January 1, 2016

welcoming the New Year 2016!

Despite the rainy weather, the occasional festive sound of fireworks still resonated from a distance as we welcomed the New Year. I was trying to recall whether this may be my first ever rainy New Year's eve :-) We spent the first day of 2016 enjoying a quiet and relaxing time at home.

Setting the table to toast the New Year was the highlight of my day and a family tradition for many years :-) Our New Year's eve food, as described below:

May 2016 bring us blessings of 
good health, peace and joy!

December 8, 2015

it's the time of year...

Holiday season is here again! It's that much-anticipated season of giving, sharing and joyful festivities. In Manila, Christmas comes earlier. As soon as the "ber" months (how Filipinos like to refer to them) begin, radio stations start playing Christmas carols, Christmas trees and other decorations come out of storage, malls fill up with shoppers and traffic becomes much worse :-) Aside from these common practices, the religious traditions of the Christmas season still remain and are never forgotten.

For my personal tradition, the festive season is just not complete without baking cookies :-) This year, I've been baking these spritz cookies which I find easier and less time consuming to make than cut-out sugar cookies. Aside from eliminating the rolling out process, there was also no need to refrigerate the spritz cookie dough after mixing. Just fill the cookie press with the dough then press straight onto the cookie sheet. It took some practice using the cookie press but it was a fun project.

I like the idea of recycling these Talenti gelato plastic containers. They're so handy from storing snacks to organizing small items in the house. Wrap a piece of colorful gift wrap around the container, secure with a gift label sticker and it's ready to fill with cookies, candies and other goodies. I made a sample packaging shown below.

recycled Talenti gelato plastic container

ube-flavored spritz cookies

May you enjoy the blessings and the bounty
of the holiday season!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

November 15, 2015

off season at the beach

We've been fortunate to be able to travel during the off season when it's mostly quiet and less crowded even at the most touristy destinations. There had been times when we had to deal with unpredictable weather, change of plans and minor inconveniences but we've learned to make the most out of every situation. This past week, we were happy and excited to stay by the beach with my mother-in-law who flew in to join us. The weather may not be as perfect but it never stopped us from enjoying our long walks along the deserted beach, as shown below.

Despite occasional heavy downpours and unexpected red flag warnings at the beach, there were also days when we were rewarded with moments like this...

...when dark clouds opened up to reveal bright blue skies, we were reminded how breathtaking it could be after the rain. 

One of the highlights of our stay was watching the spectacular sunsets from the condo veranda, shown above.

We saw a few rays, like the one shown above, along the shore. Just like us, this one seemed to be enjoying the calm season while relaxing undisturbed on a quiet morning at the beach.

The view from the 14th floor condo unit veranda, above. Every vacation we took always gave us a chance to try local restaurants, starting off with some memorable breakfast treats, as shown below. 

Eggs Benedict, sweet Sicilian oranges with a splash of olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, capuccino and cherry mousse crepes at Mama Clemenza's European Breakfast place.

November 4, 2015

avocado toast

I was happy to recently discover avocado toast for breakfast and it certainly was another healthy alternative to my usual oatmeal and fruit :-)

Just spread toasted whole wheat bread or bagel with butter or cream cheese then top with sliced avocados. I also tried a hummus and avocado combination and it was tasty as well. Sprinkle with a little ground pepper or Tabasco if desired. I just love these avocado toasts with hot lemon tea :-)

October 29, 2015

more bento sandwiches

With a little creativity, day to day boring sandwiches can easily be turned into more colorful and fun bento box lunches :-) that may be made ahead and refrigerated until serving time.

Shown above, whole wheat bread sandwiches decorated with daisy cheese flower cut-outs. I just used yellow mustard for the center dots.

Ham and cheese sandwiches with rolled omelet and a colorful fruit mix for a well-balanced meal, shown above. Fresh lettuce leaves work great as dividers for the food. Colorful silicone muffin cups make ideal containers for the fruits and are flexible enough to fit inside most bento boxes. I like using this rectangular plastic food storage. They are roomy and deep enough for thick sandwiches.

ham sandwich and fruit bento lunch

October 28, 2015

panda bear jam sandwich

Here's a sweet panda bear sandwich idea that's so cute and adorable :-) It was my first time to test another bento accessory, a panda shape sandwich cutter that I recently ordered from BentoUSA.

At first I was disappointed that it didn't work very well with my homemade bread. I was making a big mess with the crumbly bread until I thought about using a rolling pin to flatten the bread a bit. It turned out to be an important step. It was much easier to make neater cuts on the flattened bread. First, cut two pieces of bread using the panda shape cutter (which doubles as a rice molder too). Then with the other cutter, punch out the eyes, nose etc. Spread with blueberry jam then sandwich together.

this set comes with a rice molder and sandwich cutter

October 20, 2015

cauliflower crust pizza

It has happened many times in the past when a new food craze shared online by avid food enthusiasts became so noticeably popular to grab attention. This cauliflower crust idea was one of them.

We've always enjoyed all kinds of vegetables so I was curious about this new technique and recipe. I had my doubts but I just had to try it and see.

In a food processor, finely chop the cauliflower. Drain well or squeeze as much water as possible from the chopped cauliflower using a clean kitchen towel. Tossing the chopped cauliflower with a little salt will also help draw out moisture from the cauliflower. Transfer to a bowl then add 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mix well. Spread out the mixture on a pizza pan lined with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment with non-stick baking spray. Bake the crust for about 30 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven. Evenly spread Alfredo sauce on top then sprinkle with more cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. This tasty recipe was adapted from Crockpot Gourmet's Deep Dish Cheese Pizza with Cauliflower Crust. Other favorite pizza toppings will be just as good.

lightly toasted cauliflower crust ready for the toppings

The mystery of the cauliflower crust no longer haunts me :-) Again, it has been proven that the popularity of certain food ideas should never be taken for granted. There's a reason why they're popular. Oftentimes, they're worth trying.