I’m Feeling… Curious!!

21 Jun

About two weeks ago I received some news that will probably change my life drastically. I got accepted at a Master’s degree in Spain that starts in October. Since then I’ve been very busy taking care of completing the application and selling all my stuff as quickly as possible because I’ll be moving very soon… so I didn’t have time to cook anything yummy. In fact I just ate tuna and crackers for like six nights in a row. I got a bit tired of eating like that and I started wondering how the food in Spain would be like when I moved. So last night I went online searching for some easy to make and traditional foods from Spain.

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I found something called “Pan Tumaca”, which stands for something like “bread with tomato” and it happens to be a very popular and traditional dish from Spain. It seemed easy enough to prepare and very delicious too… so I gave it a try! I changed the recipe a little, so it came out as pan tumaca with a twist. You can eat it for breakfast if you want, I prepared mine for dinner. In Spain they usually eat the pan tumaca with Serrano ham, I added the avocado so that’s optional in the recipe.

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PAN TUMACA RECIPE

  • 1 Baguette
  • 1 tomato
  • ¼ onion
  • ½ garlic
  • Serrano ham
  • Diced avocado
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Toast the bread in the oven with a bit of olive oil. In the blender mix the tomato, garlic and onion for 2 miutes. Spread the sauce in the toasts an sprinkle some salt, pepper and olive oli.

Top the bread with diced avocado and serrano ham… And dig in!!

Hope you like it!!

Maria Victoria

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I’m Feeling… Proud!!

5 Jun

It’s been days since I last posted a recipe! Between the fact that I was actually trying to stick to a diet for once and that I’ve been applying for like a thousand universities and jobs I just didn’t have any free time. It was all worth it though!! Yesterday I got the amazing news that I was accepted at the master I wanted the most and I’m very happy! I felt very proud of myself because of that and also because all the effort with the diet paid off! So on that note I decided to celebrate my two big accomplishments… And what better way to celebrate than with something sweet!? I didn’t want to over do it with the sugar though! So I wasn’t sure what dessert to make…

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When I finally got the chance to go to the supermarket this morning I wasn’t shopping for any ingredient in particular, but the fruit section was so colorful I had to stop by and buy some strawberries and bananas. I remembered that a friend told me about some great shakes she used to make with vanilla ice cream so of course I bought some of that as well! We ended up celebrating with fruit shakes, which are also great for a sunny day!

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STRAWBERRY, BANANA AND VANILLA ICE CREAM SHAKE RECIPE

  • 1 cup of diced straberries
  • 1 cup of diced bananas
  • 1 ½ cup of vanilla ice cream
  • ½ cup of milk

For these very easy to make shakes first of all put the diced banannas and strawberries in the fridge for about 20 min just to make your shake colder. In the blender mix the milk, strawberries, bananas and vanilla ice cream for a couple of minutes… And dig in!!

Hope you like it!!

Maria Victoria

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I’m Feeling… Healthy-ish!!

6 May

Today was kind of a long day! I had a million errands to run this morning and I decided I to walk instead of drive. In a city like Bogota where the weather is pretty much unpredictable, a day with no rain is a great day to do all the things on your To Do list! Personally I try to walk as much as I can when there are no grey clouds and the sky is blue and beautiful! So after my long walk I decided I didn’t want to spoil all the exercise I made just by eating pasta or a burger, although I was craving both of them… So I figured it was time to put the lettuce I had in my fridge to good use. However I knew it wasn’t going to be a completely healthy salad… I remembered that the best salad I’ve ever had in my life came with “warm goat cheese” so on my way home I bought some goat cheese and just ventured for something I’ve never cooked before.

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Making “warm goat cheese balls” was a whole new experience! The concept is somewhat similar to making breaded chicken or maybe even better! I’m a big fan of sweet and salty combinations so I added some sun dried cranberries, roasted almonds and a vinaigrette to the salad! It was delicious and I didn’t feel that guilty  afterwards!!

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WARM GOAT CHEESE, SUN DRIED CRANBERRIES AND ROASTED ALMOND SALAD

  • Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • ½ cup of sliced almonds
  • ½ cup of goat cheese
  • ½ cup of sun dried cranberries
  • 1 Egg
  • ½ cup of flour
  • ½ cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon of honey
  • 1/3 tablespoon of sesame oil (optional)
  • ¼ tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil

After washing the lettuce and the arugula place them on a bowl. Roast the almonds in the oven for 5-10 minutes .

For the warm goat cheese: make small balls of goat cheese in your hand. Dip the balls in the egg and then coat with the flour. Dip one more time in the egg and then coat with the breadcrumbs.  Fry the ball of cheese in the vegetable oil for no longer than 5 minutes.

For the vinaigrette: mix the olive oil with the balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey and sesame oil. Sprinkle some salt and pepper.

In a bowl mix the greens, arugula, roasted almonds, sun dried cranberries and vinaigrette. Top with the warm goat cheese balls… And dig in!!

Hope you like it!!

Maria Victoria

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I’m Feeling… Ready to Crumble!!

4 May

It’s still cold and rainy here in Boston, so my first day of vacation wasn’t anything extraordinary, but I’m still so excited about being on vacation because we have exciting plans. Diego (the boyfriend) and I are leaving Monday, we are going to Miami!!! and then we are heading to Caracas on Friday. There are no words to express how excited I am to go to Venezuela. Actually I have lots of mixed feelings about it because Caracas is such a dangerous place to go to right now, but it is still the place where I was born and grew up, and I haven’t been there in almost two years. I get to see most of my family very often in other places, but I haven’t seen many of my friends in a really long time and I can’t wait to see them.

The things I miss the most about Caracas besides from my family and friends, are the AMAZING food, the excellent weather year round, and the gorgeous Cerro el Avila, which is a beautiful mountain that can be seen from anywhere in Caracas. I think any person from Caracas will tell you the same, it has just something so special that you can’t keep it out of your heart. I am sadden every day by the fact that my country is going through such hard times because it is such a gorgeous country filled with the nicest and happiest people that you would ever meet.

So on a more present and happier note, since I’m leaving for about a month I need to eat or give away all the spoilable food that I have. The fridge is almost empty now, but I still had a ton of strawberries that I bought the other day at the farmers market. I knew ever since I bought them that I wanted to make strawberry cobbler because we ate a delicious one the other day. This cobbler is from the Paula Deen website and it is super easy to make and it is even better than the one we had at the restaurant. I halved the recipe because even though I had a lot of strawberries it wasn’t 4 pounds, but it still came our perfect.

STRAWBERRY COBBLER 

  • 6 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or less depending on how sweet your strawberries are)
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbs of water
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter (half stick), softened

Preheat oven to 350º F. In a large sauce pan combine the strawberries and the sugar and let them rest for about 15 minutes. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Stir the cornstarch mixture and let it boil for about one minute or until thickened. Crush or process the strawberries for a few seconds -do not over mix- you should still have some big chunks of strawberries. Transfer into four ramekins or a bigger oven proof bowl.

In a small bowl combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter and crush with a fork until the mixture is crumbly and sprinkle over the strawberry mixture. Bake for 20 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!

Diana.

I’m Feeling… Free!!

3 May

I’m finally over with final exams! This morning I had my last final, and now I’m finally free to rest and procrastinate without feeling guilty about it! For the past two weeks I’ve been surviving on cereal, rice, and chicken. I wish I could have been the typical college-student-during-finals cliche and ate pizza every day, but I’m the college student on finals who enjoys cooking too much, so I baked chicken in a ton of different ways. Chicken is super easy to make and versatile so it was my go to meal almost every day.

Oddly enough, and as you might have guessed looking at the pictures, this post isn’t about chicken or rice. I was just craving something sweet and easy to make and the first thing I saw when I got home was a bag of marshmallows sitting on the counter waiting to be made into Rice Krispie treats.

Well the Rice Krispie treats are now on a waiting list because I remembered that I had some vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer and that I love toasted marshmallow milkshakes. These are way too easy to make, and super quick, but more importantly you can make some and pretend that it is not cold and rainy in Boston but instead you are sitting on a patio on a beautiful spring day enjoying your cold and yummy milkshake and celebrating the semester is over.

TOASTED MARSHMALLOW MILKSHAKE – adapted from Joy the Baker

  • 1 cup vanilla bean ice cream
  • 5-6 regular marshmallows
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup milk (depending on how thick or runny you like it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Toast the marshmallows. My not so fancy method consisted on sticking each marshmallow into a fork and toasting it on the stove top because I don’t have any skewers. Blend the toasted marshmallows with the ice cream, milk, and vanilla. I like mine a little chunky so I didn’t blend for a long time. If you like you can save one or two marshmallows and top the milkshakes with it.

Enjoy!

Diana.

I’m Feeling… Caribbean!!

3 May

Since I was a kid I remember eating plantains with almost every food and almost everyday. I consider myself a very tropical person… I really enjoy hot weather, I love the beach and most of all I really really adore all types of caribbean ingredients!!  Growing up we ate plantains around the clock and my mother would cook them in every possible way you can imagine. There are so many different recipes you can do with plantains that it’s almost impossible to ever get tired of them. It didn’t matter what type of dish was being cooked in my house, even soup could have plantains! So a couple of years ago I went to this great restaurant in Caracas and I was in the mood for plantains (not really a surprise) so I order something called “Plantain Gnocchi’s with Mushroom Sauce”. Both the combination of flavors and the texture were amazing and for me it was a very interesting way of cooking plantains so I decided I wanted to give that dish a try… this time cooking it myself!

I researched a few ways of cooking gnocchi plantains and I finally went for it… I chose the less complicated recipe! It was easier to cook them than I thought they would be and they turned out to be very tasty! I think the plantain gnocchi’s go great with lots of sauces, I chose this one because I really like the combination! But feel free to try it with thai sauce, leeks sauce or any other sauce of your preference!

PLANTAIN GNOCCHIS WITH MUSHROOM SAUCE

  • 2 tablespoons of Butter
  • 5 Plantains
  • one tablespoon of Sugar
  • 3 tablesoonps of Flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups of White Mushrooms
  • 2 peeld Garlic
  • 1 cup of Heavy Cream
  • ½ Onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 5 sheets of aluminum paper

Preheat the oven 395º F. Peel the plantains, cover them with butter and put them in separate  sheets of aluminum paper. Bake them in the oven for 20 minutes. Cut each plantain in half and remove the seeds. In a bowl mash the plantains with the yolks until they become an integrated mixture. Add the sugar, the flour and a bit of salt. Sprinkle a little flour in a table, place the mixture and make little cylinders.

Julienne the mushrooms. Chop the garlic and the half onion. In a frying pan heat one tablespoon of butter and sauté the onion and the garlic until they become transparent. Add the mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes. Add the heavy cream and cook form 7 minutes and remove from fire. Add salt and pepper.

Boil water and put the gnocchi cylinders. Cook for 7 minutes or until they start coming to the surface of the water. In a frying pan melt a tablespoon of butter and sauté the gnocchi’s for about 5 minutes (that way they will get a golden color).

Serve the gnocchi’s with the mushroom sauce. If you want you can sprinkle some parmesan cheese… And dig in!!

Hope you like it!!

Maria Victoria

I’m Feeling… Cheesy!!

30 Apr

Not THAT kind of cheesy though!! I just have been obsessing over cheese lately… I never knew how great grilled cheese and tomato soup were until I moved here almost three years ago. Back home, in Venezuela, we eat our tomato soup -most of our soups actually- with diced queso blanco. Yummy queso blanco that becomes chewy with the heat of the soup. The queso blanco here is very different than the one back home, I buy mine on Spanish grocery stores but it is usually bland and harder than the one back home. After all this time away though I do enjoy the queso blanco that I find here, but it is never the same. The cheese here is so different than the ones back home because of the milk, most of the white soft cheeses are made with raw milk, which is not allowed here. The pasteurization of the milk makes the flavor and the consistency to change in the cheese making process.

There are many Venezuelan foods that I do not eat here because the ingredients are so different that the end product is too different. Tomato soup was one of those foods; I cannot eat my soup without cheese, and dice of any other cheese changed the flavor too much. But when I tasted the tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich I regained my love for tomato soup.

So the other day I went to the farmers market, and I bought 2 lb of tomatoes which is a ton to me since I only cook for two most of the time. I decided to make tomato soup -the one from back home- with grilled cheese but with a twist. Since I’m used to the dice of cheese inside the soup I made grilled cheese croutons and put them inside the food, for the similar experience of stumbling upon pieces of grilled cheese.

EASY TOMATO SOUP WITH GRILLED CHEESE CROUTONS

  • 8 tomatoes, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 3 fresh basil leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 – 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (I used half-and-half)
  • salt

Heat a large pot and melt the butter. Add the onions and the garlicand sauté until soft and translucent. Add the crushed and peeled tomatoes, the basil leaves, and the tomato paste. Cover and cook at low heat for 15 minutes. Add the cornstarch dissolved on the water and cook for 5 more minutes stirring frequently. Slowly, add the chicken broth and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Finally, puree the soup with an immersion blender or a regular blender and pour the cream.

For the grilled cheese croutons make a regular grilled cheese sandwich and cut into small squares with a cookie cutter or a knife.

Enjoy!

Diana.