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!!