Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Best Cornbread EVER!

I present you with the most delicious recipe of cornbread EVER. This recipe makes the cornbread so moist, with the right touch of sweetness. It actually melts in your mouth. My kids BEG me to make this for dinner. They say it is the best part of eating Chili (chili + cornbread = HEAVEN) It is the best part of Fall too, coming home to a comfort meal with the company of this yummy bread. Please give it a try, you will love it! I have not yet found a better recipe for cornbread. I found this one a long time ago when I was a newlywed, and like always, make it a little bit my own since I lost that recipe and I kind of tried to remember what I did before.
You can mix this fast, with ingredients from your pantry.
You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of corn meal
  • 2/3 cups of sugar
  • 3 TBSP of MELTED butter
  • 1/3 cup pf oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 TBSP of baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cups of milk
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
First, combine the dry ingredients, set aside. In the microwave, melt the butter. Combine the butter, milk and oil. Let the butter cool before you incorporate the eggs...you do not want the eggs to scramble. Stir.
Make a hole in the flour mixture and add the liquids. Stir until moistened.

This is the consistency it should be. Spray an 8x8 Pyrex and put the mixture. Bake at 375 for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm with honey-cinnamon butter, or even plain taste great!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

For the Soul Sundays

“Perseverance means to continue in a given course until we have reached a goal or objective, regardless of obstacles, opposition, and other counterinfluences...Perseverance is a positive, active characteristic...It gives us hope by helping us realize that the righteous suffer no failure except in giving up and no longer trying."
― Joseph B. Wirthlin

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Baby Carriage Fruit Platter

My friends Tonya and Jamie are expecting baby girls. A group of my friends organized a baby shower for them. I was in charge of the fruit platter. Years ago I did this for my friend Darcy when she had her daughter, but the carriage did not have a baby inside. I saw an idea kind of like this in Pinterest but I still made it my own.
First, I got a seedless watermelon, strawberries, grapes, cantaloupe and toothpicks.
I washed the watermelon, and I cut it like this:

I took out a little piece of the bottom to stabilize the carriage. Otherwise the bottom would be rounded and it would not be stable. You can see on the right the piece I cut, it is thin.

 I finished cutting the top,but not all the way through. Then I cut lengthwise, leaving a rectangle on the back.

Then I cut a square inside the rectangle.

Then using a spoon I took out most of the watermelon flesh.

Then I started decorating the carriage:

I cut some lemon slices, and inserted them in the watermelon using a toothpick. Then I added a grape on top.

I then started working on the baby's face. I cut a half a small cantaloupe, peeled it and took of the middle seeds out.

I inserted two toothpicks for the eyes, and cut a little opening for the mouth and put one of my daughter's binkies to decorate.

I inserted two toothpicks in the watermelon to support the baby's face. Then I put several cuts of the watermelon flesh in the back of the baby for support. I put the baby's face in the toothpicks and it stayed pretty secure in there.

I finished by decorating the baby's "blanket" with strawberries, watermelon and cantaloupe. It would actually be cuter if the strawberries were dipped in pink white chocolate. I decorated with some more grapes and put a little "bow" on the baby's hair ;-)

Here she is!

Sharing the fun at:

A Bowl Full of Lemons   Reasons to Skip the Housework  Mommy by Day Crafter by Night

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Homemade Bouncy Ball

This recipe is really good except that the ball will not be as bouncy as the ones that you buy at the store. I bought my sons some time ago a kit at the Hobby Lobby to actually make bouncy balls and you just had to add water. It was cool, and they were fascinated with it. Well, after researching lots to make our own, we did this "experiment" with stuff that we always have in the house.
You will need:

  • 2 bowls per child
  • Elmers glue
  • Borax
  • warm water
  • food coloring
  • cooking spray
  • measuring spoons
  • Cornstarch
First, dissolve 1/2 tsp of Borax into 2 TBSP of warm water. Add food coloring and set aside.

Spray 1 tablespoon and add Elmer's glue. This will help the glue come off the spoon easier, but make sure the spoon is not dripping with oil, otherwise the ball will not turn out good.

In another bowl, add the glue.

Then add 1/2 tsp of the borax, food coloring and water mix to the glue.

Add 1 TBSP of cornstarch. Let stand for 20 seconds.

After the 20 seconds, start mixing. It will be wet and sticky.

Take out of the ball and start rolling. This is how it will look like at the beginning, but as you continue rolling, it will harden.

Ta DA!

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Dulce De Leche Alfajores

Continuing with the traditions of my country, "alfajores de dulce de leche" are the most famous cookie. They are present in every party and in every "mate gathering" except when "tortas fritas" are present (If you want to know what a "torta frita" is stay tuned, I'll be cooking some soon!). They are super delicious and my kids get super excited when this is for dessert. It is simply a shortbread cookie and you stuff dulce de leche in the middle like a sandwich. Dulce de leche is a kind of "caramel" and is really famous in my country. Honestly I cannot find any here that matches the quality of the ones made by Conaprole (the dairy company that makes this in my country). I even have a Brazilian friend here that whenever she goes back home she HAS to buy the uruguayan dulce de leche. Once you try it, there is no going back to the other brands! Anyway, we eat this dulce on bread, we dip fruit on it, we eat tortas fritas with it, anything you can think of... I will be making dulce de leche flan soon, another one of my family's favorites! (Tip: you can also make your own with sweetened condensed milk in the crockpot, did you know?)
The process of making alfajores can be a little lengthy so you need to plan ahead if you want to make this for dessert or for a party. The good news is that you can prepare the dough on advance and leave it in the refrigerator up to 24 hours.
The ingredients are:

  • 1 stick of SOFTENED butter
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 YOLK
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp of baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla
  • lemon peel
  • shredded coconut
  • dulce de leche (here in the U.S I buy the brand Nestle that is sold at Walmart)

First, combine the DRY ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. Next, mix the softened butter with the sugar and beat well with a mixer. Add the eggs, the egg yolk, vanilla and lemon peel (about a tsp) and beat well. Then add the dry ingredient mix.

Mix until the dough becomes a ball and leaves the sides of the bowl. I do this with a wooden spoon. Take a piece of plastic wrap, put the dough on top and wrap the dough. Let it rest for an hour in the refrigerator. This will help you in having a more "manageable" dough when it is time to roll it.

The dough will be a little firm, so roll with your hands first, then flour the counter and roll out like the picture. I use my daughter's cup to cut circles of that size, which are perfect. An alfajor is not supposed to be big, but I guess it COULD be if you wanted...
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and place the circles on a baking sheet with parchment paper ideally. I did not have this so I sprayed the pan and buttered it. Put the circles on top.

 Here is me and my apron...remember???

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. They DO NOT NEED TO LOOK BROWN, but rather white.

Let them cool completely. Meanwhile, get these ready...

 Now it is time to make the sandwiches. Make sure you also put some dulce on the edges so the coconut can adhere better. Roll in the coconut. I make some without coconut for my other son (he does not like it). But you can actually stuff them with PB and jelly, preserves, anything you want! It will not be an "alfajor" though, but I am sure it will still taste GOOD!
 I find the coconut here in the U.S to be shredded thicker than in South America. Our looks more like Parmesan cheese. Still tastes the same though ;-)


Make sure you prepare some mate to go with it, and if you are not a mate drinker, milk will do...

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