Cinnamon Roses with Pomegranate Glaze

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With Valentine’s day close on the horizon, I decided it was time to share one of my favorite simple recipes for the occasion. And by simple, I don’t mean some recipe with five million weird ingredients but three easy steps, as most so-called “simple” recipes turn out to be. You’ll probably have everything you need for this in your house already.

Cinnamon Roses & Pomegranate Glaze

You will need:

  • Store-bought crescent roll dough (e.g. Pillsbury)
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • About ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • Pomegranate juice (alternative: milk and red food coloring)

To prepare the roses:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Unroll dough on a cookie sheet. For mini cinnamon roses, separate dough down the middle perforation. For a larger version, leave the entire sheet of dough intact.
  2. Sprinkle dough with cinnamon sugar–the more the merrier.
  3. Roll the sheets of dough up.
  4. Using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion so as not to squish the rolls, cut slices to the desired size. They won’t expand much. Lay these rolls on their side.
  5. Pinch the bottom of each roll with your fingers until it’s completely closed up. This will cause the center part of the “rose” to pop up a bit. Make sure that all the layers still stay relatively close together and that the center isn’t sticking out too much, because this will cause your roses to unravel during baking. Spoiler alert: no matter how hard you try, half of them will unroll anyway.
  6. Bake the roses for about 8 minutes (if you’re making mini rolls) or until golden brown.

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To prepare the glaze:

  1. Pour your powdered sugar into a small bowl. The measurements don’t have to be exact, and can be altered according to the amount of glaze you’d like.
  2. A teaspoon at a time, begin stirring in pomegranate juice. If you don’t have pomegranate juice, which can be bought in small bottles at most supermarkets, you can prepare a tradition powdered-sugar glaze using milk instead! Pomegranate is one of my favorite fruits, and I love the pink for Valentine’s day, but almost any liquid will do for making this glaze.
  3. When the glaze is thin enough to be drizzled, you’re done! If you’ve made the glaze with milk, you may wish to add a drop or so of red food coloring for festivity.

This is such a delicious, simple treat to make for your family or lover for Valentine’s day breakfast. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll probably end up eating them all yourself. No shame.

Obligatory resolutions

I suppose I can’t get away without doing a New Year’s post, huh? I had originally written up a long-winded shpeel about how we should endeavor to grow and make resolutions every day, not just New Year’s. In the end, I decided it was the solemn result of a depressed Nadine who woke up in the middle of the night, and scrapped the whole thing. So it’s back to the standard list-and-describe-my-resolutions-like-everyone-else plan after all.

On New Year’s Day when I woke up around noon, I wrote out a long list of resolutions and plans to accomplish them. Reviewing it now, I think those resolutions are things I should be mindful of every day for the rest of my life, not something I can accomplish in a year. Reading books often, donating my time to those in need… these are life projects. So for 2013, I’ve decided to amend my original plan and strive for growth rather than simple preservation of the person I’m trying to be.

So what are my goals this year?

1. Learn a new art medium. Being an artist is about collecting things that attract your soul and ensnare your senses and pouring them back out in a creative way, and a big part of that process is constant discovery. This year, I intend to expand my reach. I’ve come so far in the art world, touching on everything from playing the trombone to creating impossible photographs in the darkroom. But I’m not satisfied yet, as there are a handful of art forms I haven’t explored. This year, I want to stitch beautiful patterns on embroidery hoops to hang on my wall. I want to learn to dance, and have the confidence to do so in front of an audience other than my cat. In short, I want to grow as an artist, because it is such a huge part of my life.

2. Take a self defense class. I have long suffered from a quietly crippling sort of paranoia. There is always a shadow in the corner of my eye, and I forever have the physical feeling that someone is following me. It’s terrifying, especially at night. When I’m alone, I dart around my house with my back to the wall, my body actually quaking with panic. In any situation, I prefer to be seated in the very back corner, so I can be sure I won’t be caught unawares and murdered. I joke around about it with my family, but I legitimately feel that I am about to be assaulted and killed at any moment. My paranoia is a huge source of insecurity, a secret I’ve hardly revealed to anyone until now, and I don’t intend to spend the rest of my life this way. I’ve gotten it into my head that being able to defend myself will make me feel more at ease with being alone, with the darkness, with vulnerability. In addition to the feeling of safety this will likely provide me, all the added exercise will certainly do me good.

3. Produce twenty pieces of art I’m proud of. My walls are barren and grey and screaming to be filled with beauty. What better way to decorate than with my own work? This year, I will paint, sketch, photograph, carve, compose, stitch, sew, plant, glue together, or otherwise create 20 pieces that make me happy. I will frame them and put them on display. I might even sell a few things if I really get busy. This resolution kills two birds in one stone: keep making art, and decorate.

4. Start some sort of regularly meeting group. A book club, a photography group, or simply a regular coffee date between friends–these sort of things are healthy and fun on so many levels. This is more of a hope than a must-do item, but I would love to gather a fairly diverse group of people with common interests and meet on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to have some great overarching objective, it doesn’t have to be for any specific purpose. But how much fun would it be to count on bi-weekly photoshoots with a fun group of friends, or have monthly moral support meetings with my fellow young authors? Even to have a friend that I jog with at a specific time once a week would make me beyond happy. Combining common goals and creative endeavors with social interaction sounds to me like a wonderful way to stay motivated without becoming a hermit as I tend to do.

These resolutions are more like very extended projects, and I am determined to complete them this year. I also have some more vague, daily-reminder sort of resolutions, such as “get out of the house more, hermit,” “journal every day for a year,” and “spend more time in nature,” but I’m choosing to focus more on concrete goals. I deal with too much disappointment on a daily basis, much of it from myself. I don’t want to commit myself to vague plans that can never really be finished, but the things I have selected are completely manageable, solid tasks within the next year. And you know what, I think they’ll really help me grow. I can’t wait.

Happy 2013, everyone. I hope you’re as excited for this as I am.

Giving feels better, suddenly.

When I came downstairs to the twinkling Christmas tree this morning, two presents caught my eye: a gigantic, fuzzy beanbag and a sophisticated, shiny red bicycle, both wrapped in festive ribbon in front of the fireplace. I was instantly thrown back to almost ten years ago, when I received similar gifts as a child. The glow of the tree against the dark sky, the faux-velvety texture of the bows, the crinkle of wrapping paper and the smell of bacon cooking in a pan. It’s all so enchantingly familiar. I was a small child again, eyes glittering and full of laughter.

As I sit perched upon my beanbag, which my parents have already dubbed “the nest” due to the apparent bird-like way I’ve been occupying it, I have to reflect about how indescribably lucky I am. Last night I sat down to a feast with my mom’s side of the family, laughing over a warm meal, before exchanging piles of presents. This morning, I woke up to these expensive gifts and more in my own house, before trekking out to the mass at dawn in our beautifully decorated church. We then drove twenty minutes to my aunt’s house, where I helped them make a delicious brunch, and we all cracked up over goofy Christmas trivia and exchanged even more gifts. And in about two hours, I’ll be back on my way to my grandma’s house just down the road from my aunt’s, to enjoy another Christmas feast and yet more piles of presents. I don’t know if, in my youthful ignorance, I’ve never really thought about how much money my relatives spend on me each year, but I am absolutely spoiled rotten.

These merry traditions, this decadent food, and these mountains of material items I don’t really need make my heart ache for the parents who weren’t able to give their children a magical Christmas like I’ve had since birth. The families devastated by natural disaster who don’t have a home, let alone a Christmas tree. The parents who lost their own little angels last week to the gunman at Sandy Hook, some of whom are likely crying today over piles of gifts their child never got to open. I know I can’t end all the suffering in the world, but all this money, all these things are mine now, and someone else needs them more. Some little kid out there has never had a bike before, or a new pair of pajamas. Someone in an underdeveloped country could use my Christmas checks to buy cattle or seed for crops.

I don’t need chocolate, or a mug that looks like a Nikon lens, or a terrarium kit, or a Game of Thrones calendar. And while these things are absolutely nice and tremendously thoughtful, I think I’m going to start asking for donations to charities made in my name next year. I am a spoiled white girl with a surplus of stuff. But I also have a vision of a brighter future, one that I can maybe help shape, one family in need at a time.