The Sweet Life…striking “the balance”…working it out!

No one has to tell us about diets, indulging in sweets in moderation and watching the waist line.  Our stretchy pants feel the pain of having to taste most everything that leaves the building everyday.  Plus, I’m sure that you’ve read our previous post about “you can have your cake and eat it too” so I am not going to elaborate on that subject.  So what, you ask, am I blogging about now?  Well, it’s our newest endeavor.

We want to connect our customers with our local fitness centers, personal trainers/coaches and share healthy eating tips.  You think it’s “weird” that the owners of a dessert cafe are blogging about fitness?  Let me be clear, we definitely want you to get “BAKED” at the beach, but it is as important to us that our customers are happy and most importantly healthy.  We hope you know that this is why we are committed to baking au’naturale.   We seriously believe that good health and happiness are all about striking “the balance” between the “healthy” and the “indulgent”.   Sometimes that balancing act is just down right difficult.

This  idea came to me when I saw a customer of ours at the gym.  She kindly commented on our facebook post and picture of our Monster Cream Puff asking, “Do you think I could eat half of one if I walk for 30 minutes on the treadmill”?  “Why yes”, I replied and voila the proverbial lightbulb in my head went off.  Why not  connect with the local fitness gurus and share fitness tips, “specials” and wellness strategies with our fans?  Why not ask our fans to share their success stories, tips and recipes.  I don’t know about you, but I can use all of the help that I can get!

No matter if you are a local, just visiting or vacationing at the beach, there are a plethora of fitness centers to choose from and most offer yearly, seasonal, monthly, weekly and daily rates.  Some are even open 24 hours a day.  Fitness centers are not a “one size fits all” and gyms here are no exception.  They offer different fitness philosophies, different work out schedules, classes and styles and varying approaches to reaching your fitness goals.  Most of the centers provide personal coaching, some are class oriented, some more “free weight” minded.  Some follow specific diet regimens like the Paleo Diet which one of our friends and customers recently shared a dessert recipe from.  It was so delicious, Chocolate Babies are now on our “favorites” menu.

Shelly and I come from a large family who celebrate every occasion with food and we own a bakery for gosh sakes. We are constantly striving to strike “the balance” and so we work out almost every morning together.  I personally can’t imagine the strain on our stretchy pants if we didn’t.   One of the factors that we considered when joining a gym was the convenience of the location to the bakery and our children’s school.  Let’s face it, some days are harder than others and for us convenience was a major consideration.  I’ll be honest, the struggle for me is walking through the gym door.  Once I make it past that threshold, I’m “golden” and I always feel physically and mentally better for it.

So, in addition to providing you the very best all natural desserts, breads and beverages, we’re also going to be “rooting out” fitness tips, gym specials and healthy dessert recipes for your overall wellbeing and enjoyment.  We’ll be providing more gluten free, diabetic friendly and vegan dessert options at “BAKED” and are interested in your own personal success stories, winning tips, strategies and recipes.  Visit us on facebook, share your strategies and join our quest to strike “the balance” for a happy, healthy, sweet life.

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Italian Easter Pie…Oh My!

Right after graduating from college, I had the privilege to work with a wonderful Italian woman named Jean.  She was a fabulous cook and her specialties included, of course, traditional Italian dishes.  It was Jean who turned me onto the tradition of the Italian Easter Pie!

Now, I am married to a wonderful Sicilian man whose mother was one of the best cooks on the planet, but the Italian Easter Pie, thanks to Jean, was a recipe that I was able to introduce to them.  In fact, in contains all of their “favorite ingredients”, but what is the history behind it?

Since Easter is preceded by Lent, which is a time of fasting, particularly from meat on Fridays, Easter Sunday is a time to celebrate and indulge.  For Italians, the celebration includes the rich, cheesy, quiche-like Italian Easter pie filled with eggs, cheese and Italian meats.  Depending on the region, Easter Pie has many different names and recipes.  In Naples they call it “pastiera” and it is made with ricotta and whole grains to symbolize rebirth.

Sicilians make it with macaroni, pork, cheese and eggs.  Calabrians prefer ham, sausage, hard cooked eggs, mozzarella and ricotta.  “Pasqualina” as they call it in Liguria contains spinach, ricotta, cheese and eggs.  From Umbria to Marches, the pie is really more of a bread.

No matter what you call it, where and when you eat it or the combination of ingredients you choose to fold into it, Italian Easter Pie is a delicious addition to any brunch, lunch or holiday celebration.

RECIPE

For the crust:

• 2 cups all purpose flour
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• 2 sticks butter
• 2 eggs

For the filling:

• 6 eggs
• salt and pepper to taste
• 8 oz. ricotta cheese
• 2 oz. shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese
• 3 oz. diced  ham, I prefer capicola
• 3 oz. diced salami, I prefer sorpresssata
• 3 oz. diced pepperoni

Directions
To make the crust, mix the flour and salt and place it in the bowl of a food processor.   Cut the butter into cubes and add them one at a time to the dough.  Pulse the food processor just enough to work in the butter into the consistency of a coarse meal.  Add the eggs and pulse the dough until it comes together in a ball.  Cut the dough in half so that one half is a little bigger than the other.  The smaller half will be the top crust. Wrap each in plastic wrap and rest the dough for an hour in the fridge.

For the filling, beat the eggs with the salt and pepper.  Then blend the cheese into the eggs. Dice or  julienne the meat, or put it in the food processor for a finer textured pie and add this to the egg/cheese mixture.  I usually add 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Roll out the larger piece of dough on a floured board until it will fill a 9-inch pie shell. Add the filling. Then roll out the smaller piece of dough until it will cover the top.  Crimp it around the edge to seal it.  Brush with a beaten egg wash and  poke some holes or slits in the top crust to allow the steam to vent.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.