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Banana Cream Trifle

Next to Christmas, New Year's Day is the second most celebrated holiday in the Philippines. We, Filipinos make lots of preparations for it, and there are some traditions that we follow in the belief of ushering in a prosperous New Year. We literally celebrate this day with a BIG bang! At the strike of 12:00 midnight, you can hear church bells ringing, firecrackers banging and booming everywhere, children making sounds with their torotot (horns), car horns tooting and empty cans dragged all around. These things are done to make lots of noise which is believed to scare away evil spirits. After all the noise making, a midnight meal called Media Noche is shared with family members. This feast symbolizes family union and celebration. It is believe that when we put lots of food on the table, we will have food all year round. I grew up practicing these things, and I have always loved the sight of fireworks display and abundant food as we welcome the new year. 

Now that we are in Texas and firecrackers aren't allowed here in our area, we just content ourselves in watching fireworks display on TV. But we still blow our colorful horns as the clocks strikes 12 and we fill our dinner table with lots of food. But let me tell you a secret --- for some reasons, I don't enjoy spending too much time in the kitchen on this day. I guess I don't want to be spending the whole year in the kitchen so I'm thinking that I'd better be out of there when the clock strikes midnight. LOL. So it's either I serve food that can be prepared ahead of time, or I make easy to prepare ones. This dessert that I am sharing with you today falls on both can be made the day before and it is also so easy to prepare. :)

I want to end 2011 with this Banana Cream Trifle - a very simple yet beautiful and truly delicious dessert that my family and I love so much. There's no cooking involved and can be easily whipped up in minutes, so this is perfect for any occasion!

Turkey and Shell Pasta Soup

So how's everyone??? I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas celebration! Though I terribly miss my family back in the Philippines, I had a wonderful Christmas and birthday celebration with Ryan and the girls, and our close friends. Two days of good food with good friends is priceless!

Now, we're having some quality family time watching movies, playing our favorite games, reading books together and enjoying leftover holiday food. (",) I haven't been cooking since Christmas Eve...but last night, I decided to make this soup from our leftover turkey. It's like the Filipino Macaroni Sopas which is such a delicious and nutritious soup that is cooked with meat(chicken, beef or pork), veggies, milk and pasta. Instead of the usual elbow macaroni, I used Pappardelle's calypso blend shell pasta which is a combination of Lime Gnocchi Shell, Mango-Peach Sea Shell, & Red Southwestern Chile Lumache. We just love the flavor the pasta added to the soup. We ate it with some sourdough cheese sticks. Such a perfect combination for a cold winter night! Definitely, comfort in a bowl!


Just two days before Christmas and I want to take this chance to extend my family's Christmas greetings to you all...

As you take a time off during this period to enjoy life and be with your loved ones, I wish that you won't forget the TRUE reason for the season which is CHRIST Jesus. It's His birth that we remember on Christmas Day, so be sure to make HIM part of your celebration...

Have a merry and meaningful CHRISTmas everyone! :-*

Ryan's Roast Turkey

Just 4 days before Christmas and my birthday! As always, my family and I are excited preparing for this special day. It's the time of the year when we have a back-to-back get together with our close friends to celebrate not only Jesus' birthday but my birthday too! We have two consecutive parties on the 24th and the 25th...we host a Noche Buena feast for our close friends at home on Christmas Eve, and then on Christmas Day, we have another party at a friend's house where we bring some food as part of my birthday celebration.

Last Friday, I shared with you our Noche Buena Menu which is a combination of Filipino and American favorites. The said menu includes Roast Turkey which is something Ryan (the hubs) loves making for special occasions. This morning, I got a comment from a reader asking me to share the herbs and spices and the procedure for roasting turkey. I know that many of you also want to have roast turkey as part of your Christmas feast, so today, I want to share with you Ryan's way of roasting turkey. He has been doing this for the past 7 years, and I must say that his roast turkey has already achieved perfection. It's not only flavorful, it's also tender, so moist and juicy --- something that a Holiday Roast Turkey should be! 

Ryan's Roast Turkey has always been a big hit on our Thanksgiving and Christmas table...and today, I'm proud to share with you his recipe. Hope you will find this helpful...

Snowflakes Pecan Bark

Every year since Clarise started school, she's giving her classmates and friends store bought Christmas treats like these (which Cherlin gave to her classmates).
But this year, she requested for something different. I guess she's now in that stage when she wants to make Christmas more personal. She said she prefers something homemade this year...something that she can help make. She wanted to make Christmas treats with her favorite pecan and chocolates in it and she first thought of making mini chocolate pecan cupcakes. But when I showed her Lizzy's Snowflakes Peppermint Bark and told her that we can replace the peppermint with pecans, she was thrilled! Using the Wilton  Snowflakes Cookie Pan that I found on sale at Michael's last week, we came up with these cute Snowflakes Pecan Bark.
We put them in mini Chinese takeout boxes which we got from Dollar Tree.  They're so cute, aren't they??? And the best thing is they are so easy to prepare! If you are still thinking of what edible gifts to make...this is the answer! Clarise's classmates loved them! If you want something with peppermint, check out Lizzy's Snowflakes Peppermint Bark...I made some, and they are really great! 

Chicken Sotanghon Soup and our Noche Buena Menu

Just 9 days to go before Christmas...and I couldn’t help but get nostalgic about the holiday celebration back home. For me, nothing compares to celebrating Christmas in the Philippines! It's not just about food and's rich in traditions, and that makes our celebration unique among other countries. 

The Philippines is known for having the longest Christmas celebration in the world. Though it begins formally on December 16 with the start of the Simbang Gabi (a nine-day novena that culminates with the “Misa de Gallo” on Christmas Eve to welcome the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ) and continues until the first Sunday of January which is the Feast of the Epiphany, Christmas carols start ringing in the air and colorful lights and decorations can be seen everywhere as early as the first day of September.  It's like four months of celebration! 

When I was a kid, Christmas celebration starts in our home on the first weekend of October when my family and I set up our Christmas tree and hang parol (Christmas lanterns) by our windows. Following that would be the endless shopping and wrapping of gifts for our close friends and relatives. In the month of December, we used to observe Filipino traditions like going to Simbang Gabi (night mass) from Dec. 16-24, watching the Panuluyan (reenactment of the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem) on Christmas Eve, having Noche Buena (Christmas Eve feast) and doing the Pagmamano (visiting godparents and elderly relatives) before noon of Christmas Day. And since my birthday falls on Christmas Day, we always had a party in the afternoon, and my late mom used to cook all kinds of Filipino food. I just love how food overflow in our house on this special day! It's one of my favorite things about Christmas! :)

Though we are now far away from home,  I want Christmas to be fun for my daughters just as much as it was for me. Because it is impossible to do most of the Filipino traditions that I grew up with, all I can do is to start some new ones that can give my daughters the same wonderful holiday experience that I had. I believe that the secret to a memorable Christmas is doing things together with your loved ones without forgetting that Christ should be the center of that's what we do! Together, we would put up the Christmas tree and other decorations the weekend before Thanksgiving...wrap Christmas presents...give gift to the Angel Tree at their school and at church...bake cookies for our friends...attend Advent masses and Christmas mass...and prepare for the Noche Buena feast that we've been hosting for the past seven years that we've been here in Texas. Every year, I cook a combination of Filipino and American food, and that's what I'm going to share for this month's Kulinarya Cooking Club Challenge. This month, Kulinarya's challenge is hosted by Joy of Gastronomy by Joy and Sherilyn of Senorita Sisa, and they've chosen  Noche Buena as the theme.

So here it is...our Noche Buena Menu for this year which includes Chicken Sotanghon Soup that has always been part of our Christmas feast since I was a kid. It is such a comforting noodle soup that gives us warmth after attending the Misa De Gallo.
My daughters love this as much as I do. It may not be the star of our Noche Buena...but our feast won't be complete without it!

Holiday Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I can't believe 2011 has flown by so fast! It seems like only yesterday when I started Pinay In Texas Cooking Corner...but 11 months have actually gone by. In my first months of blogging, I did all sorts of things to promote my blog like joining linky parties, entering in giveaways and participating in recipe contests. I can still remember how happy and excited I was when I won in A Latte with OTT,A's CLABBER GIRL IRON CHEF CHALLENGE with the Filipino Inipit as my entry. It is a pastry that originated in Malolos, Bulacan where I was born, and is basically two slices of sponge cake with custard "pressed" or "inipit" in between them. Clabber Girl’s Culinary Classroom Chef April Osburn, who was the judge of the challenge said that she chose my recipe because it was unique and my post was well written. It was such a joy for me to be chosen Iron Chef Challenge winner for the month of April. Not only did I love my gourmet basket prize, it also helped me gain confidence to keep doing two of the things that I love to do, which is cooking and blogging! :)

Now that 2011 is coming to an end, Amy of A Latte With OTT,A is hosting a Bake Off between the 10 Iron Chef Challenge winners with Taste of Home as the contest sponsor and judge. Such a great end-of-year challenge, don't you think??! It is different from the  previous challenges because this time, we are asked to bake the exact same thing. Yes, you read it right! The contestants will all be making the same recipe given by Taste of Home and from there, must create something else with it. We will be judged based on what creative ideas we come up with. Can you imagine how excited I am to be part of this! Even the busy Holiday season won't stop me from joining the fun!

Taste of Home chose Cinnamon Raisin Bread to be our base recipe. I must honestly say that I had a hard time deciding what to do with it. I thought of making pudding...trifle...cinnamon raisin bars...but after looking up on the web, I realized those are the common twists people make with Cinnamon Raisin Bread recipe. So I decided to make something uncommon...something that will let me and my family enjoy Cinnamon Raisin Bread as it is but with added goodness, and a festive look that will make it more perfect for the coming Holidays. I call my creation Holiday Cinnamon Raisin Bread...
I baked the Cinnamon Raisin Bread based on the exact recipe from Taste of Home, then I cover it with Cream Cheese Glaze and topped it with Pecan Crumble. To make it more Holiday-ish, I added some green and red edible confettis. I must say it looks festive enough to fit it's name...but wait 'til you try it. The creamy sweetness of Cream Cheese Glaze and the crunch of the Pecan Crumble will definitely bring the already delicious Cinnamon Raisin Bread to a new level!

The winner of the 2011 Iron Chef Champions Edition will receive a Taste of Home Baking Book. This is something that I really want to have so I hope I'll win! That would be a good Christmas and birthday present for wish me luck everyone! :)
I would like to thank A Latte With OTT,A for hosting this amazing challenge, and of course, Taste of Home for being the sponsor. Don't forget to check out Taste of Home for lots of amazing recipes that will surely be wonderful additions to your everyday and Holiday menu!

Farfalle with Mild Gambas

Remember the Spicy Gambas that I shared with you in September??? It is considered as the spiciest seafood dish in the Philippines, wherein Gambas(prawns) are cooked with siling labuyo(bird's eye chili) in tomato sauce. Though really spicy, this has been my favorite since my childhood days and I consider it as one of the best dishes that my father used to make. When I learned to cook, I’ve modified it to my taste and put twists on it depending on the occasion. For the holidays, I love using it as pasta sauce. When cooked with less chili pepper, Gambas would make a delicious sauce for any kind of pasta.

For The Shrimp Council's "12 Days of Shrimp" Promotion on it's Eat Shrimp Facebook page, I shared my Farfalle with Mild Gambas. The festive shape of farfalle combined with the awesome flavor of shrimps and the sweetness of bell pepper make this pasta dish a hit on the holiday table! 

Don't forget to check out my post on The Shrimp Council's "12 Days of Shrimp" Promotion, and find out why Christmas and this dish means so much to me. This is entry #9.

I am also giving away two sets of  this on Pinay In Texas Cooking Corner Facebook be sure to check it out! 

Have a great week everyone! 

White Chocolate Champorado With Chopped Pecans

When I was a kid, I used to dream of a White Christmas...but being in the Philippines, it was very far from reality that time. Finally in 2009, that dream came true here in Texas! Who would have thought that there could be a White Christmas in Dallas? It was the first since 1926...and it was so awesome that I got to experience it! Christmas Eve started with widespread rain, but as the temperature fell, white flakes of snow began falling, and on the morning of December 25, the ground was covered with 3 inches of snow. It was so beautiful to look at! I was so excited to be able to witness a White Christmas for the first time...truly a dream come true! 

But while I was being mesmerized by the beauty of snow, I was thinking of my late mom, who like me, had always wanted to experience a White Christmas. I was really wishing that she was there with me. But she wasn't, and all I could do was to content myself with those wonderful memories of the Christmases we shared together. And just like what I usually do when I'm missing my mother, I cooked something that reminds me of her. It was something that she used to cook for Christmas Day breakfast, and has been my favorite comfort food since my childhood days. It is called Champorado which refers to a chocolate rice porridge. It was adapted from the Spanish Champurrado which is a chocolate-based atole. Filipinos made their own version by adding rice to it. The Filipino Champorado (Tsampurado) is traditionally made by boiling glutinous rice with tabliya (a locally-produced chocolate), which gives it a  distinctly brown color. Served with milk and sugar, it is usually eaten for breakfast, but it is good as dessert or snack as well. It can be served hot or cold. But during cold weather, it is of course best to serve it hot.

When I received the email from Stephanie of Very Good Recipes about the White Christmas Challenge she organized, I knew I have to share the very comforting and filling dish that I made to keep me and my family warm during our first White Christmas. But to make it more fitted for the theme, I thought of sharing with you my white chocolate version of it instead of the traditional cocoa version which is brown in color.
White Chocolate Champorado is equally good as the original version. With chopped pecans, my family and I find it even better. But don't worry, I will share with you the traditional recipe one of these days. :) For now, enjoy this twist on the Filipino Champorado! Its white color can definitely turn your cold gloomy days into bright and delightful ones!!! 

Holiday Shortbread Cookie Sandwiches with Nutella Filling

Just 18 days to go before exciting could that be! One of the things I enjoy about the Christmas season is baking cookies with my girls. It is actually something we love doing together all year round, but we find it such a perfect thing to do during the cold holiday break. Not only does baking help heat up our home, it is always fun to knead, shape and smell the goodness of cookies baking in the oven. Of course, eating the cookies we baked with a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of milk during cold nights is what we love the most. Sharing them with our friends is another thing!

Every year, we make an assortment of cookies which include Peanut Butter Cookies (Clarise and Ryan's favorite), Pecan Sandies (my favorite), Chocolate Chip Cookies (Cherlin's favorite), Snickerdoodle cookies for Santa, our family's favorite Chocolate Crinkles, and the very simple but delicious, Shortbread Cookies

Making Shortbread Cookies is so much fun! Not only are they so easy to make, they also require minimal ingredients. With just butter, flour and sugar, you'll have delicious treats in no time. You can shape and design them as festive as you want or you can just leave them plain and simple.
Clarise and Cherlin love shortbread cookies so much. Regardless of the flavor, shape and design, they just enjoy making and eating them! But do you want to know how they enjoy these delicious cookies the most??? They make cookie sandwiches with them...filled with their favorite Nutella. Does that sound yummy to you???

I love Nutella and I must tell you that Shortbread Cookie Sandwiches with Nutella Filling taste perfect! And if you make your Shortbread Cookies in fancy holiday shapes and dust them with confectioners' sugar, you'll have such easy-to-make but festive addition to your Holiday table!

Cherlin and I made these last Monday afternoon...
I love how Holiday-ish these Star Shaped Shortbread Cookies with Christmas tree cut out in the middle look. The design is actually Cherlin's idea. We made these yummy treats together while Clarise was at choir practice...and we all had fun eating them after dinner. Oh well, Cherlin & I actually had one each just after taking pictures. You can't blame us - they're so good!!! :)

I'm sharing these Holiday Shortbread Cookie Sandwiches with Nutella Filling on Food Frenzy's "Holiday Cookies" Challenge. Voting runs the 15th through the 24th...please do vote for it! ;)

Batangas Goto (Tripe Soup) and a Picture-ful Weekend

So how was the weekend for you all??? We had a rainy and gloomy weather here last weekend. If not only for the Breakfast with St. Nick at church which we promised the girls we'd go to, I could have slept until noon. It was such a perfect day to stay in PJ's, but we had to leave before 8am for the event. Well, we didn't stay out that long. After eating pancakes and taking the girls' photo with St. Nick,
we went straight home, took some photos with our Santa,
and some photos for our 2011 Christmas card with pink and green theme, 
put our jammies back on, took some photos again
and then we all curled up and cuddled on the sofa to watch movies on Netflix. It was such a lazy day but such a wonderful weekend for the four of us.  We enjoyed taking pictures and doing something we love the most which is spending time with each other. 

We had simple but filling food which didn't require much cooking. For lunch we had hotdog sandwich and chips which Ryan prepared and for snack, we had a bucket of popcorn and some Chocolate Crinkles.

It was raining the whole day and it was really cold, so for dinner, I thought of making soup.  It's my father's favorite soup. Oh actually, it's every BatangueƱo's favorite and it's called Goto, which simply refers to Tripe Soup. The goto I grew up with is different from the “Goto Arroz Caldo” most Filipinos know. Like the traditional Chicken Arroz Caldo that I've shared with you before, Goto Arroz Caldo is made of glutinous rice but has tripe strips instead of chicken. Batangas Goto, on the other hand, is not congee type. It has no rice in it. It is simply a soup made of tripe, cow’s skin, intestines, liver, tongue, blood and beef simmered and seasoned with onions, garlic, ginger, pepper and salt. To add flavor and color, it is also cooked with annatto powder. Goto is best eaten while hot. It is usually served with soy sauce and calamansi dip with crushed chilies which reduces the gamy taste of the cow’s entrails.

I know that many of you will be grossed out by the mere thought of eating this kind of soup. But this has become a favorite to many BatangueƱos. The variety of soft, tender textures of meat and spongy skin and the light stickiness of tripe in it make this a hit to the people of Batangas and to those who have experienced eating this.

When I was still in the Philippines, I've seen how restaurants serving goto overflow with people waiting in turns to savor this native dish during lunch time. Available at 40Php-90Php($1- $2) per bowl, it is really cheap considering that it is so flavorful and really filling when eaten with rice.

I must admit that since I was a kid until now, I only enjoy eating Goto with just tripe and beef. I have tried it with all the other entrails. It's good especially when the entrails have been cleaned well before cooking, but it's still too pungent for me. The combination of tripe and beef is just perfect. So for those of you who are already saying "eeewwwww", let me tell you that the soup I made last weekend didn't have cow’s skin, intestines, liver, tongue nor blood. It's just tripe and beef...and it's delicious! Ryan cleaned the tripe really well so there was no gamy smell and taste at all. Even the girls loved it...they didn't eat tripe though. :)
If you are someone who's on the lookout for an extraordinary gastronomic experience, you should try this. Not only is this soup perfect for the cold weather and so filling when eaten with rice, it is also the perfect cure for hangover. A hot bowl of this flavorful soup will surely take away your headache and will put you back on track. Check it out! 

Turkey & Vegetable Soup from Ryan's Roast Turkey

Every year for the past 7 years, Ryan has been making roast turkey for Thanksgiving Day. And if I remember it right, he has made it for Christmas Eve dinner about 4 times. With that, I can say that he has mastered the art of roasting turkey. The people who had tried Ryan's roast turkey can attest to that. Unlike most roast turkeys, his isn't dried's really moist and very flavorful even without gravy. 
The secret is simply the brine solution he uses...
 ...the herbs and spices he rubs and stuffs it with...
...and his patience during the delicate roasting process. :)
But you see, no matter how perfect any roast turkey is, most people prefer just the white meat, so there's always leftover. Well, for me, that's a good thing! I actually think that the best thing about roasting turkey is having all the leftovers because afterwards, I can use it to make quick and easy meals.:)

Friday after Thanksgiving, I made Turkey Arroz Caldo which is the same as the Chicken Arroz Caldo I posted before. The difference is that I substituted the chicken with turkey, I used only 1½ cups of rice (1 cup Jasmine and ½ cup glutinous) for thinner consistency and I used turkey stock that I made form the turkey carcass.
And then last Saturday, I made this delicious Turkey & Vegetable Soup. I love making this kind of soup with leftover chicken or turkey. It's very satisfying and filling with all the vegetables in it. We all find it so comforting especially during cold weather.
The next time you have leftover turkey or chicken,  you should try making this soup! You won't regret it! 

Have a great weekend y'all!