Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tropical flowers II





Flor de un dia (one day flower) This orquid blooms only once and it lasts one day only... Pretty lucky sighting, right?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Menu for the week

Ravioli with pesto, peas and spinach/Salad
Beef tacos/Rice/Beans
Black bean soup/Salad

Breakdown:

Aldi $18
Kroger $30
Costco $16

Happy holiday weekend everybody!... We will be out of town enjoying time with family (hence the absence of one meal) I'll be back on Tuesday with some pictures from the weekend.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rugelach

What I'm about to share with you is my recipe for Rugelach passed to me by my friend Simone. I love making this. It is easy and so delicious. A caveat, since Simone is a German Expat living in Australia the recipe she gave me is on the metric system. I know, I know... But I had to share! It is so worth it. So, if you have a scale that measures in both systems give this recipe a try... It is so good for a mid afternoon snack and some hot green tea (my favorite way to eat it)

OK, without further adieu, I leave you with the recipe for Rugelach or nutty pastry.

Ingredients for the dough:

400 g of flour
250 g of butter
200 g of cream cheese
2 egg yolks
2 Tbs of vanilla sugar

Ingredients for filling:

250 g of ground nuts (walnuts, almonds or hazelnut) - I used to grind my own but now I buy ground almonds in Trader Joe's, It works great
2 egg whites
200 g of sugar
1 tsp of cream

In a electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter then add the 2 eggs yolks gradually and vanilla sugar. With the mixer on low speed, add flour and cream cheese to the dough until combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board, knead and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in thirds wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the filling beat egg whites to a thick consistency, add sugar while beating. Fold in nuts and cream.

On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with one third of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 8 equal wedges—cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter in half. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under (or not, see picture below), on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fruit Juices

(I can't hardly believe how little Miss V looks in this picture - Picture taken in market Vienna in Austria back in 2007 - She was 4 years old)

If you are looking for a way to use up all the delicious fruits that are available right now you have come to the right place. This is the season for watermelons, cantaloupes and pineapples but what else can you do when you have all that fruit in the refrigerator and you feel it may go bad if not eaten quickly? Well friend, here is an idea. Make some refreshing juices with it. So simple. Here are some of my favorite combinations:

Watermelon and cucumber
Cantaloupe and limes
Pineapple and apples

Basically, just cut up your fruit and put it on your blender with a splash of water and sugar or agave nectar if needed. After you have blended it very well put it through a strainer to get rid of any seeds or fiber... Add some ice cubes. It is so refreshing and delicious. Perfect for a hot {almost} summer day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Follow the fruit


Oranges

Sugar cane

Pineapples

Traffic can be a pear in Costa Rica ;) Get it? Nevermind...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Menu for the week

Chicken and dumplings - recipe from here
Hamburgers and hot dogs, corn on the cob, orzo salad, chips, cake... It's party time!!!
Mushroom lasagna (I haven't made this one in a while... it is so good!)/Salad
Black eye peas soup with Andouille sausage/Salad

Breakdown:

Aldi $30
Kroger $25
Costco $8
Super H $14

We are a little relieved that the world did not end on Saturday but in case it did we were prepared to party like rock stars.

And in case you were worried...

Icelandic authorities are stressing to the world’s media that the Grimsvotn eruption which began this evening is not the same as the more violent Eyjafjallajokull, and extremely unlikely to cause the sort of air travel chaos seen last year.

Grimsvotn is Iceland’s most active volcano. It last erupted in 2004 and 1998. It is known for mostly short and “gentle” eruptions, although it is also known to cause localised glacial flooding.

Aircraft are being told to avoid the volcano area, as volcanic ash is a danger to jet engines. The no-fly zone is small however, and no delays or cancellations are being reported.

Source Icenews

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Answering friends/readers questions

I often get asked all kinds of questions that I thought I could address here in the old blog. To start this little Q&A session (there will be more posts like this later on), lets address the question of how do we get prepared for a trip? Well, here is what we do:

We like to read as much as we can about the destination by buying (or borrowing from the library) travel books. I do a lot (as in LOTS) of internet research. I also like to hit Flickr for photo inspiration. And nothing gets you in the mood for a vacation like cooking dishes, listening to music and watching movies about the destinations we will be visiting. We take our research seriously friends! Itunes and Netflix get a lot of use here.

Regarding Iceland, we will be watching this weekend "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" and James Bond's "Die Another Day" all filmed in the glacier lagoon of Jokulsarlon. We are leaving " A Journey to the Center of the Earth" (The Snæfellsjökull volcano was the location used by Jules Verne to enter the center of the earth) and "Batman Begins" for another weekend.

We have also been listening to a lot of Bjork, Emiliana Torrini and Sigur Ros... All awesome.


This video from Sigur Ros is especially appropriate for the last leg of our trip - New York City. Although I don't understand the lyrics, the music is just so beautiful



Emilina Torrini, I think I have a girl crush, this song is so much fun



And let us don't forget, the incomparable Bjork...

And the food, you asked? Well, Iceland is not exactly famous for their cuisine (when you consider one of the meals is: Hákarl - putrid shark meat, you can guess why) But I did come across some utterly delicious (but expensive) Icelandic yogurt in Whole foods the other day, so we will be enjoying that for now... I can't wait to try the local varieties.

What about you friend? How do you prepare for a vacation? Do you guys like to get excited about a trip by watching movies or listening to music? Please share any other ideas you may have...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Power lunch

My new favorite lunch to bring to work:
I came about this salad by chance. If you know me you know I don't like to through away leftovers. I had a little bit of wild rice and bulgur left from a previous meal so I decided to make some quinoa add some pan roasted veggies (carrots, eggplant, onions, mushrooms, and Chinese broccoli), a drizzle of olive oil and salt/pepper to taste... Delish

You can also make a variation of this salad with summer veggies (think of roasted corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and lots of herbs). Another favorite way to eat it, add some leftover lentils (drain any extra liquid) for an even more filling salad.

A good serving of any of these salads and you will be full all afternoon. You will be feeling good for eating a complete lunch pack with whole grains, veggies and protein, and it tastes good too...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bird watching II

In the magnificent Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve:






And the pride and joy of the Monterverde Cloud Forest Preserve, The Resplendent Quetzal

Friends, the fact we got to see this beautiful bird made this trip even sweeter. It is very rare to see this beauty. Luckily, we were in Costa Rica during mating season which increased our chances by a lot. As you can see we got a full view of him (we know its a him because the female stays in the nest while the male hunts for food - never too far from the nest, though) thanks to our uber awesome guide (I highly recommend getting a guide when visiting the Preserve). We got an even closer look with our binoculars. A fantastic look at what nature has to offer, for sure!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Menu for the week

Meatball sandwiches/ Kale chips
Chupe/Salad
Pasta with Romesco sauce/Salad
Chicken breast on the bone with fresh herb butter/Broccoli/Cous cous

Breakdown:

Aldi $19
Kroger $30
Costco $4
Super H $9

I'll be back on Monday! See you all then.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The breakfast project

A few months back when we went to Highland Bakery for breakfast I had the most delicious corn cakes. Ever since I have been wanting to recreate them... It is getting warm here in the South which means corn can be found very reasonably priced... So it is finally time for me to give the corn cakes a try.

I am using the recipe from Smitten Kitchen to make the corn cakes and adding my own twist to how I serve them... Delicious

Ingredients for the corn cakes:

2 tablespoons butter, plus additional for brushing pan
3/4 cup kernels cut from one large ear sweet fresh corn
1/8 teaspoon of salt plus additional for seasoning corn
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (I obmitted it)
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal, any kind
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Melt butter in a large cast iron skillet or griddle pan over medium heat. Add corn and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to brown ever-so-slightly. Sprinkle with salt and set aside to cool. Wipe out skillet.

Lightly beat egg in the bottom of a large bowl, then whisk in buttermilk, corn, vanilla and sugar. In a smaller bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir dry ingredients into wet, mixing until just combined but still lumpy in appearance.

Reheat your skillet or saute pan to medium. Brush the pan with butter and ladle 1/4 cup batter at a time, 2 inches apart. When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip them over and cook them until golden brown underneath. If they seem to be cooking too quickly (dark on the outside, raw centers) turn your heat down to low for the next batch and inch it up as needed. Repeat with remaining batter.

For my twist, here is the anatomy my favorite way to eat corn cakes:

Place one corn cake on a plate
Add a generous portion of seasoned black beans and a sprinkle of queso fresco
Add a tablespoon of sour cream, salsa , more queso fresco and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro
OMG friends... it is like you died and went to heaven...
Corn cake recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pictures from the weekend

To celebrate Mother's day we went on a trip down memory lane. On Saturday after breakfast we got in our car and drove to Athens, GA - the town we lived when we first got married (almost) 13 years ago. Of course, there were some mandatory stops - Let's just call it the Tour de Sand:

Where we got married

The Taylor-Grady House

Our first house:
285 Fairlane Dr

Our favorite hangout:

DePalmas

And lots of pictures in between...





Athens is as beautiful today as it was back then...