Sunday, April 24, 2011

Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter with Italian Easter Egg Bread

Bouna Pasqua (Happy Easter)! For many Italians, making Italian Easter Egg Bread is a tradition on Easter Sunday.  It is a sweet bread that usually only makes an appearance this time of year.  Many bakeries will sell Easter Egg Bread, but once Easter ends, so does the making of this deliciously sweet bread!

There are many different ways to make Easter Egg Bread and I have tried several of them, but this adaptation from Carlo's Bakery and the Italian Dish is my favorite!
Italian Easter Egg Bread

Ingredients:
-1 package active dry yeast
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 1/4 cup milk
-6 tablespoons butter, unsalted
-Pinch of salt
-About 4 cups flour
-1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon of water for egg wash
-6 dyed eggs for decorating (The eggs do not need to be boiled as they will cook in the oven)
-Sprinkles for decorating

Directions:
In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the milk and scald, do not boil.  Allow the milk and butter mixture to cool to room temperature.

Once the milk and butter have cooled to room temperature, mix it together with the yeast, 2 eggs, sugar, and salt.  Add half of the flour mixture.  Keep adding the flour a little at a time until the dough forms a ball and is no longer sticky (you may use a little less or a little more then 4 cups of flour).

On a floured surface, knead and punch down the dough until smooth.  Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let sit in a warm spot until doubled (about an hour).

Once the dough has risen, knead and punch it down again.  Cut the dough into 12 pieces.  Roll out each piece into a long strand about 14 inches long.  Taking two pieces at a time, pinch the ends of the dough together and twist.  Loop into a circle and pinch the dough to connect the ends.


When the 6 loaves of braided bread are finished, place them on a greased baking sheet, cover, and let sit in a warm place to rise for about another hour.  While you are waiting, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Once the dough has risen again, brush the breads with the egg wash and coat with colored sprinkles if you wish.  Carefully place an egg in the middle of each of the breads.


Place the breads in a 350 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top.  These breads are best fresh out of the oven so serve right away and enjoy!




Bouna Pasqua!


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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bahama Mama

Sadly I have returned from my cruise to the Bahamas and of course, the weather in New England has been just wonderful - rainy and overcast :(.  Thankfully I came back with a nice tan though!


It's going to take me a couple of days to get back into the swing of things (and back to the gym...), but before I start posting some Easter recipes, I wanted to share some photos from my trip.  I also want to let you all know that I finally tried Conch! And yes, when I say Conch, I mean I actually got to eat the meat from a Conch shell, which until recently, I did not even know that Conch shells had meat! It was absolutely delicious though and I really wish we could get it more around here.

Hope you enjoy my photos and I'll post again soon with some Italian Easter favorites!
The photo on the left is a mix of Pina Colada and the Hurricane.  The drinks on the right are a Miami Vice (Strawberry and Pina Colada) and Mango Swirl (Mango Daiquiri and Pina Colada)

Each day there was a different drink special served in a cute cup... I love coconuts so I had to buy this one!

Kalik - The beer of the Bahamas! In case you have yet to figure it out, we drank a lot on this trip...


View from my chair... I miss lying out in the sun! 

Pool/deck area of the ship

Each night there was a different towel surprise waiting for us... they were so cute! I forgot to get a picture of the first night, which was a seal. 

There were a ton of these guys running around Freeport! 

Front view of Atlantis resort from our snorkeling trip on the catamaran

I love snorkeling... And there was even unlimited complimentary rum punch on this trip!

It's hard to see in these photos, but this guy prepared a Conch salad in front of us! 

Pulling out the Conch meat!

The Conch salad was delicious!

Conch Fritters - reminded me of fried clams

Being a New Englander I was very excited to see a Dunkin Donuts in the Bahamas... :)

Warm chocolate melting cake... what I ate for dessert every night!


Dave and I at sunset and in front of the moon... Such a beautiful sight! And the sunset is cool too... ;) 
Beautiful full moon!

As you can all see, we drank and ate A LOT! It's very depressing to have to start dieting and working out again :( Hope you enjoyed my photos!


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Monday, April 11, 2011

Just for fun: Beach Cake and Karate Toppers!

As of 4pm tomorrow, I will be on my way to South Carolina to board a Carnival cruise ship to the Bahamas! Therefore, I will apologize in advance for not being around during the next week.  I promise I will try to check in and respond to comments, messages, etc... 

Before I leave for my trip though, I wanted to share with you all a cake that I made this past weekend for a surprise 50th birthday party! It was a simple beach scene that a son ordered for his mother - very sweet! 

Graham cracker crumbs were used for the sand and piping gel was used for the ocean 

 White chocolate seashells and gum paste decorations 

Gum paste beer bottles and rock candy ice

Sugar paste flower

Coconuts with coconut milk!

In addition to making this cake, a friend of mine saw some karate cupcake toppers online and asked me to replicate them for her kid's karate themed birthday! There were 12 mini toppers and one large topper. Here was the end result... 


Finally, I just want to send out a huge thank you to Parsley Sage at the Deep Dish for awarding me my second Stylish Blogger Award.  To see who I passed the award on to, please click here.  I know this is short and sweet since I need to go get packing, but please make sure to check out Parsley Sage's blog - she is extremely talented and has a lot of amazing photos! Thanks again!

See you all again in just over a week.  I promise to take a TON of photos to share with you all! 


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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring is here with Lemon Risotto!

In my last post I mentioned that I had not been online as much due to my sudden absorption in the book Water for Elephants.  It was a great book and I definitely recommend reading it before the movie comes out in two weeks!

Aside from reading, I have been praying for spring weather to arrive.  After a freak snow storm on April 1st and a handful of rainy days, it is finally beginning to feel like spring here in New England! Finally! I am so excited that the weather has been improving because I love to cook with various spring and summer fruits and vegetables.  In order to celebrate the changing of weather, I am kicking off my first official "Spring Post" with a Lemon Risotto. Risotto is an Italian dish that consists of rice cooked in a broth that makes it very creamy and delicious! The addition of the lemon flavors makes this risotto so light and flavorful that it is sure to drag anyone out from the winter blues!
Lemon Risotto (Lemon cup idea courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis)

Ingredients:
-2 cups chicken broth
-1/2 cup water
-1 medium shallot, chopped
-3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
-1 cup Arborio rice
-1 cup dry white wine
-1 lemon zested and juiced
-1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
-2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
-Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and water to a simmer and leave on low heat.

In another medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter.  Add the shallot and sauté for about 3 minutes.  Pour the rice into the pan and mix in with the shallot.  Then, add the wine and simmer until the wine is reduced.  Once the wine has reduced, add about a 1/2 cup of the broth.  Simmer and stir until almost reduced (a few minutes).  Continue adding about a 1/2 cup of the broth at a time, allowing to reduce before adding more.  Once all of the broth has been used, remove from heat and mix in the last tablespoon of butter, Parmesan cheese, mascarpone cheese, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  The rice mixture should be creamy but still somewhat firm to the bite.

Serve warm as a side dish to accompany dinner or during brunch - Enjoy!
And before I forget, I want to thank Manus Menu for bestowing upon me several awards! You can view her wonderful blog and awards here.  Be sure to check out her awesome Italian dishes and the recent bake sale that she participated in for Japan! 

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