Monthly Archives: February 2012

News flash: It’s not March yet

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So last night as I was updating my calendar with all the upcoming events and appointments I need to attend, I noticed something unusual. Today is not the first day of March like I had originally thought. Nope, today is actually the last day of February. What the heck! When did February start having 29 days? What makes the year 2012 so special that it gets to have 366 days instead of the just 365? I was so confused and I immediately barked at mi mama to ask her what the deal was. She looked just as confused as I was and came to the conclusion that my Enrique Iglesias calendar must just have been misprinted. She did point out that the calendar would be correct in Spain, though, where Enrique is from because they’re 8 hours ahead. Hmmm…. yeah, so as much as I wanted to believe her explanation, I just wasn’t totally convinced. So instead I looked it up on the internet, because everyone knows Wikipedia is the source of all information. And lo and behold I found the answer I was looking for. Apparently this year, 2012, is known as a leap year which means that it gets an extra day added at the end of the month of February. This is done every 4 years in order to keep the calendar year in sync with the atronomical year. Pretty cool, huh. And here I thought it was just another day. P.S. To all my lovely single senoritas, according to the all-wise Wikipedia, it is considered acceptable for a woman to propose marriage to her favorite Chihuahua bachelor during a Leap Year… just putting it out there.

Therefore, in honor of this oh so special day, I have a delicioso recipe to share that will make you want to leap for joy and then leap into the kitchen to whip up this dish for yourself and all your loved ones. Because nothing says Happy Extra Day in February more than four lovely breasts… of chicken, that is (hey, keep it clean amigos. Mardi Gras was last week).

 Honey-Sesame Chicken Breasts and Potatoes

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 yellow potatoes, cut in half then in quarters

1 large red bell pepper, cut in strips

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

3 tbsp hoisin sauce

3 tbsp honey

1 tbsp sesame oil

chopped green onions, for garnish

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13×9″ baking dish with cooking spray.

2) Place potatoes and bell pepper in bottom of dish. Top with chicken breasts.

3) Combine all other ingredients, except green onions, in a small bowl. Pour over chicken and vegetables.

4) Cover dish with foil and bake 40-45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink.

5) Serve with a side of rice and sprinkle with green onions.

6) Enjoy!

The perfect way to end those extra 24 hours in February.

You know what is a not-so-perfect way to end the day? Having to go for my evening walk to the dog park in the cold and rain. Good thing I have a cute little coat to protect my delicate fur from the harsh elements.

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Bugs Bunny, eat your heart out

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Once again, an important national holiday in the TeenyLittleSuperChef household has come and passed, and I was completely unaware of it even being in existence until just now. How could this possibly happen? Was anyone else aware that February 3rd was National Carrot Day? How could I have not known? Seriously! I am the ultimate carrot connoisseur. The master of all orange root vegetables. The supreme daucus carota officionato. If the carrot was a college, I would be the Dean. If the carrot was a country, I would be the President. If it was the best TV sitcom from the 1950’s, I would be the Desi Arnaz… I think you get my point. Carrots are the end-all, be-all of my existence and yet somehow, the one special day that is dedicated to my beloved little orange beauty came and passed as though it were just any other day. You would think someone would have sent me an e-mail or a card or at the very least, Facebook messaged me. What’s it take for a little guy to get Tweeted these days. I mean, come on.

Alas, while I should have been spending the 3rd of February celebrating the almighty carrot, instead I was nursing my post Super Bowl party hangover and preparing for what I thought was the next most important holiday, National Organ Donor’s Day. No offense, organ donors, but carrots take the cake when it comes to random things being honored.

Speaking of cake, is there anything more awesome than carrot cake? Well, other than carrot cake in cupcake form? I think not. So even though I’m over three weeks behind in celebrating this momentous occasion, I’ve decided it’s still better late than never to do my part. Therefore I’m declaring today, February 27th, as National TeenyLittleSuperCarrot Day. Yay!!! So crank up those ovens and get ready, because it’s carrot cake cupcake time.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Lemon-Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

2 eggs, beaten or 1/2 cup egg substitute

1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 large carrots, finely shredded (about 2 cups)

4 oz. Neufchatel cheese (reduced-fat cream cheese), softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

walnuts, finely chopped, for garnish

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

2) In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

3) In a large bowl, combine the eggs, canola oil and brown sugar. Stir well. Whisk in the applesauce, vanilla and carrots.

4) Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined. Fold in the walnuts.

5) Pour the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

6) To make the frosting: Beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice and zest with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.

7) Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining walnuts.

Enjoy!

Well compadres, I must be going now. I’ve got a whole plate of orange deliciousness waiting for me to devour, and only 6 more hours left in the day to do so.

Happy TeenyLittleSuperCarrot Day, mi amigos!

P.S. If you’d like to buy me or one of your loved ones a muy bonita present in celebration of this day, check out this delightful, authentic Louis Vuitton purse mi tia Marisa is selling on E-Bay! Perfect for taking a stroll through the dog park mall.

I’m a winner!!!

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I’m beyond excited right now! Mi mama and I just returned from our evening walk to the park and discovered the mailman had delivered a package addressed specifically to me. At first, I was very confused as I didn’t recall ordering anything from the Home Shopping Network in the past couple weeks and my birthday is still more than a month away. What in the world could it possibly be? And then I saw who it was from and instantly knew what was inside that lovely yellow envelope– Abby Has Issues by Abby Heugel! Signed by the awesome diva-licious Abby herself, along with a lovely little note for your’s truly. Apparently I had entered giveaway on Abby’s blog for leaving a comment on one of her posts, and mine was randomly chosen to receive a copy of her book. I’d been wanting to read her book ever since I came across her blog, but mi mama recently put the kibosh on my online shopping after I “accidentally” ordered a 10-year’s supply of baby carrots and a life-size Shakira doll, without her permission. So I am muy ecstatico to have won a copy of her book! Yay, thanks Abby!

Totally unrelated, but here’s a recipe for your viewing and chewing pleasure. I made it on a whim last night for mi mama and papa when I had very little time and a fresh package of tempeh to use. Feel free to substitute chicken or tofu in place of the tempeh. The marinade rocks no matter what you use to soak it up with.

Orange-Soy Glazed Tempeh Triangles

2 tbsp orange juice

1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 tsp honey

2 tsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce

8 oz package tempeh*

Directions:

1) Combine all ingredients, except tempeh, in a zip-loc bag.

2) Cut tempeh into 8 equal triangles. Place in bag and shake to coat evenly. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

3) Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add tempeh and cook on each side 5-7 minutes, or until crisp and browned.

4) Serve on a bed of rice or salad greens or whatever you want to eat it with. I served mine with some leftover Butternut Macaroni and Cheese and lightly steamed green beans. Mmmmmmm!

*Use 1 or 2 chicken breasts chopped into bite-size cubes, or pressed tofu cut into triangles or cubes, if you wish.

Alright amigos, I have to be going now. I’ve got an awesome book I want to go dive into!

Tuesday isn’t fat, it’s just big boned

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So as you may recall, last week at this time I was busy preparing myself for all the National Organ Donor Day festivities, and now today I’m getting ready for another important holiday which is coming up tomorrow– Mardi Gras! Also known as Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday, or for all my Swedish amigos out there, Fettisdagen. Originally Mardi Gras was celebrated by the Christians because it was the last night before the beginning of the Lenten season. Everyone would get together and celebrate and eat rich, fatty foods and wear crazy masks and have big parades and parties. Sort of like a last hurrah before Ash Wednesday when they would begin repenting and fasting for the next 40 days before Easter.

Nowadays, Mardi Gras has taken on a whole new meaning and seems to be celebrated by not just Christians, but anyone out there looking for an excuse to party and have a good time. And by good time I mean a lot of dancing and drinking and throwing shiny beads at people who show off their ta-tas. Not exactly how religious Christians celebrated this occasion way back in the day but probably would have liked to, in all honesty. Who doesn’t enjoy a night of booze and boobs, am I right?

So even though Mardi Gras isn’t hugely celebrated up here in the Pacific Northwest, mi papa is originally from New Orleans and he still likes to do his part in carrying on some of the traditions from his youth. And since he doesn’t drink and isn’t much of a partier, you can probably guess which of the traditions it is that he likes to partake in <wink wink>. I, on the other hand, love any excuse to whip up some delicious baked goodies, and thought making some cute little mini cake doughnuts would be the perfect addition to our Mardi Gras celebration. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite the memo on the correct color scheme (green, purple and gold) so I went with pink instead. Oh well, at least it made mi mama happy. I just set her calendar back a week and told her they were for Valentine’s Day… hehe.

Mini Mardi Gras Strawberry Doughnuts

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute

2 tbsp butter, melted

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 tbsp milk

2 drops pink food coloring

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 mini-doughnut pan with cooking spray.

2) Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix well to combine.

3) Stir in milk, vanilla, eggs and butter and mix until just combined.

4) Fill each doughnut cup 3/4 full.  Bake 10 minutes or until slightly browned. Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing from pan. Makes 24 mini doughnuts.

5) Once completely cooled, combine powdered sugar, milk and food coloring in a small bowl until creamy. Dip tops of doughnuts into icing and cover with sprinkled, if desired.

6) Enjoy!

Alright amigos, that’s it for me for the evening. I gotta get my beads ready for tomorrow’s big Fat Tuesday parade. And considering how many strands I have saved from last year, things could get pretty crazy out there!

No chopsticks required

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It’s no secret that mi mama and papa have a real love affair with sushi. The only times they ever actually go out to a restaurant for dinner is if sushi is involved. Their first date began with a sushi dinner (and second date, and third date and fourth date…) They had a standing Wednesday night date at a place called Kyoto for sushi happy hour every week for 4 months when they lived in Austin. When they go visit mi papa’s family in New Orleans for the holidays, they most look forward to eating insane amount of raw fish at the local sushi buffet each and every night of their visit. Even Christmas day dinner. Yes, it’s safe to say they like em some sushi. Mi papa jokes that mi mama must have a separate stomach just for raw fish. She’s not a big person and tends to get full pretty quickly, but put a plate full of sushi in front of her, and stand back. The ravaging beast with a bottomless pit comes out! I’ve heard she once tackled an elderly woman with a walker for taking the last salmon roll at the all-you-can-eat buffet and put her into a choke-hold until the old lady handed over the fish. No police reports were made nor any charges pressed so it’s still just hearsay, but I definitely wouldn’t put this sort of behavior past her. According to mi mama, “the old hag had it coming to her.”

So I’ll suffice it to say, mis padres like sushi. Unfortunately, going out for sushi all the time really starts to take a toll on their bank account and the more they spend at sushi restaurants, the less dinero they have to spend on my baby carrots, cooking utensils and cute little outfits. Luckily I came up with the genius (obviously) idea of trying our paws hands at rolling our own sushi at home. It really is simple, I promise. And so much more fun and cost-effective than going out. All you need is a bamboo mat (although not totally necessary), some sushi rice and a little bit of patience. Still skeptical? Well how about a little step-by-step beginner’s guide to sushi rolling from your’s truly, The TeenyLittleSushiChef.

Sushi 101

Sushi Rice:

2 cups Japanese sticky rice

2 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

Directions:

1) Rinse the rice with cold water until water comes out clear. Drain and add to a medium-size saucepan.

2) Cover the rice with 2 1/2 cups cold water and turn burner on high.

3) When water comes to a boil, turn heat down to low and cover pot. Cook 20 minutes.

4) Turn burner heat off and allow to cook 10 more minutes, covered. Do not uncover or stir during this time.

5) Meanwhile, prepare the vinegar mixture. Heat vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium until sugar is dissolved.

6) Transfer cooked rice to a large wooden or non-reactive bowl. Add vinegar mixture slowly. Fluff rice with a spatula or rice paddle. Keep fluffing until the vinegar mixture is evenly distributed.

7) Allow to cool 5 minutes and then cover bowl with a dish towel until ready to use.

How to assemble sushi rolls:

Bamboo mat

Nori seaweed sheets

raw fish slices

real or imitation crab meat

avocado slices

cucumber slices

carrots, julienned

whatever else you want to use in your rolls

Directions:

1) Lay a sheet of nori flat on the bamboo mat. Wet your hands and spread 1/3-1/2 cup sushi rice evenly on the sheet. Lay whatever sushi innards you want on one side of the sheet.

2) Using both hands, begin rolling up the sushi, starting with the side that contains the fish or vegetables. Roll tightly and moisten the seaweed a bit as you roll so it sticks together. For a better explanation and pictures of what I’m talking about, check out this link: http://www.wikihow.com/Roll-Sushi

3) Slowly remove the bamboo mat and cut your roll into bite-size slices.

4) Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. Konnichiwa, delicious sushi!

So there you have it. So simple, so easy and oh so much fun. Plus you don’t have to worry about receiving strange looks when asking for odd-sounding combination rolls like ones containing kabocha squash, tofu, avocado and Saigon cinnamon… right Mama?

Well mi amigos, I must be going. I’m all about trying out new little DIY projects at home lately and I think I may have finally come up with a winner– homemade Hot Air Balloon!

Up, up and away!

Protecting your heart, one little muffin at a time

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 Hip hip hooray! Tomorrow is National Organ Donor Day! What are you doing to help celebrate? Donating some bone marrow? Giving your significant other one of your kidneys? Or baking some deliciously tasty muffins? Well, given the fact that I’m a Chihuahua and not quite a match for mi mama or papa when it comes to organ or tissue donation, I have to celebrate with the last of those suggestions and will be baking up some decadent little muffins. The good thing is, they contain three very important ingredients when it comes to maintaining one’s heart health so in a way, I’m still doing my part. I may not be donating my heart to someone in need but I am doing what I can to keep everyone else’s most vital organ in tip-top shape.

These muffins are really special, if I do say so myself. They contain bananas, chocolate (mmm, chocolate) and the not-your-typical-muffin-ingredient… avocado. Avocado?!?! Yes avocado! The mother of all green fruits. Avocados sometimes get a bad reputation for being high in fat and calories, but the truth of the matter is, the fat contained in an avocado is of the heart-healthy mono-unsaturated variety. As in, the kind that help lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol inside the body. So don’t fear the avocado, people. Love the avocado. And then spread the love by baking these healthy little baked treats.

ABC (Avocado-Banana-Chocolate) Muffins

2 large ripe bananas

1 large ripe avocado

1 tsp lemon juice

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup canola oil

1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

2) In a large bowl, mash the bananas and avocado until creamy but still somewhat chunky. Add the lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, oil and egg. Mix well.

3) In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

4) Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Do not overwork the dough.

5) Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, about 3/4 full.

6) Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

7) Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing muffins to a wire rack. Enjoy!

Now if only I had a heart-shaped muffin pan, these would be totally perfect… hint hint, mama or papa. Just putting it out there in case you hadn’t figured out what present to get me for tomorrow’s big holiday. I’ll even settle for a bag of heart-shaped baby carrots. Your choice.

As for me, I better be going now. I’m performing my magic tricks this evening at a black-tie affair and I need to go practice a bit before I leave. First up, making my wooden rolling-pin magically disappear.

Abra-cadabra

Oops!

Can I get a second opinion?

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Hola, mi amigos! I’m going to share a little story with you today. It dates back to the summer of 2006 when I was still just a wee little pup, before mis padreas were married and mi mama and I were living by ourselves in Texas. While she was spending her days attending the university and working as a retail specialist at a local beauty store, I was spending my days watching Telenuvelas and cooking shows and perfecting my culinary skills in our tiny apartment kitchen. One sunny day after a long walk around our neighborhood, we returned home to settle in and figure out what our plans would be for the evening. While mi mama was busy doing some sort of painting and drawing on her face and winding her hair around some sort of hot circular stick, I decided to lay down and take a little snooze. All of a sudden out of nowhere, I began sneezing… and sneezing… and sneezing… and sneezing. I could not stop sneezing. And these weren’t just any old ordinary “ah-choo” kind of a sneeze. No no. These were a “holy frijoles I’m going into an epileptic seizure, my brain is about to explode, and my nose is going to blow off my snout” type of sneeze. In other words, not normal and very very scary. Mi mama, of course, was running around like a crazy woman, asking me what was wrong, and calling various people and doctors on her phone. After about 15 minutes of this and feeling like my nose was on fire and going to burst, she wrapped me up in a blanket, threw me in her car and off we zoomed to the dreaded veterinary clinic. Now I didn’t always fear going to the vet. Quite the opposite really. Back in the day I found it a real treat. I would be greeted with big smiles by all the kind ladies behind the counter, and receive not only big hugs and kisses, but also tasty little cookies shaped like bones. I would often times see some of my other puppy friends and we’d catch up on life and spend our time waiting in the reception area licking the floor and sniffing each other’s butts. Yeah, it was always a joy going to the vet. Unfortunately, all that changed the day I got jumped and attacked by mi abuelo’s evil cat, Monty, and had to spend the day in the emergency room, screaming in pain while the vet technician stapled up the gaping wound Monty managed to slice down the middle of my back with his claws. Definitely not pretty and not something I’ve ever been able to forget. Devil Kitty…

But anyway, back to that summer day back in Austin when mi mama and I were frantically racing down the highway to the veterinary clinic. The entire car ride I was sitting in the passenger seat, sneezing and shaking and hyper-ventilating and just wishing all this craziness would end and I could just go back to my taking a nap and dreaming of drowning kitties in a bathtub. Well, we finally got to the vet and were immediately hurried in to an exam room. The vet came in, poked and prodded me all over, asked mi mama a few questions and diagnosed my condition as Bordetella (aka: Kennel Cough). Somewhat peculiar since I hadn’t been around many others sickly dogs in awhile nor had I ever been boarded at the Pet Hotel. Nonetheless, he said I had this horrible illness,  gave mi mama a prescription for some medicine, asked for her credit card, and away we went $300 poorer and me still sneezing like a crazy-caged animal. Mi mama put me in the passenger seat of her car, strapped me in for the ride and started heading for home. About 10 minutes into the car ride I began to sneeze harder and more forceful than I had the entire afternoon. Mi mama pulled the car over to the side of the road at the same moment that I gave one ginormous sneeze and Bam! out of my nose came a huge blade of fresh green grass… of which I quickly licked up with my tongue and swallowed before mi mama could take it away from me. The sneezing stopped, all was well again and away we drove home.

Moral of this story: The next time you go to the doctor/vet, thinking you may have some sort of serious medical condition, check first to make sure you don’t have a blade of grass stuck up your nose.

Oh yeah, I also have a recipe for you today. It does not involve grass or snot or really anything to do with my story. It does, however, have to do with delicious and nutritious ingredients like blackberries, bananas and oats all baked into little small breakfast cakes.

Blackberry-Banana Breakfast Bake

1/2 cup oat flour (just grind steel-cut or rolled oats in a blender until powdery)

1 tbsp rolled oats

1 tbsp ground flaxseeds

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 egg white, whipped

1/4 cup milk

1/2 banana, mashed

1/2 cup blackberries, cut in half

1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Grease 2 small ramekins or 4 muffin cups with cooking spray.

3) Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Do not over-mix.

4) Spoon batter into prepared cups. Bake 30-35 minutes or until edges are browned and breakfast bakes are set and not gooey.

6) Allow to cool 5 minutes, remove from cups and put onto serving plate. Top with honey, peanut butter or a small pat of Earth Balance and enjoy! Hooray for breakfast!

Well compadres, it’s been a long day and I think I may need to finally make up for that nap I missed all those years ago. Buenos noches!