December 22, 2012

EAT: old-fashioned lemon bread

Happy Holidays! break some bread with your loved ones.

The best thing to happen to lemon... since sliced bread!  The lemon, much like the pumpkin (previous pumpkin martini post)  is very versatile.  As you might have read, it made its appearance on the blog before in the lemon detox water post, well here it is again, this time in bread.  Baking bread is easier than I thought. 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (forgot to picture above)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup (5 fl.-oz. can) nestle carnation evaporated milk
  • 1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (about 1 lemon - reserve lemon for later use)
  • lemon syrup glaze

For the glaze: combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of juice (1-2 lemons) in a small, heavy-duty sauce pan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and a light syrup is formed.  Keep aside until you are ready to pour over your bread.  

Grate some lemon peel that will go right into your bread mixture mix. 

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour baking pan.  I used the baking pan from the Martha Stewart line (below) that is safe to bake in the oven - I also used a regular 8 x 14 baking pan.  One loaf to gift and one loaf to eat! 

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Beat eggs, evaporated milk, oil and lemon zest together in medium bowl. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Pour into prepared pan.  

And then bake! for 55 to 60 minutes or until wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean.  One for you and one for me. 

Using the skewer, poke numerous holes in the hot bread, piercing all the way to the bottom. Slowly drizzle the hot lemon syrup over the bread (syrup will soak into the bread).  It should be a glistening, lemony glaze.  

Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes; run knife around edge of bread. Remove bread to wire rack to cool completely and then it should be ready to eat!

I used the same packaging I used for the chocolate hazelnut bread pudding, the lemon bread is packaged and ready to gift!  Now go break some bread with your loved ones. Happy Holidays!

December 16, 2012

DIY: rosette and pom pom push pins

I spotted some really pretty ceramic flower pins at Anthropologie and wanted to make some of my own (mostly because they were a little too pricey for me).  They are incredibly easy to make and I even threw in some gold pom poms for some added sparkle and fun. 

Here's what you'll need:
- Rosette embellishments (I got mine at Michaels - $3.99 for a 16-pack)
- Pom Poms (also Michaels - $1.69 for a 15-pack)
- Thumbtacks and pushpins
- Superglue

This is as complicated as it gets - dab some glue on the top of the thumbtack/pushpin and pop the rosette/pom pom on top.  I like the look of the flat thumbtacks, but the pushpins are great for anything you need to hang (keys, jewelry, etc.).  Let them dry for a few minutes and you are all set!

These also make really cute stocking stuffers - pin a few on a piece of decorated cardboard and package it up.  Enjoy!

December 13, 2012

EAT: chocolate hazelnut bread pudding

First things first: pre-heat oven to 350F.  Then follow along for pictures and directions. :)

This is challah bread (Jewish braided egg bread). You can use a bread to your liking but this one is suggested because of its crust, firmness and rich egg flavor. 

Ingredients: (8-12 servings)
  • 1 (14 oz)  loaf challah bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (12 cups) 
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate pieces (1 hershey size bar), break into pieces
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 8 eggs (6 egg yolks, 2 whole eggs)
  • 1 cup Nutella spread
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (plus 1 table spoon to add with brown sugar)
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (forgot to add in picture but you know what salt looks like)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 cup hazelnuts - toasted and crushed or chopped
  • whip cream or ice cream optional but recommended

Cut the challah bread into 1-inch cubes the best that you can.  The braided texture is just a bit tough to cut through but it doesn't have to be perfect. Toast the bread cubes until dry and crisp, but not overly brown to get all the moisture out of the bread.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, cream and 4 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs (no more than 2 whole eggs! make sure you get just the 4 egg yolks), nutella, 3/4 cup of granulated sugar and 4 teaspoons of vanilla extract.    

And then, add the dry bread cubes into the mixture.  Then throw the bittersweet chocolate pieces in the mix. Stir well to make sure that all the bread soaks up the cream/egg mixture. 

Before you transfer your soaked goodness into a pan (here I used a 9 x 13 cake pan but a smaller one could have been used), make sure the pan is greased up real good.  As you can see in my picture on the sides, I buttered up the pan real good. Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish and pack down tightly.  Pour any cream mixture that may be left in the bowl into the pan.  Mix together the remaining light brown sugar with the tablespoon of granulated sugar.  Then sprinkle the sugar mixture  over the top of the bread pudding. 

Then put pan in the oven and bake for 350F for 25 minutes or  until it has firmed up a bit and the top begins to crisp a little (that's why the crust on the challah bread is perfect for this). And voila, it's THAT simple!

While you wait, you can lightly toast your hazelnuts on a pan and chop them up to prepare to garnish  your completed bread pudding. :)

Serve in bowls with whipped cream and sprinkle with the hazelnuts!  It adds texture to the pudding and crunchy deliciousness. 

To give as gifts for those ballin on a budget like me, I got these cute bakery packaging from Kmart from the Martha Stewart holiday crafts line. I just scooped enough bread pudding to fill right up to the top so when you close with the cellophane wrapping, the chocolate doesn't get all messy. 

Peek-a-boo! I see you! You, sweet deliciousness.

All wrapped up and ready to gift.  A DIY holiday gift baked with LOVE.  

For a finishing touch, I printed out customized labels with heating instructions and best served with suggestions and a short personalized note. Hopefully better than giving that fruit cake. 

December 11, 2012

DIY: 5 minute beaded bracelet

Got 5 minutes?  Make a beaded bracelet!  I saw this simple black beaded bracelet on one of my fav bloggers (Chiara Ferragni of the blonde salad) and decided I needed one too.  After grabbing the supplies I made this bad boy in a jiffy. 

Here's what you'll need:
- Beads (I got mine at Walmart for less than $3)
- Stretchy jewelry string (I used size 0.5mm - you can get this at Michaels for less than $3)
- Scissors
- Super glue (optional)

Measure out some string - make sure you give yourself plenty of length in order to tie the knot.  The great part about making your own bracelet is you get to customize it to your wrist size.

Place the beads on the string until you have the desired length.  Tie a tight double knot and place a drop of super glue on it to make sure it stays.

BAM!  FIVE MINUTE BRACELET.  Oh yeah you go girl!

December 6, 2012

DIY: ginger & epsom salt detox bath

HOT stuff coming through!  Here's a great idea (or gift idea) for anyone who loves SWEATING it out in hot baths, saunas, massages and hot yoga.  This natural detox bath is super simple and rids the body of toxins through your skin.  Here's the breakdown:

Epsom Salt (magnesium sulphate): find it in the garden center or pharmaceutical dept. of discount stores or local drug stores
- eases stress and relaxes the body
- relieves pain and muscle cramps
- aids muscle and nerve function
- relieves constipation
- eliminates toxins from the body

Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate):  find it in the bakery isle or in bulk at the swimming pool/chemical area of discount stores
- balances an over acidic system
- leaves skin soft
- aids the body in magnesium absorption

Ginger: powder or fresh grated
- "heats" the body
- increases circulation
- opens pores for release of toxins

Run a hot bath and dump it all in.  Then put on some Alicia Keys - cause girl, you are gonna feel like you are on fire!  Not really, but you will SWEAT and you may feel your heartbeat get strong.  If it gets way too hot in there, run some cold water to cool down.  Sit back and relax for 20 min or so (no more than 30). 

Take it easy when you get out - your body has been working hard and you may be lightheaded.  No lotions or serums tonight, as your body will continue to detox and sweat for a few hours even after the bath (see below for the after-bath of me - I've never sweat so much while reading before).

Make sure to hydrate with TONS of water - you will be thirsty as heck.  You may feel lightheaded when waking as well (possibly even flu-y) - but this is a good sign of releasing those toxins.  Continue to drank that water!
P.S. This detox can be a powerful one - do not take it if pregnant or have heart or health issues.

Have fun sweatin it up!

December 5, 2012

BEAUTY: shine bright like a diamond!

Add some sparkle into your life this holiday season.  From the wise words of Rihanna, shine bright like a diamond. 

Nails: OPI color "die another day" with Essie glitter.  Dress: Asos