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Tasty Tuesdays ~ The Scoop on Ice Cream

Guest Blog Written By: Jenny Arena from Fables and Focaccia

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Tasty Tuesdays ~ The Scoop on Ice Cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. It’s the summer time staple that seems to appeal to all ages, faces and races. For its simplicity, it also offers such complexity. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between ice-cream and gelato, or, sherbet and sorbet? For a foodie like me, this is one of life’s great questions, so I’ve got the scoop on ice-cream and various other cold confections that I have come to know and love.

Worldwide, there are many variations on this frozen food, each bearing their own distinction and name, the following however seem to be the most common:

Frozen Custard: a cold dessert similar to ice cream, made with eggs in addition to cream and sugar

Frozen Yogurt: a frozen dessert containing yogurt or other dairy products, that is slightly more tart than ice cream, as well as lower in fat

download-2Gelato: is different from ice cream because it has a lower butterfat content and is produced using more air at the time of freezing. The sugar content in gelato is precisely balanced with the water content to act as an anti-freeze to prevent the gelato from freezing solid. Unlike its North-American counterpart, ice cream, high-quality artisan gelato holds its peak flavor and smooth texture only for several days.

Granita: is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings

IceCreamIce-Cream: is usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavours and most varieties contain sugar. In some cases, artificial flavourings and colourings are used in addition to (or in replacement of) the natural ingredients. This mixture is stirred slowly while cooling to prevent large ice crystals from forming and air is introduced at the time of freezing. The result is a smoothly textured and creamy ice cream. With its higher fat content, it can be stored in a freezer for months.

Ice Milk: is made with less than 10 percent milkfat and the same sweetener content as ice cream.

download-5Ice-Pop/Popsicle: frozen fruit puree, fruit juice, or flavoured sugar water on a stick or in a flexible plastic sleeve.

Maple taffy: a popular springtime treat in maple-growing areas. Maple syrup is boiled to a concentrated state and then poured over fresh snow (or shaved ice) congealing in a toffee-like mass, and then eaten from a wooden stick used to pick it up.

Semi-Freddo: is a class of semi-frozen desserts, typically ice-cream cakes, semi-frozen custards, and certain fruit tarts. It has the texture of frozen mousse because it is usually produced by uniting two equal parts of ice cream and whipped cream

Sherbet: an American term for a frozen dessert like sorbet, but containing a small amount of dairy

Snow cones: made from balls of crushed ice topped with sweet syrup served in a paper cone. They are consumed in many parts of the world, but some of the most common places to find snow cones are in North American amusement parks.

Soft-serve: is generally lower in milk-fat than ice cream. Soft serve contains air, introduced at the time of freezing which alters the appearance and taste of the finished product. When produced with low quantities of air, the cream has a heavy, icy taste and appears more yellow while products with higher air content (like soft serve and gelato) taste creamier, smoother and lighter and appear whiter.

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Sorbet: is a frozen dessert made from sweetened water flavored with fruit (typically juice or puree), wine, and/or liqueur.

Whatever you call it, and wherever you enjoy it, ice cream is quite simply one of the most recognizable and popular frozen treats, that make the heart and taste buds smile.


Buon Appetito!

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COCOLILY = #CommunityOverCompetition

If you are fortunate in life, you will encounter some pretty special people. People that will empower you, inspire you, and genuinely care about you. This is exactly how I feel about my friend Renee Dimitrovski, owner and founder of the COCOLILY brand. Renee is an amazing woman, mother, daughter and friend who has helped many women over the span of her career which is why I want to share her story and share with you the wonderful things she’s doing with the COCOLILY Social coming up later this month.

This is Renee and this is her COCOLILY story…

THE BACKGROUND

The idea all started by Renee Dimitrovski, a single mom, entrepreneur, a daughter and a friend who is passionate about what she does, inspired by those in her life and committed to helping others. She also knows that in order to succeed, you need a tribe of amazing people who have your back.

She started producing events such as The Original Wedding Soiree and The Original Petite Soiree eight years ago.  She then launched COCOLILY Magazine which molded into a lifestyle brand for celebration and inspiration.

Renee believes in being authentic, community over competition and she also believes in The COCOLILY Social : a creative event for the female entrepreneur – and she is hoping that you will too.The COCOLILY Social is very near and dear to her heart as she is trying to bring together a community of women who will be there for each other and support one another while providing a unique experience and inspirational event.

Renee is striving to start a movement that allows for women to know that they are not alone on their journey and putting it out there that when women support each other, incredible things happen.  Society has done enough damage where we are accustomed to be catty, competitive and mean.  She is trying to change that and bring together women who also believe in the COCOLILY manifesto. Be kind, be real, speak words of wisdom, support each other and help someone – not because there is something in it for you, but because it feels amazing for the soul.

With your support and contributions, this event will be possible and it will start a new community of wonderful things to come.  An eternally grateful heart for the believers and dreamers who help make this dream come alive.  It will let others know that when you have hope in your heart, anything is possible.

THE BREAKDOWN

The funds being contributed and received will assist towards the total bill for food & beverage at the venue in addition to event rental space.  The fees at the venue:

  1. venue rental…$8,750
  2. meals for 150 guests (breakfast, lunch and dinner and breaks) $25,410
  3. audio visual/electrical $3,500

That is just the venue alone and does not include insurance costs, decor, rentals, and printing.  The $15,500 will help to cover some of the cost for the meals – asking for over $25K is shooting for the stars. 

Coming to realize this, Renee knows she can’t do this alone. COCOLILY has been built by one person, Renee, and she does not have a team of mavens.  She is the accountant, bookkeeper, marketing manager, sales manager and logistics coordinator – and she simply doesn’t have the manpower or marketing funds to go full throttle unfortunately.

This event is not for profit and the goal is to come together as a community, build your tribe, celebrate, dream, relax, collaborate, learn from each other and share experiences.

A lot of us chase those dreams alone but Renee is trying to change that. Have your dream, take it with you to The COCOLILY Social, share it with your new tribe and know that you have a lot of support. Whether it’s asking a simple question, needing advice or letting go of those fears of failure.

You have a dream…now what? You have an idea…now what?  You’re scared and feel alone and lost…you don’t have to feel that way.  A lot of us have been there and Renee knows how it feels to turn on the computer, try to be the best mother/wife/daughter/friend, juggle everything, be surrounded by your family and friends but still feel alone. An idea pops into your head but there’s no support system like you have when working at a company.  She gets it – and that’s why she is giving this her all to make this event work and bring together all of those who felt what she felt.

THE IMPACT

With The COCOLILY Social you get to be yourself and come as you are rather than pretending to be something you are not just so others perceive you in the light you think they should.

You get to actually talk to other like-minded female entrepreneurs who ‘get you’ while having a coffee.

You get to be inspired with the workshops run by the top business-savvy women.

You get to be motivated and talk in depth about what YOU choose to attend as each session is ‘choose your own’ so you can pick which workshops and sessions you would like to take part in, that will actually help you rather than being forced to attend workshops on an agenda that don’t interest you at all. And the Tea Talks are there for the purpose of being honest and open about a topic with 6-8 other women; sharing experiences, advice and learning from each other.

That’s a true intimate and interactive experience for actually getting to meet your kindred spirit, making those connections for future collaborations and knowing that when you turn on the computer on Monday morning – you’ll have your tribe who will support you.
Renee wants women to walk away from this event saying “I can’t wait for the next one” and smile.

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THE CHALLENGES

Building an unparalleled event like this from scratch requires a passionate heart, creative thinking, courage and, an even greater amount of financial support.

By lending your support and your leap of faith in supporting the event and  vision to come to life, you will be a part of an incredible new chapter and movement for women entrepreneurs everywhere!

Renee has produced numerous events and some events back to back along with other challenges such as road closures one year for a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, time changes, etc. But she always overcomes those challenges and does what she promises to do and what is within her control.  While she cannot control if people attend events but she can control how she produces them – gracefully and honestly with passion.  With The COCOLILY Social she is still going full speed ahead with the marketing plan, partnerships and a PR campaign but she knows that won’t be enough.

THANK YOU FROM RENEE

I graciously ask that if you cannot contribute financially, then please help spread the word about the campaign by using the Indiegogo share tools to notify your friends and make some fierce noise.

Please share it with your social media portals and friends who you think might love to contribute or even attend.

By building this event, I am trying to build on the vision and message that we’re all in this together and you’re not alone – BEHIND EVERY SUCCESSFUL WOMAN IS A TRIBE WHO HAS HER BACK – that’s The COCOLILY Social. And most importantly, be your authentic self – as that will attract the right people into your life.

If I have your full support, then I will be eternally grateful.  I know in my heart that the right people will step forward and support the event.  I’m doing my best to make it absolutely wonderful – but I am only one person and I can’t do this without my tribe and community of fabulous supporters with a kind heart.

Thank you for taking the time read about Renee and her story. It’s with people like you that we can make these great events possible. Come join me and an incredible tribe of women on Saturday, May 28th at Sheraton on the Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario. It’s going to be an amazing day and one that you surely don’t want to miss out on.

Get your tickets NOW before it too late as Monday May 23rd is the last day to register for The COCOLILY Social. To purchase your tickets CLICK HERE and get a “The Classic” full day ticket with meals for ONLY $94.50 (Reg Price $189.00) when you use promo code: chic16.

For more information on The COCOLILY Social be sure to visit them online,
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I am constantly TIRED. HELP ME!

Guest Blog Written By: Dr. Jen Cisternino Naturopathic Doctor

Exhausted business woman sleeping in front of computer

Hey you! Yes you, I know reading this is a struggle, isn’t it? You have been putting off helping yourself because you have no time. You are either a busy mom or dad, work full time, stressed out student (been there), entrepreneur or might have just had a change in your life or need a change. Or maybe none of the above, but you are still not feeling up to life.

It really does not matter the reason for the fatigue or as I call it lack of self care, my goal is to help “pick you up” so that you may take better care of yourself and resolve this fatigue.

What is the definition of FATIGUE: Lack of energy and motivation.

There are many possible causes for fatigue:

  • Low iron/minerals
  • Underactive Thyroid
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Sleep Disorders: Insomnia, Sleep Apnea
  • Depression
  • Stress/Negative Environment
  • Grief
  • Anti-depressants
  • Substance abuse
  • Chronic Pain
  • The list continues…

Let me ask you these questions:

  1. Do you get at least 7 hour of sound sleep a night?
  2. Do you have a well balanced diet? Eat fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains each day?
  3. Do you have more water than coffee each day?
  4. Do you manage your stress by meditating, finding inner peace and relaxation each day?
  5. Do you exercise 3 x a week?
  6. Do you have positive loving thoughts each day about yourself?

If you answered NO to some or all of these questions, then maybe it is time you make some changes to your day to day routine.  If you do, you may noticed better energy and vitality.

You see, the human body is not a machine. It needs nourishment on all levels- mind, body and spirit. A feeling of fatigue is your body sending you a signal that you need to change something about how you live your life day to day. It may also be a signal that you should seek help to interrogate further the cause of your fatigue so that you may restore your body/mind back into balance.

Positive Mindset for Fatigue:

How many times a day do you say to yourself or others, “I AM TIRED”. Did you know that your thoughts have a direct effect on how you feel?  Changing your thoughts can do wonders for your energy. Each day say this to yourself instead: “I feel great. I am well rested and energetic. I have all the energy I need to do all my tasks today.” 

Sending you an abundance of energy and love!

Dr. Jen

For more from Dr. Jen Cisternino Naturopathic Doctor
and to book a free 15 min consult be sure to check her out online,
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Sexy Motha

Now who doesn’t love a little Joseph Gordon-Levitt?! Well Mammas this might make you love him just a little more…if that’s even possible haha!

Here’s your little Monday pick me up 😉 .

Have a great week!

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Calling all female entrepreneurs…

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, trust me I know first hand as woman and as a Mamma with 3 businesses under my belt. There’s so much to think about, deal with, juggle and the pressure…well let’s just say it can be overwhelming at times. The number one question I get asked is how do you do it? What’s the secret? Well, plain and simple it all has to do with support. Support from your family, your friends and all those around you including the other amazing entrepreneurs in your life. These are the people that will motivate you, empower you and inspire you which is exactly why Chic Mamma is PROUD to be an event partner of the COCOLILY Social.

The COCOLILY Social is the most anticipated and desired social soiree for artist, visionaries, tastemakers, planners, dreamers, trendsetters, and passionate women-owned businesses. It’s a one-day creative event for female entrepreneurs filled with fabulous workshops, intimate tea talks, motivational sparkle sessions, delicious food, conversations, coffee & cocktails!

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This is the perfect opportunity to get out there with like-minded entrepreneurial women, share ideas, get ideas, meet new people through networking, learn, brand, unite and of course have a great time while doing it.

So come and join us because you deserve it, your brand deserves it and right now we have an incredible offer where you can save $100 OFF Classic full day tickets making them ONLY $89 when you use promo code chic16. This is one event you just can’t afford to miss!

Date: Saturday, May 28th 2016
Time: 8:00am to 8:00pm
Location: Sheraton on the Falls
5875 Falls Avenue, Niagara Falls, ON
Tickets: The Classic ~ General Ticket Registration SALE $89 with promo code: chic16 (reg $189)
The Lady Boss ~ One Ticket Registration + Marketing Package + Vendor Space $295
The Executives ~ Two Ticket Registrations + Marketing Package + Vendor Space $450
The Group ~ Come together as a group of 8 and pay just $175 (SAVE $112)
CLICK ABOVE TO PURCHASE THE TICKET PACKAGE OF YOUR CHOICE

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For more information on The COCOLILY Social be sure to visit them online,
“LIKE” them on Facebook and “FOLLOW” them on InstagramTwitter Pinterest.

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Tasty Tuesdays ~ Nonna’s I Love You Berry Much Napoleon

Guest Blog Written By: Jenny Arena from Fables and Focaccia

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Tasty Tuesdays ~ Nonna’s I Love You Berry Much Napoleon

You have to love Italian grandmothers. Whatever they do, they do it tenfold, especially when it comes to food. They are always asking if you’ve eaten, and if you haven’t, they are quick to prepare a meal at the drop of a hat. And, if nonna finds out, through her keen sixth sense (or by paying close attention to conversation) that her nipotini have a favorite, it’s no holds barred and be prepared to have a pantry packed with goodness. It is because of this that my kitchen is constantly stocked with formaggini, brioche, Nutella, “S” cookies and pizzelle.

My girls developed a liking for these ornate Italian wafers and as a result I have enough of them to feed the Italian army. The one thing nonna fails to realize however is that this food, like many others, tends to be a fad and before you know it, the girls have moved on to another phase of cravings, leaving mommy with the task of consuming the spoils.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with pizzelle (from the Italian word pizze meaning “round” and “flat”), they are waffle-type cookies that are made by pouring batter between the two plates of an iron (originally heated over a fire). These guilded biscuits originated in Abruzzo and are believed to be one of the oldest cookies in existence. The dough is made from a simple batter of flour, eggs, sugar and butter or oil delicately flavored with vanilla, anise or lemon zest traditionally (though creative bakers over the years have developed several flavors both sweet and savoury). The batter is then put into an iron (similar to a waffle iron) that stamps it with a snowflake or floral pattern on one side, and a woven basket-like pattern on the other. Early versions of pizzelle were actually made on irons embossed with family crests, some hint of the village of origin or other symbols of meaning, and were made to mark an annual celebration honoring a patron saint. Over time however, it became tradition to make the crisp, thin, golden-brown cookies for holidays such as Christmas and Easter, and festive celebrations such as weddings.

Though a delightful treat on their own, the pizzelle are actually quite versatile. They can be turned into sweet sandwiches once cooled, or formed, when still warm, into cylinders, cones and mini baskets capable of holding a wide variety of fabulous fillings. Bearing this in mind, I set out on a confectionary challenge to tackle the pile up of pizzelle in my kitchen. The result, an elegantly plated dessert which I have affectionately named “Nonna’s I love you berry much Napoleon”. A slightly sweetened stack of pizzelle layered with vanilla pudding, almond whipped cream, slivered almonds and fresh strawberries. A simple dessert inspired by nonna and completely worthy of bearing her name.

NONNA’S I LOVE YOU BERRY MUCH NAPOLEON

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Ingredients (serves 4):

12 pizzelle cookies (homemade or store bought)
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbls powdered sugar
2 tsp almond extract
1 cup vanilla pudding or vanilla custard (store bought or made from scratch)
Slivered almonds
Sliced strawberries
Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

Place whipping cream, powdered sugar and almond extract in cold mixing bowl and whip until light and fluffy. Once the almond cream is ready proceed with assembly of the Napoleons. Start with a pizzelle, top with vanilla pudding, sliced berries, whipped cream and slivered almonds. Repeat for a second layer. Top with third cookie, and garnish with a dollop of cream, a few almonds and a strawberry then dust with powdered sugar.

Buon Appetito!

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Tasty Tuesdays ~ Mac and Cheese: The Dish with a Grate History

Guest Blog Written By: Jenny Arena from Fables and Focaccia

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Tasty Tuesdays ~ Mac and Cheese: The Dish with a Grate History

The late, great Kurt Cobain said “all I want….is mac and cheese” and who could blame him. There something so comforting about a bowl of elbow macaroni enrobed in cheese and baked off to crispy perfection. While growing up my version of this comfort classic was otherwise known as pasta al forno (rigatoni baked up with a meaty ragu and mozzarella and Parmigiano cheeses), I too enjoyed from time to time a bowl of the bright orange KD stuff.

Macaroni and cheese is a baked casserole dish of English origin whose history dates back to the 14th century. The first recorded recipe consisted of fresh, hand-cut pasta which was sandwiched between a mixture of melted butter and cheese which went by the name makerouns.   The dish evolved in the 16th century with cookery writer Elizabeth Raffald’s recipe which incorporated cheddar cheese into a béchamel sauce that was mixed into the pasta and then baked until bubbly and golden. Similar dishes were prepared in France and Italy where American President Thomas Jefferson encountered them and made notes and sketches to be able to recreate this dish in the United States. While the “pie of macaroni” as it was called when he had it served at a state dinner in 1802 didn’t go over very well, the macaroni and cheese casseroles did grow in popularity across the country. Due to the cost of the ingredients, it was considered a dish for the upper class. Once factory production of the main ingredients made it more accessible to the masses, it did however loose its appeal with high society.

By the mid-17th century, macaroni and cheese made its way into Canada via British immigrants who prepared it with a sauce of cream, egg yolks, mace, and mustard, and grated Parmesan or Cheshire cheese on top, which later was replaced with Canadian cheddar. Kraft catapulted the dish to stardom in North America with the advent of its boxed version that could be prepared in pot on the stove-top (and later the microwave) turning it into an easily affordable, pantry staple for many (all starving students can attest to surviving on Kraft dinners).

In recent years however, mac and cheese has once again been elevated to gourmet status making use of different types of pastas, cheeses and other ingredients bringing the comfort classic to new heights. With the addition of components like lobster and truffles, it is not uncommon to find this dish on five-star menus, in fact several of Canada’s great chefs recently battled it out in a competition known as the Grate Canadian Cheese Cook-Off creating sensational versions of mac and cheese. Among the competing casseroles, my favorite was the Smoky Cauli-power Mac & Cheese prepared by Chef Andrew Farrell, Chef de Cuisine of 2 Doors Down Food + Wine, Halifax NS (recipe follows).

Whether enjoyed in its classic composition or heightened to Michelin-star status, macaroni and cheese is comfort food at its finest.

SMOKY CAULI-POWER MAC & CHEESE

(recipe from http://www.dairygoodness.ca)Tasty Tuesdays ~ Mac and Cheese: The Dish with a Grate History

Ingredients:

1 large or 2 small heads of cauliflower
1 lb (500 g) cremini mushrooms
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 tbsp (60 mL) canola oil, divided
2 cups (500 mL) shredded Cow’s Creamery extra-old Cheddar or other Canadian aged Cheddar, divided
1 lb (500 g) elbow macaroni
1 cup (250 mL) panko breadcrumbs
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (30 mL) cornstarch
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
1 tsp (5 mL) Marmite (yeast extract)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground nutmeg
2 cups (500 mL) whole milk
1 cup (250 mL) 35% whipping cream
2 1/2 cups (625 mL) shredded Cow’s Creamery Appletree Smoked Cheddar or other smoked Canadian Cheddar
1 cup (250 mL) crumbled Urban Blue cheese or other mild creamy Canadian Blue cheese
Chopped Chives

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

2. Trim cauliflower stem so it sits flat on cutting board; cut into thirds vertically (you will have two outside parts and one piece with core still attached). Grate outside pieces on a box grater and measure 3 cups (750 mL). Cut the middle piece of cauliflower into skinny florets, measure 2 cups (500 mL). Set aside grated cauliflower and place florets in large mixing bowl.

3. Using your hands, tear mushrooms into bite-size chunks, stem and all. Add to bowl with cauliflower florets; toss with salt, pepper, 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the canola oil, breadcrumbs and ½ cup (125 mL) of aged Cheddar. Spread mixture on a non-stick or foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until browned; set aside

4. In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente. Drain and rinse lightly; set aside.

5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to high broil. Heat large, heavy bottomed pot on medium-high heat. When pot is hot enough that a water droplet evaporates quickly, add remaining oil, grated cauliflower, onion and salt and pepper. Do not stir for the first 1 minute of cooking. Sauté, until cauliflower is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add butter and garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring and scraping up any bits stuck to bottom of the pot.

6. Reduce heat to medium and add cornstarch, mustard, Marmite and nutmeg. Stirring well, slowly whisk in milk and whipping cream; bring sauce to simmer. Remove from heat. With an immersion blender, carefully puree until smooth. Stir in remaining aged Cheddar, smoked Cheddar and Blue cheese; return to heat. Stir until cheese is melted. Remove sauce from heat and stir in pasta.

7. Place baking sheet with cauliflower mixture on the top rack in the oven and broil until mixture is crispy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Place cheesy cauliflower pasta in serving bowls and top with crispy cauliflower and mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with chives and enjoy.

Tips:

Place cheesy cauliflower pasta in a buttered 13×9-inch (3 L) glass baking dish. Top with roasted cauliflower and mushroom mixture, chives and an additional ½ cup (125 mL) each of shredded aged Cheddar cheese and smoked Cheddar cheese. Bake in preheated 375°F (190°C) oven until cheese is melted and cauliflower is deep brown but not burnt, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Buon Appetito!

For more from Fables and Focaccia be sure to check them out online
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Tasty Tuesdays ~ Avocados 101

Guest Blog Written By: Jenny Arena from Fables and Focaccia

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Famed American botanist and plant explorer David Fairchild once said “the avocado is a food without rival among the fruits, the veritable fruit of paradise”. Mr. Fairchild was clearly ahead of his time as this glorious green fruit of Mexico has been garnering its place in the culinary spotlight recently. Beyond it being the new butter on toast and the ultimate party dip for chips, the avocado is actually a versatile super food.

download-1Avocados, which are also known as “alligator pears” (because of their shape along with the texture of their skin) have been cultivated for over 10,000 years. There are a myriad of uses for this South American fruit (yes it is a fruit, a berry to be specific) with so many beneficial properties.

Avocados are great, and inexpensive, anti-aging and moisturizing tools for hair and skin. They can be used to make hydrating face masks, remedies for frizzy hair, dark circle and puffy eye correctors and hand moisturizers.

Nutritionally speaking, avocados are loaded with fiber, healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, C, E and potassium. They contain less than one gram of sugar, have zero cholesterol and sodium, and are loaded with polyunsaturated fat (that’s the good stuff). They are higher in fiber and protein than any other fruit and are naturally gluten free, dairy free and vegan.

Here are some tips and tricks for buying, storing and preparing this delicious and nutritious food:

  • Once an avocado is picked, it takes between seven and 10 days to ripen.
  • To judge when an avocado is ready to eat, cup it in your palm and squeeze gently. It’s ready when it’s somewhat firm but gives in to gentle pressure.
  • Speed up ripening by placing an avocado in a paper bag, or wrapped in newspaper, along with a banana or apple, and keep at room temperature.
  • Keeping avocados in the refrigerator will slow down the ripening process
  • Place leftover avocado with a small piece of onion in an airtight container in the fridge to prevent browning of the surface.
  • Use avocados in place of butter when baking; they’ll help keep baked goods moister for a longer period of time.

The most common use for avocados is guacamole and while this is definitely a great way to enjoy the fruit, it can be sliced, diced and mashed and mashed into a number of delectable recipes. With BBQ season not too far off, you can cook thick slices of avocado on a grill for a nice, smoky flavor; or coat those slices in panko and fry or bake them off for a twist on crispy and creamy fries. Avocados can be combined with other fruits like strawberries and blended with orange juice for refreshing smoothies, or incorporated with basil and walnuts for a fresh tasting pesto to toss with pasta.

Perhaps the most unique use for avocados is in dessert. Pudding, cookies, cake and frosting are just some examples. A surprisingly decadent treat I learned to prepare recently was a raw vegan dessert of mini, chocolate and peppermint cheesecakes (recipe follows). So get creative and experiment in the kitchen with this true super fruit.

RAW PEPPERMINT CHOCOLATE AVOCADO CHEESECAKES
(recipe courtesy of The Healthy Maven)

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Ingredients:

Filling ~

1 ¼ cups raw cashews (soaked in hot water for 1-2 hours or until soft)
½ lemon, juiced
½ cup full fat coconut milk
2 tbsp melted coconut oil or avocado oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
½ large avocado
1 tsp peppermint extract

Crust ~

1 cup pitted medjool dates
1 ½ cups raw walnuts
3 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of sea salt
¼ cup good quality chocolate for drizzling

Instructions:

1. In a food processor combine dates, walnuts and sea salt until broken down
2. Add in cocoa powder and process until crust comes together into a ball
3. Cut out small circles of parchment paper to fit a standard 12 cup muffin tin then line each cup
4. Divide the crust evenly among the 12 cups and press down into the tin creating a small well in each for the filling
5. Place all the ingredients for the filling in the food processor and process until well combined and smooth (about 2-3 minutes)
6. Divide the filling evenly into each cup
7. Freeze for 3-4 hours or until the filling has completely hardened
8. Remove from the freezer and let stand before pulling the cheesecakes out of the tin
9. Place the cheese cakes onto a plate
10. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or double boiler then drizzle chocolate on each cheesecake with a spoon. The chocolate will harden over the cheesecakes

Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Store any leftovers in the freezer.

Buon Appetito!

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Your Baby is Turning 1

Guest Blog Written By: Linda Vercillo from Tra Di Noi

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Photo By: Lisa Crispo Photography

Your baby is turning 1…all these emotions start racing through your mind! Do we have a large or small party? All the key questions who, what & where?!…grrrrr….stay calm….

We all know that our one year old won’t remember a thing about the party but, this party is for the “chic mamma.” After a year of trying to figuring it all out…LOL…being a first time mom or now being a mom to 2 to 3 kids…it’s a big accomplishment that after the first year you’ve made it through & you remembered to brush your teeth.

YOU’VE SURVIVED! Now it’s time to party!!!

The most important thing to remember when planning your child’s first birthday is to have it geared towards kids & adults….which can be difficult. Children want to see bright colors, games, fun entertainment, party food so many details to think about. Also remember that adults love the children’s menu much better…ever notice that adults are always eating from the children’s station.

The most important thing is to have fun with it. Don’t over think it, it’s not a wedding or an adult only event.. Have fun!!!

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A Birthday Gift from Heaven

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I was up working late and I watched the clock flip from 11:59pm on March 24th to 12:00am on March 25th…it officially marked another year and another birthday. The only difference this year from those of the past was that I would be spending it and celebrating it without one of the most important people in my life…my Papa!

Today is exactly 8 months since my father passed away and I can’t even begin to describe the pain and heartbreak that I’ve been feeling day in and day out since July 25th, 2015. I smile, I laugh, and I put on an act because really who wants a Debbie downer around? God knows I don’t want to open the door for all the fantastic unsolicited advice that everyone loves to give. Yes, they mean well but fuck I’d rather just smile and hope that they buy the act so they can be on their merry way.

For anyone who knows me you know that there are certain things I love and the one that tops my list is my family and celebrating milestones with them. I love celebrating all their birthdays with them and I love celebrating with them for mine. My friends will be the first to tell you that I tend to go a little crazy when it comes to my birthday. Every year, starting on February 25th I feature a month long countdown for my birthday on Facebook. My reason for it was that it’s not about another birthday but more about celebrating another year, a gift of time which many are robbed of (my father included). Needless to say I didn’t countdown this year because let’s face it, I’m having a hard time without my dad around and just wish that I could skip this birthday all together. Well it wasn’t till today and until I sat down to write this that I remembered my reason for my counting down and I wish that I would have done it this year. I wish that I remembered why I used to do, I wish I remembered the blog I wrote about my birthday countdown and I wish I remembered that the reason I started my birthday countdown was because of my dad.

As shitty and hard as these past 8 months have been I am here and I have a family who loves me. My birthday is TODAY and I have been given this gift of life and am here because of my parents. The one thing I wanted so bad today was that call from my daddy this morning wishing me a Happy Birthday and although those days have come and gone I got a gift from my dad in another way today. He reminded me that no matter what I need to be grateful for what I have and the time that I’ve been given to be here with the people I love. He was always great at teaching my sisters and I lessons in life and I’m pretty lucky to get this birthday gift from him. I don’t think I will ever get over losing him and I know that my birthdays will never be the same without him but I also know that my countdown will be back next year in his honour and for each and every year following.

I love you and miss you Papa…I always will xoxo

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