Friday, December 30, 2011

Menu for the week

The New Year edition:

Lentil soup with sausage/Collard greens/Focaccia
Grilled flank steak and sausages/Twice baked potatoes/Pebre/
Spaghetti Marinara/Salad
Cuban sandwiches/Chips

Breakdown:

Aldi $24
Kroger $35
Costco $20
Publix $8

In case you were wondering, we will start the new year Venezuelan style. We will be eating lentils to attract good fortune in the new year, and this year, I am also adding collard greens - a Southern US tradition for good fortune... It can't hurt, right?

Other traditions we will be partaking in at midnight 12/31:

Eating 12 grapes with our Champagne (one wish per month of the new year)
Holding a suitcase (for travel... Don't ask)
Holding money... Do I have to explain...

Here's wishing you a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

12 days of cookies

Sugar cookies

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Don't forget to leave some for Santa...

With this friends I conclude my 12 days of Cookies posting. I hope you have given one (or two) a try. I am signing off for few days to recover from the holiday's craziness. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

See you all back here really soon...

Friday, December 23, 2011

12 days of cookies

Snickerdoodles cookies

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 stick or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
2 large eggs

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper; set aside. Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine. At this point, I chilled the dough for an hour (or you can overnight) before scooping it, because I otherwise found it too difficult to scoop into balls and roll.

Once dough has chilled, in a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Use an ice-cream scoop to form balls of the dough and lightly roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in center and begin to crack (they will not brown), about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after five minutes. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about five minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack.

See original post and link sources here

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12 days of cookies

Almond orange shortbread cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
Grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

Make the dough: In a mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar, almond extract, and salt until smooth. With mixer on low speed, add flour and orange zest; mix just until a dough forms. With a wooden spoon, rubber spatula, or your hands, gently mix in almonds.

Freeze the dough: On a piece of waxed paper, form dough into a rectangular log, 12 inches long, 2 1/2 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. Wrap log in the paper, and freeze until firm, at least 1 hour.

Bake the shortbread: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove dough from freezer. (If dough has been in freezer a long time and is frozen solid, let it sit at room temperature 30 minutes so it slices without crumbling.)

With a sharp knife, cut dough into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. Bake until edges just begin to turn golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet; transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.

See original post and links here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12 days of cookies

Almond, orange chocolate biscotti

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup hazelnuts, chopped
2 tsp of orange zest

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper (or silpat) and set aside. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter for 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add 2 eggs, one at a time and beat until incorporated. Add flour mixture gradually and mix until combined. Add the chopped hazelnuts and orange zest and mix with a wooden spoon. Flour your hands (the dough is quite sticky) and turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut in half and shape each piece into a 12 inch log (make sure there is plenty of space between the logs). Place them onto the baking trays and flatten them slightly. Bake the logs, rotating trays half way through for 25 minutes. Transfer the logs onto a cutting board and let cool for 20-30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 F. Cut the logs crosswise to half an inch thick slices. Place on a wire rack and bake for 30 minutes.

See original post here

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

12 days of cookies

Rugelach:

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.

See original post here and a bonus post (Chocolate Rugelach!) here

...And Happy Hannukah!

Monday, December 19, 2011

12 days of cookies

Salted butter chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients:

4 ounces (115g) salted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed (110g) dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup (180g) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
1 1/3 cups (200g) coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 cup toasted nuts, coarsely chopped

Preparation:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar just until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the beaten butter until combined, then mix in the chopped chocolate (including any chocolate dust) and the chopped nuts. Cover and chill the batter until firm. (It’s preferable to let it rest overnight.) To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Form the cookie dough into rounds about the size of a large unshelled walnut. Place the mounds evenly spaced apart on the baking sheets, and press down the tops to flatten them so they are no longer domed and the dough is even. Bake the cookies for ten minutes, rotating the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies look about set, but are not browned. Remove from the oven and quickly tap the top of each with a spatula, then return to the oven for two to five more minutes, until the tops of the cookies are light golden brown.

See original post with links to sources here

Sunday, December 18, 2011

12 days of cookies

Macaroons

1 ¼ cups icing sugar
4 oz (1 cup) almond flour or finely ground almonds
¼ cup plus 2 tbsps egg whites at room temperature
pinch of salt
¼ cup granulated sugar

Allow egg whites to thicken by leaving them uncovered at room temperature overnight. On three pieces of parchment, use a pencil to draw 1-inch (2.5 cm) circles about 2 inches apart. Flip each sheet over and place each sheet on a baking sheet.

Push almond flour through a tamis or sieve, and sift icing sugar. Mix the almonds and icing sugar in a bowl and set aside. If the mixture is not dry, spread on a baking sheet, and heat in oven at the lowest setting until dry. In a large clean, dry bowl whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip to stiff peaks – the whites should be firm and shiny.With a flexible spatula, gently fold in icing sugar mixture into egg whites until completely incorporated. The mixture should be shiny and "flow like magma". When small peaks dissolve to a flat surface, stop mixing.

Fit a piping bag with a 3/8-inch (1 cm) round tip. Pipe the batter onto the baking sheets, in the previously drawn circles. Tap the underside of the baking sheet to remove air bubbles. Let dry at room temperature for 1 or 2 hours to allow skins to form.

Bake, in a 160C/325F oven for 10 to 11 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door slightly ajar, and rotate the baking sheet after 5 minutes for even baking.

Remove macarons from oven and transfer parchment to a cooling rack. When cool, slide a metal offset spatula or pairing knife underneath the macaron to remove from parchment.

Pair macarons of similar size, and pipe about ½ tsp of the filling onto one of the macarons. Sandwich macarons, and refrigerate to allow flavours to blend together. Bring back to room temperature before serving.

For the filling:

Mix together passion fruit curd (recipe here) and mascarpone cheese. The quantity depends on how much passion fruit flavor you like...

See original post with links to sources here

Saturday, December 17, 2011

12 days of cookies

Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Ingredient:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips, not semisweet

Preparation:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line them with parchment paper (I use my silk pad). Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.

Find original post here

Friday, December 16, 2011

12 days of cookies

Lavendar cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup softened butter
1 egg
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp organic lavender buds
1 cup sugar
1.5 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

Line cookie sheet w/ parchment or spray with non-stick spray. Beat butter till creamy - add sugar and egg and beat. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop by small spoonful (makes 2 cookie sheets full). Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on pan. They will be slightly browned on edges and still pale in the center.

See original post here

Thursday, December 15, 2011

12 days of cookies

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies





































Ingredients:

2 sticks of room temperature butter
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup of flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup of chocolate chips
3/4 cup of chopped walnuts

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla - beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon - mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and oats - mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoons on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10 - 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool one minute on cookie sheet - remove to wire rack.

Cool completely and store tightly covered.

Find original post here

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 days of cookies

Palmiers:

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted (recommended: Pepperidge Farm)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the sugar and kosher salt. Pour 1 cup of the sugar/salt mixture on a flat surface such as wooden board or marble.

Unfold each sheet of puff pastry onto the sugar and pour 1/2 cup of the sugar mixture on top, spreading it evenly on the puff pastry. This is not about sprinkling, it's about an even covering of sugar.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it's 13 by 13-inches square and the sugar is pressed into the puff pastry on top and bottom. Fold the sides of the square towards the center so they go halfway to the middle. Fold them again so the two folds meet exactly at the middle of the dough. Then fold 1 half over the other half as though closing a book. You will have 6 layers.

Slice the dough into 3/8-inch slices and place the slices, cut side up, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place the second sheet of pastry on the sugared board, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar mixture, and continue as above. (There will be quite a bit of sugar left over on the board.) Slice and arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment.

Bake the cookies for 6 minutes until caramelized and brown on the bottom, then turn with a spatula and bake another 3 to 5 minutes, until caramelized on the other side. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.

Find original post here

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 days of cookies

I am going to kick off my twelve days of cookies with this recipe:

Chocolate chip cookies





































Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips, or chunks
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt

Directions:
  • Evenly position 2 racks in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. (on convection setting if you have it.) Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone sheets. (If you only have 1 baking sheet, let it cool completely between batches.)
  • Put the butter in a microwave safe bowl, cover and microwave on medium power until melted. (Alternatively melt in a small saucepan.) Cool slightly.
  • Whisk the sugars, eggs, butter and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth.
  • Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl.
  • Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon; take care not to over mix.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips or chunks.
  • Scoop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared pans.
  • Wet hands slightly and roll the dough into balls.
  • Space the cookies about 2-inches apart on the pans.
  • Bake, until golden, but still soft in the center, 12 to 16 minutes, depending on how chewy or crunchy you like your cookies.
  • Transfer hot cookies with a spatula to a rack to cool.
Serve and enjoy.

Find original post here

Friday, December 9, 2011

Menu for the week

Italian meatball soup/Salad
Ham and cheese Monte Cristo Sandwiches/Salad
Orecchiette with broccoli, sausage and asparagus/Salad
Oven roasted chicken breast/green rice/pan roasted carrots

Breakdown:

Aldi $15
GW of GA $8
Kroger $35

Starting Monday I will be kicking off a 12 day series all about cookies. I thought it was appropriate to re-post all those cookies recipes I have made and posted here in the old blog. Just in case you are looking for some inspiration for all those cookie swaps you might be having with your friends or to be gifted to your kids' teachers... What am I saying? Do you really need a excuse to make cookies? I think not...
Yummy, yes?

Please be back on Monday when the 12 days of cookies extravaganza will start...

Also, since we will be traveling and having family in town the next few weeks I will be taking a break from posting the menues for the week... I will be back soon, though. I promise...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ponche crema

Let the festivities begin...

Ponche crema or egg nog is a delicious drink that screams Christmas to me... There is no Christmas without it, agreed?

Tia Lola's really easy ponche crema

Ingredients:

1 packet of vanilla pudding
1 packet of flan
1 can of condensed milk
1 tbs of lime zest
nutmeg to taste
1 tbs of vanilla
Good quality rum, to taste

Preparation:
Make the pudding and the flan according to the packet direction. Let it cool. Once the flan and pudding have cooled put in a blender and give it a whirl with the rest of the ingredients. So easy...

Tia Lola passed away last year... She will be missed, especially during the holidays... She will be remembered for many things but, for me, I will always remember her for her ponche crema. I loved it. Wherever you are Tia Lola, we will be drinking one for you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Through their eyes - Yucatan peninsula

Being awe struck by the genius of Chichen Itza
Bicycling around and climbing Mayan ruins in Coba
Taking a dip in the different cenotes in the area
Walking around in colonial Valladolid
Eating paletas, drinking batidos and eating all the delicious food... Aw the food was so good...
One word: Xcaret... This place is incredible... So much to do (subterranean rivers, snorkeling paradise, beach bumming, Mayan culture overload) I totally recommend it, especially the cultural show at the end, it is so beautiful and inspiring... It cannot be missed.
Oh, oh, one more... Getting a peek into the cockpit of the airplane on the way back, ha, so cool...

Monday, December 5, 2011

We are back + thoughts

I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.

~ Caskie Stinnett
It's is a sickness friends... and we got it really bad :)

We are back from our brief time of much needed R&R in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula (plus a day with family in Miami on our return flight). It always feels good to be back home from a vacation with tons of photographs and memories... I can't wait to share... I hope you don't mind.

December is here! My god, where has the year gone? It goes without saying, we are busy during the holidays... Tons of family time and festive activities in the works... Bring it!

Happy Monday everybody!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Costa Rica - North Pacific Coast Part II

The little town of Liberia


A hike at Rincon de la Vieja National Park (see other pictures from Rincon de la Vieja here)


Horseback riding to Rio Colorado to go tubing




Gracias Costa Rica for such a fantastic vacation... I can't wait to go back and see so much more....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Costa Rica - North Pacific Coast Part I

On our drive to Liberia we stopped for some delicious snacks





After we checked in to our hotel we headed to the beach - Playa el Conchal, a little secluded beach on the North Pacific Coast.