Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Best Ever and Oh So Easy Scottish Shortbread Recipe!



One of my favorite Scottish desserts is with no doubt shortbread cookies. They melt in your mouth and have that buttery taste that leaves you yearning for more. Yes that is right - I bet you cannot eat only one! What is even more amazing is how easy it is to make them and how delicious they are. These are for sure the best ever tasting shortbread cookies I have ever had!

Ingredients:


  • 100 gr of sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter (8 oz)
  • 250 gr flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

Preparation:

Pre heat the oven at 325F

In a mixer, beat the butter until it goes fluffy. Add sugar and mix again until sugar is completely dissolved - a few minutes. 



Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the butter mixture. 



With your hands mix it gently until it forms a soft dough. Do not over work. Refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes so you can work it without the butter melting.



On flour dusted surface, roll the dough until it is about 1/4 to 1/5 thick. Use a cookie cutter and put the cut cookies on a greased tray. 



With a fork, pinch holes on the cookies. Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown but not too much. 



When you remove then from the oven they will feel soft. Be careful and put them on a rack to cool down.



Your cookies are ready! Yum yum!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pan de Queso Recipe: Brazilian Cheese Bread Balls


Pan de Queso is one of my favorite little breads ever. I first tried them in a Brazilian restaurant in NYC and got hooked on then. I often go to $40+ a head Brazilian BBQ places just so I can have these wonderful balls of gooey chewy cheese and tapioca bread, some chimichurri sauce and a nice steak. It has never occurred to me to make them as I thought it was going to be difficult.

I went to one of such Brazilian restaurants with my girlfriends last weekend and ate so many of these breads they were laughing at me - I was truly hugging the bread basket not allowing the waiter to remove it. Even as we were exiting the restaurant, I did ask the manager if he could please give me some breads to take home (which he did) - I mean it I do love the little balls of magic!



So when I was wondering through the isles of a Latin supermarket in Miami yesterday, a thought came to my mind and I quickly ran to the flour isle and started to read every single bag. And there it was, the yuca (tapioca) flour, the wonderful main ingredient of the pan de queso! not only that, the bag had a recipe on the back. I also noticed in such bag, that this flour is so low in carbs that it can hardly be called flour. I was sold! I got 3 bags and headed to my hotel. I dreamt of fluffy crunchy cheese balls all night long.

Today the experiment began - I set up to make the balls, thinking it was difficult and gratefully realizing that they are so easy to make that I now regret the hundreds of dollars I have spent throughout the years going to Brazilian restaurants to eat them. Here is my take on the recipe from the bag (yes I know I had to change it):

Ingredients (makes 16 pan de queso balls):

  • 1 cup of yuca flour (Tapioca flour)
  • 1 cup of grated Swiss cheese (you can also use white cheese)
  • 1 egg - beaten
  • 1 tsp corn starch or baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 to 3 tbsp milk


Preparation:

Pre heat the oven at 375F and put a pizza stone in it (optional - you can do this on a greased baking tray). Mix the flour and the grated cheese in a bowl, add the corn starch, the beaten egg and a pinch of salt (if you are using a salty cheese do not use salt) - mix again. Add 1 tbsp of milk at a time and knead the mixture until it forms a dough. Make small little balls of dough.


Remove the pizza stone from oven, spray it with PAM (cooking oil spray) and quickly place the balls on the stone. Put the stone in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until golden. Your house will take the aroma of freshly baked bread. When done, take the balls out of the stone and into a rack. Eat them right away.



They will be nice and crispy on the outside and chewy and gooey on the inside! ohh so good.

While I was waiting for the balls to bake I made a nice broccoli cream of soup. The perfect combination!






Friday, January 11, 2013

Knight in a night: A homemade Knight costume

 Last night at 7pm I get a text from my husband telling me our boy needed a medieval costume to go to school this morning! A what? by when? seriously?

This morning my boy went to school dressed up like the most handsome knight I have ever seen, thanks to a few common crafts items, my Christmas tree decorations, an old helmet from when he was at kindergarten and the love and creativity of his mami.



Here is how I did it:

Picture this - I get home after receiving said text at around 8pm and found my boy crying in bed, so sad because he did not have an outfit and his friends were going to laugh at him. Oh dear I could not make that happen. I told him that it was going to be OK, that I would figure something out. I am not sure if he believed me and to be honest - I had no clue what to do.

I went to the internet, google medieval costumes, shields, helmets, you name it and got myself a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do or better said what I COULD do with stuff lying around in my house. I got my pink basket and went "shopping" room by room. I am pleased I am a "do not through this out" person because you never know when you will need it for a craft project!

I have found the following:
  • A piece of red fleece material from some blankets I made last year
  • Several remnants of fleece material in various colors
  • A round silver cardboard cake base/board from a previous birthday
  • Lots of ribbons from my Christmas decorations including a silver one that looked just like chain mail - yeah!
  • Some used yellow folders
  • Iron on letters in gold
  • Sharpies
  • Aluminum foil
  • Glue, scissors....
  • My son's under armor pants and long sleeve t-shirt from his outdoor soccer outfit
  • Black socks and gloves
  • My son's skying balaclava mask
My bag of goods for my knight
The first thing I did was the shield as I was quite excited with my cake base find. I researched some shield designs and meaning and found a cool symbol that was put on shields to let people know you were a "first born son" so got to work on the design of the shield and the symbol.




My son wanted something with a lion, so I drew a lion on a white piece of paper with pencil. Then I outlined it with a black sharpie.



With the yellow folder, I made a cardboard shield. I painted the lion red, cut it and glue it to the yellow shield. I got some gold paper ribbon and glue it to the edges of the shield to make it more regal. My husband made 4 wholes on the cake board and put some string to make a handle. Then I glued the shield with the lion to the cake board.


I cut 2 circles from the folder, painted them red and glue the iron on letters of my son's initials on it. The circles were then glued to the board too. I covered the back of the cake board with foil and the shield was done!


Now on to the robe - this was the scary part for me as you know I cannot sew at all. I took the red fleece and cut a big rectangle to go over his shoulders. I folded it in half and with scissors I made square cuts to the bottom of the front and the back and a slit on the top for the head.


With some cream/gold fleece I made cross - just literally cut it and glued it to the red robe. I had some blue ribbons from my Christmas tree and I stapled them over the robe to make a design. (my son did not like them so they were removed in the morning very quickly)


The last details: I had a foam sword with a green handle that I simply covered in foil to make it silver. The belt was made with silver mesh ribbon from my Christmas tree and the helmet well it has been on our basement for years from an old outfit my son had in kindergarten.

Put it all together and voila! we got ourselves a knight in a night.

I laid the outfit out on his bedroom floor and went to bed. This morning I was pleasantly woken up by an excited and oh so happy 8 year old jumping on my bed, giving me cuddles and telling me I was the best mom ever!!! ohh so priceless!!






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