Thursday, May 23, 2013

Filipino Macaroons

A few countries have their own version of the Macaroons.
The Scottish macaroon is chocolate covered with coconuts,
French with almonds, the Dominicans would add ginger and cinnamon,
Puerto Rican adds lemon zest and vanilla,
Indian macaroons with egg whites and cashews, the Spanish has hazelnuts on theirs,
and then there's the dry coconut macaroons from North America.
You can even buy them in a can!
Nope! Not your usual dry Macaroons.
Filipino Macaroons 
is describe as a heavenly taste of delicious
moist  & chewy goodness confection.
Prepare not to eat dinner for the rest of the week after the first bite.
You'll be suffering from temporary amnesia, forgetting your diet plan..
You'll have seconds, thirds, and more!
 My Mom's sister, Aunt Dianette (Janet)
 makes the best
 Every time she makes macaroons,
I would drop whatever I am doing to get to my grandma's fast 
before anyone else gets there and snatch
all the delicious mini golden sweet confections.
I wish I can tell you this is her recipe. 
No not sharing it!
I scoured the net to get the right recipe but to no avail.
So I,
with my little man helping me make a mess in the kitchen,
experimented on different recipes, adding on, less of this, little less of that
to recreate my Aunt's recipe.
After a few trial and errors without blowing up my kitchen
 I finally got the right recipe.

I think!
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
14 oz.  Coconut Flakes (desiccated coconut)
  • Preheat oven to 325° F.
  • Line mini muffin pan with mini cupcake liner.
  • In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a separate large bowl, Cream butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add sugar and eggs, mix until blended and smooth.
  • Stir in condensed milk, vanilla and the coconut flakes.
  • Add the dry mixture in. Blend well.
  • Drop the batter into the prepared lined mini muffin pan.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Cool and Serve.
  • Yields 48-52 mini confections.
  • Be careful in buying coconut flakes, sometimes they have been on the shelf for so long they are extremely dry.
  • You can definitely drizzle melted white chocolate on top for a more gourmet decadence.
  • You can definitely substitute white sugar with brown and with other dry sweeteners.

see one of the Must Visit island this summer:
Mackinac Island & The Grand Hotel

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gorgeous Mackinac Island & The Grand Hotel

As many have requested for summer must go's in the west side of Michigan,
here's another re-post of a place that everyone finds
simply enchanting.

Do you remember the movie "SOMEWHERE IN TIME" ?
This year,
it's Richard and Elise's 100th Anniversary
since they first met in 1912.

If you were not born when they first released the movie in 1980,
I suggest you rent it.
The most Romantic Movie ever filmed.
Boy do I feel old!

Somewhere in Time was shot at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island.
A perfect setting!

The Grand Hotel is at the gorgeous Mackinac Island.
This hotel has plenty of rich history.
Presidents such as
Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy,
Gerald Ford , George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton,
other dignitary visitors such as Dmitri Medvedev
and Vladimir Putin.
Historical figures like Thomas Edison,
authors Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain.
Imagine yourself staying at the suites they slept in.
Just like what they say,
"If Only Walls could Talk."

The GRAND Hotel

The Grand Hotel has preserved
it's original architecture,
the romantic and relaxed atmosphere, and charm.

Like the hotel,

Mackinac Island (mah-kee-nah) has also preserved it's charm and old world beauty.

The only means of transportation here are horses, bicycles, and carriages.
Well except for one
motorized vehicle used by the emergency medical crew
The homes here span three centuries.
From Native American, French rustic, Colonial, Victorian to Arts & Craft and more.
All preserved and must comply to the guidlines set by
National Trust for Historic Preservation.

As we approach the island,
colorful sails from hundreds of sailboats greeted us.
It was the week of the Chicago Yacht Club Race.
You hear lots of laughter, water splashing from people diving off their sailboats.

When planning to visit Mackinac Island,
I suggest that you take the ferry from St. Ignace,
so you'll be able to experience crossing the bridge,
and it takes less time to get to the island.

As we got off the boat,
we were in search for the bicycles that we brought along.
My husband on the other hand,
had to rent one with a child's seat at the back of the bike.
It is an 8.3 mile bike ride around the island.


My cousins at beautiful flower lined Downtown

Stopped at the Arch Rock

Picturesque bike ride along the shore back to town for lunch

After our bike ride to The Arch Rock,
we went back to town and stopped for Lunch
They have been cooking delicious breakfast and lunches
for locals and visitorsfor over 60 years.
Their Bleu Cheese burgers with pretzel buns
are to die for.
Thanks to my cousin Pam's friend recommending this place.
We had a filling and delicious lunch.
Perfect to fuel up for another bike ride around the island.

While waiting for our seats at Chuckwagon's
we peeked next door at the Famous Murdick's Fudge

Famous Pretzel Buns at Chuckwagon Restaurant

After lunch we all decided to continue our bike ride around the island,
Which I opted out after biking about 2 miles,
I was huffing and puffing because my heart condition, my body can't take it.
It was too much for me with the heat.
If you have any medical conditions like me,
check with your doctor before doing any strenous activity such as this.

There are different trails you can take to see all the great historic spots.
My daughter, my cousin Pam, and her family,
did the 8.3 mile around the island.
It will take about 1 hour if you don't stop.
But there are so many beautiful spots,
that you are most likely to stop and take pictures.
If I remember it correctly,
Pam told me they stopped on one spot with a great beach area.

My husband and I,
decided to go to The Grand Hotel.

The bike up the hill
to the Grand Hotel on the other hand was quite a workout,
so my husband and I walked our bikes up.
But the bike down the hill was scary fun!

Stopped at Ryba's Fudge Shop to cool off
with some rainbow ice cream cones.
The Grand Hotel as our backdrop.

While the boys are busy with their ice cream,
I parked my bike next to the beautiful Little Stone Church.

Sitting at the hotel's front porch with my eyes closed,
was so relaxing.
The hotel's porch is the longest ever made in the world.

I sat on one of the rocking chairs lining the porch,
breeze blowing on my face, 
beautiful music coming from the harp echoing down the corridors of the hotel.
I can also hear the sound of trotting horses dragging carriages
full of hotel guests that just got off the ferry.
Despite of all the tourists walking around the grounds of the hotel,
there is a certain peace you feel when you are at the Grand Hotel.
I felt so serene.
There's a certain air of romance in this place.
It felt like I was transported in time.
So this is how Elise felt!

One can compare it to Hotel Coronado in California
 but the latter is far from comparison.
Nothing can compare to the romantic,
 peaceful, and the quite relaxed feel of The Grand Hotel.

Tea Time

Carriage for the Grand Hotel Guests

When you're at The Grand Hotel,
you will have a full view of Lake Huron and the Mackinac Bridge.
The Mackinac Bridge is the third longest suspension bridge in the world.
No, it's not the Golden Bridge.
Sorry California but we got this title now. 
The bridge connects Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas.
The southend of the bridge is in Mackinaw City, and the north end is in St. Ignace.

A shot I took from the other end of the Grand Hotel Porch.

We are missing one family member,
she's busy having fun biking around the island.

The grounds of the Grand Hotel

The beautiful interior of  the Grand Hotel

After the Grand Hotel we biked around more,
 and back to town in search for a good fudge.
The term of endearment for tourists in the island
 is "fudgie"
no need for any explanation on that.

Look what I found instead of a fudge.
Who would want to eat these cute shoes?!!!

We had so much fun in this island, that we decided to come back soon.
 We were told that it is best to come at FALL.
Less visitors, and for the beautiful fall foliage colors.
Can't wait!
There's so many beautiful pictures I took of the island
but I am afraid that this will be a very long blog if I post it all here.

To see more pictures go to our Facebook Page.

more related posts:

Vineyards, SLEEPING BEAR DUNES, Old Mission Traverse


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

DANDELIONS & TULIPS, Spring Photo Ideas for the Family

Dandelions are a gardener's nightmare
when in full bloom.
An evil pesky weed invader that destroys your beautiful lawn.
But wait,
this evil invader is actually quite nutritious.
It is a rich source for Vitamin A, B complex, C, D and mineral such a potassium,
iron and zinc. 
It is also use as an Herbal Remedy.
I also found another use Dandelions.
Back in 2009,
the family and I went on an early morning grocery shopping to fill our icebox,
we arrived in Michigan the night before, we just moved from Los Angeles.
Leaving the grocery store,
I spotted this hill next to the parking lot covered with vibrant yellow flowers.
Ding ... ding ... ding!!!
Light bulb moment!
Photo stop!
Hubby parked the car closer to the hill,
the kids and I got out and I had them sit and took the beautiful shot.
Two years later,
after our Mother's Day Lunch at Shiro's
we passed another field, covered with Dandelions.
We parked, had the kids sit and run around the field, and took photos.
From then on,
I decided that this is what we will do every 2 years.
It's so amazing to watch the changes.
Oh Boy, they do grow up fast!
I'm just hoping my daughter will let me do this in the years to come.
                        2009                                       2011                                       2013 

At the request of my daughter her beautiful face has been blurred out.

Here's another idea we did this year, that we did back in 2009.
We visited Holland for Mother's Day, 
Tulips were in full bloom.
Who could not resist taking pictures of this field full of colorful tulips?


The same Rascal face, just older. Hehehe!

This photo of my husband and I was taken by my daughter. She's got skills!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Healthy Skinny version of McDonald's Mango Pineapple Smoothie

Mimosas are the usual drink for Mother's Day Brunch.
But who said
we can't change it to a more special drink.
Mangoes and Pineapples
are in abundance at springtime,
so here's a smoothie recipe that can easily be turned into a
New Mother's Day Cocktail.
I love McDonald's Mango Pineapple smoothie.
Not bad on calorie count, a medium size has 270 calories, 1.5% fat, 61g Carbs, 3g Protein. Total Calorie Breakdown 5% Fat, 91% Carbs, 4%Protein.
But of course we all know it is not as healthy as the one we can make at home.
If you are a mango and pineapple lover like me, you will immediately know that there is more to just Mango and Pineapple Puree Concentrate in that plastic cup your holding, it contains preservatives, and artificial flavorings.
My skinny version has no dairy, some of us are lactose intolerant, and some of my readers just don't have any access to yogurt in islands they live at.
I'm serious!
Oh heck it's Mother's Day!
Go ahead and spike it up with about 1-2 oz. of your choice of alcohol,
a little Tequila, Rum or Vodka won't hurt Mom.
I'm sure she'll appreciate it more.
To all the Mom's,
Have a fabulous day of pampering!
"A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts."


2 Ataulfo Mangoes, chunks
1 cup fresh pineapple, chunks
1 cup pineapple juice
2 cups crushed ice
Agave or Honey, to taste


  • In a blender, add ice first, mango chunks, pineapple chunks and pineapple juice.
  • Crush until smooth.
  • Add  1-2 oz tequila, rum, or vodka if preferred.


  • The reason why I use Ataulfo is, it has string-less flesh,  the seed is thin, the meat portion is quite large, and it has a fantastic melt in your mouth flavor.
  • Choose bright yellow to orange when ripe not light green.
  • Other names for Ataulfo mango are Manila, Champagne, adolfo, honey or baby mango.
  • Do not use Red mangoes, it is very stringy.
  • Frozen mango and pineapple chunks can of course be use.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

EASTERN MARKET DETROIT, America's Oldest Continously Operating Market

Another sunny spring day at the Midwest.
What a treat after a long winter season!

We hear a lot about the Eastern Market in Detroit,
so we thought this would be a perfect day to go out and head over to the East today.

When we got there we drove around the area first,
looked for parking
and found one immediately.

Eastern Market is America's oldest continuously operating market today.
It is a six-block public market full of local produce,
pasture and grass-fed meat, greenery, homemade locally produced products,
 and snacks.

Eastern Market has been feeding Metro Detroit since 1891.
It is in the historic commercial district about a mile and a half away from the city's downtown.
A vibrant neighborhood surrounded by shops and great restaurants and bars.
Street performers entertain shoppers and vendors,
 reminded us of the 3rd Street Promenade Farmer's Market in Santa Monica in California. For a moment, I thought I was back in L.A.

Eastern Market is truly a foodie's heaven. Gourmet and exotic are both found here.
Antique shops, clothing boutiques, pottery, arts and crafts shops
 line the street behind the sheds.
It is truly a shopper's world.

I suggest to bring cash, and a wagon or a folding shopping cart with you
 when you come here.
You will be needing more than 2 hands for all those shopping bags
you'll be hauling back home.






 Can't resist the smell of fresh baked bread.
We got some chocolate filled croissants and a French baguette for dinner.



Stopped at an Antique Shop behind Shed 4

Just had to try out this cute bistro chair. Too bad we don't have room for this at home. 
I wanted to take this ice cream maker home,
my husband was giving me the "Are you out of your mind" look.

Lunch at one of the food trucks outside Sheds 3 and 4.
Decided on El Guapo Grill.
Finally found a food truck that can compare to the food trucks in Los Angeles.
The Braised Beef Taco is a must order!!!
Last bite!!!


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