Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baking With Aunt Cheryl and Mom


Yesterday Aunt Cheryl came over to my parents' house to bake with mom and I. Looked forward to this event ever since I found out about it a week ago. Anyway, Mom is not accustomed to baking cookies and desserts in general, so it was pretty much her first time to really bake. It was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed Aunt Cheryl showing us baking secrets and ultimately just spending time with her. Love her. She's so awesome.

Peanut Blossom Cookies
1 C. white sugar
1 C. brown sugar
1 C. margarine
1 C. peanut butter
2 eggs (beaten well)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. soda (dissolved in 1 T. boiling water)
Pinch of salt
3 C. flour
1 pkg. chocolate stars or Hershey's Kisses

Cream sugar, margarine, peanut butter and eggs. Add soda-water mixture, vanilla, salt and flour. Roll mix into balls. Roll balls in sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Add candy stars or kisses.

Chocolate Peanut Clusters
16 oz dark chocolate chips
16 oz butterscotch chips
2 tbs gulf wax
1 lb (or more) peanuts

In a bowl, melt the dark chocolate chips, butterscotch and gulf wax in the microwave for 4 minutes. Mix. Further melt in the microwave for another 1 - 2 minutes until smooth. Mix. Add in the peanuts and mix. Scoop out chunks into wax paper and let it sit overnight.

Best Ever Christmas Cookies
1/2 C. margarine
1/2 C. crisco shortening
1 C. sugar
2 eggs (beaten)
1 big tsp. vanilla
3 C. flour
1 tsp. soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 C. milk
1 tsp. salt

Combine ingredients as per normal. Refrigerate overnight. Roll out and bake at 350 degrees until lightly golden.
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Simple Christmas, The Lazy Cat, and Kindle Reads


This year (compared to the last) we decided to keep the holidays simple by putting up the small Christmas Tree with limited decorations. This is so I wouldn't have the burden of cleaning up after giving birth towards the end/beginning of this/next year. It's kind of nice yet at the same time I wish that I was able to do more. I've been so easy to tire lately that Dre has been doing a lot of the housework (feeding the pets, bending down, lifting heavy things, cleaning, cooking, etc.)

So anyway... above is the lounging cat. He loves that arm rest and can be found at that location the majority of the time.

In all other news, Dre got me a Kindle so to occupy my time since I'm now just sitting pretty at home. I love the thing and have been voraciously reading to my heart's desire.

My Current Reading List: 

The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living
- Dalai Lama & Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
>> I use this book more of a devotional, reading a chapter a day in order to feed my mind and gain some sort of enlightenment. It helps because it shows how to achieve happiness.

Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
>> I love books that allow me to gain a better understanding of history and culture. This book caught me by surprise due to its content and storyline. I can't put it down! A must read.

Sargasso of Space (Solar Queen, Book 1) - Andre Norton
>> This book was recommended by my husband and also fulfills my love of science-fiction. I've only gotten through the first few chapters and it's good so far... I can't wait till the real action begins.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A few days ago, we received a package from Dre's Mom. Talented Grandma Mila knitted these booties and outfit for Baby A. They're so precious and adorable - practically melted my ... (read more after the jump)
Bookmark and Share

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

I did a horrible job of taking Thanksgiving pictures this year that the beautiful turkey was missed (there were two kinds too: Caribbean Turkey and the Traditional Turkey. Furthermore, my parents didn't even make any of the pictures taken, and they hosted the event! Nonetheless, we had a lot of fun with the Aquino family, Gabriel's mom (from Puerto Rico) and Michael and his room mate, Mark.

We started the holiday feast with worship where Dad gave the history of Thanksgiving, then we went around and shared what we were thankful for. We prayed for Thanksgiving and then proceeded to the kitchen. Lots of good food, lots to be thankful for. Just a wonderful and a blessed day. After the big feast, everyone went to the theatre room to watch Gnomeo & Juliet with the kids while I got on the treadmill for 45 minutes. Not too shabby. Great times...

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Glimpse of the Fall Season

It has been forever since I picked up my Nikon. Despite my baby bump getting heavier making it uncomfortable to walk around, maneuver, bend and be mobile - I managed to take a few photos at the park yesterday. There should have been more photos taken but I just wasn't feeling like my winner self.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, October 20, 2011

International Day Dreams

I'm literally itching for some international travel. I shouldn't have browsed through our getaway photo album that showed such excitement in our faces.

It's just the idea of packing my bags, boarding a plane, getting a stamp on my passport, exploring a new country, experiencing another culture, taking exotic photos, tasting different types of food, and the endless exciting  possibilities brings me to an anticipated level beyond pure ecstasy that I call, "living out the dream."

With our baby on the way, I'm not sure when we'll be able to travel overseas once more. However, one thing is for sure... our baby himself will bring us another type of adventure... PARENTHOOD. We can't wait!!
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 2011 - My Favourite Things

1. Bare Escentuals - 100% Natural Lip Gloss
Not only are these lip glosses natural and make the lips feel luxurious, they smell great and taste good as well. One caveat is that they're extremely addicting.

2. Queen Latifah's Album - Trav'lin' Light
Queen Latifah is one talented artist. This album features light R&B jazzy relaxing tunes perfect for that stay-inside cozy autumn day while sipping a cup of coffee with a good book in hand. This is her second R&B Jazz album and it's just as good as the first album.

3. Bath & Body Works - Cozy Vanilla Autumn
Absolutely sweet smelling. I prefer it more than BBW's Warm Vanilla Sugar. It has a different scent that I can not explain but it is just wonderful. I lathered it on yesterday after getting out of the shower and throughout the day many people complimented how great it smelled. They even asked to try some on.

4. Sephora Nail Polish - by OPI
Sephora has so many great coloured polish for the fall season. These are comparable to OPI and I absolutely love how they are named. My favorite shades are: Hell to the No, Call Your Mohter, Leotard Optional, and High Maintenance to name a few.

5. Cognac Handbags
I specifically LOVE the bags that are classic, timeless, and have structure like Kate Spades, New York Small Maryclare bag. These type of bags will never go out of style and well worth the cost.

6. Wetzel's Pretzels - Sinfully Cinnamon
Cinnamon Sugar goodness that I've been addicted to ever since the beginning of my pregnancy. You can't go wrong with a cinnamon sugar pretzel. I haven't had Auntie Anne's for a while, so I wonder how Sinfully Cinnamon compares to AA's Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel?

7. Carrot Cake
I baked an Afternoon Delight Carrot Cake not too long ago and I'm about to make another soon since I've been craving it. So creamy and delicious. I love how the sweet aroma permeates the house. Click on the link for the recipe.

8. Yankee Candle Carrot Cake
This is the ultimate reason of my craving carrot cake. Also adds a cozy feel to the ambiance of the autumn season.
Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 23, 2011

Taking A Break

Just taking a much needed break from cooking and taking photos. I've actually been resting and sleeping a lot - even decreased my work hours - all for a good cause since I'm almost 26 weeks pregnant! Visit our baby blog here. We're so excited!!!

Anyway, hopefully I'll start feeling less lazy and get back to the swing of things. Stay tuned for more photos, new recipes, and etc.
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Kitchen Tragedy of Summer 2010
Oven, May You Rest In Peace

{ 07.24.2010: Oven Explosion }

July of last year I baked a boxed meal, Au Gratin Potatoes, for a last minute gig. Put the mix in Pyrex and shoved it in the oven. Ten minutes later there was an explosion then a burning aroma permeated the house causing the pets to bark hysterically. We checked the oven and the devastation above was the eyesore we had to face.

After cleaning the mess, the oven never worked the same again. At first it took 30 minutes to preheat it, then six months later 60 minutes, then 90, then 120, then it was a touch and go gamble - will it work or not? Of recent it preheats to 100 degrees and maintains the temperature. Frustrating! I haven't baked anything for almost a week and am getting a divatude because of it.

To fix it will cost more than purchasing a new one so we're getting a new stove top / oven this weekend. I can hardly wait. I can't believe I'm excited to go appliance store hopping.

Cooking this week is on hiatus - however the joys of cooking will commence once again next week.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, September 12, 2011


{ Challenge 12 : Recipe 22/100 }
Spanakopita Pie & Triangles

Over the weekend I cooked a Greek dish (Izzy as my sous chef) called, Spanakopita for a women's luncheon at a friend's house. It's a spinach based dish mixed with two kinds of cheeses, herbs, spices, and then lined and  topped with phyllo dough. I made two versions, a pie and individual triangles.

It was my first experience with phyllo dough so it was a gamble as to how it would turn out. As far as rolling the triangles, here is a video of how to do so. Rolling is fairly easy but the trick is to pack it on tightly and then gently roll. The phyllo dough is fragile so it tears easy.

Overall a great dish!! I received numerous compliments from it. Another plus is that it's baked, not fried.


3 tbsp Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs spinach, rinsed and chopped
1/2 chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
8 sheets phyllo dough
1/4 cup olive oil
* salt as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly oil a 9x9 inch square baking pan.
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, green onions and garlic, until soft and lightly browned. Stir in spinach and parsley, and continue to saute until spinach is limp, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta, and feta. Stir in spinach mixture. Salt as needed. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough in prepared baking pan, and brush lightly with olive oil. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top, brush with olive oil, and repeat process with two more sheets of phyllo. The sheets will overlap the pan. Spread spinach and cheese mixture into pan and fold overhanging dough over filling. Brush with oil, then layer remaining 4 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each with oil. Tuck overhanging dough into pan to seal filling.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve while hot.
Bookmark and Share

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

{ Challenge 12 : Recipe 21/100 }
Peanut Butter Cookies

Blogging from bed today and feeling a little bit under the weather. I cooked these cookies a month ago and just realized I didn't blog about it.

This recipe is from my 1959 Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book so it has a classic, feel good, old fashioned taste to it... very moist, addicting, and wonderful. It's fairly easy to make and a lot of fun.

The cook book gives two versions of the recipe, which are included below:

Peanut Butter Cookies
By Betty Crocker

Mix Thoroughly:
1/2 cup shoft shortening (half butter)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg

Sift together and stir in:
1 1/4 cups sifted GOLD MEDAL Flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Chill dough. Roll into ball size of large walnuts. Place 3" apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Flatten with fork dipped in flour ... crisscross...  Bake until set... but not hard.

Temperature: 375° (quick mod. oven).
Time: Bake 10 to 12 min.
Amount: About 3 doz. 2 1/2" cookies.

** For the Honey Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe: Follow the recipe above - except use only 1/4 cup shortening, and in place of brown sugar use 1/2 cup honey.
Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 9, 2011

Work Life:
The Green Screen and The Treadmill


Over Labor Day Weekend, Dre cleaned the garage, designated a section, and then built a green screen studio for our production business. Building a studio is more cost effective than renting a studio by the hour elsewhere. The studio is not completely done and the garage will need to go through a major transformation but it's good enough to record a couple of takes for stock footage and etc.

Below is a long story - it's the treadmill I bought from Meijer back in college circa 2001. My roommate and I fit this treadmill in her little GEO car and then moved it up three flights of stairs to our tiny dorm room. As cheap as it was, it served me well throughout the years... until now. Dre got this brilliant idea of using the treadmill as a prop for the green screen -- which allows people to walk in place. He took it apart and is going to paint it green.

Usually I get attached to things that have sentimental value - but for this purpose I surely didn't mind. Ok... I got a little emotional. As much as I love my 10 year old cheap ($200) treadmill, life is about moving on. Hopefully I'll get a new one (an upgrade) for my birthday or for Christmas. *fingers crossed* Nonetheless... overall a great idea that will benefit the business in many ways.

In all other news, in another section of our garage, I finally organized shoes that had been boxed up since we moved in our house a little over two years ago. Kind of sad that I've abandoned them for sooo long. I need to sew a curtain for these shelves and get some kind of dust cloths to keep them from looking too old.

I haven't really had the motivation to purchase shoes for the past year so my collection is completely outdated - even the more relevant shoes in my closet are obsolete. Of recent I've been extremely picky when it comes to shoes - they not only have to look fabulous, they have to be comfortable enough for me to walk a mile in.
Bookmark and Share

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

{ Challenge 12 : Recipe 20/100 }
Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Yesterday I cooked pot-roast for dinner. LITERALLY the easiest pot-roast dish to cook. It was also my very first attempt to at what seemed to be a complicated crock pot dish. Basically just chuck all the ingredients together in a crock pot, leave it to cook for 3-8 hours (depending on the setting and how many pounds the roast) and you're all set until it's time for dinner. SIMPLE! The beef was so juicy and tender... MMMmmm.... and the sauce... double MMMmmm.

A few setbacks when I cooked this dish. The recipe called for one pouch of dry onion mix. The bag boy at the grocery store didn't bag this item (it was on the receipt) so I had to dig our pantry for possible substitutions. I ended up adding 2 beef bouillon, whatever was left (half a cup) of our French's Fried Onions, and one medium sized onion, diced. Also, the 5 1/2 pounds of beef was GInormous, so I opted for the 3.5 pounder slab of roast which shrank once cooked. The recipe is rather good and extremely easy to make. I will make it again in the future should we host a dinner party.

This recipe also taught me not to be intimidated of my crock pot. I love this recipe and I will cook more slow cooker recipes in the future.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast


2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix
1 1/4 cups water
5 1/2 pounds pot roast

4 potatoes cut in cubes
1 cup of baby carrots



  1. In a slow cooker, mix cream of mushroom soup, dry onion soup mix and water. Place pot roast in slow cooker and coat with soup mixture. Submerge potatoes and carrots.
  2. Cover and cook on High setting for 3 to 4 hours, or on Low setting for 8 to 9 hours.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Apple Pie Egg Rolls
With Butter Toffee Ice Cream

{ Challenge 12 : Recipe 19/100 }
Apple Pie Egg Rolls

Cooked pot roast tonight and for dessert we had apple pie egg rolls with butter toffee ice cream. I can't believe I didn't think of this recipe before finding it online. It's super easy and delicious to boot. I used  thick egg roll wrappers and sliced the apples in long wedges. I placed two to three wedges in each wrapper which allowed me to make 15 instead of the 5 mentioned in the recipe. Dre loved them.

Try the recipe - it's absolutely divine...

Apple Pie Egg Rolls

1 tablespoon butter
3 cups apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 egg roll wrappers
vegetable oil for frying

for garnish:
1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Cooking Directions:

In a medium size pan, melt butter, add apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often until apples are tender.  Pour into a bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool, about 3o minutes.

Place about 2 tablespoons of apple filling into each egg roll wrapper, wet edges of wrapper with water, roll up sealing edges.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Heat oil to about 350 degrees, add egg rolls two at a time, turning to cook all sides, remove to paper lined plate and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Repeat with remaining egg rolls.

Serve with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Visual Splurge
Fall 2011

Once upon a time long long ago, I would have splurged on one (if not most) of the items above. I was a slave to fashion and technology - however I'm no longer single and an entire shift of "spendage" has changed its course (by choice). I still visit and lust after designer products every now and then. It's important for me to be "in the know" about these types of things. It's my leisure and my asylum; it keeps me sane in a world on the brink of economic collapse, as ironic as that sounds.

I digress. There's a cool crisp in the air indicating that the autumn season is around the corner. Usually this time of year gets me nostalgic of my independent fashionable days. However, I love my life now and I wouldn't trade it for the world. But... perhaps I can make an exception and splurge (if logic doesn't get the best of me) one of these days.
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chunky Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie

{ Challenge 12 : Recipe 18/100 }
Chunky Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie

{ Image from }
Was browsing through television one day and got hooked on Bravo TV's, Top Chef: Just Desserts. The episode I watched was from season one, episode three. The contestants were divided in two groups to compete for a school's bake sale - one group represented the Glee Club, and the other represented the Cheer-leading Squad. One recipe caught my attention - Erica Davis's - Chunky Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie. I just had to make it. Click on the picture above for the recipe.

The first time I made this recipe it turned out dry since I left it in the oven too long. The second time around, it was a lot softer. I didn't have a cookie scoop so I flattened the batter in a cookie sheet and then cut it in squares once cooked.

The cookie is absolutely yummy. It has a different flavor out of the ordinary chocolate chip cookie. I'll probably cook this again when there is a big event. YUM!!!

There's only one caveat, it's difficult to stop eating these delicious cookies.
Bookmark and Share

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mariquitas-Plantain Chips

{ Challenge 12 : Recipe 17/100 }
Mariquitas-Plantain Chips

My brother, Izzy, came over yesterday and showed me how to cook an excellent appetizer, Mariquitas-Plantain Chips. This recipe is his own version of the Mariquitas-Plantain Chips we ordered from the Little Havana Restaurant during our trip to Miami last year. It's extremely delicious but must be served within 15 minutes of cooking. Very easy to make. See the recipe below.

Mariquitas-Plantain Chips
By Izzy

2 unripe plantain bananas
1 cup vegetable oil
3 tbs olive oil or butter
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp lime juice
salt to taste


Peel the plantain bananas. The easiest way to peel is to cut both ends off
and then make a vertical incision from the top of the banana to the bottom. Peel.

Using a peeler, peel the banana from top to bottom.

The peeled plantains should look like this.

In a deep medium pot, deep fry the bananas until golden. The consistency should be crispy but not burned.
Do not  put too many in so that they won't stick together.

Here is a crumpled one just out of the fryer. Still very good.

Sauce Mix:
You can either use an olive oil base or a butter base. We used olive oil.
In a small container combine the olive oil, garlic, and lime juice. Mix.
Drizzle  sauce over the plantain chips. Mix the plantain chips and drizzle more sauce to it.
Salt as desired.

Serve and ENJOY!
Bookmark and Share