5: How to Cheesesticks!

Hmmm. This post is somewhat of a guide as to what you can do with the boring cheesesticks. I listed several ways you can transform your basic appetizer to something that you can serve at parties.

wrap: Flour/crumbs/ground crackers/molo wrapper (for siomai)/pastry wrapper (for lumpia)

Any of these can be used to coat your cheese before frying. Pastry and molo wrappers are easy ones. Flours and crumbs may be more demanding because you’d have to make sure it won’t crumble while frying. But really, it’s as simple as putting it in the freezer for a couple of minutes before frying.

cheese!

Have you tried Magnet Cafe’s kesong puti cheesesticks? If you have then you know that just about any kind of cheese will do. From the basic cheap quickmelt that is readily accessible to not so cheap ones such as edam, mozzarella and monster. If you have the time and money for it, you can even experiment mixing cheeses in a stick. Think blue cheese, feta, ricotta and a big etc. For instance a kick of blue cheese will be magical with mozzarella if your dipping sauce is tangy.

heat: jalapeno/chili/garlic/hot sauce/sriracha/franks chili and lime/chili oil

If you want your cheesesticks hot, then put in some chili in there. If you are not a fan of chopping chili then you can make use of hot sauce and other spicy sauces to achieve that perfect level of heat. If you want something fancy, you can halve a green chili with its stem and put cheese in the middle before wrapping and frying.

tidbits: celery/onion/carrots

Others may not like the heat but it doesn’t mean a less adventurous option. Sometimes it’s also much about the texture. Chop celery, onion or carrots into itsy bitsy pieces and stir it in your cheese before frying. You’d have your guests guessing.

sauce : ranch/sour cream/salsa/garlic yoghurt/lemon/lime/mustard/ketchup/raspberry/strawberry/mayo

Go out of your way for the sauce. Forget the Thousand Island dressing and surprise people with something new. Remember that it should be something that complements your previous choices. For instance, if you went with the basic Quickmelt which is rather salty, salsa will be your best bet because of its tanginess and spiciness. Mozarella which has a strong flavor yet little saltiness compared to local cheeses can be paired with sour cream or ranch dressing. It can also be a combination of dips!

I know a lot of people addicted to cheese, like Andrea, Cheers!

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Edsa Shangri-La’s Heat’s Breakfast Buffet

I know it’s not much when you look at the photos but believe me when I say that it is fine. Fine, it’s only the best breakfast buffet I’ve had! It’s been some time since hotel breakfast buffets pleased me so I am definitely gonna be back with Phil or with Rock or whoever is willing to shell out a lot of cash for breakfast. You know Phil has always been a breakfast person and it started to grow on me as well.

first plate: sinangag, bacon, 2 kinds of sausages, sole, scrambled egg and pommery mustard

second plate: (no photo) smoked salmon, salami and cheeses

I’m far from those people who consider buffets as eating contests. I no longer stuff my mouth with all I can eat or make Eiffel towers on my plate just to justify the costs. Nowadays, I take as little as I can and eat as leisurely as possible to really taste what I eat. And if I’m full and still wanted more then I’d plan to go back. It is very indulgent, of course, but what’s the point of eating more if you are already full?

I usually don’t get to desserts stations but I did at this time because Mommy Cherry, my aunt who treated me, kept on asking if I am going to have dessert. And I said yes. haha

 

I had waffle with whipped cream topped with mango, bananas, apple and cinnamon and almonds drizzled in maple syrup. Rock had been badgering me to try Paseo Uno’s dinner buffet and I said I have to save for it first. Looks like I’ll do this breakfast thing first. I think it’s more affordable than lunch and dinner buffets so we can do it sooner. Sorry Rock! Cheers!

 

Lent: List of Seafood Options for Everyone

We are going home to Quezon to celebrate nanay’s birthday, Samsy’s birthday and Samsy’s Christening and I am planning the menu for the 4-day vacation. It’s a bit tricky as I can’t exactly do anything with beef or pork because it’s holy week. We’d surely be reprimanded by tatay as they still pretty much abstain from meat during lent. So, I made a list of Lenten delights. Yay!

1 – shrimp/prawn

(steamed/gambas/sinigang/salad/kebabs)

You can simply steam it and pair it with either patis and calamansi, suka and bawang or lemon butter. Gambas is always a win because of the garlic and the chili. You can eat it with rice but serving it with rolls or pita bread will also be nice. Sinigang na hipon is just so refreshing in summer because it’s sour and because it has a lot of vegetables. There are a number of salads you can whip up such as one with mango mustard dressing and red capsicum. Another one is the Vietnamese spring roll that is not exactly a salad but you can experiment with its ingredients. Caesar can also be complemented with shrimps/prawns instead of bacon. Grilling Shrimp is always good because of its natural ocean flavor. Grill it with capsicums, onions, pineapples or use marinades to make it more Italian, Mediterranean, Thai and etc.

2 – squid/cuttlefish

(calamares/adobong pusit sa gata/pajeon/ihaw/curry)

Calamares may be a little bit complicated because the batter has to be perfect for the coating not to crumble. I still struggle with that but if you can pull it off, it’s something that almost everyone would love. Prepare wonderful dips with it too! Adobong pusit is a classic so I don’t think I’d expound on that. Pajeon (Korean pancake) is apparently made with those pancake mixes. The only difference is that you stir in leeks/green onions and seafood like squid. It’s a new and flavorful snack that can be dipped into vinegar and soy sauce dips. You can grill squids as is or stuff it with onions, tomatoes and ginger. Don’t forget to prepare dips for that and chili too! Curry is something that blends well with seafood. It’s not only for squid but also for mussels, clams, prawns and fish.

3 – mussels/clams/oysters/crabs/lobster

(baked/tahong soup/marinara/seafood paella/dwen jang)

If you have moolah go for crabs and lobster but mussels and clams will do. Anyway, baked seafood topped with garlic and melted cheese is a best seller so make sure you prepare enough for all even if it is just for appetizers. The classic mussels and clam soup with malunggay is very healthy but not everyone would enjoy it especially if it is a little bitter. Marinara can be a combination of mussels, clams and oysters. Fish, squid and shrimp can also be put into use for a flavorful seafood pasta. If you know how to whip up the traditional paella, skip some ingredients and prepare it minus the meats. Dwen Jang, a spicy Korean soup made with fermented bean paste and clams, is an acquired taste but people who are a little bit more adventurous will certainly love it once they have adjusted to it.

Ah! I think that’s enough for now. This simply means that I will have a separate post for the fish recipes that you can consider for Lent. Wish me luck and Cheers!

Fish Co. at Greenbelt

I also enjoyed the fish and chips from Fish Co. but it was not as perfect as the one from Momo. My friend says it’s a little bit bland but for me it was a little bit salty. hahaha! As for the crunch, freshness and creaminess of the fish it was more than fine. Nothing special with their fries and their coleslaw but you know sometimes, it’s okay to have plain food for you to be able to appreciate the main dish. if the side dish has a distinct taste maybe it can overpower the main dish.

Mitzi ordered fish curry that I was very happy about. It’s perfect and it’s exactly how I want my seafood curry to be like in the future. I need more spiciness and I need more squid with my fillet. yum! I really wanted to order more vegetable salads and a refreshing fruity shake but didn’t due to budget constraints.

Thanks Mitzi for a grand feast. Maybe a shoot next time?

5: We love Pineapple Recipes!

I used to hate pineapple in my food that I just had to scowl at my aunt’s compilation of pineapple recipes(a very thick book). Much later, I realized there will always be exceptions. For this post, I give you my top 5 most recommended dishes with pineapple.

5 – Potato salad

This basic recipe tops my list because my nanay (grandmother) always prepares it for special occasions. And I think it’s true for most Filipino households. This kind of salad simply can’t be missed in any of those grand fiestas. I actually tried preparing this without the pineapple and it’s not quite the same.

4 – Escabeche

A classic dish that I recently learned, it is certainly a great addition to your weekly menu. Being sweet and sour, this would be something new especially if all you do is fry fish at home. The sauce can also be used with meatballs if you don’t like to have fish too often.

3 – Tropical fried rice

This probably has some other name but anyway this experiment mainly with bagoong (shrimp paste), shrimp, and pineapple chunks may sound exotic to some but it really is something that Filipinos can easily fall in love with. It is the epitome of tropical countries most especially if you braved adding gata (coconut milk). For added kick, sliced green chili can also be added to this fancy fried rice.

2 – Hawaiian pizza

This earns a spot here even if I never ordered it from any pizza place. It’s just that it’s super easy to make! A layer of tomato sauce, slices of ham and pineapple chunks will already make your day complete. Kids also love it so it’s perfect for bake at home sessions as well as kiddie parties. If you want to make it fancier you can add bacon, sausages and other cold cuts that kids will also enjoy.

1 – Thai street kebabs

Lastly but definitely not the least, this is why I finally embraced pineapple. Marinated shrimp, squid, pork or beef on skewers topped with pineapple and green chili. It’s weird, spectacular and addictive! It’s what I loved in Thailand the most and ironically it was only grilled and sold on the streets. The kick of green chili and tanginess and sweetness of pineapple blend together wonderfully that you’d think it’s always meant to be.

Oh shucks, Cheers!

(perhaps I’ll put up pictures?)

Dessert: Claw Daddy’s Panna Cota

Mommy Cherry, my aunt, is so into desserts and passion is kinda contagious so I ordered too. We were too tired to find another dessert place as we were walking the whole time so we ended up at Claw Daddy’s.  Mommy ordered a glass of fruit cake that looked too plain so I skipped taking a shot of it. Meanwhile, I chose Panna Cotta. It was alright I guess. A bit too expensive for the measly serving but at least it inspired both Mommy and me to try making one when we go to Quezon. I also suddenly ached to learn how to make leche flan. I’ve got to learn desserts some time right?

Momo Eastwood

I found a lot of their dishes intriguing but unfortunately I was in such a hurry that I wasn’t even halfway my meal when I had to excuse myself and go.

The burger looked so good but my brother really had a hard time eating it.

These “lollipops” on popsicle stick dipped and batter looked very promising and I really wanted to try them. I didn’t. hahaha. I’d have to go back to have a sampling. The Swedish meatballs were very tasty. You can say even a bit salty but it is special and there is nothing like it. But I wouldn’t exactly rave about it. Anyway, I will rave about their fish and chips because it is really perfect. I think if ever I go back to Momo, I’ll just order that one because I know I’ll love it.

5: Leftover Makeover for Fia’s Party Menu

This post is #1 under the category leftover makeover!

Alright. So for Fia’s surprise birthday costume party the menu comprised of pumpkin soup + baked mussels + mushroom and spinach in cream + classic spaghetti-oh + mexi chicken with sour cream and vegetables. As usual, I was too busy doing stunts in the kitchen to actually think of taking pictures of the food. Boo. Yep, no pictures for this post. But I have other tricks up my sleeve. For this post, I’ll give a sampling of what I do with leftovers.

  1. I used the leftover pasta sauce as filling. First I sliced some onions, jalapenos and tomatoes. Next, I grated a bit of cheese. Then I spread the pasta sauce over a tortilla before adding the others and folding it like a sandwich. I toasted it until I got the cheese melted. And there you have it, instant heavy snack of hot quesadillas from the leftover pasta sauce.
  2. As for the leftover pumpkin soup, I turned it into a different kind of sauce. First I sauteed finely sliced garlic and diced tomatoes then fried slices of ham to a crisp. I mixed the pumpkin soup and stirred the noodles in. I added a bit of parmesan. They say it tasted like palabok but I think it’s psychological because of the color.
  3. Some corn, red capsicum and yellow capsicum were still in the fridge so I mixed those with jalapenos, added some lettuce, then I drizzled olive oil, sour cream and a lot of sriracha before putting a bit of grated cheese on top. The result is a hot and refreshing salad.
  4. I also used the same set of veggies (red capsicum, yellow capsicum and corn) for a breakfast omelette. If you want something a bit more complicated, a bit of seafood such as squid or shrimp and a bit of sweet sausages are more than enough to whip up tasty fried rice.
  5. Lastly, the leftover pasta sauce can also be used as topping over hotdogs. Just like the quesadillas, I added tomatoes, jalapenos and onions but if you have more then you can make it fancier. You can add  lettuce, pineapple, green capsicums,  mustard and ketchup. It’s a filling snack for hyperactive teenagers like my brother.

I’m gonna prepare a grand dinner again next week so we’ll see if I can make a second post under this category. It’s quite challenging and it interests me so! Cheers!

Cibo

I used to eat at Cibo all the time because I didn’t know any other place where they served spinach dip. Then, I also ordered their red grape juice. If I had more to spare I’d order their beef tenderloin and pair it with the mushroom rice pilaf. After the changes that concerned vat and service charge, their prices seemed too much so I stopped eating altogether. It wasn’t until recently when I ate there again. Of course I had that dip. Phil had beef tenderloin with that same rice pilaf but I don’t remember the cheese and eggplant slices. They ordered pizza but I forgot to taste it. The rest had orders of pasta. We were a bit too hungry when we ordered so I didn’t ask them to wait til I get photos. As for those I tried, it was exactly like I remember it; scrumptious and expensive. hahaha!

Anyway I was very happy to visit Honk’s Pj’s and Mig’ new place at Shaw. Being with Phil and having dinner with his mom and the rest of his family always makes me happy.

Intramuros: Cafe Ilustrado

We were given a serving of bread with butter and pate but after Balducci’s, Grappa’s and Italliani’s free appetizers, it’s kind of hard to impress me with just that. Still, you have to be thankful that they don’t let people starve especially restaurants that need a long preparation time.

I wanted to order something else but papa seemed disappointed that no one is willing to share paella with him so I agreed to having that. Karla on the other hand just couldn’t resist ordering lengua. Mama opted for kare-kare. We also ordered eggplant something wrapped in filo pastry as appetizer. I found the kare-kare ordinary. Karla enjoyed the lengua so I suppose it was something spectacular. I tried it but it did not exactly blow me away. The paella ilustrado was superb and this is coming from a person who is not a big fan of paella. So I decided I should learn how to cook that too. Good luck to me! Without the filo pastry thing, I can easily ace the eggplant basil appetizer they served.

Pa and I shared an order of paella and even though Karla and Mama also got helpings, we were still able to brought some home. Phil ate it and loved it the next day! However, it is pricey and you’d have to wait for about 30 minutes for it to be ready. Lastly, the very reason why I wanted to check this out in the first place is the Sampaguita ice cream. It ended up too fragrant for all of us. Actually fragrant is not the word I am looking for…

Phil and I were planning to check this out together with Jodi, Inez, Mitzi and Don before watching Polarity but unfortunately they were closed at the time. It’s not much indoors and they have very poor lighting but it is picture perfect outside. Perhaps going there for lunch may be a good idea so that you can enjoy your food under more light but yes Manila is really far and you have to be ready for the heat and a lot of traffic. It’s better to make reservations or at least call if they have an event of some sort.