Strawberry Daiquiri Jello Shots

I really should know better than to try something on pintrest. I love seeing the epic fails from others who decided this looks easy, let’s try it, what could have gone wrong. But, I like all those before me thought – oh that’s cute, I could do that, let’s try that.

Wrong.

First off, don’t use the 6 oz strawberry jello. Use only the 3 oz, the small box.

Second. Strawberries are evil. I couldn’t find strawberries big enough to hallow out. These people must live in strawberryville or something. Because they were so hard to hallow out, the hole was shallow in fear of tearing the strawberry. I ended up tearing 5 of them up and eating them. Once I poured the jello, three more had holes. Moral of the story – strawberries are like fragile little butterflies and break easily. Practice will hopefully make perfect.

What did I do with the rest of my jello? Poured it into 2oz containers and made actually jello shots, of course.

When elegance is a bust, go to the original form of sluttiness.

Strawberry Daiquiri jello shots

The jello shot itself
One package of strawberry jello
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
1 cup Malibu Coconut rum

Directions
Boil the water

Add the jello mix to the water and stir until jello is dissolved.

Remove from heat and add the water and rum.

Put into 2 oz containers and chill.

Makes 15 jello shots. Per jello shot. Calories: 35, Carbohydrates:20 grams, Sugar:5 grams.

I made the shots New Orleans style – the right way. In New Orleans, you can always taste the coconut rum in it and it is amazing.

image

To make the shot in the stawberry

36 strawberries
Strawberry Daiquiri jello shot (above recipe)

Directions

Chop the bottom of the strawberries off so that the strawberry can stand up.

Hallow out the strawberries. Be sure not to nick it or else there will be a hole.

Make the jello.

Pour jello into the cavity of the strawberry.

Put into the fridge and chill in the fridge overnight.

Garnish with whipping cream before consuming.

Makes 36 strawberries. Per strawberry. Calories: 18, Carbohydrates: 9 grams, Sugar: 3 grams.

Oh. My. God. These little strawberries were worth the frustration of making. Absolutely amazing. I could gobble them up. The smushiness of the jello when you bite into it created a texture of happy surprise in my mouth. The strawberries make everything taste fresh. A cool fresh sensation to the palate. I think I might make the margarita version for 4th of July.

I would use a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon to hallow out the strawberries. Makes it way easier. You can freeze it. And you can use the pulp later for smoothies or puree them for strawberry lemonade.

Revised New Years Menu

Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. And menus will always keep you on your toes.

Bryan has decided to cook a roast instead of smoking a brisket. Its cheaper and he couldn’t find brisket under 30 pounds. I am quite saddened over this decision, but he wanted to do this so his decision is the final one. Maybe we will make roasted beef crostini?

Then I couldn’t find meat ravioli. If I was in Houston, I would just walk over to Krogers. But up here in the country I only have an HEB or Walmart. Its quite frustrating. So tortellini it is. Now I have to find a good recipe.

On the brighter side, instead of trying to find pineapple juice (which is nonexistent in a small town with a limited juice aisle), I decided to use simply orange orange with pineapple juice. *boom* killed two birds with one stone. And I’ll have enough juice left over to make rum punch with Malibu. It occurred to me during my 3rd stop so I bought grenadine.

Also the strawberries were small. I had a lot of jello left over.

Turns out you can’t make wassail in the slow cooker with the alcohol in it. Typically people put the amount of alcohol they want in a cup and ladle the wassail on top of it.

So revised menu

Savory
Tortellini with marinara sauce
Caprese bruschetta
Roast

Sweet
Clementine dipped in dark chocolate
Snow cookies
Candied walnuts

Festivities
Strawberry daiquiri shots in a strawberry
Strawberry daiquiri jello shots
Coquito
Wassail – guests add their own amount of whiskey to their cup.

I didn’t deviate too much from the original version.

Candied Walnuts & tips of hosting a successful party

Today is the start of making the appetizers for the New Years Party.

I had to figure what had to be served fresh and what the shelf life is for everything. Being that the party is in 3 days, I really have to plan this perfectly. And the worst part is, I can’t find some of the ingredients which means substituting. I went to two stores for the coconut milk and gave up at the second store only to be reminded that I could probably find it in the Asian area. Where has all the coconut milk gone is my question. The meat raviolis are nonexistent at this point.

I have literally planned how much people may eat. Can’t have too much or too little food. It either makes or breaks a successful party.

Originally I was like I can do this but that was back when the head count was potentially 9. My friend might be bringing a couple that has a potential to become a friend. I’m fine with that. Finding other couples are hard enough as is. Especially when you try to make a group of them. It can also be disastrous. And we have been discussing this idea since July.

Its ballooned up to potentially 15 thanks to Bryan inviting his sister who has to have the whole family there. And of course the nephews want to bring their girlfriend. Which, don’t get me wrong, I understand. His sister was talking about bringing people but I’ve already decided I’m not procuring food for them. I’m going to sound snobbish but they aren’t exactly the people I would want at my house ever. And on top of that, why would you bring up inviting people to a party you’re not throwing. Yes, I’ve met them but I don’t like them. They leave a gritty taste in my mouth. And of course, they have to bring their 12 year old. I’m not happy about this because, well, this is an adult party. Its full of alcohol. But at the same time, it would be mean to invite his older brothers and not him. Then she says, “as long as there is junk food, he will be fine.”

Um, no. There will be no junk food. Why? Because its an ADULT PARTY!!! We are having modernly elegant food because its New Years and its a great way to start a new year right. Why would the first piece of food in my mouth for 2014 be horrendous junk food? Besides, I don’t even eat junk food. I eat pear applesauce, granola bars dipped in almond butter, fruit, and sweet potato chips as snacks. Why would I have junk food in my house?!?!! I’m bloody diabetic and not the good kind!

So now I’m incredibly stressed over this gathering. The only time I get a little OCD is when I’m planning parties. Everything must be perfect or as perfect as possible. Not to mention I have standards. Its the Brit in me.

Today might be a little easy. I’m making the candied walnuts. I’m going to see how much a 4 cup bag makes and go from there.

And I’m making the coquito. Everyone gets a shot of it when they walk into the house. There’s traditions in this household.

candied walnuts

Candied Walnuts

4 cups walnuts, halves
3/4 cup brown sugar

Directions:

On a lined baking sheet, toast walnuts for about 5 minutes at 350. Do not over toast.

In a thick bottomed pot, melt the brown sugar over medium heat.

When the sugar becomes the color of dark amber, add the walnuts and coat them in the sugar using a wooden spoon.

Dump the pot onto the lined baking sheet and using forks break apart the walnuts.

Let cool and eat.

makes 14. They are 1/2 cup servings. Calories: 253, Carbohydrates: 12 grams, Sugar: Fiber: 2 grams, Protein: 5 grams.

I had a lot of problems with this recipe.

First I had to figure out – white or brown sugar. When it came down to it, which one had less carbs and sugar. Brown sugar. Then brown sugar it is.

The first time I made these, the directions were to put everything in a pot and mix it over medium heat. When the sugar melts pour it into a lined baking sheet and separate with two forks. Um, yeah. That is soo not the way to do it. I ended up toasting the walnuts in the oven hoping the sugar would melt a little more.

The second time I decided to toast them first. Then melt the sugar as I had read on 15 other blogs, and then add the walnuts. Disaster adverted. For the most part.

Both versions taste yummy, but I’m not sure brown sugar is the way to go on the candied front. Next time I’ll try white sugar.

Also, these are based on 1/2 cup as a serving. If you eat half of a half a cup (which you won’t, these are highly addicting. I think I ate 1/4 cup while making them) then half everything nutritional wise. Or you can lie to yourself, claim you are 1/4 of a cup and claim they are 127 calories, 6 grams of carbs and 4 grams of sugar. Technically one serving is 2 tablespoons, but I highly doubt anyone in their right mind could just eat 2 tablespoons. So, I decided to head down the reality train instead.

I think 1/2 cup is enough for the guests at the party.

That and I thought walnuts are supposed to be like amazeballs for you. All I hear is walnut walnut walnut. And only 5 measely grams of protein in 1/2 a cup. The way people talk about them, one would think there would be 20 grams of protein or something in them. Oh right, the mega-o 3 thing. Gotcha.

 

 

Angel Food Cake

One of the lightest cakes in existence. You can make shortcakes with it, accompany it with fruit and some custard sauce, substitute it for spongecake, or just eat it as is.

Its also labor intensive. And sometimes even frustrating to make. But the end result is that delightful cake of air.

The key for is in the meringue. If you under beat it, it will be dense. If you over beat it, its ruined. There’s a delicate balance of perfection.

angelfoodcake

Angel Food Cake

1 3/4 cup of egg white (usually about 12 eggs)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Crack eggs and separate the yolk from the whites.

In a separate bowl mix flour and powdered sugar. In a small dish combine salt and cream of tartar.

Break up egg whites and using a mixer on moderate speed beat until frothy. Once frothy add cream of tartar mixture as well as the extracts.

Keep beating at a moderate speed until soft peaks for. Soft peaks occur when you stop the mixture, bring up the paddle and there’s a peak that flops over.

Once this happens, add the sugar 2 tablespoons at a time while mixing.

Continue mixing until meringue turns glossy and stiff peaks form. When you stop the mixture and bring the paddle up a peak occurs and stays there.

Add the flour mixture to the meringue 1/4 cup at a time and fold it in.

Put cake batter in a greased pan.

Bang the pan with the palm of your hand to make sure the air bubbles are gone.

Bake at 325° for 45 – 55 minutes. Or until you see a cracked golden brown and when you stick a toothpick in it comes out clean.

Invert it onto a plate until it cools and then using a knife loosen the cake from the pan.

Makes 14 servings. Calories: 114, Carbohydrates: 24 grams, Sugar: 17 grams, Protein: 4 grams.

This is the second time I’ve made this recipe. The first time I was an idiot and added pineapple, coconut, and cherries and wondered why they all floated to the top of the cake.

Physics. Oh right, I used to sleep in that class back in high school.

I was also stupid and thought I could beat the egg whites by hand. After an hour of getting no where and getting blisters, I threw in the towel and gave into the machines.

My cake was also a wee bit denser than it should be. Meaning I didn’t beat the meringue long enough.

Believe it or not, there seems to be a lot of trial and error with the cake. If you don’t succeed the first time, don’t fret. And don’t go to the box version either. Just because its easier, doesn’t mean its better.

Also, you don’t need one of those 10 inch cake pan things. I’ve used a bundt pan twice.

And now you have all the components to assemble an English Trifle!

Custard

Custard, one of the most yumminess European delight ever created.

It can be put into pies, trifles, puffs, eclairs, or eaten all be itself with or without adornments. It doesn’t matter how you indulge your tastbuds in this ecstatic creaminess as long as you exercise your natural right to it.

Pudding may be America’s answer to custard but it definitely cannot live up to custard’s standards.

I love custard. I love everything about it. The silkiness, the creaminess, the lightness, how it compliments nearly everything from fruit to chocolate. And you are never left unsatisfied. No feelings of guilt. No feelings of being weighed down. Its not even insanely rich in flavor but when someone puts it in something, it makes itself known.

custard

Custard

2 cups of milk
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Heat milk, sugar, and cornstarch in a pot until scalding hot. Do not boil.

While waiting for the milk to heat, whisk the egg yolks.

When milk is scalding hot stir in a little milk to the egg yolks and add the egg yolks to the milk.

Stir egg yolks in over heat until it is about to boil. You should see and feel the custard thicken. Do not allow to boil.

Remove from heat once thick and add the vanilla. Make sure the vanilla is well combined.

Pour the custard into 6 ramekins or shallow small dishes.

Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or until firm.

Garnish with chocolate or fruit.

Serves 6. Calories: 163, Carbohydrates: 30 grams, Sugar: 28 grams, Protein: 4 grams.

Depending on the type of milk, the nutritional value will go up or down. I used 2% milk.

This is the custard recipe I used in the trifle I made.

Yes, it is on the high sugar side, but please keep in mind I only make custard during the holidays. My numbers will be wonky no matter what. However, it does have less sugar and calories than most cakes and cookies and as stated before you will feel more satisfied. No going back for more like most people do when eating cakes, cookies, brownies, or cobblers.

If you want it to become a custard sauce to pour over fruit, pancakes, waffles, and what have you, omit the cornstarch. The cornstarch thickens the custard allowing it to firm in the fridge. Without the cornstarch, it would stay a liquid, hence custard sauce.

Arroz con Gandules

The eve of Christmas is upon us!

Which means…

Christmas Eve Menu is in full effect.

Oh Christmas Eve Menu, how I love thee.

Arroz con Gandules is typically a side dish that is made at every Christmas party in Puerto Rico. It accompanies the pasteles and roasted pork/chicken.

There’s a plethora of ways to make this savory side dish.

This is my way. And I like to eat it as a main dish when it’s not Christmas. It has everything a main dish has for one pot meals – a meat, vegetables, and carbs.

pasteles on the left, the gandules on the right

pasteles on the left, the gandules on the right

Arroz con gandules

4 cups of cooked rice
4 strips of bacon, chopped
6 oz of chopped ham
onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
5 tablespoons of Sofrito
2 cans of Gandules, drained
1 packet of Sazon

Directions

Cook the rice

Get a medium size pot and put the heat to medium.

Add bacon to the pot, let it cook a little.

Add onion and garlic, cook with bacon until the onion is a little limp.

Add the ham and stir occasionally until onion is tender.

Add the gandules and sazon, stirring to make sure everything is evenly combines. By the time the gandules go into the pot, the bacon should be completely cooked.

Add the rice and the sofrito. Mix until well combines. Cook until it is heated through.

makes 16 servings. Calories: 326, Carbohydrates: 62 grams, Sugar: 7 grams, Fiber: 3 grams, Protein: 11 grams.

Most arroz con gandules recipes call for either ham or bacon. Screw that, let’s do both.

The layering of bacon and onions with garlic allows for that smokey savor taste to seep into onions from the bacon. And the whole house smells amazing because of it.

You can get the sofrito in the Hispanic food area of your grocery store. It’s red. The sazon is below it usually.

 

 

 

Arroz con dulce

Happy Christmas Eve!

Arroz con dulce. Sweet rice. A Puerto Rican Christmas dish. Despite my Puerto Rican heritage, I was not introduced to this creamy amazingness until December of 2007.

It happened while I was visiting family in Puerto Rico. They gave me a rice dish and said eat it. The cinnamon clovey goodness was a welcoming holiday treat.

“You’ve never had this before?” My Tio asked astonishly.

“No!” I replied turning to Mumika, “why havent you made this?!?! Bad Puerto Rican!.

Turns out she forgot they made this around Christmas. I guess that’s what happens when you marry outside your culture. In fact, Mumika didn’t cook Puerto Rican food until after dad died.

As I stated in a previous post, I’m trying to make a traditional Puerto Rican Christmas meal a Christmas Eve tradition.

OMG so good. Get in my belly!

OMG so good. Get in my belly!

Arroz con dulce

1 1/2 cups rice
3 12.5 oz cans of coconut milk
3 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
A pinch of nutmeg
3/4 cup sugar
Ground cinnamon for garnish

Directions

Soak the rice in water for an hour. Strain rice and set aside.

In a medium pot pour 3 1/4 cans of coconut milk, and cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to it. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low heat.

At low heat, add the rice to the pot. Bring to a boil again and reduce to a low heat. As the rice soaks in the coconut milk, stir twice to make sure the rice at the bottom does not burn.

When the rice is dry, as in you can see the rice, stir in the sugar. Then add the remainder of the coconut.

Continue cooking on low heat stirring occasionally to make sure the rice does not burn. A light golden brown is fine, makes the rice look like it has character.

When you can see all the grains of rice and there is hardly any liquid left to boil down, take the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves out and pour the rice into a shallow container. A 9×13 baking dish works perfect.

Let the rice cool down to room temperature, sprinkle some cinnamon on top, and put it in the fridge.

Serve when cold.

Makes 16 servings. Calories: 180, Carbohydrates: 16 grams, Sugar: 10 grams, Fiber: 1 gram, Protein: 2 grams

Traditionally, there’s raisins but a) I hate raisins and b) dried fruit = extra sugar, a lot of extra sugar and c) I really hate raisins. Who wants dehydrated leathery fruit instead of juicy nommy goodness that bursts with flavor into your mouth with that first bite. But if you want to add raisins add 1/2 a cup when you add the sugar.

This dessert is amazing. It sings in your mouth Christmas carols in Spanish. One little square is enough because its so rich in flavor.

Also, do not leave this unattended while making it. The coconut milk will over boil and explode all over your stove. So keep a close eye on it. It took me an hour to make it. But its worth it in the end.

Even though it is a cold dessert, it also tastes scrumptious hot. The hardest part is waiting for it to chill. Luckily, I was at my inlaws so I didn’t have to worry about it luring me to eat it. my mother had to deal with that instead and I know she was just itching to get her hands on it because when I left her she was licking the pot clean.

It is that good.

New Years Eve Party Menu

I’m a week ahead. Its probably because a) I’m not really making Christmas dinner. My sister in law invited us over. Turns out they decided to do brisket this year. And b) when you’ve been in a coma twice, all sense of time is warped. I find that half the time I’m freaking out for no reason because its Monday and not Wednesday like I thought.

But there isn’t anything wrong with being a week ahead during the holidays because its the holidays and if your a day ahead it means you’re actually two days behind. Everyone know holiday season days are merely 12 hour days and not the usual 24 hours. And why is that? The sun starts setting around 5.

Anyways, I’ve been trying to figure this menu out for the past week. This is the fourth and last revision. Even though it won’t be a big party, maybe 12 including Bryan and myself, the Brit in me has high expectations of my hosting. Maybe I shouldn’t have watched nearly every episode of Keeping Up Appearances during my childhood.

I also tend to worry about the food. I had the same problem before Bryan and my wedding. Food is pretty much everything to me. Show me the menu and I’ll tell you how great the shindig was.

So without ado – The New Years Eve Party Menu

The savory

Mini Brisket sandwiches
Toasted Ravioli with marinara sauce
Caprese Bruschetta

The sweet

Chocolate dipped clementine
Snow cookies
Candied walnuts

The festivities

Strawberry Daquiri Jello Shots
Coquito
Wassail

Of course there will be champagne along with orange juice for Mimosas the next morning. If people crash we might do a little waffle bar as a shout out to my youth.

Bryan decided its going to be one of our let’s drink while the main food is being cooked themed parties. We usually do it with a roast where a few friends would come over, we would drink for a bit while it cooks and then indulge in a yummy dinner when the roast was done. This time it will be brisket. Hence the mini brisket sandwiches.

And the tradition of a shot of coquito when you enter the house will continue. Because it just isn’t the holidays without coquito.

The wassail is more of a way to keep everyone warm while we watch fireworks. Sometimes I feel like wassail is the Brits answer to hot chocolate even though wassail dates back further. I love wassail. I used to love going to William & Sonoma during Christmastime just to drink their “mulling spices”. I think I bought Mumika a tin of it once.

Happy day before Christmas Eve!

Oven Baked Chicken with Cheesy Corn Casserole

There always seems to be these incredibly long lines at the grocery store. ALWAYS.

As you wait, you either play with your phone, stare off into space, or go through the magazines. I usually go through the little recipe books with the every recipe is an index card thingys. I rarely ever find a recipe that meets my standards but I like knowing what’s out there. A few weeks ago, I came across this corn casserole like crockpot recipe.

While I was going through my phone the other day, I came across the recipe again. I always take pictures of recipes that interest me. It’s free, and you can’t lose it unless something happens to your phone.

All of a sudden all I could think about was this bloody corn thing and how it would go great with some oven baked chicken on it. So I made it today. It was AMAZING! Some good ole comfort food that you don’t realize is comfort food and fills you up in the process. So yummy, so amazing. It has a little kick to it, thanks to how the cumin compliments the poblano, but its a nice kick, a soothing jump that wakes your tastebuds up. And the cheese, perfect. Wow. I LOVE love love wholesome meals.

chickencorncasserole

Oven Baked Chicken with Cheesy Corn Casserole

4 chicken breast
any marinade you want to use – I used greek

Cheesy Corn Casserole
2 pounds of frozen corn, thawed
2 poblano peppers chopped
1 yellow onion, julienne
3 oz of cream cheese, cubed
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

Directions

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the cheesy corn casserole, except the cheese. Put corn mixture into a crockpot and cook on high for 2 hours.

15 minutes before the 2 hours are up, spread the cheese over the corn mixture in the crock pot. Cover and continue to cook it on high.

While the casserole is cooking, get a baking dish and put the chicken breast in it. Pour the marinade evenly over the chicken. Place it in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes.

serves 8. Calories: 239, Carbohydrates: 26 grams, Sugar: 5 grams,  Fiber: 3 grams,  Protein: 18 grams

The reason why you pour the marinade onto the chicken and then cook it is so that you will get this moist succulent piece of meat that falls apart with a fork. That’s my trick. Mumika has been wondering for year how I get my chicken perfect. It’s not putting it in marinade for 15 minutes like most people do. Or baking it for a certain amount of time. I’m telling you cook it in the marinade and it will come out amazing every single time. Also pick a marinade with no carbs, like the Greek dressing. I love that Greek dressing, it is always on all my salads.

The only problem is the whole kitchen smelled so yummy that I couldn’t wait for the bloody cheese to melt and said fuck it I’m going in.

I could not have dreamt this meal would turn out sooo omg where has this meal been all my life and why did it take me 30 years to come up with it and put two and two together. Mumika would be jealous of this meal. I can already hear her say, make this when you come home. No Mumika, I won’t. I have more scrumptious plans for you.

What’s great about this recipe is that it literally cooks itself. Sure you chop a little here and there, but then you just dump everything into it’s spot and let the machines do all the work. Instead of slaving over that stove, make this meal instead. Then plate it so it looks like you took all day.

So good. Nomnomnomnom.