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caramel & cocoa

Caramel & Cocoa - cooking, parenting, fashion, diy, eating, living, a blog

Monday, December 31, 2012

My 2013: Adios Hair

It is 1 A.M. in London and having just chimed in the New Year to champagne and grapes, the resolution I want to focus on is "getting over myself." I had a hectic few weeks leading up to the holidays. I was busy, overcommitted, exhausted and run off of my feet. One night I was complaining about it to my darling H who kindly told me to get over myself, stop going on about it and turn on the rugby.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Egg Whites Cake with Lemon Frosting

I love this egg white cake. I had to make this cake because I had made a flan that required 6 egg yolks and well I needed to use my egg whites! Very moist cake and simple. It goes well with cream & strawberries or with this easy to whip-up lemon frosting. Great cake especially for people who love cake but not incredibly sweet ones. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I'm going to tell you a story

This morning, C reminded me how great being a mom is. From my bedroom I shouted, "Cristina, can you get dressed please."

"No, mummy, I tell you stury of Goldilocks and of her bears too. I cant find porridge." 
I walked in to find her organizing props to tell me the story. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lesson re pizza

I have totally accepted my journey on an eternal diet because of my uncontrollable addiction to carbs and sweets. But seriously, why on earth did I order pizza last night? And what possessed me to weigh myself this morning! Lesson: NEVER EVER WEIGH YOURSELF THE MORNING AFTER CONSUMING NEARLY AN ENTIRE LARGE PIZZA!


Hilarious! Absolute Humor! Hilarious!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Awesome Child A

Last Friday we had a play-date with eight 2 year olds (my C included) and A who is now 3. I survived, but it is all a bit of a haze because one thing that you should never ever do at a play-date with eight 2 year-olds is go to a play-date with eight 2 year olds! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Very casually dressed (& in Europe)

I left California for Europe 5 years ago wearing my favorite faded boot cut jeans, red tagline t-shirt and black Reeboks.  I've never really questioned my ‘style’ until last week when I ran into a friend in my village (yes I said village!) and she asked me if I had been to the gym.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mel's Cookie

I'm posting this against my better judgement since I am going to lay off of sweets for 2 weeks! This is however, the easiest and yummiest cookie in the world to make. Make it your own by adding your favorite chocolate bar. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Five Things Friday

because I am feeling a bit festive - Rice Krispy Treat ornaments with Rolos tops. 

Bed Time and Toddler Triumph (sort of)

It's nearly bedtime and YES - the television is on!  Bad Mommy! Ok - now that my bad parenting is out in the open let's get to the main point of this post. 

I have a love/hate relationship with bedtime. I love that once the kids are sound asleep I'll have a couple of hours to myself (selfish I know). I hate the stress that surrounds bedtime. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Home-made Marshmallows

A friend, who might be starting up her own marshmallow business inspired me to try my own. I found this recipe on-line that requires no corn-syrup. I used some store bought sugar decorations and a cookie cutter  to make them festive. It just adds a special little something to my hot chocolate on these cold winter nights.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hide & I'll Find You

Their version of "hide & go-seek"

A     " Cristina do you want to play hide and go seek?"

C     "Yeths!"

A     "Ok. I'll hide next to the piano and you find me."

C     "Yeths." (runs away to count) ... "won, two, thwee, four, figh, sis, seventh."

Monday, November 19, 2012


C    "I'm very upthet with my thithster."

Me  "Are you?"

C   "Yes. I are!" (arms folded over each other)

This must be serious! (but I can't help but laugh)


I hosted my fourth Thanksgiving abroad this year and stuck to the same recipes I have always used. The menu is pretty simple but tasty and while the stuffing takes a bit of preparation  it definitely makes all the difference to the meal. I time it carefully so that the Roasted Vegetables, Sweet Potatoes (for reheating), Parsnips, and Stuffing (for baking but prepared night before) always go in the oven together as the turkey comes out and is resting.  

Roasted Carrots & Potatoes
Sweet Sweet Potatoes
Maple Syrup Parsnips
Chestnut & Sausage Stuffing
White Wine Gravy
Fennel & Orange Leafy Salad
Brown Sugar and Mustard Glazed Turkey 

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Tantrum of All Tantrums - My Story of Survival

The “terrible twos” suck. And with respect to my now 3 year-old – they really did “BIG TIME!”  However, I (we) survived. Now, at 3, the tantrums, while much less frequent are 100-fold more disturbing and disruptive to anyone within a mile (or two) radius.

On Monday, C (now 2), A (now 3) and myself (age not disclosed) went in for our 6 month dental exams. We had a bit of a rough start to the journey. It is winter and A refused to wear a coat. In retrospect I should have known that something was looming.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hand Print Turkeys

Date & Apple Squares

Gosh. These, as recommended by my mother-in-law, were absolutely fabulous (and easy). They contain more sugar and butter than any baked sweet I have ever come across but who cares. They are what I call an "adult" treat. The recipe below and intended for a square dish. I doubled the recipe and tossed it into a 9 inch round spring-form, for lack of square baking tin (hint hint Santa or H).

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pan de Muertos (Mexican Sweet Bread)

adapted from

The actual translation is Bread of the Dead. Appetizing? Erm ... I made this traditional bread to celebrate the Day of the Dead (Mexican holiday). Having tasted it about a billion times before, I'd never made it. I really enjoyed the process because it is simple. Those of you who know about Mexican breads, you will know that they are not grainy and always contain TONS of sugar.

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Friend Josephine

I met Josephine just over three months ago. Friends now, I drop in on her weekly for a bit of chat and gossip. I enjoy our visits tremendously, so much that a thoughtful sadness tends to overcome me each time I walk away from her front door. I find her seemingly “normal life” (whatever that means) to be captivating but distant in a way that makes me want to know more about her.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Don’t Discuss Politics. I Bake Cookies Instead.

We are just over two weeks from the Presidential election and the country is shrouded in red, white and blue as the autumnal winds romantically hiss to the tune of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ethel's Unity Pie

Ethel was H’s Irish granny. Well, both of his grannies were Irish so that was a wasted sentence. I've long heard of the family "Unity Pie" but never actually had it myself, so I had a go at it. It is delicious! It goes well with baked beans or my preference, steamed potato and asparagus.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chicken Broccoli Dish

This was supposed to be yesterday's post (because it was last night's dinner) but I just didn't have time to type it all out. Remember, I blog between tantrums and yesterday was a tantrumastic day if ever! This is another one of Aunt Rachel's dishes, that is a favorite in this household. I didn't have the exact recipe but here is how I put it together and I thought it was quite nice.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ink on Face

It is my fault. I wanted to have a bit of time to finish up some work. "I want a pen" she asked repeatedly  "Fine have it." I succumbed and handed it over without even looking away from my computer screen.

Gross Motor Skills Fine Tuning

The girls are a bit obsessed with anything with wheels. Rain. shine, freezing cold they insist on taking a ride on their bikes or scooters. When they ask my face sinks a little bit, and I say something like "why don't we draw a picture" (it never works). I hate being cold! Thank goodness for them H is a big cycler, cycling 25 miles into work each day. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Butter-Cream Filling and White Fondant

There are very few things that I am good at. I can actually name tons of things that I do poorly but I was very pleased with how C's 2nd birthday cake turned out. It is a basic vanilla cake with a strawberry butter-cream frosting & filling and vanilla fondant.

Apple & Pear Tart

I made this as a "second option" for C's birthday ... for those who did not want cake. Both kids and adults enjoyed it. This is incredibly easy and would probably be worth trying with berries as well, or different flavored jams. yum yum. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Her Eye-Lids Are Temporarily Gone

C has a milk allergy and now potentially a candy-bar allergy. We took an impromptu trip to the museum today and on the train ride home I thought I'd be a "cool" relaxed mom and decided to share a candy-bar between the 3 of us. You only live once right?

Restaurant NADA! (nothing Spanish)

I have nothing for you this week in terms of restaurant food. My two year old did however have an allergic reaction to a candy bar that we were sharing on the train today : hives, coughing, watery eyes, swollen face. She sort of looks like a puffer-fish with legs... but she is full of energy and giggles ... I am tempted to post a picture but that's a bit mean ...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Aunt Rachel's Lasagne

Aunt Rachel is probably one of the most natural cooks I've ever met. She whips up yummy home-made dinners with what appears to be little effort. This is her lasagne recipe which is always a major hit. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Colors and Shapes Landscape

I found this a fun way to reinforce colors and following directions. I cut-out flowers, clouds, green hills. I went first and placed the pieces against a blue background. I then let them have a go, asking them to do as I had. Well done girls! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Apple & Pear Strudel (Easy)

You can easily buy your own pre-made strudels, but making these easy little strudels will get you tons of compliments to lift your self-esteem. This recipe makes 6 servings, takes about 10 minutes of preparation and 15 - 20 minutes oven time. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

See You in September

We are on vacation (holiday) in Ireland. See you in September with (hopefully) lots of new stories, recipes and just stuff in general. all is love

Friday, August 17, 2012

Five Things Friday

Homemade smore candy bar - learn how here.

Yes Please! DIY project for H. H click here. Thanks. 

What does your make-up drawer look like? This? 

iPhone charging shelf. Very cool. 

                 17 month calendar!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Re Restaurants! I Nothing for this week! But ...

I did manage to cut the girls finger and toe nails ... but I had to agree to paint them afterwards ...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pizza Making (sort of)

You know those 15 - 20 minutes before dinner time when you realize, "oh s**t. I need to make dinner!" 

Monday, August 13, 2012

C3 Chocolate Cookie

My C3 cookie has three types of chocolate: chocolate cocoa powder, milk chocolate chips and white chocolate chips.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

forgot the diaper bag ... near disaster

I can't really get my head around it all & how I pulled it off ..

The kids (ages 3 & 22 months) went to a dance camp today and afterwards I treated them to a picnic in the park. A has been potty trained since she was 22 months and C, now 22 months has had 1 day of toilet training a few weeks back and today I took a risk and let her go "commando" ...

Koya (Japanese Udon)

49 Frith Street (Soho)
London W1D 4SG
hours - Mon 12:00 - 15:00 / 17:30 - 22:30 (Sun to 22:00) 

Fantastic Japanese noodle restaurant. Need I say more! We landed here via a last minute recommendation from SJ, H's very dear and loyal pal, who tends to know all about food. I think he moonlights as a chef. The atmosphere was nice, clean and absolutely packed which is always a good sign. Even better 95% of the customers seemed to be from Japan which is always a good sign in a Japanese restaurant. The menu is pretty simple and well, noodles are its thing. It was perfect and delicious. The service was very quick but thorough and given the simplicity of the menu, we really didn't need more attention than we received. They were all very friendly. I can't wait to go back. I am planning to take the little ones next week! ;)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chicken, Chickpea and Cauliflower Casserole

Dinner served with string beans, olives and buttered bread
Tonight's dinner and the girls seemingly loved it - asking for thirds. Incredibly easy, very light and refreshing taste.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

It's for the Birds - Bird Feeder

I bought bird food over a year ago, came home and alas - no bird feeder. Tired of not finishing tasks I woke up today determined to make a "friggin" bird feeder with the girls. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

This makes a very soft moist golden cookie. The recipe is really only intended for white chocolate chips but I was being greedy and added dark chocolate chips in addition. Naughty mommy the girls would say ... 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My life with a Sports Addict

The 100 meter Olympic sprint just ended.

H is mesmerized by the post-race coverage so I was able to pry the laptop off of him. I am not even sure he is aware that I am in the room at the moment. Most of the day H has been juggling 3 to 4 events simultaneously using all media outlets - laptop, tv, radio and blackberry.

BBC has been kind enough to make every Olympic event available. I foolishly made a comment about how we watched the Olympic100 meter race together 4 years ago, thinking he'd think it was meaningful or something of that sort. His retort "Gabriela I've watched every 100 meter final since 1988 and can remember all of them." Thanks babe!

I've now been caught and must return the laptop to him ...

Have I ever told you that during our first dance at our wedding, instead of whispering sweet things into my ear, H just kept repeating the names of football (soccer) players ... ;)


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Tired but fabulous day ... long long to do list

My to-do list is incredibly long and the day was packed ... but good - ahhh - I hope to chisel it down tomorrow. No time for self-assessing. I want to sleep!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Five Things Friday

La Bodega Negra

La Bodega Negra 
9 Old Compton St. London W1D 5JF
Cuisine: Mexican

This is not the place to pick up a taco or two, or to go if you are incredibly hungry. Portions are small but the prices are not. This is definitely a place to visit once just to say you've been (that is for old boring folk like me). If you are hip & cool then you'll enjoy the music, vibe, trendy drinks and being part of the fabulously dressed. It's like a "dance club" but under the auspices of a restaurant, so, let's call it a "restaurant disco." 

The food is very good, chic and not your typical Mexican cuisine. All & all, incredibly pleasurable to taste- only incredibly expensive for the teeny toddler sized portions. The atmosphere is "tres chic" and a bit naughty. There is no restaurant sign, only a sign reading "Peep Show" and from the moment you enter the large dark door you feel as if you are entering an "adult club"  - you know the type of place where you'll find dominatrix ... Naughty, isnt it? 

I was there the week the restaurant opened and the service was "awkward" and the servers knew nothing about the actual food, dishes or ingredients which was disappointing. 

Would I go back? I'd consider going back with a large group of friends, but probably not on a date night with H.