Monday, October 31, 2011

A Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Party Theme for my son, Joaqui

In preparing for a party, I really plan ahead of time. I get really excited in planning a party. Maybe because I've been much exposed to party planning early on since my family had always been the host of gatherings/reunion; and the years of arranging meetings, conferences, seminars, formal dinners have further given me skills and experience in handling events. I treat events as special projects of mine. I' always like to be hands-on any preparation. I admit that I'm OC to details. I even organized my own wedding. To show you a bit of how OC I am, for my wedding, I drew a six-month schedule prior to my wedding and made a matrix - indicating the person responsible for a specific task, detailed date/time allotted for it, resources needed and the expected outcome of that activity. I delegated the tasks to my trusted family members and friends, thus ensuring that my wedding and reception went on smoothly. So it comes as no surprise to me and my family and friends,  that I would take pains in preparing my only son's birthday party. 

Six months before my son's birthday, I started asking him where does he like to hold his birthday party and what inspirations or theme he would like to have on that day. He explicitly asked for his party to be held in McDonald's Quezon Avenue. He was very specific about the place. He has good memories of the place because he attended a few of his classmates' birthday parties there.  Since Joaqui absolutely adores Disney Junior; he requested for a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme. It was a good thing that McDonald's Quezon Avenue offers that theme and their party package includes the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse loot bags and prizes.  Thus, it made it much simpler for me to concentrate on the edible giveaways.

Since I had the luxury of time to search and procure the materials needed for a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme. The internet has provided me answers how to execute the chosen party theme and where to buy the materials. I thought that I really wanted the party to be "Mickey Mouse kung Mickey Mouse." So, I decided to make these items - Mickey Mouse Character Cake, Mickey Mouse Cupcakes, and Mickey Mouse Sugar Cookies. 

The Mickey Mouse Character Cake pan is one of the earliest cake pans sold by Wilton, so it is not readily available in the local market. I had to order this one from ebay. With the Mickey Mouse Cupcakes, I got inspiration from youtube on how to do different Mickey Mouse Cupcakes. Lastly, I bought the Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse cookie stamps, ingredients and packaging from Chocolate Lover. 

I baked a Lemon Chiffon Cake for the Mickey Mouse Character Cake. It took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to prepare and bake the cake. For its icing, I made a buttercream icing or decorators' icing and used star tips to decorate the cake.  This is the arduous task - making and coloring the icing and decorating the cake. Tinting the icing to a darker color may take more than 20 minutes alone, especially the color black. Four hours were consumed alone in completing this task. 

For the Mickey Mouse Cupcakes, I chose to bake a Red Chocolate Velvet Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing. I baked the 80 pieces regular size cupcakes in four and half hours. It's better to bake the cupcakes in the center of the oven. The cupcakes will come out perfectly in controlled temperature of the oven.  It will not have cracks or overflow from the liner. I made the icing and decorated the cupcakes in four hours.

With the Mickey Mouse Sugar Cookies, it took me two days to mix, chill, bake, decorate, dry and pack these cookies.

These tasks may seem daunting at first, but I had my handy helpers - Yaya Jane and Joaqui. We were like an assembly line at home. It was exhausting, but really fun to do. My son had so much fun in baking and decorating the goodies and had the first crack at tasting these treats.

It was indeed a labor of love. Seeing my son smile with much delight on his special day made all the pains and effort worth it.  Also, guests were appreciative of the edible tokens.

Mickey Mouse Party was pure HAPPINESS for my son - Joaqui. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


My son's preschool holds an annual Halloween Party. Everyone gets excited in preparing for this event, including me and my son. Students and parents are requested to bring treats for all in this party. My son and I decided to make our own treats instead of buying it. It's cheaper to have it home-made, more personal and special. Also, it provides an opportunity for family members to bond. It simply spells "FUN." Plus, baking improves the child's motor-skills and helps him/her to do math. 

Joaqui always wants to help in the kitchen. He is my handy helper. He helps me in measuring and sifting dry ingredients. He loves the mixing part. But the best part of it all is that we'll enjoy a bite of our creations and share them with friends. 

Last year, we baked Monster Cupcakes. We had a great time decorating cupcakes, transforming them into creepy monsters. This year, we made spider webs, scary pumpkins and spooky ghosts sugar cookies. 

What shall we make for next year???

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My version of Batchoy

Due to insistent public demand, I'm sharing my recipe of Batchoy. In deconstructing this fare, I've tried to remember the different versions of La Paz Batchoy I've tasted in Taft Avenue and Leon Guinto. So here is my version. 

My version of Batchoy
Serves 3-4 persons
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 small shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
250 grams beef shank, diced and include bones in boiling water
80 grams pork liver, diced
80 grams pork shoulder, diced
1.5 liters water or beef broth
2 pieces Beef Cubes (omit if using beef broth)
300 grams miki, washed
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoon spring onions, chopped
¼ cup chicharon bits
1 tablespoon toasted garlic bits
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

  1.  .      Saute shallots and garlic in oil.
    2.      Add the beef shank, pork shoulder and liver. Saute for a minute.
    3.      Add water, salt, pepper and beef cubes, and then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the pork and beef are tender. (It’s better to use a pressure cooker to reduce the cooking time).
    4.      Add the miki noodles. Let this simmer for 3 minutes.
    5.      To serve, put miki noodles in a bowl topped with pork and beef pieces the pour the broth into the bowl.
    6.      Top with spring onions, chicharon bits, toasted garlic and sliced hard-boiled eggs. 

 It's perfect for the rainy weather. 


On weekends, I feel doubly inspired to cook for my family from breakfast to dinner and even midnight snack.  I have more time to prepare an elaborate meal or a slow-cooked meal and my family has more time to enjoy it on these days.  Weekend is also a time in which family members are complete and take their meals at a leisure pace. There is no rush to finish meals quickly. There is more talk, ideas and stories exchanged over meals. Weekends are also allotted for get-togethers or reunions. Glorious food brings family, relatives and friends together. When catching up with family and friends, it is usually done over food (breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or coffee, dinner and nightcap).

It has been a tradition for my family to have special meals on weekends. My mom used to cook her specialties and our favourites on these special days. I remember when I was little; our Saturdays would be all about home-cooked meals. Fried rice, sunny side-up and dried fish would be served for breakfast. Then lunch would be a pork dish like Dinuguan, Callos, Meatloaf and Pot Roast, etc. My mom would cook everything from scratch. My brother, Monch, and I would usually help her in preparing the snacks that range from guinataan (mais and halo-halo), turon, bananaque, camoteque, biko, maja blanca, halo-halo, mais con hielo, saba con hielo, arroz caldo, champorado, pansit, palabok and pizza. Dinner would be usually a beef dish – Beef Puchero, Bulalo, Kaldereta, Mechado or Kare-Kare. Every meal would be ended with a dessert. My mom would serve a fruit salad or mango tapioca or pudding or ube halaya or leche flan or ice box cake.

When I think about it, I don’t know how my mom had done it. Serving special meals on weekdays and extra special food on weekends, and taking care of a husband and five kids would exhaust any ordinary person. But I think my mom did it because she loved us so much, wanted to express her love through good food and wanted to make our family much closer. So, I imbibed this food culture and tried to continue the tradition of weekend cooking in my own family.

The food served during weekends can be anything from simple to fancy, but prepared always with much love and thoughtfulness for family members to enjoy. Weekend cooking is putting an extra care and effort to bring smiles to the faces of your loved ones.

Cheers to weekend cooking!