May 15, 2015

Cooling off in a summer day in the middle of May with a Watermelon, Raspberry, Lime Juice



Nothing is more refreshing in the summer than a fresh and cold fruit drink. Oh wait, it's not summer yet! Well, but that's how it felt  from last Sunday through Tuesday, gorgeous and warm hot summer days.



We'd been working hard in our yard. I woke up with the birds, so I started early in the morning and by midday I was ready to relax in the deck and watch Brady still working under that hot sun.
I could see he was happy doing a lot of outdoor work, but he looked exhausted, covered in sweat, and he was starting getting red!

"Perhaps I should give him something cold to drink", I thought. I went inside looking for something and saw some fruits I had bought the day before, they were perfect for a refreshing and healthy juice to cool him off - watermelon, raspberry and lime.





I believe a juice can hardly be called a recipe, just mix and match some ingredients to taste and most of the time we will find ourselves having a delicious drink, but if you need a guideline, here is how I made it.

It's best to use seedless watermelon so you don't have to de-seeding it. The watermelon I used had seeds and I couldn't get rid of all of them, but I didn't mind, I like fruit juices with texture, with body, not to miss any of their flavors and nutrients, so I didin't strain the puree to remove any pulp. Also, I never sweeten my fruit juices, but again, this is a personal preference.



Watermelon, Raspberry & Lime Juice

2 cups diced watermelon
1 handful of raspberries
♥ juice of 2 small limes - freshly squeezed
♥ sugar, syrup, or honey to taste

Simply combine the watermelon cubes, lemon juice, raspberries and ice in a blender and give it a whirl to create a slushy puree.

"What is that?" Brady asked me when I offered the juice to him. "It's a refreshing and nutritious juice, try it", I told him. "Yum, this is good!", he murmured after the first sip. "Can I have some more? This is what I needed!"
























April 29, 2015

I see beauty around me

Hello friends! Apologies for my prolonged silence, I have been busy these past couple of weeks. Spring is here, and with it lots of work preparing my home to finally breath some fresh air again, raking up the leaves, and soon get back to enjoy my backyard.

I always have flowers at home, even when it's cold outside. Sometimes I buy from a local flower shop, sometimes from a grocery store. To me flowers are special, they bring joy to my life, and I am thankful for that, so I take good care of them, and try to keep them around as much as possible.

These flowers were a gift from my husband. He gave them to me on my birthday, April 18th, when I took this picture.





Cut flowers can be expensive, and without proper care, they will wilt or die quickly, throwing all of your money away. Here is what I do to keep them around as long as possible.

Before placing them in a vase I remove all the leaves that would be touching the water. Depending on the flowers, some are more thirsty than others, I change the water every other day.  Once I remove them from the water, I trim the stems in an angle before placing them back in cool water.

In this process of cutting back the stems, removing leaves and flowers that have died, the bouquet starts to change, and so does the way I display the flowers.


This second picture was taken today, eleven days after I got my birthday bouquet. Some of the flowers and foliage were not looking good anymore, but some were still majestic, so using bottles and jars as vases I created a simpler, yet as beautiful, flower display.

I like to experimenting when arranging flowers, mixing small and big ones, along with some foliage for added texture and beauty. Sometimes I will use cups, mugs and bowls as vases. I believe everything that can hold water can also hold flowers. There are no set in stone rules when it comes to flower arranging, just go with your instinct and enjoy the moment.


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!



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