Friday, April 15, 2011

Unchartered Waters

I am a baker if anything so living in Italy and learning to cook for myself has been quite an experience.  I am proud to say...with the help of my knowledgeable roommates...I am coming into my own - cooking wise that is.  It has been so fun learning and experimenting so I just wanted to share a little about my successes.

Rosemary Chicken, Garlic Rosemary Potatoes, and Red Pepper Broccoli:  This was really my first attempt cooking a full meal in Italy in the smallest kitchen known to man.  I frantically was cooking all three at once on tiny burners and an oven that only worked on the grill setting.  I was very happy with myself :)

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Sticks:  I swear I am going to turn into a zucchini from all that I have consumed.  I stumbled across this recipe on the web and needed to try it!!!

My attempt at plating haha

3 large zucchini, sliced longways, halved and cut into sticks 
2 eggs 
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs 
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated 
1 tsp dried oregano 
1/2 tsp dried garlic powder 
Olive oil spray 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray olive oil spray on large baking sheet. Set aside. 
Slice zucchini into long planks. Cut planks in half then slice long into sticks.In large shallow bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, set aside. In large shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, 
Parmesan cheese, oregano and garlic powder. 
Working with 3-4 zucchini sticks at a time, start breading process by dunking and completely covering 
zucchini with egg mixture. Take zucchini sticks out of egg mixture, allowing an extra egg to drip off, and 
place into breadcrumb mixture. Gently coat the zucchini stick completely with breadcrumb mixture. Place 
breaded zucchini stick onto baking sheet. 
Continue this process until all zucchini sticks are breaded and on baking sheet. Spray each zucchini stick 
with olive oil spray and place into 425 degree oven. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Using a spatula, flip each zucchini stick and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

Chocolate, Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes and Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting:  For my roommates 21st birthday, I went back to my roots and backed for the first time here in Italy.  It is soo hard to find some of the ingredients here but after making a run to two stores I was able to get pretty much everything.  I bought Betty Crocker Devils Food Cake and added cut/crushed chocolate chunks from a candy bar.  The frosting was the fun part - and if I do say so myself, pretty darn good!!

Two sticks of butter
1- 1 1/2 cups of peanut butter (depending on how peanut buttery you want it - I did 1 1/2)
4 tablespoons of cream or milk (I did 2 cream and 2 milk)
2 cups of powdered sugar
Salt to taste

Soften the butter and whip the butter and peanut butter until fluffy.  Add two tablespoons of milk.  Add powdered sugar and stir as you go, adding just a little at a time.  Add salt to taste - the salt really finished it off.  Frost cupcakes and add shaved chocolate on top :)

It was so easy and so yummy!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Praha and the Angry People That Live There

I am officially the worst blogger ever.

Prague was never really on my radar - I mean, I heard AMAZING things about it, but I never thought I would make it there.  My roommate randomly was looking up organized trips through this travel website and bing, bam, boom I was on my way to Prague...on a bus...for a sixteen hour ride.  The bus ride was downright painful, but we finally arrived in the gorgeous and freezing Czech Republic city.  We had just enough time to drop off our bags and freshen up before we headed out to explore.

We only had two full days in Prague and we wanted to see as much as physically possible and I'll give you a glimpse of just a few of the many things we saw and were lucky to experience.

John Lennon Wall:  A once normal, blank wall is now covered in poems, art, and Beatles lyrics all inspired by John Lennon.  Lennon was a hero and inspiration to the pacifist youth in Prague and during the 1980s they used the wall dedicated to Lennon to express their frustrations with their government and hopes for the future.  Now tourists who come and visit can leave their mark on the famous wall

Prague Castle:  Not to sound corny, but this is the most magical thing I have ever seen in my entire life.  It took some leg work to make it inside the castle walls and it took even more work to climb up the central tower, but it was all worth it to take in the view of the gorgeous building and the magnificent view from the top.  My roommates and I were in shock and I was even speechless, which almost never happens.

Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square: This clock was voted one of the most disappointing historical sites in the world haha.  It is a gorgeous clock that chimes each hour as moving wooden puppets dance.  The puppets don't dance so much as they turn side to side or raise an arm up and down.  Disappointments aside, it is still a breathtakingly beautiful clock.

Prague Zoo:  The zoo is one of the top ten zoos in the world!!  After a big flood that hit Prague and destroyed most of the zoo, it has been dramatically redesigned and it is so cool.  The plethora of animals they have are overwhelming - we went to the farm, the sahara, the arctic, africa, indonesia, the mountains, and so much more.  The animal enclosures are the best thing about the Prague Zoo - the animals are crazy close to you and they even get to have beautiful open spaces to roam.

Charles Bridge:  The Charles Bridge is an old gothic bridge that crosses the Vltava River.  One our first days there we climbed to the top of one of the bridge's towers and took in great views of Old Town Prague - I climb far too much stuff when I travel. It wasn't until our last day there that we realized we had never actually walked across the entire bridge so we got over there as quickly as possible to span the bridge, take in the view, and take ridiculous amounts of pictures of the numerous statues that flank both sides.  Everything about Prague was magical and this was no exception.  Bundled up in our hats, scarves, and gloves my roommates and I made are way across the bridge stopping to look at street art and saying goodbye to our new favorite city.

Prague was so unbelievably amazing, even with the angry people that live there - I swear they hate life haha!  The sites and the food were ridiculous and I am so so glad I was able to experience this city for myself.