Friday, April 29, 2011

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Thoughts & Prayers Needed

I find myself aimlessly pacing. There is plenty to do and yet I can't get my thoughts in enough order. My grandmother was admitted earlier this week on the thought that she suffered TIA or transient ischemic attack or mini stroke. Alex tried to explain it to me and I am normally pretty good at understanding the medical lingo but something about this particular lecture in medical diagnosis, because it was about MY grandmother, reduced me to a girl barely able to form the sounds necessary to go "uh huh" as he spoke. Turns out, however, that she actually suffered a full-blown stroke and there is a clot at the base of her brain that has doctors extra vigilant out of fear the clot will move and cause further damage. She is under the watchful care of those who love her because she is fortunate enough to be at a hospital that employs her {step}daughter and a group of women that have been friends of my aunt long enough to make them adopted family members.
5 months
Mamita with 5-month old me
Despite our worries, my grandmother is in great spirits and convinced she will be leaving the hospital soon. Maybe I should learn from her and try to spend more of my time feeling confident and thinking positively instead of thinking of all the ugly what ifs. She is getting the best care given the circumstances and all I can do is pray that instead of regressing, she progresses. If you pray, please pray for my family today and pray for strength and hope.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

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Dijon Chicken

I saw a recipe for Dijon Chicken somewhere and cut the recipe out to save for later. This was Sunday. I have no clue what I did with the recipe and this is what I wanted for dinner on Monday. I found this recipe which seemed similar enough. The chicken was delicious and the sauce was truly perfection, all golden in color and Dijon mustard in flavor. Simple dish and quick to make. Definitely a keeper.

Dijon Chicken
Source: Adapted from Janet Schaufele on

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons Dijon-style prepared mustard

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium heat melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook until clear, about a minute or two.  Brown chicken in butter for about 15 minutes or until cooked through and juices run clear. Remove from skillet and place on plates.

Stir flour into skillet drippings. Add broth and deglaze skillet by stirring vigorously until flour is somewhat dissolved and liquid has the consistency of a sauce. Add cream. Simmer, stirring, over moderate heat for about 2-3 minutes or until sauce is a little thick. Stir in mustard and heat through.

Pour mustard sauce over chicken breasts.

Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

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Catching Up: Handwriting Tag & Pinterest

Blogging friend Heather tagged me in the Handwriting Post. How fun is this? I always feel awkward when I write because of how little pen-and-paper writing I do so please excuse the ugly handwriting.

To those I tagged, Christina over at This Woman Cooks!, Sarah over at Growing on Gettysburg, and Desi over at SteakNPotatoesKindaGurl,  here's what you have to write out:

1. name
2. your blog url
3. write “a quick brown fox jumped over a lazy dog.”
4. any quote / favorite quote
5. favorite song(s)
6. favorite musical artist
7. write anything you want
8. tag some peeps!

Also, I feel like I'm late to the game when it comes to Pinterest. It has popped up in several of the blogs I follow and it wasn't until an in-real-life friend told me about it, that I signed up. I will warn you that it is highly addictive, but it's such a great place for holding all your ideas, inspirations, and likes. Here's the link to my Pinterest Boards; they are a little bare at the moment. 

 I think I'm all caught up now. Oh wait...I still need to type of the recipe for the most amazing Banana Rum Cake you will ever lay eyes on!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

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TWD: Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies

One of the things I love the most about Dorie is how fool-proof her recipes are. Tiny adaptations to the recipe do no harm to the overall taste and quality of the finished dessert. I thought I had everything I needed to make these Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies but I was wrong and I didn't want to make a third trip to the grocery store. Instead, I made little substitutions. All I had in the pantry was coarse corn meal and lemon extract. In went the coarse corn meal and out came a cookie that was buttery but a little rocky in some parts. In went the lemon extract (1/4 tsp for a quarter of the recipe) and out came a cookie that was booming in its lemon flavor.

Thanks to Valerie of Une Gamine dans la Cuisine for making this week's selection. Don't forget to stop by the TWD site to see how everyone else fared this week.

Monday, April 25, 2011

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52 {Books} in 52: Water for Elephants

I'll be honest and say that the main reason I wanted to read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen was because of the movie. For some reason, I find myself particularly attracted to books that have been adapted into films (The Hunger Games trilogy, The Notebook, James Bond series, Harry Potter series, Twilight series, to name a few); are the movies as good as the book or is the movie a wasteful representation of a great book? Of course, I had heard of the book before but I never had it high of my list to read. That was a mistake because the book was very good. I don't know how else to describe it other than saying it was a smooth and steady read. I started the book Saturday and finished it Sunday. The book starts off with a murder and it takes almost the entire book to figure out who, what, and why. In between you learn a lot about the traveling circuses of Depression-era America and you get to read not only about the cruelty of humans but also their wonderful ability to love without bounds.

Here's what I've read for my 52 {Books} in 52 challenge:

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
3. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
4. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Sunday, April 24, 2011

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This Week in Mommyhood

Oh boy are we in trouble. Cati is such a little dancer and now when you say "dance" or "baila" she starts dancing. Her dancing has also expanded to attempting to clap to the beat and stomping her right foot. Her current favorite dance songs are Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" and "Rumour Has It."

Here are the other fun developments this week:

Fork upgrade. Cati broke her Boom bendable fork. I didn't think those things could break but Cati proved me wrong. We upgraded to some big girl forks and she loves actually being able to fork her food.
Poop. Cati won't say if she has a poopy diaper but if I ask her "tienes popo?" and she does, she will pat her butt.

Uno! Cati knows her age! Or at least she really likes the way I say "Uno!" because when I ask her "quantos años tiene?" she extends her index finger in the one position and raises her hand.

Helmet safety. My birthday present was a pretty pink Schwinn bike with a child carrier and helmets. Cati HATES her helmet. Poor girl. I'm not a fan on mine neither, but safety first, right?

Bedroom playtime. At some point this week our bed become the hot spot. Cati tries to climb on the bed so that we can play and dance. I love seeing her try to stretch to reach over the edge of the bed.

School concerns.  I started seriously thinking about school this week. I want to enroll Cati in some kind of program next January because of the social aspect and I feel she will be old enough to really get something out of being around other kids on a more consistent basis. It's so overwhelming on so many levels. On the one hand I want to find a program that will be a good fit for her and on the other hand I hate feeling like my school plans are very short-term because of Alex's fellowship year. Then there's the whole money aspect to contend with and the fact that so many programs have wait lists. Wait lists for toddlers? I pray for when she goes to college.

Another week gone and the month of April is drawing to a close. Here's hoping for another week of surviving.
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Happy Easter!

I hope everyone is having a great Easter holiday and that you are celebrating it with those nearest and dearest. Today we will be heading over to my in-law's and I made a Banana Rum Cake (messed up the recipe, but what's new?) for the meal. I had a little fun with Cati's Easter pictures this year; she has pictures I took and a picture with the Easter Bunny. 

The Easter Bunny was quite an ordeal because Cati was not feeling him at all. She was all smiles and happy-baby when she was far away from him but the minute I set her on his lap she would start crying. We tried three times and gave her breaks in between to get comfortable but it was no use. I had to chose between her crying and her trying to run away. While the crying pictures were great and hilarious, I wanted something where you could actually see her face and how much she has changed since last year's picture.
Cati Easter

Isn't it amazing that the child above is the same as the child below? My, how time flies and my, how my baby has grown.
 Easter 2010


Saturday, April 23, 2011

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Ricotta Gnocchi

Here is the easiest recipe you will come across for Ricotta Gnocchi. The following recipe is the whole recipe but I only made half. There was easily enough gnocchi to feed four people. You serve it with your favorite sauce (we chose a vodka sauce) and the gnocchi honestly taste like the filling of stuffed shells. Delicious!

Ricotta Gnocchi
Source: Prudent Baby

3/4 cup flour
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 container of ricotta cheese (16 ounces)

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.

If it's really sticky, add tablespoons of flour. It should be a little sticky, but not gooey. Refrigerate it for about 20 minutes, until it's more workable.

Meanwhile boil salted water. 

Break the mixture into 4 pieces and roll each one out into a tube shape about 3/4" thick. Use a sharp knife to cut it into 1-inch pieces. At this point you can freeze some if you want by laying it on a sheet and sticking it in the freezer until it's frozen, then removing and placing in a ziploc.

Place in boiling water and cook the gnocchi until they bob to the surface, then for another few minutes.

Serve with your favorite sauce and enjoy!

Friday, April 22, 2011

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Ruffle Frosting White & Black Cakes for Easter (AKA Longest Cake Post)

Call me ambitious. Call me crazy. Call me relaxed. I spent a few hours in the kitchen baking earlier this week and it felt so good. My day-to-day life is kind of chaotic because I am at the mercy of a toddler, that getting in the kitchen and baking makes me feel like my old self. The person who was in control of things and the person who used to do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. Who would have thought that following a recipe and measuring out ingredients would help me feel like I am taking command of my life?
For the longest time I had wanted to try the Ruffle Frosting Technique; cakes looks so beautiful and vintage and whimsy with that type of frosting. I normally don't like to make cakes because we are more of a snacking-dessert kind of household, but I found the perfect medium: mini cakes! These cakes were doubly good because they not only gave me the opportunity to test out this frosting technique but they also proved to be great Easter gifts. Oh, I lie. They were triply good because with the leftover cake I was able to make cake balls dipped in chocolate for Alex to take into work. In frosting I learned that I suck at making straight rows and that when I rush, I miss spots.
Like I said earlier, I was ambitious. I made two types of sheet cake: chocolate and white. The recipes below are the the halved recipes I made (cook time was still the same). I did, however, make the full frosting recipe and that was just enough to frost all five cakes. I used a 4-inch circle cookie cutter to cut out the cakes.
Both cakes were light and flavorful. You really couldn't ask for more out of the cakes because of how classic the flavors are. I had some of that Oreo frosting stashed away so I used that as the frosting between the layers. I struggle with frosting in general (I'm not a frosting girl), so I think the frosting was too sweet for the cakes. Cati completely disagreed with me and loved the frosting more than the cakes.

The best compliment cake from Alex. He saw the cakes and said they looked professional and warned Publix to watch out for them!

Chocolate Sheet Cake
Source: The Pioneer Woman

1 cups flour
1 cups sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp (heaping) cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cups buttermilk
1 whole beaten egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together. Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool to room temperature.

White Cake
Source: Baking Bites

1/2 cup milk, room temperature
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar 
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.

Combine milk, eggs whites and extracts in a small bowl with a fork. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in an electric mixer and mix at slow speed with a paddle attachment. Add butter. Continue beating at slow speed until mixture looks like wet sand (If you’re doing this by hand, sift the dry ingredients together and rub in butter).

Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining milk mixture and beat for an additional 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. Do not overmix.

Pour into pans and gently shake to smooth batter. Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes then invert onto rack to cool completely before frosting.

Buttercream Frosting
Source: Bakingdom

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 Tbsp milk
2 drops of red food coloring

Beat the butter and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar until combined. Add 1 tablespoon of milk and whisk on high for 4 minutes. Add food coloring and beat until mixed in.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

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Book Recommendations Needed

I'm all about challenging myself lately: spend less, clean more, cook more, dress my age; just a lot of little challenges aimed at tweaking certain aspects in my life in hopes of making myself a happier person. One of the challenges, which I've seen undertaken by other bloggers, is the 52 books in 52 weeks. So far I've only read three books: The Hunger Games trilogy (great books and very empowering) so I'm a little behind. I have Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman as my next two reads and I love reading anything that's good.

What do you recommend?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

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Breakfast, I Love You

Breakfast is my favorite meal. I think I could eat breakfast for every meal and be completely happy. We recently went to Chuck Wagon and it reminded me so much of Boston's Mike's City Diner. I miss that place so much, especially their Emergency Room breakfast special. As always, I ordered a big breakfast and proceeded to eat every single bit of food. There's nothing more delicious and homey feeling than a warm breakfast.
 Chuck Wagon's Eggs, Bacons, & Home Fries
Chuck Wagon's Pancakes
Breakfast is even more delicious now that I get to share it with my daughter. I hope breakfast becomes her favorite meal of the day too.

Monday, April 18, 2011

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Examiner This Week

I'm starting to find my writing groove again. Here's what I wrote last week:

Springing for Strawberries: Strawberry Cupcakes Recipe. Includes strawberry cupcake recipe plus links to other delicious strawberry recipes.

Reviewed: The Cupcake Diva's Cake Pops. A review of Miami's The Cupcake Diva's newest item, Diva Dots. Flavors reviewed includeVanilla Cheesecake, Cinnamon Sugar, Cotton Candy (regular and gluten- and egg-free), Red Velvet, and Chocolate.

This week I plan on publishing an article about Easter cupcake specials and an interview with a local pie maker. 
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Obsession of the Week

When's the last time I did one of these? I don't even remember but the point is that I am obsessed with two new things. Potential Mother's Day gifts? I don't know but I sure am dropping serious hints.

JJ Cole Technique Diaper Bag in Green ($79.99). Seriously, how beautiful is this? It looks like a normal bag, which is a huge upgrade from my pink bag that screams "DIAPER BAAAAAG!!!" I want it so bad and would never buy it because of the price but that's what gifts are for, right?
Available online at Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us.

Images from

Cupcake Chalkboard Wall Decal by Wallcandy Arts ($56). I saw this in one of the last issues of Parenting Magazine and love it. I know exactly where I would put it too: on the pantry door in our kitchen. Isn't this great?
Available at
Images from

Talk about love at first sight!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

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This Week in Mommyhood

We've hit a break through this week. Actually two! Three of Cati's four top teeth finally broke through and she looks so cute with little teeth on the top. It's impossible to get pictures of those teeth because she has this aversion to me looking in her mouth. She had been teething for the longest time and it had been a solid three months since her last tooth broke through and now this week three came out and the fourth one is right under the gum. What amazes me the most is how well she took the pain. Maybe this was why she gave up one of her naps?
Either way, the second breakthrough has come in the form of figuring out a new routine now that she is only napping once a day. Someone had mentioned pushing up her lunchtime and then having her nap after lunch. I tried this earlier in the week and it has worked like a charm and Cati is now napping about two hours in the middle of the day. The only downside is that this routine only works if we are at home because if we are out and she naps in the car, then that one nap, however long it is, is enough for her. Regardless, I feel so much better about figuring her out and reading her needs better.

Other than that, these are the fun developments this week:

Sensational Curiosity. The world really is such a fascinating place for Cati and I was reminded of that when I took her to the beach. She was fascinated by the sand and explored it the feel of it with her hands, feet, and even mouth.
Ticklish. Cati is ticklish! Or at least she is when she's in a good mood. You tickle her under her arms or her belly or legs and she busts out laughing. I love her little giggles!

Unscrewing tops. Can I get an "uh oh"? Either she's a smart baby or just really persistent. At the end of the day, this means we are in trouble. She will sit down with items and work on them until she has figured out how to get the top off.

Curls, curls, and more curls. Cati's hair has gotten sooo long. I can't get over how much it has grown in the past few months. It has also gotten pretty curly and my favorite is when she gets that Superman curl. 

Helpful baby, sort of. Cati is definitely getting to that age where she's becoming a little helper. This week she started putting her dirt diapers in the bathroom trash. She will take it out again but this is a step forward! Now she just needs to learn things in the trash stay in the trash.

Dancing Machine. We can't get over how much Cati likes to dance. She sways and bounces, and now she even does little circles. The best, however, is when she's strapped in the car seat or in her stroller and she dances to the music by moving her from side to side.

Categorizing things
. I would love to take a peek into Cati's brain and see how she organizes the world around her. This week I got a snippet of a view when I noticed her organizing her food and keeping them separate from one another. I first noticed this with breakfast when Cati kept moving her eggs away from her pancakes whenever the eggs got mixed up with the pancakes.

Another week in motherhood is done and now that I've figured out our new normal I am ready for the next week. It also helps that I have these beauties to remind me of the awesomeness of love:
They also remind me of the how flowers really are the only way to suck up sometimes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

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Reviewed: Novecento

My birthday feels like it was so long ago. Alex and I went out for an adult- and couple-only dinner the day after my birthday. It was so nice having a dinner just the two of us and even nicer not having to share my meal with anyone! We walked around Coral Gables until we found the perfect restaurant and ended up eating at Novecento. I had heard a lot of good things about the restaurant and was excited about giving it a try. The food was beyond delicious and the servings were more than generous. The price on dinner was an the pricier end, but once you consider we had six alcoholic drinks (we really got down!) the price was more than reasonable.

We started our meal with an order of Beef Empanadas. In Alex's words these were "damn good." The meat, which was actual steak chunks and not ground beef, was well seasoned. The filling to shell ratio was perfect for tasting and savoring the tomato-based steak; sometimes you get empanadas that have too much pastry and not enough filling.
Novecento Empanadas

Alex ordered the Carnitas de Puerco and was in heaven. The pork was crispy yet tender: crispy and crunchy like a chicharon (fried pork rinds) on the outside and fork-breaking tender on the inside. The pork was served with your basic mashed potatoes, but with the added twist of satueed onions. Again, Alex's words for this dish were "Masitas? More like masotas and you can quote me on that."

Novecento Masitas

I ordered the Entraña con Chimichuri with Arroz Moros as the side. The entraña, or skirt steak, had the most fantastic smokey, grilled taste to it. You could literally eat this steak on its own but what really made the steak spectacular was the chimichuri; such a great blend of herbs, vinegar, and oil. The Arroz Moros was just as good as the kind you'd find in any Cuban kitchen.
Novecento Entrana

For dessert we shared the Panqueque de Dulce de Leche. This is basically a crepe stuffed with dulce de leche and honestly you can't go wrong with a dessert as simple as this. 
 Novecento Panquequq

Novecento is located at 121 Alhambra Plaza, Miami, Florida 33134. I definitely recommend going there. Even if you don't eat, the restaurant has such a great outdoor area that is perfect for enjoying a nice Miami night while drinking a few cocktails.