Thursday, June 28, 2012

Just Like Porto's Famous Cheese Rolls

If you are from Los Angeles,
 you know exactly why I CRAVE for this pastry from this local bakery.

Let me tell you, these cheese rolls are 'to die for!'
No exaggeration! Really!
There's always a line when you go to Porto's bakery.
Porto's is a family owned bakery.
A family from Cuba who migrated to the United States for the same reason as all of us migrants.

My husband flies back to Los Angeles a few times a year
and he always brings back this treat.
I actually threaten him to change the locks if he does not bring back any cheese rolls.
My sweet husband always take the time to stand in line and get this tasty pastry.
So here it it my friends who live away from Los Angeles,
and to those who hate the long lines,
fret no more,
you can now make this anytime you crave it.
I am not claiming it taste exactly the same, but you be the judge.

1 box frozen Puff pastry
8 oz Cream Cheese
1 egg
5 tbsp of powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten (to brush)
melted  butter (to brush)
granulated sugar (to sprinkle) 

  • Thaw puff pastry.
  • Once thawed, cut each puff pastry 4 ways to make 8 squares. Or 6 ways to make 12 out of the 2 pastry in a box.
  • Line baking pan with parchment paper.

  • While Puff pastry is thawing, in a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, egg, and powdered sugar. Using a mixer, blend well until smooth and creamy.
  • Spoon cream cheese mixture on top of the puff pastry.
  • Tightly roll, you can roll it either way just like the photo shown on the right.
  • Brush top of pastry with beaten egg.
  • Bake  at 400° F for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, brush top of pastry with melted butter and sprinkle granulated sugar on top.
  • Bake for another 5-7 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Every oven is different. The altitude also place a great role on the success of your baking. Here's a link on the adjustments:
  • You have to roll pastry to fully close. If you just fold it once, it will open when you bake it.
  • In this recipe I made about 8 large cheese rolls, but you can make 12 out of one puff pastry box. It will be just the right size.

Serves 8-12

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My First Crop and the Chipmunk beat me to it!

A couple of months ago I planted my tomatoes and herbs.
I love planting my own, you never know what kind of pesticides they spray on the ones you get from the market.
And if you get the organic ones, they're always expensive.
I just use the space I have outside of my bedroom window.
In the mornings when I open the window, 
 I always get a good whiff of that fragrant rosemary and Thai basil.

I love thai basil, for soups and fresh spring rolls.

Last month, I added green beans and jalapenos.
I was so excited when my tomatoes bear fruits, and the pepper produced 3 jalapenos .

Today, as I  water my plants I noticed that the leaves on 2 of my green beans stalk have all disappeared. I looked at my jalapenos next to it, and one had been munch on.

I know who has been in my garden.
"Aiden the Chipmunk!"

We have this one chipmunk who lives in our raingutter,
 who burrows himself at night in my urns and flower pots.
Everyday, I see a hole in a different pot, that he has burrowed himself in.
He likes to try every flower pot.
Hmmm ... I guess he's trying to find the most comfortable pot .
Sometimes he likes to climb on our screen door, just to show off and most probably taunt me.

So the kids decided to put their own version of a scarecrow.

"Curios George the monkey" is now guarding our green beans.
Let's see if he doesn't get eaten.
And I'm quite sure he is NOT coming back for more of that spicy jalapeno.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Very First Blog Award

Thanks for nominating me, Ellen B. Cookery!!!

It feels good when your hard work is appreciated especially by amazing bloggers themselves.
You inspire me to create delicious recipes everyday.

Thank you for the recognition.

The rules for this award are....

  1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you.
  2. Include a link to their site.
  3. Include the award image to your post.
  4. Include the award image on your blog.
  5. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
  6. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
  7. When nominating other bloggers, include links to their sites.
  8. Let those bloggers know they have been nominated. 

My 7 random facts are: 

  1. I can smell things that others can't smell.
  2. I love bargains.
  3. I carry around clorox wipes everywhere I go, and I wipe everything that I think I will touch with it.
  4. I love talking to my friends but gets nervous when I have to talk to a big group in a meeting or on stage.
  5. I went to college at the Conservatory of Music only to find, I'll be singing an Aria in the kitchen.
  6. I love to dip my bacon in spicy vinegar. Yes I do!
  7. I wish I was closer to my sister in England, so we can travel together and discover good eats in Europe anytime we want.
So here are my nominee's for the blog award, blogs I love, love, and love!
The deserving blogs are:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Melon Ice Pops

Summer brings back so many childhood memories!

And Ice Candy as we called it, is one summer treat we would always get.
Even if it's not summer, this was just a treat we all love up to now.

I remember making this with my siblings growing up.
It's a simple concoction of milk, sugar, water and fresh fruit or chocolate.
Then we would pour this in an ice candy wrapper which is just a simple narrow plastic that you tie at the end.
 Freeze and wait.
The waiting felt like FOREVER to us kids, but it was always worth it in the end.

                                                                           photo courtesy:

I don't have any ice candy wrappers anymore so I bought this ice pops mold instead.
I think it's adorable,
and this is my own little way of reducing my carbon footprint in our beloved earth.
It can be washed and reused.

My personal favorites of course are mango, melon and coconut ice candies.


1 cantaloupe
1 cup water
1 1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 - 3/4 cup of sugar


  • Dice 3/4 of the cantaloupe.
  • In a blender, add diced cantaloupe, milk, water and sugar.
  • Puree, and blend well.
  • Taste, add more sugar to your liking if necessary.
  • Shred the remaining 1/4 cantaloupe in the grater, you will need about a cup.

  • Add 1 tbsp of shredded cantaloupe in each mold.

  • Pour cantaloupe mixture in the ice pops mold.

  • Close lid tightly.

  • Freeze for 4 hrs or more.

  • This is an activity you can do with kids . It seems, it taste better when they put hard work to a treat.
  • You can substitute with fresh milk, I just like the way the evaporated milk taste with cantaloupe, just like what my Mom used to make.
  • One thing I did too, is to move around the shredded cantaloupe after pouring the mixture, so you get pieces of it when you bite into your ice pop.
Yields: 12 creamsicles

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

No Bake Mango Custard Tart

I love summertime.
The sun, the trips to the beach, and my summer fruits.
Besides the watermelon, mangoes are one of my favorites.
Being I'm from a tropical country, I grew up eating and loving mangoes.
Mango is our National Fruit in the Philippines, so it's just fitting that I should love it.
Whether the mango is ripe or unripe, I love it!!! 
Unripe mangoes (green mangoes) are another one of my favorites.
We usually dip the unripe mangoes to salty shrimp paste, some dip it on salt or soy sauce.
Whatever tickles their fancy. 
Shrimp paste?
Yes, smelly ... salty shrimp paste!
Which we call Bagoong in the Philippines.
Bagoong is a condiment in the Philippines, made of fermented shrimp, salt, and sun dried.
Not for everyone!

There's an abundance of Mangoes in the summer.
I remember climbing the mango tree and picking unripe mangoes.
It was a fun thing to do for us kids.
My cousins and I used to climb the roof of my grandmothers 2 story house to pick her neighbors mangoes. It was dangerous but we didn't think of that,
all we cared about are the green mangoes we get.
Another memory I have,
green (unripe) mangoes are sold outside of our school gates by street vendors.
At recess or after school we never fail to buy and snack on it.
Oh and let me not forget the Green Mango Shake.
Yummy green unripe mango made into shake, sounds horrible but wait 'til you taste it, and you'll say otherwise. 
Ahhh, all these memories are making me salivate.

If the mango is ripe, I just peel and bite into it,
not caring that the juices are dripping all over my face and hands.

My Uncle Tony was asking for a recipe for the sweet mangoes they bought,
so I thought of this tart.
An easy and no bake recipe that anyone can make.
You can make this ahead of time if you have a party the next day.

My kids love this tart, next time I will make small individual tarts for easy serving.
Now remember, no substitutions allowed on this recipe.

Mangoes always make me happy.
Another one of my comfort cravings.



 3 cups Graham Crackers
12 tbsp butter, unsalted
4 tbsp granulated sugar

Pastry Custard:

1 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp butter
Zest of 1 lime 
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature

1 cup mango puree, (pureed from 2-3 mangoes)

  • Butter and sprinkle flour on the bottom of tart pan, to avoid tart from sticking.
For the Crust:
  • In a medium bowl, mix together melted butter, graham cracker crumbs and sugar. In a tart pan transfer mixture and firmly press into sides and bottom  of the pan to form a crust layer. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the Pastry Custard:
  • Set stove to medium heat. In a medium saucepan, heat milk to simmering.
  • In a bowl, cream sugar and yolks. Then add cornstarch , and whisk well until mixture is smooth.
  • Gradually pour half of the simmering milk into mixture while constantly whisking. Blend well.
  • Pour mixture into remaining milk in saucepan and cook, to prevent from lumping, whisk constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Let boil for a minute.
  • Remove from heat; stir in butter, lime zest and lime juice.
  • Transfer custard to a bowl, cover mixture's surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming, and chill for at an 1 hour.
  • When custard has chilled for an hour, add cream cheese and mix until well blended. You can use a food processor if you wish or just whisk by hand.

To Assemble:
  • Spread mango puree first, covering the base of tart crust.
  • Spoon custard over top, spread evenly.
  • Thinly slice mango flesh, and arrange on top of pastry custard.
  • Place kiwi slices in center.

    • you can choose to put glaze over the your tart
    • If you want to make it  glossy, top with unflavored gelatin to not affect the taste,  follow instructions on the box, and pour over entire tart and let it set for a few hours.

      Serves: 8-10

      Monday, June 18, 2012

      Cajun Spiced Blue Crabs (Ginataang Alimango)

      So today my sister-in-laws posted pictures in a social network of them having lunch
      in a Seafood Restaurant called Dampa in Manila.
      Seeing the Philippine King Crabs they were eating, inspired me to make this for dinner.
      Off to the Asian Market we go, children in tow.
      The kids love going there because next door to the market is a bakery
      that makes the most delicious cakes and smoothies.

      While the kids and my husband are at the bakery, I trekked in the market.

      As I open the door, the smell of fish hits me.
      If you are not use to this foul smell, your bestfriend would be the sink.

      Going in an Asian Market, I feel like a 3 year old going to a candy store.
      Excited in seeing things I have not seen for a long time. Take the Jackfruit. The sweet smell of jackfruit just makes me salivate.The problem ... they were selling the whole fruit, all 20 lbs of it!!! If I bought it, I'll be at the emergency room being treated for an acute stomach ache. That would be embarassing, telling everyone at the ER I over ate on a 20 lb. fruit that they have not heard of.The doctors will probably have to Google it, for them to know how to treat me.
      Following the fish smell, off to the aisle of Live Crabs.Seeing the crabs opening and closing their claws makes my heart jump. It's alive! It's fresh!    It's hard to get fresh seafood here in the Midwest. Most of the time they come frozen because it has to travel far, and if you get a fresh one, they have to fly it and you have to pay a good amount for it.This Blue Crabs either came from the Cheasapeake Bay or Maine.It was so different from when I lived in California, I just drive to the Port of San Pedro at 4 a.m., and wait for the fishermans to arrive and buy the catch of the day. Fish still flipping, shrimps jumping and crabs crawling. I can go on and on about fresh seafood stories all day.                              
       Fish is my families business in our island.
      We eat seafood for breakfast. Seriously we do! With Rice!Oh rice!
      That's another chapter in this blog.

      I usually just like my crabs steamed.
       Opening my spice cabinet I found the Cajun Spice I brought home
      from a Hamburger chain restaurant. Yes a burger restaurant.
      They give you a cajun spice for your fries.
      I used a pinch for my fries and had plenty left, so I brought it home.
      It's delicious!
      So with cajun spice in hand,
       I looked for ingredients I can use from my pantry, and from the ice box.


      1 tbsp olive oil
      3 cloves garlic, minced
      1/2 cup scallions, thinly cut, divided
      1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved
      1 cup water
      2 tbsp tomato paste
      1 cup coconut milk
      1 tbsp Cajun spice
      1 tsp chili pepper flakes
      3-4 Thai chili peppers or Siling Labuyo (optional)
      salt and pepper to taste


      Heat a medium pot on medium-high heat, add olive oil, once hot add garlic scallions, and tomaotes. Saute for a minute or 2.
      Add water, and tomato paste. Let boil.
      Add crabs. Bring to a hard boil.
      Add coconut milk, cajun spice, chili pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.
      Cook for another 10 minutes .

      Serve with steamed rice.
      Serves 4


      Thursday, June 14, 2012

      Mung Beans & Spinach Soup (Ginisang Monggo)

      It's about 90° F but seriously I am craving for Mung Beans and Spinach soup.
      I should have not opened the freezer.
      When I saw that pork belly in there,
      that was the food that came to mind immediately.
      It's been awhile since I've had this dish. 
      I think I was still in Los Angeles the last time I had a really good Mung beans soup.

      Usually, at some Filipino restaurants,
      they cook this dish like they are in a hurry, or they are just too lazy to simmer the darn dish.
      How much work does it really entail to simmer??? 

      This soup needs to be cooked for at least an hour, simmer to perfection.

      For my Vegan friends,
      you can make this soup by just adding mushrooms
      in replacement of the pork belly.
      use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
      Add more garlic, and add bay leaf to add more flavor.

      If you haven't heard of mung beans ... I assure you ... you have!
      But in a different form, the Beans Sprouts you see and buy from your local grocery stores, come from mung beans. 

      Mung beans is very low in Cholesterol, and low in Saturated Fat and Sodium. 
      A good source of Protein, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Manganese Riboflavin, Folate,and Copper . 
      The only downside, Calories in Mung beans comes from its sugar content.
      But hey, everything has sugar.


      1 1/2 cups Mungs beans
      3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
      4 cups water
      3 cloves garlic, minced
      1 medium Onion, chopped
      1 medium tomato, diced
      1 cup pork belly, 1/2 inch cube (optional)
      1 cup shrimps, de-veined (optional)
      Salt and pepper to taste
      5 oz. bag Baby Spinach, washed
      1 tbsp fice sauce (optional)


      • In medium-high heat ,  onions until softened, in a medium stockpot .
      • Add garlic, and pork belly, sauté until golden brown.

      • Add tomatoes. And shrimps (optional). Cook for another 2 minutes.
      • Season with salt and pepper.
      • Add mungs beans, and chicken stock.
      • Bring to a boil for about 2 mins.
      • Reduce heat to medium.
      • Cook for 60 minutes adding 1 cup of water every 15 mins.
      • Add spinach, and fish sauce (optional) 5 minutes before turning off the heat.


      • Mungs beans should open up, and tender.
      • Soup should be not too thick, and not too watery.
      • My mother and grandmother use to add shrimps with heads on and with shells. This gives more flavor to the soup.
      • If you can't find pork belly or simply don't like them, you can substitute with ham or bacon. This will give the flavor some smokiness to it. 
      • I grew up with fish sauce so I like adding that flavor to my soup. You don't have to use it.


      Sunday, June 10, 2012

      just right Strawberry Preserves

      So here it is!

      The left over strawberries made into Just Right Strawberry Preserves.
      I have tried a few recipes and and they always come out too sweet.
      One recipe was too runny and one recipe I tried was simply just not right.
      It had a burnt taste to it.
      Using store bought strawberries are fine but strawberries picked from a farm are just the best ones to can.
      Nothing is better than vine-ripened sweet & juicy strawberries.
      So head on over to the farm while there's still some berries left to pick.


      5 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, divided 
      3 cups sugar
      2 lemons, zested and juiced
      1 box Sure-jell No-sugar added pectin (pink box)


      • Cut large strawberries in half. Leave smaller strawberries whole.
      • In a large pan, add sugar and lemon zest, and 1/2 of the strawberries, mash with a potato masher.

      • Add the rest of the strawberries.

      • Slowly bring strawberries to a boil, stirring occasionally.
      • Add lemon juice and pectin.
      • Cook until strawberry mixture is clear and syrup is thick, about 10-15 minutes. Turn off heat. Skim off foam from top of mixture as much as you can.

      • While strawberries are boiling, in a separate pot sterilize jars in boiling water.
      • Carefully take out jar with a lifter or tongs
      • Quickly ladle strawberry mixture into the hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims, adjust  two-piece lids and close.
      • Put in the canner, if you don't have one, in a separate pan with about 2 inches of water, bring water to a boil and process for 10 minutes.
      • Take jars out, set on top of towels on the counter, when you hear a "Pop", that's when you know your jars are sealed.

      Makes 7 - 8 oz jars.


      • Best strawberries for canning are fresh strawberries picked right out of the farm.
      • If you are to use the preserves immediately no need to process them.
      • It is important that you wash and sterilize your jars.

      Saturday, June 9, 2012

      Grocery Bag Holder made from Clorox Wipes Dispenser

      Are you as crazy as I am with germs, salmonella poisoning, or just plain OCD?
      Yes, I admit I can go bananas sometimes with germs and it drives my hubby and children crazy.
      I'm the person who cleans the bathroom everyday, who will bring disinfecting wipes everywhere, will buy my own toilet seat cover and take it everywhere with me,
      and let's not forget ... bring a basket full of cleaning supplies at camping.
      And clean the campground's shower and toilet before using it.
      Just ask my Aunt Marj.

      So in my household, we keep a bunch of Disinfecting Wipes. Lot's of it!!!

      We recycle at home too. One thing my hubby is passionate about.
      I  ... ummm ... not so much. But I do try. If he's not around, some disgusting stuff
      goes straight to the trash bin unwashed. Not in his recycle bin.
      Like I said I don't like dirty.

      So here's my contribution to the slogan Reduce, Re-use and Recycle!
      With the help of my husband as my Photo model here it is.

      Do you have Clutter of Grocery bags under the sink?


      Now keep one under the sink in each bathroom, kitchen, or one in the car.
      We all know if you have kids what trash we pull out of cars by the end of the week,
      and if you have infants and tots with diapers, Pheeyeeww! I'm not not going there!
      And summer season is almost here, with wet swimming suits from the beach, this comes handy.

      I have run out of Mod Podge so I will be updating this post as soon as get one.
      I use Mod Podge to paint on to fabric to cover the dispenser. Just an aesthetic thing for company.
      If you don't care, you don't really need to cover it with fabric, you can use a scrapbook paper (the problem with this is it gets easily wet),
      or you can omit covering it!

      Now if you are not Disinfecting Wipes crazy like me, but have diaper wipes dispensers lying around, you can use that to make a grocery dispenser as well.
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