Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dessert of the Week - Coconut Macaroons

My best friend is coming over today for some girl/spa bonding time with me. I baked these simple coconut macaroons last night and they're super easy to make and can be made in less than an hour, baking time included. Here's the recipe:

Coconut Macaroons

1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
4 eggs
1 can of condensed milk
1 Pack of Dessicated Coconut (200g)
Cupcake/macaroon liners

1. Pre heat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Mix butter and sugar until fluffy.
3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.
4. Mix in the dessicated coconut and condensed milk.
5. Fill cupcake tins 3/4 of the way and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Doggie Afternoon

After the kids slept for the afternoon, hubby and I escaped to Bonifacio High Street to buy some stuff and to just walk around the mall/park. Hubby took this picture of me with the hanging flowers because it reminded him of the flowers from our honeymoon in Bohol almost seven years ago :-)

As luck would have it, we chanced upon hubby’s cousin Mark who is very active in teaching others about pet care, as well as theraphy work for sick and disadvantaged children using his and his friends’ golden retrievers as theraphy dogs.

We met some of the cute doggies and spent more than an hour playing with them. Now, I feel like having a dog again. Okay, let me sleep on that. I’m still mourning the loss of my beloved Wiggle whom I’ve had for 7 years. I oost him 3 years ago, he would have been 10 years old already.

Anyway, the whole afternoon of playing with kids and dogs left us quite hungry. We chose to eat at Kabisera by Dencio's. Kabisera is tagalog word for head of the table, in case you're curious.

The restaurant is obviously Filipino hence the filipino decor found throughout the restaurant. There's even a mural depicting most of favorite the local games children play like iko, tumbang preso, luksong tinik and others. I'll tell you more about it in a different post.

Anyway, we had puso ng saging fries. I was picturing a french fry type breaded banana hearts but we got these triangles instead. It wasn't very good. I won't be ordering this again.

We had Baked Mussels. typical pinoy fare dring "inuman" or beer sessions. Neither hubby and I were inclined to drink that night.

We also tried their Sinigang na Lechon which was yummy and the lechon is very tender. Another way to recycle leftover lechon at home. Hubby liked this very much, I did too. I particularly like the skin which was still surprisingly crispy. We will definitely order this again.

You hungry? :-)

Dessert of the week - Strawberry Trifle

Strawberry season is back again (?). I've been seing them in the supermarket lately. I was determined to try some and make a simple strawberry trifle. There’s also a strawberry cream made by Nestle that I’ve been meaning to try.

I macerated the sliced strawberries in some sugar first and let them sit for about 15minutes or so. This somehow makes the strawberries sweeter and help in bringing out their sweet juices. I also made home made whipped cream using three tetra bricks of the chilled the strawberry cream by Nestle and a can of condensed milk. I used sliced Taisan cake for the base, followed by a generous layer of strawberries and whipped cream and then repeated the same processending with the cream. I wanted to bake the cake from scratch but the eggs took to long to come up to room temp. The dessert is simple but will provide an elegant touch to your dining table.

Hubby and I got invited to lunch by my brother and the trifle is an nice addition to our lunch. I know that the kids would like some dessert from their favorite ninang(godmother), moi.

I spent most of the afternoon playing with the kids. I love that, they seem to like playing with me too. My energy’s not as high as theirs but I try to cope up :-) My mom saw me lying on the floor on sheer exhaustion. But I love it.

Las Paellas

I've been meaning to tell you about Las Paellas but my posts have always been delayed for some reason, thwarted by some other event. Anyway, this restaurant is not exactly a favorite of hubby and me, and it's not exactly on our "where not to eat" list. Las Paellas is one of them neutral restos. Some items are good, some items are bad. Nonetheless, it has a little bit of the masa yet kinda swanky feel to it.

It’s funny that these types of restos have such an appeal to everyone. You know when you don’t feel like slumming at the ubiquitous burger joint, but don’t want to spend a small fortune on dinner either. So, you look for that nice mix of affordable, semi-fine dining resto without looking so cheap? Las Paellas is the place.

Hubby and I dined there several times already. Its location plays a major role in most of our decisions. There’s a branch in BF and one in Festival Mall.

We started with the Mozzarella Sticks. I generally love anything with cheese, this was a hit for hubby and me. I just hope that they improve the salsa a bit more with fresh herbs.

Pomelo Salad has always been a favorite at home. Although Las Paellas version is not as generous nor as flavourful as what I make at home, it was ok, the dressing was a bit too sour though. I remember hubby not particularly liking that.

I ordered the Chicken Pesto Panini which was nothing spectacular. You can hardly taste the pesto in it but it was not unpleasant. I imagine some people might like its uncomplicated taste.

Hubby had the Lapu-lapu Romana which was a mild hit with hubby, again with the neutral thing.

Of course dinner won’t be complete without dessert. Hubby and I shared a slice of Frozen Brazo de Mercedes. This was good and surprisingly not too sweet.

One thing I like most is that the waiters in Las Paellas is that they are very friendly and courteous (specially in Festival Mall) so the lacklustre performance of the dishes can almost (I said almost) make up for it :-)

Food conversations around a restaurant's table

Pintasera. A Tagalog word for a woman who judges others. For a man, it’s called pintasero with an "o" at the end.

Honestly, I’m very easy to please when it comes to food. As long as it’s not something that my grandmother, my mom and I can't duplicate at home, I’m very easy. It’s not my fault that I grew up with such formidable cooks in my family. Their culinary skills are almost impossible to live up to. You should hear them talk when someone sends them food or when we eat out. They would say something like:

"The chef didn't put enough cream"
"I can make this better" (my mom's favorite)
"Pwe, walang lasa!" (this one's very funny)
"This spaghetti sauce is made with catsup! That's a no no" (incidentally, this is one of the pet peeves of both ladies) .
"They used substandard ingredients!"
"the meat is very tough"
"Puro vetsin! (MSG)"
"Ano ba yan, mas masarap ang luto ko!" (What's this? My cooking is better!)

That’s maybe why I focus more on desserts because that’s something that both my mom and my grandma didn’t have the patience for :-)

Yeah, I like it when people say my cookies, cakes or cupcakes are better than so and so . Why buy cookies when I bake them better at home?

Which reminds me, I was watching American Idol the other night, this girl was so pumped by her family that she was an excellent singer and keep building her up to be the next American Idol. So, her mind is filled up with these grand ideas (I believe she believed it too). Finally her audition comes up and she starts singing, I swear it was like hearing dogs whine!

Like that girl's family, I often wonder if my family only say my desserts are good, just to spare my feelings?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Impromptu Sunday

Hubby and I got invited for an impromptu lunch at my brother's house. My mom was there and made some quick dishes for everyone to share.

Mussels in Oyster Sauce


The absolute comfort food in my family for generations, Stewed Pork with Red Beans.

Yikes, bondat na naman.

After that huge meal, we spontaneously decided to take a trip to Tagaytay for the afternoon. Just to get some fresh air and maybe some merienda. We hopped on to our cars and headed to The Cliffhouse in Tagaytay. The place is a charming collection of several restaurants that will cater to your different needs. The most popular is Cafe Breton, which was full when we arrived.

This is the first time that I visited The Cliffhouse, what a shame eh? The Cliffhouse is a small property located on the ridge. To go there, turn right at the rotonda, past Leslie's but right befor Petron gas station. It's on your left. You can't miss it. The Cliffhouse is very charming and calming at the same time due to a small meandering garden with flowers, shrubs and a pond with koi and a small waterfall. When we arrived, the weather was very cold. Fortunately we came prepared with our jackets, always bring a jacket when you're going to Tagaytay. The weather is usually cold and there's also a bit of wind. After oohing and ahhing over the sight of Taal volcano from the viewing deck of the property, we took some group pictures. I particularly like this photo taken by hubby of my brother and Ashley. Such a tender father daughter moment :-)

For our mid-afternoon snack, we decided to dine at Buon Giorno. An italian place found within the property.

One particular entry on the menu caught my eye, Foi Gras Salad in Raspberry dressing. I ordered it. The red thing that you see that resembles catsup is actually the raspberry dressing :-) I love the foi gras...tastes just like butter. I would recommend this a lot, just be wary of the dressing, it's very sweet.

We also had pizzas. The New York Pizza, which has bell peppers, assorted meats and olives. This was very good. You won't be disappointed.

We also ordered the Quattro Formaggi. Mozzarella, parmesan, blue cheese and feta. This was also yummy. A different twist with the blue cheese.

The Bolognese, Chicken fingers and the Chicken Panini were not very good. I recommend to skip these items when you're there.

To wash it all down, I ordered Tarragon Tea, walked a little and posed for more pictures.

What a great day spent with family :-)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tres Leches Cake

I've seen Alton Brown's recipe on Tres Leches cake on the net and I was intrigued. I had a similar cake from Aristocrat Bakeshop called Mucha Leche a couple of months back and it was good. Tres Leches is like a Rum Cake but instead of rum, you add condensed milk, evaporated milk and half and half and you let it soak for 8 hours. I used a whip cream icing on this one.

My cake tasted right. But the cake didn't rise as much and was unable to soak in all of the milk. I think maybe because the eggs that I used were still a bit cold. Anyway, I wanted to invite the kids and their parents to my house for an after dinner dessert and also to serve as guinea pigs for my baking experiment. I hope to make a new dessert a week and subject my brother, his family, hubby's sister and daugter to a sugar overload every weekend.

I wonder how from simple dessert and conversation, the night ended up with a kiddie pillow fight :-)

Sugar rush!!!!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Survival Guide to Boracay

For you to truly enjoy your Boracay experience, here are some tips that I've learned through personal experience both the good, the bad and the ugly.

Booking your hotel
Depending on your budget, I suggest to book in the best hotel that you can afford. Here's why:
1. Most first class resorts have their own dock and vans. Frienly staff will wait for you to the airport and take you directly to their private dock, no need to fall in line in "public" boats, public jeeps that cram your things and cumbersome tricycle rides.
2. Welcome drinks. Yeah, we all love that.
3. Rooms are clean and comfortable.
4. Credit cards are accepted.
5. Well trained staff.
6. Plush towels and well appointed bathrooms.

In all of my travels, I find, booking directly or via proves to be the most hassle free and cost effective.

Booking your flight
1. Book early (like months ahead). You get better deals this way.
2. Choose a bigger airline because they have bigger planes and they have more flights.
3. Take the earliest flight going to Boracay so that you have more time to explore the island.
4. No check-in baggage usually is cheaper.
5. Going back to Manila, take the early afternoon flight (3pm at the latest). This way, if your plane gets delayed, you don't get re-routed to Aklan aiport which is two hours away by bus. FYI, Caticlan airport can only service flights up to 6:00 p.m. for safety reasons.

What to bring:
1. Bathing suits. Size Zero ladies have no problem, there are a very nice selection of suits on the island.
2. Rubber slippers and/or aqua shoes.
3. Sunblock, shades, sarong, nice white flowy outfit would be nice.
4. Medicines, your vitamins, diarreah meds, anti allergy meds, anti-dizziness meds. Just bring enough for your trip. The brand that you prefer may not be available in the island. First aid is usually available at the hotel.
5. Credit card.
6. Money! Some restauranst don't accept credit cards.
7. Camera.
8. Toletries that you can't live without. Razor and deodorant are the most crucial :-)

At the airport
1. Don't forget your ticket!
2. Always bring identification cards (with photo) with you at all times.
3. Do all your bathroom duties at home, the restrooms aren't always pristine.
4. Make sure everyone is accounted for.
5. Never ever leave children or your baggage unattended.
6. Bring a shawl, just in case it gets cold.
7. If you purchased an e-ticket, always keep a spare copy with you.
8. Check-in at least two hours before your flight.

When you reach caticlan airport:
1. Be aware of your surroundings. Always keep an eye on your belongings and your children.
2.There is no baggage carousel in the airport, each one is expected to retrieve their baggage at the "claim area".
3. If you are commuting, always have small change with you. Porters expect a small tip for carrying your bags. Be mindful of your things, people who sometimes have the same suitcase as you, may confuse your luggage with theirs.

At the dock:
1. Some porters are quite rude demanding, they expect a huge tip of at least P50 per porter. I suggest you carry your own bags to prevent the hassle.
2. Keep your eye on your children and your baggage at all times.

Dining out
1. Be sure to have ready cash with you at all times. Small change for tips.
2. Tap water is not potable.
3. If you're in a big group, reservation is a must. Ask your hotel concierge for the number of your favorite restaurant and book ahead of time.
4. Get referrals from your friends are your trusty blogger for the best places to dine or drink. I highly recommend Cyma, Aria, Lemon Cafe (for desserts), True Coffee and Tea, Jonah's shakes.
5. Ask for discounts, specials and happy hour promos. Most bars offer them.
6. Be adventurous.
7. Walk off all that calories!

1. For shorts, sarongs, shirts and trinkets, go to the old talipapa in Station 3. The place isn't glamorous, but the same stuff that sell along station 1 and 2 is at least 30% cheaper at the old talipapa.
2. Always haggle and try things on, make sure that they fit well. Check for stains or defects in all your purchases. Make sure all the zippers are working, buttons complete and well sewn.
3. Always smile to the sales clerks so that they give you a discount.
4. Be nice.

Water sports
1. Haggle, haggle, haggle. Don't be conned into paying for the published price. Haggle at least halfway first until you turn blue. They are bound to give in just to save your life, he he he.
2. Always wear protective gear.
3. Don't bring expensive cumbersome camera and gadgets.
4. Check with your doctor if you are healthy enough to do water sports.
5. Always follow instructions on how to use the equipment.
6. Don't show off too much.
7. Be sure you know how to swim!

Getting around
1. Walking is the most fun but the most tiring. Walking on wet sand helps a bit if you get tired.
2. Tricycles found behind the beach (main road) will take you anywhere you want to go. Speacial trip is P60.00 If you get tired, just proceed to the main road and tricycles are aplenty.
3. Jeepney, haven't tried this yet but I've seen them on the main road.
4. Get directions from your hotel concierge first before exploring outside the beach area (the "jungle").
5. Be friendly with the locals, the information that they will provide is invaluable.

Preserving the environment:
"Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints"

1. Bring a canvas bag to put all your purchases. Say "no" to plastic bags.
2. Throw your rubbish in designated areas. The sea is not a trash can.
3. Smoking decreases the air quality of the area.
4. Don't eat candy. Little candy wrappers get carried away by the wind and may inavertently be eaten by a turtle or fish mistaking it for food.
5. Never leave your beer bottles, bottle caps and soda cans on the beach.

Ang nagkakalat sa beach, jologs!

Boracay, 4th Day..Huling Hirit!

Hubby and I saved the best restaurant in Boracay for last. Cyma, Greek Taverna. Yummy! Just look at these pictures. Our Boracay trip will never be complete without dining at this small restaurant located in a hidden alley in d'mall. A must try when you're in Boracay.

Htipiti, creamed feta cheese, spicy!

Melitzanosalata, eggplant dip

Chicken Gyro

Grilled Mahi-mahi

Flaming Mango. Opa!

Baklava, layered phylo with walnuts, pistaccio and honey orange syrup

I love this restaurant. The food is excellent, the staff super friendly. Now, if only my tummy could take in more food.....

For reservations, you may call (+63) 928-506-93-11.

On our way back to the hotel, we met up with the rest of the family. Look at Ashley and Rama's braids! Beyond cute!

That concludes our Boracay vacay.....

I wanna go back!!!!!!