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Cherrie Moore of  Sweet Cherrie Pie & I are the hosts for this month's Kulinarya Cooking Club Challenge, and because June is the month when we celebrate Philippine Independence Day, we have decided to focus on our country's unique dishes.

As I've mentioned before, Filipino Cuisine is a mixture of many different cuisines from countries which have colonized the Philippines. But there are lots of dishes that we can call our own...dishes that can be found "ONLY IN THE PHILIPPINES" and we thought that it would be good to share them with you. 

After checking my archive, I realized that I've already posted most of my favorite native Filipino dishes here on the blog. I was having a hard time thinking of what recipe to share when suddenly I thought of this favorite snack that I used to enjoy during my childhood days which is called Kutsinta...
Kutsinta is a brown (sometimes orange) and sticky cupcake which is made from rice flour, brown sugar, achuete (which is used to add color and flavor), water and a little lye water. It is cooked by steaming and is served with grated coconut.  It is a traditional Filipino snack that's very easy to make, and can be found almost anywhere. Kutsinta is my mom's favorite and she would always buy dozens of it everytime she goes to the market. She would also make it at home whenever she finds the time. 

For this month's Kulinarya Cooking Club Challenge, I'm sharing with you my mom's kutsinta as I remember it. I think the only difference is I used annatto powder instead of achuete juice because I couldn't find achuete seeds here. The result, however, is basically the same except for the tiny particles of annato powder that settled in the bottom of the kutsinta. So if you can find achuete seeds, soak about 1 Tablespoon of it in 2 Tablespoon of water for about 10 minutes. Get ½ Tablespoon of that juice and add it to the kutsinta mixture instead of the annatto powder.

Sambal Sotong (Squid Sambal) from

As I've mentioned before, I really love squid. It's one of those seafood that I enjoy eating a lot! Aside from the Filipino squid dishes that I've shared here before like the adobong pusit (squid adobo), calamares (fried squid rings), and rellenong pusit (stuffed squid), there is this other dish which is non-Filipino that has so much appeal to my taste buds. It's called Sambal Sotong (Squid Sambal). This is a Malaysian dish that has become my favorite since the first time I tried it at a restaurant. For those of you who aren't familiar with Malaysian cuisine, sambal is a chili based sauce prepared mainly from dried chillies and garlic. Sambal dishes are easy to cook but they say it takes a lot of practice to make a good sambal. I've heard that the secret to a delicious sambal is to sauté the chilies until the paste separates from oil.

I requested my good blog friend, Nava of to share with us her recipe of Sambal Sotong for our PiTCC's Favorite DIshes From Around The World series, and I am truly honored that she granted my request. I'm pretty sure that a lot of you in the blogosphere know Nava. But for those who don't, Nava is the very warm lady from Malaysia who has this very wonderful lifestyle blog where she shares her love for beauty, fashion and food. She's one blogger who has never failed to show her support for me and PiTCC since last year when I was just starting.  For that, I'm truly thankful to her! She's definitely one of the Asian bloggers that I look up to. She's not only a good blogger, she's also successful with her profession as a college lecturer.
Nava is someone who travels a lot, and with her very busy schedule, I'm truly glad that she found the time to be here with us today! Words are really not enough for me to thank her! Without further ado, I give you Nava Krishnan...
Hi everyone! Let me start off by extending a big thank you to Tina for the invitation in sharing my recipe on her blog.  I came to know Tina via blogging and from there on, we have developed a great friendship although we are far away from each other.  I suppose like how the rest of the world is connected via technology, we are the same.  We take time to visit each other’s blog, and of course her comments on my blog always brighten up my day.

I was asked to share a recipe on squids or sotong as we call it in Malaysian term.  Honestly I don't cook squids often, not that we don't like it but squids are not one of our favorites.  Therefore I was quite worried, wondering if I will do a good job cooking the squids. Thank God all turned out well and my number one food critic at home, my other half, said that the dish was great and the squids were cooked just right in texture.

This recipe is a typical Malaysian style with the spicy, tangy and a mild sweet taste. I added another extra ingredient, that being the Petai or stinky beans. I am not sure whether you can find the beans over at your place and if it’s not available, you can do away with it.  The other option will be using long beans or French beans to replace the stinky beans. I did have some difficulties in looking for the squids and the nearest I found was the smallest type. After cleaning and slicing them into rings, they became even smaller. Small squids does not take a long time to cook, thus I was done with cooking within 10 minutes or so. If you are using the bigger type of squids, you probably will have to cook them for a longer time.  Do not overcook the squids as they will become rubbery.

I shall stop here and move on with the recipe now. Hope you will like this...

No-Bake Rocky Road Bars

My daughters are already on their 3rd week of summer vacation, and they are really loving it so far! Aside from swimming, going to the library, playing video games and watching Korean telenovelas, they have been helping out in the kitchen a lot. During the past two weeks, making homemade shakes and ice cream or baking cookies with me have been part of their daily routine, and last Friday, they made these...
They said they wanted to make something for their dad (Aren't they the sweetest???)...and because they know how much Ryan loves rocky road, they wanted to make another rocky road treat for him. They remembered that Ryan really enjoyed the No-Bake Rocky Road Bars that I made before, and since I just made Rocky Road Ice Cream last week, all the ingredients they needed were available in the pantry. With no second thoughts, they said they will make rocky road bars for their dad on their own...and guess what? They did it! All I did was prepare all the ingredients and take pictures. They did the rest, and I must say that they did a good job! Clarise and Cherlin's No-Bake Rocky Road Bars came out perfect and Ryan loved them!

I know that this is just a very easy and simple recipe, but I really find it so amazing for kids like my girls to take the effort in making something special for their parent/s. I am truly proud of how thoughtful and sweet they are, so I want to share this with you! :) 

These are yummy treats that you can make with your kids. I'm pretty sure that you will have fun making and eating these!

Homemade Rocky Road Ice Cream for Two of the Best Dads I Know

"Anyone can be a father but it takes a REAL MAN to be a DAD."

Some men think that being a father is as simple as contributing to the genetic make up of a child. Little do they know that there's more to being a father, and that is making a total surrender of one's self to be a DAD. Not all fathers are responsible enough to take the "DAD" title. A dad is someone whom we can call a REAL MAN. He is someone who put his entire life to make a difference in a child's life (whether it's his biological child or not).

I feel so blessed that both my father and husband fall into the "REAL MAN" category. Both of them are responsible enough to be the best kind of dad anybody would be proud to have. They may not be a man of fame and fortune but they sure are two of the greatest men in the world for me!  
In celebration of Father's Day, I want to pay tribute to my very loving and responsible father, ERNESTO AGUILA FLORES, to the very kind and devoted father of my girls, RYAN MENDOZA DE GUZMAN, and to all the wonderful dads out there for all the sacrifices they make. HAPPY DAD'S DAY! I salute you all! May God continue to bless you and give you the strength to mold your children into intelligent and responsible individuals!
To all the daughters and sons out there who are blessed to have a dad figure in your lives, you should be proud and thankful! Be sure to thank your dad for all the love, care, guidance and support he gave you not just on Father's Day, but everyday!

Today, I bring you this Homemade Rocky Road Ice Cream with both my loving dad and husband in mind. They both love chocolates and nuts so this very chocolatey and nutty ice cream is so perfect for them! Tatay & Ryan, Happy Dad's Day to you both! Please know that I love you and I will always be thankful to God for giving me TWO OF HIS BEST CREATIONS!
If you want to make a special treat for your dads, you should try this! :)

Baked Rellenong Pusit

Next to shrimps and crabs, squid (or pusit in Filipino) is my favorite seafood...and though I love adobong pusit and calamares, this is how I enjoy it the most..
This is called Rellenong Pusit (Stuffed Squid) in the Philippines. Relleno is a Spanish word which means filling, but Filipinos use it to refer to anything stuffed and is one of the many culinary influences that we got from Spain. Filipinos stuff almost anything --- from vegetables like eggplant and ampalaya to chicken and seafood like fish, squid, crabs and even mussels.

The traditional Rellenong Pusit is stuffed with sauteed ground pork and vegetables like carrots, celery and tomatoes, and then pan fried. But this one that I'm sharing with you today is a little different. Not only is it baked, the filling is also different. It's made of spinach and tofu(though it also has a little ground pork, just to be sure that my daughters will eat it)!

This is really a very appetizing and healthy way to enjoy squid. It may look a little complicated but it actually isn't. Just clean the squid, do a little sauteing and stuffing, and VOILA - a delicious Rellenong Pusit! Check it out...

Chicken Biryani from Playful Cooking

Truth be told, one of the few things that my husband and I have in common is our love for food. We enjoy cooking and eating together since our dating years. We've shared the best and worst meals of our lives...but there's nothing about food that we have ever argued about. Back when we were in the Philippines (when we didn't have the  girls yet and didn't care that much about frugality), Ryan and I used to enjoy eating out a lot! We really loved trying different cuisines...but I don't remember being able to try Indian Cuisine back then. Actually, I don't even know if there was as Indian restaurant in Manila that time. It was only here in Texas that we got our first experience with Indian food...and it was like we fell in love with it at first taste! Ryan and I both love spicy food...and with all the different herbs and spices used in Indian Cuisine, we find it perfect for our taste buds. 

For our PiTCC's Favorite Dishes from Around The World series, I want to share with you one of the Indian dishes that have become my favorite. It's called Chicken Biryani

Biryani is a dish that's popular in India and Pakistan and is made of rice, herbs, and spices as well as vegetables or meat like beef, chicken, lamb, goat, fish and shrimp. The chicken version is my favorite. I just love the aroma and texture of this dish! It's an all-in-one meal that's so tasty and comforting! 

Today, I am happy to bring you Kankana of Playful Cooking to share with us her Chicken Biryani recipe. Kankana is from India but is now living in California with her wonderful husband. I met her last year when I was just starting to blog. She has become one of my favorite bloggers not just because of her mouth watering recipes and vivid photos that never fail to amaze me, but much more because of her very warm personality that can clearly be seen on her awesome blog. I'm truly glad that she found the time to be here with us today despite her busy schedule! I really can't thank her enough! Without further ado, I give you Kankana Saxena...

Thank you Tina for making me a part of this series and it was my pleasure to prepare the Chicken Biryani for you. Hope you will enjoy it! 

I am a passionate foodie and wannabe photographer who married the most amazing man in the world and I am currently enjoying life in sunny California. My cooking is mostly healthy with little bit of indulgence here and there. We all need that in our lives, don’t we? I like fast and easy cooking and that’s what you can mostly expect to see in my blog :) 

Today, I am sharing a Chicken Biryani recipe that I learned to cook from my brother when I visited home last winter. As a kid, I remember my brother would spend more time in the kitchen than I would but this time, my little brother totally impressed me with his cooking skills. 

One afternoon, he prepared Chicken Biryani and that was the first time that I actually enjoyed biryani. The strong aroma and warm flavors made me crave for it more than ever! 

Biryani is a very popular dish in India made with rice, meat and lots of spices! There are typically two types of biryani - Kacchi/Kutchi(raw) Biryani and Pakki(cooked) Biryani. For Kacchi biryani, uncooked marinated meat and rice are layered and cooked together. For Pakki biryani, both rice and meat are partially cooked. Then, they are layered to cook for some more time and the flavors blend between the rice and meat. 

I prepared Pakki biryani and it's very much like Hyderabadi biryani. It involves a lot of steps but at the end, it will all be worth the effort!

Pastillas De Leche con Casuy (Milk Candies with Cashew Nuts)

Finally, I'm back after more than a week of being MIA! Thanks to everyone who sent emails to check how I'm doing...I really appreciate all the thoughtfulness and concern! Sorry if I got some of you worried. I'm totally fine! I have been really busy during the past weeks, so when my camera broke, I took it as a sign that I should take a break from blogging and focus on some important things that I have to do. I'm sure you all know how busy moms could be so I know you understand...but still, I would like to apologize for my absence in the blogosphere. To all my blogger friends, I'm sorry for not being able to visit...and to all PiTCC readers, my apologies for not being able to post new recipes. And though I am here today, summer vacation has started and I have to spend time with the girls, so I still wont be as active...but I will try to post recipes at least twice a week. Hope you will all bear with me!

What I have for you today is a no-cook dessert that my daughters and I enjoy making together. It's called Pastillas De Leche con Casuy...
Pastillas De Leche are milk candies which are traditionally made from carabao's milk. Carabao which is the Philippine's national animal is also known as water buffalo and is the farm animal of choice for pulling both a plow and the cart used to haul produce to the market. Carabao's milk which is richer, creamier and contains protein, fat, lactose, vitamins and minerals is what gives Pastillas De Leche that melt-in-your-mouth goodness. It is simmered with sugar under low heat until thick, rolled into small cylinders then coated with sugar and then wrapped in cellophane or Japanese paper.

Because carabao's milk is unavailable here in my side of the world, this version that I am sharing with you today makes use of condensed milk and powdered milk instead. It may differ a little in taste, but I assure you that you will love it! There's also no cooking involved in this one so what could be better than that? 

Try making these easy peasy treats with your kids...I'm pretty sure you'll all have a good time and will be pleased with how delicious the result will be!