Just Tried: Snails!

It’s been a while! My golly! I haven’t written anything for weeks. I feel so bad for neglecting this baby (my blog). I have so much catching up to do when it comes to writing.

The past few months have been like a rollercoaster, especially at work. Year-end is always crazy in any office, I think. November and December workload felt like giant waves slamming against the huge rocks of Laswitan in Surigao! I had to give up yoga because I needed all the extra time I could get to meet deadlines. We’re down to the last three weeks and everything shall be over after Q4 sign-off.

While I have mostly stayed at home these past few weeks, I still had some mini adventures from time to time. There was also a lot of eating (more like pigging) out lately that’s why I gained a few pounds lately. My clothes are now tighter than when I first bought them. Oh dear, I need to go back to yoga and lose weight!

Before my uncle, Greg, went to the US to be with his family for the holidays, he invited me and Mom to have dinner out. I initially suggested going for Italian food at Mamma Mia in Uptown Mall in Bonifacio Global City, but Uncle Greg went looking around while waiting for us. He then discovered El Corazon, the Spanish and Filipino fusion restaurant where I brought Mom to for Mother’s Day. So, back to El Corazon Mom and I went.

We ordered the same Paella Valenciana that we did last time. We highly recommended it to Uncle Greg because we really loved it back in May. With it, we ordered Seville (shrimp gambas sautéed in olive oil and garlic, served with a basket of Pan de Saland what my uncle went there for, Caracoles (escargot in coconut milk).

I have never tried snails my whole life so that night proved to be an adventure for my taste buds. Armed with a wooden skewer to poke and take out the flesh inside the shells, I started going through this appetizer with Uncle Greg while he shared stories of how his Japanese guests loved eating the snails from a different restaurant. Mom didn’t want to try and could not be coaxed to try them at all so uncle and I helped ourselves to the plate of kuhol. None for her meant more for us!

I honestly and truly loved them! The meat from these snails reminded me of the meat from tahong (Asian green mussels) because they somehow have similar texture in the mouth. They weren’t mushy nor were they gummy. They weren’t the melt-in-your-mouth type, but they had this perfect amount of chewiness. Paired with creamy coconut milk sauce, my taste buds were having a party eating the escargot! I wanted to get a second order!

And the gambas? So delicious! The shrimps were cook just right, not gummy at all. There was just the right amount of olive oil to spread on the bread that came with the appetizer so the shrimps were not swimming in oil. However, I still love the gambas from Lorenzo’s Way better. I can’t figure out why but it has something to do with the garlic. Nevertheless, the dish was enjoyable.

Meals are best eaten over awesome conversation. Uncle Greg never runs out of amazing topics to talk about. That night, he shared with us his experience reading the book, Ikigai, and how fascinated he was over this Japanese secret to a long, happy life. This led us to a discussion on the corporate culture in Japan to their education system to their values and discipline that I almost booked a trip to Japan right there.

For dessert, we went to the Hello Kitty Café where we ordered L’Opera cake, Kahlua Cream Cheese Torte, Strawberry Peanut Butter Frappe, and Cappuccino (dear Italians, please don’t get mad).

At the café, our uncle finally got to talk to my sister’s Korean boyfriend over video call. It was so funny because we were in one video call with my sister while the boyfriend was in a separate video call. So many gadgets were involved and thanks to technology, I think the boyfriend passed level one of my uncle’s “interrogation.” I wonder how many more levels there are to go.

Back to dessert, the L’Opera cake was great! It wasn’t too sweet, the cake was tender but not mushy, and the chocolate was rich but not too milky. The cream cheese torte, was also delicious but after a few bites, my taste buds did not want to have any more of it. That being said, I think four people can enjoy that small cake. The frappe was refreshing and did not taste of artificial flavoring. I sure hope I am right in assuming that they used fresh strawberries for it.

I cannot wait for my next food adventure with Uncle Greg. He’s currently enjoying being with his family in the US, especially his grandson, Ell. I hope to meet that kid one day because I live for his mom’s IG posts about him! He loves food like his grandpa and so I look forward to future food adventures they’ll have together.

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Just Tried: i Darts DASH

“It’s a form of mental and verbal gymnastics, and one of the things that appeals to me most about commenting on darts is that no one knows exactly what I’m going to come out with next – and neither do I.” -Sid Waddell

Feels like I haven’t written for ages! I neglected my blog for a couple of weeks already and must get back on the habit of writing. Also, I can see that I have much catching up to do in terms of reading the posts of people I follow. I will try to go through their posts as soon as I get this post up. I am excited for what I will be reading about!

I have to admit that the last few weeks were tough on me. I was not sleeping very well. When I did find myself sleeping, I was plagued with dreams of people trying to kill me and, at one time, of a narcotics junkie I was trying to kill. I was going through my day feeling like a zombie, a tad irritable, and heavily demotivated. It was so bad that I even stopped going to my yoga classes.

The culprit? I think it was the birth control pills I was taking to regulate my period. My hormones went craaaaaazy! Damn you, PCOS, for having to put me through all of this!

Anyway, before I almost hit rock bottom, my very awesome friends came to the rescue (but, to be honest, they didn’t know what I was going through that time) by planning a night out at i Darts DASH in Bonifacio Global City (BGC). It’s the first electronic darts bar in the Philippines that is a franchise of the internationally known i Darts. Already present in different places like Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mexico and Singapore, I am delighted that it’s already in my country too.

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For an easier time finding this place, just look for the Uniqlo store at 7th Ave. cor 30th Street. Yup, just go inside the Uniqlo store and use the escalator to go up to the top most level/floor.

IMG_9556Inside, it kinda felt like a fusion of a pub and an arcade, except that you can only play darts. I wasn’t able to count how many machines there were but they were enough for a lot of people to have a hell of a good time.

Each machine can allow four players and there are different types of games that you can play. Each game will cost one credit per player. Only one reloadable card is needed for all four players to play.

Ten credits cost Php 300 while 25 credits cost Php 600. That is quite a steal already because each game will usually be around 8 rounds per player, throwing 3 darts per round. Believe me, you will not want to use up all the 25 credits because you’ll be exhausted already midway.

We played three different games. The first one aimed to reach the highest score. The second one aimed to be the first to reach zero from 501. The third one, my favorite, was a group effort game where you have to kill zombies by scoring high.

I tremendously enjoyed the zombie game because there were side challenges apart from simply killing off the ugly zombies. When we managed finishing the entire game, one of the instructors told us that most groups only lasted midway. Our group even kept getting additional lives! Hurray!!!

So, what are my thoughts about darts? It was my first time to play and I only hit one bull’s eye the whole night. Also, I had no idea what exactly to do so I just kept throwing and throwing, hoping to hit spots that will give me high points. I think it’s more of a muscle memory thing where you know already which height, angle, and level of force will make you hit your target spots.

Did I have fun? Hell, yeah! Actually, I think not knowing where my darts will land was part of the fun. Plus, the zombie game got us cheering for one another and feeling proud when we gain yet another extra life. This will make a fun team building activity, to be honest.

Enough about the game. Let’s talk about the food!

Please don’t expect set meals here. The food are basically snack foods, most of which are awesome to have with alcoholic drinks. They’re kinda pricey, to be honest, but tasted really good.

img_9562Our first orders were the naked nachos (with chili beef) and the chicken karaage.

The chicken karaage’s serving was like, pfffft, but they were so yummy! The chicken was tender and the dips (barbeque and honey mustard) went really well with whatever breading/coating they put on the chicken. I just wish it came in a bigger serving size for its price.

The naked nachos, on the other hand, put my favorite Nacho King to shame. The chili beef was not that spicy (which I love!!!). I could taste a bit of cumin (which I hate!!!) but the amount they put in was not enough to offend my taste buds completely. I suggest digging for the nachos at the bottom first because they have no cheese or toppings, whatsoever.

We also ordered margherita pizza but we were not able to take a picture because we devoured it right away. Enough to serve three people, the pizza crust was not too thin, but not too thick either. I do not know what kind of magic they put on the tomato sauce, cheese and basil (the only ingredients of the pizza) but I loved the pizza very much.

To go with the tower of draft beer that we ordered, we chose to have the street food platter. We fondly called it the “high-street food platter” because of the price and because of the proximity of Bonifacio High Street to where we were.

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I loved everything except for squid balls. There was simply something off that night and it wasn’t sitting well with me. I went for the kikiam though because that’s my favorite street food. We had two orders of this platter.

My most favorite of all, however, was the lemon pepper chicken skin. We ordered 2 sets again because of the serving size. My golly, it was sooooooooooo good! The chicken skin was so crispy and the amount of pepper used was perfect. And the lemon taste? Heavenly!

Oh, diet, forgive me for forgetting about you again. I just hope my cholesterol levels won’t be shooting way beyond normal because of all the food we had.

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Thank God the food was awesome because the mild draft beer tower we ordered didn’t meet my expectations. It was so mild that it tasted like beer-flavored soda. We weren’t looking to get drunk that night but Php 1,600 felt too expensive for the kind of beer tower we got. I wish we spent on other drinks instead.

The staff at i Darts DASH were courteous and accommodating. We found it amusing that they were obsessing over making sure our draft beer tower had lights and even they even got fresh batteries to use. They were also patient when they taught us how to play darts and they were also cheering us on when we manage to score high.

The best part of this night was spending time with my friends and former colleagues. I miss them so much even though I do not miss my previous work. Two of us already left for new jobs. I just hope that no matter where life brings us, we will always manage to make time to have as much fun as we did on this day.

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Memory Lane: Candy-Coated Chocolate Chip Cookies

“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. ” ― Oscar Wilde

I was around seven or eight years old when Mom bought a set of cookbooks that opened the door for me to the world of baking. Back then, we only had the small oven you put on top of the stove. Despite how tiny it was, Mom was able to make some treats from the recipes in the cookbooks come to life.

A few months ago when I was feeling nostalgic, I decided to re-create the very first cookies I tried making–candy-coated chocolate chip cookies–with a few twists to the original recipe. To help me was with my super nice (and super pretty!) colleague, Zammy.

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Now armed with an electric mixer, we started to cream 1 cup light brown sugar (packed), 1/4 cup granulated white sugar and 1 cup salted butter for a couple of minutes. We stopped when the mixture was light and fluffy already. I bet I took so much longer when I was a kid, but these days, two to three minutes should be good enough, depending on how soft the butter is when I start.

Yes, we used salted butter. You see, I always use salted butter for cookies because I feel like the additional salt in the butter helps bring more life to the taste of the cookies. Also, I am not sure if it’s just my imagination, but I have a feeling salted butter makes the edges of the cookies taste more yummy. It kinda teases one into devouring the whole piece quickly and get another one.

Once the butter and sugars were creamed together, we added one large egg and 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract. I always use the dark vanilla extract but the clear kind should be fine. A few more minutes with the electric mixer should do it.

When I was a kid, I used to be frustrated when the eggs took so long to be combined with the butter mixture. It was worse when I used to make muffins or banana bread. I realized only now that back then, we used margarine instead of buttee because butter was simply very expensive. That must have been why the eggs won’t combine well with the rest of the mixture.

To a sifter, we put in 1.75 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 0.5 teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt (just to be fancy). Regular salt should be fine though.

I always make it a point to sift the baking soda with the flour because that baking soda is such a traitor! Sometimes, it won’t mix well with the batter or the dough. When it clumps together, no matter how long you bake you cookies or cakes, they will remain clumped. The worst part is when you unluckily bite into clumped baking soda, it tastes like soap. I was victimized for a number of times when I was a kid and it was awful!

Zammy mixed the dry ingredients to the wet one just until they were all combined. Over mixing causes the cookie to be tough and we didn’t want that. After all, we still added 1 cup of sliced almonds and 1 cup of colorful, candy-coated chocolate chips that we had to mix to distribute evenly throughout the dough.

Using a small OXO scoop, I scooped little mounds of dough on my cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Zammy placed additional chocolate candies on top of the scooped dough for added pop of color. She was having a lot of fun with the candies!

Then, we placed the first tray in the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes while we pre-heated my oven to 375°F.

The recipe made 4 dozen cookies. We placed each tray in the fridge to chill for a bit before baking. I find that it helped them not to spread too much in the oven when they bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Ta-da!!!

They’re just like the cookies I baked as a kid. These time, though, they had none of crazy shapes that I used to get as a kid because I only used teaspoons to drop the dough on the cookies sheets back then.

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Hong Kong – September 2018 (Part 2 | Food)

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”  ― Mark Twain

Hong Kong is not cheap. I can eat three meals in the Philippines for every meal in Hong Kong. Despite that, I cannot deny that Hong Kong has so many restaurants that serve really delicious food.

When I was there, Trixie made use of food delivery services so we did not have to go out to eat. FoodPanda was familiar because we also had it in the Philippines. The other delivery service I learned about was Deliveroo.

One morning, Trixie wanted to eat some Korean food. I am not sure which food delivery service she picked, but for our food, we opted to buy the chicken bento and cheesy fries from Seoul Bros.

I loved the fries! Cheese and potato make me happy so when you put them together, I am filled with glee. The fries were not soggy when our order arrived even if there was quite a lot of cheese. It was great because as much as I love fries, I hate it when they’re soggy.

The bento, however, was another thing. I did not touch the kimchi because I do not eat that stuff. The corn salad stressed me out because I could taste the red onions (which I hate). The rice was a must. For an Asian like me, rice is life! The chicken had this sticky glaze that I could not figure out what it was all about. The bento costs HKD 78, I think.

OMG, the chicken. The chicken! It was spicy in a good way. Being someone who is very sensitive to spicy food, I actually liked the chicken a lot. My nose was starting to get runny already from all the spices but I managed to finish it all. Damn, my tummy felt like it was going to pop!

One day, we wanted to eat pizza. I personally like thin crust better because the thick ones make me full right away. Despite that, I was never really a pizza person.

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We only had a small table so I could not get a proper shot without having to remove everything else on it. 😀

Paisano’s Pizzeria is a restaurant I often heard from Trixie during our FaceTime calls. She figured that I should get to try it while I was there. I was not prepared for how big a slice was. It was so big that a paper plate could not handle it at all! It was almost as long as my hand and forearm!

I really loved this bacon cheeseburger pizza slice. The dough was not too thick and was not very chewy. It was actually soft and easy to eat! For HKD 45, I found it worth the money but I just wish they will do a better job at packing their food for takeout/delivery.

One of the things Trixie and I do not have in common is her courage to eat street foods. Back in our childhood home in the Philippines, there was this house that sold street food from fish balls to grilled chicken blood (we call it betamax). Trixie would drag me there to have her isaw (barbecued pig or chicken intestines) fix. It would take lots of convincing before I would even accept defeat and eat a grilled hotdog from the same store.

That is why it is no wonder that my sister knew a place that sold delicious street food. She bought a small bowl of fish balls for HKD 15. I ate too because I did not want to be brat that time. Surprisingly though, I liked them a lot. The sauce was not spicy either and that made me enjoy the meal more.

What I did enjoy better, however, was my Taiwanese milk tea from the Sharetea stall beside the street food stall. Despite not asking for any adjustments to the sweetness level, they pretty much nailed how I like my milk tea.

The street food and milk tea shop are located in O’brien Road, Wan Chai.

From time to time, we would just order food from McDonald’s. Sadly, they do not have rice meals there. I liked their burgers though.

At the airport, on the day of my flight back to the Philippines, Trixie and I had one last meal together. Being the emotional person that I am, I took every chance to have more time with her before going home.

We settled for Tsui Wah and ordered a beef curry meal, a pork chop curry meal, some spicy shrimp dumplings and lemon iced tea. We may have underestimated their serving size because…

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…look at the size of that pork chop! It’s as big as my face! It’s even bigger in real life than in the picture!

Both the beef and the pork were Malaysian types of curry and you simply must try them! Curry? The pork chop was crispy, but the beef was like melt-in-your-mouth tender. But, aren’t they spicy? Oh yes! But, they were the comfortable type of spicy for me because I enjoyed pouring the curry sauce over my rice. Granted that I had to frequently reach out for my iced tea, I was not turned off by the heat in my mouth and on my lips while we devoured our food.

The best part of the meal? More conversations with Trixie!

Aside from the shops near the boarding gates, the airport also had vending machines where you can buy using your Octopus card. Having felt thirsty after a couple of hours waiting (the downside of arriving at the airport too early), I opted to get myself a drink.

img_9116I noticed a bottle of sparkling water that was just around HKD 17. I thought to myself, why not give this a try and see why such was even made.

Sadly, I only drank around 25 ml of the stuff and never touched it again. It wasn’t because it tasted awful. It had no taste at all, actually. Or, maybe it did taste like normal mineral water. What I could not get was the feel of the water in my mouth. It’s like I am expecting to drink Sprite or 7-Up but wasn’t getting the taste. My senses were confused. I could not understand the hype at all.

Despite our lack of adventures during this trip to HK, I really enjoyed meals with Trixie. We miss her at home so much. Hope to be back again soon!

Just Baked: Cream Puffs!!!

“Maybe  there’s no scientific evidence of desserts curing what ails you, but if you ask me, the jury’s still out on science anyway. ” ― Crystal Cestari, The Best Kind of Magic

Cream puffs are one of the treats Mom used to buy us when my sister and I were kids. Despite not being a frequent treat we received, I remember loving cream puffs so much because of the custard filling. I didn’t like the filling too sweet though. I wanted them just right.

When I eventually started working and had my salary, I used to buy cream puffs from a Beard Papa’s stall in Glorietta until one day, I noticed that the stall was no longer there. A few years later, just recently, I discovered that Beard Papa’s is reopening in Glorietta. This time, it’s not just a stall; it’s going to be a shop!

While waiting for Beard Papa’s to open though, I decided to attempt making cream puffs in my own kitchen. I looked for recipe after recipe until I discovered the recipe from Kitchen Conundrums with Thomas Joseph segment in Everyday Food’s YouTube channel. I also searched for the video on how to make the filling that they dubbed as the No-Fuss Pastry Cream. It was the perfect recipe for me because I did not have to think about tempering the eggs to make sure they do not scramble and all the “fuss” that comes with making pastry cream.

What I did find difficult though is piping the batter and the pastry cream. I watched a lot of YouTube videos where the baker pipes stuff out of a pastry bag without looking like he or she is struggling or exerting any effort at all! My hands and wrist hurt a lot after.

I was surprised at how much they puff up. They looked so tiny when I piped them out. I left them to bake while I piped another batch and ten minutes later, they were already big! I remember turning around to check my oven only for my eyes to almost pop out of my head when I saw how much they have risen.

I was very sure then that they were going to have this huge air pocket inside for the cream to fill. They were so light once out of the oven!

I may have gone overboard with some because I filled them too much that some pastry cream oozed out the other side. Nevertheless, I was so happy I finally got to make these! It was just one of the treats I would think about but not dare try. Not anymore! I was hooked!

Please do check out the links of the recipes I linked above. They really are beginner-friendly and taste amazing!

I still cannot wait for Beard Papa’s to open soon.

A Merry Berry Breakfast

“One should not attend even the end of the world without a good breakfast.”  -Robert A. Heinlein

Last August 21, my country celebrated two holidays: Ninoy Aquino Day and Eid al-Adha. We were actually hoping for Eid al-Adha to be celebrated on the 22nd like the rest of the world, I think but even just one day of rest from work is already very much welcome.

I took the opportunity to go through the ingredients I had at home and realized that my whole wheat flour isn’t gonna last for long. I needed to bake it into something despite my and my mom’s lack of fondness for whole wheat bread. Initially wanting raisin whole wheat bread, I realized we only had dried cranberries at home. So whole wheat cranberry bread it is.

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It has risen!

I got the recipe from King Arthur Flour and just simply tossed in a handful of cranberries. The ingredients I used after tweaking are as follows:

  • 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup powdered milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Himalayan salt
  • a handful of dried cranberries

I had a fun time kneading the dough using my handheld mixer with dough hook attachment. Eventually, I started using my hands to incorporate the cranberries into the dough. It looked so cute while it was proofing!

While waiting for the dough to proof, I decided to bake the frozen blueberries and strawberries that I bought on a whim. I discovered the Sunny Morning Muffins recipe the day before and just knew I had to bake a version of it! From the name alone, I was expecting the muffins to be as bright as the sunshine in deliciousness!

The ingredients I used after tweaking are as follows (2 batches):

  • 2 cups strawberries, chopped
  • 2 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (the nuts I got were salted already so I reduced the salt by half)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups chopped salted cashew nuts (the only one available at the time)

The muffins were fairly simple to make. You just combine all the ingredients and that’s it! No special method of folding or mixing. What took me long was filling my muffin tray (one that makes 24 mini muffins) and ensuring that each well will have enough berries and nuts.

For step-by-step procedures, you may click on the link to the original recipes.

After hours of baking, I had a large loaf of bread and about 5 dozens of mini muffins. What should have been the last dozen on mini muffins, I made into four larger ones.

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The whole wheat bread turned out to be really soft. It tasted pretty much just like plain bread; nothing extra special. The cranberries just added some tartness and sweetness to it. As much as I enjoyed making it though, I really cannot find it in me to love the texture of whole wheat bread when eating it.

But, the muffins! They were really, really good! They were soft but not mushy. The combination of strawberries, blueberries and cashews in one bite was awesome! The berries were not too sweet and were a just a tiny bit tart, giving balance to the sweetness from the sugar and the banana. Also, it was a good thing I used half the amount of the salt required due to the cashews already being salted.

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If anyone knows how to make whole wheat bread without the gritty texture in the mouth, please let me know! I’d be so happy to learn.

Just Baked: I Want to Marry You Cookies

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I’m not quite sure about that and currently, there’s no man whose heart I wish to worm my way through. All I know is that when I saw my cousin post about these cookies that she baked, I just knew I had to try making it too!

Well, that was three years ago, back in April 2015. She found the recipe from The Café Sucre Farine blog. However, instead of pecans, she wanted her fiancé to try them with hazelnuts. I am not sure why but maybe because he was more partial to hazelnuts than pecans? Judging by her post too, it seems as if he got to try it already before. Whatever! All I know is that they did get married. And, whether this cookie was one of the reasons he married her, I shall never know because my cousin is a pretty awesome woman anyway.

Okay, so back to the cookies. A little more research and I found out that this recipe was from Melissa Stadler. She entered the recipe in a contest by The Cooking Channel and eventually, she found herself filming for a segment for a show called, The Perfect 3, where she won the cookie category! Anyway, you can find her recipe and her story in her blog, Modern Honey. The original recipe though, unlike the one my cousin found, did not contain any nuts and called for less white chocolate chips.

Well, speaking of nuts, I didn’t have pecans or hazelnuts. I did have a small bottle of cashews though and I figured it should work. And, thanks to the gift certificates our boss gave out for a job well done a few months back, I was able to buy all other ingredients I would need without spending a dime! Ah, I love my employer! I did tweak a little bit though, depending on what was available in the supermarket where I went.

Oh! They smelled heavenly while they were in the oven!

Because I was making two batches of these, some trays of dough had more chilling time that the others. I found that those that chilled longer did not spread and brown as much as those that had less time in the fridge. Chilling does make a difference!

So, how did they taste? They were fantastic! Despite the amount of sugar and the chocolate chips in the recipe, they were not overly sweet. In fact, they were just right! Since I baked them longer than the minimum, I got cookies that were on the crispy side. Not hard like Chips Ahoy cookies but still with a crunch. Just how I liked my cookies!

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I do not wonder anymore why they are called I Want to Marry You Cookies! They were perfect! They also went great with a mug of milk!

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So, to give back to my team at work, I decided to bring most of the cookies I made to work for my colleagues to try. I hope they like these cookies as much as I did!


Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 ¼ cups dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats 
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup roughly chopped cashew nuts

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter until golden brown in color, then add all the sugars. Combine well and allow to chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  2. After chilling, add the egg plus extra egg yolk and vanilla and mix well.
  3. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix just enough until there’s no trace of unmixed dry ingredients.
  4. Add in the chocolate chips and nuts. Mix well to evenly distribute.
  5. Using a small ice cream/cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto the baking sheets lined with parchment/baking paper, making sure to leave an inch or two between each cookie.
  6. Allow to chill for around 30 minutes.
  7. Pre-heat the oven at 325˚F.
  8. Take out the cookies from the fridge and bake them for up to 12 to 18 minutes or until fully baked.
  9. Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Just Tried: Restoran Garuda

“The taste of your life depends on the spices you used to brew it. Add laziness to it and it becomes bitter as the bile; put a cube of good attitudes into it and you will lick your lips more and more due to its sweet taste.” Israelmore Ayivor

On the same Sunday when I attended the workshop on caging crystals, I got to have my first Indonesian cuisine experience from a restaurant. I am not sure why I have never tried going to any Indonesian/Indonesian-inspired restaurant all these years. The closest I got to eating Indonesian food was when Mom made chicken sate (or satay) or nasi goreng at home.

It was not planned but that Sunday noon, Restoran Garuda was the only restaurant open near the workshop venue. Having left the house very early to go to church service, and with only one and a half hours from the end of the service to the expected arrival time at the workshop, I did not have the luxury of time to be walking around looking for a place to have lunch. I was also very hungry already.

But, unlike Japanese or Chinese food that I can order easily, I was so confused with the items on the menu. I was not sure whether I wanted to be adventurous, ordering something I am not totally familiar with or going for something that sounds safe based on the description. I was also wary because everything sounded spicy. I am very sensitive to spicy food! Thankfully, a member of the staff was helpful and directed me to the less spicy items on the menu. I ended up ordering the Nasi Goreng Spesial (Special) with Daging (Beef) and a bottle of Indonesian Iced Tea.

Nasi goreng translates to fried rice, very known in Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as other countries such as Singapore and Brunei. It is delicious because it is infused with delectable flavors and spices. The possibilities are endless, I think, there being so many variants there are, depending on the type of rice, meat and other ingredients used.

Because of all the yummy goodness infused in it, it smelled heavenly when they brought me my order! And boy, was it a huge serving!

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In front of me, I saw this message that made me chuckle. This must be the motto of people who love spicy food! I may not love spicy food as much but I agree with the statement. Cheers!

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I was surprised with the Indonesian Iced Tea. Apparently what the word Tehbotol meant in the menu was that it was going to be bottled iced tea. Made by a company called Sosro, it turned out to be sweet, jasmine tea.

As fond as I am of the jasmine scent, I am so sorry that I never really liked jasmine tea. When I drink jasmine tea, it’s so sharp to my tongue that I feel like I am drinking water with diluted soap. It’s not the taste that’s as bad for me. It’s the sensation in my mouth that turns me off. I didn’t consume more than a quarter of the drink then.

Now, let me discuss the nasi goreng spesial. It was so flavorful that I cannot imagine how many yummy goodness-filled ingredients got put into it. The rice really absorbed the flavor, making it seem that the rice was not just tossed into the sauce/flavorings before serving. Rather, time was really spent to allow the flavors to infuse into the rice.

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I told you the serving was huge, right? Thirty minutes of eating made me notice that I have not even consumed half of the bowl. And I am actually a quick-eater! I was so full already and had to go to the workshop so I asked the restaurant staff to have the remaining food packed to go.

When I got home, I had the remaining fried rice re-heated to eat for dinner. There really was a lot left. You might not believe it though but it tasted even better than it did while I was at the restaurant! Maybe because the food had more time for the flavors to marry and get infused into the rice? I don’t know. I just know that there are food that taste better a day or two after they were prepared.

So far, jasmine tea aside, my taste buds had a party when I ate this nasi goreng spesial. It was exceptionally good! I should probably try out the other fried rice items in the menu and just specify to make the spice level ultra mild. Haha…

Please do try out Restoran Garuda! You may book a table via Zomato and Booky. I believe though that Booky has a promo wherein you can book a table and get Php 300 discount when you book 30 minutes ahead and reach a Php 1,000 minimum spend. So, it might be the better deal of the two. Remember that Booky gives a free trial upon signing up which gives one Php 1,000 worth of savings that you can use in the form of Buy 1 Take 1 coupons or restaurant booking discounts. Go check it out now!

Just Tried: Ajisen Ramen

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” ― Mark Twain

Japanese food is good food. I have no words to describe how much I am fond of Japanese food over American and Italian food. So, when I discovered this Japanese restaurant near my Mom’s favorite Italian restaurant, La Grotta Cucina Italiana, I knew I had to try going there for a meal!

Welcome to Ajisen Ramen! Originally from Kumamoto, Japan, this chain of restaurants already has branches in places like Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and many more. In the Philippines, it has five branches spread across Makati, Manila, Pasig, Quezon City and Las Piñas.

Situated in the corner of Plaza 100 Bldg., in Makati, I find that it does not call attention as much as the Chowking branch does, since it isat the corner of the street this building’s in. For me, that only meant less crowd and more comfortable eating time. True enough, there were not so many people when I went there for lunch.

I ordered shogayaki don and gyoza. To drink, they gave me what I think is barley water.

Right off the bat, I saw big pieces of onion. Oh dear. I truly do not like onions in my food. I spent a good five minutes fishing out the onion bits and sadly, having to fish out onions from my food always gives me a headache.

Once I had the onions out, I took my first taste of the shogayaki don and found that I quite like it. The special sauce they say they put in was not too flavorful for me to want to drink lots of water to cleanse my palate. The meat was tender, not at all chewy. The rice was not too sticky and not too fluffy.

However, what I truly loved was the gyoza. It was actually the first thing I was sure I wanted to order. The crispy bottom and perfectly steamed filling were so good and were perfectly complemented by the dipping sauce. I was not sure if it was soy sauce because it had a very light taste.

The stress from the onion situation was taken away by these heavenly pot stickers!

Except for the onions, I had a pretty good experience here. I do have to admit though that it’s a bit pricey here. I can get the same food from Tokyo Tokyo or Yoshinoya for a much cheaper price. Then again, those two are fast-food places and I probably should not compare Ajisen Ramen to them.

Will I go back? I am not yet sure. Maybe when I crave for ramen, I will. I am quite curious about their original white broth ramen. I hope it’s very good and delicious.

By the way, I just discovered that the little girl in their logo has a name! It’s Chii-chan! Isn’t she cute?!

She actually reminds me of the poster I saw in a Chowking branch in Legazpi, Albay.

Have you been to Ajisen Ramen? What would you recommend from the menu?

Just Baked: White Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies

“Count your cookies, not your problems.” ― Cookie Monster, The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Monster’s Guide to Life

I recently bought a pack of dried cranberries to put on my salad. After tiring of eating salad for a week, I wanted to do something else with my remaining cranberries. So, on a recent trip to the grocery, I bought a pack of white chocolate chips to try to make one of my favorite cookies from Starbucks—white chocolate chips and cranberry cookies.

It’s not the first time I made these cookies but I could not find the recipe I used before. I then searched for a new one and came across the recipe from Diane Abed from AllRecipes. The only thing I didn’t have in her list of ingredients was the brandy. I decided to just use vanilla because I was going to bring the cookies to work and one of my colleagues is pregnant. I have no idea if one tablespoon of brandy mixed in cookie dough and baked off will have any effect on her but I didn’t want to risk it.

When I make cookies, I normally use salted butter for extra flavor. When I made these cookies, I only had unsalted butter. So, I decided to add ½ teaspoon of fine salt just to help with the flavor.

img_7818.jpgThe recipe was easy to make with or without an electric hand mixer. I did use one because I got used to it already. I think it only took me 10 minutes to whip the first batch. With the size of my cookie scoop, I wasn’t sure if I was indeed going to yield 24 cookies or more. However, I whipped up 24 cookies just like the recipe said so I whipped up another batch.

This is the most vanilla I used on a cookie. One tablespoon! That’s why when I was baking the cookies, the whole house smelled wonderfully of vanilla.

I did not flatten the cookies after scooping them on the baking sheet because I thought they were going to spread. However, that wasn’t the case. They only spread very little so I ended up with small, thick cookies. That meant a they took a little longer to bake completely though. Maybe 13 to 14 minutes instead of just 10 minutes.

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They were so delicate after getting out of the oven so I gently took them out to place on a cooling rack. I did not want the cookies to steam and be soggy by letting them cool on the tray they baked on. Also, I had to use the tray again to prepare my next batch of cookies for baking.

All in all, I made four dozens of cookies! Half of them I brought to work for my colleagues to enjoy. They have known for quite some time that I bake on weekends and they were requesting I let them taste what I make. I got positive feedback and there were those who went for seconds.

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They were moist on the inside and a little chewy because of the cranberries. The white chocolate really goes well with the tartness of the fruit. No wonder it’s my favorite fruit and chocolate combination! Not that white chocolate can be considered as “real chocolate,” but you know what I mean.

Try out Diane’s recipe. I am sure you and the people you’ll gift the cookies to will enjoy them!