A Year of Changes

Holy cow, it’s been over a year since I’ve posted anything. In my defense, things got a little crazy. Recap: March/April ’12 – enrolled to start school in the Fall (online in order to keep working full time), June ’12 – found out we were pregnant, August/September ’12 – we bought a house. Someone asked me in the middle of all of it, “How are you doing this? I would be going crazy.” My light response, “I don’t just observe life, I guess. I just jump with both feet into the water.”

It’s crazy to think I actually survived the past year. I passed both semesters, took the summer off to spend time with my daughter, and will be going back in the fall. The house still seems to be in shambles with all of the small details, but we’ll get there.

It’s still weird hearing the title of Mom being put to my name. I remember it taking a while after the wedding hearing the words Wife and Husband. Now it’s Mom. Hearing the question, “How’s that baby?” My response is always, “Beautiful.” Every time I say that word I think of my sister. Her children are 11 and 8 and she still uses that one word to answer a question that could be answered in so many ways.

There’s a switch that gets flipped internally in a split second. That moment where it’s just you, your husband, and your two cats and all of a sudden a new life is brought to you by God and his angels – with no manual, you get to make up the rules. In that second, time both rushes in this warping speed, but slows to almost a complete stop. All sounds are blocked out in order for you to hear the beautiful sound of your screaming baby. The sign you’re listening for that brings you the peace that everything is okay. I have to think really hard in some of the moments Lorelei made her debut into the world. I don’t have to think too hard about how the doctor placed her on my chest butt first in my face and my immediate reaction being ‘Oh, gross!” and hand waving her to be taken to get cleaned up. I don’t have to think hard about how the first words our daughter heard were ‘Roll Tide!’ shouted by her daddy. Before that switch is flipped you have this ability to call everyone by the right name. After that switch, though, you start confusing names. Lorelei gets called Jenga, Jenga gets called Lorelei, sometimes JJ gets pulled into the mix. Mom, I understand now.

Five pounds ten ounces and twenty inches long of pure perfection. How that little bit of perfection could make me cry like a five year old having their ice cream cone fall to the ground in a hot second. I remember a lot of emotions. I haven’t read anything from others moms about feeling pure red hot anger. I had that feeling every single time someone other than my husband or myself held her. I couldn’t look at these people. It made me cry every time. The worst melt down I had, though, happened when we watched the slide show of her hospital photos. I felt so stupid and angry that these tears were flowing hard and fast. That didn’t help, it just made it worse. I wasn’t anticipating it happening. I mean, I was there! I saw the photos being taken. How can seeing them on a small screen be so powerful? Those damn hormones that’s how. Also add in the notion of, “That’s mine. That’s a part of me. A part of me that I’m supposed to coach during life and I don’t even know what I’m doing yet.”

Every mom has that day during her maternity leave. That day where everything makes you cry. Or maybe I just rolled up all of my tear fests into one day. I remember thinking that taking a shower would help me calm down – a now luxury moment where you’re by yourself. Nope. Tears fell and they continued to fall after. My husband looked at me and asked if I was okay. “Do I look okay?! It just won’t stop! I’m just pissed off at everyone right now.” “What are you pissed off about?” “Everyone except for Lorelei are just a bunch of selfish assholes! Fuck ’em all!” Not my most shining moment, but it was how I was feeling at that time. I was over it later in the evening. Then, every mom has that moment where they runaway. I ran away. The only reason my husband woke up is because he heard me gathering my keys and wallet. Lorelei wouldn’t stop crying, I felt like a drive through window passing out food to Lorelei, the husband was sleeping which made me mad because I couldn’t remember what that was, and I just needed to leave. To breath. “Where are you going?” “I don’t know and I don’t care. Some where that isn’t here.” I drove for an hour and got an ice cream. I cried most of the time, windows down, and music blaring.

She’ll be five months old this week. My emotions are better controlled. I’ve worked through the frustrations of post-baby body issues. Whenever I start getting frustrated with it, I just look at my sweet daughter’s tiny face and think, “Hey, I grew that and it was hard work, but it was so worth it!”

My husband and I are comedic parents, I guess. A question will come up and we both look at each other, shrug our shoulders, and say ‘I don’t know. I’ve never done this before.’ The way I look at life at the end of each day is my daughter’s healthy, my husband still thinks I’m hot and sexy, and I have all my hair still even though it might look like a hot mess. Life still throws us lemons, perhaps more than before. Instead of making lemonade, I make a few lemon meringue pies.

Discovery: Sorbet

My taste buds want strawberries. I wander aimlessly in search of where they could be. They were just there yesterday! Now there’s corn – ugh. Plan B goes into action – ice cream. Generally, I’d want ice cream. This time it’s just not strawberry enough. The pretty blue pint sat high in the freezer dusted in frost. I can’t recall having strawberry sorbet, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

The pretty hot pink color was revealed as I peeled away the seal. Seeds and chunks of strawberries shone through the smooth top. Spoon driven across that smooth top making a well. First bite taken. My taste buds danced with the tartness of strawberry.

The next trip down that freezer section led me to the tiny cartons of sorbet. Different flavors lined up like soldiers. Mango was the winner. The small ones come equipped with a mini spoon. Plastic – the proper way to eat so the taste of metal doesn’t hinder the flavor of food.

The same smooth surface shows, but with a goldish color. No chunks or seeds show. My taste buds are anticipating the first bite, I am waiting in anticipation. The sweetness is strong. The underlying tartness from fresh fruit balances and draws me back for more. The mini carton is the perfect amount. Cuts my cravings for something sweet and refreshing.

As I take each bite of this mango yumminess, I think about ways that this sorbet could be used. Put a small scoop at the bottom of a champagne flute and fill it with prosecco. An ingredient to make a smoothie. Punch. Layers in a parfait.

Who knew someone could enjoy sorbet so much?

Days Remembered to Live By

The brown shag carpet tickles between my toes. I remember the feel and smell of the house. I sat in your lap and learned how to crochet and do needlepoint. Your better half sat in his chair on the right side watching. The gold cap showing as he smiled with the light teasing. I found comfort here in what I call my second home.

The memories pooled together when I heard the words that you’d passed away, gone to a better place. You reunited with her. I picture her wearing that blue dress. My fear is that I’ll forget those moments worth remembering. Your passing brought it all back. They’re still there longing to be dug up.

Our pastor has told the story many times of his grandparents having a 62 year marriage. I love hearing this story of how his grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and it was in her best interest later to live in an assisted living place. Her husband packed his bags, too, telling those that she’s his home and where she is, home is. It amazes me and brings me hope for my marriage. This really happens – people marrying and staying together forever. In my deep thoughts on the road trip up, it hit me like a ton of bricks – you two had a 62 year marriage.

You stayed by her side throughout those horribly sad days. The days I stomped down deep in a dark place of my soul not wanting to be remembered. I analyze them now with an adult understanding, from a wife’s point of view. I get it. I watched the slide show of pictures, many new to my eyes. One that will forever be remembered is the one of you holding her in your arms like a groom carrying his bride over the threshold for the first time only it wasn’t your wedding day. She was forever your bride and you treated her as such. Your love for each other was raw with emotion in that one black and white photo.

I remember sitting at your dining room table countless times while she washed the dishes. You’d come in greasy and gross from working on cars or something manly. Your path lead straight to her wrapping your arms around the small of her back and giving her a kiss on the cheek, top of her head, or near her temple. I wasn’t used to seeing this stuff in my own home. This was awkward and uncomfortable. I get it now. Seeing it through memory with a newly wired brain and heart wishing I could have known to cherish it then as I do now.

I pray that I have a 62 year marriage like yours. That I show no fear in showing the love for others as you both did. I long and will forever strive to be the mother, aunt, grandmother, and friend that you were. I will tell of the stories of you to my husband, nephews, and any son(s) we may have and pray that they will hear the words, hold them in their as hearts as I do, and live by them.

You both set the bar pretty high.

A Dream and Rocky IV

I’m in the house I grew up in. I’m breathing hard and I can’t find the words for prayer. I have a fear that everyone I know is in danger. There’s a deep fear that grows stronger as I near the basement. It’s hot. I want to cry, but there’s no time for tears. I open the door to go down the stairs. The feeling of pain and suffering is at its strongest and I can’t breathe.

A deep, scratchy voice surrounds me and my insides turn to ice. Words echoing my deepest fears out loud. ‘I am going to get you’ and ‘I’m going to get them, too’ and ‘ You can’t save them.’ Evil laughter echoes in the room filled with shadows and dancing flames. My eyes follow the sound to the normally darkest corner. Now it’s bright with yellow and orange and there’s a shadowy figure with red eyes staring at me, moving forward.

I’m frozen, screaming, tears running down my face. My mind tells me to run, run as fast as I can and for a split second my feet can’t react. It’s moving closer. Something grabs me and I run, not looking back. The laughter begins once again. The words ‘You can’t run forever’ follow me. I can’t allow the fear to consume me. A house not so big is feeling ginormous. I just want to get out. I have to get out soon. A feeling of something bad happening sits in my gut like a boulder.

I reach the door and run faster. Two long steps from the end of the porch – jump! Mid-jump, it happens. I’m thrown like in the movies. The explosion fills my ears and covers my screams. I’m bracing myself for the impact of landing, hoping to hit a grassy area…

I wake up. Muscles stiff, trying to catch my breath like a marathon runner, covered in a cold sweat. My mind was foggy from a deep sleep. I couldn’t make sense of it. The room was dark, fear wrapping around my heart. I need to get out of here, go where there’s light. I go downstairs where the TV is on and husband’s on the computer. “You okay?” he asks. “I just had a bad dream. When are you coming to bed?” “Soon.”

I sit in the middle of our living room without my glasses and wait patiently for him to come to bed. JJ curls up next to me, nudging me for attention. Struggling to make out what’s on TV, I ask, “What are you watching?” “Rocky IV.” I squint. “Doesn’t this guy die?” “Yeah, Apollo dies. What was this dream about that made you come down here and watch Rocky IV?” “I just had a really bad dream.” I’m trying to wash it from my mind. I find the words of prayer, mind clearing. All I can see in my mind is that damn shadowy figure coming closer to me, fear that it’s going to touch me, that voice bringing chills to my skin. “When are you coming to bed?” “Soon.” Apollo’s funeral is showing on the TV.

He gives me a hug and asks for a third time what my dream was about. The only words I could find, sounding stupid on the in and even more coming out, “The devil was trying to get me.” I fell asleep with him next to me silently saying Hail Marys over and over again. Praying the image goes away.

I tell my story not in great detail to my co-workers. Two asked me what I had to feel guilty about to be dreaming about the devil. I wanted to become defensive. I said I don’t have anything to feel guilty about. I think it’s my deepest fear coming through in a dream and my faith being tested.

I Dream…

I’m a dreamer. I dream in my sleep, when my eyes are open and looking out into nothing. I think deeply and imagine all sorts of things. Most of the things I dream of can be realistic. Some more difficult to accomplish than others.

I dream of graduating with a college degree one day soon. It’s in the process. The process takes time, but I need that time to process things out in my brain. I’ll get there and when I do, I will definitely have a better sense of myself.

I dream of one day making remodeling/decorating plans in a place I can call my own. I don’t know what it will look like exactly, but one thing is for sure there will be color. No beige or cream-colored walls. Colors that bring happiness, warmth, energy. Cabinets! Oh, yes, there will be cabinets. And twirling. There will also be twirling accompanied with laughter filled with joy and excitement – no matter how many toilets there are to be cleaned.

I dream of dancing and baking withe someone I call my own. Teaching the importance of leveling your flour and messy cooks/bakers are the best cooks/bakers – you just have to clean up after. I’ll give the advice of pulling longer hair into a ponytail, so it doesn’t get stuck in the beaters when you’re trying to see. True story – it hurts.

I dream of the things most do. I dream hard and true to myself. Sure there are the dreams that I believe will come true, but not until after I’ve spent my time here. I dream realistically and endless. I dream openly and limitless.

6 of 12 of ’12

I’m a list kind of girl. Grocery, to-do’s at home, to-do’s at work, goals. I need something tangible to mark through, not just mentally. There have been nights where I lay awake thinking of this, that, and the other. Once the list is created, I can sleep comfortably. This year seems different. I remember telling a co-worker that first week of January, “This isthe year. Something big is going to happen. Something that I’m going to do.”

We’ve discussed many different things for this year. Have made plans, some set in stone, some not. Once again, a new list is formed, check marks waiting to be made.

I’m currently working on a list for the 2012 year. A list of goals, some easy and some not. It’s a nudge to help me step outside of my box. I want to set 12 goals for myself, realistic and not financially crazy. I have 6 things so far which means I have 6 more to come up with.

Go back to school. I set this for myself a couple of years ago and certain things happened and broke my concentration. I’ve researched distance learning programs and found one at the University of Alabama that I’m interested in – Bachelor of Science in Commerce and General Business.

Make a list of recipes that I’ve said I was going to make, but actually make them. This list is ongoing. It’s amazing how you can say “I’m going to make this” and then totally forget what that thing was. Makes my face scrunch. I’ll get there. I want to make gumbo. That’s the only one that really stands out to me.

Try sushi. I’ve never tried sushi and I want to, darn it. There’s something about the title of Spicy Tuna roll that I find intriguing. I’m doing it, but first I think it would be best to check off what’s next on my list.

Learn to use chopsticks. They look fun to use! And I found some at Target that are a pack of like 4 sets I think. This gives me extra just in case I get really frustrated and break one. It happens.

Once I learn how to use chopsticks, I want to make a Chinese dinner. I love Chinese take-out. It’s my favorite. We generally pick out a movie to watch at home, blow up the air mattress, and chow down till we feel miserable. It’d be ten times more fun if I was using chopsticks and I’d be able to say, “I made this.” Of course, I’d say it with pride in my voice.

One of the most challenging on the list for me is to learn to walk in stiletto heels. For some, this is easy. For me, this is not. I put a pair on at the store recently, told my husband to check me if I looked as if I’d fall, and then I kind of just stood there stiff as a board. I love heels, but I prefer the wedge. All of these shoes either keep getting skinnier in the heel or the wedge is getting taller. My limit is a 4in wedge, but I’m thinking I need to push it to 5. I do own a pair of 5in wedges, so I can practice at home. I should start putting some kind of ankle strengthening exercise into my routine….

My list is halfway from being complete. I have some ideas in mind. I want to paint something, make something cool, but I don’t know what yet. It’ll be complete soon enough. I have 10 more months until the year comes to a close. I have time.

Spicy Chick(en)

I vaguely remember how I came across this recipe. Either I was watching it on TV or just had the notion to want to make enchiladas. I prefer my mexican made with chicken. It’s unfair to the other types of meat, but it is what it is.

This is my go-to recipe when I want mexican that’s hot and spicy, mainly spicy. Since you’re making it you get to choose the level of heat. Nice. I will have to say that I don’t make this recipe exactly like it says here and I’ve never added the corn, but it would be a good add-in for sure. I do have it memorized now, so I don’t look at the recipe anymore. I just wing it – pun not intended (HA). I’ve actually only made this into enchiladas once and that was the first time I ever made this. It was really good.

The rice version. I cook the seasoned chicken, shred it, and set it aside. I saute the onions, garlic, tomatoes, and peppers together with the oil for a bit and then add one cup of rice and saute that for a bit. I then add 2 cups chicken broth. Once it has most of the liquid boiled out, that’s when I add the chicken. Once it’s combined really well, I top it with some mexican blend cheese and let it melt. It’s a one-skillet meal.

The quesadilla version. This is our favorite. You don’t want so much liquid, though, so more flour may need to be added or use a slotted spoon or tongs for the excess liquid to strain off before building the quesadilla. We have a griddle, but this could be made in a teflon coated skillet. I make the chicken stuff and once it’s finished, I can start building it into a quesadilla. I preheat the griddle to 350 and use the large (10in, I think) flour tortillas. Lay down the tortilla, sprinkle with cheese all over, spoon in chicken mixture on HALF of the tortilla. Once the cheese starts to melt, I pull the unfilled half over the filled half and let it sit on that side for about 2min. Keep an eye on it. You want it to be a light brown, crispy tortilla. Then, flip it and do the same thing on the other side. Cut and serve it with some of my go-to salsa and sour cream. Delish.

The enchilada pie version. This is really good and also really good the next day if you have leftovers. It’s like a mexican lasagna. You’ll want the excess liquid in this, so I don’t add the flour. The tortillas soak up the excess juice and the flavors blend more merrily. I use an 8×8 baking dish, no greasing necessary. Start by putting just enough chicken mixture at the bottom to cover (I prefer mostly liquid for this part), lay down a tortilla (same size as quesadilla), little bit of cheese, chicken mixture, little bit of cheese, and begin back with the tortilla. I ended with the chicken mixture on top and put a good portion of cheese on top. Bake it 350 for about 25-30 minutes and let stand about 10min before serving.

I love this recipe and how versatile I can make it. I’ve had the idea to make it into nachos and tacos, too. I could probably use it as a base for a kind of soup, too. The ideas are pouring out.

Chicken Enchiladas

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast

Salt and pepper

2 teaspoons cumin powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend

1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

5 canned whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped

4 canned chipotle chiles, seeded and minced

1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour

16 corn tortillas

1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned

1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses

Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes

Coat large saute pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium heat, allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder and Mexican spices before turning. Remove chicken to a platter, allow to cool.

Saute onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes, saute 1 minute.

Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to saute pan, combine with vegetables. Dust the mixture with flour to help set.

Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable. Coat the bottom of 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling, place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans.

 

Inner Dark-Side: Cake

I’ve done research on Star Wars cakes before searching for R2D2 and finding Darth Vader, too. Contact information was given to me along with a stack of printed pictures found for cake ideas. A little boy was turning 5 in December around Christmas, but the celebration wouldn’t be until January in order for it not to get lost around the holidays.

He’s a fan of the Dark Side of Star Wars. The theme of the party was Lego Star Wars, either a Storm Trooper or Darth Vader cake would be ideal. My thought was that a 5-year-old boy would be slightly disappointed with a Storm Trooper cake rather than a Darth Vader cake. Darth Vader was agreed on. I sent pictures for ideas. A Lego Darth Vader cake was chosen.

I challenged myself. Go big or go home on this cake. It was Darth Vader! I decided it would be covered with fondant, something that I’ve made figurines out of, but not actually covered a cake with yet. I’ve read about it many times feeling intimidated. I’ve watched those cake shows and being critiqued on their fondant skills. More intimidation. I was nervous, but I felt a kind of confidence, if just a small amount.

I tried planning out my process on paper. The only decision made on paper was what size of pan I was going to use for the cake. I was thinking about it too much, I decided. I made my buttercream frosting, the 2 cakes (an 11×15 and 9×13), and marshmallow fondant the night before beginning the cake building process. I’d gone through my plan by mind – the cape should be laid down first and then the arms on top. Give the cape a wavy look – it’ll look more real.

The next morning I laid out the 11×15 yellow cake and stared, thoughts running, walked by it, did the dishes. I was stalling. I was nervous. I knew in my mind that once I started working, I wouldn’t stop until it was complete. My David Grey radio station played through my iPod just loud enough. I cut the cake in half lengthwise, filled it with frosting, and the carving began.

I was in the “cake-zone.” The pieces came together for a basic outline to build from, cut out cake here, place it there. A crumb coat was applied. The fondant, bright marshmallow white, was unwrapped and ready to be kneaded and filled with color. My brain sent messages to my kneading-muscles, as I call them, preparing mentally for the aches and pain and burn they’d feel later.

“Why do the bad guys have to be associated with black?” I thought. My hands stained black with streaks of deep purple, blues, and greens as I pushed and rolled the food coloring into the once white fondant. How much food coloring will this take to get the right deep black shade? A lot. My hands were already beginning to get stiff and burn. At one point, I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing while kneading blindly, picturing the oxygen being taken in going to the tense muscles. Mind over matter.

The rolling of black fondant stretched out large enough to cover the cake. It amazes me that I’m able to just do. All of the reading and watching of folks on TV working with this edible, clay-like substance came out in fluid motions by hand. Do this to fix that, this should happen in order to get this result. It just happened. Cake-zone.

I was proud of the end result of this cake. I’m always proud of my cakes, but this one was a personal defeat. One that showed me that I can do this. I challenged myself and succeeded. In doing so, I raised the bar for the future cakes I’ll have. I’ve reached a new level. There were mistakes made, things I see that need improvement. Practice makes perfect. I’ll get there. This cake comes with bragging rights. I love it.

2012 Comes with Change

We’re a couple of weeks into the new year. I keep seeing the Weight Watchers commercial advertising that their slogan for the year is Believe. I’m not fully sold on if I want “Believe” to be my slogan for my 2012. I’ve been in 2012-mode since October 2011 because of my job description, so I was pretty excited when the year in my brain was finally matching my calendar.

I’ve decided one for sure task, if you will, for my 2012 year. Change. I want change, need change. I’m changing my lifestyle. More than a couple of goals have been set. Goals, not resolutions.

Goal #1: Go to church on a more regular basis. God’s always there, but I need to be there, too.

Goal #2: Workout. That’s a New Year’s Resolution for everyone, right? It’s my goal. It’s seems more of an achievement if I reach a goal rather than stick with a resolution. It’s how my brain’s wired, I guess. I think one reason some don’t keep that goal throughout the year is because they start off too hard and demanding that they find it too hard and stop. I’m starting off slow. I began my ball exercises on every odd day of the month. It’s beginning to not be as muscle-tiring now, so I’m going to start doing my dancercise videos on the even days of the month. I’ll be saying hello to more cardio and I love cardio. The best thing about this is that it’s all free! More motivation.

Goal #3: Changes in my diet. I’d like to lose another 10-15lbs by May, my birthday month. I found out at my last doctor’s appointment that I lost 12lbs without even trying, so perhaps I can reach my goal by working out and changing my diet. I’m taking a daily vitamin to help with any fallbacks and I plan on adding more fruits, vegetables, and watching my portion sizes. Also, I’m saying goodbye to caffeine. Maybe not a complete goodbye, but the intake is downsizing. Every once in a while that piece of dark chocolate is needed as a pallet cleanser or that hot chocolate with whipped cream on a cold day, which is rare in Alabama.

So far, I’m on the right track. It takes 30 days to create a habit and 30 days to break a habit. By February I should be set in my routine. The degree of boiling point is 212°F. I think I’ll make my slogan “Be 212° in 2012.”

 

Pirate Tiramisu

Ah, the question we ask each other around our birthdays. “What do you want to do for your birthday dinner? Eat in or out?” Well, this year there was a high recommendation for eating in for him since money was tight. He came up with his menu of: Fried Catfish, Spicy Mac n Cheese, Green Beans, Cornbread, and Tiramisu. It was kind of traveling meal – one minute we’re in the south and the next in Italy. It’s what he asked for, so he received.

It then became a birthday celebration. My sister and her family came over for dinner, too. Along with them, they brought homemade pirate hats. One for each person. My sister decided at 4:30 that afternoon that Husband deserved a pirate themed party. Hooray! It was so much fun. Husband got an eye patch and mine had a bow on its skull. Way fun. Along with the hats came the corny pirate jokes. They googled them on the way over. The family favorite was:

Why do sea gulls fly over the sea? Because if they flew over the bay they’d be bay gulls! *insert hysterical laughter here*

It was really fun. The tiramisu was delicious and also extraordinarily rich in large quantities. I would have to suggest making it the day before you’re planning on serving it. Also, don’t do it the day after you just did your arm workouts – cooking the egg mixture over the double boiler gives you an arm workout in itself! You feel much deserving of eating that more than conservative serving of tiramisu later.

Tiramisu

prep: 37min   cook: 8min   other: 8hrs 

This popular Italian dessert that means “pick-me-up” has a coffee- and alcohol- soaked cake layer, sweetened cream cheese, and grated chocolate. Look for ladyfingers in the bakery section of the store.

6 egg yolks

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 ¼ cups mascarpone cheese*

1 ¾ cups whipping cream

½ cup water

2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

¼ cup brandy

2 3oz packages ladyfingers, split

½ cup whipping cream, whipped

1 teaspoon grated unsweetened chocolate

Combine yolks and sugar in top of a double boiler; beat at medium speed with a handheld mixer until thick and pale. Bring water to a boil in bottom of double boiler; reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring constantly, 8min or until mixture reaches 160°. Remove from heat. Add mascarpone; beat until smooth.

Beat 1 ¾ cups whipping cream at medium speed until soft peaks form; fold into cheese mixture. Combine ½ cup water, coffee granules, and brandy; brush cut side of ladyfingers with ½ cup coffee mixture.

Line sides and bottom of a 3-quart trifle bowl with 36 ladyfingers, cut sides in; pour in half of filling mixture. Layer remaining ladyfingers on top; drizzle with remaining ¼ cup coffee mixture. Cover with remaining filling. Garnish with whipped cream and grated chocolate. Cover and chill 8 hours.

Yields: 12 servings

*As a substitute for mascarpone cheese, combine 2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened, 1/3 cup sour cream, and ¼ cup whipping cream; beat well. Use 1 ¼ cups mixture for recipe, reserving remainder for other uses.

 

 

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