European Adventures: Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountain

P1050415Buongiorno! Here’s another post on the Eternal City, and this time we explore two more famous sights – the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. I was really looking forward to visiting both of these places, and I was quite disappointed that both of them were under restoration. Well, I just have to go back to Rome another time!

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The Fontana di Trevi is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and the considered by many as the most beautiful in the world. A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome (TreviFountain.net). Even though the fountain was under restoration, there was still a place where tourists could throw in their coins. Of course, I didn’t pass up the chance to throw in a coin or two into the fountain. I want to go back to Rome and see the Fontana di Trevi!

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We also visited the Spanish Steps, another must see place in Rome. It is also known as “Scalina Spagna,” and it has an irregular butterfly design consisting of 138 steps placed in a mix of curves, straight flights, vistas and terraces. They connect the lower Piazza di Spagna with the upper piazza Trinita dei Monti, with its beautiful twin tower church dominating the skyline. (Rome on a Segway)

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We were also invited by my mom’s friend to eat at their place, and we happily obliged. They prepared a delicious and hearty Italian meal for us, serving us cheese, bread, fruits, pasta, roast beef, and wine. DSC02686They also brought us to a nearby gelato place, and I think we had the best gelato here! P1050397P1050408We also stopped by Pontificio Collegio Filippino, where Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle celebrated mass, in line with the Filipino Independence Day. It was great to be with Filipinos, we had a taste of home after weeks of traveling. P1050458DSC02691IMG_2891

Thank you to Tita Narcisa and her son Longines for the delicious lunch and for the warm welcome. Much thanks to Sister Pierette for accompanying us during our stay in Rome.

To read other posts on our European adventures, click on the following links:

 

European Adventures: Milan

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Another day, another city. Better yet — another country! Upon waking up on the third day of our Mediterranean Cruise, we were already in Italy. When I started to realize that travelling was one of the best things to do in life, this country was definitely included on my bucket list. Delicious food, magnificent ruins, big churches, and not to mention the beautiful language. I wish I could speak Italian, but the next best thing is listening to it all day!

First stop on our Milan tour – the famous Milan Cathedral or the Duomo di Milano.

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The Duomo is the fifth largest Christian church in the world (outdone by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and Seville’s Cathedral).

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Aside from being one of the largest and oldest churches in the world, it is said that there are more statues on this cathedral than any other building. There are 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 figures that decorate the Duomo.

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After taking pictures at the Cathedral, we did some strolling, shopping and snacking at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It was time for some gelato, coffee and tiramisu! We also found some souvenirs and pasalubong for our loved ones back home.

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a magnificent shopping arcade, covered with a glass and iron roof. The interior of the impressive five story structure is decorated with patriotic mosaics and statues.

Our last stop for the day was Sforza Castle.

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Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco) was originally a Visconti fortress. Later, this iconic red-brick castle was home to the mighty Sforza dynasty, who ruled Renaissance Milan. The castle’s defences were designed by the multitalented da Vinci; Napoleon later drained the moat and removed the drawbridges. Today, it houses seven specialised museums, which gather together intriguing fragments of Milan’s cultural and civic history, including Michelangelo’s final work, the Rondanini Pietà, now housed beautifully in the frescoed hall of the castle’s Ospedale Spagnolo (Spanish Hospital).

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Oh, and I was able to steal a shot with this! Expo Milano 2015.

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It was a short day in Milan but I’m glad to have seen and learned about some of its iconic structures. Milan, I’ll come back someday! (I still have to see Da Vinci’s The Last Supper)

To read other posts on our European adventures, click on the following links:

Brownie in a Mug

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One day at my grandparents’ house, my cousin Lizette told me about this so-called “brownie in a mug.” I looked it up on the internet, and found recipes that seemed easy to follow. I finally had the time to try it using this recipe and it turned out to be great! It’s perfect for those times when you’re craving for a quick chocolate-y dessert but you’re feeling too lazy to bake. What’s also great about this “brownie in a mug” dessert is that you only need 7 ingredients, a mug and a microwave.

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Brownie in a Mug

Ingredients:

  • 4 teaspoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons water
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • 8 teaspoons flour
  • 8 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 dash salt
  • 4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. Place the butter in the mug and pop this in the microwave until it has melted. (Time will vary depending on the strength of your microwave. Mine took 40 seconds.)
  2. Add the water and vanilla extract to the butter and mix.
  3. Add the flour, sugar, salt and cocoa powder one at a time and mix. Make sure there are no lumps of dry ingredients!
  4. Pop it in the microwave somewhere around 60 – 90 seconds. (Again, this will depend on the strength of your microwave. Mine took 90 seconds.)
  5. Remove carefully and allow to cool for a few seconds. If desired, you may top the brownie with ice cream, whipped cream or enjoy it on its own!

Note: 8 teaspoons of sugar might be too sweet for some (myself included), so you can try and adjust this according to your preference.

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Bread Pudding

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 Bread pudding. I wasn’t really a fan of bread pudding until one night, I was dining at Latitude and tried their version of this dessert. It was delicious, and I wanted to recreate it at home. Luckily, I found a good recipe and I was surprised that it’s really quick and easy to make! I also made a salted caramel sauce to drizzle over the bread pudding. If you’re not a caramel fan, you may use a different sauce like vanilla or rum.
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Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
(makes around 6 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup fresh milk
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Break bread into small pieces and place into a baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, fresh milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

Note: If desired, you may also add raisins or other dried fruits.

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Mini Chocolate-Dipped Doughnuts

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I’m back with another post! It’s been over a month since I last updated my blog and I can say that I truly missed baking/cooking/blogging! School has been keeping me busy and I really can’t find the time to update my blog. The Philippines, especially Luzon, has been experiencing horrible weather (heavy rains and floods) for about 3 days now, so our classes have been suspended since Monday. I am hoping and praying that the weather improves in the coming days and that everyone is safe!

Since I have no classes, I decided to test the doughnut maker that my mom bought. It makes 7 mini doughnuts per batch. I searched for an online recipe and found this. The taste isn’t exactly the same as store-bought doughnuts since the recipe does not call for yeast. Nonetheless, they’re delicious!

Mini Doughnuts

(makes 28 doughnuts)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 125 g butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients – butter, egg and milk and beat until mixture is thick, smooth and creamy.
  3. Pre-heat the doughnut maker for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Spoon 2 teaspoons of the mixture evenly into each mould. Close the lid.
  5. Cook for 3 minutes or until the doughnuts are golden brown and soft to touch.
  6. Carefully remove the doughnuts and cool for a few minutes.

My mom made a chocolate sauce to dip the doughnuts in using cocoa powder, sugar and a little bit of flour. Thanks Mama!

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Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes

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Oreo + cream cheese, who would say no to that? Last Wednesday, we had no classes since it was Independence Day and so I decided to bake cookies and cream cheesecake cupcakes. This is actually my favorite thing to bake since it’s easy to make and of course, it tastes delicious! (Plus, everybody loves it)

The recipe is from Handle the Heat, one of the food blogs I regularly visit. Get the original recipe here. I halved the recipe because the original amount was too much and also lessened the sugar I put into the cheesecake. (I only used 1/4 cup)

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes 

(makes 24 cupcakes)

Ingredients:

  • 32 cream-filled sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, 24 left whole, and 8 coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound (2 8-oz packages) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I used all-purpose cream plus the juice of half a lemon as a substitute)
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla. 
  3. Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.
  4. Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.

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Flourless Fudge Cake

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Everybody loves chocolate, right? Chocolate bars, chocolate ice cream, chocolate cookies, hot chocolate – the list just goes on and on. Even just a piece (or pieces) of chocolate can make a person happy!

Last Friday, I decided to bake a chocolate cake. It’s quite different from other cakes since it’s flourless. I got the recipe from The Fat Kid Inside, my favorite food blog. Read the recipe here.

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