Monday, December 28, 2009

A couple more cookbooks to my stash...

This was "My Christmas Present to Myself"!! I have been wanting this cookbook since it came out and I thought that now was a good time to make myself happy!
I couldn't be more merry than with new cookbooks around, and omg, this book is amazing, I LOVE it!!! (Have you seen the amount of recipes with chickpeas in the index? Awesome!)
As an unconditional fruit and vegetable lover, I eat lots of vegetarian meals and with this book on hand I have a feeling that 2010 is going to be a great veggie cooking year!
Recipes and pics will follow, for sure!
Hope you all had a great holiday and treated yourselves with something you like, just like I did!
I absolutely adore cookbooks, they are one of my favorite things to buy and read on my free time!

I also got this one as a Christmas present from Matheus - I did raise him right, didn't I? He sure knows how to make mommy happy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!
Feliz Natal!
To all my friends and family, and to those who never gave up on my blog and kept coming back to check up on me, a Very Happy Christmas and a Wonderful 2010 full of cooking and fun!
May Santa bring all you have wished and more!
Love all,

Monday, December 21, 2009

Something I have been eating, and loving, lately!

Almond butter... have you tried? If you like almonds you have got to try this! Roasted almonds, are not only super healthy and good for you but they are , nutty and delicious. Now, picture your almond in creamy form and you have almond butter!
I am not much of a peanut or peanut butter person, but I am totally hooked on this almond butter thing.
It is absolutely delicious, the roasted almond flavor and the creaminess of it is just awesome!
I have been eating it on top of graham crackers (these are the ones I like, they are not too sweet) and adding blobs of almond butter to my oatmeal (if you have been following the blog you might know I am an oatmeal lover!). It sorts of melts inside the warm oats and make it all taste sooo good that I have been eating oats every day for more than a month, just so I can have my almond butter goodness in it.
Then, the almond butter and oats combo brings me to another thing: oats in a jar. Have you seen that yet? I first saw it on Caroline's blog, and then on some other spaces through the "blogsphere", then I stopped and starting thinking about it: so you have an almost empty jar of almond butter (or another nut butter you like), and you usually put some of that on your oatmeal every day. What is the best thing to do in order to get the most of that scrumptious almond butter from that little jar? Of course, put your oatmeal in the jar - Genius!

As soon as my first jar of almond butter was getting close to emptiness I poured my oats in there, and it was awesome! I like to eat my oats in mugs sometimes (instead of a bowl), so the jar acted just like that, plus the warm oats got infused by the the flavor and last bits of almond butter left in the jar, not to mention the last teaspoon or two of it that were in the bottom, ohhh, it is pure bliss when you reach that part!
I just wanted to share here something I discovered recently and have been eating and loving for the past months. It is not only delicious but also very healthy stuff!
If you haven't had almond butter yet do give it a try! Hope you like it as much as I do!

Ps: This is not a brand commercial, and I didn't got paid to talk about this specific product here. I just discovered and really feel in love with almond butter and wanted to share. The trader joe's brand was my choice due to it deliciousness and affordability!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pumpkin Pasta!

I bet you are wondering what I have been making with all that amazing pumpkin I got, right? Well, with work and school out of the way and two weeks of winter break ahead of us I am back to post all recipes I have been making and saving pics on the last few months. My goal is to post something everyday, and hey, you can come back and bug me until I do!
I also have some interesting and unusual product reviews I want to post.
But first, onto the recipe of the pasta pictured above. It is an easy and delicious pasta combination that fitted the bill perfectly with the mounds of pumpkin puree we had on hand.
It is actually and older Rachel Ray recipe that I had made before and was repeated a few times. Easy and tasty, truly worth of trying!
The original recipe had hot sauce added to it but I didn't think that it would go with the pumpkin and the spices used in this recipe, so I omitted that - with great success I might add, I cannot imagine this with hot sauce, really.
Don't be intimidated by that pinch of cinnamon in the recipe, it will add a touch of warmness that will complement the pumpkin beautifully, even though you won't taste it or know it was there.
Also, note that I forgot to add the sage before I took the picture, but don't forget to add it there (even though you can make it without it), because sage + pumpkin is a wonderful combo too!
So, here goes my adaptation of Pumpkin Pasta, hope you all enjoy and I will come back with more!
And how's getting ready for Christmas going? I need to wrap presents, and think about the food, can you believe I haven't done that yet? Well, still got plenty of time!

Pumpkin Pasta

1 pound of penne pasta
1 tablespoon Olive oil (more if needed)
2 shallots or half onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (1 1/2 cups puree)
1/2 cup heavy cream
A pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Fresh sage leaves (about 4 of them), chopped
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Cook pasta in boiling water until all dente.
While pasta cook saute garlic and onions (or shallots) in olive oil until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth and pumpkin and whisk together to incorporate. Add the cinnamon and the heavy cream, mix together and add salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to low and let it cook for a few minutes to thicken the sauce to your desired consistency, add the chopped sage and the cooked penne. Toss all together and serve with lots of grated Parmesan on top!

Monday, November 09, 2009

A recipe you must try and get ready for pumpkin recipes!

One of my dearest friends here from the US gave us a huge pumpkin the other day. An organic, healthy and plump gigantic pumpkin that she grows on her backyard (she has lots of space for growing stuff!). She first said it was a big guy she had on the back of her car, but I never expected it to be as huge as it really was. Don't believe me? Take a look for yourself:

The big baby sitting on my kitchen chair

Told ya! It was truly ginormous, as Matheus said when he first saw it!
Took me a while to tackle it, open and get the whole thing roasted and pureed for storage, but it was worth every second and effort spent. The pumpkin was amazingly delicious, the flesh was bright orange and sweet. Look at this beauty on the inside, is it pretty or what?

When I first brought it to the house we all got super excited not just because it was so fun to have a pumpkin that size but also because we LOVE pumpkin around here! And I mean really love it!
Ideas could not stop coming out of our mouths, pumpkin muffins was the first request, followed by pumpkin pie and for me it meant lots of my winter favorite: pumpkin soup!
From the humongous orange friend I got 10 cups of deliciousness in form of puree that I stashed right into the freezer plus about 8 more cups that I left in the fridge and started using right away.
I first made some of the frequently requested by the boys Pumpkin Muffins, next was my favorite Pumpkin Leek Soup, followed by a Savory Pumpkin Pie (which I didn't take pics but you can find the recipe in Portuguese here, and be warned, it is the best and easiest "Torta de Abobora" you will ever come across, I have made it many times here and we love it, Thanks Lica! Torta de Abobora da Eliana), and this weekend we had some of the most tasty Pumpkin Pies we ever made.
Seriously, this pumpkin is so tasty that every single item I made with it was amazing, oh and the puree warmed up with salt, pepper, and butter.... oh my, it was di-vi-ne!
But all the talk about the pumpkin brings me to the recipe I want to post today, and this truly is a "must try recipe". I saw Ina Garten make this on TV and immediately said to myself "have to try that", it looked and sounded so delicious, and how could roasted butternut squash + greens + cider vinaigrette not sound wonderfull?
The Roasted Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette is AMAZING! (pardon my shouting, but this is just too good....) It is fall on a plate, in salad form!
The best part of this? The Cider Vinaigrette. If you don't want to make everything then don't worry, but definitely try this vinaigrette at some point, it is to die for, it is the quintessential "fall-ish" vinaigrette, so delicious, and extremely flavorful.
The sweetness of the reduced apple cider is balanced beautifully by the acidity of the vinegar, the onioness of the shallots and the bite of the dijon mustard. Salt, pepper, and olive oil just round all the flavors out tying them together in one wonderful salad dressing. Believe me, you won't be sorry if you try this.
But so much for talking, let me post this recipe here so you can make it too!
Note that I made this salad multiple times already and the picture on the top of this post was actually made with roasted acorn squash, which was equally delicious as when I made with butternut or the pumpkin I got from my friend, which is the picture bellow:

This was the salad made with the bright orange pumpkin. On this one though the Parmesan was sprinkled on the spinach and it just disappeared when I drizzled the warm dressing, plus I didn't have the walnuts when I made this one.

However, if you do have walnuts at home make sure you use them, the salad was definitely tastier with those crunchy roasted walnut bits in contrast to the slightly wilted leaves, the warm dressing and the soft squash chunks... yum, just writing about it makes my mouth water!

I have been having fun at the kitchen making lots of pumpkin recipes and there are some that are just too good to be kept only for us and I must share, so be prepared for some more pumpkin goodness to show up here soon. Oh if you see a girl with a slightly orange skin walking around NC... there's a good chance it is me, I am afraid I will soon be looking like a walking carrot with the copious amount of wonderful beta-carotene I have been eating lately!

Here is my version of the salad, if you want to see the original one, click here

Roasted Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
(adapted by an Ina Garten's recipe)

1 butternut or acorn squash, peeled and diced
Salt, pepper and olive oil to roast the squash
1/3 cup toasted walnut pieces
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (the good stuff!)
4 cups baby spinach leaves, or arugula, or a mix of the two
1 cup apple cider - or apple juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to season the dressing

Preheat your oven to 400F.
Place squash on a sheet pan lined with foil (easy clean up!), season with salt, pepper and a good dose of olive oil (it adds amazing flavor and prevent stickiness), toss all together, spread the squash cubes in one layer and roast for about 20 minutes, turning them around the 10 minutes mark to make sure they cook and brown evenly.
While the squash roast combine the apple cider, shallots, and the cider vinegar in a small pan, bring to a boil and cook until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove from heat and whisk in the mustard and olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste.
(My observation: after tasting refrain from eating the vinaigrette by teaspoons... it taste that good!)
Place the spinach (or arugula) in a big plate or salad bowl, add the walnuts and Parmesan, drizzle the vinaigrette over the leaves, place the roasted squash on top of everything and serve. (you can also put the squash to the bowl with everything else then add the vinaigrette and toss it all together, I like to keep the squash on top as mine were soft and delicate, an oh so good...)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!!

Off to see what Matheus got in his trick or treat bag!
The "twix" is evil, I already downed 3 of those fun size ones (it's the only junky chocolate/candy bar I like) and we still have some leftover candy... I said that if another kid stops by he or she will get a bonus of a whole bowl of candy!
Hope you had just as much fun as we are having here!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Notes on Cooking

The title caught my attention on the new books' section of the library so I got this book home to peruse. It was such an easy, simple, and quite educational, read that I decided to share here in the blog.
Notes on Cooking is a basically a collection of cooking tips that the chef Lauren Braun Costello put together from her experience in the kitchen over the years. It is comprised by 217 short tips divided into chapters with themes that range from equipments, how to understand the recipe, how to prepare yourself and your ingredients, to tips on how to work with meat, pork or seafood.
They are all basic tips, ideas, and comments from the chef, and the vast majority I already follow in my daily cooking life - such as "read the entire recipe before making it, then read it again", "always wash your produce", "add fresh herbs at the end", "always taste before you serve the food", and so on.
However, there are many other notes that I really enjoyed reading and that was nice to have reinforced in my culinary mind.
My favorite chapter was the one about "Temperature", which had some interesting notes which I haven't realized were all that crucial. This was a great tip in my opinion:

" Never jump food more than one temperature state at a time: there are four functional temperature states 1)frozen, 2)cold, 3)room temperature, 4)warm or hot.
When you move food from one state to another, don't skip over a temperature state... only one state change at a time. Jumping a state disrupts or destroys the vital process of moisture concentration and reintegration within the ingredients as its temperatures changes. Place a sealed, warm lasagna in a cold fridge, and where does all that heat and moisture go? It collects on the top of your lovely lasagna, now no longer so lovely."

Two others I liked were:

"Use a cold pan for butter: heat the pan and butter simultaneously. Butter added to a hot pan burns on contact due to its dairy content"
"Use a hot pan for oil: add oil directly to an already hot pan; in a matter of seconds, it becomes hot enough to cook your food, but not yet hot enough to smoke."

I am not getting anything from reviewing this book, I just thought it was a good read and decided to pass it along. Very informational book, filled with culinary notes, something that we as everyday cooks can never get enough!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I love those little seeds, they look like little jewels and are so intensely flavored. My grandma had a pomegranate tree on her backyard so every time I crack one of these open I am taken back to my childhood when we used to open the pomegranate and sit on the backyard sucking the juice and spiting seeds on the grass. Oh, and yes, mom would make me change into an old shirt when I wanted to eat pomegranates, she always said that pomegranate stains never came out of out clothes.
I don't have a particular recipe for using this fruit though. Since my early years my favorite thing is to eat the seeds by themselves. Today I also enjoy them sprinkled on spinach salad, it is quite yummy too.
Now, if you get pomegranate juice then it's another thing. My favorite thing to do with that? Pomegranate Sangria - red wine, pomegranate juice, triple sec, agave nectar to taste, sliced oranges, and crushed min leaves - delicious summer drink!
But since it is getting cold around here I will stick with the fresh pomegranate seeds for this time of the year.
Excuse me but I have to find a old shirt I don't mind staining now! ;o)

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I have been making decorated cakes as a hobby this past couple years. Some I have posted here already and today while trying to organize my food pictures I found these and decided to share here too.
I love working with fondant, it is sort of therapeutic and lots of fun to me. Hope you enjoy looking at the cakes as much as I enjoyed making them!

Purse Cake I made for my sister 21st birthday this year when she came to visit us!

Monkey and Frog Cake, for a friend's 1 year old boy

Cake I made as a gift for my friend Jeanne on her 4oth birthday

Elmo Cake, for a 2-year old boy

Dora Cake, for my friend's Andrea daughter

This one I made with my friend Barbara, we wanted to try making a whimsical cake... took us some good hours but it was fun!!

Cars cake, for another friend's child

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The "blogversary" cake!

After the 4 year celebration post I knew I had to come back here and share the recipe for the cake pictured there as soon as I could. Then Brisa asked me about it... how could I say no?!!
I am most happy to do so as this was a cake that we liked a lot. It is a Flourless Honey Almond Cake, and it came from the Eating Well magazine.
I made this a while back and found it to be special in a way so I wanted to post about it when something came up. Nothing better than the "blogversary"!
When you are not used to baking with almond flour a recipe like this can turn out to be an edible experience by itself. This is a light and airy cake, very flavorful and with a delicious texture. It is so different than your usual concept of how "cake" should feel like that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of both making and eating it.
The secret here, as noted in the magazine, is not to overbeat the egg whites. You don't need your beaten whites to be stiff or hold a peak here, just beat them enough to get them foamy. The whites is what ensures good part of the structure of the cake, as there is no flour here to help the eggs in support.
It is easy to make and a perfect cake to eat in the afternoon with some tea, which we did. And then had leftovers for breakfast the next day... yum!

Ps: notice that there should have been a lot more toasted almonds on the top of the cake but Matheus and I got carried away and munched on too many of them while I made the cake... oops! By the way, I didn't have sliced almonds and used the slivered ones, and they worked out well (roasted almonds sooooo good, aren't they?!?!?!)

Flourless Honey-Almond Cake
(Adapted from Eating Well)

1 3/4 cups almond flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven and lightly grease (or use cooking spray) an 9-inch springform pan (the one with removable sides), line the bottom with parchment paper and lightly grease the top of the paper as well.
Using an electric mixer beat 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt until well mixed. Add the almond meal and beat on low until all combined.
In another bowl beat the 4 egg whites on medium speed until they are foamy and doubled in volume (for about 2 minutes).
Using a spatula, gently fold the whites on the almond batter just until combined. Pour batter on prepared pan and bake until cake is golden and toothpick inserted on center comes out clean, about 25-28 minutes.
Let cool in pan about 10 minutes, run a knife around the edges, remove side ring and cool completely.
Serve drizzled with honey and sprikled with the toasted almonds.

1) If you don't have the almond meal but have whole almonds you can do the following: measure 1 1/2 cups almonds, spread them on a baking sheet and roast at 350F for about 7 to 9 nine minutes, stirring once halfway. Let them cool completely, then process in the food processor or blender until finely ground - this should yield about the 1 3/4 cups almond meal asked for the recipe.

2) The sliced almonds for the top are toasted on a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir them constantly and toast until golden, about 2 to 4 minutes at most.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

4 Years of Kitchenspace!!!

I have not been good with the blog this past year but I simply could not let this date go by without notice, I had to come here and post about these 4 years of my lovely kitchen space, as this blog means much more than any of you that follow me can ever imagine.
Through this blog I was able to share my passion for food and cooking/baking, and to express myself like in no other place. It was also here that I got to know many wonderful and fun people, some who I even got to meet in person, and created friendships that I want to keep forever, and as long as possibly can.
I started this blog, four years ago, when I was going through the worse phase of my life. A period when I was feeling very lonely and left apart.
The one thing that kept me up and going on those days was my son, Matheus (who is the sunshine of my life and until today motivates me to be who I am), and cooking. Sometimes, when you feel like you cannot handle things, taking a small break is all you need. So you go to the kitchen, bake a cake see it rise and come up to life, then you take it out of the oven and share a slice with your child... once you see the smile on his face the feeling you get is amazing, it shows you instantly that just like that cake you too can be great no matter what is to come, and the best moments are always there, around the corner, just waiting for you to help create them.
With all that was going on with my life the kitchen was my favorite place to be, and there was no point in being here if I could not share my happiness in this space with those who wanted to be my friend.
It ended up that writing this blog made me feel special, made me feel worthy and loved, and that I indeed had some talents that some of those close to me never stopped to pay attention to. Coming here, sharing my food and reading all those comments was, and still is today, a wonderful feeling to me. It feels great to know that there are people out there that share your interests, that get excited about something that you are doing and that are super nice to you even though they have never met you in person.
This blog helped me overcome a lot, in silence, through my cooking, in my favorite place of all, the kitchen.
Today I am definitely having one of the best phases of my life, I am happy with most aspects of it all (even being 30!), and am learning to work on those areas I am not completely satisfied with.
I figured that life is like a recipe, as you grow up you collect the ingredients, but it takes a little time and patience to put everything together in order to get the best of it.
This blog helped me a lot in figuring myself out (which I am still working on), and I know it will keep me company on the years to come, in my journey to create from the life recipe my perfect personal dish!
Thanks everyone for coming and checking on me even when I was not posting frequently. I love all my readers and friends, and this blog (and myself) would be nothing without you all!
Happy Blogversary Kitchen Space!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Farm fresh eggs....

The BEST!!! I am loving my CSA!

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Unfortunately their season is short, but we have been enjoying the strawberries a whole lot lately!
We go pick them at the strawberry farm and that is as fresh and local as one can get. They are delicious, juicy, red, and soooo sweet!
I love them just as they are, have been enjoying bowlfuls of the berries for breakfast, but there are also a few recipes that both the husband and Matheus request and so they appear year after year in our kitchen during strawberry season!
Truly, this year the one new recipe I made was Strawberry Ice Cream, which turned out not only delicious but had the most gorgeous and natural color I have ever seen on a strawberry ice cream!
It was so good though that we ate it all in a couple of days and I even forgot to take pictures... so, this will be one of the few posts without a recipe photo, but you can imagine how strawberry ice cream looks like, right?!!
And, to make up for that here some of the other recipes I have already made this past few weeks with our juicy red gems:

Strawberry Muffins (Matheus and the Husband love these muffins!)

Strawberry Tart
(This is the Husband's favorite! And my sister's too!)

Strawberry Bavaroise
(This one is strawberry creaminess at it's best, it's my favorite!)

There are other recipes in the blog archive, such as strawberry bread and pancakes with strawberry sauce, which I have made too this year already, so take a peek there and see what other goodies you can find!
Here goes the ice cream recipe, it is so easy and so good! Gotta love ice cream season!

Strawberry Ice Cream
(adapted from the book From Your Ice Cream Maker)

3 cups fresh strawberries, clean and stemmed (or 16oz/500g frozen strawberries - unsweetened) I used three heaping cupfulls of strawberries and my ice cream had an intensely awesome fruity flavor!
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cups sugar (use more or less depending upon the sweetness of your strawberries)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Triple Sec, or your favorite orange liqueur (alcohol doesn't completely freezes, so this helps your ice cream not to turn rock hard on your freezer - plus it adds a depth of flavor to the ice cream, even though you don't taste it on the final product)
A tiny pinch of salt

Process all ingredients on a blender or food processor until all incorporated and the strawberries are pureed to the desired consistency (I left some ity bitty chunks on mine for texture and deliciousness!). Refrigerate the mixture for a few hours until it is thoroughly chilled. Give it a quick whiz and pour the mixture in the ice cream maker, following the instruction of your machine.
Makes about 1 quart.

My note: if you use chilled fruit and cream you can even pour the mixture directly into the ice cream maker right after you blend the ingredients. However, the colder the mixture the less time it takes for your ice cream to churn and the creamier it will be!
This is pure cold strawberry bliss and since it uses so little ingredients try to use the best fruits and cream you can find, it really does make a difference here!! This is worth the wait, time and money spent on it!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!!

Friday right after school:
Matheus: Mom, I hid your mother's day presents, okay? So don't look under my bed because that is where I hid it!

How can you not LOVE being a mom????

Happy Mother's Day to my mom, to my girl friends, to my aunts and my cousins who are also a mom! Happy Mother's Day to all Moms out there, may your day be as happy as mine is today!!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Cooking Poem

I just loved this one, had to share!

Recipe for Friendship

Fold two hands together,
And express a dash of sorrow,
Marinate it overnight,
And work on it tomorrow.
Chop one grudge in tiny pieces,
Add several cups of love,
Dredge with a large sized smile,
And mix the ingredients above.
Dissolve the hate within you,
By doing a very good deed,
Dash in some help for any friend,
If they should be in need.
Stir in laughter, love and kindness,
From the heart it has to come,
Mix with genuine forgiveness,
And give your neighbour some.
The amount of people you can serve,
From the recipe above,
Is in the quality of its ingredients,
And unlimited amounts of love.
This recipe's for the whole wide world,
For everyone to make,
Just get it all together,
And cook for God's own sake!

Ps: I could not find a mention of who the author is so if anyone knows please tell me so I can give credit to whom credit is due!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Applesauce Snack Cake

This cake was a total winner here at our house, it is by far the best apple cake. Or at least the best one I have made and/or eaten!
Matheus and even the husband loved the cake too. So much so that they asked me to make another one just as the last two pieces were being devoured - by them!
I made it twice already and as I was separating the pictures to post the recipe today, Matheus took a peek at the computer and said

Matheus: "Is that the apple cake mom?"

Me: "Yes, I am going to post the recipe on the blog"

Matheus: "Yummm, that cake is good... so, when are you making it again?"

Seem like we will be having applesauce cake pretty soon around here again!
The key to this apple cake is using the right kind of dried apples. You should use the ones that are soft and moist, not the crunchy, chip-like ones.
Here is how the ones I used look like:

The apples not only add lots of flavor to the cake but, together with the applesauce, contribute for a very moist cake. And such moisture content brings me to the adaptations I made to the recipe.
The original recipe, from American's Test Kitchen, was made with a full stick of melted butter and all white flour. A first glance through the recipe told me that all that butter, besides being a whole lot for a small 8-inch cake, was not at all necessary for a desirable outcome. I didn't use quite nearly that amount of fat and got an amazingly moist and delicious cake. In fact, I believe I could decrease the fat even a tad more, but didn't want to change too much too soon.
Also, due to the high moisture ingredients present here I did what I always do to most of my cakes and baked goods: used half all-purpose and half whole wheat flours. Again, perfect texture and still very moist, with a boost on nutritional contents!
The version I am posting here is the recipe with my adaptations to it. If you want to see the original one take a look at the American's Test Kitchen website - you need to register, but it's free.

Now truly, if you like apple cake as much as I do then you definitely should try this recipe. It is a very simple cake, easy to make and really, really good. It's totally worth searching for the dried apples. This cake is awesome, and for once everyone around here agrees with me!

A pic of the slice, see how moist it is?? I told you, go get some dried apples and make this cake. You are not going to regret it, I promise!

Applesauce Snack Cake
(Adapted from America's Test Kitchens)

3/4 cup dried apples (2 ounces) cut into pieces
1 cup apple cider or apple juice (I used apple juice)
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I omitted)
1/8 teaspoon cloves (I omitted)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare an 8-inch square baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray, then line it with a long rectangular strip of parchment paper and spray the parchment paper too. Set aside.

Put apples and apple juice in a small saucepan and cook, simmering, for about 15 minutes, or until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a medium bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Measure 2 tablespoons sugar-spice mixture into small bowl and set aside to use for the topping.

In a food processor or blender, process the dried apple mixture until smooth. Pour mixture into a large bowl and to it add the sugar + spices mixture, egg, salt, vanilla, oil, and applesauce, mix well to combine. Add the flours and baking soda, mixing just until all is incorporated and moistened.

Put batter into prepared pan, smooth the top with a spatula and then sprinkle it evenly with the 2 tablespoons of reserved sugar+spices. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool and serve!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!!

Even though I am turning 30 today (ouchhh!) I still find myself in the mood for celebrating my birthdays and having fun on my special day.
Age is all in the head and as with everything in life what counts the most is your attitude, so the 30's are welcome and I am ready to celebrate!
Aren't those cupcakes lovely?? Thanks Barbara for taking your time and making them for me!
I had a great time with my girl friends this week already and today we went to my favorite ice cream place in the whole world: Henry's Gelato! (at least for now, since I haven't been in Italy yet...).
I just happen to love ice cream and recently dicovered something even better than that: Gelato. It is the-best-dessert, ever! I could not ask for more today than spending my birthday with my family and enjoying my favorite dessert! I will skip baking a cake this time, but bring on the ice cream goodness!

And here is me with the prettiest cupcake! (well, I did have cake after all!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Salad, and radishes...!

I am a girl who likes salad! A person who truly loves vegetables and fruits and am more than happy to have colorful and healthy salads for a meal!
Since I love my veggies so much I am always on the lookout for the purest and freshest produce, so there was nothing more obvious for me at this point than to join a CSA! (community supported agriculture)
Yes, now I have my own organic basket too! I am soooo happy and excited to get my little basket every week! Today is the second basket I will be getting and I can barely wait.
I wish we could get these baskets all year long but due to the cold weather over the winter the farm I joined has their deliveries done only between April and September, which is a good chunk of the year and I am happy to get that!
Last week we got some mix of greens, asparagus, radishes and green onions, plus the best farm fresh eggs I have had here in the US!
The greens were tender and even slightly sweet, the asparagus were by far the very best I have ever had, they were sweet and so tender, perfect to just eat it quickly steamed, you didn't even need any seasoning as it was very flavorful by itself. Oh and the radishes... I actually found a radish I like! This part was funny as I am not a radish fan but when it showed up in the basket we sure wanted to try it and it was not bad at all, actually it was something the three of us enjoyed a lot when eating our salad over the weekend. Who would have thought that radishes can be tasty, have a sweet undertone and not be all bitterness as the ones I had tried before?
See, good veggies are awesome, even the radishes! And I was so happy to have gotten this ones for Matheus to try again. He had tried it once with me and we both agreed at the time that radishes were not the veggie of our choice, but this past Sunday we were converted to the fresh, organic ones. Matheus really liked and every time he ate a slice he would say "yep, they are good mommy, these radishes are good!" I love feeding my child!
So our weekend was filled with soccer practice, the local spring daze fest, friend's birthday parties and, yes you guessed, radishes!
We had a great salad, so fresh and flavorful. This is why I like spring, summer, warm weather. It is the season that makes me happy and brings us delicious fruits and veggies too!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

2009! And summer is coming.... tomato salad!

Man, it is already April and I haven't posted yet.... tsc tsc tsc!
Well, I am here, yes, I am!
The year has been good to us, everything is going well but I am somewhat into a crisis with myself, trying to figure out what I really want for my life, professionally speaking that is.
As kids we are always talking about "what we are going to do when we grow up", thinking about what we are going to be when we are adults, which career to follow...
But, what happens when you already grew up and still don't know?
We sure do plan all those things but for some of us life takes its own path and when you realize you have a bunch of other things going on that were not on your plan, or at least for not that particular time of your life.
My life sort of went on a different direction than that I had thought would happen. I do love the outcome and am proud of everything I have done up to this point though! I have no regrets, I am happy with my choices and I love my family more than anything I can imagine.
But sometimes a girl sorta need to find herself in the middle of all this family thing, right? Or am I over thinking all this life process?
See, I am a little lost in my own mind, but I know I will be fine and whatever I chose to do will turn out to be of value for me, even if it doesn't go as planned. Life is forgiving in its own way, time helps to mend things and chances to start over are infinite.

I think turning 30 (ugh!) this month got me thinking too much about what I have done and still need to do for myself...

Sorry about all the talking, but hey, you are all friends and that's what friends are for!
But, one cannot live on thoughts alone so of course while I do all this thinking and try to find my own little self I have been cooking a lot too!
I love this blog and keep taking pictures and more pictures, trying recipes and inventing in the kitchen, so now I think I had enough time already to think and be away from this space, and I hope to be coming back with recipes and more!

For today I am only going to leave you all with this picture I took from a tomato salad I made this weekend when we got home from the farmer's market! Fresh, fresh, fresh tomatoes, ripe and juicy, so, sooooo, sooooooooo good! Simply seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil, and basil, it was the star dish of our lunch. The basil was fresh from the market too, from the little guys I bought to plant in my backyard herb pots.
I like spring but I LOVE SUMMER and this salad tasted just like that to me! I am so ready for the warm weather, bring on the heat, the juicy fruits and ice creams, I am ready for that all and to say goodbye to the winter blues who definitely got me thinking this year.

Love you all!

Ps: Thanks to all those who send me comments and e-mail asking if everything is ok!