Kitchen Stories- Dark Chocolate Caramel Cookies

We've been spending some time in the kitchen lately because school's on term break. Spending time at home always makes us hungry and constantly craving for sugary treats. We both have a sweet tooth and love all things chocolate, so we went all out and made some dark chocolate cookies with a gooey caramel center the other day. The cookies turned out amazing and they might just be the best cookie recipe in the entire world! You have to try them. We're already planning on making big batches to store in the freezer for rainy days and emergencies, and most especially for those times when you need a good cookie to get you through the day.

*Makes 12 Jumbo Cookies
1 2/3 cups Dark Chocolate or Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup packed Light Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1 large Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
12 pieces Individually Wrapped Caramels
Sea Salt (optional)


PREHEAT oven to 325F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.

MELT 2/3 cup chocolate chips using a double boiler or microwave oven for 30 to 40 seconds until melted. Set aside.

BEAT butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large mixer bowl until creamy. Add melted chocolate and mix well. Add in egg and vanilla extract and continue to mix until well combined.

SIFT cocoa powder, flour,  baking soda and salt in another bowl. Gradually mix flour mixture into butter mixture just until well blended, then stir in remaining 1 cup chocolate chips. Cover dough and chill for 1 to 2 hours. Do not skip this step. Dough will be easier to form when chilled.

ROLL dough into balls, 1/4 cup measure each. Make a thumbprint into each dough ball and  press a caramel candy inside. Put your cookie balls on baking sheet, 3 inches apart. Sprinkle sea salt if desired.

BAKE 16 to 18 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until completely cool. Store in airtight container for up to 5 days.

The most chocolatey, chewy, and soft cookies we've ever made. We couldn't keep our hands off and just had to have a taste while we were trying to take photos so we ended up having very sticky hands and an equally sticky camera. Oh, the dangers we go through just to share a recipe :)

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Halloween Candy Bouquet

It has been a tradition in our home to give out candies and sweet treats for Halloween. And since the only kid in the house is all grown up now, we really look forward to all the little boys and girls who pass by on Halloween with their eager faces as they hold out their open bags waiting to see what candy we would drop in. 

This year, we’re planning to do things a little differently. We’re still giving out candies, but for some lucky little kids, we’re giving out some “dressed-up” lollipops just to add a bit of fun! Besides, we love candy and the month of October is the only time we have an excuse to buy more :) 

Here’s a simple idea for a Candy Bouquet that can also double up as a table centrepiece for all you Halloween lovers out there. 

You will need:
White cotton material
Plastic googly eyes
Instant glue
Floral foam
Plastic pumpkin container

Easy how to: Cut out 4” x 4” inch squares of white cotton material from scrap cloth like old t-shirts or socks. Drape over lollipop and secure with a piece of twine. Dab on some glue, attach a pair of googly eyes, and you’re all done!

Trim floral foam to fit your pumpkin or any container you’d like to use and simply stick in your little ghost lollipops.

We had so much fun making this easy Halloween craft while eating lots of candy too. Happy Halloween!

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Green Bar Cafe

Bianca and I have a diet made up of mostly meat. We love a good steak! The truth is, we don't eat enough fruits and vegetables and even though we make lots of plans to go healthy, we always fail. 

When we heard that a new vegan eatery and juicery opened in our neighborhood, we couldn't be more pleased! We're not turning vegan just yet, but we're happy that there's a convenient place to go for some healthier choices.

Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes all animal derived ingredients such as eggs, dairy products and meat. A vegan diet is made up of grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits. We know that there are many benefits to this type of diet and we were excited to try out the different dishes that Green Bar has to offer.

Green Bar's menu choices include salads, snacks, sandwiches, and wraps made with delicious, satisfying fillings. You won't even miss the meat because they use a vegan alternative called seitan - a satisfying veggie meat derived from the protein portion of wheat. Who knew?

One of our favorites is this Cuban Burrito that's filled with red rice, black beans, fried plantains, seitan sausage, pico de gallo, and chimichurri sauce that's served warm by the grill.

This seitan sandwich is inspired by NYC's finest foodies, and filled with crisp seitan sausage topped with caramelized onions, cashew cream and vegan mayo.

Vegan pizza.

Chocolate, Vanilla and Bourbon flavored cupcakes are made without eggs or dairy.

Green Bar Cafe was born from the shared dream of these three sisters, Michelle Araneta, Jade Santos and Sadara Santos. All vegans and diehard foodies, each recipe they prepare and serve is inspired by their years of travel and dining around the globe, be it in world renowned restaurants, hidden food trucks or hole-in-the-wall cafes.

We really enjoyed our vegan brunch last weekend. Everything we tried was delicious and filling sans the meat. We can't wait to be back for more : )

Green Bar is located inside
Beyond Yoga Alabang
Westgate Center
Muntinlupa City
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Dear Bianca

My daughter, Bianca, recently went on a school retreat for three days in Caleruega, Batangas. I wrote her a thank you letter and I'd like to share it with you.

I hardly write about the challenges I face in dealing with my Parkinson's disease. Bianca witnesses the difficulties I face everyday as my disease progresses and I purposely avoid writing about it on our blog because I feel as if I'm rubbing it in and making her suffer more. Sadly, there is no cure yet for Parkinson's, and it being a degenerative condition, my symptoms and medications are increasing as time goes by.

Bianca was only nine years old when I was diagnosed, and she's been selflessly caring for me ever since. She's been my source of strength and inspiration, and this time I want her to get all the credit. I've said before that we put up this blog because we wanted to have a happy place to look back on and as a reminder of how blessed we are despite everything we are going through. 

Life hasn't been easy, but because we have each other, we have love and we have hope.

October 8, 2014

To my dearest Bianca,

I’m always in denial every time I think about how you’re on your last year in high school and how you’ll be entering college soon. I get this happy kind of sad feeling thinking about how far you’ve come and all your accomplishments and how soon, you won’t be needing me around as much anymore because you are clearly on your way to becoming an adult.

You’ve come such a long way and I’m so so so proud of you! I know you have big dreams. Please know that I’m always here to support you, no matter what it takes, I’ll be here to help you make it happen.

Life hasn’t been easy for both of us because of my PD. I know that having a sick mom is hard on you, but despite everything we are going through, you have shown me amazing strength. People always tell me that I am strong. But, the truth is, you are the strong one. For taking care of me without complain, for feeding me my dinner when my hands fail me, for helping me dress up when I’m shaking too much and can’t stand still, for giving me a back massage every time I’m palpitating and for waking up in the middle of the night to cover me up with a blanket when I get the chills.

You’ve always been so protective of me, not wanting others to know what I’m going through because you don’t want me to be misunderstood and criticized for attracting attention because I’m sick. I know it’s difficult for you to listen to me talk about my condition and the reality that we both face. You don’t get asked too often how you’re dealing with caring for me, and I just want others to know of the courage and bravery you show me every day.

I remember when during one of our talks, I told you to be prepared that as my disease progresses, I might suffer from dementia. In a sad, quiet voice you said, “Mama, please don’t ever forget me okay?” It almost broke my heart, that I could cause you so much pain. But, I don’t want to keep you in the dark, and although it’s sometimes hard to accept, we both have to be prepared.

I worry that sometimes you are unhappy, but I see you smile and hear you laugh, and I know that your joy is genuine. Despite, everything, you have remained positive that in God’s perfect time, I will be healed.

My dearest Bianca, I am strong because you are strong. Because of you, I know we will reach all our goals and dreams. Yes, we are going travel together to see the world as we have always planned, we’re building our dream house in the very near future, and we’re both going to be on the cover of Vogue Magazine. Okay, maybe just you on the cover of Vogue, and I can be on the cover of Smart Parenting? Hahaha 

You are the best daughter any mom can ask for. I am so blessed that God put you in my life. You have taught me so much and I can never imagine my life without you.  Once in a while I wonder if you get embarrassed because you have a ‘shaky mama’, but on more than one occasion you came home from school declaring that your friends think I’m a cool mom and I’m mentally giving myself a high five.

Thank you for being my hero. Thank you for everything that you do for me. I wish you a happy, fulfilled life and I pray for your good health always.

Take care of yourself and come home soon. I’ll have your favourite freshly baked cookies waiting for you when you get back. I miss you so much!

With all my love,


Staycation at Aruga by Rockwell

 The Lobby at Aruga by Rockwell*

The Rockwell Center in Makati City is one of Metro Manila's premier communities where the conveniences of residential and office buildings, retail establishments and even a school can be found in one exclusive enclave.

The most recent addition to this one-of-a-kind neighborhood is Aruga Serviced Apartments, Rockwell's first foray into the hotel and leisure industry. Aruga which means "to nurture" in Tagalog is set out to offer its guests sincere and exceptional service.

Set to be fully operational before the end of this year, the serviced apartments ranging from studio units to one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites are all designed in Asian contemporary style and fitted with a well equipped kitchen, uninterrupted internet service, and comfortable beds.

Living area of a two-bedroom suite.

Fully equipped kitchen.

Comfortable beds ensure a good night's rest.

Aruga is a short walk away from Power Plant Mall, one of our most favorite places for dining and shopping. So, when we received an invitation to try out their amenities, we were more than happy to accept.

Perfect for family vacations and business trips, the suites are spacious and well designed. One of the things we loved most about our room was the kitchen equipped with a microwave oven, toaster, coffeemaker, kitchen utensils and dinnerware making it ideal for spontaneous gatherings with friends and family. And with the holidays fast approaching, guests from out of the country can avail of their long stay packages with the amenities and benefits of a full service apartment with ready access to 24-hour housekeeping.

Other services and facilities include a gym, swimming pool, business center, airport transfer service, a function room and the soon to open breakfast lounge.

 The fitness gym offers the latest in exercise equipment, with an option of having a personal trainer or working out alone.

 Be it a large gathering, a business conference or an intimate lunch, Aruga's function room can cater to your every need.

 Function room set-up.

Aruga offers warm, personal service exuding true Filipino hospitality. Throughout our two day stay the whole Aruga team from Guest Services to Housekeeping made sure we had an enjoyable stay by anticipating all our needs.

 Many thanks to the Aruga team- Valian Urag, Fae Teh, Pamela Augustin and Calvin Cutaran for a pleasant stay!

For bookings and inquiries, call 818-0000, or visit

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*photo by Rockwell Land

Fun Halloween Costumes

Halloween is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries, including some parts of the Philippines. On October 31st, the eve of All Saints Day, people go trick-or-treating, hold costume parties, decorate carved pumpkins, play pranks and visit haunted houses to supposedly drive away evil spirits.

Halloween is a big thing in our village. Children and adults both dress up in scary and not so scary costumes and enjoy going around houses to collect treats. It's always fun to see the creative costumes parents and kids come up with every year. And while the typical department store bought costumes are still popular, more and more people are trying to come up with original, one-of-a-kind ensembles.

Here are some cute ideas we found on one of our favorite sites for all things crafty, They're easy to put together as well as practical and inexpensive. All you need is a quick visit to your closet!

Little fashion icons.

She Said: Halloween costumes need not be expensive. Bianca found some useful pieces that were hiding in my closet. Thrift stores are good places to check out too!

she said: I'm so excited to be the fabulous Anna Wintour for Halloween this year! I raided my mom's closet for this look, and the magazines are mine.
Little music icons.

Photos taken from Visit their site here for more costume and craft ideas.

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