Oreo Truffles

Another truffle post. Seems like I can't get enough of them.

I had a serious hankering for Oreo truffles a few weeks ago that I just had to make some. Hubby thought they tasted like Oreo cheesecakes and he kept "stealing" some from the fridge. That was really amusing, since I asked him beforehand if he liked Oreo and he said he didn't. ;-)

What you need: 

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese
1 pkg (15.25 oz) Oreo  cookies, finely crushed
1 pkg (11.5 oz) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 tablespoon canola oil

What to do: 

Put about 1/4 cup of crushed Oreo cookies aside to be used later for toppings.

Using a kitchen mixer, mix the cream cheese and the remaining Oreo cookies until well blended. Shape the mixture into 1 inch balls.

Place the semi-sweet chocolate morsels in a double boiler over low heat to melt. Add the canola oil and mix well. Dip the cream cheese-cookie balls into the melted chocolate and place on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Sprinkle with the cookie crumbs that was set aside earlier.

Refrigerate for at least an hour. Do not rush - this is actually better after it is chilled. Place on truffle liners and enjoy!
Über Close-up!
Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. For faster crushing of cookies, put them in a food processor and pulse until you get the desired consistency.
2. Some people don't like adding oil to their chocolate. I did so because it makes the melted chocolate more "workable" (pure chocolate is just so thick and dense), and it makes the chocolate glossy. 
3. DO NOT use olive oil as you don't want some flavor mix-up. Use vegetable oil if canola is not available.
4. Be creative with your toppings! Use sprinkles, crushed chocolate - whatever goes!
5. Try Neufchatel cheese for less fat!


Margherita Pizza

I love meat pizza, but every once in a while, I crave for the simple, rustic taste of the Margherita. The simplicity of the ingredients is a good break to an otherwise "heavy" and overloaded pizza.

A quick research told me that this delectable pizza was named after Queen Margherita of Italy. Don Rafaelle Esposito created this pizza using ingredients with colors that would represent the flag of Italy to honor the queen. Wow. I bet she was impressed! ;-) 

What you need:

1 pizza crust (10")
6 oz block of mozzarella cheese, sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
a handful of basil leaves, shredded coarsely
3 to 4 plum tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon of salt

What to do: 

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place the crust on a round pan. Drizzle the olive oil on the pizza crust. Use a pastry brush to spread it around. Top with cheese, basil and tomato. Salt the edges of the crust.

Cook in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Enjoy!

Cheesy. Yum.
Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Some people like to combine cheese. Feel free to do so! (I suggest Parmesan and mozzarella!)
2. Thin crust works better for margherita pizza.
3. If you want crispy crust, do not line the pan with aluminum foil.
4. Experiment! I didn't put exact measurements of some ingredients for a reason!


Harry & David's Pasta Fagioli

"Pasta e Fagioli" literally means "pasta and beans". It is a traditional Italian dish that originated as a peasant dish due to the main ingredients being cheaply available. I have read that the base of the soup is generally olive oil, but this soup from Harry and David did not call for such. It was tomato-based, but I didn't have any complaints - the soup was easy to make, hearty and delicious!

This is soup from a pack, but next time, I'll try to make it from scratch. (FYI, this soup package costs $6.95 and made 8 servings!).

What you need: 

1 package (115 oz) Harry & David Pasta Fagioli soup mix
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
12 cups water

What to do: 

Rinse and pick through the beans included in the package. Combine beans and 6 cups of water in a soup kettle. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Drain beans. Add remaining 6 cups of water, pasta, vegetable packet, spice packet, and tomato sauce to beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle on bowls and serve hot.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. This soup is a bit tangy because of the tomato sauce. If it is too tart for you, add a bit of sugar, or lessen the tomato sauce that you will use.
2. Serve with garlic bread - yummy!
3. If you want thicker soup, use only 5 cups of water (instead of 6).


Duncan Grapefruit

We have a Duncan Grapefruit tree in our backyard, and it is very faithful in giving us an abundance of succulent fruits. I say "faithful" because we don't really go to great lengths to care for it (like we do our other plants) - not because we "love" it less, but because from the very start, it showed a lot of resilience.

We'll be ready in a few weeks!
Our grapefruit tree survived many cold nights, harsh weather conditions, greedy critters (birds, raccoons, foxes, name it!), and other forces of nature. It is still standing to this day, and is one of my favorite trees.

Duncan is not a popular variety of grapefruit, but is the oldest and most widely-cultivated in Florida. The flesh is a bit pale, but the taste is considered to be one of the best grapefruit varieties. Some texts I read called it a pomelo, but it is an entirely different fruit. Both are from the same citrus family, though, with one being the hybrid of another (can't remember which, exactly). 
Lone yellow fruit on the top!
Our grapefruit tree bears fruits all year round, but I noticed that the fruits are always better-tasting (and better-looking, bigger, and juicier) during the winter season. We have had a couple of harvests this year, and those that we didn't pick, we let the birds enjoy. (Cows love them too!)


Sweet and Sour Pork

I love a good balance of sweet and savory. But sometimes, a splash of something tangy will give it an extra "punch" that would just send a dish over the top.

This Sweet and Sour Pork recipe had everything I mentioned above, and it was just delicious! The veggies were a nice touch too - it added color, texture and nutrition to the dish.
Veggie Party!

What you need: 

1 lb pork loin
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced 
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 can (8 oz) pineapple chunks in juice
enough canola oil for deep frying 

For the sauce: 

1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper

What to do: 

Cut the pork loin into bite-size pieces. Deep fry in hot canola oil until golden brown. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Make the sauce by combining the sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisking it. 

Heat about a tablespoon of canola oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion, saute for about a minute. Add the bell peppers and carrots and cook for 2 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp tender. Add the pineapple chunks and let simmer until heated through. Remove from heat.

Pour the hot sauce on top of the fried pork. Serve hot.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Do not overcook the pork. The longer it fries, the tougher it will be. Not good.
2. Adjust the seasoning according to taste. Some people prefer more sweet over sour, or the other way around.
3. Want more texture? Try coating your pork with batter. I opted not to, for fear that the meat will not cook properly.


Hugs and Kisses Cupcakes

For Valentine's Day, we decided to keep it simple and just make cupcakes. It was a fun family affair - everybody pitched in and helped. It made baking so much fun! No fancy ingredients too - it was very semi-homemade. :-) 

What you need: 

1 box devil's food cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
water, vegetable oil, and eggs called for on cake mix box
1 can (1 lb) fluffy white frosting
1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
2 teaspoons canola oil
red food color

What to do: 

Heat oven to 350°F.

Place a baking cup in each of 24 regular-sized muffin cups. Make cake batter as directed on mix box. Divide batter evenly and spoon into muffin cups (about 2/3 full). Bake 20 to 23 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then move to a cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Spoon about half of the whipped frosting to a bowl and add a few drops of red food color. Mix well. Add more food color until you get the shade that you like. Using a butter knife, spread frosting of your choice on top of the cupcakes in a round swirling motion. 

In a small microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and canola oil on full power for 1 minute, stirring once halfway through heating. Let cool for about a minute. Spoon melted chocolate in a resealable plastic bag and cut the tip to use as a piping bag. Decorate with X's and O's for "Hugs and Kisses." 

Tips, Tricks, and Tweaks: 

1. Make sure to let the cupcakes cool before putting frosting. Otherwise, the frosting would melt from the hot surface of the cupcake.
2. Use whatever frosting you have - it doesn't have to be white. Same is true with the food color. You can omit it entirely, if desired.
3. Be creative - decorate your cupcakes whichever way you want!
4. Sprinkle with candy heart decors for a more "Valentine" touch.


Crispy Onion Wings

I love fried chicken, but I hate cooking it because it makes such a big mess. Not to mention, I could never get it perfect - crisp on the outside and juicy inside. But wings is a different story. Since they are smaller, they're easier to cook, and easy to eat, too - just pop them in your mouth and spit out the bones (haha! Just kidding!).

This recipe is from Taste of Home's "Best Church Supper Recipes." I just tweaked it to suit our taste. It was really yummy, and I'd like to think that it was healthy since it was baked - not fried! 

What you need:

10 pieces chicken wings
1 cup crushed potato chips (I used Lay's)
1 can (2.8 oz) french-friend onions, crushed
1 cup crackers, crushed (I used Ritz)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 375°F. 

Line a 10 X 14 baking tray with foil and grease with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a shallow pan, combine the potato chips, crackers, onions, cornmeal and seasonings. Mix well. Dip the chicken wings in the beaten eggs, then roll in the potato chips mixture. Press the mixture onto chicken.

Place wings in prepared pan and drizzle with the melted butter. Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F and coating is crisp.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. You can skip the cracker and use 2 cups of crushed potato chips.
2. Try using corn flakes instead of crushed chips.
3. Oregano has a strong flavor - use sparingly.
4. It is always better to have a separate cutting board for chicken. You don't want cross-contamination/
5. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling poultry.


I Love Bacon!

My sister-in-law gave me this book, and I can't wait to try the recipes!

Yeah! I love the pig!

Who could go wrong with bacon?

How does bacon ice cream (by Iron Chef Cat Cora) sound to you? :-)


Calamansi Marmalade

A friend gave me a bunch of calamansi fruits from her backyard and I quickly racked my brain on ways to utilize these lip-puckering fruits. Of course, calamansi juice first came to mind, but I wanted to be more creative. So I searched online, and decided to go with this - calamansi marmalade. I got the recipe here.

It was really good, and I love having it for breakfast with toast. In fact, I loved it so much that I bought two calamansi trees to plant in my backyard! :-) 

What you need: 

60 pieces calamansi
3 cups sugar
1 cup water

What to do: 

Rinse the fruits very well (since we are going to use the skin). Remove the tops and slice them across the middle horizontally (along the "equator"). 

Yay! Freshly bathed!

Using a boning knife, remove the seeds from the fruit halves. Coarsely chop the seeded fruit and place in a food processor. Pulse about 10 times, or until the fruit pieces are smaller but not pureed. 

This is a two-knife job!

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a soft simmer while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Lower the heat and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mixture thickens.

Remove from heat and let cool. Spoon in jars or airtight containers and store in the fridge.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. The peels add a hint of bitterness to it. If you don't like to include the peel in your recipe, add pectin to your mixture.
2. Make sure you remove all the seeds!
3. I used a boning knife to fish out the seeds in those hard to reach places. A small knife would do, too.

Labels: ,

Pinoy Spaghetti

With burnt toast edges on the background

Hubby surprised me one night by bringing home a bagful of Filipino goodies (from the Asian store, of course!). I went straight to the thing that I have been craving the most - the spaghetti sauce! Not just any spaghetti sauce, mind you. Filipino spaghetti sauce is sweet and reminiscent of meat sauce with a touch of sugar. I really can't explain, all I knew was that I wanted it! 

I had White King's Fiesta Spaghetti Sauce, and I followed the recipe on the back of the pouch  for the "Special Spaghetti". I tweaked it a bit because I wanted it to taste like the spaghetti I used to have as a little girl. ;-)

What you need: 

1 lb ground pork
1 pack (17.6 oz) Fiesta Spaghetti Sauce
1 can (7 oz) button mushroom
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups hotdog (about 4 pieces), sliced into rings
1 carrot, chopped finely
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 bay leaf
1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes

What to do: 

In a sauce pot, heat the olive oil and butter. Saute garlic, onion, and carrots over medium heat. Add the ground pork and cook until meat is browned. Add the rest of the ingredients and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Season to taste.

Double double toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions. Drain and serve on a platter. Top with sauce and Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Use beef instead of pork.
2. If using fresh parsley, use about a tablespoon.
3. Not a fan of canned tomatoes? Use fresh ones - about 4 pieces.


Oven-Roasted Cornish Game Hens

I couldn't pass up a pair of Cornish Game Hens in our local grocery store (yes, they were sold in twos due to their diminutive size) so I bought them without even having a clue on what to do with them. I thought of stuffing one (ala micro-mini turkey), but decided against it and roasted it  instead.

It turned out pretty good and juicy, and I loved the fact that I used calamansi in it to give it an ethnic flair. The heat of the red pepper flakes was a nice addition, too!

What you need:

1 Cornish Game Hen
4 tablespoon salted butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon calamansi juice
2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste

What to do: 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine melted butter, red pepper flakes, honey, and calamansi juice. Add a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Mix well.

Cut the hen into 2 halves. Place under cold running water and rinse. Pat dry with paper towels. 

Brush the halved hens with the butter sauce (with a cooking brush, or course!). Place them on a roasting pan, skin side down, and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes. Then turn them over and use the remaining butter sauce on the other side of the hen.

Bake for about an hour, or until internal temperature reaches 170°F.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Add more red pepper flakes if you want some serious heat.
2. Use orange or lemon juice if you can't find calamansi juice.
3. I used clover honey for a deeper taste, but feel free to use regular honey.
4. Always wash your hands thoroughly when handling raw meat.
5. It would be a better idea if you have a separate cutting board for chicken - less chance of cross-contamination.


Poll: School Pizza

Since I started working in a school, I have been (re-)introduced to school lunches. Our school cafeteria actually serves good food like Chicken ala King, Beef Meatball soup, Chicken patties (oh yeah, the chicken patties are REALLY good), and of course, (drumroll please!) the perpetual pizza.

There are 2 kinds of pizza served in many schools - the first one is a rectangular cheese pizza, and the other is an octagon sausage pizza which they call "Fiestada" (some schools call it Mexican Pizza). I have to admit, I have yet to try the cheese kind so I can't say what they taste like. The kids seem to like it, though. As for the Fiestada, I tried it once and it was ok. Not my favorite, but for a school lunch, it was fairly tasty.

Cheese Pizza. Source

Fiesta Tostada Pizza. Source

Which school pizza do you like?

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