4.16.2014

Chocolate Swirl Meringues


Planning Luca’s birthday party has been keeping me very busy these past few weeks. Thankfully it’s over. The reason for this is, I take on the task of making everything myself, from designing the invitations to making the piñata and of course, making the food and sweets all from scratch. I love to do all of these, don't get me wrong, it’s just tiring. 


For the food, I made falafel sandwiches. I know, very unusual for a birthday party but they were quite a hit. I also made a few salads and simple sandwiches, chicken and tuna. His cake was THIS chocolate cake which is his favorite. I also made other treats, including these chocolate swirl meringues. I can't begin to tell you how good these were. They are light and airy with a chewy center and a crisp exterior. They simply melt in your mouth. The chocolate was just an extra bonus to this sweet treat, they made all the kids very happy. 


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4.10.2014

Pickled Cauliflower and Jalapeño


A quick update to post this pickled cauliflower and jalapeño recipe. I love to use this technique to preserve my favorite seasonal vegetables. I'm actually kind of late for this post which I did a while ago but, I figured, it’s never too late to share a good recipe. It’s really easy to put together and the end result is amazing, crunchy and slightly spicy cauliflower. Of course, the intensity of the heat can be elevated by adding more jalapeños. For this recipe, I only used one and I also added a few spices and lemon zest for a citrus note. Enjoy this recipe and next week I'm coming back with a chocolate swirl meringues I made for my son’s birthday and also, a piñata tutorial. Yes, you read well, I said piñata!! 


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3.24.2014

Tres Leches Cake

Tres leches is a cake I never get tired of. How could I? It has everything I look for, on a comfort dessert. As you may know, this cake is very popular in Latin America, it’s a cake you will often find in birthday parties or any celebration really. It must be made in advance, letting it rest preferably overnight, to give the cake time to really soak up the tres leches (three milks). 
This recipe is the most basic and simple.There are lots of different ways to make this cake, anything from fruit fillings to 4 leches (the addition of dulce de leche). The 4 leches is quite interesting, basically you make two or three layers, pour some tres leches mixture on a layer then, spread some dulce de leche. Repeat the process then pour the remaining milk mixture all over the cake. 
I love 4 leches but it’s on the sweeter side which is why you can only have a little piece but, oh boy, what a little piece of heaven that is. There are different toppings too, some people like whipped cream, some like meringue (in Central America, most people use meringue for tres leches). Finally, it’s all topped with whatever fruit you like or simply sprinkled with cinnamon. Here is my recipe, use it, abuse it, add your own twist, enjoy! 

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3.13.2014

Raw Salad: Beet, Fennel, Carrots And Cilantro With Citrus Dressing + An Illustration

A good salad makes me happy but this salad is beyond good, it has made it into my all-time favorite top five salads. I know I sound dramatic but I can't help it, it’s that good. With simple ingredients and a quick preparation, this salad is far from boring. It has a sweetness to it from the carrots and beets and the fennel balances it all out nicely. 
The cilantro is a fresh addition, I like to add a lot of cilantro because I want this beautiful herb to shine and be a part of the salad, not hide it. Another brightening element, lots of lemon zest. See, I'm all about brightness and color today, maybe Is it because Spring is finally peeking through this harsh Winter? I really hope so, I never wanted Spring so bad. Here is the recipe, I know you are going to love it! 

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3.05.2014

Homemade Horchata - Dairy-Free


One of my all-time favorite drinks: Homemade horchata. Horchata recipes varies from region to region. In Honduras, we make horchata mainly from “toasted morro or jicaro seeds” (which are really hard to find here) and some rice. Morro seeds gives the horchata a  nutty flavor, next time you go to a restaurant and get horchata, ask if your horchata has morro seeds, sometimes restaurants (specially Central Americans) get them by bulk. Since I didn't find morro seeds, I only used rice and I also used almond milk, not accustomed but it helps with texture. Another common ingredient in Honduran horchata is lime zest. It adds a fresh touch to this already refreshing drink. 


Also popular, cocoa powder is used for a chocolate aftertaste. Not my favorite way but it’s out there in case you want to experiment with your own version. Some people like to use whole milk to give horchata a thicker texture, I don't do that unless I am running out of horchata then I just mix in some milk :). Best way to serve it is really cold over lots of ice with grated cinnamon and more lime zest. 



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2.28.2014

Turmeric Tea With Almond Milk


I present to you my new obsession, turmeric tea. I’ve been a long-time fan of turmeric, not only do I love what it adds to my food (stews in particular) but turmeric is really, really, really good for you due to its health benefits including anti-inflammatory properties. Also, it has been suggested that turmeric may help prevent several types of cancer. 


At first, I thought turmeric would be too overwhelming on a tea, but that is not the case at all. Mixed with almond milk, it kind of reminded me of white chocolate for some reason, even my son fell for it. I also infused other spices like cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon for flavor which added a nice touch.
Whether it’s for its health benefits or taste, turmeric is a great addition to your diet.


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2.17.2014

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Have you ever made flour tortillas? If you haven’t, I got the recipe for you. Like most homemade things, flour tortillas are hard to beat. The “lifeless” packed stuff you find in the supermarkets doesn’t even come close to it. There are many ways you can eat flour tortillas, besides burritos of course, it is a flat bread so you can eat them with anything you would with a flat bread. I even eat them with hummus. 
Besides the fact that homemade tortillas are way tastier than store-bought, they are not really hard to make. The ingredients you need are most likely in your pantry. You will find a lot of recipes that call for lard, that’s actually pretty common in Latin America, I’ve even seen it done with pork fat, that is what makes the tortillas “tender”. I don’t use lard at all, I find that vegetable oil does the trick just fine but feel free to experiment! 

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2.12.2014

Individual Warm Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Sauce

Just a quick update to share with you a last minute recipe for Valentine’s Day. I am so glad I found some time to post this before the 14th. This warm chocolate cake is the perfect thing for a romantic evening or a friendly gathering. Since Valentines’ Day is also about having a perfect match,  guess what? I’ve found the perfect match for this cake, peanut butter sauce. 
The chocolate cake is rich, chocolaty and sweet which contrasts beautifully with the saltiness of the peanut butter, talk about magical moments. The peanut butter sauce on its own is just so good. I can eat it by the spoonful, truly a perfect match for this "single" serving chocolate cake.

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2.11.2014

Homemade Beet Pasta


Today I have a gorgeous recipe for you, beet pasta. I love beets, when they are in season I use and abuse them. How can I not, they are so sweet and very versatile too, just look at this pasta. Isn’t this color beautiful? 
A lot of people are intimidated by pasta making, like everything else, it needs practice but it is incredibly easy to make. I’ve been meaning to post a pasta dough recipe for a while now (long over due, I would say), finally, I made my move and here it is. Trust me, there is no reason to fear homemade pasta. Actually, it’s a rather satisfying process and the outcome is gratifying.
If you are not crazy about beets like I am, simply leave them out for a basic pasta recipe. Better yet, replace the beets for blanched, well drained spinach for a gorgeous spinach pasta. Fresh pasta cooks really fast, a couple of minutes is all it takes which is perfect for entertaining, just have your sauce ready. Speaking of the sauce, I happened to have on hand braised kale, so I simply sautéed  a couple of spicy Italian sausages then I added the braised kale, cooked it for a couple of minutes then mixed in the pasta. Out-of-this-world-good! 

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2.06.2014

Chocolate Nutella Sandwich Cookies

Pst pst, I have a secret, I don’t like heart-shaped cookies but I do have a heart-shaped cookie cutter which I love (go figure) so I thought I’ll use it to shape these chocolate sandwich cookies. This year is going too quickly, it’s already February which means Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Do you have plans yet? Are you cooking something special? I don’t know what I’m cooking yet but I know I’m making these very-valetine’s-apropiate cookies. 
I filled this batch with nutella but for Valentine’s Day, I was thinking to have several fillings so that people can choose what they want in it. I will have things like dulce de leche, lemon curd, rose flavored ganache and of course nutella. It’ll be fun to have a “cookies bar” and use these cookies as a conveyor of flavor. Sounds good already! 

Also, click HERE to read my last year Valentine's Day magazine special, to find more inspiration!


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1.28.2014

Homemade Arak Limoncello

Yes, it’s that time of the year again, citrus season is here. Juicy lemons, sweet oranges or sour limes, they finally taste like they are supposed to. I love visiting other sites when it’s citrus season. Everybody gets really creative with their recipes, just take a look at THIS beautiful salad or THIS gorgeous dessert, and how about THIS cocktail? All very inspiring. 
I am starting this season with a cocktail as well, limoncello. This is not your typical limoncello however, it comes with a twist, it’s made with arak. And what exactly is arak you ask? Well, lets say arak is the Middle Eastern answer to ouzo or pastis. Arak is a strong anise-distilled spirit and is usually mixed with water and ice to serve. I thought it could be fun to make limoncello with arak instead of vodka or other alcohols. 

I loved the outcome. This is the perfect thing to serve at a dinner party, It’s incredibly easy to make (although patience is required). The best way to serve it is  as cold as possible, place it in the freezer for a couple of hours or until it’s really cold. The citrus flavor mixed with the intense anise aroma of arak, makes this cocktail unique, exciting and refreshing. I can already see lots of Summer parties :)


Ingredients:



10 lemons
1 bottle (750 ml) arak
4 cups cold water

Simple syrup
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 ¼ cup water

Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler, making sure that none of the white pith is coming with it, if it does, remove it with a knife (the white pith can make the drink bitter). Place the peels in a pitcher and pour the arak over. Cover it very well with plastic wrap and put it away (at room temperature) for a week. After a week, strain it and discard the peels, set aside while you make the simple syrup. To make the syrup, place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir it until sugar is dissolved, let it cool completely. Once cooled, add the syrup to the limoncello and also add the remaining 2 cups of cold water. Stir and cover it and place it in the freezer until is very cold. Serve in small glasses. 

Note: You can also make this with vodka, just skipped the 4 cups of water at the end. Also, replace the lemon peels for orange peels to make arancello or you can even do a combination of both. 

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1.22.2014

Baked Orange Chicken Wings


With all those football games happening, I thought of making this awesome recipe for you. Now, I’m no fan of football, actually, I don’t even understand it but, that doesn’t stop me from sharing a recipe with you, right? I know this is not your typical “game food” but it sure is tasty and different. 


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1.15.2014

Flan De Queso - Cheese Flan


So much for keeping up with my New Year’s resolution, you know, diet. I’m crazy for thinking that I will make this amazing dessert and not have a bite. You see, last week, I was invited to a dinner party and I was in charge of dessert. I right away thought of making this cheese flan I made for our Thanksgiving dinner. At first, I was hesitant to make it because I knew my will power with this dessert would be reduced to zero. 
You know something is good when cheese meets a custard in a dessert. If you try this recipe you will see why, it’s creamy, rich and satisfying. Also, it doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare and you can make it ahead of time, truly one of favorite latin desserts. I’m sorry for tempting you (if you are in a diet) but if you are going to “sin”, it better be on something that’s worth your calories :) 

 
Ingredients:

6 large eggs
8oz whole milk
4oz evaporate milk
14oz sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
8oz cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water


Preheat the oven to 400 ˚F. Start by making the caramel, in a saucepan, combine the water and sugar over medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar begins to melt. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook until it turns light amber color. Pour the caramel into a 8-inch cake pan (be extremely careful, caramel burns are the worst) set aside to cool.  Now lets work on the custard. Place the eggs, creme cheese, all three milks and vanilla in a blender, mix until smooth. Pour the custard into the prepared pan, cover it with foil and bake it in a water bath for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the custard is set but slightly jiggles when gently shaken. Let it cool completely and refrigerate it over night. To serve, run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the flan, invert on a serving plate.

Note: Make sure you evenly spread the caramel in the bottom and sides (halfway the sides) of the pan, this way, it will be easier to loosen up the flan when ready.

For water bath: Pour  hot water into a roasting pan, so that it comes halfway the sides of the pan.


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1.08.2014

Curry Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Goat Cheese


It’s good to be back here after a nice break. New year, new chances, new beginnings, I am very grateful for all the things 2013 brought me but I can’t wait to see what 2014 has to offer. So far it’s being horribly cold (I know you are probably freezing too) but that’s ok,  I got just the thing to keep us warm, a butternut squash soup. 


I actually made this soup over the holidays and it was quite a success. It’s a soup I never get tired of, and it’s the perfect thing for these freezing days. Before you say “oh no, another butternut squash soup recipe” let me tell you, this soup it’s not at all “boring”. It’s very velvety and the curry gives it a warm flavor. The spiced goat cheese topping adds a nice tanginess to the soup. All of these flavors work really well together, making this soup a must have during those cold winter days. 


In fact, this soup is so awesome, I made it into a recipe post cards so that you can mail it to your friends :). Find out more  about it HERE


Ingredients:

For the soup:

2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp yellow curry
2 thyme sprigs
salt and pepper to taste

For the topping

4 oz goat cheese
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp milk

In a large pot, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add the potatoes and garlic and cook for about 8 minutes. Add the squash, curry and season with salt and pepper. Stir the vegetables and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes. Add the thyme and enough hot water to just cover the veggies. Cover and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat, remove the thyme and puree the vegetables with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

For the topping:

Add all the topping ingredients to a food processor and mix until smooth. Serve over the soup.









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12.30.2013

Vanilla Marshmallows with a Middle Eastern Twist


Just a quick post to share with you this packed-with-flavor marshmallow recipe. It is hot chocolate season after all. You tell me, what’s better than a fluffy and pillowy homemade marshmallow to go along with a cup of rich, dark and creamy hot chocolate? My favorite part is when I first add the marshmallow to the hot cup of chocolate and the marshmallow starts to melt. It’s silly but I get really excited, like a little kid. I also want to thank you for an awesome year. I appreciate your visits and comments and I look forward to another year together! Wishing you a Happy New Year filled with health and happiness! 

Love, 

N

Ingredients:

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup light corn syrup 
(preferably vanilla flavor)
1 cup of cold water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon good vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cardamon
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp rose water (optional) 
Confectioners' sugar or corn starch, 
for dusting

Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, add confectioners' sugar to coat the pan completely (remove any excess sugar) and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add 1/2 cup of water and sprinkle the gelatin on top, set aside. In a saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Let it cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F. Turn the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin. Set the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla, rose water, cinnamon and cardamon and whip to combine. Quickly, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spread evenly. Sift confectioners sugar evenly over top and let it sit uncovered for at least 6 hours or overnight before cutting.

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12.17.2013

Cinnamon-Apple Crêpes


Probably, like most of you, I’ll start a diet on January but until then, I’ll keep indulging on all the treats this holiday season has to offer. I mean, it’s hard not to. See, when my whole family is together, all we do is eat our way through long conversations. 
When it comes to dessert, everybody has an opinion, but if there is a thing we all agree on, it’s a good crepe. It is truly a crowd pleaser because if you happen to not like certain filling, you can choose another one and it will still be fantastic. When a crepe is good, even a drizzle of honey would do the trick, wouldn’t you agree? 
Luckily, nobody had that problem here. Everybody loved my cinnamon-apple filling. It’s very simple to put together, it takes about 20 minutes to make the filling and the crepe batter can even be done in advance so that you don’t miss on any of the family gossip going on at the table. Here is the recipe, I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season! 

Ingredients:

For the crêpes:

Ingredients:
makes 12 crepes

1 1/8 cups of flour
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 1/2  cup milk
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons melted butter,
plus more for the pan
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Sift together the flour, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, milk and water and pour the mixture into the dry ingredients whisking constantly until you get a smooth batter. Stir in the melted butter, cover and let the batter rest in the fridge for 45 minutes.   
Heat a crepe pan and grease with some butter. Pour enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan, make sure it gets spread evenly. Cook over medium heat for about 45 seconds, flip and Cook for another 30 seconds.

For the filling:

3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced 
½ cup sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 

Place all the ingredients (except the vanilla) in a saucepan and mix well, let it cook for 15 minutes or until the apples are tender. Stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick in the bottom. Once the apples are ready, break them down with a potato masher, add the vanilla, stir well and cook for a minute more. Let it cool before serving.


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12.02.2013

Christmas Issue!

December is here and with it, my new magazine-styled post, woohoo!! Yes, I’ve been working on a Christmas issue where you will find side dish recipes, drinks and baked goods. You will also find DIY projects like holiday gift cards or a box you can put together yourself!

Click HERE to get it

Also, I’m happy to introduce to you my newly renovated website. There you can see my latest work, photos, videos, illustrations etc. I’ve also put together a gift shop where you’ll find prints, props, vintage finds and other goods. As you see, I have a lot to share with you this Monday so sit back, grab something to drink and read on! 



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