Monday, February 28, 2011

And the Winner of the Flamenco Apron Is...

...Linda Bowen!!!! Woo hoo!! Thanks for following my blog on facebook! Enjoy your apron! I'm sure you'll wear it better than this guy, though he does have pretty nice legs! Yours is red with black polka dots! To all you other readers...have you taken the time to become an official follower, either through google or facebook??? Why not? You are missing out on your chance to get cool stuff from Spain too...Just like Linda! More giveaways every month this spring! Hasta luego...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday #46


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Follow My Blog for Your Chance to Win a Flamenco Apron!

Please, please, please follow my blog...oh, and tell your friends to do the same! Why??? Because more followers will help spread the word about our cookbook and help us pitch the cookbook and my future travel book to publishers. The more followers you have, the more likely they are to take you seriously because it shows you have developed your own following. Since you are helping me by following my blog, I want to give something back to you!
That's why I'm having another drawing to give away a cute little flamenco apron at the end of the month! If you ever thought about becoming a follower, please do so today! I am planning more giveaways this spring, so you'll have several chances to win free goodies from Spain! Thank you in advance for your support! Help me get to 100 this month! Hasta luego...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tales from the Test Kitchen: Two More Tapas Selections

If you are looking for some easy Spanish tapas recipes...these two selections are for you! Tapas are tasty little treats which can be served as appetizers or or even a meal. The above picture is of a Cheese & Chorizo Platter. If you have an international food section of your supermarket, then you are in business. This platter has manchego cheese and a semi-cured cow's cheese, chorizo, a spanish style salami, and thinly sliced serrano ham. Tiff did a great job of arranging all these goodies in a very pretty way, and we served them baguettes and crunchy little crackers...Oh so good! The picture below is of a Spanish favorite, often served for breakfast, but also enjoyed as a tapas...Pan y Tomate, which translates quite simply as Bread and Tomato...
This is another super easy tapas...all that's required is a baguette, a couple of tomatoes, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and a little twist that we like to add to our version...a sherry vinegar glaze. Yum!! Just like always...details for whipping up these delicious dishes will be in our cookbook coming out this spring...We will be accepting pre-orders soon! Hasta luego...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day Four in Test Kitchen: Pollo Loco Asado...Roasted Chicken That Is CRAZY Good...

Tiff and I were back in the Test Kitchen this past Friday, working on some recipes for our cookbook. This week's menu was Pollo Loco Asado (Roasted chicken that is crazy good!!). Along with the Roasted Chicken, we made Roasted Potatoes, and for our starter..a homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup with onions and garlic that makes you want to lick the bowl...Spanish comfort food at it's best! This soup is amazing, if we do say so ourselves! Once you make this recipe, you will never want to use canned mushroom soup again. It is almost full proof and so creamy and decadent, it tastes like something you would get in a fancy restaurant. We topped ours with chives and garlic croutons and had baguettes on hand to mop up any soup that was left in the bowl. Below is the plated dinner of a roasted 1/4 chicken, baby potatoes with some fresh red pepper strips. Red peppers are a spanish staple and they are amazing. My friend, Nic Z, has a picture of one that was as big as her head!
Both the chicken and potaoes were cooked at the same time in terra cotta glazes dishes called "cazuelas" which are one of the oldest methods used for cooking food in Spain. They come in all shapes and sizes and are perfect to bring right to the table for serving... As was the case with our "Tapas Anytime Brunch," we have a specially crafted concoction to serve with the meal. We served a white sangria with apples and mangoes that was delish! So easy, but oh so good! More yummy food to come...Hasta luego...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Beat the Madrid Heat Tour: Part 9-Wedding Day in St Petersburg, Russia...

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd post about all the brides and grooms tying the knot when we were in St Petersburg...The day was gorgeous...warm and sunny...our best day weather-wise by far! As we toured the city's beautiful sites, we saw brides and grooms everywhere having their pictures taken. We asked our guide, Katerina, about it and she said it was a tradition to take your wedding photos at the city's most famous places. That made sense, but there were so many brides and grooms, that we wondered if this was a special day for weddings. It was the last day of the month, maybe that was why...I don't know, so when we came home I asked my Russian friend, Irina, about it and she said there wasn't any special day of the month or week that people got married in Russia. It probably had more to do with the fact that there are only so many warm sunny days of the year in St Petersburg when it's lush, green and covered in flowers. That made sense...Anyway, while I was there, I decided to discreetly take a few wedding photos of my own...
As a girl, I loved looking at the brides' dresses, how they did their hair, what the grooms were wearing, etc. It is very interesting to see how fashion and traditions are different around the world. Something I noticed was that the brides and grooms were accompanied by men and women wearing sashes. When home, I confirmed with Irina that these were the maids of honor and best men as I suspected. I had to ask her though, was it normal for the maids of honor to dress so "sexy" in Russia. She said it was and she giggled as she looked at these photos because by American standards she knew that two out of three of these bridesmaids' outfits were really over the top. In the States, it is a running joke that brides pick out less than flattering dresses for their bridesmaids so their attendants don't pull attention away from them on their special day. Obviously, Russian brides are way more secure than American brides...hahaha...
Now, other than her shoes, the maid of honor in blue, above, is pretty tame, but I have a feeling if she was as "hot-bodied" as the two below, she would have traded her flowing frock for something a little more form-fitting.
Irina was laughing about when she was a maid of honor for her friend back in Moscow and she was really trying to tone it down for her friends wedding. you know, keep it really classy. She said that looking back now, it was still quite over the top, but Irina and the bride thought she was showing great restraint. Hey, as the saying goes...If you've got it, flaunt it...Hasta luego...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beat the Madrid Heat Tour: Part 8-Soviet Blocks...

The third port we visited on our Scandinavian cruise this past summer was St Petersburg, Russia. What an amazing city! We loved all the brightly colored neo-classical architecture that lined the grand Neva River, but the port...now that is a different story altogether...Like most ports around the world, it is pretty industrial and not very attractive. As we pulled in, the kids were unimpressed to say the least. We assured them that St Petersburg was very beautiful and what they were seeing was old Soviet Bloc Era apartment buildings. After we'd been out touring the city for nine hours, we went out onto our balcony to watch as the ship sailed back out to sea. That's when our youngest said, "There are those Soviet blocks again." We rolled with laughter, but I could see why he made the mistake...They do kind of look like big gray building blocks...Hahaha...More of beautiful St Petersburg in posts to come...Hasta luego...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Broken Collarbone...And the Hits Just Keep On Comin'...

As if having me laid up for six to eight weeks wasn't enough of a hardship, now we are down two...at least it's not my husband! My youngest said that he sure hopes Daddy doesn't get hurt because he can't take care of all of us by himself. How cute...sad, but cute. Last Saturday, I was home recovering from my knee surgery, and Husband was at the school with the kids for their soccer games. Next thing I know, I get a call on the Spanish line, so I hobble over only to hear my husband say that our oldest had dislocated his shoulder. I said, "Are you kidding me?" To which he replied something along the lines of, "Yes, I'm kidding. No, what the hell do you think...blah, blah, blah!" Off to the ER they went, and I got to call the insurance company.
Fast forward one hour, it was worse than we thought, it wasn't a dislocated shoulder, it was a broken collarbone...four weeks in a "Figure 8" brace, no soccer for six to eight weeks. That same night, I got some version of the flu...a low grade fever, body aches and chills...Good Lord, really? One of my friend's had been keeping Sammy the Dog for us while I was laid up from knee surgery. She brought him home just as I heard the news that Thirteen was hurt. I was commenting to her about the saying, "They say that God doesn't give us more than we can handle." I told her that God must think I can take a lot to which she said, "God is really impressed with you right now." Oh my goodness...I was so upset. When my son came home, he was in so much pain. He couldn't even lay down or sit up by himself. Thankfully, that got better in one day, but he is still pretty limited. He can't use his left arm, but at least he's right-handed so he can do his schoolwork. He can't carry his backpack though or even his books from class to class. His Advisory teacher asked a student to act as his "pack mule" and carry his books around, but his friend prefers to be called a "pack yak" instead. He went back to school on Friday and was exhausted, but each day is getting a little bit better...for both of us...My ortho doc said that by next year my scar should be nearly invisible, so I should be able to keep up with the best of the Spanish ladies in their high heels and short skirts..We shall see...
I am once again reminded how nice people are...People have made us meals, given us rides, gone to the grocery store for us, watched our dog, bought me flowers, called to check in and to chat...and Tiff even put us up for the week while Husband travelled to England for work. I am so thankful and so blessed to have so many kind people who have helped us through the last few weeks. And now the second shift has arrived. MeMe and PaPa flew in from the States this morning, much to everyone's delight...A load of laundry has already been folded, a load of dishes done, and all my burned out light bulbs are now glowing brightly. One of their biggest tasks will be to make sure my knee continues to heal well and that I don't push myself too hard. More to follow...Hasta luego...

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