Sunday, February 23, 2014

friday inspiration: spring is in the air

Oh no, I seemed to have missed Friday yet again with my "Friday Inspiration Post"... Perhaps I should change the name to "Weekly Inspiration," as I am obviously incapable of keeping to a blogging schedule.
~via Fotball Frue~
Anyways, let's forget about my lack of timeliness and marvel at these beautiful plates of cupcakes! Ahh I love cupcakes.  Yesterday, Sophia from Sophia's Sweets was in town and we went out for cupcakes at Baked and Wired (my personal favorite cupcake place in D.C.).  It's only natural for baking bloggers to go out to a cupcake place for dinner.  We got a big box of everything and sampled away... in the name of research of course ;).  My favorite cupcake was the Dirty Chai Tea Latte -- vanilla cake blended with chai spices and topped with espresso buttercream frosting -- I must re-create this one at home! (and share the recipe with you all)
~via ho0opeless~
What was even more fun than eating a big box of cupcakes (and this is a big statement because let's be honest, what could be more fun than that?) was talking to someone who understands the constant struggles of juggling food blogging and junior year.
~via a nerdy girl's blog~
This week, I also went to the screening and discussion of Hafu FilmEver since I wrote my article on mixed race, I've grown increasingly interested in the issue (you think it would work the other way around...). 

~metricals~
I took one of those BuzzFeed personality quizzes to figure out which decade I actually belong in.  I got the 1920s, which totally makes sense because I am obsessed with The Great Gastby (who isn't?) and love 1920s fashion (flapper dresses and headbands...mostly headbands... the world will never have enough headbands).  I can't get over this photo series by The Glamourai featuring lots of sparkles, blush pinks, and 1920s glamor.
~via The Glamourai~
Last weekend, I made the Caramelized Garlic Tart from the Ottolenghi cookbook.  OH MY GOD. this thing was so good.  It doesn't taste garlicky at all -- rather it tastes super creamy, savory, and a little bit sweet.  It's super rich, so a little slice with a side salad makes a great meal.  I've been eating it all week and I think I'm going to make another one tonight! 
~via Bon Appetit~
I never really understood the fuss about buying local.  It just seemed like a snobby thing that people who didn't have the willpower to be vegetarian (a.k.a give up bacon) got into.  However, this week I bought a little tub of local vanilla yogurt... and now I know what the fuss is about.  It was nothing like those fancy little yogurts that I buy at Whole Foods.  This stuff was rich, creamy, and (naturally) sweet.  Am I going to become a "locavore"? Absolutely not (yet).  Am I obsessed with local yogurt? Heck yes. 


~via we heart it~
I hate to be one of those boring people who talks about the weather too much, but the weather today is insane.  It's literally sunny and 70 degrees... with not a cloud in the sky.  The only reminder of last week's epic snow storm are the quickly melting icy patches scattered around.  Global warming? Probably.  Concerned? Not yet.

New things tried this week:
  • Finally got around to buying a (non-drugstore brand) face wash
  • Went to a film screening
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.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

LTT: being inappropriate

Being appropriate is overrated.


Especially when it comes to food.

Eat dinner at 7:30, fried rice is not a breakfast food, a bowl of chocolate covered almonds is not a meal.  These conventions can all get so tedious and boring.

I feel like there are a lot of people out there (especially those of the food-blogging variety) who think that they're super progressive and wacky for serving breakfast for dinner.  Whoa! What a rebel you are! You're eating pancakes at 5:30 (when the food-photography light is still good... I know what you're up to).   However, this isn't really that progressive, it's just an excuse to do a breakfast post and not wake up early for it (fellow food bloggers, you will understand this). 


Some of these "rebel" food-bloggers who do breakfast for dinner would never dream of posting something that wasn't green around St. Patrick's Day, not having a "Mother's Day Brunch Recipe Round-Up," or *gasp* posting a popsicle recipe when it's sub-20 degrees outside.

Well, today I am making a major food-blogger faux pas -- I am giving you all a popcicle recipe when it's cold enough to make popsicles outside.  Also, this recipe is made with Cool Whip, another food-blogger no-no.


Thing is, I think that a lot of the time it is better to follow my intuition than do what's conventional.  I am the kind of person who can whisk a meringue by hand for hours if I feel like it.  I can sit in front of a computer and write for hours if I feel compelled to do so.  But if I don't, it's going to be a struggle.  Some of my best writing has happened at 4 a.m. when I can't sleep because an idea is  keeping me awake.  That being said, some of my worst writing happens at 3 p.m. when I carve out "writing time," complete with a sunny window and a vase of flowers.  My room get's gut-organized when I have a math test to study for, not when I have oodles of cleaning time over a long weekend.

One could say that 4 a.m. is an inappropriate time to be tapping away at a bright desktop, or that only an idiot would deep-clean their room when they have a bunch of other (arguably more important) things to do.  But it works.  It gets done.  I am happy.  Not everything has to be regimented and routine.


Same goes with popsicles.  The other day, I wasn't craving warm cookies or hot chocolate for my afternoon snack.  I was craving something cool, melty and icy, so I made a batch of Nutella popsicles and ate one while walking Carly around the block.  Did I get strange looks? Yes.  Was it delicoius? Yes.  Was it more delicous that a piping hot mug of hot cocoa? Debatable, but probably. 

Do you feel constricted by seasonally appropriate recipes?

With love,
Erica

Disclaimer: I think that breakfast for dinner is a marvelous idea and "Mother's Day Brunch Recipe Round-Ups" are are nice too.

Ingredients
1 cup Cool Whip
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons Nutella

Place all ingredients in blender and process until combined. Pour into popsicle molds.  Freeze until solid (about 4 hours).  Enjoy!

© 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.

Friday, February 14, 2014

almond butter blossoms


"Live in the moment!," "Savor the moment!,"


"Yeah!" we all think to ourselves, "obviously that's a great idea!" when we read these word in magazines and hear them from our friends.


Then we brush these words off and continue worrying about what's for dinner, whether one of our friends might be mad at us, and the future in general, because, as humans that's what we tend to do (I tend to do this a lot).


I recently read this article about a woman who is trying to sue her wedding videographer for a ridiculous amount of money because she hated her wedding video.  I watched the video and I couldn't find anything offensive about it... but that's totally beside the fact!  The fact is that she had a beautiful wedding and is now happily married.  Sweating the details of the video of it all totally killed the "happily ever after" vibe.  Instead of savoring the moments of her happy new life, she's now preoccupied with a mega-lawsuit against her poor wedding videographer.


Speaking of weddings and such -- today is Valentine's Day, a totally perfect day to start living in the moment!  Personally, I think that the reason a lot of people hate Valentine's Day is because they have totally unrealistic expectations.  The media has told us that today, we are going to get taken out to a fancy dinner,  someone will profess their love to us, we'll receive heaps of cards in the mail, and eat buckets of chocolate and not feel sick.  Unrealistic? A little bit.  Unrealistic expectations are the antithesis of "savoring the moment." If you keep waiting for what's next, or keep wanting more, no matter how wonderful your day was, you will always feel dissatisfied and upset. 


Thus, instead of wondering why you didn't receive two dozen roses today, why the cute guy who takes your bus route didn't profess his love to you today, or why you feel sick after eating two heart shaped boxes of chocolate,  think about the love that you did experience today, no matter what it was.


Today, I felt lucky to be woken up by doggy-kisses from my dog Carly this morning. I was relieved that since today is Valentine's Day, eating 20+ of those Dove chocolate hearts with the messages inside of them was totally acceptable.  I was really happy that I wore my rain boots today so I could stomp through puddles, instead of having to walk precariously around them like everyone else.  I savored the weather, as today was the first warm, sunny day in weeks.  I delighted in the serendipity of running into my dad on the street and joining him for a cookie on my way home. 


No stereotypical Valentine's Day shenanigans going on here -- just a really great day... with cookies!

melty chocolate... now that's a moment I want to savor

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I made these almond butter blossoms with heart shaped chocolates instead of Hershey Kisses.  I know by now Valentine's Day has come and gone, and you might think it's silly of me to be posting a V-Day recipe this late.  But who said that heart shaped cookies are only for one day a year? Who said that today is the day to have a fancy dinner and send lots of cards to your friends and loved ones?  Who said today is the day you should be sent flowers?  This all seems super restrictive to me.  Today is just a day among many other days.  I think that sending flowers, eating heart-shaped chocolates, and telling those around you that you love them should not just be a once-a-year occasion. I'm for more flowers, more chocolate, more love, and more savoring the moment!  Who's with me?

With love,
Erica


Ingredients 
  • 1/2 cup butter or shortening
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (for rolling)
  • 1 9oz. bag Hershey's Milk Chocolate Hearts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, almond butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and stir in the milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the almond butter mixture until well blended. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from oven, and immediately press a chocolate heart into each cookie. Allow to cool completely; the chocolate  will harden as it cools.

© 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.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

salted almond butter cups


I have a new (somewhat ambitious) goal.  I want to do something new every week.  Being in high school, I feel like I often get stuck  in the school/homework/procrastinating on the Internet rut. Don't get me wrong, homework will still get done and there are way too many fun personality quizzes on the Internet to give them up entirely.  However, I really want to seize life by the horns, live to the fullest, and conquer my fears.  I have a lot of fun ideas of things I want to add to my "new things bucket list" -- and I am extraordinarily excited to give this new project a try.


I love the idea of a bucket list to begin with -- maybe I'll publish one on this blog someday to hold myself accountable and see how many of the things on it I actually get done.  Simply writing my dreams down makes them come more alive.  I want to see a koala in real life and see the northern lights with my own eyes.  I want to attach a lock to a love bridge and go to la tomantina in Spain.  However, I'm not going to get a plane ticket to Australia or a tomato chucked at my face this week (hopefully).

Nonetheless, there are a lot of slightly less extravagant, yet exciting new things right in my own neighborhood.  Starting this week, I want to try something new every week -- even if it's as small as eating something that resembles a peanut butter cup.  This is a project that I want to continue for the rest of my life. Think about it -- that means 52 new things a year! 156 new things before I turn 20! 


Here's to Day One of my 365 day adventure trying new things.  Today, I am going to eat something that resembles a peanut butter cup.


Now, you're probably thinking "wow, this girl has really lost it now." What's so special about a peanut butter cup?  If you've been reading Cannella Vita for a while, you may have noticed that my blog is completely devoid of recipes with peanut butter.  It's a little odd since every other baking blog on the planet has some sort of chocolate-peanut butter thingamabobber.


I'm a pretty adventurous eater, and am usually totally down to trying new things, but peanut butter makes me queasy.  I've always steered clear of it at all costs.  Once, after eating a peanut butter granola bar, I had hives for a week! Thus, never in my life have I tasted a peanut butter cup.


This is ironic because my dad is obsessed with peanut butter cups.  He will always happily take them from my bag of Halloween candy. 


Obviously, I am not going to eat something that is going to give me hives for the rest of the week -- however, I came up with an alternative so that I, too can experience the joy of peanut butter cups -- almond butter cups!


These are mindbogglingly easy to make -- and are a little more gourmet than a drugstore peanut butter cup thanks to the addition of maple syrup and a sprinkle of Maldon salt.

If you're in need for some almond butter to try out -- take a look at Barney Butter, it comes in all sorts of mind-blowing flavors like vannilla bean-espresso and cocoa-coconut!

What new thing will you try this week?

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

7 oz. dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup almond butter (I used Barney Butter)
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. fine grain salt
sea salt flakes for topping

Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave for 1-2 minute intervals, stirring between, until completely melted.

Line six muffin cups.  Spoon about a teaspoon of melted chocolate into each cup. 

Mix the almond butter, syrup, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt together until smooth to make the filling. This mixture should be dough-like.

Scoop out a tsp. of the almond butter mixture and gently roll it into a ball between your palms. Flatten it out a bit and place it on top of the thin chocolate puddle. Repeat so that there is an almond butter ball in each cup.  Spoon chocolate, about another tsp., on top of each almond butter ball to cover completely. Add a little pinch of flaked sea salt on each one and chill in the fridge to set.

© 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.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

friday inspiration: keep on the sunny side


~source~
This week has been a little rough.  It was my first full week of school that hasn't been broken up by snow days or long weekends.  On top of that it's been raining non-stop and I've come down with a nasty cold.  During this dark and chilly time of the year, I think that we all need a little bit of cheering up and sunshine.  This week's Friday Inspiration centers around things that I think will bring a little bit of sunshine to all of our lives.

quote inspiration --
~sweaty wisdom~
meal inspiration -- this week my mom bought the most perfect avocados.  I love eating them mashed on crunchy toasted bread with a drizzle of walnut oil and a sprinkling of Maldon flaked salt.

~from Baker By Nature~

baking inspiration  -- Recently, I've been obsessed with French entrements (recipe coming soon!). They're so involved and adorable, and so satisfying to make.

~from U Try It~

backyard inspiration-- I am resolving to spend more time outside this spring.  I have a tiny backyard compared to this one, but I really want to clean it up and make it more livable. 

~from Oh Dear Drea~
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.