Embracing the Salsa

Kids-classSalsa is played throughout the Hispanic world and has influences from Latin American and Afro-Caribbean countries. This popular dance style inspires confidence and freedom to improvise with the traditional steps. Whether it’s with a partner or dancing it out solo, salsa is a way to embrace the Latin culture one step at a time.

Claudia Ramirez has been dancing salsa for years and finds it to be a fun, cultural pastime and the best way for her to stay physically and mentally healthy.

“It is so liberating,” Ramirez said. “To many, hitting the gym and pumping iron are ways to relieve stress, but to me, dancing salsa is my therapy. Brings out the total Latina in me.”

History of Salsa
Salsa is a combination of Latin American and Afro-Carribean dances, such as merengue, mambo, cumbia and the rumba. While the roots of salsa are most famously known for coming from Cuba, many other countries adopted this dance into their cultures, such as the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Puerto Rico and the United States.

In the 1970s, New York City received an influx of Latin American immigrants, who brought along their music and dance styles from their unique regions. Cultures united and created modern day salsa, which continues to evolve today.

The Basic Steps

In any dancing style, practice makes perfect. With salsa, practice is important to keep your rhythm flowing but, when it comes to the basic steps, it’s more about learning how you can make them your own.

Classic Salsa Music
Practice your moves with some classic songs that provide upbeat, shoulder-moving, hip-swaying music for an energetic dance session.

  • “Quimbara” by Celia Cruz
  • “Lloraras” by Oscar D’Leon
  • “Las Caras Lindas” by Ismael Rivera
  • “Pedro Navaja” by Ruben Blades
  • “P’a Bravo Yo” by Justo Betancourt

Below is a guide on how to get into the flow and feel of salsa using simple footwork patterns. 

Salsa Side Steps 

 Step 1: Left, Right, Left
Step left with your left foot, then step in place with your right foot, and then close your left foot to your right foot.

Step 2: Right, Left, Right
Repeat this step with your right foot by stepping right, stepping in place with your left foot, then close your right foot to your left foot.

Salsa Forward Steps

Step 1: Forward Left, Right
Place your left foot forward, then step in place with your right foot. Then close your left foot with your right foot.

Step 2: Back Right, Left
Step back on your right foot then step in place on your left. Close your right foot with your left foot.

As you practice these simple steps, it’s about harnessing the energy of the music and releasing it through twists, turns and feet that won’t stop moving to the beat. In many ways, salsa dancing is an expressive art that allows you to mix fresh imagination with cultural traditions, which make for a style that is timelessly appreciated.

DIY: Cupcake Bouquet

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Photo Credit: Cakecentral.com

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, which means it’s never too early to start prepping a gift for a loved one. This cute DIY bouquet of cupcakes roses is both memorable and easy to make. A memorable gift for less than $20, this bouquet of cupcakes is guaranteed to make your loved one smile.

First, gather the following ingredients:

  • 6-inch Flowerpot (clean)
  •  Foam Ball 6-in (size may vary depending on the size of the flower pot; make sure the foam ball fits perfectly in the flowerpot)
  • 2 sheets of green tissue paper
  •  6 wooden sticks
  •  3 table spoons of fondue chocolate or normal chocolate frosting
  •  1 packet of Oreo cookies or ANY black cookies
  •  1 box of cake mix
  • Ingredients listed in the cake mix box (oil, water, eggs)
  •  24 white or cream cupcake papers are preferred (or matching colors)
  •  2 cupcake baking pans
  •  1 container of Vanilla Frosting (COLD, not at room temperature)
  •   Food coloring of your choice
  •  1 Cake and pastry decorating set

*** OPTIONAL***

To make the flower pot extra special, you can decorate it by either painting it, adding a ribbon to it, or leaving it as is to make it seem like an authentic bouquet.

GETTING THE FOAM BALLS READY

The first step is to prepare the foam balls by covering the top part with chocolate frosting. In my experience, this step should be the first thing you should do. It takes a long time for the frosting to dry even if you place it in the fridge. You can complete this process by placing enough chocolate frosting in a bowl and heating the frosting in the microwave for 45 seconds to a minute.

Tip: Keep track of the time. The chocolate will burn if it’s more than one minute.

After the chocolate has melted, cover half of the foam ball completely; don’t be afraid to use your hands. Lastly, just wait for the frosting to dry.

PREPARING THE CUPCAKES

It’s time for the cupcakes to be made!

  1. First, open your Cake Mixture  and place it in a container and follow the instructions in the back. Mine says to add 1 cup of water, 1/3 of a cup of oil, and 3 eggs.
  2. Next, mix all of your ingredients together until you no longer have lumps in your dough.
  3.   Place the cupcake papers on the cupcake molds and start adding your mixture to each section. For the process of filling cupcake papers, you can use a spoon or an ice cream scoop.
  4.  Make sure to fill the papers about half-way (not all the way to the top!). Remember that cupcakes rise, so, if you put too much of the mixture, it can lead to making a mess trying to pull them out!
  5. Then, when you’re done adding the mixture to the papers, pre-heat your oven to 350 F. Ask a parent or adult to help you with the oven.

TAKE A BREAK

While you wait for your delicious cupcakes to bake (which can take 20-45 minutes; check the cake mix box), start planning out the color of the roses.

AFTER THE CUPCAKES ARE DONE

Let the cupcakes completely cool down; if you do not let them cool down, the frosting will melt and will mess up your flowers.

WHILE THEY COOL DOWN

  1. Add the foam ball to the middle portion of the gardening pot.
  2.  Then, place the white frosting in a small bowl and add enough food coloring to the frosting.
  3. Mix the food coloring and frosting.This will be the color of the rose petals for the bouquet! The amount of colored frosting that you make will depend on how much frosting you want to add to each cupcake.Tip: If you want a lighter color, don’t add a lot of food coloring.

ONCE THE CUPCAKES HAVED COOLED

This part is easier with the help from an adult.

  1. Place your cupcakes in the foam ball using the wooden sticks. If the wooden sticks are too long, use scissors or a knife to cut the wooden stick to a desired length.
  2. Starting from the bottom to the top, place the cupcakes right above the natural line of the gardening pot.
  3. Grab a stick and place it in the middle of the cupcake; do this process slowly, if you do it too fast, you can make a hole in your cupcake.
  4. Do the same for every cupcake, and follow the natural line of the gardening pot as you add them to the gardening to pot.
  5. If you feel that a cupcake is still loose, you can add more sticks in the areas that need additional support.

AFTER PLACING THE CUPCAKES IN THE GARDENING POT

  1. Grab the Oreo cookies, remove the frosting (white part), and break your ores cookies.
  2. Then, place them in the openings of the side of the chocolate foam ball. The ores cookies will be the “soil” of the plant.
  3. Next, you are finally ready to start decorating the cupcakes! Using a pastry decorating set, grab the star figure pattern, fill the pastry bag with your colored frosting, (make sure it’s cool; this will help make it come out smooth instead of runny), and start adding petals to the cupcakes.
  4. Place the tip of the decorating bag almost an inch between the cupcake, slowly squeeze the bag with the other hand, and start decorating the cupcake.
Cupcakes-04

Photo Credit: blog.cookingchanneltv.com

ALMOST DONE!

  1. Grab the green tissue paper and cut the edges of the green paper — this will be the leaves.
  2. Place the green paper near the areas where you placed the crumbled Oreo cookies.

Be proud of yourself, chica! In order to preserve the freshness of the cupcakes, the gift should be given 1-2 days after making and decorating the cupcakes.

Career Prep: Fashion Designer

182577_265003626978181_716790972_nBeing a fashionista means more than only knowing how to sew. If a girl is truly passionate about wanting to become a fashion designer, then she must understand the different skills that are needed in order to succeed in the fashion industry. A fashion designer is usually in charge of everything when it comes to their clothing collection. This is why there are so many schools throughout the U.S. dedicated to offering different programs for Fashion Design! If you want to be the very best, then it’s always best to plan ahead!

What Fashion Designers Need To Know

A successful fashion designer knows the in-and-outs of the business world.  A designer is also responsible for finding opportunities that will be willing to sell some of their creations. That is why being knowledgeable in many business concepts, such as Marketing and Accounting, will be of great help if you decide to become a designer. Since your creations are original, you will mainly be working solo unless you try to collaborate with another designer. That is why knowing all these concepts are necessary because you will have to depend on yourself.

High School Preparation
It’s never too early to start preparing for a career in fashion! First, take an art class. Art classes are a good way to let your creativity flow. Plus, something that a designer must be good at is drawing! Taking a couple of business classes is also a plus, because it will help you become more familiar with how to a business works. When you are ready to take the next step, college, start looking up different programs or schools that offer a degree or classes in fashion. Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons, Pratt, and others are some schools you can look into. Check your local university to see what they offer — who knows, you might be interested in working in another area of the fashion industry!

Internship Preparation
It is no secret that the fashion world is competitive. That is why experience is always key to making your application stand out. If you aren’t doing anything time consuming over the summer, consider looking for an internship! There are paid and unpaid internships available, but the networking and experience is priceless! If you want to see what it’s like to actually work in fashion, then an internship is a good way to go. Don’t think that you have to fly to NYC to get the best internship. You can go to a local fabric or design shop and ask about any opportunities they may have. There are people out there that would love to help you with your dreams, so never be afraid to ask! Internships in college and high school will help you the experience you need to get your foot in the door. You may not be super famous right out of college, but the more experience you have, the higher your chances are of finding the perfect opportunity to succeed in the fashion industry. Remember chicas, networking is a HUGE factor for succeeding in the fashion industry!

It may sound like a lot of work, but finding your dream job comes with hard work. Planning ahead will make things simpler in the future.  Start planing chica!

Quiz: Which Latina Actress Are You Like?

film-reel-2Ten years ago, Hollywood was a place of limited opportunities for Hispanic actors, where most roles fell under stereotypical Latino portrayals. Since then, times have changed to where Latina actresses are making their presence known to mass audiences through not only snagging lead roles but through empowering their fan bases to be bold, ambitious individuals who stay connected to their culture.

1. How would you describe yourself?
A) Artistic

B) Energetic

C) Smart

D) Caring

 

2. How would your friends describe you?

A) Creative

B) Hilarious

C) Loyal

D) Adventurous

 

3. If you were a Disney princess, who would you be?

A) Mulan from Mulan 

B) Ariel from The Little Mermaid 

C) Belle from Beauty and the Beast 

D) Jasmine from Aladdin

 

4. One life goal you have is to:

A) Learn a foreign language

B) Be a star

C) Write a book

D) Make a difference

 

5. Pick your favorite subject:

A) Art

B) P.E.

C) English

D) History

 

6. If you won a million dollars, how would you spend it?

A) Start a business

B) Go traveling

C) Give to family

D) Donate to charity

 

7. How do you make yourself feel better after a tough day?

A) Express it by writing, drawing, singing, dancing, etc.

B) Talk about it with friends or family.

C) Have quiet, alone time to relax.

D) Go out for a walk/run or for fresh air.

 

8. What is your spirit animal?

A) Owl

B) Peacock

C) Elephant

D) Dolphin

 

9. Which singer inspires you?

A) Taylor Swift

B) Selena Gomez

C) Ariana Grande

D) Demi Lovato

 

10. What activity are you most likely to join?

A) School newspaper

B) School play

C) Sports team

D) Volunteer club

 

No matter their differences in background, acting choices or lifestyle, they are Latinas who have worked towards building their reputation as respectable, accomplished women. While we have seen them in movies, TV shows and commercials, they are more than pretty faces. They are inspirational figures, in their own respects, for younger generations in the Latino community.

 

Mostly A: Rosario Dawson
You are warm, compassionate and an independent spirit. You have a unique intelligence, creative talents and a love of knowledge. Your friends and family think of you as dependable, patient, and down to earth. When things are tough, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.

 

Mostly B: Sofia Vergara
You are a lively person who enjoys being active and having fun with friends and family. You speak your mind and aren’t afraid to try something new or do the right thing, no matter what people think. People like to be around you because of your motivating, fun attitude. You like to look at things a different way and aren’t afraid of exploring out-of-the-ordinary things.

 

Mostly C: America Ferrera
You’re a strong, kind and dependable person who believes in working hard and finding success. People trust you and respect the attitude that you have towards your goals. You have natural leadership skills, which prompt you to take the initiative in everything you do and believe in always having the freedom to express yourself. You see challenges as exciting and have a fearless attitude about diving into something new.

 

Mostly D: Eva Longoria
You’re generous, supportive and honest to others. You are realistic about situations and have a strong will of thinking about your own life decisions. You are aware of other people’s feelings and take them into consideration, along with your natural instincts. Because of your imaginative nature, you excel in creative situations and never lose sight of doing the right thing.

Tips to a Stress Free Holiday

christmas-gift1The joyful holiday season can sometimes feel like one of the most stressful times of the year. Between shopping, entertaining and parties, we tend to forget what the holidays are about: happiness. Here are some tips in order to avoid letting the stress take over and bring down your joy.

Get your list done early:  Buying and wrapping gifts takes a while. It is a good idea to get a head start by buying things early when there is more of a selection. If you’re baking something, buying the ingredients days before the actual party will take off a lot of pressure. Also don’t do everything by yourself; cleaning the house and decorating is a job for more than one person. If for whatever reason you end up doing it all, start early one spot at a time. Asking people what they want relieves us from the constant wondering of if they’re going to like what we got them.

Go tech- free: “My mom always taught my sister and me to not use any technology at the table, and it’s a custom we also use on holidays. The whole family goes tech-free because once we’re all together we don’t need anything else,” said Diana Palma, age 15

Avoid expensive gifts: Almost nobody is at the top of the mountain when we’re talking about economic situation, and sometimes the holidays just make us resent it even more. It is not easy to buy gifts for every single member of the family especially in Hispanic families because we tend to be very large. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars in gifts, search for alternatives. DIY gifts are always a good optional. There are dozens of websites with great ideas to copy. If you’re not a crafty person, you can always look for coupons or start a family gift exchange. The American Psychological Association recommends being open with family if money is an issue.

Focus on the season of giving: Helping others can five us a warm feeling. Volunteering to aid those in need also helps us appreciate what we have. “Every year my family gets involved in some kind of volunteering. We are picky and try to do just one or two volunteer projects together,” shared Claudia Escobedo, age 16

Learn to say no: You’re only one person and can’t always attend to every single party you’re invited to. You may think that it is rude to say no, but it’s not. Besides what is the point of being at a party that you’re clearly not enjoying? People will appreciate your presence more when you are stress free and in a good mood.

Connect with Family: After not seeing your relatives for a long time, holidays are the perfect time to reconnect with them. According to the American Psychological Association, being with those who care about you can help alleviate stress. With this purpose in mind, you can organize get-togethers where each member of the family brings something to the reunion, so the load is not only on one person.

Career Spotlight: Journalist

Photo Credit: http://www.kint.com/artist/rosy-zugasti/

Photo Credit: http://www.kint.com/artist/rosy-zugasti/

As a Latina, it brings a lot of pride watching other Latinas excel in their careers. This is the case with Rosy Zugasti, a Mexican reporter whose passion for journalism brought her to begin her education in the United States and whose language barriers did not prevent her from succeeding. In this interview, Rosy Zugasti explains the steps she took in her career.

What are your job responsibilities?
My responsibilities are to investigate everything that happens in the communities of El Paso, Juarez and Las Cruces that in someway affect the people. Primarily, I inform the audience without bias.

What is your educational training?
I studied for my professional career in journalism at the University of Texas at El Paso. Before that, I studied English, communications and my basics in high school in Cuidad Juarez and then EPCC. Throughout my studies, I was involved in journalism activities like the newspaper and other school projects that helped me learn about being a reporter. I was also a radio announcer for KCCR when I was at community college. During my senior year in college, I did an internship with Univision El Paso

How did you find your current job?
I found my job because  I did an internship at Univision my last year of college. During my internship, I focused a lot on demonstrating that I was a hardworking person with a willingness to learn. That is why I was selected for a full-time job with the news station.

How did you prepare for this career?
I prepared during school and with extracurricular activities. For a future reporter it is very important to get involved in media early because that will open many doors for you.

What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is being able to have direct contact with the people. I like being able to give voice to those who need to be heard and to help the community.

What is the most challenging part of the job?
It is difficult when I have to report on tragedies or death. It makes me very sad to see people suffer. Sometimes it is hard to concentrate when a family is suffering.

 What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
I like to spend time with my family, playing the piano, going for walks in the park or going to the movies.

 What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
I would recommend that they start now connecting with people who work in media. There are TV stations and newspapers that allow youth to do internships at a young age to learn about the the work and get informed about media. It is also important to learn about all the aspects involved in mass communications.

Sylvia Orozco: The Mind Behind Mexic-Arte

mam-logoIf you’ve ever been to Austin, Texas, you have probably seen the museum Mexic-Arte that is located in downtown Austin. The museum, which was founded in 1984, started out as a small gallery in a 300 square foot warehouse. The mission for this museum has always remained the same: to teach the people of Austin about Mexican-influenced art.

LATINITAS: When did you realize you were interested in art?
SYLVIA: My father was a boot maker from Guadalajara. He worked in a boot shop in Cuero, Texas and I would go with him on Saturdays and watch him make boots. I liked watching him create something. I always liked drawing. I won a contest for best drawing in 2nd grade of a little dog that I drew (laughs). I guess I was always comfortable drawing and was told I was good at it.

LATINITAS: How did you end up in Austin?
SYLVIA: I transferred to UT and studied Studio Art and Painting from 1975 to 1978.

LATINITAS: What made you decide to stay in Austin?
SYLVIA: I didn’t. I went to Mexico City and got my master’s at the Autonomous University of Mexico. It was there where I learned a lot more about museums and galleries.

LATINITAS: I see, so how did that partake into the formation of Mexic-Arte?
SYLVIA: Well, while I was in Mexico City I kept in touch with organizations that I worked with while I was studying at UT, like Mujeres Artistas Del Suroeste and LUChA, the League of United Chicano Artists. I wanted to bring what I saw in Mexico City to Austin.

LATINITAS: Racism is still alive and apparent, have you come across this issue in your career?
SYLVIA: We’re located downtown and we’ve been told before that we should be in east Austin (a high percentage of Latinos reside in east Austin). What most people don’t know is that Republic Square (located in downtown Austin) was a Mexican neighborhood. I believe there is an $8 million budget for art and Latinos need to get an appropriate share. In the 90’s, 17% to 19-% went to Latinos, now it’s only 12%.

LATINITAS: What do you feel art is so important?
SYLVIA: There’s a lot of negative things out there about Latinos, we have a lot of positive things and art helps bring that forward. Art connects us to our history. If people feel connected to something positive they feel stronger. Art contributes to the quality of life, it stimulates your brain and helps you develop creativity.

LATINITAS:What is your advice for future Latinas and career women?
SYLVIA: Those are difficult years. I would say to be aware of how hard it is and how those times can make a huge difference in the future. Be careful and make wise choices so you can have a better future for yourself.

LATINITAS:What do you aspire to see Latinas accomplish in the future?
SYLVIA: I hope that Latinas get more involved in art, even in politics. They shouldn’t be intimidated. I would want to see them embrace the arts, whether an artist themselves or a supporter but to at least become involved. [Art] enriches your life. Latinas are encouraged to do other things, but there isn’t enough encouragement to become involved in the arts.

DIY: Holiday Recipes

Holiday season is just around the corner! It  is the  best time to pamper family and friends with the ultimate holiday desserts, YUM! Check out these recipes that are guaranteed to make you and your family’s sweet tooth happy. These recipes require you to use the stove or oven, so ask an adult for help on making one of these delicious treats.

Rainbow Cake for Santa

This Oreo inspired recipe wrks best with the help from another person. Plus, it makes it more fun!

For this recipe you will need:

  • 15 Oreo cookies
  • 2 bars of cream cheese
  • 90 grams of no salt butter
  • 1 tbsp. of vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup of table cream
  • 1 cup of condensed milk
  • 2 packages of unflavored gelatin
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 3 plastic bags with a seal
  • Santa mold (preferably plastic)
  • Red food colorantRainbow pie 1

After you have gathered the ingredients, follow these easy steps:

1.       Take the white center of the cookie and put the cookies into one of the plastic bags. You don’t need the white center part of the cookie for this recipe, so you can eat it or set it aside.

2.       Crush the cookies until there are no more chunks of it. That’s right, it’s just dust!
Rainbow pie 2Rainbow pie 3

3.       Put the cookie dust into a bowl and mix it with butter. Using your hands to mix both ingredients makes the whole process easier!
Rainbow pie 4

4.       Move this mix to the bottom of the mold and push until it is flat.

Rainbow pie 5

5.       Place the mold with the mix into the refrigerator until it is cold and hard.

6.       Mix water with the 2 packages of gelatin and place it into a microwave for 80 seconds.

7.     Next, while the mold is in the refrigerator, get a bowl and mix cream cheese, condensed milk, cream, vanilla extract and the juice of the lemon.
Rainbow pie 8

8.       Wait for the water with gelatin to cool, and, once it’s ready, pour it into the mix.

9.       Keep mixing until there are no more lumps.

10.   Separate the mix into the 4 bags, add food coloring to two and leave the other natural.
Rainbow pie 11

Rainbow pie 12

11.   Take the mold out of the refrigerator and cut a corner of the bag so the mix can be poured into the mold.

12.   Do layers, mixing one layer of red and one layer of natural mix, until you have 4 layers.

Rainbow pie 13

13.   Put the mold with the mix into the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours. Then, take the mix out of the mold after the 3 hours are up!
Rainbow pie 17

Rainbow pie 19

Truffles

For this recipe you will need:

  •  200 grams of dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp. of butter
  • ¼ cup of whip cream
  • 1/3 cup of hazelnut cream
  • 2 cups of white chocolateRainbow pie 16

 After you have gathered the ingredients, follow these easy steps:

1.      Place a container inside a large pan with water. Then, under a simmering heat, melt the dark chocolate and add the butter, whip cream, and hazelnut cream.

truffles 1

 

truffles 2

2.       Once everything is melted, mix it and put it into the refrigerator for 2 hours.

truffles 3

3.       After the 2 hours, get the mix out of the refrigerator. Use a Parisian spoon to make little balls and put them over sealed paper.

4.       If they’re not hard enough, place them into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

5.       While you wait, start melting the white chocolate in the microwave.

6.      With help of a toothpick, immerse the truffle into the melted white chocolate.

7.       Then, add decorations of chocolate.

8.       Put them into the freezer for a few minutes, enjoy!

Cookie Christmas tree

 For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 recipients
  • 2 cups of flour
  • ¼ tbsp. of salt
  • ½ tbsp. of baking powder
  • 1 bar of butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. of milk
  • ½ tbsp. of vanilla extract
  • 1 cling wrap
  • Star molds (different sizes)
  • A rolling pin
  • Skewer sticks
  • Vanilla icingcookies 1

After you have gathered the ingredients, follow these easy steps:

1.       In recipient #1 mix flour, salt and baking powder.
cookies 2

2.       In recipient #2 mix melted butter, sugar, milk, vanilla, and an egg.
cookies 4cookies 5

3.       Mix recipient #1 and #2 together.

4.       Wrap the mix to the cling wrap and put into the refrigerator for 2 hours.

5.       Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

6.       Put flour in a flat surface and spread the mix with a rolling pin.

7.      Take the star cookie cutter and press gently onto the cookie mix. Don’t forget to use molds of different sizes because this will shape the Christmas tree!

8.       Then, spread a thin layer of butter onto a cookie tray. Place the cookies you just cut out onto the tray and insert tray into the oven.

9.       Bake them until they’re lightly toasted, take them out, and let them cool off for 10 minutes.

10.   After they have cooled down, you are going to stack the cookies into the shape of a Christmas tree. Put them one over the other, from the biggest to the smallest one, on a plate. Put a stick into the center of the top cookie and connect with the rest of the cookies.

11.   Add vanilla icing to decorate the cookies and enjoy!

 

Holiday Punch

Looking for a quick recipe that doesn’t involve an oven? Holiday punch can be just as festive.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 4 guavas
  • 3 pears
  • 3 apples
  • ½ cup of raisins
  • ½ cup Roselle dried flower
  • 1 cup of tamarind
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 ½ lt. of water
  • 250 grams of sugar or piloncillo

 After you have gathered the ingredients, follow these easy steps:

1.       Cut the fruit in small pieces.

2.       Place a cinnamon stick inside a pot of water. Turn on the stove and let the water boil.

3.       Once the water starts to boil, add tamarind, fruits, Roselle dried flower, and sugar or piloncillo.

4.      Keep an eye on the pot and occasionally stir while it heats up. It will be ready when the fruit changes color.

5.       When the fruit changes color, turn off the heat and let it cool.

6.       When it stops boiling, add raisins, mix the contents, and serve.

The holidays provide the perfect opportunities to test out new or old recipes. With the help of an adult, making these recipes can be a breeze!

Spicing Up the Holidays

Photo Credit: Myrecipes.com

Christmas music is blasting through the speakers.  Colorful wreaths are being hung in every door. Trees are being decorated with ornaments that are probably bigger than your head. Even though the weather is not agreeing with the holiday season, the holidays are the perfect time of year to drink a nice hot cup of hot chocolate as you play Michael Bublé’s album.

Instead of having that plain, old same cup of hot chocolate though, mix up your traditions. Here are three recipes that will make your holidays as warm as the weather. Just be careful not to burn yourself!

White-White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups 2% milk
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Place the white chocolate in a metal bowl over a pan of hot water. This will make the hot chocolate to melt. You might have to stir until the chocolate is smooth. When smooth, add the cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Stir the contents. Then whisk in the egg until the contents are smooth again.
  2. Whisk one cup of milk for around 2 minutes. Then whisk what is left of the milk. Heat the contents until it’s hot. If you see milk skin, you overheated it.
  3. It will be ready to drink if the taste of the cayenne is hidden by the milk’s temperature or when the hot chocolate as at your preferred temperature.
  4. Add the hot chocolate to some cute colorful mugs, sprinkle some cinnamon and enjoy!

Chocolate Bar Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • (1.55 ounce) bar milk chocolate candy bar, chopped
    - My advice: Choose a Hersey’s Milk Chocolate Bar
  • 2/3 cup milk, or more to taste
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Place the chocolate pieces in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the milk and stir until the chocolate is melted and well mixed (which could take around 5 minutes). Add some cinnamon and mix the content again. You might want to taste the hot chocolate to see if you want to add more chocolate. Serve in a nice holiday mug and drink up!

Mayan Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 3 tablespoons instant hot chocolate mix
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Mix the hot chocolate mix, cinnamon and the cayenne pepper in your favorite holiday mug.
  2. Pour the mix into a glass-measuring cup.
  3. Place the measuring cup into the microwave and heat on High until the drink begins to boil up which can take around 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the mixture into the mug (use mitten gloves to handle the measuring cup). Stir the drink with a small whisk or a spoon. Drink up and enjoy the last few days before the Mayan calendar ends.

Just remember that if you are not old enough to use the stove, have someone who is older to use the kitchen appliances. The white-white hot chocolate and the chocolate bar hot chocolate makes four servings, which makes them the perfect drinks for friends and family.

It also makes the perfect drink to leave for Santa! Happy Holidays!

Recipe ideas: Allrecipes.com

Review: Book of Life

book-of-life-facebook

Director Jorge Gutierrez and producer Guillermo Del Toro center the story plot, animation and characters on Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a traditional Mexican holiday, which is celebrated on November 1 throughout Latin America. This festivity celebrates the lives of loved ones who have passed away with parties and activities that serve to recognize death as a natural part of life, and also as a way to invite spirits to return from their eternal sleep and join their families in the celebrations.

The film follows the story of three childhood amigos who are caught in a love triangle. Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna) is a tender-hearted hero who comes from a long line of champion bullfighters but finds his true passion in playing his guitar. Then we have Joaquin (voiced by Channing Tatum), a macho-man bandit rustler with medals around his neck and pride in his stride. These childhood friends vie for the love of Maria (Zoe Saldana), the smart and multi-talented daughter of the general who runs their village of San Angel.

All the while, two spirit forces watch over the trio and over their magical lands, a part of the story that taps into Mexican mythology surrounding the Day of the Dead. La Muerte (Kate del Castillo), ruler of the Land of the Remembered, roots for Manolo to win the heart of Maria while Xibalba (Ron Perlman), who rules over the Land of the Forgotten, believes Joaquin will win her heart.

As a result, Manolo is sent on an adventure through the whimsical lands and encounters a series of challenges along the way to seek Maria, who has fallen into a “Sleeping Beauty”-style slumber. Meanwhile, their village of San Angel is being threatened by Chakal, a metallic monster bandit with a gang of thieves.

Throughout the film, the Día de los Muertos theme is embraced through the vibrant characters and settings that have the most familiar symbol of the holiday with calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls). Mexican folk art inspires much of the animation, filling the screen with eye-popping colors and details. While the plot itself has been seen before, the visuals and the worlds seen in the film resemble a Day of the Dead themed “Candyland” setting, which is sure to keep the audience pleased.

The characters of Manolo and Joaquin represent positive human qualities such as nobility and self-sacrificial love. While Maria holds an empowering image for the main female role as a headstrong martial arts expert and bookworm, she falls under the “damsel in distress” role at one point and has to be saved by her hero. However, most of her character is positively depicted as an independent woman who is free to make her own choices.

Throughout the film, the significance of Día de los Muertos is constantly being portrayed through the adventures of the three amigos and the spiritual beings that influence their worlds. This multi-tiered plot takes the audience through the general cultural customs of Day of the Dead through acts that include the tales of life after death, good forces of nature over evil and the pursuit of staying close to loved ones who have influenced your world, long after leaving the human realm.

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