Saturday, March 30, 2013

Italian Easter Bread Recipe

italian easter bread

So this is a tradition I started way back on Easter of 2012. I just feel like holidays seem more like holidays when there is something baking in the oven.  After some googling, I found several different recipes and variations of Italian Easter bread. I figured I would throw my own variation into the mix! Oh, I feel like I should disclose that I am not one bit Italian, but Irish Easter Bread just isn’t a thing.

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup warm milk
  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened + 1 tbsp melted
  • 7 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tsp. anise seed
  • olive oil

Directions:

  • Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Pour in milk and softened butter. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed with an electric mixer.
  • Stir in 2 eggs and 1/2 cup flour. Beat 2 minutes on high speed. Stir in nuts and anise seed; mix well.
  • Add in remaining flour, slowly until a soft dough forms. You don’t have to add all of it.
  • Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 6-8 minutes and place in a bowl coated in olive oil.  Turn the dough so it has a thin layer of olive oil all over.
  • Let the dough rise, covered with a damp cloth in a warm area for one hour.easter eggs
  • Meanwhile, dye some eggs. I used one of the the kits from the store, but next year I plan on dying them naturally. Enlist some help for this, if necessary! Also, don’t use hardboiled eggs!
  • Once the dough has risen, punch it down and cut it in half on a lightly floured surface.  Roll each piece out into a two foot rope and then twist them together, loosely, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Form the twisted dough into a circle, kind of like a wreath, then pinch the ends together.  easter bread
  • Gently split the ropes apart, coat the eggs in a thin layer of oil & tuck them into the bread.
  • Recover the bread and let rise for 30 minutes longer. 
  • Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan. Brush top of bread with melted butter.
  • Let it cool on a wire rack.

 

All Done! Enjoy!

italianeasterbread

 

Recipe was adapted from here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fit at Home Friday–Jillian Michaels

I freaking love Jillian Michaels. If you are ever afraid to buy one of her workout DVDs because of how scary she seems on the Biggest Loser, don’t be.  Her workouts are tough, but she offers encouraging words throughout to keep you motivated.

Jillian has just released a new workout DVD, “Hard BodyAND a new book, “Slim for Life.” I totally love both.  The DVD includes two 45-minute workouts, one is slightly easier than the other. Now, if you are like me, 45 minutes could seem like an eternity to jillianmichaelsworkout, but she keeps it moving fast and it flies by! I love her combo workouts, like push ups combined with lifts and mountain climbers, can you say effective? I also have to add that I am super uncoordinated and after the 2nd time through I had almost all the moves down pat.

As for the book – also awesome. All of Jillian’s tips are based on a point system, the higher the point value the higher the importance.  So basically, everything you already do or you will have no problem incorporating into your life, you get points for.  You can tally them up at the end of each chapter and at the end of the book you will have a score.  With your score, you will get advice that will help you succeed on your journey to getting slim!  There are also “Slim Myths,” “Fast Facts,” & “EZ Calorie Cuts” throughout the whole book.  It is packed with helpful information in an simple, straightforward way and is definitely helpful if you feel like your drowning in a weight-loss information overload.

The book and the dvd are both available on Jillian’s website.

I received a copy of both the dvd and the book free of charge as part of the bookieboo blogging network in order to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mamavation Monday

This weekend I ran my 2nd non-virtual 5K of the year, the Sandy Hook Run For the Families 5K. I was so excited to be able to run in this race and it is a race I will hold near and dear to my heart for a long time.  It was an incomparable experience.

 

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Pretty much the whole race was lined with spectators, school bands and a children’s choir.  The governor of Connecticut and the First Selectman of Newtown said some words before the race began and there was also a moment of silence and a prayer led by Rev. Matthew Crebbin.  15,000 people were registered and the race was the largest inaugural race in Connecticut history.

I feel so blessed to have been a part of this and show support for my hometown.  I was also so happy that I was able to run the whole race – something I could not do a year ago.  I finished in just over 36 minutes, which is pretty good for me!

I am feeling inspired and motivated and I can’t wait to run the Mamavation virtual 5K this weekend!

This post is sponsored by Mamavation – a community dedicated to obesity prevention & weight loss for women and I’m writing this to be entered into a giveaway

Friday, March 22, 2013

Family Dinner Night at Bar Q in Stamford

A few weeks ago my sister and I attended a Connecticut beer & BBQ dinner at Bar Q in Stamford.  The food and atmosphere there were great and I couldn’t wait to bring my husband there for a date night.  However, I didn’t realize that they were also a great place to have a family dinner!  They actually have a few different deals and happenings throughout the week that are geared towards families.

We headed there on a Wednesday night to check out Tony the Magician, because really, who doesn’t like magicians? Plus, my youngest son was having what I would say was easily the worst day of his almost-2-year-old life so we thought maybe a magician and dinner would cheer him up. (It sort of did.)

barqmagician

They had a great time watching the magician and getting balloon animals (or balloon airplane hats!) My 4-year-old even got to help out with a magic trick and declared that it was, “The best day ever.” Tony the Magician preforms at Bar Q every Wednesday night, so you should check him out!

On Monday and Tuesday nights they have a great deal for families with kids who play sports.  If your child wears their team uniform, you will receive 20% off your bill!… And, on Sundays Bar Q offers a family style dinner deal.  You can choose 3 fixins, 5 BBQ items and 3 sides all for just $50! We ordered this amount of food for our dinner and it was more than enough for the 4 of us.  We ended up taking a lot home. 

If you are heading out without kids, there is something for you too! – Happy Hour every weekday from 4-7, drink specials on Thursday, Friday & Saturday night and an awesome selection of craft beer!

barqbbq

I also really love the way their menu is set up, the whole top section is small plates for you to mix and match – kind of like tapas, BBQ style. This was the section we ordered our whole meal from.  It was a great way to sample a bunch of different things they had to offer. The bottom section has dinner plates, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, soups & salads. There is certainly something for everyone!

Some must-try items I would recommend are the Wood-Kissed Chicken Wings, the Truck-Stop Queso Dip, the St. Louis Sticky Ribs, and the Spicy Smoke Pit Chili.

We had a great night at Bar Q and my 4-year-old asked if we could go every Wednesday to see the magician!

barqq

 

Bar Q is located at 261 Main Street in Stamford, directly behind Black Bear and they are open daily at 11am.  They have a casual, laid-back atmosphere and is a great place to visit with family & friends!

 

 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary meal in order to facilitate this review, as always, all opinions are my own!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mamavation Monday–Spring Fever

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I am so freakin’ excited that Wednesday is the first day of Spring! I have definitely had it with all this cold weather.  We have been getting snow and freezing temperatures since October and frankly, 6 months is just too long!! So, although it is still frigid outside & we are expecting snow again tonight, the spring fever has hit me and I’ve been getting outside a lot more!

I have taken all of my runs for the #iheartomron running challenge outside and I’ve been itching to take the kids out for a bike ride! I’ve been daydreaming about warm days, sun dresses and boat rides and I have even ordered myself a new bathing suit and some summer shoes for the kids! And I am actually looking forward to my bathing suit arriving for the first time in about 4 years! I just hope it looks as good on as it does in my head! (hehe)

I hope everyone has a great week!

This post is sponsored by ReUsies™ & Mamavation – a community dedicated to obesity prevention & weight loss for women. I’m writing this to be entered into a giveaway

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fit at Home Friday–Kenya Moore: Booty Boot Camp

kenyamoore

The multi-talented former Miss USA Kenya Moore is proving to be even more talented with the release of her first fitness dvd. Kenya Moore: Booty Boot Camp was released online March 5th by Acacia and will be available at select retail stores in May 2013.

This DVD offers up 86 minutes of workouts and is pretty versatile, which makes it easy to switch up your workout – one of the features I love about it! There is a warm-up, 3 different 20 minute workouts at varying levels to choose from and 2 different cool-down workouts, one with abs and one without.

Kenya maintains her beautiful Miss USA smile throughout the whole DVD as she works out alongside fitness instructor Nikki Veal, who thoroughly walks you through each exercise.  It’s a great workout that will help you get your sweat on, but it is also flirty and fun (especially when Kenya shows off some of her signature moves!).  It didn’t seem as intense as some of the other DVDs that are on the market today, but I was definitely feeling the affects for the next few days!

So if you’re looking for something to get your rear in gear… literally (hehe) you should definitely check this out, I’ve never done a workout that targeted my butt so effectively!

I received this dvd for free as part of the bookieboo blogging network in order to facilitate this review. As always all opinions are my own.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mamavation Monday–I’m an Omron Fitness Ambassador!

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Well, I had a pretty fantastic week! I found out that I was chosen to be an Omron Fitness running ambassador for the month of March! I received my HR-500U Heart Rate monitor on Friday and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. 

On Saturday, I ran the Mamavation virtual 5K and set a new PR for myself – 34:43! I can’t wait to see that number go down as I follow the training plan for the Omron ambassadors and learn to be a more efficient runner!

I also had a great weekend with my family – we went to a parade on Saturday and on Sunday I got to spend time with my husbands family and watch my 4 year-old learn to snowmobile, he had a blast!

This post is sponsored by Mamavation – a community dedicated to obesity prevention & weight loss for women and I’m writing this to be entered into a giveaway

Sunday, March 10, 2013

2013 at Quassy Amusement Park

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On April 27th, Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, CT, will open for its 105th season.  Quassy is one of 11 remaining “trolley parks” in the United States today.  I have so many fond memories of visiting the park throughout my childhood and now I get to enjoy my own kids having a blast at the park. 

The 2013 season will bring some pretty cool changes and I can’t wait to check it out. One of the changes that I am the most excited about is the waterpark, it has doubled in size! My oldest son and I share a love for water rides.  He actually had his first waterpark experience at Quassy when he was 2 and has been hooked ever since.  I practically had to drag him out of the park!

Splash Away Bay Logo

The whole waterpark has been renamed to “Splash Away Bay” and they have added a “BulletBOWL” ® water raft ride and pair of “FreeFall” ® extreme bodyslides as well as a 2,000-square-foot Vortex Splashpad ®.

There will also be a parent-friendly area designated just for toddlers so it will be easy to keep an eye on your little ones while they play in attractions such as a rainbow spray tunnel, geysers and themed hands-on water play elements.

(photo courtesy Funovation)  Another new attraction I’m pretty psyched about is their new laser maze.  The “Quassy Quest Laser Maze” will be located in the redemption arcade building and you will have to navigate your way through a web of bright green laser beams in a darkened room.  You will be racing against the clock and receive a time penalty for breaching the lasers.  I’ve often seen scenarios like this in movies and wondered if I would be able to make it through, now I will have the chance!

…and sticking with the laser theme, Quassy has added a new educational program to the curriculum this year, “Lasers 101.” It will be a 30-minute classroom session followed by a trip to the laser maze. How cool is that? In addition to the laser class, Quassy offers a ton of interactive learning with topics on physics, science, art, history and more.

I know I will definitely be taking a trip to Quassy this year with my family. Not only to check out their new attractions, but to revisit some of the classics like the Wooden Warrior (ranked number 23 against more than 150 other roller coasters!) and to take advantage of some of their special events like carload weekend (only $35 per carload!) or meet and greets with characters from favorite children’s books as part of Quassy’s Ready to Read program.

Laser Maze photo courtesy Funovation.

All other photos courtesy of Ron Gustafson/Quassy Amusement.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mamavation Monday–Birthday Season

There is one thing that can derail your healthy eating and fitness routine worse than the holidays. It’s birthday season and we are in the thick of it around here.  There are about 10 birthdays in like a 3 week span and don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating but there has been a lot of this:

cakes

and this:

tworoadsflight

and not a whole lot of moving and sweating.  But hey, what can you do but get back on track and not dwell on what has already been done.

I’ve got some great things already lined up this month to keep me active.  I’ll be running the Mamavation Virtual 5K on the 9th and then on the 11th the Mamavation 2 Week Challenge starts! I am also running a 5K at the end of the month to benefit families affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.  I am really looking forward to going out and doing this to support my home town and I am hoping to see some familiar faces!

I applied for the Omron Strapless Heart Rate monitor campaign as well and I am really hoping I get picked!

Oh and if you have a minute, go check out who the Mamavation Sista of the Week is! I’ll give you a hint, she’s been eating a lot of cake lately.

This post is sponsored by Roni Noone and Mamavation – a community dedicated to obesity prevention & weight loss for women and I’m writing this to be entered into a giveaway.

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