Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Yummy Treat for World Nutella Day

I know; my entry is early.  But I just couldn't wait!  It's a momentous occasion, an annual decadent event.  A chance to gorge on chocolate-hazelnut goodness for an entire day, and look through inspiring recipes and read emotional or funny tributes to the simple spread that brings smiles and soothes the soul.  As I've said before, it's the little things in life...

Anyway.  I'm posting early for a few reasons.  One, it's been cold here and there's not much else to do but sit inside and think about ways to stay warm.  Which starts with hot chocolate made with Nutella, which naturally turns thoughts to other ways to use the yummy stuff.  I kind of a have a Nutella dossier compiled now, with scribbles of possible combos and concoctions for future reference.

Second, as a contientious blogger I feel I should participate in good will efforts such as this, and so I offer a reminder to those of you who may have forgotten about World Nutella Day on February 5.  (Says she who forgot last year.)  Join up with Michelle of Bleeding Espresso and Sara of Ms. Adventures in Italy to participate.

Then there's the Mom factor.  My mother's birthday is February 6 and, being a good mother, she deserves the best darn Nutella-infused treat possible for her special day.  But I'm not there to make it so the chocolatey task falls to my sister.  Who is (she freely admits) the "non-cook" in the family.  She used to refer to the kitchen as "the room you walk through to get to the back door."  While she's come a long way in the cooking department, she still utterly refuses to bake.  Anything. 

So.  I devised a cake-like treat that even my sister can make easily, without fuss, and without turning on the oven.  And I'm getting the recipe to her well in advance so she can prepare herself.  I'm pretty sure that the first jar of Nutella is going to go down with a spoon before she starts the recipe.  In any case, I know that Mom will be happy with the results of our collaborative efforts, and I think you'll enjoy the orangey-chocolatey combo, too.  It was a bit hit with my taste-testers.

Orange-Nutella Tiramisu
1 container mascarpone cheese
2 4-oz. cups vanilla yogurt
2 TBSP sugar
zest of 1 orange
Blend everything together until smooth.

1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup rum
Combine and set aside.

3 to 4 oranges, peeled and sliced crosswise
1 cup Nutella, warmed to soften
Savoiardi (ladyfingers)


Soak the savoiardi in the orange juice/rum and layer in a pan.  Spread on half the mascarpone mixture to cover the cookies.  Arrange orange slices on top.  Drizzle generously with Nutella.  Repeat the layers.  Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.  Tiramisu is always tastier the day after it's made when the ladyfingers have softened to a cake-like texture and the flavors have melded together nicely.

Happy Nutella Day!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Farewell 2011 Meme

It seems the older I get the more the years takes a roller coaster approach.  There seem to be more ups and downs than I remember in previous periods of my life, and sometimes those rocky patches of road can take an emotional toll.  I sometimes get wrapped up in the worries and wranglings to make things work out and forget to relax and enjoy the small, good things of each day.  It may be the economy and the overall changes in the world, along with personal losses and setbacks over the past few years, but it seems that previous periods were more steady, more even.  When I'm starting to stress myself out I need to remind myself that I like riding roller coasters!

2011 had more ups than the past two years, and some wonderful experiences in our new home.  We're so happy with our house, our village, and the new friends we've made.  We closed the year celebrating Christmas and ringing in the New Year with family back in Ohio. 

It's always good to take a look back before putting your face and feet forward to march into the new year, so here's my meme to recap 2011 and jump full-on into 2012.  Felice anno nuovo to you!

(If you want to play along and post the meme let me know and I'll link to you.)

Best new experience of 2011:  I'd have to say getting in front of the camera and learning a bit of "movie magic" while filming with House Hunters International was a great new experience.  I was in Drama Club in high school so I enjoyed getting ham it up to film our story for HGTV.  (By the way, the episode is airing again on January 10 and February 3, in case you missed it the first time!)

Worst experience:  Looking into the bank account and calculating the dollar-to-euro exchange rate.  A rather horrifying experience.  A close second was flipping through the channels while I was in the US and landing on Fox News by accident.  {shudder}

Most fun moment of the year:  Attending our first southern Italian wedding.  We sat down to the reception lunch at 2:00 pm and didn't finish eating until 9:00 pm.  There was dancing and more food after that, and we shimmied to folk tunes, bopped to the pop beats, and even did the limbo until about 2:00 am.  And we were among the first wave of guests to leave!

Saddest moment:  Receiving the news that my grandfather had passed away and realizing that I wouldn't be able to make it to the funeral.

Biggest regret:  Not flying like an angel on the Volo dell'Angelo zipline.  Next summer for sure!

I'm really glad I.... :  Put in that condizionatore heating unit.  It's really nice to not have to build fires every single night.

Favorite new food or drink:  I like to make liqueuers and have to say that the best one I made this year is a rum cream inspired from a sampling we had in Jamaica last year during the New Year's family cruise.  My experiment gone awry was the strawberry liqueur - it ended up tasting like cough syrup.

Something I wish I hadn't eaten or drank:  Airline food.  When will I learn to say no and pack snacks?

Goal for 2012:  Plunge forward with a few professional projects I want to do.  I need to get over the fears and the worries of not being qualified and just get started.

In keeping with my annual tradition to choose a soundtrack for the year, I've selected the song This is Your Gift by John Tesh, to help me remember that every day really is a gift and to make what I can of each new day.  Enjoy the scenery of Positano while you watch the video.  What about you?  What is your soundtrack or resolution for 2012? 

Related Links:

Bryan's video of the wedding party

Previous New Year's Soundtracks:

2011:  Back to Life by Giovanni Allevi

2010:  Go With the Flow (also by Giovanni Allevi)