Sunday, July 8, 2012

an egg tart-filled dedication

About 3 years ago, I went on an all-girls trip to Macau and Hong Kong. To say the least, we ate the 2 cities - day in and out. One of my favorites was Portugese egg tarts. I had had them before in China and Taiwan - and have fallen in love with them since (to the point I would stack my hotel room with at least one box from KFC per day - so to be reunited with them in Macau was pure bliss (foodgasmic face and all). :) And people who know me, know this face well. :p 

Seeing this recipe in foodgawker almost made me squeal. Okay fine, I let out a giddy yelp at the least. :) My only tweaks were to cut the egg filling recipe by 1/3 (I couldn't do fractions beyond that) and using half condensed and evaporated milks. I had about half a cup of condensed milk sitting in the fridge and I couldn't bear to throw it nor pour it all over toasted bread. 

as Roger Federer kissed his Wimbledon trophy today, I kissed my own golden beauty. :p 

I turned out to be TOO crust-happy...but still giddy HAPPY :) 

And on to a more important association with these egg tarts...

I used to bring home boxes of KFC egg tarts for my sister and dad... and it's their birthdays today!! So even if these egg tarts sitting in our fog-covered house in Costa Rica don't make it to her air-conditioned office desk in the Philippines and to the Japanese buffet in New Jersey (last Facebook check-in of my older sister with dad 2 hours ago :p), I dedicate these to them. :) Happy birthday Toots and Pa! :) 

in tummy-rubbing mode after too many shaved ice cones (another post maybe), 

3 straight days of glee and tummy aches because of this.
powdered milk makes everything better.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

a mini-muffin comeback

I'm not entirely sure what that means BUT I just had to insert mini-muffins in the to acknowledge that I haven't been able to blog for a while. Not for the lack of anything to blog, but it's just been a busy month, with work picking up and a short trip back to Manila - a sweet, busy, and super fun visit!

On to the good baking stuff. As part of my birthday month (I have a 31-day [or so...]-long streak of self-entitlement to buy whatever I want...within budget of course), I took the plunge and bought two mini muffin pans. I could not wait to try them out, so we rushed home and I made a batch of the red velvet cheesecake brownies



I almost squealed of delight, excitement, and just utter GIDDINESS over how cute the mini brownies turned out. They were little beauties...absolutely adorable. I think I must have danced for about a minute hugging the glass container I put them in and BEAMED of absolute happiness in front of my husband. I love him. But I also love my mini muffins. Okay, I love him a whole lot more. Just to be clear.

Since then, I have made these about 4 more times - for get-togethers, birthdays, work celebrations. Any excuse I have to share these goodies, I've completely taken advantage! 

Fast forward to this afternoon...after a few days of feeling horrible - blame it on a combination of almost no sleep in Manila, 30 hours of travel back to Costa Rica, and the extreme change in weather (I went from wearing shorts to full flannel gear). I felt like I had to get out of that funk - and maybe also driven by 2 full hours of my sleepless night ogling foodgawker last night. So I went straight to trying out this Tim Tam doughnut (turned muffin) with frosting. I am eternally grateful to my best friend Mela who brought these from Australia. I swapped it for chocolate-covered coffee beans. What a gastronomic deal!

Say it with me: GAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
I didn't intend to make mini-muffins though but I am so glad there was leftover batter!!! A note on the you can see, I didn't use much. It must be just about a quarter of the recipe. 

oooooooodles of cuteness....

tasted awesome too!!!
Again, thanks to Mela for the Tim Tams AND the Violet Crumble. Mr G (and I) wonder if they are available anywhere near our side of the world. Otherwise, you'll just have to come over from Australia and bring more!!

Off to down more meds now, 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

for the love of moms

Yes...I've been gone for a few weeks and I miss this blog. 

The past couple of weekends have been packed with friend visits, one concert (so, who's your Bob Dylan? As my husband taught me), and a trip to the volcano and hot springs. 

Between all of those weekends have also been some more cooking adventures. Nothing fancy in this post, but just some good ol' home cooking - consisting of our favorites family dishes. Best cooked by our moms. No question about it. But as much as we'd like to channel Sheldon's (The Big Bang Theory - which we are nuts about) whining for his mom's fried chicken and actually getting it, we have to settle for making these favorite dishes ourselves. 

First up: Arroz y Pollo...Chicken and Rice. I, at the very least, know THAT much Spanish :) I first had a taste of it at my mother-in-law's house and I fell in love. Not just in love but the kind that makes you beg for MORE. And paired with the best potato chips in the world (Volcan is the name and when it comes to food, especially chips, I never kid around), there are no words. Just drool forming on the corners of your mouth. 


Just did it. 

Anyway, I was very lucky to have been given this Costa Rican recipe book by my mother-in-law. I suppose she figured it was time to teach the girl how to fish and not just give her fish...You know, a kind of WWJD moment. 

almost Filipino-looking, eh?

The best thing about this is that it's a really easy recipe. 

imagine the potato chips. imagine. imagine. now go get a bag of chips and eat it all. 

Here's how I did mine. And I know, it's horrible that I won't even give you the measurements, BUT, I've learned in the past few months that it's just best to eyeball it and let your tastebuds dictate how much of each ingredient to put in. This does not apply to baking, of course. NEVER. 

  • Cut up some chicken breasts and season with salt, pepper and other herbs. I usually use thyme or oregano.
  • Sautee diced onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Add the chicken, chopped tomatoes, water and chicken cubes. Let it boil and cook until the chicken is tender.
  • In a separate pan, sautee some more onions and garlic. Add a cup or two (or more) of uncooked rice. Add achiote paste or cumin to add color and some flavor to the rice. Making it dark yellow/orange is the most important step. If it's not yellow, it ain't arroz y pollo. :p
  • Put the hot rice and chicken mixtures into a rice cooker. Add water 1.5 times the amount of the rice you put in. The amount of water will depend on the rice you are using, so you can adjust this of course. 
  • If you are using frozen veggies - carrots, peas, corn - add them into the rice cooker before covering it up. 
  • Put the rice cooker on "COOK" mode. Yes, I've once forgotten to do this and wondered why the rice was taking so long to cook. 
  • Smell all the goodness in that pot. 
  • Once cooked, leave it in the rice cooker ("WARM" mode) before serving. I'm not sure why, but it always tastes better this way. 
  • Eat with potato chips. Scoop that rice with your potato utensils. Eat more. Feel full to the brim. 
  • Scratch tummy. 
  • Take one last potato chip and load with rice and chicken.
  • Nap. (Don't forget to chew and swallow everything first.)

it tastes good. i just don't take the best pictures :p 

I was supposed to write about another dish, but I just ate some lime cheesecake and I need to...get some more. 


PS Happy Mother's Day to my dear Ditas... and all my favorite moms out there :) Mother's day is celebrated in August in Costa Rica, so lucky me, I can greet twice!! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

happy friday: swirl brownies :)

As evidenced in so many instances, I am lazy. So incorporating frosting into the brownie batter and making them pretty by swirling them around has made me a happy baker. And that happiness is really due to one thing – shorter lead time to food gratification.

I haven't bought toothpicks nor barbeque sticks as cake I stab the middle section with a knife :p
The red velvet cheesecake brownies had a more cooked bottom than I would have liked. I recommend taking it out of the oven as soon as very little cheesecake sticks to the knife or stick you poke in the middle to test for doneness. Mine should have come out before it clocked in 35 minutes in the oven. Overcooked as it was, this was awesome. :) Don't worry about leftovers...these taste better after sitting in the fridge for a day, or two...or more. 

The dulce de leche brownies had a perfectly-cooked bottom. I took them out after 30 minutes in the oven...but the texture was not as good as the red velvet one. It was completely offset though by the taste and gooey-ness of the dulce de leche though. It reminds me of dunking bread into condensed milk as a child. :) 

The white things at the back are mugs of essential item in our kitchen.

Mommy, I ate too much. Will you rub my tummy?

Happy April 20, 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

no baking allowed: mini lime cheesecakes and 2 evil discoveries

Mini lime cheesecakes.

Oh. Delightful. Incredible. Must. Have. More.

It was so pretty on foodgawker that I could not help but to make them during the holidays. They were pretty easy to make. The hardest part was making room for the muffin pan in the freezer.

Pretty little things. 

It was pretty, distinctly lime-y but not overly so that you can’t tell it’s cheesecake. Also, I added crushed walnuts to the crust. Double yum.

Beauty is in the inside.

Note though, my version though only had the juice of two limes, as I find that I have a slightly lower tolerance for limey-ness than what the recipe recommends. I learned this big time with the lime curds I had posted about. Glad I made those before these cheesecakes.

And on evil things that make you wish you were pregnant so you have an excuse for eating huge quantities at any time of the day… I present…microwave cakes.

Chocolate and Nutella, anyone?

Peanut butter is a special gift from God.

Okay, so they are not new. I had seen them before but never had the pantry stocked enough to make them. These are super easy and surprisingly very good. I can’t imagine making these the traditional way – ie waiting for 40 minutes to an hour to enjoy the goodies. The first one was chocolate...and I couldn't stop so I also made a peanut butter version. I told you...EVIL. 

I recommend to put these in for a minute, check how it looks and if needed, keep cooking them at incremental 30 second intervals until you see them at the consistency you like. Both of these were cooked for about a minute and half in the microwave and they were both oooozing with awesomeness.

I should not be left alone in a kitchen with flour and Nutella...

...and peanut butter too. It makes me obsess about food.

The recipe says each of these serve two…or a greedy one. I would say with some ice cream, three people can share this and still be friends. :)

Happy weeekend,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

fridge vacuum meals...

Yes, it sounds weird. But these 2 things are good ways to use up half an onion here, 3 pieces of bacon there and various what-nots in your fridge and pantry that you don't have enough of to make the star of a meal but don't have the heart (or pocketful of cash) to just throw away. 

And yes, they just happened to be similar: stuffed vegetables. I like...stuff. I bet you do too. 

I don't think that makes sense entirely...BUT it is Sunday night and I would like to enjoy my last moments of freedom before another week of work starts. Oh, well...there's that holiday on Wednesday...but let's call it a full week, eh?

These stuffed mushrooms were inspired by my mother-in-law who cooks THE BEST MUSHROOM DIP/APPETIZER/WHAT-HAVE-YOU in the world. We're not sure what's in it (and we don't dare replicate it anyway), but it is gooooood stuff. So, when she had some stuffed mushrooms cooking in the oven, we all knew it would be up there with the other stuff she cooks. 

I made mine with the following leftovers:

12 pieces of crimini mushrooms
     - stems chopped into small pieces
     - caps tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper (hanging out in a baking dish until they get stuffed)
3 pieces of bacon, chopped into small pieces
1/2 large red onion
3 big cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of cream cheese
100 grams of turrialba cheese (okay, so I don't know how much EXACTLY..but let's just say, go with your gut...and more importantly, with what you have left)

Also good when melted in between two corn tortillas.
Crushed potato chips are optional BUT recommended as a side..or inside.
Handful of parmesan cheese
2 pieces of stale bread
Dried thyme, rosemary, parsley, or oregano (any combination will be good)

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
Place bread in a food processor (or chopper) and pulse until it turns to small crumbs. Add parmesan and herbs and pulse until mixed well. If using bread crumbs, then your life is easier because you just need to mix everything in a small bowl.
Saute the mushroom stems, bacon, red onion, garlic in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook until everything looks soft, cooked and smells awesome. :p This will take about 10 minutes. 

Transfer to a bowl and mix in cheeses and herbs. Season with salt and pepper.
Place mixture on top of each mushroom cap until it can take no more.
Sprinkle bread crumb and parmesan mixture on top of each mushroom.
Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the mushrooms are soft (I always poke at whatever is baking in the oven :p)

What's missing in this picture?

Look closely...

Look again...
Okay, so these finished product pictures don't have the parmesan crust in the recipe. This is because this was the first time I made them and forgot to take pics of the ingredients. The second time I made them, I took lots of pictures while prepping, but forgot to take pictures when I took the mushrooms out of the oven. I got excited to serve them, don't shoot me. 


On to the stuffed peppers, which are similar in preparations but just cook it longer in the oven, about an hour until the peppers are nice and tender. 

My stuffed peppers had the following leftovers:

2 large bell peppers cut in half lengthwise with the core and seeds removed, also tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper (hanging out in a baking dish until they get stuffed)
1 cup Primavera rice (or any rice you have - it just so happened that Mr. G had bought this boxed kind)1 chicken breast cut into small pieces and marinated in salt, pepper, Lizano sauce (or whatever seasonings you like in chicken)
1 medium white onion
3 cloves of garlic
Handful of cheddar cheese
Dried thyme, rosemary, parsley, or oregano (any combination will be good)

Mr. G's only request was to stuff this with MORE...stuff.

I agree. 

Happy fridge cleaning,

Thursday, April 5, 2012

wishing for the sun via lime curd

It's supposed to be summer now but it's horribly gray and dark. While I don't mind wearing sweaters and any chance to put on my boots, I wish the sun would just be out when it's supposed to. Anyway, I had made lime curd a few weeks back when it was still wonderfully summery, and blogging about it now makes me want to do a sun dance.

This is one of the recipes from Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I love her. I want to be like her...awesome Hampton's store, house, herb garden and BMW convertible included. I won't mind the hairstyle either, but I think I'll vamp up the wardrobe :p 

Care of Amazon credits sent by wonderful friends :) 

It's pretty easy to make and therapeutic too. I had very serene thoughts as I was doing this... 

This little juicer brings a lot of joy...and good for letting off some steam too.

...and this...

Stir, stir, stir...Careful not to let the curd boil!! And yes, I love that the new stove has a timer.
It's useful to airheads like me.
Ina's recipe calls for lots of wonderful berries, but I only had a handful, so I decided to toss some walnuts into the mix. I coated them in some honey and sugar first though because...I like sweet stuff? Doesn't matter! All gooood...

Roasted in the oven toaster...because I'm lazy on Sundays...and weekdays.  Fine, throw in Saturdays too. 

So, once poured into the ramekins (I didn't make the crust because...guess why) and cooled in the fridge for an hour or so...

Hello sunshine :)

Some nuts to get the party started...

Chopped strawberries tossed in powdered sugar.

One happy family in this ramekin community.

I wish I had more strawberries to top this curd with. It really complements the tartness of the curd. So does whipped cream. Which I dolloped mine with. And I mean dollop. A whole bunch of cream makes Janice a happy person. Also, you can reduce the lime juice you put in if you don't want it too lime-y. I just made lime cheesecake before I wrote this post (another post waiting) and only put in two limes and it tastes perfect :) 

Hoping for the sun to come out,