Baked Linguini by BFF!

I love cooking and baking for others.  Hubby even jokes that even if I have no recipients for the goodies I make, I will still bake and give them to any Tom, Dick or Harry on the street, or to just about anyone who would accept them!

But.

When someone makes something in their kitchen for me… That is when I feel blessed… extra special… and, super loved…

Thank you BFF for the special treat!

Merry Christmas!!!

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Bourbon Brownie Birthday Cake

Hubby’s request was for a dark chocolate cake.

I had visions of a grand 2 or 3 layer cake, surrounded by bars of chocolate and sprinkled with chocolate shavings.  The vision would not become a reality.  An accidental fall (not too serious, but serious enough that my ankle and elbow are stiff) prevented me from baking and frosting an elaborate cake.  So what to do?  Hubby cannot miss out on his birthday wish??!!!!!!

Enter these deep, dark, bitter chocolate brownies laced with bourbon!  Instead of baking the brownies in an 8-in square pan, I baked them in a 7-in round, which gave them a bit of height.  The brownie could not be plain ‘ole brownies so in went a quarter cup of bourbon.

(This particular bourbon is sentimental to me – it was one of the few bottles I took from my late father’s liquor cabinet before it went up in smoke)

The ganache used to garnish the cake was also laced with bourbon, but only about half a tablespoon.

Hubby loved it!

It was especially divine with a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream.

 

THE Brownies!

I was ten years old when I started baking.  My favorite?  Peanut Butter Cookies.  My siblings’ and mom’s favorite?  Brownies.  My mom liked a particular kind of brownies so much that we (although it really means just me) experimented for several years to get it the way we (she) liked it.

And this is IT.

A not-too-sweet, dense, fudge-y, deeply chocolate-y brownie, with a thin, crispy top layer.

Everybody liked it.  I even made tons of it (figuratively) to sell at Christmastime.  I had determined that my last baking day was the 22nd, but I kept getting orders all the way up to New Year’s!

We were always getting requests for the recipe.  My mom wouldn’t give it (even now she refuses to share her recipes!) except for very close relatives.

How is it relevant today?

Well, basically it is because my mother and I have a complicated relationship.  But we found a common ground in cooking/baking.  From there, we developed a workable relationship.  Even today, when we have misunderstandings and breaks in our relationship, we usually reconnect over matters involving cooking and baking.

So, these brownies…

(Sorry I don’t have permission to share the recipe)

it’s special because it was the beginning…

 

Homage to Tita Linda

My mother and I don’t have much in common, but one thing we share is our cooking/baking hobby and our love for kitchen gadgets and recipes!

But aside from my mother, there is Tita Linda.  She’s the mom of my college bud T.  From her I learned to make Snickerdoodles, which was my second-favorite cookie after Peanut Butter.  She shared not only recipes but life lessons and practical advice on how to live.  Oh, we all had mother issues but from her I learned that a good mother-daughter relationship is possible.

Sadly, she passed away sometime ago.  We miss her.

Today I pay homage to her, with this Tomato Salsa, the recipe of which (and its secret!) she unselfishly shared with me.

For you Tita!

B’s Special Cake

When we ask the little girl what cake she wants, she always gives the same answer –

BLACK CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH STRAWBERRY FROSTING

She is very particular too, she wants REAL strawberry frosting!

So, even if my right arm will hurt like *#&& the day after, I willingly suffer because it is what she wants on her special day.

The recipe for the black chocolate cake is a family secret – as it took me several months to get it just right!

The strawberry frosting is made with 450 grams of strawberries!!!  I experimented with the recipe for a long time, playing with the proportions until the little girl was satisfied.  She has a discriminating taste!

This year though I decided to make a few improvements…

Firstly, I made a smaller cake, a 7-inch, 3-layer round cake instead of the usual 9-inch, 2-layer round cake.  Then I added a special filling – dark choco-caramel filling.  Lastly, the finishing touch – the “My Little Pony” theme!

The finished cake was declared BEE-YOO-TEE-FOOOOL by the little girl.  And I am happy even if my arm is still and achy!

And the taste?  Whooooohooooo!  Everyone says it is sinfully delicious!

(happy, happy, happy me!)

Fruit Salad ala Tita Linda

The fruit salad recipe that we are used to is the one with cream and fruit cocktail, or maybe even buko (coconut) and condensed milk.  Some years ago, however, I discovered one that was perfect for hubby, who loves fresh fruits!

A very special lady, Tita Linda, shared her recipe with me several Christmases ago.  It was quite easy – just cube fresh fruits of your choice and toss them in a fruit salad bowl.  Squeeze lemon or calamansi juice and sprinkle some sugar (or sugar substitute) to taste and toss until mixed.  Serve chilled.  Viola!  Great dessert.

Last night, we had our “traditional” Noche Buena… crab sotanghon, Mutsarap chicken, chopsuey… and dessert – Fruit Salad ala Tita Linda.

For this salad, I used 2 apples, 1/2 of a cantaloupe, 1/2 a papaya, a bunch of black grapes (seedless type), 1/4 of a watermelon, kiwis, 1 large Sunkist orange, 1/2 a (sourish) pineapple, and 2 bananas.  I mixed orange juice and calamansi for the “dressing”.

Sadly, Tita Linda passed away last year.  We miss her so and remember her this Christmas through her fruit salad.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is nothing but a marketing gimmick.  But I admit to being somewhat of a sucker for it.  Why?  Because it is only on this day that hubby will give me flowers!

This year I got a bouquet with an “I miss you” sign… Uh… I asked him what that was about and he looked puzzled.  He didn’t realize that the sign said “I miss you”!

Hahahaha!

collage_valnetine

In any case, we’ve learned the hard way that we should NEVER go out on Valentine’s Day.  Not that we don’t want to celebrate our love on Valentine’s Day, it’s just we do not want an overpriced dinner, and the horrendous traffic we have to go through just to get to that overpriced dinner!

It is more special that we spend it together, even if it is at home.  As for the dinner?  A special one cooked by his loving wife is more than enough!

So for breakfast, he had homemade sunflower-seed whey bread and frittata.  For dinner, a super delicious, albeit spicy, crab laksa with glass noodles.  And for dessert?  a heart shaped brownie to signify love!

Oh, by the way, ever since the little girl came into our lives, hubby (her daddy) also gives her flowers… usually a rose!