Monday, December 27, 2010

Salt Dough Ornaments

I've made salt dough ornaments before but they always seem to rise too much and lose their shape. I finally made some that came out just the way I want them. This year I made a bunch of little sakura or cherry blossoms to hang on our tree. I used a small sakura cookie cutter I got in Japan. they came out pretty cute!

 Here's what you need:
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie sheet
  • Toothpick
  • Cookie cutter
  • Acrylic paint
  • Clear acrylic spray paint
  • ribbon or ornament hangers
Here's what to do:
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees F
  2. Mix together the salt, flour and water with your hands until elastic and smooth.
  3. Roll out to 1/4" thick.
  4. Cut out your shapes with cookie cutters and place them on parchment paper on your cookie sheet. (use your toothpick to make a whole if you want to hang these on your Christmas tree)
  5. Bake for 2 hours.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before decorating.
  7. Use acrylic paint to decorate it and let it dry. Spray it with clear acrylic paint for a protective coat.

But you don't have to limit it to just Christmas ornaments, I also made these for my kids. What mom doesn't like having these tiny hand prints?! I love them so much. I used a glitter maker to write down their names and the year, after it dried I sprayed it with clear acrylic paint so that it can last a long time! Hang these on your tree or display them on a shelf, you could even frame it. Either way it's lovely to look at! :)

Crochet Santa Hats

So I've always made Santa hats for my daughter. Babies are sooo adorable in them. This year I had to make two hats, one for my daughter and one for my new baby boy! They took a little longer to make because I was so busy baking, decorating and everything else... but, they were ready before Christmas whew!
They came out adorable right? I absolutely love they way they look in them!
Here's a look at my daughter's hats from the last two years.

California 2009

Japan 2008

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies

This recipe was fun to make. They are great for Christmas and they're delicious!! I saw them on the food network website and just had to give them a try.  They take a little longer than other cookies but are so worth it!

Here's what you need:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sugar Cookies

I love making sugar cookies for the holidays! I have been making so many these past few weeks and I love how creative you can get with them. Experimenting with different flavors and toppings is so much fun for me and I must say my family doesn't seem to mind! lol. Here is a simple recipe that makes chewy and delicious sugar cookies.

Here's what you need:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tostones (Crispy Fried Plantains)

Plantains are bigger and harder than bananas, and we usually eat them as an appetizer or side dish. Tostones are made when the plantain is still green and unripe. They are very popular in almost all Hispanic countries. These are made by twice frying the plantains and are soooo good!
This is what you will need:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Paper Stocking Craft

Hey guys! I've been super busy for the last few weeks working on Christmas crafts around the house, not to mention all the baking!! I'm so happy with the way the house is turning out. I'm visiting my parents for the holidays and I'm helping them redecorate one of their living rooms. I am still in the process of giving it it's finishing touches but it's coming out really nice. I'll be posting some pics of the process in the next few days, but for now I have a Christmas crafts to show you, I made this with my three year old daughter and she had fun! Specially since it imitates hand sewing (and she always wants to do the same as mommy), It's very easy and a fun activity for young kids. there are more to come!

Here's what you need:
2 sheets of red construction paper
Hole puncher
White yarn
Clear tape

Here's what to do:
While holding both pieces of construction paper,cut out the shape of a stocking.

Punch some holes along the edge of the stocking.

Wrap one end of the string with tape, this makes going in and out of the holes easy for little kids.

Tie a knot in the first hole and have your child "sew" along the stocking, going from the front to the back...and so on.

When you are done with the last one tie a knot on the back side. (You can use the yarn on the back to hang it)

Cut out another short piece of white yarn and tie a bow, glue it to the front of the stocking and hold it for a few moments.

Tada! All done, I am going to hang it on the wall and place my Christmas cards around it!

Have fun!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hanger Wreath

Hey guys! Today I have a super easy craft for the holidays. A wreath made out of a wire hanger. These are a lot of fun to personalize and use whatever leftover decoration you have laying around your house. I made mine out of white and red bows, perfect for this year's theme at my house, white and red. You can really use anything you like for wreaths, from green garland, pine cones, small ornaments and even pictures. OK so let me show you how I made this one.
Here's what you need:
  • 1 wire hanger
  • hot glue gun
  • decoration of your choice, I used bows, but you can use whatever you have...get creative :)
Here's how to do it:
  • Take a wire hanger and bend it into a circle shape.
  • Bend the hook into a loop and wrap it in white ribbon.
  • Start placing your bows in the order you want them.

  • Most bows have a wire on the back . Use that to twist onto the hanger.

  • I layered mine exactly the same all around so I would get enough of each color.

  • When you have them all where you want them, hot glue them to the hanger, press down on it for a few seconds.

  • That's it! Just play around with it until you have exactly what you want. Super easy, inexpensive and cute!
          Have fun!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Aji for Empanadas

Aji literally means chili pepper and we use this aji sauce for empanadas. There are many different varieties but this is a pretty basic recipe. If you're not a spicy food kinda person you don't have to add any chili peppers, the sauce will still taste great. I not a huge fan of spicy food so I only add one, that works for me :)

Here's what you need:
  • 2 red chili peppers
  • 1 stalk of green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small tomato
  • handful of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • salt to taste
Here's how to do it:
  1. In a food processor grind the peppers and salt.
  2. To a bowl add the chopped onion, tomato and cilantro, mix in the oil, lemon juice and vinegar. Add the peppers and mix together.
  3. Add more peppers if you want it more spicy.

Empanadas Colombianas (Colombian Empanadas)

Colombian empanadas are meat filled patties, some people make them with chicken or pork, but most prefer shredded beef.  They are eaten throughout Colombia year round as breakfast or a snack, you can also get them at any Colombian restaurant or bakery in the US.
I usually make them around the holidays because they do take a lot of work. These are so good and almost addicting, you can't just have one! I learned how to make them by trial and error when I was living in Japan. I probably made them about 5 different times before I got the recipe just right! Here is a quick picture tutorial!
Here's what you need:
For the filling: 
  • 1 lb. Top round steak(or any other similar type of pork)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 red potatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • salt and cumin to taste
  • 2 tbsps vegetable oil
  • 1 packet of sazon con cilantro y achiote

  • Vegetable oil for frying the empanada
 For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 bags of Masarepa (finely ground corn meal)24oz.

  • 1 packet of sazon con cilantro y achiote
  • 4-5 cups of hot water
  • Salt to taste
  • extra water to keep hands wet

 Here's how to do it:
  1. Cook the meat in water over medium heat for a few hours so that it becomes very soft. Reserve the leftover broth.
  2. Cut the cooked meat and remove all the fat. Throw it in a food processor.
  3. Boil the peeled  potatoes for about 15-20 minutes. when they are done cut them into small pieces.
  4. In a large pan heat about 2 tbsps of vegetable oil and add the chopped onion and garlic, when it becomes translucent add the tomatoes. Season with salt, cumin and sazon. Saute that over medium heat for a few minutes.
  5. Add the shredded meat and potatoes to the onion mixture and cook on low heat for a few minutes, add some of the broth so that it becomes a little moist and not too dry.
  6. Prepare the crust: In a large bowl add the water, sazon and salt to the cornmeal and knead with your hands. it needs to be soft enough to work with but firm enough to stick together and form a ball. Scrape all of the dough from the sides and cover it while you make about 50 small balls, roughly the size of a golf ball
  7. Place the dough on  plastic wrap and place another piece of plastic wrap over it.
  8. Flatten it out (wet hands work best for this). 
  9. Add a heaping tablespoon of meat to the dough
  10. Fold the empanada by folding the dough and seal the edges with your fingers. Lift up the plastic wrap and finish sealing it with your fingers.
  11. Now with the help of a spatula gently put the empanada in the hot oil. Let it fry for 3-6 minutes, depending on how hot your oil is.
  12. It should be golden brown and crispy when done.
  13. Drain them on a paper towel and eat them right away, they will get soft and soggy if you wait too long to eat them.
          This recipe makes about 50 empanadas
Here are some pictures of my family enjoying them :)




*Serve empanadas with Aji. A colombian chili pepper sauce, super delicious!!!


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