Friday, February 25, 2011

It's Another Love Story

Back in the fall I read the book Where Hearts Are Free, by Golden Keyes Parsons, a historical romance, but not of the harlequin type as the cover unfortunately suggests...

But being a hopeless romantic, and because I agreed to do a book review for Thomas Nelson Publishing, I cracked the pages.  This novel swept me off to the 1600's into the life of a wealthy girl named Bridget, who finds herself in love with Phillippe, the boy she has grown up with, but who also happens to be an indentured servant to her family.  A dark secret she shares with him as a youth, comes crashing back years later and Bridget is in danger, and engaged to a man she does not love.  Phillippe is torn between perceived loyalties to his family and their faith, and his love for Bridget.  Both of them struggle with their devotion to their families and faith and how their actions will impact that.  In the end, they both trust in God and His plan and everything else then falls into place.

I do love a good romance, and when it is set in historical times, it just seems all the more sweeter, more innocent.  When I finished this book, I had a great desire to visit with Jane Austin and the Bronte' sisters and devour their books again.  And since reading this book, I have.  If you enjoy historical fiction, love stories, and books with an element of faith woven through, I think you will enjoy this book.  And,  I recently learned that When Hearts Are Free was actually the 3rd book in a series! Obviously, it wasn't necessary to read the first two books beforehand, as I didn't feel I missed anything while reading, but I think I'll go back now and read the other two! 

Have you read any good historical fiction books lately?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

It's World Nutella Day!

Five years ago, Sara Rossi, of Ms. Adventures in Italy baked up the idea of World Nutella Day and since then countless recipes have been shared for using Nutella in recipes.  I absolutely loved the idea of celebrating this day with fellow Nutella addicts the world over and have faithfully celebrated. 

For my recipe this year, I wanted to make something that took me back to Gelatoria Mario's in Bologna, a regular stop for my cohort of International "crime", Holly, and I.  I'm sure that there were many fabulous things to try at Mario's, but on my first visit there on a warm August day in 1988, I ordered a frappe' of gianduja e coco (chocolate hazelnut and coconut milkshake) and I never ordered anything but that again.  I even brought Keith there 6 years later and made him order one, too. 

And because I wanted to kick off my day with Nutella, I decided to make these:

Coco Loco Nutella  Rolls
1 loaf frozen bread dough - thawed overnight in the frig (or make your own if you have time prefer)
About 1 cup Nutella (or more to your liking)
1/2 cup coconut
2 Tablespoons milk

Roll out the the dough on a well-floured surface into a 12x9 rectangle.  Spread with Nutella, but leave about an inch uncovered on one of the long sides. 

Sprinkle the coconut on top.

Roll up starting from the long side that has filling spread to the edge.  Pinch the dough to seal the seam.  Slice into 9 pieces.  Arrange on a GREASED baking sheet and cover. 

Let rise until almost double in size (about 45 minutes).

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Bake them for 15-20 minutes or until golden.  Mine were apparently having a little party in the oven while I was cleaning up...

While they cool, make the icing:
1/3 - 1/2 cup nutella and 2 Tablespoons milk mixed together.  Add more milk if needed for drizzling consistency.

Drizzle the rolls with the icing and serve warm.

Buon Appetito!

Want to join in the fun?  Check out Ms. Adventures In Italy, Bleeding Expresso, and World Nutella Day!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Happy February 2nd - No chance of the groundhog coming out of his den around here today... He is snowed in under our shed!   And I don't need to be a groundhog to tell ya' - it's gonna be at least another 6 weeks of winter 'round these here parts!

So how about a glimpse of how a typical January looked in my little world:


Around here, January seems to be as full of family fun and calories as November and December were.  Any and all weight loss resolutions must be postponed until after the Superbowl for us.   We kick off every New Year with a fabulous brunch at my sis-in-law's home,

and karaoke entertainment from my nephew!

Ya never know who is going to show up at these family events!

then it's my birthday, and then Emmy's birthday - which for some reason she seems to have three or four celebrations every January - not quite sure how that happens, but it does. 

skyping with the grand - snowbirds- who chose to celebrate January birthdays with us from snowless Florida

Happy Birthday to me...

And our home is filled with cakes, and pies, and cookies and candy - and then we'll turn around and it will be Valentine's Day!

This January we also took part in a surprise celebration for my dear friend that turned 40.  How awesome is this cake?!!

Yes you are my friend, yes you are!

That's the fabulous forty year old on the left!

And did I mention that just last week I received chocolates straight from someone in Italy???  I didn't?  Oh, well, I'll have to dedicate a separate post to that.  And I would be remiss if I didn't also remind you that this Saturday, February 5th,  is one of my favorite holidays - WORLD NUTELLA DAY!!!  I'm still working on what I'm making for this most wonderful holiday.  You should celebrate it, too.  If you do, let me know what you are making and what time I should be over to sample it....