Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pizzelles, beautiful pizzelles...

In the interest of continuing to try new things, I am posting a recipe to link up to Mandy's recipe box. Not that trying a recipe is a new thing for me, but posting about it and linking up to another blog is.

These are the prettiest cookies ever. Pizzelles have always been one of my favorite cookies. My son loves them too and calls them "snowflake cookies". My parents have made them every year for Christmas and bought me a pizzelle maker years ago that I love! My dad's pizzelle recipe is perfect...just the right amount of anise. I love anise flavor in my pizzelles but not too much. They are so light and airy that I'm convinced they are only about 10 calories each. I'm not going to look up the actual nutritional information though and burst my bubble!

My dad tried a new recipe and new technique this year. Colored pizzelles. They are simply gorgeous. Based on his recommendation, I used 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 anise as this recipe didn't have any anise (it's a different batter because it needs to be thicker to roll it in the non-pareils). Also, my dad said colored sugar just burns. The multi-colored ones are with the non-pareils and the red and green ones are with sprinkles (they make more "dots" of color versus the lines the non-pareils make).

By the way, on the Woman in White front I am on page 420 out of 602. Making progress. It really is a good suspense novel and I recommend it to anyone looking to read a 600 page book!

On to the recipe for these beauties!

Pizzelle Colorate

Colored Pizzelle
Makes about 4 1/2 dozen
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups sugar

5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3  cups multi-colored nonpareils
In a medium bowl sift the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Add the vanilla extract. On low speed, blend in the flour mixture a little at a time until well blended. The dough will be soft.
Cover the bowl and chill the dough for at least two hours.
(Note you can make the dough in a food processor, combining the butter and sugar first, then eggs and vanilla and lastly the flour mixture).
Heat a pizzelle maker according to manufacturers directions. If it is non-stick, spray it with a baking spray or lightly brush with vegetable oil.
Pour the nonpareils into a shallow dish.
Using two teaspoons scoop up a spoonful of the dough and using the spoon as a guide, roll the dough in the nonpareils coating it well. Place the dough in the center of the form; if you have a two-form maker, or four-form maker, roll the balls first before putting them on the form.
Close the lid and latch it for a count to 30. Lift the lid and remove the pizzelle with the edge of a fork and place them on cooling racks in single layers to cool completely. For darker colored pizzelle hold for a longer count.
Continue making pizzelle until all the dough is used.
The pizzelle should be thin and have a crisp texture. When completely cool, wrap them in groups of six in plastic wrap and place in airtight containers. Pizzelle can be made ahead and frozen for up to three months.
Linking up here:


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tackling a WIWW post!

This is not on my list but, like I've said before, my list is inspiring me to try other things also! I've been taking quick pictures of myself after I've gotten dressed for the day (with my iphone and in a mirror...not the best quality!).

Lindsey, at The Pleated Poppy, started these What I Wore Wednesday (WIWW) posts as a way to keep herself accountable for getting out of yoga pants and t-shirts and trying to look presentable each day. Last year I got in a rut of wearing the same handful of clothes and hardly ever wearing jewelry. My closet and my jewelry box are full of nice things that should really be used. So I've been attempting to do that lately! And taking pictures (which feels kind of funny!). And now I am really stepping out of my comfort zone by posting the pictures and linking them to The Pleated Poppy.

This was just Saturday or Sunday at home, I think. The details: jeans and sweater: don't remember. Shirt: Ann Taylor, gift from hubby. Necklace: Kohl's.

 This was worn to lunch and shopping with a friend. Dress from Marshall's (short sleeve summer one that I added a cardigan to to make it for winter). Cardy from my mother-in-law. Necklace from Kohl's. Belt I've had forever. Black tights from Kohl's. And my favorite black riding boots that you can't see from Victoria's Secret (Colin Stuart) I bought about 3 years ago.
 This was to run errands I think. New brown skinny cords that I love from The Gap. Sweater from Kohl's. Aqua blue cami from Sam's Club. Hair flower headband from CVS. Necklace from my freshman year of high school! Seriously! I got it for the homecoming dance and never got rid of it, which I'm glad because I've worn it a lot this year!
 This picture was taken under horrible lighting by my 8-year-old daughter! This was for a Christmas party at one of my husband's co-workers. Dress, tights and blingy necklace that I love from Kohl's (I just can't resist it when they send you those 30% off coupons!). And my favorite black boots that you can kind of see in this picture!
 Don't look at the man behind the curtain! Or the woman with the hair-drying turban on her head! Seriously...post shower. Around the house on the weekend. Sweater: gift from Lands' End from my mother, shirt from The Gap, jeans I've had forever from Kohl's (they're so comfortable that I gravitate to them even though they're not my most flattering pair!). Necklace from Etsy. It's a cool red tree with a little bird beneath it.
 Christmas errands all over the place. Shirt from Lauren Conrad's line for Kohl's. Same Gap skinnies. Earrings from Target.
 More errands. I swear...there were a lot more actual events this week but it's all blurring in my mind as "errands" so far! But I can tell this wasn't an actual event because I don't have makeup on. I think this was a took-a-shower-later-in-the-day-and-put-this-on-before-the-bus-stop type of thing. Sweater: gift from my MIL. Grey shirt from Old Navy. Turquoise necklace from Kohl's. And same comfy jeans.
 Now this was today so I remember...after a marathon session at the gym, a shower, some phone calls to make, etc this was my "wrapping presents for a gazillion hours" outift and then going to a radio station tour with N's cub scout troop.  Kohl's white sweater, Old Navy black shirt, forget where jeans, necklace from a local boutique.

I don't bother taking a picture of my gym clothes, which I am in every morning, because they are...well...gym clothes. And those pictures would get boring!

Linked to The Pleated Poppy.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A belly full of mung beans!

Knocked another off the list with mung beans! #17...Eat an ethnic food I've never had before.

I was joined by my good friend Suzanne, who's always up to join me in a new adventure, especially if eating is involved (but try to get her to commit to trying out the gym 2 days a week to get her used to it starting in January and forget it!).

At any rate, we went to quaint little downtown Bethlehem and ate at a restaurant called Alando Kenyan Cuisine. It is operated by Emily, from Kenya. Alando was her grandmother and the food was all based on her grandmother's recipes. She is currently leasing space at the back of The Wired Cafe and has the tables and walls decorated with African art.

We started with African Peanut Soup which had little pieces of sweet potatoes in it. It was very rich and creamy...a cup was too much for either of us, but quite good. Suzanne ordered beef samosas with lime wedges and those were so great! The best thing of all. I ordered Green Gram Grains which was mung beans with a curry and coconut sauce, served with a side of Chapati (flat bread infused with cardamom...yummy!). We also had Bhajia which were thinly sliced potatoes fried with a cilantro butter batter of some sort. Good, but not fantastic. Too fried. My stomach doesn't like really fried food (but strangely, can handle fast food french fries just fine!).

On The Woman in White Front, I am on page 250 or so. 250. Out of 602. 250 out of 602. And did I mention that the font is really, really tiny? And did I mention the book was written in 1860? I am, however, really enjoying it. It's a really good mystery and, apart from being the first mystery book written, was also the first book to be written from all the characters' points of view. It really is a good book. It's just long. Did I mention it has 602 pages? And did I mention that the font is really, really tiny?

The idea of the list has made me more open to try new things...things that aren't even on my list. Little things like taking a shower at the Y, which doesn't sound intimidating but I've never done it. I decided one day to pack up my gym bag with soap, a towel, clothes, and makeup and just do it. And it wasn't that bad. And it saved me time by not having to go home first before I ran my errands. And it cost me $15. I took C's straightener with me because it's smaller and I was only straightening my bangs. I distinctly remember putting it back in my gym bag but then I can't vouch for it's whereabouts. And it's yet to be seen again. So now I owe her a new straightener. And my gym shower cost me $15!

And bigger things like agreeing to sign up for a Lazyman's Triathalon with my crazy British friend Jayne. It started the day after Thanksgiving and goes until Christmas Eve and involves completing 100 bike miles, 25 run miles and 2 swim miles (or in lieu of swimming, 8 hours of aerobics classes). Now while a month to complete those things isn't really that crazy, it's just that the particular month to complete them is always crazy! It will force me to do more exercise this month than I probably would have otherwise. And perhaps, help to negate some of the calories from holiday cookies that I've already started baking (though I have gotten smarter and given away or frozen some so they're not all there waiting for me to eat them. And I do have 3 other willing cookie eaters in the house...though the kids don't eat as much as they should!!).

And silly things like taking pictures of myself after I've gotten dressed for the day to use for a What I Wore Wednesday post (known in the blog world by the bloggers I follow as WIWW). WIWW was started by Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy as a way to encourage people to step it up with their outfit choices. Last year I found myself wearing the same old jeans and sweaters and no jewelery. I have a lot of clothes and jewelery and decided that I should "use what I have" and step it up a bit. I feel better when I think I look good. It's a way of keeping yourself accountable to not get stuck in a clothes rut (if you care about clothes that is. If you don't then this would seem like a silly exercise.). And I'm amazed at how many different outfits I can come up with when I put a little thought into it. I have not reworn outfits (aside from jeans and cords) since I've been doing this which has been since the fall.

So the list is on its way and it's showing its effect on me in other ways also by making me more receptive to all types of new experiences!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Read Pride and Prejudice...check!

I actually finished it last week. I've been meaning to update the blog to reflect that but I was never motivated enough to want to. I'd wait until the end of the day, thinking I'd do it on my iPad in bed, but I'm always too tired then and the last thing I want to do is another "to do." I admire those bloggers who blog most Mondays to Fridays, and most of them with pictures uploaded . That's a lot of time dedicated.

Anyway, I finished Pride and Prejudice and actually liked it a lot more than I thought that I would for the first 200 pages. It did take me quite a bit of time to get into it but once I did, I looked forward to reading it. It was hard to wait for Darcy and Elizabeth to figure it out. I kept wanting them to get together sooner than the book would allow (which I guess is an indicator of pretty good writing!). So I'm glad to have read it.

On to the next easiest item on my list...read The Woman in White. I figured since I was already in a classics reading frame of mind, I might as well get started on that. I started it last night and am already liking it more than I liked the beginning of Pride and Prejudice. The Woman in White is supposed to be the first suspense novel ever written (1860). It is LONG...almost 600 pages of very, very tiny words! I think this will be a work in progress and I will have to tackle other items from my list before I complete this one!

Speaking of the list, it's too bad I didn't include the things that need to be done anyway...like purge the bonus room closet, organize the unfinished area of the basement, clean the house, feed the kids, workout, etc... Sometimes it just seems like there won't be enough time for all the things on my list while maintaining my normal life. But I guess the point of it is to stretch beyond normal. Maybe to push the limits of time management and find a new way to fit it all in (because I'm not one of those people who would be ok with, "Well, just let the housework slide a bit, worry about organizing the basement next year", nor am I married to one)!

At any rate, Pride and Prejudice is done.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I finally found my #40...

I left number forty blank on my list because I was waiting for something really good to fill it. I think it's been filled. 

My bestie (Can I say that at forty? Other bloggers do! But maybe they're not forty. Maybe they are twenty-nine and can still get away with it. In fact, I've never said it in real life. I just like how it reads).  Anyway, my best friend (yea, that's more my style) Kristen threw a surprise party for me that truly was a complete surprise. I had no idea. We always cook a special birthday lunch for each other and that's what I thought this was. I was wrong! The kitchen was filled with friends from the neighborhood, run club and book club all waiting to surprise me! Kristen had made two  big pots of wonderful soups (Pioneer Woman's cauliflower soup and chicken tortilla soup...try them if you haven't yet), corn muffins, two big bowls of awesome salad, tea sandwiches, subs, and  baquettes. Suzanne provided the amazing dessert (in fact I always think of Suzanne when I write the word dessert because she said she always remembers the word is spelled with two s's because she'd rather have two desserts instead of one). A great big beautiful cake (big enough for forty candles), gorgeous chocolate covered strawberries and carrot cake (2 of my all time favorite desserts!). Kristen had a beautiful champagne toast and everyone so generously brought presents (in fact one of them was a gift card to laser tag....which is one my list of forty things to do!). 

Here's me looking very surprised walking into Kristen's kitchen. I need to work on a more attractive surprised face.

 The beautiful cake with room for forty candles!

 Suzanne, me and Kristen.

It was such an amazing afternoon and I was on a high the whole rest of the day. I felt so special and lucky. I've never had a surprise party and always kind of wanted one but that's not the kind of thing you can put on your list....have someone throw me a surprise party! So thanks, Kristen, for putting it on my list and simultaneously crossing it off!!

On the Pride and Prejudice front, I am a little further into it. I did take a bit of a break to pretend I was a tween and read The Hunger Games...which I read very quickly...because I couldn't put it down...and then I had to google the summary for the second book...which led me to google the summary of the third book. And if there were anymore books in the series I would have googled those summaries too. Seriously. It was good.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pride and Prejudice

I started reading Pride and Prejudice two nights ago. Actually first I started reading The Woman in White but there was an introduction followed by a second introduction and a preface to a preface. I just wasn't in the mood for all of that yet. So Pride and Prejudice it was.

There is a lot of dialogue in the book. Much more than dialogue in modern books. Maybe its just Austen's style. I can't believe for as much as I love to read and really enjoy classics as well, that I haven't read any Austen. I do have four of her books in my bookcase though.

I took the book to Noah's soccer game but it was raining and I didn't want to get the book out of my bag and risk getting it wet. It has such a pretty cover. I also have a weird thing with the condition of books. It makes me cringe when I see someone turn a page down to mark their place or, horror of horrors, fold the cover and pages of the book back to read it. It literally hurts my heart to see that. I may be a tiny bit OCD about it!

So I may be a bit slower in reading this book than I normally am. There are just so many good blogs that I've bookmarked and love to read at night. Food blogs, fashion blogs, decorating blogs...all totally pleasurable reading! And if I'm not reading blogs, there's all my cookbooks to go through. But don't worry, Mr. Darcy, I will get back to you soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The List...

Without further ado, here is the list...

Forty Things to do in my Fortieth Year:

  1.            Make my own cheese.
    2.     Make cheesecake.
    3.     Cook something with tomatillos in it.
    4.     Bake bread.
    5.     Read Suze Orman’s guide to finances for women.
    6.     Learn excel.
    7.     Complete one race I haven’t done yet (ex: Duatholon, Warrior, etc).
    8.     Start a blog.
    9.     Read Pride and Prejudice.
    10. Take an exercise class I’ve never taken before.
    11. Take a cake decorating class.
    12. Take a knife skills class (preferably live, but on-line will count).
    13. Spend one day saying “Yes” instead of “No”.
    14. Make Mimi’s apple pie.
    15. Go see a movie by myself.
    16. Take on-line singing lessons.
    17. Eat an ethnic food I’ve never had before (that one downtown?).
    18. Pack a picnic, a blanket and book and take myself on a picnic.
    19. Watch the DVD that came with our camera.
    20. Research how to photograph food.
    21. Take on-line beginner clarinet lessons.
    22. Get a mammogram.
    23. Go for a walk in the rain.
    24. Draw with charcoal.
    25. Make frozen hot chocolate.
    26. Go in Suzanne’s Jacuzzi in the middle of the day while it’s snowing.
    27. Play tennis at least once a week for a month (this involves someone else’s ability to do this as well).
    28. Play laser tag.
    29. Learn how to use the riding mower.
    30. Learn how to use the snow blower.
    31. Cook an Indian dinner.
    32. Host a breakfast after the bus stop.
    33. Go Rock Climbing at rock climbing gym.
    34. Take a really long bike ride.
    35. Learn to do at least two long hair pulled back styles.
    36. Try to get a poem published.
    37. Do at least one month of P90X.
    38. After learning food photography, make a photo book of my food.
    39. Read The Woman in White, the first “mystery” novel from the Victorian age.

    Number 40 is blank because I'm saving it for a really good suggestion!

    Here is a picture of the list that I texted to my best friend off my computer screen:

    And here is a picture of the gift that she dropped off after seeing the list (she got the gift before seeing the list though!):

    The flowers in the background are from my darling husband. Pretty!!

    Number 8, "Start a blog" is on it's way!

Monday, October 10, 2011

And so now I'm forty...

Happy birthday to me! Happy 40th birthday, that is. 40? Already? Why do I still feel like I am in college? It's not possible that I'm forty yet, is it? And yet, my slightly spreading waistline, beginning of wrinkles and creaking of joints beg to differ.

I've spent the last year feeling a bit apprehensive about turning forty. On the eve of my fortieth I decided to try and make it into something a little bit better than just starting the "second half of my life." (I never remember whether the period goes inside or outside of the quotation marks. Something tells me I may have gotten it wrong because I like the look of the period inside the quotation marks. It looks like it's been "tucked in " nice and snug. Kind of like how I think the spoon should be set on the inside of the knife because it looks so cozy and like it's being taken care of by the bigger knife. But, I digress...). Anyhoo, I decided to try and make turning forty not so dreadful. Many of my friends have done it with nary a negative word. I needed something to help suppress my negative words though.

A list. A list of forty things that I would do this year to make the start of the second half of my life exciting. Something to look forward to. Things that I've always wanted to do but haven't found the time to, things that I've kind of wanted to do but was scared of, or things that I simply should do.

Let the year of the list commence!

(I'll post the list tomorrow because I am on my iPad in bed now and my list is downstairs. Good news, though..."start a blog" was one of the items on my list. Not bad, Day 1 of forty and I've already gotten started on my list!)