Sunday, May 24, 2015

Kitchen Cabinets Reno DIY

This is not a post about food but it's about KITCHEN! So I thought it would fit here in my blog. My main purpose actually is not just to show off a project I'm proud of but it's also to warn people when taking up on a big project like that if you choose the Rust-Oleum Transformation Kit.

We had cream/peach looking kitchen cabinets that just didn't have any contrast with the sand/tan wall color we chose and backsplash that came with the house. I just needed my cabinets to look nice and clean, without chipped paint and with nice hardware.

At first, everything was going great! A lot of work, but moving. We bought the kits, watched the DVD, prepared the entire kitchen, cleaned , bought great quality brushes (= $$$)  and started working as planned and as directed.
The first step, deglossing, was hard work. A lot of elbow grease but we were up to it! I felt like I was working out but I knew that step was really important since my cabinets weren't solid wood and I needed a bare, rough surface for any paint to stick. All done, and wiped (we used A LOT of towels!) with damp cloths then dried. As the pamphlet explained, we gave it a bit more than an hour for it to dry before painting.
Then we got on with the first coat of paint. We chose linen, a beautiful, simple and clean off-white. We had light cabinets and just needed a fresh coat of paint so 2 coats looked enough. We gave 3 hours between layers of paint and before we applied the clear coat. It turns out 3 coats looked better!

We then moved on to applying the top coat, a very tricky step as it is a very liquid product that needs to be applied thin and evaporates quickly. No biggie, it was going good, color looked great and exactly what I wanted. I was so happy! Suddenly, some pieces were turning yellow as I was applying the top coat! My cabinets were going from great to gross in just a few seconds! 

We stopped everything! It was already almost 10 o'clock at night and we had been working on it for 11 hours straight. My husband and I did some research to see if some people ran into the same issue and to try and figure out a solution. I was not going to put old & dirty-looking cabinets back up! As it turns out, the clear coat that comes in the kit is not the greatest. The best option we found to solve our problem was to lightly sand the top coat (220 grit) and give it another couple layers of paint on those pieces. The parts that we hadn't applied the top coat to, we decided to just give it a third coat of paint. The next step was mixing good acrylic poliurethane 3:1 with the paint and applying 3 coats of that to the cabinets. That was enough to cover for the yellow and my cabinets do look really good! But I'm so mad because I wasted a whole day of my 4-day holiday for nothing! I'm going to ask Rust-Oleum for my money back but they will never replace my time... Oh, well! What matters is that my kitchen looks just like I wanted: clean and nice! 

Hopefully this look lasts for a good while as I'm done with kitchen reno for a while!

Lessons learned (some I learned the hard way! :/)

- Preparation is the foundation for a good transformation. Don's spare product nor elbow grease!
- A good cleaning and rinsing with damp cloth the day before is not a bad idea but the deglosser will take care of it if you don't have anything thick on
- Have lots of rags in hand and be prepared to throw some away depending on the state of your cabinets previously. Use damp towels to wipe and rinse every corner of your cabinets.
- Use good quality soft tape and make sure your lines are as perfect as you can make them. Protect dishwasher, microwave, stove, etc... 
- Tarp or old shower curtains are a must to protect floors, countertops and appliances.
- Use plastic or towels to protect things inside your cabinet but no need to get every single thing out unless they're really close to the edges.
- Buy good quality brushes! There's no sense in going cheap if you want smooth long lasting surfaces. Cheap brushes will leave brush stroke marks and you don't want that!
- Mix the acrylic top coat with the paint for the top coat. 3 parts clear 1 part paint. That will make the top coat easier to apply as it won't be as runny and it won't evaporate as quickly.
- Have a couple different sizes of brushes for the different surfaces: large smooth surfaces require a 2.5 or 3' brush.
- Smooth strokes and small amounts of paint are the way to go!
- One set of tools per person working:  pail with a magnet for the brush (so handy!), a couple different sizes of brushes
- If you have a chance, keep your hinges! Spray painting them could make the chip with use and getting new ones, unless they're a match with your previous ones, can be a pain and expensive. Pick hardware with the same finish if you like what you have. You can do that and still make your kitchen look updated and fresh.
- Focus on the end goal: your beautiful looking kitchen! That will make the hard journey a little more fun!
- Use a cordless drill to tighten the screws. Manual screwdrivers will make putting everything back together too slow.
- Linen = off white. Frost looked to have some blue undertones. Iffy!

Main PROS:
The kit has most of the things you need. 
For a large project like transforming kitchen cabinets, this is the easiest choice as it does not require sanding.
Not expensive but gives a million-dollar feel to your kitchen!

Main CONS:
Top coat can make your cabinets bleed through or look streaky depending on what you had when you started.
Time consuming.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Lemon Streusel Cake

Is it a crumble cake? Is it a cheesecake? Is it a breakfast cake? Yes, yes AND YES! All of my 3 beloved cake recipes together in one lemony heaven!
Just baked it for my neighbors and they said it was delicious so this time I'm posting it without trying it on, but I trust their word. And for the smell of it, you should too! (Slight modification of original recipe from )
To bake this deliciousness you'll need: (please know the picture doesn't do its justice!)

For the cake
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup of corn starch
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
6 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1 lemon squeezed
1/4 cup milk
zest of 1/2 lemon

For the cheesecake filling
8oz cream cheese full fat, softened
1 egg
zest of 1/2 lemon
2T butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar

For the streusel
1/2 cup brown sugar, light
1/4 cup sugar1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup flour
5 T butter, melted

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1T milk
1T lemon juice
juice of 1/4 lime (small)

Prepare a 9-inch springform pan and pre heat oven to 325F.

Cake: Mix the dry ingredients with a whisk. With a wooden spoon, mix in the eggs, softened butter and remaining cake ingredients. Don't over mix. Pour over prepared pan.
Filling: In a large bowl using a whisk or a mixer, mix the cream cheese with egg, lemon zest and sugar. Pour over cake batter making sure it doesn't spread to the sides of the pan. Feel free to swirl it a bit, very gently, with the cake batter.
Streusel: Whisk the sugars and flour together and then drizzling in the melted butter mix it with a fork then form a crumble with your hands.
Bake for 40-45 minutes and then cover with the glaze. Transfer to a plate when cooled.
I'd say keep in the fridge if you think the cream cheese mixture could go bad.
That is if you have any leftovers after eating the cake. If you were able to wait for it to cool before eating, you're a hero! I had to use every bit of will power not to eat my friend's cake straight out of the oven! Only because you had surgery, Laura! Otherwise the cake wouldn't have made across the street...

I heard it's delicious with a tall glass of cold milk but personally, I think I'd have it with a bucket, I mean, a cup of coffee, Get ready for lots of compliments on this summery cake that can be eaten year round!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy & Healthy Monday

Motivational Monday! That's the mantra! Working out, taking care of the house, the garden... To top off a good day and fuel the week, nothing like a healthy meal that doesn't keep you in the kitchen for too long but still puts a smile on your face!
My inspirations were summer veggies (which are already in season but can't wait for even juicier ones later on), and my old friend, the crockpot!

When I was grocery shopping this weekend I saw this beautiful organic whole chicken and I just had to throw it in my cart. I was going to make something with it. I was determined. When I came home I started searching if more people were crazier than me and actually put to the test what I had in mind: throwing a whole chicken into a crockpot. It turns out, there were TONS of recipes so I had the confirmation I needed: my chicken was going to be ok!

Sunday night I grabbed a few sprigs of lemon thyme and oregano off my garden and made a paste/rub with paprika, olive oil, salt, a touch of tomato paste, horseradish mustard and a splash of a really vinegary bbq sauce, just for flavor. I spread my rub under the chicken skin, put in the crockpot and cover with aluminum foi so all I had to do Monday morning, was pop it in the electric piece, turn it on and get out!

When I arrived from the office, the house was flooded with delicious smells from the herbs I seasoned the chicken. I knew deliciousness awaited!

To pair with it, I quickly threw a mixed leaves salad with some cherry tomatoes on the side and made the most delicious ratatouille. The chicken and the veggies were quite a match! You must give it a try! Make it your next week night dinner and you won't regret as this is an explosion of flavor and it is also super healthy!

For the CHICKEN:

Mix into a paste pproximately
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 T horseradish mustard (or chipotle mustard)
1/2 T tomato paste
1 T BBQ sauce (vinegar based is preferred, but to your taste)
fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, whatever you have!)
salt & pepper to taste
dash of olive oil

Rub the chicken with the paste under it's skin and leave some to cover the bird just slightly.
Make 2 large alumin foil balls and use as a " rack" for the chicken. Add about 1 cup of water or broth. Cook it for 5-6 hours on low, or until internal temperature reaches 165F, breast facing down.
The meat will be falling off the bone, so if you don't like that, 4 hours is probably enough. Test with a probe.


1 zucchini or squash cut lengthwise in fine strips
1 red bell pepper cut in strips
1 medium eggplant diced in medium pieces
1 small onion diced medium
2 cloves of garlic or to taste, minced
3 tomatoes chopped roughly
2 large bay leaves.

Using some olive oil, sautee the bay leaves with garlic and onions only until fragrant on medium-high, about 2 minutes. Add eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 more minutes. Add the other veggies and cook until desired texture. I like it a bit firmer, so I only cooked about 6 more minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and fresh basil. If you like it, a sprinkle of garlic powder could enhance the flavors.

Have a great week!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day Truffles

During a cool event at work, which we called potato lover's day, a friend of mine took PB + potato chips truffles. At first I thought it sounded kind of gross but decide to take a bite. OH WHY DID I DO IT?! Now I'm addicted! MUST. HAVE. IT. Why not a Valentine's day truffle so I could enjoy it with my husband?

I haven't gotten the texture perfect, but promise to update when I do. In the meantime, these will work, they are just a really soft truffle! ;) Maybe I just didn't add as much sugar as I should have?

Make sure you use good quality chocolate (no crappy Hershey's bar, PLEASE!) and real butter!

Ingredients (makes 12 small truffles)

1 T cream cheese
1 T unsalted butter
3T Peanut Butter (creamy or crunchy will do)
3 T (full!) of potato chips crumbs + more for decoration
pinch of salt
4T of confectioners sugar
4 oz of chocolate (I used dark Baker's 66% cocoa)

Mix together PB, cream cheese and room temp softened butter and the sugar. Gently fold in the crumbs of potato chips (I used Lay's Wavy Original). Let it cool in the fridge for about 10 minutes so you can roll into balls. (Maybe if you use 6-7T of confectioners sugar you can skip this refrigeration step)
Put them on a wax paper lined plate and take it to the freezer for approximately 15 minutes.
Dip each truffle individually into the melted chocolate and sprinkle potato chips. Put the truffles back on the wax paper and let it stand in the fridge until you serve. You can store it in an air tight container once the shell hardens.

So creamy and yummy! It will sure make for a memorable Valentine's day!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Homemade Chocolate Amaretto Pudding

For less than 140Kcal a serving! Sounds dreamy? Tastes even dreamier and you only need 15 minutes to make it!

1 can of evaporated milk 2% (you may use whole or FF too, as you wish)
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1/4 cup corn starch
1/3 cup of water
1/2 T unsalted butter
1 T half and half
2T Splenda blend Brown Sugar or equivalent of sweetener of your choice
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon almond flavor
cherries or almonds for garnish

In a medium bowl, mix all the dry ingredients with a whisk. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, add the water, almond extract and evaporated milk and disolve your dry mix into it while still cold. Keep pan in medium heat stirring until it starts to bubble and pudding is thick and creamy. No need to boil. Incorporate the butter and half and half. Give it a quick stir.

Pour into 4 little ramekins and garnish with the almonds or cherries. Let it chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or so before serving.
Make it any flavor you'd like by adding different extracts or pieces! Vanilla, coconut, pumpkin spice, cinnamon...


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bolo Pão de Mel Fofinho

Este bolo vale a pena ser feito pra degustar com um bom café ou uma xícara de cappuccino.
Um bolo simples mas  extremamente fofinho com gostinho de casa da vovó! Uma excelente opção pra um lanchinho da tarde!

A receita
(todas as medidas de especiarias são NIVELADAS a menos que especificado diferente

1 xícara (chá) de leite integral ou semi-desnatado de preferência, morno

Ingredientes secos
2 xics. niveladas de farinha de trigo
1 col (chá) de bicarbonato de sódio
1/2 col (chá) de fermento em pó químico
1/2 col (chá) de sal
1/2 col (sopa) cheia de canela
1/2 col (sopa) gengibre em pó
1/4 col (chá) rasa de cravo em pó
pitada de noz-moscada
raspas de 1 limão siciliano (opcional)

Fazer um creme com
2/3 xíc de manteiga sem sal
1/2 xíc (chá) de açucar mascavo
1/4 xíc (chá) açúcar refinado
2 ovos
1/2 xíc (chá) de mel

Misture os ingredientes secos em um bowl usando um fouet. Reserve.
Em uma batedeira em velocidade média faça um creme com a manteiga e os açúcares. Acrescente o mel e ovos aos poucos sem desligar a batedeira.

Com uma colher de pau, incorpore o creme de manteiga à mistura de pós intercalando com parte do leite morno (para o seu mel não endurecer) até que todos os ingredientes estejam misturados.

Coloque em assadeira untada quadrada (20 X 20 cm) e asse em forno pré aquecido a 175C por aproximadamente 40 minutos ou até que espetando um palito no centro do bolo este saia seco.

- 2 col (sopa) cheias de cacau em pó
- 3 col (chá) de manteiga derretida
- 4 col (chá) de açúcar refinado
- 1/3 xíc (chá) de leite quente

Em um grau medidor, misture o cacau com a manteiga derretida. Acrescente o leite quente e o açúcar e mexa até dissolver usando uma colher ou garfo, aproximadamente 3 minutos.
Espalhe a cobertura sobre o bolo ainda quente depois de fazer furos generosos por toda a assadeira.

Nota: Para o efeito mesclado que vocês vêem na foto, coloque aproximadamente 2/3 da massa na assadeira e misture 2-3 col (sopa) de cacau em pó no restante da massa. Despeje a massa de cacau sobre a massa clara e faça redemoinhos de leve com um garfo, sem misturar as massas na assadeira e leve ao forno.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Empanadas Argentinas/Argentinian Empanadas

Nossos hermanos são caprichosos! Inventaram os tango e alfajores, são bons de bola e de churrasco (mas não melhores q os brasileiros! Hehehe) e, na minha opinião, fazem as melhores empanadas do mundo!
Aqui uma versão adaptada meio brazuca do calendário culinário da Nestlé de 2014 (adaptei pq não usei caldo Maggi picanha nem os 300g de carne moída da receita original.)

- Massa
500g farinha + extra para salpicar e abrir a massa
½ xícara de manteiga gelada
1 xícara de água ligeiramente morna (30s no microondas)

1 col (chá) sal
1 gema batida para pincelar

- Recheio
750g carne moída (não muito magra)
1 cebola picadinha
1 col (sopa) azeite
1 col (sopa) molho inglês
1 col (chá) Orégano seco (ou temperinho de chimichurri se vc tiver)
1/2 col (chá) páprika
1/2 col (chá) mostarda em pó (ou Dijon, se vc ñ tiver o pó)
Salsinha fresca
1/8 col (chá) cominho
Sal e pimenta do reino
2 col (sopa) farinha
2 col (chá) molho de pimenta (ajuste de acordo com o grau de picante desejado)
Pitada de pimenta calabresa seca
Azeitona picada a gosto (aprox 2 col de sopa)
Água para fazer um caldinho grosso (aproximadamente ¼ xícara. Vc tb pode usar caldo de carne, se preferir)


- Recheio
Em uma panela de fundo grosso, frite a cebola no azeite e doure a carne. Acrescente a farinha e misture bem. Adicione os temperos (exceto a salsinha)e a azeitona e cozinhe a carne por completo. Acrescente a água aos poucos só até formar um calsinho grossinho. Mexa bem e deixe cozinhar em fogo baixo por aproximadamente 8 minutos, mexendo de vez em quando, sem deixar a carne secar por completo. Acrescente a salsinha e misture.

Enquanto a carne esfria, faça a massa:

- Massa
Em um bowl grande coloque a farinha e a manteiga em pedaços. Misture grosseiramente e acrescente a água aos poucos. Misture bem com a mão e acrescente um pouco mais de farinha caso seja necessário. A massa deve desgrudar das mãos. Não é necessário sovar, aliás, melhor não sovar para não formar muito glúten e a massa não ficar elástica!
Abra a massa sem deixá-la muito fina. Corte as empanadas com um copo de boca larga ou um cortador de biscoito redondo de 25cm de diâmetro. Cada receita deve render entre 20-24 empanadas.

Recheie sem exagerar a metade de cada disco e feche-o dando o formato da empanada. Grude as bordinhas do disco e use um garfo para “selar”. Pincele cada empanada com a gema batida e leve ao forno (180C) por aproximadamente 20-25 minutos ou até que as empanadas fiquem ligeiramente douradas. Sirva com molho de pimenta!

Recipe in English:

Argentinian Empanadas

1.1lb all-purpose flour
1 cup lukewarm water
½ cup cold salted butter
½ teaspoon of salt
1 yolk, beaten (to brush each unit before baking)

1.5 lbs ground beef  (85/10 or 85/15)
1 small diced onion
2 T flour
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried mustard (or Dijon if you don’t have it)
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1 T Worcestershire sauce
A pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Frank’s Red sauce
Approx. ¼ cup beef broth
A handful of Italian parsley chopped fine
2 T minced green olives

Sauté the onions in the olive oil and then add the ground beef. Let it brown. Add all the seasoning and flour (except for parsley). Mix in and cook completely, approximately 10 minutes on medium heat. Add the broth little by little just to thicken and make beef moist. Make sure not to add too much liquid.
Let it cook on low heat for 8 more minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.  Add the olives and parsley.
Make the dough while beef cools.

In a large bowl, add the flour and salt. Whisk together. Add the butter in pieces and the water little by little. Mix with hands until dough isn’t sticky and it comes off your fingers. Add a bit more flour if necessary. Don’t knead so empanadas aren’t chewy.
Sprinkle some flour on a surface and open the dough. Using a cookie cutter (12”) cut 20-24 empanadas. Careful not to make them too thin!
Stretch each disk a bit to make them slightly bigger and fill each half with a generous portion of the cooked, cooled beef mixture. Cover it by pulling the opposite half of the disk giving the empanadas a half-moon shape. Using a fork, seal the edges.
Brush the beaten egg yolk on each empanada and bake (preheated 375F) for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy with a dash of hot sauce. I dare you to eat only one! My husband ate probably 8 at once and he wasn’t even “THAT” hungry!