Philippines: Catching-up with high-school friends in Tandag

I am very lucky to have some really amazing and crazy bunch of friends around, who bring so much positivity and make my life wonderful and lively.

It’s been a while since we saw each other last; I’m grateful that they were able to squeeze in a little time off their busy schedules to make my short break in the Philippines worthwhile and I’m so glad I had the chance to catch-up with them.

…with my high-school friends through the years!

How did we catch-up?

  • I invited them to my sister’s wedding and to the house blessing of our new home.
  • Chaperoned our children (who happened to be classmates and friends) to their own catch-up time at VML Hotel.
  • Went for a sunset walk at the Riverside in Telaje.
  • Played badminton at ELG Badminton Center.
  • A coffee group date at Brew Central

…with my high-school friends at my sister’s wedding.

What did we talk about?

We talked about life in general – memories (loads of them and we laughed at them), work, family, food, fitness, travels, friends we have in common, etc – just a bit of everything. It was just pure fun and laughter. Everybody was cool, calm and casual, so there was a natural flow to conversation as if we were just talking a few weeks ago. And when one was talking, we were all ears!

…with my high-school friends through the years!

They were still the same guys then, even though I didn’t get to see many of high-school friends since it was December/Christmas break – in the Philippines, it’s a time of the year for so many family gatherings. I really missed them. It was so great to catch up with them after all these years! And I hope to see them again soon.

when we chaperoned our children…

Personally, I think when I met my high-school friends, emotions speak more than words. And when we met, we thought we were still in high-school and we wished to go back to those good old days when we were carefree and relaxed from the stresses of life. It’s like all that mattered was that we were together again.

…with Daryl.

…with Grace and Eowyn, her daughter.

Certainly, I reckon meeting up with a friend you haven’t seen in years and being able to chat for hours is one of the most special experiences I’ve ever had. Cheers to 25 years of friendship and counting!

in the wilderness?

sunset walk at the Riverside.

…with Daryl and her love of her life.

How about you – how often do you meet your old friends?




Philippines: Breakfast at the beach in Tandag

Amongst the many things I love about my hometown is a wonderful beach breakfast or brunch at Mabua Beach in Tandag, where we only live 5 meters away from the sea.

Breakfast with family at Mabua Beach in Tandag

Mabua Beach in Tandag

It was a beautiful day after Christmas, all of the big events in the family (my sister’s wedding, Christmas Eve celebration and house blessing of our new home) were over, so we decided to have breakfast at the beach.

Mabua Beach in Tandag

We brought all the leftovers from Christmas, plus mom’s cooked fresh tinolang isda (fish soup) with freshly harvested vegetables from her garden.

Everybody had good appetite. Everybody was delighted. Everybody savored the moment.

  • Got thrilled out by the unlimited karaoke on the beach. Don’t you know that it is part of the Filipino passions?

Mabua Beach in Tandag

  • Had fun with the big waves – swim through, dive under or ride over them.

Mabua Beach in Tandag

  • Luxuriate in with one of my favorite books.

Mabua Beach in Tandag

  • Got a kick out of a tranquil walk on the seashore.

Mabua Beach in Tandag

Mabua Beach in Tandag

  • Dug on the beach and buried up to your neck in the sand.

Mabua Beach in Tandag

Mabua Beach in Tandag

  • Wallowed in the luxury of tranquility and togetherness.

Mabua Beach in Tandag

Mabua Beach in Tandag

Certainly fun!

Mabua Beach in Tandag

How I love to smell and hear the warm early morning sea breeze, listen to the sound of the crashing waves, watch the sun glorious rising hues, and bask in the stunning view of the sea. It was so warm, relaxed and breathtaking!

Indonesia: 3 days in a gorgeous secluded beach resort in Bali

My family and I are a true beach bum. We love beach! And one of the reasons why we traveled to Bali was to enjoy a private escape to the beach without worrying about crowds.

Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali


Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali

Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali

Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali

We lazed at Sandi Phala Beach Resort for 3 days – siesta on the beach, a lot of reading, schmoozing with my boys, sun basking, swimming, playing with the big waves, watching sunset, tasting Balinese food and enjoying the refreshing Bintang beer. We certainly enjoyed the luxury and the privacy.

Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali

Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali

Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali


Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali

Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali

Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali

The tranquility, the beautiful sunset, the breeze, the big waves, the playful blend of aqua colors, the yellow brown sands, the luscious food and the friendly staff make this destination a genuine paradise.

Ma Joly Restaurant

Sandi Phala Beach Resort

Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali

Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali

Likewise, we liked the place because it is like half way between Tandag, my hometown in the Philippines and Carantec in Brittany, France. Plus, it was absolutely quiet. We spent 5 full great days in Bali – 3 days at the beach and 2 days to visit other places, was just right to re-charge our mojo, re-energize and re-ignites our passion.

Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali

Sandi Phala Beach Resort in Bali

Taste of Home: Stuffed chicken breasts

Tuesday morning was scorching hot and I wasn’t really feel inspired to cook and I hadn’t planned anything for lunch. Plus, when I asked my boys what they want for lunch, they said “I don’t know”.

So, I checked what we had in the fridge. I found chicken breasts and some vegetables. Then, I came up with this idea randomly: stuffed chicken breasts.

Stuffed chicken breasts

Stuffed chicken breasts

It turned out to be insanely good packed with colorful flavor. I served it with mashed potato prepared by hubby (leftover from Monday lunch) and stir-fry broccoli.

It’s super easy and you can stuff the chicken breasts with whatever vegetables you want.

What you will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 large shallots, sliced
  • 2 tsp chicken powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano,
  • freshly crashed red Kampot pepper to taste
  • some shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • some fresh parsley, chopped

Stuffed chicken breasts

Stuffed chicken breasts

How to make it:

  1. Make slits in each chicken. Make sure you do not cut through completely.
  2. Seasoned with chicken powder, paprika and freshly crashed red Kampot pepper.
  3. Stuff with shallots, tomatoes and yellow bell pepper and sprinkle oregano.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Sprinkle cheddar cheese.
  6. Put the chicken in a preheated oven to 220⁰C and bake it for 25 minutes.
  7. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
  8. Et voila – lunch is ready! Serve, share and enjoy with your loved ones!


Taste of Home: Savory French Leek Tart

The first time I tasted Leek Tart was during our holiday in France when my mom-in-law made it for us. I love it and it’s one of my husband’s favorite foods. So when we came back from our holidays, I tried to make it at home. And this recipe is inspired by mom-in-law.

Savory French Leek Tart

To be honest, I hadn’t tried leeks since my childhood until I met my husband. But now I am loving it together with my family simply because it has a distinct rich flavor and it’s luscious. Plus, we love the sweet smell of leeks while it’s cooking especially when it started to caramelize. My husband usually used leeks in soup, and now I’m using it in tarts.

In my recipe, I prefer to use homemade pie crust (from scratch), homemade béchamel/white sauce, and for the fillings sometimes I added bacon with the leeks or just leeks. I don’t use eggs.

Leek tart without bacon

Leek tart with bacon

This leek tart recipe is quite easy. It makes a great brunch or lunch with side green salad. You can eat it as an appetizer or main course. For us, it is best served with a good white Sauvignon Blanc or Champagne and enjoy it with your loved ones.

What you will need for the fillings:

  • 8 leeks
  • 8 stripes bacon, slightly cooked (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • freshly crashed red Kampot pepper to taste
  • Emmentel cheese, grated

What you will need for the béchamel sauce:

  • 20 grams salted butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk

What you will need for the pie crust:

  • 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp white refined sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 20 grams salted butter at room temperature
  • ¼ cup of cold water

Leek tart


  1. Make pie crust.
    • In a mixing bowl put the flour, butter and sugar. Mix well.
    • In a separate small bowl, cracked the egg to make sure that it’s a good one and to remove some eggshells. Then put in into the mixture. Mix well.
    • Add the cold water little by little until you get the desired consistency. Mix well.
    • Form into a big ball.
    • Wrap it with a plastic wrap.
    • Refrigerate it while you are preparing the béchamel sauce and the fillings.
    • After you refrigerate it, flour the surface of the working area.
    • Roll it out to your desired thickness. Make sure the edges extend a couple of inches beyond the 9-inch pie plate.

homemade pie crust

2. Make béchamel sauce.

    • In a small bowl, put 1 tbsp of all-purpose flour. Add some water. Stir it thoroughly.
    • In a small cooking pot, put the butter, the milk and flour mixture. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes.
    • Set aside.

3. Make the fillings.

    • Thoroughly clean the leeks because some sands and other dirt often caught between the layers.
    • Cut the leeks. When you cut the leeks you can smell their acidity and it is burning your eyes.
    • Cut the bacon into small stripes or cubes. Then in a small frying pan, put the bacon and cooked it for 5 minutes.
    • Put the leeks in a cooking pan. Stir.
    • When the leeks have been caramelized, add bacon. Mix well.
    • Seasoned with salt and freshly crashed red Kampot pepper according to your taste. (You can use whatever pepper you like. My family and I prefer red Kampot pepper – it’s tasty and fruity.)
    • Let it cook for 5 minutes. Set aside.



4. Putting together.

    • Preheat your oven to 200⁰C.
    • Put the pastry and press it into a pie plate. Fix up any tears. Finish off the ragged ends into a neat edge.
    • Pour the filings into the pastry.
    • Bake it for 35 minutes.
    • Top it with grated Emmentel cheese, 15 minutes before the timer stops.
    • Allow the tart to cool off for 30 minutes after you take it out from the oven so that the cheese and leeks set and also to keep its shape.

ready to be shoved into the oven

5. Slice, serve, share and enjoy!

Taste of Home: Apple pie

Oh apples – we love apples and we love pie. And apple pie is our new quintessential dessert – it warms me and my family up from the inside out. It’s so delicious, healthy and we all love it.

Apple pie

So what makes this apple pie stand out for us?

  • We love the simplicity of this dish. It’s easy – just mix everything together into a bowl then pour the mixture into a homemade crust. And while it’s in the oven, it makes the house smell incredible and everybody loves it.
  • We love the combination of flour, apples, spice, a delicious golden crust and everything nice. And to make it healthier I used honey instead of sugar. I also tried making it with all green apples and a mixture of green and red apples – they both taste lovely. We love the balance of flavors – it’s just right!

I was on a cloud nine when my succulent homemade circle of happiness was a success, and I was over the moon when I learned that a slice of it makes everyone feel better.

Apple pie

So, here’s my simple, easy and scrumptious recipe of Apple Pie that could warm the hearts of your loved ones. Could there be anything better?

Ingredients for the pie crust:

  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup of cold water
  • 20 grams of butter at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp of white refined sugar
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 1 large egg

Ingredients for the fillings:

  • 6 green apples OR 4 Fuji red apples + 2 green apples.
  • 4 tbsp of flour
  • 5 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger

Apple pie


1.Make the pie crust.

  • Mix the flour, egg, butter, salt, sugar, and cold water until the flour is moistened.
  • Sprinkle some more cold water on it a little at a time until you achieve the consistency of dough.
  • Form into a two big balls. Place it on a plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
  • Flour the surface of the working area.
  • Roll it out to your desired thickness. Make sure the edges extend a couple of inches beyond the 9-inch pie plate.
  • Press it into the pie plate. Fix up any tears. Finish off the ragged ends into a neat edge.

2. Make the fillings.

  • Sliced the apples into wedges. Make sure to get rid of stems, seeds and brown spots. Set aside.
  • In a small dry bowl, combine the flour, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger and salt. Mix them well.
  • Arrange the apples into the pie crust to avoid spaces. Then add the sauce from the apple mixture.
  • Refrigerate while preparing the cover of the pie.

the main ingredient

apple pie

3.Make the cover of the pie.

  • Roll the dough out to your desired thickness.
  • Cut the dough into stripes.
  • Put the stripes on top of the apples to cover the pie. Weave the dough stripes (alternating the stripes in and out).
  • Press the edges. Cover the edge with tin foil.
  • Brush some melted butter on the stripes to make it a little bit brown.

Ready to be shoved into the oven.

apple pie – yum!

4. Preheat the oven for 5 minutes.

5. Bake the apple pie at 200⁰C for about 50 minutes.

6. Let it cool for about 3 hours before serving.

7. Et voila – apple pie is ready! Serve, share and enjoy!


Taste of Home: Soft Dinner Rolls

Since we don’t eat rice every day, I decided to make soft dinner rolls for tonight’s supper to pair with hubby’s soupe de legumes.

Soft dinner rolls

Dinner rolls fresh from the oven

We love bread. We love soft dinner rolls. We love it especially when we dip the roll in the soup or when we sweep the last drop of sauce on our plate. Hmmm…it’s so delicious. So for us, the softer and fluffier, the better!

Soft dinner rolls

I made a batch of these fluffiest of all fluffy dinner rolls. It’s light, soft and squishy. Plus, it goes along well with salad, soup, sauce, gravy, etc.

In this recipe, there’s nothing complicated about making these rolls. Although it’s just a snap to make it at home but it requires quite a long time to prepare as it has 2 sets of rising times – about 3 hours for the preparation (including the rising time) and about 25 minutes baking time. Likewise, I use simple ingredients (you can find them easily at the supermarket). Plus, I don’t use a mixer to make the dough (if you don’t have a mixer don’t worry), but if you have one, please feel free to use it.

Soft dinner rolls

While it’s in the oven, my family and I love the intoxicating aroma of the bread baking – the smell of the warm fresh bread wafting through the kitchen and into every nook and cranny in our house.

I promise, you are going to love it!

Soft dinner rolls

Ingredients for 16 rolls:

  • ½ cup warm water
  • 3 tbsp salted butter, melted
  • ½ cup milk, slightly warm
  • 4 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ½ tsp yeast
  • 4 cups all – purpose flour
  • olive oil

soft dinner rolls dough

Soft dinner rolls

How to make it:

  • Activate the yeast in a mixing bowl. Put in ½ cup of warm water, 1 tbsp of white sugar and the yeast. You need to add sugar to feed the yeast so it would be activated. Let it rest for about 5 minutes. Mix it well.
  • Add milk, melted butter, the rest of the sugar, salt and egg to the yeast mixture. Mix well. Add all – purpose flour. Mix it thoroughly.
  • Flour (a wee bit) the working area.
  • Knead the dough until it becomes softer and no more leftover on your fingers.
  • Once the dough looks nice and smooth, form it into a big ball.
  • Lightly oil a bowl. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil and put it into an oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap. Place it in a warm place in your house.  Let the dough rest for an hour and half to allow it to rise.
  • Butter a 30cm X 15cm baking pan. Set aside.
  • Once the dough has risen well (double in size). Knead the dough. Flatten it.
  • Form the dough into small rolls.
  • Arranged the rolls in the pan. Cover it with a plastic wrap and let it rest for another hour so that it would rise.
  • Preheat oven at 180⁰C for 5 minutes. Bake it for 25 minutes.
  • Once the rolls are baked, brush them over with a light coating of melted butter.
  • Et voila! Enjoy!