Friday, April 3, 2015
Easter is upon us and the Christian and Catholic community are gearing up to have a wonderful celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The greatest sacrifice has been made and the end of Lent and it's reverence continues. Making sacrifices are symbolic in terms of giving up bad habits, things you love or things you need to improve on - all of these can be worked on during lent.
After service is over on Easter Sunday, the family and friends gather to have a feast and now that Lent has ended, it's on and happening. The traditions differ all over the world and the menus vary. What's on your menu? Here are some suggestions just in case you're wondering.
From Parker Rolls to Brussels Sprouts and a Peanut butter Pound Cake, Al Roker shares some of his family Easter recipes.
All the recipes
1/2 pound + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 ¼ cups sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups whole milk, warmed
1 ½ cups smooth peanut butter (same type as used in cake)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
4 ½ cups 10X confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4-5 tablespoons whole milk, as needed
½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped coarse, to garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350`F. Butter the insides of two 9” round cake pans, & line the bottoms with parchment. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light. On medium-low speed, beat in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each egg.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until well blended. Add to creamed mixture alternately with warm milk, scraping the bottom of the mixer bowl frequently. Beat until thoroughly blended.
Pour into prepared pans and smooth the top if necessary. Bake 25-30 minutes, until top of cake springs back lightly when gently pressed. Cool in pans 5 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.
Once cool, make the frosting: In a large bowl or in an electric mixer, beat together the peanut butter and butter until smooth. Stir in the sugar one cup at a time, adding the vanilla and salt as you go. Add milk as needed to make a spreadable consistency.
Place 1 cake layer onto a serving plate and spread with some of the frosting. Place the other layer on top and spread the top and sides with remaining frosting to cover the cake completely. Garnish top of cake with chopped peanuts if desired.
Friday, March 27, 2015
It was a surprise trip. My King told me to save the date and that was all he had to say for me to get all excited and wonder where were we off to. It was early in the morning so I knew it wasn't to see Prince in concert or then again Prince would be able to pull off something like that - a sold out early morning concert. Well, that wasn't the case, it was another cool surprise.
We were at a Coffee and Tea Festival. How cool is that???!!! Although I would call it more of a Tea and perhaps some Coffee Festival; for every five tea vendors you may see a coffee vendor. Clearly, the teas outnumbered the coffee. I was in tea heaven. The vendors were there with the some of the most exquisite teas and encouraged us to take a try. It was like being at the buffet for teas.
It was a fun environment as the vendors had pulled all the stops with their branding. The Tea Pigs gives the impression of a farm grown type of tea - sipping and saying 'top of the morning to ya.' There were samples of bread, cakes, dips and we even purchased empanadas. The bread and cake samples of tastefully simple was absolutely delicious. You should check it out.
As we were leaving, I took a snap shot of the crowd that was waiting on line to enter the festival. It was incredible.
I could not wait to get home. The goodie bag we received had quite a number of items that I had to explore. As soon as I took off my coat, I emptied the bag and then I took a snap shot to share with you. Teas, sugars, coffee, magazines, coupons and even a Colgate tooth brush was included. However, I only took a picture of the coffee/tea related items.
The folks at Fully Spirited were a fun bunch who beckoned us to come on over and try their full spirited liqueur cakes and the sample was soooooo delicious and moist we couldn't resist. My King pulled out the cash and our first purchased was made. The next purchase was NEKTAR honey crystals which was reviewed by my King--> The honey crystals are good. Not quite spoonful for spoonful with the natural state but it is quite a bit less messy which makes it nice at work or if you are on the run.
Here's our at home sample share. We split the chocolate raspberry and limoncello while I kicked it up a notch, sipping on wine - proved to be too much liquor swirling around in my mouth.
There are still some treats left to try:
Bauli Mini Croissants
Mrs. Thinster's Cookie Thins
Nature's Bakery Fig Bar (Raspberry)
What's your idea of a fun festival? Coffee. Tea. Food. Music. Books. I love them all!!!
Thursday, March 19, 2015
What on earth is going on? That was my reaction this morning while I watched the CBS Morning Show. There was a segment with Kevin Hicks who founded Beverage Grades his own laboratory and began a process to test wine.
According to his findings, there were very high levels of arsenic. What he discovered shocked him.
Now here is where I am sitting up and paying close attention. Not that I'm a wine connoisseur but I have had many conversations/questions pertaining to wine and it's benefits. The benefits vary from heart health to the prevention of cancer. Yes I've heard it all. On a personal note, there are times when we would sip on a glass of wine in celebration for a celebration or with an occasional meal. It all seems healthy and harmless. Needless to say, this news report was not good.
The segment continues as Mr. Hicks stated that he analyzed more than 1,300 bottles of wine.
Here's the kicker --> Almost twenty-five percent had levels higher than the Environmental Protection Agency's maximum allowable amount of arsenic in drinking water: 10 parts per billion.
Interestingly, there was a pattern. Sadly, it has to do with the price. Yes indeed - the lower the cost per liter basis, the higher the amount of arsenic. What's even more alarming, is that you could have purchased it at your local Trader Joe's Two-Buck Chuck White Zinfandel - with flying marks at three times the limit. For the fun, feisty and seductive bunch who purchases a bottle of Ménage à Trois Moscato for the giggles, well that was four times the limit. The arsenic winner here is the Franzia Blush, this had five times the EPA limit for drinking water. Whew, let's take a moment to let that sink in, give thanks that we are still alive to read this and proceed with caution from hereon in.
Get this, naturally these findings must surely be something that the wine companies would be interested in knowing. After all, their goal is to sell wine not poison its consumers. Mr. Hicks shared the test results to some of those wine companies and as you'll see here's the outcome.
Before you panic, please note that wine is still good for you, the adventure is to know which one can you really trust.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Since the last post on my major feat of the winter run, I totally dropped the ball. This winter season seemed to be the snowiest ever - well at least in a long time. Every other day, the flurries would fall from the skies and pile into inches. The temperatures plummeted to single digits and wind chills reported to have a feel within the negative teens. Needless to say, there went my winter run.
Fast forward to March 10th, with the morning temperature back in the 30's and heading up to the 40's - it was time to head back out and get back on track. This time it was different as I heard my King (the Beast) ask if I wanted to go for a run, my heart sank. Our ideas for a run are way different. My run is just a smidgen above a snails pace, his idea is like a cross country pick up the pace and let's go. Prepared to challenge myself, I agreed to run knowing that it was going to be a rough one.
What I wasn't prepared for was the slick patches of ice. The day before was beautiful, a high of 50 was instrumental in melting the snow. However, there was some refreezing due to the drop in temperatures over night. We ran up on hills, on mounds of snow and gingerly ran over icy patches. It was like a boot camp run, testing my ability to make it through. I tried my best to keep up as the beast was way ahead of me. Over all, I made it through. Once again, I am proud of my efforts and now that the season is changing, I will be back out there even if it means I will go for the challenge run with my King - the Beast.
In the meantime, if the weather decides to take a turn, I will take full advantage of the indoor workout. How about you?
Update: Friday the 13th
It was 32 degrees so the Beast and I headed out for a run this morning. Although the path was much better as the snow has melted even more - it was a tough one. So tough that the beast was way ahead of me and kept running back to tell me to pick it up. With an aching knee, I begged him to go ahead - "I'll make it" but the truth is I felt like giving up, turning back and walking home. Here's the kicker, as I ran at a pace that allowed me to focus on running, the beast would make announcements to alert me that "this is the tough part" or "pick up your knees we're going up this hill" - things I really did not want or needed to hear. I just wanted to run the best way that I could. The best part of it all - I did it and I am so glad that I did.