I Can Cook! Red Velvet Cookies

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When my friend Faye and her daughter Maia visited for baking lessons, Faye’s request was for us to make red velvet cookies. I’ve never tried making one, nor have I tasted one. I did find a recipe online and it was pretty easy to make. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make the cookies during their visit. Yesterday I was bored and I missed baking and remembered that I still have my ingredients in the pantry.

The cookies were really good! Mike liked it too. It was crunchy on the outside but soft and chewy inside. It wasn’t very sweet and tasted like, well, red velvet. I cannot not share it with you so here’s the recipe from Cooking Classy.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder*
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp all vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp red food coloring
  • 1 1/3 cups white chocolate chips, divided

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda and salt, set aside. Add butter, shortening and sugar to the bowl of an electric stand mixer and mix on medium speed until very pale and fluffy about 4 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk and mix until combine. Add vinegar, vanilla and food coloring and mix until well blended. Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combine. Mix in 1/2 cup white chocolate chips. Scoop dough out by the heaping tablespoonfuls (about 1 1/2 Tbsp) and roll into balls and place on buttered or Silpat lined cookie sheets. Gently press about 6 white chocolate chips into the top of each cookie, being careful not to flatten the cookies (if you do flatten them a bit just reshape them to the height they had before adding the chips) and bake in preheated oven 8 – 9 minutes. Allow to cool several minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Store cookies in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

One Toy, Five Games, Lots of Learning

A blessed Holy Week to everyone! I hope you are finding time to reflect and at the same time enjoy the break.

Do you remember this?

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This is one of my favorite games. I am not good at sports but I am pretty good at these kind of games and a couple more boardgames. I found out that this is a pretty good educational toy for my three-year old too!

Admittedly, I tried teaching the Little Jedi how to play this game but I guess he’ll get  it maybe in another year or two. So I figured out other ways to use it with my kid. Here are others games to play with this toy that’s both fun and educational.

1. What’s next, Lucas?
This game teaches your child logical sequencing. I would put the red circle in, then the yellow, then another red, and another yellow and ask Lucas what should I put next. He loves this game. Sometimes I would put it 1 yellow then two reds and ask him what’s next. If he cannot answer it correctly yet, I tell him “let’s try again” and we’d say out loud the colors in sequence.

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2. Guess the shape
We would try to make different shapes with the circles. I would tell him where to drop the circles and when the shape is formed, I ask him to guess the shape. He’d be both surprised and proud after he figures out the shape. This game helps a child develop spatial skills.

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3. Sort, sort, sort!
We’d mix the colors together then I’d say “sort sort sort!”. Lucas would sort the red from the yellow. According to babycenter.com, sorting games like this helps a child develop problem-solving skills.

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4. Shoot the Chips in the Can
This is a fun game for the tot. Oh, and he came up with this one, too! He took my tin can and started shooting chips in it. (It reminded me of perya games that I used to play when I was a kid). I think he likes the “clunk” everytime he shoots a chip. Well, I think all toddlers likes “clunks”. This game helps practice hand-eye coordination. It is also a good way to pack the chips away after playing all the other games. Haha!

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5. Be silly.

That’s it. No rules. Just plain fun.

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Check out other toys in your household. Who knows, they can be played in ways that are both fun and educational.

A Home Cook’s Recipe Sources

I have always been a fan of good food and has been been interested in cooking. When I watch TV at home, the staple channels would be TLC, Food Network, or Asian Food Channel. I have been a big fan of Jamie Oliver, Ina Garten, and Buddy Valastro (yes, the Cake Boss, but he also has a cooking show called Kitchen Boss in TLC). I’ve always been curious about food. I remember way back in college wanting to know how foie gras tastes like, how truffle oil smells like and how to spell duck confit.

I only learned how to cook after giving birth to my son because, like most moms, I want to be the one to prepare his food. That’s when I started putting into practice what I have been watching on TV for years. I also started buying cooking magazines. My favorite is Yummy. I collect Yummy’s recipe booklets. I love them! I get most of the dishes that my husband likes from there. They are pocket size and can fit your bag easily. The recipes are also very easy to make.

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I also like browsing the Internet and look for other Recipes. I like visiting All Recipes and of course, The Food Network.

I discovered a cool app for home cooks like myself. It’s called Yummly. I downloaded the app for free.

Image from Google Images

This app has a roster of different recipes from different websites. It saves me time googling the dish and opening new windows or tabs for the recipe.

It shows where the recipe comes from so if you are a fan of a specific author or cook, you can make your choice.

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One of the features that I like about the app is that it shows the calorie count for most dishes. It’s great for those who are calorie conscious.

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If you like a dish, you can also tag it under a specific category. This helps you in planning and organizing your meals. No need to rummage through a lot of recipes.

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Of course the best part is that it’s mobile. You can now plan your meals for the week while you are on your way to work (provided you’re not driving), while taking a break, or even while you are waiting in line for…anything!

Thank goodness for technology. It makes lives of moms so much easier. :)

 

 

 

 

Little Jedi turns 3- part deux: Divi Finds

hen you’re a mommy planning a party, the first party supplier that comes to your mind is Divi. Divi is not a who. It’s a where. A short term for Divisoria, this haven for practical shoppers has almost everything under the sun. From clothes and accessories, kitchenware, fresh produce, and yes, party materials, Divi has it.

The day after I arrived from India, Mama and I went to Divi to buy toys for the Little Jedi’s party. The cheapest ones are in Divisoria Mall. Unfortunately, the mall burned down so all the vendors are all selling on the streets. It made the street really crowded, even for a Sunday.

We got some really good toys in Divi.

I got these mini toys in packs.I liked it so much I bought Mike a whole Superman set. I got these for Php200-Php250 for a pack of 8 or  9, depending on the design.

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Small transforming plastic toys for the boys, Php 80 for 2 dozens.

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Bracelets and stamps for the girls, Php 60 for 2 dozens.

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I also saw these kits. Perfect for prizes for little girls. I think these are Php 35 each.

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We went to 168 Mall to look for loot bags. Since the theme was yellow, I was hoping to get a nice loot bag for the party. I got these yellow striped plastic loot bags but I was disappointed because I saw yellow eco bags after buying them. I like the eco bags better. Mike designed and printed the tags for the loot bags.

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I bought these cute pencils in 168 mall too. They are Php 120 for a pack of 10.

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I read about Lucky China Town’s Sunday Food market so I asked Mama if we can have lunch there. Lucky China Town is a new mall near 168. They put up food stalls every weekend. I was craving for some authentic Chinese food and I wasn’t disappointed. There were Chinese food, seafood stalls (that sell oysters and scallops among the other seafood), Singaporean dishes, deep fried chicken and even Filipino dishes. There was a dimsum stall that sells really good XO shu mai. It was soooo goood! I think I got carried away and forgot thay it was just Mama and myself who will eat because I bought so many dishes for us. Yummers. Do drop by Lucky China Town if you are going to Divi.

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I can’t wait for my next shopping trip to Divi!

 

This is the second part of the party plans for Lucas 3rd party. You can read the first part here.

 

Working Mom’s Tips on well…Being a Mom

Happy Sunday!

It has been a while since I last posted an entry. Lately, we have been very busy. I don’t mind though. By busy, I mean not entirely because of work (like last year), all though it will still be a contributing factor, but busy being a mom and a wife. I have to say, I don’t mind being absent in the blogosphere if the latter is my reason. Nothing beats spending time with my now-active and curious Little Jedi. I mean, I have also been taking lots and lots of pictures and posting it on my IG (follow me!) to document family time. I do realize that I may have forgotten my vision to share the things that I learn along the way. I have a lot of musings in mind and yes, I still want to share this with you.

Thank God for slow and lazy Sundays. They are blessings! I finally have the time to let my thoughts be spontaneous and let my fingers type away. So here I am, typing away while by two boys snooze beside me. Aaah. Bliss.

We have been going out almost every weekend of late. Lucas has been very keen about everything so I want to let him explore lots of things. Last week, we met with my grad school classmates-turned friends-turned each others’ kids’ ninongs and ninangs (so we’re like bonded for life). We invited Dom of Studio 2716 to take family pics of us but only my friend Chel’s and our families had the chance to take some shots. The two were fashionably late. Hehe. I will share the pictures with you as soon as we have rescheduled the shoot with everyone in it.

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Chel’s son, Y, is about the same age as Lucas. I was very happy to see that Lucas knows how to play with other children now. I remember he was playing with his cousin before but well, she only does parallel playing. So it’s quite nice to see Lucas playing catch with Y. He is also playing with us now. He’d pull his Dadi’s hand and say “Play ball!”. I am looking forward to the next playdate with my mommy friends and kids.

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We’ve been spending some time in the malls with my mom and sister also. We are simply trying to beat the scorching heat of the sun without having our electric bill shoot up. Let’s face it, malls with air conditioning are one of  mankind’s greatest inventions when it’s summertime and you are living right smack in the urban jungle of a tropical country. Alabang Town Center/Metro Gaisano is our favorite. These two malls are connected to each other. Yesterday, after grocery shopping and a hearty lunch, we took the Little Jedi to Timezone again. As shared here before, Lucas is obsessed with basketball, not that I am complaining though. But we found a game that, surprisingly, was a hit to the whole family. My mom included! Have you ever tried Go Go Ballz?  I remember Maqui shared in her blog that they also enjoyed this game. It was so much fun! Imagine I, Mike, Lucas, my mom and sis, all crammed together in front of this huge screen hitting it with balls. It was crazy, nonsensical, childish fun. We love it. I highly recommend it to families, to people who wants to relieve some stress, and to those who wants to hit annoying people in their lives, but can’t. I’m sure you will enjoy this.

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I have been channeling the inner domestic diva in me also. Of late, I have been very inspired to make sugar cookies and designing them. Nothing beats a nice, quiet, cookie doodling time in the kitchen. Seriously, it’s my catharsis. The cookies serve as my palette, the icing, my paint and Lucas, my curator (and cookie taster). Time and again, I think my creativity does not come out through arts and craft but through making pretty edible little things.

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Another thing that has been keeping me busy lately is scouting for a school for the Little Jedi. That deserves another post.

Being a working mom is really about having the right balance. Somebody told me this week that he’s surprised how I can do so many things: work and even extend time in the office, bake, play with the kid, blog. I guess it’s just a matter of knowing when and how to spend your time. I am not the planning queen. I know other moms who are far better in this than me. I am trying though. The experience I had last year was unpleasant. I want to make sure that I don’t do the same thing anymore. Here are some of the things that has helped me so far:

Set reasonable time for everything. I can easily say, I’ll go home at 5:30 PM and spend 6 hours a day with my son. But I know I can’t. I know that my work demands a little bit more so I have to set the right time for everything. During weekdays, I tell myself that I will try to go home at 6:30 PM, regular latest at 7:3o PM and occasionally until 9:00 PM ONLY if it’s really needed. My weekends are solely devoted to my son and my husband.

There will be trade-offs. Even if we want everything to be perfect, there will always be trade offs. One of the things that Mike and I struggle with last year was the time I spent in the office. For those who haven’t read my posts last year, I would spend 16-18 hours a day. Yes, it was crazy. Now, I told him I will try to be home earlier so I could still be the one to put Lucas to sleep, but I might still work after that. I work from home, of course. It could also mean that we won’t be talking so much in the office so I can focus on work only. It’s not all about work. It’s also about giving up some (just some) of the things I like doing to do the other things I want to happen. I have pushed back reading books because my son is more playful now so I’d rather spend the time with him.

Know the reward that you want. And work for it. I want to spend time with my son, do some baking, blog. I have to work for that time. If I want my weekends to free-up, I have to do some sacrifices. Sacrifices will always be difficult and painful, but like they say, keep your eyes at the reward because it will always be sweet in the end.

Don’t be hard on yourself. You still need to enjoy. If you make a list, marked off all the things in that list, but you have stressed yourself doing all of those things, you will end up being unhappy. An unhappy mom is an unhappy husband and kid too. Your stress will be displaced or projected to them. Include yourself in your list. Include yourself in your goal. I have read somewhere that to be a great mom, you have to first and foremost be happy. Go ahead and get that me time or that quiet time. Get that pedicure, or your favorite coffee drink, or those pair of shoes. You need that. I need to start reading the GOT books because the season is about to start again. That’s a note to myself.

There you go. These are things that I have been meaning to share because these are things that I have learned from the past few months. Oh and just in time. I hear my little boy stirring now. Time for some more Sunday bonding!

 

 

A tribute to Mayolo

 

He was my Papa.

He was the most loving, funniest and most selfless man I know. I was Papa’s baby girl and he kept on showing me that even when I became an adult. I remember when I was young he would give me my heart’s wishes as much as he can. When I grew older Papa would always stay up late waiting for me to come home whether I came from school, from a party or, even when I was working, from the office. He’d be upset if I come home late but he would always be there waiting for me to come home.

Papa was the most patient father. I was never a perfect daughter but I count the number of times he lost his temper to me.

He is the sweetest Papa and because of that I never hesitated giving him a kiss or a hug. He was my teddy bear.

Of all the things Papa has done for me, he never asked anything in return. Instead he would insist on giving instead of receiving. He was a selfless, selfless man.

I’m writing this because last night I missed him so much it has been almost five years since he has passed on. I miss him everyday. A mother’s love is incomparable. So does a father’s. Daddies  have a different brand of love. And I miss my Papa’s brand every day. I guess when you lose someone you have loved all your life, there is no way of forgetting. You never really get over it. You can never fill in an empty gap. But you just put your faith that somebody is watching over you and one day, when you meet again, you will find out he has never stopped waiting for you to come home.

Gotta Love Weekend

Weekends are love. No matter how tiring the week has been, my weekend will always be about my son and my husband from Saturday morning until we sleep together on Sunday.

This weekend was just as lovely as our other weekends. We had a bake date with Maia and Faye and we had our usual family date.

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After hearing mass, we went to our favorite resto in Alabang Town Center. Mike and I both agree that for as long as there is Chili’s, it is going to be a family tradition to have lunch there at least once a month. Apart from good food, we both like how family friendly the ambiance is. The staff is also well-trained and they know how to make their customers happy, including the kids. They even gave Lucas (and all the other kids) balloons.

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We spent some time in Fully Booked in ATC. It was my first time to visit the store even if we have been going to the mall almost every week. It wasn’t as big as the one in Bonifacio High Street but the Littel Jedi didn’t mind. He enjoyed looking and “reading” books there. I was actually happy that he can read some of the words already. My nightly teaching is paying off. :)

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We went to Gaisano supermarket to buy some groceries. I was pleasantly surprised to find good products and produce there. I particularly love their International section. They carry imported products that are rarely seen on other supermarkets.

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We have officially joined the Time Zone bandwagon. I read some of my mommy friends sharing how their kids and husbands love spending time in the arcade. Well, Lucas and Mike are no exception. I am just hoping they won’t get stuck playing basketball in the arcade. I’d rather have them play ball in a court. #soccermom #momofmvp :p

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I am just so happy that weekend is just a cartwheel (or an eggroll) away. Woohoo! That means more memories to make, more pictures to take, more time to spend with the family. We all love weekends, don’t we?

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