Monday, April 30, 2007

When All Else Fails, Sneak 'Em In

I must confess: I've got it very easy when it comes to feeding my kids veggies. Zoe and Ayden love them. Heck, Zoe eats edamame by the bowlful; and Ayden cannot be parted from his favorite, sweet peas. On occasion, the children will resist trying news things. Case in point: my darling angels turned their noses up at the zucchini I brought home from the supermarket. So, what's a mama to do? Easy--I sneak the veggies into their favorite treats and no one is the wiser.

I baked some fantastic zucchini bread (God bless my Cooking Free cookbook), let it cool, then sliced and wrapped up individual portions for the kiddies. I can pop them in the toaster for breakfast or an afterschool snack, or I can toss one in Zoe's lunchbox to take to school. The bread is delicious and moist. The best part of all is that it passed the all-important taste test. Miss Zoe loved it! Success!

1/4 cup canola oil
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup drained applesauce
1 3/4 cup gluten free flour blend
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/4 cup dark raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 and gread a 9x5 inch nonstick loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine the oil and sugar with electric mixer. Add eggs, vanilla, and applesauce and beat until very smooth. Add flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and cinnamon. Mix on medium until thoroughly combined. Quickly (and gently) stir in zucchini (and the nuts and raisins, if using). Pour the batter into prepared pan(s). Bake 9x5 loaf for 1 hour, and cool on wire rack before cutting.

Friday, April 27, 2007

In Case You Were Wondering...

This is what Ayden's papi got for him for his birthday. It is official: another guitar lover is born!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Planning My Getaway

Eunice, my college roommate, paid me a visit in January. And during that time we talked about going on a girls' weekend with one of our other girlfriends from school. Planning a trip for three women with very different jobs and responsibilities proved to be a challenge--but was so worth it. Well, after several e-mails to each other, and talks with our respective spouses, jobs, and the like--the trip is on! I'll be sans husband and children as I venture into the mountains of North Carolina come June 7.

I'm beyond excited about this trip (although I've never been away from the Man and the kiddies for that long). One of Liana's colleagues was nice enough to let us use his cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains for our stay. I saw a few pictures of the place, and it is gorgeous. I've gotta say, as a Brooklyn girl, the word cabin conjures up images of a small, rustic building with four walls and raccoons hankering to get into the place so they can eat you. Not very realistic of me, I know. Good news: Liana is a doctor--so I've got medical care available in the event that a killer raccoon attacks me.

This cabin that we're going to? If the pictures are any indication, it's bigger than the house I live in now. And guess what? It's got a hot tub, fireplace, picturesque mountain views, the whole nine yards. The girls and I will spend four days in the mountains, hiking and communing with nature; heck, I may even pick an apple or two. Of course, my husband's idea of girls' weekend was a days-long slumber party with pillow fights, sappy movies, and marshmallows. Well, there may be marshmallows. But beyond that, it's going to be a non-stop gabfest for three friends that haven't been all together--just the girls--in YEARS.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Dusting Off My Dancing Shoes

Since I was sick the end of last year and the beginning of '07, I had to take a hiatus from Flamenco class. Well, I had to take a break from Flamenco dancing in general. I had some major respiratory issues going on, which left me out of breath even after some relatively mild exercise. Now that I'm better, I've been exercising more--which means the dancing shoes are coming back on baby!

I've been invited to perform with some of my classmates at a fundraiser for a local theater company. The event is two weeks away, which leaves me precious little time to get a few of my dances--and me--in fighting shape.The good news is that I still fit into my costumes. The bad news is that I'm hard pressed to find rehearsal time. Flamenco Dad is wrapping up his semester, which means finals, juries, and a rather lengthy research paper he needs to turn in. I'm practicing my routines wherever I can. Ayden has been getting a kick out of watching his mommy fold laundry, dust, and cook while doing the sevillanas, tangos, and rumbas. I'm rehearsing with my classmates this weekend, so I hope to be ready by then.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Orange You Glad...?

This is an orange cake recipe that I adapted from the Food Network website. The original recipe was posted by two chefs, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Back in the Food Network's infancy, these ladies had a wonderful cooking show called the Two Hot Tamales. The cake is a lovely olive oil cake, not too sweet and oh so moist. I know what you're thinking. "WTF? Olive oil in a cake?" Believe me, I was skeptical the first time I made it. But I'm so glad I put my skepticism aside and baked it; now I'm a believer too.

Orange Cake

3 large eggs

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup soy milk

1/2 cup olive oil

1 3/4 cups gluten free flour mix

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Glaze, optional:

juice of 1/2 naval orange

1 cup confectioner's sugar

1 tsp. corn syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease bundt pan and dust with a bit of sugar and gf flour. Beat the eggs with the sugar. Beat in the milk, oil and orange zest. In a small bowl, sift the flour with the xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture 1/3 at a time until well incorporated. Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Remove cake and cool slightly in pan, then invert and cool completely. If using the glaze, combine the orange juice, confectioner's sugar, and corn syrup in a small bowl until thoroughly combined and there are no lumps. Drizzle onto cooled cake.

Note: The glaze really boosts the sweetness quotient of this cake. I've made the cake both with and without the glaze, and it tastes great either way.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Today you are four years old. You entered this world kicking and screaming--and three weeks early. Your papi describes it as an "X-Files" moment. One minute I was lying on an operating table with a doctor looming over me; the next you were here, ready to take on the world.

The day you were born was one of the most joyful, yet scary, days of my life. I was thilled that the day had finally come, and that Zoe's little brother would finally be here. But I was afraid, afraid that the trauma that your sister suffered at birth would be repeated. A first-time mom, I waited for your sister's first cry, which did not come--not until days later. She was a baby born teetering on a precipice between life and death. And as your birth drew nearer, the hopes I had for you were simple: Please, God, let him be healthy. Let me hear that cry and know that he's alright.

I see elements of your dad and me in you everyday. Though make no mistake about it; you have a fire and personality all your own. You are one of the funniest kids I've ever met. You are a flirt, always knowing when to turn on the charm (Lord help me when you get older). You and your sister are best friends, and it shows. You run up and hug me for no particular reason, and it warms my heart.

Happy Birthday, my sweet baby boy.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Getting Over My Split Pea Aversion

I spent the first 30 years of my life avoiding split pea soup. Why, you ask? Two words, people: The Exorcist. The images of Linda Blair, with the head spinning and projectile...well, you know...were enough to leave me emotionally scarred, and repulsed by the sight of split pea soup. Once I finally got over it and gave the soup a try I realized that it was delicious.

This weekend we got hit with a downpour, and the rainy days left me in the mood for soup. I had a bag of split peas in the pantry, as well as a bit of leftover Easter ham in the freezer. Put 'em together and it was a perfect tummy-warming treat. Flamenco Dad had some for lunch today, and the first words out of his mouth were "Hell yea!" Appropriate.

Split Pea Soup

1 large onion, peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

2 Tbs. garlic, minced

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 lb. dried split peas, rinsed and picked over

1 cup diced ham

10 cups water

1 Tbs. dried thyme leaves

salt, as needed

pepper, as needed

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion, carrot, and garlic, and sweat until onion appears transclucent. Add dried thyme leaves and stir for a minute. Add the ham, peas, and water. Bring ingredients to a boil, then lower heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour. Add pepper to taste, then salt as needed. Note that the ham may be omitted for vegetarian split pea soup.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Yearning for Yogurt

Question: has anyone out there tried to make their own soy yogurt? I'm wondering how hard it is to make. I found a website with instructions for preparing and culturing yogurt, but if anyone has their own experiences to share, I'd love to hear about them. Here's the website I found: If anybody has other recipes to share, please do so--any advice is greatly appreciated.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Whoorl: Five Questions

Whoorl is one of my favorite blogebrities, a fabulous mama who lives near the beach in California with her hunky hubby and adorable little boy Wito. Whoorl started an interview chain today, and asked me the following questions. I've got instructions for participating in the interview if any internets out there are interested. By the way, before I go on with the Q & A, do yourself a favor and check out Whoorl's blog, She's an excellent writer, funny as all get-out, and (like me) a total beauty product junkie.

1. What are 2 things you miss most about living in the city? I miss being able to take the subway ANYWHERE I want to go. I'm not a big fan of driving. For the first few years I lived in Florida, I had a car without air conditioning. Dealing with the humidity and extreme heat does not make for good hair. Also I miss walking through Central Park on Sundays with my husband. We always had fun, and my legs and glutes were uber-tight in those days. I know this is cheating, but I also miss seeing the Christmas windows at Barneys. And potato knishes. And...

2. Dream job (with a loving nanny) or a SAHM, which one? Definitely a SAHM. You couldn't get me back into business attire for a million bucks. I am NOT corporate material. Office Space is one of my favorite movies for a reason. Plus, I love spending all day with my kids. They are so much fun to be around. Unless you're talking about a day when my kids are making me crazy. Then it's nanny all the way.

3. Favorite dessert? It's those Godiva molten lava chocolate cakes from Morton's. How can you go wrong with chocolate cake that's got melted chocolate oozing out of it, with ice cream on top? I think I just drooled on my keyboard.

4. Do you have a secret talent? Well, I guess the flamenco thing isn't really a secret, so I'll have to pick something else. I make most of my own jewelry. I took African dance in college and it stuck with me. Oh, and I've got an amazing memory. I'm still trying to get on Jeopardy so I can whoop some ass on that show. Take that, Trebek!

5. What kind of cheese do you prefer on your burger, if any? I swear I did not know this question was coming when I planned my dinner tonight. I just grilled up some burgers for dinner. I made some with no cheese, since Zoe must eat gfcf. But I made some for E, his mom, and I that were stuffed with blue cheese*; heavenly doesn't even begin to cover it! My favorite has to be pepper jack cheese. I'm all about spicy, so my favorite burger has pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and jalapeno slices. Ketchup is a must.

Okay, so if any of you internets want to participate, send me a comment with "Interview Me" somewhere in the text. I'll respond by emailing you five questions. Update your blog with the answers to the questions. Include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

*edited to add: Many thanks go to the commenter who reminded me to share that blue cheese also contains gluten, so it's not just a casein issue. And, suffice it to say, that Godiva cake is not gfcf; though if I were to select my favorite gfcf dessert, it would be the Pineapple Upside Down Cake I wrote about in January.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

On Top of Spaghetti

Last night I prepared a delicious feast of meatballs and gluten free pasta. My kids love spaghetti and meatballs, so I try to make it once a week. For the meatballs I use a combo of ground beef, pork, and veal, egg, garlic, oregano, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and a slice of leftover gfcf bread broken up into crumbs. I cooked the meatballs in a pan with a bit of olive oil (gotta love the EVOO), and then simmered in a pot of my favorite pasta sauce. I served the meatballs over Tinkyada Brown Rice Fusilli Pasta. Can I just say that Tinkyada has quickly become my pasta of choice for gfcf cooking? To me, it most closely resembles the texture and flavor of its gluten-containing counterparts. Fantastic!

I'm going to take a couple of days off from the blog--my own Spring Break, if you will. I'm getting ready for the little man's fourth birthday party. See ya!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Easter 2007

These are the faces of happy kiddies amped up on Easter candy. Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

No Chocolate Bunnies

I'm getting a jump on my Easter dinner by taking care of much of the prep today. I just made a batch of gfcf chocolate brownies for Zoe to enjoy. My husband expressed his feelings of neglect that I have yet to bake him his carrot cake. I promise, it will be ready soon honey. It's one of the goodies that I have yet to modify for gfcf diets. But it's one of Flamenco Dad's favorites, so what kind of gal would I be if I didn't make it for him once a year?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Givin' Me the Finger

My instinct was to call this post "Mama went to Naples and All I Got Was This Gnarly Finger," but that's a mouthful. Besides, messages like that are best saved for souvenir t-shirts. Flamenco Dad warned me against posting a photo of my finger on my blog for two reasons. One, my finger looks icky. Two, this is supposed to be a food blog, and looking at this thing wouldn't make anyone want to eat anything. I then had a flashback to one of my dormmates in college who, while she was learning to rollerblade, would sit there are proudly show us each and every one of the scabs she got from her various rollerblading injuries. Even while we were eating in the dining hall. Seriously.

Long story short, I was helping my mom with one of the sliding doors which apparently could not close properly. We figured something was blocking either the track or the lock. While I was examining the lock to see if there was anything obstructing it, my mom used all her might to slam the door shut--not realizing that my index finger was in the way. So you see, my finger then became said obstruction. I screamed something that I have never in all my 34 years said in front of my mother in front of her, my kids, and my GRANDMA! Oh the horror! Thankfully, miraculously, my finger is not broken(though it does still hurt). My fingernail is purple/black in color, and it would appear that my fingernail is not long for this world. On the bright side, next time I paint my nails it looks like I'll only have to paint nine instead of ten.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Muy Caliente

After spending the weekend in South Florida, I found myself in the mood for some spicy Cuban black bean soup. I didn't get the chance to enjoy black beans and rice on our trip. In spite of the fact that I nearly broke a finger on this trip (details and a gross picture later) I decided to get cooking today.

I used a recipe from a delicious cookbook called The Daily Soup Cookbook, which has a wide variety of recipes from this New York soup shop. This soup is spicy! Did I forget to mention that the recipe calls for a diced habanero pepper? Yowza! It was delicious--I love me some spicy food. And in the great tradition of serving food with our food at this house, I had the soup with a tostada on the side and some chopped onions. Mmm...