Barkada Meet Up at Pancake House, Ayala Malls the 30th

I had another holiday lunch meet-up with close friends that I haven’t seen for so long at Pancake House.  We agreed on this branch at Ayala Malls the 30th as one of my friends like practically all of Pancake House’s offerings while I, on the other hand, have yet to fully explore the dining options within the mall.

We ordered our hearty meals:

  • Pork Tocino (Php219). Served with garlic rice, fried egg and mango salsa.
  • Hot Roast Beef (Php310). Roast beef slices smothered in Pancake House’s buttery gravy, served on a thick slice of bread accompanied by mashed potatoes and corn and carrots.
  • Special Salisbury Steak (Php265). A thick patty of Salisbury steak with mushroom gravy and bacon bits, served with rice and vegetables.

Since our bill has reached beyond Php800, we were able to get 3 FREE mini pancakes upon presentation of my BDO Rewards Card.  I ordered a Belgian Hot Chocolate (Php130) to enjoy with my pancake.

The restaurant is quite spacious and can seat a large number of people.  The wait staff are also helpful and accommodating: aside from facilitating our orders, the staff gamely took our pictures.

Pancake House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Katsu adventure in Yabu, Ayala Vertis North

Our boss treated the team to a pre-Christmas dinner at Yabu House of Katsu located in the newly opened Ayala Vertis North Mall.

Katsu sets are another of my favorite cuisines, and Yabu is among the few resto chains that offer quality katsus, so I welcomed the opportunity to dine in a new branch.

The place was packed when our group arrived so we had to wait for 5 minutes or so (no biggie!).  The table was a bit of a tight squeeze for our group of 6 but we didn’t mind so much.

The staff were polite and helpful, though a bit overwhelmed with the volume of people that we had trouble calling some of them to request for refills.

Still, we thoroughly enjoyed our orders, which included:

  • Mozarella Katsu Sticks (Php270) as our appetizer
  • 4 orders of Rosu Pork Loin Sets (Php440/180g; Php385/120g; Php350/80g). These consist of thick cuts of juicy pork loin cutlets with some fat trimmings.
  • Menchi Katsu Set (Php385). This consist of spiced minced beef and pork stuffed with cheese.
  • Rosu and Prawn Set (Php530). This consists of pork loin katsu with black tiger prawns also coated in panko.

Our orders included unlimited soup, rice and fruits.

Consistent with my experience in other Yabu branches, the pork katsus were well seasoned and juicy, justifying several requests for rice refills.

Check out my review of another Katsu resto: Katsu Sora.

Yabu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Recipe: Carrot Cupcakes

Carrot cupcakes are the miniature version of carrot cakes. The World Carrot Museum posits that carrot cakes originated from carrot puddings enjoyed by Europeans during medieval times, which then arose due to the innate sweetness of the vegetable, making it surprisingly an appropriate ingredient for desserts.

I prefer baking cupcakes over full-sized cakes as there is less chance of baking fails.  This is a tweaked version of a recipe I found on Pinterest, adjusted based on availability of ingredients.

Ingredients:

Cupcakes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, grated
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Frosting:

  • 1 225g bars cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup cold all purpose cream

Procedure:

To make the cupcakes:

  • Pre-heat oven to 175-deg C.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • Combine grated carrots and oil in a separate bowl. Slowly add flour mixture, while stirring until just mixed. Add beaten egg and stir for a few more times.
  • Line muffin pans with paper cups. Fill each cup 2/3 of the way, then bake for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when you insert it in one of the cakes.
  • Set aside and let cool.

To make the frosting:

  • Beat cream cheese until smooth.
  • Sift powdered sugar into the bowl. Mix then add vanilla.
  • Beat in the cream at medium-high speed.
  • Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with your desired tip, then pipe frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.
  • Top with carrot-shaped candy for a fun and festive look.

Yields 12 moist and yummy cupcakes.

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Check out my other favorite dessert recipes:

Unlimited Korean BBQ at All4U, Century Mall

My problem with unlimited Korean BBQ restaurants is that you expend so much time and attention to cooking your food that you don’t get to enjoy and savor it as you should.  Such a shame, considering my (well-known) love of Korean food as evidenced by my Korean foodscapes at Samgyeopmasarap, Arariyo, Jang Ga Nae, Masil, and Han Grille, among others.

In All4U, a Korean restaurant located in Century City Mall in Makati City, you can get unlimited beef, shrimp, Korean-cut pork and rice all for Php699/head (reduced to Php599 thanks to an ongoing promo) as well as several refills of side dishes. You also get a some ramyun which you cook shabu-shabu style, as well a Melona ice cream to cap your meal.

My family, together with my in-laws, went here on Christmas Day so the place was packed and we had to wait for around 20 minutes for our table.  The staff was also a bit overwhelmed and was not able to immediately address a lot of our requests for refills.

I would suggest taking turns with someone from your group when cooking so that everyone will get a chance to enjoy the food. Also, be sure to bring a hearty appetite to maximize all the inclusions in the buffet package.

All4U is located at the 4F Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Poblacion, Makati.

All4u Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my posts about other Korean restaurants:

Why not try your hand at cooking Korean food at home?  Check out these recipe books on Amazon.com!

Want to try some recipes today? There’s no need to leave home to shop for ingredients.  With Honestbee, just order your groceries online and you’ll get them delivered right at your doorstep at your preferred time. Use this referral link and get Php500 off for a minimum spend of Php2,500.  You can download the Honestbee app on iTunes or Google Play.

If you’re in the US and an Amazon Prime member, sign up for a free trial of Amazon Fresh to get your groceries delivered to you.

Holiday Get-together with Friends at Denny’s BGC

The holiday season affords friends separated by distance or circumstance with a valid reason to get together and catch up. That is what I recently did with a group of friends composed of current and former coworkers.

Earlier this year, I had my birthday treat at Denny’s Trinoma. For our yearly get-together, we opted for a Denny’s in BGC, our middle ground when you consider that one of us lives near Fairview, Quezon City while another lives in Binan, Laguna.

The restaurant is well-located at Uptown Parade, easily accessible from the carpark. It does not accept reservations during weekends but, when I called the day before, the hostess agreed to put our group in the priority list.

We timed our get-together on the Saturday morning before Christmas Eve, to avoid the traffic from the holiday rush and to enjoy the hearty and filling breakfast fare that Denny’s is known for, such as:

  • Ham and Cheese Omelette (Php395), fluffy, 3-egg omelette with diced ham and melted cheese. I opted for waffles to accompany this dish to have a nice combination of savory and sweet flavors. I also ordered a Hot Chocolate (Php120) to go with my meal.
  • Fit Slam (Php375), scrambled egg whites with fresh spinach and grape tomatoes, served with chicken breast and apple cubes. This was ordered by one of my fitness-conscious companions.
  • All American Slam (Php395), scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, bacon strips, sausages and hash browns, served with toast.
  • Tenderloin Bistek Tagalog (Php345), tenderloin beef slices marinated and sauteed Bistek Tagalog style (a Pinoy favorite), topped with onion slices and served with 2 eggs sunny side up and a cup of garlic rice. This was ordered by my boss who simply had to have her “kanin” and “malasadong itlog.
  • Loaded Veggie Omelette (Php355), melted cheese omelette with fresh spinach, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, sauteed zucchini and squash, served with toast and hash browns.
  • Sausage and Pepper Skillet (Php395), cheddar cheese, sausage and Schublig mixed with fire-roasted bell peppers and gravy.

We also ordered a Caramel Apple Crisp (Php295), served with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with powdered sugar, as our dessert.

We spent over 3 hours chatting and bantering, a great time spent among close and trusted friends.

Denny's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Recipe: Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a great side dish, particularly to grilled meats such as Steaks, Roast Pork and Lamp Chops.

However, its preparation can require a lot of time and energy which we working moms don’t have quite a lot of, do we?

I came across a recipe for crock pot mashed potatoes on Pinterest and I decided to try it out.

I’m happy to discover that the slow cooker does take out the tedious part of making mashed potatoes: boiling the spuds in water and waiting for them to get soft enough to mash. With the slow cooker, you just dump the potatoes along with some broth and butter, then leave them for a few hours.

After adding cream and mik, you get smooth and creamy mashed potatoes.

This recipe is slightly tweaked from the recipe I found on Pinterest due to availability of ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2 k potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 in pcs
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c butter, diced
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/3 c all purpose cream
  • Pepper to taste

Procedure:

  • Place potatoes, garlic, broth and butter into the slow cooker. Season with salt, mix together and cover with lid. Cook on HIGH setting for 4 hours or low setting for 8 hours until potatoes are soft.
  • Mash the potatoes and stir in milk and cream until well combined and creamy. Season with pepper.
  • Keep in the slow cooker on WARM until ready to serve.

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Recipe: Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes

Cheesecakes are a decadent pleasure. Rich, creamy and delightfully sinful, cheesecakes have been around probably for as long as the phrase “the land of milk and honey” have been in use.

For my DIY desserts, I gravitated towards mini cheesecakes since baking time is shorter and there is less chance for uneven cooking of the filling.

Here is a tried-and-tested recipe of Mini Blueberry Cheesecake that I prepared for my family last New Year.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 2 cups crushed graham crackers
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp white sugar

For the filling:

  • 2 225g bars of Magnolia Cream Cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup all purpose cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1 595g blueberry filling

Procedure:

  • Pre-heat oven to 175-deg C and line muffin pans with paper cups

To make the crust:

  • In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter.
  • Press 1/2 tbsp of the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the muffin cups. Set aside.

To make the filling:

  • Beat cream cheese at lowest setting until smooth and fluffy.
  • Gradually add sugar and salt while beating.
  • Add eggs one at a time until incorporated then add vanilla extract and cream. Mix well.
  • Allow cheesecake batter to rest for 10 minutes to remove air bubbles formed during the mixing process.
  • Scoop cheesecake batter into prepared crust and bake for 20-25 minutes or until sides are firm but center is slightly jiggly.
  • Remove cheesecakes from the oven, let them cool then refrigerate overnight.
  • Serve with chilled blueberry filling.

Note: You can replace the blueberry filling with red cherry filling.

Want to try this recipe today? There’s no need to leave home to shop for ingredients.  With Honestbee, just order your groceries online and you’ll get them delivered right at your doorstep at your preferred time. Use this referral link and get Php500 off for a minimum spend of Php2,500.  You can download the Honestbee app on iTunes or Google Play.

If you’re in the US and an Amazon Prime member, sign up for a free trial of Amazon Fresh to get your groceries delivered to you.