Corn Dip, Part 1 – An Impromptu Concoction

It only took half a year, but I finally got to satisfy my curiosity on the corn dip.

My mom came over last week, and as what is usual for her, she showed up bearing goodies for her grandkids. One of them was a big bag of nacho chips. Since I had a can of corn kernels, I decided it was time to try making corn dip to go with the chips. It was quite the hype late last year.

We typically have nacho chips here, but we usually just eat them with homemade salsa, enhanced to con queso or con queso y carne, depending on what’s on hand. That’s what has always worked for us and we’re not really anxious to try anything new. We hardly even bother to make guacamole even when there’s aguacate (avocado) around.

To be honest, I was dubious about the corn dip. Corn on top of corn? It seemed like you have to be crazy about corn to be able to roll with it. Eating corn chips with corn dip sounded redundant, like dipping tomato in salsa, avocado in guacamole… let’s make it less ludicrous… like French fries in mashed potatoes, cheese cubes in fondue…

I overworked the analogies there, but it was kind of fun thinking of possible combinations, lol.

I ended up inventing my own corn dip recipe since I had to work with what I had in my kitchen, but it turned out pretty well. I eyeballed the measurements a lot, so I can’t really give a precise recipe, but this is how I made it.

Corn Dip

Ingredients

  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 can of corn kernels (15 oz)
  • 1 pouch of tomato sauce (200 g)
  • 1 pouch of mayo (200 g)
  • Half a bar of cheese, grated
  • Leek, sliced (because my green onion plant died while I was away at church camp)
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • Cumin

Directions

  1. Sauté garlic and onion in butter.
  2. Add corn. Cook a couple of minutes.
  3. Add tomato sauce.
  4. Add leek.
  5. Season with salt and spices according to gut feel, haha. Cook for about five minutes.
  6. Pour into baking dish.
  7. Add mayo and cheese. Mix well.
  8. Pop into the oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 to 15 minutes (the dish, not you).

This tasted really yummy to me, but the next time I do it this way, I’ll be using two cans of corn. That’s not going to be any time soon though because the next time I make corn dip, I’ll be sticking to a more common recipe. That’s why there’s a part two to this corn dip saga. Let’s see which is better.

It’s crazy how I’m going on and on about corn dip when I have a long list of blog topics to write about.

Have you made/had corn dip? Is it your thing? What do you usually dip your tortilla chips into?

Paleta – How to Beat the Heat in an Easy, Cheap, and Yummy Way

How about this heat, huh? I know the weather is a banal topic, but how can you help it? It’s just there, messing with your life and power bill.

Earlier in the summer, the heat was scorching. It was relentless and unforgiving. You felt it on your skin like a high-grade fever. These days, it’s humid. It’s wet and oppressive. The air is muggy and dense, like it could drown you. Life in the tropics, eh?

“What kind of heat are we experiencing today?”

“Oh, it’s balmy/sultry/arid/infernal… It’s the kind that renders you temporarily insane and drives you to go streaking up and down your street.”

To keep a grip on your faculties, you need a good offense. Air conditioning is an effective solution, but it’s not the cheapest or the most environmentally considerate option. Baths also work, but they get old after a while. Food, on the other hand, is usually gratifying.

Ice cream, halo-halo, frozen yogurt… These are all good choices, but you usually have to go to the store to get them. The halo-halo, for one, requires a slew of ingredients and quite an involved process to make. For an easy and cheap homemade cold treat, we’ve always turned to the paleta or popsicle.

My eldest child used to make ice pops by filling an ice cube tray with juice, covering it with cling wrap, and sticking a toothpick in the middle of each square. These days, we use actual paleta molds and fill them with more complicated concoctions.

Homemade paletas are not only easy and cheap, they are also a safer bet. If you’re particular about nutrition, you can be certain of what’s in your paleta. You don’t have to worry about chemical additives mixed in for longer shelf life and prettier colors.

When we’re choosing to make something healthy, we like freezing smoothies. Most of the time, however, it’s about the flavor. Watermelon and mint, mango and chilies, pineapple and lime… it’s really up to you (or your kids) to find a blend that works. Over here, the winning paleta flavor is peaches and cream.

I can’t share a precise recipe because I wing it a lot and eyeball the ingredients. Basically, I use canned peaches (fresh ones are rare here), all-purpose cream, sugar, and cinnamon. Lookit.

Oftentimes, we are disappointed to note that the freezer holds no yummy cold treat for us when all the while, we have ingredients to make awesome paletas. Molds are inexpensive, so it’s nothing to make that investment. Experimenting with different combinations is definitely creative fun you can have with your kids. Ultimately, you get a cold treat to help make this awful heat more bearable.

The Battle of the Tortillas

When you hear “tortilla”, what comes to mind? Is it a thick potato omelet or a round flatbread made from cornmeal?

Growing up, I associated the word with corn chips because, well… you know, tortilla chips (which a Mexican friend told me were actually called totopos and not tortillas). And then I got introduced to burritos and soft tacos, so tortilla became that flatbread thing used to wrap around and contain ground meat, beans, rice, veggies, and cheese.

When I started majoring in Spanish, my professors introduced us to the peninsular Spanish language and culture first, so I learned about the other tortilla. What does it say about me that I found the fact that there were two entirely different kinds of tortilla infinitely interesting?

As intrigued as I was by the distinction between the Spanish tortilla and the Mexican tortilla, I was even more fascinated by the way the tortilla de patata is made. All that flipping and sliding seemed like kitchen acrobatics to me – riveting stuff.

Spanish Tortilla

At that time, I couldn’t even boil water (and I was in the Girl Scouts growing up too!). I just had nothing to do with the kitchen. My mother told me when I was two years old not to mess around in the kitchen or I was sure to burn or stab myself to death (not in those actual words, but you get the idea) and I took the warning to heart well into adulthood.

In any case, the Great Tortilla Distinction remained a fascination until, well, the present day. As a Spanish teacher, I integrated cooking the two kinds of tortilla into the lesson, the Spanish tortilla for the upper school classes and the Mexican tortilla (which is definitely easier to make) for the middle school ones. I even ordered a tortilla press, which turned out to be next to useless as we ended up preferring the good old rolling pin.

Now that I have my own family, the tortillas are also frequently in the menu. I have a bunch of picky eaters on my hands, so I have to plan carefully to ensure that mealtimes aren’t a battle of wills and that food isn’t wasted. No, I haven’t been able to train them to eat whatever’s in front of them. I didn’t even try, so let’s move on.

Fortunately, my kids love the Spanish tortilla and like chicken quesadillas. My daughter usually helps me when she’s not minding her brothers (she’s a regular Kristy Thomas – a little Baby-Sitters Club reference there, heehee).

The problem with our Spanish tortilla is that there are five of us and we definitely need more than one “pie”. My husband recently bought a bigger cast iron skillet (the man loves his skillets), so that might make a big enough pie for our family. I doubt it, but we’ll see.

I’m not going to share my tortilla de patata recipe here because, honestly, I just wing it most of the time, but this recipe is closest to what I usually do, only I add some butter, carrots, and paprika as well.

As for my chicken quesadilla. It’s one of my dumb and fast food choices, provided I had already made and frozen tortillas and there’s a jar of my husband’s famous salsa (well, famous at our church, lol) in the fridge.

I basically heat up some chicken breast nuggets, cut them into strips, melt some butter in the pan, place a tortilla in it, arrange chicken strips on top, grate cheese over them, see that the cheese has melted some, place a second tortilla on top, make sure the mess is stuck together, and then flip the whole thing over to fry the other side as well. There may also be strips of bell pepper, depending on its availability.

Which tortilla do you prefer? What do you usually make with Mexican tortillas? Share your tortilla knowledge and experience in the comments.

How to Make a Chocolate Spread from Scratch

Homemade Chocolate Spread

Necessity is the mother of… making things from scratch. I’ve found this to be true time and again. In the past, the need usually arose from the mistaken notion of having a better-stocked kitchen. Finding that, contrary to my expectation, I didn’t actually have pancake mix, confectioner’s sugar, apple pie filling, tortilla, taco seasoning, et cetera, et cetera, and having already made and announced plans that required them, I had no choice but to turn to the Internet for a solution. Recipes and tutorials always unfailingly came to my rescue.

We just had a full weekend and failed to do the groceries then and so Monday was met with a meager cupboard. I had planned to make pancakes from scratch, but found that my husband had visited a nearby bakery the previous night and came home with a passel of pan de sal (tasty local rolls considered a breakfast staple in the Philippines).

Okay, that worked. It meant I didn’t need to make pancakes. We had butter and blueberry jam, so we had something to put on the rolls. Nonetheless, I was primed to make something that morning. Also, I had to deal with picky eaters who had certain preferences.

Around here, the favored sandwich spread was either peanut butter or Nutella. Unfortunately, we were out of both, so I had to be resourceful. I had peanuts, but they were garlic flavored. I had no hazelnuts except ones embedded in chocolate bars. I had loads of chocolate chips though. I had butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla extract… I could make a chocolate spread.

I had to make some choices though. I had Hershey’s milk chocolate chips and Nestle Tollhouse semisweet chocolate chips. I had Dutche cocoa tablets (side note: I have a couple of Dutche products in my kitchen, which means my eyes frequently come across the brand name, which then means I usually find myself singing “Pass the Dutchie”) and Swiss Miss instant cocoa mix. Since my recipe will be using sugar, I decided to go with the less sweet options.

This is the recipe I ended up using:

Homemade Chocolate Spread

Ingredients:

  • ½ C sugar
  • ¼ C water
  • 1 T grated cocoa tablet
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • A stick of butter (½ C), cubed
  • ½ C semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Mix sugar, water, cocoa, and salt in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir until sugar and cocoa are dissolved. Continue stirring over heat until it reaches a simmer. Remove from heat.
  • Add vanilla extract, butter, and chocolate chips. Whisk until chocolate chips and butter melt and the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour into a container. Don’t worry that it’s too runny. It will thicken as it cools. Store in the fridge for two weeks.

Like I said, it’s a chocolate spread, so don’t expect it to taste like Nutella. In any case, it was a hit with my family.

I have to tell you though, making things from scratch is quite addictive. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and self-importance, kind of like Tom Hanks in Castaway when he made fire. If I had the time, I’d prefer to make most things from scratch. Nothing hardcore though. I’m not quite up to milling my own flour. Stop that thought. I was just talking to my husband about making our own brown rice flour and corn flour for when we finally go gluten-free, casein-free. At any rate, I’m not ready to pioneer a settlement in some lost frontier.

What are the things you have made from scratch? Do you enjoy the process? Or do you prefer the easier route? No judgment here. We’re very much familiar with the demands of modern living. Let us know your thoughts.

Fun and Fascinating Ways to Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

Dr. Seuss Day is tomorrow, March 2. On this day in 1904, the beloved children’s book author Dr Seuss was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachussetts. He adopted his pen name Dr. Seuss when he was still a university student in Dartmouth. That’s what he is most known for, although he also used other pseudonyms such as Theo LeSieg, Rosetta Stone, and Theophrastus Seuss.

From his name, Dr. Seuss is obviously of German descent, and if you know the most basic of the German language, you’ll know that Seuss should rhyme with choice and not choose; however, Dr. Seuss didn’t mind the anglicized pronunciation it popularly took on since it rhymed with Mother Goose. 🙂

I grew up loving Dr. Seuss books, even if the Cat in the Hat often stressed me out. 😀 Now, I’m happy to share the “obSeussion” with my kids. My 10-year old daughter, who’s all about being silly, can’t get enough of the rhymes. The two younger boys love the cadence of these rhymes when being read to, and they definitely also enjoy flipping through the pages and looking at the illustration.

In our family, children’s books do not remain in pristine condition. They also usually don’t stay in the bookcase either. I’m not one for keeping things that were meant for my kids out of their reach. Unfortunately, this means that some pages have rips, scribbles, drool marks, etc. Even the board books are far from damage-proof. This means that our Dr. Seuss books all bear the evidence of my kids’ fondness for them. See?

seuss books

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. But that’s just me. Different families, different values, different ways of doing things. 🙂

To celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday, the US assigned the date National Read across America Day. We’re not in the US, so we can’t observe that. 😀 Having said that, we’d definitely be reading our copies of Dr. Seuss’ books. We’d do other activities as well.  The day’s going to be pretty full. I should’ve made it Dr. Seuss week instead. Here are some of the things I’m including in the day’s program:

green eggs

  • Breakfast of green eggs and ham while listening and probably singing along to songs from Seussical the Musical. (I can paint the ham, but I think I’ll limit the food dye to the eggs. If you want to use something natural – although mine is store-bought “natural” food color – you could puree broccoli and mix it with beaten eggs for a green omelet.)

  • Dr. Seuss books read-aloud from my ten-year-old and our homeschool puppets. (save One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish for later)
  • Visit to Seussville.com for games.
  • First movie (Cat in the Hat).
  • Crafts: truffula trees (pipe cleaners and yarn pompoms), oobleck (homemade slime, basically), Cat in the Hat mask (construction paper and markers).


seuss-oobleck

  • Afternoon snack of homemade goldfish crackers while reading One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. (makeshift mold using a strip cut from a foil dish or soda can)
  • Second movie (The Lorax).

That’s going to be it for our Dr. Seuss Day, which I think is already plenty, but we love Dr. Seuss, so it’s all good.

Do you plan to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday? What activities will you do? How do you make your green eggs and ham? What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book? Mine is Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Let us know in the comments section.

 

Practical Ways to Make Use of the Lavender in Your Garden

lavender

We don’t have a lot of outdoor space so we make do with container and vertical gardens. We don’t really have any ornamental plants at the moment, just ones that offer medicinal, gastronomic, and culinary value. I’d say that they are still pleasing to the eye even if they’re not strictly decorative.

Generally, we can eat or cook our plants. This is probably the reason why my husband, as he rearranged the pots hanging from our wall grid, asked me what the lavender was for.

I’m not sure what his intent was in asking that, if it was out of idle curiosity or if it was more pointed, but it got my back up and made me defensive.

I knew lavender was useful in so many ways, but at that moment, my brain shut down and I couldn’t come up with one practical purpose the plant has. As I fitfully stammered my way into a passable reply, my husband cut in, “Besides smelling nice.”

Rats! Aromatherapy was going to be my first point too. My mind hummed. It cried, “Food! He cares about that!” I knew lavender was added to cakes and other sweets, but I regret to say that I wasn’t able to make my case for lavender that day. I don’t remember why. Our children are master disruptors. No conversation between my husband and myself doesn’t get interrupted sooner or later.

The next time he asks though, I’ll be prepared. With bullet points too.

Having lavender in our tiny garden is smart because we can use it for:

  • Lavender tea – It calms you down, soothing anxiety and relieving stress.
  • Lavender-infused desserts – This may sound like eating something that tastes of soap or perfume, but did you know that lavender is actually one of the ingredients in herbes de provence? I also got to try a vanilla-lavender-honey ice cream in France and it was absolutely divine.
  • Lavender sachets – These are for scenting drawers and closets, especially where I place the kids’ pajamas. Lavender is known for inducing sleep and relaxation, so it helps to have their sleepwear smelling of it. I personally don’t need it as I pretty much pass out from exhaustion every night. What I need are stimulatory scents that help keep you awake such as mint and cinnamon.
  • Lavender nosegays – They not only serve as home décor placed in vases or hanging from a hook somewhere, they also make the house smell lovely. Lavender keeps on looking fresh even after it dries.
  • Lavender beauty and health aids – If you need to calm down, try rubbing lavender between your fingers and then massaging your temples. You could also use lavender and water as a facial mist. Honestly, there are so many benefits offered by lavender that there is an abundance of possibilities when it comes to its use.

Now that I’ve got my answer prepared, I can pretty much guarantee that the question of lavender’s relevance shall never arise again.

What about you? Do you have a lavender plant? Where and how do you use it?

Three Fun Ways to Celebrate Crêpe Day

One of our homeschool quirks is that we like to learn about and celebrate silly or obscure holidays. For February 2, we had several options. Groundhog Day, Crêpe Day, Dogsled Day, and Play Your Ukelele Day are just some that I can recall from the list I consulted.

Groundhog Day and Dogsled Day weren’t very relevant to us since we live in the tropics (although we still discussed Groundhog Day to satisfy the kids’ curiosity). We don’t have a ukulele for the moment so we couldn’t play one even if it was just the kind of holiday we’d have liked to observe. Crêpes, on the other hand, are something we enjoy eating, and I had several ideas for expanding on this occasion.

Crêpe Day, as you can probably guess, originates from France, a part of the La Fête de la Chandeleur or Candlemas. Now, I’m not Catholic, so I’m not the person to ask if it’s also celebrated here or elsewhere. Supposedly, however, it commemorates the day when Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem.

There must have been some sort of Christian-pagan fusion in the celebration since the crêpes were mainly associated with the time of the year. They were made to use up the extra wheat before the next harvest. They also were supposed to look like the sun, so making them was a kind of salute to the coming warmer season.

At any rate, you gotta eat crêpes on Crêpe Day. That’s the part of the celebration we were all looking forward to, but we could definitely make other parts of the celebration fun and engaging too. Here are some of the activities we had on Crêpe Day that made it even more fascinating for us.

1. Learning French Chandeleur proverbs – I’m a confessed Francophile, so I love any old excuse to spout off French sayings. My eldest who’s 10 can already appreciate the beauty of the language, and while we’re officially studying Spanish and not French, it’s still fun to expose her to the latter. Here are two of the easier ones to remember:

À la Chandeleur, l’hiver cesse ou reprend vigueur.
On Candlemas, winter ends or strengthens.

Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte.
Candlemas covered (in snow), forty days lost.

2. Flipping crêpes – There’s a French crêpe-throwing game that sounded fun, but it also sounded like a potential waste of good food, and since we avoid doing that as much as we can, I decided to come up with an alternative. Flipping crêpes is even more fun than flipping pancakes since they’re thinner and lighter, yet wider. The kids basically had a go at just one crêpe, holding the spatula over the table, so even if they missed (and they did several times), it still wouldn’t get dirty.

3. Coming up with a signature crêpe – We concocted our own crêpe filling. We didn’t have a lot of time by the time we got around to this. We also didn’t have much in the way of ingredients, so we stuck to the common options. Next time, I’ll prepare better and supply them with a variety of food items. These are what we came up with.

Banana with Nutella

Banana and Nutella on Crepe  Homemade Banana Nutella Crepe

Ham and Cheddar Cheese

Ham and Cheddar on Crepe
Homemade Ham and Cheddar Crepe

This is the recipe I followed for making the crêpes themselves.

Basic Crêpes

Ingredients
• 1 C all-purpose flour
• 2 eggs
• ½ C milk
• ½ C water
• Pinch of salt
• 2 T melted butter

Directions
• Whisk flour and eggs together in a large mixing bowl. Add in milk and water gradually, stirring until well-combined. Beat in salt and butter until smooth.
• Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium high heat. Pour about a fourth or a fifth of the batter on the pan, depending on how big your pan is. Tilt the pan in a circular motion, taking care to evenly coat the pan’s surface.
• Let the crêpe cook for one to two minutes until you can easily loosen it from the pan. Turn it over and cook until the bottom side is light brown.

If you’re interested in learning about fun holidays and observances, try checking out Brownielocks.com. Here’s the list for the month of February.

Do you like crêpes at all? Which kind is your favorite? Would you consider observing Crêpe Day next year? The above suggestions will hopefully give you a good idea of where to start. What other ideas would you recommend to observe this holiday? Would your rather celebrate Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday, which falls on February 28 this year) instead of Crêpe Day? Let me know.

And remember that it doesn’t have to be Crêpe Day for you to get your crêpe on. You can have fun with crêpes anytime you want to.

Happy Food: Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

mini cinnamon rollsHow does cinnamon affect you? They say that it’s a very healthy spice, and while I’m sure that’s true, cinnamon usually has another kind of positive effect on many people. Its smell and taste evoke the atmosphere of Christmas. This is certainly true for me. I just love the aroma of baking with cinnamon. Cinnamon rolls also happen to be a personal happy food of mine as they bring memories of breakfast at my aunt’s home in Fresno. There were always sinfully delectable gooey buns/cinnamon rolls glazed with cream cheese frosting from Costco. I hear they’re not available anymore, so that somehow motivated me even more to bake some myself. 🙁 Anyway, I initially had the inspiration to make homemade ones when I passed by a Cinnabon and saw an employee making a batch. It didn’t look hard to do at all. So, anyway, the other day, I finally got around to making some. It only took me about 9 months to get around to it, hee.

This is the recipe I used (as usual, no yeast since I’m scared of the thing — I have, in fact, used it in the past to make bread, but haven’t mustered the courage lately to use some again):

Mini Cinnamon Rolls

Filling
4 T butter
1 C brown sugar
3 t cinnamon

Dough
2 C flour
2 T sugar
4 t baking powder
1 t salt
3 T butter
1/2 C milk

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 T butter, softened
1/4 C cream cheese
1 C powdered sugar
1/4 t vanilla extract
dash of salt

Make the filling by combining the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon to form a kind of coarse paste. Spread about half of the mixture over the bottom of a 9×9 pan.
For the dough, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter. Gradually stir in milk to form a soft dough. Divide dough into 4 balls. Roll out each into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread filling on the rolled out dough, and then roll dough up into a coil. Cut length of dough into 6 small pieces (up to you really how big and how many you want to make). Place on top of filling in the 9×9 pan.
Bake for 15-20 mins at 400°F.
For frosting, combine butter and cream cheese. Gradually stir in powdered sugar. Add vanilla and salt. Dollop over rolls while they’re still warm. Recipe makes 2 dozen mini rolls.

mini cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting

Do you know those Costco gooey buns I’m talking about? Do you prefer a simple milk and sugar glaze on your cinnamon roll instead of actual frosting? Anyway, cinnamon rolls are best eaten while warm and fresh from the oven, in my opinion. Ours certainly didn’t last long. Next time, I’ll try adding chocolate syrup just like they do at Cinnabon. Btw, these make great tea fare too.

Healthy Snack: Hummus and Chapati

hummus and chapatiMy husband grew up in Dubai and often has a hankering for Middle Eastern or Mediterranean dishes. I love food that’s rich in flavor, so I’m usually ready to fall in with these cravings when he has them. Something from his childhood that we can easily make at home is hummus, and except for the tahini, most of the ingredients are easily accessible here. Many suggest using sesame oil as a substitute for tahini, but, fortunately, Mark found a jar of the real stuff at the nearby Indian deli while buying some samosas and tamarind sauce for me (that time, I was the one with a craving).

Last Sunday, our age group in church was tasked to lead the fellowship activity and they’d decided to do cooking tutorials. I was assigned to demonstrate one recipe, so I decided to do hummus. Of course, hummus is really a dip, so I needed to add something with which to dip. I was all for just cutting up some carrots and cucumbers, but Mark nixed the idea, saying we needed something really bland to make the flavor of the hummus stand out. The guy knows his hummus, so I bowed to his expertise. The obvious choice was pita bread, but since it’s not the easiest bread to make (working with yeast intimidates me, if you must know), I thought chapati would do just as well.

Here are the recipes I used:

Hummus

A 450-gram can of chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
juice from 1 lemon
4 T tahini
a garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling before serving
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cumin
2 to 3 T water
Dash of paprika before serving

In a blender or food processor, mix first the lemon juice and tahini, then follow with the minced garlic, salt, cumin, and olive oil. Pulse and then add the chickpeas. Blend the mixture, adding water to reach the desired creamy consistency. Scoop out into the serving bowl, drizzle some more olive oil on top and then sprinkle with paprika. Recipe serves 4.

Chapati

2 C flour
milk
salt
2 T oil (I used olive oil, but it can be vegetable or canola)

Put flour in a wide container, make a well in the center and add milk as well as a dash of salt. Start mixing, adding milk until the dough is just the right consistency for kneading. Add the oil, and then knead. Let rest for about 10 minutes. Divide the dough into golf ball-sized pieces. Sprinkle with flour and press down into discs. Roll flatter using a rolling pin until the discs are about 4 inches wide. Put in the pan over medium heat until the surface starts showing some bumps. Flip it; the other side should show some brown spots. Flip it again when the bottom side starts showing brown spots as well. Using a folded kitchen cloth (or, in my case, a clean cloth diaper), press down on the edges of the chapati to make the center puff out. When it has sufficiently ballooned, it’s ready to serve. It does deflate once taken off the fire, so don’t worry that it goes flat again. This recipe makes about 12 pieces.

Hope these recipes can be of use to you. What else do you dip in hummus? Have you tried using tortilla to substitute for pita? Thoughts please.

Tea Fare: Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, Plus My Loot from Dainty Mom

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting in Paper Chic Studio Candy Cups

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting in Paper Chic Studio Candy Cups

My daugther and I are big on tea parties (Cameron is ready to fall in with anything that involves eating), which is why I’m always trying to learn recipes for possible tea fare. This is actually the first time I attempted cupcakes, although I’ve made lots of sheet cakes in the past. I wanted to try something simple so I chose to make chocolate chip cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting. Here’s the recipe (it makes a dozen):

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

1 C flour
1 C brown sugar
1/4 C butter
1/2 C milk
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t vanilla
1 egg
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix the dry mixture to the butter mixture in small portions, alternating with the milk. Fold in chocolate chips. Scoop batter into muffin liners until about 3/4 full. Put in oven and bake for 15-20 mins or until the tops are golden brown. Cool before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1/4 C softened butter
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 C confectioners sugar
2 T milk
3 T cocoa powder

Cream butter until fluffy. Add vanilla, and then beat in half of sugar and half of milk. Mix well. Beat in the rest of the sugar and the milk. Add cocoa powder. Feel free to add sugar, cocoa powder or milk until you’ve reached the desired taste and consistency.

Notice the really cute candy cups from Paper Chic Studio? They’re some of the prizes from the bundle I won from Martine de Luna and her DaintyMom.com’s Anniversary Contest. I’m so pleased to share that this post won, thanks to Martine’s son Vito who drew my name. Naturally, I was ecstatic when I found out, especially since I never win in raffles and this sort of things. There’s usually something about my name or my number that repels the hand of the person assigned to draw or even those random number generators. 😀 Anyway, the bundle includes more lovely loot from Paper Chic Studio, an adorable owl board from Dwell Studio, a yummy-smelling cologne from Plains and Prints, Mustela goodies (which are perfect for Cameron’s super sensitive skin), a very chic hat from Honey Baby, and a clever product called Aqueduck from Babies to Toddlers. There was also an additional gift pack from Breeze Philippines, which was really welcome.

prizes

breeze pack

Besides these, the other winner, Aimee of I am Aimee Diego, and I also got a tea date with Dainty Mom Martine. It was a real delight to meet these two ladies. Overall, it was a really great pre-Mother’s Day gift. Thanks so much, Martine!

Tea Date with Martine and Aimee

Tea Date with Martine and Aimee

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