Monday, September 19, 2016

Cookie Decorating Class

I think it's important to always be learning. I love watching Food Network shows to learn about cooking. I think it's event better to take classes. So, I am taking out some cooking and baking classes. My first class was a pasta class. My second class was cake decorating. Then, I took a 3-part cooking class. This was my second dessert class to take. I took a cookie decorating class at a local bakery and baking store.

We had about 30 students in the class. There was one instructor and one helper. The instructor provided us with a packet that included the cookie recipe, royal icing instructions, and some basic decorating techniques. We learned how to decorate cookies using royal icing and fondant.

Here's our set up. The cookies are baked and cooled. The icing for outlining is in a bag with a small tip. The flooding icings are colored and in squeeze bottles. One of the cookies is iced, flooded, and dry, so we can add decorations. And, we had buttercream icing in an icing bag fitted with a star tip.

When decorating cookies, start by outlining your cookies with outlining icing.

I really like this technique we used for the cupcake liners on the cupcake cookies. Flood the cookie in alternating colors. Then use a toothpick or scribing tool and drag the icing int horizontal stripes to make the design. 

I practiced new techniques with buttercream icing. We learned a zigzag, star, and rosette techniques.

Combining this technique makes a visually interesting and yummy cookie.

We flooded the middle of a flower and used yellow nonpareils to decorate the center of the flower. 

Then, make dots around the flower to completely cover the cookie.

To make the sandal cookie, pipe border icing and flood with a light pink royal icing. Use edible markers to make a design on the sandal.

Pipe small circles and add a sugar decoration to complete the sandal.

This fish cookie was so quick and simple to decorate. Put two colors of flooding consistency royal icing into shallow plates. I used yellow and orange. Dip a sea sponge made for crafts into the icing and lightly sponge onto cookie. Start with the lighter color, the yellow. Let the icing dry. Then, lightly sponge your second color on the cookie. I used orange. Use royal icing to adhere the candy eye on the fish for expression.

This was the fastest technique for cookie decorating. And, I love the result! Start with two shades of pre-made fondant. I used white with a little navy to make the lighter color. Kneed the the light blue and navy together to marbleize the patterned. Roll to 1/8 inch with a fondant roller. Use the cookie cutter to cut out the fondant to the cookie's shape. We used piping gel to adhere the fondant to the cooled cookie. Use the fondant roller to gently roll and stretch the fondant to the size and shape of the cookie. Use royal icing to adhere the eye. Use the larger end of an icing tip to make indentions in the fondant to represent the shark's gills.

I love this shark cookie. I love the marbleized color of the fondant and sharp edges. I think it looks professional. Some people do not like the taste of fondant; it is sweet. I think fondant tastes like marshmallow, so I don't mind it.

I tried decorating cookies with royal icing once before taking this class. There was a learning curve, so here are my helpful tips for successfully decorating iced cookies. Here are my six tips for successful cookie decorating.

1) Completely cool your cookies before decorating, or the icing will melt

2) Cover your prepared royal icing because it will dry out. 
-  If you are coloring your icing, divide it into container and cover with plastic wrap.
-  Keep a damp paper towel over the tips of your icing bags or squeeze bottles.

3) Use a toothpick or scribe tool to get air bubble out of your cookies.

4) Allow your icing to dry for 24 hours before stacking.

5) Practice on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper. When you learn a new skill, there is a learning curve. Most people are not experts when they start something new. That's why we practice. I love watching YouTube videos or videos on Instagram. Then, you can learn a new skill and practice at home.

6) Have fun decorating!

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Cooking Class Part 3

I went to the last cooking class in the three-part series where we learned advanced techniques. The first class in this series review basic techniques. The second class in this series focused on building on the basics.

In the advanced technique cooking class, we made three dishes. The first dish was vanilla bean panna cotta. The second dish was marinated steak with green olive tapenade. The third dish was spaghetti carbonara. And, the final dish was tomato and goat cheese grilled flat breads. This is the order we prepared the dishes, so they would be ready to eat. Spoiler alert; everything was yummy. Let's start at the beginning.

The first dish we made was vanilla bean panna cotta. We measured everything and prepared our mis en place. 

Then, we made combined everything to make vanilla bean panna cotta. Panna cotta is Italian for cooked cream. It is thickened with gelatin, and it's super creamy. If you can stir, you can make panna cotta. Don't let the name scare you off.  I think of it as a delicious grown up gelatin pudding. Ours was topped with fresh, seasonal fruit. 

The second dish was marinated steak with green olive tapenade. We marinated the steak in garlic, red pepper, rosemary, time, and lemon juice and zest. All the flavors came through in a flavorful steak. The lemon and olive tapenade brightened the steak and kept it from being heavy.

The olive tapenade was a simple to make. You roast garlic, which turns garlic cloves into softened, flavor powerhouses. The tapenade was simple to make. You toss pitted green olives, capers, anchovies, lemon zest, vinegar, lemon, basil, roasted garlic, and olive oil into a food processor. Pulse until you form a paste. It's such a rich, bright, acid topping to balance the rich steak. 

The third dish was spaghetti carbonara.  We prepped everything, so we were ready to cook.

You start by crisping bacon and rendering the fat. Drain the cooked bacon on paper towels.  Drain all but 1-2 Tablespoons fat. Sautéed garlic and in rendered bacon fat. 

Boil pasta in salted water. We prepared the sauce by combining eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and garlic. Drain the pasta. Combine pasta and sauce tossing constantly to cook the eggs without scrambling.

The final dish was tomato and goat cheese grilled flat breads. This was my favorite; I've made it a couple times at home. 

Start by making your dough. Boom your best in warm water and sugar. Add flour, salt, and oil. Mix until combined. Knead on a floured surface until the the dough springs back. Let dough rest in a greased bowl covered with cling wrap. Simple, right?

Next, prepare the topping. Chiffonade the basil, Slice the tomatoes. And, mix together room temperature goat cheese with fresh herbs. In class, we used parsley. I also like to use chives for a mild, onion bite. 

How gorgeous are these heirloom tomatoes?

Next, grill your flat bread on a greased grill pan or on the grill.

Flip after a few minutes when the bread has golden brown grill marks.Top with goat cheese, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and basil. Enjoy!

Looks delicious right? I thought this flatbread certainly couldn't be more tasty. 

Then, you add aged balsamic vinegar. It was a sweet, slightly acidic syrup that was the perfect addition to this flatbread. I will warn you that it's expensive: $30/bottle. You don't have to use a lot to make a difference, so the bottle will last you a while. If you like balsamic vinegar, try aged balsamic. So good!

I made a balsamic reduction at home. To make my reduced balsamic, combine 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar with 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar. Reduce over medium heat until the balsamic becomes a thick, syrupy consistency. So good!

I encourage you to try something new. Invite a friend. Learn something new. Don't be afraid to try a new recipe, and taste something new! That's it for cooking with class part two.

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter


Friday, September 9, 2016

RDTOD September Favorites

Welcome to RDtipoftheday's favorites September edition. This is my blog series that highlights some of the best things I've been watching, reading, listening to, cooking, and eating. These are a few of my favorite things this month.

Eating & Cooking

I found an herby pesto-like sauce that I'm loving. It's a combination of herbs, garlic, and olive oil. I plan to post a recipe soon. I love this green, delicious sauce so much that I bought the herbs to grow into my own little planter garden. I don't have a green thumb or a large garden, so this planter box is perfect. It's a great starter garden on garden for the city. Do you have a garden? Any tips for growing herbs?

I like taking cooking classes. Recently, I've completed a cake decorating class and practiced decorating cookies and cakes at home. When you decorate cakes, you usually use buttercream or fondant. When you decorate cookies, it is common to use royal icing. So, I researched what is the difference between buttercream and royal icing?

The picture above is of some moist chocolate cupcakes I made. You need to bake cupcakes to be able to practice frosting. P.s. Don't worry I shared the cupcakes with friends and family.

I have not experimented with coloring or decorating with fondant myself. So, here's a video about fondant basics.

image from grayduckbakeshop

I love pineapples and watermelon. I just started learning about cake decorating. So, this cake is my inspiration to keep practicing. #CakeGoals

How are you enjoying your Fall semester? I always loved back to school. New clothes/uniforms, school supplies, and making new friends. If back to school has you down, this video should cheer you up; it's lunchtime. 

I'm enjoying Shauna Neiquist's new book Present Over Perfect. It's a super challenging and encouraging at the same time. This is one of my favorite quotes: it reads: "And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good." by John Steinbeck

One of my friends is hosting a brunch and books get together. A group of us are reading Present Over Perfect. I'm excited! I love eating especially brunch, talking, and reading. So, I'm super excited to hang out with the girls and do some of my most favorite things!

Working in nutrition, I hear a lot of people wanting to be perfect - perfect diet, perfect look, perfect this, and perfect that. I don't think perfection is achievable. My goal for myself and my clients is to live a healthy, balanced life and do your best - not a life seeking an illusion of perfection. I think there is a balance of making healthy choices and living a balanced, healthy life. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you live a healthy, balanced life. Feel free to comment below.

I hope you enjoyed these tips, recipes, and all of my favorites from this month. Let me know if this is a feature that you would like me to continue by commenting below. And, let me know if you have something you want to be featured. Thanks! Have a great weekend!

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Registered Dietitian's Top 5 Tips for Healthy Eating

I am a Registered Dietitian (RD). I help people eat healthier and meet their health goals every day. When we are aiming to live a healthy lifestyle, we need balance. We need a balance of macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. We need a balance of micronutrients: vitamins and minerals. Here are my top five tips for weight management and healthy eating.

1) Choose portion control.
You can use the plate method or MyPlate as a guide. Choose a variety of foods from different food groups to make a healthy meal plan. Try to choose at least 3 different food groups at a meal. Fill half your plate with fruits and non-starchy vegetables, or fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. This provides you with many micronutrients (i.e. vitamins and minerals) and fiber to help make you feel full.

If you have a history of overeating, start by measuring your food and eating age-appropriate portions. If you struggle with disordered eating, please see a registered dietitian (RD), a medical doctor (MD), and a licensed counselor. This team can help you overcome eating issues and help you live a healthy lifestyle.

2) Record what you're eating.
To change, you need to know where you are starting. Then, you can make progress from where you are to where your goals are. So, measure your portions (see number 1) and write them down. You can write in a journal or use a free app like MyFitness Pal.
Note: This is usually a very eye opening activity. So, make sure you are accurately recording everything that goes into your mouth. I recommend starting with one week, so you can get a more accurate picture than one day. 

3) Make healthy switches.
Think of your favorite food. If you enjoy it, consider eating it. If you aren't craving it, consider making a healthy switch. Some people refer to this as the 80/20 rule. This is where you make healthy choices 80% of the time. Then, you can make more indulgent choices about 20% of the time.

For example, I love mayonnaise. It would fall into the 20% category. Or, I can make a healthier change and substitute avocado, light mayonnaise, hummus, or olive oil for mayonnaise and those choices would fall into the 80%.

If you have a sweet tooth, try switching your dessert, like ice cream, for a healthier alternative. Try fruit, yogurt, or a parfait as a healthier sweet option.

4) Be consistent.
These small changes from healthy choice number 3 will produce changes when we are consistent over time. I am a big believer on making small, doable changes that produce big results over time. I refer to this as small changes, big results. Try it!

5) Choose healthy beverages.
I find that most people are unaware of how many calories are in some beverage choices. 
I refer to these calories as empty, sneaky calories. We don't know they're there (sneaky calories). These calories do not fill us up or provide many nutrients (empty calories).
So, I would encourage you to make healthy beverage switches. 

For example, let's start with your morning coffee. Do you drink your coffee black? If not, it can be a source of sneaky, empty calories.

If you are getting a large (24 ounce) frozen, ice-cream-like caramel coffee drink, it will "cost" you over 500 calories, 10 grams of saturated fat, and 85 grams of sugar! This is because these drinks are made with whole milk, added flavors from sugary syrups, and topped with whipped cream. Let's see how we can lighten this drink.

If you ask for skim milk, you save 50 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat.

If you ask for 'no whipped cream,' you save 130 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat.

By saying 2-5 extra words "skim milk, no whipped cream" when you order your favorite coffee drink, you can see how these small changes add up. These are simple, small changes with big results!

6) Bonus Tip: Be physically active.
Wet talked about a healthy balance when eating. We also need a balance of healthy eating a physical activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent diseases. When we make healthy eating choices, we fuel our bodies in a healthy way. When we are physically active, we build endurance and strength. It's all about balance.

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter

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Please note, I am a registered dietitian; not your personal dietitian. Please use these tips as general guidelines and inspiration for a healthy lifestyle. Please see you personal dietitian for specific nutrition advice. Check with your doctor before beginning physical activity.