8.30.2011

Our View

The beauty of the sky really amazes me; and the view from our living room is hands-down the best feature of our apartment.  We feel so lucky that we have such a great view.  (That's especially true since we no longer have T.V. and now have nothing else to look at).  

I mentioned before that I looked forward to getting my new camera so I'd be better able to capture what we see.  And since I've gotten my beautiful camera I find that I have to force myself to stop taking pictures of the sky every evening...it's just so dang beautiful!  

Here's the view from our living room these past couple of weeks:  













Don't mind the messy living room; and good thing Aless wasn't in his skivvies. 

I'm thinking of starting a regular posting segment centered around views of the D.  Like, "Daily Pic of the D" or "Sunsets of the Week," (will that work in the winter?) or "Sic Pic of the Day," or...any other suggestions?  

8.23.2011

Gelatina: Grandma's Recipe

One of my all time favorite desserts is my Grandma's gelatina (pronounced hala-thee-na).  My sisters and I are obsessed with it.  It always seemed like one of those things that was too good to ever be able to make yourself.  Like some type of concoction Grandma created that she probably didn't have a written recipe for anyway.  But, my mom finally got her to put it into measurements last year as a recipe to bring to our wedding shower.  Gelatina was finally demystified!  

Gelatina is basically jello, but definitely not your average.  First off, it's not transparent.  It's straight up solid white. And it has Kahlúa in it, which makes it extra special. If you're feeling froggy, and you want to try something different, you should try this recipe.

You'll need: 
  • 2 cans of Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
  • 1 box of Knox Original Gelatine (unflavored) (4 envelopes per box)
  • Kahlúa
  • Milk   


(The last time I made this, I only made a half batch, so that's why the above picture shows only one can of condensed milk.  The recipe described here is for a full batch). 

Steps:
  1. Pour 1/3 cups of milk into a small bowl; add 4 packs of Knox Gelatine.  Set the bowl aside.
  2. Empty 2 cans of condensed milk into a medium saucepan. 
  3. Use one of the empty cans to pour 3 cans full of milk into the medium sauce pan.
  4. Add 6 oz. of extra milk to the can, stirring the can to get the leftover condensed milk from the sides and pour into the medium sauce pan. 
  5. Now pour the contents from the small bowl into the saucepan; whisk or stir until all of the powder is dissolved.  
  6. Put the saucepan over medium heat and warm up the contents; stir while warming and do not boil. 
  7. After the contents of the saucepan are warm, stir in 2 tbs of Kahlúa.  (I like to add 1/2 to 1 tbs extra because you can never have too much Kahlúa). 
  8. Pour into jello bowl and refrigerate until firm or overnight.
  9. Enjoy!
I accidentally deleted a picture I took of the final product, but luckily, my sister made a batch this past weekend for Ava's birthday, and it snuck into the below picture on the right hand side of the table next to the cupcakes.  


(More on Ava's birthday and the making of those beach-themed cupcakes later).  

When Alessandro found out I was writing this post about gelatina, he asked if I was going to mention its controversial nature; I wasn't going to because I think people who don't like this dessert are insane, but he thought it would only be fair that I presented both sides.  Some people don't like the texture (Jeff, my sister's husband); and Alessandro said he thought it was weird at first, but has grown to like it.  That's it.  That's the controversy.  

But don't let that stop you!  I encourage everyone to try this recipe...and if you do, I'd love to hear how it goes!   

P.S.  I made gelatina on Monday and luckily enjoyed it for dessert for a couple of days.  When I got home after hanging with my bff's on Friday night, Alessandro, who was already sleeping, woke up and said, "I have some bad news."  "What?"  I asked.  "You're going to be really mad.  We lost something.  It was an accident."  "What?!" I demanded.  "When I opened the fridge, the gelatina fell out and the bottom of the jello mold popped off and it dropped on the floor.  There's no more gelatina."  Silence.  Me:  "You need to be more careful."  More silence as I brewed, but tried not to cry.  Did I mention I love this stuff?

8.17.2011

Swordfish and Mango Salsa

This post is for our friend, Kate.  When we told her we cooked swordfish with mango salsa one night for dinner she asked if we could share the recipe.  That was several months ago, and I still have not written it down to share with her.  But, we made it again last night for dinner and I could think of no better time to get my arse in gear and share this delicious and fresh dinner with you too.  

For the mango salsa, you’ll need:  a mango, avacado, tomato, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro and lime.  

Not pictured:  jalapeno

Mango salsa is not an exact science; you'll use as much of each ingredient as you think your taste buds will appreciate. (From the above-pictured ingredients, I used the tiniest amount from that huge tomato and red onion, the whole avacado and mango (duh), a handful of cilantro and both limes). 
  1. Dice the mango, avacado, tomato and red onion.  
  2. De-seed and dice the jalapeno. 
  3. Rough chop the cilantro. 
  4. Squeeze the juice of 1-2 limes into the bowl.
  5. Season with salt and pepper; mix everything together.
  6. Taste.  Adjust.  Enjoy. 


In case anyone is intimidated by peeling mangos, this is the technique that I use: 


I cut off a bit on each side and a slice off of the top.  Then use a sharp knife to skin it.  Depending on the mango, you may be able to just peel the skin right off using your hands. Oh yeah, and don't forget to suck all of the flesh off of the core before throwing it out.  Or is that just me?  Never mind.

For the swordfish: 
  1. Heat a grill pan over medium heat until it’s nice and hot.
  2. Pat dry the swordfish steaks and season.  We used salt, pepper and a fish blackening seasoning (even though we didn't blacken it).  
  3. Cook it on the grill pan for about 5 minutes on each side; 10 minutes total.  (For added flare, you can rotate it a bit to get “x” grill marks.  That’s Alessandro’s touch).
  4.  Serve with mango salsa...

 


...and your favorite seafood wine.  We like Rosé, and this particular one is from Blackstar Farms. 



I really do enjoy swordfish, even though I am not a big seafood eater.  I first ate swordfish at Angelina during Wine Night Wednesday and I liked it so much I thought it would be fun to make it at home.  Alessandro was very surprised (he loves seafood) because I typically can't get over seafood's "fishy" taste.  But swordfish is a great starter fish for the not-so-gung-ho seafood eaters in your family as well as seafood connoisseurs.  And is it possible that anything topped with mango salsa not be good?  I don't think so. 

Anyone else have any other fish recipes you think we should try?  

8.09.2011

Furry Alessandro


(As opposed to Tan Alessandro). 

Alessandro's been growing a beard for the past month or so.  Check out the beard's development through these pics:

7/9/11

7/17/11
7/21/11
7/26/11
8/3/2011
8/6/11

Alessandro's over his beard at this point and it's scheduled to come off tomorrow.  I think my favorite stage of his beard was the first pic above, on 7/9/11.  In honor of his short-lived beard, check out this article on a man's perspective of beard-wearing found here

And in honor of Furry Alessandro coming to an end, I thought I'd share a short story about just how awesome Everyday Alessandro is.   

To make a really long story short, Alessandro has been selling his childhood toys on eBay since this past December.  (He was a tad spoiled as a youngin' so he had just about every toy known to boy-kind, and 8 months in, he is still eBaying away).  I have been wanting a new digital SLR camera for a long time now.  It is a big purchase, so I was sort of just talking out loud when I mentioned I wanted one.  (You know, just putting it out into the universe).  But, Alessandro, knowing  my love for picture taking,  was very supportive of the idea and even offered to help it along.  He decided that all of his profits from toy selling would be put into a  special camera fund that we could overtime build up for purchasing the camera.  When we initially started saving I thought it would be about a year until we could actually buy the camera.  But then Alessandro started giving me updates: "Booyah, $30 in eBay sales tonight."  And, "$50 added to the camera savings this weekend."  And "Only a few more sales away from getting your camera."   And before I knew it, it was time.  It has only been 4 months and we were able to buy the camera yesterday!  If it weren't for Alessandro's desire to put all of the extra cash he's making on eBay into our camera fund, we would still be months and months away from being able to make the purchase.  (In addition to his eBay selling, he also completes online surveys and tests new products, which pay out sometimes, so that money was also going in the camera fund).  And just to clarify:  the camera was purchased entirely from eBay and survey profits. 

How lucky am I to have such a generous husband?  He puts a lot of time and energy into his eBay selling and  it is really special of him to be so big-hearted and to have such a thoughtful idea on how to make use of his online hobby.   

Now we'll have our camera just in time for our upcoming baseball stadium road trip.  I look forward to taking pictures of stadiums, scenery and Alessandro through a new lens.  

P.S.  Alessandro's online activity deserves its own post, and I have been bothering him to write something so he can share with everyone how they too can get a free box of ice cream delivered to their doorstep in dry ice as we just received a couple of months ago. 

P.S.S.  If you're interested in buying anything from Alessandro's "eBay shop" you can check it out here.

8.05.2011

Ava and Maya's Big Adventure

Ava and Maya came over last Friday evening for a sleepover!  Yay!  There's nothing that makes a weekend special like some QT with the kiddies!

After we had dinner our first order of business was to make breakfast.  That's right people.  The breakfast that I had planned for them needed to soak overnight, so we had to get started.  We made a french toast casserole introduced to me by my bff CAB



Ava is such a good cook, and she has been ever since she was 2!  She used to love watching cooking shows, specifically Giada, and that girl can emulate mincing garlic like nothing you've ever seen.  She has really good instincts when it comes to cooking and I can't wait till she's old enough to cook for me : ) 

Maya is a copycat.  (As all younger siblings are; myself included).  She wants to do everything Ava does and say everything Ava says.  It's a pretty entertaining dynamic they have going on and it was in full force during our cooking session. 


Then it was bath time.  Children love taking baths at my house.  It's probably because I give them a whole bunch of toys, including squirt guns, add obligatory bubbles and constantly re-warm the bath water to a comfortable temp.  Ava likes baths at the David/Martin residence so much that the next day she said, "Auntie, when can I take another bath here?"  It was so cute.  

Maya slightly teary-eyed because she was cold when she got out of the bath!  Aww.

Her sad face just breaks my heart.  But Maya is known to be a bit over-dramatic.  She was fine after we put her pj's on and she was able to cuddle with her blanket.  (Or "bantit" as she calls it).  

Next it was bedtime.  (Auntie's favorite time).  And Ava's too actually.  Ava very strictly enforces her own bedtime.  One night last year when she stayed the night, we were all on the couch watching a movie and she said, "What time is it?"  Alessandro said, "It's about to be 9 o'clock."  And she said, "Okay, well my bedtime is 9, so can we shut this movie off and finish it tomorrow?"  "Uh, sure," we said.  When we didn't move fast enough for her she said, "Can you guys stop talking, shut the blinds and go to bed?"  You get the picture.  She's serious about her bedtime.

But this time she informed me that she's been going to sleep at 9:30 lately.  And before bed she wanted a snack.  Here's what she said:

Ava:  Oh man.
Me:  What?
Ava:  Oh nothing.  Nevermind.
Me:  What do you need, hun?
Ava:  Well, it's too late now, but we forgot to watch a movie and eat popcorn.  
Me:  [Smile].  Yeah, it is a bit late for that now, but how about some celery and peanut butter? 
Ava:  Okay!  I love celery.  

Seriously could a child be more perfect? 

Enjoying Ants on a Log before bed


After the bath and snacks we took a family pic : ) 

This was the closest Maya got to cooperating.


In the morning, the first thing we did was put our breakfast in the oven, but not before snapping morning hair pics. 



These pictures just remind me of how much Ava and Maya love each other.  Ava is such a good big sister, and says things like, "It's okay sweetheart," if Maya gets hurt or is in a bad mood.  Maya loves Ava so much that she always wants to share things with her.  I have a little gumball machine that all the kids are obsessed with.  Maya asked me about 10 times a day if she could have "some dum" and when I couldn't resist and would say yes, she would immediately run over to Ava and say, "Ava.  Ava.  Ava.  Ava.  Ava."  (Because Ava was either ignoring her or actually didn't hear her).  And when she got her attention she would say, "Ava, I dot tum dum."  (I got some gum).  Maya did this about 4 times this past weekend and my interpretation was that she wanted Ava to think she was cool.  Looking for validation from big sis.  She's so precious. 

While we waited for our french toast to bake, I did Ava's nails.  And not just any ol' paint job.  No, no.  We go big or go home here.  We put fake press-on nails on my little Ava.  (My mom couldn't resist how excited Ava got about them, so she bought them and told her that I would do them for her). 



Why does she look 13 here?

Maya, of course, wanted her nails done too, but Ava and I explained to her that fake nails were for big girls.  (Apparently meaning for 5 year-olds as Ava will be very soon).  

And then finally our french toast was done and we dug in. 

Luckily my mom and Aunt stopped by to help us put a dent in this.
After breakfast, we brushed our teeth, did our hair and took Uncle Drobie (that's Alessandro) to work. 

























Then we headed to the Belle Isle Nature Zoo.  I love this place!  It's free, it's fun, it's air-conditioned, it's indoors, and it's in the D.  It's my go-to kid place.  We've taken CJ and Saverio there before and they liked it.  (Although Saverio was slightly disturbed by all of the insects). And I try not to call it the "Nature Zoo" to the kids because they think we're going to the actual zoo and then are slightly disappointed when we don't.  I called it the "Nature Park" this time around and that seemed to work fine. 

Again, Maya not cooperating.

The Nature Zoo houses fish, insects like spiders, bees, and crickets, snakes, turtles and frogs, and there's also a bird watching station that I love.  I'm always amazed at how pretty birds are.  This time I saw a Blue Jay.  I think Blue Jays, second to Cardinals, are one of the prettiest birds.  You just don't expect to see such vibrant hues of blues and reds on animals, but when you do it's pretty cool.  

The turtles were their favorite.

And they had fun doing this puzzle.

Bees!  Ava wanted to know if they were going to get out and sting her. 

And we were just in time for deer feeding, so we were able to do that too! 




This guy was the only male of the bunch and apparently he was the only one hungry.

But us girls were starving, so we headed home for lunch.  Ava had the great idea that we should have a picnic, so I made some sandwiches and snacks-to-go and we headed outside. 









As you can tell from the pics, Ava was focused on eating and Maya was just trying to find a comfortable position to lie down. 

Our next stop was the park, which is right behind our apartment, so we didn't have to travel at all. 




Ava being a freakazoid.

After that we picked Uncle Drobie up from work, came home and watched Pee-wee's Big Adventure.  Ava and Uncle Drobie were really into it; Maya fell asleep. 



But she woke up just in time for me to do her nails right before their mom came to pick them up. 


I had the greatest time ever with the girls.  The worst part about giving the kids back to their rightful owner is the void I feel when they leave.   I miss their smile, their voice, their hugs and kisses and just having them around.  

Later on that week, Alessandro and I were in our living room and he told me to close my eyes.  He found something he wanted me to see.  When I opened my eyes I saw that he found one of Ava's fake nails buried in the carpet.  I almost cried. 

But I should also say that the best part of giving the kids back to their rightful owner is that feeling of FREEDOM!  The only person I had left to entertain was myself!  Nothing that a good book and a long nap can't take care of.