Sunday, March 30, 2014

orange scented french toast


soak:
to lie immersed in liquid (as water): become saturated by or as if by immersion

Soaking is a magical thing. I love the idea that things can drastically improve by just sitting in liquid.  This idea of idle productivity is particularly appealing to me right now, as I am procrastinating on typing up this MASSIVE outline for finals.

Things that get better after soaking:
  1. T-shirts.  There's nothing like a soft, vintage, sun-kissed t-shirt.  I recently did a little DIY project, soaking some of my stiff, school t-shirts in a salt water bath for a few days and then machine washing them.  After a few days of soaking in salt water, they were light and soft.  Easy-peasy. 
  2. Legs.  Not quite soaking, but the absorption process is similar -- letting thick, minty lotion soak into the skin for a few hours makes such a difference.  Scaly legs put me in an awful mood.  So does lotion that smells old-ladyish.  I've recently been obsessed with Seacret Ocean Mist Body Lotion.   No, I am not being endorsed by Seacret, although I'm quite flattered if you thought so.  I get sent stuff like industrial sized jugs of almond butter and oats (not that I'm complaining), not fancy-schmancy body creams and cosmetics. 
  3. People.  No matter how awful of a mood I am in, a soak in the bath never fails to melt some of the angrys away.  
  4. Breakfast.  Ahem french toast...

This is literally just stale bread, taken to unbelievably classy heights by a quick soak in heavy cream and orange zest.  That soak turns a boring slice of bread into an eggy, custardy, zesty sensation!  

I wish more things worked like this.  I wish I could soak in a special bath and come out knowing all of the countries in the world, or maybe I could soak in a magical concoction and emerge speaking fluent Portuguese.  That would be convenient (especially with AP exams coming up).  If I could soak in some sort of magical U.S. history bath, life would be hella easier.

Maybe someday I'll soak myself in some heavy cream and orange zest and come out extraordinary. Never know!

With love,
Erica



Ingredients

3 eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream, and 1/2 cup milk *you could just use milk, but cream makes this really rich and custardy
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of one orange
dash of salt
6 thick slices of challah bread (slightly stale is ideal)
butter for cooking
blueberries, syrup, and/or orange marmalade for serving

In a large dish, whisk the eggs, cream, milk, juice, vanilla, zest, and salt together.

Soak the bread slices in this mixture (about 15 seconds on each side)

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium-high heat until it begins to sizzle.

Add as many slices of bread to the pan as will fit -- and cook until golden and crisp (about three minutes per side). Repeat until all of the bread is cooked)

Serve with orange marmalade, syrup, and some fresh blueberries!

© 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, March 22, 2014

everyday vita: snow days and spring days

This week started out with a snow day, and ended with me running in shorts and a tank top.  Funny how that happens.  Also funny how I always seem to start my blog posts with a description of the weather.  A bit hypocritical, because I don't like it when people talk about the weather in real life... anyway...

I really like doing these weekly update posts! It's like a weekly diary, that's public!  There's something marvelously appealing about over-sharing some of the details of my life with people on the Internet.


Monday: Snow day! Although I'm kind of over this whole snow ordeal, it was really nice to have a break.  This was the last week of school before Spring break, and there were a million things to be done.  A snow day was a nice opportunity to procrastinate for just one day longer.  I made homemade pocky sticks, took a long walk with Carly, and just read by the window for a while (something I always think about doing but never actually do).


Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday:  All a blur really.  So many tests.  So many papers.  So much furious Buzzfeed scrolling to get away from it all.  I am proud of myself for getting one recipe out to you guys!  Also, a number of people at my school who read my blog came up to me and said that they agreed with my whole subtweeting argument.  It makes me immensely happy when real-life-people agree with things that I ramble about on here.  

Friday:  I had some really nice falafel, went for a run, and then ate my weight in hummus.  This wasn't as painful as I thought it would be!  I got to see my friend from Georgia, Alli G. (yes, like the Sacha Baron Cohen movie) here in D.C.! We first met in Santa Fe on a community service trip when I was a freshman, and have kept in touch since. We've seen each other around this time every year, and it's always hilarious to relive that dysfunctional trip with her, just talk about life, and see how things are going in the ATL.


Saturday:  Today, I made this crazy rainbow cake! But it's not just any cake, it's a birthday cake.  I've started a new project where I make birthday cakes for homeless children's birthday parties -- because they should be able to have sprinkly, sparkly birthday parties like everyone else.  This looks like an unassuming vanilla cake... but when cut open, it's an explosion of rainbow colors!  I dyed white cake batter all sorts of different colors and swirled them up all cool inside.  I'm already dreaming up cakes I can make for other birthday parties, if you have any ideas, let me know!


Carly was dropped off at doggy camp this morning and I miss her already. :(

Today I officially started the #100happydays project! It's awesome! Basically, you do something that makes you happy every day, tweet a picture of it, and then after 100 days, you have a nice collection of happy things to look back on.  Follow my challenge @cannella_vita.

Happy Saturday!

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.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

cookie monster cupcakes!


I'm sick and tired of subtweets.

Subtweets are basically the epitome of digital passive-agressiveness... precariously bordering on downright aggressive.  According to Urban Dictionary, "subtweet" is short for "subliminal tweet" which is directly referring to a particular person without mentioning their name -- i.e. talking about someone behind their back (but actually directly in their face on Twitter).


Subtweeting happens all the time at my school.  There is a group of people who think they're awesome that they always have these "witty" observations about everyone else.

Examples:

"Wearing sunglasses and carrying a purse to school. #whodoyouthinkyouare."

"I feel so awkward for some people #awkward"

"I love it when girls act like they're still in middle school. It's so adorable." (condescending tone)


The funny thing is, sub-tweeting is probably the most middle school move of all.   So what if a 14-year old is concerned with their eye-health, and likes to carry a purse?  So you feel "awkward" for someone... thanks for sharing! I feel awkward for you, spending hours a day thinking of "witty" little things to say about people on Twitter!  I can see that you "love it when girls act like they're still in middle school" -- that's what you're doing!  Yay for self-love!

Subtweeting works the exact opposite of how you want it to.  First, subtweeting just makes you uncool. Second, you're blatantly admitting that whoever you're subtweeting about has the influence to occupy your mind. 

Can't we all just relax a little bit?  Let the sunglasses crew wear their sunglasses, let the awkward people be awkward, and you all can just go about acting like middle-schoolers and not bother the rest of us who just want to read our tweets in peace. I think we should all just eat a cookie and relax, even better, a cookie monster cupcake!   I was inspired to make these by a tweet I saw -- I would have seen this tweet sooner if it wasn't for all of the subtweets I had to scroll through!  *sigh*

But alas, I have realized that this blog post is sort of a "subliminal blog post" against all "subliminal tweeters."  Oh well, before I dig myself deeper into this icky, subliminal hole, let me show you all how to make cookie monster cupcakes! Yay!

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
1 batch of your favorite cupcake recipe
24 small chocolate chip cookies, such as Chips Ahoy.  If you're feeling ambitious you could even make your own!
48 white candy melts (for the eyes)
48 chocolate chips or brown M&Ms (for the pupils)
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
blue food coloring. 

Prepare the cupcakes, and allow to cool fully. 
In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and confectioner's sugar until blended and fluffy.  Add the vanilla extract and blue food coloring and beat for five more minutes. 
Fill a piping tip fitted with a star tip with the blue frosting, and pipe onto cupcakes.  Press two candy melts onto each cupcake as the "eyes" and glue on a chocolate chip with frosting as the "pupils." Cut each chocolate chip cookie in half, and place upright on the cupcake as the mouth.  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.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

everyday vita: new beginnings



I think Spring is finally here... then again I feel like I've been saying that for the past month... and we're supposed to have a snow day tomorrow (not that I'm complaining about that at all).

Spring is a time for new beginnings, and this week was full of new beginnings.

This week I wore a skirt without tights for the first time in what feels like forever.

I was wearing that classed up outfit because, guess what?! I'm employed! I'm now the official hostess at a local brunch cafe! What you can't see in the picture are my stretchy leggings and orthopedic ballerina flats.  I was on my feet all day seating people at tables and running back and forth from my podium to the floor.  Thank the Lord for spandex and rubber soles.

I started drinking apple cider vinegar this week.  It sounds really blecky, but when mixed with apple juice and cinnamon it just tastes like diluted apple cider.  And it's supposed to be really healthy.

I bought farm fresh eggs, and they really are quite different! For one thing, the yolks are orange, not yellow!

I started running again, and realized that I am definitely a solo runner.  Some people really enjoy running in groups, I am not one of those people.  I really like to listen to books on tape when I run, and listening to books on tape in the presence of other people is considered antisocial :(.  Also, wireless headphones are a game-changer.

I put up chalkboards in my room to keep track of my to-do lists.  Question: do you ever do something slightly productive (that wasn't on your to-do list), and then proceed to write it on your to-do list just to cross it off? I do this ALL THE TIME.  Those extra things that I get done while procrastinating should be worth something. (and since this is the last week before Spring break, I have a million and one things to cross off).

I have a pretty cool "diy" post that should hopefully come up soon. I've never done anything crafty on Cannella Vita, so this should be interesting.

Happy Sunday!

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.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

tres leches cake!

NOBODY IS LISTENING TO YOU!


And I'm not saying that in a mean way.

When I was in elementary school, my teachers pegged me as "a shy kid."  Thing is, I was never shy -- actually I've always been a performer and a little crazypants.  In those elementary school days, I'd often be prancing around the supermarket in a crop top and cat ears proclaiming that I was Josie from Josie and the Pussycats, putting glitter glue on my eyelids (not smart if you ever plan on blinking), or singing Disney princess songs into my mom's camcorder.  Definitely not a quivering daisy.


I guess this whole predicament started out when one day, I had my head in the clouds and didn't find it necessary to say stuff.  At the beginning it was fine, I wasn't lonely or surly.  I was just rolling around the sandbox by myself thinking about things.

But then it got awkward.


People love labeling people.  Oh! You're the funny kid! Oh, you must be the precocious little genius kid!  Oh hey there, you must be the shy kid.  I learned that once you're labeled the "shy kid,"  people have all sorts of expectations of you...


People would get this surprised look on their faces whenever I said things, and when people started giving me that look, I stopped saying things.  As you can imaging, this became a vicious cycle.  My teachers didn't always help.  Teachers seem to like shy kids.  Shy kids don't break eardrums or break bookcases.  Thus, my teachers would often make an example of me -- telling the class to "stop shouting and be more like Erica."  I would smile, but this was always super awkward.  First, because kids don't like the kid who they're told to be like, and second, there was this little girl inside of me who liked to wear purple leopard print and sing "Under the Sea" really loudly in a Jamaican accent who just wasn't allowed to come out.  Imagine how awkward it would have been if one day I came out of the reading corner singing "Under the Sea" in my Jamaican accent?! I was pretty sure the ceiling would have fallen down. Once people had this expectation of me to be the "quiet" and "behaved" Erica, I stuck to it.


There were times when I thought that I lost that purple leopard print little girl.  I truly believed that I was shy...  and I hated it.  Especially as I got up in elementary school and wanted to be like Sharpay from High School Musical and I wanted boys to like me. In 5th grade, boys don't like shy girls.  And I believed that I was a shy girl.  I wished I could be like those bubbly girls who crimped their hair and wore glittery nail polish.  Nonetheless, I kept on being the nice little shy girl at school, and then when I got home, I dressed up like a mime and rapped Snoop Dogg while I rode around the house on my Waveboard (did you ever have a Waveboard?).


One day, I was dozing off during assembly.  The assembly was the drama acting out the book Hungry Hungry Caterpillar (who came up with those assemblies?!).  When I came back to my senses, I noticed that the kid who was dressed up as a watermelon slice who just recited his line looked like he was about to puke.  No, he looked worse.  He looked like he was about to get publicly executed.  And you know what I noticed? That I couldn't have told you what he said if I was offered a million bucks.  That kid was about to poop his pants over something that nobody was listening to at all.


That's right, I was not paying attention at all, and neither was half of the audience.  It was this realization that helped me "shed my shy kid image." I realized that every sentence isn't a matter of life and death, because no one's really listening anyways.  I realized that the ceiling wouldn't fall down if I emerged from the reading nook and played dress up.  I realized that no one would care if I pronounced the "g" in "trough" when we read aloud in English class.  I realized that regretting not saying something is much worse than saying something awkward.


Now that I am in high school, I am glad that I had this realization.  Sure, the "shy kid" image is sticky like condensed milk and takes time to wash off, but there have been many opportunities since I witnessed that quivering watermelon that I have spoken up without regrets -- and my life has been so much better/less awkward because of it.

Yay for super awkward transitions!  Condensed milk! It's in Tres Leches cake!  Which is the recipe I'm sharing with you all today!  This cake is super squidgy and moist because you literally pour milk all over it.  I frosted mine with cream cheese frosting for my friend Veda's birthday because she likes cream cheese frosting.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
Cake:
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk

Sauce:
1 can condensed milk (1 cup-ish)
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Frosting:
2 8oz. packages of cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sweetened Shredded Coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper and grease it well.  Beat butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, scraping the sides as you go.  Add the vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add half of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix until just combined.  Add buttermilk and stir slowly.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Take out of the oven, and mix together the three milks.  Cool the cake for five minutes, and then poke holes all over it with a fork.  Pour the milk all over the cake.  Let cool completely in the fridge for at least an hour. 

Beat together the butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer.  Beat in the vanilla.  Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.  Frost the cake. 

To make the toasted coconut, add the shredded coconut to a frying pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until lightly browned.  Sprinkle over cake.



Loosely Adapted from Pati's Mexican Table

© 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.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

easy king cake

Ever since I was young,  I have been disturbed by the concept putting trinkets into cake.  


Yule logs with coins in them, Epiphany cakes with thimbles in them, Mardi Gras king cakes with babies in them (plastic babies).  They're all a disaster waiting to happen. 

I'm expecting to bite into a soft, sweet, cream cheese laden cake, and then ouch! I just chipped my tooth on a plastic baby Jesus.  How do I know that the "lucky" coin hidden in my slice of yule log wasn't on the floor of the subway last week... not feelin' so lucky anymore. Or worse yet, what if someone choked on the thimble in the Epiphany cake? That would be awkward. so.many.issues


The lore behind the Mardi Gras king cake is that the person who gets the slice with the baby wins.  Winning means that they have to host the next King Cake party.  To some that would be a real treat (I would have a field day buying my weight in cream cheese and sanding sugar), others not so much. 

So if last year you were the one to get the slice with the baby in it, were lucky enough not to choke/chip any teeth on him, and you're not too enthused about whipping up this years king cake, I have the recipe for you.  All this recipe takes is: 1) whacking pressure packed cinnamon rolls on the kitchen counter 2) whipping up some cinnamon-y cream cheese frosting (licking the spoon required) 3) shaking sanding sugar all over the whole thing and making it look all festive.
Easy enough right?


No proofing, zesting, waiting, or (god forbid) kneading.  Just pop, lock 'n drop it.... not exactly, but you get the point: this recipe is easy. 


Naturally, since it's made with Pillsbury, it doesn't taste exactly like the traditional, yeasty sweet bread.  However, it's absolutely delicious and addictive nonetheless (nobody will complain). It tastes a little bit like sopapilla cheesecake.  If you've never heard of sopapilla cheesecake, google it now and prepare to have your life changed.  


All of this being said, I won't be putting a plastic baby in my king cake, but if you're into that, by all means do it.  It's fun and festive and kudos to you for not being a total party-pooper like me with my concerns about sanitary/dental issues.  Just remember to stick the baby in after the cake comes out of the oven (if you put him in before, you'll end up with a gooey plasticky mess).  


Happy (almost) Mardi Gras to everyone!

And for all of you overachievers out there (or those of you that just like to play with dough), I have a real yeasted king cake recipe coming your way. 

With love, 
Erica

Ingredients

  • 2 cartons Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, 8 Count (12.4 Ounce Cans) -- save the containers of icing!
  • 1 8oz. block cream cheese 
  • ½ cups dark brown sugar 
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons purple sanding sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow sanding sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons green sanding sugar
  • 1 dry bean or plastic baby jesus (if you're into that) 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Take all of the cinnamon rolls out of their containers, and set the frosting containers to the side.  Dust a rolling pin with flour and roll each cinnamon roll into a flat disk (about 4 inches in diameter).  You should end up with 16 rounds.

Arrange 8 of these rounds on a piece of parchment paper, overlapping a bit in a wreath shape.  Press down where they overlap so they stick together.  

Beat together the cream cheese brown sugar and powdered sugar.  Add the cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Beat well until combined. Drop this mixture by tablespoonful on the cinnamon rounds that have been sealed into a circle, staying as close to the center as possible.

Place the remaining 8 cinnamon rounds on top of the filling, overlapping and sealing the tops and tucking under to seal the sides.

Bake for 17-20 minutes.

Let cake cool for a few minutes (now is when you stick the trinket into the cake). Frost with the Pillsbury Frosting that came with the rolls. Sprinkle all over with purple, yellow, and green sanding sugar.

Enjoy!

Adapted from So Domesticated

© 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.

yeasted king cake


Snow days are better than regular holidays for three reasons...


1) No expectations
of doing something super fun and fabulous. When people ask me "what did you do with your snow day?" "rolled around on the floor for a while,"  "watched three episodes of Jerseylicious" (does that show still exist?), and "played with dough all day" are all totally acceptable answers.  There's no expectation that I went on some super fancy cruise ship, took a bunch of pictures wearing fancy/sparkly things, or changed the world through some community service trip I took.  Nope.  This is a day when I can wear fuzzy socks and eat a king sized bag of pita chips and not feel even a little bit guilty about it. 

2) No expectations of hanging out with people.  Not that I don't like people.  But I feel like it's socially unacceptable to lock yourself in the house and talk to your dog over a long weekend.  On a snow day, not so much.

3) No expectations of it coming.  What?  Ok, that didn't make total grammatical sense, but what I'm trying to say is that snow days are unexpected, which make them that much more awesome. I wake up, remember all of the procrastinated assignments that I am obligated to do that day, and then oh wait! I don't have to do any of them because there's white stuff falling from the sky! It's like confetti celebrating the procrastinators of the world.


So yay for the unexpected!  Since on snow days I have oodles of time to waste time/avoid humans/avoid responsibilities, they're the perfect opportunity to play with yeast, and make a somewhat involved recipe that has a rising time (a luxury that someone who has to go to school rarely has)! I shared my super lazy way of making king cake with you all a few days ago, but for those of you who are itching to make the real-deal (maybe you have a snow day too), here it is!


As cliche/cheesy as this sounds, nothing compares to the real thing, there's a certain special layer of flavor (love?), that just can't be achieved with something that comes out of a can.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients:

Cake
  • 3/4 cups warm milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons or one packet of dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 stick of butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • zest of one orange 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Filling:
  • 1 block Cream Cheese (8 Ounce Block)
  • ½ cups Dark Brown Sugar (packed)
  • ½ cup Powdered Sugar
  • ½ teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • yellow, green, and purple sanding sugar
Warm the milk in the microwave or a saucepan until it is warm to the touch.  Mix the milk, yeast and 1 Tbs. of the sugar in a medium bowl and proof  While it is proofing, whisk together the melted butter, egg yolks, and vanilla in a medium bowl.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, flour, nutmeg, orange zest, and salt.

Add the butter mixture and the yeast mixture to the flour mixture in the stand mixer.  Knead for 5 minutes with the dough hook until smooth.  Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise for two hours.

After the dough has finished rising, prepare the filling.  Beat together the cream cheese, brown sugar, powdered sugar, cinnamon and vanilla until smooth.  Transfer the dough to a large sheet of parchment paper and roll it out into a 9x13 inch rectangle.  Spread the cream cheese filling evenly onto the rectangle, leaving an inch along one of the long sides so it doesn't overflow.  Starting on the long end, roll up the dough jelly-roll style. 

Grease an empty metal can and place it in the center of a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Gently wrap the dough around the can (seam side down), and pinch the ends together to form a ring.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Let the cake rise as the oven preheats (about half an hour).   Bake for 30-40 minutes until it is golden brown.  Remove the can and let cool.

Make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar and milk.  Add a little more milk if the glaze is too thick.  Pour on the the glaze and then decorate with sanding sugar.
Adapted from Food 52

© 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.