Tuesday, December 25, 2007

For all of those who visit my blog, all my friends around the world, I wish you a Very Happy Christmas, a Wonderful and Special day!!
And I Thank you all for making this space a very special one for me, so dear and close to my heart!
Thanks and Happy Hollidays!!!

(PS: yes, I am alive, and I am coming back with new posts and recipes to share!!)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chocolate Soufflé

Although it is a nice day outside it is quite cold for us, so we opted to stay inside today. We called grandma and grandpa in Brazil, saw them on the computer through the camera and ended up having fun in our own way.
Part of our fun today was making and eating these Chocolate Soufflé Cakes. They were warm and delicious, perfect for the cold weather. And they were so light and airy that I love the way I felt satisfied with a sweet treat without feeling I had an entire cake for dessert. Plus it makes just enough for the three of us and we don't have tons of leftovers, which I like since I do love to cook and experiment with different recipes quite regularly.
We all loved and totally agreed that this is certainly going to be repeated during the winter.
Really yummy!
I have had this recipe marked to try since it appeared in the magazine, in April... now, why did I wait so long to make it?????

Note: I used less sugar in this recipe (thought it would be too sweet as written) and both the husband and Matheus agreed it was perfectly sweet. Since I am a 70% dark chocolate girl I still found this a little on the sweet side, but I know that if I made it less sweet they would not enjoy it as much.
Anyway, just wanted to suggest that as you make this recipe give the soufflé base a taste and from there see how much more sugar you would like added to the egg whites, just so that you can control the sweetness to your taste.

Individual Chocolate Soufflé Cakes
(Adapted from Cooking Light, April 2007)

Cooking spray
9 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
5 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa
4 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg white
2 teaspoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.
Coat 4 (6-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray; sprinkle each with 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar.
Combine 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, flour, cocoa, and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring until thickened and smooth. Spoon chocolate mixture into a medium bowl; cool 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla.
Place egg whites in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Add remaining 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat). Gently stir 1/4 of egg white mixture into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Spoon mixture into prepared dishes. Sharply tap dishes 2 or 3 times to level. Place dishes on a baking sheet; bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until puffy and set. Sprinkle each soufflé with 1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings.
(Recipe can be made to serve 2. Use 1 tablespoon flour and just half all other ingredients!!)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

At this time of the year we just cannot resist the many pumpkins we see around us. They are everywhere, decorating houses, in front of yards, grocery stores, and its many varieties just make the farmers market shine in an various tones of orange glow.
Every place you look a pumpkin pops out, and luckily we love this fruit a lot, so enjoying its flavors is definitely a pleasure for us!
We already made pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, and even a chicken in creamy sauce that I served inside a whole roasted pumpkin (very popular in Brazil, this dish is usually made with shrimp, but when you have chicken, it is chicken that you use!). But this year the star of the season for us were the Vegan Pumpkin Muffins, they were simply THE BEST! And yes, they do deserve the capital letters!
We liked it so much that I have made this recipe 4 times already, in little more than a month, and keep getting requests for it again.
The Husband declared it to be one of the best muffins yet, and Matheus just loved the pumpkin and chocolate in it. I loved the yummy pumpkin flavor, the texture, and the fact that it is completely whole grain.
Really, what is not to like about this one?! Plus it is vegan, which means there are no raw eggs and we can lick the bowl as much as we please - which Matheus and I love to do together! And this batter is goooood! :o)
I got this amazing recipe from the book "Vegan Lunch Box", which has been a wonderful source for me and Matheus to make creative and delicious lunches for him to take to school. The author also has a super nice website with the same name, vegan lunch box, that is absolutely worth checking out. (By the way, it is from her website that I got the idea for the cool "mummy calzone" I showed in the Halloween post bellow).
Bellow I am posting my adaptation for the recipe in the book. I reduced the sugar a bit (plenty sweet this way, 1 1/3 cups sugar was waaaay too much for us) and didn't add pecans as the recipe asked for.
Also, based on an idea I saw in the blog baking bites, we used chocolate covered raisins in place of the chocolate chips, it added a surprisingly "tchans" to the muffins and Matheus (raisin lover) enjoyed it a lot. I still do prefer chocolate chips, but made it with the raisins twice as the boys seemed to really like that.
If you find pumpkin + chocolate a weird combination (and some do) give it a try, you may be surprised by how yummy it is. Believe me, it is really good!
These muffins are truly worthy trying, they ARE delicious! It is amazing how moist and flavorful they are, and with all the nutrition in them... yummm, I might make them again this week!!

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins
(adapted from the book Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer Mccann)

1 cup pureed pumpkin (canned or home cooked)
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
2 TB ground flax seed
1 tsp. vanilla
1 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup vegan chocolate (or carob) chips

Preheat the oven to 350º. Spray a nonstick muffin tin well with nonstick spray, set aside.
Put pumpkin, water, canola oil, ground flax seed, and vanilla in a blender and process on high for at least one minute, until light in color and well-blended. Reserve.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, and cinnamon. Add the pumpkin mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon or large spatula until well-blended. Fold in the chocolate (or carob) chips.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a cake tested inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then lift each muffin from the tin and let cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!!
Have a healthy and safe day, full of Tricks and yummy Treats!!

And here is Matheus' halloween lunchbox: A "mummy calzone", plus cherry tomatoes and the last tiny slice of pumpkin pie that he made Sunday and saved for today!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

2 Years of Kitchenspace!

First it took me a while to find out that the real birthday of the blog had actually been last month. Then some more time to figure out something special to make for a proper celebration of my so beloved space.
As I looked for recipes with a mind full of ideas I just got a craving, but not for one food, no, for two! "Blink!", and the little light bulb over my head just instantly lit!
Of course, how could I better celebrate my 2 years of blogging if not with 2 of my favorite foods: chocolate and ice cream! (yes, because anything involving big celebrations must have chocolate, right?!!)
So there you have it, the perfect treat for my 2 year "blogversary": simple but delicious, yummy and easy, just as my kitchen has always been! Full of goodies that are fun and easy to make, but also delicious and good for you!
This blog has already brought me happiness and friendship that will certainly last for a lifetime. And today I celebrate with all my heart the 2 wonderful years we have spent together around my kitchen; wishing for many many years more! Pfffffff........ make a whish!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Caramel Popcorn!!

This was so good that we had to share!
Matheus had a craving for caramel popcorn this week and we decided to try making our own at home. It is always fun to make stove top popped corn, plus he could not wait for it to get ready - and let me tell you, he really enjoyed this caramel corn!
It was very simple to make and the result was so yummy, and fresh, we loved it!
First you pop a lot of popcorn, set it aside and make a very simple caramel sauce, pour the goodness on the fluffy popcorn and stir to coat evenly. The part that takes a little while is when you bake it for about 30 minutes, just to get the caramel to set and guarantee the crunchy crispness. And although we did have to wait for it to bake, it was not that long and they cooled real quickly, so we were able to enjoy it almost immediately after I pulled it out of the oven and had them all spread in another pan onto the counter.
The one thing I made different here was to use "brown rice syrup" in place of the corn syrup the recipe asked for - I don't keep corn syrup in my home as I don't like it and it gives my body a hard time whenever I eat something with it in it (believe me, my stomach really hates the stuff).
Great treat to make for the kids over the holidays, and I am pretty sure that both kids and adults are going to like this one!

Caramel Popcorn
(Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine)

cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light-colored corn syrup (I used brown rice syrup)
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 cups popped popcorn

Preheat oven to 250°.
Coat two baking sheet with cooking spray. (I lined mine with foil and them sprayed the foil - easy clean up!!!)
Combine sugar, corn syrup, and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook 4 minutes, stirring once. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Place popcorn in a large bowl; pour sugar mixture over popcorn in a steady stream, stirring to coat.
Spread popcorn mixture into prepared pans and bake at 250° for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. (mine were ready in 30 minutes, they started to smell like they were starting to burn so I took it out of the oven, and they were just perfect!)
Remove from oven; stir to break up any large clumps and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

18 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Carrot Cake, Brazilian Style!!

I was watching a cooking show this past Monday and the lady was making a carrot cake. Matheus was playing around when he saw and we started to talk:

Matheus: -Humm, carrot cake, it's been a while since you have made a carrot cake mommy.
Me: - Yes, you are right... we could make some, I like carrot cake.
Matheus: - Humm, good idea. Ohh, but I like the other one...
Me: - The other one, which one?
Matheus: - That one that you make with the chocolate on top!

But of course, that was the carrot cake I was suggesting we make!
We do like the American type cake, with the grated carrots, raisins and all (which I have made before and already posted here), but for me carrot cake will always be this one, yellowish, moist, with tender crumbs, with the glossy chocolate sauce on top. Just like my grandma made to us, just like my mom made to us, and just the way I now make for us.
This recipe was handed down to me by my grandmother Anna, which I loved with all my heart.
I would spend my vacation months at her house and she would bake simple but delicious cakes on the weekends afternoon when my aunts and uncles came to visit.
We would also bake together "bolachinhas de nata", which would probably translate to "cream cookies" (I guess...), and an Italian concoction called "crostole", which consisted from a simple dough that was rolled, cut into diamonds and then fried, finished with a sprkinle of sugar and... yummmm! These were delicious, and it has been years since I last had it, but hey, this is another post.

Today is Carrot Cake day!!
This is one of the simplest and easiest cakes you can possibly make, yet I guarantee you it is one of the tastiest cakes ever. I just absolutely love this cake, each bite brings me back to Brazil, to my mom's house, to my vacations with my grandmother....
You can't get better than this, and to prove how easy it is to make all I can say is: Matheus basically made this one!
All I did was to wash, peel, and chop the carrots. He measured and put everything else in the blender, poured (with some help) the batter into a bowl and stirred in the flour and baking powder. Cake was ready to go in the oven, and this part I helped too, of course.
I am not able to express how much I love this cake. Making it with my son is the most rewarding thing I could ever wish for, and let me tell you, a slice of warm carrot cake with the chocolate sauce still running around the plate is a very comforting food, perfect to lift me up after a week when I was not feeling my best.
We juts made this one today, and I had to come here and share. Matheus said it was the best carrot cake.... it was!

Brazilian Style Carrot Cake (Grandma Anna's recipe!)

4 carrots - raw, peeled and chopped into chunks
2 cups sugar (I use 1 1/4 cups)
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil (I use canola oil)
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

Grease and flour a bundt pan (or a 13x9, rectangular pan). Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
Put carrots, sugar, oil, and eggs in a blender and whiz until all pureed and smooth.
Pour batter into a bowl, add flour and baking powder and stir well with a wooden spoon until all incorporated (but don't over mix!).
Pour batter into prepared pan, bake at 350F for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Wait a few minutes for cake to cool (while you make the chocolate sauce) and invert cake into a plate. Pour hot chocolate sauce over the cake while it is still warm.
Serve cake warm or cool to room temperature (if you can wait all that long, that is!).

Chocolate glaze
2 tablespoons cocoa
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons milk

Put all ingredients into a saucepan, heat over medium-high heat and let boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, until it has thickened up. Pour hot chocolate sauce immediately over the warm cake.

Notes: I usually double the chocolate glaze recipe, especially when I make the cake on a rectangular pan (the surface area is larger and you really need more chocolate sauce to cover the top)

Here is the batter, ready to go into the pan. The picture didn't capture it well, but it had such a beautiful orange hue, it screamed Halloween to us!! hehehe!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ratatouille... yes, the one from the movie, Remy's dish!!

If you like me love all things related to the cooking world, then you must have seen the movie Ratatouille!!
I went to watch it soon as it appeared in the movie theater around here and couldn't have liked it more! Matheus and I liked it so much that we watched it a second time with my Mom, Sister, and Brother in Law when they were here visiting us.
The movie is fun and gives a great message about how we should follow our dream - if you truly believe in yourself you can get where you want - at the same time making us think of how we sometimes might judge people on the appearance instead of looking deep into how they are truly able to perform (Although I am not sure I would still eat the food after seeing the massive amount of rodents present in that kitchen, being them good cook or not!!)
Anyway, this post is here not to make a movie review, but to share the recipe that actually inspired the movie writers who gave life to Remy (which to me still is the creator of the dish! hehehe!)
Ratatouille is, as described in the movie, considered as "pheasant" food, meaning it is a very simple dish that uses up the extra vegetables that the farmers used to have during their harvest. It is basically a stew, a mix of yummy vegetables and herbs that creates its own sauce and deliciousness as it cooks.
No need to embellish such good food, right? Yes, but it is clear that the movie producers found a way to make it look just as good as it taste!
The dish in question is actually not even a "Ratatouille" per say, after being made the way it was, in reality it is a Confit Byaldi, created by the chef Thomas Keller. (The arrangement of sliced vegetables is what maked this particular dish a "Byaldi")
Well, whatever the name, and whoever created this.... it is Delicious!!!
Simply fabulous, full of flavors and definitely better than I can ever describe it here.
We loved the dish and polished of the whole thing among the three of us (ahem... I did have a couple extra helpings of what is considered polite to eat, but lets not get into the details, shall we?!!!!).
It is a little time consuming I have to say, as you need to do a bit of slicing and dicing to get all ingredients ready, plus there is the piperade that might be made first. But don't let the process scare you of making this, because it is truly a great dish! (some planning in advance and you will enjoy your time in the kitchen making this... or at least I did!)
The piperade is very good, and the vinaigrette... oh my, that was delicious all by itself, and I will certainly double this part next time I make it as I found the amount of the vinaigrette to be too little compared to the rest of the dish.
I did shop for my produce at the farmer's market and tried to find all vegetables of the same diameter in order to make the dish look pretty. It was worth it, but not completely necessary, as the flavors are definitely way better than it might look.
Well, after a huge post I leave here the recipe for those who would like to try. And if you are a fan of vegetables and simple but delicious food... then I am sure you will love this just as much as we did!!

Thomas Keller's Ratatouille
Serves 4

For piperade:

1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded and finely diced, juices reserved
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
1/2 bay leaf
Kosher salt

For vegetables:

1 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds
1 Japanese eggplant, (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
1 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make piperade:

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

Combine oil, garlic and onion in medium skillet and cook over low heat on stovetop until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt and discard herbs. Reserve 1 tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch ovenproof skillet.

To prepare vegetables:

Heat oven to 275 degrees. In center of skillet arrange 8 alternating slices of vegetables, 2 each of zucchini, eggplant, squash and tomatoes, over piperade, overlapping in a circle so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Continue alternating and overlapping vegetables in close spiral that lets slices mound slightly in center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.

Mix garlic, oil and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover skillet with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. If desired, reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.)

To make vinaigrette:

Combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

To serve:

Heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Cut in quarters and very carefully lift one quarter onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate.

And here goes a few pictures I took along the process...

Piperade in the bottom of the dish

Veggies arranged on dish, right before going into the oven...

And after it came out.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

And so you blink and there it is, 8 years have gone by... thankfully they were filled with lots of happy days!
Happy 8th Anniversary Fran!
Love you!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hi all!!

I am still here, yes! And I missed writing to this blog a whole lot, believe me.
Not that I haven't cooked or taken pictures lately, the thing was that Matheus started Kindergarten and things changed a bit.
Actually, for me the change was huge... he now stays in school for a long period and we lost our lunch time together (lunch still is the main meal at our house). And since he is very adventurous and loves my cooking I haven't had much motivation or inspiration to cook just for myself. It is pretty lonely while he is at school, and I do miss him a lot during the day.
The good thing is that he is pretty happy with school and comes home relatively early (2:30pm), so we still get a good part of the afternoon together to play, talk, snack and think about next day's lunch! :o)
Maybe it is supposed to be like this, as it comes a time when we need to "let them go" and face the world, but it is not easy, and I was certainly not prepared to be this soon...
All this, plus, I am looking for a job to get myself busy when Matheus is at school and it has not been easy to find something I truly like to do during the hours I am available. I got an opportunity which ended up not being a great one, and that sort of made me feel a little more frustrated.
But hey, life is here and now, and I will keep trying, in search of a job suited for myself. Eventually it will happen; meanwhile I need to cheer up and one of my favorite things to do is cooking, so here I go, into the kitchen again!!

I have many recipes I want to post, and there are some great ones that I have tried lately and really enjoyed. Today I am posting a very simple pasta recipe that I got from last month's Cooking Light magazine. It has one of Matheus and the Husband favorite ingredients, shrimp, and it was super fresh on a hot day!
The cooking is basically the pasta and the shrimp, which by the way was great, the little marinade with cirtus zest make them stand out and awesome just by themselves (I will definitely be making the shrimp like this again! And I think it would even be a good marinade to try on tofu... which I really like!).
Don't let the long list of ingredients shy you from making this, as most of it are basic staples you all must have around the house.
Fresh and tasty, a very nice dish for the last few hot summer days!
Ana (who promises to not abandon the blog again!!!)

Garden Shrimp Pasta
(Adapted from Cooking Light, August 2007)
Serves 6 ( I made half recipe)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 pounds medium peeled and deveined shrimp
8 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta
5 cups chopped seeded tomato (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil and next 6 ingredients (through shrimp) in a large bowl; toss well. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp mixture to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until done. Remove from heat; set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Place pasta in a large bowl; add tomato, basil, and mint.
Combine red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, sugar, and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) in a small bowl. Pour over pasta mixture, and toss to coat. Place about 1 3/4 cups pasta mixture on each of 6 plates. Top each serving with about 3 ounces shrimp mixture and 2 tablespoons cheese.

Oh and although not very inspired to cook for me, I have been having fun with Matheu's lunchbox! :o)

Tortilla Roll Ups (his favorite so far!)

Broccoli and Cheese Calzone
Mixed Crackers, cheese, fruits and veggies!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mango Sorbet

It is hot, around 100 degrees F most days, what do we do?? Eat ice cream, of course!!!
This week it's been nothing but water (lots of it!) fruit juices, popsicles and sorbet, more specifically my absolutely favorite: Mango Sorbet!!
Yum, yum, and yum! I don't have better words to describe this sorbet, yes, it is that good! Mango is a delightful fruit all by itself, it is sweet, it is creamy, aromatic. Perfect and delicious alone, freeze it and you get the creamiest and most deliciously natural fruit concoction!
I made my sorbet by simply pureeing lots of pieces mango in a blender until it got really creamy and no chunks remained. Then I added a squirt of lemon juice and a touch of simple syrup (recipe bellow), but just a little bit to make its natural sweetness shine even more after being frozen (as I find that the very cold temperature do tame a little of the sweetness of most of ice cream bases I make).
Depending on the fruit you use you may need to use more or less simple syrup, and I know that some mangoes in Brazil probably would not need any sweeteners at all.
I use the simple syrup here for the mere fact that is more stable to be frozen and even more than that because the sugar is already completely dissolved so I get the base sweetened without having sugar granules in my base.
After all blended and nicely smooth, I strain the fruit puree and just pour it into my ice cream machine. After 25 minutes it is ready and can be dished out as a soft serve, but I do prefer to put my ice cream in the freezer for a couple of hours to let it "ripen" there before consuming - the texture does improve with some time in the ice box!
Make it in the morning and by the afternoon you will be in heaven, again... YUM!!!!

Simple Syrup
Combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes, or until all the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture gets "syrupy"!

You can use it to make any flavor of sorbet, just puree the fruit you like and add simple syrup to taste. It can also be used (and works beautifully) to sweeten ice teas and lemonades, or any juice in general, as I mentioned before, the sugar is already dissolved, so you get your beverage sweetened right away, without worrying about sugar bits in the bottom of your jar/glass that may make the last portions of juice too sweet.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Nutella Ice Cream

Yes, another ice cream recipe, and there are actualy more to come...
And I promise this ones actually look and tastes a lot better than it appears in the picture (it melted a little too fast when we were eating it, but just because I wasn't patient enough to wait for it to firm up in the freezer before tasting it.... oops! Hard thing to do waiting for ice cream to harden...!)

Isn't summer the best season ever? The most delicious fresh fruits, produce that you can harvest at your own backyard, lots of farmers market opened around the country, what could be better than that? Well, besides all the fruit and veggie goodness, it is also Ice Cream season, Yay!!!
This is the time of the year when I get creative with both my fruits and creamy concoctions, and when my ice cream machine gets little to no rest.
This year I have actually entered into a sorbet mode and have been trying some recipes with many fruit variations. Most came out great, and both recipes and pictures will be posted here, soon.
But right now I wanted to follow up with a recipe that I adapted from the Peanut Butter Ice Cream I posted the other day. I tried making it with Nutella instead of PB and the result was a wonderful, delicious and creamy Nutella Ice Cream.
Who doesn't like Nutella?? Well, I don't.... I LOVE Nutella!!
It is one of the best creations ever, creamy chocolate and hazelnuts... makes my mouth water just to think of it! It is good with strawberries, warmed up over crepes and ice cream, and mixed with hot milk it makes an awesome hot chocolate, but better than all that is having Nutella in its simplest form, straight from the jar by big spoonfuls!
So, I got the so good Nutella and transformed it into ice cream... oh yum, it did turn out quite good!!
I am still trying to figure out the sugar ratio, as I thought it came out a little sweet both times I made it, but my sugar tolerance is usually lower than most people I know, and most of my family who tried really liked it as is.
Of course I used less condensed milk than the PB recipe, as Nutella is already sweetened, but it still was a little too sweet for me, plus, the first time I made I used a little more sweetened condensed milk than I should and its flavor sort of overpowered the Nutella itself. So I am considering either decreasing that, or increasing the Nutella amount next time, or maybe both.
Another thing I am considering is adding a bit of hazelnut liqueur next time I make it, as I would like to reinforce it in the end product. (Got stop by the liquor store! Ic, Ic!!)
All in all, it was still good when I made and both times there was not a bit left for seconds. So I am guessing it is safe to post it right now and I will come back with any updates as soon as I make it again!
Enjoy summer, and lots of ice cream!! Yummmmmm!!!

Ana's Nutela Ice Cream
1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Nutela (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
1/4 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk (add more or less to your taste)
1/2 cup cream

Beat the sugar and eggs in a bowl until very well mixed. Set aside.
Bring milk to a simmer in a saucepan over low heat, remove from stove and carefully add the milk to the eggs and sugar, beating constantly. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it thickens slightly. It doesn't take too long, and remember: don't let the mixture boil or eggs will scramble.
Remove from heat and strain the mixture into a bowl. Mix in the Nutela, condensed milk and the cream (taste and see if you would like more condensed milk at this point - I don't like things too sweet, so you might adjust the sweetness to your tastes).
Cover and let the custard base cool in the fridge overnight. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and churn accordingly to your machine's instruction.
Let ice cream harden in the freezer for a couple of hours before serving.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Another one from our backyard!

We are getting lots of these little cherry tomatoes from our plants these days and they are the best! Simple, sweet, and full of flavor. Soooo good!! Gotta love summer tomatoes!


Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Sister's Favorite!

Yes, I have been cooking, and baking, and having lots of fun too! My mom, sister and brother in law have been visiting us for the last 3 weeks and, although I have lots of recipes and pictures to share, I have used my time to enjoy every second of their stay here, as when we are happy times fly and when you realize it is time to say goodbye already.
They are leaving tomorrow, but I wanted to post an ice cream recipe that my sister requests every time she comes on the first day she lands feet in my house! (together with my "Esfihas", which we made yesterday and everybody enjoyed a lot!)
This one came from the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards, and was posted by Jewel. It is a delicious Peanut Butter Ice Cream she created to lighten up a recipe she liked and that became very popular among both the Bulletin Board and my family members!
Jewel's mentions using fat-free ingredients, but I prefer to use regular of everything (less chemicals in my opinion), and it always comes out perfect! Oh, and I also always use the peanut butter that you grind freshly at Natural grocery stores (simply ground roasted peanuts - again, as simple and pure as I can get).
You can add chocolate chips or even have crushed peanut butter cups mixed in (which we sometimes do to sort of mimic my Husband's previous favorite from B&J's - Yep, now he prefer this one!!!) - add them at the end of the churning process, during the last five minutes when the ice cream already holds its shape and will better incorporate the add ins.
This time I made it simple and everyone loved it! It is a fantastic recipe, simple and easy to make that everyone enjoy. Creamy, rich, and delicious! I am sure anyone who likes peanuts will love this one too, just as my sister does!
Yum!!!! Enjoy!

PS: Cinara, this one is for you too!!!

Jewel's Peanut Butter Ice Cream
(Adapted from Jewel's recipe posted at the CLBB)

1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (natural)
1 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup Half & Half
1 tsp Vanilla

In a medium bowl beat the sugar into the eggs until slightly thickened; set aside. Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan over low heat. Slowly beat the hot milk into the eggs and sugar. Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and place over very low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk until the custard thickens slightly. This process is very quick, do not let the mixture boil or the eggs will scramble. Remove from the heat, pour custard through a sieve into a clean bowl and beat in the peanut butter with a whisk. Then whisk in the condensed milk, half & half and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until cold or overnight. Freeze in ice cream machine according to manufacturer instructions.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Doesn't it look pretty?!!!

It sure does, and it couldn't be another way, as the recipe came from a kitchen filled with awesome goodies: Eliana's "Sabores da Lica"! See, I told you it was from a great place!
Every recipe I made from Eliana's came out delicious, and this one was no exception. This kind of savory pie is very popular in Brazil, and this one couldn't be more typical, as it is filled with hearts of palm, which I absolutely love!
Until a few months ago I wasn't able to find decent hearts of palm here where I live, the canned ones I found at the grocery store were just not as good as the one we have in Brazil. But now, thanks to Trader Joe's store (which I also love!), I can find yummy hearts of palm, which are both organic and from Brazil!
So I bought a couple of cans for my pantry and a few days latter I spotted this beauty at Eliana's blog, I just had to make it! Even more since the dough had another ingredient I adore: yogurt! Which, although you can't taste much, made the dough so moist and delicious that we could not stop commenting on it.
The pie was perfect, it came out beautiful and tasted even better than how it looked! The filling was creamy and delicious, and the crust was more than good. It was tender on the bottom and the very topping of my crisscross pattern was not just golden brown and delicious, but light and flaky as well.
A definite keeper in my kitchen, it was approved by all of us, including my Mom and my Sister that are here visiting these days! (And that explains why I have been a little absent from the blog lately... but it is a good reason, right?!) They saw my post in the blog and asked if I could make it sometime while they were here. Of course I already made it and we are now planning on making it again with a chicken filling. Ohhhh, I just can't wait!!
Thanks Eliana for this delicious treat!! (For the recipe in Portuguese, take a look here.)

Savory Hearts of Palm Pie with Yogurt Crust

Pastry dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick butter (150 g), room temperature
3/4 cups plain yogurt (180 g)
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (220 g) hearts of palm, chopped (Trader Joe's has a great organic one, from Brazil!!)
1/3 cup chopped green olives (more or less to your taste)
1/2 cup frozen peas
180 grams cream cheese (I used 6 of those Laughing Cow triangles)
1/2 chopped parsley
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the filling: heat olive oil in a large skillet, add onion, garlic and sautée for a few minutes until softened. Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute. Add the hearts of palm, peas, and olives. Taste, add salt and pepper as needed and et cook a couple minutes more. Add the cream cheese, the parsley and cook for another minute until all incorporated. Sprinkle the flour on the filling and stir until the filling is thick and creamy. Take off the heat, put filling in a big plate and let cool before using.

To make the dough: Put 2 cups of the flour, butter, yogurt, and salt in a bowl. Mix all together until it forms a smooth ball of dough. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour if necessary (I only needed 2 cups of flour both times I made the recipe...!), to make sure the dough is not too sticky.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for about 20 minutes.
Roll out half of dough into a circle between two sheets of plastic wrap. Cover the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (22 cm) pie pan with removable bottom. Add filling and spread it evenly.
Roll out remaining dough and cover the pie. Pinch the sides to it sticks together and doesn't open as it bake (you can also use egg whites as a glue to stick the two parts of dough together). Brush top with egg yolk and bake at 350 F for about 35 minutes, or until top is golden.

Note: for this pie I tried to make the pie as pretty as Eliana's, so I rolled out the second half of dough, cut into strips, and arranged them in a crisscross pattern. We really liked the result and I was proud with my pretty little pie!!
(This recipe was adapted from Eliana's post, which originally got the recipe from "Palmirinha Onofre").

Friday, July 06, 2007

From Our Backyard!

Yummy, sweet and plump blackberries, and one little yellow squash! But lots of squash blossoms and tons of Basil!!! I just love basil, it has the best flavor and wonderful smell!!
By the way, if anyone has great basil (besides pesto of course!) recipes I would be happy to test them here in my kitchen!
I am glad Matheus also loves my "green chicken" (chicken breast marinated in basil sauce) and hasn't gotten tired of it yet!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kitchen Space in the Top 5!!!!

I was totally thrilled to see my name and my dear blog being mentioned by Rita Lobo at her own Blog! Rita Lobo is a super nice Lady who wrote some cookbooks and has a culinary website called "Panelinha", which is full of wonderful recipes and pictures!
Both blog and website are in Portuguese, so I am sorry to my English reading friends... but do take a look, and if any recipe strikes your fancy just let me know and I will be more than happy to translate it for you!
I love Rita's way of writing and relating her culinary tastes and adventures to passages in her life. Reading her blog is both pleasant and informative, plus to me reading her talk about her memories just makes me think of my relationships and the way my family influenced me and my cooking style.
I wrote her an e-mail the other day just to say how much I appreciated her blog and wow, I was very surprised to see me, myself, "euzinha", being mentioned on the blog, and on the TOP 5!!
Did I say it was the weekend's top 5???!!!!
Thanks Rita, once more, for your nice blog, for your kindness and for mentioning my kitchen in your awesome space!
For those who like me love recipes and photos (all of Panelinha's recipes are tested and have pictures on them!), run to the website and take a look around, it is really worth it! And, of course, stop by Rita's Blog to see "me" and the other 4 who made to her weekend's rank!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Grilled Eggplant Stacks

We just had this for lunch and I had to run and post the recipe here. This dish was extremely flavorful, really good, truly delicious!!!
I don't think I have enough words to express how much I loved this one! I already liked all the components by themselves (c' mom, grilled veggies are the best, aren't they?!!!), so there was no way we would not enjoy this one. Sooooo yummy!
It is not difficult to put together and it has just the right ingredients to make an awesome and delightful summer dish.
It takes a little prep time to prepare the ingredients and grill them, but that's all you need to do. The rest is assembling and enjoying!
The stars of this dish for me was first of all the herbbed goat cheese, and then the balsamic-wine syrupy reduction. The cheese made it taste even fresher and it was so delicious on its own, I measured the 2 ounces asked in the recipe and then threw a little more in there just so I could have a tad extra, and also because I love goat cheese and I wanted a good portion of it in my "stack"!
The balsamic reduction was amazingly good. So rich, so syrupy, it made me feel like I was a very good chef, really, it tasted "chic"!
This could be easily be served as part of a vegetarian meal, as I actually had mine with tofu and brown rice, while the boys opted for red meat.
Making dishes like this makes me happier than ever, and it makes me love cooking more and more; because I know it is really hard to find such tasty food around. It would certainly cost me a fortune and no one could ever guarantee it would be this fresh.
This is why I love cooking the most. Treating my family with healthy and delicious food and seeing their happy faces is much more than I could ever ask for!

Grilled Eggplant Stacks
(From Cooking Light Magazine, July 2007)

1 (1-pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 small zucchini (about 4 ounces)
1 small yellow squash (about 4 ounces)
1 large red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise and seeded
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

Place eggplant slices in a colander. Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt; toss well. Let stand 10 minutes. Rinse slices thoroughly; dry with paper towels.
Combine vinegar, wine, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 8 minutes).
Prepare grill.
Trim ends from the zucchini and yellow squash; slice each lengthwise into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices. Flatten pepper pieces with hand. Brush eggplant, zucchini, squash, and pepper pieces with oil; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Place pepper pieces, skin side down, eggplant, zucchini, and squash on a grill rack; grill 8 minutes or until tender, turning once.
Combine cheese, basil, and oregano.
To assemble stack, place 1 eggplant slice on a plate; top with one-fourth of cheese mixture. Lay one strip of yellow squash and one strip of zucchini side by side. Drizzle with 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic mixture. Top with one pepper piece. Top with one eggplant slice and drizzle with 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic mixture. Repeat procedure three times with remaining eggplant, cheese, squash, zucchini, peppers, and balsamic mixture. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Those leeks were sooooo good....!!

Every time I cook with leeks I wonder why I don't use it more. It is so flavorful, so delicious... I just wish it was a little less expensive though.
This recipe is ultra simple to put together and results in a very delicate and tasty dish. I got it from the book "Everyday Food: Great Food Fast", which I borrowed from the library and am seriously considering getting a copy for me, the recipes are easy to make and each of them comes with a nice picture, and I loooove cookbook with pictures!
This recipe turned out just as the picture, the only difference being I used Halibut instead of Cod (as the recipe asked for), as I just cannot stand cod in any form (fresh, salted, cured, etc).
The fish was moist and yummy, but the leeks were the very best part!! So good, next time I think will make just roasted leeks with tomatoes!! :o)
This dish was pretty to look at and had a "clean" taste, plus the leeks and tomatoes made a great combination with the white fish.
Feel free to sub your favorite fish in this recipe, I bet that for those who like it the cod would be good too.

Halibut with Leeks and Tomatoes
(Adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast - From The Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living)

2 leeks, thinly sliced, rinsed and patted dry
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
4 halibut fillets

Preheat oven to 375F. In a baking dish mix together the leeks, lemon zest and juice, oil, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with foil and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove dish from oven, add tomatoes and toss to combine. Season fish fillets with salt and pepper and place them on top of the vegetables. Cover the dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more.
Server 4.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Having Fun with Jell-o!!

As soon as I read Agdah's post about this gelatin idea I just let go a "Wow, this is so cool"!!! My excitement called Matheus' attention and as he saw the picture he was just as thrilled as I was "Cool, can you make it for us Mommy"??
Of course!!! In fact, I was already thinking about the jell-o flavors I might have had in my pantry at that time. And as soon as we got the colors we wanted I settled myself to get it done.
There are no tricks or level of difficulty for this dessert, and the end result is so cool! The colors, the rainbow effect, just make you smile by looking at it!
The method is simple, all you need to know is to boil water and stir in the jell-o! The rest is just a matter of waiting for the layers to set before you add the next one. As Agdah's said, it is a good way to exercise your patience!
Dissolve the jell-o in a little less water than asked in the box (I used 300ml for each package). Pour 1/2 of the jell-o in the pan, and to the rest of the jell-o add a tablespoons each of coconut milk and condensed milk. Wait until the first layer is set and then carefully add (spooning it, if needed) the next "milky" layer. Repeat for the following colors!
I mixed some coconut milk with condensed milk (don't overdo this one as the jell-o is already sweet) in a bowl and added this mixture to the jell-o flavors as I made them.
Simple, easy but tons of FUN!
We all liked it, my son LOVED this gelatin, and seeing the big smile in his face as he ate amazed his rainbow layers compensated each and every minute it took me to make it!
Thanks Agda for this cool treat, it really brightened our day!

And here is a slice, it does look COOL, doesn't it?!!!!
(Yes, I am a "grown-up-child"!!)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Stuffed Patty-pan Squash

The week was filled with dishes made with the fresh produce I bought on my last visit to the Farmer's market.
We had okra, yellow zucchini carpaccio, tomato salads, fresh peas, and fruits, lots of yummy blueberries!! Fresh blueberries are just the best!
Today I used the patty-pan squash. Just made it simple and the end result was delicious, I really liked it!
No actual recipe, but here is how I made it: hollow the squashes and reserve the pulp. Put hollowed patty-pans on a baking sheet, season with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast them in the oven (400F) until they are done and the bottoms are caramelizes.
Meanwhile, chop up the pulp from the squash. In a skillet sauté some garlic and onions in olive oil. Add the squash pulp, cook for a couple minutes, then add one or two chopped tomatoes (I used a big one), season everything with salt and pepper and cook until the veggies are tender. Add some fresh chopped parsley and basil (from the backyard!!!) and stir.
Remove squash from oven, fill the cavities with the cooked veggies and top with a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. A couple more minutes under the broiler and you have a lovely side dish for your meal!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pasta with Peas and Ham

A very simple and easy dish to make when the pasta crave hits and you don't want to spend much time around the stove on a hot spring day!
I made it with spaghetti but I believe it would be even better with a shorter type of pasta, such as penne or farfalle; the sauce was more on the liquid side and it was hard to get the peas together with the long pasta strands. A shorter pasta and maybe even a spoon would help a lot!
However it was really taste and yummy, I made half recipe and there were no leftovers around!

Creamy Fettuccine with Peas and Ham
(Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, June 2003)

1 package fresh fettuccine (9 ounces)
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup frozen green peas
2/3 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded Parmesan cheese
Black pepper to taste
1 cup (4 ounces) ham, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips

Cook pasta, drain. Meanwhile melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add peas, half-and-half, cheese, and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently (do not boil). Stir in pasta and ham.
Serves 4

Friday, June 08, 2007

A trip to the Farmer's Market, what's not to like?!?!?!?!!!!!!!!!
Friday Funny...

"Be very quiet , Jeffy. Grandma's tea has to sleep for three minutes"

(From yesterday's Cartoon section of the local paper, The News & Observer)

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Baby Shower!!

And no, before you ask, it was not for me! It was just a little Baby Shower breakfast that I had today for my friend Kennon to celebrate her 4th little one!
I just wanted to share here with you the cake I made, as Me and all my friends agreed came out really cute!
It was really fun to make and I am seriously thinking about venturing myself into the cake decorating area, as I am truly enjoying this cake-making thing! (take a peek at the other one I made for my son's birthday a couple months ago - click here)
For this one I used a very simple recipe for a pound cake and filled with the same butter cream used to ice the outsides before applying the fondant.
I am posting the recipe as I think it is a super versatile one! I love this cake just by itself, but you can make it your own way by changing the extract or by adding fruits or even chocolate chips to the batter.
Simple but really yummy!!
Kennon, once again, congratulations on the new baby! I loved our gathering today and am super glad you liked it all too!!

Sour Cream Pound Cake
(Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, April 1997)

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
4 eggs (or 7 egg whites)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°.
Beat sugar and butter in a mixer until well-blended. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine sour cream and baking soda, set aside. Combine flour and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Pour batter into a 10-inch greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 325° for about 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting. Let cool and serve.

And here a picture of a slice! The baby seems to like it too!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Italian Panzanella!!!

We just had it for lunch today and I had to come here and post it to share!
I saw the recipe at Fernanda's blog and it looked so pretty and refreshing that I had to try.
It's been nice and hot here these past few days, just as we like it, so fresh and simple meals are all we need to cope with the heat.
This salad has the bonus of being made in advance and enough protein from beans and cheese that enable you to have it as a one course meal.
And I have to say that this was one of the best vegetarian salad meals I have ever had!!!!
Really good and yummy, I loooooved the flavor, which although very simple were tasty enough to keep me going for more.
I made half recipe in the morning and had with Matheus for lunch, we polished off the entire thing, so good!
The crusty bread really absorbed the flavors and was Matheus' favorite part. I just loved white beans and those creamy white pearl together with the tomatoes were my favorite by far!
My only change was to use thinly sliced zucchini instead of the cucumbers and it was also great this way! (I do prefer zucchini and it was what I had on hand).
For those who don't like the raw onion sharp flavors I leave here a tip, which I use often as Matheus is not the biggest fan of the onion in the raw: after slicing the onions put them in a small container filled with cold water and a pinch of sugar, leave there while you prepare your dish - the onions will loose the sharp/spicy bite and get more of a mellow flavor, revealing some of its natural sweetness.
I know more people are going to like this one, it is perfect for the summer days when we don't even want to think about turning on the stove, and it will certainly be made over and over around here for the months to come!!

Italian Panzanella

For the recipe in English click here!

For the recipe in Portuguese, and a quick look at Fernanda's awesome blog, click here!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Creamed Corn

Oh, I love corn, sweet, fresh summer corn.... oh yum!
It is not summer yet, but the delicious yellow kernels are already starting to show up at the stores. There is nothing like summer corn, the kernels are sweet and plump, you barely need to do anything to it at all as they are so tender and perfect by themselves. My favorite way to eat corn is by far on the cob with butter and salt... makes my mouth water just to think about it.
I brought home a couple ears and made a creamed corn recipe for lunch today. I still prefer my corn with simply salt and lots of butter, but this was sort of light and also very yummy and tasty; corn and basil together, how can you go wrong, right?! (I used 2 ears of corn and ate almost it all by myself!)

Judy's Creamed Corn
(Adapted from Sara Foster's Casual Cooking by Sara Foster)

Over medium heat, in a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and add the kernels scraped from 6 ears of corn. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, until it softens slightly.
In a small bowl stir 2 tablespoons cornstarch into 1/2 cup water. Add this slurry mixture to the skillet with the corn, plus another 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the corn for about 3 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and a bit of salt and pepper if needed. turn of heat, add 3 fresh basil leaves thinly sliced, stir and serve!
(Should feed from 4 to 6 people)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


My husband really likes pistachio nuts, especially mixed in one of his favorite treats: pistachio ice cream. So when I saw this recipe in the April's issue of Cooking Light I immediately thought of him. Recipe was marked to try last month, but I only got to it this week. Oh boy, I keep joking, but my "to try" recipe list really seems endless!! :o)
It was a good thing I tried the recipe as the Husband seems to enjoy them a lot, plus these portable breakfast treats pack a good deal of nutrition with nuts, whole grains and flaxseeds added to it.
The muffins have a nice crumb and were very moist. I really liked how they tasted too; It is quite a simple flavor, but with a great nuttiness from the whole wheat flour and flax, both which I enjoy.
I added a few chopped pistachios to the batter, opposing what the recipe stated to just put them on top. Hey, it is a pistachio muffin, so I thought I might have some nuts inside too, right?!
We drizzled the ones we had for breakfast with yummy honey and both my husband and Matheus liked the muffins with the sticky top! I do prefer my muffins without the honey, but when they are warm the honey certainly add something more to them.
I froze the leftovers without honey so we could enjoy them for breakfast throughout the week (no way I would freeze sticky mess!). A little change of pace on the strawberry muffins we were having lately and it seems it was well accepted by all.
As I said, I really liked the batter and plan on trying it with other nuts and flavors added to it. Will sure report back when I do!

Honey and Toasted Pistachio Muffins
(Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, April 2007)

cup whole wheat flour
cup all-purpose flour
cup flaxseed meal
1 1/4
teaspoons baking soda
teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
cup packed brown sugar
tablespoons canola oil
large eggs, lightly beaten
cup golden raisins (I omitted them, didn't have the golden ones at home...)
3 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios
tablespoons honey (I didn't measure it, just drizzled on top of the ones we were eating!!!)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine flours, flaxmeal, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Make a well in center of mixture. Mix together buttermilk, sugar, canola oil, and eggs; add to flour mixture and stir just until moist. Stir in golden raisins. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with pistachios and bake for 15 minutes. Remove muffins from pans and let cool on a wire rack. Drizzle honey over tops of the muffins.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cinnamon Deliciousness!

As he snacked on some dried fruit, Matheus asked if I could make some type of raisin bread for him. He really like raisins ans asks for it in all kids of muffins I make, his favorite being the banana bran ones.
Of course I could make a raisin bread, and there I go, the great mommy who loves to cook and bake in search of a raisin bread for my happy boy! And for this search I knew where I would easily find something that I would not only want to make but also to eat: my new Whole Grain Baking book by King Arthur.
And so, I found not a raisin bread per se, but one where the wrinkly dried fruits could be easily incorporated. And not that I want to brag about it, but my idea resulted in a very tasty bread!
I ended up making the Cinnamon Swirl Oatmeal Toasting Bread, which was actually a variation for another recipe called Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Bread.
The variation with cinnamon turned up delicious, really good! The cinnamon-y swirl parts where divine, and the bread itself was so good that I am already planning on making it again, this time in its original form.
The bread came out really light in texture, not dense at all, which made me really happy, as I had read comments on this particular recipe about it being a little dense; but ours was perfect.
Another comment on this was that the bread was too sweet due to the honey in the dough, so in order to avoid that I used 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in place of the 1/4 cup of honey called for in the recipe, reducing the sugar and not letting the honey take over the desired cinnamon-raisin flavor. (The honey I have here is from my uncle's farm in Brazil, super natural and extremely good, whoever it is strong and do overpower other flavors, so this time I opted to left it out).
The recipe didn't call for it, but I sprinkled some raisins after spreading the cinnamon filling over the rolled out dough, since the initial intention was actually to make a raisin bread.
In the end, Matheus looooved the bread, proclaming it the best cinnamon raisin bread! He was not the only one who was found of the loaf and it ended up not lasting long, which again, makes me happy and allow myself to more adventures in bread baking in the very near future!
Here I post the recipe as I made, hope you all like and enjoy it too!

Cinnamon Swirl Oatmeal Bread - with raisins!
(Adapted from the Whole Grain Baking book by King Arthur)

1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (use less or omit entirely if using salted butter)
1/4 cup honey (I used 2 tablespoons brown sugar)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup dry milk
2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 egg white
2/3 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins (more or less as desired - can also be omitted)

Place boiling water, oats, butter, salt and honey in a bowl, stir and let cool to lukewarm.
Mix remaining ingredients with oat mixture and knead (using hand, or machine) until you get a soft smooth dough. Place dough in a clean greased bowl, cover and let it double in size (about one hour).
Deflate dough, transfer it to a work surface and roll it into a 8x24-inch rectangle (I didn't even measure, just made a rectangle the size I thought would fit my loaf pan!!).
Combine in a small bowl the ingredients for the filling, except the raisins.
Spread the filling over the rolled dough, then sprinkle the raisins on top. Roll the dough and as you go gently tuck in the edges to seal the filling. Seal the seam, and smooth the dough into a 9-inch log. Place it in a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan.
Cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise one more time, until the dough has risen about 1-inch over the rim of the loaf pan.
Bake the bread at 350F for about 50 minutes, until golden brown or a thermometer inserted in the center registers 190F. (I actually measured mine and it was right on, 190F!!!!).
Cool bread completely before slicing.

And here a picture of the finished loaf, before slicing. It looked nice, but I like the sliced one with the cinnamon swirls a whole lot better!!