Calamansi-Ricotta-Pistachio Cupcakes

We had a bumper crop of calamansi… and I was running out of ideas where to use them!

So… cupcakes…

I was planning to make plain calamansi muffins, but got carried away trying to find a recipe…

In the end, what I did was to use my (super-secret) vanilla cupcake recipe and swap out part of the liquid to ricotta and added 3 tablespoons of pure calamansi juice.  (the cupcake itself, though, I think is a bit lacking in calamansi flavor)

Then to amp up the (super mild) calamansi flavor, I added calamansi syrup and crushed pistachios on top.

The recipe made more than expected – 6 cupcakes, 12 mini cupcakes, and 1 mini loaf!

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Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Irish Cream Pudding

The easy way to do this is to use a boxed chocolate cake mix and a boxed chocolate pudding mix.

But it is just as easy to use a favorite one-bowl chocolate cake and an easy from-scratch pudding recipe such as Hershey’s Quick Creamy Chocolate Pudding, which was what I did, except that I used half a recipe (for both cake and pudding) because I wanted a small cake.  But I also wanted a little oommph for the pudding, so I made a few changes…

Prepare the chocolate cake and bake as usual.  When the cake is done, remove from the oven and poke holes in it using the handle of a wooden spoon.  Start cooking the pudding.  When the pudding is done, pour over the hole-ridden cake.  Press plastic wrap on the pudding and chill until set.

My Chocolate Irish Cream Pudding –

1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur

Combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, salt and milk in a thick saucepan.  Cook until thick and boiling.  Simmer at boiling for about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and add the butter, vanilla and Irish Cream, mix well.

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For the Boys…

Some of hubby’s friends come to the house regularly (we refer to them fondly as “the boys”) and I like feeding them!

The last time they were here, I served them “Make-your-own-pita” sandwiches.  I had originally planned on curried chicken as a filling but at the last minute, having discovered that *someone* used up my curry blend, I had to find something else… that’s when I saw the bottle of (faux) Caesar Dressing that I had made a couple of days ago.  So instead of curried chicken to be stuffed in the pita bread, it became Chicken Caesar!

It was a great hit!

My Quick (Faux) Caesar Dressing, and Fried Kesong Puti

I recently had a taste of fried kesong puti and I loved it!  (which is surprising because I am not a fan of kesong puti.)  So long story short, I wanted to make a salad with fried kesong puti… and since I did not want a vinaigrette this time, I had to fall back on my faux Caesar Dressing…

1 small tin of anchovies
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup good quality mayonnaise
juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon mustard (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced

milk, to thin the dressing if necessary

The first thing to do is to heat the olive oil with the anchovies until the anchovies melt into the oil.  Set aside to cool.

Mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard and garlic together.  Slowly add the cooled anchovy-oil mixture and beat well.  Adjust the seasonings as desired.  If the dressing is too thick, thin with a little milk.

For the fried kesong puti, slice the kesong puti into large cubes.  Roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in panko (Japanese bread crumbs).  Pan fry (on all sides to even out the color).

Serve the fried kesong puti over mixed salad greens, sliced tomatoes, ham, grapes, etc. and dress with the (faux) Caesar’s dressing.

 

Triple Choco Chip Cookies

My cousin D and I have been talking about chocolate chip cookies.  It made me experiment again.  But I already have a go-to recipe that I quite like (even if I experiment with other recipes still) but I’ve always baked in my big gas oven and this time I wanted to try it in my little electric oven…

The mixing part –

1. Creaming the butter and sugars.

2. Stirring in the flour mixture.

3. Folding in the chocolate chips and chunks.  I used 2 kinds of chips – semi-sweet chips and dark chips; plus I added chopped bittersweet chocolate (at least 72%)

I think that using different kinds of chocolate, as well as differently sized bits, in the cookie makes the resulting cookie so much better, with a different dimension to it.

See?  My oven is really small and it can only take 6 cookies at a time, and I had to use the 1-oz scoop at that!

The results –

top – 8 minutes baking time.  Result – soft and chewy cookies

middle – 10 minutes baking time.  Result – crispy edges, soft and chewy centers

bottom – 12 minutes baking.  Result – super crispy cookies.

The winner as per hubby – soft and chewy, 8-minute baked cookies

The little girl’s favorite?  The super crispy, 12-minute baked oookies

Me?  I added walnuts to the last batch of 6

and baked them for 9 minutes…

(before i forget, I always turn the baking sheet around midway!

Banana-Choco Chip Muffins

I don’t get to bake often these days and when I do, I just use the small electric oven. The big gas oven seems overkill when all I want is half a dozen of muffins!

So anyway, I have been craving muffins for a while now. And finally, finally, I have some spare time! I dusted off my handy dandy mixer and scrounged up my measuring cups and spoons, and mixing bowl and spatula…

To begin, preheat the oven to 375*F. Line a 6-cup muffin tin with paper cups.

Mix together:

1 large egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon yogurt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Add the dry ingredients:

1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons muscovado sugar **
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix until just incorporated.

Stir in mashed bananas (2 large pieces very ripe bananas). Portion the batter into the 6 muffin cups. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of mini chocolate chips in each muffin cup. Use a toothpick to stir and distribute the chips in the batter.

Bake about 20 minutes.

Muffins in an hour! Yum!

Paksiw na Pata

Paksiw is basically a stew with vinegar as the main “spice” or seasoning. Pata is pork leg. So Paksiw na Pata is pork leg braised in a vinegar stewing liquid.

I have a go-to Paksiw na Baboy (Chinese-style) recipe that was my late father’s second favorite dish (after adobo, or so I have been told) but after a friend extolled her super-easy paksiw na pata recipe, I decided to try it. She had me at “It’s a dump-everything-recipe!”.

The secret, she says, is to find, not pork leg per se, but pork leg slices that are about 1 -inch thick, and that have been already trimmed of most of its fat and yes, virtually no skin on them. She even recommended to me her favorite meat shop that prepares such pork leg slices! There is even no need to cut the pork leg into serving pieces because, as she says, the pressure cooker does it for you! And no need to parboil too!

She graciously gave me permission to print her recipe.

3 large pieces pork leg slices, already trimmed and cleaned
(about 1 kilo total)

3/4 cup sukang sasa (native vinegar)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
a large pinch of sea salt (may be omitted, if desired)
3 pieces bay leaves
about 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon smashed peppercorns (not ground pepper)
1 whole bulb of garlic, smashed
about 3/4 to 1 cup water
a handful of banana blossoms, knotted (softened in water if necessary)

And just as she says, simply rinse the pork leg pieces and place them in the pressure cooker (I have a small one that’s just perfect for a kilo or so of meat).

Dump the sukang sasa, soy sauces, brown sugar, salt, bay leaves, oregano, peppercorns, and garlic into the pot. Add just enough of the water to barely cover the pork.

Pressure cook about 30 to 40 minutes (start the timer after the cooker starts “whistling”). I cooked mine for 40 minutes because we like really soft meat. Wait for the pressure to be released before opening the pot. Add the banana blossoms and simmer uncovered another 5 to 10 minutes (the sauce should thicken slightly)

Adjust the seasonings as desired.

(Easy peasy yummy!)

Oh, a note about the vinegar – sukang sasa is a local Filipino vinegar fermented  from nipa palm, also known as sukang paombong.  If unavailable, regular cane vinegar may be used but reduce the amount by half or a third, because it may be too strong.  Use your personal judgment to adjust the sourness of the dish.

 

Salad with Dayap-Muscovado Vinaigrette

My dayap plants have been busy… but what to do with a lot of limes?

Well, I got the zest and froze them so that I could have some to use in the future…

But as for the juice?  Well, one can only take so much lime juice (or its variations) so I used some to make Dayap-Muscovado Vinaigrette!

In a shaker, mix 1/4 cup olive oil, juice of 1 to 2 limes, 1- 2 tablespoons muscovado, freshly ground black and white peppercorns, and 1 to 2 large pinches of pink sea salt (vary the proportion according to your individual taste).  Seal the container and shake, shake, shake!

Pour over salad greens and enjoy!

 

Trail Mix for Hubby

Personally I am not a fan of trail mix.  I much prefer a snack of simply nuts, or maybe a mixture of nuts, but hubby likes dried fruit and seeds, and maybe just a bit of nuts, especially cashews that good friend H gave us.

I usually make trail mix with as many kinds of dried fruit as I can find, then add sunflower seeds and pine nuts.  If I am eating some, then I add roasted peanuts and cashews, otherwise, it’s toasted cashews and chocolate chips.

The dried fruit in this one – banana chips, raisins, sultanas, dried papaya, dried pineapple, coconut chips, apricots, and prunes.  For the seeds and nuts I used honey-roasted sunflower seeds, toasted pine nuts, roasted cashews and toasted cashews.  I skipped the chocolate chips because I felt like the trail mix was rich enough.

Hubby declared this a winner!

 

Healthy Brownies

I don’t remember anymore who gave me the recipe but it had been languishing in my “box of recipes that i plan to make”. Finally, finally, i made them… in my little electric oven, too!

1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup cocoa
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 egg + 1 egg white
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

The procedure is easy too! Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the yogurt and egss. Mix well. Stir in the chips. Put the batter in a lined 8-inch square pan, then bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 25 minutes or so. Do not over bake.

Done.