November 30, 2011

Nutella Panna Cotta

Here is the delicious Nutella Panna Cotta that I made for Thanksgiving. Easy to make, even with the heavy cream and the Nutella, it is still light and not too sweet. It's a perfect dessert for a casual or formal dinner (you will only need to change presentantion a little bit). It will please everyone for sure!

My comments: I used fat free milk and it worked really well. The texture is similar to a flan, and the good thing is that you don't need to use the oven. The recipe yielded 5 full cups but you can make smaller portions.
I think that using cups is very charming, but you can use ramekins as well (I didn't have them at the time, but now I got them for the next recipes!)

November 29, 2011


Late afternoon in the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) - also known as Route 1 - near Malibu. Highway with the most beautiful view of California's coastline!

Movie suggestions: Pearl Jam Twenty and Rabbit Hole

This past weekend, I watched two very different movies which I recommend: Pearl Jam Twenty and Rabbit Hole.

Pearl Jam Twenty is a journey into the past (the nineties - so not that long ago), recalling my old days as a fan of Pearl Jam. The documentary celebrates 20 years of the band, showing everything from its beginning until today. It has a lot of music, concerts and curiosities. It's pretty fun to watch.

Rabbit Hole, on the other hand, deals with a hard subject (a couple who is trying to rebuild their lives after losing their only son, age 4, in a car accident), but I thought it was beautifully portrayed, without too much drama and heavy scenes. Of course you will cry and get emotional, but it's not a tearjerker. Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart are great! But honestly, I think I only watched the movie, because I still do not have kids, but for parents, it might be painful to watch...

For a cultural weekend!

November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Diary - Corn Muffins and Turkey

My corn muffins were wonderful. I will definitely make them other times since they're a great side dish for salads and meats. And they are very simple to make! The original recipe is from Giada de Laurentiis. I love her recipes. They are simple and delicious (click here to check out the recipe)

My comments: instead of buttermilk, I used normal milk (fat free) and it worked very well. But if you want to use buttermilk, you can make yours just by adding one tbsp of white vinegar to one cup of milk. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes and you're good to go!
The dried tomatoes and garlic added a special flavor to the muffins. I also think that using the sour cream made a difference because the muffin was moisty.
For those unaware, American corn muffins crumble a little bit and the batter can go from a bit sweet to savory. In this case, it is right in the middle with the batter a bit savory, but the sun dried tomatoes and corn are on the sweet side. I made half recipe and it yielded 6 large muffins.
If you do not find the corn muffin mix - it's much easier! - just search on the internet. There are many recipes that teach you how to make it from scratch.

About the turkey: after leaving it brining for hours, rinse the turkey with cold water and pat dry with paper towel. I placed a cooler rack inside a big sheet so the result would be the same if using a roasting pan (which I don't have). I filled the cavity with rosemary and thyme (be generous. They make a huge difference!), onion and lemon cutted into quarters. Then I tucked the wings underneath the turkey and coated the skin with about 2 tbsp of butter (you can use oil or even cover it with slices of bacon). I covered it with foil and put it in the oven (high temperature / lowest rack)

After 1 1/2  hour in the oven, I checked the meat and it was cooked. Since I have no food thermometer, my sister taught me a trick: insert a knife in the breast of the turkey until gets to the bottom. When taking it out, you should see not too much of a transparent liquid. If the liquid is pink, it's undercooked.
I took out the foil so the turkey could get that beautiful golden brown color.
I turned off the oven and let the turkey rest for about 15 minutes before carving it (so the meat doesn't loose its juices). Do that every time you're cooking/roasting a meat.
I think brining helps a lot the cooking process, because in 2 hours the turkey (10 lbs) was ready, the meat had the right amount of salt and it was very, very, soft!
The Thanksgiving Dairy is coming to an end. Tomorrow, the dessert...

November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Diary - Dinner

Are you guys curious to know how was my Thanksgiving dinner? Well, to my greatest joy it was amazing! All went really well: the turkey was moisty, the corn muffins were delicious, the cranberry sauce added a kick, and the dessert was so good that we should have eaten it on our knees! I'll post the rest of the recipes in the following days and I suggest that you make them all!

Here are some pictures of the table. And for those who didn't know, yes, I made all this, including a whole turkey, just for hubby and I! And I'd do it all over again! Now the leaftovers are in the refrigerator and will be used for sandwiches, pie fillings etc..

It's a great feeling when you make a delicious meal for a special person in an important occasion! I totally recommend!

And, stay tuned, next week I begin a new - and tasty - saga and then comes the preparation for Christmas (I have already the entire menu figured out!)

A wonderful weekend, everyone!

November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Diary: Cranberry Sauce

It's very easy to make Cranberry Sauce: 1 lb cranberries (fresh or frozen); 1 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Mix everything together in a sauce pan and let it simmer until it gets to the thickness you desire.
For those unaware, cranberry is a little bit bitter. And by adding the orange juice, its bitterness will be even more pronounced. So, if you prefer a sweeter sauce, add more sugar. I used light brown sugar. And I also like it thick. So I let it simmer even more.

You can also substitute the cranberries for any other berry, or make a different version with mango or fig. It is perfect not only with turkey, but also with pork meat and chicken. And the best thing is that you can also eat it as jam with bread, toast and cheese.

Thanksgiving Diary - Brining the turkey

It's here!! And since today is day to give thanks, I start my post thanking you all for your support, strength, inspiration and participation!

Now, to the report:
I ended up leaving everything for today and, for now, everything is under control. I started opening the turkey, removing the giblets and neck, and preparing the brining.
Brining duration depends on the size of the turkey. If it is too big, you can brine it the night before and leave it until roasting time. My turkey is about 10 lbs so I started today morning and it will be like this for about 6 hours.
As I said yesterday, this process is widely used here, and people say it makes the meat more tender. Some people prepare a more complete brine by seasoning it and adding herbs, but just salty water works too. (basic brine: 1 cup of salt to 1 gallon of cold water).

As you can see, I used a bucket, because I don't have a very large pot, and used a plastic bag so the turkey doesn't stay in contact with the bucket. You can leave it out of the refrigerator (keeping the water always cold) or in the refrigerator. I made room by taking out the vegetable drawer.

If you would like more information on how to brine a turkey, which other spices to use etc, just search "how to brine a turkey" or "brining the turkey" on the internet and you will find tons of tips.

Following chapters: cranberry sauce, Nutella pana cotta, corn muffins and the turkey!

November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Diary - Part 2

Continuing our Thanksgiving saga, yesterday I finished buying all the ingredients and I've already got an idea of how I'll set up the table.
The turkey is practically thawed in the refrigerator, and tomorrow morning I will begin the preparation by brining it (soaking the turkey in a cold salty water for a few hours - it's said that the salt breaks down the protein particles leaving the meat more tender)
Today I'm making the cranberry sauce (super simple) and the dessert: a Nutella Pana Cotta (a very light Italian dessert - not in this case since I'm using Nutella, but the original version is very light).
Tomorrow I will make the corn muffins (easy and fast); put the turkey in the oven; set the table and voila!
I'll post the recipes later, because as I've never prepared they, I want to know how they turn out first then I can give you all the details. See you tomorrow!

Bokja - Home Furniture

Bokja is a company based in Beirut, Lebanon that creates and produces these amazing and ultra colorful home furniture that resemble patchwork (work done with pieces of different fabrics).
Different and very charming, they can be a key piece in your home decor or even your office. Beautiful, right?

November 22, 2011

In love! Shiny Serveware

Holiday parties are here, and there is nothing better than setting up a nice table with beautiful serveware. I found these at Leif and Sabre, and fell in love with them mainly for the pie slicer and cake knife. Super shiny (some of them have glitter), they are made of acrylic and can be found in different colors (can you imagine your Christmas table with these red and gold utensils? Gorgeous!)

The prices are very affordable and it's a nice touch to your parties and your daily meals for sure! (always remember: beautiful things should be used, not kept in the cabinet!)

November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Diary

On Thursday (Nov 24), here in the U.S., we celebrate Thanksgiving. I've always loved this holiday, because people get together with their family and friends, usually around the table with lots of foods and drinks, and give thanks to all the graces received in the year.
This year I decided to celebrate it by making a dinner at home with the typical dishes: turkey, cranberry sauce and corn muffins. I'm not making the traditional dessert (pumpkin or pecan pie), but a lighter option that I think will be great as well (tell you later!).
Throughout the week, I'll post here everything on the preparation, assembly and recipes so you can use this for Christmas, New Year or any other opportunity.

This is my first time roasting a turkey, so I researched online and talked to friends and relatives about the best way to roast it, which size to buy, which spices and herbs to use and so on.
With this information in hand, i went out shopping and start the week with 90% of the ingredients. I also transfer the turkey from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw naturally until Thursday.
Tomorrow I will buy the remaining ingredients, and think about the table decoration (which should be simple, because apart from being a small table, I want the turkey to be the main attraction!)

Flower of the week: Rainbow Fall Poms

The name says it all: rainbow fall...

Below, photo I took this Saturday. The mix of colors is exactly the same!!

November 18, 2011


Today's Cheers! is with a hot drink, perfect to celebrate the cold weather, fall, and Thanksgiving that is coming very soon: Hot Toddy (if you like hot drinks, also check out Irish Coffee and Mountain Melter's)

1 1/2 oz whiskey
5oz hot tea*
cinnamon stick
1 to 2 tsp honey
slice of lemon to garnish
* You can use the tea of your choice (black, apple, ginger ...). If you prefer, you can also use boiling water and give some flavor to it by increasing the amount of cinnamon and adding some cloves.

Preparation: Place all ingredients in an Irish Coffee mug and garnish it with lemon and cinnamon stick. The drink is strong, but you can make it lighter by adding more tea and using the amount of honey you desire.

A delightful weekend for all!

November 17, 2011

This week's DELIGHT: Cinnamon Scone

I LOVE scones, but besides thinking it was too difficult to make, in some recipes the amount of butter was so huge that it made me quit. But, lately, I got a couple of pretty good recipes and I am testing them all. I'll start with a ver simple one, with few ingredients and little butter, but a surprising flavor: Cinnamon Scones.

For those who don't know, scone is kind of a sweet bread from Scotland very popular in the UK. There, they are always accompanied by jam and clotted cream (which I never found here in U.S, but I'll do a detailed search again), and here in the U.S. they are easily found at any coffee shop.
There are thousands of variations: with cranberries, orange, cinnamon and even savory. It's great to be served for breakfast or afternoon break with milk, coffee or tea.

To make it even better, set up a nice table "5 o'clock tea" style, or use your Sorapot, and enjoy it! It will be a huge success!

November 16, 2011

In love! Sorapot

The weather is getting colder and colder but, to me, there is no right season for a good cup of tea. And it's even better if it's done in a stylish teapot.
I found Sorapot on the internet and I'm in love with it! But I guess I'm not alone: the teapot is sold out in some websites, including Amazon!

Besides its clean and modern design, the company has an eco-friendly approach, and for the packaging, they've developed a box made of recycled cardboard and egg cartons, finished with a natural jute rope to avoid spending on paper, ribbons etc..

It is a little bit expensive but, with all the style, if it is really good, it is worth!

November 15, 2011

Porcelain - Tsar Egg Cups

Have you ever thought of you, during breakfast, eating an egg on a Fabergé egg?
No, not a real Fabergé, but a beautiful one inspired by the original, made of porcelain, called Tsar Egg Cups. They are so charming and even if you do not eat eggs, they should be beautiful if used as decoration, or even as a rings/earrings holder. The price is very affordable and it can be purchased in a 3 pieces set.

Now, be honest, don't you wanna have them? (I do!)

Good news!

Today, in addition to celebrate post number 200 (yeap!!) I finished translating my blog. In case you don't know, I had started writing my blog in Portuguese, but since I have many American and Spanish friends, I decided to write it also in English, so they would be able to enjoy the blog as well. Now both versions are completed and I'm very happy! In case you want to check out the original version, just click on the link Versão em Português, located on the upper right corner. Tell your friends!!

PS: for breakfast this morning I made the sweet quinoa again but this time with red quinoa (until then I had only used the white one) and, in addition to the ingredients I used the first time, I added grated coconut. Hmm .. I'm sure this recipe will be repeated over and over and over again!

November 14, 2011

My Favorites: Brownie from Crumbs Bake Shop

Brownie is also on my list of favorite desserts. And recently, I discovered that the Crumbs Bake Shop has a delicious one!

Crumbs is from NY, but have some shops here in Los Angeles. And they are also famous for the cupcakes. I've tried a few (they have a very large variety) and they are also very good. They are quite big and not so delicate - in size and presentation - as those from Sprinkles or Magnolia Bakery, but they are delicious and perfect for sharing!

In addition to cupcakes, they offer hot and cold drinks, mini-cupcakes, pastries, cookies and brownies. One day I went there and saw the brownie. I ordered the traditional - nothing else but chocolate - and loved it! Besides being a very generous slice, it is crunchy on the outside and creamy inside. Delish!
I didn't have my camera with me, but as you all know already, this is a great excuse to come back and try again. And I did!

As they had ran out of the traditional one, I opted for chocolate covered with cookies & cream (pic below). The cookies & cream were a little too sweet (but on this day, I could've eaten a spoonful of pure sugar), but the chocolate batter was just like the one I had eaten before!

And the Beverly Hills store is open until 10pm. Perfect when we are craving something sweet after dinner!