Unibrow power

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Oil stick paints on board

This is a self portrait painting of myself that I started last week and finished today.I timed myself and forced myself to stop as I have a bad habit of overworking a painting. Last month I did something I have been wanting to do for a long time. I grew my unibrow in. In the first three weeks no one seemed to notice. I foolishly mentioned my little  experiment to my teenage daughter . And you would of thought I killed somebody. I also posted pictures of my defiant brow on instagram and I got “Frida!” and an “only you” and  “your so pretty thats what tweezers are for” or something like that. But none gave me a heart  😦 whatever.. Call me crazy but I happened to like them. It felt oddly liberating and I felt very me. Incase your wondering, yes Im a huge Frida Kahlo fan but I did this for myself and wanted to see if I could pull it off as well as she did. In the end I did end up plucking them but not after I drove my daughter over the edge.(sinister laugh). In the process of painting this, my husband loved it, but said he would pay me not to add the brow..the nerve. Well here it is in all its colorful glory, my unibrow!

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Roasted Veggies

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So after the amazing gastronomic weekend I had  it was time to pay up. I put on my running shoes and for the second day started my walking regimen with the help of a cool app my sister turned me on too called Get Running. The app trainer has the voice of an English lady and she talks you thru a warm up, short run and walk again. This is going to do great things for my sluggish metabolism plus running makes my skin glow. So  after our second meal at a little Mexican joint ( which was horrible) I decided I wanted to start the week right and make something super healthy. I went  to the supermarket and got some of my favorite vegetables. Im not a great fan of steamed vegetables but something wonderful happens when beets, peppers and garlic get roasted. Barry used to hate beets throught his life but  now he loves them . If you haven’t tried a roasted beet I plead with you to give them a try.  I like to make a big tray of them and keep them in a dish and reheat them when I get hungry. Go to recipe by clicking on picture incase you didnt know. Thanks for stopping by!

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Two for dinner please :))

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IMG_4089This weekend Karis my lovely daughter, spend the whole weekend at a  friends house. So Barry  and I spend two whole days pest free! Anyone who has young teenage kids can appreciate this break and my unabashed giddiness. Friday night became date night for Barry and I . We even dressed up and had drinks at home, so romantico. He opened the car door for me and everything, I was so ready for my surprise dinner date.  As I sat in the car and was making  myself comfortable. He suddenly made a sharp turn and went into a parking lot, “Did he forget something ?” I thought. He began to chuckle and as I looked around  I realized we were at Mason Madrid’s! I have been wanting to check out this restaurant since I moved to Jersey. A while back I read the Yelp reviews and they were mixed .So even though I didn’t completely write it off I wasn’t in any rush to get there either.  The place was just how they described it in Yelp.  Beautiful high ceilings, a huge stone wall which gave it that rustic Spanish feel. But  just when I was agreeing with a review about them needing a facelift  the smell of garlic hit me upside the head. “Yes!” I thought, now Im psyched.  For starters I ordered the Sopa Gallega and as appetizers the grilled octopus and Asparagus. The soup was good not overly salty and it had that lovely smokey ham flavor that makes sopa gallega so special. When the octopus arrived, at first sight it looked dry. But when my teeth sinked in without a fight and the spices and grilled flavors worked their magic in my mouth, I couldn’t wait for what was to come.  The Asparagus was equally good as it was both crisp, tender and garlicky. I ordered as the main course, The Lobster al Diablo. Barry ordered the mixed seafood and linguine.  Barry’s dish was ok but my lobster al diablo was pretty damn good. In the first few  spoons I thought it might be too tomatoey but  when the heat kicked in I began to really enjoy it. The lobster was nice and fresh and what I really wanted to do was pick it up and suck into it like a vampire, but I restrained myself.  Im latin what can I tell you . The Sangria was pretty decent too. For dessert we  had the Tres Leches cake  and Flan. Was not impressed with the Tres Leche but I enjoyed the flan. I love it when  the sugar of the flan has a slight bitter taste and there is hints of  lemon rind in the flan. All in all it was a good meal and I cant wait to take the rest of my family there .  The place were we sat was a bit dark so my pictures are lousy. The next day I reheated that  other half of  the lobster and  in the privacy of my home went to town.

The other half I took to home :P.

Tasted even better the next day.

A healthy snack before dinner.

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Yes, I can do healthy too. As a matter a fact a couple of months ago I went on a three day juice fast and survived. It was hell but I plan to do it again!  I do smoothies almost every day now. I like them because not only are they delicious they are low in calories. A bigger plus is that they keep me full and Im not ravenous by dinner time. I can not wait until its warmer so I can get myself back on the running track. Well I mostly walk but I do work myself to somewhat of a jog.  I need to move cause my body is feeling old and achy. In the meanwhile.. tonight Barry is taking me out to dinner. But its a surprise dinner so I don’t know what I will be eating. Sounds like fun? I just hope he picked well because I don’t do pretend very well. Even so Im looking forward to eating out and hearing the latest happenings at his job. As you can see in the pictures there is an ugly over ripped banana.Here is a tip: you know how sometimes you forget that banana at the bottom of your bag. Well don’t throw it  out just yet!  Over ripped  bananas happen to be fabulous sweeteners. That lovely one was frozen so it will be ideal for any smoothie recipe.

Strawberry Banana PineapplSmoothie

makes 16 oz

1 cup of strawberries

1 ripe banana

1/2 cup frozen pineapples

1 cup of Cocunut water

Put all in blender. Blend pour, enjoy!

A little green to usher in the Spring.

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Its been officially Spring since March twenty something and Im still freezing. As I sit here and think what to make  for tomorrow dinner and blog about. The need to see Spring budding trees makes me think of a favorite childhood dish. Tallarines Verdes which means Green Spaghettis. This plates is Peruvian but with Italian  origins. We had Italians migrate to Peru  so its influence in some of our plates is evident. My great grandmother Anita cooked for an Italian family. This would explain to me  why my moms  recipe uses feta cheese instead of Queso fresco (fresh cheese). I love to hear the story how her grandmother used to make this sauce at home on a Batan.

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A batan is a a flat rock that is the base for a the rounder rock . The rounder rock is rocked back forth and can crush leaves, spices and most food into a paste. Sort of like a blender or a food processor, cool right?

My  mom learned to make the sauce from watching her . As the story is told by my mom . Granny used to shoo her away from her kitchen while she cooked  but my mom who had a relentless nature always managed to sneak back in the kitchen and watch her every move.   Even though I have made this dish many times I googled the internet to see how others made it. This research prompted a quick call to my mom. We have had this conversation before but I needed to be clear about it again. I asked her why she didnt use queso fresco but Feta and why ours didn’t have Spinach. Her explanation was that the fresh cheese that she grew up was very similar to the french feta  she uses in her recipe today. French feta is milder than the Greek but we have  used them both many times. She also said that Spinach was used to stretch the recipe for large families and sometimes  to tone down  the strong basil flavor that grew in Peru. All these explanations made sense but I wish I could spoken  to my great grandmother and asked her myself . I would of loved to pick her brain about Peruvian food.

I have made this dish for my kids many times and it is one of their top favorites. I love to make it because besides it being delicious  it is made in the blender  so it can be made super fast. Once the pasta is cooked its on the table before you know it.

First Time..

Yellow cake with raspberry filling and Swiss buttercream frosting

Yellow cake with raspberry filling and Swiss Buttercream frosting

“I figured if I was going to make this a better place. I’d do it with cake.” –Ana Pascal, me-

Well here it goes..After many years of procrastination and the words of encouragement from family and friends to start a food blog . I finally said to myself  that “someday” will be today. Until recently I have shared my cooking and baking adventures  on facebook.  I think this forum will keep two of my passions nice, neat and focused. No political rants here,  Ok stop the cheering out there who know me, I swear I can hear you. This will be a soft fuzzy place to hang out at,  but don’t get comfortable so fast. I just started this blog and I have  already broken one of Food Blogs 101 “Don’t do”. It reads, do not  add recipes into blog that you haven’t made once or twice . I think,  really and why not ? Most recipes don’t come out perfect on the first or second try  and isn’t blogging supposed to have a spontaneous quality about it?  My goal here is to keep it  real and fun. If its perfection your looking for in a blog then keep on moving. But don’t get me wrong when I do start a new dish or dessert  I will research it, compare recipes and tweak here and there. In other words I will post the good, and not so good and explain why it did or didn’t work. Im very passionate about baking. When a recipe doesn’t come out as planned, I  have been known to make late night trips to 24 hr  stores for do-overs. I also look forward in sharing some of my favorite Peruvian dishes with you. Throughout the years I have learned a thing or two from, who in my humble opinon,  is the master of Peruvian cuisine..my mom.

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My grandmother Amalia who is missed by us everyday.
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Carrot cake, covered in fondant.

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Carrot cake, covered in fondant (view from above)

Pescado a Lo Macho

Pescado a Lo Macho

Early last week I decided that my go-to carrot cake recipe would be a nice dessert to follow my moms Pescado a lo Macho dish. Some might say its a winter cake and I agree. However, this carrot cake  I made  is light on the spices. Helping to lighten it up even further I  folded into the cream cheese frosting, whipped cream.  I also skipped  the  walnut crusted sides traditionally found on most carrot cakes. I wanted to try something totally new. Instantly I thought to myself, “How about fondant? ”  Yes, I have always wanted to try this beautiful frosting and I could already see the cake in my mind.  So I got in my car and made a quick dash to the supermarket. That afternoon I did something I rarely do with a new recipes. I googled fondant in the parking lot and went with the first web site that offered a recipe. I Ignored the voice in my head asking me to do a lil more research. It all really seemed fairly easy,  a little sugar here, some unflavored gelatin there. I once whipped a delicious swiss buttercream frosting at first try, so how hard can this be?

They say you should never try a new recipe on an important occasion. It’s best to try it out first and save yourself unnecessary stress. But I do love me a challenge and the reality is, even if it didn’t turn out quite right, my family would still eat it, so its all good.

The cake part was easy.  I have a recipe that I follow from the blog  Smitten Kitchen, but I made it my own by adding and taking a thing or two. This cake is a  favorite and a much asked dessert  by my family. I have seen die hard  carrot haters love this cake.  Plus, it was my  beautiful abuelitas most favorite. The ingredients are fairly simple and easy to find in any store and putting it together is a breeze. Ok, now lets talk about the fondant and the tedious task of kneading it, ugh. But first here’s a little fun fact about me.  I was a massage therapist for over 10 years. I had to stop because, besides it being an extremely tiring job for  a mom who took care of a family, it wrecked havoc on my wrist.  Unfortunately, I know Mr. Carpal Tunnel all too well. Trying to get it to the right consistency felt like hours.  I also needed   to dye it orange too look like a carrot. The instructions were to add the food dye a little at at a time which meant  more kneading. Finally, I got it to what all the videos and recipes say it should feel and look like. I stuck it out with the recipe from thecookduke.com to the letter, well sort of. When I was done I plastic sealed the fondant and put in an air tight tupperware. Days later when the big moment came to put the fondant on the cake, I had to re-knead the three colored fondants I made <whimpering> . Through the sweat I rolled it out, mending the tears with vegetable shortening.  In one held  breath, I  placed the fondant  gently over my sculpted carrot cake. Yes, sculpted because apparently there isn’t any carrot shaped cake pans in the universe. So  if  any one reading this  by chance stumbles upon a carrot shaped pan. Please e-mail me or message me immediately. As I rubbed and tucked in the fondant without any more major tears, my fears began to melt away. Moving quickly, I pressed in the  the lines to simulate those on a carrot and gave it some last adjustments. To my relief and great joy there before me  was  the carrot I envisioned. I skipped putting the green fondant on the stem part and opted for green colored cream cheese frosting(minus the whip cream). I gave myself  a mental high five and thought, I conquered the fondant!  yeah right..  There is still so much to learn about this frosting and all its possibilities. Please click on the carrot cake pictures as this will (hopefully) take you to the recipe page. Keep in mind this is my first blog and like the fondant, Im still trying to work it out.