues

When I was in Elementary school, a girl in my class brought in meringues her mother had made. They were white on the outside, but when you bit into them, you found M&Ms hidden inside. My nine-year-old self could not believe how amazing they were.

I made my chocolate meringue kisses ages ago to be like those M&M meringues, but these white ones are a simpler version. They’re just about as simple as you can get, but the possibilities are endless. You can mix in candies, pipe them into different shapes, swirl in colors, or flavors . . . you can do just about anything.

We made this simple version when my kids were hounding me to make Eton Mess, a favorite dessert of ours that requires crumbled meringues. To make them, all you need are a few egg whites, some sugar, cream of tartar, and a little bit of vanilla.

Vanilla Delicious Meringues

I used a large pastry bag and a star tip (Wilton 1M) to make these into rosette shapes, but if you don’t have either of those things, you can simply spoon them out onto the parchment paper. These also are perfect for cake decorating (that’s a guide to get started with decorating).

3 egg whites at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar (superfine sugar would be ideal)
pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until frothy. With the mixer on medium-high, add in sugar, a tablespoon at a time. When all the sugar is added, whisk in the cream of tartar.

2. Raise the speed to high, and beat until all the sugar is dissolved (You can test if the sugar is dissolved by either tasting it or rubbing a small amount of the meringue mixture between your fingers. If you can still feel little granules of sugar, continue to beat it.). Whisk in vanilla.

3. Spoon by heaping tablespoons onto the parchment paper lined baking sheets, or place mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe into rosettes onto the parchment lined baking sheets. (With the bag straight up and down, start in the center, and pipe the meringue mixture into tight spiral until it is a circle about 3 inches in diameter.)

4. Leave meringues on the counter to dry for about an hour 9this will help them hold their shape). Preheat the oven to the lowest setting (180-200ºF). Place in the warm oven on the two center racks, and bake for 45 minutes. Pull out the baking sheets and rotate them front to back and also swap them, placing the one from the lower rack onto the higher rack and vice versa. Continue baking for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven, and prop the oven door open until the oven and baking sheets are cool, or overnight. (But double check the oven is OFF before you go to bed!!) When they are done, carefully remove the meringues from the parchment paper, and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

What do you think of these delicious meringues?

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A Little Something Hazardous for Halloween, Anyone?

donner dinner party

When I tucked everyone into bed the other night, my ten-year-old daughter started reading this book. When I woke up the next morning, her light was on, and she was finishing it up. I’m sure she got some sleep in there somewhere, but whether she did or not, I was a happy mom. Anytime my kids read something because they want to, I’m overjoyed, and if it’s about history to boot? I’m over the moon.

All my kids fell in love with Nathan Hale’s first two graphic novels in his Hazardous Tales series, One Dead Spy and Big Bad Ironclad, when he first introduced them to us last year. They present history in a way that is not only accurate and informative, but entertaining and funny as well.

The kids and I came up with some questions we had about his series, most particularly about his latest installment, Donner Dinner Party. So we had a little interview. Here’s how it went (I love how he answered the last question):

Nathan-Hale-Illustrator-225x300Donner Dinner Party
 is the third in a series of books called Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. Can you tell us a little bit about that series?

Hazardous Tales is a series that covers weird, wild, and crazy stories from American history. The books are carefully researched and fact-checked, but are drawn in an easy-to-read graphic novel style. And they are packed with jokes. Facts and jokes. They are from Amulet Books–the same publisher as the Wimpy Kid books, so imagine Greg Heffley and co. going to war in 1776, or starving to death in the Sierra Nevada mountains, that’s sort of how Hazardous Tales works. True stories, with lots of jokes thrown in.

I know some people were a little worried about the title you chose for the book—that it might not be respectful to the serious nature of the events of the Donner Party. What can you tell these potential readers?

It definitely falls into the gallows humor category. My mother-in-law is not a fan of the title. It lets you know what you are in for; the tragic tale of the Donner Party, but told with enough jokes to keep it from being too dire. The book has been very well received by those who’ve read it. I’ve had a few reviewers remark that the book is surprisingly more respectful than they expected–but still funny, still grim and still gruesome. It is a book about the Donner Party, after all.

How long did it take you to research the events in the book? What places did you find to be the most helpful for doing your research?

I spend three to four months researching each Hazardous Tales book. Some are trickier than others. The Donner Party was one of the easier subjects, because it is such a contained event. It was a small group, a few kept journals. It isn’t overly complex. Some of the war volumes I’ve done are MUCH more difficult to get a clean narrative out of.

There are a lot of fantastic Donner Party books. My personal favorite, when researching this book, was a volume put together by the Reno Gazette. They ran a year-long feature, explaining each date’s events on the Donner’s journey. So you essentially got a day-by-day retelling of the entire trip–and the trap in the mountains. It was put together by a team of Donner experts and was the most helpful of my research sources. It’s called the Donner Party Chronicle, if you can track down a copy (it’s BIG) it’s a must-have for Donner Party enthusiasts.

What do you enjoy more, the drawing, the storytelling, or the research?

The drawing takes the longest. It’s very time consuming to draw comics. The storytelling is fun, I write the complete script, which is edited and fact-checked before the drawing starts. I end up researching the entire time. Early on, researching the facts and details for the writing, then I switch over to visual research for the drawing. Everything has to LOOK right. The guns have to be the right guns, the clothes have to be accurate, the maps have to read–the research never stops. Often times, the visual research will make me go back and re-think some of the written research. This leads to interesting jokes and facts that don’t turn up in standard, text-based non-fiction.

What will be your next adventure in NHHTs?

2014 will be the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War One. So the next book, book #4, is a complete history of World War One. It is the most complex book yet. It has already taken twice the time Donner Dinner Party took to research, write, and draw. In fact, I’m still working on it. It will be out this coming spring.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

History can be a hard sell to younger readers. Most kids can name more Hogwarts Defense Against the Dark Arts professors than Civil War generals. Happily, I’ve seen a lot of readers—particularly reluctant readers—pick up the Hazardous Tales books and have a good laugh (and learn some juicy American History at the same time).

Thank you, Nate!!

Oh, and by the way, out of all three of Nathan’s Hale’s Hazardous Tales, my daughter likes Donner Dinner Party the best. She says it’s because it has more girls in it.  best resume writing service

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Dinner With Five Plates: Beef Brisket With Carrots and Potatoes

dinner with five plates: beef brisket with carrots and potatoes

Something crazy happened here in Utah: we’ve had a whole week of fall—during the first week of fall!! Maybe that doesn’t sound so exceptional to you, but around here, it is. Normally, it’s the middle of October before we see any days in the 60s, and then by Halloween, the kids are wearing their winter coats and we have to run our trick-or treating route fast enough that our hands don’t freeze. I like fall to come in gradually, just like it is this year. So naturally, I’m pretty ecstatic.

Since the weather has gone chilly so early, I’ve already started craving slow cooker recipes with meat, just like this one.

I created this recipe when Five Plates asked if I would develop something that could be prepared in less than an hour for their new amazing app. The Five Plates App was created by a busy working mom as a tool for streamlining the process of shopping for and preparing whole foods for you and your family.

Basically, you open Five Plates on Saturday morning and find five dinner recipes for the following week, that include a grocery list. You first go through your pantry to see what you already have, check off the items, and then head to the store for the rest of the groceries. It really takes a lot of the stress out of meal planning, and helps you save time and money. The best part is, all of the meals on Five Plates are developed to be easy and to be prepared in less than an hour. For only $2.99 to purchase the app, it’s money well spent.

Beef Brisket With Carrots and Potatoes

3 pounds beef brisket, trimmed of some fat
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup red wine, or grape juice plus 1 teaspoon of vinegar
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3 bay leaves
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
3 large potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1. Set a large skillet over medium high heat. Rub the fatty side of the brisket with a teaspoon of salt and a 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Place in the hot skillet, and sear until golden brown. Remove from skillet and place in a large slow cooker. Deglaze the skillet with the wine or grape juice and pour over the brisket.

2. Place onion, garlic, bay leaves, carrots, and potatoes on top of the meat. Spread over the tomato paste, and pour over the tomato sauce, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover, and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove the bay leaves and some of the fat with a large spoon. Serve.  professional resume writing service

There you have it… Beef brisket with carrots and potatoes!

Will you try this recipe? let me know in the comments

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