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Apple & Sweet Cottage Cheese Strudel

Growing up in Germany, apple strudel was something we enjoyed eating throughout the year. No amount of words can describe the taste of biting into a warm apple strudel. The crispy crust with warm sweet apples inside is a more sophisticated version of apple pie. Making apple strudel takes time and is not exactly something that you can whip up when the craving calls for it. Apple strudel is made from simple ingredients, but the secret of a successful strudel is the dough. It must be elastic and smooth to stretch it very thin. The dough will be rolled and wrapped around the filling, which in this case consists of apples and a sweet cottage cheese filling.

1 2/3 cups flour
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
2 tbsp melted butter
½ cup warm water

6 apples (grated) + ¾ cup sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
½ cup sour crème
1 egg
½ cup sugar (depending on taste)
½ tsp vanilla
¼ cup bread crumbs + 1 tbsp sugar
About 8 tbsp melted butter

Directions for filling:
1. Peel and grate the apples. Add sugar and cinnamon.
2. In a small bowl combine cottage cheese, sour crème, egg, sugar, vanilla.

Prepare dough:
1. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.
2. Beat egg, butter, water to blend.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.
4. Knead dough on a lightly floured board until dough feels smooth (about 5 minutes).
5. Pick up dough and slam down onto board repeatedly (about 5 minutes).
6. Shape dough into a smooth oval and brush lightly with melted butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Roll out dough:
1. Cover a table with a clean tablecloth and dust with flour. Roll out dough into a large oval (approx. 18- by 26-inch oval).
2. Stretch the dough with your hands as much as you can. If dough tears, overlap the torn edges and seal them. The dough should be thin enough to see through.
3. Brush dough with 6 tbsp melted butter. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and sugar evenly over the dough.
4. Spread apples and cottage cheese filling over the dough.
5. Gently lift cloth under the filled dough guiding it forward to form a compact roll, ending seam down.
6. Transfer it to a PAM sprayed baking sheet. Brush strudel with about 2 tbsp. butter.
7. Bake strudel in a 375 degrees oven on center rack for about 35 to 40 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar (optional).

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RED Tour, Craigslist Scam & Mike’s Ice Cream

Last week, my lovely daughter had a brilliant idea. She invited me to see Taylor Swift’s RED concert here in Nashville at the Bridgestone arena. Even though I’m not a fan of “Pop Star Taylor”, I always liked her country songs from way back when she still had curly hair and wore cowboy boots. But since I love spending time with my daughter and since it was her treat, I said ‘yes’. There was one minor problem; my daughter didn’t have any tickets to the show.

But, you see, the girl is very resourceful and after scanning good old Craigslist for hours, she finally talked a seller down to $70 for two tickets. We sent him money through PayPal and waited at will call while the seller was on the phone with Ticketmaster to transfer the tickets into our names (or so he said).

Well, to make a long, sad story short, the tickets were never transferred into our names. After about 1 ½ hours of waiting, the lady at will call decided to let us know that someone else was already occupying “our” seats. Thanks, lady, you couldn’t have told us that sooner? By then the concert had already started. And through all this, the “seller” swore that he transferred the tickets to will call. He even told us he would refund the money if the transfer for some reason didn’t work.

We felt robbed; financially and emotionally. So what do you do when you hear 17,000 eight-year-olds scream from inside the arena because Taylor is about to perform “Red?” You are darn right, you get something to eat!

RED didn’t work out for us, but Mike’s Ice Cream on lower Broadway certainly did. We didn’t even care that we walked through pouring rain to get there. We were in desperate need of some rich, handmade ice cream.

A quaint little ice cream shop amongst the crazy bars on Broadway, Mike’s Ice Cream has such creative flavors as Red Velvet Cake, Rum Raisin and Tennessee Fudge. We ordered Coconut and Butterscotch Overload. Seriously y’all, the best ice cream I’ve ever had. It has a fresh, creamy and not too sugary taste. Really delicious!

We didn’t see Taylor but we managed to have a nice evening together after all. We weren’t even that upset anymore. Twenty years from now I probably would not have remembered the concert anyway, but I will always cherish the crazy, wonderful evening I had with my daughter, and the lessons learned from it.

1.Do not buy concert tickets on Craigslist.
2.Always bring an umbrella if the weather forecast calls for 80% chance of rain in Nashville.

FYI, we filed a dispute with PayPal who guaranteed us a full refund. Hooray for PayPal, even though you charge a ridiculous fee whenever I withdraw money for deposit in my bank account.

Still excited to see Taylor

Almost inside the Bridgestone to see Taylor

What a bummer!

Almost two hours after the RED fiasco…

Mike's Ice Cream to the rescue

We were so annoyed, we could have eaten the giant fake cone.

We were so annoyed, we could have eaten the giant fake cone.

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Palatschinken For Breakfast, Lunch Or Dinner

Growing up in Germany, I ate a lot of Palatschinken. Palatschinken are a thicker version of the French Crepe. Palatschinken are traditionally filled with apricot jam and then rolled like a jelly roll.

I always loved them as a kid and now my kids are crazy about Palatschinken. Sometimes we fill them with Nutella or a special sweet cottage cheese, sour crème, cinnamon, and vanilla extract filling. Sometimes, we just eat them plain. Palatschinken are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

• 2 cups milk
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup flour
• pinch of salt
• fill as desired

• Beat Eggs
• Stir in Milk and Salt
• Sift in Flour slowly, while mixing
• Batter should be the consistency of heavy cream
• Add additional Milk or Flour to achieve desired consistency
• Add a small amount of oil to med-high heated pan
• Hold pan handle with one hand and ladle in the other
• While tipping pan as needed for coverage, pour a thin layer of batter into the pan
• Return pan to burner and cook until top surface of Palatschinken has a dry, matte finish
• Flip with a spatula and brown the other side

This recipe makes about 15 Palatschinken.

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Make Your Own Foundation Powder

I usually don’t wear much make up, but when I do I like to use a loose powder or mineral powder foundation. The least expensive powder foundation that I have seen so far sells for about $6 per tiny jar. Most of them sell for $10 and up and are full of ingredients I can’t even pronounce. Today I decided to create my own foundation powder. These are the ingredients:

Cornstarch or Arrowroot Powder
Cocoa powder
Bentonite Clay (optional)

Go in your pantry and find some cornstarch and cocoa powder. Mix the ingredients together until you have the right color powder for your skin tone. Store it in a small, clean container. You can also add Bentonite clay if you have it on hand. Bentonite clay is great because it rids the body of toxins. Cocoa powder is full of antioxidants which is also good for your skin. You can also add cinnamon to create a bronzer.

I have to say that I like my new foundation powder. It feels very light on my skin and I noticed that my skin was shine free for about five hours. The powder contains no chemicals and is actually good for your skin.

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Carrie Underwood Visits Nashville’s Music Row

From left: Christy, Carrie, Melody

From left: Christy, Carrie, Melody

Even if country music is not your cup of tea, this gorgeous singer will most likely set your heart racing.

Yes, we are talking about Carrie Underwood who was on Nashville’s Music Row last week to celebrate her #1 song “See you again.”

My daughters showed up at the #1 party (invited) to catch a glimpse of the fabulous country singer who looked more petite in person than on television (so I was told).

And you bet, she flashed the winning smile that won the hearts of Americans when she was voted as the winner of American Idol in 2005.

With her good looks and unquestionable singing capacity, it is not surprising that Carrie quickly shot to international fame after her win. A year ago I was lucky enough to see her on her “Blown Away” tour. And yes, I was blown away.

So we all know her as the cute blond babe with the mighty voice and megawatt smile. But off stage, behind that television persona, what is Carrie Underwood really like?

My daughters said she was “kinda cranky and so tiny.” Well, maybe it wasn’t her best day. And I guess the camera does add 10 pounds.

Nevertheless, we think Carrie and her music are awesome.

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Apple Orchard, Pie Kitchen & Country Store

On Sunday I had a wonderful time apple picking with my oldest daughter. She came home from college do to some laundry and enjoyed some home cooked meals (you know how college kids are).
We went to nearby Breeden’s Orchard in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. The orchard offers apples and fresh cider from September to October and peaches from July to August. It also has a cute country store with yummy jams, jellies, juices, and even knitted scarves and hats.

Upon arrival, the owner handed us a basket with some instructions, such as “… this row has the tart apples; this row has the smaller apples, only pick apples from the tree not off the ground, etc.” We had the best time picking, eating, and enjoying the fresh air and nature. We ended up with six pounds of apples in our basket and probably two pounds worth of apples in our stomachs.

The apples were delicious and I can’t wait to make an apple pie or apple strudel.

Sometimes it’s nice to get away from computers and smartphones and just enjoy the simple things in life. Picking apples is relaxing and fun. If you haven’t done it yet, find a farm or an orchard and pick some fruit straight from a tree.

It was a good day!

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Favorite Country Song of the Week

17 year-old Christy Schmidt penned her first song at the tender age of 10. Today, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter brings a youthful, edgy outlook to contemporary country music. Her song “Time to Dance” describes in such detail the way every teenage girl feels when she doesn’t get asked to the school dance. But even though this song was written by a teenager, it is very strong and can appeal to a broad audience. Young girls can hear what they can look forward to as teenagers; their moms can remember their own teenage years listening to this song.

The song opens with “Don’t you know that I like roses just as much as she does, but you don’t know that I’d be just fine with some hand-picked daisies.”

It continues with “… As she is walking down the stairs with her perfectly done hair I’ll be dancing in my bedroom in a dress you’ll never see me wear…”

The song ends with an unexpected twist “… Maybe next year I won’t be your second choice, I’ll probably be your third…”

Heartbroken girls will cry their eyes out while listening to this tune. Listening to Christy’s music is like reading her diary or perhaps reading every girl’s diary. It’s genuine, real and raw. Christy is a brilliant songwriter, who in my opinion is unstoppable.

Listen to this great song at http://www.reverbnation.com/christyschmidt

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Lemon-Sugar Face Scrub for Glowing Skin

This Lemon-Sugar Face Scrub “will change the life of your skin.” It’s the best facial scrub I’ve ever tried. This scrub is completely natural, costs next to nothing, and helps with age spots, sun spots, freckles, acne, blackheads and dull looking skin.

The science behind this technique is the result of two compounds in lemons. First, beta hydroxy acid (BHA) works to exfoliate your skin by sloughing off any dead cells.

Next, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) improves your skin by hydrating, preventing clogged pores and enhancing cell renewal through exfoliation. AHA’s help you look younger, increase the production of collagen, leaving you with a glowing and beautiful complexion.

The sugar, of course, provides the exfoliating texture that gently loosens and removes the grime and dead cells from the surface of your skin. Your skin will feel super soft.

• Lemons (or lemon juice)
• Sugar
• Cotton balls, clean washcloth, or just your fingers

• Mix lemon juice and sugar together
• Wet face with warm water to open pores
• Gently scrub face with lemon/sugar mixture
• Wash off with warm water

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Taylor Swift and Other Nashville Celebrities

If you’re reading my posts, you know that I’m still fairly new to Nashville. I actually live just outside of Nashville in a city called Hendersonville. Recently, I did some research because I wanted to know which celebrities live (or used to live) in the same area as I do. Here is a list of famous folks who actually live (d) just a couple of blocks from me.

Taylor Swift: She used to live here with her parents in a pretty house by the lake. Now she lives in a high-rise next to Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Hayden Panettiere, from the show “Nashville” lives in the same building as well.

Kelly Clarkson: She’s great. Once in a while people spot her at Target and Wal-Mart.
Gary Allan: He has a gorgeous house by the lake.

Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash: They used to live around the corner from us, but now they are buried in this city. Johnny Cash’s house burned down a few years ago and it’s still yellow-tagged. It’s a massive estate on the lake.

Brad Paisley: Used to live here, but moved to the south side of Nashville.

Unlike in Los Angeles, in Nashville, celebrities are not mobbed by the paparazzi. They can just lead normal lives; bring their kids to school, go shopping, or dining. In fact, Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman are often spotted at Whole Foods or the local mall, but people just let them go about their private lives.

For sure very different from Los Angeles or New York!

Image Credit:fanpop.com

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