Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Make it a December to Remember

I cannot believe that December is already here! Time seems to have flown by these past few months.  The weather is also just getting colder in these parts so maybe that's why it seems like we jumped directly from summer to winter.  I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed because I'm leaving for the States in a couple of weeks (ahhh!!) and I have SO MUCH STUFF TO DO before I leave!! 

Since we'll be away for the holidays, I didn't go all out with the Christmas decorations this year. I did of course put up my tree in mid-November because I had guests over for Thanksgiving and I just really wanted the tree up. 

We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner at our house and I had some family from Brindisi stay over that weekend.  It was really nice and I'm so grateful for them.  They know I get homesick especially during American holidays and such so it meant a lot that they made the trip up to see me. I guess it was more of a Christmas tablescape  rather than a Thanksgiving table setting but I had already put the tree up so it would have been hard for it not to be "Christmassy" I guess.

I'm so excited about spending the Holidays in the States this year. It's been a while since I've celebrated Christmas in the US.  This year I'll be spending Christmas with my mother and sister in Pennsylvania and New Years in Florida with my father.  I am also SUPER excited about seeing my beautiful niece Lydia who has grown so much since the last time I saw her. She probably won't recognize me when I see her but we do Face Time every so often so I'm hoping she remembers me <3.  

I'm going to miss my little fur babies while I'm gone but I know they'll be in good hands. Billy will be staying with my Aunt in Brindisi and I've decided to leave Gigia at home and have my next door neighbor check up on her everyday that way she doesn't get stressed out about changing houses. 

I am also SO ready to see some snow this year!! It's been way to long. It doesn't snow where I live in Italy and that is one thing that I miss so much come winter. It just doesn't seem like Christmas without a little snow, right?

I've still been practicing yoga regularly in the evenings after work and have really been finding it very therapeutic.  I did end up subscribing to YogaGlo and am happy that I can access it wherever I go so I know I'll be practicing in the States as well. It really helps with my anxiety and I've also found that I have become more flexible and have been in a better mood since doing it. Whenever I skip a few days I find that I'm more tense and irritable. So I have to say that I am very pleased with the App and for me it's money well spent.  I actually cancelled my subscription after the free 15 day trial and decided that maybe I could just use videos on YouTube for free but I found that they were night and day compared to the videos available on YogaGlo so I ended up renewing my subscription and am so happy I did. 

In other news... I changed my hair color...again. I don't know how long this color will last but I have to say I do like it so far! I feel very festive  LOL. I've been getting lots of compliments so I'll keep it like this for now. 

Hope all is well with you my friends and that your December is fabulous!!! 




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It's Christmas Time!

Sooo I've decked the halls....and even though I'm not fully in the Christmas Spirit this year I love cozying up on the couch in front of my Tree watching Christmas movies. I haven't done any baking yet but would like to start soon. I haven't made any sweets in a while so I'm eager to try some new recipes.  I will definitely be making my Italian Fruit Cake again which ended up being a hit last year.  You can find that recipe here.  I'll leave you with some pictures of my living room Christmas decorations.  

My pets have been really naughty with the tree this year.... Whenever I come home I see ornaments scattered all over the house. It's definitely mostly Gigia's fault I'm guessing. She just can't stay away from shiny dangly objects! 

I have to share this meme with you guys because I saw this on Instagram and I thought it was hysterical....excuse the French... 


Anywhoo moving on with the decorations...

This is Nativity Scene that I put out every year.  It's a tradition in our family that on Christmas Eve before going to bed we walk around every room of the house, each one of us holding a candle while the youngest family member holds the Baby Jesus. We sing Christmas Carols as we walk through the house and then we place Him in the Nativity Scene. It's as if He blesses each room of the house.  That is why we don't incorporate Baby Jesus into the Nativity Scene until the night of Christmas Eve.

Can you spot the Billy photo bomb?

 Where do you hang your stockings if you don't have a fireplace? 

I just love this little Angel my Mom gave me. 

The Tree at night all lit up is my favorite :-)

By the way, I decided to go back to my natural hair color.  I'm no longer a blond!

What do you think?

Be back soon hopefully with some yummy Christmas cookies to share!



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. 


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Italian Honey Balls - Struffoli

Hey guys, I'm still on Christmas vacation and am having a lovely holiday with my friends and family. I hope you all have been well!  I need to catch up on my blog reading, I'm behind! I've been eating way too much but I have been making an effort of working out for at least an hour a day so that I can keep my calories on track. 

Today I wanted to share a recipe that is typical of southern Italy and it is a dessert that is usually made during the holidays. I am obsessed with these suckers! They are SO GOOD!  One of my aunts made them and brought them over for Christmas and she gave me her recipe. We made them today so that I could share the recipe with you because they are amazing I tell you! They are crunchy on the outside and very light on the inside. 

They are very simple to make and are basically just deep fried dough coated in honey and topped with nonpareils sprinkles. The dough is made using flour, dry white wine and grappa along with some orange flavored extra virgin live oil. 

Here are the ingredients:

 - 500 grams of all purpose flour
 - 50 grams white sugar
 - 100 grams of evo oil
 - half a shot glass of grappa
 - 50 grams of dry white wine
 - peel from half an orange
 - 500 grams of honey
 - 2 tablespoons of nonpareils for decorating

Gather all of your ingredients together. 

The first thing to do is to heat the orange peel with the extra virgin olive oil on low heat for about 2 minutes . This is done to add aroma to the oil. Do not bring it to a boil, just heat it enough to add the flavor of the orange peel. 

Now you want to add the flavored oil to the flour and sugar. Knead the oil into the flour with your fingertips to distribute evenly. 

Leave out the orange peels and begin kneading the mixture. 

Next I added the grappa. We added about half a shot glass. 

Slowly work everything together and lastly add the white wine a little at a time. We ended up using 50 grams. If it's still a little too dry you can go ahead and add a little more. 

Now that you have incorporated all of the ingredients, knead the dough for about 10 minutes. It should have a similar consistancy to cookie dough, neither too dry nor too moist. This is what it should look like. 

Now you are ready to form little marbles by rolling the dough out as shown in the photo below and cutting bite sized pieces kind of like if you're making gnocchi. 

My aunt likes to give them a curved shape using a little kitchen utensil she has (I have no idea what it's called in English...sorry guys!).  She rolls the pieces on this little wooden tray creating a curved shape with grooves on top.  It's pretty cool actually ...and not that easy to do. But you can just roll them into marble sized balls to make life easier :-)

Once you have rolled them all out you should lay them on a tray spacing them out a bit so they don't stick together. Aren't they pretty?

These bad boys are ready to be deep fried!  My aunt saves some of the dough and makes little "roses" to place on top of the little balls. They don't really look like roses but that's what she calls them. LOL

She fried these in a pot rather than a frying pan so they can cook all around.

They should brown just lightly and once they are done, place them in a bowl with a paper towel to absorb excess oil. 

Once the marbles were done we fried the roses. 

Set these aside and in a large frying pan add the honey with a couple tablespoons of water. Heat on low in order to melt the honey a bit and warm it up. 

Add the marbles to the honey mixing well to coat them all around. 

At this point heat them for about 5 minutes on low. 

Now you can transfer them onto the serving dish. 

Add the little roses on top spacing them out evenly on the dish. 

Now you can add some more honey on top and finally add the nonpareils to decorate. 

Yum!! I think I'm going to go have one now :-)

Ciao my friends xoxo

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Luke 2:15-16 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger. 

I hope you all are enjoying this Christmas Day with joy and peace in your hearts. 

Merry Christmas my good friends! 

xoxo Silvana

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Panettone with Pasta Madre - Italian Fruit Cake with Sourdough Starter

My dear friends, I haven't written in a while because we had a long weekend and I was out of town. In Italy the Immaculate Conception, December 8th, is a national holiday so I had Monday off and therefore I was able to go visit some relatives. 

My dear friend Alessandra who I've talked about before encouraged me to try making a fruit cake with my sourdough because she is convinced, and now so am I, that it tastes so much better than a store bought panettone (Italian fruit cake). She told me to try this recipe from because she said that this is one of the better ones. 

I will start out by saying that making a home made Panettone with sourdough is a long procedure. It takes about 2 days to make and before serving it you must let it sit for at least 18 hours. I really was convinced that I would not have been able to make it and that it would turn out like crap but I can say for a fact that it was the best Panettone I have ever tasted in my life....literally. I have never eaten homemade Panettone and always bought them in stores. It has a completely different taste to it. It is much softer than the store bought stuff and tastes like a delicious brioche with pieces of dried fruit and raisins. 

The dough gets kneaded out and left to rise twice. This is why it takes about two days. Both leavening times take about 10-12 hours each. 

Ingredients for the 1st leavening:

 - 290 grams of bread flour
 - 160 grams of sourdough (pasta madre)
 - 3 egg yolks
 - 95 grams of water
 - 70 grams of white sugar
 - 75 grams of butter

Begin by melting the sourdough in the water, add the egg yolks, sugar, butter and little by little add the flour. Knead everything for a good 40 minutes (this is definitely easier done in a mixer). 

In the picture above I am breaking up the sourdough in the water. 

Mix in the flour with a spoon in the beginning and then once you add it all in, you can begin kneading. 

This is what the dough looked like after the first kneading. I left this to rise over night, so about 12 hours. 

This is what it looked like the following morning. At this point you will be kneading it again incorporating other ingredients. 

Ingredients for 2nd leavening:

 - 145 grams of bread flour
 - 25 grams of white sugar
 - 12 grams of powdered milk
 - 3 egg yolks
 - 45 grams of water
 - 5 grams of salt
 - 5 grams of honey
 - 5 grams of malt (I didn't have malt so I used maple syrup instead)
 - 75 grams of butter
 - 130 grams of raisins
 - 60 grams of dried cedar
 - 60 grams of dried orange
 - 1 tablespoon of rum
 - one teaspoon of vanilla flavoring

What I did was mix in a separate bowl the water, honey, syrup, yolks and rum.  I took the leavened dough and mixed it with the dry ingredients. Then little by little I added the wet mixture. Leave out the raisins and dried fruit until the dough has been kneaded for a good 50 minutes. 

Once the dough is nice and elastic (after 50 minutes of kneading it should be!) add the dried fruit and knead by hand into the dough mixture. 

At this point weigh your dough. Mine weighed 1.4 kilos. The form for the panettone that I used was for about 1 kilo of dough but I decided to put it all in there anyways and I was safe because luckily it didn't overflow....pheww!

I left this to rise covered lightly with a clean kitchen towel over night and at 7am this is what it looked like.

It had reached the top! How beautiful it was seeing it the next morning. I immediately called my friend Alessandra and she gave me instructions on what to do next. 

I made a cross on top of the dough and let it sit for another hour. 

I preheated the oven to 200°C and put the panettone in the oven with a small dish of water that created a more humid environment for the fruit cake so it won't dry out too much. I turned down the heat to 190°C and baked it for about 45 - 50 minutes. It should not be baked any longer than that.

This is what it looked like after it was done. It grew even more in the oven. I left it to sit out until dinner that evening and we tasted it for the first time. All that hard work and patience but let me tell you my was just heavenly!

I would like to thank my friend Alessandra for everything she has taught me about sourdough. She has such a passion for working with pasta madre and when I hear her talk about it she is so enthusiastic that she got me into it as well. She is a great friend and I thank God for having met her. She writes a cooking blog where she shares her bread making skills and the techniques that have worked best for her. 

When I got home yesterday from my long weekend I found this package at my front door. It was from Alessandra and this is what she sent me:

She sent me a bamboo tray for leavening bread and a container that is specifically used for rising dough. I am so appreciative of our new friendship. We have never met in person yet because she lives far away from me but this summer we are planning a trip to visit each other. Grazie di vero cuore Alessandra. 

Alessandra's blog: