Sunday, October 27, 2013

everyday vita: fall words of wisdom

This week, I came up with five words of wisdom that I wanted to share with you all. 
  1. This morning, I made this crazy, twisty chocolate babka with challah dough from one of my favorite cookbooks, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  Tbh, I thought it would be a total disaster because I left the dough out overnight (instead of the recommended 2 hours).  I decided to bake it anyways and it was yummy.  Good call Erica.  Always give even the most questionable dough a chance -- it might surprise you.
  2. I've been watching the World Series this week.  On Wednesday, my dad bought me this snazzy, green Red Sox hat, and we won 8-1 against the Cardinals.   A new hat can make a big difference in your life.
  3. I went to the pumpkin patch with Edo yesterday.  I am  not a fan of carving pumpkins.  One, I have terrible carving skills, and two, when you carve them, they get all sad and mushy 10x faster. I really want to make a minion pumpkin like this one. And it requires no carving whatsoever.  Pumpkins don't always need to be carved.
  4. In the spirit of fall, I whisked up a batch of my apple brownies -- they're like apple pie in portable brownie form.   At Panera with the You-Pick-Two meals, I always get an apple on the side.  This time, I stuffed the apple in my purse and made these brownies with it.  Panera apples are good for baking.
  5. I was planning on making pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting this week.  However, when my cupcakes had cooled and were ready to be frosted -- it was already 11 p.m. and I was not in the mood to put pants on and go to the supermarket.  So, I just piped my classic, Nutella buttercream on top.  It was a little weird, and I didn't know how they would be received by the general public at the Varsity Baseball Bake Sale, however, people kept coming up to me in the hallways telling me how genius they were... It's good to be a little weird sometimes.
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

fool-proof no-knead bread


Fall is a crazy wild ride.  There are a million-and-one things to do and  I used to wish that I could do all million-and-one things at once (or at least a nice hand-full of them).   I used to think that doing just one thing at any given moment was a luxury -- sometimes, even wasteful!  I would catch up with friends via text on my walk home from school.  I would study my Chinese vocabulary while doing my nails.  I once attempted to study for a physics test while making gooey Nutella butter cake (as you can imagine, that was a gooey, chocolatey mess).


Then I finally realized, after all of these years of trying to paint my toes, while listening to a book talk, while doing my math homework -- that multi-tasking sucks.   Here are my five reasons that multi-tasking sucks.

  1. It's actually less efficient.  If I have my history reading open on one tab and my Pinterest tab open on the other, most likely I will find a killer pumpkin bread recipe and leave poor old Thomas Jefferson neglected. 
  2. Things happen and I don't notice them.  While I'm attempting to text my friends about my day while crossing the street, I don't notice that adorable little pug puppy being walked on the other side of thestreet from me (not to mention oncoming traffic...).  A study at the University of Washington found that 75% of students who walked across the quad while on their cell phones didn't notice a clown riding on a unicycle in the quad.   A CLOWN RIDING ON A UNICYCLE! He was probably wearing a bright red fright wig... if they didn't notice that, think about all of the other things they were missing . 
  3. It's rude.  Having my cell phone on the table while having lunch with a friend is distracting. I am totally guilty of this, but sometimes, I at least try not to read the message until I'm on my own.  
  4. It's stressful.  That little "bing" of a new message sends my heart racing.  Spilling sea foam green nail polish on my Chinese workbook sends my blood-pressure through the roof.   
  5. It kills creativity.  Brilliant strokes of genius (putting Nutella in baklava) only happen when your brain has a little extra room to be crazy.  Multitasking requires a lot of "working memory," leaving very little wiggle room for those awesome strokes of genius.  
So, I've decided that when I'm reading about Thomas Jefferson, I will give him all of my attention, and when I'm painting my nails sea foam green, you better believe I'm not going to screw one up attempting to crack open my math text book.   When I'm working, I'm working, when I'm playing, I'm playing, and when I'm baking, I'm baking.  Work hard, play hard (wise words from Wiz Khalifa).  

That being said, there's one little exception when multi-tasking is a good thing. 

This no-knead bread.  

Basically, I just stir up the ingredients in a big bowl -- then proceed to paint my nails, make Nutella baklava, talk to some friends,  spend some quality time with Thomas Jefferson, and totally forget about my bowl of ingredients.  While I'm doing all of these things,  the yeast in there is working hard to make the bubbliest, chewiest, dough I've ever seen.  Multi-tasking at its finest. 

Then, as an afterthought, I throw it into my big dutch oven and uncover a perfectly crusty, yeasty loaf of artisan bread.  



This is not the kind of bread that I cut into slices and make elaborate sandwiches on (although you totally could, whatever floats your boat).  This is the kind of bread that I tear off big chunks of while it's still warm, and smother them in melty butter and honey.   It's got that thick crust that snaps when you break off a piece and a soft center with tons of scraggly nooks and crannys just begging to be filled with melty butter. 

Are you a multi-tasker?

With love,
Erica


Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups luke-warm water
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp yeast

Dump all of the ingredients in a large bowl and give them a stir until they resemble a shaggy dough.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in room temperature for 8-18 hours. Dough will bubble up and rise.
After dough is ready, preheat oven to 450 F.
Put your dutch oven in the oven while it preheats.
Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and shape dough into a ball.
After the oven has preheated, carefully remove the dutch oven and with floured hands place the bread dough into it.
Replace the cover and bake for 30 minutes covered. Then remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes uncovered.  Now you have a perfect, crusty, artisan loaf of bread!


© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

everyday vita: peanut butter jelly time!


IT'S PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME!
peanutbutterjellypeanutbutterjellypeanutbutterjellywithabaseballbat.  (click here if you're confused).


If you've been wondering why Cannella Vita is almost completely devoid of peanut butter recipes (but wayyyy overloaded with Nutella ones...) -- it's because peanut butter's not really my thing.  Nevertheless, I absolutely love spreading it.  I love making a smooth little squiggle in the peanut butter (am I the only one who does this?). 

the famous squiggle
There's something seriously therapeutic about spreading things on Wonder bread. 

PB&Js are as classic as you get.  They're absolutely perfect just the way they are and that's why they've basically been around since Columbus discovered America (that's not actually true, I have my first AP U.S. history test tomorrow and PB&J has been around for ages - so that's where my mind is at the moment).
i'm liking that bread-to-fluff ratio
Anyways, you know what we do with classics around here? Totally corrupt them and slather them with Nutella.  So I made PB&Ns too.  Peanut butter Nutella sandwiches.  Not my worst idea ;)

Also, I had to throw in a few fluffernutters, because they're my dad's favorite.  And fluffernutter is fun to say.  And I wanted an excuse to buy marshmallow fluff.  So obviously those were necessary. 


Lastly, the Hawaiian girl in me just had to make some of these on Hawaiian Sweet Rolls.  Because that's how I roll (haha). 


Tomorrow I'm going all the way up to Pennsylvania with the soccer team, so I packed a few of these up with some chocolate chip Chewy bars for the long bus ride.

How do you like your PB&J?

With love,
Erica

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.