Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cherry Mini Cakes

Cherry Mini Cakes (1)

These dainty little cakes make me think of an afternoon tea party. They remind of doilies and sugar cubes and frills. They are something to enjoy on a lazy summer day with a glass of lemonade.

Cherry Mini Cakes (3)

And, they are so easy to make. While I am not a fan of using boxed cake mix and packaged products, can you really say no to these delicate bursts of pink? The best part is you can make them in any color that you would like because the color (flavoring) comes from Kool-Aid. How about red, white, and blue cakes for the 4th of July? Or maybe yellow lemonade cakes to welcome summer? Yes...you know you want to make these just to pull out the teacups and have a little party.

Cherry Mini Cakes 

Shortening for greasing muffic cups
1 box white cake mix
1 (0.14 oz.) package cherry Kool-Aid
1 1/4 cups water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp almond extract
2-3 tsp hot water


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Paletas de Sandia

While extremely delicious, my first-ever paletas (the mango ones) were not that pretty. I think I let them sit in the warm water for too long and the got this kind of melty, drippy look. The second time around, I attempted to see if I could do a better job. The water was a little less hot and I only dunked them for about 20 seconds. Look at that! Presto! It worked. I was extremely excited about these yummy-looking popsicles. Although they turned out to be two different colors, they taste like watermelon through and through. These are so nice and refreshing for those hot summer days.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Paletas de Mango

Paleta is the Spanish word for popsicle. The first time I ever traveled to Mexico, I was introduced to the world of paletas. I couldn't believe the variety of flavors. There was mango, watermelon, strawberry, and lime. Mexico has so many different types of fruit and they are all showcased in the delicious popsicles.
There are two different kinds of paletas: paletas de agua and paletas de crema. Paletas de agua are water-based and contain fruit and other ingredients. On the other hand, paletas de crema are milk-based and also contain fruit. These mango popsicles are paletas de agua, but I must say that they taste like eating a mango on a stick. Have you ever eaten a mango on a stick? That's another joy of Mexico. In this recipe I used Manila mangos which are also known as Ataulfo mangos. They are smaller, have and orangey yellow skin when ripe. The fruit is buttery, sweet, and delicious.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Agua de Chia

Chia is a flowering plant that is native to Mexico and Guatemala. It was cultivated by the Aztecs and Mayans in pre-Colombian times and was a main component of their diet. Aztec warriors used Chia as their main source of fuel during conquests. Chia is derived from the Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs) word, chian, meaning oily. The Mexican state of Chiapas received its name from Nahuatl and means "oily water or river." It was a major crop in central Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C. and was still cultivated well into the 16th century, but after the Spanish conquest, authorities banned it because of its close association with Aztec religion (Indians used the seeds as offerings in rituals). Recently, commercial production has resumed in Latin America, and you can now buy the seeds online and in health food stores.
When chia seeds are combined with liquid (like water, milk, juice or yogurt), they form a gel due to the soluble fiber that they contain. This may have some benefit in terms of weight loss (although the research in this area is scant) by helping you feel fuller longer and also by delaying the increase in blood sugar of foods that you consume which contain chia seeds. Chia seeds provide many health benefits. The seeds contain one of the highest known plant sources of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). It is very important that we get enough EFAs to support our immune, cardiovascular, nervous and reproductive systems. EFAs are known to make cell membranes more flexible and nerve transmission more efficient. This helps to improve brain function (including memory and concentration). Chia seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants containing even more antioxidants than fresh blueberries. The high amounts of antioxidants in chia seeds also keeps the oils from going rancid - contributing to a long shelf life. Chia seeds also provide fiber, iron, calcium, niacin, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. Two tablespoons of Chia = 7 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 205 milligrams of calcium, 5 grams omega-3.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Puppy Chow!

Mmmm...Chocolate Chip Cookies

As I mentioned in the previous post, baking in another country can be pretty challenging. There are new and different ingredients, odd utensils, and ovens that don’t really work. Yep. Ovens without temperature gauges. That would define most ovens in Mexico.

Yay for Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Yesterday, I was invited to a fiesta to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. Of course, I had to bring something with me, and I thought a dessert would be a welcome addition to the menu. I thought long and hard about what to show up with, and in the end I decided that banana bread would be a good option. Wow…did I think wrong! The batter came together beautifully, but it cooked into a big mess. Or rather, it didn’t really cook at all. The temperature gauge on my oven is terrible. and the oven decided to randomly shut off half way through the process. I didn’t realize that until much later.

Puppy Chow for Mexican Independence Day

The banana bread turned out to be a pile of mush. Soooo, I moved on to Plan B—I decided to attempt chocolate chip cookies. I have this recipe for chocolate chip cookies that I consider to be my no-fail recipe. In other words, if this recipe bombs then you are in a real baking dilemma. I was able to find all of the ingredients for the cookies with the exception of brown sugar—I smashed up piloncillo with a rolling pin as a close approximation. The dough mixed up rather nicely, and would you believe that the cookies baked up beautifully? Yes…they did and I have the pictures to prove it. They tasted yummy too, and I kind of enjoyed the fun bursts of piloncillo pockets in my mouth.

Puppy Chow

The cookies were such a success that I decided to make puppy chow, too. Even though they don’t have Crispix here in Mexico, I was able to find a similar variation called Quaker Complete. The puppy chow was also a success! I hope this means that I’m getting better at baking here in Mexico. But, I bet it’s probably just had a stroke of good luck. We’ll see…

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rice Krispie Treats...Mexican Style

Vanilla and Strawberry Rice Krispie Treats

One of the desserts that I always like to make for my friends and neighbors when I am abroad is Rice Krispie Treats. I think they represent a classic American treat, and I find that my foreign audience is usually pretty receptive to the new dessert.

Rice Krispies...can be found in Mexico

However, one of the many challenges of baking in a different country is finding all of the necessary ingredients. The last time I was in Mexico, I had the hardest time find old-fashioned Rice Krispies cereal. Can you imagine? Snap, Crackle, and Pop are such icons in the U.S., but in other countries they appear to be unknown personalities. This time around I had much better luck finding the cereal, and it now seems that almost every grocery store stocks the classic blue box.

Malvaviscos...Mexican marshmallows

The next obstacle was finding marshmallows. I have yet to find a bag of plain old marshmallows in Mexico. Now, I don’t mean to have you believe that marshmallows don’t exist here. Rather, they do indeed exist here. But, malvaviscos as they are called usually come in bags of several different flavors and many different sizes. The simplest version I could find was a bag of giant vanilla and strawberry marshmallows at Walmart. I decided to play with these two flavors and make a batch of Rice Krispie treats that were half vanilla and half strawberry. Today is my birthday, and I am taking this “American-Mexican” dessert to share with my Mexican neighbors. They have kindly invited me over to their house tonight for dinner in order to celebrate my birthday. I hope they enjoy this combination of flavors!