Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

Happy Easter Everyone!!!

As promise,
the recipe for this light and moist Bundt cake
 is printed below.
We all had a fun full day of Easter celebration at my cousin Pam's house.
We celebrated my niece Paige and nephew Cole's birthday.
The kids had their Easter egg hunt,
and the adults sat down for card games,
 and some watched the basketball game.
I hope you all had a great Easter celebration as well.
2.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
             (I prefer Lindt 85/95/99% cocoa bar or Scharffen Berger 70% Cacao)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup espresso drink (1 cup water to 2 tsp. instant espresso)
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. butter
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. corn syrup
  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Spray Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray.
  • In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the 2.5 oz. chopped chocolate. Stir constantly until melted.
  • Transfer melted chocolate into a medium bowl, slightly cool before
  • Adding the oil and sugar, whisking until smooth.
  • Add eggs, whisk until blended.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture along with 1/2 of the coffee and 1/2 of the buttermilk. Whisk until smooth.
  • Add all remaining ingredients, whisk until smooth.
  • Spoon batter into pan.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until tester inserted comes out clean or a few crumbs clinging to it.
  • Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack.
  • Invert cake on a cake stand or plate.
  • Pour ganache over cake. Slice and serve.
  • Place chopped chocolate and corn syrup in a heat proof bowl.
  • In a small saucepan heat heavy cream and butter. Bring to just a boil.
  • Immediately pour over chocolate and let stand without stirring for a few minutes.
  • Stir gently with a whisk or spoon until smooth.
  • You can substitute 1 cup espresso to 1 cup of strongly brewed coffee.
  • For the Easter cake toppers, I used chocolate eggs, edible grass and a painted egg shell.




Friday, March 29, 2013

Sweet & Sour Fish

Well I am not supposed to be working today since it's Good Friday.
So I'm going to make this short and sweet.
What's for dinner on Fish Friday?
Deep Fried Tilapia topped with the Filipino Traditional Sweet and Sour Sauce.
With this recipe you can use either Red Snapper, Rock Cod, Tilapia or Sea bass.
In my country, if you can fry it, go for it!
The traditional Filipino sweet and sour has pineapple in it.
I did not add any today because I completely forgot to get the pineapple.
One of the perks of getting old. ;)
I did not add the green pepper because of my GERD problem.
Of course the rest of the ingredients that will cause my symptoms to flare won't be eaten.


1 Tilapia/Red Snapper/ Rock Cod/Sea Bass, cleaned and scaled
Salt and pepper, to season fish
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup pineapple juice
3/4 cup sugar ( add more to your taste)
3/4 cup coconut vinegar
1/2 cup catsup
2 tbsp. chili sauce
2 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed in 1 1/2 tbsp. water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 medium bell pepper, julienned (optional)
1 large carrot, julienned
2 inch ginger, julienned
I clove garlic, minced
1 cup pineapple chunks
2 green onions including tops, thinly sliced
  • On each side of the fish, make 2-3 diagonal slashes, cutting down to the bone each time.
  • Season fish with salt and pepper.
  • Place in the Deep Fryer.
  • Cook until golden brown and crisp.
  • Place on a platter with a paper towel to soak oil from fish and set aside.
  • Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan, except for the cornstarch mixture.
  • Whisk all ingredients until smooth.
  • Bring sauce to a boil, stirring constantly.
  • Add cornstarch mixture, stir until sauce thickens.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a separate sauté pan, add 2 tbsp vegetable oil.
  • When oil is hot, add ginger and onion, cook until onion softens.
  • Add carrots, stir fry for about 2 minutes.
  • Add garlic and bell pepper, cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Pour the sweet and sour sauce over the vegetable mixture, bring to a boil.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Pour vegetables and sauce over fish.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice.
  • If you don't have a deep fryer, you can certainly fry your fish in a nonstick frying pan.
  • Make sure you discard the paper towel from the platter before you pour your sauce over the fish. I have made that mistake once by not paying attention.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SHARKS, MANATEES, and STITCH - Fun under the Floridian Sun

It's that time of year again, where most of us head off for Spring Break
and planning for our vacations for the Summer Break.
Discussing vacation for the summer with my husband just gets me excited.
Where to go and what to do ... what to do this summer.
Somewhere sunny with white sand and warm water.

 We have had it with this freezing temperatures and we just want to be somewhere warm.
"Mr. Freeze" if you are listening,
just because you weren't around as much for us last year,
doesn't give you any permission to stay as long as you want this year.
You are no longer welcome here and we just want "Mr. Warm Sun" to stay around longer.
As we discuss where to go this summer,
my Little 4 year old "Taz" said he wants to go see E.T.
I don't know of any 4 year old who is so crazy over E.T.
He hums the movie theme song while he is playing and he knows it was produced by Universal and can spell U-N-I-V-E-R-S-A-L before he learned to spell C-A-T and D-O-G.
He asks to go on youtube all the time just to listen to Universal's opening song and watches anything E.T.
And one day surprised us by pointing out Steven Spielberg  in the picture whom he said the one who made E.T. 
But Little Taz was vetoed by everyone.
No one really wants to go back to busy Orlando this year.
We all want a very relaxing vacation.
Orlando is best when all tourist have gone home.
And that's what we did a few years ago.
We went the third week of August, that's when most visitors are gone because they have to go back for school.
Since our School District has an after Labor Day first day we are able to have the luxury of picking that date.
If you are thinking of going to Florida this year and looking for things to do,
 here's a few things we did while still having a very relaxing vacation back in 2010.
The first thing is we figured out the activities we wanted to do, the schedule when we want to do those activities,
then where we wanted to stay.
I am very lucky to have first cousins that live in Orlando so we always stay with them.
We wanted to go to Clearwater beach area,
so we had to look for a place to stay at there.
Since we have a Gold Passport with Hyatt, and we know we can never go wrong with Hyatt we decided to book a room there over Don Cesar off of the St. Pete's waters.
From research and reviews Don Cesar has very tiny rooms and that's just not what my family needed.

Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa
We flew in at Orlando, stayed and visited with cousins for the night,
 then headed off to Clearwater Beach in the morning.
It is a good 2+hours drive.
 When we got to Clearwater, upon crossing the bridge you can definitely see the Hyatt.
As we park in front of the hotel,
someone immediately helped us with our luggage, and the valet took our keys and parked our car.
Upon check in we were greeted by very friendly faces at the front desk. 
The manager was at the front desk at that moment, and surprised us by upgrading
our room to a much larger room with a terrace.
The terrace had a table and chairs,
 it was overlooking the beautiful view of the Gulf and the marina. 
We had a good view of the Pier and the bridge as well. 
We had a gorgeous room at the Hyatt, complete with kitchen amenities, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, stovetop, full-size refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and a dining table for 4. 
Perfect for a family with little children, it's a home away from home
We bought groceries from the local market before we checked-in.
We ate out twice in our stay, and the rest we made delicious food in our beautiful kitchen.
Since the hotel is located at the Beach Boardwalk,
we just took the elevator down,
and a few steps away are restaurants, and the pier where we would walked every night,
and joined the fun beach activities.
Across the street is the Marina where you can booked any boating activities.
Every morning after breakfast the kids get themselves dress without us even asking,
because they can't wait to go down and play at the beach.
The water at Clearwater beach in the summer is warm,
unlike our freezing beaches at California when we lived there.
Clearwater Beach with the Pier on the background.
We stayed most of the morning at the beach and we would go up to our hotel
and have lunch either in our room or have lunch by the pool
Swim Bar & Grill,
it offers an assortment of Pan Latino sandwiches and appetizers,
and a great view of  the Gulf  of Mexico.
We especially love the Pressed Cuban sandwich and the Grilled Chicken sandwich.
After Lunch,
the kids would jump right back into the pool and play.
Hyatt's Lovely Pool in the evening.
Lunch at the Swim Bar & Grill

We enjoyed our stay at the Hyatt.
From the friendly, helpful, and well informed staff to the beautiful beaches, great view of the ocean, cleanliness and overall comfort to the delicious dishes they offer at their restaurants.
I give the Hyatt a 5 Gold Star rating.
One of the coolest things we have ever done as a family on this vacation,
is swim with the Manatees at Crystal Rivers.
The time we came they were very scarce.
Manatees are mammals that look something like a cross between a seal and a cow.
They have large flippers and their fins in the back are shaped like a great fan or large paddle.
 Their faces have a long snout – with whiskers.
They actually are related to the elephant and the hyrax and it’s believed manatees evolved
from wading, plant-eating animals.
Adults can grow to be more than 10-feet in length and they can way up to 1,200 pounds.
The ideal time to come for swimming with the manatees is on the winter months.
And if you can't swim very well find a tour guide that can take you to a stream shallow enough
that you’ll be able to stand in the water while the manatees swim around you.
We were not very happy with the tour guide we got from River Ventures
Let's just say he was not a very friendly guide especially to minorities like us.
He pretty much ignored us and focused on other guests and if we had questions, 
it was like talking to a wall. 
It took us about a good hour cruising the river before we had our first sighting.
The water was quite high that day that it was close to impossible to see one.
We also took the middle of the day tour,
the best time to go is at the earliest tour which is 6:30 a.m.
But we did and it made our day.
Frolicking in the water with the manatees is indeed an experience!
We had a great time, despite of the bad treatment from the scruffy, long haired, looks like he hasn't showered for days ignoring mean Captain.
Little 2 yr. old Taz suited up for the swim

What an experience!

Next Pit Stop was, SNORKEL with the SHARKS at Shark Reef at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon.
Yes, unknown to most,
even to the ones who has been in Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, at Shark Reef you can snorkel with the sharks, stingrays and adorable little nemos and doris.
They provide the snorkels, masks, fins and an optional lifejacket for everyone,
the only requirement is, you can swim or float across with a lifejacket.
All equipment used for Shark Reef  are included in your park admission, at no additional charge.
Glide from one end to the other and enjoy the whimsy seascape Disney has created.

They're not large but it gave me a fright when it swam passed me.
Little Taz not so happy to see Stitch.
Fun at Typhoon Lagoon
My princess and her Uncle Mike underwater.
Little Taz definitely had a blast.
Our last pit stop was the KENNEDY SPACE CENTER a.k.a. NASA.
This was for my husband, myself, and for our sweet daughter.
It was an educational tour for all of us.
Since my husband and I were kids we have dreamt of coming here, and another thing off our bucket list.
We toured the center and the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), you get to see how this monstrous vehicles were assembled for launch.
We were so lucky to have met Space Shuttle Commander Astronaut Colonel Rick Searfoss
a.k.a. "NOAH ",
who flew 3 space missions.
That was icing on the cake!
Control Center

Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)


Photo-op with an Astronaut before we left.
What a fun educational tour!!!

This trip was definitely a fun under the Floridian sun.
Why didn't we got to Disney World, Epcot and the rest of the theme parks?
Well, we've have visited them all from our last trip,
and when we lived in California,
we would take my daughter once a month to Disneyland and Universal.
I'm just Disney'd out! ;)
When Little Taz gets a Little older, maybe when he's 6 years old,
we will definitely bring him back to those theme parks.
I want him to remember the experience when he goes,
just like my daughter.
For now, I will have to think up of our next summer destination.
I can assure you one thing,
it'll be another fun memorable summer vacation!!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Cajun Spiced Blue Crabs

I am reposting this recipe on Fish Friday for Lent.
This a delicious island dish I grew up eating,
with my own little Cajun twist to it.

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 come 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 fishermen 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 pot on medium-high heat, add olive oil, once hot, add garlic, scallions, and tomatoes. Stir for a minute or 2.
  • Add water, and tomato paste. Stir to blend.
  • Add crabs. Bring to a hard boil.
  • Add coconut milk, cajun spice, chili pepper flakes, thai peppers or siling labuyo, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Lower heat to simmer, and cook for another 15 minutes.

Serve with steamed rice.
Serves 4
  • If you like your dish very spicy, finely slice thai peppers/siling Labuyo.
  • If you want it mild spice, leave thai peppers whole.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Happy Birthday to my Very Good Friend Aimee

Today my friends and I celebrated our beautiful friend Aimee's Birthday,
and we also remember our friend Sandi's sweet Baby Paige
who have joined our good Lord one year ago today.
We got together and Aimee taught us Pilates.
Right now I can definitely feel the pain
after stretching muscles I didn't even know existed.
And it's just been hours,
I'm sure it will feel worst when I wake up tomorrow.

Made her an Angel Food Cake with Strawberries and whipped topping.

I'll post the recipe tomorrow.
Promise! ;)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chocolate Chip Espresso Banana Muffins

Growing up in a tropical country,
 it's either you are surrounded by coconut trees or bananas.
Unknown to some, Bananas are not trees.
Yes, you heard it right!
Bananas are giant perennial herbaceous plants.
It does not have a wooden trunk.

Just like the coconut,
we use almost every part of the banana in my country for traditional dishes.
We use the inner core of the banana trunk 
which we call in my island "UBAD",
roughly chop we use it to make chicken stew.
We also use the banana hearts, and the banana leaves for cooking.

Talking about bananas brings back so many memories.
When my parents got married, my mom's parents gave them a house.
My grandfather had the property beautifully landscaped.
Everytime my father expects my grandmother (My Mom's mother) to visit,
my father would go to the back of the house,
and harvested bananas to give to her.
He does this because I think he feels guilty for ruining the beautiful bermuda grass
 in our property that my grandfather spent so much money on.
How did my father ruined it?
He planted bananas and other fruit trees around the property.
Because Bananas have underground stems that multiplies,
it killed the bermuda grass.
So to get on the good side of his in-laws,
 he always make sure he has fruits to give to my grandparents.
Pretty funny!

This recipe also reminds me of my Aunt Dianette (janet),
who loves to bake.
I think that's where I inherited my love of baking.
She makes delicious bakegoods especially banana bread.
Everytime I visit my grandmother,
my Aunt would be in the kitchen making something for her customers,
and the house would smell so heavenly.
I  looked forward in visiting, and tasting the yummies my Aunt made.

Now, my daughter and her friends are the ones looking forward
 in coming home after school,
 because they all raid my kitchen.
I should start charging their parents for groceries. 

At my home there's always very ripe bananas left uneaten.
And what is a good Mom to do?
Banana Bread.
I'm tired of the usual banana bread recipe.
So I thought why not add a few ingredients that I love
 enhance the flavor of this classic banana recipe.
What is it?
Espresso and chocolate.


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp instant espresso powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed


  • Preheat Oven to 325 F.
  • Line 18 muffin cups with muffin/cupcake paper liners.
  • In a medium bowl, add the first 6 dry ingredients, whisk to blend.
  • In a separate large bowl, add sugar, oil and eggs, beat to blend.
  • Stir in mashed Bananas. Mix well.
  • Add all dry ingredients, stir until blended.
  • With an ice cream scoop, divide batter among the prepared muffin cups.
  • Bake the muffins on the middle rack for about 25 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  • Transfer to a rack and cool.
  • Muffins may be eaten warm or cooled competely. 

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