UCC Café Americano at Family Mart

UCC Café Americano at Family Mart

The Americano at Family Mart (UCC) is pretty good. There was a decent amount of crema at the top and it tasted strong and felt full-bodied. It costs P55 for a small size, which I suspect is the standard 8oz. The cup is too big for the drink but I don’t mind. That means less spillage for me.

Really not bad for convenience store coffee.

Note: I took it black, but there’s a stirrer in the pic because I stirred the coffee to cool it.

My simple taco recipe for Christmas Eve

My taco recipe comes from last year’s Noche Buena menu.

Usually, during Christmas Eve, we prepare food that we can serve the next day. It’s for random people who visit our house for the usual “pamamasko.” But, last year, I was too busy with my new work. So, my mom and sister decided to “outsource” our Noche Buena feast for that year.

Despite that, my sister still insisted that I should at least prepare two dishes. It’s like her request for me to cook her favorite food. I obliged, since it’s always been my tradition for us to cook our family dinner anyway. She wanted ttaco recipe Philippinesacos and fried chicken. My mom knew my ingredients for fried chicken so all she had to do was to put everything in the turbo broiler.

My taco recipe is also simple. If you’ve been reading my posts, you’re now aware that my sister is a picky eater. Anything fancy would come under tight scrutiny. The more simple the dish is, the more she’ll appreciate it.

It’s ok to combine ground pork and beef if you so desire. That’s what I do on ordinary days, as it’s cheap and tastes almost the same. But, on special occasions, I’d say you can splurge a little and use 100% ground beef.

So here’s the recipe for my Simple Taco. I’m going to use 1 kilo of beef here, but if it’s too much for your family, just make the necessary adjustments.

Ingredients

Taco shells (soft or hard)
1 kilo ground beef
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (substitute: EDEN cheese)
1 medium size onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Grated EDEN cheese or any cheese that you fancy (for Christmas, since we had an abundance of queso de bola, I combined EDEN cheese and queso de bola for the topping)

Procedure

In a bowl, mix the ground beef, salt and pepper and the 2 T of grated parmesan cheese. Remember, since we’re putting in cheese, you might try to put just a little amount of salt at a time. You can always adjust it as you taste. Then sauté onions and garlic until they turn translucent. Add in the beef, cook for about 15 minutes or until the beef is tender. You can add a few teaspoons of your taco sauce if you want, but I prefer to keep it simple.

The rest of the ingredients will be assembled by the diners. This is why eating tacos is fun! It’s like building your own castle. But don’t overdo it, especially if you’re using the hard taco shells. Your taco skyscraper will just spill all over you. Oh, and a word of advice: use a plate or have a tissue in hand when eating a taco 😉 Hope you enjoy my Simple Taco recipe at your Noche Buena!

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Puchero a la Perlita, my mom’s puchero recipe

The name is my mom’s because she thought me her own version of puchero, and I’m quite satisfied with it that I didn’t bother looking for other versions.

I like puchero because it has everything in it. It has protein, vegetables, and fruits. It’s filling but at the same time, you won’t feel guilty because it’s a fairly healthy dish.

My mom doesn’t put artificial coloring because my sister doesn’t like the taste of food color and or achuete. So we really just rely on tomatoes. We actually use both the fresh tomatoes and a couple of spoonfuls of tomato sauce.

I have to warn you, I don’t put water in my puchero. The sauce will come from your tomatoes, vegetables and your protein. I use either pork or chicken. Sometimes I combine both, just because I’m really not fond of pork in my puchero but my dad and sister love it so much.

Ingredients:

1 Kilo Pork (you can use either ribs or liempo. Just make sure there’s some fat to it)
**same amount for chicken, and when it comes to parts, any part of the chicken will do.
1 regular size cabbage (cut into 8 parts)
3 bundles of Bok Choy or Pechay (make sure to clean them properly)
1 bundle of Beans
3 pieces medium size tomatoes (cut into 4 parts)
1 medium size potato (cut into cubes)
3 regular size Saba Banana (cut into 1/3 inch)
A few table spoons of Tomato sauce
Garlic, oil, salt and pepper

Note: This might look daunting because of the number of ingredients involved, but it’s really worth the taste.

Procedure:

Fry your potatoes and bananas first, just enough until they soften up. Set aside. Then, sauté your protein in garlic, tomatoes, and oil. While doing that, splash a little fish sauce. Keep your heat on medium and let it simmer for a few minutes. If you’re combining chicken and pork, cut your pork a little bit smaller than that of your chicken because chicken cooks faster than pork. You don’t want to end up with pulled chicken and pork instead of puchero. This process usually takes 15-20 minutes. Then, add your vegetables. Add first the vegetables that take a while to cook, then your cooked potatoes and bananas. Try adding one tablespoon of tomato sauce at a time until you’re able to achieve the color you want. Simmer again for a few minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked. As for seasoning, try not to overdo it, especially on pepper. Since you already added fish sauce in the beginning, taste your dish first before adding more.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

 

 

My favorite dessert spots: spotlight on cupcakes!

I went to Singapore last year. And when I’m there, I usually eat my way around the city. That time, it was no different, but instead of eating Laksa, Satay, and Chicken rice, I decided to try the Singaporeans’ take on dessert.

I have to admit that even though my last trip to SG was a couple of months previous, I saw a lot of culinary improvements. I don’t prefer eating at fancy restaurants. I do like dining in them, but occasionally only. I’m more into street fairs, markets and even food courts.

I was still in sugar-rush mode even after a few days have passed already. I had to let go of my obsession with Xiao Long Bao because we went to Grandma’s. It’s local food alright, but what’s nice about it is that it’s located inside the foodcourt. We didn’t bother ordering dessert in the same place. Instead, we walked around the food court and bought whatever our eyes fancied.

They had cupcakes, breads, cookies, ice cream, milk teas, and all that jazz, but I was really surprised that I found a lot of chocolate in Singapore. There was an overdose of chocolate wherever we went. Esplanade Mall even had a Max Brenner.

What caught my attention was this tiny cupcake store called “Twelve Cupcakes.” It was a local store and it didn’t really have that much of a selection. But honestly, even if they were only selling two or three flavors, I would keep on buying from them. They were that good!

The reason why I’m elated over dessert is because I don’t really bake. It’s really not my thing, which frustrates me a lot because I love eating desserts. The most decent thing I’ve ever baked was pandesal. Well, I can make bread. Maybe it’s because of the kneading or that it doesn’t really entail that much measurement, but yeah. I can make bread but not cakes. Go figure!

I’m sharing with you some of my favorite cookies and cupcakes from all over the world. I really hope that one day we’ll get to sit down and eat and share our cookie/cupcake experience.

Martha’s Country Bakery

This one is located in New York, USA. I’d always go to their Forest Hills branch because it was near my home. Every week, I’d buy different types of dessert, but I’d always get their cookies and cream cupcake. They also have red velvet and those big chocolate chunky cookies.

Magnolia and Crumbs (New York, USA)

These are two different stores but both are found in the city. I love that Crumbs live up to its name. Their cupcakes are moist and crumbly. They’re also big enough to share. And as usual, red velvet is my top pick.

Magnolia’s cupcakes are good because they’re not too sweet, just enough to satisfy your craving for cupcakes.

Twelve Cupcakes (Singapore)

This you MUST try. The one that I went to was at Bugis Junction. I was still trying to control myself from going back to Singapore after we already ate the last cupcake we brought home from the trip. Too bad, it’s a local brand and there is no news about a franchise here in the Philippines. Their red velvet, salted caramel, and chocolate cupcakes are really good.

Sorry to say that I can’t recommend any place here in the Philippines. It’s not that I don’t find their desserts yummy but I often forget the restaurants or stores because they’re just too many of them.

Banapple is one of my faves, but it serves mostly cakes. So if you have any suggestions, feel free to leave me a note and I’ll try them one of these days.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

How to cook Kare-Kare

Kare-Kare recipeKare-Kare is one of my all-time favorite dishes. I can eat it everyday without getting bored or wanting anything else. What’s not to love about it? It has vegetables, peanut butter and oxtail. Though when we choose to make some at home, we opt to use Pata (pig’s leg) because oxtail takes a while to cook, not to mention quite expensive.

Since I’m only home on the weekends, we see to it that we prepare dishes that our family will enjoy. Hence, on one weekend, we made Kare-Kare. My sister has her own bagoong because she doesn’t like the kind that’s being purchased in ordinary markets. But I always believed that it’s really up to you on how you cook your bagoong. That way, you could make it to your own taste and liking.

Here’s my family’s own version of Kare-Kare.

Ingredients

1kb Pata (cut into smaller portions)
Pechay
String beans
Eggplant
Peanut butter
Garlic, a cup of water, salt (fish sauce if you want)
Powdered atsuete (half a teaspoon will do, just to add color)

Procedure

My family's Kare-Kare recipeHeat the pan with a few table spoons of cooking oil. Saute the pata in garlic and atsuete powder. If you don’t want to use atsuete, then you can omit that. Put the cup of water and let the meat simmer until it’s tender. Halfway through the cooking process, put in the string beans, since they will take time to cook. When the meat and string beans are tender, put in the peanut butter. On this I can’t be specific because the amount of peanut butter is really up to your taste. Some people like a lot of peanut butter, while others would opt for a milder taste. I suggest you take a separate bowl, get some sauce from your dish, then mix a few teaspoons of peanut butter. You can always add if you think you need more.

After adding the peanut butter, you can add in the pechay and eggplant. Salt or fish sauce is necessary but you DON’T need to put a lot, since you’ll be using bagoong later. I just want you to season it well because food spoils easily when they’re not seasoned right. Let it simmer for a few minutes, or until the eggplants are cooked, then you can serve it with white rice. If you’re on a diet, then maybe half a cup or rice will do?

Enjoy!!!

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

New Year’s and the new cheese I’ve found

When I was a kid, I’d make a list of all the things that I want, need, and the changes that I have to do for the new year.  But just halfway through the year, I throw the list away because I can’t even seem to do half of what I wrote.

It’s frustrating to actually have something so concrete in your thoughts but ending up as a failure when you put it into actions.  Not sounding pessimistic here, but as I grew older, I realized that it’s better to set your expectations realistically than to wish for something grand and end up with nothing.

So, as the new year approaches, instead of making a list of new resolutions, I listed all the things that I’ve accomplished and achieved in the past year.  I was happy to know that most of what I’ve prayed for came true, and more.  Of course there were disappointments, but still, what mattered to me was that 2012 was my best year.

One of the many things that I found fascinating too was that I’ve discovered some good eats throughout my 2012 journey.  How could I forget food, right?  I love my cheese, but I’m very picky with what cheese I eat because aside from being lactose intolerant, my body is just weird that way.

cheese slice 01
Move with the cheese!

But since it’s the Christmas season, our house is full of queso de bola.  This I munch on like regular chips.  So, a friend suggested that I should try Queso De Bola Cheesecake.  Queso de bola and cheesecake are two of my favorites in this lifetime, so I said, “send me one!”  Lo and behold, that cheesecake was to die for! I heard that there’s this good pastry girl who’s known for her queso de bola cheesecake, hopefully soon I’ll be able to taste her version.

Another new found thing for me is my tolerance for chicken.  I like chicken, but to eat it every day is not really what I call healthy eating.  But for the past holiday season, I’ve been craving for it almost every day.  Good thing my office is located near a food center.  Even the crew knew me already as “Miss Combo Meal with Extra Gravy.”

Now that it’s the New Year and up next is summer, I vow to lose all the unwanted weight I gained during the past two weeks. Imagine that! I’ve only been indulging myself for 15 days and yet I have to work doubly hard on the treadmill.

It’s not about looking good, or feeling guilty about what you ate.  Going to the gym is one way of keeping you healthy.  I don’t go to the gym because I want to look beautiful or be thin; that was never my motivation. I run on the treadmill because with my type of work (i.e. mostly sedentary), I need a form of exercise.  I need to sweat once in awhile so that I can have a well-balanced life.

So, who needs any more New Year’s resolutions?

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Back to the (beauty) books

When I was just learning how to apply make-up, I relied heavily on make-up books for step-by-step instructions. Even now that I am able to readily access vlogs/make-up tutorials on the internet, I still find myself perusing my old books and, occasionally, buying new ones to add to my collection.

I guess this is because I love reading, so it continues to be one of the primary ways by which I learn and relearn information. Aside from this, I think there is just something about the printed medium that helps me retain data; I think that’s called being a visual learner?

Whether you are a newbie or someone who is already adept at applying make-up, I would strongly recommend investing in at least one or two good volumes to help you continually improve your skills. Here are a few pointers that I go by whenever I choose new books to purchase:

Look for content, not famous names. A good make-up book should cover a wide variety of topics and sample looks. You want something that will be helpful to you, something that you can always consult. There are books that have lots of pictures of celebrities, usually written by famous make-up artists as well. If, however, these books don’t contain detailed instructions, then they won’t really be helpful. Admittedly, I have books written by the likes of Bobbi Brown, Carmindy, etc., but these I bought primarily for the content and not because somebody famous wrote them. It goes without saying that you have to browse before you buy, so you know what you’re getting.

Five books from my collection 🙂

Choose a book that contains lots of pictures. The really good ones feature one picture per step. I also personally prefer that all the pictures be colored. Some books will feature a really colorful look, and then give you a final shot in black-and-white; how is that supposed to help you?! I even recall a book that gave detailed instructions on a specific eye look, and then featured a final shot with long strands of hair actually covering the model’s eyes. I rest my case.

Wait before you buy. Sure, fashion trends are linked to beauty trends, and this might tempt you to immediately buy a newly-released make-up/beauty book before a certain trend goes out of style. However, make-up books generally tend toward looks that are more classic or have more staying power (i.e. not easily displaced by trends). Bookstores will always go on sale at least once a year, and sales are the best time to buy the books you’ve been eyeing. If you really want to learn how to work a certain beauty trend, you’re better off buying magazines which will usually feature articles on the said trend and (a big plus) will cost a fraction of what you have to shell out for a book.

Would you believe four out of these five books were bought on sale? I love bargains!

Hope these pointers help should you choose to go out and buy yourself a book or two (or three)!

Oh and just because I’m a curly-haired gal and am sooo amazed that there are people out there who totally get the daily drama that is my hair, I leave you with this…

Curly girls ROCK!

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.