I don't know about you guys, but down here in Miami, it's as if our Spring/Summer season has already begun. There has been a ton of sunny weather lately sans the rain that usually accompanies this season, so the tourist migration is in full swing and the beaches and streets are full of people. The beaches look just like how they put them on TV, beyond packed with parties all over the place. Also, the buzz for Winter Music Conference and Miami Music Week has gone from minimal to maximum. Just in case you don't know what I'm talking about, WMC and MMW are the two biggest weeks of the year for Electronic Dance Music here in Miami. There are tons of pool and club parties where EDM fans can see practically every DJ they've ever heard of perform and mix *hopefully* live sets for thousands of fans. These two weeks conclude at the Ultra Music Festival which is a 3-day all ages music festival in the heart of downtown Miami. But, as I was saying, the buzz is all aflutter. Everywhere you go, you see fliers, posters, banners, brochures, and airplanes all with party announcements for WMC and MMW. The last two weeks of March will be absolutely insane down here! Due to this, the gyms and local parks have been overflowing with people getting ready for these weeks. They've been going full force with the dieting and working out just to get their "MMW bodies." Any time of day you can walk into any gym and expect it to be full, walk by the basketball and tennis courts and they'll be booked, go to the boardwalk and it'll be packed with people jogging/running/skating. All the beautiful people that will be down here at the end of the month will be trying to look their best, and something everyone will have in common to be able to achieve their best is proper nutrition. Tons of protein, minimal amounts of white carbs, and nutritional shakes will be the diet of choice for this month, and most people (when factoring in the weather down here) have been opting for shakes and smoothies. I myself have even been opting for that quick and healthy option lately, specially in the mornings. This week's smoothie is a great choice for those looking for a good fruit and dairy fix as well as a great way to mix in your protein powders for your daily shakes. A, for example, has been starting to drink them but can't stand the "fake" taste of the protein powders, so I've been mixing in the powder into this smoothie and he can't even tell that it's incorporated into it. For those with dietary restrictions, this smoothie is gluten-free, and since it has yogurt and milk, feel free to substitute with proper non-dairy replacements if you're a vegan or just aren't into dairy products.
Banana Berry Blush Smoothie
adapted from: Smoothies! by Stella Murphy
1 banana, peeled and chopped
6 oz strawberries, hulled
4.5 oz all natural nonfat Greek strained yogurt
4 oz 2% milkfat reduced fat milk
1) Place the banana, strawberries, yogurt, and milk in the blender and blend until smooth.
2) Pour into a glass over ice.
I've been under the weather for these past few days, so that means no cooking, no baking, just laying back on the couch and catching up on some reality TV such as "The Millionaire Matchmaker." I admit, I'm a sucker for that show! It's fun seeing the crazy people that go on it, the fun dates, and the outcomes, or at least, the supposed outcomes of the dates. Which, by the way, talking about reality dating shows, have any of you been watching this season of "The Bachelor?" I had never seen the show up until this new season with Juan Pablo, but I just have to say it's CRAZY! I have to give props to the two girls who left the show because they were honest with themselves about not having a connection, Sharlene and Andi. They were sincere in how they weren't feeling what they were supposed to, and Andi specifically because Juan Pablo ended up being super into himself and didn't even try to get to know her on an intellectual level. These two girls really brought to light the truth behind these reality shows and I have to admit that it's refreshing to see all this honesty. I'm hooked on this season, and I'm really looking forward to the reunion next week with all the girls. I wonder what other drama will happen or what other behind-the-scenes facts will come out! I know this little post has been totally random topic-wise, but trust me, it ties in with this cake. How? Well, this cake is just like those dating shows. It has a little bit of everything from all over. While on the shows all the contestants have different backgrounds, in this cake, the ingredients do as well but with flavor backgrounds. There's cocoa, corn meal, almond meal, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, honey, amaretto, and vanilla to name a few. When I saw all these ingredients, at first I thought this cake would end up being a dense disaster since nothing seemed to match or flow together, but once I made it, my opinion changed. All the flavors unite into making a flavorful and light cake, while the cocoa nibs add a nice crunch to each slice. Warren Brown did it again with this cake by combining a whole melange of ingredients and it resulting in a nice cake you can munch on throughout your day, maybe even while watching a reality TV show!
Chiapas Pound Cake
adapted from: CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch by Warren Brown
*yield: one 12-cup Bundt cake*
12 oz unbleached all purpose flour
2 oz cocoa nibs
1 oz white corn meal
1 oz finely ground almond meal
2 tbsp turbinado sugar
1 tbsp all natural unmodified potato starch
1 tbsp Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup clover honey
3/4 cup ultra-pasteurized half & half
1 tbsp amaretto
2 tsp "Crush" pure vanilla bean extract
6 oz unsalted butter
18 oz extra fine granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 large yolks
1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Set the rack in the middle of the oven.
2) Set out the ingredients and equipment.
- Sift the flour directly into a bowl on a scale for accurate measuring.
- Measure the other dry ingredients into a separate mixing bowl, add the four, and whisk for 10 seconds to blend. Set aside.
- Measure honey, half & half, amaretto, and vanilla extract into a separate bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside.
- Measure the butter and sugar into separate bowls and set aside.
- Crack the eggs and yolks into two separate bowls and set aside.
3) In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on the lowest speed for 2 to 3 minutes.
4) With the mixer still on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time followed by the yolks, fully incorporating after each addition. Stop the mixture and scrape the sides of the bowl.
5) Add the dry ingredient mixture alternately with the liquid mixture in 3 to 5 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Move swiftly through this step to avoid overworking the batter. Don't wait for the dry or liquid mixtures to be fully incorporated before adding the next. This step should take a total of about 60 seconds.
6) Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl all the way down. Don't miss the clumps of ingredients hiding on the bottom of the bowl. Mix on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds to develop the batter's structure.
7) Prepare the pan. Spray the pan well with a nonstick spray.
8) Fill the pan about three-quarters full by depositing the batter with the rubber spatula in small clumps around the prepared pan instead of by pouring it into one spot. Level the batter with the rubber spatula.
9) Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
10) Once the top of the cake doesn't jiggle, test for doneness by inserting a bamboo skewer in the center of the cake. When the skewer shows just a touch of crumbs or comes out clean, the cake is done. Due to the honey, this cake will look golden brown across the top and a little darker at the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a heat-resistant surface or wire rack.
11) Once the cake has cooled for 5 to 10 minutes remove the cake by inverting the pan onto a flat surface.
12) Store under a cake dome at room temperature, or wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to 1 week. To store longer, label, date, and freeze the plastic-wrapped cake for up to 1 month.
The other day I was talking to my Mom about fears and conquering them, and it brought to light the differences in generations between her and me. In her mind, fears a lot of the time are just a part of life, meaning, they shouldn't really be conquered or faced. The way most of my generation thinks though is the complete opposite. We want to face them, conquer them, and share our stories of course via Twitter and Instagram. I used to have a fear of needles at one point, and the way I conquered that fear was by getting a tattoo. Oh, I also used to have a fear of heights, but not the standing on a high balcony fear of heights. I mean the roller coaster death-drop fear of heights. I used to go to theme parks or the local county fair with my friends and enjoy the sights while my friends would go crazy on all the super scary tall rides. Two years ago, I went with my bets friends to the county fair and rode EVERY SINGLE RIDE in that park. I can accurately say I conquered that fear, and then some. It was awesome, exhilarating, a huge thrill! My Mom, on the other hand, has fears that range from normal and conquerable (such as snakes) to the unconquerable (such as the fear of not having enough time in the day to do all her tasks and errands). Every day my Mom wakes up super early, and every day she has a never-ending list of things to do: work, more work, groceries, pet supplies, cooking, cleaning, novelas, laundry, sleep, repeat. Some days her schedule is so hectic she doesn't even have time to make breakfast for herself, and much less lunch. She then goes throughout her day on an empty stomach and taking those 5-Hour Energy Shots, that is, until I found this recipe for her. What caught my eye was the part of the recipe that said the prep time was 5 minutes. 5 minutes! Even my Mom can take out 5 minutes of her day to make these satisfying and healthy wraps for her and for my Dad. They're great for breakfast, lunch, a quick snack, or even a pre- or post-workout meal. For those of you who work out, you can go ahead and add more egg whites or ham in order to up the protein count for your daily intake needs. Also, I'm sure the ham can be replaced with turkey or chicken, whichever you feel like using as a substitute. Happy wrapping everyone and let me know what you think!
Ham and Egg Wraps
adapted from: Comida y Familia Otoño 2009 by Kraft Foods
1 large whole egg
3 large egg whites
6 slices smoked ham, chopped
2 large flour tortillas
1/4 cup 2% milk finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1) Scramble together the whole egg, egg whites, and ham. Heat a nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add the egg mixture; cook it for 3 minutes or until set, stirring occasionally.
2) Put the egg mixture in the center of each tortilla; add the cheese on top. Fold in the opposite sides of each tortilla, then roll up like a burrito.