Dec 31, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Pie

The ultimate dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas - CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE! This is superbly yummy, easy and looks so pretty, too!

The ultimate dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas - CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE! This is superbly yummy and looks so pretty, too! |

Ok, I wanted 2013 to end with a big bang and I also wanted to welcome 2014 with something big, therefore I have decided to write this delicious recipe as my final post for the year. I love nuts and chocolate, so it is but appropriate to make a dessert that has both - CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE!

The ultimate dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas - CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE! This is superbly yummy, easy and looks so pretty, too!

I honestly don't know if there's anything else that sounds as yummy as that combination! I leave that judgment to you so without further ado, here's a super-scrumptious dessert that is the fitting end to what has been a truly wonderful year for blogging! Thank you so much dear readers for your continued support and loyalty to our blog. I wouldn't still be blogging if not for your amazing help and encouragement. I hope you enjoyed all the posts of 2013 as much as I enjoyed writing each and everyone of them.

The ultimate dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas - CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE! This is superbly yummy, easy and looks so pretty, too!

Looking forward to 2014 and beyond!

The ultimate dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas - CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE! This is superbly yummy and looks so pretty, too! |

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For the crust:


1/4 cup Pecans
1 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup brown Sugar
1/2 Salt*
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
6 Tablespoons unsalted Butter, sliced into 6 parts

*Preferably sea salt, if you can find it.

Handy tool: Food processor

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until nicely browned.  You can also dry-fry (roast) the pecans on the stove top using a small skillet. Just be careful not to burn it.

Grease or butter a 9-inch pie pan/plate.

In a food processor, mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and the toasted pecans until coarse. Add the butter and pulse until everything is combined.

Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pie plate, patting the dough along the sides of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool.

For the Pie Filling:


1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted Butter, melted
1/2 cup brown Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Salt*
2 Eggs, room temperature
3/4-1 teaspoon pure Vanilla extract (optional)
2 cups Pecans
5 ounces, dark eating chocolate (60-70 % Cocoa), coarsely chopped

*preferably Sea Salt, if you can find it.


In a bowl, mix the melted butter, sugar and salt. Add the eggs, vanilla extract (if using) pecans and the chopped chocolate and quickly stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into the cooled crust. You can opt to re-arrange the pecans in a pattern like I did but if you're in a hurry, this is unnecessary. You can just dump all in the crust.

Bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely before slicing. Please enjoy!

The ultimate dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas - CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE! This is superbly yummy and looks so pretty, too! | manila

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The ultimate dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas - CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE! This is superbly yummy and looks so pretty, too! |


Dec 28, 2013

Turkey with Peas and Creamed Corn

After cooking that 20-lb Turkey, you can imagine how much left-over we had, after all we are a tiny family of 4 - two adults and two small kids whose appetites aren't that great yet, unless of course it's sweets then they do eat like adults. Savory food on the other hand, they have their favorites and their not-so-much-their-kind-of-food-group. Hence, since we would be eating Turkey for quite awhile I had to make sure the recipe was not just edible, but truly palatable, too - something that even the pickiest eaters would love. I know my kids love pasta and any creamy sauce with it. They love corn and are not averse to peas - hence, all these process of elimination gave birth to this quick and easy Turkey with Peas and Creamed Corn recipe.

Dec 27, 2013

Left-over Turkey Hash

Now that Christmas Days is past and done, perhaps you are once again left with too much Turkey. While you probably already have a few staple recipes that you use for these left-over pieces, it certainly doesn't hurt to add more to your repertoire especially something that's so easy to make and that packs in a lot of flavor.

Dec 23, 2013

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Love cranberries! So glad to make anything with them 'cause I love the freshness and tartness that they impart to any dish that you use them in. Great to discover as well that you can make them into an upside down cake....wonderful... now my favorite upside down cake. The pineapple has truly met its match! Enjoy this beautiful and delicious cake that's wonderful as a dessert dish for the holidays!


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspooon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoon butter and 1 stick butter (room temp)
6 Tablespoons sugar plus extra 1/2 cup sugar (separate each sugar)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 1/3 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not thaw)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole or 2 % milk


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Grease a round cake pan with a little oil or use a non-stick spray. Set it aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set it aside.

Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter and sugar on medium heat in a small saucepan. Continue to stir until the mixture comes to the boil. Pour this evenly over the bottom of the cake pan and and top with the cranberries, smoothing the layer and pressing it down gently with your fingertips.  Sprinkle the nuts. Distribute them evenly. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer beat the remaining stick of butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to beat until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Pour in the vanilla extract and then add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Mix in the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Batter will be thick.

Spoon the batter over the cranberries and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. I did not use a baking sheet but found out later that the cranberry sauce bubbled over. Perhaps next time, I will place the round pan onto a sheet before baking.

Bake in a preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let the cake cool down for about 15-20 minutes before you remove them from the pan. Run a blunt knife between the sides of the pan and the cake. Carefully turn the cake out onto a serving platter. If any of the berries stick to the pan - as they might - just scrape them off with a knife and return them to the cake.

This reminds me of a cobbler and so like a cobbler this is perfect with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream! Better if serve warm or at least room temp and on the day it is made.

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This recipe was adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Cranberry Upside Down Cake.


Dec 21, 2013

Banana Eggnog and Chocolate Loaf Cake

A delicious loaf cake with banana, chocolate and eggnog flavors. Perfect for snacking or with a cup of coffee or tea. Great for Christmas and New Year celebrations! |

For us the holidays are not complete without Eggnog. I have never had this drink until I came to the US and immediately fell-in-love with it. I feel like I am drinking custard sauce when I have it and that's why I love it. And yes, I have even used it as custard on cakes and definitely as creamer on my coffee. Even though I have had it for years, I have never attempted cooking or baking with it. I thought 2013 would be the year to make something with eggnog. I didn't have to think hard as to what I wanted to use it for. I already planned to use up some browned spotty bananas for a cake and decided to add some eggnog to the mix. The eggnog taste is quite subtle on the batter itself  hence I decided to add some eggnog glaze. Of course to make it even more scrumptious, I threw in some choco chips! Anything is good with chocolate, right?

Dec 18, 2013

Candy Cane Blossom Cookies

These festive classic Candy Cane Blossom Cookies are not just gorgeous they are delicious, too. Perfect as gift for teachers, family, and friends.I gave this as a gift in a mug and it was well-loved! | manilaspoon

It's that time of year for gift-giving. My two kids are in school now so I had to think of some gift ideas for their teachers. I know I could have taken the easy way-out and just joined in with the group gift but I fancied doing something a little more creative - something that showed a little effort at least. I have been inspired by so many lovely gift ideas from Pinterest and holiday magazines that I thought that now I have a legitimate excuse to make something cute! I got myself some Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses which I only got acquainted with last year and vowed to myself then that come Christmas 2013 I would make something with it.

Dec 16, 2013

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

You can never have enough Christmas cookies. My kids love cookies so occasionally I indulge them by making a batch of choco chip cookies that they truly love. I was about to bake another set of cookies when I thought of adding some Christmas colors to them - still chocolate cookies but with specks of red and green. Thankfully, it's the time of year when holiday M&Ms are aplenty so I grabbed a pack from the store for baking and for nibbling, too. To double the chocolate goodness I added a bar of Ghirardelli dark chocolate which I coarsely chopped and lovingly folded into the cookie batter. The result is a luxurious and truly scrumptious Double Chocolate Chip Holiday Cookies. Crisp on the edges, soft and chewy in the middle, full of chocolate goodness that practically melts on your mouth - see below for proof....need I say more? Please enjoy in moderation. :-)

Dec 13, 2013

12 Cakes of December - Recipe Round Up

It's Friday the 13th....and I feel sad and it's not because it's the "Friday the 13th" but because our 12 Cakes of December feature has officially ended. I didn't want to miss any of these delicious cakes so I decided to make a round-up of all these fantastic recipes. These could come in handy not only for Christmas Day but for the rest of the year, especially when you have an upcoming special occasion and you need to make a cake that's not only eye-catching but truly delectable, too. So without further ado, here are the links and photos for the 12 Cakes of December. Please enjoy!

Dec 11, 2013

Apple and Pomegranate Upside Down Cake

It's the season for baking and I simply cannot resist making another holiday cake! I have this tried and tested recipe for Upside Down Cake that I have made many times over with various fruits and they always come out great. Last year, I made the Cranberry Upside Down Cake which not only looks gorgeous it's also truly scrumptious. I thought for a change that I will experiment with Apples - however that would feel more like an autumn cake rather than a Christmas one. To add in the festive red color of Christmas, I decided to sprinkle/dot the base of the cake with pomegranate seeds - after all - pomegranates are quintessential winter fruits that appear on our groceries just before the Christmas season.

Dec 9, 2013

No Bake White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake

Last summer, I made a luxurious White Chocolate Cheesecake that I paired with fresh Raspberries. It's been an instant hit not only at our house but in the blog too as it is one of our most popular recipes. That was inspired by a cake we once tasted at a friend's house in England. Hubby fell in-love with it (being a huge chocolate and cheesecake fan!) and urged me to make a version of the same. That gave birth to the summer fresh raspberry version. When our friend Amy, blogger at Crumbs In My Mustachio invited me to join her and other bloggers for the 12 Cakes of December feature project, I readily said yes because in my mind I knew I had to make a winter version of this delicious summer cheesecake.

Dec 5, 2013

Christmas Loaf

I have been trying to add more treats to my Christmas repertoire and I chanced upon a cake that used sugar beet and I thought to myself - why not try to make some bread or cake using it. Since red is one of the colors of Christmas then it's great to use Beet to give a vibrant red color to a cake or bread. After all sugar beet is an all natural food coloring. And, it's naturally sweet, too.

Dec 3, 2013

Holiday Fruit and Nut Clusters

It's that time of year when holiday sweet treats and nibbles are in. I wanted to make a sweet treat that my kids and I can enjoy doing together. Since they are still quite young and lose interest quickly, it has to be something easy to make, totally uncomplicated and of course fabulously delicious! After all, they'll be wanting some reward for their labor. This recipe is exactly that. The fact that it's a no-cook recipe is a true bonus.

Nov 30, 2013

Almond Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (Gluten-free)

carrot, cake, gluten-free, almond, sweets, cream cheese, frosting

I love Carrot Cake!!! Do you? I love it so much that it was actually our wedding cake - yes, inside all that fondant is this moist and scrumptious carrot cake.... I preferred it over the chocolate cake that was suggested by our cake maker. Truth be told I don't remember anymore, what the taste was like during the wedding....I am sure it was good as I loved it when I had a taste test but I was too excited about everything that was going on during the wedding day that I probably just got one bite of it - perhaps even done for the sake of having a wedding photo showing I was eating the cake....or something like that. Nonetheless, my love for the Carrot cake didn't end with my wedding cake. I still often order it when I am in Starbucks or other cafes. I did attempt once to make it but I can't remember now how it fared 'cause this was nearly 10 years ago, just after we were married. Perhaps it was bad that I never made another one.

Well, it's been 10 years since we had gotten married - Nov. 22, 2003 so I thought it was time to make some delicious Carrot Cake. However, since hubby is doing gluten-free, I decided to try a gluten-free version of Carrot Cake, with trepidation as I was totally unsure of how it will turn out. Oh, am I so glad that I made it. To be honest, I think it's even better than the regular white flour version. It is so moist and flavorful and the cake even after a day or two - retains the moisture - and, in fact, improves its flavor as it ages. Wow! I added some spices for extra flavor and they were a perfect complement to the creamy, cheesy frosting! I honestly think this is the best Carrot Cake I've had in years, I surprised even myself. The only comment hubby had (apart from totally enjoying it, too!) was to add some raisins next time. Since this was a first time experiment I thought I'll do it plain and basic first though after the first trial I fully agree that adding raisins would totally put this over the top. Since it's already made of almond flour - I didn't add any more nuts but feel free to do so when you make this - some extra crunch in there certainly can only make it better, right? So, please enjoy this gluten-free Almond Carrot Cake! I sure hope that you will enjoy this as much the whole family did. :-)


1/2 cup gluten-free Flour* (like King Arthur's)
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
4 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups Sugar
1-2 Tablespoons Maple syrup
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 cups grated Carrots
2 cups ground Almonds

For the frosting:

8 oz (1 block) Cream Cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup Confectioner's (Icing) Sugar
2 teaspoons fresh Lemon juice

Handy Tools:  mixing bowls, electric mixer


Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter an 8 x 8 square baking pan/dish. Line it with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine the gluten-free flour, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

Beat the egg yolks, sugar and maple syrup until thick and creamy. You may occasionally have to scrape the sides of the bowl. Stir in the lemon zest.

Transfer the egg mixture to another large bowl. Stir in the grated carrots, ground almonds and gluten-free flour mixture.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. In two batches, fold in the egg whites into the carrot mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan/dish. 

Bake the cake for about 1 hour or until top is golden and springs back when you press it lightly. 

Let the cake stand for about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

In the meantime, make the frosting. 

For the frosting:

Beat the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in the icing/confectioner's sugar and the lemon juice. Mix just until everything is combined and has reached a smooth consistency.

When the cake has fully cooled, frost it. Generously spread the frosting all over the cake. You may have a few tablespoons left-over. The photo shows quite a thick frosting and I took the liberty of making it that way since the cake is pretty thick and since it's also gluten-free - quite dense. The light and fluffy, creamy frosting provides a great contrast of textures and flavors and so the cake warranted a thicker frosting, at least in our opinion. Feel free to halve the recipe if you prefer a slightly thinner frosting.  

Gluten-free Almond Carrot Cake Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

The cake is great to eat on the first day but it gets even better as the days pass so I suggest make this at least a day ahead. Once you have iced the cake, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 4 days, assuming it lasts that long...I seriously doubt it. :-D Please enjoy.

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Nov 28, 2013

Spiced Molasses Cookies

I used to be not a fan at all of spiced cookies. It's not because I think they have a funny taste or anything like that but because of sheer unfamiliarity. I guess Filipino cuisine, though it has its sweet side, does not have many cookies perfumed or flavored with sweet spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. But since this is a quintessential winter and/or holiday cookie, I thought I ought to give it another try. I don't like a cookie though that's super heavy on ginger taste (though I love ginger and often use it in cooking - for savory food mostly though!). Just not my cup of tea. But when I saw that this cookie has pretty much an even distribution of spices, I thought why not?

Nov 26, 2013

Everything Thanksgiving - Recipes, Decor, Crafts, Ideas and so much more!

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. It is indeed one of the most looked-forward to holidays of the year and understandably, the preparation leading to the day itself can be quite stressful sometimes if not enough planning is done. So to help some of you decide on what to do or serve for Thanksgiving, here are some helpful ideas - from what decor to use, tips on hosting, crafts to make and what glorious food to serve. I have so enjoyed researching about all these and I hope you find it quite handy for your Thanksgiving preparation. Enjoy! 

Nov 23, 2013

South African Bobotie

In 2007, we had the privilege of living in South Africa for a few months. We were previously in this beautiful country way back in 2004 for our honeymoon in Cape Town. We absolutely loved our time there. How can we ever forget this country? It has so much to offer.....majestic scenery like that of Table Mountain.....

Nov 21, 2013

Cranberry Orange Bread with Lemon Glaze

Cranberry season has finally arrived! Now I am getting a bit excited because I know that the Christmas holidays are just around the corner. I can even tune in to one radio station where we live and there I can hear Christmas songs already as they have started playing Christmas carols since November 1. Yes, you read it right. I know you may think it's a little early to play Christmas carols in November - after all there's still Thanksgiving to celebrate before the Christmas season, but for me it's no problem at all.

Nov 19, 2013

Foodport 2013 - Taste of Food from Around the World

In Manila Spoon we feature international cuisines all the time. I am so delighted to invite you all to the upcoming FOODPORT 2013, a food fair showcasing a great variety of gustatory delights from around the globe. This event is sponsored by the University of the Philippines Industrial Engineering Club (UP IE Club). It is for a good cause as the proceeds will benefit the UP IE Scholarship Fund which in turn helps out bright but underprivileged students get a college education from the Philippines' premiere university. As a UP graduate and Iskolar ng Bayan, I wholeheartedly support this cause. 

Nov 16, 2013

Coconut Cherry and Chocolate Bars

Once a month we have a Fellowship Dinner at our church. That means we are requested to bring a salad or appetizer, a main dish and some dessert. Oftentimes, I focus more on doing the main dish as I often try to make a Filipino dish which depending on the recipe can require some prep time. It is during this time when I wish to make a simple dessert that won't compete for attention with the main dish. So I did some google search and looked for a dessert that uses a cake mix, after all I already had one on hand, it was just a case of what do I do with it.

Nov 14, 2013

How to Save Recipes and Get Amazing Deals from ZipList

Good news dear readers!!! I have recently partnered with Ziplist. That means saving your recipes is now so easy and truly convenient! This tool works not only for recipes from Manila Spoon but to all your other favorite food sites and blogs. It's like a one-stop place where you can collate all your favorite recipes. How amazing is that?


Nov 12, 2013

Creamy Chicken Sopas (Filipino Chicken Macaroni Soup)

I have so many sweet memories of this Creamy Chicken Sopas that my mom always made, perhaps at least once a week. My siblings and I often requested for this and our mom always readily acceded.  We have eaten this for breakfast, lunch, dinner and yes, even as a snack. There's just something so comforting about a creamy soup. This is even more craved for during the monsoon season when it rains all over the archipelago much like we crave for Champorado when it's cold and gloomy. For flavoring, I add a little patis/fish sauce to the broth. For me that's the one that gives it that special flavor. There are so many versions of chicken macaroni soup but add some patis (fish sauce) and you truly make it extra special!

Nov 9, 2013

Kiwi and Walnut Upside Down Cake

I have made my own share of Upside Down Cakes (Cranberry and Mango-Raspberry Cakes) and I love each of them. Moist, buttery and sweet-tangy, these cakes truly posses the kind of flavors I look for in a cake. I thought I'd be happy with these two fruit versions already but then I thought I wonder if I could actually make a version using Kiwi fruits. To be honest, I have never eaten a Kiwi cake before so I wasn't sure if this will work at all. I have often used Kiwi for smoothies and just as a snack - raw - but I have never thought of actually baking with it.

Nov 7, 2013

Beef Caldereta (Kaldereta sa Gata) - Beef Chunks Stewed in Coconut Milk

Creamy, nutty, spicy and delicious! This tasty beef stew is comfort food at its best - BEEF KALDERETA #caldereta #kaldereta

Kaldereta belongs to the category of comfort food in the Philippines. It is a favorite dish that is often served in weddings, birthday parties, certainly Fiestas and other special occasions. Like many other Filipino dishes, it has some Spanish influence particularly in its name which originated from the Spanish word - caldera/caldero - which means "cauldron." It's a tomato-based stew as many other Spanish-influenced dishes in the Philippines are, but the Filipinos gave it a unique twist by adding either liver spread, coconut milk, peanut butter and sometimes cheese for extra flavor. It is traditionally made with goats meat but more often the beef version is the most popular one though depending on one's diet and preference you can also find "kaldereta" made with chicken or pork. Others like it spicy, while others prefer it creamy or just more tomatoey. 

Nov 5, 2013

Baked Eggs with Herbs and Tomatoes

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It's been awhile since I wrote a breakfast post which is funny because I have quite a few recipes for breakfast that I haven't blogged yet. I thought that for today's post, it's got to be breakfast. Last weekend we made this easy and scrumptious Baked Eggs with Herbs and Tomatoes for brunch. I love that it is such a versatile recipe --- you can vary the tastes by flavoring this very simple tomato sauce with some spices like curry or chili powder, or by adding pesto instead, or using a variety of herbs like basil, parsley or cilantro/coriander perhaps. The sky is the limit! For brunch, serve this with some crusty bread that you can use to mop up the sauce. :-D

Oct 31, 2013

Spinach and Cream Cheese Crostini

Crostinis consist of small pieces of toasted or grilled bread served with toppings. They are essentially Italian appetizers which are great for entertaining. I thought since the holidays would soon be with us, it would be great to share a recipe that's easy to make, elegant  enough to serve with company and most of all - delightfully delicious! This recipe for Spinach and Cream Cheese Crostini is all that! Make it this holiday season for your family and friends or as a quick and delectable lunch option! We love these these yummy toasted bread for lunch with our favorite salad! Enjoy! 

Oct 30, 2013

Delectable Chocolate Chili

Fall and winter calls for comfort food that will not only keep you warm but also make you feel really good - to help battle the winter blues! And we all know that kind of food has got to be Chili! I have already made a chicken version last year so I thought it's about time I make a beef one. I have seen some recipes that use unsweetened Cocoa powder to add more flavor to their Chilis and I thought it was a wonderful idea. So here's my version of a Chocolate Chili that uses cocoa powder to add more flavor to your regular Chili recipe.

Oct 26, 2013

Ground Beef Stroganoff with Thyme and Red Wine

I didn't realize that I have back-to-back pasta posts this week as the recipe I shared earlier was already a pasta dish. Oh well, this week has truly been a Pasta week for us and even our dinner tonight is another pasta dish - Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe though I added some Asparagus to the mix. Obviously, this week has not been low-carb at all though partly gluten-free as hubby only eats gluten-free Pasta. But my whole family was happy with all the dishes and that's all that matters. :-)

Oct 23, 2013

Penne with Beef and Roasted Pepper Sauce

I had some ground beef, red wine and roasted peppers at hand. What should I do? The obvious answer was to make a delicious pasta sauce. I wanted a quick recipe that doesn't require many hours of simmering yet still deliver robust flavor. So, inspired by my Bolognese recipe, I used the red wine to add flavor to the Beef. I boiled it and let it evaporate so that the beef retains that subtle wine taste that truly adds depth of flavor but without too much alcohol. I then stirred in  the roasted sweet peppers and fresh chopped/diced tomatoes plus some dried herbs and, wow, the result is a very delicious sauce that tastes like it was slow-cooked for hours but actually is not. Enjoy this easy and yummy pasta sauce over your favorite pasta!

Oct 19, 2013

Scrumptious Apple Cake with Vanilla Custard Sauce

This scrumptious Apple Cake is moist and flavorful while the custard sauce is simply divine! |

This Apple Cake with Vanilla Custard Sauce does not need much introduction. It is a show-stopper, indeed. So pretty to look at - my hubby says it looks like it came from a Patisserie! When you make it you are sure to impress your guests and they will think you really fussed over it. It's not really difficult (you don't even need a mixer though you may use one for convenience) and it's guaranteed to please apple lovers and even those who may not care much for them. This fall season this delicious cake has become our family's new favorite sweet treat - after all, I already made this 3 times and looks like I will be making this some more! :-)

Oct 17, 2013

Travel Feature: Oxford, England

Last summer we went to England for my parents-in-law's 50th Wedding Anniversary, which incidentally coincided with our 10th Anniversary so we had the chance to not only celebrate with them but to go around some lovely parts of the country. Whenever we are back in the UK, I often request hubby for a quick trip to Oxford - home of my alma mater University of Oxford. I spent one year here for my masteral degree and had the most wonderful time. I always want to go back and visit whenever I get the chance. It is such a unique and beautiful city as you can see in the photo.

This time I was very excited that the two tots could join us. I have wanted them to see this glorious university town - home of some of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Oxford is known as the "city of dreaming spires" in reference to the harmonious architecture of Oxford's university buildings.

The name Oxford comes from the old term Oxanforda which literally meant a ford (shallow crossing) in the river where the cattle (Oxen) could cross safely. Watch out for these cows! I was actually so happy to see these cows just by the river and I thought this photo perfectly described Oxford!  Thankfully, they didn't mind me taking their photos as they took their afternoon nap. :-)

Just one of the magnificent spires in this wonderful city. I believe this one belongs to Magdalene (pronounced - maudlin) College. You would often see a similar view in postcards.

Close-up of this splendid spire.

This is my college - Wadham in Parks Road. It is one of the oldest colleges in the university (though the youngest among the oldest) - built in 1610. This was my residence while I took my studies at the Faculty of Law. It is very centrally located as it is just across the Bodleian Library - Oxford main library.

The entrance to the college.

Quite an imposing and really tall door. 

This is what you see upon entering - we have a lovely courtyard that they maintain meticulously.

This is our dining hall. The tutors and professors sit at the table at the end. Sometimes they invite a student to dine with them. That is quite special as they have some ceremony of sorts and the dinner does not end here as they move to another place and give you drinks. My tutor invited me to join them one time and it was quite an experience. (Photo is from

Perhaps the most well-known of all the colleges in Oxford - Christ Church. It is one super-rich college and has for me the most beautiful grounds. As some of you may know, Harry Potter was shot in this college - particularly - the stairways and the dining hall. This college is just so grand and you need to pay to enter it (though Oxford students go free so I took advantage of this a few times!). There's always a queue to get in.

On the way to Christ Church coming from the River Thames. Gorgeous and lush! 

Just outside Christ Church is this cute and quaint little store - Alice's Shop - inspired by Alice in Wonderland as its author Lewis Carrol (Charles Dodgson) taught at the college. There is actually a real girl named Alice - Alice Liddell - the daughter of the Dean at Christ Church who was a friend of Lewis Carroll. She immortalized Alice in his books.   

Bridge of Sighs at Hertford College. This is quite near Wadham, just on the other side of the road.

The Sheldonian Theatre which was built by Sir Christopher Wren (perhaps the most famous graduate of my college - Wadham) for graduation ceremony. I had my graduation here in 2001.

Sheldonian Theatre on Broad Street

Lovely and colorful buildings along Broad Street

Courtyard of the Bodleian Library. Harry Potter was also filmed here. I was actually in Wadham when they filmed this movie as I remember seeing some of the kids who were in the film (though not the main characters). Bodleian is just right across my college and I saw the film crew but little did I know what they were filming then. Disclaimer: I have not seen the movie(s). :-)

William posing.

Sophie had to have one outside Bodleian.

This is the iconic Radcliffe Camera which is part of the Bodleian Library.

By All Souls College just beside Radcliffe Camera.

Love navigating these tiny streets and yes, am glad I still found my way to the covered market.

This was my habit when I was a student - I would go to the covered market to buy Ben's cookies - yes, they are the world's best cookies!!! These cookies are so well known now and some stores/branches can now be found in London.

Three prominent Protestant church leaders were memorialized in Oxford's Martyr's Memorial after being burned alive on Broad Street for they did not renounce their faith during the reign of Queen Mary. Apparently, they were all Cambridge educated.

Can you see the tots? At St. Johns College.

Cornmarket street is often buzzing with pedestrians. This is the shopping area.

Beautiful Tudor House at Cornmarket.

Back at the River Thames near Christ Church. So beautiful by the river.

If you ever come to Oxford during the summer, this is one thing you should never miss - punting! It is fun and I wished we had the chance to do it, perhaps next time.

Here's us by the River Thames. It was a wonderful day, indeed!

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