Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Very Busy Wednesday

Today was a very busy day, and if you know me at all, then you know that I love being busy. Which means that I had a wonderful Wednesday!

Relaxing is nice, don’t get me wrong—yesterday I spent the day lounging poolside (you’d never guess it was October here), unpacking my second suitcase (reclaimed from my Madrid mishap), and skyping with my parents (bonjour, mom and dad!). But you can only take so much tranquility. So today, I hit the ground running—literally!

Valerie and I left the house to join a few of her friends for a jog around 8:45 this morning. The jogging route we took began in France, cut through Monaco, and finished in France once again.

Actually, I lied. It finished at a private beach club, where Valerie and her friends ordered espressos, I ordered an Americano (fitting since, you know, I’m American), and all of us went swimming in the Mediterranean.


Valerie told me that there’s nothing like the Mediterranean. She’s right. The water is beautifully clear; the most amazing mix of turquoise and indigo, depending on how the light hits the surface and on the color of the rocks at the bottom.

See what I mean?

Other highlights of the day included:

1. Eating Indian food for lunch

I don’t think I’ve ever actually had Indian food until today, but it was amazing! Lentil, saffron rice, spinach and tofu, chicken with a bright red sauce and pita filled with cheese. Um, delicious! Since my only prior exposure to Indian food was via Along Came Polly (if you haven’t seen it, imagine Ben Stiller, curry, a bathroom, etc. etc.), I’ll admit that I was a little nervous to try it. But I’m so glad that I did! Tres bon :)

2. Purchasing a beautiful new shirt from Addict by French designer Istella Forest

Y’all, the shirt inside that bag was a little expensive. But here’s the thing: I spoke in French with the darling shopkeeper (elle s’appelle Beatrice) for 20 minutes! And to be honest, I was so proud of myself for conducting such an extended conversation that there was no way I was leaving the store without a souvenir.

Is there irony in the fact that the store was called Addict? Don’t answer that…

Why I feel that I have to buy things to prove my competency in French, I don’t know  (ahem…see this post). But, it’s gorgeous…just wait. You’ll see!

3. Stopping to say a prayer in this cathedral (no, dad, I wasn’t repenting for shopping)

4. Taking a beautiful walk by the sea after lunch

5. Baking cupcakes 

I followed the recipe below, but substituted the Nutella with melted 70% dark chocolate (much to my chagrin, the little girl I nanny for is not a Nutella fan). Still, we both highly recommend this recipe. In fact, it was so good that we have been banned from baking for at least one month to allow everyone in the house sufficient time to recover from the chocolate induced coma they are now in.

Good thing I remembered to pack my p90x DVDs

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes

1 cup flour 

1 tsp. baking powder 

¼ tsp. salt 

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

½ cup Nutella

2 eggs, room temperature

½ cup whole milk

2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (or 175 C, like if you’re in France or something)

In a bowl, whisk the dry ingredients to combine; set aside.  Beat the butter with an electric mixer until it is soft, then add sugar. Add hazelnut spread and mix until smooth.  Add the eggs, one at a time beating until they are well combined. Combine vanilla and milk. Add dry ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with dry.  Beat just to combine. Divide batter among the muffin tins, filling each no more and 2/3.  Bake 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting. Makes 14-16 cupcakes

Nutella Frosting

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup nutella

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 - 2 tbsp cream (if needed)

In the bowl of a large mixer, whip butter and nutella until creamy. Gradually add in powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. Add cream or whole milk if needed, for creamier consistency.

Bon apetit, mes amis! xox

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