Pretty strapped for time so this will be short and sweet, and so will the post!  These cannoli cream puffs are the answer to satisfy that Italian dessert craving without having to perfect making a cannoli shell.  Someday right? Dream big.  But what’s incredibly easy to make is choux pastry,  used in cream puffs, and as the crust for my mom’s Chocolate Eclair Cake.  Cream puffs can be filled with tons of different types of creams and flavors.  This rich cannoli filling keeps really well, and I made two batches, one with cinnamon and one with lemon zest.  I think the cinnamon is more traditional and is personally my preference, but the lemon zest has such a bright flavor it’s nice to have both around.

Also, making this filling takes two seconds, it’s the best.

Cannoli Cream Puffs
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For the Pastry
  1. 1 cup water
  2. 1/2 cup butter
  3. 1 cup flour
  4. pinch of salt
  5. 4 eggs
For the Filling
  1. 32oz of ricotta, strained
  2. 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  3. zest from two lemons or 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  4. 1 tbsp vanilla extact
  5. 4 tbsp mini chocolate chips
For the Pastry
  1. Preheat oven til 400, line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat
  2. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter with water and bring to a boil over medium heat
  3. Add in flour, dough will begin to form almost like *poof* magic! Stir with a wooden spoon to combine thoroughly
  4. Once dough is formed, turn heat off and pour dough into bowl of stand up mixer with paddle attachment, mix on medium speed until the bowl is cool to the touch, this can take about 10 minutes
  5. Once cooled, add in eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully combine before adding next
  6. Spoon dough into a piping bag with the tip cut off and pipe dollops onto a lined baking sheet
  7. Wet your finger slightly and press down any points on the top of the dough dollops
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, puffs should be golden brown
  9. Allow to cool fully before using
For the Filling
  1. While the puffs cool, make your filling
  2. In the bowl of a stand up mixer with paddle attachment, mix together, ricotta, confections sugar (sifted), zest or cinnamon, and vanilla until smooth
  3. Add in chocolate chips and allow them to just combine before transferring to bowl and chilling for 30 minutes (or cover with plastic wrap and use within 2 days)
  4. Cut the tops off puffs and using a piping bag with the tip cut off, or a top thats big enough to allow chips through, fill cream puffs and dust with additional confections sugar if desired
Adapted from Allrecipes
Adapted from Allrecipes
Domestic B(i)atch http://domesticbatch.com/

I told you Italy really got me going!

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What a weekend.  Please excuse our occasional tears at the Atlanta Falcons loss in the Super Bowl.  It was a little surreal to watch them crush the first half and then completely blow it basically all in the 4th quarter. We surrounded ourselves with a small group of Falcons fans and together stared agape at the end, wiped our tears, and hugged each other good-bye.   We were incredibly disappointed, but hey, at least they’re not the Browns.  And Lady Gaga jumped from the top of the stadium. WHAT.

Moving on to much happier things that don’t make husband cry.

Phil and I love going out to eat.  In New York we try new places as much as we can, and when our schedule allows.  It seems to come in waves, we’ll go out once or twice a week for a while, then we’ll want to save some money or our schedules will be two ships passing in the night and we’ll have to rely on cooking for ourselves, or making quick things and leaving left overs for the other one.  We’re in that place right now. I started rehearsals for a show, which is rehearsing most evenings and weekends, and then working my day job most of the week.  The nights I don’t rehearse, I work.  So it’s kind of crazy and seeing Phil has been limited.  I look forward to things calming down.  But for now I can travel back to our time eating and drinking in Milan together, almost never leaving each others side.  

On the night we went to the sports bar to watch the Falcons playoff game, we started the evening just outside of Chinatown at an amazing restaurant called Bon Wei. It had a Michelin star so we were wary that we’d spend our life savings there, but as we opened the menu we looked at each other, wondering what the catch was.  The restaurant was beautiful, the wine list extensive, but everything was…..well cheap.  The small plates were appropriately priced at 7 Euro or less……entrees at 13 Euro or less.  We weren’t starving so we ordered a few small plates and hot and sour chicken to share.  It was all delicious, not to mention we ordered one of those liters of beer which was only 5 Euro?!!!! I don’t know….it was so good and fancy and affordable it made me wish more places were like this. Everyone should be able to eat quality food, everyone should be able to treat themselves and not break the bank.

On our last day in Milan, Phil had to work. I decided I’d take myself on a dessert/food tour, trying small things at bakeries around the city.  I started my journey at this small place near Phil’s office, PainPerMe, which turned our to be a gluten-free bakery! I love my gluten, but I’m always into trying new things.  I ordered a coffee and lingonberry tart. It was pretty good, the crust a little too crumbly for me. But the place was small and quiet, like most places in Italy.  No huge bakeries or coffee houses or bars, everything small and quaint.  This place had a table with swings instead of chairs.  It was adorable.

After I grabbed lunch with the Hubs he headed back to the office and I made my way to Marotin, and short walk away.  It had a whole window full or tarts and small pies and cookies.  I saw the meringue and didn’t even care what was underneath it,  but it turned out to be lemon curd.  Not mad at it. I also ordered a chocolate cookie, because duh.

I sat slowly enjoying my treats while reading, and got a call from Phil saying he was actually done early and met me to spend the rest of the day together!!! We dropped off his work stuff at the hotel and it was time to continue my quest, and we should obviously get gelato next.  So we did! Stracciatella seemed like the right choice, I always order it when I get gelato in NYC. Pairing it with the smooth fresh strawberry was the perfect combo. Why don’t we all eat gelato everyday?

I searched online to find the next location we’d trek to and then I found the Ashley Holy Grail of places to go.  SOOOOOO I love Hot Pockets.  They’re my favorite food. And I found a place famous for what is basically an Italian Hot Pocket.  I told Phil, I know where we’re headed next, don’t ask questions.  After enjoying our gelato we made our way to the Duomo to find Luini, a small counter-service place that was bustling with people, even though it’s slow season.   I’m sure in the summer it has a line down the block.  It was so delicious. Warm salame and mozzarella inside a sweet soft crust. It’s probably good for my skinny jeans that I didn’t know about this place at the start of the trip.

Phil knew of a place to grab a glass of wine nearby after we crushed our Hot Pockets. That place he knew? A sick rooftop bar right next to the Duomo.  View was not terrible.

Another part of Italian food culture that I’m obsessed with is the Aperitivo. When you go to a bar and order a drink, even if you’re not eating a meal, they bring a small plate of snacks.  Sometimes it’s as simple as nuts and olives, other times like the cocktail bar we went to later that night, it’s a full spread, focaccia bread, small balls of fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, it was epic.  And if you eat it and get more drinks, they replenish it. It’s a small gesture, but it really sets the Italian world apart from the US.  I feel like we’re so stingy, bar snacks would never be so elaborate, we want people to eat and then leave so we can have more tables in the restaurant.  It’s definitely something I miss now being back in the States, the feeling of rushing during meals.

Our final stop of the night (the place with the epic Aperitivo) was Nottingham Forest.  As much as I yearn for the US to adapt a more relaxed way of dining, one thing I’m grateful for is NYC’s never-ending supply of killer cocktail bars. Nottingham Forest was a dimly lit cozy cocktail bar that has crazy concoctions as well as your everyday mixed drinks.  The plus of the mixed drinks? They’re served in goblets (see below).  It was cute and right across from the hotel, but it’s clear this place gets packed every night and Phil told me that on previous trips later in the evening there’s a line out the door to get in. This bar is the only one I saw of it’s kind during our trip, which is completely opposite of NYC.  There are bars, speakeasies, and creative cocktail bars everywhere, and while they can be busy, I don’t know if I’ve ever experience a line out the door to get into one.  Because if it’s packed, you can just go somewhere else. [Side note, maybe people do wait super long to get in sometimes but I have zero tolerance for that. There’s too many places in New York to wait anywhere in a line out the door.  No thanks.] 

But I am glad we snagged a couch earlier in the night before it got super busy to experience what all the hubbub is about. And if you leave by 9pm, all drinks are only $10. We made sure to do that.

The next day we woke up, had a full breakfast and made our way to the airport.  We flew over the Alps as we headed back west, and it was a magical send off.

We got back safe and sound (obviously) but jet lag did take hold for the next three days.  I went to bed by 11 at the latest and on Saturday, went to bed at 10:30pm and woke up and 9am.  That’s a lot of sleep.  But it got us back on track.  I loved visiting Italy, and would love to go back and visit more cities, but I was happy to come back home.  There are parts of Italian life I wish would creep into the American way, but I still love life in NYC more. 

I’ve been on an Italian inspired baking spree this past week.  I’m trying to recreate some things, and creating my own versions of others.  So get ready.

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Rome. Everyone says it wasn’t built in a day, and when you go there, duh, no kidding.  Every main attraction is huge and overwhelming and I cannot believe how old it is.  I’d be lying if I said Phil and I weren’t tired ALL THE TIME.  Jetlag is real ya’ll and I had a great time but I could’ve slept at all times, any time you would’ve asked me to.  In between all our walking adventures and eating, we took a healthy amount of lay downs to get our life back together and rally.  I am so happy we went to Rome, but I was definitely fighting fatigue the whole trip.  What didn’t help was our 8am Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel Tour. But if we could do it all again, I wouldn’t change it.  Getting the tour done in the morning and then having the whole day to ourselves in Rome was the way to go. And were actually able to see basically everything.

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