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Oteri's Italian Bakery Blog

Fighting the Winter Doldrums!

Posted in: Recipes


This winter has sure been a doozey…weeks of freezing temperatures with record lows, multiple snow falls, ice, power outages,  many days of school closings; the list goes on and on. It sure is hard to stay upbeat through all of that…it’s called the winter doldrums. For some it starts when winter arrives, for many it begins when the holidays are over and for some of us it sets in when the last second of the clock ticks at the end of the Super Bowl.

I am here to help…I have a few tricks that will help you keep those doldrums in check while you wait for spring to arrive.  I will also share a fun recipe to cheer you up and create summer time for a little while.

First of all raising endorphins will release natural feel-good chemical in your body so exercise is a great cure for the winter blahs. So lace up your ice skates, strap on some skis, take a ride on the sled that is sitting in your garage, or just put on an exercise video, dance to some up beat music or take a brisk walk. Any of these activities will get your blood pumping, reduce boredom and lift your spirits.

Next, surround yourself with friends. People tend to hibernate in the winter but spending time with friends can be instrumental in our well being. Plan a party or invite friends over for game night or movie night and share laughter and good times with those whose company you enjoy the most.

How about a bit of self-pampering? You can go shopping, get a manicure or perhaps a massage if the budget allows. Doing even a little something for you will go a long way to brighten up a dreary day.

Being trapped in the house on snowy days can be so depressing so why not challenge oneself to learn something new? Discover a new hobby or passion and it will give you something to look forward to.

Incorporate light and color into a typically gray tone winter! Open the blinds and let the light in, buy some colorful flowers or plant and add a splash of color to your wardrobe. It will certainly cheer up your surroundings and hopefully yourself.

The best thing to do is keep an upbeat attitude, stay as positive and optimistic as possible and know that the winter will be over before you know it.

How about a recipe for Beach Themed Cupcakes?vanilla-cupcakes

Ingredients and directions for vanilla cupcakes:

3 cups all-purpose flower
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (1 ½ sticks)
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1¼ cups milk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside. In medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated and scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in vanilla.

Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl to assure the batter is thoroughly mixed. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling papers about 2/3 full. Bake on the center rack of the oven until tops spring back to touch, about 20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely before icing.

You can always use your favorite boxed vanilla or chocolate cake mix if you prefer.

Ingredients and directions for buttercream icing:

2 ½ cups sugar
10 large egg whites
4 cups (8 sticks or 2 pounds) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place sugar and egg whites in bowl of electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The mixture should be completely smooth.

Take bowl out of water and beat on high with mixer until the mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.

Add butter, one piece at a time and beat until incorporated after each addition. (Don’t worry if the buttercream looks curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating.) Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in cool environment before icing cool cupcakes.

The Fun Part: Decorating (Beach remember?)

Blue food coloring, blue construction paper cut into small triangles, graham crackers smashed into crumbs, (or can buy already crumbed graham crackers… not as fun!), Paper cocktail umbrellas.

Frost half of cupcakes piled high with the vanilla buttercream icing; then completely cover with the graham cracker crumbs (to look like sand), finally stick an opened cocktail umbrella into the mound. Voila! You now have pseudo beach.

Add a few drops of the blue food coloring to the rest of the vanilla buttercream icing and mix thoroughly (the more drops you add, the darker the color will be) Pile the cupcakes with the blue frosting (as if it is an ocean). Cut the blue construction paper into small triangles and stick them in the icing as if they are shark fins!

Now you have the ocean and the beach! Be creative; play with it and enjoy!!!

 From Our Family to Your Family with Love…