Monday, November 29, 2010

Sweet potatoes with marshmallows and pecans

Sweet potatoes might be common in the United States but not in my home country. I learned to eat them in Miami fried or mashed. This year I had to bring something to the Thanksgiving lunch/dinner hosted by a friend; here is the recipe I followed.
In order to cook you need some good tunes. I am not ready for Christmas songs yet, so how about some eighties tunes? I usually cook while drinking a glass of wine, but I was running the Turkey Trot the next day, so I had a cappuccino made with white chocolate raspberry beret dessert coffee. Yummm
Ingredients: (for 12 BIG  servings)
12 sweet potatoes
2 cups of brown sugar
2 bars of unsalted butter
2 bags of pecans
2 bags of small marshmallows
2 teaspoons of ginger
2 teaspoons of ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 aluminum containers

1. Preheat the oven on to 375 F. Cook the potatoes for 25-30 minutes.
2. Peel the potatoes.
3. Divide them in two parts: cut one half and mash the other half.
4. The ones you cut, divide them between the two containers.
5. Leave aside the ones you mashed.
6. In a pan, mix the brown sugar, butter, half of the pecans, half of the marshmallows and spices. Mix it at low heat until all ingredients are mixed and marshmallows melt.
7. Add the mix to the potatoes in the aluminum containers and blend together with a spoon.
8. Spread the mashed potatoes on top of this mix
9. Spread the rest of the marshmallows and pecans on top
10. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. Then broil for less than 5, keep an eye on the marshmallows. I like them a bit burned like when you eat them at the camp fire, but you can skip this step. This recipe it is soooo delicious!! If 12 big servings is too much, just cut the ingredients in half and make only one container. Or even better make both and give one to someone you love :)
 We all have a reason to be thankful. Thank you God, for the opportunity to share a meal with our friends and family.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Craving jazz

One of my dearest friends from Colombia was on her way to Boston and she made a quick stop at Miami to visit me. At Van Dyke Café we saw a Music Newsletter and we decided to go to the second floor lounge or “Upstairs”.
We sat at the bar and ordered a Dragonberry Punch. A cocktail that Joanna the bartender makes with Bacardi dragon berry rum (dragon fruit + strawberry infused rum), pineapple juice, orange juice and grenadine. Very girly and refreshing. We also ordered the jumbo fried calamari with marinara sauce. Delicious!
The Band Oriente was playing soulful latin jazz with Afro-Cuban roots and Brazilian influences. Delightful music. What a beautiful evening, how blessed I am to live in a city like Miami :)
Where: Upstairs Van Dyke Café. 846 Lincoln Road. The lounge on the second floor offers live music each evening from 9pm to 1am.
Cost: There is no charge from Sundays to Wednesdays and from Thursdays to Saturdays there is a music charge ranging from $6 to $10 per person for table service. Reservations are not accepted. Cocktails are around $10 and small plates are $5-$13
Website: You can find the calendar of events and listen to music online at

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Where to do my nails?

Where:  Brownes Beauty. 841 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Cost: Manis and pedis go each from $20 to $70 (signature mani-pedi). Brow shaping goes from $19 to $30.
The story: I recently purchased a Groupon for a mani/pedi and brow shaping at Brownes & Co. for $40 dollars. Not bad for a $94 value. Booking the appointment was a bit difficult because you have to go online but Nikki was prompt to e-mail me back. Nikki Mallon is one of the owners who opened this store with her partner Gary Feinberg in 1995. After a couple of e-mails I was set for a Friday afternoon appointment. Nothing was more rewarding than being spoiled after a long week of work. The Salon is located on the second floor and it is called “Some Like it Hot” making reference to getting star treatment in a warm, relaxed environment. The wood floors, lighting, setting and service make you feel pampered. Photobucket
As soon as I arrived Eli took care of my eyebrows quickly. They do waxing, tweezing and threading. I went for the wax and it was an express service, a good touch up. Then I chose the color I wanted for my nails from all the shades they offer from Essie.
After that I sat down with Tina who offered me wine or tea. I went straight for the vino while I had my mani and pedi.

Tina was gentle, prudent and sweet. This was the result, both hands and feet with “pepperoni”, that lasted for more than 2 weeks.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Divorce Day

Dates are very important. They give us a sense in time, excuses to look for in advance and moments to remember. I celebrate almost everything:

December the 24th –and not the 25th- Christmas with family, gifts and friends;
December 31st, New Years Eve, with champagne and hopes for the best to come;
the Fourth Thursday in November, Turkey Day, filled with a thousand reasons to be thankful;
June something, my birthday, between tears for the new wrinkles that appear followed by a rewarding trip to the mall and a massive celebration with joy and acceptance, and finally,
October 31st, where Miami turns into a parade of slutty costumes.
One that I never celebrate is the very lame February 14th, Valentine’s Day. YUCK.

If there is a National Pancake Day, are we allowed to have our very own Divorce Day?

A family attorney in Chicago states that National Divorce Day is April 16 because more people file for dissolution of marriage after the deadline for federal tax returns. In the UK, D Day is the first working day in January, after the Christmas and New Year celebrations disappear. Carlos Vives, a Colombian vallenato singer, has a song called November 19th and some people say it is named for the day he got divorced. The lyrics are self explanatory: “November 19, after all the suffering I bring your picture to the heavens and I declare myself free as the wind... each November 19 (it is) a cry for independence”.
Well D Day for me is today, November the 2nd.
Before you think I’m the Grinch of love, I want to state for the record that I am a true fan, believer and admirer of marriage and all the Cinderella stories. So, if I do and I did, what went wrong? I could start telling that I was young, that I blindly jumped into the wagon of commitment, that I had absolutely no idea what marriage was, that we were living like roommates and that we had all the required ingredients for a stinky divorce soup: lack of communication, money issues, different religious beliefs, border-line personalities, control issues, etc. Hey, I could even blame it on Miami; the divorce rate in Florida is pretty high! So, let’s just say that it happened, and for a long, very long time it felt like the biggest failure of my life.
Have you ever felt so oppressed that you can’t even breathe? Have your defenses gone so low that acne popped up, cold sores invaded your mouth and flu showed up uninvited? Have you ever cried so much that you run out of tears? Did the embarrassment, shame and sadness prevent you from going outside? Well, that’s how I felt once I moved out, when I was trying to decide whether to continue or not in the marriage. I was confused thinking about giving it another chance or running away. When the decision was taken and we were going through the filing process on our own –no lawyers required- we had to wait one more month. Eternal month. Finally, the judge declared the dissolution of marriage and I felt like the weight of a piano was taken from my shoulders.
Celebrating D Day helps me look back to the good and bad. I learned innumerable lessons and I’m trying hard every day not to make the same mistakes. I can look forward to having another chance. Let’s celebrate D Day to think about it not as a failure but as a tough and wonderful period of our lives.