April 15, 2015

A colorful salad brightens my day

I got home thinking of salad! And what's so special about this salad? It is colorful, with a crisp texture, and deliciously flavorful, the perfect balance of flavors and textures.

I wasn't a regular salad eater, but since Brady built a small garden a few years ago, and we started having fresh and homegrown vegetables, everything has changed. The taste, the texture of homegrown produce are incomparable. I've learned to enjoy eating salad, and I am always inspired by new ways to make it.

Sweet, refreshing and crunching, a one-in-all raw salad.

This simple, easy and totally delish salad is a variation of one my mother makes regularly. She dices the tomatoes and shred the carrots, I prefer to slice both. It feels good to taste the juice, the texture of tomatoes and the sweetness and crunchiness of carrots combined with fresh ingredients. 


Rainbow Carrot & Tomato Raw Salad

I'm listing the ingredients, the amounts are to taste.

 Rainbow carrots, thinly sliced
♥ Tomatoes, sliced
♥ Onion
♥ Scallion, or spring garlic
♥ Olive oil
♥ Sea salt
♥ Freshly ground peppercorn
♥ Juice of 1/2 lemon
♥ Sesame seeds

Slice the tomatoes and carrots. I use a mandolin to slice the carrots, it makes it much easier, and uniform.
Whisk all the other ingredients together, minus the sesame seeds. Taste and adjust any seasoning accordingly.
Drizzle in the dressing little by little and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and enjoy.


April 5, 2015

I have a recipe with no name...


Firstly, if you celebrate this holiday, I want to wish you a Happy Easter, with people you love, friends or family. Feliz Páscoa!

Secondly, I need your help. I have a dilemma, and hopefully you can help me with it.

The Brazilian name for this recipe is Torta de Banana com Creme e Suspiro, if I translate it a word-to word, it would be Banana, Custard and Meringue Pie, but what we call pie in America has a crust, but not this recipe, so what should I call it? If not a pie what should be the name for it? So, can you help me?!?!?!



This is the kind of dessert you like to have handy when you are short of time. Extremely simple to pull together, yet delicious and light.

I love them all, banana, vanilla custard, and meringue, and have all three together to me is pure delight.

Banana, Custard & Meringue
Makes about 4

1st layer - Banana Compote
 4 bananas
♥ 1 tbsp sugar for each banana (I used demerara)
♥ 3/4 cup water
♥ lime juice of half lime

Place the sugar in a saucepan over low heat stirring constantly until it's crumbly.
Pour a cup of boiling water in to the pan and stir until the sugar dissolves. ♥ Always be careful not to spill boiling water on yourself when you pour it over the crumbly sugar.
Add the bananas, sliced, and then the lime juice.
Place the smooth mixture in an oven safe dish.

2nd layer - Custard
♥ 2 1/2 cups milk
♥ 2 tbsp cornstarch
♥ 1 tbsp sugar
♥ 2 egg yolks
♥ 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
♥ 2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the cornstarch, one spoon at a time, with 1/2 cup of milk. Stir it slowly until the cornstarch is completely dissolved, and keep on the side.
Place the remaining milk in a saucepan over medium heat, stir the egg yolks to dissolve them and add them to the saucepan. Add the vanilla. Stir this mixture slowly.
Gradually pour the dissolved cornstarch into the saucepan. Add sugar and butter. Continue stirring unit it becomes a thick and creamy texture. Do not let it boil.
Pour this mixture on top of the banana compote.

3rd layer - Meringue
♥ 2 egg whites
♥ 4 tbsp sugar

Beat the egg white with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, gradually, while beating on high speed. Adding the sugar too quickly will knock air out of the egg whites and make them difficult to mix thoroughly.
The texture should be thick and shiny.

Gently spread the meringue over the custard.

Bake just a couple of minutes until the meringue turns light brown. you can also broil it until browned.

Chill for about 2 hours, or less, if you can't wait to enjoy it.








March 28, 2015

Mini Easter Baskets



Hello dear readers! For a while I thought I would not make it here this week. I caught a nasty cold, and spent most of this week in bed, but what a relieve, today I'm feeling much better.

I made an easy and cute Easter project for the Craft Caf'é column, which Claire posted on her blog Heart Handmade UK last Monday.

These little Easter cups and baskets are super simple to put together, and perfect for kids and adults alike to enjoy some sweet treats.


I like celebrating Easter with fun crafts and decorations, and I thought a bunny face would be perfect to customize little paper cups to decorate the table, but then I went further and added a paper strip to create a handle. Now besides bunny-face paper cups I have cute little bunny-face baskets as well.




You will need:

  • Mini paper cups - mine are Robert Gordon Paper Cups
  • Scraps of paper
  • Round shape paper punch - I have a Cricut machine so I used it to make my circles
  • Small craft pom-poms
  • Glue stick & scissors





Steps:

  • Use a paper punch to cut round shapes. 
  • Sketch the ears on paper and cut them with scissors.
  • Glue the face (round shape) to the ears.
  • Glue a pom-pom on the face, and glue the finished face to a paper cup.
  • Cut a piece of paper into a 3/8" to create a handle.
  • Secure both handle ends to the paper cup using glue.
  • For a cute detail, you can add a small pom pom to the back of the paper cup. 























Such an easy and fun way to add a little whimsy to your Easter table.


March 20, 2015

Mini Coconut & Cheese Cake - Bombocado


"Do you like them?" I asked Brady when I handed him a plate with some Bombocados.

"Oh! They are so delicious!", he said.

And I smiled.

It was the first time I made Bombocado, which I decided to translate into mini Coconut & Cheese cake. Flourless & gluten-free, I must add.

Last Sunday, as I walked into the kitchen with a hungry belly for something sweet, I thought I would call my mother to ask for her Bombocado recipe, which she calls Sorrisos, or in English, Smiles

Inevitably it is what happens when we eat Bombocado, we smile, happy and fulfilled.

They are extremely moistdeliciously smooth, and satisfying.

The next morning, before going to work I stopped at my friend's home  to give her some Bombocados

Later that day, she called me to say she and her children loved it, and asked for the recipe. Gladly, I gave it to her.

I know what you are going to say. Yet another sweetened condensed milk recipe? 

Please do not be hard on me. What can I say. I read that was an American, Gail Borden Jr., who developed was is known today as sweetened condensed milk, but we Brazilians have adopted and cherished it as our own.


The sweetness of baked coconut scent filled my home, and as always it took me back to the time I lived on the second floor above my father's bakery. 

Every time I bake a cake I feel like I'm heading back home growing up in a large family. 

Never a dull moment. 

Sweet and cozy memories.

  • Usually, I would place Bombocado in small baking paper candy cases like these ones, but I wanted to use some muffins cups I'd bought a while back.
  • If you can use freshly grated coconut.
  • There is no need to sprinkle coconut on top of them, they have plenty. I did that just to dress them up for my Easter table.


Are you ready for the simplest and most delicious treat?


mini Coconut and Cheese Cake - Bombocado
Makes 10 when using muffins cases

♥ 1 can sweetened condensed milk
♥ 225 grs unsweetened coconut
♥ 65 grs grated parmesan
♥ 4 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 310F. Line muffin tray with cases. I used some paper cases and some silicone ones. 

In a blender, beat the egg yolks, add sweetened condensed milk, beat some more. Add the cheese, and last, and gradually, add the coconut.

Place the mixture into the cases, and bake them for about 20 - 25 minutes until lightly golden. 

Use the toothpick method to check whether they are done. If after 25 min they are still not ready, turn the oven off, and let them finish cooking inside of it, but keep one eye on them, they should not get brown.

Place them on a rack to completely cool off.


Is there any of that coconut thing left? Brady asked me after dinner.

I smiled.

He rarely eats sweets after dinner. I think it was love at first bite.



March 14, 2015

Springy feeling

The sun shone yesterday, and when the sun shines, I get carried away and I want to take pictures, but I didn't feel like being outside quite yet, it is still cold, so I took pictures of the inside, trying to give my home a much needed springy feeling.




When it's cold outside nothing better than a hot cup of café com leite to make me happy and fulfilled.




It makes my heart flutter at the thought of Spring being just around the the corner. Are you ready? I know I am!!!

Happy weekend to all of you!



March 7, 2015

Fish & Coconut Milk Stew - Moqueca de Peixe

Moqueca de Peixe is a traditional Brazilian seafood stew, basically is a mixture of fish, coconut milk, cilantro, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and  it is cooked slowly, with no water added. Two ingredients are essential to the authenticity of this dish - coconut milk and cilantro.


The original recipe is on the spicy side, and use a specific oil, dendê oil, which is palm oil. I don't like spicy, and dendê oil is too strong for me, so I adapted it to my taste. After all that's how it should be, right? I mean, if it's not baking, recipes should be adapted to one's taste. If it asks for 2 garlic cloves, but you love garlic, so be it, add as many cloves as you want. Don't you agree?

Very simple, easy to make, fresh and delicious. It balances taste and texture. The kind of recipe you like to have when you are short of time and want a hearty and elegant meal.

This recipe is a favorite. Hopefully, you will like it as much as Brady and I do.



Fish & Coconut Milk Stew - Moqueca de Peixe

Whenever I cook fish, and chicken, the first thing I do is to wash them under running water, pat them dry, and season with salt, garlic powder, freshly squeezed lime, or lemon juice, and set them aside.

 2 lbs fresh cod fillet, or tilapia
 1 1/2 cup coconut milk
♥ 1 freshly squeezed lime juice
♥ 7 garlic gloves, minced
♥ 3 tbsp olive oil
♥ 1 onion, finely sliced
♥ 1 small red bell pepper, finely sliced
♥ 3 tomatoes, chopped
♥ fresh cilantro, plenty
♥ salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Toss fish, some garlic, lime juice, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, remaining garlic, bell pepper, and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant and the onions are softened.

Add the chopped tomatoes, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stirring occasionally, cook until the mixture thicken.

Add the fish to the pan. Stir in cilantro and coconut milk.
Bring the stew to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the fish easily flakes apart.

Enjoy it with white rice on the side.

Note: Usually I use olive oil to cook this meal, but this time I experimented it with roasted hazelnut oil from Trader Joe's, a flavorful addition to this meal.





February 27, 2015

DIY - Pretty cans

Today I have a new diy project I made for the Craft Café column at Heart Handmade UK - Upcycled Tin Can Storage.

I'm always finding new ways to reuse tin cans and give them a new life. I like the idea of crafting and upcycling them.





Gold is my favorite accent color so I sprayed the cans and lids with a metallic gold paint, and mixed and matched papers, tapes, and embellishments to decorate them. Last but not least, I added a round wooden bead to some of the lids to make a handle. Now I can use them to store some of my craft supplies, or to hold some pretty flowers.
















This is a very inexpensive way to spruce up any room and give it a personal touch.



If you have some empty tin cans, you should try this project

After you spray paint inside and outside of the cans and lids in metallic gold, gather what you have on hand to decorate them, like papers, tapes, laces, adhesive embellishments, buttons, and so on. 




There are so many ways to get creative with these cans. I hope you get inspired by this post and come up with other beautiful ideas to upcycle tin cans.

Find the full tutorial here.


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