31 July 2015

Ice Cold Tamarind and Limoncello Cocktail

The first word that I made sure I learned in French and Italian after the phrase thank you was "ice". You know why? Because the first time I traveled around Europe with my dependable backpack, it was in the middle of summer. It was hot and since I loved relaxing with a clinking drink full of ice in the cafès, it was imperative that I get to order a drink with ice properly. Ice wasn't automatically included in drinks even in the hottest days of summers so I had to learn how to indicate that I wanted them in my drinks. I later learned why while living in Italy. Ice is not needed in most drinks because they are already chilled to the right temperature, it waters down the flavor, it is not the healthiest thing you can do (too cold for the throat) and there are only some drinks that are really served with ice - cocktails (and I include soda to that category too)!

30 July 2015

Skinny Taco Lettuce Boats

Having Taco Lettuce Boats is fun because it's like a mini buffet of taco ingredients. You fill up your own according to the size of your lettuce and how much you can bite on it without having your dinner falling all down on your plate once again. There should be a certain trick to learn how to eat these kinds of food with finesse. You know, make a decent small bite without dirtying anything that your compass directs - north, south, east and west. Gawd, if you happen to dirty even your tablemate's plate, then let me shake your hand because you are worse than me! I am still in the process of learning to eat this without making the table look like a 2-year old ate on it.

28 July 2015

Fruit Salsa

Fruits. In one bowl, there are different kinds of them with diverse textures, flavors and colors. It's the kind of beauty of food that makes me dig in. Please don't stop me. The fruits are so fresh that the whole mixture promises to be something delicious and simple and most importantly, healthy! As much as I am omnivorous, a bowl like this will always put anything at the backseat. I still have the good sense to eat fresh and nutritious food. I can just eat this whole bowl for lunch without the main course. And I actually just did.

27 July 2015

No-Bake Strawberry Mug Cake

Because I am guilty that I went on a weekend of work - holiday in Umbria (without the kids, without the dog) while my work calender had been lighting up in big bright red lights, I am now imprisoned in my usual little world of computer and me alone time. Or I do try while my daughter hovers around me with little touches of "Ciao Mommy," as if to understand that I am really there beside her because my silence while working bothers her. I am here. It's just that I need silence and inspiration. Then from my archives, a picture of this recipe jumped out at me. It's time to go back to work.

25 July 2015

Cucumber and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

Because it is summer, we should be eating light and fresh things. I often hear that in the radio, the television, shops and even in the streets. It's a friendly seasonal reminder that I cannot possibly miss unless I start staying in a cave. I don't dislike it. I actually love hearing it (even in my sleep) because eating healthy and wise is something that I am teaching to my own kids too or to anyone who would listen.

22 July 2015

Mango and Pineapple Jam with Lime Zest

I indulged on mangoes on my recent trip to the Philippines like there was no tomorrow. They are so delicious that I have no words to describe them. Ok, sweet? Too sweet at times maybe? In fact, the Carabao mangoes of the Philippines were listed as the sweetest mangoes in the world in the 1995 edition of the Guiness Book of World Records. Mangoes are rich in Vitamin C, fibers, sugar and a whole lot of vitamins and minerals. And since they are so rich in flavor and sweetness, there are so many ways to enjoy them.

15 July 2015

Hotel Monticello in Tagaytay City, Philippines

When the heat is too intense in Manila, Tagaytay City is the answer because of its proximity to Manila, the temperature is slightly lower (cold even on some months), and there's the great view of Taal Volcano to admire. I won't even mention the restaurants and amusement parks mushrooming everywhere. It's a playland to those who love to eat, relax and spend quality time with the kids. After all, it is one of the top weekend quick getaway places of everyone. 

14 July 2015

Fruit Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Now that the heat has intensified again, I am preparing more fresh things in the kitchen. Salads, fruits and gelato are foremost in my menu. I do turn on the stove sometimes for the kids' pasta, for coffee or sometimes for rice when I want some steamed ones to go with Asian food. Because summer food is supposed to refresh us and it should be light enough for our bodies to handle. Since we spend more time outdoors, we need to think about how to rehydrate our bodies with fresh food and water.

10 July 2015

Roasted Zucchini and Shrimp Salad with Miso Dressing

One thing that I always do in summer is cut down my cooking to lessen the heat at home. The heat of cooking in full summer makes me feel like staying inside the oven myself. It's hard to breathe! I would usually go for fresh ingredients that I can just put together in a plate. Summer means we digest less and we should eat less food than we are used to like in winter. I include more fresh vegetables and fruits, lots of salad and seafood. That would have to be the base of my ideal summer menu. After all, it's bikini time once again so let's take out all the fresh things and stay healthy and fit.

Mini Blueberry & Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake

Hello from Italy! It is always beautiful to feel the airplane wheels touchdown and you wait in anticipation as the plane taxis and finally, that final stop. Home finally after 41 days of an incredible vacation in the Philippines! The weather never changed much there because summer is the only other season aside from the rainy season. It was hot and humid and going back to Italy in another intensely hot weather (catching the last of the heat wave), there's no other way to go through the days but to wish for light and fresh food.

01 July 2015

How to Make Ramen from Scratch

It did not miss my attention that I only made 2 posts for the whole month of June. I take it as both good and bad because it means that I finally found the chance to give more quality time to my family. It's been so long that I didn't know where and how to start. How do sit down and relax and not think about what to cook and write next? How do you stay in a spot and not flinch every minute because work has to be done? It took me a whole month and a half to reach a point of actually learning how to relax and enjoy life. I am still writing this in the hotel room that I have temporarily called home for the past weeks. In less than a week, I will be back home in Italy, and I am quite sure that reality will be staring back at me and it would have a struggling moment in convincing me to step back in. Yes, that is the problem we all encounter when we come back from  wonderful, long vacations. Reality becomes our enemy.

20 June 2015

Oven-Baked Orange-Soy Pork Ribs

The silence in my blog has been resonating between your computer and mine. I think this is the longest time that I haven't written anything for more than a week from the time I started writing here three years ago. If it's strange for you not to see anything new, it is very strange for me too. But don't worry, nothing drastic happened. I am just enjoying my vacation with my family and I am putting it as my priority for now until I return to Italy next month when reality will set foot again. I hope you have been following me in my social network accounts where I have been continuously sharing photos of food and travel here in the Philippines.

09 June 2015

Chicken Mac and Cheese Soup

This is probably the longest gap I had in not posting anything but I have a very good reason for it because I am in the Philippines, on vacation, with my family and friends. With too many activities and plans going on, I just lost track of my schedule and time and  I haven't been opening my computer so much lately. That's good news because for once, I am looking at the world outside the computer. It's so nice to look at the sea, discover amazing sea creatures that I never thought existed, speak the language again and just be surrounded by people I am familiar with. And so an adventure of rediscovery begins for me.

27 May 2015

Avocado Salad Sandwich

There goes the time, ticking so fast suddenly and sneaking up on me. For the longest time, I had been occupied with our luggage and other pre-trip essentials for our trip to the Philippines and suddenly, here we are already! The kids are done with their school (we requested an early dismissal for them), one by one our suitcases are zipped close and I accomplished the most challenging job - emptying the fridge and pantry from perishables. Planning our meals around the existing ingredients in my kitchen puts my mind to work more than usual because I have to mind what ingredients have to be used and their quantities.

22 May 2015

5 Quick and Easy Tea Sandwiches

Getting by the afternoons with light snacks is always a spectacle when you have kids at home. I try to put a halt to the overly-sweet munchies that's a major favorite but reasoning out to my 5-year old daughter is a lost case. She wins, I lose. She's wrong, I'm right. She cries, sigh - I give up. But that's not always the case because I sometimes win too and when I do, I get to give her one of the non-sweet snacks that she would willingly eat. A slice of bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. It's the most basic healthy Italian snack that never fails to make kids sit down and eat. 

14 May 2015

Penne with Pesto, Potatoes and Peas

When I get asked what I do for a living and I say that I am a recipe developer, I get a questioning look that immediately changes to a reaction of excitement. It's always a promise of a long and interesting conversation. You don't get to meet recipe developers everyday because most often, we are hidden behind our computers and kitchens, creating, creating and always creating dishes. My hubby gets all the pats on the back for being the lucky one to be the consumer of what I photograph. And yeah, he does complain at times. Being the taste tester and the consumer can be a difficult job.

12 May 2015

Baked Vegetable Spring Rolls

Spring rolls, whatever they are filled with, whether they are fresh or cooked, you can be sure that I will be eating them. I don't have a favorite because I love every single one of them. There are the savory ones filled with meat, fish or vegetables with different kinds of dipping sauces and the sweet kinds for dessert that are filled with bananas. And just by writing about them makes me want to wander to the kitchen and make myself a batch of these delicious Asian treats.

11 May 2015

Homemade Rice Milk with Mango and Pink Guava Ice Cubes

Colors never fail to attract the attention of kids. As brighter they are, the more they are magnetized to them, whatever they are. Even ice cubes. When I started making colored ice cubes made of natural fruit juices, I suddenly had my picky-eating daughter in front of me shyly asking me what they were and speaking about everything except going straight to the point - she wants to try them! Little did she know that I actually made the fruit juice ice cubes for her because she's quite a little picky-eater. She mainly drinks water which is incredible, soda whenever she sees a bottle around and just a limited number of fruits. I wanted her to explore more the wonderful world of fruits and so these ice cubes were born.

09 May 2015

Eggs Benedict on Grilled Polenta

There is something ultimately good about waking up to a plate of eggs benedict. With the yellow Hollandaise sauce dripping down a runny egg, what else can be more inviting first thing in the morning? Of course, that is from a savory breakfast person like me. I love eggs with anything savory that goes with it like - polenta! Truth be told, I never had polenta for breakfast in northern Italy where this is staple during other meals. To use it to replace English muffins in the morning for the eggs benedict gives it a delicious alternative and it's worth a try.

08 May 2015

Dark Chocolate Molten Cake with Raspberry Mint Sauce

When I finally closed the third suitcase's zipper at almost 3 in the morning, I was almost passing out from tiredness but it was quickly overshadowed by my jubilation that finally, after weeks of filling up the suitcases, I have officially finished packing for our upcoming trip to the Philippines. It had been a job that I had been dreading (who can possibly like packing?) but I couldn't avoid no matter what. With a family of 4, a month and a half of hopping from one hotel to another, you can imagine what a predicament it will be for the clothes (and unimaginable hotel laundry bills). The only great thing about it is that it's summer so the clothes are light and smaller.

02 May 2015

Double Chocolate Cheesecake with Berries in a Jar

We have been staying outdoors the past days. The days are longer, the temperature is pleasantly warm with a cool breeze and the sun has been been shining so beautifully. This is the reason why I love spring so much. It's the best period to stay outside, work in the garden (when I am able to detach myself from the kitchen and computer), start eating outside and watch the kids and dog enjoy nature. Right now, both kids are sitting on the apricot tree and enjoying their elevated position while our dog is relaxing at the foot of the tree. Sure, my laundry loads grow along with the warmth of the temperature because the kids stay outdoors with newer games that make them dirtier and dirtier. But I think the kids don't stay like that for a long time. 

30 April 2015

Spring Green Veggie Salad with Crushed Raspberry Dressing

If you've got ten minutes, then you can easily put this together and enjoy what real freshness means. When all your ingredients are raw, fresh and crispy, you retain all the vitamins and minerals that go with them. Because if the vegetables are just picked (for that I like the kilometer zero produce) and not cooked, then you actually get almost all the nutrients that go with the vegetables. Kilometer zero produce is widely pushed in Italy because the vegetables and fruits are grown in the area itself where they are being sold and consumed. They are picked later, they don't travel and the transportation cost is at the minimal. All these together make the fresh produce cheaper and with much superior quality. Of course, not unless there is a specialty produce that grows only in one area of the country.

3 Spring Mimosas for that Special Brunch

Start early with a good splash of bubbles in your glass. I am not speaking about pure chilled bubbly wines in the champagne flute, just half of it mixed with fruit juices, different kinds to make mimosas more fun to drink. Usually, I like pouring a good bottle of champagne or spumante (after all, I am in Italy) with fresh orange juice when I travel and stay in hotels that are attentive to certain breakfast details. A little corner for making mimosas in the breakfast buffet table is always appreciated!

29 April 2015

No-Bake Skillet Combination Pizza

When you are in the streets of Rome, whether you are at the outskirt or at the center of the city, you can't miss the number of pizzerie (pizza places) greeting you every few hundred meters. Italy is synonymous with pizza because after all, this delicious flat pie was born here. You can also imagine how good they all are and how, from one pizzeria to another, you get the best of the best.

25 April 2015

Grilled Tofu with Teriyaki Sauce

How can you not avoid tofu in Asian cooking? I have a tug-o-war love with tofu. Sometimes, I cannot stand its texture and taste while at times, I cannot stop myself from eating everything in sight. There's nothing in the middle. It's either I love it or hate it. And the only reason for that is because of the way it was cooked and seasoned. I like them fried in this Fried Tofu & Pork With Vinegar Dressing (Tokwa't Baboy) and I like them sweet for breakfast in this Taho: Soft Tofu, Vanilla Syrup & Tapioca in a Glass.