Friday, March 21, 2014

Grape Polenta Cake

Zugar Haus' Blog | Grape Polenta Cake
Zugar Haus' Blog | Grape Polenta Cake
Happy Spring!

Today is the first full day of Spring and we need to celebrate with cake! So, I started rummaging through my pantry and fridge looking for something to make.

All I knew while rummaging was that I didn't want anything frosted or chocolate. I wanted something simple, rustic and delicious. Hidden in the back of the fridge, I spotted the red globe grapes that my husband bought a few days back. Some were starting to look a little sad and squishy (ew!), but the rest was still useable. I hate letting anything go to waste.
Zugar Haus' Blog | Grape Polenta Cake
I knew right away that I wanted to make a polenta cake with these lovely jewel toned beauties. I was inspired by one of my favorite comfort meals: Roasted Chicken with Grapes over Creamy Polenta. A MUST try!

Personally, I don't mind the seeds. I actually like eating them. Always have. My husband in the other hand… not so much. But… I decided to bake with them anyway. More cake for me if he hates it.

Grape Polenta Cake 
Makes: 9" cake

6 tablespoons (90 grams) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup almond milk*
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (65 grams) coarse ground yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 1/2 cups red globe grapes or any seedless grapes
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar

*You can use regular milk or buttermilk. Almond milk is what I happen to have in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter a 9" springform pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla paste, lemon zest and egg until well combined. Reduce speed to low, beat in the dry ingredients and milk in 3 additions (starting and ending with dry ingredients).

Pour batter into prepared springform pan. Randomly arrange or form a pattern with the grapes on-top of cake batter. Don't worry about pushing the grape into the cake. They will sink as the cake bakes. Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes (depending on your oven). 

Zugar Haus' Blog | Grape Polenta Cake
 Happy Friday!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

{Leftovers Becomes} Chili and Cornbread with Jalapenos

My husband and I love tacos! Chicken tacos, pulled pork tacos, beef tacos, fish tacos or lingua tacos. If you can put it in a corn tortilla… we'll eat it!

I think we eat tacos at least 2 times a month. Being that we had ground beef in the fridge, I made "American Style" tacos for dinner. Very rarely do we have leftovers, but I guess there's a first time for everything.

With Super Bowl around the corner, I decided to turn our leftover taco meat filling into delicious chili accompanied by cornbread with jalapeños. You can basically make this with any leftover meat you may have. This recipe will probably be delicious with leftover pulled pork or beef roast. Depending on seasoning of the meat you use, you may have to adjust the seasonings a little to your liking. If you like your chili spicier, just add more chipotles. Our leftover taco meat is pretty spicy, so the ratio that I used for this recipe was perfect.

Also, this is very important; don't forget to serve the chili with delicious condiments. Like... chopped scallions, lime wedges, diced tomatoes, diced avocados, cornbread, cheese, radishes or even mustard. These are all a must in my house!

Serves: 6

Soaking the Beans
1 cup Dry Pinto Beans
1/2 cup Dry Red Kidney Beans
1/2 cup Dry Black Beans
5 to 6 cups Water

In a large bowl, add the beans and water (add more water if needed to completely cover the beans). Let stand overnight. Drain and rinse the beans.

Cooking the Beans
2 large Bay Leaves
2 large Garlic Cloves, smashed and paper removed
6 cups Water
Drained and Rinsed Beans

In a large saucepan, add beans and water. Over medium-high heat, bring beans and water to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, add garlic and bay leaves. Cover the saucepan, reduce the heat to low and allow beans to simmer until tender (about 25 - 30 minutes).

Once the beans are tender, reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid. Discard the bay leaves and garlic. Drain the beans, but do not rinse and set aside.

For the Chili
1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1/2 large Yellow Onion, diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 Jalapeños, diced small
2 Chipotles, roughly diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dry Mexican Oregano
2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can Fire Roasted Tomatoes, diced
2 cups leftover Taco Meat
cooked Beans
1 1/2 cups reserved cooking liquid
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine the dry oregano, smoked paprika, ground cumin, cayenne pepper and brown sugar. Set aside until ready to use.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Saute onions with salt and pepper until translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the bell peppers and jalapeños, cook until softened (about 2 - 3 minutes). Then add garlic and continue to saute until fragrant (about 1 - 2 minutes). You can add our spice mixture and continue to saute until the spices are fragrant (about 1 - 2 minutes). 

At this point, don't worry! The spices will look like they are starting to stick and burn (I promise they are not). Carefully add the Worcestershire sauce (it will steam quite a bit, so be careful not to burn yourself) to deglaze the pan by stirring and scraping any brown bits (from the spices) on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the fire roasted tomatoes and leftover taco meat until combined.

Cover the saucepan, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the beans and the reserved cooking liquid, simmer for another 30 minutes. If needed add more water to the desired consistency. Serve chili with preferred condiments.  

Cornbread with Jalapeños
adapted from Everyday Foods - Issue 86 (October 2011)

1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups Yellow Cornmeal
6 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, melted
1 cup Buttermilk
3 large Eggs, lightly beaten
1 (7 oz) can Sweet Corn
1 Jalapeños, diced small

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 9" x 9" baking pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, smoked paprika, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, stir together melted butter (allow to cool slightly before adding the rest of the liquids), buttermilk and eggs. Once combined, add the mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined (DO NOT OVER MIX!). Stir in the corn and jalapeños until combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Bake for approx 20 minutes (depending on your oven) or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.


Friday, January 3, 2014

First Snow of 2014

We awoke to a winter wonderland this morning. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, until it dawns on you... "Oh crap! I have to go outside! Do I really need to shovel out the car?! ...Boo!" To be fair to Mother Nature, it wasn't so bad. Even though it was 11 degrees out (not even kidding), the snow was actually light and fluffy, so it made it pretty easy to shovel.

I know it's been a while since I last posted, so I wanted to stop in and see how my blog friends were doing. I hope you had a wonderful holiday and got to spend it with loved ones. Santa was pretty good to me this year... I was gifted a super bad-ass awesome camera! I've been taking pictures every chance I get. I'm still learning all the new functions and buttons on my new camera. So, I figured I would share some of the pictures I took today.

By the way... My mum plant does not look happy covered in snow!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sleepy Hollow, NY

Zugar Haus' Blog | Sleepy Hollow, NY
For years now, I've been wanting to go and planning a Sleepy Hollow road trip. You know how it is, things always happens or comes and we always end up pushing our trip to the following year. Not this year! With Halloween around the corner and since Halloween is my jam… Off we went to Hudson Valley in the covert of darkness (Hehe… Doesn't that sound mysterious?!).

I love road trips! Just the idea of spontaneously jumping into a car and driving to an impromptu destination is just romantic. Think about it. Experiencing new places, foods, and sites together… Romantic!

Zugar Haus' Blog | Sleepy Hollow, NY
For a couple that always late to everything (it's a Latin thing), we arrived in Sleepy Hollow pretty early in the morning. See! There's actually morning dew on the leaves and we were ready. Our day of sightseeing started at Patriot's Park and ended at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

There was a cookout happening at the cemetery when we arrived. I know that might sound weird or macabre to some people, but I found this quite normal. Growing up in Brasil, this is very normal. It's just common for people to pack a picnic lunch to share a meal and stories with their departed family members. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see this here. I was also pleasantly surprised to see people decorating headstones for Halloween. As others left toys for resting children.

Zugar Haus' Blog | Sleepy Hollow, NY

Zugar Haus' Blog | Sleepy Hollow, NY
Zugar Haus' Blog | Sleepy Hollow, NY

Our walk through the cemetery was really pleasant and peaceful. By far my favorite thing that we did all weekend. We enjoyed learning about the people who rest there. We enjoyed listening to stories of how some changed the course of our history. Whether its how they changed our business world or how they impacted our literary culture. So, we definitely paid our respects! 

Zugar Haus' Blog | Sleepy Hollow, NY

Monday, September 16, 2013


Zugar Haus' Blog |

Zugar Haus' Blog |
Zugar Haus' Blog |

As I mentioned before, I just came back from a cruise. This was actually my first time cruising and I was pretty worried. For about 5 months leading up to our vacation, I tossed and turned at night wondering about what to expect.

To be really honest, I worried about things going wrong based on all the horror stories I heard and stories on the news… i.e. being stuck on the ship for days without running water or sinking. Yes, I know this sounds silly. Believe it or not, I don't know how to swim! So being worried doesn't sound silly to me.

My husband is still amused at the fact that I can't swim. Especially since he knows that I was basically raised on the beach. My siblings can swim like guppies or whatever you call awesome swimmers, but apparently I inherited my mother's swimming talents… sinking!

I enjoy the beach and water very much, but I still worried about cruising. I wasn't so much worried about being seasick because I've been boating and jet-skiing before. Which I absolutely love since I'm an adrenaline junky. I worried about how I would react to not seeing land for miles anywhere around me for days. Remember, I can't swim! So if anything goes super wrong… I'm up *bleep* creek (without a paddle).

Honestly, I quite enjoyed it. It was calming and majestic. At times, it felt like it was just the hubby and I drifting away from all our worries and work. Provided you got up pretty early in the morning to enjoy a little peace and quiet. Because in reality, there were about a gazillion (not really, it was more like 500) screaming kids running and jumping everywhere with their parents right behind yelling at them every 2 seconds... "Richard stop that!" "Richard put that down!" "Richard don't climb that!" "Richard get over here!" "Richard!" "Richard!"

It didn't matter how hard we tried, yet we couldn't escape "Richard!" Regardless of Richard and his family, we enjoyed ourselves. Would I cruise again? Nope!

As you can see from the pictures, the weather didn't want to cooperate with us. I mean really Mother Nature?! Didn't you get the memo... I'm on vacation! But the captain did a great job going around the storm so we could enjoy some sun and turquoise waters.

Zugar Haus' Blog |

Zugar Haus' Blog |

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I Protest!

My husband and I just returned from a cruise to Key West and Cozumel. We've been home for about 3 days now and I'm not quite ready to let go of summer yet.

Even though we awoke to a chill in the air... I protest! Its still summer! Sometimes the gravity of how fast time passes by hits me all at once.

In protest of the impending season… I refuse to touch pumpkin until I put on a sweater. I was actually tempted today, but I refuse to cover my awesome tan (not trying to rub it in or anything, but it is an awesome tan).

And yes, I know. Laying out to tan is taboo and/or bad for you. And yes, I know about harmful ultraviolet rays, but remember moderate exposure to the sun contributes to the production of vitamin D by the body. And I did use sun protection.

In the next few posts, I'll be sharing a few pictures of our trip. :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Martha Stewart American Made

I warn you in advanced that this is a shameless self-promotion post. Do not read on if you hate them!

So... Zugar Haus is a nominee for Martha Stewart American Made contest! Martha Stewart American Made supports the local and celebrates the handmade! Check it out... discover new makers and support your favorites (like Zugar Haus)   ***wink, wink***

Voting actually started August 26th. You can actually vote 6 times every 24 hours. If you feel inclined to do so... We would love your vote! Or 6 every 24 hours! ;) 

I thank you in advanced and we truly appreciate your support!
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