Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Brazilian Cooking with Daniela: Prestigio Cake (Recipe)


3 eggs
1 ½ c. sugar
1 c. Nestquik
½ c. oil
½ teaspoon of salt

Use mixer until well blended. 
Add 2 c. flour & 1 c. hot water.  Mix again.
Add 1 t heaping baking powder and stir together, but not with the mixer.
Bake for 35min on 380F in greased pan.

Meanwhile, start the coconut cream for the middle.


Mix 1 can of condensed milkwith 1 cup of coconut shavings.  Stir over medium heat until well cooked, but be careful not to burn.  (5 minutes, I think.)  Remove from heat and mix with , 1 can of “crème de leite” which you can find in the Mexican section of the grocery store called “Nestle Media Crema”.  Put in freezer to cool it down.

When cake is done and cooled, cut in half using a large knife, creating something like a hamburger bun out of the cake.  With the middles facing up, pour 1 can of Guarana or Sprite (Guarana is a type of Brazilian soda) onto the cake, about 2/3 on the part that will be the bottom, 1/3 on the side that will be the top.

Carefully spread the coconut mixture on the bottom half of the cake.  Be careful to spread from the center going out to the edge to avoid the edges crumbling inward.  Very, very carefully add the top half back onto the bottom part of the cake.

Frost the cake.


1t butter
1T sugar
Heat and stir until melted and mixed.

Add 6 c. of Nesquik.  Stir until evenly blended – will be dry.
Add 2/3 can of crème de leite (see above).  Stir until well mixed. 

Sprinkle coconut shavings on top, and be prepared to be blown away!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Woe be to the one with a small kitchen...

Last night as I doing the endless shuffling of things around in order to cook, I couldn't help but wonder what my life would be like if I had a kitchen I could actually move around in.  Let me clarify, I love my apartment.  True, it is older and not the most, er... modern.  But for the two of us it is just the right size.  Big enough that we can house all of the things we have and people who come to visit while being small enough that I can plug the vacuum into the bathroom and reach the whole house in one trip.  Perfect.  I may not have a big back yard, but I do have a porch that overlooks a creek and all you can see out of every window is trees.  And squirrels.  (The squirrels, however, deserve a post of their own.)  Once again, perfect.  I can honestly say that I would rather live in this apartment than any others I have visited in the area.

But if I could change one thing...
About the same size as our kitchen.  This one, however,
is slightly newer.

No, I don't mind that I do not have a dishwasher.  We don't really need one as we have Paulo and myself (usually Paulo, since we have the "he/she that cooks should not do the dishes policy", and as you can all tell, I do the cooking 95% of the time). 

I have even learned to live without a garbage disposal, although I did not know there were actually houses in America that didn't have one.  (We have the switch to turn it on/off and all the other things to make it happen, but when we asked the landlord about it they told us we could not install one... something about them being afraid our house will burn down.  Huh?)  I do still, once in a great while, forget that I do not have a garbage disposal and then have the unfortunate task of having to scoop a bunch of stinking, old food out of the sink.  Yuck.  But most of the time I remember and all is well.

The thing that I find challenging is the lack of counter space. 

Not our kitchen, but might as well be...
It is so limited that when the dishes are drying in the dish rack (remember -- no dishwasher) there is no space except the little bit right in front of the microwave.  Which means I have to find very creative ways of making my kitchen work for me.  A bowl of chopped onions precariously balances on the middle divider of the sink; the cutting board wobbles on top of an unused burner as I cut up a potato.  And Heaven help us if there are more than two cooks in the kitchen... no, wait, two is too many.

As you can imagine, I do daydream often about having a kitchen that I can spread out in, unaware of what items I am stacking on top of one another.  Those daydreams quite frequently look something like this...
I imagine this kitchen, yet I am that lady there, with my perfectly done hair, my adorable and oh-so-clean child, the house spotless and the aroma of sweet cakes and sauteing onions filling the air.  All the burners on the stove work all the time and I can paint the walls whatever color I choose.  Of course, there is counter space galore, and even a garbage disposal and dishwasher.

Really, it is a beautiful image, right?

But for now I must listen to the ever wise words of Aerosmith and "Dream on."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thirty Days -- Day 7: The Kibe Adventure

On Sunday, the 7th day of our no-eating-out challenge, we found ourselves a little bored.  I had been planning on making a Brazilian food item (well, Arab-Brazilian actually, as crazy as that sounds) for quite some time.  However, the first direction on the package was something like, "Blah blah blah for three hours blah blah blah..."  Yeah, that's enough to make me rethink this whole making-a-kibe-thing.  But when we had some free time -- yes, more than three  hours -- and we couldn't do our usual boredom-breaking activities (take a walk to get ice cream, head to the park with a frisbee and a bag of sandwiches from Togo's) we decided to go for it. 

The directions cracked me up... "Put on blander..."  Huh? 
I had Paulo read the directions in Portuguese just to make
sure I wouldn't mess it up!

The three hours part wasn't so bad.  I just had to let the wheat
soak for that long.  Easy peasy.

So, per the directions, I put the onion and mint leaves "on
blander" AKA in the food processor.  Then threw it in with
Bulgar wheat and 1/2 a pound of ground beef and some salt.
Mix, mix, and then mix some more.  And then, mix it again.

The finished product!  They are not the most beautiful, I know,
but oh-so-tasty.
Paulo enjoying his kibes while talking to his family in Brazil.
A true Brazilian experience while in America :)

COST: $8.60         Per Serving: $2.15
Plus tomato salad and bread/butter: $3

Monday, May 23, 2011

One Week Meal Plan -- Vegetarian

"I just don't know what to cook!"  "It takes so much planning."  "I never have the right stuff on hand."  "It takes so loooong..."

Cooking once looked like this...
Raise your hand if you have ever uttered (out loud or in your head) one of these phrases when you think about cooking.  Ok, now that every hand has gone up (Oh, I see you back there with your hand half raised, bobbing up and down as if letting this secret out would ruin you.  It's ok, raise it up, you are in the majority here), I would like to give you some good news.

I have a plan for you. 

Let me first say, this is dedicated to my friend Alex.  She commented on one of my posts that she HATES cooking (and yes, it was in all caps) because it is stressful.   And I know the feeling.  I, too, used to have that feeling.  Then, when I decided I wanted to be able to actually cook, the things I could make were limited to two or three meals.  Not exactly enough to make my food plan a plan, per se, more like a sketch of a plan.  So I decided that I would do what I wished someone would do for me: make an easy meal plan for one week.  I started thinking of all the things I could put in it... Chicken thighs grilled in BBQ sauce, fish with a fresh lemon butter sauce... and then I remembered something.  Alex is a vegetarian.  Oops.  I scratched the items off of my list (and starting to scratch my head as I pondered which veggie recipes I know that are both delicious and easy) and replaced them with meals that she could enjoy.  And, so, I bring you a one week meal plan that is vegetarian.

But now it can look like this!
(Maybe just a little less creepy...)
The things that I put on this list are ones that I myself have tried and tested.  As is my style, I follow the recipe down to the letter the first time, check the directions frequently the second time, and then just kind of throw out any challenging bits and make it work for me by the third run.  Each of these has come from something much more overwhelming, but it has been broken down to the way that fits into my lifestyle -- a busy one -- so that I can enjoy good food without sacrificing my life to do it.  Some things I have changed for you, the reader, such as the beans and rice, because frankly nobody cares to spend as much time on making beans as I do, unless you have a last name like da Silva or Medeiros.  Instead of adding the complication of all that, I tell you to open a can, throw it in the pot, and heat.  Easy, huh?  Basically, EASY is what I was going for -- along with DELICIOUS and BALANCED. 

So, here, have at it.  Try it.  And then, please, let me know how it goes!



(How nice of me, I even included a shopping list!  If you cook anything at all you should have at least some of these in your cupboards at home.  If not, remember, the first time you go shopping is the most expensive.  But I promise you, that bag of flour will really last quite a while...)

If he can do it, you can too!

  • You can use either vegetable or chicken bullion when it calls for it.  Some vegetarians I know don't care if there is chicken bullion in the food, while others are more sticklers to being all-meat-free.  Your choice; however I think chicken does taste a tad bit better. 
  • The recipes here are made for 3-4 people.  I wrote them as I make them, which allows for enough food to feed both Paulo and I, while providing left overs for lunch the next day for at least one of us.  I am assuming that you know how to cut recipes in half.  If you don't, call your fourth grade teacher and complain to her, not me.
  • The mac & cheese recipe is SO delicious, but if you have trouble digesting cheese, DO NOT EAT IT.  Let me just say, you have been fairly warned. 
  • I make all of the recipes without cheese most of the time, and they still taste good.  Maybe not as great as they could, but far far far from bland or bad.  Feel free to cut back on the cheese.  But feel free to enjoy it if you want to.  I would if I could!
  • Shop at a Mexican grocery store (or something similar) for the vegetables.  It will save you tons of dough.
And Alex, I hope you are feeling the love!  This one is for you, Friend.  Your first ever version of The List ;)  (BTW - except the mac & cheese, this is what Paulo and I are eating this week.  He is willing to be a veggie so that YOU can have a week of home cooked foods.  Now if that isn't love, I don't know what is!)

One Week Meal Plan -- Vegetarian (SHOPPING LIST)

(This shopping list goes with these recipes.)

Veggies -
  • 3 onions
  • garlic
  • sliced mushrooms
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms
  • 3 Russet potatoes
  • 1 lb. green beans
  • 3 carrots
  • celery
  • frozen peas
  • 1 lb. red skinned potatoes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bag fresh baby spinach
  • 2 lbs. broccoli
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • Grape or cherry tomatoes (1 pack)
Dry Goods -
  • 1 box Arborio rice
  • 1 or 2 packs tortellini
  • bullion cubes or powder (vegetable or chicken)
  • dill
  • bay leaves
  • flour
  • olive oil
  • Dijon mustard
  • 2 cans white kidney beans
  • 1 pack macaroni elbows
  • instant rice (or other rice)
  • 1 can black beans
  • Bisquick
  • white distilled vinegar
  • salt/pepper
Dairy -
  • butter
  • Parmesan, in a block or wedge
  • milk
  • block of cheddar
  • eggs
  • 1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella (not shredded)
Let me know if I left anything out!

One Week Meal Plan -- Vegetarian (RECIPES)

Click here for the shopping list.

DAY 1 -- Mushroom Risotto
  • Chop one onion and two garlic cloves
  • Prepare 3 cups of chicken or vegetable bullion (easiest way is to cook 3 cups water in microwave for 3 minutes and add either 3 cubes or 3 teaspoons, however your bullion comes)
  • Grate 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
In large skillet, melt 1T of butter over medium heat.  Add sliced mushrooms, 1/2 of the onion, some dill, and a bay leaf.  Saute until onion is clearish in color.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In medium sized pot, melt 1T of butter over medium heat. Add the rest of the onion and the garlic.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until onion is clear.  Add 1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice (or whatever other rice you have), stirring for one minute.  If you like, add 1/2 cup of white wine and cook until evaporated.  Add three cups of bullion.  Cover pot and turn heat to low.  Simmer for 20 minutes. 

After the 20 minutes is up, stir in the mushroom mixture along with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.  Make a small salad, butter some bread, and enjoy :)

DAY 2 -- Portobello Medallions with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
  • Trim edges off of a large handful of green beans
  • Peel and cube 3 Russet (or other large) potatoes
  • Scrape out gills and stem of 2 Portobello mushrooms
Put potato cubes in medium sized pot; cover with water (until about knuckle deep).  Add some salt and boil. 

While the potatoes are boiling, heat up some olive oil in a non-stick pan (large enough to hold the two mushrooms) on medium heat.  In either a zip-lock bag, mix 1/3 cup of flour with 1/4t of both salt and pepper.  Quickly rinse the mushroom caps, coat with flour by shaking in bag.  Add to the frying pan.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes each side.  Set aside.  (If you are feeling fancy and would like a sauce to go with it, you can make a cream sauce with 1T butter, 1T flour, 1c heavy cream, and 1T bullion -- Add the first two ingredients over medium heat, through in your favorite seasonings, add the cream and the bullion and cook until thickened.  Otherwise, have at it.  They are good either way.)

When the potatoes are soft (check by inserting a fork), remove from heat and drain.  Put drained potatoes back in the pot and add 1/4 cup of milk and 2T of butter.  Mix with a fork (or a potato masher if you have one) until potatoes are soft.  I often add some sour cream or cream cheese if I have it, but it is not necessary.

Cook green beans in boiling water for 4-5 minutes, uncovered.  Drain, throw on a dash of salt, and enjoy :)

DAY 3 -- Peas and Carrot Soup with Dumplings
  • Thinly slice 3 carrots
  • Chop 1 rib celery
  • Chop one medium onion
  • Prepare 4 cups bullion
  • Mix 2 cups Bisquick mix with 2/3 cup of milk.  Leave in bowl for now.
Heat 2 T of olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat.  Melt 3T of butter.  Add the carrots, celery, and onion; season with salt and pepper.  Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally for 7 minutes.  Sprinkle 2T of flour on the veggies and stir for a minute.  Whisk in the bullion and stir until thickened.  Stir in 1 cup of frozen peas and 1 T of Dijon mustard

When the soup is bubbling, roll the Bisquick batter into medium sized balls and drop (carefully) into soup.  When all the batter balls are in the soup, cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.  Enjoy :)

DAY 4 -- Stewed White Beans with Spinach
  • Cube 1 lb. of baby red potatoes
  • Make 1 cup of bullion
  • Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a cup or whatever
  • Grate 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • Slice 1/2 onion into small slices
In large skillet, heat 2 T of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add potatoes and cook until golden, 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in most of the onion, leaving just a bit to garnish later.  Cook for 5 minutes and then add 2 cans white kidney beans (drained), the bullion, and the lemon juice along with a bit of salt and pepperSimmer until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Stir in 2 cups of spinach and cook just until wilted (about 1 minute only).  Enjoy :)

DAY 5 -- Mac & Cheese with Broccoli
  • Chop 1/2 onion
  • Cut the stems off of 2 lbs. of broccoli and discard
  • Prepare 1 cup bullion
  • Grate 3 cups of cheddar cheese
Bring medium sized pot of water to boil.  Add 1 lb. of macaroni elbows, the onion, and some salt.  Cook 5 minutes and add the broccoli.  Cook three more minutes and drain.

Meanwhile, in medium sauce pan melt 3 T of butter.  Add 3T of flour and whisk until bubbling, then cook one more minute.  Then whisk in 3 cups of milk and the bullion; raise heat and bring to a boil.  Let cook 5 minutes or until thickened.  Add the cheese and 1T of Dijon mustard, some salt and pepper, and stir until melted.  Add to macaroni and mix.  Butter some bread, make a small side of salad, and enjoy :)

(This one makes A LOT.  Make it on a day you plan to feed many.)

DAY 6 -- Beans & Rice with Tomato Salad and a Fried Egg
  • Chop 1/2 onion
  • Chop 1 garlic clove
  • Dice 3 Roma tomatoes
  • Chop 1/4 of a green bell pepper (one side)
Prepare rice according to the style you like -- in the rice cooker, instant rice, over the stove, whatever.  Set aside.

In small pot, heat 2 T of olive oil over medium heat.  Add half of the onion you chopped and the garlic and cook until clear.  Add 1 can of black beans and some salt.  Cook until warm.  Set aside.

For the tomato salad, mix the tomatoes, the remaining onion, and the bell pepper you already chopped.  Add 1 T of white vinegar and some salt to taste. 

Fry an egg, scramble an egg, or whatever you want.  Just cook the egg!   Put your beans and rice together, add a side of tomato salad, and throw that egg on your plate.  Enjoy :)

DAY 7 -- Tortellini with Green Beans and Tomatoes
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Trim the edges off of two large handfuls of green beans.  Cut so the beans are about 1 inch in length.
  • Cut 1/2 pound of mozzarella into small cubes.
Cut a pack of grape or cherry tomatoes in half and set on foil-lined baking sheet, cut sides facing up.  Drizzle olive oil on the tomatoes (no worries if you don't get all of them) and season with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and let cook for 15 minutes.  (Don't put them on the top rack, though!  The oil will pop up and cause the oven to get smoky.)

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil.  Add one pack of fresh Tortellini.  Cook for 3 minutes and add the green beans.  Cook for 3-4 minutes more.  Drain.

When the tomatoes are done, add them to the pasta/green bean mixture along with the mozzarella and stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Butter some bread and enjoy :)  And then celebrate.  Why?  Because you have a delicious meal in front of you AND you did it... you cooked seven meals.  WAY TO GO, YOU!

(Disclaimer - none of these pictures were taken by me.  They were found via a google search, and I did not mark down where I got them from.  But they are rather pretty, I think.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thirty Days -- Day 4: The Slippery Slope

It is 10:10pm, meaning ten minutes past my "bedtime", and yet I am waiting for the pot of water on the stove behind me to begin to boil.  No, I am not in need of a late dinner, nor do I need a late night snack.  Rather, I am preparing a lunch for my husband for tomorrow. 

So far, this whole not eating out thing has not been too difficult.  Rarely do we go out to eat during the weekdays as I create The List every week and am ready to make a home cooked dinner every night.  Since this 30 day challenge started on Monday and today is Thursday, I have only encountered week nights so far.  So I have to say no to a parfait in the afternoon when I am bored and have a few minutes to run down the street to grab one, whatever.  Not too bad. 


And then we came to tonight.  I made delicious chicken thighs cooked in BBQ sauce with onions, a good sized salad, and some garlic bread.  Fantastic.  But what I thought would be enough for dinner and leftovers, well, let's just say I underestimated.  The conversation that followed went something like this:

Paulo:  "Can I have seconds?  Do you have enough?"
Tiffany: "Sure, but don't eat too much, you need some for your lunch tomorrow."
P:  "There is no way that is going to feed me tomorrow.  I will just eat it now."
T:  "What?  That's enough, for sure."
P:  "No, Babe, it's not.  Maybe enough for you, but I am bigger than you.  I need more food."
T:  "But I don't have any more food..."
P:  "That's OK, I will just grab a sandwich."
T:  "NOOOOOO!  You can't do that!"
P:  "Why not?  What else am I supposed to do?"
T:  "But the 30-day challenge... we will break it... it has only been four days..."
P:  "Babe, it's only once."
T:  "NO!  That's how it all starts!  You do it once and then you want more!"

My neighbors are probably saying a prayer right now asking for intervention on what they most likely (and understandably so) assume to be a potential drug addiction.  The poor man asked for a sandwich, yet by my response you would have guessed he asked for a joint. 

But I still stand by it: JUST SAY NO.

Running through options in my head, I came up with a plan.  Trader Joe's, oh-so-conveniently located next to our gym which we were headed to anyway, carries fresh packs of tortellini for $1.99.  I have left over red sauce in the fridge.  Hence, I am now cooking pasta at 10 o'clock at night.  A sandwich costs about $5, right?  So really, what are we saving? Three bucks?  It's not that much, but $3 is $3, and if I can save that much ten nights, that is $30.  So, yes, that is some motivation right there.  But the bigger motivation?  I don't want to have to come to you, eyes downcast and voice low, admitting defeat this early on.  No leftovers for lunch?  I will make it happen! 

I have a feeling Paulo will be sick of tortellini at the end of this month...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Would you like some fungi with that? (Portobello Medallions au Poivre -- Vegetarian)


The word itself brings images of disgusting feet and moldy walls to my mind.  What a clever trick of nature to make this often disgusting creation be so tasty and good for you -- if you eat the right kind, that is.  The kind you find on the foot of an athlete, yeah... you might want to avoid that.

Portobellos. Yum.  These rather large capped mushrooms work well in so many ways, bringing a very healthy bit to your dinner.  Think of any measly sounding nutrient that your body needs (which proves that it is not so measly after all) and you can probably find it in this fungus: Selenium, copper, manganese, niacin, and so much more.  Sounds kind of like that multi-vitamin you forgot to take this morning, right?

All you need is a mushroom.  Grill it, add some flavor-filled sauce on the top, and you have an award winning meal. 

No, that hamburger-patty looking thing is not a slab of cow.  It is a mushroom that was dipped in flour and cooked in a little olive oil, topped with a delicious sauce homemade by me.  Serve it up with some egg noodles and green beans, and you have a healthy meal that everyone can enjoy -- meat lovers and vegetarians alike. 

For more information about the health benefits of mushrooms, click here.  Be prepared to be astonished and amazed.  And maybe next time you hear something about fungus growing somewhere you will be excited at the fact that it just might wind up on your plate.

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps (about 2 pounds total), stemmed and gills scraped out
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cognac or brandy  
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable or chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard


  1. In a large, resealable plastic bag, combine the flour and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. In an extra-large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Rinse half of the mushrooms quickly and shake in the bag of seasoned flour, then add to the pan and cook, turning once or twice, until golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and 3 tablespoons olive oil.
  2. Add the scallions to the pan, lower the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Carefully pour in the cognac, simmer until nearly evaporated, then stir in the peppercorns, bouillon base and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer, then stir in the cream and mustard. Return the mushrooms to the pan and simmer, turning the mushrooms occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to serving plates and continue to simmer the sauce until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the mushrooms.
COST = $5.90      PER SERVING (3) = $1.97
Plus salad and mashed potatoes: $3.25 per serving

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

Monday, May 16, 2011

The time has begun. Goodbye dinners out, hello super planning!

What did I do this weekend?  I ate out. 

Of course, there was a whole bunch of other stuff thrown in (trip to the beach, visiting new places, so on and so forth), but when you are on a mini-vacation/three day weekend trip, that is what you do.

It is one of the joys of taking a trip -- although I am enjoying my new hobby of cooking, I also enjoy taking a break from it! 

But today IT started.  This morning I woke up, realized I had nothing in my cupboards (due to the long weekend out of town) while simultaneously realizing that, no, I cannot just grab a bite on my way to work.  Digging back a little further in the empty cereal cupboard I found some instant oatmeal -- fruit flavored.  The only problem was I have already eaten all the flavors I already like.  Which is why the box was shoved back into the abyss in the first place.  Oh well.  Strawberry oatmeal it was.  It wasn't as bad as I expected (although it can't hold a candle to peaches and cream). 

I still have no food in my cupboards (well, NO FOOD would be an exaggeration, but the right stuff to make a meal?  Yeah, not so much...) and I am tired and it is rainy and all I want to do is sleep.  But I will not!  It is only Day 1.  I will succeed!

Besides, I don't really have the option to fail.  Over 80 people read my post about my super plan.  Eighty.  Accountability -- it is the thing that will make this work for me.  Failing in front of myself is one thing; failing in front of 80 people, not going to happen.  (It also helps that Heidi and Fam are joining me.  Thank you, Friend, for stepping up to the challenge!)

Thirty days without spending money on anything extra food-wise?  Bring it on.
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