Showing posts with label love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label love. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Meringue Topping & Tips for Keeping Cut Flowers Fresh

Happy Valentine's Day! I know it's a silly holiday but I can't help getting all lovey dovey when I see big red and pink hearts everywhere.  I'm a hopeless romantic at heart what can I say. :-)


I hope you are enjoying this day with your sweetheart and if you're single: friends, chocolate, and some wine are just as good... if not better!

If you're in the mood for baking today, here's a flourless chocolate cake recipe you should try. It's the recipe for the Italian Caprese Cake which I topped with a meringue frosting.  It's pretty easy, there are just a few tricky steps but I'll explain them through. This is Mr. Amore's favorite cake so I made it for him this Valentine's Day. 

Ingredients for the cake: 
Skinned almonds - 200gr
Sugar - 180gr
Butter (room temperature) - 200gr
4 eggs
Dark Chocolate - 150gr

The first step is to roast your almonds for about 10 minutes in the oven at 400°F. Just lay them flat on a baking sheet and they should brown some once done. 


Next place them in a blender or mixer (I used my Nutribullet) and set aside. 


I got a creamy, buttery texture with my Nutibullet but if your consistency is drier and more flour-like, it's fine as well. 


Next step is to melt your chocolate in a double boiler (or in a microwave if you prefer).



Now mix the egg yolks, butter, sugar and almonds until thoroughly blended and set aside the egg whites. 


The batter should be pretty thick at this point as pictured above. 

Now in a clean glass or metal bowl whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. 


This is the tricky part... you have to very slowly and gently incorporate the two being careful not to  over-whip the egg whites. 


This is what the final batter should look like. 


Add to cake pan and bake in preheated oven at about 340°F for one hour. 


Now for the meringue topping, whip up 4 egg whites, half a cup of powdered sugar, a tablespoon of lemon juice and whip as done above, until stiff peaks form. Add a few drops of red food coloring if you like for decoration. 


Now add the meringue topping to the cake and decorate as you wish. 


Return to oven for about 10 minutes and voilà! If you have some  topping left over you can make little meringues like these. 

And if you happen to receive a lovely bouquet of flowers this Valentine's Day and want to keep them fresh for as long as possible here are some tips to make them last longer. 

Cut the ends off under running water or in a bowl of water to make sure no air enters the stem. 


Try adding half an espresso cup of vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar to the vase water. This is a homemade flower preservative that balances the pH of the water and helps keep the flowers bright and vibrant longer.



Happy Valentine's Day!


Shared on:


Thursday, January 12, 2017

My Year of Hope.

Hello my friends and Happy New Year!  I hope you are well and that you had a pleasant holiday. The holidays are way past us now and in the beginning of every new year, as most of us do, I find myself thinking about the future...thinking about what's going to happen this year. For starters I will be turning 35.... ugh. 

When I was younger, I imagined I would be a mother to three beautiful children by now (my perfect number...3).  That's all I ever wanted. I'm not career savvy, I'm not one of those women who do all that they can to climb the ladder and have a wildly successful career...that's just not who I am. Things don't always go as planned so instead of my three children I have a job that I enjoy and am thankful for and two fur babies that mean everything to me. I have a man by my side that loves me like no other man has ever loved me and I have a house that embraces me with a feeling of warmth and comfort every night when I come home from work. I have friends and relatives that I laugh with until my belly hurts...but I am missing something important. 

I know there are many options out there for couples like us but my faith comes from God and only Him. "Unexplained infertility" is what we were told...which is worse in some ways because if we knew what was wrong we might actually be able to fix it but there IS nothing wrong....

Sometimes I get very frustrated and upset because I feel like my prayers are ignored but I continue praying and that small light of hope dims somewhat as time goes by but never burns out. Right before New Years, I was in my car stuck in traffic and the radio station I was listening to aired the final General Audience speech that Pope Francis gave of 2016. 

The Pope focused on the story of Abraham from the Book of Genesis.  Here's a summary:
Abram said, “Behold, thou hast given me no offspring; and a slave born in my house will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; your own son shall be your heir.”  And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.
This is a translation of the Pope's speech in regards to this passage: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters:  Our continuing catechesis on Christian hope leads us in these Christmas days to consider the example of Abraham, who, as Saint Paul tells us, “hoped against hope” in God’s promises.  Trusting in the Lord’s word that a son would be born to him, Abraham left his home for a new land.  Although the fulfillment of God’s promise was long delayed and seemed to be impossible, Abraham continued to hope.  Even his discouragement and complaints were a sign of his continuing trust in God.  Abraham, our father in faith, shows us that sure trust in God’s word does not mean that we will not have moments of uncertainty, disappointment and bewilderment.  It was at such a moment that God appeared to Abraham, called him forth from his tent and showed him the night sky shining with countless stars, assuring him that such would be the number of his descendants.  Hope is always directed to the future, to the fulfillment of God’s promises.  May the example of Abraham teach us not be afraid to go out from our own tents, our limited outlooks, and to lift our eyes to the stars.

These words touched my heart and were the words that I NEEDED to hear in that exact moment to nourish that dimming light inside me. 

I wanted to share this with you just because I know how it feels to be frustrated and discouraged. I want this year to be my year of hope. As Pope Francis said...if all we have left is to look up at the stars, it's time to put your trust in God. There is nothing better than gathering up all your worries and putting them in God's arms. Hope never disappoints. 



Speaking of bringing hope to others... did you hear about what Chris Martin the lead singer of Coldplay (band that I absolutely adore) did on Christmas Eve? He showed up at a crisis center in West London on the night of Christmas Eve and surprised a huge crowd of homeless, volunteers and staff by playing all his songs and rocking out with everyone there without any publicity at all.  Someone that worked at the crisis center posted a picture with Chris Martin on Instagram writing "That moment when Coldplay's Chris Martin drops into the Crisis at Christmas shelter, with no fuss, no fanfare and no press, to help make tea and coffee and also play guitar so the guests can have a sing song. Thank you for coming down and getting stuck in."

via 


I loved this story.... This is what we need more of in this world. These are the things that give people Hope. 


Thanks for reading and God Bless. 

xoxo,

Silvana

Monday, September 5, 2016

2 Different Recipes for Stuffed Focaccia

Happy Labor Day to all of my American friends! I hope you are enjoying your long weekend whether it be relaxing, laboring or partying, the important thing is that you are well! 

This weekend we had guests over for dinner and since it's still really warm out I thought it would be nice to have dinner out on the patio. I made two different types of stuffed focaccia because they are always a big hit and even if they get left over they are great to have for lunch the following day. Today I'll share my recipe for spinach and ricotta stuffed focaccia as well as prosciutto and smoked mozzarella focaccia. Making stuffed focaccia is not really that difficult. It just takes time to make the dough beforehand and let it rise.  We had dinner at 8:00pm so I started making the dough at around 5:30.  


For the dough, here is the list of ingredients you will need: 

 - 500 grams of bread flour
 - one packet of active yeast (25gr)
 - 250 - 300 ml of lukewarm water
 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil
 - 1 tablespoon of salt 


You can either knead the dough yourself or let the mixer do the work for you. I did the kneading myself and left to rise in a sealed container for about 2 hours. If the dough seems too dry go ahead and add a little more water until smooth and elastic.  

After the 2 hours it more than doubled in size and looked great!  This is enough dough to make 2 large stuffed pies so if making just one, use half - doses. 


Now we are ready to make the focaccia. I started with the spinach and ricotta. Cook and drain your spinach (500 grams) making sure to really remove most of the water or else you will get a soggy focaccia bread...no bueno! Preheat the oven to 220°C or 430°F.

Add about 2 cups of ricotta cheese, one cup of Parmesan, a pinch of salt, pepper and a sprinkle of nutmeg. 


Mix everything well and roll out the base of your focaccia (about 2 fist fulls of dough).  Place the base on a greased baking dish and coat the dough with a drizzle of olive oil.  


Add your spinach filling on top of the dough making sure to leave some space on the sides where you will be sealing the focaccia closed with the top section. 


I added a couple small mozzarella balls cut in half before closing. Now add the top section of the dough, cover and seal the edges. Coat the top with a drizzle of olive oil and poke lightly as shown below. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden. 


Next I moved onto the prosciutto stuffed focaccia. The procedure is the same so lay out the bottom section of the dough making sure to grease your baking pan. Add the ingredients you wish to add so in this case I added some slices of cooked prosciutto, black olives, some tomato sauce and smoked mozzarella cheese. You really can add whatever ingredients you prefer with stuffed focaccia.  Mushrooms, artichokes, or even broccoli work really well  here.


This was the smoked mozzarella I used...mmmmm. Love it! It has a really smokey flavor to it and it tastes heavenly when melted on pizza. Try it sometime as an alternative to regular mozzarella cheese. 


Then just go ahead and cover it sealing the edges. Drizzle the top with some olive oil and poke with a fork. Same cooking time applies here as well. 


Isn't it lovely?!





Then I served it nice and hot from the oven and it was just the perfect consistency. Crispy outside and warm inside. 

While you're here, would you like to see my outdoor table setting? Fall is almost here but I'm still really enjoying these last summer nights outside with candles and lanterns... so romantic don't you think?




Have a great week! 

xoxo

Silvana


PS - What do you think of my new design? Hope you like it as much as I do :-)


Shared on: 


Dishing It & Digging it Link Party #112

Foodie Friday and Everything Else



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Home Sweet Home... Part 1

Hello dear friends! I've been home now for a week and I'm so happy to be here. I've been visiting with my mom and sister and been doing way too much shopping than I should be doing but I really don't care.  I'm happy to be back in the home I grew up in and every time I come back it's as if I never left. This is going to be a quick post but I wanted to blog about what I've been up to so far. 

When I got to the airport in Rome I was not expecting to see this....


 There was an INCREDIBLY long line for check in and since they were so backed up they eventually had me skip the whole line.  I was there two hours before take off but apparently it wasn't enough... Thank God they did because it was a very close call. I made it through security and all the check points on time and was able to make it running through the Rome Fiumicino airport. Security has become so strict since last time I came to the States it's crazy but I'm glad it's that way because you hear so many terrible things these days and I am just glad that I got here safely. So if you're traveling overseas my advice is to make sure you get to the airport at least 2 hours before your flight.


I made it eventually... It was a very smooth flight. It's about a 9 hour flight from Rome to New York.  I flew with Alitalia.  The food was ok...I mean let's be honest...airplane food always pretty much sucks but I've had worse so it wasn't too bad. The flight was packed. I watched some good movies. I can never sleep on a plane so I usually just watch movies or read. 

We landed on time and made it through customs pretty quickly.  I brought one big suitcase which was half full because I always end up buying a bunch of stuff and bringing it over...I never have enough room in my luggage... But I don't even want to think about that right now to be honest.

I landed in JFK and my mamma was there waiting for me. 


I was tired but I wanted to stay awake as long as I could to get used to the time difference. I landed at 2:00pm and stayed awake until about 8:30.  We drove back to PA and on the way home we stopped to visit my sister. I just couldn't wait to see her. She was very vocal as soon as she saw me and I knew she was just as happy to see me as I was seeing her. 


I didn't take any pictures with her the day I arrived.  This picture was taken the next day. She's such a cutie pie...she melts my heart whenever I see her. 

I had Mexican food the first day I was here...day number two was Japanese... 


Uhhh...love it! Cannot get enough of it! 

Then my mother insisted on taking me to an Italian place....womp womp... That was a bad idea. I guess I'm just so used to the real Italian food that this to me was just really bad... and we paid an arm and a leg for it!


Maybe it was just the place we went to I don't know but I've had much better seafood linguini... I'll just leave it at that...

Can't complain about the drinks though! This strawberry lime margarita was humongous and so yummy!


Other than that I've been shopping, shopping, and shopping some more.  I am loving all of the Halloween decorations that are already out. I am seriously ready for fall. I want to take all the pumpkins back with me but that is not possible unfortunately :-( I HAVE NO ROOM!!


 I'm so frustrated I can't take many things back with me.. I guess I'll just have to DIY some pumpkins when I get home.


I love it!! Halloween is a holiday that I truly miss so much in Italy.  It's just so much fun. 

My mom and I have been spending some much needed quality time together and it's nice be here with her.  I know she feels more secure with me being here for her and my sister and that makes me happy. 

 
We've been smothering her with TLC and it feels good...even though she looks rather annoyed about it in this picture I know she likes it LOL. 


Next stop is Florida to visit my Dad! 

Be back soon...

xoxo

Silvana