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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Delicious Appetizer - Battered Cauliflower

Hello everybody, here I am ... working hard at being a wife, mom, choir member, church member, community member, and every single role I have... I do enjoy my "blogger" role as well! But I've had to make sure all my priorities are in order and there's so much to do that my blogging has taken a toll! I do need to keep it up though because it's my very way of expressing myself, it's a personal outlet... I just LOVE IT and love you all! (or like they say here in the South... "y'all")

Today I want to share with you a delicious, inexpensive and great way to make a delicious appetizer or side dish... in Spanish we call it "Coliflor lampreada" (which I guess the closest translation would be "battered cauliflower") ... My husband is not a big fan of cauliflower but he LOVES, LOVES, LOVES this dish! He eats the cauliflower florets like if they were chips when I make it like this... and last night (he had it for dinner) and even said: "I wish my mom could've tried this" (she passed away before I met him) so I know it's a huge compliment...

So here goes MY battered cauliflower recipe... it's very basic and you can get creative with it... adding some herbs to the batter, etc...

Here's how I make it:


Coliflor Lampreada

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cauliflower (steamed or boiled just until fork tender but not falling apart on its own)
  • 2 eggs (divided)
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper 
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • About 2 cups of vegetable oil (I prefer Nutrioli soybean oil for this)

Directions:
  • When the cauliflower has been cooked and cooled divide it in small florets, season them with some salt and black pepper.
  • Mix flour, garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. black pepper and 2 tsp. salt together, coat the cauliflower florets with the flour mixture, set aside the "floured florets"
  • In a mixer bowl, with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form, with the mixer still running on high add the egg yolks one at a time and keep mixing until you have a spongy looking yellow batter. 
  • While the eggs are mixing pour the 2 cups of oil (or more if needed) in a wok or a big saucepan at medium/high heat until it's very, very hot (ready for deep frying)
  • Add the cauliflower to the egg batter making sure the egg is perfectly covering all the cauliflower.
  • With a  spoon carefully place the battered cauliflower florets in the oil (don't throw them or hot oil will splash) and just turn it to make sure all sides have a nicely golden color (you can do 4 or 5 florets at a time, don't do them all at once so you can handle them properly and make sure they all are evenly fried)
  • Place the florets on paper towel to remove the excess of oil. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!!!

© Paloma K.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Cake Slice and The Classic Cake

Hello everybody! Sorry I haven't been around as much... I am doing good stuff though! Being a mom and enjoying the terrible two's -OY!- but it's all a blessing, even those little things that now frustrate me... I know it's just a stage and this too shall pass and I might soon look back and feel like it passed way too quickly!

So... as many of you know I belong to a Secret Online Baking Group called The Cake Slice, we are a group of ladies who love baking and we choose a different book each year to bake from, right now we are baking from "Vintage Cakes" by Julie Richardson and it's been such a joy to bake from this book!

For January, two of the 4 cakes to choose from were tied at the end... so we had the choice to bake either of them... I chose "The Classic" and I am glad I did... I actually talked to a friend (Laurie) about it and about the fact that I can't really eat much cake anyway... and she had the great idea to use it for her hubby's birthday! They're all great friends so we made it a "date" and we all had lunch at her house yesterday with her family to enjoy her food and my cake... her husband really enjoyed it and my husband was almost like he was in heaven... he couldn't stop saying how much he loved it!

I am not sharing the recipe this time... but I am sharing with you "the process" of making it... I hope it's still fun!

My first two layers actually sunk! I was distracted and used baking soda instead of baking powder!
Chocolate ganache in the making! Semisweet chocolate + heavy whipping cream + dark brown sugar = awesomeness!
Second batch of cake layers were great! The recipe asked to make 4 layers out of the two but I used bigger round pans and preferred to have 2 thick layers than 4 thin ones.
This would've been the final product but I thought it looked too simple and dark....

So I gave it an extra touch with melting some white chocolate with butter and heavy cream to decorate the top.

Here's the birthday boy waiting for his wife to give him a slice!
Now... this is a cake slice! although it was supposed to be "yellow cake" and I found it "whiter than yellow" Delicious though!

Success!

© Paloma K.

Monday, January 14, 2013

When going to a restaurant...

We can still make healthy choices when going to a restaurant... can't we? We just need to find them and try to not look too much at the rest of the Menu! LOL!

We had company over from Wisconsin, Auntie Sally and Uncle John stopped by our house and stayed for a couple of nights and one we spent one whole day together! I baked desserts but they took us out for dinner... I was a little worried and excited at the same time... would I be able to make a good choice? Thankfully yes!

Now... I am excited to start this week... hopefully it will be a great one!

Here's me at the Restaurant (we ate seafood overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.. it was neat!)


And here's my choice:
Char-grilled salmon on a bed of white rice and garnished with steamed vegetables

Not a bad weekend at all! How are you doing with your Year's Resolutions? My weight loss is not a "New Year's Resolution" but it's a resolution after all... Resolution implies being RESOLVED to do something... and I am totally committed to a healthy lifestyle! What are your goals? Don't let any bumps on the road stop you from doing what you have to do to reach your goals! :) You can do it!

Happy week everyone!


© Paloma K.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Inspired and Educational Coffee Friday!

Hello everybody! Welcome to our Coffee Friday Party! Today I am very happy to introduce to you a wonderful blogger, her name is Elizabeth Peterson, I don't really know her that well! But I love everything that has to do with education and arts! And she blogs in a very cool site, The Inspired Classroom, where teachers and parents can get inspired everyday!

I really encourage you to visit the site... Elizabeth didn't really share much about herself when she submitted the picture to be published here... I soon realized it has to be because she doesn't want to "toot her own horn" but... she's amazing! she's a 4th grade teacher and she's just so dynamic and creative... well... you can read more about her here

I will now let her share with us! Welcome to "The Coffee Shop" Elizabeth!

--------------------
 www.TheInspiredClassroom.com is the place where teachers can get inspired so they can be inspiring to their students.  I am a fourth grade teacher and arts integration specialist, I also blog regularly about arts
integration as well as other related  educational topics.  My website offers insightful posts, resources and professional development opportunities for educators of all subjects and grade levels.




Coffee is a must during report card time.  Don't get between this teacher and her favorite mug of coffee!

Elizabeth Peterson

So... Make sure you stop by her site and say hi to her! I am sure she will appreciate it! Thank you Elizabeth for sharing about yourself and some of your coffee with us!
© Paloma K.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My weight battle and a Healthy recipe

Hello everybody! This year is just being hard to get the groove of things, I had a respiratory flu last week, that wasn't a good way to start the year... Thankfully I am much better but still fighting the residues of the congestion and my ears, well... those hurt a lot!

On the bright side I am doing much better with my eating/exercising... Most of you don't know that I am in a weight-loss journey and I've been at it since January last year... Today is actually my "anniversary"! Happy Anniversary to me! This never started as a "New Year Resolution" ... I just got tired of my extra weight, which has always been a struggle for me... Particularly being a foodie and food blogger! Come on! How can one keep the waist line in check with such passion for food/cooking/baking!!! But it IS possible and I am doing it! So far I've lost over 40 pounds and I am going for more! This will be MY year!

Even when in the past I've lost/gained again/lost again and so on ... all the extra weight... I had never actually done it for the right reasons and in the right way! I had always lost my weight just "to look good" which isn't bad in itself... but it can't be "the only reason" why one loses the weight... Because if "appearance and my image" is the only motivation ... then it's easy to resort to "shortcuts" and "easy/fast" ways to get rid of the pounds that "look so bad" ... This time I am doing it because I want to be healthy, I married the most wonderful man on the face of the earth and he's never actually "met ME" IYKWIM ... he's never really seen the "real me" that's been hiding inside all these extra pounds! and I am doing this to enjoy my life (which I already do) but to enjoy it more with him and my girls for longer! To avoid illnesses and just the "exhaustion" that comes from being overweight! And I am doing it "the right way too" just eating healthy and exercising A LOT! who knew! that actually works! LOL! And it's not a "quick or temporary fix" it's "the real deal"

So... today ... I am going to share with you a very healthy recipe, it's not only healthy but also very satisfying! I actually found the original at Allrecipes.com but this is my version... so... I hope you enjoy it! Don't worry... I'll continue to blog about luscious desserts and comfort food (LOL!) ... I've learned to resist the temptation of eating them... I can now cook them and just indulge moderately on special occasions... But I'll also try to share with you more and more healthy recipes like this:



Kale and Potato Soup with Cannellini Beans
Yield: 8 servings
Calories per serving: about 270
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves
chopped
8 cups water
6 cubes chicken bouillon (I use Knorr)
1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
8 red potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans
(drained if desired)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
1. Heat the olive oil (at medium-low heat) in a large pot; cook the onion and garlic until soft. Stir in the kale and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the water, vegetable bouillon, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, Italian seasoning, and parsley. Increase heat to med-high and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, reduce heat to med-low and simmer soup for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

© Paloma K.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A special Birthday!

Today is the birthday of a very dear friend, interestingly, for some reason, my brain decided to never remember her birthday... at least that was the case for many years, until last year "the curse ended" and I could finally remember on the exact day! January 7th!


This friend has been my friend for a long time, we've been friends in the silliness of the teenage years, through the "I like that boy" times and through the "I don't know if I should dye my hair or buy shoes" troubles!  As we grew older our friendship has grown stronger... we've been there for each other forever! She's been my "clothes shopping encourager", my "shoulder to cry on" when I've been sad. Her home has been like mine always! You know? She's been that friend that you just "drop by unannounced" and know "it's ok" we can talk about everything, even things that are "touchy" for each other and even if we ever got upset or anything... things always go back to normal! She sees the good in me and the bad too, we understand each other and I love making her laugh! LOL! it's very funny because I make her laugh so hard that sometimes it's like she's going to cry! She's also my "petite friend" ... so my mom used to say that together we looked like "Snoopy and the little yellow bird" LOL! ... I wonder which one I am! ... Growing up we were "expert parents" we knew it all, we even talked about the things that "we would never let our children do" and now that we have children we laugh at each other when we remember how foolish we actually were! we had no clue! And as our children yell in the background when we talk over the phone we can do nothing but try to comfort each other with an "I understand" LOL!

Ah! My friend! It's awesome having friends like that! I'll never forget the periods of my life that were the hardest... and again... she was there... through the nightmares I went through... she was there... (she is also married to someone that's always been a great friend too... so... they've both been there!) and now that everything is good and wonderful... she is still there! I pray everybody gets to have a friend like this... and in my selfishness I want to wish her MANY, MANY, MANY Happy Birthdays... Because I need my friend for many, many, many more years! Until we're all old and wrinkly and when I make her laugh we even forget what we're laughing about!

Happy Birthday Tere!

Tere... we all went "blueberry picking" when they came to spend vacations with us.

Our families together!

So... to wish her a happy birthday I am also going to invite you to her Etsy Shop! She is also crafty! She makes beautiful bows, hairbands and accessories for girls... here it is: http://www.etsy.com/shop/2PetitesFilles

© Paloma K.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Allergy Friendly and All Natural Coffee Friday!

Hello friends! I hope you are ready for our FIRST Coffee Friday Party of the year! May this year be filled with blessings and with lots of coffee (tea or hot chocolate) for all of you! I hope you've remembered to mention the word "coffee" somehow in any of your posts of the week, remember, the "word" can be in any of its forms, you can randomly mention your "coffee table" or even the name of your favorite Coffee Shop, it doesn't even have to be "the main subject" in your post. Then, just make sure you link back to us... You can use our "Coffee Party" button (find it on my right sidebar) and voila! We're good to go!

Today I have a very special guest, Julie, she is very enthusiastic and just a pleasure to work with! If you say hi to her she'll always say "hi back" so make sure you read what she has to say (below) so you can get to know her better... she's also sharing a delicious coffee-themed recipe with all of us! I would add a lot more about her but I think she's got it all covered... here she is:
---------------

About Me:
 Hello! My name is Julie, and I am SO excited to be here on The Coffee Shop to share a little bit about myself, my blogs and a recipe with you! Thank you, Paloma, for the opportunity! :) Let's see...A little about me. Well, I'm a housewife with Fibromyalgia (and I refuse to let it define me), Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and a heart arrhythmia; I have a passion for helping those with food allergies/sensitivities find the resources they need to enjoy life; I have a love for my family, my God and my country that just won't quit; and I love to blog. I've been married for 12 and a half years to my college sweetheart. I am also the mother of 3. My first born is a very intellectual, reading and writing-crazed, just-turned-10-year-old boy who has Hashimoto's Thyroiditis just like his momma and an excessive swelling issue with bug bites. My middle child is a zany, fun-loving 8-and-a-half-year-old boy who has Functional Hypoglycemia and trouble with reading and writing, but does the best he can always. My youngest is a darling little nearly-2-and-a-half-year-old daughter with just a hint of drama who loves to laugh and smile. Life is full with potty training, housework, games, church, school and trying to eat right and get just enough exercise for all of us...And finding time to blog about it all! :)


Oh, yes, and we have a cat, too. Her name is Crush (named after the turtle from Finding Nemo because she's tortoise colored and my hubby thinks he's funny :) ), and she thinks we're her kittens...We don't have the heart to tell her otherwise. :)

About My Blog:

I actually have 2 blogs.
  1. Natural and Free : This is my recipe/information blog for those who have or take care of those who have one to all of the top 8 allergens (soy, wheat, fish, seafood/shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and milk). This blog actually started years ago (2006) as just a web page I designed called Soy Allergy off a site my husband and I have called BibleClue.com when I was struggling to find information on soy after I was "diagnosed" with allergies to soy, fish and nuts and was to avoid all forms of soy, fish, seafood/shellfish, tree nuts and peanuts (I no longer have these allergies, if I ever had them to begin with.). It's since morphed into Natural and Free, going through several stages in between. (You can read more about this on my Facebook page and under my "Why I Started This Blog" page on my blog, if you like.) 
  2. Fibro, Fit and Fab!: I started this blog to share my personal journey about becoming fit and fabulous despite having Fibromyalgia after I was diagnosed with that chronic condition on August 8th of this year. Where Natural and Free is more recipes and information, Fibro, Fit and Fab! is more about my daily life. 
I have: 
• Facebook: /NaturalAndFreeBlog 
 • Twitter @NaturalFreeBlog 
 • Pinterest /naturalandfree 
 • Google+ 

Feel free to add me at any or all of these locations if you wish (I update about both blogs at all these locations whenever I post), and let me know so that I can keep in touch. You can also email me, and I'll get back with you ASAP. :) I look forward to connecting with you! 

And now...  A Coffee-themed Recipe Just For You!

Seeing as it's January, cold and snowy (at least in the Northern part of the Michigan where I'm from) and I am visiting here at The Coffee Shop, I thought I would offer you my allergy-friendly, cost-effective, natural food alternative to a Caramel Mocha. My version (an adaptation from one I found here: Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha) is soy, egg, wheat, nut and fish-free, and it can even be milk-free and sugar-free (see variations)! How awesome is that? Allergy-friendly never tasted so good! :)


Caramel Mocha 

3/4 Cup white sugar, divided
3 Tablespoons salted, full-fat butter
 4 1/2 Cup milk, divided
1/2 Cup cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons instant coffee
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  1. In a medium saucepan, cook 1/2 Cup of the sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a spatula (if it becomes lumpy, reduce heat and refrain from stirring), until it turns a deep amber color; add the butter and stir until it is melted. 
  2. Add 1/2 Cup milk, coffee, cocoa, salt (if using) and remaining 1/4 Cup sugar and mix until well blended. (Note: Be careful! The hot sugar will bubble up when you add the milk.) 
  3. Add the remaining 4 Cups of milk and stir until everything is heated thoroughly. 
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla before enjoying. 

Yield: Makes about 5 one Cup servings.

Variations:
  •  Milk-free: Use a dairy-free milk for the milk and a dairy-free butter for the butter. Just keep in mind your allergen needs when picking a substitute. 
  • Sugar-Free: Use a sugar substitute in place of the sugar.
  • Frothy Top: Place a 1 Cup portion in the blender and blend for a few seconds before pouring into a mug for a nice frothy top.
  • Coffeehouse Style: Top with whipped cream, caramel sauce, cinnamon or any combination that you like to make a more "coffeehouse" style drink. 
  • Iced Caramel Mocha: Let the mocha cool and then serve over ice.
  • Caramel Mocha Frappe: Let the mocha cool and add a 1 Cup portion to a blender along with 1/2 to 1 Cup (amount based on preference) of ice and blend until desired consistency. I would start with the 1/2 Cup of ice and add more if you want it thicker. 

I hope you all enjoy the recipe! Thanks again to Paloma for having me! I enjoyed my visit tremendously! :) I hope you all have an amazing 2013 and stop by to visit me at my blog(s) soon! –Julie 

--------------------------

Don't wait any longer! And stop by Julie to say hi, thank her for sharing some coffee with all of us (good stuff!) and start following her... Thank you again Julie for being part of "The Coffee Shop".

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

First day of normalcy

Today was the first day back to my "old routine" ... Hubby went back to work after he spent two weeks at home just off for the holidays... I really missed him... I know! it's just a few hours... but he truly makes my days brighter! I always tell him that when he walks in a room it's like the sun came out just for me!

With my love!
I guess it was harder because I just got a cold, the day was gray and cold and I didn't feel like "facing the day without him" (especially with two little ones that still eat, play, run and need all my attention and energy!) but ... I still made it through the day and I must even say it was a productive one... I enjoyed dancing with my 4 year old and re-starting our homeschooling!

Tomorrow... Tomorrow will be better! I am sure... I am very thankful for the comments I receive on this blog! And I encourage you to keep coming, trying my recipes, sipping a cup of coffee (or whatever you prefer) and just sharing about yourself! I do read all your comments and they mean so much to me, sometimes it takes me a little bit to get back to all of you but I do try!

Don't forget to "mention coffee" in any of your posts of the week so you can link-up with us!... Now that everything is back to normal we're re-starting our "Coffee Friday Party" tradition and we'll have a great featured blogger! You won't want to miss it!

See you around!

© Paloma K.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Rosca de Reyes - Mexican Kings Cake

Hello everybody! Well... it's almost time for our next celebration, at least in Mexico, we celebrate "Dia de Reyes" (Three Kings Day) ... If you want to know more about this tradition, well go to my post about it just click here... I'll just quote a little something from that post here...

- "In many cities in Mexico "Santa" is not the one who brings the presents but "The Three Kings". Early on January 6th morning many children received their toys! And as they play and enjoy what their gifts the adults get ready to have a "merienda" (an early evening dinner) where they will have the "ROSCA DE REYES" (Three Kings Cake) and hot chocolate or coffee!" -

So... this year I will be making my own... and I actually JUST made one to share the recipe and pictures with all of you... There are many versions of this bread... but this is one of the easiest you'll find and also way more delicious than store bought! I hope you enjoy it!


 

Rosca de Reyes


For the bread:
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 4 eggs
  • 10 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • the zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

For the "crumb/sugar topping"
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 stick of softened butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Additional toppings:
  • 1 egg for "varnishing"
  • Candied cherries and assorted candied fruits, like lemon/orange/lime candied peel and/or fruit cake mix
  • Colored sugar (yellow/green/red are traditional colors)
  • Granulated sugar to sprinkle


Directions:
Mix (with a plastic spoon and in a clean glass or plastic container) the dry yeast, warm milk and one tablespoon of sugar. Cover and let it rest in a warm dark place (it could be inside your oven) for 10 minutes
In a a mixing bowl add 1 cup of flour and the "yeast mixture" using the hook attachment mix for 1 minute, slowly add another cup of flour, salt,  butter, eggs, sugar and continue mixing, incorporate remaining flour and add orange zest/vanilla and mix for about 4 minutes.

Transfer your dough to a floured surface and knead with your hands adding more flour until your dough is no longer sticky. Return dough to mixing bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 2 hours inside your oven (it's better if it's a little warm but not hot), the secret with this bread is to be patient, you just have to "forget about your dough" for those 2 hours and not be uncovering it, it needs to rest like that to be able to rise and let the yeast do the work.

After the dough has doubled in size, kind of "punch it" with your knuckles (again on a slightly floured surface) to get the air out of the dough (punch it about 4 times only) then roll it out to form an oval and it should be about 1/2 inch thick.

I couldn't take pictures at this point but this is how you should roll your dough.

Then starting from the further side from you start rolling your dough (not too tight but not loose either) towards you to form like a "taco"

(As you are rolling this would be the time to insert a couple of little plastic dolls that the traditional bread calls for, I left those out)

Then grab your "roll", transfer to a slightly greased jelly roll pan and shape it into an oval, handling the dough to join the ends as much as you can with your fingers and then just kind of press the oval shaped roll down to flatten a little.


Cover with a damp cloth and transfer your oval shaped roll back to a warm/dark place and let it rest for another hour.

When the hour has passed now just "varnish" your dough using 1 slightly beaten egg and a pastry brush


It's time to make the crumb topping:

Just incorporate all the crumb topping ingredients (egg yolk, powdered sugar, salt, flour and vanilla) and don't over mix, roll it out and cut "stripes" that you will place on top of your "rosca" as you wish, it's a delicious topping, next time I will use more of it... but here's what I did:


Now just decorate with the fruit and the colored sugars and then sprinkle additional granulated sugar all over it!


Bake in preheated oven at 350F until a beautiful dark golden color shows (for about 20 up to 30 minutes, time might vary depending on the oven)

ENJOY!

© Paloma K.