Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cinnamon Cookies... Hummmm!

I made a few different batches of cookies (and granola - but more of that on a later post) this month to give out to friends as yummy gifts and after the Butter Pecan Cookies (our very favorite cookie lately - and some of my friend's too, I was asked twice for the recipe on those!), these Snickerdoodles were the second best.
Matheus is a cinnamon fan (he loves cinnamon rolls!) and really liked these, he declared one of the best cookies we have made!
These are super simple cookies and what I liked the most about them was that they had a perfect balance of a crispy edge and chewy center, and I like chewy cookies. They had cinnamon flavor throughout without being overpowering and were on the sweet side (at least for me) due to the sugar coating, but were not extremely sweet that you would not be able to eat a couple in a row.
The cookie dough comes together quickly and the only part that takes a little longer is the rolling and coating in cinnamon sugar process, but still they are easy and simple to make.
One thing to note is to make sure to leave a good space between the dough balls because these cookies do spread a bit while baking. Also, let them cool a couple of minutes before removing from the baking sheet after baking as they are quite soft right out of the oven.
These are the kind of cookies to make on a rainy afternoon when you are at home without much to do. To me they felt like more comforting-type cookies, a little treat to satisfy an occasional sweet tooth.
If you are a cookie person (which to be true I am not...) make sure to give these a try, I am sure they will not disappoint!

(Adapted from Cooking Light, September 2007)

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cream granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg. Add flour, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt to the bowl and beat just until combined. Shape dough into balls.

Mix 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon in a small dish. Roll balls in sugar mixture, and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake for about 8 minutes or until tops crack. Cool on pans 1 minute. Remove from pans; cool on a wire rack.

The yield on these will depend on the size you roll the cookie dough, but you will certainly get at least 20 out of a single batch.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Winter Break!

Yay! I am so happy it is break time at work, at school, it's Christmas time, the New Year's is right around the corner, and now I have some time to rest and post all the recipes I have been collecting this past month.
Man I miss posting here, really, from the bottom of my heart, I truly do miss my blog. But this past month was craziness at its best at work and I did not have much free time to come here and share my recipes as I would like.
I care too much about this space and coming here to simply leave a recipe was not an option to me. Posting is something I really like to do and writing a bit does make me feel like I am connecting to my blog.
So here I am, back with time to spare and recipes to share, because I don't want to abandon any longer this space I love so much!
Thanks all for coming here and checking out the blog, and most of all for making this space so special to me!
Love you all!

Ps: tomorrow I will be back with some cookies to share! (and yes, I know you are all probably kinda of sick of making and receiving cookies, but there is always Christmas to come and cookie recipes are welcome, right?!)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Happy Halloween!!

Hope you all had lots of fun! We had spiderweb pizzas for dinner before trick or treating and came back home with lots of candy and smiles to keep us happy for at least a week! :-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Butter Pecan Cookies!

I made these cookies last week and they just disappeared. It was definitely the most popular cookie with my husband, son, and coworkers I have made so far!
My husband kept commenting on how he liked the cookies and after taking some to work when I came back home there were no cookies left for me to even take a picture, nonetheless to eat. So... of course I had to make it again!
It is easy to see why these cookies were so welcomed by everyone. You get sweet and buttery and nutty all in one cookie, a truly delicious cookie, good for giving out to friends!
These are buttery but without being too rich/strong on the butter department, does this even make sense?? I guess some would find a similar aspect to shortbread cookies (which I am not too fond of) but I have to say that I like these a lot more.
The nutty flavor from the roasted pecans is just a great complement to the sweet butter cookie, really, one of the best cookies I have made.
Even its smell is deliciously inviting, plus they came out perfect both times (which is not the rule when it comes to cookies for me, I am not a good cookie baker I have to admit) and I still can't believe how so many people loved them!
I came across these cookies at Elise's blog when looking for a recipe to help me use up a bag full of tiny pieces of roasted pecans. Click here to see her post and pictures, plus if you haven't seen it yet check out the blog, she has some good stuff in there!
Here I post some step by step pictures that I took as I made them. They are the easiest cookies ever to make and the end result is just amazingly good, believe me, you gotta try these ones!!

Since I founf these to be just perfect to have with a cup of tea while chatting with your girl friends I decided to submit this recipe to Cris' October event "Cha da Tarde", so at the end of the post I will have the recipe translated to Portuguese to those who would like to try it too!

Butter Pecan Cookies
(Adapted from Elise's blog Simply Recipes)

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar, plus about two tablespoons more for coating the cookies
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt (if you use salted butter omit the salt in the recipe)
1 cup all-purpose flour

Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Toast the pecans in the oven for about 4 to 6 minutes. Take a look around 3 to 4 minutes if they are already chooped, up to 6 if they are still whole. Let cool and if whole finely chop them before adding to the recipe.
Using a stand mixer cream the butter for a minute, then add the sugar, salt, and vanilla and cream together for a couple minutes more. Add flour and beat just until everything is incorporated. Fold in pecans with a spoon or spatula.
Shape dough into balls, roll them in sugar and place on a baking sheet (I lined mine with foil but since it is a butter cookie there isn't a real need for this). With the bottom of a cup flatten the balls slightly just so you get a nice round but still substantially thick cookie.
Bake at 350F for about 12 t 15 minutes, depending on how big your cookies are.
I got 18 cookies from my batch and they took 12 minutes to bake. You don't want them to get too much color, just a lightly golden color around and at bottom of the cookies.
Let cool and be ready for the compliments when you serve these!

Here is how big my pecan pieces were...

Roll balls of dough into sugar...

Placed onto baking sheet...

Flatten with the bottom of a cup (I used a measuring cup for these!) and into the oven they go!

Biscoitos Amanteigados com Noz Pecã

3/4 xicara de pecãs picadinhas
1 tablete de manteiga em temperatura ambiente (1/2 xicara)
1/3 xicara de açúcar, mais 2 colheres de sopa para envolver os cookies
1 colher (chá) de extrato de baunilha
1 pitadinha de sal (caso use manteiga ja salgada omita o sal da receita)
1 xícara de farinha de trigo

Pre-aqueça o forno a 180C.
Toste as nozes no forno em uma assadeira por 4 a 6 minutos. De uma olhada em 3 a 4 minutos se suas pecãs ja estiverem picadas. Se estiverem inteiras fique de olho a partir de 5 minutos. Deixe esfriar e reserve p/ usar na receita. Caso as nozes estejam inteiras pique as antes de utilizá-las.
Na batedeira bata a manteiga ate ficar macia, 1 minuto. Junte o açúcar, o sal e a baunilha e bata novamente por uns 2 minutos. Adicione a farinha e bata somente ate incorporar. Com uma colher de pau ou espátula incorpore as nozes à massa.
Modele a massa em bolinhas, passe-as no açúcar e coloque-as em uma assadeira (eu forrei a minha com papel alumínio mas como os biscoitos contém manteiga nao é extremamente necessario, eles nao grudam muito).
Com o fundo de um copo, gentilmente amasse os cookies somente para que nao fiquem arredondados, mas nao deixe-os muito finos.
Asse a 180C por 12 a 15 minutos, dependendo do tamanho dos seus cookies.
Eu consegui 18 cookies com a receita e os meus levaram 12 minutos para assar.
Nao deixe que assem demais, o que voce quer aqui eh um leve dourado na parte de baixo dos cookies, assim eles ficaram crocantes na borda e amanteigados no meio.
Deixe esfriar, sirva e se prepare para os elogios pois esses cookies sao um sucesso!!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Popcorn Disaster...!

Anyone who cooks on a regular basis know how many times we end up trying a recipe or a (sometimes not so) brilliant idea and the results are way less than what we expected it would be.
Well, this week I had one of those disappointments, and even though it wasn't anything major (no one was hurt and there was no big waste of food either!) I was kinda of curious to know why it didn't work.
Soooo, here I come to post it and ask you guys to help me figure out what I did wrong. And to start with, here is what I was trying to do: make popcorn right from a fresh popcorn cob!
I got this fun and cool popcorn thing from my boss. She went to visit family members in Massachusetts and came back with some of these for each of the ladies that work at the chocolate shop where I work (She also brought some delicious apples which are already gone... some we ate and some turned into apple muffins, yumm!! But this is another post...)
She mentioned we could either use it as decoration or try popping it. Obviously I thought this was the most fun thing ever (I like having fun with food!) and of course I tried to pop it!!
If you like food like I do you would probably understand my excitment and try to pop it too, right?! (I thought so!!)
However, the thing didn't go as I expected. The popcorn did come with instructions on how to pop and it was as simple as could be: "Place cob inside small, brown sandwich bag. Fold bag... and place in the microwave... Cook on high power for about 2-3 minutes. When popping slows down... it is ready."
Sounds easy, doesn't it?? And that's what I though!
So I took one of the popcorn cob...

... placed inside a brown paper bag, being careful to not fold too tight and in the microwave it goes, we hear it popping and do the popcorn dance around the kitchen (!!)...

... popping sound slows down, we turn off the microwave and remove the bag...
... the smells of popcorn invade the kitchen as we open the bag ("hummm, fresh popcorn!"), and then... Look what happened!!!
The popcorn surely popped, but it didn't come out of the cob!

Well, I think, I might have done something wrong, lets try with another one.... same thing again, carefully popping the precious cob and.... nope! Didn't work again, thus why you see 2 popped corn attempts on the picture above.
So, my questions are: Has anyone tried this before? Is this supposed to happen?
We were sort of disappointed (not much though, as it was simple to get my pan and some popcorn kernels and pop my own popcorn at the stove as I always do), but at the same time we could not figure out what went wrong.... was the popcorn too young? too old? too tight in the cob? (does that even make any sense?)
The 3 of us (me, Matheus and hubby) stayed there, trying to pick the popped corn from the cob but it was no help, it was tough and not really very edible.
After a day of thinking and not coming up with anything, Matheus had this idea which got us both thinking: "Mommy, why don't you take the kernels out of the cob we have left and pop them in a pan on the stove, like the ones you make for us all the time?"
Man, I didn't even think about doing that, but it does make sense, doesn't it? So, would scraping the kernels off the cob I didn't use (I had 3 cobs) result in the same kind of kernels I buy for popping popcorn? I sound so silly, but this popcorn thing did get me puzzled!
If I don't get another idea I will definitely try that and post a feedback here to say what happened!
See, I always post the good and yummy recipes we try, but even though this was not a recipe (more like a fun culinary experiment!) it was a failure and I wanted to share. Not just to see if someone might have some insights about my popcorn disaster, but also to show that not everything goes right in the kitchen.
There are always "those days" when nothing seems to cooperate and everything sort of goes to the wrong direction of what initially was planned, but even with all the kitchen mishaps and a few errors here and there I still love cooking and experimenting in my kitchen. To me this is still the most fun place to be!
Let's see if someone can help with this one, I will be here, waiting for your comments and responses! And, even if you don't know the answer, please comment and add your ideas, it is always fun to read what my blog friends have to say!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

3 Years of KitchenSpace!!

Yes, it's been 3 years since I started this blog and it is amazing how much fun I've been having here. I tried new recipes, created delicious dishes, and best of all made a lot of great friends!
Thanks to all that keep visiting my blog through the 3 years I have been around, I love each and all of you!!

The "blogversary" was actually on the 15th, but I barely had time to sit down and post these past few weeks, so I decided to celebrate today, as today Matheus is also turning 6 1/2 years old.
Yep, he likes celebrating "half-birthdays", so this is something special we do every year, and today we started the day with a yummy breakfast treat: cupcakes with yogurt "frosting", and some m&m's to keep the happines around!
The recipe for the cupcakes is one of my favorites, it is one of my favorite cake recipes, a super easy and simple Yogurt Cake that always come out tender and moist and make me happy any time I make it!
For the "frosting" part I use either greek yogurt or plain yogurt drained overnight. I then add a touch of vanilla to it and sweeten with either honey or sugar. Simple, but delicious and healthy nonetheless!
Matheus loves this "frosting", and I love it even more as he is getting something good for him and at the same time he is as happy as one could be. The only catch here is that since it is yogurt based, the "frosting" does not hold very well for too log, so it is best to spread it on top of the cupcake right before serving.
And as far as "half-birthdays" celebrations go, you can't get much better than this, cupcakes are always a nice treat, and this one is a healthy one to boost!!

And here goes the Yogurt Cake recipe with my notes and some variation ideas I have tried and enjoyed. I have talked about it before (click here!), but am going to post again as it is such a versatile cake that it is worth repeating!

Yogurt Cake

1 cup plain yogurt (one 8oz container - use the yogurt container to measure up the rest of the ingredients)
½ cup oil
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon baking powder

In a blender put yogurt, oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla, whiz until everything is very well incorporated. Put the wet misture into a large bowl and to it add the flour and baking powder. Mix it all together with a whisk until the batter is uniform (do not overmix). Pour batter in a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350F for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden on top and toothpick inserted comes out clean. (Since every oven is different, keep an eye on the cake after the first 30 minutes)

For Cupcakes, pour batter into muffin tins (greased or lined with cupcake liners) and bake at 350 for about 18 to 20 minutes, keep an eye on them after the 18 min. mark!

My notes and Variations:

You can use less sugar if you prefer, I sometimes use only 1/2 cup and that seems to be enough for us. Also, I have made it with half all-purpose and 1/2 whole wheat flour (the white or the pastry variety though) and it worked out beautifully!

You can add some flavorings you like to this cake too and make it:

- an orange cake: add orange zest to the batter!,

- a lemon cake: add lemon zest and/or lemon exctract to the batter.

- a marble cake: divide batter in two and add a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder to half of the batter. Pour the white batter into the prepared pan and then dollop the chocolate batter on top, use a butter knife to make "swirls" and gently mix the two colored batters for the marble effect.

- a blueberry cake: gently fold some fresh frozen blueberries to the batter (coat the berries first with a tbsp. flour just so they won't sink to the bottom).

- a chocolate chip cake: gently fold some mini (or regular) chocolate chips into the batter (or sprinkle them on top - if folding do the flour trick and coat the chips with some flour so they don't sink into the batter).

- an "anthill" cake: add chocolate sprinkles to the batter! This is one of our favorite cakes, my son loves it! When you cut the cake the chocolate sprinkles look like little ants, that's why the anthill name to this variation.

- add colorful sprinkles to the batter for a "carnival" effect

- Jam cupcakes: fill muffin tins half-way with batter, add a small dollop of your favorite Jam then cover with some more batter. Bake as directed for cupcakes and when they are done you will have some cupcakes with a surprise inside!

-Also, any of the flavorings and add ins works for cupcakes/muffins as well!

As you see, this cake is ultra versatile! You can flavor it or complement with some add ins and never make the same cake twice. It is a super easy cake to make and the end results is a very tender and moist cake that everyone is sure to enjoy!


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

End of Summer Salads
Grilled Eggplant with goat cheese and Tomato Salads that we had over the weekend. I don't want summer to end...!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Caprese Salad

No mater how you present it, skewered in appetizer form, cut into cubes, with both tomatoes and cheese displayed in a sliced manner, Caprese Salad is one of my favorite summer dishes!
Here we had red and yellow tomatoes, both from out backyard, fresh basil leaves and the sinfully creamy and ultra delicious fresh mozzarella (I love this cheese!), all covered in great olive oil, salt, pepper and a touch of balsamic vinegar.... sooo good! I can have only this for a meal and be happy all day!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Grilled Vegetable Salad, one word: Yum!!

I am sorry I have been absent on these past few days... a sudden and unfortunate death of a dear family member just got me into a very sad state of mind and I was in no real mood to think much about anything else other than how fragile our bodies and life are. Cooking was done by a way of necessity and that's the reason I took this little break. However, life goes on, and here I am, back and with some more good food to share!
(Thanks for letting me vent a little about other aspects of my life here too!)

During the warm months our greatest culinary pleasure is being able to fire up the grill! Everything that comes out is so flavorful and delicious, plus there is no smells or much cleanup to be done inside, and the not-turning-on-the-stove/oven-on-an-absurdly-hot-day factor too!

It is a win-win situation which we truly enjoy! And one of the foods I love most done in the grill are vegetables. You can grill almost any veggie you like in there and the outcome is always tasty; it gets that "charred" flavor that you only get from the grill and there is no mystery on doing it: the easiest way is to simply cut your veggies in similar size pieces, then season them with salt, pepper and a decent amount of good olive oil and throw them in the grill. Keep an eye on them as some veggies do cook a lot faster than others, flip along the way and as both sides get those wonderful grill marks you have a healthy and flavorful meal that can be enjoyed warm or kept for later to be eaten at room temperature or even cold (grilled veggies are great cold too!).

I make grilled vegetables all the time during summer and we never get tired of it!
The ones I like the most are eggplant, red bell peppers and zucchini/yellow squash, which by the way is what I used in the salad pictured above (minus the pepper on that day though!). Corn is also delicious, as are asparagus and onions too!

For the salad I grilled some eggplant and squashes that I had from the farmer's market, to them I added some grape tomatoes from our backyard and little pieces of fresh/soft goat cheese (which I absolutely looooove!), then I topped it all with a simple Dijon mustard vinaigrette that I made by mixing roughly 2 parts rice vinegar (I find this kind of vinegar to be lighter in taste) to about 1part olive oil (a tablespoon or so), a teaspoon honey, a teaspoon Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.
It was the perfect finish to complement the salad, which we enjoyed a whole lot, the vinaigrette added at the end really gave it some extra nice flavors, a great tang to the soft veggies! (Balsamic vinegar is another way I like to dress up roasted vegetables too!)
To me there is no easier or better way to have fun with the vegetables during the summer than making salads, and a grilled one is always welcome too!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I know, I have said this already, but I will have to repeat... I LOVE WATERMELON!!
There isn't anything better during summertime than a cold and refreshingly juicy watermelon! Yumm!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Garden Muffins
First of all I have to mention that my picture doesn't do justice to the goodness of this recipe. That being said, I will only add that these muffins were very good!
The recipe came from the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards, posted by "Canice", and the cornmeal flavor combined with the veggies and Parmesan cheese created some delicious savory muffins.
We really enjoyed these, I made half recipe and they were gone in a matter of seconds!
The Parmesan cheese was my touch to improve the original recipe, so feel free to omit it if you don't like, but we liked the flavor it added a whole lot, especially to the top, where I sprinkled a tad more Parmesan on each of the muffins. As I ate mine I was even thinking about adding pieces of cheese the next time I would make them, which will probably be soon as it has been requested already!
They are very simple but flavorful as could be. Plus it is easy to make, and you could even change the veggies accordingly to what you have on hand - yellow squash instead of zucchini, adding some corn bits would enhance the cornmeal flavor, even peas would be nice here too. These are a great complement to soup or salad, just what you need to round up a light meal!

Garden Muffins
(Adapted from "The City Gardener's Cookbook" )

1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (can add more if desired!)
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and finely diced tomatoes
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup chopped green onion

Preheat oven to 400F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, Parmesan cheese, and salt and mix well. In a small bowl, beat together the egg, milk, oil, and butter. Stir in the dry ingredients. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, carrot, and green onions, blending thoroughly. Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins, filling about three-quarters full. Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.
Makes 1 dozen muffins.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Top 10 Kitchen Space!

Valentina invited me to be part of this "Top 10" event that is going around the blogsphere!
I was very happy to be part of it and went right through my archives to select ten recipes we enjoy most at our house and... well, it was really hard!
The recipes I post here are always the ones we really like and will most probably make again, so it wasn't an easy task to select only 10 among the hundreds of recipes we like. But I did it and here are the results.
Hope you all like them as much as we do!

To visualize the recipe just click on its title!

Grilled Eggplant Stacks
These are awesome! I make them all the time during the summer when eggplants and summer squashes are abundant and fresh. They are worth every second it takes to prepare them! The balsamic syrup on top is amazingly good!

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables
This is another dish we truly enjoy! I make it without even looking at the recipe as it is very easy and I have made it many times already. Whenever I make this recipe Matheus cheers at the table, he even knows the name of the recipe and the chef it came from!

Creamy Quinoa Primavera
Now this is one recipe that I love! I chose this one because it is not only quick and delicious but also very conforting. It can be made using any vegetables you have around, fresh, frozen, whatever you prefer and most like. the end result is always creamy, flavorful, and good for you. The texture of this dish could e compared to a "quinoa risotto", so it is definitely a "feel good food" in all senses to me!

Chicken Stuffed with Garlic and Goat Cheese
Another one I enjoy a lot! Chicken is usually my protein of choice and to pair it with goat cheese you can't go wrong. Goat cheese and roasted garlic are two ingredients that are already delicious by themselves, combined in this dish they create the most velvet and flavorfull sauce for the chicken. So good, makes me want to make it for lunch today!

Italian Panzanella
This is Matheus' favorite summer dish, he asks me to make panzanella every week during the warm months! He enjoys the way the bread absorbs the flavors of the vinaigrete and complements the salad with the crunchy vegetables. Plus we both love white beans and cheese, and along with everything else we get a complete and satisfying meal in one bowl! Oh, and lately we have been using little parmesan chuncks for the cheese part... oh so good!

Cornmeal-crusted Ratattouille Tart
Another one of my very favorites! The cruts in this tart is super easy to make and the end product is delicious, flavorfull and crunchy, just as a nice crust should be! Full of vegetables and cheese on top this dish is delicious and filling, another one I like to make when we have a lot of produce around! Can't say enough about this one, I just love it!

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins
I could just not have a top 10 without a Muffin recipe, as muffins are definitely loved around our house and something I make at least once a week. Since we tried this recipe these muffins became the most requested and the ones I make more frequently. They are delicious, chosen by far the best muffins around here!

Now, this would be one of the husband's favorite desserts! And since I also love creamy desserts I opted to choose this one for my top 10. It is not only good but also so easy to make. A simple dessert that it usually enjoyed by everyone!

It just would not be my top 10 withouth something with chocolate in it, right? And when looking through my recipes this one just kept calling me. These were the best "cookies" (if they can be called cookies) I have had, the flavor is great and the textures are so complementing, the delicate crispy shell with the creamy filling.... oh, there are no words to describe it. Plus, it has one of my favorite chocolate confections: ganache! So here it is, the chocolate fix of the top 10!

Mango Sorbet
Fruit also had to be included into my selection as it is present in my table everyday. And so I chose my favorite summer treat of all: Mango Sorbet!! Creamy, delicious, sweet and flavorfull, how can you go wrong with this?? Love, love, love mangoes! My favorite fruit is still watermelon, but mangoes are right up there too, and this sorbet definitely gets on my very top choice of sweet treats!

I know, I know, I already picked 10... so what am I doing here with one more picture?? Well, I just wanted to leave here an honorable mention to the Homemade Ricotta Cheese. We love cheese and ricotta is one of my favorites, plus there is nothing like homemade ricotta! Believe me, the taste and texture are way superior that whatever ricotta you may find at the store. Maybe this should not be considered a "recipe" per se, and I guess that is why I just wanted to mention it at the end, but I had to include the method for making this cheese, which is not only good but extremely versatille and can be used in many delicious recipes out there!

Now, I am supposed to ask for more 5 friends to participate of this event. So I will mention some friends here but will leave it open for them to opt if they want or not to participate! Please, don't feel obligated, ok?!

Fernanda, from Chucrute Com Salsicha
Laurinha, from
Joe, from Culinary in The Dessert
Patricia, from Technicolor Kitchen
Agda, from Agda

Saturday, August 09, 2008

How can you not LOVE Summertime?!!
Spinach, tomatoes and bell peppers salad, all fresh from the farmers market! And the grape tomatoes are from our backyard!
A simple vinaigrete and some fresh goat cheese sprinkled on top and you get a party in your plate, colorful and healthy, can't get much better than that!
Yes, I LOVE this SUMMER, hot weather and all!!!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Since I have been sharing here some of the cakes I have made, here are a couple more!
I made these while in Brazil. The small one was a little gift to my sister's mother in law, thanking her for the pretty basket and treats she sent us while there. And the big one I made with my sister (she wanted to learn and see how to use the fondat!) for my parent's 32nd Anniversary, man, what a milestone!
Hopefully I will celebrate that many years with my hubby too!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Blackberry Sorbet!

Throw in the blender a couple handfuls of blackberries (the ones I used were from our backyard, yum!), two very ripe peaches and a little bunch of fresh cherries, sweeten it lightly with simple syrup* and puree away. A few minutes churning in the ice cream machine and you get the most luscious and flavorful fruit sorbet. Not to mention the pretty color it has!
This was so good there was no leftover. Lovely and super delicious on a hot summer afternoon!

*To make simple syrup: boil together 1 cup water with 1/2 cup sugar until the sugar melts and the mixture becomes syrupy. Let cool and then use to sweeten your beverages or sorbet mixture. Good thing is that this keeps in the fridge for a good couple weeks, so it is always handy for making yummy frozen desserts!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

We are Back!

It's been a week since we came back home and only now it seems like I am getting back to our normal routine.
We had a great time this past month in Brazil! We had lots of time to do things we like, see our family members, and pass some good time with wonderful friends!
It was truly a trip to keep in our hearts, but I have to say that after 5 weeks away from home I was starting to miss my things and it was more than time to come back.
Even though my parents and sister are still all in Brazil now my family is here and this is our home, and as they say... there really is no place like home!
I missed my kitchen and I was glad to be back to my own schedule and way of doing things, which of course include posting on my beloved blog!
And now I promise I will post on a regular basis, I really promise, I do!!
With the summer weather I haven't been cooking much indoors, but I have been grilling and sure have recipes and pictures of goodies we have been making to share, so please visit me again soon because I am really back this time!
So, to get things going I will post some pictures from our trip, and tomorrow I will be back to what this blog is really about: cooking, cooking and more cooking, yay!!

This is a very young coffee plant on my dad's backyard!

Here are some coffee beans...

And here they are opened. The coffee beans are white/yellowish inside when harvested, they only turn black after being roasted. And did you know that when picked like these they are sweet inside? Yep, when we were kids it was a lot of fun to pop the coffee bean into our mouth and suck the sweet nectar that comes from the inside. At first my grandma had one coffee plant, but with the kids spiting beans here and there soon she had about four little plants for us to destroy...!! :o)

While there, I got a beautiful basket of goodies from my brother in-law, it was full of nuts, dried fruits, sesame seed bars and the most delicious natural cookies that I have had! Everything was so delicious, and so pretty. It was all wrapped with bows, both on the outside wrap and on each little baggie of nuts/seeds/fruits inside. We all liked it so much that the basket was into pieces soon after I got it. We started sampling the goodies in a matter of seconds! I should have taken a picture before opening because, believe me, it was beautiful!

He also brought our family some "Pao de Mel", honey cakes covered in chocolate, that his mom makes, oh my, those were really yummy too!

And here is a picture of Matheus having some fun at the pool! Even though it was winter, the weather was nice and I was able to get him into some swimming lessons at an indoor pool. He had some fun and at least had a chance to play with some kids. He is the only child in both sides of the family, so I guesses that seeing someone of his own height would be good for him too!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I am here, I am here!!
Hey, I am still here, haven't abandoned the blog, I swear! I am just having some fun time with the family here in Brasil!
I will come back with some new posts and recipes!
Miss you all!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A quick bite before we leave...

Yay, we are going to Brazil!
Yes, we used to visit the family at the end of the year, but now with Matheus in school (he is going to 1st grade already!!) our vacation time got transferred to June/July. The only drawback is that now it is winter there and I really don't like the cold, but visiting the family is always so much fun that their love will certainly warm us up during our entire stay!
We are so excited! Even with all the packing and the "I-think-I-am-forgetting-something" feeling we can't wait to leave for the airport tomorrow!
This time we will stay for a whole month, so I will probably won't post much, but I will certainly try to come here and say hi, and maybe even post some pictures from our trip.
And right now, before we leave, I just wanted to post this Sandwich, which is quick to make but filling and delicious, perfect for the warm weather we are having now, when turning on the oven/stove is not something we want to do.
My sister sent me this recipe, which comes from a Brazilian cooking magazine called "Claudia Cozinha", last year and I always make it when I feel like having a sandwich. It is light and refreshing, makes you feel satisfied and it is also quite healthy and good for you!
Feel free to adapt/adjust the ingredients and add/omit things based on what you have at home. This sandwich is very versatile and can even be used as a base for you to create your own version!
On the one I have in the picture I used a mix of salad leaves instead of arugula, didn't add the mushrooms and the sesame seeds, as I didn't have any of those at home. Also, I only used 2 pieces of bread, as that is definitely enough for me (and for Matheus! Yes, I made one for him and he loved it, especially since it had egg inside and he loves hard-boiled eggs!)
Hope you enjoy too, and I will come back to post as soon as we land in "Terras Brazilis" and have sort of organized ourselves there!
See you all soon!

Vegetarian Sandwich with Orange Dressing
(Adapted from Claudia Cozinha)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
3 slices good whole wheat bread
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/4 cup walnuts, broken into small pieces
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (toasted)
5 basil leaves
1/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (I didn't use, didn't have any at home...)
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
1/3 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup arugula leaves

In a small bowl whisk together the orange juice, olive oil and the salt until you have a homogenized mixture, set asidde.
Lay one slice of bread on a plate and on top of it put the following ingredients in layers: grated carrots, walnuts, sesame seeds, basil, and over it pour half of the orange juice dressing. Lay the other slice of bread on top and then add the mushrooms, sliced egg, cottage cheese and the arugula. Pour over the remaining orange juice dressing and top with the last slice of bread. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Healthy and delicious Fried Rice

We tried this recipe a while ago and it is so good that I have made it a few times ever since. I am not a fan of this type of dish when bought at restaurants and such as I usually find it very salty and heavy in the soy sauce department. But this recipe was a great surprise and I enjoyed a whole lot!
Matheus and I liked it just as it is, full of vegetable and tofu (more veggies than rice: great!), and even the husband ate his share but had his with sauteed shrimp!
Besides being very tasty, this dish is also very versatile as you can easily vary the vegetables accordingly to what you have at home, or swap the tofu for your favorite protein (chicken, shrimp), and still have a nice balanced meal!
I really liked the tofu and the edamame with all the veggies, oh and the egg bits throughout the rice were delicious too. The seasonings were simple and the flavors of the garlic, green onions and ginger were nicely balanced.
All in all a winner that will be made again when the cravings for fried rice strike - or when pressed for time, as it was also quick to make!

Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame and Tofu
(Recipe from Ellie Krieger)

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
2 large cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, greens included, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4 cups leftover cooked brown rice
3/4 cup finely diced red pepper
3/4 cup cooked, shelled edamame
1/2 cup fresh or frozen, thawed, corn
6 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add the garlic, scallions and ginger and cook, stirring, until softened and aromatic, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice, red pepper, edamame, corn and tofu and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Make a 3-inch well in the center of the rice mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of canola oil, then add the eggs and cook until nearly fully scrambled. Stir the eggs into the rice mixture, then add soy sauce and incorporate thoroughly. Serve hot.
Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Blueberry Bran Muffins and my apologies...

I have been absent from my blog lately and I do owe an apology to the friends that visit me here. Believe me, I do miss posting and even more so the comments you all leave (they reeeally cheer me up!), but sometimes I get these days when I don't feel all that inspired to write, or make many different things.
Well, I am glad to say that the latest phase is over and I intend to be back for real now! :o)
Summer is finally here and I am truly happy with the warm days, it is soooo nice outside!
With such sunny days we have been grilling a lot (yum!) and already using the ice cream machine, so I better get my camera ready and take some time to come here to share the recipes with you all.
And what a better way to start my June posts than with a new muffin recipe?? You all know by now that we love muffins here at our house. I make them weekly and freeze for breakfasts and snacks, so I am always looking for different healthy muffin recipes to try.
Well, the summer fruits are here and one of my favorite started to show up at the farmers market this past week: blueberries!!
Yay, I love blueberries, the plump purple spheres are so sweet that you don't need anything else to go with it. I am a happy camper to sit down with a bowl of fresh blueberries, to me it is the perfect snack. Heck, I will even have a bowl of blueberries for dinner if you let me!
So, with some of those beauties around I decided to look for a muffin recipe and as I typed "blueberry bran muffins" on the google website I was sent to a recipe at the allrecipes website. It was the first one I took a look and it won me over immediately. I knew it could only be good, and I wasn't wrong... it was great!!
I loved the muffins, it is certainly one of the best bran muffins I have made. Easy, simple, and better yet, low fat, healthy and good for you. I used blueberries but can see these being made with apples and cinnamon, raisins, or even chocolate chips. I really enjoy bran muffins and these were delicious!
If you like bran muffins to then make sure you try this recipe, believe me, it is that good!

Low-Fat Blueberry Bran Muffins
(adapted from Original recipe can be seen here)

1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup nonfat milk (I used soy milk)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line muffin tins with paper cups.
Mix together wheat bran, milk, and applesauce and let rest for about 10 minutes. To this mixture add egg, vanilla, and sugar and mix well.
In another bowl mix together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Fold in blueberries.
Portion batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake for about 18 to 20 minutes.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Just an idea...!

I had some black beans leftover from making quesadillas and wanted to do something with them - beans are so yummy and healthy, we have to enjoy them thoroughly, right?!
So, I decided to try making a dip using the same method I use for hummus, but using the black beans in place of chickpeas (garbanzos).
We called it Black Beans Hummus here at our house, but I am not sure if it would be appropriate to call it hummus as it does not have any chickpeas in them (which in my head you need in hummus!).
But, nomenclature aside, this dip turned out reeeeeally delicious! We enjoyed it quite a lot and I was actually very surprised with the delicious flavor it had! My husband also liked it a lot, but then he already likes plain black beans a lot more than I do.
To make this I simply pureed about a cup of black beans in the blender with one clove of garlic, about tablespoon of tahini (add more depending on your liking!), salt, pepper, a little bit of cumin and a little bit of water just to get it to the right consistency.
Easy, simple and delicious! It was a great snack we enjoyed with baked pita chips, yummy!

Monday, May 12, 2008


Bcoming a MOM is by far the best thing that happened to me!

Happy Mother's Day to all my mommy friends!!


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Tandoori Chicken

I have always been amazed by the Indian cuisine. The aromatic flavors and complexity of the dishes sometimes makes me want to go to India just to learn how to make their food.
And since I like the combination of spices they use (with the exception of fennel seeds), I am always experimenting and looking for recipes and ideas to try at home. Especially since taking Matheus to the restaurant isn't yet possible as he cannot tolerate the heat all that well (and sometimes neither can I to be quite true).
So making Indian food at home has been a very pleasant adventure for all of us. I really enjoy the cooking process, toasting the spices, creating different (to me!) flavors, marinating the meat for long hours, and since Matheus and my Husband are good taste testers, at the end we get to share delicious food which we all can enjoy together!
Since we discovered a delicious local Indian restaurant I have been expanding my knowledge of Idian dishes and understanding a little bit more of what regions. Through researching and asking my blog friend Agda (chek out her blog, it is full of delicious Indian dishes!!), Indian food has become even more appealing to me.
One of the dishes I enjoy at the Indian restaurant is their Tandoori Chicken, so as soon as I saw the recipe for Grilled Tandoori Chicken on the current issue of Cooking Light Magazine I knew I had to try it.
I knew from the beginning that my chicken would not resemble or taste much like the one I get at the restaurant, as it is certainly impossible to create at home the flavor that the "tandoor" oven imparts to the dish, but grilling it sounded like a way to impart something more to the already so fragrant combination of spices.
The chicken came out really good! And I mean it, really, really good! I marinated the chicken overnight so the spices were through out the meat and the grill definitely added something to it all. The marinade by itself was already delicious with the yogurt, spices, the ginger and lemon juice... it was truly good, and we all agreed it was one of the most flavorful chickens we made in our grill.
Even though the recipe asks for only chicken thighs I used a combination of chicken breasts and thighs, but I have to say that the thighs were a lot more moist and flavorful than the breast pieces, the charred parts were just amazingly yummy (and this coming from someone that doesn't like dark meat really says a lot).
I halved the recipe and did not add the red pepper or the Serrano pepper to it, as I didn't want to make it too spicy for us, but I actually missed a little bit of heat (you know, Indian food is supposed to be a little spicy). So, the second time I made I added a tiny bit of red pepper and... it was even better! Feel free to adjust the spices and peppers to suit your tastes.
I served the Tandoori Chicken with basmatti saffron rice and curried vegetables and it was a very delicious Indian meal!

My note: we didn't care for the yogurt sauce all that much, so I didn't even bother to make it the second time I made the chicken.
If anyone has a good yogurt "sauce" recipe/idea to go with this kind of chicken dish, would you like to share with me?? I know there might be something around, as I have had better yogurt sauces than this one... the search for Indian flavors continues!

Grilled Tandoori Chicken
(Adapted from Cooking Light, May 2008)

2 teaspoons canola oil
4 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped onion (I
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped seeded serrano pepper
8 garlic cloves, crushed
2 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
2 teaspoons salt, divided
16 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
Cooking spray

Heat oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander, garam masala, turmeric, and red pepper to pan; cook 2 minutes or until fragrant, stirring constantly. Remove from pan; cool.

Place onion, ginger, serrano pepper, garlic, spice mixture, 1/2 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons juice, and 1 3/4 teaspoons salt in a food processor (I used a blender) and process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Cut 3 shallow slits in each chicken thigh. Add chicken to bag, and seal. Toss to coat. Marinate in refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Prepare grill.

Combine remaining 2 cups yogurt, 2 tablespoons juice, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl, stirring well. Cover mixture, and chill.

Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 7 minutes on each side or until done. Serve with yogurt mixture.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 2 chicken thighs and about 1/4 cup yogurt mixture)