naan pizzas

It wouldn’t be summer if I wasn’t wiping noses and playing Bop It alone in a dark room.  (click on the link for a description of Bop It a.k.a the greatest game in the universe).

Wait, what?! You all probably expected me to say something more glamorous like “putting on tanning oil and playing volleyball in Aruba.” Nope, not me.

I’ve been working at the same summer camp for the past six summers.  Every year by week three, I ask myself why in the world I come back every year to clean up “accidents” and listen to “Down By the Bay” for the millionth time.  But nevertheless,   I find myself back at camp every June — with a box of Clorox wipes and an open mind.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If there’s one thing that playing with kids as a job has taught me, it is the importance of being able to roll with the punches.  I never know when a game of duck duck goose will turn into a WWA showdown.  I’ve learned that it can be an emotional experience when the lunch ladies switch from strawberry to grape jelly.  I’ve learned never to let my kids play Doodle Jump on my phone — it always ends in a dead battery and a lot of goo on my screen.  I’ve learned the importance of censoring spooky stories before telling them (recapping the Paranormal Activity 2 = not the move).  I’ve learned that when I tumble down a concrete staircase while daydreaming and sipping my Venti triple-shot latte, I need to take a break (I have the knee bruises to prove it).

I play patty-cake on the reg.  I can climb up a plastic slide faster than you ever will.  I smell like Clorox, play dough, and sunscreen.  Unstoppable? Kind of.

Working with the little munchkins is a ton of fun, but it can get noisy, messy, and sticky really fast.  I have no time to color-categorize pony beads, disinfect Legos, or bedazzle our class sign.  I just dump multicolored glitter on everything and call it a day. #yolo

Just like a class sign that is not made with a ruler, there’s something to be said about a recipe with no measurements.  That leads me to the recipe of the day: naan pizza.  Super easy, super savory.  It gives me time to scrub the tie-dye off my hands, and it’s always a hit. You’re a bacon guy?  Throw that hickory-smoked goodness all up in this pizza.  You’re vegan?  Slather this with tofu.  Go nuts with it (meaning you could even add some pine nuts to this).   Or just let it be, and make an easy-peasy Margarita with pesto like I did.  Just toss things on, add a little extra cheese, and add some fresh herbs to be classy.

Dinner = done.
Now I have time to buy more puffy paint at Micheal’s. 

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
Naan
Cheese
Basil
Toppings of Choice (pesto, tomatoes, Parmesan, bacon, whatever your heart desires)
Olive Oil

Preheat your broiler.
Heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan.
Assemble all of your toppings (cheese + everything else) onto the naan.
Grill the pizza in the frying pan over medium-high heat for 5 min
Transfer pizza to the oven and broil until cheese is melty.
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.

julia’s banana bread

I just woke up from one of the best dreams I’ve ever had.  At the moment, I am sitting on Amtrak — rolling through miles of factory towns and burnt out buildings on my way to New York City.  As much as I love the city that never sleeps, I seriously needed some sleep. Thank the Lord it’s spring break and I can finally log out of my school e-mail account, hang up my backpack, and get some serious shut eye.  About an hour ago, the bumpiness of the train lulled me to sleep, and I was transported far, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city…

It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when people tell me about their dreams.  Not their dreams as in aspirations, but their nonsensical, rambling, nighttime dreams about purple cows and police chases.  Please forgive me, but I need to share this awesome dream with you guys.  It’s nothing crazy or complicated  — just a small tree house, a winding road, and some really good banana bread.

I had my noise cancelling headphones on, listening to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s soothing voice and soon, I drifted off into the sunny beaches of Hawaii…

My mind wandered to an article about banana bread that I had read about in Bon Appetit a while back.  I dreamed that I was in an old, rickety Jeep, driving on a one-lane road along the shoreline.  I drove for about 20 miles, and although I’m usually pretty impatient, the drive didn’t bother me one bit. With a view like that, I really couldn’t complain.  Finally, I drove up to a treacherous twist in the path, and I saw a quirky, lime-green tree house perched among the shady palm trees.  The weather was warm and beautiful, and the kind, old woman behind the counter’s smile was even warmer and more beautiful.  I walked up to the counter and she handed me a warm slice of banana bread.  The end.

When I made Julia’s famous banana bread for myself, it was like something out of a dream.  I don’t know how to describe it — just trust the thousands of people who swear that it’s the best on the planet.  The recipe is perplexingly simple —  bananas, oil, and flour.  But there’s something very unique about it — a special island touch if you will.  It has significantly more
speckles and freckles than any other banana bread I’ve ever made — just like the freckles we all get at the beach.

One day, my dream will come true and I will actually make the trek up to Julia’s banana bread stand.  But for now, I’ll just cut myself another slice (or three) when I get home.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

Nonstick vegetable oil spray



1 3/4
cup
all-purpose flour



1 1/2
teaspoons
baking soda



3/4
teaspoon
kosher salt



3

large eggs



1 1/2
cups
sugar



1
cup
mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)



3/4
cup
vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a
9x5x3-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and
salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large
bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just
until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.


Bake until a tester inserted
into the center of bread comes out clean, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a
wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around
inside of pan to release the bread. Turn out onto rack and let cool
completely.


© 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.

insanely easy nutella cookies

Would you believe me if I told you that you could make the fudgiest, butteriest, most delicious chocolate cookies on the planet without beating butter or chopping chocolate in less than 20 minutes?  Probably not. But hopefully by the end of this post, you will.

This morning, I had a cookie catastrophe.  Last night, I got home around 10 from a track meet.  I walked though the door and flopped into bed (I was still in my racing singlet).  I woke up around 11 this morning, and realized that I was meeting my friends Bella and Mimi for lunch at 12!  I threw on my leggings, and quickly slopped on some mascara.  Then I realized that there were no cookies. :0

I met Bella and Mimi at ballet school in seventh grade.  I have tons of great memories with them — gossiping in the locker room, running to Starbucks before barre, and making fun of our ancient Russian instructor behind his back.  We used to play a game to see who could pay attention to him the longest (I always lost).  The three of us haven’t been together in ages — the last time I saw Mimi I was an 8th grader!  This was a really important occasion, and really important occasions call for really good cookies. 

Sadly, I didn’t have time to whip together my famous compost cookies and I couldn’t even pick up a box of Oreos for my Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies!

Thank god for Nutella.

Thanks to that magical, chocolaty spread, these cookies came together in a matter of seconds — no butter left? Used all those chocolate chips? No problem! I didn’t even need to touch my Kitchen Aid.  By the time I finished doing my hair, they were already cooled and ready to eat!

When I came home from lunch, my mom had eaten one of the extra cookies that I left on the counter.  She said that they were out-of-this-world delicious, and one of the best cookies I’ve ever made. 

Everyone should know this recipe — because you never know when the next cookie catastrophe will strike!

With love,
Erica

 Ingredients
1 cup Nutella
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup flour + 1 tablespoon
coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine all
ingredients except for the sea salt in a large bowl until well
combined. Place dough in freezer for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes
roll dough into 1-inch balls, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from
oven and let cool for a few minutes until cookies are set, then very
carefully transfer to a wire rack. Generously sprinkle with sea salt.
Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

© 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.

the search for the best zucchini bread (the winner is surprising!)

This past weekend, the market was full of bright, colorful summer squash. I picked up a few baskets of yellow squash and zucchini and was inspired to make zucchini bread. I had so much zucchini on hand, I didn’t want to make just one big loaf… so the experimentation began.

I used two recipes in mini loaf pans, one highly rated one from Fine Cooking, and one healthier one from Simple Bites. Then came the taste test — and there was a clear cut winner (my mom, my dad, and I all favored one bread over the other). I assumed everyone would love the Fine Cooking version, because of the stick of butter, the coffee essence, and the eggs… however, the healthy version won.

Yes, my entire family including me favored the healthy version over the regular, buttery version in the taste test. The winner was made with Greek yogurt and whole wheat flour, and was the much more flavorful and delicious than the buttery Fine Cooking version. Talk about a win-win situation! This loaf is super moist, fluffy, with a flavorful cinnamon aroma. The Fine Cooking loaf was slightly dull and gummy. 🙁

Today I learned that the healthy version can actually be the tastier version. I also learned that my mom is not a fan of chocolate chips (go figure?). So next time, I will use some pecans instead.

Zucchini bread makes the perfect cloudy day treat. I like to toast slices of this fragrant quick bread and spread with a little bit of cream cheese.
I have seen variations such as banana zucchini bread and lemon zucchini bread — have any of you tried those?
With love, 
Erica

Winning Zucchini Bread

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (or all-purpose)
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup canola oil (or peanut)
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2%, but full fat would be ideal)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (or regular milk with a splash of vinegar)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups finely grated zucchini
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips (for those of you who like chocolate)
  • OR 2/3 cup nuts (pecans or walnuts)
  • OR you could do 1/3 cup chocolate chips, 1/3 cup nuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a 9×4 inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Line a 6-cup muffin tin with papers OR oil a mini loaf pan. In a bowl, sift together dry ingredients and set aside.

  • In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy; beat in yogurt, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Combine well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped chocolate.
  • Fold flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  • Spoon batter into 6 muffin cups (or mini loaf pan) and pour the rest into the 9×4 loaf pan. Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen the sides and remove from pan. Cool loaf completely before cutting.

From Simple Bites

cinnamon bun muffins (in half an hour!)

You all know about my slightly insane love for cinnamon. Nothing beats a warm, buttery cinnamon bun for breakfast — but since the recipe usually calls for a yeasted dough, they take overnight planning to make, which a little too much hassle for all of us busy people with a weekday cinnamon craving! These muffins are big, buttery, and full of fragrant, ground cinnamon, the perfect substitute for traditional yeasted buns. When they take only a half an hour from start to finish, why not treat your family to a cinnamon-filled weekday breakfast sometimes? Oh, and nothing beats how delicious your kitchen will smell with these heavenly muffins baking in the oven.
With love,
Erica

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

Makes 12
Ingredients

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 cups flour

Filling:
5 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla and egg. Add the buttermilk, then the flour. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for two minutes. Roll the dough into a 12-inch by 24-inch rectangle. 
  4. Spread with butter, then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  5. Roll the dough into a log beginning with the wide side. Stretch the log slightly as you roll to keep it tightly rolled. 
  6. Cut the log into 12 even pieces
  7. Place the rolls swirly side up in a greased muffin pan
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the muffins to cool for about 5 minutes, then remove them from pans to a cooling rack. Combine ingredients for glaze and drizzle over the top