Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday Favorites from Spicy Southern Kitchen, Once Upon A Chocolate Life, Gwen Moss, South Shore Decorating Blog and More


Good morning! Did you survive Cinco de Mayo last night? I did not do anything to celebrate, thankfully, because Mexican food is one of my all time favorite things to eat. I probably would have eaten my weight in chips, guacamole and beans. I am however planning to indulge on Saturday at the Derby party that we are having.



Spicy Southern Kitchen


This Southern Pimento Cheese Burger from Spicy Southern Kitchen made with


Pimento Cheese Dip






My favorite Pimento Cheese Dip  and washed down with a mint julep or perhaps a Blush Lily are just a few of the items on the menu.





Along with one of my favorite chocolate desserts ever, Double Chocolate Bourbon Brownies with Frosting.

In addition to the Kentucky Derby this weekend, don't forget it's Mother's day! If you are lucky enough to be with your mom make sure to make her feel extra special by perhaps making her something scrumptious to eat like a coffee cake? I can help you with that as I have several favorites. 




I made and then mailed several scrumptious treats to my mother-in-law, including this Triple Cinnamon Coffee Cake,






Vanilla Peach Coffe Cake

For something a little healthy(ha ha) with the addition of fruit then try this Vanilla Peach Coffee Cake.

If you wanted a cool gift for mom( which would be a little late) check out Stacy's List of Etsy Favorites from the  South Shore Decorating blog If you already have a gift bookmark this post because there are some really great things!

I am looking forward to seeing The Man Who Knew Infinity with Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons. 

If you are missing Downton Abbey Julian Fellows has created a new show called Doctor Thorne an adaptation of Anthony Trollope's book of the same name. 

Lately I have been trying to be more present and mindful in my life and this post from Leslie at Gwen Moss,  Thoughts on Slowing Down is a perfect reminder of what we miss when we don't stop and smell the roses.

That's it for this week! What did you find that was interesting, a movie a book or a great blog post, if so please share.  I hope that you have a wonderful, safe weekend.

To all of the moms out there, Happy Mother's day! You have the hardest and most selfless job in the world, so take a little time for yourself this weekend, you deserve it.





Thursday, May 5, 2016

Sharing Memories for Mother's Day



Sunday is Mother's Day, a day set aside to celebrate moms all over the USA. Although this year I will not be celebrating with my mom in person I will see her in a few weeks and we will celebrate then. This year she will be with my older sister and my niece celebrating not only Mother's day but my nieces prom. 

When it comes to my mother I am overwhelmed by my love for her and from her. 

To say that I am blessed is an understatement, especially when it comes to my mother.  My mother is not only my friend, she is my confidant, she is my anchor when life seems to be spiraling out of control, she is my cheerleader when something good happens. She has been my nursemaid when I was sick, my personal shopper when I needed a suit for interviews, my teacher when I was trying to learn to cook, or sew and so much more. 





My entire life my mom has made me (and my siblings as well) feel like the most important people in her life. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36, her first thought was not for herself, but what would happen to her kids if something went wrong with her treatment. She wondered who would take care of us, who would share our days, and make our lives special. 







She tried to make every holiday magical, and filled with traditions passed down from her own family and new ones that she made up. In December we always put out our stockings on the feast of St. Nicholas and in the morning on the 6th they were filled with candy, nuts and an orange in the toe. For Christmas we would celebrate doing little things, like baking, decorating, going sledding, playing carols, drinking cocoa, doing puzzles, and stuff together. 

For Easter my mom made us beautiful panoramic sugar eggs and they were tucked into our baskets along with our favorite treats. We had egg hunts and Easter dinner.  






In the summer she packed us up and took us to the beach almost everyday where we would have picnics, catch little guppies, make sand castles and swim. 

My mom made clothes for us, our favorite cakes on our birthday, chocolate chip cookies and "Sputnik" donuts. Those were our special donuts because unbeknownst to us my mom didn't like to roll out the dough, so she would pull off blobs of dough and throw them in the pan and they would be like donut holes with little knobs all over them. They actually looked more like meteorites but we called them "Sputniks."





She sacrificed so that we could attend private schools, go to camp and to send us on our first trip to Europe when she had yet to go. 

She divorced and held her head up high in a Catholic family that not only did not believe in divorce but had never had one before. She was the first. 

She went back to college after her divorce and in fact we were in one or two classes together. She taught me what it was like to work full-time and pursue your dream at the same time. 

I admire my mom for so many things, her work ethic, her lifelong love of learning, her love of books, and so much more but the thing I love most about her is love for her children. There is nothing that my mother would not do for us, even now when we are grown up with kids of our own. 





Don't get me wrong, everyday was/is not sunshine and roses. We had rules and were grounded, we also got hit with a wooden spoon if we were really bad and had our mouths washed out with soap if we swore. We had our differences and still do but at the end of the day we are still family. 

As a child I never knew that all mother's were not like mine. I realize now that not everyone in life had a life like mine or a relationship with their mothers like me. 

So unfortunately Sunday will be a sad day as well, for those who have lost their mother or perhaps you are a mother who has lost a child, for those who are estranged from their mother or maybe had a mother who didn't care for them, for those who are mother's to children who are not their own and for those who have issues with their mother's-in-law. 

I may be forgetting someone and if I am I apologize and hope that you find some solace on this day and know that you are in my thoughts. 

To my mother, I LOVE YOU MOM and I thank God each night when I go to bed for giving you to me. 






Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Triple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Good morning! Did you enjoy your weekend? I did, but then again I cannot recall when I did not like relaxing and doing whatever I want with no schedule. This coming week is ripe with opportunities to celebrate, you can have a margarita for Cinco de Mayo, or perhaps a julep and a pimento cheese sandwich for the Kentucky Derby or you can make something special to celebrate mom!





If my mom and I were going to be together for Mothers day I would be sure to make this scrumptious  Triple Cinnamon Coffee Cake from The Baker Chick. I have a few coffee cakes that I like to bake but after discovering this moist, buttery and filled to the brim with cinnamon cake I think  I will be putting those on the back burner for a bit.





If you love cinnamon, cinnamon bread, or cinnamon rolls that you will definitely want to make this cake, because the cinnamon permeates this cake, it is the crumbs, the ribbon of cinnamon filling running trough the middle of the cake and in the glaze as well.







Triple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Recipe from The Baker Chick

Filling
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Cake
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
11/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, ROOM temperature
2 cups buttermilk ROOM Temperature
21/2 teaspoons baking powder
31/2 cups flour

Topping
2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Glaze
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 Tablespoons of milk


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a spring-form pan with cooking spray and then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Set aside. In a small bowl of mix together the ingredients for the filling and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, salt and sugars. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each additional egg. 
Sprinkle the baking powder over the batter and then 1/3 of the flour. Beat the mixture on low until just combines, Then add 1/2 the buttermilk, then another 1/3 of the flour, then the rest of the buttermilk and then end with the flour. Make sure to not over mix the batter or your cake will be hard.

For the topping:
Melt the butter and then sir in the flour, sugar, and cinnamon until crumbs form.

Pour 1/2 the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the batter evenly, then sprinkle the filling evenly over the batter. Make sure to make it even and keep it away from the sides of the pan. Spread the topping with the remaining batter and smooth again with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the top of the batter. 
Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. 

For the glaze:
Stir together the powdered sugar and the cinnamon, add the milk or cream and stir together until smooth, If you would like add a little more milk until the glaze is more of a drizzling consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and serve. Enjoy!





I hope that you have a great week!




Saturday, April 30, 2016

Friday Favorties from Privet & Holly, Our French Oasis, Pretty Pink Tulips, Castles, Crowns and Cottages, HIP Paris and More

Good morning! A very happy weekend to you. It is going to be a wet, chilly one here so that means a self imposed lazy weekend. I can use it because every muscle in my body aches because of my new workout regimen. In addition to weight training I have been taking hot yoga strength classes. Apparently, I have no muscle mass because it hurts to lift my arm when I brush my teeth and every time I walk up and down the stairs. I will be enjoying all of my favorites from this week while I rest and recover. 

Keri Rosenthal "Hint of Lime" photo via Elizabeth Pretty Pink Tulips

Mother's Day is fast approaching and if you would like to win a beautiful Kerri Rosenthal painting head over to Pretty Pink Tulips and share your happiest memory of your mother. NOTE: The painting above is not the one in the contest, visit Elizabeth's blog to see it. 




Or if your mother is a chocolate lover, you should consider baking this Magleby's "Copycat" Chocolate Cake Recipe aka "The Best Chocolate Cake Ever" from Once Upon A Chocolate Life. I have made it several times and it really is one of most delicious cakes I have ever made, chocolaty, moist and covered in creamy frosting. 

Can you see the Magic in Life? Wether you think you can or you can't, visit Suzanne's post at Privet & Holly, she is an incredibly talented write and photographer and friend and I love for people to discover her talents. 




Speaking of talent, I am in awe of creative people and no one more so than my dear friend Anita, from Les Dames d' abord or Castles, Crowns and Cottages as it is formerly known. In addition to her writing, Anita has been practicing and developing her photography skills and is she is creating magic. If you do not follow her blog make sure to check out her Instagram page.






 I LOVE Paris and have been lucky enough to travel and spend a lot of time there, so I frequently share links about it and each time that I do my French followers email me and ask me why I do not focus on other parts of France.  This week I wanted to share one of my favorite French blogs, Our French Oasis written by Susan, of Charente Maritime of South West France where she lives in a small village with her husband and five children. Susan and her husband are English and have lived all over the world including New Zealand, the USA and the Caribbean but are now calling France home, you can follow along on their adventures as they fix up their old French home and explore their region along with enjoying their French oasis. 

By the way, if you know anyone that loves Paris, and social media and will be there this summer, check out HIP Paris Blog, they are looking for a Summer intern based in Paris. 

Have you seen Becoming Bulletproof, I recently watched it and loved it. It is a documentary that follow a group of disabled adults who make a film and so much more.  You will never look at a dialed person the same way again.

To all of those who commented on my post Just Curious...Do You Write Honest Comments on Social Media I would like to say thank you. The world is a crazy place, blogging is sometimes as well and although I frequently write about food, travel sometimes I have other things on my mind and it is nice to be able to share in a discussion with you about them.

I hope that you found something here that you liked! If you found something interesting this week, please share!

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Just Curious...Do You Write Honest Comments on Social Media



Good morning! A couple of weeks ago I read a post on Elements of Style, the gist of which was that Erin was having a bit of a rough patch juggling motherhood, work, and other commitments including her book, blog and a few more things. I noticed that there were lot of comments and so being the nosy person that I am I read through them to see what people were saying because obviously this post had touched a nerve.  There were positive and negative comments and everything in between. 

What I found interesting is that when someone left a comment that was perceived as negative or was in fact negative, the comments following it were often nasty, snarky comments about the person that wrote the negative comment. 

Erin even posted a comment defending herself and her post and then her husband wrote a response to the comments sticking up for his wife. 





I actually couldn't stop thinking about it for a few days and I wondered if you read a blog or another form of social media are you "allowed" to write an honest comment or opinion? Or do you have to say something nice or say nothing at all if you cannot think of something nice to say? I'm not talking about mean-spirited, bitchy comments, I talking about offering your opinion on a post whether or not it is the opposite of that person who wrote the post. 

The world of social media is a interesting place because it is open to everyone, the "haves and the have nots" the educated and uneducated, the well traveled and people whom have never left their town, the beautiful people and the not so, people who live exotic and exciting lives and people who just survive, I could go on and on but you know what I am talking about. The world through social media is incredibly small and yet at the same time magnifies the differences between people in so many ways.




The fact is that someone is always going to have more than you and someone is going to have less than you, you are going to have more than someone and less than someone. But it doesn't make you a better or worse person. Sometimes though people who have more are perceived as braggarts(sometimes they are) and those who have less get irritated by the people who have more and brag about it. 






I will say that anytime your hit publish you are putting yourself out there to be scrutinized by whomever reads your stuff. That's the way it is and so I wonder, what do people put such personal stuff out there? Are they really asking for an opinion? Are they gluttons for punishment? 




I personally do not leave a comment unless I have something nice to say. I have been on the receiving end of a few nasty comments and I do not like it. What's funny is they were often because someone tried to bake something that I posted about and it didn't work. Do I deserve to be called names because you made the cake and poured all the batter into a 6 inch pan instead of a 9 inch and it leaked all over your oven? 

That said, I absolutely believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion and I think it is sad that we are becoming a society where if you do not agree with someones opinion you are often criticized and bullied and that is not right either.  




So please share, what are your thoughts about comments in social media? Do you feel as if you can speak your mind or do you think you always have to say something nice? 

I hope that you have a great day! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cinnamon Stuffed Challah Bread

Good morning and a very happy week to you! Did you enjoy your weekend? I did; the weather was beautiful, sunny and 71, no humidity, just perfect. I did a little gardening, cooking and lots of reading.  Although to be honest, I am awaiting the days for warmer water and time out on my board. 





I have always been a fan of yeast breads, and recipes because they remind me of my grandmother and my childhood.  Yeast has not however been a fan of me. Frequently I end up with flat, hard breads and pastries. Lately though I have tried a few new things and I am having a little more success. 






Last week I made this Cinnamon-Walnut Stuffed Challah bread, minus the walnuts and it turned out perfect, not to mention fabulous! The only thing I did that I do not normally do is use yeast in a jar instead of from a package and to proof the dough, I turned the oven on to 350 for 1 minute and then turned it off. This seemed to make all the difference in the rise of the bread. 





Cinnamon-Walnut Stuffed Challah Bread
Recipe from Completely Delicious


Dough

1/2 cup hot milk
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 envelope(21/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 large eggs

Filling:
1/2 cup un-salted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
2 cups chopped walnuts(I omitted these)



Instructions:

Combine the milk, honey, and butter n a small saucepan set over medium heat. Warm until butter is just melted. Remove from heat and let she mixture cool for 5 minutes, or until it is between 120-130 degrees F. 
In the bowl of a stand miser fitted with a dough hook, combine 2 cups flour salt, cinnamon and yeast. Then add the milk mixture and mix until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time and make sure to incorporate each one before adding the other. 
Add the remaining flour one tablespoon at a time being sure to incorporate it fully into the mixture. When all of the flour has been added, the dough will be very soft, but clear the sides of the bowl. If you need to add a little more flour. Then knead the dough for an additional 5 minutes. 
Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic. Place in an area that is warm and free from drafts, for about an hour or until doubled in size. Once risen, carefully punch down the dough and knead for a few minutes by hand. 

To assemble the Challah:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and walnuts(if using). Mix until smooth.
Divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces. Working with each piece separately, roll until 12 x 6 inches rectangle, then spread a generous amount of the filling onto the dough. Starting at the long end roll the dough like a cinnamon roll. Once finished, place onto a pan lined with a Silphat or a parchment. Repeat with the remaining 1 or two pieces. Once finished braid the pieces together and then tuck the ends under. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let reuse for 30-45 minutes. 
In the meantime, preheat oven to 350. Then make an egg wash with 1 egg and 1 tsp water. Brush mixture onto loaf.  Bake until golden, about 30-45 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes. 





What do you think? Do you like cinnamon? Are you a fan of hot, yeasty bread right from the oven? Do you have a favorite bread recipe? If so, please share!

I hope that you have a fabulous week!



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