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[Thanks to everyone that entered. Contest is now closed. Winner will be announced soon apartments for rent in hk !]

It could be my failing memory or the fact that I’ve been blogging for so long but I do believe that this is my first proper giveaway on Cream Puffs in Venice!

The kind people at Misura Canada contacted me not too long ago to see if I would be interested in offering a product giveaway. We use Misura products in our home (Mammina, especially, enjoys them) and my immediate answer was a resounding yes!

I came home one day after work to find a beautiful package waiting for me by the door filled with Misura treats (pictured above).

For those of you that don’t know, Misura is a company that produces a wide array of products from cookies to pastas with a focus on products that are low in sugar.

Now I am not one to shy away from sugar or fat, in any way, but as I mentioned above, we do enjoy a number of Misura products here at home. In particular we like their cookies as they’re not too sweet and perfect for dipping in your milk and coffee in the morning!

I am also not going to lie. I ate all the cornetti alla crema they sent (crossants with cream filling). Maybe I ate them in one sitting. Maybe I didn’t. You’ll never know.

Anyway – the important point – the giveaway!

Misura Canada is giving away a package of assorted goodies valued at $100. To enter, leave a comment here on my blog and make sure that you like the Misura Canada facebook page.

You can’t win if you don’t enter! I’ll be running the giveaway until midnight on Saturday April 26th. To enter, leave a comment on my blog and remember, you have to like Misura Canada’s Facebook page to be eligible to win hong kong sehenswürdigkeiten.

Good luck! Buona Fortuna!

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Why is winter rain so gloomy? Days of dreary skies seem to push the color grey to a whole new sad level. It has been like that for the past week. I look out the window in hopes of seeing a tiny break in the clouds. A little sunshine would be lovely. Weather predictions are showing otherwise. At least there was a vision of tropics in my kitchen. A pack of coconut spurred thoughts of sunny warm days when I was baking this Chocolate Italian Cake Speed dating.

It’s interesting this cake made me think of the tropics. Why? Because it is more of a holiday cake. In fact, many years ago I made the original version from Southern Living for my family’s Christmas dessert. That version is a decadent 3-layer cake with thick, rich chocolate frosting. It is a stunner and yet oh so much. I knew it was time to get out the recipe and put my own spin on it when I saw coconut as the theme for this month’s Bundt Bakers.

I’ve always thought pretty much any cake can be baked in a bundt pan. Pound cakes are a breeze. Regular yellow, white, or chocolate cakes work fine too. One I know for sure that would not work is my Glazed Carrot Cake because it would never come out of the pan (way too sticky after the glaze). So I put my theory to the test and baked the 3-layer Chocolate Italian Cake in a bundt pan. It baked marvelously and I could not have been more pleased with the result aspire nautilus.

The next challenge was the frosting. Bundts are not really frosted like layer cakes. I think one of the things that makes bundts appeal to some is the more cake/less frosting ratio. My answer was to make a chocolate cream cheese glaze thick enough to give a decent layer and yet not completely cover the whole cake. Mission accomplished!

How does the Chocolate Italian Cake taste? It is German Chocolate Cake meets Italian Cream Cake in a most delicious way. It has a light chocolate flavor and is packed with coconut and pecans. The texture is a lighter crumb and somewhat airy thanks to folding whipped egg whites into the batter. The glaze adds a richness of chocolate cream cheese to the top. You know I saved the glazed bites for the last ones as I am a frosting gal at heart executive training.


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It’s no secret that I have an affinity for collecting cookbooks. Hard as I might try to suppress the urge to buy more, my cookbook collection is growing and there’s no containing its sweet, spicy, and savory forces. While I love each and every book I own, sometimes an extra-special bond is formed Maggie Beauty.

When Debbie Adler reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in receiving a copy of her cookbook, Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery, I happily welcomed the offer. Recipes for sweet treats that are vegan and allergy-friendly? Pretty please. Show me how to bake well this way because vegan + gluten-free baking attempts have yielded some of the most epic failures in my kitchen. Muffins that weigh approximately 1 pound… each. Sunken cakes. Sandy cookies. Gummy breads. There is no form of failure that vegan and gluten-free baking is incapable of producing.

Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats has even the most sensitive sweet teeth covered. The book begins with a guide to special ingredients and unfolds into a collection of power muffins, brownies, cupcakes, and so much more, making it a must-have guide to baking with whole, plant-based foods. When I turned to Chapter 8 and found a treasure trove of baked donut hole recipes, I about fell off my chair. Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes? Umm, yes Maggie Beauty.

These donut holes are easy to make and offer the most wonderful spiced-pumpkin aroma as they bake in the oven. Sweet, spiced, and everything nice. To make them, you’ll simply whisk together the dry ingredients, stir in the wet, form the mixture into balls, and bake them in the oven. They are delicious as is, but I opted to drizzle half the batch with a glaze of coconut butter, cocoa butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon to add an extra layer of decadence. The beauty of these donuts is that you would never know they were made of unprocessed, allergy-friendly ingredients unless you saw the recipe. They have all of the characteristics we so admire in regular donuts but none of the post-donut sluggishness.



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Last night Kate and I made dinner and watched the boats sail in and out of Elliott Bay from her 18th-floor downtown apartment. It was an excellent reason to eat lots of bittersweet chocolate and Plugra, but you can rest assured that we ate our vegetables first.

We traipsed down to Pike Place Market just before closing and snatched up a bell pepper, red and gold tomatoes, a cucumber, two yams, and three sausages from Uli’s: spinach bratwurst, hot Italian, and lamb. Back home, we opened a bottle of white that happened to be lurking in the fridge, and, glasses in hand, put our bare feet up on the railing of her balcony to catch up for a while. There was much girly locker-room talk, and a pearl earring was nearly lost but wasn’t.

Then dinner threw itself together gracefully. The yams were sliced into long work visa hong kong, flat fingers and roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. The pepper and tomatoes were likewise dressed, then tossed onto the grill with the sausages, which sputtered at the heat and quickly began to glisten. The cucumber was sliced into rounds, tossed with vinaigrette and torn basil leaves from Kate’s thriving balcony garden. Meanwhile, the boats sailed on, and soon the cake came forth, trailing in its wake a bowlful of loosely whipped cream. We had two servings each, and poor Kate had to lie on the floor afterwards. It was really something nautilus mini.

And so, with no further ado, the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Line the base of the pan with parchment, and butter the parchment too.

Finely chop the chocolate (a serrated bread knife does an outstanding job of this) and melt it gently with the butter in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring regularly to combine. Add the sugar to the chocolate-butter mixture, stirring well, and set aside to cool for a few moments. Then add the eggs one by one, stirring well after each addition, and then add the flour. The batter should be smooth, dark, and utterly gorgeous.

Pour batter into the buttered cake pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the center of the cake looks set and the top is shiny and a bit crackly-looking. (I usually set the timer for 20 minutes initially, and then I check the cake every two minutes thereafter until it’s done. At 20 minutes, it’s usually quite jiggly in the center. You’ll know it’s done when it jiggles only slightly, if at all.) Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 10 minutes; then carefully turn the cake out of the pan and revert it, so that the crackly side is facing upward. Allow to cool completely. The cake will deflate slightly as it cools.

Serve in wedges at room temperature with a loose dollop of ever-so-slightly sweetened whipped cream.

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Sometimes I forget why I'm doing, what I'm doing.
Have you ever done that?
I'm not just talking about a memory problem, although that's possible too.
I have called someone because I want to tell them something Living in HK.
And then, after just choosing the place for a while, not talking about anything particular.
Well, I forget why I called that person in the first place.
That's a memory problem.
I guess that counts too iphone bumper case.
But I'm talking about a deeper problem, a bigger, why?
At one point, there was a reason we do something.
For long-term projects, we need to remind ourselves of that reason.
It's always could to ask ourselves why.
Why did I start to learn a language?
Why did I join this club?
Why my friend was this person?
Why did I get married?
If we get lost in the doing, in the living, in the everyday of being, then we can not say why.
I think we need indeed remind us of why.
Or else it's tough to finish what we started.
We stop starting. We quit the club.
We end our friendships. Our marriages get damaged.
There's nothing wrong with asking why.
In fact, sometimes I think it can be very healthy and help we appreciate what you have and what you are doing property hong kong.

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I was not yet 30 years old and was working as a firefighter in the South Bronx's Engine Co. 82, probably the world's most active firehouse at the time. It was warm and sunny, the kind of leisurely Sunday that brought extra activity to the neighborhood and to its firefighters. We must have had 15 or 20 calls that day, the worst being a garbage fire in the rear of an abandoned building, which required a hard pull of 600 feet of cotton-jacketed hose.
Between alarms I would rush to the company office to read Captain Gray's copy of the Sunday New York Times. It was late in the afternoon when I finally got to the Book Review section. As I read it, my blood began to boil. An article blatantly stated what I took to be a calumny -- that William Butler Yeats, the Nobel Prize-winning light of the Irish Literary Renaissance, had transcended his Irishness and was forever to be known as a universal poet.
There were few things I was more proud of than my Irish heritage, and ever since I first picked up a book of his poems from a barracks shelf when I was in the military, Yeats had been my favorite Irish writer, followed by Sean O'Casey and James Joyce.
My ancestors were Irish farmers, fishermen and blue-collar workers, but as far as I can tell, they all had a feeling for literature. It was passed on to my own mother, a telephone operator(话务员), who hardly ever sat down without a book in her hands. And at that moment my own fingernails might have been soiled with the soot of the day's fires, but I felt as prepared as any Trinity don to stand up in the court of public opinion and protest. Not only that Yeats had lived his life and written his poetry through the very essence of his Irish sensibility, but that it was offensive to think Irishness -- no matter if it was psychological, social or literary -- was something to be transcended.
My stomach was churning, and I determined not to let an idle minute pass. "Hey, Captain Gray. Could I use your typewriter?" I asked.
The typewriter was so old that I had to use just one finger to type, my strongest one, even though I could type with all ten. I grabbed the first piece of clean paper I could find -- one that had the logo of the Fire Department of the City of New York across the top -- and, hoping there would be a break in the alarms for 20 minutes or so, wrote out a four-paragraph letter of indignation to the editor of the Sunday Book Review.
Throughout his poetry, I postulated, Yeats yearned for a messiah to lead Ireland out from under the bondage of English rule, and his view of the world and the people in it was fundamentally Irish.
Just as I addressed the envelope, the final alarm of my tour came in, and as I slid down the long brass pole, I felt unexpectedly calm, as if a great rock had been purged from the bottom of my stomach.
I don't know why I felt it my obligation to safeguard the reputation of the world's greatest poet, at least next to Homer and Shakespeare, or to inscribe an apologia for Irish writing. I just knew that I had to write that letter, in the same way a priest has to pray, or a musician has to play an instrument.
Until that point in my life I had not written much of value -- a few poems and short stories, the beginning of a coming-of-age novel. I knew that my writing was anything but refined. Like a beginning artist who loves to draw, I understood that the more one draws, or writes, or does anything, the better the end result will be, and so I wrote often to better control my writing skills, to master them. I sent some material to various magazines and reviews but found no one willing to publish me.
It was a special and unexpected delight, then, when I learned something I'd written would finally see print. Ironically it wasn't one of my poems or short stories -- it was my letter to the Times. I suppose the editor decided to publish it because he was first attracted by the official nature of my stationery (was his staff taking smoke breaks out on the fire escape?), and then by the incongruity of a ghetto firefighter's using words like messianism, for in the lines below my letter it was announced that I was a New York City firefighter. I'd like to think, though, that the editor silently agreed with my thesis macallan whisky.
I remember receiving through the fire department's address about 20 sympathetic and congratulatory letters from professors around the country. These letters made me feel like I was not only a published writer but an opinion maker. It was as if I was suddenly thrust into being someone whose views mattered.
I also received a letter from True magazine and one from The New Yorker, asking for an interview. It was the latter that proved momentous, for when an article titled "Fireman Smith" appeared in that magazine, I received a telephone call from the editor of a large publishing firm who asked if I might be interested in writing a book about my life Gin Lee.
I had little confidence in my ability to write a whole book, though I did intuit that my work as a firefighter was a worthy subject. And so I wrote Report From Engine Co. 82 in six months, and it went on to sell two million copies and to be translated into 12 languages. In the years that followed, I wrote three more best-sellers, and last year published a memoir, A Song for Mary: An Irish-American Memory.
Being a writer had been far from my expectations; being a best-selling author was almost unfathomable. How had it happened? I often found myself thinking about it, marveling at it, and my thoughts always came back to that letter to the New York Times.
For me, the clearest explanation is that I had found the subject I was searching for, one I felt so strongly about that the writing was a natural consequence of the passion I felt. I was to feel this same kind of passion when I began writing about firefighters and, later, when writing about my mother. These are subjects that, to me, represent the great values of human life -- decency, honesty and fairness -- subjects that burn within me as I write.
Over the years, all five of my children have come to me periodically with one dilemma or another. Should I study English or art? Should I go out for soccer or basketball? Should I take a job with this company or that one?
My answer is always the same, yet they still ask, for reassurance is a good and helpful thing. Think about what you're feeling deep down in the pit of your stomach, I tell them, and measure the heat of the fire there, for that is the passion that will flow through your heart. Your education and your experience will guide you toward making a right decision, but your passion will enable you to make a difference in whatever you do.
That's what I learned the day I stood up for Ireland's greatest poet Active Whiteboard.

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