Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Sweets - Valentine's Day Rustic Lemon Cookies

Hello dear friends and "Buona Domenica"! Buona Domenica in Italian means Happy Sunday and it is what most people say in place of "have a good weekend". In Italy Sunday is the the day in which family and relatives usually gather together have a HUGE lunch and just relax, laugh and enjoy the company of family. It's a very important day of the week for my relatives in Italy and I didn't get it in the beginning but now I understand the importance of it. 

I have two uncles on my Italian side. The oldest one, Uncle Tonino passed away some years ago whereas my Uncle Franco is still alive and well. I wrote a post about the beautiful marriage with his wife here. Sunday lunches are always held at Uncle Franco's house.  When Uncle Tonino was alive they used to alternate one Sunday at Uncle Tonino's and the other at Uncle Franco's. Obviously the wives have to do all the work but my other aunts pitch in and help as well. I mean I have 5 other aunts! 

It's fun and it certainly keeps family close. It's an effort and a tradition that brings unity in the family. And at the end of day family is the most important thing, am I right? 

Rustic Lemon Valentine's  Day Cookies

 - 2 medium sized organic lemons
 - 350 grams of all purpose flour
 - 150 grams of corn flour
 - 2 eggs
 - 150 grams of sugar
 - 60 grams of corn oil
 - 1 teaspoon of baking powder
 - 2 tablespoons of cold water
 - pinch of salt

Grate the peel of the organic lemons and squeeze the juice of half a lemon that you will add to the dough.

Work together all of the ingredients in a mixer or by hand. You will find that the mixture is pretty dry so that is where you add the cold water to add some moisture. 

 Form a ball with the mixture making sure all of the ingredients are incorporated well and cover in plastic wrap leaving it in the fridge for about an hour.

Next thinly roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and begin cutting out the shapes you like. 

I found these heart cookie cutters on clearance and thought they were so cute so I decided to use them in the different sizes. 

I love these cookie cutters!

Then they got put on a tray in a preheated oven (200°C) for about 15 minutes. I had to watch them closely because of the different sized cookies. Obviously the smaller cookies baked in less time so I just removed them a minute or two sooner. 

Then I made a batch of cookie glaze mixing confectioners sugar, a couple tablespoons of milk and some red food coloring.

Now the fun part...decorating. I haven't decorated cookies in a very long time so it was fun. I tried spreading the glaze on with a knife but to make life easier I just dipped each cookie in the glaze and I was done in no time. 

Then I just topped with nonpareils and voila!

Valentine's Day Cookies!

I dedicate this post to my Niece who is joining our world today. 

May God Bless You and Watch Over You Today and Always.

I Love You.

Aunt Silvana


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Winter Wonderland

Hello my friends! I haven't posted in a while just because I've been a busy bee. I've had a lot going on and I just haven't been in the right mind set to post or even cook for that matter. I've been making quick meals in the evenings after work and I've also been "dieting". I hate using that word ... I guess I've just been cutting out the bad stuff :-) You know, the usual, bread, pasta, sweets, PIZZA! Ugh... so therefore I haven't made anything that interesting to write about. 

My mother who lives in eastern PA got hit with a crap ton of snow these past few days and she sent me pictures. I was amazed at just how much snow she got. When I look at these pictures it really makes me miss those winters. I wish we got some snow around here. 

I was so worried because the news in Italy documented the snow storm and said that it was going to cause damage and you never know whether or not they exaggerate or if in fact it was going to be as bad as they said it would be. 

So on Saturday we texted and face timed and she sent pictures and videos and kept me updated. It wasn't looking too good. 

It just kept snowing and snowing and snowing...

The sky was grey and everything was white. As she sent me pictures I kept thinking about when I was a little girl and would wake up on a week day to find everything covered in snow. 

I would jump out of bed and rush into the kitchen, turn on the TV to the local station that listed the schools that had delays or days off because of the weather, and I watched and hoped and prayed for a snow day.

When I finally saw my school listed as a snow day I was ecstatic and immediately went back to bed LOL...then of course I would go outside and play in the snow! I got pretty sentimental seeing these pictures because that is the house I grew up in. The hill I slid down on with our slay and the backyard where our dog Pongo would run around in.  It sure did bring back some memories.

And then on Sunday the sun came out and the snow sparkled like diamonds under the sun. 

The sky turned bright blue again. 

And the streets were plowed. 

What a wonderful world we live in. God made it so we never get tired or bored with our world. That's how I picture the seasons. Change can be scary but sometimes it's necessary for growth. Where there is no change, there is no life. 

My father is coming to visit me in a week. I was a little down in the dumps a few days ago and he immediately bought a ticket to come see me. I can't wait to see him. 

What have you been up to? 

Hope all of you are doing well. 


Monday, January 18, 2016

Sunday Sweets - Easy Homemade Marshmallows

Happy Monday to you all! I am happy to share with you that over the weekend I made homemade marshmallows and they were a success! My blogger friend Sara, who is an amazing photographer by the way, gave me an idea a while back to make homemade marshmallows. I kept putting it aside because I started looking online for some good recipes and they all looked really complicated. I'll be honest with you, I actually tried making them last week and it was a disaster! They turned out really bad because the recipe I had used called for egg whites and once I whipped them up well the recipe said to pour in the hot sugar syrup and as soon as I did that, they deflated and I wasn't able to recuperate them at all.... Sooo I ended up throwing them out completely. It was a mess! Just goes to show that not all the recipes you find online are keepers.

So I found another one that I tried this weekend and am happy to add that it was much easier than the last recipe. No egg whites were used and there was no candy thermometer necessary either. The recipe I used can be found here. This is also a recipe that does not call for corn syrup so that's a plus as well. Here are some pictures for any marshmallow lovers out there :-) and Sara, I must agree...they taste so much better than store bought! 

The first thing I did was soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for about 10 minutes. 

Then I heated the sugar and water until the sugar dissolved completely. 

No need for a candy thermometer either. The recipe just said heat until dissolved and add the gelatin sheets bringing everything to a boil. 

As soon as I added the gelatin, the mixture boiled up really fast and was overflowing (weird) so I quickly turned off the heat. 

Then I let this cool partially and began mixing at high speed until it doubled and became dense. 

I then separated the mixture in two separate bowls and added some food coloring just cause I wanted to make pink and blue marshmallows :-) I just thought they would be cuter.

Then I coated two small pans with powdered sugar and added the mixture to each pan. You want to work quickly here. As soon as your done mixing add to pan. 

The recipe didn't really give it a setting time. It just said they're ready once the top isn't sticky any more. I let them sit for about 4 hours. 

Once the four hours passed I cut little hearts out and coated with a mix of powdered sugar and corn starch. The recipe said to cover either in powdered sugar or coconut flakes. I thought it would be too sweet with just the powdered sugar so I mixed with corn starch. 

That's it! Aren't they cute? 

I know they're not perfect but they sure tasted good! 

And they float! I was afraid they were gonna be sinkers! hahaha but alas I was wrong :-)

Have a great week guys! 

Thank you Sara for giving me such a great idea! 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Contemplations - Aging Gracefully

Ever since I turned 30 I have been more conscious about the laugh lines around my nose and mouth, about the wrinkle that I have in between my forehead when I frown, the wrinkles around my eyes (even though I don't really have many of them YET (Thank God!)...

When I was in my 20's I didn't care at all about lines and wrinkles. It was the blemishes that tortured my existence unfortunately! Now that I finally got that under control I'm preoccupied with puffiness, bags, fine lines and wrinkles, oh my!

If I don't get enough sleep, I look like crap....if I drink too much sparkling white wine (my favorite!) I'm bloated... If for some reason  I don't wash off my makeup it's disaster central!

None of these things have ever happened to me when I was in my 20's and I figure that from now on it's just going to get worse...YAY for me (not)! 

I was watching the Golden Globe Awards on TV the other day. They showed it on cable TV here in Italy and I saw so many actors that I haven't seen in ages actually on live TV! When you see them in movies you can't really tell what they look like in real life because, well, they're acting...whereas in an awards ceremony you can kind of see what they look like now. 

Wow! They all looked amazing! Like....a little TOO amazing if you know what I mean. The women all looked great but the botox was mostly evident in the men believe it or not. Like Christian Slater (who I adored when I was growing up) looked like his eyebrows were reaching for the sky! 

Sly Stalone! My other love...

What is going on???

Ok so you get the picture...

What are my thoughts? I am not against a little botox here and there....Heck, I'm even considering it (for my smile lines only though). I totally understand the pressure that these people must go through to preserve their "fortune", but we all are going to age eventually and I just think that at some point you'll have to just let it go. 

I'm a huge fan of Kate Hudson. I think she's awesome. I love Goldie Hawn as well but when I saw Kate on the Golden Globes she looked so different. And honestly I don't think it was necessary just yet. 


Then there's another factor... you have to know where to go. These actors and actresses go to the best estheticians and plastic surgeons in Hollywood and sometimes THEY don't even turn out well! So who knows? 

What I do know is that I look my best when I:

1)  Get 8+ hours of sleep at night

2) Don't eat a lot of carbs before going to bed

3) Drink lots and lots of water

4) Exercise regularly (even just walking 30 minutes a day)

5) Don't drink too much wine (particularly the white wine)

6) Moisturize my face every morning and night

7)  Another thing that I have benefited greatly from is using jojoba oil as a facial moisturizer

I was skeptical about using it because I immediately thought oil + face = BAD but that's not true with this oil it actually helps keep blemishes away and at the same time helps with the fine lines. You can also use it as an eye makeup remover. I'm addicted to the stuff just make sure if you use it, it's organic. 

So now let's end this Friday Contemplation post with celebs who say NO to botox. Article found here.

Emma Thompson, 55

Emma Thompson

Diane Keaton, 68

Diane Keaton

Julia Roberts, 47

Julia Roberts (not too sure though :-/)

Lauren Hutton, 71

Lauren Hutton 

Jamie Lee Curtis, 56

Jamie Lee Curtis

Julianne Moore, 53

Julianne Moore

Salma Hayek, 48

Salma Hayek

Sigourney Weaver, 65

Sigourney Weaver

Jodi Foster, 52

Jodi Foster

My hat goes off to these beautiful and strong women!

Have a great weekend everyone <3