Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A modern Christmas Cake recipe from California Raisins

I'm sharing this recipe California Raisins sent to me because I think some moms who love to bake will like a new recipe to try. And also because they sent me a big bag of raisins! Vince and I love raisins. We're still trying to convince the kids it's a healthy and delicious snack as is but they prefer eating raisins when they're coated in chocolate (which I love, too!).

California Raisins are fat-free and have no cholesterol, low in sodium, and naturally sweet. That means you can lessen the cups of sugar required for your cakes and pastries and snack on the raisins while you bake and you won't gain a pound! I'm going to post some photos of baked goods stuffed with raisins to inspire you to bake with these sweet morsels!

Slices of bread with juicy raisins exploding in your mouth!
Photo by Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

 Mmm. Loaves of bread made sweet with chocolate chips and raisins!
Photo by Ananth Pai on Unsplash

Oh, my absolute favorite! Raisin cookies!
Photo by Denisse Leon on Unsplash

Anyway, the recipe! California Raisins asked Chef Michael Aspiras of Le Petit Souffle and Scout Honor to come up with holiday baked goods for Noche Buena and Christmas parties.

California Raisin Modern Christmas Cake

For the cake:
240g California Raisins*
330g Good quality unsalted butter
125g Caster sugar.
300g Eggs (or 6 medium-size eggs)
45ml Fresh milk
350g Cake flour
3g Salt
3g Baking powder
3g Cinnamon powder
3g Garam masala
5g Lemon zest
5g Orange zest
45ml Orange juice

*For the California Raisins:
200g California Raisins
35ml Rum
100ml water
25g White sugar

1. Cook sugar in water until it turns into a light syrup, add in rum remove from heat.
2. Soak raisins in rum, soak overnight.

1. Grease, line with parchment paper, grease again and flour 4 6 by 3 by 2.5 height loaf pans.
2. Preheat oven to 160°C.
3. Sift all dry ingredients together.
4. Strain and remove excess syrup from raisins, set aside, save the syrup.
5. Using a planetary mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, and sugar until light and fluffy.
6. Add in eggs one at a time.
7. Add in milk, then the orange juice.
8. Fold in dry ingredients, then the raisins.
9. Pour or pipe into the prepared loaf pans.
10. Bake for 35 minutes or until baked through.
11. Remove from oven, pour in excess syrup from soaked raisins.
12. Cool down to room temp, and then freeze.

For the Crispy California Raisin and Chocolate Dip coating

55g California Raisins (chopped)
55g Toasted walnuts (chopped roughly)
200g White chocolate
40g Red cocoa butter
40ml Vegetable oil

1. Melt the chocolate, temper, add color, temper again, and then add the oil.
2. Fold in raisins and walnuts.
3. Dip the frozen cakes until fully covered.
3. Finish by decorating with Christmas ornaments and marshmallows.

Enjoy this cake and enjoy this season, mamas!

California Raisins are available in leading supermarkets nationwide. Learn more about California Raisins and recipes by visiting and or checking out their official Facebook Page at

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Review: OMRON Compair Nebulizer System NE-C801

There are some things you never want to need to review. These are usually medication, medical equipment, hospitals (unless you're there to give birth), and funeral homes. But the time has come for me to use our latest medical machine because every December, my family comes down with a bad cold and cough and this year is no different. Everyone, except Iñigo, came down with a nasty cough and cold. Vito, Piero and I had a really horrible time breathing.

Thankfully, our new machine is amazing and really helped ease the breathing of Vito, Piero and myself. Thanks so much to the OMRON Compair Nebulizer System NE-C801!

A couple of months ago, I went to the press launch of this nebulizer (I wrote about the event and details of the machine in this post). We already have a Devilbiss nebulizer at home so I wasn't really supposed to buy a new one.

But the more I thought about the new OMRON nebulizer, the more I wanted it. So we got one!

It's really the smallest thing. It fits in my hand. It's also so light so when Kuya Vito needed to nebulize, I can ask toddler Piero to get the OMRON nebulizer because it's so magaan.

It's also really quiet, so if you have kids who are scared of the loud noise nebulizers make, try the OMRON. Of course, may ingay pa rin yung compressor pero it's really more of a hum. You can even use it on one kid while their siblings are sleeping and the sound won't disturb the other kids.

It's also really easy to assemble. I also like how deep the cup is. My kids and I sometimes lean back on pillows kasi when we're nebulizing (see first photo). Dun sa dati naming nebulizer, because maliit yung cup, you tilt back a little and the medication spills out. With the OMRON one, my kids can rest on pillows while nebulizing na. Hooray!

And at just P3,280, the OMRON Compair Nebulizer System NE-C801 is not an expensive nebulizer at all. It's available at leading drugstores. Buy na, mommies! Sulit ito. I highly recommend it!

Mr P agrees!

P.S. Vito and Piero are feeling much better. Me na lang. Alam niyo naman, nanay kasi, laging pagod at walang pahinga. Please pray I find a kasambahay soon! Thanks so very much!

Monday, December 18, 2017

5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests

For many Filipino families, the holidays means loved ones visiting home from abroad. In my case, I’ve been seeing (or plan to see) a few friends based in the US or the UK, and it’s been wonderful. If you have family or friends coming over for get-togethers at your home or if some of them are actually staying for a weekend or for their whole vacation, here are a few ways to make their stay special.

1. Fill the guest room with love. 
Love not mess! An extra room, if you’re lucky to have one, is usually our tambakan. If your guests are staying there, please move all the musty boxes and old appliances to the garage, vacuum the floor, wipe down the walls, change the sheets, bring in the pillows, open the windows and air out the room (and change the curtains while you’re at it). If you want to be extra, get a few scented candles, bring in a potted plant, add a rug by the bed. You don’t need to buy these—I’m sure you have some lying around your house. Just move them to your guest room to make your visitors feel special.

2. Make the beddings super soft.
There is nothing so amazing after a long day than sinking into a bed that’s clean and the sheets are fragrant and buttery soft. Now, really nice bed linens are expensive. I’m lucky to have a few sets—check out old photos of my babies enjoying our luxe sheets!—but those are for my own bed (queen-sized). For our guest bed (a.k.a. the sofa haha), we have bedsheets that are twin size. They’re just normal thread count but I make them feel extra special by using fabric conditioner. Super simple tip, right?

3. Put a throw on the sofa.
If you don’t have an extra room and your guests will have to stay on your sofa, clean the sofa! People always forget to do this! Vacuum it to death, wipe it down with watered down bleach (if sofa is white) or fabric conditioner, and let it dry under the sun. In a condo like me? Turn the fan on full blast so your sofa will dry faster and it won’t smell kulob. I like to use the Parfum Collection of Downy, particularly the one in the gold bottle, Daring. I actually like Sweetheart better (pink bottle) but my kids like Daring so what can I do? Anyway, all of the variants smell fantastic so whatever you choose is a winner. 

If there are stains on your sofa that just can’t be removed, discover the magic of throws. A throw is a small blanket in a decorative design. It’s not a bed sheet or a comforter. You can drape this on your sofa (over the stains!) to make your living room cozy. 

4. Make the bathroom an experience.
This goes without saying—scrub that bathroom down! Don’t forget the mirror. Wipe the doorknob and light switch with alcohol. Move your toiletries to your bedroom (this is my own quirk because I don’t like other people sniffing my stuff or dipping their fingers in my creams hehe). Wipe down the shower stall or wash the shower curtains. Replace the bath mats with something that feels great on bare feet. Light up a scented candle. Make your towels fluffy. Very important! My pet peeve when I visit other people’s homes is rough towels!

When Vince and I were choosing items for our bridal registry more than a decade ago, we carefully picked the softest white towels we could find. When several guests gave us the same gift of towels, we didn’t exchange them at the store. Extra towels are always a must to a home! For a growing family, for a home that welcomes guests, an abundance of towels is amazing. When you have guests, make towels (face, hand and bath!) extra luxurious by washing them in bleach (if yours are white like ours) then rinsing them with your best-smelling fabric conditioner. I’m a Downy Antibac user but for special occasions, I bust out the Parfum Collection for sweet-smelling and super soft towels. 

Note: If your towels are colored, you can just use Downy Antibac! It kills germs, makes towels nice and soft, plus the Color Protection Technology will keep your towels looking new!

5. Prepare munchies.
When I’m a guest at other people’s houses, I always bring my own snacks. Two reasons: first, so that my host isn’t inconvenienced forever trying to feed me, and second, so that I won’t be a bad guest and rummage around my host’s kitchen when I get hungry in the middle of the night. Set aside a basket of snacks in your guest room or a jar of cookies on the dining room table or just a special cupboard in the kitchen for snacks. Tell your guest, “This is for you. Feel free to eat anytime!” 

You must’ve noticed that I’m really into making things super soft (this post was actually inspired by me doing the laundry—I get a lot of blogging ideas when I’m doing the laundry!). I’m a very tactile and sensual person and by sensual I mean my senses like to be stimulated. I touch things. I smell things. When a home smells clean and fragrant, when what I touch is soft, I feel happy. Special. That’s what I want my guests to feel when they’re at my home. If you have any tips on how you make your home special for your guests, please share in the comments! Happy holidays!

*This post is brought to you by Downy.