Monday, January 17, 2011

Layering Up

This week's theme for Eat.Live.Be. For a Better 2011 is "Baby It's Cold Outside." You know the song right? I mean, I have officially stopped listening to Christmas music until November 25, 2011, but I did have several versions on my playlist. But I knew the song LONG before it became oh so popular to play at Christmas time. In fact, when I was first introduced to the song, it didn't seem to be much about Christmas at all.

You see, for many many many many years (basically until sometime in college) my all time favorite movie was "Neptune's Daughter" starring Ricardo Montalbain and Esther Williams. It's one of those fabulous movies where the boy loves the girl, and the girl only goes out with him to promote her bathing suit company. And then, when she tries to leave, he sings her a very sweet song about wanting her to stay because "Baby It's Cold Outside." Except, this is beautiful sunny California, so it's less about the actual coldness outside, and more about him just wanting her to stay. I tried to find a clip, but I couldn't find it. Instead, I offer you the scene that comes directly after. In it, Betty Garrett is trying equally hard to get her beau, Red Skelton, who she believes to be a South American Polo Player (one of the rare red headed South American Polo Players) to stay.

The point of this is - sometimes "when it's cold outside" doesn't actually refer to it being cold outside. Sometimes, "cold outside" is a state of mind. It's anything out there that keeps you from doing what you should be doing. So how do I stay motivated when it's "cold outside"?

Not directly related to the Eat.Live.Be. challenge, but I need motivation every morning when I get up. First of all, because it actually is cold outside. Second of all, it's dark outside. And third of all, no one wants to get up in the morning and head out for a run. So what gets me out of bed?

Well there's Thatdog. I'm in charge of morning walk duty. Which means, whether I want to or not, I have to get up and take him outside. So I might as well get a run in, right?

Then of course there's the help I got from my family this holiday season. Because honestly, it HAS been cold outside! For weeks I was running in 30 degree weather. Sure it was 35/37 degrees, but it was still under 40. And I didn't have the right running apparel. Which really does make you not want to get outside. Because it's uncomfortable to be cold. But the answer is - layers! Thatmom got me an underarm zip up hoodie to wear over my running clothes and a beanie since we lose most of our heat through our head. UDubb got me a Nike Therma-fit shirt with thumb holes and I swear the thing adds about 20 degrees to the outside temperature. She also got me running tights. And Thatboy added some gloves to the mix. My layers of loved ones, warming me with layers.

Next week's topic is What's Your Biggest Challenge - the obstacle between you and your goal and how you're tackling it.

And here are a list of the other bloggers participating:

The third motivating factor definitely has to be the age old saying "I run more, so I can eat more." Because I feel so much less guilty about eating layers of pastry over layers of cream when I've put in a good long run. I'm not advocating trying to eat all the calories you spent a good time burning, but it makes me not want to beat myself up about indulging every now and again. Because layers aren't JUST for clothing.

Remember when I told you I'd give you a recipe for puff pastry? Well here it is. See, after I finished making those patty shells, I had puff pastry left over. So I did what any good entrepreneur does. I made those lemons into lemonade! In this case, that means turning that puff pastry into Napoleons. Decadent, delightful, Napoleons. And now you can too!

For the pastry: 2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 lb butter
1/2 tsp salt

For the filling: 1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla

For the topping:
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 square of semi-sweet chocolate

1. Make the pastry: Mix 1 3/4 cups of flour, 4 Tbsp butter, salt, and 1/2 cup water at medium speed for 4 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in saran wrap, and refrigerate 15 minutes.
2. Beat the remaining butter and flour until they are smooth. Refrigerate until the 15 minutes is up for the dough and remove them both from the fridge.
3. Roll the dough into a 12 inch circle. Pat the butter into a 4 inch square in the center of the dough and fold the dough over the butter to make a square package.
4. Roll out the dough into a rectangle 6-8 inches wide and 14-18 inches long. Fold the dough into thirds like an envelope.
5. With the narrow end of the envelope facing you, repeat step 4. Let the dough chill in the refrigerator 45 minutes.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5.
7. Repeat step 4 and 5, but this time refrigerate the dough for 1 hour. (So at this point you have rolled the dough out 6 times and refrigerated it for 2 1/2 hours)
8. Divide the puff pastry dough in half, returning one half to the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 425. Roll out the first half of the dough to 1/8 thick in a rectangle. Place the dough on a cookie sheet and prick with a fork. Bake 20-25 minutes and cool on a rack.
9. Roll and bake the other half of the dough in the same fashion.

10. Make the filling: Heat the milk until very hot but not boiling.
11. Mix the sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl and stir in the hot milk. Beat until well blended.
12. Pour this entire mixture back into the pan and continue to stir vigorously over low heat for 4-5 minutes.
13. Add the egg yolks and cook for a few more minutes. Let cool and then add the vanilla.

14. Make the topping: Put 3 Tbsp of hot water in a small bowl and beat in the confectioner's sugar until the frosting is thick enough to spread. Continue to beat for several minutes until very creamy.
15. Melt the chocolate square.

16. Combine: Carefully cut each pastry rectangle into three long strips. Slice each strip in half lengthwise.
17. Spread three of the strips with the cream filling.
18. Make two stacks of strips, two strips high, with cream filling between each layer and an unfrosted strip on top.
19. Frost the top strip with the topping and drizzle the melted chocolate portion over the top.


  1. How did your half go?!?!?

    And yes, having the right running apparel is definitely KEY. I don't know what I would do without my underarmour shirts. Probably freeze.

    Mmm layered napoleons. I can't believe you made these from scratch. i"m impressed.

  2. I am definitely impressed by Napoleons and your lifestyle goals. We all could stand some new lifestyle choices I am sure.

  3. Ooh Napoleons! Dang you're ambitious! And they look so perfect. You're amazing, Kate.

  4. I have never ventured -or even thought about venturing - to make anything so beautiful and complicated. kudos to you.