Cinnamon-Butterscotch Quick Bread

Another semi-homemade recipe. Like I said before, I am not much of a baker - I would rather get help from Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines. Today, I saw the box of Cinnamon Streusel, but decided on making quick bread instead of muffins. The recipe was on the back, actually. I just enhanced it by putting in butterscotch morsels. 

I thought it went well because the morsels added some moisture to the often-dry bread. It tasted great, too. The butterscotch was a big hit!

What you need:

1 box cinnamon streusel muffin mix
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
2 eggs

What to do:

Heat oven to 375°F. Grease the bottom of an 8 X 4 loaf pan with butter.

In a medium bowl, stir muffin mix, flour, water, oil, and eggs until blended. Gently fold in the butterscotch morsels. Spread batter in the pan and sprinkle with streusel. 

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until top is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes.

Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan and carefully remove. Place on a rack and cool completely.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Don't have a loaf pan? Make muffins!  :-)
2. Watch what you are baking. Oven temperature varies, so don't always trust what the recipe says. Be proactive!


Garlic Hummus

Regular readers of this blog would know that Hubby and I are big fans of ethnic food. We particularly like Japanese and Mediterranean food. Both of which, unfortunately, are expensive and hard to make. But every once in a while, we give in and "experiment" on stuff.

Hence, this hummus. Truth be told, if Hubby asks me to make hummus again, I will just hand him $5 and send him to the store. Aside from the ingredients being pricey, it was just a ton of work. But since I love my husband who's sitting right beside me as I type, I agreed to make it, with the condition that he would help me. I don't know... memories of the kibbeh experience kept flashing back while I prepared this hummus.

Oh, but it was a trip... and for so many reasons. First, we had to do it a day in advance because we had to soak the chickpeas. If I had half a brain, I would have used canned ones - but nooooo! I wanted to use the fresh chickpeas in our pantry. Serves me right.

Second, we had to roast garlic, which was another recipe on its own (a fortunate discovery, though - we found out that roasted garlic can be a spread by itself!).

Third - we realized midway that our food processor is too small for a 1 pound bag of soaked chickpeas. We had to do it in batches. Poor hubby even resorted to mashing it by hand hahaha. Oh, it was a night we would never forget. 

By the way, we made enough hummus to feed an army. It took us forever to finish it. I recommend having it with some Kalamata olives. It was delish!

Les Roasted Garlique!

What you need: 

1 lb dried chickpeas
1 head of garlic, roasted

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons Tahini
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon paprika + more for garnish
dash of dried oregano (optional)
olive oil, to taste

The word "Tahini" makes me think of magicians. Weird? Yeah.

What to do: 

Soak hummus in water overnight.

After soaking, rinse it several times with fresh cold water. Transfer the chickpeas to a pot with about 6 to 8 cups of water and the baking soda. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for about an hour. Remove the scum that would appear.

Allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Place the boiled chickpeas in a food processor with about a cup of its boiled water and grind for a few minutes at low speed. Add salt, garlic, and slowly pour in the Tahini sauce while grinding. Continue the process until the chickpeas turn to almost a paste.

Add lemon juice and paprika and grind for about another minute. Adjust seasonings to your preference. Before serving, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and garnish with dried basil and a dash of paprika.

Tips, Tricks and Tips:

1. Feeling adventurous? Add roasted peppers, pine nuts, or other herbs in your hummus!
2. The hummus I made is kinda' thick. Make sure you add enough water to get better consistency.
3. Tahini is VERY hard to mix. It is like peanut butter on steroids. A lot of elbow grease required! 
4. Eat with pita bread, chips, or plain regular bread. 
5. Use canned chickpeas and skip the soaking process. 
6. Not sure if you can use a mixer (instead of a food processor) when making hummus. Maybe if you have the right attachments. Let me know if it works for you.


Mint Limeade

Ever since my mint plant started growing wild flourishing, I always have an excuse to make something with it. Today, it is mint limeade - which became our favorite to date.It is just so easy to make and so refreshing. It is actually like a mojito minus the alcohol. 

What you need: 

juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups water
about 15 mint leaves
1/3 cup crushed ice
lime wedges for garnish

What to do: 

Wash the limes and mint thoroughly. Place on top of a paper towel to dry. 

Pour the lime juice in a jar. Add sugar and water. Close the jar and shake to mix. Make sure the lid is secured!

Tear about a third of the mint leaves and add everything to the jar - including the whole leaves and the lime wedges. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Add the crushed ice just before serving. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. If you have a muddler, use it to crush the mint leaves. Crushed leaves add more flavor to the drink.
2. On several occasions, we used honey instead of sugar. The flavor is great, but honey doesn't mix (or melt) well with cold drinks. We ended up having several honey glops at the bottom of the jar.
3. Try using simple syrup instead - boil one part sugar and one part water. Let cool and use instead of regular sugar.
4. Experiment with the taste! Add more sugar or less ice depending on your preference.
5. Instead of water, use club soda to give your drink a kick.


Halloween Treat Boxes - Coffin Style!

I am gearing up for Halloween as early as today (or at least my online shop is). These coffin  boxes are just so cute and the perfect treat bags for your Halloween party. I have enjoyed making them and can't wait to fill them with candies.

If you wish to place an order, please visit my Etsy shop, and for shoppers that don't have Etsy accounts, you can email me your orders at mamajamacrafts [at]


Banoffee Pavlova

I made flan for hubby a couple of days ago and saved the egg whites for a recipe. I really didn't have anything in mind, I was just in the mood to bake. I was originally thinking of making "Forgotten Cookies" based on my mother-in-law's recommendation, but I ended up making Pavlova after seeing this recipe. Actually, I would have made both, but I ran out of sugar! ;-)

This dish was named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. There is a long standing debate on whether this delicious confection was invented in New Zealand or Australia - but what we do know is that the ballet dancer toured both countries in 1926 - the year it was created for her. Personally, I would rather munch on this treat rather than trace its history. :-)

What you need: 

1 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
4 egg whites (approximately 1/2 cup)
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 bananas, coined
caramel topping
1/4 cup chopped chocolate
2 cups whipped cream

What to do: 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lined baking sheet: check!

In a bowl, mix together sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.

Using your mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with salt, vanilla and vinegar in medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in the sugar mixture (about a tablespoon at a time) and add the lemon juice. Whip in high speed until it forms stiff peaks. You would be able to tell because it would turn shiny - like cake icing.
Whisk attachment: check!
Soft and Stiff Peaks (Click for larger photo)
My mixer is cool because: 1. It has light; 2. The bowl rotates with the whisk; and 3. It used to belong to my mother-in-law's father 
Pour (or rather, scrape) the mixture and place it on the lined baking sheet. Flatten the top and smooth the sides by using a spatula.
After flattening, it would look more or less like this.
Place in the preheated oven, and as soon as you put it in, reduce the temperature to 300°F. Bake for about an hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until it turns a pale golden brown. Turn off the oven and leave the door slightly ajar with the Pavlova inside for a couple of hours, or until completely cooled.

Before serving, top with whipped cream, banana slices, and chopped chocolate. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. If you don't have caster sugar, just put an equivalent amount of regular sugar in the food processor and grind until super fine. (I ground mine so fine it started smoking in the house! Haha)
2. No lemon juice? Use a pinch of Cream of Tartar.
3. You can use butterscotch morsels instead of chocolate chips... mmmmm.... 
4. Try fresh berries instead of bananas.
5. To keep your sliced bananas from turning brown, put them in cold water with lemon juice.
I ran out of bananas so I just put crushed peanuts and chopped chocolates. Drizzled with chocolate syrup.


Chocolate-Covered Cherries

You know what they say - "Life is just a bowl of cherries."

Aside from "chocolate-covered cherries" being a nice alliteration, it also added some much-needed sweetness to my tangy cherries. I know... they're supposed to be in season, but for some reasons, these were tart. Anyway, the chocolate was a great touch, and it made me feel "less guilty" about eating chocolate. (There's fruit buried underneath this thick mass of sweetness, hello?!?)

What you need:

a handful of cherries (about 20-25 pieces)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 tablespoon Canola oil

What to do:

Place your double boiler over high heat and bring water to a boil. Add the chocolate morsels on the top layer and reduce heat to low. When chocolate starts melting, add oil and mix well. 

Hold a cherry by the stem and dip it in the chocolate, making sure the surface is covered.  Place on a tray lined with wax paper. Repeat the process until you have used up all your cherries. Refrigerate for at least an hour.


Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. When dealing with melted chocolate, you always have to work quick. Careful - but quick.
2. You can use parchment paper instead of wax paper, but why waste parchment? Wax paper is safe for non-baking stuff. Don't make the mistake of putting it in your oven! (Wax paper is also great for arts and crafts!)
3. Oil is added because pure chocolate is thick and hard to work with. If you add more chocolate morsels, make sure to add a bit more oil.
4. Use canola or vegetable oil - NOT olive oil. 
5. Really wanna jazz it up? Melt white chocolate and drizzle it on top the milk chocolate.

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Soba-Pork Stri Fry

Yet again, I used Soba noodles to replace rice for starch in this meal because aside from noodles being hubby's favorite, it makes me think that we had "Chinese" for dinner. Only less greasy, and with dishes to do afterwards (yeah - you have to take the good with the bad).

Speaking of Chinese takeouts, I read somewhere that there are three times more Chinese restaurants here in America than McDonald's franchises. Hmmm... next time I drive down the road, I'd make a mental note to count the Mickey D's and Chinese restos to see if that's true. :-)

What you need: 

2 bundles Soba noodles
1/2 lb pork loin, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup snow peas
2 carrots, coined
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon blackbean sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons rice wine
1 tablespoon garlic oil 
1 teaspoon sesame oil
dash of red pepper flakes

What to do: 

Cook soba noodles in lightly salted boiling water for about 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat garlic oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Saute minced garlic and onion for about a minute, then add carrots and snow peas. Cook for another minute or two, then add the pork to brown. Stir constantly so the pork doesn't stick to the bottom of the wok.

Pour in rice wine, oyster sauce and blackbean sauce. Season with a dash of red pepper flakes. Add noodles and mix well. Cook until heated through. Remove from heat and drizzle with sesame oil before serving.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Other veggies that you can use are baby corn, water chestnuts, cauliflower, etc. Pick your favorite!
2. You can skip sesame oil if you don't like the taste.
3. Do not overcook your soba - it gets soggy fast. Also, you are actually gonna cook it again when you put it back into the wok with the rest of the ingredients.
4. Don't forget to trim the ends of the snow peas.


Product Review: DIY Blizzard Maker

Son got this Dairy Queen® Blizzard Maker for Christmas (yes, it was that long ago!) and I was kinda' perplexed as to why he wanted one, when we have a Cuisinart Professional Ice Cream Maker at home.

Needless to say, it kinda' gathered dust in his closet until I dug it out and bought the necessary ingredients to make ice cream with it. We were so excited - we were even thinking of turning the ice cream upside down before serving to see if all Blizzards work that way.

All for naught. Well ok, maybe a little.

First, the Blizzard Maker was defective - there were two parts that were supposed to lock together, but they didn't, causing a leak. And of course, this makes it impossible to churn custard anything in the contraption.

I didn't want to waste our efforts (and the ingredients) so I decided to salvage it by putting it in our ice cream maker to churn. Which posed another problem. Since the ice cream base was just half & half milk and the included powder mix, it was very thin and took 4x longer to churn. But still, I didn't want to disappoint son, so instead of the supposedly 15 minutes it would take to hand crank the ice cream base in the Blizzard Maker (don't ask me how!), it took an hour to make it in the professional ice cream maker.

Cuisinart to the rescue!

The Blizzard Maker came with tiny DQ cups and spoons, flavor packets and pop rocks. In fairness to the product, it did taste a bit like the Blizzard you buy in stores (though the texture is very different). However, the "pop rock" is nothing more than a mix of colored sugar and small pieces of hard candy. Nothing popping at all. Duds.

Churn, baby churn!
So we got creative and put shaved chocolate in our ice cream. It actually improved the experience, if not the taste. 

Chocolate shavings
I emailed Spin Master (the manufacturer of this Blizzard Maker) and they told me they would gladly replace it if I would: a.) pay for shipping, and b.) send in the product and the receipt. Hmmmmm..... it was approximately 8 months ago, so who knows where the receipt is?!?! Not to mention, this was a Christmas present, and if it didn't come with a gift receipt, I wouldn't ask for one.

Moral of the story: if you are craving for a DQ Blizzard, just run to the nearest store and get some. Would have saved us a lot of trouble. 

The finished product



So what do you do when you have left-over chickpeas, Spanish sausage, and plantain bananas? Make pochero, of course. Well actually, I have been planning on making pochero for quite a while  but everytime I have plantains, we end up making platanos fritos. Fried ripe plantains are just so good....  mmmmm... 

But anyway, I finally had the constraint not to fry my plantain and make pochero instead. Hubby loved it. He said it tasted like Spanish bean soup (come to think of it, it did taste like Spanish bean soup!). This is not the traditional way of making pochero, but there is really no right or wrong way when it comes to cooking. As long as you are happy with the outcome, then all is good. ;-)

What you need:

1 lb pork loins, cut into cubes
1/2 cup green beans
1/4 cup chickpeas
1 tomato, quartered
1/2 medium-sized onion, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 potato, cut into cubes
2 pieces chorizo, coined
1 plantain, cut into thick rounds
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 pcs pork bouillon (optional)

What to do: 

Soak chickpeas in  cold water for at least 6 to 8 hours. Replace water every 2 hours. 

Heat canola oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Fry the sliced plantains halfway (about a minute). Let drain on a cooling rack and keep warm. In the same pot, quickly fry the chorizo for about 30 seconds, and remove from heat. Set aside. 

Cook the pork slices until light brown (around a minute or two). Add in the drained chickpeas and potatoes. Pour in about 6 to 8 cups of water and put in the bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil, then drop the heat to low and let simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until meat is tender.

Add the green beans, sausage, and plantains. Continue cooking for about 7 to 10 more minutes. Remove from heat, ladle in bowls and serve hot.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Use more plantains if you want the dish to have more "sweetness".
2. Add cabbage leaves for a heartier, healthier version.
3. Don't have pork bouillon? Skip it. Or better yet, use beef broth.
4. Soaking chickpeas overnight works best!

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