Tuesday, June 28, 2011

#606 - Food Rules by Michael Pollan

 One more book (#3) read on my goal to read 24 books this year.

Fast read.
Great (obvious) advice!

Here are some of my favorite rules and/or ones I need to work on:

#2 - Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
#13 - Eat only foods that will eventually rot.
#19 - If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
#39 - Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
 #41 - Eat more like the French.   Or the Japanese.  Or the Italians.  Or the Greeks.
#46 - Stop eating before you are full.  ie; "leave the table a little bit hungry."
#50 - "The banquet is in the first bite."

Here are the books I have read this year:

#1 - A Fortunate Life
#2 - Outliers
#3 - Food Rules
a few more I need to blog about...some really good ones.

Monday, June 27, 2011

#605 - flowers from Oster

For the past few months Oster has been picking flowers for me and it melts my heart every time!  I just have to be careful when we visit any one with a beautifully landscaped yard.
In fact, this past Saturday he picked me an almost dead rose...he's gonna be a charmer when he grows up!  Always getting flowers for the lady in his life (and I hope that it is me for at least another 25 years).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

#604 - Progress - Before & After Kitchen Cabinets

 After living here for 3 years, we'll finally have matching cabinets!!! 

I've been cleaning and painting for the past 3 days and I thought I'd share a work in progress photo.

It's only primer on the cabinets, but we are painting them white, so they won't be much different than the color above.  

So, my question for you...should I paint the backs of the cabinets gray or just leave them white?  The gray color I have is close to this one.  The rest of the cabinet would be white.


Friday, June 17, 2011

#603 - chalkboard pinata

So remember when we my sister Karli made a pinata for Oster's 1st birthday?  Well, I wanted to carry on the piƱata tradition for Parker's 1st birthday and since my sister Kar was across the country, I decided to make my own.  (Well, I was going to buy one, but with a $15 price tag for a wimpy little pinata, I decided I could make one less expensive and way cuter.)

I did basically the same thing as Karli did, but I only made mine 2 days in advance.  I then had it drying out on our deck and a huge rain storm (you know the kind where you walk out into it for one second and you are drenched?) rolled by and soaked my pinata.  Luckily, I was able to get it to dry out in time.

I didn't have time to put tissue paper on it, but I did have a can of chalkboard paint, so I quickly painted it and it dried in minutes.

Then I had the kids draw on it with chalk right before we hung it up.  It was a success (mostly due to the loads of candy inside.)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

#601 - Lightning Bugs aka Fireflies

For the past 2 weeks, it's been so fun to see the lightning bugs light up every night.  It's like we have twinkling lights outside!  I'm all for Christmas in June!!!  It was so much fun to see Oster trying to catch them with grandma & grandpa when they were here.

Since it is so dang hard to capture these fireflies in a picture, I thought I'd post this adorable shirt I would love to get for my boys.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

#600 - Chococlate Banana Mini Cupcakes

For Parker's birthday I also tried to make banana split cupcakes, which turned into mini chocolate banana cupcakes . . . of course they didn't look as fancy as the banana split cupcakes, but they tasted mighty fine . . . you know our family loves loves loves bananas.

Here's the recipe modified from this recipe.

Chocolate Banana Mini Cupcakes

Makes 50-60 mini cupcakes     
Preparation: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line pan with cupcake liners.     
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup banana puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a bowl, add both flours and whisk to combine; set aside. In another bowl cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; set aside. In another bowl add milk, banana puree, and vanilla extract whisk to combine.     
2. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk, banana and vanilla mixture. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well combined. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a toothpick  inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.     

Banana Cream Custard Filling     
  • 1 small banana
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • dash of salt
1. Place all ingredients in food processor bowl or blender and process to combine. Pour mixture into a saucepan over medium heat and cook until mixture starts to bubble, making sure to constantly whisk. Continue to cook mixture until it thickens, about 5-7 minutes or until it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.   

Frosting - I used the sweetened condensed milk frosting from the tres leches cupcakes because I had leftovers.
Chocolate Dipping Sauce
• 1/3 cup dark chocolate
• 1 tablespoons heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
• 2-3 tablespoons water, warm
1. Place chocolate and heavy cream in a bowl over simmering water. Let chocolate and cream sit for 2-3 minutes to melt without stirring. Then slowly stir mixture to combine. Add powdered sugar and mix to combine. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition until pouring consistency is reached. Set aside and let sauce cool to warm.     

To assemble:     
1. To stuff the cupcakes: I injected the cupcakes with the cream, the same way I did with the tres leches cupcakes.  Or you could create a well in the center of the cupcake using either apple corer, the large end of cupcake tip or carve a well using a paring knife. Fill well with banana cream custard filling.     
2. Frost the cupcakes with a small amount of frosting.  Freeze cupcakes for 20 minutes before dipping in warm chocolate sauce, so that the butter cream frosting does not melt. Remove cupcakes and dip in warm chocolate sauce, and top with sprinkles. 

A few notes:     
  • Advance preparation: The banana cream custard filling can be prepared a day in advance. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate. The cupcake can be prepared two days in advance and refrigerated in tightly sealed container. The frosting can be prepared five days in advance and kept refrigerated. Bring the frosting to room temperature and beat for two minutes for frosting consistency. The chocolate sauce can be prepared a week in advance and reheated in the microwave to dipping consistency.

#599 - french singlet suit

Parker got this outfit from our neighbor when he was just a tiny baby.  It is so soft and comfy and even though it is a 3-6 month outfit, I just put it on him the other day.  He looked like a little wrestler because the pants came up to his knees.

Not sure where I found these (they're saved pictures from over a year ago), but Parker's too small outfit reminded me of these french singlet suits above & below.

And for some strange reason, the outfit also remind me of these 2 movies...Big Fish and Alice in Wonderland.  It's the stripes!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

#598 - El Patio - Argentine Resturant in DC

A few years back I was able to work in Argentina for 3 months.  It was amazing!  The food was divine . . . have you ever had Argentinian food? 

Well, if you are in the Washington DC area and are looking for amazing Argentinian food, I would highly recommend El Patio.

I love the Empanadas Tucumanas (to the left) and the ham & cheese empanadas (below) ...yum...yum!

Or just about anything else there...so good and great service!

Monday, June 6, 2011

#597 - our new pool

It was really hot in DC last week and Pepe had thrown out our blue pool . . . so I improvised with a large plastic bin . . . the boys loved it!

Friday, June 3, 2011

#596 - Tres Leches mini cupcakes

For Parker's birthday I made 2 types of mini cupcakes (I love mini cupcakes because I don't feel guilty eating more than 1 or 4 . .  more), Tres Leches & Banana Split.  Both were delicious.

I used this recipe but made a few tweaks of my own...here it is:

Tres Leches Mini Cupcakes - makes apx 60-70 mini cupcakes   
Preparation: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake wells with paper liner.    
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (don't buy buttermilk, just mix 3/4 tablespoon white vinegar (or lemon juice) to almost 3/4 cup regular milk - see here)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk (I used an entire small can)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (I used 1/2 a can)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (I used 1/2 a can)
  • strawberries (for garnish) or you could use coconut or chocolate
  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing until combined and all the yellow disappears. Add the vanilla, mix to combine. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Alternately add the dry mixture with the buttermilk to the creamed butter beginning and ending with the flour.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into  cake batter.
  3. Fill paper-lined wells 3/4 full. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (if you are making regular sized cupcakes, you'll want to double that time) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack and set aside.
  4. Stir together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and the coconut milk. Use a meat injector needle to inject cupcakes all over with about 1-2 teaspoons of the mixture. (I used an unused child's medicine dispenser syringe and this worked like a charm).  Or poke several holes in the top of cupcakes with a wooden skewer and then pour the milk mixture over each cupcake while they are still warm, filling each hole. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight before frosting.  These were even better 2 days later.
  5. Frost (with frosting recipe below or even whipped cream) and top with a small slice of strawberry or other garnishes (like coconut and chocolate).
 Buttercream Frosting with Sweetened Condensed Milk   (next time I would try this with dulce de leche frosting or just use whip cream as a frosting)    
  •  1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  •  2 cups powdered sugar
  •  1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk
  •  dash of salt
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla
  •  apx 2-4 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk (depending on how thick you want your frosting)
  1. Cream butter and 1 cup sugar
  2. Mix in cream, salt and vanilla
  3. Mix in 1/2 cup sugar
  4. Mix in sweetened condensed milk 
  5. Mix in rest of sugar until you reach the consistancy you want 
  6. Whip frosting on high until it gets nice and fluffy (almost double in size)
 Some notes to make it easier in making this again:

*If you are not up for making a cake by scratch, just use a cake mix.  (However, beating the egg whites in the recipe above makes for a holey cupcake that can soak up all the "leches").

*You could make these cupcakes 2 days in advance and frost a few hours before eating.

*Don't worry about putting too much of the milk (leche) mixture into the cupcakes...the more moist the better.

*You can make this frosting a day ahead and whip for a couple minutes to bring it back to it's original consistency just before frosting the cupcake.

*Don't buy buttermilk, make it yourself (see above)

*You can use whip cream for the frosting and it would be just as delicious.

*Double the recipe, because you are going to want leftovers.

And I'll be sharing the banana mini cupcakes soon...stay tuned!
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