The Best of MBFCF in 2010

I started this tradition last year.

I reviewed my posts for the entire year (which was kind of interesting in a wow-is-that-a-train-wreck? kinda way, but that's not important right now) and picked a mix of some of my favorites.

These links are a pretty good representation of what it's like Living the Vida Loca, MBFCF-style.

If you've been a regular reader, I thank you for your time and attention and your cyber-love. You may enjoy going into my cyber-time machine and re-living this past year via the following blog posts.

If you're new to my blog, make yourself at home and enjoy this slice of my Cuban-American life in the O.C.



1. The Writing is On the Wall - The one where I take you on a tour of the walls of my freakishly small cottage-like home.

E I love you m

2. A Living Legacy - The one where my mom turned 96 and had her photo taken with (almost) everyone in my big, fat, Cuban family.


3. Amy's Trip to Cuba - The one where Amy Kikita (my daughter) goes to Cuba and shares how she experienced the island and the people and how she ended up meeting Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez of Generacion Y. This link is to all the posts from her trip.

Amy varadero

4.  How Google Works - A Very Cuban Explanation - The one where my 96 year old mom explains how the internet search engines work. She calls them Cuco and Yayo (Google and Yahoo) and becomes an instant Youtube hit among Cubans everywhere.

5. How to Turn 55 While in Miami - In which I drag out my birthday celebration for days and enjoy a wonderful party and my husband's sweet surprise.

Birthday party

6. How to Throw a Virtual Birthday Party - In which I surprise and amaze my daughter by having everyone she knows post a birthday greeting. (*takes bow*)

Val birthday amy

7.  Hasta La Vista, Baby! - In which my son, Adam, moves far away and leaves me sad. (*wipes away a tear*)

Adam car

8. Baking With Betty - Brownieliciousness - In which I get to bake in the Betty Crocker Kitchens in Minneapolis and am overwhelmed by my own nerdiness.


9. When is a Pitbull NOT a pitbull? - In which I am introduced to Cuban rapper, Pitbull and I may or may not have called him a muñecón. Here's the video version. ;-)


10. El Palacio and me. (It was love at first sight.) - In which I visit El Palacio de Los Jugos (with my partner in Tiki Tiki blog-crime, Carrie) in Miami and document the entire comelata.


11. The Mother Ring - In which I tell about how I received a family heirloom.


12. Nochebuena. Cubans. Photobooth. (Pachanga!) - In which I manage to capture the silliness and beauty that is my big, fat, Cuban family.


It's a nice compilation, isn't it?

I'll just keep writing in 2011. I hope you come back. My blog-casa is your blog-casa. =D

Happy New Year!

Pumpkins and Games and Googly Eyes - Oh My! (A Giveaway)

Yep, I'm still writing about Betty Crocker. I warned you I had a lot to share!

Again, I want to reiterate that spending those few days with a group of proactive, excited bloggers in the Betty Crocker Kitchens will definitely be one of the highlights of my life. Seriously.

I think maybe because all of us got to just relax and play. You know how it is in Mom World. We watch, we correct, we applaud, but for many of us, we just forget to play.

So this post is dedicated to playing.

Okay, so our little mini-group made this cake. A Jack-O-Lantern Cake. Yep, it was as cool as it sounds. And easy, too. (Tasty is important, but easy is always a bigger selling point for me when it involves cooking or baking, but that's not important right now.)

The cake itself is made in a round oven-proof (Pyrex is my particular brand of choice) bowl.

Our particular group had the added bonus of including Michelle, the food editor for Gourmet Mom on-the-Go who, like a baking-prepared Mary Poppins, carried cake sprinkles and googly eyes in her purse. She pulled them out when it was time for us to decorate our pumpkin cake, much to the delight of myself and our other blog-partner-in-frosting, Julie, of Joy's Hope.

We got to play. In the Betty Crocker Kitchens. For me it was like one of those make-a-wish-type moments.

So we mixed food coloring and added fruit-by-the-foot leaves and an ice cream cone stem/hat. And, of course, the googly eyes. Googly eyes started to show up on everything.

Googly eyes on cupcakes
And even if I do say so myself, ours was the best pumpkin. I liked the googly eyes and all, they absolutely gave it personality, but I confess, I liked the finished product better as just a pumpkin cake. (I know. Shut up.)

Googly eyes
Here's the recipe:

Jack-O-Lantern Cake

  • 2 boxes Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® devil's food or white cake mix
  • Water
  • vegetable oil and eggs or egg whites called for on cake mix box
  • 2 containers (1 lb each) Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting
  • Yellow and red food color
  • 1 green flat-bottom ice-cream cone
  • Betty Crocker® Fruit Roll-Ups® chewy fruit snack rolls (any flavor)

1. Heat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour 2-quart round casserole or 2 1/2-quart ovenproof bowl. Make 1 box cake mix as directed on box, using water, oil and eggs or egg whites. Pour batter into casserole.

2. Bake devil's food cake 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, white cake about 1 hour 10 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Remove cake from casserole; place rounded side up on cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour. (Got that? You're making two cakes, each in the casserole dish.)

3. Make and bake remaining cake mix using same casserole or bowl.

4. With sharp knife, carefully slice piece from top of each cake to make flat surface where cakes will be placed together to form pumpkin shape. (Cake scraps can be saved and added to another recipe such as pudding or trifle if desired.)

5. In medium bowl, place frosting; tint with 9 drops yellow and 6 drops red food color to make orange frosting. On plate, place 1 cake, rounded side down. Spread 2/3 cup of the orange frosting over cake almost to edge. Place second cake, rounded side up, on frosted cake to make round shape. Frost entire cake with remaining orange frosting.

6. Trim ice-cream cone to desired height for stem; place upside down on cake. Cut out eyes, nose, mouth, vines and leaves from fruit snack rolls. Place on frosted cake to form face. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Or you can just watch us do this.... Enjoy.

We're having some fun now, right?

Which brings me to today's giveaway. (What? Another giveaway? That's madness, Marta!)

General Mills has a very cool company store and I shopped around for the items that I wanted to giveaway. (Thanks to GM for generously agreeing to make them available to MBFCF.) And because I'm a complete uber-nerd, this totally caught my eye:

It's a Yahtzee game! A General Mills Yahtzee Game, people!

(Okay, so I bought one for my daughter, Amy Kikita who is a rabid Yahtzee player and I asked General Mills if they could send me one to offer as a giveaway. (Being the generous folks they are, they agreed. I'm sure they scratched their heads a little on this one - "You want a WHAT??" - , but that's not important right now. =D)

So to enter the drawing for today's giveaway, let's talk games.

To be entered in the drawing for the General Mills Yahtzee Game (A Yahtzee game, people!) , just answer one or all of the following questions in the comment section of this post:

  • Does your family play games?
  • Do you have a family favorite?

I'll choose a winner on Wednesday, September 15th at 11:00 AM Pacific Time.

Let's play!

Cookbook Giveaway - Winner!

I've decided that what I love best about doing a giveaway, besides actually giving cool stuff away (duh) is reading your stories. Those tidbits of your lives that you share with me in the comments is like gold.

If you just leave a comment and run (thank you, for commenting!), that's fine. But if you have a moment, please go back and read the beautiful little slices of life that are shared in the comment section.

I love your reminiscences of sitting with your moms or grandmothers in the kitchen. I love your favorite cookbook memories: from bridal shower gifts (BFF) to mom's handwritten recipes (Wow, Angela G. - I seriously got teary eyed).

I am thinking I may have to start a feature here at MBFCF for you to share your stories. *puts on Thinking Cap*

I entered the number of comments in the True Random Number Generator at (allowing for those of you who commented twice or replied to someone in the comment section - you know who you are, but that's not important right now).

Congratulations to today's winner of the RED Betty Crocker Cookbook and Red logo Serving Spoon. 


Maria Soto Robbins said...

Hey Marta...great giveaway, again!

Actually no one taught me to cook. :(

My mom was always too busy painting and my dad would do most of the cooking and so, I've taught myself how to do that (too!:). My go-to book is the Better Homes & Garden Cookbook from the 1990's which is falling apart! So I could really use this new one! Thanks




Red BC cookbook 

Congratulations, Maria! You're going to love this cookbook!

Please shoot me an email with your snail mail address and HEY, MARTA! I WON STUFF ON YOUR BLOG! in the subject line and I will get your beautiful cookbook right out to you.

Thank you all again for your participation. If you didn't win today, please come back next week when I'll have some more really fun giveaways. 

And thank you for trusting me with your stories.

Besos! and Happy Friday!

Chipper Chicken Recipe and a Giveaway

My mom taught us girls how to cook when we were very young.

During the summers, when my sisters and I were out of school, she devised a rotating system of teaching us Homemaking, the Cuban Way.

My older sisters were already married and gone, but the three of us younger ones, Miriam, Alina and myself still needed to be groomed to be Perfect Cuban Wives (or PCW).

I think our education began with the Making of the Perfect Cup of Cuban Espresso. From there we ventured on to Table Setting and Party Planning, with a minor in Clearing and Dishwashing. (<--I was never any good at this one, and I still haven't quite gotten the hang of it, but that's not important right now.)

The Meal Planning portion of our PCW Education consisted of pulling out all of the cookbooks in the house, finding two recipes that sounded good to us, making a list of ingredients, checking the cupboards for what we already had, and then adding what we needed to the weekly grocery shopping list.

Can you believe I still plan my weekly meals this way? (The whole Clearing and Dishwashing thing is still problematic for me, but again, that's not important right now.)

I always like trying new recipes and I love cookbooks. But every now and then, I remember that we girls made some pretty delicious meals during our Summers of Cuban Home Ec. And I still have a few of my mom's original cookbooks from back in the day. 

Exhibit A:

BC cookbook 

The publishing date on this beauty is 1962. Based on my love of All Things Betty these days, I decided to pull it out and see if one of our favorite recipes still held up. (I love old, grease-stained cookbooks. They make me happy somehow.)


It was called Chipper Chicken. It was a lot like the Oven-Fried Chicken (notice that they still used shortening unapologetically - I love that!) but it was made with crushed potato chips. (<--Brilliant!)

I made it a few times when my older kids were little and it was always a hit, so I thought I'd give it a shot in 2010, with a few personal revisions.

Chipper Chicken Recipe

  • 2-3 lbs. chicken pieces
  • 1 medium bag potato chips
  • 1/4 cup butter (<--YES!!)
  • 1 Tbsp. Garlic powder
  • Coarse ground pepper

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Crush potato chips finely.  (I put them into a ziplock and just crush with my hands.)

Crushed chips

3. Melt butter in frying pan and add the garlic powder. (The garlic salt that it originally called for made the thing too crazy-salty.)

Melt the butter
4. Pass the chicken pieces through the seasoned butter, then in the crushed chips.

5. Place chicken in oblong baking pan.

6. Bake for just over an hour or until potato chips are golden and juices run clear.

Ta-da! The Chipper Chicken is just as delicious as I remembered. (Umm....yeah....butter and potato chips. Hello?!!)

Chipper chicken 

I have a few more Betty Crocker cookbooks that I've collected through the years. (I think it's those eye-catchingly RED covers that get me every time.)

So, today, I'll be giving away one of Betty Crocker's newest (and elaborately detailed) cookbooks along with a beautiful RED logo serving spoon: (I confess that I loved this book so much that I was tempted to keep it, but happily for you, I'm a giver. *sigh*)

Red BC cookbook 

To be entered in the drawing for the cookbook & spoon, just answer one or all of the following questions in the comment section of this post:

  • Who taught you to cook?
  • Do you have a favorite "go to" cookbook or recipe?

I'll choose a winner on Friday, September 10th at 11:00 AM Pacific Time.

[Disclosure: General Mills provided this cool stuff because I asked to do these giveaways. They've asked nothing in return. It is my pleasure to write about this stuff because I genuinely want to. Thanks, General Mills, for your generosity!

*And a reminder, if you haven't already voted, please vote for My Big, Fat, Cuban Family for Best Personal and Family Blog in the Just Spotted 2010 Orange County Blog Awards. Here's the link. Please vote before Sunday, September 12th at 11:59 pm, because after that, the “polls” will be closed* Thank you!

Baking With Betty - Fabulous RED Goodie Bag Winner

I realized late on this day, when I was already at my in-laws house celebrating Labor Day that I had Something To Do that I had forgotten about. Being a little bit A.D.D. it could have been anything from leaving the sprinklers on to not folding a load of laundry.

It was when someone at the luncheon started asking me questions about how I do giveaways on my blog that I had the D'oh! FacePalm moment. Giveaway! On my blog! Big oops! 

Tote & decorator
Yeah, so...without further ado (and more forgetful embarrassment) the very cool and fabulous RED Betty Crocker Goodie bag goes to:


Lissete said...

Churros! Who would have thunk it??? I would love to try churros stuffed with mango jam. Yum! They would probably be great with a bit of anise in the batter and sprinkled with just sugar. Ok, I need to make some NOW!

I have only used Bisquick for pancakes (duh) & beer biscuits (yum).


Congratulations, Lissete.

Please send me an email with your snail mail address and Hey, Marta! I won stuff on your blog! in the subject line and I will send you the Betty Crocker goodies ASAP.

But wait...I will be doing another fun Betty Crocker giveaway again tomorrow. And I will be asking a different question for the entries (but that's not important right now).

In the meantime, I'm thinking that maybe instead of a cooking show (great cooking show name suggestions, by the way) maybe I should write a telenovela and call it:

"La Mala Memoria de Marta."  ;-)

Why I'll Never Have My Own Cooking Show *sigh*- A Giveaway

I still have so much more to tell you about my trip to General Mills and the Betty Crocker Kitchens. I have some very cool recipes I want to share and also some fun stuff to giveaway. There was so much to take in that I can't possibly write about it all in one post, so I will be writing about this for the next week or so (I'll also do some giveaways to make it worth your while).

First, can I just tell you that I have moments when I'm very aware of my Cuban-ness? I'm aware that I'm pushy and loud and prone to performing spontaneous bouts of stand-up comedy. (I know. Shut up.)

Out of the larger group of 30 bloggers that got to go on this amazing trip, 6 of us were Latinas. Latinabloggers

L-R: Me, Silvia of Mama Latina Tips, Joscelyn of Mami & the Multiples, Melanie of Modern Mami, Nika of Nika's Culinaria, and Migdalia of Latina on a Mission.

The good folks at General Mills were more than gracious hosts and much to my delight, let us cook in the Betty Crocker Studio Kitchen along with Chef Cristina of Que Rica Vida. (I felt sooo accidentally cool.)

And I fell in love with Chef Cristina. She is the Mexican Nitza Villapol (but with a better sense of humor).

Me & cristina
We made 7 (!) recipes in an hour with the cameras rolling and in spite of having the noisy, attention-seeking Cuban on the set (yes, that would be me, but that's not important right now.), she managed to maneuver around the kitchen with tremendous poise and ease, giving instruction and keeping us focused. 

We made alfajores (a particularly lovely and flaky shortbread) stuffed with dulce de leche! (Thank you, God!), various types of cookies and bars and crepes, (I know. Crepes! Who knew?) and my personal favorite.....



  • Vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 1/4 cups Original Bisquick® mix(<--How awesome is this??)
  • 1 cup hot water
  1. In 3-quart saucepan, heat oil (2 to 3 inches) over medium-high heat until thermometer inserted in oil reads 375°F.
  2. In small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of the sugar and the cinnamon; set aside. In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix, hot water and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar with spatula until dough forms.
  3. Spoon dough into pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch star tip. Pipe 5-inch strips of dough into hot oil. If necessary, cut dough with knife or scissors between each churro. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, turning frequently, until golden brown. Carefully remove from oil; drain on paper towels.
  4. Immediately sprinkle churros generously with sugar-cinnamon mixture. Serve warm.

Special Touch:
For a chocolate-covered delight, dip one end of each cooled churro into melted chocolate candy coating, and place on waxed paper until set. (recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker Kitchens.)

Marta's Special Touch: Personally, I think I'll try injecting them with melted dulce de guayaba. Genius, right?

They are quick. They are easy. They are tasty. (Win!)

So they filmed us and made us look like kitchen pros. Notice how they added cool cooking-show music and the aren't-we-all-that mini-interviews about how easy and fun it was to make these recipes. (<--both completely true.)

But, boy howdy! I couldn't get over just how round my face was on camera!  The phrase "cara de papa" (potato face) kept going through my head. They say the camera adds ten pounds to you, but honestly, I think I added those on my very own, thankyouverymuch. So, I came to the cataclysmic decision that there would be NO cooking show in my future. *sigh* (Not that there was really any danger of there being one, but still...)

So now I'm a little depressed, but I know what will cheer me.....

How about a giveaway? (Yes, Marta, that will make us all feel better about the roundness of your face. =D)

I have a beautiful & fabulous RED (!) Betty Crocker Tote Bag with a Dessert Decorator device to give away. There's a Bisquick spatula and some Shake & Pour Bisquick in there, too (I swear it's in there, I just didn't get a picture of it. Don't judge me - I'm a little depressed.)

Tote & decorator 

To be entered in the drawing, just answer one or all of these questions in the comment section of this post:

  • Do you use Bisquick? If so, what do you make with it? 
  • What would you stuff your churros with?
  • What should be the name of my cooking show, if I did have one? (I can still dream, can't I?) ;-)

I'll choose a winner on Monday, September 6th at 11:00 AM Pacific Time. (I also have more Betty Crocker giveaways for next week, but that's not important right now. =D)

[Disclosure:  General Mills paid for my entire trip and treated us like royalty. Even if they hadn't, I would still gush about the fabulous treatment and I am still a huge Betty Crocker fan.  Thanks to Matt Holland Photography for making me look cute in spite of my "cara de papa."]  

Baking With Betty - Brownieliciousness

I am home and overwhelmed at the amazingness that is the Betty Crocker Kitchens.

I'll be writing multiple posts (and sharing multiple recipes!) about the kitchens, the company culture and the fun we had, because there's just so much to share. (Plus, I'm waiting for a few Betty Crocker goodies to arrive so I can do a giveaway. Thanks, General Mills!)

[NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure: General Mills covered all the costs of my trip to Minnesota. Thanks again, General Mills!]

Today, I thought I'd whet your appetite (=D) by telling you about The Brownie Goody Bars. (Did you just hear the angels sing? Yes. Yes, you did.)

Brownie platter 

Of all the fabulousness that we mixed and stirred and cooked and baked, these beauties were my absolute favorites.

Here I am sticking my hand in the chocolate. I kept getting busted for tasting stuff out of turn, but that's not important right now. ;-)


Here's the recipe. Just trust me on the deliciousness of these Chocolaty Gifts from God Himself.

Brownie goody
Brownie Goody Bars

  • 1 box (1lb. 2.4 oz.) Betty Crocker Original Supreme Premium brownie mix.
  • Water, vegetable oil and egg called for on brownie mix box
  • 1 cup Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting (from 16 ox. container)
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/3 cups (8oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees (325 for dark non-stick pan). Grease bottom of a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray or shortening (for easier cutting, line pan with foil, then grease foin on bottom only of pan.)
  2. Make and bake brownies as directed on box. Cool completely.
  3. Frost brownies with frosting. Sprinkle with peanuts; Refrigerate while making cereal mixture.
  4. Measure cereal into medium bowl; set aside. In 1-quart saucepan, melt peanut butter and chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly. Pour over cereal in bowl, stirring until evenly coated. Spread over frosted brownies. Refrigerate 1 hour or until set before cutting. For bars, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Store tightly covered at room temperature or in refrigerator.

Busted again!

(Video by blog-buddy and phenomenal photographer, Nika of Nika's Culinaria. Thanks, Nika, my friend.)