Friday, April 27, 2012

Light and Warmth, and Love.

Taking a break from the usual food posts. Here is a more personal one for you darlings. 

My little one. The reason why I wake up every morning, the reason why I continue to smile and hope and thrive to find myself. Often times it is difficult as she is slightly impatient as toddlers usually are... But my little one is so loving, that each warm hug and gentle kiss melts my heart.

It is a challenge, a challenge to be a better mother... a challenge to nurture her, help her gain weight when she is so picky with food, to teach her in every way that I can... to simply be a mother that I would look up to, if it weren't me in that position.

She is the light of my life. Perhaps even the heart of my craft and this blog. She scoots herself up a chair beside me while I weigh out the ingredients and she says "Mommy, tulong ako" (Mommy, I'll help). Her favorite chore is to mix anything she sees that has a fork or a mixing utensil with it. It can be messy, and most of the time, especially when it is a paid job, I ask her to play or ask Mr. DD to carry her away to eat or play or watch Princess movies that she loves. She cries, asking for me... And comes back when she smells the sweet aroma from the oven envelop the house. She takes a peek in the oven door, careful not to get too close. I ask her for a kiss and tell her that I love her, she always answers.

When it is done, and I take the baked cupcakes out of the oven, she approaches and says "Mommy, cupcake?" and I say, "Yes, baby."

She eats what I bake, sometimes she doesn't. But when she shows so much interest with the things that I love, watching with me while I play baking videos on my phone... it touches my heart, knowing that maybe one day she'll be a great cook or baker or pastry chef in the future.

Or she'll be running Dessert Darling with me.

Whatever the future holds, I know that I will love her for the rest of my life.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April Memories

Mr. DD and I had spent half our day with the children of Cribs Foundation. It was a very touching and emotional day for me, having a soft spot for babies and children. The company he works for had given help to them. I wish I had brought food for them, but I don't know if this is possible since I had only volunteered. The toddlers were adorable and sweet, and I had emotionally attached myself to a plump little boy. I still think of him on a daily basis, hoping he is well.

Here is a little info about Cribs:

C.R.I.B.S. (Create Responsive Infants By Sharing) was started in 1974 in Manila by two Lutheran missionary wives who took home five sick babies from the Reception and Study Center for Children of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. This was the beginning of a Foster Care Program by a non-government organization in the Philippines. From its humble beginnings, CRIBS has grown into a leading child-caring agency licensed by the DSWD.
Programs and Services
The RECEIVING HOME PROGRAM provides an alternative home environment for abandoned, surrendered and neglected children aged days old to 2 ½ years old. The program is staffed with professional, compassionate and competent caregivers to ensure optimum health care, nutrition and age-appropriate stimulation for early detection of developmental delays and prevention of illness. In CRIBS, each child is uniquely loved.
The PLACEMENT PROGRAM focuses on the placement of children into loving homes whether of biological, foster or adoptive families.
FOSTER CARE provides temporary family care for children awaiting completion of adoption procedures. Through family life experiences, children recognize the idea of having parents and siblings, which is an important transition before final adoption.
The NEW BEGINNINGS PROGRAM is a residential home for young female survivors of sexual abuse aged 7-17 years. It provides a nurturing and therapeutic environment for the healing and recovery of each child. The program utilizes a multidisciplinary team approach in meeting the physical, emotional, educational and spiritual needs of the children. In CRIBS, healing through the arts is an important part of the recovery process.
To address the urgent needs of the girls with no families to go home to, RIBS recently opened a GROUP HOME PROGRAM to provide continuous schooling and skills capacity building to prepare them for independent living.
For those girls who have families and who have completed the phases of healing, CRIBS provides AFTER-CARE SERVICE which includes counseling, educational aid and referrals for livelihood assistance.
The VOLUNTEER & RESOURCE GENERATION PROGRAM ensures that there is a dynamic pool of volunteers to help deliver optimum service. The interests, talents, expertise and resources of CRIBS volunteers are mobilized to serve the interest of the children and to support program needs
You may find their website here for more information about how to help these children, and also their facebook page. I am hoping to come back to Cribs and spend another day caring for the children.

Spent some quality time with the family, eating Pho for the first time. And drinking our favorite favorite Milk tea (for me, yakultea now) from Serenitea.

My first official order for a dozen Red Velvet Cupcakes (P520)!

...And a few orders for Revel Bar (P320 for 9"x9")!

I am incredibly thankful for the increase in orders. I am hoping for a better month in May!

How about you? How was April for you?

Yogurt Popsicles

Yogurt. It is starting to become one of my most favorite things. I have to admit, I only do enjoy my yogurt when it is flavored with fruit sweetness. But I am slowly opening up to trying out plain yogurt... probably with a touch of honey. My daughter loves yogurt, too! It is the only way I get her to eat berries, since it is much too expensive over here. 

I am unsure whether this is a failure, or simply that our refrigerator sucks. It cannot even freeze damn ice cubes. Maybe because my in-laws store their water bottles at the freezer. I still do not understand why. So in the end, they have ice water... and we have watery ice cubes.

It was still yummy though. And I think I have to mash the bananas more thoroughly. Little DD loved it! More fruit for her, secretly. You may substitute a cup of the yogurt for pureed fruit. Berries.

Yogurt Popsicles

1 cup Very Ripe Bananas, mashed
2 cups Fruit Yogurt - or - 1 cup plain yogurt + 1 cup pureed fruit

Mix the ingredients together and place it on a popsicle mold. Freeze until firm.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Banana Yum Pancakes

So. After I made my own Homemade Instant Pancake Mix, I proceeded to plan to make pancakes from it. Of course, of course! It was our midnight snack, while Mr. DD and I were at my sister's.

No fancy photos here, just real life and real yummy food. With pictures taken by my sister and her Ipod touch. Techy girl.

You might have noticed that I'm a chocolate girl. Oh yeah, I'm a total chocolate pancake kind of girl as well. But after I had a taste of this! Oh man, move over chocolate pancakes... I LOVE this stuff!

It was embarrassing as I stormed through my batch muttering "Mmm!" and "yum!" repeatedly. Well, what can I say? GOOD. STUFF.

So go ahead, make them! It doesn't matter if make them in the afternoon, or at night... Or at 2 in the morning. All day, breakfast day!

Banana Yum Pancakes

1 cup of my magic mix
1/2 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup Buttermilk or plain milk

Throw in a cup of the instant pancake mix in a bowl along with the mashed banana goodness. Measure a cup of buttermilk or milk, crack an egg and give it a little whisking. Add milk to the dry ingredients. Add in melted butter and mix until incorporated. Do not overmix, as always.

Buttery Sweet Yummy Syrup

1 cup Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons regular Sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients and have it melt, bubble and pop for five-seven minutes, stirring the pan occasionally. Let it cool a bit before serving along with pancakes.

It hasn't been going well personally, I've been sick with a cold for almost a week and I've been sleeping most of the time. I think I'll be making these again soon!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes. Its about time.

These were some of the cupcakes that I've given away a couple of days ago... I had been collecting numerous recipes, deciding which to bake. I am still unsure whether I liked them. I had high hopes for them, and keep on feeding them to people around me to judge. I think I'll have to tweak the recipe a bit in the future. I found them lacking sweetness. But they were soft and moist, and that is one of the things that are important when finding the perfect recipes for Red Velvet. I am hoping that Ms. Joy enjoyed hers, along with the Chocolate Cupcakes.

It was such a long daaaay, when I met her, I was running on a few hours of sleep because I was baking all night long! I had to make sure that they were fresh, moist and soft when I gave them away.

Am I getting better at taking photos? I hope so. I still have a long way to go in decorating cupcakes though! Its a bit embarrassing. I should really get some piping bags... but I wanted to learn how to make swirls using a simple palette knife.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. red food coloring (two bottles)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.  In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go.  Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
4. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda.  Yes, it will fizz!  Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake cups with cake batter (they should be 2/3 – 3/4 full).  You may not fill all the cups, I ended up with 20 cupcakes.  Place muffin tins on the middle rack of a preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check early and don’t overbake!
5. Cool the cupcakes in their tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Homemade Instant Pancake Mix

April has arrived, and I find myself searching for answers yet again. I've entered the new year with high hopes of a shiny, positive year, full of baking at its best... but it seems that I can never really ask for anything and have it immediately.

March has been quite an eventful month, problems arise as soon as you think they disappear in your thoughts. I've made decisions that I believe would only be for the better. People don't always respond positively.

This does not mean I am quitting. In fact, I am stepping up. This might mean going back to things I should be doing, like what usual adults do. Blog posts might end up shorter, or longer, or less... But someday, I'll finally come to a point in my life where I can bake and photograph and have complete control of my environment.

There are things that I have no control of -- friends forgetting, people getting sick, problems. But there is one thing I know that is constant, baking.

I'm growing. I'm not hiding under the covers with a bowl of store-bought ice cream and depressed.

Pancakes are one of the things I try to do for breakfast as much as I can. Pancakes are what normal happy families eat for breakfast. But I know some of us are more lazy than others to get our sleepy butts in the kitchen, so here is a part solution for that -- an Instant Pancake Mix! It subtracts the time you need to measure the dry ingredients. Just crack some eggs depending how many you're about to do, add some milk and melted butter and cook them on your stovetop! Top some fruit syrup, warmed nutella or maple syrup and viola! Pancake Heaven.

Instant Pancake Mix

Yields: 40+ pancakes

4 cups All Purpose Flour (You may substitute half or a fourth of the flour for whole wheat)
1/2 cup (You may add a few more for a sweeter pancake) sugar
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon salt

Measure and dump all ingredients into a large container. Shake, shake, shake it to mix and incorporate all ingredients thoroughly together. You may double this recipe for longer safekeeping without running out easily. Or halve it.

For Chocolate Pancakes: Add 1/3 cup of cocoa for every cup of flour.

To make cupcakes, simply substitute this instant pancake mix for the powdered ingredients in your favorite pancake recipes.


We'll be making Banana Split Pancakes later... Breakfast any time, any day! Haha!