I remember the times when my Mother would occasionally take me to church after school, back when I was a little girl. Around Christmas season, there would be these stalls on the churchyard selling the lovely yellow bibingka and the purple puto bumbong, these Filipino pastries that were baked using traditional bamboo and ceramic cooking tools, and banana leaves. I used to think that this was the only right way for these Christmas staples to be made. They were the very measure of authenticity for bibingkas and puto bumbongs These days however, we’ve got a slew of commercialised bibingka stalls in the malls, plus instant box-mixes I’ve always been hesitant to try. It still feels weird to me to see these things in the mall because none of it feels right to me. I guess there are moments when I can be a bit old-fashioned.
I don’t believe I’ve ever had gingerbread before. Gingerbread cookies, sure, but actual gingerbread? This would be the first. Shocked? I’m not. This is precisely why I went into this whole food blogging business– the endless discoveries! Although I do admit, the fact that I haven’t ever eaten gingerbread has gotten me thinking about the kind of Christmas treats we had at home when I was a child. I don’t remember any significant ones so I guess we weren’t that big on the sweets department, or maybe I was too busy concerning myself with gifts to remember the food.
These days, I don’t get that many gifts under the tree anymore like I used to, but I think the worse struggle by far has been trying to get myself into the Christmas spirit. Back in the day, counting down to Christmas vacation has always been such a natural part of being a student. Everyone is always so excited about Christmas and the Secret Santas, and everyone is teasing each other about gifts. Now that I’m out of school and working, the days have begun to look a little more similar. There are times when the dates feel like just another set of numbers coinciding with deadlines and to-do’s, regardless of the month. In the past couple of years, when things get busy, I forget all about how near Christmas is until someone or something reminds me. Is that really part of growing up?
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Christmastime is almost upon us!
I don’t know if you know this, but Christmas season here in the Philippines starts as soon as the -ber months hits, then it ends around February (when shops begin replacing their Christmas decors in favour of Valentine’s). On the first day of September, the malls would begin playing Christmas carols already, and although my training in Marketing tells me this is a ploy to get people in a shopping mood, I can’t deny it does have a way of awakening the Christmas spirit somewhat. All the reds, greens, and yellows- not to mention the jolly tunes blasting from the speakers- have a way of lightening moods rather drastically.
As I write this, my thoughts still linger to those of autumn. I miss it rather immensely this year; enough to find myself a bit wistful, and so welcoming the Christmas mood this early on could give me more pleasant feelings. I am stuck between wanting to stay in the autumn mood a little longer and welcoming the Christmas mood, to be honest.
Funnily enough there is one flavour that seems as stuck between autumn and Christmas as I am- in my opinion anyway- and that would be the ginger flavour. It seems to fit into both seasons rather nicely, since it’s such a cozy and welcoming flavour. It’s both a great reminder of autumn, and a wonderful way to welcome Christmas, don’t you think? Continue reading for the recipe
Can you believe it’s the last day of November already? I certainly can’t. This was probably the fastest year yet for me, and I don’t even feel like I accomplished anything particularly special this year. I always try to do at least one thing I consider epic- like something that goes toward a personal goal, or something to slash off my bucket list- each year. I don’t feel like I did any of that this year. Sometimes I feel a little like I’m living in limbo for the rest of the year, but when Christmas comes knocking at my door, I let it in and let myself bask in the good feelings. It’s always what I need at year-end because I’m either tired from all the shenanigans I’ve been doing, or I’m just sad I didn’t do enough.
But Christmas, it always brightens up my spirits regardless of what state I may be in at the moment it arrives. And well, these biscotti helped a whole lot too. Continue reading for the recipe
The big day- or night- is upon us! I’ve heard plenty of stories from my friends living in the States about how excited their little brothers and sisters are for trick-or-treating (and though they don’t admit it straight out, they like baby-sitting on this particular evening as well). I can only imagine how fun it would be to put up all those creepy yard decorations to give trick-or-treaters in their cute costumes a little thrill before they come knocking at your door. (I am reminded of the Modern Family Halloween episode, from two seasons back I think. That looked like a heck of a party!)
I’m in a particularly festive/Halloween-y mood this year so I’ve been looking around the web for all the fun stuff that’s been popping up in all the blogs– crafts, pastries, finger-food. It’s all that I can do to quell this strange desire to at least witness the typical Western Halloween eve. The amount of creativity that greeted me as I clicked the countless number of links is astounding, truly. Here are a couple of my favourites, also known as the recipes I’m planning to try in the coming years.
- It doesn’t get any easier than these Frozen Boo-nana Pops. It’s so easy it’s literally something you can do at the last minute. The pun in the name is very clever too! These would be great as snacks for tired little trick-or-treaters.
- Ah, a recipe I’ve been eyeing since the beginning. I was planning to make these Witch Fingers this year, but due to my poor planning, I didn’t manage to squeeze it into my schedule. I must make them next year!
- This is the one I’m particularly excited about and cannot wait to make next year! I’ve been looking for recipes that break away from the usual Halloween-themed desserts that pop up like daisies around this time of year, and all I’ve been seeing are takes on deviled eggs and alcoholic beverages. But with these Pasta-Stuffed Jack-o-Lanterns, looks like I’ve found the one. Plus, I have never carved a jack-o-lantern before and this seems like a good chance to try my hand at it.
- My masterpiece last year was a play on a Dorie Greenspan recipe. These Graveyard Pots de Creme were not only spooky, but they were absolutely delicious! It can induce some heavy spoon and bowl-licking.
- This year’s creation was a ton of fun to make! Ghost-shaped meringues were placed atop deliciously moist chocolate cupcakes to form these Ghastly Cupcakes! A sprinkling of crushed chocolate cookies were placed for added effect, as if the ghosts were drifting out of a graveyard.
- I’ve been wanting to make these Mummy Sausage Rolls using my favourite recipe, but I keep forgetting about them! I want to kick myself for forgetting again this year. Pretty sure these would go faster than the speed of light in our house.
- This is a clever way to portray Devil’s Food Cupcakes in its literal sense. I don’t know why I’ve never thought of it! You have to admit, these are too cute not to try!
- I’ve seen several versions of this kind of cheesecake, but what intrigued me the most is this Spiderweb Cheesecake Tart, mostly because I don’t like to be overwhelmed by a very thick cheesecake and a thin crust. This looks like a perfect balance between crust and filling, with the very prettily-shaped crust holding the cheesecake all-around. I’m pretty excited to give piping the web a go, and I’d probably also try to make some sort of edible spider so that each person who has a slice of the cake can also have a chocolate spider!
- These Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars have some similar elements with my cupcakes. The only difference is the colourful and yummy-looking bottom. I’ve never tried Pumpkin Cheesecake before so I’m looking forward to making this. I’m considering what else to top them with though, since I’ve done the meringue ghosts already.
If you’ve got any more fun Halloween food ideas, please do share them on the comments section below! I’m compiling recipes for next year you see, and I’d love to have a chance to give your favourites a go!
Ever since I heard about Chocolate Babkas, they immediately wrote themselves into my to-bake list. I had no idea what a Babka was except that it involved chocolate. Surely anything with chocolate would be fantastic right? Later on I learn that it is actually a loaf of yeast bread with chocolate inside! The reason why I am not all that familiar with babkas is because, other than the fact that I’m fairly new to the foodie world, we don’t really have much of a designated food item for the Lenten Season. I guess you can call my efforts at making these Easter pastries an attempt to start some sort of tradition. Well people here at home are kind of picky, so it would have to be something marvelously tasty, this to-be tradition of ours.
Personally I would love for it to involve dark chocolate, which is why I knew I had to make babka the moment I saw it. And knowing me, I not only had to make it, I had to make the one.
For all my excitement, the days got pretty busy around here and so I found myself with very little time to hatch my plan of baking several different versions of this Easter classic. I wanted to find a favourite, as is my usual practice. Alas, not this year. I decided simple was the way to go this time. Babkas are traditionally rolled in a different way than regular swirl breads, and then sprinkled with streusel on top. As divine as that sounds, I chose to go with this particular recipe I found on the King Arthur Flour website, which looked to be simple enough to make in the limited amount of time I find myself in. So at least that’s one version down right?
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