Wednesday, December 26, 2012

French Toast Bake

Family traditions, every family has their own around the holidays... One recipe that brings back memories... Here we have Portuguese French Toast for Christmas... Usually fried, but not this time! These are baked and  made the day before, so all you have to do in the morning is to turn on the oven!

First time I saw this recipe was on Pinterest, so I repinned it and followed the link to "Rach's blog," that gives a detailed explanation of how to fix this delicious breakfast dish. I used demerara sugar instead of brown sugar because in Brazil the brown sugar makes a very thick sauce. And I also added milk caramel in between layers... and that made all the difference!
French Toast Bake
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1 cup demerara sugar
1 loaf Texas toast - I used 12 slices of white bread, no crust
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Ground cinnamon, white sugar and  confectioner's sugar for sprinkling
Milk caramel for the filling, if you like.

1) Melt butter in microwave and add demerara sugar, stir until mixed.
2. Pour butter/sugar mix into bottom of 9 x 13 pan
3) Lay single layer of bread in pan, sprinkle sugar, cinnamon and add a dollop of milk caramel on top of each slice
4) Beat eggs, milk, vanilla and 1 tbs sugar
5) Spoon half of egg mixture on bread layer
6) Add second layer of bread slices
7) Spoon on remaining egg mixture, sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top
8) Cover and chill in fridge overnight
9) Bake at 350° F (180° C) for 40 minutes
10) Sprinkle powedered sugar and decorate with strawberries or not...
11) Serve with warm maple syrup or plain.

Pour butter mixture, spread around, add slices of bread on top

Add half the egg mixture, sprinkle sugar and cinnamom. Adda a dollop of milk caramel

Add second layer of bread, add remaing egg mixture and top with sugar and cinnamon.
French toast bake... ready to be served and add some beauty to your breakfast table!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My little fabric Christmas tree

This year I started to make some fabric trees to fill in some empty spots around the house and I found an easy way to fold them. 

Cut a circle - around 12in (30 cm)
Fold in half - then fold a triangle on top
Turn the fabric around and fold again
Keep folding
And you have a fabric tree!
Use a cinnamon stick about the size of the tree
Open carefully your folded tree and run hot glue along the cinnamon stick, close and press a little
Use a small vase or styrofoam covered with fabric to make the base
Hot glue the cinnamon stick into the whole, and add a few trimmings 
Decorate some empty spots around the house with your fabric Christmas tree!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Clementine Upside-Down Cake

Oh my darling, clementine cake is so good! My mommy friends and I meet for our MOPS@ breakfast meeting and each week we bring different recipes to the table... Here is one of our good finds from Susie at Food Blogga. While we eat we share tips on how we can be a better mom!
Clementine Cake
From: Food Blogga

1/2 cup butter (8 tablespoons)
1 cup brown sugar
2-3 clementines, peeled, with white pith removed, and sliced crosswise

1 cup flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons fresh clementine or orange juice
2 teaspoons clementine or orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F - 180°C.
1) Place butter in a 9-inch-round baking pan, and place inside of a warm oven until melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter. Add the clementine slices, fitting them close together.

2) In a medium bowl, combine sifted flour, baking powder and salt, and stir. Using a hand mixer, beat egg whites at high speed until fluffy. Set aside. In a separate bowl beat egg yolks with sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add juice, zest, and vanilla extract, and beat well. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, and beat until well combined. Fold in the egg whites with a rubber spatula. Pour cake mixture evenly over the fruit, and smooth with the spatula.

3) Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert carefully onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter crafts and food

The clients who ordered my aluminum foil lunch box cakes for Easter received these bunny and egg motives that I made using fabric and felt. 

When making any cake recipe, you can pour the batter directly into the aluminum foil lunch box, no greasing necessary! Bake them and while the cake cools, decorate the covers using fabric and felt cutouts. Place them on top of the covers and glue them. To glue felt to fabric I use styrofoam glue and it works great! 

Also, for an Easter lunch I wanted to share this cute idea I got from Pottery Barn Kids. Fill clean terracota or glazed pots with any kind of dip, sprinkle seasoned salt or paprika on top, pepper and basil leaves. Top with carrots, celery or any other vegetables.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Celebrating Valentine's in a lunch box

Besides cooking I also enjoy fabric crafts and card making. Here on this project I decorated the cover of an aluminum foil lunch box with fabric, lace and heart made with 4 layers of felt. Lately I've been adding crafted projects to my food items. The inspiration for the felt heart came from the blog Crafty Pod and the printable cards are from June Lily
Brownies, coffee cakes,  chocolate truffles... all go well in the lunch box
Cakes ready to be delivered 
Then the cover may turn into a card!
Or the lunch box into a keepsake!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eggplant Antipasto Cake

The first time I made this recipe we had guests coming over and I realized I had no time for grocery shopping. So I came up with this cake using something I already had in the fridge: eggplant antipasto. With a few ingredients you can turn something that looks ordinary into something delightful and that will dazzle your guests.

The eggplant antipasto can be substituted with other toppings, like sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and oregano, roasted red peppers, etc. 

Eggplant Antipasto Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

10 oz (300 g - about 1 cup) antipasto eggplant (recipe here)
3 oz (100 g) of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C).

1) In a medium bowl combine milk, oil and egg until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until smooth. Batter must be thick.

2) Spread the batter into a greased 11" x 2" round pie plate or pan. Top with the eggplant antipasto and  then the cheese. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Table set for Thanksgiving!

My Thanksgiving decor

A thankful heart is a joyful heart!

I have a confession to make, even though Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Brazil I am a huge fan of this holiday!

One encouragement for me when facing difficult times is to count the many blessings one by one... I am always surprised with little stuff that has made a difference in my day and I thank the Lord for so many things He has blessed me with.

I hope you too can count your blessings every day and enjoy the little things!

Pumpkin flower - bringing simple things to table decor

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Baked Onion Dip

I first tried this dip at a good friend's house, then I started to make it here for my friends and they love it... The recipe was originally published on White on Rice couple, a blog where the authors share some sweet stories, good food and gorgeous photography.

Baked Sweet Onion Dip
1 8 oz (about 250g) package of cream cheese (very softened)
1 cup mayo
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup diced or chopped sweet onion.
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
Crusty bread or crackers

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, place the softened cream cheese. Make sure the cream cheese is very soft to allow all ingredients to blend evenly together.

2) Add mayo, parmesan cheese, onions and fresh cracked black pepper to soft cream cheese till everything is mixed thoroughly.

3) Place mixture in ramekins or any oven safe dishes. Bake slowly, for about 30-45 minutes until the top crust is brown, almost burnt looking then the dip is ready.

4) Serve with your favorite bread and crackers.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Strawberry jam

During strawberry season this is the kind of recipe you don't have to think twice about making it!

I love jams, but had never made strawberry jam before until I met Laurie at the MOPS Convention in  Orlando. We shared a room and also a delicious strawberry jam every morning for breakfast! So of course, I had to have her recipe! Thanks Laurie!

I did not use the pectin and still it tasted great, the lemon juice itself is a great source of pectin.

Strawberry jam
2 cups mashed berries
4 cups sugar
1 packet liquid pectin
2 tbsp lemon juice

1) Put the sugar into the mashed berries and mix it all in. Let it sit for 10 minutes. While waiting, stir the lemon juice into the pectin.

2) After the 10 minutes, stir the pectin/lemon juice into the strawberry/sugar and cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until all the sugar is dissolved. Pour into jars until set (about a day) and then freeze.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Caipirinha, a Brazilian cocktail, with mango

Caipirinha with mango
The basic recipe to this famous Brazilian cocktail - Caipirinha - is limited solely to lime, sugar and "cachaça," a spirit made from the sugar cane juice, also known as Brazilian rum.

However, some people add fruits like mango, passion fruit, grape and strawberry and I think it is a nice twist to this popular drink.

To make the traditional caipirinha:
1 lime
1 shot cachaça (Brazilian rum but vodka will do)
1 tablespoon sugar
ice cubes

1) Quarter the limes crosswise and divide pieces between  two glasses.

2) Add sugar to each glass, muddle the lime slices with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved into the lime juice.

3) Fill each glass with ice and add 1 shot cachaça to each, stirring well.

Add any fruits you like like mango slices, strawberry, grapes, etc. But please note, this is optional.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My mom's 80th birthday

Celebrating my mom's birthday with a moist passion fruit cake, what a delight and what a blessing to have her as my mom!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dressed for success, recycled glass bottles

On my kitchen window some glass bottles, like olive oil, wine and syrup bottles, are dressed for success. I create my own glass vases recycling old glass bottles and it is so much fun.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Coffee cups

Coffee cups, small ones, arranged in a bamboo tray ready for the women's small group that used to meet to chat and have a change in routine every week.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A basic and versatile risotto recipe with salt cod

Good friends, good times. Cooking for my family and friends... it is what I enjoy most! A good recipe for a get together? A risotto!

So Italian... I make risotto with starchy rices like arborio and carnarolli that result in a creamy and rich texture and these rices can be easily found in any grocery stores. Once you learn how to make the basic recipe for risotto, you can start playing around with ingredients you have in your kitchen like vegetables, mushrooms, aspargus, sun-dried tomatoes and meats, seafood, sausage, cheese, herbs etc.

The secret to making creamy risottos is to add the hot stock one ladleful at a time and cook slowly, stirring constantly, waiting until the liquid is almost completely absorbed before adding more. This way the stock gets absorbed and releases the arborio's starches.

 Sometimes I top the cooked risotto with grilled or sauteed shrimp. Since we eat a lot of rice here in Brazil and rice is stir-fried first, making a risotto is just like adding an elegant touch to everyday rice.

I like to use salt cod and desalt it in advance.

Salt cod risotto
2 cups arborio rice
1 onion, diced
1/4 cup white wine
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
8 cups (2 liters) stock (vegetable, chicken, fish - I prefer vegetable stock)
1/2 teaspoon saffron powder

10 oz (300 g) salt cod (bacalhau), desalted and flaked

1 tablespoon butter

Fresh parsley or thyme
3 oz (90 g) Parmesan, freshly grated

1) Bring 8 cups of stock to a boil - keep it in a separate boiler.

2) In a large pan (or wok) with a heavy bottom, heat olive oil and canola oil over low heat and sauté onions until translucent, not brown. Then, add garlic stirring until it releases its flavor. Add rice and stir to toast  approx. 5 minutes. Once toasted, add white wine stirring with a wooden spoon until it is absorbed. Add saffron.

3)  Start adding stock one ladle at a time, wait for the rice to absorb the liquid before adding the next ladle, stirring constantly for about 15 to 20 minutes, then add the salt cod and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Add the butter. Stir to combine. Serve immediately with chopped parsley or thyme and grated parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

How to desalt salt cod and rehydrate it: Soak salt cod in cold water for 24 to 36 hours and change the water 6 times.
Shrimp risotto - just add shrimp instead of salt cod, or add both.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dressing up leftovers

On Christmas Eve my family has a midnight supper every year. Before the meal we all form a circle, hold hands and each one of us tells what that year meant to us, then we say a prayer, hugs are exchanged and it is our thanks giving moment.

And on the next day we have leftovers for lunch... For this meal only the rice was fresh. I dressed up my plate with golden strings (egg noodles) that were previously trimming the turkey. The meat was pork tenderloin that my sister-in-law's mother cooked for us, also for the Christmas Eve supper. Traditionally Brazilians have pork for holiday meals.

The pork loin is so easy to make. Instead of baking in the oven, cook it! With the juices that come out you can make the gravy.

1 pork tenderloin (about 2 pounds)
Salt (use 1/2 tablespoon salt for each pound)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, cubed
3 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lime or orange
2 tablespoons oil or extra virgin olive oil + 2 for cooking
2 cups water

For the gravy:
1 tablespoon each: catchup, mustard, soy sauce
1/4 cup prosecco or dry sparkling wine (champagne)
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup mushrooms

1) Season pork loin with salt and pepper, pepper, onion, garlic, lime/orange juice and 2 tablespoons oil or olive oil. Marinate for about 2 hours or overnight.

2) Place 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add meat and brown it well on all sides, for about 6 minutes. Reduce heat, add 2 cups of water and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, adding more if needed.

3) Remove tenderloin to a platter. Stir in gravy ingredients to pan. Cook until sauce is slightly thickened, adjust seasoning. Serve meat with sauce spooned on top and rice as a side.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Green gift wrapping

Gift wrapping you can do yourself with old envelopes and help the environment... This idea to give a personal touch to my gifts I found on Martha Stewart website.

A nice and green way to reuse the huge amount of envelopes I received and saved throughout the year. Also, I reused some old paper bags.

You can print the template here or just trace the lines of pine cones on a sheet of paper/old envelopes and cut them out. Punch some holes to add ornaments.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Turkey pot pie with cornbread crust

Did you know that pumpkin leaves and flowers are edible? And so are the stalks! I learned this when I was a little child and my parents had  pumpkin vines spread in the backyard. My mom used to fix delicious pumpkin omelettes with leaves and flowers all together.

Here is what I did with some leftover turkey, a pot pie! And as an accompaniment pumpkin leaves and stalks sautéed with olive oil, salt, garlic, onion, and pepper.

Turkey pot pie with cornbread crust

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups turkey gravy or water
2 cups finely chopped roasted turkey
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste

Crust - Cornbread
1 cup flour
1/2 cup white or yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

For the filling:
1) Preheat oven to 400° F (205° C). Spray a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.

2) In a large sauce pan, heat butter and olive oil. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in  carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add turkey gravy or water and heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Stir in turkey, corn kernels, peas, black pepper and salt if using water. Pour mixture into casserole.

For the crust: In a bowl, stir cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, oregano, and salt. Stir in milk, egg and  oil until well combined. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients stirring until mixed. Spoon the batter evenly on the turkey filling. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 22 to 25 minutes.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cupcake pin cushions, they even smell good

I made them! One of my hobbies... needles and fabric. Quick and easy, a few leftover fabric pieces, small and large yo yos, buttons, cupcake wrappers or individual muffin tins (I reused an old can of Duncan Hines blueberry muffin mix, but tuna cans will do), a few trimmings, stuffing, some potpourri, hot glue and voilá, my pins and needles have elegant pin cushions!