Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Quick and Easy Cupcakes.

Last night I thought of baking cupcakes. I went through at least four cookbooks and compared different simple cupcake recipes and came up with my own version I call the Quick and Easy Cupcakes. So this morning, I tried the recipe.


Set A – Dry Ingredients
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Set B – Wet Ingredients
½ cup soften butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
Pre-heat oven to 350° F for at least 15 minutes


1. Combine all Set A ingredients in a bowl and mix at low speed. Make sure to mix well
2. At medium speed, add butter until mixture is grainy in texture.
3. Add milk and vanilla.
4. Add eggs one at a time.
5. Mix well making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Do not over beat.
6. Line muffin pan with paper cups.
7. Fill each cup until ½ or ¾ full
8. Can be topped with any of the following: chocolate chips, raisins or nuts
9. Bake for 25 minutes or until done.
10. Best topped with icing or glaze.

Will do further experiment on this. I'm thinking of coming up with coffee or mocha variant. Maybe I can reduce milk to just 3/4 cup and then add 1/4 cup of espresso.

By the way, I forgot to mention that my first love is baking. Even took a basic baking class at the Sylvia Reynoso-Gala Cooking School sometime early 90’s.

My Very Own Kitchenaid

I have a new kitchen gadget! It’s the Kitchenaid Artisan. My Ate Fiona said that I’m so “mababaw” (shallow) because when I shared with her this news, I told her that one of my “ambitions” have been reached. It’s an ambition because I never thought I’d be able to afford one. Well, at least willingly spend for one. I have two mixers right now but my heart has been yearning for a Kitchenaid.

Thanks to my soon-to-be former coworker and friend Aylwin and his lovely wife Ching, they gave me a really good discount. The unit is used but only five times since it was bought. The Cue couple are migrating to the US so they sold most of their stuff. I think it was Divine Intervention that this gadget was offered to me. They had two kitchen items left – the oven and the mixer. Wanted to buy both but budget does not permit. Besides, I can still work on my very old Elba.

Since I brought this home last Friday, I’ve baked four recipes already! The first three I was not able to take pictures anymore because there was not chance. As in, wiped out by my boys.

Roasted Garlic with Fresh Rosemary and Olive Oil

I used to watch a lot the Katie Brown show at the Lifestyle channel. That was when we still had cable. Oh yes, our area is not yet serviced by cable companies. Well, we could always get the satellite type but it’s darn expensive. I heard too that signal is intermittent especially during bad weather.

Anyways, one recipe she did was Roasted Garlic. I’m a garlic person. When a recipe calls for garlic, I make sure it has a lot. I gave the recipe a try using fresh rosemary from my herb garden, of course.


6 heads of garlic
Fresh Rosemary
Olive oil


1. Chop off the top of the garlic head making sure each segment is exposed

2. Drizzle with olive oil

3. Season liberally with salt

4. Roast in a turbo broiler for 45 minutes at 400° F.

Once cooked, squeeze out the segments. When mashed, you have Roasted Garlic Butter. Yummy on toasted bread. My leftovers I used for my Chicken in Tarragon Cream Sauce and Alugbati and Pesto (posting this one soon!)

Taken before roasting

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pasta with Chicken in Tarragon Cream and Alugbati

Tarragon is so easy to grow. With so much in the garden, I am forced to harvest so often and of course use them. One Saturday afternoon of September (yes, that’s two months ago already and I’m just posting it now!), I just had to be more creative with tarragon.
After an hour of surfing the net, I learned that tarragon is mostly used in cream-based chicken recipes. So, I came up with my own. Here it is.


Pasta, cooked according to package directions – I only had spaghetti then. Most of the recipes I encountered made use of flat noodles such as fettuccini and tagliatelle.

Chicken, cut into small pieces – breast is the more popular part, I guess because you don’t have to be bothered with the bones. I had in my freezer chicken intended for Tinola. I used around 1/3 of a chicken here. I marinated the chicken with salt and pepper.

½ cup fresh tarragon leaves – chopped

1 pack/can heavy cream

1 cup Alugbati – there were around three similar recipes I encountered that used spinach. I have spinach in the garden but not enough for the recipe. So I harvested some Alugbati instead. Alugbati, for those who do not know, is a wild/native green leafy vegetable which my mom introduced to me as the Pinoy spinach.

Roasted garlic – I roasted a few heads of garlic the previous day for a pesto recipe. I used one whole head for this recipe. Although, minced fresh garlic will work just fine.

Olive oil and butter for sautéing

Water or chicken broth or pasta water

Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Put olive oil and butter in a heated pan

2. Sauté (roasted) garlic

3. Sauté marinated chicken until cooked.

4. Put water, to deglaze the pan. Water should be enough to cover the chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes.

5. Add cream, tarragon and alugbati

6. Season with salt and pepper

7. Simmer for 10 minutes in low fire

8. If you find the sauce too thick, add more water or chicken broth. You can also use the water where the pasta was cooked.

9. Add cooked pasta and serve hot

Sunday, November 4, 2007

My Other Herbs

Some of the herbs and edible plants I forgot to mention the last time.

Thai Chili Pepper - said to be a level 8 or 9 (10 the highest) in terms of spiciness among all the peppers.

Siling Baha - this kind is not the spicy type. In our province, Bayombong, we would grill this type of pepper then dip it in bagoong isda with calamansi. Another way of cooking it is "ginugulay" or treated like a vegetable.

Calamansi - we just have to have our own calamansi plant. My kids love soy sauce with calamansi with all their dishes.

Fennel - Irvin says it smells like rootbeer

Dill - still have to know what to do with this. My friend Rochelle said I just have to plant one so I did.

Flat Leaf Parseley



Marjoram seedlings

Daddy and Mommy sent some new seeds from the US. I'm excited with the habaneros! I hope we can successfully grow them.

My Herb Garden

I've always wanted to have my own herb garden. Years and years of watching cooking shows has influenced me a lot. I told myself that one day I'd be cooking using ingredients freshly picked from my own garden. Now, I can happily say that I've been actually doing that for the past 2-3 months. My herb garden is organic, too!

Here are some of the herbs I have in my garden.

Basil was my very first herb plant. The first batch of basil I bought at Majogany Garden in Tagaytay. It was a wise decision to get basil because as far as planting is concerned, it's very easy to manage and propagate. Thus, very encouraging for first-timers like me. It's so easy to have your own basil farm! We read that it's sweeter if you grow it from seed. It's very easy and fast too. Cutting is also an option. Whenever I harvest for cooking, after I take all the leaves I stick the twig in a pot and just let it grow. All my previous basil recipes are from our own garden. Right now we have three basil varieties - Thai (my favorite), sweet, and red rubin . I'm partial with Thai Basil because of it's stronger taste and aroma, which I really really like.

Thai Basil - here are a few of the plants that we grew from seeds of our first basil plant. Erwin takes care of harvesting the seeds from the mature flower.

Red Rubin Basil - has sweeter and milder aroma compared to Thai Basil. It smells a bit like guava. Mature leaves have red veins.

Sweet Basil - they say this is perfect for pesto but I prefer using Thai Basil because of its stronger flavor. What I like about Sweet Basil is it's color. It gives the pasta a very bright green color. Almost looking like you used green food coloring.

Rosemary - this is my first Rosemary plant from Gourmet Cafe. I love the aroma. It's a challenge to propagate it but we're still trying. Rosemary is amazing with chicken. I've tried it with turbo chicken and even fried chicken - Erwin and the kids love it!

Tarragon - very sweet with anise aroma and flavor. My good friend Rochelle Leyba suggested I make tea of it and I've been hooked since. I think it's very potent. It's more relaxing than chamomile tea. As in it would really make me go to bed after a cup or two. Rochelle strongly suggests trying it cold - with ice cubes and honey. Will try that soon. I've tried it also with a cream-base pasta sauce with chicken. Yum!

Lemongrass/tanglad - great with chicken and fish. I tried lemongrass and ginger tea too and it's very refreshing. They say the concoction helps normalize blood pressure.

Pandan - great with steamed rice. Have tried pandan chicken also. Well, at least my version of it. We also put pandan leaves in the cupboard because they say it deters roaches.

Oregano - given by my neighbor, Mang Pete. He suggests that I use it as a bed of steamed or ginataang tilapia. When I have enough leaves, I'll try this recipe.

I still have more. Will just need to take better pictures. Posting them soon!