Dulce de Leche Valentine Cookies

Dulce de Leche Valentine's Day Cookies

Yesterday I got a sweet craving, and re-discovered a jar of dulce de leche in the refrigerator. Instead of eating it with a spoon like a heathen (not that I haven’t done exactly that before), I decided to make a batch of simple sugar cookies since I was all out of galletas Marias. Naturally since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I grabbed a heart-shaped cookie cutter from the drawer, and thus Dulce de Leche Valentine’s Day Cookies were born. When dusted with powdered sugar, they’re kind of like alfajores! … Make a batch for your corazón de melon, your niños, or even yourself.

Dulce de Leche Valentine’s Day Cookies

You Need:

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
a little less than a 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 jar or can of your favorite dulce de leche
powdered sugar for sprinkling

Method:

1. Beat the softened butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.

2. Add flour, baking powder, and salt – sprinkling the baking powder and salt so it’s evenly distributed on the flour. (This is a short cut to avoid having to combine dry ingredients separately in another bowl!) Use a rubber spatula to mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.

3. Form the dough into a large ball and cover tightly with plastic wrap inside the bowl. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. While the oven heats, work with small amounts of dough, (leaving the rest covered in the refrigerator), to cut out the cookies. You can use a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, but it isn’t necessary. You can simply flatten a small amount with your palm right on the parchment paper covered baking sheet, then use a heart-shaped cookie cutter on the flattened dough. Remove the excess dough from the edges of the heart shape and re-use for the next cookie you cut out.

5. Bake cookies about 1 to 2 inches apart, (if the dough has been properly chilled and your pan is not hot before going into the oven, it shouldn’t spread and will maintain its shape.)

6. Bake about 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. (Bake time may be slightly less or more, depending on the size and thickness of your cookies. My heart-shaped cookies were about palm-sized and no more than a 1/4 inch thick.)

7. Remove cookies to cool on clean, dry paper towels, (or on wire racks if you’re fancy. I personally don’t own any of those.)

8. For the first few hours these cookies will be mostly soft and chewy, but if you make them in the evening and wait until the next morning (which is what I prefer), the texture becomes chewy on the inside but more crisp on the outside.

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9. Use a butter knife to spread your favorite dulce de leche either on top of the cookies, or on the bottom of one to sandwich it between two cookies.

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10. Dust with powdered sugar. (I recommend doing this by putting a small amount of powdered sugar in a fine mesh sieve and gently tapping it over the cookies to avoid large clumps of powdered sugar.)

11. Give to your valentine before you eat them all yourself.

“Growing Up Pedro” and “20 Camiones Grandes” (giveaway!)

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Disclosure: I received copies of these books for review purposes. No other compensation was given. As always, all opinions are my own.

Veinte camiones grandes en medio de la calle” by Mark Lee and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus, is a Spanish-language board book aimed at children ages 2 to 5 years old, but I will admit something to you – as a non-native speaker, I learned a lot of new words in this book! I feel like the vocabulary is pretty advanced given the audience, but I see that as a positive thing as there are plenty of children’s books with much more basic language. (An example of a sentence that tripped me up: “El 17 arrastra un tambor de alquitrán.” Apparently “arrastrar” means to drag or haul, and “alquitrán” is tar.)

The book has a good rhythm and rhyming words which make it fun to read aloud, and kids who love vehicles will be completely enthralled by the illustrations of all the different types of cars and trucks caught up in a traffic jam.

As for “Growing up Pedro” by Matt Tavares – I really loved this book. I’m not a big baseball fan and honestly didn’t know who Pedro Martínez was, (now I do!) but this is a really beautifully written story about a Dominican-born baseball player who grows up admiring his brother Ramón. Both brothers end up making history in American major league baseball but it’s the touching glimpse into their personal lives behind their careers and the gorgeous illustrations that make this book so appealing. “Growing up Pedro” is aimed at children ages 8 to 12, but I can see children who are a little younger enjoying it as well, (although because of the length they may not be able to listen to it in one sitting.)

Want to win a copy of each of these books? Check out the giveaway below!

—GIVEAWAY CLOSED!—

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize description: Two lucky winners will each receive a prize pack which includes a copy of GROWING UP PEDRO by Matt Tavares and a copy of 20 CAMIONES GRANDES EN MEDIO DE LA CALLE by Mark Lee, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus.

Approximate value: $25.00 per prize pack

How to Enter:

Just leave a comment below telling me your child’s favorite book right now! Alternately, you can tell me one of YOUR favorite children’s books. (Please read official rules below.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. or Canada address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the company in charge of prize fulfillment. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. After 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between February 9th, 2015 through February 13th, 2015. Entries received after February 13th, 2015 at 11:59 pm ET, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte! Good luck!

Dora & Friends (Giveaway!)

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Disclosure: I received this product for review purposes. No other compensation was given. As always, all opinions are my own.

Apparently I’m a little behind in the world of children’s TV programming, but that’s probably understandable since my boys are now 16 and 13 years old. It’s been quite a few years since we sat down to watch Dora the Explorer together, (and yes, they loved that show back in the day.)

Well, my boys aren’t the only ones who have grown up – so has Dora. Dora and Friends: Into the City! is a show that launched last year. The show features a tween-aged Dora and friends – Kate, Naiya, Emma, Alana and Pablo – in a similar format to the original with a focus on problem solving, the Spanish language, and other useful skills for young minds.

Dora and Friends is available on DVD as of February 10th, 2015 and I was given a copy for review ahead of the release. It felt a little odd to sit down and pop a Dora DVD in after all these years, and it probably comes as no surprise that neither of my sons wanted to watch with me as they’re most definitely out of the target audience age range at this point.

Without a cute little kid to shout out the answers next to me, I only made it through the first episode, (the DVD includes 4 episodes total: We Save a Pirate Ship!, The Magic Ring, The Royal Ball, and Dance Party.) Hopefully my 3 year old niece will want to watch with me next time, otherwise I feel a little weird answering Dora all by myself. (Then again, it’s just as awkward not to answer her.)

i-dont-know-whats-more-awkward-answering-dora-or-sitting-in-slience

The thing I found most amusing is that the character Map, who used to be a real map in her backpack, is now a map app on her smartphone. (Yes, Dora has a smartphone!) On the language front, I liked that the Spanish they teach seems to be slightly more advanced and now includes short phrases and commands rather than singular words.

If you’ve got a little son or daughter who you’re raising bilingual, check out the giveaway below for your chance to win a copy of the Dora and Friends DVD!

dora-and-friends

—GIVEAWAY CLOSED!—

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a Nickelodeon “Dora and Friends” DVD.

Approximate value: $15.00.

How to Enter:

Just leave a comment below! You can say anything you like about Dora, this blog post, bilingualism, or just “Hi, I’d like to enter!” (Please read official rules below.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. or Canada address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the company in charge of prize fulfillment. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. After 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between February 7th, 2015 through February 10th, 2015. Entries received after February 10th, 2015 at 11:59 pm ET, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte! Good luck!

Have you ever played “Diccionario”?

Image source: Horia Varlan

Image source: Horia Varlan

Angela over at Logos y Filias recently introduced me to a fun word game she plays on her blog called, “Diccionario.” I know you guys will have fun with this, so I wanted to share it with you too.

Each Friday you can visit Angela’s blog and she will have chosen a word in Spanish from the dictionary. Your job is to respond either in comments on her blog, or via Twitter (#diccionario) with your made up definition for the word. The goal of the game is not to guess the correct definition but to come up with creative and funny fake definitions for the word. You can respond in English or Spanish – it’s up to you. ¿Sale y vale?

Today’s word, for example, is BÁRATRO.

What definition would you make up? Go over and comment!

El Escarabajo Dorado (a guest post)

Image source: José Luis Celada Euba

Image source: José Luis Celada Euba

Today’s guest post about a humorous turned enlightening moment had while living in Peru, comes to us from Fabianne, a high school Spanish teacher, world traveler, and the blogger behind “Blogging Is Narcissistic But…

Last year I shared an apartment in the noisy city of Trujillo, Peru with two Spanish roommates. One night, I found myself in the kitchen when a big, scary something started frantically buzzing around the room, smacking its chunky body against the walls, seemingly desperate to escape. Meanwhile, the window was, as always, wide open to cleanse the space of my roommates’ tobacco habit. I let out a little yelp and waved my hands in the air, which only seemed to offer the opposite of my intended message as it zoomed toward me in a state of panic.

I heard one of my roommates say, “She’s shouting in English again,” and the two of them came rushing to my rescue.

Cucaracha?” (Yes, that is actually how you say cockroach) asked one.

“No! I don’t know what this is!” I gasped as it propelled its seemingly light-brown body toward us. All three of us screamed simultaneously and ran for the kitchen door. Mar shut it behind us and we laughed at ourselves.

“What is that?” she shouted. “It’s enormous!”

At the time, I didn’t know the word for moth in Spanish. (Now I do. Polilla. I’ll never forget it. High stakes situations make for great learning experiences.) So I opted for the word for butterfly because once I read that most insects that appear to be butterflies are actually moths. I figured it was my best bet.

Una mariposa?” They asked, skeptical.

Algo como una mariposa pero con un cuerpo gordo,” (“Something like a butterfly but with a fat body,”) I explained. They both stared at me.

“Well we can’t just stand out here,” my other roommate Vanessa said, entering the kitchen and heroically grabbing the broom. She struck at the fat-bodied butterfly, which was still making circles around the kitchen, using two hands to wield her domestic weapon. Mar and I screamed and laughed from a safe distance, when suddenly, after one swift sweep of the broom, we watched it come spiraling down. She got it. It wasn’t dead, but injured beyond flight, rattling on the kitchen floor. Vanessa leaned over her kill to get a closer look, and let out a little gasp.

“It’s not a butterfly!” she shouted, almost angry. Yes, that much I knew, I just lacked the necessary vocabulary. “It’s an escarabajo!” A beetle, she said.

Escarabajo!” I shouted, not particularly out of concern but mostly because I love that word. So onomatopoeic. When I hear it, I picture a little black beetle scraping and digging through the dirt, making a whispery noise that sounds like, “escarabajo.” I actually only know the word because a little black one crawled into my backpack one time, and a Spaniard pointed and shouted, “Escarabajo!” I remember she told me not to kill it because “los escarabajos no son malos.” They’re not bad. Fair enough.

It turns out the escarabajo in our kitchen was a bit different than the one in my backpack. “It’s a golden beetle,” Vanessa explained. Escarabajo dorado.

I had never heard of a golden beetle and didn’t care too much until she said, “It’s a symbol of immortality.”

For some reason those words resonated with me. To be fair, this is a girl who lit the end of a small branch and waved it around our apartment to expel bad energy, and who charges her crystals by moonlight (though I know of no better way), and while I love her and admire her earthy spirit, I usually remain unaffected by her beliefs. This is not because I claim to possess superior spiritual ideology, just that I’m kind of lazy when it comes to these things. Afterlife? Can’t be bothered…But this time I felt bad. Was I an accomplice to the murder of a bug that only wanted to offer us immortality?

“It’s suffering,” Vanessa said looking at me seriously, “and you have to kill it. I did my part.”

“I don’t like to kill things!” I protested. She shot me a look of death. I get it. OK.

Both of my roommates returned to their respective rooms. The golden beetle squirmed on the floor, its gem-like shell glistening under the fluorescent kitchen lights. Not knowing what to do, I swept it into a dustpan and tipped it out our seven-story kitchen window, hoping maybe it would catch flight.

“It committed suicide,” I announced loud enough for Vanessa to hear, though she didn’t respond.

Later that night, I Google searched “golden beetle.” I found various articles about the insect, my favorite from a gardener saying she is both frustrated and delighted when she finds these beautiful pests among her plants. Another funny bug-nerd article said something like, “Everyone keeps talking about golden beetles.” Oh yeah. People just won’t shut up about them! Nowhere did I find anything about immortality, though the words that affected me most came from an article about insect collections. It recommends that you not add the golden beetle to your collection as it loses its golden color once it dries out, saying, “these bugs are most beautiful kept alive.” Ouch.

The Magic That is The Latino Community

n-suit

This week I’m giving thanks for community, and the Latino community specifically. Let me tell you a story about something that happened last weekend.

Carlos and I had just returned from grocery shopping, literally still in the driveway with bags in the trunk to unload. My 16 year old son, who hadn’t seen me since leaving for school early that morning, greeted us and then launched into a “Mami, I hate to tell you this, but I’m going to need some money…”

This is a good moment for me to dispel a myth for some of you. Young parents have a tendency to believe that kids get less expensive as they get older — it isn’t true. Maybe this feels true for a few years after the diaper days, but there comes a point where your children out-grow the kid’s menu at restaurants and it’s downhill from there, financially speaking. Soon they start needing things they never needed before – cellphones, deodorant, face scrubs, and all manner of personal hygiene products.

They become increasingly conscious about the way they look, so your famous bowl haircuts will no longer suffice – now you must shell out for a trip to the barber for fancy Cristiano Ronaldo-style haircuts. (If you think you can recreate this look yourself with a pair of clippers, trust me that you probably can’t and your kid will hate you for a couple weeks.)

Then they start eating twice as much as you do. Groceries that used to last a week are gone within days. Just when you financially start to catch your breath and think you can make it work somehow, they start talking about getting their license. You can’t afford a car for them but you call your car insurance company to find out how much it will cost to insure them at the very least – You end that phone call sick in your gut, because you have to tell your kid that they have to wait for their license because you can’t afford to insure them. Meanwhile “all their friends” have their license already, and some of them were even gifted cars. You have a good kid though, and while disappointed, he understands. In a way, this makes you feel even worse because he’s a good kid and deserves things you can’t provide.

On top of these expenses, your kids’ free public school education is not so free after all. In addition to increasingly expensive school supplies, laptops, a printer, printer ink and paper to ensure your teen can type up and hand in presentable assignments, there are fees for everything imaginable. Dances, clubs, science projects, yearbooks, class trips, fancy calculators, musical instruments – God help you if they want to play a sport. And when you have an especially ambitious teen who wants to take advanced college-level classes, you pay even more.

When your child becomes a Junior in high school, it’s time to start seriously looking at the cost of college. There are days your brain just can’t take anymore. Your child will be talking about tuition, room and board, meal plans, books, and other expenses. With glazed eyes you will just nod your head while fantasizing about running away, except you don’t even have enough gas in your car to make it out of town, let alone enough money in the account to book a flight to Cancún.

So, back to the original scene – we had just grocery shopped, which is less and less fun the older I get. When I make it home, I’m just thankful the whole process is over – and then my son tells me he needs money.

What does he need money for? He needs to buy a suit. We’ve long put this off because of the expense but it was becoming unavoidable. His admittance into the National Honor Society and various other upcoming events would require it.

I felt panicked, frustrated, exhausted.

“I don’t know how we’ll find the money for a suit.” I sat at the dinner table surrounded by the bags of groceries and put my head in my hands.

My older son, thrift-minded thanks to his upbringing and the necessity of being so, offered, “We could look at Goodwill and Salvation Army?”

“Maybe,” I responded, but I wasn’t optimistic about the idea. I had looked for suits there before and even when I’ve been lucky enough to find the right size, they’re usually horribly outdated.

“What’s wrong?” Carlos asked, because apparently he had tuned out the whole conversation. So I explained that our son needed a suit within the next two weeks and I wasn’t sure how we’d afford one.

Carlos was uncharacteristically calm. (It seems we switch personalities every now and then.)

“A suit? Hmmm… Let me make a phone call.”

Carlos disappeared into the bedroom and came back 10 minutes later.

“I may have found a suit for you.”

Carlos had called a local Salvadoran woman who has been somewhat of a surrogate mother to him the past few years. She’s well-connected within the local Latino community so Carlos simply told her our older son would need a suit within the next two weeks and asked her if she could keep an eye out.

Her response?

“I have a closet full of suits. Come to my house with your son at six o’clock and we’ll see if any of them fit… And bring Tracy so she can make sure they look nice.”

At six o’clock we arrived at her house. She showed us into a bedroom with suits hung in the closet and some laid out on the bed. She later told me that she had actually had twice as many not long ago because a lawyer she knows had given them to her so that her visiting brother could take them back to El Salvador. These suits were just the remains of what he didn’t want or couldn’t fit in his suitcases.

It turned out two suits fit our son and she encouraged him to take them both. “If a suit fits you, too” she said to Carlos, “take it, please. You’re welcome to it.”

And so that’s the story of how Carlos procured not one, but two suits for our son, (plus one for himself) within just a few hours, thanks to our friend and the magic that is the Latino community.

carlos-suit-2

Agua de Berenjena (Eggplant Water)

eggplant-water

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Con el tiempo Carlos va tomando más responsibilidad en su salud. Hay un edad cuando uno se da cuenta que el pan dulce es para de vez en cuando y no cada día, y lamentablemente esos días están aquí para Carlos y yo.

Una de las preocupaciones Carlos tiene es sobre el colesterol porque es un problema hereditario para él, (y bueno, un amor para hamburguesas no ayuda.)

Recientemente Carlos mencionó la reducción del colesterol a su hermana y ella recomendó el agua de berenjena. Ella dijo que su suegra corta una berenjena en pedazos (con la piel), y la pone en una pichel de agua durante la noche. Durante los próximos días, se bebe una taza de agua berenjena cada día.

Busque alrededor de la internet y parece que esto es un remedio casero muy conocido en la comunidad Latina para todo tipo de problemas de salud. ¿Alguna vez has oído hablar de Agua de Berenjena? ¿Lo has probado?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

As Carlos grows older he takes more and more responsibility with his health. There’s an age when one realizes that pan dulce is a once-in-awhile food, not an everyday food, and unfortunately those days are here for Carlos and myself.

One of Carlos’s concerns is about his cholesterol because cholesterol problems are hereditary in his family, (and well, a love of hamburgers doesn’t help anything.)

Recently Carlos mentioned reducing cholesterol to his sister and she recommended Eggplant Water. She said her mother-in-law cuts an eggplant in pieces (with the skin), and she puts it in a pitcher of water overnight. Over the next few days, her suegra drinks a cup of the Eggplant Water each day.

I looked around the internet and it seems this is a well-known home remedy for all kinds of health issues in the Latino community. Have you heard of Eggplant Water? Have you tried it?