Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cocoa & Cinnamon Rolls

Hot Cocoa Recipe

  1. Take a small saucepan and cover the bottom with turbinado sugar (you can use regular but I just like the taste of raw sugar.) 
  2. Add about 2-3 Tablespoons of cocoa.  (I use Penzey's High Fat Content Natural Cocoa.)  If you use Hershey's or such you'll need to add a Tablespoon or so more and also add a Tablespoon or two of butter.   Also put in cinnamon if you'd like (I sprinkle a bit of Penzey's Korinjite Cinnamon.)
  3. Stir the cocoa and sugar and water to cover, about a 1/2 a cup or so.  
  4. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and immediately pour in milk to fill up pan (about 4 cups.)
  5. Add about 2 teaspoons of vanilla and heat til warm and stir with a whisk occasionally.  
  6. Serve with whatever you like- a dollop of whipped cream, sprinkle of cinnamon, marshmallows, (shot of Bailey's or Kahlua for you stressed out folks!)
There are so many different hot cocoa recipes and variations. 
If you use shaved or chopped up chocolate instead of cocoa it's then called "hot chocolate!"  Also good but I like the way the cocoa totally dissolves myself.
Did you know that "real" hot cocoa originated with the Aztecs?  Some say it actually had chicken broth, wine, and hot peppers in it!  I made it once to see what it was like and it was good, but different.
The Kuna indians in Panama drink 5 or more cups of hot cocoa a day!  (They make it from fresh cocoa beans though...) 
(There are small beans inside covered with a yummy white fruit- we used to love to get these as kids in Panama!)

I made these delicious cinnamon rolls this morning that my mom gave me the recipe for.  So yummy!
Served with hot cocoa, just about perfect on a cold day!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Natural Cleaning Recipes!

Tub Scrub (I love this!)

In a mixing bowl pour about equal amounts of baking soda and borax. 
(Maybe 2 cups each?)
Pour in some True Lemon powder (you can use True Orange or Lime also!)
just enough to scent the mix. 

To use:  Wet bathtub or sink.  Sprinkle tub scrub in tub.  Watch the fun!  It bubbles when it gets wet!
Scrub and watch the sparkles!  This smells yummy too. 

Glass & General Purpose Cleaner

Both of these are subjective recipes too.  (Sorry!)
I have some spray bottles I bought at Sam's Club in a three pack. 
I fill one up about two inches with vinegar (disinfectant,) then add about an inch of rubbing alcohol (disinfectant and makes it dry faster,)  then add a few drops of tea tree oil  and fill the rest to the line with water.  To make it more of a general cleaner I add a tablespoon of Borax and let dissolve (makes icky stuff come off counters better.)  To be just a glass cleaner you can actually use all vinegar, but I like the mix of the alcohol and vinegar- just think it works better. 
This works great on almost every surface (except nice wood.) 

Hope you like these as much as I do!  If you have some good ones to share please comment! 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Playdough Recipe

This is a great recipe for playdough!

4 cups of flour
1 cup salt
4 cups water
4 Tablespoons oil
1/2 cup of cream of tartar (I get my from Penzey' much cheaper!)

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over low/med. heat until dough is completely
formed and no longer sticky. Allow to cool a bit before putting in a bag or tight container to store.

*You can add food coloring, kool-aid (for smell and color,) I usually put True Lemon in it to give it a nice scent. This recipe lasts a LONG time (as long as your kids put it away!)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Panamanian Tamales!

I love, love, love, Panamanian Tamales. In Panama I don't remember having them often, mainly at Christmastime at friends homes. Now I know it's because in Panama most people make them from scratch, cooking and grinding the green corn.

I love to make them at Christmas or New Year's Eve. I freeze the leftover turkey and use that instead of chicken or pork for the filling and it is always good. This year I didn't get around to making them until this week, and that was with my sweet hubby prodding me to do them.
"Did you buy Masa yet?"
"What can I do to help?"
Guess he really wanted those tamales too.

I sort of follow this recipe from the Cooking Diva (Chef Melissa DeLeon's) website.
I never follow any recipe to the letter though, so here's sort of what I do:

Panamanian Tamales
Find some banana, bijao, or platanillo leaves. (NOT easy in Arkansas.) We can get them only at Christmastime at our local Mexican grocery store, but they aren't usually very fresh and I have to really clean and pick through them. Not to mention they are expensive. This is a major factor in good tamales though so without them I wouldn't attempt it. Gives it that special flavor!
*Note- I found out the "banana" tree I planted in my yard this year was a platanillo from a Mexican friend of mine. I let the frost kill it without harvesting the leaves, but next year I'll save some and make them right before the frost!

Masa part:
I don't do the grinding the green corn to make my own masa. Sorry. I am not a purist with this and just buy Masa from the grocery store. There are no directions on the bag, and Chef Melissa IS a purist and grinds her own corn, so I've made this part up over the years and it works really well.
  1. Fill your Kitchenaid bowl up pretty full with Masa (depends on how many tamales you're making.)
  2. Take at least one stick of butter (I used two- I like butter) and chop it up and using a fork or pastry cutter, cut it into the masa. Then I add about four tablespoons more or less of coconut oil (it's like shortening but better) or lard if you do that.
  3. Heat to boiling or almost boiling some vegetable broth or bouillon and add it to the mess in the bowl. Mix on low (because it will splash on you!) Add until the mixture is the consistency of playdough. Very soft but not sticky.
  4. I also add to this one small bag of cooked corn. Adds the sweetness.
  5. Then add 2 packets of Goya's Sazon, and salt and pepper to taste. If you can get culantro (not cilantro) add some here. We can't get it in Arkansas so I didn't use it.
  6. Mix, you will probably want to mix with your hands to make sure all lumps are encorporated.


I use leftover turkey but you can use chicken, pork, or veggies also...
1 medium onion chopped finely
1 green pepper chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 can of Muir Glen chopped tomatoes
3-4 Tablespoons of tomato paste
1-2 culantro (NOT cilantro) leaves if you have them chopped *I can't get them so don't do this.
but I do add a packet of Goya Sazon and 2-3 Tablespoons of Goya's Recaito, which seems to give it that flavor.
capers (I love capers)
1 can of tomato sauce or some tomato paste with water if you want (or you can just add broth here)
green olives (chopped or not, your preference)
handful of golden raisins or chopped prunes (if you want-very Spanish flavor if you do)
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Saute all of the above in a skillet with some olive oil until it looks yummy.
  2. Taste and add what you think it needs!

Normally I struggle with wrapping these myself using old leaves which are fragile. My wonderful hubby helped this time and proved to be a better tamale maker than myself. Think he'll get the job from now on!
  1. Take a banana leaf (about a foot for a large tamale) and lay it flat on your work surface.
  2. Put a large dollop of the corn mixture in the mid-center of the leaf. Flatten this out to about the size of a slice of bread or bigger.
  3. Put a generous cooking spoon full of the meat filling in a line down the center of the corn mixture.
  4. Roll the leaf up gently. You'll have to roll one side up a bit, then fold in the ends and keep rolling up. (Like a burrito) Then tie with twine or string.
  5. Place these in a large pot (I use my canning pot with the jar rack covered with banana leaves) and cover the bottom with hot salted water. 
  6. Steam for one hour!
*Leftovers freeze very well. You can wrap in waxed paper and then put in a baggie or wrap with aluminum foil and just microwave one when you want one!

Monday, January 4, 2010


This is what I came up with for that topsy turvy Alice in Wonderland like cake:


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