My Crazy Cocina Caliente!!

Just a crazy little latina, stirring up trouble in the cocina!

Wilton Cake #2 August 26, 2009

Filed under: Baking,cake,Wilton — Vanessita! @ 11:41 am
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This post is a bit delayed seeing how I baked this cake up last week, but I had to share it with you guys!

I’m not too proud of the actual decorations on the cake- my frosting wasn’t the right consistency so my flowers didn’t look very pretty.  But I am proud of the cake inside- it was YUMMY!!!


During our third class we learned how to make drop flowers using a closed star tip.  The flowers (if made with the right frosting) can be VERY pretty and are super simple to make.  Using our small #3 round tip, we made the little dots in the center of the flowers and I made some extra dots around the cake as well.

The cake inside is a Hershey’s cake I sort of made up on my own.  I had looked around and found a bunch of recipes but they involved baking with a lot of caramel and I didn’t want my cake to fall apart when I took it out of the pan.
I also half-cheated by using a cake mix- but hey, it worked and tasted delicious!!! Don’t hate! 🙂

Snickers Cake
Cocina Caliente Semirginal 😉

1 Box of German Chocolate Cake Mix
1 Pack of Fun Sized Snickers Candies
1 Bag of Caramel Candies
4 tbsp of flour
1 Batch of Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting

Prep your oven per box instructions.

Chop up the Snickers (I used about 8 Fun sized bars, feel free to use more) and set aside.
Chop up the Caramels (I cut these pretty finely, I didn’t want HUGE globs inside the cake.  I also used about 12 caramels) and set aside.

Prep the Chocolate Cake Mix per the box instructions.

When you are done making the batter, dump your chopped candies into the flour.  Make sure to mix it up really well so that each candy is fully coated in flour.  This will help the candies stick to the inside of the batter versus dropping to the bottom of the mix (top of the cake).

Once the candies are covered in flour, lightly mix them into the cake- making sure they’ve been evenly distributed.

Make sure your pans are very well greased!!!

Bake as per the box instructions.

AND VIOLA!  Easy Peasy Snickers Cake.

I filled the layers with the Hershey’s Chocolate Icing but topped it with the standard (overly sweet) Wilton icing recipe.  The chocolate on chocolate though was SOOOO good.  My co-workers loved it when I brought it in the next day for my managers birthday.


Oh- and I thought I’d share the EXTREMELY creepy Wilton Clowns that we also learned to make during this weeks class.  I don’t think I’ll EVER be making these things again- they’re just so creepy looking!!! ACK!

ClownsScary, huh?


Sunflowers for Sophia

Filed under: Baking,Cupcakes — Vanessita! @ 11:24 am
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I’ve been looking forward to our trip to Tampa for MONTHS now!!! Hubs and I got tickets to see his favorite band: Incubus.  The concert was going to take place in Tampa-which was also the place where our friends Sophia & Jeff moved to last year.  We hadn’t seen them since our wedding last October so I was excited to be heading to their neck of the woods.  We decided to meet up for an early dinner before the concert.  Unfortunately Jeff had to work but I had a BLAST chatting it up with Sophia and catching up- it had seriously felt like FOREVER since we had last had such a fun and long conversation.

I knew I wanted to bake her something and when she told me her favorite cake flavor was chocolate I immediately knew which recipe I was wanted to make.  After thinking about it for a little bit I decided I also wanted to decorate the cupcakes like sunflowers, as I had seen in other blogs recently.


I used the Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake & Frosting recipe.  I’ve heard so many wonderful things about these recipe from the girls on the cooking blog I frequent.  I actually halved the original recipes since I didn’t need 30 cupcakes, but I’ve posted the original recipes below:

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.  I baked this in a regular cupcake pan and got about 15 cupcakes.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with “PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

I then used a store bought vanilla frosting which I tinted yellow and added some meringue powder to, to get a thick/stiff consistency.  Using the round #20 tip I piped on the chocolate frosting in small “dots” in the center of each cupcake.
Then I used a star tip (I believe it was #21??) to pipe the flower petals on.  The entire process was SUPER easy and didn’t even take much time.

Afterwards I used a toothpick to draw the spots on red M&Ms to resemble little ladybugs.  I really think they came out super cute.

Special thanks to JoJoEspana from the WC board for her helpful tips on making these cupcakes.


Crockpot Pork Roast! August 13, 2009

Filed under: dinner,Pork — Vanessita! @ 7:28 pm
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Crockpot Pork Roast has been calling my name for MONTHS!!! I’ve been meaning to buy a roast at the store and never really got around to it.

Recently on my trip to the grocery store I decided I had to grab a roast even if I wasn’t going to make it that same week.  The following week I let the roast defrost and made it for dinner.  S-O G-O-O-D!!!

I basically just took ideas from a bunch of recipes I saw, including the back of the Onion Mix box (forgot which brand it was).  I’ve seen VARIOUS variations of how to make crockpot pork roast and hope to try something new next time- but this was SO good and is a very simple, easy recipe.


Pork Roast
(For a smaller sized roast)

1 Packet of Onion Mix
1/2 Cup of Water
Your Favorite Seasoning (I used Adobo, what’s new!)
2 Carrots, cut into slices (You can use more if you’d like, we’re just not big carrot people)
3 Large Potatoes, cut into medium cubes (Again, use more or less according to your tastes)
1 Large Scallion, cut into small pieces

Mix the packet of onion mix with the 1/2 cup of water
In the bottom of the crockpot place the cut veggies and potatoes
Cut the pork roast in half, season, and lay on top of the veggies/potatoes
Pour over the onion/water mix over the veggies
Cover the crockpot and set on low for 8 hours…

Next? Come home to a SCRUMPCIOUS smelling house and a DELCIOUS, soft, tender, and juicy dinner.



First Wilton Cake! August 11, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Wilton — Vanessita! @ 10:24 pm
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I’ve been wanting to take the Wilton Cake Decorating courses FOREVER now and had never gotten around to it.  Finally last month I decided I was going to sign up even if it meant going alone.  My classes began last Tuesday but this week was the first time we actually got to decorate.

We had to make the “assigned” designed on our own cake (any flavor any filling we wanted).  We had to cover it in blue Wilton buttercream (aka lard & sugar! lol) and in class we made our rainbow design.


Please ignore the horrible frosting & the 2nd grader hand writing- it’s my first real time decorating ok!? 🙂

The cake I originally made was an Puerto Rican Amaretto Cake, but sadly it didn’t work out.  I had to use a deeper pan than I’m used to and the center of the cake didn’t bake right.  I did bake a small portion into some cupcake cups so I can tell you it tasted amazing, but sadly the large cake just didn’t work. 😦

It was super late Monday night and I since my class was on Tuesday I had to bake something QUICK! I dug into the pantry and grabbed a Yellow Cake box mix, mixed it in with Amaretto and vanilla flavors, then filled it with bananas, blueberries, and amaretto cream cheese frosting.  YUM! 🙂  Overall it was quick and easy- just what I needed at 11pm Monday night! haha.

Overall the class was a lot of fun.  They cram so much into the 2 hour class so we were constantly busy but I really learned a lot and can’t wait to use these techniques again.

If you’re thinking of taking these classes- GO FOR IT! SIGN UP! 🙂  Next week we’ve been assigned to make a flower cake- I can’t wait!!!


Pollo Guisado…Old School Favorite

Filed under: chicken,dinner — Vanessita! @ 10:11 pm
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Growing up my mom used to make Pollo Guisado all the time- it’s a dish I will FOREVER love.


My friends and I decided to have a small dinner party last week and our theme was “latin night”.  Since the majority of us come from a hispanic background we each made a traditional Spanish dish.
We had everything from Picadillo, to plaintains, tres leche cake, black beans, white rice, flan, and some awesome taco-dip.  Because my friend was going to make a beef dish I decided I should make chicken and immediately knew I wanted to make pollo guisado.

When made right the chicken will fall right off the bone and be extremely moist and juicy.  DELISH!!!

Saturday morning I joined my friend Jenn to the Winter Park farmers market and got some great veggies that I used in this meal.

Pollo Guisado
Cocina Caliente Original Recipe (With Help From My Mom!! 🙂 )

Feeds: 10-12

1 large (family sized) pack of chicken thighs, bone-in  (drumsticks can also be used)
Half a can of broth (I used beef) (Water can also be used)
1 medium green pepper (cut into small pieces)
1 medium red pepper (cut into small pieces)
1 medium carrot (sliced into small pieces)
1 large potato (cut into small cubes)
Half of a medium white onion (diced)
1 tsp. of garlic
Adobo (for seasoning chicken)
2 bullion cubes (I used the powdered kind)
2 packets of Sazon
3 tablespoons of Sofrito
1 1/2 cans of tomato sauce
Salt to Taste

First season your chicken with the adobo.
Because I was making so much chicken and I wanted to make sure it all cooked through evenly, I set a large deep skillet over medium low heat I seared the chicken pieces in the sofrito, sazon, bullion cube, and tomato sauce mix (only use half the sauce at this point).  Let that simmer for a little bit.  Be sure to cover your pan so everything stays really moist.
After about 10 minutes I added all the veggies, the remaining half of tomato sauce and added enough broth to cover about 1/3 of the chicken.
Keep the heat medium low and let the chicken continue to cook in the broth/veggie mix.  Be sure to mix it well so that all the flavors incorporate.

For the large amount of chicken I made, I think it took me about 30 to 40 minutes before it was just right.
You should be able to put a fork through the chicken and the chicken should be cooked all the way through.

You can always add more veggies, take away some veggies, add ingredients of your choice- whatever you like to give it the flavors you want.  Everyone at the dinner party commented on how good the chicken was and it really is SO simple to make.

Buen Provecho!!!


Cupcakes & Lemon! July 30, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Cupcakes — Vanessita! @ 11:13 pm
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Sorry Sorry Sorry!!! I know it’s been about a week since I’ve updated my blog but we’ve been very very busy!!!  Busy both with our families and busy in the kitchen, which means lots of blog updates soon to come!!

Last Thursday I tried 2 new cupcake recipes from my “125 best Cupcake recipes” book (given to me by my WC exchange nestie!!!).  I had recently stocked up on lemon so I decided to make Lemon Yogurt cupcakes and Pink Lemonade cupcakes.
I will warn you ahead of time: The Lemon Yogurt cupcakes are now near the top of my all-time favorite cake flavors- I just can’t express how YUMMY these cupcakes are.  I received SOOOOO many compliments from my co-workers.  In the exact words of my co-worker Andrew: “mmmmmmmmm”, haha – which my manager replied with “I totally agree!” 🙂  (and that means a lot because my manager is SOOOOO not a sweets person).


Lemon Yogurt Cupcakes
From: 125 Best Cupcake Recipes, Julie Hasson (p. 55)

Makes 12 cupcakes
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

1 1/4 Cup AP Flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted & cooled) (1 stick)
1 egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used non-fat)
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon oil or lemon extract (I used extract)

1. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, butter and egg until smooth.  Add yogurt, lemon zest and juice, and lemon oil, beating until smooth.  Add flour mixture, beating just until smooth.  (I did this in my stand mixer)
3. Scoop batter into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 22 to 25 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.  Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.  Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.

I topped these cupcakes with my own lemon-cream cheese frosting:

1/4 cup of butter (1/2 a stick)
1/2 block of cream cheese
Powdered Sugar
Lemon Juice

In a stand mixer mix the butter & cream cheese until smooth (at room temp).
Start adding powdered sugar until you get the consistency you want (I went for a stiffer consistency).
Add in about 1 tsp. of lemon juice, mix well.
If it becomes too liquidy, add some more powdered sugar.

Now, I had been looking forward to making these pink lemonade cupcakes for a LONG time.  Sadly they weren’t everything I was expecting them to be.  My co-workers did like them but told me they were a little too tart and perhaps too dense. 😦 boo.

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes
From: 125 Best Cupcake Recipes, Julie Hasson (p. 107)

Makes 10 cupcakes
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Pinch Salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup veggie oil
2 egg whites
1/3 cup thawed frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 to 3 drops of red food coloring (I used pink Wilton icing gel)

1. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, egg whites and lemonade concentrate.  Alternately whisk in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of the flour and two of buttermilk, beating just until smooth.  Add just enough food coloring to turn the batter a light pink shade.
3. Scoop batter into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.  Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.  Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.

I topped these with a Pink Lemonade Buttercream I found on IheartCuppyCakes.

Lemon Buttercream
From: I Heart Cuppycakes

3 cups + 3 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Red food color (I used Wilton pink gel)

Add the butter, confectioner’s sugar, salt and lemon juice to the stand mixer and mix on low using the paddle attachment until combined.

Add pink food coloring and mix until frosting is uniformly pink.

While the pink lemonade cupcakes weren’t my favorite- I’m glad I decided to try a few new recipes.  I would have never thought of baking with yogurt and I was very nervous when I first read the recipe- but man o man is it delicious! Super moist and flavorful- the icing was just the perfect addition as well.  I WILL be making those again! 🙂


Yum Yum Steak!!! July 23, 2009

Filed under: dinner,Steak — Vanessita! @ 12:24 pm
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I have a confession for you guys today: I do not own a real grill.

Wait, it gets better.

I’ve really never ever grilled in my entire life.

I know, sad isn’t it?!

Growing up my parents never owned a grill- and when they finally bought one I was about to move out and my brother took possession of it and didn’t let any of us touch it.

Hubs and I have a George Foreman grill- I love since it cooks things really quick but its such a pain to clean!!!  We actually take turns now- he washes it one time and I’ll wash it the next.  It’s such a pain since we can’t remove the grill plates (on our model).
So lately I’ve been making everything in a skillet… and boy do I love it.  The skillet provides super easy clean-up… only one pan to clean- we don’t even have to fight over whose turn it is to clean because it’s such a small task neither of us minds.

So for the past few months I’ve “grilled” all my chicken, steaks, burgers, EVERYTHING on a skillet.  When I came across this recipe on the WC board I knew I had to try it.  The title really caught my attention “Best Steak Ever”… oh really? That’s a bold claim- and man, it sure was one MIGHTY tasty steak.

This is also an easy recipe to make.  It did take a quick trip to the grocery store since I don’t normally buy shallots (green onions) but since I had some wine on hand (thanks Judy!) I figured it was worth a try.


The Best Steak Ever
From: What Recipe (Thanks Catherine!)

1 tbsp oil
1 sirloin steak, seasoned with your favorite combination
1 large shallot, minced I love the taste of shallots so I added 2 🙂
3/4 cup beef broth I added an extra splash, just because I felt like it.
1/4 cup red wine I also added an extra splash of this- hey, the steak was calling for it! Don’t judge me! 🙂
1 tbsp butter

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and heat thru. Add steak and sautee 4 minutes each side or until medium. Remove from skillet, place on a plate and tent with tinfoil and keep warm.

Add shallots to pan and sautee for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Combine beef broth and red wine and add to pan. Reduce by half. Add in drippings from steak and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add in butter, stirring until melted and combined. Remove from heat.

So, that’s it!
Super easy and SOOOO tasty!

Next time you’re in the mood for steak and you don’t want to haul the grill out or mess with the cleaning- I highly recommend this recipe!