Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Almond Joy

Work has been very stressful for me lately. It shouldn't be a surprise because it is my first real job, with full responsibilities but I am still taken aback a little. I swear I use to be good at multi tasking, listening and following through but when you are second guessing yourself all the time and getting yourself all worked up and flustered it is hard to be organized and get things right.

My coping mechanism?

Baking of course.

It is the one thing that I can really dive into and I don't think about anything else. Once that apron goes on, the world doesn't exist. I just bake and if it takes a long time so be it, if it goes a-rye so be it, I just let it take it's course. I guess you could say for the most part I feel confident baking and at this point I don't feel all that confident at work.

I haven't felt that I've had much time to bake so this weekend I made a point of it.

I baked almond cookies.

There is something about using ground nuts in a cookie recipe that gives it this wonderful buttery taste.

These cookies have few ingredients, are easy to make and taste fantastic.

They are light and buttery, perfect with a cup of tea.

It's funny how something as simple as baking can be so therapeutic and allow you to rejoin the world revived and renewed if only for a little while.

Almond Cookies

1 stick of butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup almonds

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup flour

~ from Mrs. Field's Cookie Book

In a large bowl mix butter and sugar until it forms a paste. Then add the egg and extract.

In a food processor add 1/4 cup almonds and mix until almonds are ground finely.

Add the ground almonds to the butter mixture and then the flour until all combined.

Roll blobs of dough in sliced almonds and place on a greased baking sheet.

Bake for 15-18 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

I have a feeling these would taste pretty darn good with a hint of lemon zest or even chocolate drizzled all over the top.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

High Point

I went home again this weekend to work a catering job.

However, the high point of my weekend was my crepe date with my friend Shannon! We went to my favorite coffee shop in Mt. Airy, High Point Cafe.

It is the cutest little place with the best crepes, pastries, and coffee. All their ingredients are fresh and seasonal, which I love and the coffee is some of the best I've ever had.

I got an iced latte and a raspberry jam and cream cheese filled crepe. It was delicious!

I always get the same crepe, I just can't help it.

They have definitely inspired me to try and make my own crepes. I feel some nutella becoming part of this equation. So stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I traveled home to Philadelphia this past weekend for a little R&R. I have been on the sleep deprived tract, soar throat every couple days, in a trance, achy and just plain moody tract the past week.

Working in events/fundraising is rewarding but oh so tiring after an event has happened. You're so hopped up on adrenaline before and while its happening but afterward you crash.

All I wanted to do was relax and think of nothing but how long it would take for the first person on the new season of Real World to be kicked out and how warm my pajamas felt at 3pm.

Well, this almost happened. The inevitable vast list of errands and impromptu plans popped up but I definitely got some much needed rest.

I was able to take a yoga class to de-stress but best of all I was able to really bake again. There is just something very comforting about baking in your childhood kitchen.

Have you ever had Peppridge Farm Chantilly cookies?

These use to be a family favorite but sadly they have been discontinued. But have no fear, I came up with a recipe a couple years ago to subside the craving for raspberry filled shortbread cookies dusted with confectioners sugar.

I used my usual sugar cookie recipe. And cut the dough into circles. To make the tops I just cut out a circle within the cookie with a knife.

I kinda love the rustic look of these cookies, no need to have the perfectly cut shape. I like when the tops are somewhat misshapen and have the jam oozing out the sides.

You could use any jam you like, I happen to be very picky when it comes to jam. I only like apricot and raspberry...makes no sense because I adore strawberries and blueberries but when it comes to them in jam form I can't handle it.

Bake the cookies, let cool and add a little or big dollop of jam in the center of the cookie and top with a cutout cookie. Dust generously with confectioners sugar and serve.

The only thing missing is the fluted cups that pepperidge farm delicately puts their cookies in. But in our house they wouldn't even last long enough to get into the cups.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Things you don't know about me III

My middle name is Noble

I enjoy white wine over any other spirits

I totally and fully believe in the 5...er 30 second rule

My favorite color is yellow

I cheated on a French Quiz once and felt super guilty afterward (what can I say, I was a good girl)

I really want to visit Machu Picchu

I played on a best of the region lacrosse team in high school

Without fail I spill food on myself almost every meal..I think it's genetic my mom does it and so did my grandmother.

Ice cream for dinner may be the best idea ever

I am deathly afraid of ticks

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

And I'm Back

So sorry for being MIA lately but work/the event completely wiped me out and then my sister came to DC to visit me. I still feel like I haven't had time to get much done even with an extra hour in my day.

I completely missed Pi day...we all know how I feel about making tart and pie crust so I'm not too upset.

But I refuse to miss St. Patties day even if I don't have an Irish bone in my body. So many times there are these big gaudy green St. Patrick's day desserts, not that I don't love green frosting here or there with some green sprinkles but I couldn't get myself to go that route so here is my toned down holiday treat.

Irish Cream Truffles!

They may seem fancy or even difficult to make but I promise these little babies are easy and so good. Chocolate and Irish Cream really should stick together more often.

All you need is some heavy cream, chocolate, and some Bailey's

Could anything with cream, alcohol and chocolate be bad?

Didn't think so.

With a little mixing and heating and then cooling and rolling you get these lovely gems.

Irish Cream Truffles

8oz of chocolate

1/2 heavy cream

1/4 cup Irish Cream

In a saucepan, warm the heavy cream

Melt the chocolate with a double boiler and add warmed heavy cream and Irish cream. Mix until all is incorporated.

Pour into a shallow glass dish and refrigerate for 4 hours or even over night. * The longer you let them set the better, if you're like me and have the patience of a 5 year old then just know your truffles will be a bit melty and gooey. And that is something I can live with.*

Using a melon baller, scoop out hardened chocolate and roll into a ball. Place on parchment paper.

You can roll the truffles in cocoa powder per usual or with chopped nuts or decorate with green white chocolate ganache like me!

It's ok to be drooling now.

I won't judge.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Shameless Plug

Dining Out for Life is this Thursday March 10th! This is the event I have been working on for 2 and a half months. There has been a lot of work put into this and I am so ready for it to happen.

For those who may not know what Dining Out for Life is, don't mind if I indulge you.

You didn't think you'd get off the hook that easy did you?


First and foremost I work at a non-profit called Food & Friends. Food & Friends prepares, packages and delivers specialized nutritional meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life challenging illnesses in the DC metro area. Since 1988, more than 13.5 million meals have been delivered to more than 20,000 individuals in need. Currently Food & Friends serves 2,800 clients in a 5,300 mile radius.

Now onto the event-

Dining Out for Life is an international event that raises money through restaurant food sales contributions to support organizations that help people living with HIV/AIDS. Dining Out for Life is in multiple cities across the United States and supports many different organizations.

This year, Food & Friends has 145 restaurants in the DC metro area participating. These restaurants donate between 25%-110% of their food sales on March 10th to Food & Friends life-sustaining services.

This event is great in the fact that anyone can participate. All you have to do is dine out at a participating restaurant to help make an impact in the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life challenging illnesses.

To help increase our funds we also recruit volunteers to act as Food & Friends representatives at each restaurant. These volunteers called ambassadors spread the word about Food & Friends, Dining Out for Life and how to make additional contributions to support the organization. This is where most of my sweat and tears have been poured into. I manage and coordinate all things having to do with volunteers, which can be very challenging. But these ambassadors are pivotal for our event. Every restaurant that has an ambassador on average raises $830 more in donations than a restaurant without an ambassador and with 145 restaurants that makes a big difference.

Please if you are in the DC metro area, consider Dining Out on Thursday March 10th!

For a full listing of participating restaurants go to www.foodandfriends.org/dol!

Shameless plug over. I promise to have more baking and less selling very soon!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Take me to Naples

I want to go here...NOW!

My Grandparent's have a house in Naples Florida and I love this place. The town is so picturesque- all the buildings are pastel pinks and yellows, twinkling lights around palm trees lining the streets, key lime pie, the gulf and pier, great restaurants, sunny warm weather, sunsets. I could go on forever but I will let my pictures do the talking.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

24 Years and Counting

I was born on March 3rd 1987. I came in the world with a bang, almost being born in the car on the way to the hospital. I was a spit fire as a kid...can you tell?

I love how 80's this whole picture is

I haven't slowed down a bit and I don't plan on it. Here's to 24 more great years!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Conclusion to Vegetarianism

I finished my 28 days of full on vegetarianism.

I definitely struggled the first week. I couldn't get into the groove of not having meat or not being satisfied without eating animal protein. However, over time I stopped craving meat and not eating it got much easier. I didn't have to give dinner or lunch a second thought really. Conclusion: It's not that hard

I also found that I felt much better toward the end of this experiment. I attribute this to eating a lot more vegetables than I was prior, unless you count french fries as a vegetable? Overall lesson (which I already knew) the "cleaner" you eat the better you feel or as my mom has always said to me "you are what you eat"

I did not walk into this blindly. I did a lot of research while being a vegetarian. I really understand the benefits of eating mostly plant based foods. Plant based foods have much of the nutrients we need and help our bodies work better. I also researched more of the ecological effects and social effects of the food we eat. I found a huge connection, one which I had known before but chose to ignore, between oil companies, big buisness and pharmacuetical companies all playing a part in the food we eat. I could go on and on about some distrubing things I found but I'm not going to. I basically decided that from now on I will try and eat as many organic plant based food as I can, and organic (grass-fed) meat when I do eat it and less processed foods. Of course this won't work everywhere and all the time but my plan is to be more aware of where my food is coming from overall.

I have a whole new appreciation for what goes in my body.

That includes all the baked goods I make. I still love to bake. And I love to bake using real butter, sugar, and heavy cream. I realize these aren't the best ingredients for you but I believe in moderation and even if you can't control yourself sometimes its ok to go a little sweets crazy. We've all done it.

And you must be wondering what my first meal back is?

A Ray's Hell burger! Oh sweet hamburger how I have missed you.

I couldn't help myself.
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