raspberry jam crumble bars

“An artist is nothing without his or her obsessions, and I have mine.”
-Andres Serrano
In English, the word “obsession” has a  negative connotation.  
From Mariah Carey taunting us all with “why you so obsessed with me?,” to the fact that being “obsessive” seems synonymous to having a “disorder.”
Who said being “obsessive” is a bad thing?  Does being “obsessed” with something make you a crazy person?
I don’t think so.  In fact, I think that I can be an “obsessive” person, and it’s one of my favorite things about myself. 

The root of my obsessions lie in things that I’m passionate about.  Today, I’m going to talk about two of my obsessions: baking and writing. 
Are you an obsess-er too?  How do you know what an obsession feels like?  For me, it feels like a mosquito bite that I’ve been trying to ignore too long — I have to itch it. 
It’s like when I get home from school, throw my backpack onto the floor, and power walk to the kitchen.  In no time, I’ve got the oven preheated to 350 degrees, the KitchenAid whipping at full-speed, and a stick of butter softening in the microwave.  I haven’t even taken my coat off.  
It’s like right now, when it’s 12a.m. on a Friday night, I’m sitting in bed with my notebook and laptop typing away about obsessions.  Most kids are probably watching T.V., doing homework, or partying — I’m sitting here trying to think of a way to describe the feeling when I can’t sit still and have the sudden urge to whip up a vanilla buttercream. 
It feels naughty sometimes, like watching six episodes of Wipeout! in a row or eating an entire pint of Java Chip Frappuccino Ice Cream in one sitting.  I feel like I shouldn’t do it but I really really want to.  That’s how I feel about baking and writing. That’s when I knew I was obsessed. 
Everyone from Martha Stewart to Gwyneth Paltrow to Michelle Obama all seem to be touting living a “balanced” “whole” life.  These buzz-words are on the cover of every woman’s magazine and snuggled in the pages of all advice books.  Although I believe that some balance is needed for survival and happiness (balanced meals, hydration, family time, alone time, homework time), I think that if you’re super passionate about something, obsessed with it, why try to fight that?
Obsessions are things that don’t feel like work — you can do them for days and weeks and the hours just slip away.  I can stand over a layer cake for hours, I can sweat over a short story for days.  Since it’s so effortless to spend a lot of time on the things that you’re “obsessed” with — you will naturally get better at them with time.  Practice makes better.  Thanks to my obsession, my cakes no longer look like science experiments, and I no longer write short stories about elves and horses.  Now, thanks to my “obsessions” I make cakes with buttercream roses, and I write short stories about real things, like trying to go vegan, the perils of driver’s ed, and the smell of Astroturf in May.
If spending an hour at the gym as part of a “balanced” day makes you want to lock yourself in a closet, but you’re itching to go dancing this Friday night.  Why in the world would you strap yourself to the treadmill? Life is SHORT (and dancing is great exercise).  I’m not saying that we should all just neglect unpleasant responsibilities, but if they’re not vitally important to us, we can let them go and succumb to our obsessions. 
I whipped up these raspberry jam crumble bars approximately thirty seven minutes after I handed in my English exam last week.  Obsessive behavior? Perhaps.  Am I concerned? Not at all.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 oz. raspberry jam (or any other flavor you like)
1 cup granola without dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper. With your electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter until combined.  Add vanilla.  Sift flour and salt together, add to the butter mixture until it all sticks together in a ball.  Place dough on a board.  Gently press 2/3 of the dough evenly in the bottom of your pan and about 1/4 inch up the sides.  Spread evenly with jam.  Mix the granola into the remaining dough, break it into small bits and crumble them on top of the jam, covering the surface.  Bake for 45 min, cool completely, cut into squares, and 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.

p to the seventh panini

The school year has finally come to a close, and I’ve accumulated a lot on the way.

Confession: I lug around a lot.  You can tell by the weight of my backpack as I struggle up the metro escalator (I believe that life’s to short to stand on an escalator).

So I like to hang onto things, and it comes in handy sometimes.   My friends put up with my embarrassingly large bag so they can take advantage of my phone charger.  I’m kind of like Mary Poppins when she pulled a lamp post out of her enormous diaper bag. 

Oh so you need a pencil for your test? I have a pencil case full of mechanical pencils (one of which works).
Just opened your yogurt and need a spoon? I have a set of clean silverware in the front pocket.
Getting a pedicure during your free period? Don’t fear, I have extra flip flops.
Forgot you have to wear shorts in PE today?  I have a razor and travel soap.
That boy from 7th period texted you and batteries at 2%?  I have three iPhone chargers.  Worship me.
See? All my mismatched items come together harmoniously into one, supercharged survival kit.

… kind of like this sandwich (that was not the smoothest transition, but bear with me).  This sandwich has a crazy hodgepodge of things: sweet pears, seedy raspberry jam, an assortment of cheeses, seedy bread, and bacon… lots of bacon.  However, it all comes together harmoniously into one, supercharged sandwich.  It also has an awesomely nerdy name: P to the 7th Panini, because I was procrastinating from my math homework when I invented it.

Pears, prosciutto, preserves, Parmesan, provolone, poppyseed bread, and a panini press.
7 words that all start with P.  Mash-bang them together and you have this beauty of a sandwich. I’m a genius, what can I say. 


With love, 
Erica



Ingredients

  • 4 slices poppyseed bread 
  • 4 tablespoons raspberry preserves
  • 2 thinly sliced red pears
  • 6 strips cooked bacon (or other salty meat like speck, prosciutto or even ham)
  • White cheddar
  • Provolone
  • Parmesan
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  1. Preheat griddle or panini press to medium-high heat.
  2. Assemble 2 sandwiches in this order: bread, 1½ tbs. preserves, pear, 4 slices bacon, 2 slices cheese, bread.
  3. Spread butter on top and bottom of sandwich, sprinkle with Parmesan, and grill for 4-8 minutes, or until cheese is melted and top is golden brown.
Note:
My slices of bacon were pretty small and thin,
which is why I used 4 on each sandwich (gulp). I think 2 regular slices
per sandwich would be plenty. 

 
© 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.

linzer stars

I know it’s after Christmas, but I still have a ton of holiday recipes that I want need to share with you all.  And even though Christmas is over, the holiday spirit isn’t over! Right guys?! We’ve still got New Years… and heck, we’ve still got Groundhogs day!  In my opinion, even a Thursday is worth celebrating with cookies… especially these lovely little star shaped jam filled ones.

This star shaped cookies look so festive, and so professional.  I added these to my holiday cookie assortment and they definitely added the visual appeal that even the most decadent brownie can’t attract. 

I made mine with my favorite Bon Maman Raspberry Jam.  But you could even fill yours with an assortment of jams if you want to be fancy like that.

So if the post-Christmas blues are getting you down, turn up some music, grab some friends, whip together a batch of these uber-Christmas-y star shaped cookies, and relive Christmas all over again!

With love,
Erica

Ingredients


  • 1 1/2
    cups
    all-purpose flour


  • 1 1/3
    cups
    slivered almonds


  • 1 3/4
    teaspoons
    ground cinnamon


  • 1/2
    teaspoon
    fine sea salt


  • 2/3
    cup
    sugar


  • 1/2
    cup
    (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature


  • 1

    large egg


  • 2
    teaspoons
    dark rum


  • 1/4
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract


  • 1/2
    cup raspberry jam 

  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)


Pulse flour, almonds, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground (no larger than poppy seeds).


Using an electric mixer at
medium speed, beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until fluffy, about 3
minutes. Add egg; beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Beat in rum
and vanilla. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients. Beat dough just
to blend; gently knead if necessary to form a ball.


Divide dough in half. Place
each half between sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Working with 1
piece at a time, flatten dough into a disk; roll dough, occasionally
lifting paper on both sides for easier rolling, until 1/8 inches thick.
Chill dough in paper until very firm, at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.


Arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 375°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.


Working with 1 dough disk at a
time, remove top sheet of paper and, using 2-inch star cookie cutter,
cut out cookies. Transfer to baking sheets, placing 1/2 inch apart;
chill. Repeat with remaining dough. Gather scraps; repeat rolling,
chilling, and cutting until dough is used.


Using 1/2-inch star cookie
cutter, cut out a star from the center of half the cookies. Working in
batches, bake cookies until light golden brown, dry, and just firm to
the touch, 11-13 minutes. (Cookies will firm up as they cool.) Transfer
to a wire rack; let cool. DO AHEAD: Cookies can be baked 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.


Bring jam and 1 teaspoon water to a boil in a small saucepan; let cool slightly.


Arrange whole cookies flat side
up. Spoon 1 teaspoon cooled jam in the center of each, dabbing slightly
to spread. Arrange cookies with cutouts flat side down on a wire rack;
dust with powdered sugar. Set atop whole cookies, lining up star points
and allowing jam to push up slightly through center. DO AHEAD: Linzer Stars can be assembled 8 hours ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.