food

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Baguio is known to be the “summer capital of the Philippines” because of its cool climate, perfect for escaping the scorching heat of Manila. It is also popular for the fresh vegetables, fruits, and flowers that you can get from their markets.

I have been to Baguio twice. I always wanted to go back there but it would require at least three whole days (out of my usual 9-10 days vacation in Manila) because of the 8-hour drive from Manila to Baguio, and another 8 hours back. So that’s 16 hours of travel!

Strawberry-picking is one of the activities I would like to try. It would definitely be a great experience to harvest fresh strawberries and not just get them from the supermarkets packed in plastic boxes.

Just recently, my friend brought home some strawberry preserves for me. I am not fond of jams and preserves, but thinking about the farmers who harvested those strawberries and made them into preserves to earn a living, it would be heartbreaking to let it go to waste. So again, being the “I hate to see food go to waste” person that I am, I needed to find a recipe to put it to good use…

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients: 

  • 1 3/4 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 1/2 cup oats (quick or regular)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 jar (10-12 oz) strawberry preserves

Procedure:

  • Preheat the oven to 175 C. Butter a 9 x 13 or 8 x 10 baking dish.
  • Mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter (or in my case, a fork!) until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Sprinkle half the mixture into the pan and pat lightly to pack it a little tight.
  • Spoon strawberry preserves evenly over the surface, then use a dinner knife to carefully spread it around.
  • Sprinkle the other half of the oat mixture over the top and pat lightly again.
  • Bake until light golden brown on top, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool in pan.
  • When cool, cut into squares and serve.

Now, this one is definitely LOVE! Even the kiddo digged into it! The oatmeal crust was able to balance the sweetness of the strawberry preserve. I guess it would also work with blueberry or peach, depends on what you have in your pantry.

It would be great to pair it up with coffee or tea! (caffeine-free tea for the preggo lady, please!)

Give it a try this weekend… Enjoy!

Thanks for dropping by,

Alexa’s Mom

Chia Seeds as Egg Substitute

Hello there!

Holidays had passed and now it’s already February of 2015! January just flew by like that.

And because the holidays have made us gain those extra pounds, I want to try my best to eat healthier starting this new year. I thought of replacing some of my baking ingredients with healthy alternatives, like mashed avocado for butter, applesauce for sugar, or chia seeds for eggs.

I started off with replacing eggs with chia seeds. I saw it before on TV and in Pinterest but never really looked into it. Who would have thought that these tiny seeds have such great nutritional value! Here are 10 reasons why you should add chia seeds to your diet:

Combat Diabetes

Chia is being studied as a potential natural treatment for type-2 diabetes because of its ability to slow down digestion. The gelatinous coating chia seeds develops when exposed to liquids-can also prevent blood sugar spikes.

Get More Fibre
Just a 28-gram or one-ounce serving of chia has 11 grams of dietary fibre — about a third of the recommended daily intake for adults. Adding some chia to your diet is an easy way to make sure you’re getting a good amount of fibre, which is important for digestive health.

Stock Up On Omega-3
Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, with nearly five grams in a one-ounce serving. These fats are important for brain health. “There’s better conversion of omega 3s into the plasma or into the food than with flax seed,” said researcher Wayne Coates.

Stronger Teeth And Bones
A serving of chia seeds has 18 per cent of the recommended daily intake for calcium, which puts your well on your way to maintaining bone and oral health, and preventing osteoporosis.

Don’t Forget Manganese
Manganese isn’t a well-known nutrient, but it’s important for our health: it’s good for your bones and helps your body use other essential nutrients like biotin and thiamin. One serving of chia seeds, or 28 grams, has 30 per cent of your recommended intake of this mineral.

Plenty Of Phosphorus
With 27 per cent of your daily value for phosphorus, chia seeds also helps you maintain healthy bones and teeth. Phosphorus is also used by the body to synthesize protein for cell and tissue growth and repair.

Pack In The Protein
Chia seeds also make a great source of protein for vegetarians and don’t have any cholesterol. One 28-gram serving of these super seeds has 4.4 grams of protein, nearly 10 per cent of the daily value.

Fight Belly Fat
Chia’s stabilizing effect on blood sugar also fights insulin resistance which can be tied to an increase in belly fat, according to Live Strong. This type of resistance can also be harmful for your overall health.

Get Full. Faster
Tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey, is also found in chia seeds. While tryptophan is responsible for that strong urge to nap after a big Thanksgiving dinner for example, it also helps regulate appetite, sleep and improve mood.

Improve Heart Health
According to the Cleveland Clinic, chia seeds have been shown to improve blood pressure in diabetics, and may also increase healthy cholesterol while lowering total, LDL, and triglyceride cholesterol. All good news for your ticker!

Now you ask, how can chia seeds replace eggs in your recipe? Very quick and easy!

For one egg, combine 1 tbsp chia seeds with 3 tbsps water in a small bowl. Let it sit for about 15 minutes until it forms a thick gel. You can use this for cookies, cakes, and muffins.

Interesting, isn’t it? I tried this with my oatmeal cookie recipe. I just had to extend the baking time by about 10 minutes as the dough is a bit more moist than the original recipe, but it was good. I couldn’t tell the difference.

If you are not into baking, you can add chia seeds to your smoothie or your breakfast oatmeal for that extra pack of nutrients.

So, don’t forget to grab that bag of chia seeds on your next trip to the supermarket!

Thanks for dropping by,

Alexa’s Mom

Pandesal (The Remake)

Hi guys!

These past weekends, I was busy “perfecting” my pandesal. Remember that I made Pandesal before? Click here if you missed it. Yes, it took almost a year before I tried to do it again. Now with the right ingredients and technique (for me at least. The previous recipe source just didn’t work out well for me *grin*).

Pandesal (Improved version)

Recipe from Busog! Sarap!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups plain flour (I used bread flour)
  • 3 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh milk
  • bread crumbs (fine)

Procedure:

  • Combine flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Lightly mix the dry ingredients with your dough hook.
  • Add egg, butter and oil.  Put your mixer into Speed 1 and let the egg, butter and oil mix with the dry ingredients.
  • Place your fresh milk, evaporated milk and water in a microwavable container and heat it up for 45 seconds first (or until the liquid mixture is warm enough) before pouring it to  your Pandesal mix.
  • Once the Pandesal mix becomes overall wet, increase the Speed to 2 and knead for 15 minutes in the mixer.
  • Prepare a large mixing bowl (preferably stainless steel) and wipe the inside with an oiled kitchen paper towel.  Once the kneading is done, turn off the mixer and remove the dough hook and bowl out of the mixer stand.  Lightly oil your hands and remove the dough.  Tuck in the edges of the dough underneath to create a smooth top surface before placing it inside your oiled mixing bowl.  Cover the bowl with cling wrap.
  • If the weather is hot, just leave the bowl on your kitchen bench. If it’s cold, pour some hot boiling water in a container and place it inside your oven (turned off) on the bottom level.  Position your covered Pandesal dough on a rack above the hot water container, close the door oven and leave it there for 1 hour (same amount of time if it’s on the kitchen bench), until it doubles in size.
  • Lightly flour your kneading area with a bit of flour.  Take out the risen Pandesal dough out of the mixing bowl and knead/punch down the air out of it.  If it gets too sticky, lightly flour your hands and pat the overall exterior of the dough.
  • Cut the dough in 4 equal pieces. Take one portion of dough and roll into a log. Cut into six pieces. Do the same for the other three portions of the dough. You now have 24 pieces of dough.
  • Roll each piece of dough in fine bread crumbs. Arrange on a baking tray at least an inch apart. Leave to rise for another hour.
  • Preheat your oven 200C and bake your tray of Pandesal on the top second rack for 10-15 minutes.
  • Serve.

I was really excited that I got it this time, so I did it for 2 weekends, making it my baon to work. On the first weekend, I actually did it twice. I failed the first time because the dough did not rise. The liquid mixture was not warm enough to activate the yeast. I forgot that the milk just got out of the fridge and was still cold. So I repeated the whole process, making sure that the liquid mixture is warm before adding into the dry mixture. Perfect!

Here are some tips for you: 

  • Yeast needs warmth to activate. Do not do the same mistake that I did! I do not have kitchen thermometer, so I gauge the warmth of the liquid by touching it. If it is hot but my finger can bear the heat, it’s good to go. You can use this guide if you want the best temperature for your yeast.
  • Knead the dough properly. There’s an art to kneading. Too little, and you may not distribute the yeast through the dough. The dough will then be too weak to be able to rise. Too much kneading may make the dough so tough that it cannot expand. The dough should feel smooth and elastic, not tight like a rubber ball, or soft like biscuit dough. (source)
  • Let the dough rest. Do not disturb the dough while it is rising. (source)
  • Use the proper container. The pan, banneton, or tray you use will make a difference. Too large, and the dough has nothing to push against when rising, so won’t rise upwards. Instead, it will spread and possibly collapse. (source)
  • You can adjust the size of the dough according to your preference. Personally, I like smaller pandesal, those that I can finish in two bites.
  • You can freeze Pandesal Rolls once they’re completely cooled down.  Seal them up in rows inside freezer bags and freeze them that way.  Take a packet out of the freezer and defrost them inside the fridge overnight, ready to be reheated the following morning for breakfast.
  • After the baking time (with the oven already off but still hot), you can leave the pandesal in the oven for another 10-15 minutes to make it brown and crispy on the outside.

Enjoy!

P.S. Sorry no photos, but trust me, this one is better and more authentic than my previous one!

Thanks for dropping by,

Alexa’s Mom

UPDATE (16 August 2014):

Here’s a photo of my freshly baked pandesal. I took it out of the oven about 10 minutes post baking time to make it tostado like this. It’s yummy with butter or margarine.

image

Choco Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I am not a fan of oatmeal per se, but when they are turned to cookies, I LOVE!

Why haven’t I thought of making this recipe earlier when, every time I open the kitchen cupboard, I would see that big bag of quick cook oats! Thanks to Erwan Heusaff’s website for featuring this perfect oatmeal cookie recipe. I didn’t do his flavored version, but I did add some semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Be warned: Erwan is sooo hot that you would want to play his videos over and over and over again!!! I did, haha!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from The Fat Kid Inside

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp low fat milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup instant or quick cook oatmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Procedure:

  • Pre-heat oven at 180 deg C.
  • Mix all ingredients except oatmeal, flour and chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl
  • For crisp cookies, do not put in milk. For chewy cookies, add 1 tbsp milk. (I opted for the crisp cookies)
  • Gradually add in the oatmeal and flour. Once well-combined, add in the chocolate chips and mix until distributed evenly.
  • Drop about tablespoonfuls of dough onto a greased baking sheet, 2 inches apart.
  • Bake until light brown for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

I love the crispness of the cookie, with just a hint of sweetness to it. I also made a version of it without the chocolate chips, so we have some snack variation.

Do try this recipe out! Other easy dessert recipes that I recommend for you to try are my brownies and chocolate crinkles. They are my go-to recipes whenever I am in need of a fast sweet fix.

Enjoy!

Thanks for dropping by,

Alexa’s Mom

Broccoli and Potato Cheese Soup

Good Friday is a day when Christians remember the death and suffering of Jesus. It’s a day of prayer, and a day when we believe we should not eat red meat, being one of the sacrifices that we have to make during this time.

So today, I made another version of the Broccoli Soup that I made a couple of months ago. This time, no looking at recipes in cookbooks or the internet. Just relied on my basic cooking knowledge and judgment of my taste buds. Surprisingly, it’s better than the one I made before!

Broccoli and Potato Cheese Soup

Ingredients:

  • florets from 2 broccoli heads
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 can evaporated milk
  • 1 block (250g) cheddar cheese
  • about 4 cups water + 1 tbsp Hao Chi all-in-one seasoning (or chicken broth)
  • 1 medium onion
  • salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:

  • Boil broccoli, potatoes and onion in water or broth in a large pot for about 10 minutes, or until broccoli and potatoes are tender.
  • Turn off the heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until creamy. Creaminess of the soup would depend on the amount of water. Less water would give you a thicker soup consistency. Add water if necessary.
  • Stir in the milk and cheese. The cheese should be melted by the residual heat from the soup.
  • Add salt, pepper or Hao Chi according to your taste preference. Perfect to eat with garlic toast.

I love the creaminess and the cheesy taste of the soup. You can also add cooked macaroni pasta to make it more filling.

Broccoli is one of the healthiest veggies. For more info on that, click here.

By the way, today (Good Friday) is a holiday for most countries. That means I got to spend more time in the kitchen to cook, and also some early morning bed cuddles with Alexa who is turning 7 months soon. She also had pureed broccoli (mixed with 15ml formula milk) for lunch today.

Tomorrow we will be heading to Malaysia for some more family bonding time. The joy of long weekends!

Thanks for dropping by,

Alexa’s Mom

 

 

Mini Spring Rolls

This week is Valentines week. Hubby and I haven’t thought of what to do or where to go yet on Valentines Day, but it definitely has to be baby-friendly ‘coz the little kiddo is coming with us. That means, no movies or dinner at a fine dining restaurant, but what’s for sure is it will be very special because we are sharing this love-filled day as a family.

Valentines Day related post will be shared soon. For the meantime, I want to share another very simple recipe with you.

Chinese New Year celebrations for this Year of the Horse end also on 14 Feb. So before it officially ends, I tried to make this crunchy treat that my family loves.

Mini Spring Rolls

Recipe from Rasa Malaysia

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet (40 pcs) frozen spring roll skin (medium size)
  • 100g ready made fish/pork/chicken floss (whichever you prefer)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
  • Oil, for deep frying

Method:

  • Cut each of the spring roll wrappers into 4. Lay the skin on a flat surface.
  • Put 1 teaspoon of the meat floss at the center of the skin. Fold in the two sides and roll it up tightly. Seal the edges with the egg wash.
  • Heat up your wok with enough cooking oil. Once the oil is fully heated up, fry the mini spring rolls on medium heat until golden brown. It takes about 3-5 minutes.
  • Dish out and drain the oil. Leave to cool. Make sure the spring rolls are completely cool before keeping it in an airtight container. This will ensure that the spring rolls remain crispy.

Btw, the Chinese Walnut Cookies that I made was quite a hit! Especially to my coffee-lover friends. You should try it!

Enjoy!

Chinese Walnut Cookies

… and the 4-day weekend is over!

I love Chinese New Year because of its festive feel. Our neighborhood was lined up with lots of red Chinese decors, families and friends gathered together, and oranges and ang baos were given out for good luck and wealth.

Our family don’t usually celebrate CNY, but we do enjoy being work-free for 4.5 days! We got to spend quality time with our little one, and catched up with friends over a great meal and some desserts/coffee.

During the weekend, I also thought of doing some Chinese cooking/baking to theme up with the season. I made some walnut cookies which I will be sharing in this post.

Chinese Walnut Cookies

Recipe from Rasa Malaysia

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup walnuts, (grind 1/2, the other 1/2 cut in halves)
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
30 g butter
1/2 teaspoon water
2/3 cup cooking oil

Egg Wash:

1 egg yolk plus 1 teaspoon oil

Method:

Mix flour, baking powder, ground walnuts, salt and sugar in a bowl.  Rub butter into flour until resembles crumbs. Add in water, oil and mix until the dough forms and becomes soft. (I added a little more oil until the dough came together.)

Mold the dough using a spoon or a small ice cream scoop, and flatten it a little with a fork. Top with half a walnut. Brush the top with egg wash.

Bake at 170 C (340 F) for 30 minutes or until the top is slightly brown. Let it stand on the baking pan to cool before serving or transferring in a container. Makes about 40 cookies.

They are nutty and yummy, perfect to eat with a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Olive Oil Lemon Cake

Christmas is just around the corner. It’s our 3-month old baby Alexa’s first Christmas and what’s the best way to celebrate it but with our big family back home. Everyone’s excited to bite those cheeks!

Yes, THOSE CHEEKS!!! ^^

As early as the first week of December, everybody’s calendars are already booked for Christmas parties and a lot of Christmas shopping. Lighted trees and decors are up, and Christmas music fills the air.

“The tree is up, and the bestest gift is underneath it.”

Two weekends ago, we had our yearly Christmas gathering with friends. It was a potluck dinner. Our share of food were pancit palabok, brownies, and olive oil lemon cake.

This post is to share with you the Olive Oil Lemon Cake that I made. I love lemon squares, so I thought I could give this cake recipe a try. You can check out the source in my Pinterest board, Desserts.

Olive Oil Lemon Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • fresh squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon, strained
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar for topping cake

Procedure:

  • Preheat oven to 180 C. Line an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Place 2 inches of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a heat-proof bowl – preferably the bowl of a stand mixer – combine eggs, sugar and zest, and place bowl over pot of simmering water, whisking until egg mixture is warm to the touch.
  • Remove bowl from pot and attach to mixer fitted with whisk attachment. If you’re not using a stand mixer, place bowl on counter and use hand mixer. Beat on medium until mixture thickens and becomes pale, about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together olive oil, cream and lemon juice in a small bowl.
  • When the egg mixture has reached appropriate thickness, drizzle olive oil mixture over it and mix until combined.
  • Turn mixer to low and add dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Stir in melted butter.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth batter and sprinkle with tablespoon of sugar.
  • Bake until top of cake is golden, about 50 minutes.  A bamboo skewer inserted into the center should come out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes in pan, then remove to rack to cool completely before cutting.

It’s an easy and delicious recipe. I love the rich, lemony flavor, and that it sounds so healthy (lemon + olive oil!). You should try it.

Gotta go, Alexa’s about to wake up… feeding time!

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Oven-Baked Potato

My sister, Alexa’s Auntie B, arrived on Saturday to meet Alexa in person. Since it was her birthday the day before she came, I made her a Red Velvet birthday cake which was way better (color- and taste-wise) than the first time I made it for hubby’s birthday. Better, so we had to save a few slices to send and to share the calories back home to the family this weekend.

Her being a potato lover, I also made some oven-baked potato which says in Pinterest “better than fries“. I thought that was the best time to give it a try.

How to do it?

Cut potatoes almost all the way through (my knife went all the way, cutting the potatoes like chips), drizzle with olive oil, butter, some sea salt, and pepper over top and bake @ 220 deg C for 40 minutes.

That’s it!

It was tasty and healthier than fast-food fries. Try it!

Fake Betty Crocker Brownie Mix

This morning, my aunt and uncle arrived from Manila to stay with us for some time to help take care of Baby Alexa. I’m so thankful that they can spend time with us, no work or other obligations back home to worry about. For first time parents like us, it’s a huge relief to have family around who would know what to do when the “big day” comes and everything that comes after that.

Anyway, last night I wanted to try another easy dessert that I found on Pinterest. Since before I had my oven, I had been collecting interesting and easy-to-do recipes in my Pinterest boards, Desserts and Meals and Other Edibles.

That easy dessert that I’m talking about is the Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies.

Well, it’s somehow like this boxed mix that you can find in the supermarket, but what I tried is the FAKE one, made from scratch. Thanks to Heather Bea for the idea, and the recipe!

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Mix all the ingredients together and dump them in a Ziploc bag. On the bag, write the following instructions:

Add:  2 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract. Bake @ 180 degrees C for 20-25 minutes in a 9×9 pan.  

But of course, I did not put them in a Ziploc bag ‘coz I was just too excited to try them out!

I dumped all the ingredients in a medium bowl and just used a wooden spoon to mix them all together, without realizing that I do not have a 9×9 inch pan!

I read from the comments that if you use a 9×13 pan (which I have), it would turn out thin and crunchy. I wanted to double the amount of ingredients but I have only 2 eggs left. So I just settled with using my mini muffin pans and made 24 pcs out of it.

They were baked for 30 minutes (that’s when the toothpick came out clean when inserted), and they looked like cookies, haha!

But believe me, it was SOOOO GOOD!!! Especially the chewy but crunchy top! And it was so easy to prepare that it would take you no more than 5 minutes to whip it up.

I’m stocking up on bags of this mix so I can have them again anytime. And I will make sure that I have the proper pan size, or make a double of the recipe to fit my 9×13 pan so I can have the fudge brownies that do look like brownies (like the ones on the Betty Crocker box).

Btw, you can add nuts (like I did) for that extra crunch, or some white or milk chocolate chips for extra sweetness.

Two more work days to go before my maternity leave starts. Yay! I can finally get that much needed sleep and rest before I join the motherhood club!