A “Culinary Massage” treat for a great Mom

Veronica Leighton — she is one dearest Mom to her “large” family and deserves all the love this wonderfully sweet Mother’s Day.

No flowers from me … I baked her a moist chocolate cake (recipe follows) and worked on her sooo-tired muscles, after weeks of preparing for the Filipino American Hall of Fame Awards.  And she loved the my brand of pampering….a full body Swedish massage.

Happy Mother’s Day my mommie dear Veronica!

Moist Chocolate Cake for Mommie Dearest Veronica

2 cups water (if there is left over brewed coffee, use it, adding enough water to equal 2 cups)
2 cups sugar
4 squares (4 oz) unsweetened chocolate
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) margarine
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar.  Turn off heat.  Add chocolate squares and margarine, stirring until chocolate is melted.  Let cool slightly.   Beat eggs lightly, and temper with few spoons of warm chocolate mixture before mixing well with the chocolate.   Stir in vanilla.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease, line with wax paper and grease again a 9 x 13 baking pan.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, aerate the remaining dry ingredients using a wire whisk.  Add the chocolate mixture and beat at medium speed until smooth and well-mixed.   Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35 – 45 minutes or until done and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean.    Cool completely.  Spread some chocolate frosting on top .

Chocolate Frosting
(Adapted from The Goldilocks Bakeshop)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter

Combine and cook all ingredients, except vanilla and butter, in a double boiler.    Stir continuously until the consistency thickens.   Turn off heat and stir in vanilla and butter.  Transfer to a bowl to cool prior to use, stirring occasionally.


Chef David Hilo and Chef Omar’s Winning Recipe of Bicol Express

Chef David Hilo, 2011 graduate from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, is moving soon to Cincinnati, Ohio to work in a plush sushi restaurant.   But glad to have him in the CelebrEATy Circle with his chef-buddy Chef “O” and shared their version of the “flaming dish” Bicol Express.   The 2 chefs were fun to watch while doing their prep works in the kitchen and really observed the “mise en place” and cut up veggies and meat the professional way.   Soon they were ready for the camera…and so as not to get embarrassed again for the second time, they made sure they had vegetable oil this time.  The 2 chefs entered a cooking competition with this same recipe few months back.  They admitted they were a bit nervous, like true first timers in food competition, and when it was their turn to do the demo, to their shock and horror, they didn’t have vegetable oil to saute chopped onions and ginger and minced garlic.  But they regained composure and boil coconut milk to extract coconut oil….brilliant, it even made the dish extra-special.  And they were handed the best dish of the nite…what a great story!  To both chefs, my congratulations and more power…I really encouraged them to audition for Food Network Star or Hell’s Kitchen…they both have the drive and passion, and I volunteered to work on their personality.  Here’s the recipe for the Bicol Express:


2 cans Coconut milk
1 can Coconut cream
1 root Ginger, chopped
3-5 cloves Garlic, minced
1 large Onion, chopped
1 Kalabasa (squash), peeled and chopped
10-15 finger long peppers
10-15 Thai chili pepper
1 red pepper, sliced
1 lb Pork loin, sliced
1 lb Shrimp

Visit Chef Omar’s blog:   http://chefoblog.wordpress.com/

and view their you tube demo:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vapx1YMihUQ (demo on Bicol Express w/ Chef David Hilo)


An Enchanted Evening at the Meadows Club, Rolling Meadows, Illinois

My taping for Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies was terminated without even showing the baked cookies, not good.   Reason — we needed to get to The Meadows Club for its 4the Anniversary Celebration.  As always it was one of those tight scheds, no one to blame, but plenty to blame on the “rush-hour” traffic.   But we got there — Veronica, Joe, Jovie, the Kramers Don and Flor and myself.   Many guests already enjoying hors d’oeuvres and exotic cocktail drinks.   The multiple cuisine stations (salads, meats, Indian foods, pasta, seafoods, and desserts) were all busy — oh my, what excuse shall I tell Jillian and Bob now!  Wonderful “oldies but goldies” tunes from the live band were truly special — the music was simply making food digestion faster, really.   Madan Kulkarni, CEO of the Meadows Club was all smiles throughout the nite.  Then it was time for some entertainment  — in style.   Top Chicago designers put on a magnificent display of top calibre dress creations worn by lovely fashion models.  There were ballroom dancers too and oh yes, the well-applauded gorgeous belly dancers.   What a nite!

The Meadows Club is at 2950 W. Golf Road, Rolling Meadows, IL 60018

Get in touch with lovely Rian Mari Enriquez, Sales Manager for conventions, weddings, and special events.

Happy Memorial Day Celebration Photos plus Veronica’s Birthday

It may not be officially summer, but no doubt, Memorial Day was hottest (at 85 F).

About an hour drive to Kramers…. for some good eats, good conversations and good “fun in the sun” moments.  And first thing I checked, “Are we grilling yet?”

Mmm, makes me even more hungry now…the meat looking pretty gorgeous in the grill…oh those grill marks!

Ok, the table spread….lotsa lotsa array of “all-things-Filipino” foods, from pancit (noodles) to the ever-present Lechon (roast pig).  Hey Miss Piggy, I love your tan!

Titah Veronica Leighton and her guests were all eyes on the gorgeous birthday cake.

And back to more chats, girls’ talks, guys’ walks, etc. etc. etc.

Thanks to the Kramers (Don and Flor).

Don Kramer Celebrates Birthday a la Hawaii

No kids allowed…it was all adults wanting to have a blast at Don Kramer’s Hawaiian-style birthday party.  Nope, Don is no Hawaiian.  But for Midwest people just wanting a relief from extreme cold weather and snow storm, throwing a Hawaiian theme party is a no brainer.     When one thinks of  Hawaii, what comes to mind right away is FUN FUN FUN.    So guests arrived in pretty colorful hawaiian dresses/gowns and floral print shirts (but no flip-flops, brrr, it’s still winter!)    Hawaii 5o tv theme song was playing non-stop, everyone’s in a great hawaiian mood.  Foods were one by one displayed in the table, but guests were tempted to shrimp cocktails, cashew nuts and mini-bites appetizers and guests were ordering cocktails and “guys’ drinks” non-stop (yes, designated drivers stayed away from the bar).

This is the birthday celebrant, Don Kramer, and he really did enjoy the hula dances.

This is James at his best…his appletinis, his bellinis, his rum n coke — he is the perfect bartender, handsome and ever-smiling!  And boy can he dance.

Friends, family, CPRTV/Viatimes staff pose for camera for loads of unforgettable birthday photos.

Yup, the lovely hula girls heat up the night…and guys were in jubilation.

Glenn handles the DJ for the expected an all-night dancing.  No chance for one to complain of freezing temp…the body heat combined was making me use my “fan” all nite.

Food was in abundance…entrees range from sweet, tangy, creamy, crunchy, to exotic.  And my friend Erika made the fabulous 2 cakes.

I can’t wait for the next Hawaiian party, it is really so much fun.   Some imagination, little preparations and great dancing music repertoire make up the ingredients for a successful Hawaiian party, and you don’t even have to be in Hawaii or go through the hassles of  TSA body scans/search.  I found this interesting easy recipe in the internet that I certainly will bring to next Hawaiian party, but I’ll use smoked sausage (much cheaper).

Quick and Easy Tropical Smoked Sausage Appetizers

2 lbs smoked sausage, cut in big chunks
a jar of maraschino cherries with juice
2 cans (15 oz) chunk pineapple with juice
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup (8 oz) pineapple juice
Throw everything in a crock pot and let cook.