Thursday, July 14, 2011

I've moved!!!!!!

Hey guys! how do I say this without welling up? hmmmm this is tricky.

Well, let's start with the old adage: The only thing that's permanent in this world is change.

Where am I going with this? Well, after five long, amazing, fruitful years, I think it's time for me and my blog to move on. Well, me specifically. Yeah, I've moved to a new blog, which has like, 8 hits so far. So please, if you like what I write and share the same philosophy on food...visit my new baby: The Hungry Giant  which I'd like to believe, is a better version of my blog self. More focused, less whiny but still, Me in every way.

Thank you blogger, thank you readers and thank you - you've been amazing.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Can you say 'Sticky Toffee Pudding'?

A lot of things will change for me after this week! Well, I'm trying hard not to be morose about it but I'm counting down the days before I have to withdraw from blogging duties until July, since I'll be reviewing for, and taking my licensure exam. Yeah, cue the suspense music now. I'm pretty nervous about it but really, I can't wait to probably be a "full time blogger" after my exams since I have nothing else to do-ish.

And today's my dad's birthday so I wanted to make him something that's not the run of the mill birthday cake. The funny thing is I haven't really tried a hand at baking a cake before! My dessert repertoire really consists of cupcakes and cheesecakes as of the moment, and I haven't been able to expand my skills yet.

Having said that, and because I had to work with what I had (a battered old nonstick cupcake pan), I decided to make him Sticky Toffee Pudding! I've always wanted to make it ever since I first heard of it win top honors in a contest for  a new flavor of Haagen Dasz ice cream. My version of Sticky Toffee Pudding was apparently a home run since every one enjoyed it.


Sticky toffee pudding, a British dessert, is basically a brown sugar cake filled with chopped pitted prunes bathed in a sweet - salty toffee/caramel sauce. But I got this recipe from, the web version of a popular food magazine here in the Philippines.

This recipe was practically a no-brainer. It didn't involve complicated cooking techniques, so I didn't have trouble with it. The result, for a lack of better words, blew me away. I've always loved Food for the Gods especially during the holidays and it tasted exactly like that. The cupcake was moist, with just the right amount of sweetness thanks to the brown sugar, butter and prunes (which weren't overpowering at all).


Apparently the secret to good Sticky Toffee Pudding is the sauce, and I really didn't follow the recipe that much. We have little to no options when it comes to heavy cream, so I just used Nestle cream, which is thick enough as it is, and I used a can of it since I wanted nothing to go to waste + I added a dash of honey AND what I thought was the secret ingredient: a dash of salt.

I went all generous with the sauce, practically bathing every spoonful with it. All in all, it was indulgent awesomeness.


Sticky Toffee Pudding 
Adapted from Aileen Anastacio’s recipe from 
Yield 12 small cakes Prep Time 15 minutes 
Baking Time 20 - 35 minutes
1 1/4 cups dates
1 cup boiling water
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup buttermilk
For the pudding sauce
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used one can/300 g Nestle Cream)
1 tsp honey
A dash of salt

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C/ 350ºF. 
  2. In a bowl, steep dates in 1 cup boiling water for 5 minutes then drain. Pulse dates in a food processor until roughly chopped.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt together butter and sugar on medium heat. 
  4. Remove from heat and mix in eggs one at a time.
  5. Mix in vanilla extract and dates.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually add in to batter. Add the buttermilk, mixing until combined. 
  7. Transfer batter to a cupcake pan and bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until cake tester inserted into one of the molds comes out clean.
  8. Make the pudding sauce: In a saucepan over low heat, combine butter, brown sugar, and heavy cream, stirring constantly until smooth and slightly thickened. Spoon over pudding. Serve individually on dessert plates with more sauce. 

Friday, April 01, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan TGIF

OK, before I say anything else, I'd like to apologize for whatever I post here right now. Even if this recipe is supposed to be light, fresh and guilt-free, well, looking at the pictures I took I realized they look....unappetizing? Tell me if I'm wrong, but I know somewhere out there you're nodding your head and saying "hell yeah".

So today's friday and after my adobo escapade, I seriously wanted to make something lighter than the usual pork fat on rice fare I usually have most of the days of the week. So I visited and the first thing I saw was a nice little picture with "Eggplant Parmesan" placed on the side. I was sold. Pfft Yeah, like I don't say that after every recipe I read. Plus, I'm semi-fasting today to observe the Lenten season, so I needed a good scapegoat to eat heartily.


It took a while for me to really put the ingredients together. The recipe called for peeling the eggplants, and so I did. After what I thought were twenty grueling minutes of figuring out where the dang peeler is and using a knife instead, I decided to just slice the damn eggplants with the skin on.

Here's my dilemma though: It's supposed to be healthy right? I thought so and it obviously is (sort of..I think) but looking back: the eggplant slices dredged in a breadcrumb and parmesan mixture were baked in a nonstick pan with olive oil in it. So technically the hot oil somehow fries the eggplants right? So is it any healthier (albeit more taxing) to bake it? I think I'll try frying it next time. There's a next time, because I'm seriously in love with this dish.


The breadcrumb-parmesan coating really came through and eating the eggplants covered with the tomato sauce really reminded me of pizza! It was savory, slightly tart and the eggplant slices were cooked perfectly - soft but not mushy. I didn't have mozzarella so I used cheddar but I think the sensory experience would reach new heights with mozzarella. But still, I loved eating it as it is. I was a light, near perfect lunch.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
serves 2 - 3
adapted from

olive oil, for baking pan
2 large eggs
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, for topping
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
coarse salt
2 large eggplants or 3 - 4 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds (2 1/2 pounds total)
6 cups store-bought chunky tomato sauce (see recipe below) or 6 cups homemade chunky tomato sauce (see recipe below)
3 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced into rounds
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded (I didn't have this so I used cheddar)

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Brush 2 baking sheets with oil; set aside.
  3. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and 2 tablespoons water.
  4. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan, oregano, and basil; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets.
  6. Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 20 to 25 minutes more.
  8. Remove from oven; raise oven heat to 400°F.
  9. Spread 2 cups sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  10. Arrange half the eggplant in dish; cover with 2 cups sauce, then 1/2 cup mozzarella. Add the sliced tomatoes to make on layer 
  11. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, and mozzarella; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  12. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes.
  13. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
To make Chunky Tomato Sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.Cook 1 small diced onion and 2 minced garlic cloves, stirring frequently, until translucent, 2 to 4 minutes.Crush 2 cans whole tomatoes (28 ounces each) into pan; add 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano.Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 minutes.
My mom had some chicken sandwich filling in the fridge, so in lieu of a white cream sauce, I used that. It was amazing and made the dish even better. I'll try to make a creamy mayo sauce next time though, so I'm pumped up for that! 


Did you like the photos? 'Cause I'm not too crazy about them but in the name of all things impromptu, uhmm...there you go.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Adobo on Adobo on Adobo

When will I ever freakin' learn? Today's day 4 of my daily lechon habit. Suffice to say graduation parties sponsored most of my lunch and dinner for the better part of the week. After this morning's binge, I told myself - NEVER AGAIN.

Of course, "never again" meant I'd soon cook something that just screams "I'M REDUNDANT". But then I one says "no" to adobo. No one. Today, I cooked darn good adobo for dinner, and I'm not just saying that to please my ego.

Nothing says "Hello world! I'm a Filipinooooooo!!!" than adobo. Be it pork or chicken, the meat stewed in soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves with the optional sugar, left to dry a bit, served on a bed of steaming rice, is....amazing.

What I did was to stretch the recipe a little bit. I got the recipe from the lifestyle section of a local daily and my mom insisted that I try it. So  Instead of just letting it cook in the sauce, I fried the meat in oil afterwards, thickened the sauce to a gravy-like consistency and made fried rice using the adobo sauce. All in all, the adobo (sauce) on adobo (meat) on adobo (rice) was a feast for the senses. The garlicky smell really came through + the meat was tender and the perfect balance of salty sour sweet + the sauce and rice had the perfect texture.


A great way to end my night if I do say so myself, but I wouldn't really make this a daily habit...unless I wanted a one way ticket to the ER.

Fried Adobo with Adobo Rice 
1 1/2 kilo pork liempo (belly) cut 1 1/2 inches wide, 1/2 inch thick
1 small can liver spread
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cracked peppercorns
1 small head of garlic, crushed for adobo
1 small head of garlic, crushed for adobo rice
oil for frying 
1. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan (except garlic for the rice) and let it boil. Once boiled, lower the heat and cook until meat is tender. When cooked, remove meat from sauce, drain and set aside.  
2. Combine the liver spead with the adobo sauce and allow to reduce over low heat, until sauce thickens. Remove the sauce from the pan. The pan will also be used to cook the adobo rice.  
3. Fry the pork in oil until crispy but do not overcook. Remove from oil and pat with paper towels to remove excess oil.  
4. In the pan used to cook the sauce, fry the garlic in 1 tbsp of the oil used to fry the pork. Add 3 - 4 tbsp of the sauce and add 2 cups of cooked  rice and mix well.  
5. Serve the adobo on top of a bed of adobo rice and topped with the adobo sauce. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Parmesan Chicken Breasts

Yesterday I woke up at around 10 am with no breakfast to be had. I know, poor boy. Anyway, I was so hungry + it was close to lunch time + a pack of chicken breast fillets were waiting in the fridge = you don't need to guess.

This is a fairly simple recipe that I just thought of. I haven't really tried and tasted it before so I was technically experimenting for lunch. I had some Japanese breadcrumbs I intended to use for Ebi Tempura but I was itching to try it together it parmesan cheese to make a simple coating for the seasoned chicken. The verdict? I liked how the meat turned out just right - juicy and tender. Next time I would double the parmesan cheese though, to make the the breading really pops with flavor.


This meal was a welcome respite from binge eating party after friggin party brought to me by my eager classmates. Not a day goes by without me eating lechon/roasted pig (It feels good to graduate! Or not). On second thought, I'm not sure if this recipe is really healthy though. Sure it's chicken breast, but coated with cheese and fried in oil? Not sure about that. Oh well, I can always sweat it out....eventually. I hope.

Parmesan Chicken Breasts
serves 1 - 2
2 medium sized chicken breasts
1/3 cup Japanese breadcrumbs
4-5 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 egg
salt and pepper
1. Pound the chicken breasts to tenderize them. I used my fist (haha). Lightly season with salt and pepper. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes.
2. In a bowl, whisk the egg and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, make the breading mixture by mixing together the breadcrumbs, cheese and basil. Transfer to a dish shallow enough for easy and even coating for the chicken.
3. Heat enough oil to cover the pan. Dip the chicken in the egg first, then in the breading mixture. Fry it in the hot oil for 7 - 10 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer to a plate and serve hot with grated parmesan on top. 


Looking back, I just realized how great this would taste with marinara sauce. OK, now I'm hungry

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Breakfast Carbonara


My mom and I had carbonara for breakfast today. The recipe has definitely been part of my 'to-do' list for a while now. Seriously, I'm hard-pressed to make a few dishes before my Licensure Review starts in two weeks. In a nutshell, the ingredients that I'm itching to play with are buttermilk, chicken breast, japanese breakcrumbs, peanut butter, nutella, shrimps, and mirin. NO, these aren't going into one pan.

Just stay tuned because part of my short-term bucket list is to CONQUER a few recipes and to cook up a STORM. It's just sad that I won't be able to blog and cook so much until JULY, since my review will last for two months, and I seriously need to focus if I want to get my license in one take. But for now, let's revel in the sweeetness...err savoriness.


I got the recipe from 80breakfasts, if you're interested. Trust me, you will. It's funny that I called this breakfast carbonara, because it actually had some small pieces of scrambled egg in it. The original recipe said to just stir the hot pasta in the scrambled egg to make a sauce. It was runny and I seriously wasn't convinced that it was safe for consumption, so I put the pasta with the sauce back in the pan for a few seconds.

By the way, I also wanted to do this because I wanted to begin the festivities early on, and welcome my morning on a happy note. Today, I'm graduating from college (!) And I could just well up in pride and happiness right now, but no, I just ate darn good carbonara.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Redemption cupcakes (Cheesecake stuffed Red Velvet Cupcakes with Almond Streusel)

I would like to think that this post is a long time coming.

When Julie Ruble, the brains and the spatula wielding hand behind Willow Bird Baking, declared all is fair in love and cheesecake and she was challenging all the would-be foodies out there to bake a Cheesecake (it's called the Cheesecake Challenge afterall) to inspire kitchen confidence and among other things, celebrate National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day (I'll skip this observation all together haha) - I didn't really have an iota of hesitation.

I really thought I could vindicate myself and rehabilitate my baker's ego after not one, but two less than stellar baking attempts. OK, the first one was less than stellar. The second incident was a complete trainwreck.

So in a nutshell: The first incident involved a Red Velvet cupcake recipe using rock salt, cooking oil and red food coloring powder. The outcome was a bit dry for my taste and when I bit into a piece of salty undissolved solid, I realized that we desperately needed iodized salt. It was also that time that I realized that to make my  life less stressful, I need the liquid variety of food coloring.

 The next one was for Valentines Day, when I wanted to surprise my mom with a Chocolate Almond Cheesecake. Bottomline number 1: Never ever ever ever use almond extract if the recipe calls for more than one drop and bottomline number 2: A springform pan must be held and handled along the sides, careful not to make the unstable bottom even more unstable. Long story short, 80% of the batter went into the bain marie. Trainwreck. I know.

So...redemption. That was in my mind the whole time I was perusing her list of cheesecake recipes to try. Funny thing is, I was supposed to make her Red Velvet Cheesecake  for Valentines day. Now I wonder what would've been the bigger disaster at that time. So that was definitely on top of the list since I wanted to try it once and for all. Then I saw her Chocolate Cheesecake Stuffed Cupcakes with Ganache and I was intrigued at how simple the directions were. Plus, it didn't involve a springform pan! I was juggling between the two recipes for quite some time when I realized....."hey, why not kill two birds with one stone?" I think I just had my lightbulb moment.


The cheesecake recipe I made is practically a mash-up. It draws inspiration from both recipes - it's the cupcake  WITH a red velvet base, same cheesecake topping BUT instead of adding chocolate ganache, I used streusel. Come to think of it, the cupcake could probably be the Red Velvet cheesecake recipe turned upside - down, inside - out and then some. Invert the original recipe and you get cake, cheesecake and crust (the streusel). My lightbulb moment keeps on coming!


 I finally bought shortening (instead of oil) for the cupcake and I didn't know it looked like solidified pork fat! Cringe worthy moment aside, there was a big difference in terms of consistency when I used shortening - the cupcakes were softer and more crumb-y in texture, which I actually liked. The inspiration for the streusel came from the idea of putting some leftover graham crackers to good use. Ironically I didn't use graham crackers and used slivered almonds instead. And it's safe to say I followed the recipe to the letter. The fact that the cupcakes didn't blow up in my face and the streusel didn't burn already says a lot!



So the verdict?  The cake was soft, moist and the hint of chocolate was there. The slightly tart cream cheese topping really set well and complemented the cake. The streusel was just as I imagined it to be - sweet, slightly crunchy and not overpowering at all. It was, all in all, the perfect topping. I was glad I joined
The Cheesecake Challenge since I think I really kicked ass.

At the end of the day, I finally held redemption in my hands, and I gotta say, it tasted great!


Cheesecake Stuffed Red Velvet Cupcakes with Almond Streusel
inspired by the Red Velvet and the Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes by Willow Bird Baking 
Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Red Velvet cupcakes
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ounce/2 tablespoons red food coloring

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup slivered almonds

For the Streusel: Grind/Process the almonds in a food processor until coarse to slightly fine. Add the remaining ingredients and process until well incorporated but not too smooth. Keep in the refrigerator until needed.

For the Cream Cheese Filling: In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract and beat until creamy and smooth. Set aside while you make the Red Velvet.

For the Red velvet cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream shortening, sugar, and eggs. Make a paste of the cocoa and coloring and add to the shortening mixture. Add salt and vanilla. Add buttermilk alternately with the flour, beginning and ending with flour. Mix vinegar and soda right before using and add to mixture by folding in. Evenly divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups (resist the urge to overfill — remember that the cream cheese filling needs some space too). Spoon a few tablespoons of the cream cheese filling into the center of each cupcake. Crumble the hardened streusel and add your desired amount directly on top of the cream cheese.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cream cheese filling is a little brown and the cupcakes feel springy to the touch (a toothpick inserted into the chocolate part of the cupcake will come out clean). Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
yield: 12 cupcakes 

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Winning" apron

I didn't really care for the video. I didn't even understand half of it. But I DO WANT THAT WINNING APRON! Anyone knows where I can get it?? 

Buffalo Wings, sauce and a dip

I've been itching to make Buffalo Chicken Wings ever since I tasted those amazing, delicious wings from Yellow Cab when I was in Manila. What was with the wings that had me at hello? First off, they were spicy, which I gather is a trademark of Buffalo wings. They were sour enough that it was crazy not to get more than....5 pieces. They were tender, not really that crispy but it works for me. All in all, they were succulent mouthwatering pieces of heaven.

I wanted my first Buffalo Wings attempt to be the "not from the packet" variety. There are seasoned mixes out in the market but I wanted to take the road less travelled and make my own sauce and cook it my way. Well, that simply means instead of frying the wings, I boiled, then baked them.

 In terms of the chili sauce, for the better part of my search, I always ended up being led to the one sauce that most of the food blogs I visit rave about - Sriracha style chili sauce. The recipe I got seemed easy enough, with all the ingredients readily at hand. I think what really makes the difference is the kind and amount of chili you put into the sauce. We really don't have a lot of chili pepper varieties here, except for the tiny ones, the long ones and the bell peppers. OK, I think the last one doesn't count.

Anyway, what was the outcome? Well, baking the wings definitely produced a different texture than what I expected. Boiling then baking definitely gave the chicken wings crunch. I didn't know baking could do that! But, I felt as if it was a bit dry and it didn't have the juicy quality I know Buffalo Wing have. Sure baking is healthier and stuff, but, I'm excited to do another batch with some modifications - deep fry the b*tches in hot oil WITH a stick o' butter. Yum. BUT my wings were still tasty though if I do say so myself. Maybe if I would stick to baking it, I would bake it for 15 minutes or less.

As to the sauce, more is I think, merrier. More chili peppers next time. But all in all, I liked the sauce because had a lot of components that work well together - the garlicky, tomato-y base was really tasty.

I would still give myself a pat on the back for this attempt. But believe me, I'm still craving for spicy sour chicken wings right now.

Baked Buffalo Wings
Adapted from
  • 2 lbs chicken wings 
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (I didn’t have this so I just slice some fresh chili)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 cup Sriracha style hot sauce (recipe follows)
Prep Time:  15 mins                        Total Time: 45 mins 
  1. Fill a large pot half way with water and then add the first 4 ingredients.
  2. Bring water mixture and wings to a boil and then boil for 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer wings to an oven safe container coated with cooking spray. Bake wings on "Broil" (high) for 15 minutes on each side.(For crispier wings, cook longer on each side, maybe 20 minutes per side).
  4. While waiting for wings, combine the Hot Sauce and Margarine in a microwave safe container and cook in microwave for 2 minutes or until melted. (You can cook the sauce longer for a thicker sauce).
  5. When wings are done, mix with the sauce and enjoy!

It takes a few seconds for these plain jane wings to look like, well, buffalo wings

Chili Hot Sauce Recipe – Sriracha style
  • Chili peppers of your choice and amount (I used two finger chilis and four small bird’s eye chilis)
  • 4-5 med. cloves of Garlic, crushed or minced
  • 2 med Shallots, minced
  • 1 T Vegetable Oil
  • 2 – 8 oz. (or 1- 15 oz.) can of Tomato Sauce
  • 1 T Fish Sauce
  • 3 T Rice Vinegar
  • 3 T Sugar  
  1. Remove stems of chili peppers, rinse clean. Blot dry with paper towel. Wearing rubber gloves, mince the chili peppers. The smaller the cut, the smoother your final sauce will be.
  2. In sauce pan, heat oil then add minced garlic and shallots. Over medium-high heat saute for a about 1 minute or until light brown and fragrant. (don’t burn your garlic!)
  3. Add tomato sauce and minced chili peppers. Let sauce come to a simmer then lower heat to keep at a low simmer. Add fish sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Mix well.
  4. Continue simmering sauce for about 5 minutes. This will break down the chili peppers and soften them to create the smooth consistency. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  5. Transfer sauce to blender and blend till smooth or until most of the chili pepper skin and seeds break down- preferably on the “liquefy” mode.
  6. Taste the hot sauce. Further customize the hot sauce to your liking: add more sugar, vinegar or water. Blend one last time till smooth. Pour into clean, air tight jar and refrigerate. Use within about 1 week.
Now, I remembered that the Buffalo Wings usually have a dip on the side, so I made my own version since we obviously don't have blue cheese here. 
Garlic Mayo-Mustard dip 
 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tsp mustard
2 tsp garlic power
1 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Wait for three days for the mayonnaise to spoil, then allow to age in oak barrels.
2. I kid. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. It doesn't get any easier.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

breakfast for one

I woke up this morning with my parents gone and off to work, and me without anything to eat for breakfast since it's already 10am. I know, poor me. So I was looking at our cupboard and I saw that my aunts (from Texas who went home two days ago) left us with a carton of buttermilk pancake mix, the "just add water variety". It doesn't sound fancy but at least I have something to eat. Plus, the ants were already first in line, so I had to do something before the demons eat what's left of my soon-to-be-breakfast.

So the "just add water" part didn't disappoint. Soon enough, 1 cup of mix with 3/4 cup water gave me two medium sized pancakes, which I realized in the long run, I couldn't finish without feeling gargantuan feelings of guilt and regret. 

I didn't have maple syrup but another thing my aunts left us was french vanilla coffee syrup. It probably sounds snooty but I was willing to try it out because it hopefully tastes great and would make my pancakes sing. Plus, who doesn't like the smell of vanilla in the first place? I mean, come on. 


So after a few generous drops of the vanilla syrup, a spoonfull of soft chewy goodness and few seconds later....

I decided to add a heaping spoonful of butter. Yes, butter. At least it was the unsalted kind. The pancake, well, wasn't really as tasty as, dare I say it, the local variety here. It wasn't really sweet and evenly cooked. I'm not sure if the latter was my fault though. And the syrup? The vanilla smell didn't push through the pancakes, and to top it all off, it was bland! Now I know why it was specifically labelled for coffee. 


The packaging was nice so I figured it tasted as good. Well, I figured wrong. I should've guessed that something as snooty as "french vanilla flavored coffee syrup"  would be, true to form, snooty (fake). 

Butter makes everything better. Good morning world! 


Friday, March 04, 2011

McCelebrate! pretty bittersweet for me. It's the last day of my finals as a college student, and in a few weeks I'll be graduating. But not before I go through this one final loop called "NCM 109". Anyhoo, what's a good way to cap it all off? My mom will make barbeque since she's expecting a guest this evening! I won't be there, since my exam is at 5 - 7pm. I'm really excited to see if my marinade will work out in the end though. If it does, then I'll probably post the recipe here. Speaking of which, one more thing why I can't wait for my exam to be over is because I actually have TIME TO KILL before grad. Which means I can spend my last golden days in the kitchen before I officially sign up for the Nurse Licensure Exam review, so I think I need tunnel vision for the next three to four months or so.

I'd really like to celebrate with a McLobster sandwich, or probably a McRib. They look, well, good enough to eat. Too bad our McDonalds doesn't serve pork, and I don't think lobster is a practical option. But still, I can McDream....

Thursday, March 03, 2011

A few minutes with the ipad 2

This is a hands-on video of the ipad 2, and while I never really had the time to read about tablet reviews yet, HOW COOL IS THE COVER THINGY THAT DOUBLES AS A STAND? Lord, they had me at fool-proof. Now, notice how I'm really raving more about the Smart Cover than any other feature.

As with Apple’s case for the original iPad, the Smart Cover can be folded up to provide a gentle incline for typing, or flipped around to make a stand for watching video. In this latter regard, it’s vastly superior to the case for the original iPad, which always felt a little bit wobbly in this configuration.Lest we judge the iPad 2 by its (Smart) Cover, let’s remember that it’s what’s inside that counts. In this case, it’s an Apple-designed dual-core A5 processor. It’s very hard to test speed of a device like this, especially in a controlled environment like a demo room. The iPad 2 certainly felt fast—really fast. GarageBand and iMovie, both apps that presumably tax hardware to its limits, moved smoothly. While we don’t know for sure how much memory the iPad 2 contains, 512MB—the same as the iPhone 4—seems like a reasonable guess. Read the full article here 
 This definitely makes my decision harder. SERIOUSLY.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

tablet dreams

Adam Promo from Notion Ink on Vimeo.

I'm currently on the look out for a pretty good tablet. You know, those flat rectangle things bigger than an ipod? I'm beginning to think about it every day and the more I picture its sleek awesomeness, the more I salivate. I'm still doing my research the whole fuss about tablets, so I'm not totally sold that I need it, but I do want it. Browsing some sites, I noticed this little tablet brand being mentioned over and over again. It's not the ipad nor the samsung galaxy tab, hell, I haven't heard of this before. But who knows? Maybe this is the tab I'm looking for.

The Samsung Galaxy tab on the other doesn't need a lot of introduction. Like, I see it here in Zamboanga already, so it's beyond mainstream. Plus, it monopolizes ad space for tablets on TV (no ipad, no blackberry playbook ads in my part of the third world...), so this is practically an available option for me.

By the way, I'm sorry I haven't updated my blog since my birthday. My aunts from Texas arrived a few days ago , classes have been prohibitive and to top it all off, MY FINAL FINAL EXAMS ARE IN A FEW DAYS!!!! Which means I won't be as present as I usually am, but hopefully I'll be back soon enough, with food and whatnot.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

16 letters for the 20 year old

I'm around 20 years and one and a half days old, and suffice to say my birthday was amazing since, well, people remembered and I got this awesome cake baked by my friends.

It was around 12 midnight and officially my birthday. I had my back to the door, doing whatever it takes for me to wipe the sleep off my eyes when my dutymates started singing "Happy Birthday". So I turned around and there it was - Jam holding a cake with the letters of my first name on top. The letters were amazingly, gingerbread cookies. I was floored. Well, modesty aside, I knew my friends were planning a surprise for me and that's probably the reason why they requested an 11pm-7am shift. That's another story but the point is our duty sched is extremely flexible. Soooo...I blew out the candle and just stared at the cake, well, mostly because of the letter cookies on top.

After a few minutes I heard two more voices behind me and my friends MJ and Riezyl were there, bringing a big heavy box! Riezyl, at that time, wasn't even my dutymate! She intentionally changed her schedule to be with, well, me - so that was an "awww" moment. What was inside the box? Well it turns out the cake Jam brought was for our dutymates.I opened the box and there stood my real cake. 

Three layers. Covered with white chocolate CHIPS and hardened chocolate ganache made into little rectangles on the side. With not three, not seven but SIXTEEN gingerbread cookie letters (Gio Happy Birthday). I was floored. Again. Times ten.

What made it extra special though was that my friends were there, sadly not all of them, but enough to make a happy party.

So how do I sum up birthday experience up? Well, as I'm typing this, I'm thinking of the word "Thankful". I'm thankful to have friends who go out of their way to make people feel special. More than that, moments like this remind me that I'm never alone and despite my flaws, I must have done something right with my life because at the end of the day, I will always have friends...people who love me. It is during moments like this one that wake me up, slap me and shake me to the core and out of my periods of self-doubt and self-pity. Yeah, I'm sad like that. But the happy moments with my friends and family make me just want to show my middle finger to the person in the mirror who thinks like that. So, to God I'm thankful above all.

And Jam even shared her recipe for the soft, chewy gingerbread cookies, so there's a bonus.

Servings: 18 to 24 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters
Prep Time: 1 hour 50 min

Cook Time: 10 min
Difficulty: Easy 
2 teaspoon ground ginger 
1/4 cup molasses
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
2   large eggs
1   stick butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted 
1-2 tablespoon milk

Food coloring as desired
Using an electric mixer at low speed, cream the sugar and butter until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs and molasses and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and combine with a spoon or spatula.
Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap; place in the refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until pliable. Take about 1/2 cup of dough at a time and roll onto a floured board until about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out with gingerbread boy and girl cookie cutters. You can reroll the scraps. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies from the board to the prepared cookie sheets. 
Bake for 10 minutes, until just beginning to brown at the edges. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
To make the icing, combine the confectioners’ sugar and milk. Divide the mixture into thirds; leave one-third white, and color one-third green and the final third red. Decorate piping eyes, mouths, buttons, and bow ties.

I was supposed to update my blog yesterday but since my parents and I already moved out of our old house, my room's been cluttered for weeks now and I couldn't really think well with all the clutter. But now it's more organized and spacious so it's all good. :)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

New Year

It's a few hours before I turn 20, and suffice to say I'll probably be awake once the clock strikes 12. I'll be spending my first few hours in the health center since I have my duty there - the graveyard shift. 

My blog's officially 5 years old, and what better way to celebrate than to change its layout and all? Yes, I am the perennial dork. Last year, I wanted to change my blog's skin because I felt the need to start over. I made a difficult shift in priorities than resulted in, well, a major change in my life as a student. Well, it's no big deal now, looking back. Since not once did I regret leaving my publication, where I was once the EIC. 

Now, I wanted a new change to welcome another shift in my life - in a few months I'll be leaving school to become whatever it is I want to/can/should be. I'm not sure which is which though. But the point is, I am probably one foot through the door of "formal adulthood" as of the moment. And, I am probably leaving behind the badge of "the whiny kid blogger" because I have a feeling I want to really really really blog for real now. I want my blog to really focus on what I really like to talk about - food, photography and humor. Well, I'll still post whatever youtube video I like, but at least I'm holding on to a stable identity...after 5 years of blogging on everything under the sun. 

It's been a slow, shaky and uncertain pace for me through the years. And I think I’ve finally found the foothold I’ve been looking for.

Let’s see where the next decade takes us, shall we? 

Oh, and today's Chinese New Year, so...there's a cause for celebration. :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

In the face of Fear

I'm typing this almost 24 hours after my city, Zamboanga, was hit with waves of explosions and subsequent panic. I was on the bus off to duty and a few meters outside of the gate, when we felt the first explosion. I thought it was a tire and I even looked back. But a few seconds later all of us realized that what we had infront us, a block away, was a giant cloud of billowing black smoke. Then the chaos erupted - people running to and from the direction of the smoke, not a few minutes later ambulances and firetrucks arrived. We decided to walk back to school. No sooner did we get back that the we felt the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh explosion. My classmates who were in school that time told us they were worried sick because they couldn't reach us. Tears weren't an uncommon sight in the campus because it's been years since something like this ever happened near the school.

Here are my tweets from the start of the explosion to being on the road braving gruesome traffic for a few hours:

15:30: Was it a bomb?! Motherfucker! We were almst there!

15:40: We're literally in the middle of chaos with firetrucks and people running everywhere

15:40: Was it a hospital? Pls dont let it be ciudad

15:45: Minuter.minutes separated us from the blast

15:53 Ok so now they say it's a fireworks display gone wrong

16:06: Explosion number 2 and 3! What the hell?!

17:02: The calm is eerie..

18:01: Now i'm stuck in traffic.thank god for classmates who offer their rides.haha

18:03: And we just had to stop infront of tat's barbeque.the torture

18:07: The hunger is officially sinking in

Deep isn't it? haha. The updated news article goes like this:

An explosion that ripped through a warehouse of firecrackers and chemicals and triggered a fire in several buildings at the Canelar district of Zamboanga City Friday afternoon has been put out, a police official said.
Police Superintendent Jose Bayani Gucela, spokesman of Western Mindanao Police Office, said the three-hour fire was put out at 6:15 p.m., saying it is now "contained," there are no casualties, and authorities are conducting "clearing" operations.
Gucela, who is also the chief of the city’s bomb squad unit, said "We cannot determine yet what [started] the explosion of firecrackers but [according to] witnesses, there was some kind of blast ... inside the tightly closed warehouse."
Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said the explosion took place at the warehouse of Pacific Hardware on Nuñez Extension past 3 p.m.
Authorities learned that unsold firecrackers were stocked in the warehouse, which also contained paint and chemicals, he said.

So, yeah, it's too early to say it wasn't a bomb, but there's the emphasis on the damage the fireworks explosion did. I don't really care whether or not it was caused by a bomb - we could literally run a knife through the fear and panic and that was real. The terror was real and I really don't think that it's right to downplay anything because we weren't scared for nothing.

I hope I will never ever see something like this ever again. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Sunday Ribs

I practically have a day more to devote to cooking like there's no tomorrow. Tomorrow's another absolutely riveting day in school, filled with learning and friendship, cupcakes, unicorns and rainbows. Screw that.

I made hot chocolate today! My grandma apparently liked what I did a few days ago (which is weird), so she asked me to make it again. I did a little tweak here and there and finally came up with a mix that I actually like: 200 grams dark chocolate, 2 cups low fat milk - mix together and bring to a boil and that's practically it.

Anyway, aside from that I thought of making another Sunday dish that I've been waiting to make for a while now.It's called "Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs with Beer Barbecue Sauce". Try saying that ten times. I got it from It's actually the official website of a monthly magazine that's big here in the Philippines. Yeah I'm patronizing. But really, it's a damn good unpretentious magazine.

The instructions seemed fairly easy enough. And really, the long part is just boiling/pressure cooking the meat. The rest can be done in a jiffy.

Yeah you read it right: the secret to tender baby back ribs is obviously to pressure cook it. Well, if I'd use our defective pressure cooker I would risk blowing up our kitchen, so I boiled the meat over high heat for about an hour and a half instead. Pork softens faster than beef so it wasn't a problem.



That's basically the long part. Making the sauce is easy, and the recipe had me at beer, so there. Since a can of beer is more than enough for 1 cup, it's up to you to imagine what I did with the rest. I had a good time stirring the sauce that's for sure.


Roasting was the meat was easy enough. I didn't have any cataclysmic fail that's for sure...It took me around 20 minutes tops to do the preliminary roast and the basting then roasting it again.


So, the verdict? It was pretty amazing!!! The meat was soft and juicy. The taste wasn't compromised just because I didn't use a pressure cooker. It didn't really fall off the bone but a mouthful of the tender meat would make that forgivable. The sauce was spicy but the taste really complemented the roast. It was, pretty much one of the tastiest barbeque sauces I've had. BUT, it was spicy...spicy enough to distract you a little from the whole meal, but like I said, things were forgivable. I'd recommend adding only half the amount of the hot sauce next time. But overall, my Sunday meal was pretty kick-ass!


Fall-off-the-Bone Baby Back Ribs with Beer Barbecue Sauce


1 kilo baby back ribs
6 cups pork stock (6 cups water and 1 pork bouillon cube)
1 medium onion, quartered
1 medium carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed

For the Beer Barbecue Sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup beer
1/3 cup tomato ketchup
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chili sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
ground black pepper  to taste

Part 1: Prep Time 4 minutes  Cooking Time 30 to 45 minutes

Cut ribs into sections of 5 to 6 ribs each to fit in a pressure cooker. Place ribs in the pressure cooker together with the pork stock, onion, carrot, and garlic. Pressure-cook for 30 to 45 minutes until ribs are tender.

2  Let cool and keep in the refrigerator.

Part 2: Prep Time 4 minutes  Cooking Time 30 minutes

1  Make the barbecue sauce: Heat oil in a small saucepan and sauté onions until translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

2  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Let sauce cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until thick.

3  Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat oven to 350ºF. Grill or roast the ribs for 10 minutes. Baste with barbecue sauce and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Serve with remaining barbecue sauce and desired salad on the side.

Tendering tip  To ensure tender ribs, remember to remove the thin sheet of membrane on the back of the ribs. Slide a sharp knife under the membrane to loosen it then gently pull it off.


Yeah, since the sauce had beer in it, I might as well serve and style it in a shot glass. Kudos to my mom's plate and mini forks on display. They're great as props. Just don't tell her I used them.

Friday, January 21, 2011

hot chocolate (how to manage a kitchen FAIL)

It's a pretty warm afternoon in the third world and here I am writing about how I made hot chocolate. I know what you must be thinking - hot chocolate in the hot Zamboanga afternoon? What the &@^$?!

But I say it makes perfect sense since my family, after their siestas, do make hot coffee and drink it with pan de sal, so...screw you! I kid. So, I had some left over dark chocolate from the time I made chocolate pudding. I thought this was the perfect time to make something fast and simple since midterms are over and I've been itching to cook something for a while now.

It's fairly simple to make since it's a one pot wonder. And I got to use the little weighing scale that I bought.


By fairly simple I meant that all I did was open a can and a half of evaporated milk, chopped the chocolate into tiny pieces and combined the two together in pot over low heat.




And just when everything was going fine...I think I did the unthinkable.

But at that time I thought it was ok. But tasting it was the difficult part. I.....I can't even bring myself to admit it........I.....added lemon extract.

*cue end of the world music*

When I tasted the chocolate, I thought it tasted ok, but I just couldn't get over the subtle aftertaste of the lemon. It left a slightly sharp cloying feeling in my mouth that just took away the dark chocolate's thunder.

But it wasn't a total fail since I realized that I could actually cover it up. Yeah, I'm good at making excuses (in our colloquial: "bula"). Citrus and chocolate isn't really a new flavor. In fact, there's a term for chocolate that's been infused with orange flavor and it's on the tip of my tongue right now but it's frustrating that nothing registers! It's a total bitch when that happens. But really, I've tasted a chocolate bar flavored with orange and though it's not really my favorite flavor, at least it exists and it's not totally bizarre. So yeah, I'd like to pass off my hot chocolate as that.  See? Not a total fail.


Hot chocolate
serves 4 - 6

1 can and a half OR 1 3/4 cup evaporated milk (I didn't have fresh milk on hand that time)
200 grams dark chocolate, chopped.
a pinch on nutmeg
2 teaspoons granulated sugar 
optional: 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

1. In a small pot, heat the milk over low heat and stir it until it simmers.
2. Add the chopped dark chocolate and continue stirring it until the chocolate and milk have incorporated well, around 5 minutes.
3. Add the nutmeg and sugar and stir it for another minute.
4. Add the lemon extract or totally refrain (with a passion) from doing so - it's your call.
5. Pour into mugs and serve while hot.

The little guy used as a prop is my nephew. Ain't he cute all blurred like that? haha. If ever you know the name/term used to identify "chocolate with a hint of citrus flavor", leave a comment and you win a prize!!!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Craving for Buffalo Chicken

Buffalo chicken 
Why am I craving for buffalo chicken right now? This isn't right. I'm supposed to be studying and yet here I am thinking about dipping the crispy spicy-sour skin in some equally tangy cheese sauce. The first time I tasted "real" buffalo wings was when I visited my friend Camille in Manila and we ate at Yellow Cab. They were so great I completely threw the "all the artificial genetic enhancers go to the wings so it's bad for you" crap down the balcony, since we ate at the second floor (the view of Eastwood was great).

What I have above is kind of a crappy knock-off courtesy of Greenwich. They're called "Buffalo Wing-man" - which is a pretty cute title. They don't taste as spicy as I wanted it to be and for four pieces, you have to pay 100+ pesos, which by my standards, is hefty.

I'll look for a good recipe for buffalo chicken and I'll move mountains just so I can cook after my midterms are over! But for know, I need to read on the separation of the Church and State, which is totally in my top ten of "The most interesting topics I need to read before I die" list.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I've had this blog for five years now and I just realized that I never had a "proper" birthday party for my blog.

Call me a loser for forgetting almost all the time....and call me an even bigger loser for even considering the idea! But what the hell, I'm doing something on January 31st, when my blog will officially hit the half a decade milestone! And that sounds way cooler than saying "5 years".

For now, here's another milestone that I'd like to believe, is worth being happy about. AGAIN!

Despite failing to impress for the past two years, maybe, just maybe, season 10 will be Idol's saving grace.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Molten Chocolate Pudding

My friend Jam was biding her time at the school clinic (where I was on duty) before she'll go back to the Coca - Cola plant, where she's been assigned to. While waiting for the clock to strike 3, she showed me some recipes given to her by her friend from Hong Kong. She swears by this recipe for Rich Molten Hot Chocolate Pudding, that I just wanted to try it for myself. It looked easy enough, and since after nineteen years we finally have an electric oven, I decided to give it a go.


I doubled the recipe since I don't think 4 pieces would make my family happy


At least FilTrend, a baking goods store, sold almost all the things I needed, INCLUDING a small weighing scale that's relatively cheap at 100 pesos.


AND made an improvised double boiler since ours was big and rusty. I eventually regretted that move soon after the chocolate melted - It took me 10 - 15 minutes just trying to separate the little pan from the big one.


I really didn't know how to properly "spoon" the mixture onto the muffin pan, so this was the result. I cleaned it before I popped it in the over though


And after a grueling 15 minutes....




The pudding/s turned out really really well!!! I gave myself a pat on the back for that one. I'm not really sure why they're called 'pudding' since it's basically a soft muffin with a melt-in-your-mouth center, but what the heck! They were delicious! The puddings were moist and buttery, and had the perfect texture. I'd really recommend staying within the 15 minute period of baking. Otherwise the center would set a little bit more than what you'd like it to be and you wouldn't have the gooey awesomeness I just had.


Molten Hot Chocolate Pudding (serves 4)

150 g dark chocolate
100 g unsalted butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons flour
thick cream to serve

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).
1. Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan or double boiler over low heat.
2. Stir it regularly until the chocolate has melted and the consistency is smooth
3. Place the egg yolks, eggs, and sugar in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed
4. Gently fold in the flour and chocolate mixture until well incorporated
5. Spoon into 4 lightly greased oven dishes such as ramekins or you can use a muffin pan (if you're using non-stick ware, skip this part)
6. Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes or until puddings have puffed
7. Top with whipped cream. Serve warm

And by the way, let this be the day I discover blogspot's ability to block quote.