Happy New Year, all! I hope that 2013 is off to a great start for you and that your New Year’s celebrations were fabulous! Being rather heavily pregnant (35 weeks), still on sick leave and having a 21 month-old little guy in tow, I decided it wise to have a small family party at home this year. After a fabulous morning outdoors in the snow watching L and friends from England sledding, followed by lunch, we finished preparations for our Mexican-inspired family fiesta. I had made Pink Lemonade and baked a lovely looking Cornmeal & Pineapple Cake the night before and we had a bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling rosé chilling in fridge. With the aid of some “sparkle straws”, party hats, party blowers and our DIY Sparkle Jar, we were all set to ring in the New Year! Here’s how we did it…
DIY SPARKLE JAR
This is one of those Pinterest projects I have had on some Pinterest board or another for a while now. At a work event earlier this year, we were all given a bunch of glow bracelets and I have held onto them just so I could make a sparkle jar “some day”. As our little L is too young to be out for midnight fireworks, I thought it would be nice for him to have his own, quiet, indoor “light show” to celebrate the New Year. So my husband and I finally got around to making a sparkle jar (also known as a “fairy jar”). Now, there are a couple of things that I want to note. The substance inside glow bracelets/sticks is dibutyl phthalate; a clear, oily, colorless liquid. It is apparently low in toxicity, but it can irritate the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. What’s more, cutting into glow items means breaking the glass vials in the center… and this means tiny pieces of glass floating around in the jar. So, although little ones might find sparkle jars fascinating and beautiful, I can’t see myself allowing L to make one himself (until he’s about 21 years old ).
WHAT YOU NEED:
A unused glow bracelets (we used 5 small ones) or 1-2 glow sticks
Glitter (we used holographic silver and translucent)
A jar with lid
Scissors for cutting the glow item/s
- Carefully cut your glow item/s and shake the contents into a jar.
- Add glitter.
- Seal the top with a lid.
- Shake, turn off the lights and enjoy the glowy glitteriness for an hour or two!
BLACK BEAN & PINEAPPLE GUACAMOLE
Around October last year, I subscribed to receive the Better Homes and Gardens 100 Days of Holidays email updates. There have been so many lovely ideas to be inspired by… far too many to try! But this one caught my eye and, after reading the excellent reviews, I knew this would be the perfect addition to our vegetarian, Mex-inspired New Year’s menu. This is not only the BEST guacamole dip I have ever made, but it is also one of the best dips/sides I’ve made in general. Here is my modified version of the BHG recipe…
2 medium avocados, halved, seeded, and peeled
.75 dl bottled green salsa* (*our supermarket was out, so we used regular salsa… obviously the dip colour was not as vibrant, but the taste was still fabulous)
1 tablespoon sour cream
1.25 dl finely chopped fresh pineapple or canned crushed pineapple, drained
1.25 dl canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 fresh jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and minced
2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of half a lime
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
.75 dl shredded cheese (I used a mix of Cheddar and Wästgöta Kloster)
- In a large bowl mash avocados. Stir in salsa and sour cream until combined.
- Stir in pineapple, beans, jalapeno, onion, garlic, lime juice, salt and cumin. Cover and chill for 2 hours or until ready to serve.
- Sprinkle with cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.
*We had leftovers which we polished off the next day. The taste was still fabulous, but obviously the colour was not so pretty!
*Recipe modified by one found here.
FROZEN PINK LEMONADE
I made Pink Lemonade for the very first time for my blessingway and I loved it so much that I have been waiting for an opportunity to make it since. I will post the fabulous recipe I used soon, but in the meantime, here’s how you can make your own delicious, icy drink treat!
Simply use an ice cream maker (or, as I did, the ice cream attachment for a KitchenAid), pour in Pink Lemonade, turn on and 20 minutes later, voilà; a delicious frosty drink that the whole family will love!
Prep Time: 15 Minutes, Cook Time: 20 Minutes, Servings: 6
I made the original version of this recipe (The Pioneer Woman‘s Quesadillas de Camarones) for my husband’s birthday dinner during my last pregnancy. I wanted to change things up a bit and make a veggie version. Not only did we love them, but my little boy did too (he can even say “quesadilla” now!) and my parents, who joined us for leftovers on New Year’s Day, also thought they were fab.
Organic flour tortillas
Half a packet of vegetarian chicken pieces (you could use mushrooms, tofu or anything, really!)
1 jar of organic taco sauce
1 dl (or more) organic black beans
1 large white onion
1 whole red bell pepper
1 whole green bell pepper
5 dl cheese, grated (I used a mix of Cheddar and Wästgöta Kloster)
2 tbsp organic olive oil
Salt to taste
- Chop vegetables into large pieces. Heat pan over high heat and add olive oil. Cook vegetables over high heat until they start to go brown/black. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Return pan to high heat and cook the veggie chicken. Add the taco sauce and black beans and heat through, stirring occasionally. Add the vegetables back to the same pan to combine everything.
- In a separate pan, heat butter. Place a tortilla in the pan, layer on cheese then top with veggie mix. Top with more cheese and a second tortilla. Cook on both sides, adding butter before flipping.
- Remove from pan and slice into wedges using a pizza cutter. Serve with rice, salsa, sour cream and guacamole.
CORNMEAL & PINEAPPLE CAKE WITH WHIPPED COCONUT CREAM
Makes: one 9 inch cake
One of the first events I attended after being allowed off of bed rest was a friend’s birthday dinner party at Mexican restaurant La Neta. El Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) had recently been celebrated and, as a result, the kitchen was short on food and quite a few things were struck off the menu. What was on the menu, however, was pretty darn good! And one of the things I had the opportunity to try for the very first time was corn cake (with ice cream). It tasted just how I imagined it would; moist and delicious! And, when coming up with our New Year’s menu, corn cake sprang to mind almost immediately. I still had corn flour (meal) leftover from making Sweet Corn Muffins, and searched online for recipes that looked appealing and that I could modify (I had my heart set on something pineapple-coconutty). This recipe is the truly yummy result!
165 g organic cornmeal
85 g organic plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
170 g unsalted butter
250 g organic white sugar
4 organic eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
120 ml plain organic yogurt
1 small tin of crushed pineapple, drained (approx. 150 g)
- Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Grease and flour a 9 inch round cake pan. Sift together the cornmeal, flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Stirring well, add half the dry ingredients, then the yogurt, followed by the remaining dry ingredients. Finally, fold in the crushed pineapple. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes then invert onto a serving plate. Serve with coconut ice cream or whipped coconut cream.
*This cake is not too sweet, cuts like a dream, is moist, dense, a lovely corn colour and the pineapple flavour is subtle.
*Recipe adapted from one by Jen found here at allrecipes.com
WHIPPED COCONUT CREAM
This is genius! With nothing but a can of coconut milk, you can make a delicious and versatile dessert topping that is, of course, lactose-free and vegan. I am so glad I came across this! Viva Pinterest!
1 can of full fat organic coconut milk
2-3 tsp sweetener* (such as icing sugar or raw agave syrup)
1/4- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract*
- Place can in the fridge overnight (crucial as coconut cream needs to chill until it’s very firm*). *If your fridge isn’t cold enough to harden the coconut milk, tip it into an airtight container and pop it in the freezer for 2-3 hours.
- Just before you make your whipped coconut cream, place a mixing bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes or so to help keep everything cold.
- Remove the chilled can from fridge and flip it upside down.
- Open the can and pour the coconut liquid you see at the top into another bowl. You should have just under 2.5 dl of liquid, but this can vary. Use this liquid for smoothies/baking/cooking.
- Scoop hardened coconut cream into your chilled bowl.
- Using a hand mixer, whip the cream until fluffy.
- Add a little sweetener* and vanilla extract* (*optional, but recommended) and continue to whip until combined.
*This amazing recipe by Oh She Glows originally found here.
*Use this whipped coconut cream just as you would whipped cream; as a topping for cakes/pies/porridge oats or in frostings.
*May be stored in fridge for at least 1.5 weeks in an airtight container. Scoop into a bowl and re-whip when you need it.