Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Future Decorator II: Red Velvet Lust

So, it’s Thursday again!! Yep, time for my Wilton decoration class!! I’ve yet to bake today’s cake; however, I first wanted to update on last weeks cupcakes.
I made red-velvet cupcakes, to be honest; it’s the first time I made red-velvet anything. They came out good, although a bit dry for my taste. (No one seemed to notice though!) Yet, making them seemed very fun, specially the part you add, vinegar and baking soda… elementary science fair and culinary combined… I loved the coloring and the smell as it slowly baked in the oven. Yummm, lovely!

Then I frosted them with the usual butter cream frosting, and as the hours began to get near 6:30 PM, I got really exited. I also prepared frosting in three different colors, off-pink, black, and plain pink. All ready!

Mom and me climbed in the car, and decorated our heads off!! Things learned flowers, shells, and free-fall borders. Then our cupcakes could be topped with clowns. So, cute!! And after the class, the cupcakes and me bobbled our way home, to a cup of coffee and talc about next weeks class! Next Thursday I’ll dutifully post about tonight’s endeavors. P.S. It’s time to sign up for Course II!!! Yeah!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Noveau Cusine

Okay, so it’s not as classy as it sounds. I went to Denny’s the other night; turns out they have some new items after 3AM. Don’t ask why I dinned there at 3AM. The one thing that got my attention was the “Potachos” (a combination of potatoes and nacho topping, no tortilla chips involved). My dinning buddy did not approve. I didn’t try them, what a disappointment, right? LOL

However today, I got crafty in the kitchen and made my own version. I loved them, comfort food in an instant! I don’t quite have a name for them yet… IF YOU COME UP WITH ONE, LET ME HEAR IT!!
They seem humble, but oh, my goodness they are super-duper great. I hope everyone tries them. They are sure to be on the top favorite list, they are in mine! Just follow this recipe!! LISTO!!


1lb Danish potatoes (sliced)
½ bell pepper (chopped)
½ onion (chopped)
1 tomato (chopped)
4oz smoked mozzarella cheese (grated)
4oz Havarti cheese (grated)
4oz Sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
1 can black beans
3 sheets Matzo crackers (in pieces)


1. Boil the potatoes until tender (do not over boil or they get mushy)
2. In a pan, put the onion, pepper, tomato. Simmer for 3 minutes
3. Add beans and let simmer for about 5 -7 minutes
4. Assemble, matzo on bottom, then potatoes, pour bean mixture over, top with cheeses.
5. Put in microwave for 1-3 minutes until cheeses are melted.
Conventional oven can be used, in a safe container at 300F for about 3-5 minutes.

Serve with hot sauce or sour cream as desired. Share!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Healthy Graham Bars

These delicious cookies were taken from an old 70’s book I found in a thrift store. You now from the time communes formed and hippies wanted to convince the world over that veganism as a better life! Good luck!
Being a training chef, a vegetarian, and a food lover at heart I bought it and found in a few good laughs and many good recipes! The book is called The New Laurel’s kitchen, in case anyone feels the need to go thrift store hopping!!
Anyway the recipe seemed a great treat and a healthy one at that, no guilty feelings!! Woo-hoo!!

Graham Cookies (some substitutions by me!)

16 oz whole wheat flour
4 oz wheat bran
4 oz BeneFiber fiber supplement
1tsp baking powder
½tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
6 oz carrot puree
2tbsp Splenda
4 oz soy milk


Stir the dry ingredient together.
Cream the carrots and Splenda; add flour alternately with milk, mixing after each addition.
Chill dough for several hours.
Preheat oven for 350F. Roll dough out thin, directly onto greased sheets, and cut into squares or shapes. Prick with fork and bake 10 -12 minutes until brown.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Future Decorator!!

So, I did some decorating. Last week I attended my fist hands on cake decorating class at a local Michaels. Just as all arts and craft stored do, Michaels offers classes by


Now let me tell you that I have always loved decorating, Me and my mom used to do it just modestly, nothing fancy, no decorating bag, or triple star tip. Okay, I didn’t even have an icing spatula, but that’s all ended! I sprung and bought a $90 started kit, that includes piping bags, many tips, spatulas, piping gel, cake cutters, icing tip, colors, cleaners, etc. And they all came enclosed in a beautiful carrier box! I love it to death, I even though about a picture and framing it above my bed… I’m kidding … of course!
So, last Thursday out white iced cake traveled on a display board to Michaels to be decorated. I was really exited! They taught us starts, writing, frames, lines, and design transfer. At the end of the class everyone decorated their cake to their fancy.
I’m proud to say the teacher loved our cake!! I couldn’t wait to eat it!! Mom and me headed across the street to the local Mickey’ D’s and bought two coffees, to share a piece of cake. Then I got home and took those famous pictures.

Tomorrow is the third class!! And this time it’s cupcakes, I’ll tell y’all how they came out later. HOLD ON!

Friday, July 18, 2008

italian cream

My mom bought me The Best of Cooking Light Cookbook, and then browsed through it.
The fist section I wanted to see was the dessert section. I flipped the pages eagerly, lice a teenage girl flips the pages of a high school yearbook. And then I paused mesmerized by all the fruit pies, the chocolate decadent brownies, the compotes and the ice creams. I had died and gone to heaven...
My mother who is much less in love with the sweet side of food, stopped on page 348. She said (very excitedly) “This seems delicious!”
Let me explain something. My mother does not easily fall completely in love with desserts, she much rather have appetizer than dessert (OMG). So if she said she likes a cake, I usually make it for her. This needless to say, did not become the exception. Sadly, on that day buttermilk did not form part of the many boxes and packages in our fridge.
“Let’s do it later,” I said. And then forgot about it.
She did not. On a solo grocery trip she got the buttermilk.
“I got the buttermilk,” were the welcoming words I hear that afternoon as I got home from work.
That same day after dinner the picture became reality.
And so you can make it too, here is the recipe.

Italian Cream Cake


16 oz sugar
4 oz light butter
2 large egg yolks
16 oz all-purpose flour
1tsp baking soda
8 oz buttermilk
1tsp butter extract
1tsp coconut extract
1tsp vanilla extract
6 large egg whites

Cream cheese frosting
4 oz far-free cream cheese
4 oz butter
1tsp grated lemon
1 tsp vanilla
28 oz powdered sugar

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F
2. Coat 3 (9inch) round pans and line bottom with wax paper. Set aside
3. Combine sugar and butter, beat until blended. Add egg yolks (one at a time, beat after each addition.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level. Combine flour and baking soda Add the flour mixture to cream mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in chopped pecans and extracts.
4. Beat egg whites at high speed mixer using clean, dry beaters until stiff peaks form. Fold eggs into batter and pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350F for 23 minutes. Cool in pans 5 minutes on rack. Peel off wax paper, cool.
5. Beat first four ingredients in frosting at medium speed of a mixer until smooth. Spoon sugar into measuring cup, and level with knife. Gradually add sugar to butter mixture and beat at low speed until blended.
6. Place 1 cake layer on a plate. Spread 2/3 cup Cream Cheese Frosting and top with another cake layer. Repeat using 2/3 frosting and end with last cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over sides and top.

And to be fair to cooking light here is the serving info:
1 slice; Calories 290, protein 4.1g, carb 52.3 fiber .5g. Cholesterol 37mg, iron .8mg, sodium 172mg. calcium 38mg.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Flan de Elote

Corn bread, corn muffins, corn flan? Yes, it’s a very delicious Mexican tradition. A flan is technically Mexican style custard. It can be flavored, it can fruit it in, caramel on top, or be simple and elegant.
The corn flan is a delicious variation, that I set out to recreate and well, it barely lasted long enough for me to take a picture! Hope you like it!!

Flan de Elote
Source: A Cooks Tour of Mexico

12 large eggs
2 14-oz cans sweetened condensed milk
3 cups milk
.5 fl oz vanilla extract
1tsp cinnamon
16 oz tender corn kernels
12 oz sugar
4.5 fl oz water

1. Put the eggs and condensed mil in large bowl. Add enough milk to total 2 quarts. Add the vanilla and cinnamon.
2. Pour into a blender container, in batches and blend until foamy.
3. Put the corn in blender and blend just enough to break them. Mix with egg mixture.
4. Put the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Add the water and swirl the pan, by its handle over medium heat until the syrup comes to a boil and turns clear.
5. Cover pot and raise the heat for about 6 minutes or until sugar is caramel brown. Immediately pour over 12 x 2 in baking dish. Swirl the syrup around quickly to cover entire bottom of the dish.
6. Pour egg mixture over caramel
7. Pre-heat over to 325F. Make a water bath, (about 1in up sides of flan dish.
8. Place water bath in the center of oven and bake for 1-2 hours. When toothpick comes out clean its done. Cool and then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yield: 12 Servings

Monday, July 14, 2008

Are we Earth's last generation?

It has taken me three drafts to write this post. As a former journalism major I know that the first line is the hardest to write.
Yet, I felt compelled to do this post because the former world that I am used to is crumbling around us.
The U.S. Economy is in the slumps. The “big three” car manufactures have reported major losses; GM leading the line with more than 30%, then Ford. The housing market as every one knows just keeps on falling. And the lending sector that went hand in hand is also suffering major losses. As of today Indy Mac Back has been seized by the FDIC and people lined up by the dozens outside their door. The image brought images from the history books the Great Depression and everyone trying to withdraw their savings.
Retailers and restaurants are not reporting growth and a server at a mid-range restaurant I can vouch for this phenomenon.
If I stray a little from our self-centered country and look more to east I can see the violence and hunger in Africa. There are many countries that are living in poverty unimaginable by us North Americans. I read somewhere that homeless in the United States can be considered well off in comparison. In
people, little children of less than 5 work pounding rocks. To exacerbate their misery there is guerilla fighting and political problems. I could go on forever about the many problems that plague that side of our beautiful Earth.
These are all very important concepts; yet, I also wanted to make this blog about the ecological changes in our Earth. I am a big environmentalist. I try to buy local, I try to buy produce in season, I recycle bottles and paper, and all sorts of packaging. I try to use environmentally friendly products, manufacture handbags made from recycled clothes, and plan to intern at
Farm Sanctuary
. But I am also a realist and know that alone I can’t save Earth.
Recently there has been an abundance of movies related to this cause; there is the former vice-president’s documentary
An Inconvenient Truth
Leonardo DiCaprio’s
The 11th Hour!
, CNN’s
Planet in Peril
and many more, I’m sure. The problem is not finding people to sit and watch, the problem is finding people to get up and act.
Are we Earth's Last Generation?

I often find myself wondering if we are Earth’s last generation. The forests are disappearing as I blog, the oceans and wetland are drying and species that in them live are dying. The fields of harvest are over plowed and over used. Big tractors that rampage over the soft land, have replaced the hand that lovingly turned the soil.
And humans have some how lost the connection with our roots.
I hope this motivates you to go and find out how to “go green”; but to do it from the heart and help save the Earth!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Elengant Granita

My last post described how to make ice cream. Today I provide a simpler and lactose free (!!!) alternative. The simple yet elegant Granita.Even the name brings thoughts of dinner parties and five star restaurants. And it’s super delicious! Here is my favorite recipe:

24 oz raspberry- apple sauce
24 oz water divided
6 oz sugar
6 oz flavored tequila (mango and lime complement the flavor excellent)

1. Combine tequila and apple sauce
2. Combine 8 oz h2o and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to boil; stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat add remaining h2o.
3. Combine raspberry mix and sugar mix, stirring. The dish must be 13 x 9 inch. Freeze 6 hours or until firm. Stir 2 times in the first 2 hours.

strange summer ice cream

It’s been a strange summer here in Southern California. Sometimes its hot, sometimes it’s cold and sometimes it’s plain confusing. It must be global warming and I’m not joking (but, Ill talk about that later).
But I don’t care, summer is summer and summer deserves ice cream!! Now, I know that there are million of brands out there, ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, cones and ice cream by the tub (good after you’ve just broken up with the love of you life =)), but home made ice cream can’t be beat!
It brings memories of long gone childhood days that used to be better. Lazy summers with no computer or video games, only the lasting sunlight and our imaginations. Running tired and hot into the kitchen and helping mom or grandma make popsicles with chocolate syrup and milk. And the folkloric colors of the ice cream at the markets in Mexico, the woman behind the counter made the ice cream everyday. It came in every flavor imaginable… from traditional lemon, to caramel, to rompope, cucumber and exotic avocado. That among many things I miss from my native country, but the other day I went to our local Hispanic market and bought mamey. According to The Prentice Hall Dictionary of Culinary Arts: mamey; mamey apple; mamee apple; mamey plum; (ma-MAY) A fruit (Mammea Americana) native to the west Indies; the size of a large orange, it is spherical with slight points at the top and bottom and has a tough, matte-brown, bitter-flavored skin; the firm, golden flesh has a flavor reminiscent of an apricot. According to me; mamey is a fruit I used to love in Mexico and also a great flavor for ice cream.
So, on a not so hot summer day, I set out to make some ice cream!! The recipe came from; The Best of Cooking Light 2006 I made some small variations.

Mamey Ice Cream:
12 oz unflavored soy milk
2oz splenda
2 large yolks
2oz nonfat dry milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz mashed mamey

1. Combine 8 oz milk, splenda, egg yolk in a small heavy saucepan, stir with a whisk. Place over medium heat, stirring constantly. Do so for 8 or so minutes until it reaches 180F. Remove from heat.
2. Pour custard into a cool bowl; place bowl over ice water and let cool completely. Combine 4oz milk, dry milk, and vanilla. Stir into custard mamey.
3. Cover and chill.
4. Pour into freezer can or ice-cream and freeze according to instructions. About 1 hour!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summer fun, summer food

Summer time, the flowing breeze, the beautiful sunshine, the Californian landscape and tangled beaches that makes us want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible (except if you me!). So, to cater to the other 99% of people here are two easy, fast and vegan friendly dishes that you prepare in minutes and enjoy over a nice cold Margarita or just ice tea (laugh).

The first is a “California style-brushetta”


8oz boiled tomatoes, finely chopped
12oz fresh (or canned) corn kernels
4oz onions
4 basil leaves
½ cucumbers finely chopped
2tbsp balsamic vinegar
2tbsp thyme
salt and pepper

½ loaf French bread (sliced)
(Drizzle olive oil and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes)

1. Heat a non reactive pan; add oil and a dash of sugar
Let them caramelize stirring lightly until they are brown.
2. Add the corn, tomatoes, and spices. Add some more olive oil, let simmer. Add the vinegar, stir.
3. Plate with toasted bread and enjoy!

The second dish I just made today. My tofu-broccoli salad.

1 pack of Tofu
1 head of broccoli
2 carrots (sliced diagonally)
4 slices of sourdough bread (cubed)
Olive Oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4oz H2O
3tbsp fresh dill
a dash of mustard
8 lettuces leafs
Salt and Pepper

1. Lightly oil a heavy pan, add bread let brown slightly. Set aside.
2. On a separate bowl, put tofu with chopped dill, mustard and a little oil.
3. Blanch broccoli and carrots, and then add to hot pan with oil.
4. Let them brown, until slightly tender or al dente. Add tofu and let stand for about 5 minutes, add bread stir often for another 3 minutes, remove from heat.
5. Add vinegar and water to pan, deglaze. Pour on top of tofu mixture.
6. Set 4 leafs on a round plate, then pour half the mixture, repeat.

There you go! In and Out! The healthy way!