Monday, December 6, 2010

Cookies for a Cause

How would you feel if you received a box of fresh cookies at your doorstep?

You can be a part of a great cause by asking Kenmore to send a dozen cookies to a soldier away from home.  What’s the cost to you? It’s free.  Yep, FREE!

Here’s how it’s done:
1. Log on to and "Like" them
2. Click on the button that says SEND A DOZEN COOKIES FOR ME
3. Pick a message to go with your dozen.
4. Feel good that you are saying thanks in a unique way.
5. Tell as many people as you can that giving back is as simple as a few clicks! And did I mention it's FREE?

The Un-Sloppiest Joe

Have I mentioned how 90’s Radio on Pandora ROCKS?

For years I’ve been craving Sloppy Joes; and the reason why I hadn’t made them before is that MigL doesn’t like them…get this…because they’re messy.  I just about died laughing the first time I heard this.  Seriously?! But you’re taking out all of the fun from eating a Sloppy Joe!  I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but he is the neatest eater I’ve ever met.  I’d bet he’d eat out of a divided plate if I gave him one and it’d have to be a green one, of course, because it’s his favorite color.  Except this one is too lime green and I’m sure he’d prefer one that was more of a hunter green or forest green.

divided plate

I was raking my brain tonight trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  Lately I’ve been trying to use up the ingredients that I already have in my house to save money as opposed to finding a recipe a few days in advance and going to the grocery store specifically to buy those ingredients on the recipe – not that that’s a bad thing to do, I just some how don’t use up all of the extra ingredients, especially if I overbuy veggies, and then I’m left with an handful of untouched veggies.  OR I’ll buy the ingredients for my recipe and then completely forget that I ever had said recipe.  Poor spoiled veggies; and then I have to look for another recipe to use the ingredients I’ve just bought.

So tonight, I wanted to find a recipe for which I already had my ingredients.  Ground beef, carrots and celery.  What’s a girl to do?  I found recipes but none really caught my eye until I fell upon this Sloppy Joes recipe.  It’s A-mazing.  You should DEFINITELY try this one.  What a lifesaver!  I definitely plan making this one more often!

The reason why I call this the un-sloppiest Joe is that I didn’t have any bread.  What? No bread?  How do you have a Sloppy Joe without bread?  Yes, I know, it’s preposterous and I should probably be banned from the kitchen forevermore for even saying this. 

You see, I ran out of sliced bread yesterday as I sadly cherished the last of the Thanksgiving turkey sandwich I’d had for dinner (leftover turkey sandwiches is probably one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving).  So, because I hadn’t planned ahead, I was left without bread.  In looking at the recipe below, I thought about pairing it with some tortillas and make some sort of taco style Sloppy Joe burritos.  But I nixed that idea almost immediately.  Wait a minute – I have potatoes!  I’d seen a Shepard’s pie recipe in my quest to find tonight’s dinner and thought I could mesh those ideas together.  I figured potatoes are fairly filling and the last I remember eating Sloppy Joes they were pretty filling as well.  So why not pair these two filling foods together?

So off I went, merrily skipping my way through the kitchen.  A little of this, a little of that.  When there were 10 minutes left of cooking, I scrubbed two large potatoes, poked holes in them, wrapped them in Saran wrap and popped them in the microwave for 7 minutes (a great timesaver I’ll always remember from my awesome mother-in-law) – and voila, semi-instant baked potato!  Add some Sloppy Joe mix to your potato and you’ve got a somewhat messy-less dinner!  No messy hands or plops of Joe anywhere!

Sloppy Joes with Baked Potato and Peas

Sloppy Joes

Yield: 12 servings
Serving size:
1 sandwich
WW PointsPlus: 5

3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 pound ground round
2 cups no-salt-added tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
12 (1 1/2-ounce) rolls, split

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add first 3 ingredients; cook until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in tomato sauce and next 8 ingredients (tomato sauce through black pepper); reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon 1/4 cup beef mixture over bottom half of each bun. Cover with top halves.

Latin Cook’s notes:
I didn’t have any bell peppers, tomato paste or bread and used Ragu sauce instead of the tomato sauce.  It still turned out incredibly amazing.  I’m sure it would turn out equally as great if you chose to use soy crumbles instead of ground beef.  Aww, what the heck – I dare ya!

On a different note, I went to visit a my co-worker in the hospital tonight.  It broke my heart when she told me this afternoon she’d been in the hospital since Friday night with some serious health issues.  I’ve been worried about her for a while – so I ask that you please pray for her and her family.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What Thanksgiving Means to Me

Since Thanksgiving is around the corner, I decided to jot down some of the things I’m thankful for:

  • Having a place to come home to that keeps me warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
  • Being able to put food on the table even if it’s as simple as possible.
  • I can keep in touch with family even through means of Facebook
  • Being able to deepen my friendships with people I care most about
  • I can spend some time with my friends and enjoy each others company
  • Living in a beautiful place in which I don’t have to deal with terrible city traffic, just tourists
  • Learning skills that will help me and my family live a healthful eating lifestyle
  • Peace and comfort from God even though life has thrown lots of curve balls
  • Growing older with my hubby

I hope you have a incredible Thanksgiving Day spending time with those you love the most and eating to your heart’s content! Open-mouthed smile

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stuffed Peppers with Wild Rice

When I came home from work I was in a complete mood for crispy oven-baked breaded chicken drumsticks.  Ha, that’s a mouthful!  I’ve never made it before, but out of nowhere I just felt the urge for some good finger-lickin’ food.  Unfortunately I didn’t have any chicken at all – I was totally bummed about that.  I didn’t want to leave the house for the rest of the evening because it was too cold!  Why would I leave my warm, comfy home for windy 50 degree weather?  No thanks.  I thought about making fajitas, but I only had ground beef; and the thought of having ground beef with fajitas was completely unappealing.  Then MigL came up with the bright idea which resulted in tonight’s dinner.  “How about stuffed peppers?”  I haven’t made these in at least three years, so I decided, why not?  I had all of the ingredients I needed.  These turned out way better than when I made them the first time!

Now I’m looking forward to some much needed rest and a day off tomorrow and then it’s Thanksgiving time!




Stuffed Peppers with Wild Rice

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 cup diced tomatoes (or 1 can of Rotel)
2 cups tomato sauce
1 tablespoon cumin
1 cup wild rice
1 cup white rice
4 green bell peppers, large
1 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Cook the wild rice.  Cook the white rice.  Set aside.  Brown the beef in a skillet.  Drain off any excess fat.  Add the onion and garlic.  Cook until just soft.  Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and cumin.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes.  Cut the tops off the peppers.  Remove any seeds.  Place in boiling water for 3 minutes.  Drain.  Add the two rices to the meat mixture.  Fill the peppers with the mix.  Place the peppers in a baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Top with the cheese and bake for 15 minutes longer.  Serve warm.

Latin Cook’s note
I didn’t add any garlic or cumin this time around since I felt kind of lazy;  however the dish still turned out pretty well despite the omitted step.  I mixed the tomato sauce in the mix right before I added the cheese and it turned out nice and moist.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Que Frio! (So Cold!)

I know it’s going to be a chilly night because my nose gets unusually cold whenever we have cold weather.  I hear it’s supposed to snow in Angwin, about 30 minutes from Napa.  I suppose my nose knows.  It reminds me of my mom’s nose, partly because I have her nose, but also because every time it got cold at our house (we didn’t have heating or AC) she was always very cold mostly during the winter and her nose was extremely cold, like ice.  My dad and I used to joke around with her saying “está nevando” (it’s snowing) only because we never got as cold as she did and she’d have to put on several layers of clothes, a big winter coat and warm socks just to get warm.  At home, in Southern California, I remember that my nose and feet got cold – and whenever my feet stayed incredibly cold throughout the night, even if I had thick socks on, there was frost the next morning.  It never failed.
Don’t you think somebody should invent a “nose warmer”?  Perhaps it should be me!
Nose glove
This is probably my worst rendition ever of what I’m envisioning, but it’d be like a mask, except it’d be fuzzy solely to keep your nose warm!  It’d have holes at the bottom so that your nose wouldn’t get nose claustrophobia (as I sometimes get when I’m underneath the covers and feel like I can’t breathe and have to instantly break for air).  And just like a mask, you’d have individual adjustable strings to wrap around your ears.  Genius, eh?  I could call it, “Nuzzie”, the warm fuzzy for your nose!  I can see the infomercials now..”but wait, THERE’S MORE!  If you order within the next 15 minutes, you’ll get a second Nuzzie for half off!  We’ll even throw in a fuzzy hat!”
I really enjoy listening to the rain at night with the window slightly cracked to bring in a bit of fresh rainy air.  It really does feel like November.  Just this week we had 85 degree weather and now it’s about 48 degrees.  Welcome to California. 
I’m off to make some hot chocolate and take a bite out of some brownies that I made last night while listening to the trickles of rain.  Happy Friday!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hankering for doughnuts

A few days ago I got such a ridiculously strong hankering for doughnuts, at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night, no less.  Do you know how many doughnut shops are open at that time?  None.  Now mind you, I haven’t had doughnuts in YEARS!  I was watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, which has absolutely nothing to do with doughnuts nor were there commercials for doughnuts.  Just out of the blue, I wanted a freshly made (or two), soft glazed doughnut.  What’s so wrong with that?  I didn’t want those week-old (+) doughnuts neatly stacked in a cardboard box – you know what I’m talking about, the ones in the bread aisle?  Yuck.

I began furiously and vigorously searching for a doughnut shop nearby.  Something like Winchell's, or Dunkin’ Doughnuts, even Krispy Kreme.  114 miles, 0 locations found and 42.8 miles, respectively.  Granted, Napa and their neighbors don’t like chain restaurants, but c’mon, people!  So I then decided to look for something local – because as much as I was in the mood for some sweet goodness I wasn’t about to drive 40+ miles.  And then I found it.  Happy’s Donut Tree Too.  The more I read about it, I was willing and ready to risk the 5 minute drive from my house.

“Their donuts are very good and smell amazing (… they are light and fluffy inside and have a very thick frosting and glaze selection).”

Yes, please!  How late and when are they open?

“You have to work hard to get them because they don't make many so you want to get there before the rest of the savvy few do.”

Somehow I missed reading this portion.  It would have been really nice if I’d remembered it the next morning.  I was so thrilled to find this doughnut joint and wanted to get there as quick as I could.  Except that it was now 10 p.m., and I couldn’t get rid of my doughnut craving.  I’d discovered that they’re open 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. Geez, where else do they sell doughnuts?  That’s right, the grocery store!  I decided to bite the bullet (cause if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em) and made the trip to Raley’s.  Oh sweet golden chocolaty nuggets!  It’s the golden ticket!  It was calling my name.

I was so ecstatic to make this unique trip to grocery store.  Oh Raley’s, how you saved my sugar craving!  The Sugar Gods listened and provided!

Homer doughnut

Yes, this is exactly how I felt after biting into a long, chocolaty doughnut with the crème filling (of which name I can’t remember for the life of me).  It was exactly what the doctor ordered.  Sugar peace at last.

After some much needed grocery shopping the next morning, I decided to take a swing by Happy’s.  By the sound of it, I couldn’t be disappointed, right?  It was only Noon and for sure they’d have doughnuts left, right?  I parked across the street from Happy’s (because there isn’t any parking) and bravely crossed the tumultuous street.  When I finally walked in I was shocked to see Happy’s empty.  I mean completely empty.  It looked like they were closing (for the day).   They had a half sheet baking tray of the stuff they were still trying to sell, at 12:30.  Rats!  I didn’t really care for what they had, as I was REALLY looking forward to doughnut holes.  I think the doughnut place near my parent’s home was open mostly all day!  I wish Happy’s could be open later too.  Needless to say, I went home unhappy from Happy’s.

I still haven’t gone to Happy’s, but one of these mornings, by golly, I’ll have a doughnut hole.  And it’ll be delicious and worthwhile.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hey Pumpkin!

Last weekend we invited some friends over for an incredibly late breakfast (12:30 p.m.) and pumpkin carving.  This would be the first time my friend T and I would carve our first pumpkin.  Can you believe it - at 27 years old, our first pumpkin carving?  Well you’d better believe it.


T’s pumpkin carving


My pumpkin carving

Don’t they look great?  I made éclairs for the first time on Sunday, which I’m planning on making again on Thursday for my work Halloween party.  Thanks to Paula Deen the Mini Éclairs were great and were very easy to make!  I’ll post pictures when I make them this coming week.

T made some awesome crepes and we also had fresh fruit and pumpkin pancakes.  I would have loved to have tried the pumpkin pancakes, but I’d filled up on crepes & fruit and was incredibly full.

I don’t know why it took me this long to find a local produce stand.  I suppose I hadn’t really tried looking for a place, even though I really had the desire to support local farms.  We had such a great time at D&S Produce.  I’m a bit sad to find out they’re closing their season October 31.

Look at all those pumpkins!  T & I went through the hay maze and all of us looked through the lot to find some great pumpkins.



009Who’s the king of the world?

We came home and were so excited to carve our pumpkins.






After some pumpkin pie and lots of dishes later, it was all worth the fun.  I can’t wait to someday to go through corn/hay mazes with my kids, carve pumpkins, eat pumpkin pie and go trick-or-treating and see those big smiles on their faces.  It will be a great day indeed!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lazy Sunday

What doesn’t get done today will get done tomorrow.  I had planned on making éclairs and butternut squash soup;  Much to my dismay, I didn’t get a chance to make them today.  However, tomorrow is a new day and right after I come home from work I shall make them!  I’ve never made éclairs, but I’m looking forward to making them.  The WW Butternut Squash Soup I found looks so delicious and filling – I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

At least the day wasn’t a complete waste.  MigL and I went grocery shopping tonight so I should be all set and get my cooking magic together!

p.s. Is it weird that I woke up at 10 a.m. today on October 10?  I really hate it when the neighbor kids yell and wake you up, especially on a Sunday.  I was expecting to sleep in longer….

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Losing for Good

The 3rd annual Weight Watchers Lose for Good Challenge began on September 5.  I’ve been so excited about it since I initially read about it in this month’s WW Magazine.  This’ll be a great time to lose those last few pounds and get back to my goal weight and continue to maintain!

“As you lose weight and participate in other activities from September 5 to October 23, you can help feed children and families in need.*  Wow, only 2 weeks left until L4G is over.  Do you think I can lose another 5 pounds in two weeks?  It doesn’t hurt to try healthfully, of course.  Healthy eating and exercise, here I come!

So far, as of last week, I’ve lost 5 pounds!  Yeah!  I’ve got about another 5 pounds to go and I’ll be back at my goal weight.  I don’t know why, but for me it seems easier to lose weight during Fall than it is any other time of year.  Since I began WW in late 2008, I’ve noticed that I have a difficult time losing weight from May – September.  However, even though I have days or weeks when it’s difficult to maintain, I’ve been successful at maintaining within 5 to 10 pounds. Yay me!

I spent this morning as a cooking fairy.  My friend T was hosting a home lunch (free lunch for college students) and was invited over to lunch.  However, I spent this morning helping (which I totally didn’t mind at all) chopping and peeling broccoli, parsnips and carrots and browning some tri-tip roast.  We had a really great lunch!  Butternut squash soup, steamed broccoli, carrot/parsnip mash, tri-tip roast, boiled potatoes and a zucchini-pecan cake.  Yum!  A few hours after lunch I began feeling sleepy because I was so completely full from lunch!  Thank goodness for a nice walk and French-pressed coffee.  I still feel completely full from lunch.  Even though I’m fairly tired, I hope I can fall asleep soon.

I’m currently watching “Because I Said So”  It’s a great chick-flick way to end my fun-filled day. 

Oh yah, so I’ve been going through some blog remodeling/face lifts lately.  I feel like I needed to kick it up a notch, if you know what I mean.  Some more changes soon to come, but it’s all work-in-progress.  Bear with me, folks!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Under the weather with the Three Little Bears

100924-211635 You know how you can just feel when you're getting sick?  That’s what I felt yesterday. Ugh.  I really hate being sick.  My daily bedtime goal is 10 p.m. but have yet to stick to a full week of 10 p.m.  Because I felt I could be getting sick (and feeling some chills), I made myself crawl into bed at 9:15.  “I don’t feel well.”  “I know honey, you’ve already said that.”  “I have?” “I’m cold.” “Let’s get you into bed and tuck you in.”  “OK.”  “I don’t feel good.”  Yep, definitely on an off day.

I probably didn’t fall asleep until 10 anyway, but I knew I tossed and turned a little.  Thinking I’d sleep until my alarm went off, as usual, I set my alarm to go off at 6:15.  I slept like a dream.  It wasn’t until the morning came and I slowly began to wake up and felt like I’d gotten a good night’s sleep.  I turned over to check the time on the clock. 5:30 a.m.  What?!  It’s only 5:30?  For the next 10 minutes, I really tried to go back to sleep; but much to my chagrin, I couldn’t.  Well, I suppose 7 hours it is.  Hmph.

Today I felt like many a three little bears.  It’s too hot.  It’s too cold.  And the “ahh” moment. 

It began as another cold day in the building.  Of course, everyone was cold.  But I was freezing.  I clenched and  my green coat hoping it would provide more heat, just as a warm blanket would.  Then I was warm, hot, then cold and felt as if I were a wet piece of clothing going through the dryer cycle sent with shots of November cold air.  Chills began creeping throughout my body.  Two Advil please.  I thought I would feel better by lunch time.  I know Advil works great and does wonders for me, but I was doubtful it’d work a miracle in 30 minutes.  I wasn’t even hungry and hadn’t been for the last day. “I think can make it until two”.  I was expecting a phone call for a work project at two and decided if I didn’t feel well, I’d come home.  The phone call didn’t come through until 2:45.  Cold.  Hot.  Warm. Dizzy. Sleepy.  I’m definitely not myself.  It was time to leave early before I got worse or got anyone else sick.  I had an epiphany early this morning that one of my co-workers was sick.  Surely I must have gotten sick from him.

The building temperature at work has been too hot, too cold.  Since I began working there, whenever it gets cold, the AC is on.  When it’s blazing hot outside, it’s hot inside.  I hope we can get a “perfect” temperature soon.

The ahh moment came when I crawled into bed for some much needed rest after my body was telling me it wanted to shut down on the drive home.  An hour and a half later, I woke up hot and sweaty.  Yep, utterly disgusting.  I walked into the living room and slowly began waking up again while watching Say Yes to the Dress re-runs through Comcast’s On Demand service.

My sweet husband went and grabbed some dinner of which I only ate half, not because I’m not mindful about portion sizes, because I am.  But only eating half of a burger and 1 or 2 fries and a sip of OJ?  On a normal day I would have eaten half of a tray of fries and the entire burger, minus the OJ.  I gotta get some Vitamin C at least one way, right? 

Time to finish watching the last part of Glee.  How could I almost forget it’s on tonight?

Sweet dreams to all of you and may you have a healthy day tomorrow.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A half day of reflection…

“A diet is when you watch what you eat and wish you could eat what you watch.” Hermione Gingold

"A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness." Elsa Schiaparelli

"A good cook is not necessarily a good woman with an even temper. Some allowance should be made for artistic temperament." X. Marcel Boulestin

"A good meal soothes the soul as it regenerates the body. From the abundance of it flows a benign benevolence." Frederick W. Hackwood

I’m using the quotes above to make up for the fact that I didn’t cook this weekend.  I’m not feeling horribly guilty for not cooking, but it’s nice to do NOTHING.  I haven’t had the best sleep recently and have had a lot going through my mind.

On the bright side, I couldn’t pass up not sharing the following commercial with you that I saw recently on TV.  I lost my front tooth.  How could this not bring a smile to your face?!

I’ve recently come to the  realization and conclusion that life is too short to not spend great quality time with family and friends.  I’ve heard this time and time again, but this idea hadn’t really sunk in until today.  Earlier today I learned that my uncle Manuel passed away this morning by means of a heart attack.  He was 66. 

I have so many mixed feelings right now and am not sure which I should be feeling.  I wasn’t close to him.  In a way I wish I did have memories of him and be able to reminisce the good times and the unique qualities that made him a great individual.

What makes life so daunting and real to me is that this is the 5th relative that has passed away in the last 10 years.  I suppose that’s not a bad track record, right?  Let’s be real, it probably is.  However, on my dad’s side I’ve already lost my grandparents and aunt Isabel in the early to mid 90s and now uncle Manuel.  Last year my aunt Virginia on my mom’s side passed away;  I wish I could have met her.  I heard so many great things about aunt Virginia.

I’m frustrated because I wish my dad were more sociable and want to spend more quality time with family, more often.  If it were up to my mom, we’d be more involved with family and family activities. I feel so scared because I know my parents, aunts and uncles are aging, the majority in their late 50s and 60s, two in their 70s.  Who’s going to be next in the family?  I don’t want to see family members die off and not know who they are/were and share those intimately special moments that we’ll recount for years to come.  I don’t want it to be just another name crossed off on my family tree.

Remember when grandma used to read bedtime stories and bake cookies with you?  Not me. I wish I had shared those memories with my grandparents.  Any grandparent.  The only memory that I have from my dad’s mom is that she would make tamarind candies and dad and I used to sell the candies at the park on Sundays when I was younger.  I was 11 years old when she passed away.  I don’t have any memories of grandpa.  My mom’s dad passed away way before I was born and I was 4 years old when grandma died.  No memories.  Was I born to miss out on family time?  I’ve determined to say no.

I realize it’s getting late and the fact that I haven’t been sleeping well isn’t helping my emotions to know that another family member is gone.

‎"But i hold onto this hope and the promise that He brings, that there will be a place with no more suffering. there will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears. There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face." – Jeremy Camp

I’m holding on to the hope that I’ll see all of them again soon and be able to create new memories.  Uncle Manuel, you will be missed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lean mean cooking machine

Would you say I was on a roll yesterday?  I certainly would.  For five hours I was a lean mean cooking machine.  Six recipes in five hours.  That’s not crazy, is it?


Cheese Pupusas.


Mashed potatoes, BBQ short ribs (left) and short ribs in red wine (right).


Stuffed zucchini.

And my very own homemade granola (2nd time’ a charm).  Forgot to take a picture, but my homemade granola was DIVINE!  Leftovers all week!  I suppose that’s the only way to get a day off from cooking throughout the week :)


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Peanut Butter and Oreo Truffles

Written 9/18/2010.

What a week.  I’m so glad it’s over and I’m happy for Sabbath, a day truly of rest.

I was catching up on the local news and came across this eye-catching recipe.  Oreos and chocolate.  Enough said.  I’m happy to say this is one of my new favorite desserts!



009 010


Peanut Butter and Oreo Truffles

Makes about 3 dozen, depending on the size of the truffles.


- 36 chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreos), divided
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted


Finely crush 16 Oreo cookies (with a blender, or food processor). Set aside.

Chop remaining cookies into small pieces and mix with the peanut butter.

Roll peanut butter and cookie mixture into 1-inch balls (or smaller, if you prefer) and freeze until firm.

Coat frozen balls with melted chocolate. Roll in reserved finely crushed cookies and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A fantastic bedtime story for my future kids

I saw this poem online a few weeks ago (okay, like a few months ago) and later learned it’s a great kid’s book.  I hope to have this book someday in my collection and be one of our (my kids’ and mine) favorite books to read.  It’s already one of my favorites and I don’t even have kids yet.  I suppose the nieces will have to do for now :)

You are my I love you
By: Maryann K Cusimano

I am your parent you are my child
I am your quiet place, you are my wild
I am your calm face, you are my giggle
I am your wait, you are my wiggle
I am your audience, you are my clown
I am your London Bridge, you are my falling down
I am your Carrot Sticks, you are my licorice
I am your dandelion, you are my first wish
I am your water wings, you are my deep
I am your open arms, you are my running leap
I am your way home, you are my new path
I am your dry towel, you are my wet bath
I am your dinner you are my chocolate cake
I am your bedtime, you are my wide awake
I am your finish line, you are my race
I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace
I am your favourite book, you are my new lines
I am your nightlight, you are my sunshine
I am your lullaby, you are my peek-a-boo
I am your kiss goodnight, you are my I love you

Is this what parenting's like?

SWAGGER WAGON - just for parents

Hope I can get my own Swagger Wagon - maybe not like this, but my own awesome mom car!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Jobless work

It's been so frustrating that my DH hasn't been able to find work.  It's already been almost seven months and I'm not exactly sure how we're making it through to pay the bills.  All I know is that life's been very stressful and somehow God is helping us get through this.  Sometimes I think, God, how am I going to be able to pay the bills today?  All we'd need is for my DH to get a part time job and although it wouldn't be the ideal situation (as opposed to getting a full-time job), it's better than nothing.  Can't a job come soon enough?  Please, God, soon!  I don't want to prod and ask, "have you found a job today" everyday, but sometimes it feels like I should, especially when the bills are piling up.  Every now and again I ask how the job hunt is going, but he can't seem to find a job, to much avail. 

For a year and a half, we've been planning, with my sister & brother and their families, on going to Disney World for a family trip this Christmas.  This will be the DH's first time at WDW.  I'm so excited to show him all around the area, as I've been there two times.  I'm looking forward to seeing my nieces' faces, filled with excitement when they see their favorite Disney characters!  I just get all giddy inside just thinking about it again and again!  Hopefully DH will be able to get a job ASAP so we can start saving for our trip.  Here's to hoping, wishing and praying.  I feel like I'm starting to sound like the intro to "My Best Friend's Wedding".

Happy Labor Day, everyone!  For the first time, I actually went in to work on Labor Day and was able to get a few things out of the way that were super important.  Wish I had another day to relax!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chilean Quiche

Didn’t I just sweep this floor last night?  Those were my exact thoughts as I was yet again, sweeping the floor after washing dishes and placing them in the dishwasher after dinner yesterday.  How did so much dust and dirt can accumulate in just ONE day?  I went to work in the morning and came back home in the evening.  I’m certain that all wasn’t me, was it?  How much dust can heels really attract to a 2nd story apartment?

This weekend was incredible!  I deep cleaned most of the house and it felt wonderful!  About a week ago, MigL wonderfully surprised me with a completely rearranged living room.  What a complete shock!  After having a long, frustratingly busy day week at work, his wonderful surprise was like a breath of fresh air.  Simply refreshing.  Anyway, an incredibly clean house inspired a give me a pan and some food to cook kind of moment.  Saturday night I made chocolate croissants, cinnamon oatmeal raisin cookies, a Chilean quiche (recipe below), lentils and Spanish rice.  I also cooked some Trader Joe’s Indian chicken (I can’t remember the name right now), and made a yogurt sauce alongside some grilled chicken.  Lots of good food – good thing the fridge was empty!  I also marinated some chicken for what was supposed to be chicken masala, except I forgot to throw it on the grill.  Marinades are still good for a few days, aren’t they?  Anyway,I was in cooking bliss! The following morning I made some oatmeal waffles (so divine) and mustered up the courage to make some granola.  I’ve wanted to make granola for the last few months; essential ingredients were never there when I wanted to make them.  Actually it seemed a bit intimidating.  Granola?  Yep, granola.  Have you been to the grocery store lately to buy granola?  Have you seen those ridiculous prices??  $5.00 and up.  Thanks, but no thanks.

Cutting back on costs have been my goal lately, so I figured, I love granola for breakfast – why not make my own?  I’ll post the recipe later this week, but it was OK for my first try.  I couldn’t get past the ginger taste.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy ginger in Indian cuisine.  But this, I just wasn’t 100% sold.  After I made granola, I ventured into concocting my own homemade granola by perusing through Food Network and Cooking Light websites and picking pieces here and there.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make them because I had run out of oats on my first and only batch of gingery granola.  Rats!  I suppose the next time the grocery shopping is done oats is definitely going to be the #1 item on the list.

Chilean Quiche

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6
WW Points: 3


3 sheets of frozen phyllo dough, cut lengthwise in half
1/4 cup fat free cheddar cheese
4 large eggs
1 cup fat free milk
10 oz frozen spinach, defrosted, drained and chopped
1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp sliced green olives


Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.  Spray a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray.

Cover the phyllo dough in a plastic cover and a damp towel to prevent the dough to dry.  Place 1 phyllo dough in the cake pan to form a base. spray quickly with cooking spray.  Place the second sheet on top with the corners located in different angles than the first; spray with cooking spray.  Repeat this process with the rest of the phyllo dough but don’t spray with cooking spray.  Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the inferior part of the dough.

Beat the eggs and milk in a large bowl.  Add the spinach, black beans and olives.  Spread mixture into the cake pan.  Cook to about 45 minutes, until the knife comes out clean after you place it through the center of the dish.  Cut into 6 pieces and serve immediately.

Latin cook’s notes

This recipe was incredibly yummy and so filling!  I replaced black beans with garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and omitted the olives, only to find out after I’d already cooked the recipe I did indeed have sliced black olives.  Hpmh!  I used pastry dough instead of phyllo dough; however, in my head, I swear I was using phyllo!  It wasn’t until I was supposed to lay out these “layers” that I realized, uh oh, this isn’t exactly phyllo dough.  Oh well.  I was really wiped out from all of the fun cooking I’d accomplished in a mere three hours.  You know what they say, sometimes disasters can turn into amazing wonders!  This was definitely the case for the Chilean quiche.  It had a nice flaky golden crust, almost like those freshly baked biscuits, fresh out of the oven.  The texture was one of a kind and melded in perfectly with the quiche.  Tomorrow, I’m definitely planning on having leftovers for lunch and pairing it with a yummy salad.  Filling food, here I come!

I’ll post pictures later on this week – I’m so tired!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Tart UPdate

It worked, it worked!!  After my last post, I checked up on the tart after I’d stuck it in the fridge for three hours and it finally set!  I briefly touched the chocolate shell last night to make sure it set, and I was uberly pleased!  I came home tonight and found that a little mouse had delved into my chocolate tart!


So before the little mouse took more of it, I served myself up a piece to try out the new recipe.




Oh man, I must say it was deliciously worth the wait!  MigL (I mean, the little mouse) didn’t care for the caramel.  I, on the other hand, loved the caramel!  It definitely reminded me of a Twix bar, just with a much harder shell/crust.  I used Ghirardelli chocolate for the top layer.  We both agreed that the chocolate was a bit too strong by itself, but paired with the crust, they actually surprisingly balanced each other out.  MigL is such a chocoholic.  He would be more than happy to have just the crust and chocolate.  I’ll have to try that method out soon.  I’m sure he’ll eat much more of it than I will when I make it that way.  However this was definitely the best dessert I’ve ever had; I’ll have to keep this in my repertoire!

Did I mention that I caught the stove on fire while I was baking the crust?  I saw smoke coming out from one of the back burners of the stove, so I peered over it, opened the oven and voila!  Two pieces of crust that had fallen onto the very bottom of the oven were on fire!  I swiftly moved the burning bread out of the way with a knife.  Fire averted!  Phew!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chiles Rellenos, Chocolate Caramel Tart with Sea Salt and Rice Pudding

Yesterday was an unbelievably great morning for breakfast!  I can’t believe I’ve never made poached eggs!  The moment felt like when Julie Powell tasted eggs for the first time in Julie & Julia.   Sometimes cooking works out great the first time, and in this case, I’m glad it turned out divine!  I paired my poached egg with toast and some green salsa.  Yum!



I’m also happy to report that I made the Chocolate Caramel Tart with Sea Salt yesterday like I promised.  However, the chocolate still looks like soup. Meh.  I placed it in the refrigerator about 3 hours ago and I hope it hardens soon!  I’m so eager to take a bite out of it! 


I was super ecstatic when I realized I had made caramel – I LOVE caramel!


A lovely glazed layer of chocolate on top of the caramel.

I also found a recipe for stuffed peppers, or in my case, a new and improved way of making Chiles Rellenos.  It’s super easy!


Refried Bean Poblanos with Cheese

Prep: 2 minutes
Cooking time: 6 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Serving size: 2 stuffed chile halves

4  medium poblano chiles, halved and seeded
1  (16-ounce) can fat-free refried beans
1  (8.8-ounce) pouch microwaveable cooked long-grain rice (such as Uncle Ben's Original Ready Rice)
1/2  cup  picante sauce
1  cup  (4 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Place chile halves, cut sides up, on a round microwave-safe plate. Cover with wax paper; microwave at HIGH 3 minutes.

While chiles cook, combine beans, rice, and picante sauce in a medium bowl, stirring well. Spoon bean mixture evenly into chile halves. Cover with wax paper; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes. Uncover chiles, sprinkle each half with 2 tablespoons cheese, and microwave at HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle evenly with cilantro, if desired.

Latin Cook’s notes
I didn’t have Poblano peppers, so I used Pasilla peppers; I also figured I’d use up the Jasmine Rice I’d previously made instead of buying some microwave long-grain rice.  I used green salsa instead of Picante – there seems to be much less salt in the green sauce.  Plus we’ve found that it’s tastier than the red salsas.  However, the dish was incredibly tasty and super easy to make.  Just be careful – this dish will be hot (temperature wise) when you take it out of the microwave.  The next time I make it, I think I’ll take the seeds out of the Pasilla pepper.  It was a bit too spicy for MigL; I, on the other hand, loved the spicy kick.

I also made some Caribbean Coconut Rice Pudding.  See recipe below.


1/2 cup Jasmine Rice
2 cups whole milk
2 cups coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp raisins
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Wash the rice thoroughly in several changes of water, put in a deep pot.  Add milk, coconut milk and rice, bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and cook milk gently boiling for 1 hour or until the rice is thoroughly cooked and the milk has thickened to a pudding consistency.  Add sugar and vanilla extract, cook about another 5 minutes.  Distribute the pudding into 4 serving dishes and garnish with raisins and coconut flakes.  Chill for 1 hour before serving.

Latin Cook’s notes
I used Golden Star Jasmine Rice for the rice pudding.  I didn’t have whole milk on hand, so I used 1% and used light coconut milk.  I forgot to add raisins at the very end for garnish!  Oh well. I was incredibly excited that I’d made rice pudding for the first time :)

For tonight’s dinner I made my mother-in-law’s famous Stuffed Zucchini.  They turned out perfect!  I was a bit worried I’d forgotten an ingredient and I’d meant to write down the recipe while she was here visiting us for the 4th of July weekend.


Need to get to bed – it’s going to be a long day tomorrow!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

African Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas

I was having a hankering for curry today and initially went to look through my Modern Spice cookbook that I won through a blog.  I was a bit disappointed there weren’t any curry recipes.  So after browsing online I looked through some recipes at and came across an African Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas and decided this would be the recipe that would be for tonight’s dinner.  During my browsing quest, I also found a Curried Smoke Chicken and Wild Rice Salad and a Zucchini Curry that I definitely want to try soon!




African Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas


2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion (about 6 ounces), chopped
1 medium red bell pepper (about 6 ounces), chopped
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped tomatoes, seeded and peeled, fresh or canned
1 tsp mild curry powder
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (14-oz) can light coconut milk
3/4 cup cooked white or brown rice
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)


In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and chili; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add the broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, curry powder, salt, and black pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Latin cook’s notes

When you think of curry, the first term you might think of is “spicy”.  This dish didn’t have the usual spice you would have thought. I was completely amazed at how the coconut added such a subtle flavor, yet it enveloped the entire dish and deterred any hotness from the jalapeno; and I appreciated that the spices weren’t overpowering.  Once I added the soup on top of the Basmati rice, oh my!  It was the perfect dish.  I actually didn’t add the rice to the soup as suggested in the directions.  Once I served myself some rice, I added the “soup” on top of the rice.  There was a party definitely going on in my mouth!  I was very pleased to hear from the hubby that this dish is another he would eat again if I made it in the future.   I also popped some Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan into the oven.  Now that makes a complete meal.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dessert quest: Option 1 – Chocolate Caramel Tart with Sea Salt

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I’m on a quest to find my “No matter how my day’s been, this will make my day spectacularly better” dessert.

I was looking through some dessert blogs and came across a Chocolate Caramel Tart with Sea Salt dessert.  I’m coming around more to chocolate.  I love caramel.  The blogger calls it a Twix Tart.  I love Twix.  I like a little bit of crust.  THIS sounds like my kind of dessert!

I’ve realized that I, in comparison to MigL, am a messy eater.  I’m perfectly OK with food spilling out the sides (especially with sandwiches, although it is annoying at times), but as long as I’m enjoying it, it’s A-OK.  MigL, on the other hand, would prefer to have his food in those sectioned plates….  No thanks.  Bring on the mess.

So when I saw the following picture on Dessert First, my mouth began to water.  Mmmm, buttery crust.  Chocolate.  Oozy caramel.

chocolate caramel tart with sea salt

Umm, yes please.  I would like another.  OK, really, I hope not because I’d like to keep the calories in check.  But so far it looks amazingly delicious!

I’ll try to make this dessert this weekend and let you know whether or not this dessert is a keeper and my new go-to dessert; although, it sounds like the crust will take a bit of work.  I suppose I’ll know soon enough whether it’s worth it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chicken wars

I made two types of chicken tonight – I hope one of them turns out.

Chicken 1 – Mediterranean Lemon Chicken


Chicken 2 – Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms


You see, the reason I say “I hope it turns out tonight” is because I have this love/hate relationship with chicken.  Sometimes it turns out great and other times I want to strangle/beat the crap out of the chicken myself, throw it away and continue cursing at the chicken that never turned out, as was the case for the dreadful Balsamic Chicken.  Nice idea, terrible execution.  Not that I didn’t want to execute the chicken anyway.  “I can’t believe you stupid chicken!  Ugggghhhh!!  Why aren’t you done already?  It’s already been an hour and a half.  How much longer do you need until you’re not raw?!  I need answers and I need them NOW!  Why does my spoon keep disappearing?” 

It’s chicken sh*t (pun intended) when they tell you to brown the chicken for 3 minutes on both sides (and that’s all the cooking this supposed chicken needs).  How the heck is that really done?  Hello, get REAL!  Every time I try that method, and I do mean every time, I get crusty brown raw chicken.  Disgusting.

I’m having an Amelia Bedelia moment.  You know what I need?  I need to find a dessert that I can make exquisitely well, no matter how fattening it is.  At the end of the day, no matter what’s happened, I can make that something and make my day a whole lot better.  Cheesecake comes to mind for now, but lately I haven’t been that big of a fan like I used to be.   Don’t you think Julia Child had her moments? I’m sure Julie Powell had her moments too.  I’m sure they must have had something that made a bad day turn into a fantastical one.  Yep.  Fantastical.  And wonderful.  This next week I shall look for my fantastical moment. 

By the way, I had a great day at work.  We’ve been planning for an event for a few months we have mostly every year (a wine grape grower dinner converted into a luncheon) and had loads of fun.  After the event ended, a few of us went out and celebrated.  The event was draining, nevertheless fun.  And I even got to come home early and I went out for ice cream with MigL.  Hooray!

The funny thing about the Mediterranean Lemon Chicken is that yesterday, I asked MigL to find a chicken recipe he’d like to have for dinner.  By the time I got home last night, he’d already e-mailed it to me, but I was way too tired too cook.  After I got home tonight, I found a recipe I thought might turn out, since I had some extra uncooked chicken.  Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak, and not have to cook the next day.  Well, at least one of the birds turned out well.

I forgot I used the eggs I had for last night’s breakfast for dinner.  Rats.  Now I can’t make the German Chocolate cake I wanted to tonight.  Uggghh!!!!  At least I still have some coffee cake cupcakes left over. Yum!


Mediterranean Lemon Chicken


1 lemon
2 tsp dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
6 chicken legs


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

In a 9x13 inch baking dish, grate the peel from 1/2 the lemon, squeeze out the juice (about 1/4 cup) and add to peel with the oregano, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Stir until mixed.

Remove skin from chicken pieces and discard. Coat chicken pieces with the lemon mixture and arrange, bone side up, in the baking dish. Cover dish and bake for 20 minutes. Turn and baste chicken.

Reduce heat to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and bake uncovered, basting every 10 minutes, for about 30 more minutes. Serve chicken with pan juices.

Latin Cook’s notes

This dish had a nice balance of lemon & spices.  Even though it felt like Thanksgiving (basting the chicken), it was worth the extra effort.  Thanks for the idea, Honey!

Balsamic chicken with Mushrooms


2 tsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove(s), crushed
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, four 4-oz pieces
2 cup(s) mushroom(s), small, halved
1/3 cup(s) canned chicken broth
1/4 tsp dried thyme, crumbled 


In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of oil.

In a medium bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar, the mustard and garlic. Add chicken and turn to coat.

Transfer chicken and marinade to skillet. Sauté chicken until cooked through, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm.

Heat remaining teaspoon of oil in skillet. Sauté mushrooms for 1 minute. Add broth, thyme and remaining tablespoon of vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are deep brown, about 2 minutes longer.

Serve chicken topped with mushrooms.

Latin Cook’s notes

Suck it.  Let me know how it turns out for you.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

MIA Updates

I know I haven’t been blogging for a little while.  I’ve been dealing with some family issues lately but I hope to be back to blogging sooner than later.

Did you notice the new blog re-design?  I wanted to give my blog a makeover; and I’m so happy with the results!

Fourth of July was incredibly fun, but very exhausting.  My in-laws came up for a few days and we had a blast showing them around Berkeley and San Francisco. We went to visit the Pampanito, Aquarium of the Bay, stopped for a photo-op of a pizzeria and drove down Lombard Street.

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Waiting for food at Cafe Valparaiso, a Chilean restaurant in Berkeley.

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The women of the family :)

007 (2) Pollo Bahia - Boneless chicken thigh sautéed in coconut milk, tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, and white wine. Served with rice and black beans.  It was Uh-mazingly delicious!

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My MIL saw the name of this pizza place and we HAD to stop, pick up a menu and take a picture.  Too bad we didn’t have enough time to actually eat some of this Orgasmica Pizza!

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Visiting the Pampanito.


Taking a very quick SF picture – it was super windy and cold!

015 Celebrating MIL’s birthday with a massage and a fun weekend involving fun hats.

Tonight I’m going with my good friend to go see Rihanna!  Someone at work was giving away a pair of free tickets to Rihanna’s concert and couldn’t go because of her nieces wedding.  Too bad for her, but hooray for me!

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