Thursday, April 25, 2013

#ThrowbackThursday: Ratatouille!

Yes, again! Today is all about food. Don't ask me why.

I was going through Facebook's new timeline and saw that my old notes now appear on my info border. Stumbled upon this note, which was an original post on the SYSU Gourmet Blog (now defunct), which I initially wrote for (the first few issues were written by moi, I think this was my last post) back when I was still handling brand with the food group.

So, in honor of #ThrowbackTuesdays, and so you readers get to try something "Filipino-Mediterranean" (as I've labeled it since we tried to localize the dish), below is my post about making Ratatouille with what we have on-hand in the Philippines. Enjoy!

Rainy Days Come and Go... 

Have you noticed how terrible the weather has been lately? Well, back in June and July, we hardly had rain. Then towards the end of last month, we'd have really weird weather - scorching hot mid-days, then pouring rain in the afternoons! This makes for very lazy weather, don't you think? :P Makes you want to head to the mall and chill out, huh? Maybe take in a movie or check out some of the new food places...

Speaking of Movies and Food... (what a segue!) We were able to catch the advanced screening of the new Disney Pixar Movie, Ratatouille (pronounced as Ra-Ta-Tu-Wee). And we must say we LOVED the movie. Hmmm... not really sure about the Kikkoman Brand Manager though, she winced each time she saw all those rats onscreen (who could forget the scene where the ceiling falls and the colony is exposed? hahaha!) but the rest of us sure loved the movie! So much so that we got so curious about the real Ratatouille - the dish and not the... uh... Rat (whose name's Remy, by the way). So right after, we searched the net for the easiest Ratatouille recipe there is, only to be disappointed because all the recipes called for baking (and we didn't have an oven on hand... *sigh*). But one 5-star recipe we did find had dozens of comments, and we poured over each one, curious to see if anyone tried making the dish stove-top style. And there was this one college girl who got so interested in the dish because of the movie. Like us, she didn't have an oven, so she decided to toss everything in a saucepan instead. The end result turned out great or in her exact words -fabuloso! Ha! We decided to do the same thing. We headed over to the nearest supermarket, bought the ingredients available in the Philippines and went home to make our own version of Ratatouille. And boy, we were in for a treat because the dish we made already smelled delicioso right when we were making it. and it tasted great too (we actually zipped through the whole pan)! And yes, it didn't exactly look like the Ratatouille masterpiece Remy made in the movie... uh... ours looked a bit like mush. but hey, if mush tasted this good, we'll have mush everyday! :)

My very first attempt at making Ratatouille.
Ratatouille is a mediterranean peasant dish. Apparently, this is one cheap dish in places where all the ingredients come cheap (read: not in the Philippines, haha), but we tweaked the recipe a bit and came up with an affordable yet hearty (can we say delicioso again?) version.

1 Tbsp La Espanola Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 large cloves Garlic, minced (you can add more if you LOVE garlic)
1 large White Onion, sliced
1 large Eggplant, thinly sliced
1 large Zucchini, thinly sliced
1/8 Squash, peeled and thinly sliced (yes, take out the hard skin, of course!)
1 Green Bell Pepper, cut into strips
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into strips (optional)
1/2 Cup Mushrooms, cut into strips (we used oyster mushrooms)
2 large Tomatoes, chopped
Salt to taste
Pinch of McCormick Rosemary
1/2 Cup Clara Ole Three Cheese Spaghetti Sauce
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese (divide into 5 parts, parts depend on the number of veggies you are using)
1/4 Cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1. In a large saucepan, saute Garlic in La Espanola Extra Virgin Olive Oil until light brown in color. Add half of the sliced Onions until Onions are coated in oil.
2. Add Eggplant. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and some of your Parmesan Cheese. Mix well. When Eggplant is half-cooked, add the Squash. Sprinkle a pinch of Salt and some Parmesan Cheese. Mix well. Add the Zucchini, sprinkle again with a bit of Salt and some Parmesan Cheese. Mix well. Add the rest of the vegetables (Mushrooms, Bell Pepper, Tomatoes and remaining Onions). Sprinkle with a bit of Salt and some Parmesan Cheese. Mix well.
3. Add Clara Ole Three Cheese Spaghetti Sauce, small pinch of McCormick Rosemary and the remaining Parmesan Cheese. Mix well.
4. Put on medium heat until the sauce comes to a boil.
5. Transfer to a foil pan or microwaveable container. Sprinkle Mozzarella Cheese on top. Serve over pasta, rice or as is.

You may opt to put the dish in the Toaster Oven for about 3 minutes (or 30 seconds in the Microwave) to melt the cheese, if you wish. The good thing about Ratatouille is that you can freeze leftovers and the vegetables still come out crunchy when reheated. It actually tastes a lot like lasagna. Difference is, this is made entirely without meat, and the ingredients are good for you. What more, you can try making this dish for your kids while the movie's such a hit. Don't say we didn't warn you if they start asking for more.

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You!

I wrote parts of this post yesterday, but couldn't finish it as lunch break was over. Then wrote a few more parts last night after work (coded on humpdays) and found myself being tempted to call home just to tell the nanny that I wanted tapa for dinner instead. Haha! I had to stop because I went searching for a few lost tapa photos. So yes, finishing this post today. Anyway... I must warn you. This post will make you crave for Tapa. I think I made a mistake by following JAM FOODS on Instagram and on Facebook, because every time they post, or IG, or repost a pic, I get serious hunger pangs for their tapa (and salpicao). 

Now don't say I didn't warn you.

I just had brunch. Or early lunch. Basta, I had another round of Angus Beef Tapa with one Sunny Side Up and garlic rice. This isn't your ordinary tapsilog, mind you. It is a treat. But I shouldn't be doing this review, as I am not quite the tapa expert. My brother KM is. He is the tapa connoisseur. Once, he made a list of the best tapas in the city - Rodic's, Jollibee (when it was still the dry kind, and not the beef with mushroom crossover), Tapsi ni Vivian, etc. We always went for the dry tapsilog... as anything wet wasn't tapa in our books.

Tapsi ni Vivian in Quezon City

Ang Tapsilog ni Vivian, BOW! 

But then Tapatouille came along, and we got addicted to their Korean Tapa (theirs is the wet kind, like a Tapa stew of sorts, but it kept us coming back).

Jenny and Raffy Javier were the ones who managed Tapatouille at Banchetto Emerald.
Jenny's parents developed the tapa for them.

The line for tapa at Tapatouille. 

Tapatouille serves their tapa with egg (any way you like it), garlic rice and homemade potato chips!

Sadly, Tapatouille stopped joining Banchetto, and you can now only get their tapa packs (frozen) via special order. (Curious? Order from Jenny Javier at 0917.5029107)

One of the best tapsilogs in town for us today would be that of Every Nation's canteen (I don't know if they have a name but yes, the canteen at the basement of Victory Fort). My brother makes it a point to order to-go whenever he'd have a meeting there. I don't know what their secret is, but they have one of the best-tasting tapas!

Every Nation Canteen's Tapsilog! Sarap!

So there I was minding my own business when one day in October of last year, I met Michelle c/o my good friend and stalker-extraordinaire, Mia. We went to watch Wilson Phillips and the rest, as they say, is history. LOL! Okay, okay, well it turns out she and her husband, Chef John Cu-Unjieng, own JAM FOODS - makers of the Angus Beef Tapa. Like I said, this isn't your ordinary tapa. You can't even compare this to Tapsi ni Vivian or even Every Nation's. This is a cut above the rest.

So my siblings and I would make our way every weekend to Mezza Norte or Mercato (they used to sell their tapa here) to catch one of their distributors. Then the inevitable happened, Michelle gave me a 1Kg pack of her Original Angus Beef Tapa for Christmas, and I cannot get enough of it since then!

Look at that! JAM Foods Angus Beef Tapa served perfectly!

My friend Mia and I posing with my pack of JAM Foods Angus Beef Tapa!

Let me tell you, IT IS THE BEST TAPA EVER! I am talking best-tasting, best ulit-ulitin, super-addicting, AWARD-WINNING (!!! They won the Ultimate Taste Test 4.0!), I-CAN-HAVE-IT-EVERYDAY TAPA! And even if Michelle says not to, I've had it everyday, so far (yes, yes, except Monday), since getting a new pack Friday. Teehee.

Raymond Lauchengco with his Angus Beef Tapa monster, N.
Photo from the JAM Foods IG Account.

Rivermaya showing off their Angus Beef Tapa.
Photo from the JAM Foods IG Account.

It's so good, even celebrities rave about it.

And my brother? My brother, who knows his tapa so well... well, he took a bite from my Angus Beef Tapa brunch two days ago, and just had to go and order his own pack. Haha!

JAM Foods has changed our qualifications for best tapa. This one here is special. And truthfully, it is the best in my books. Why don't you give it a try? I am sure you will agree with me (and my brother's tummy).

Try their different Angus Beef Tapa variants and their Salpicao (also award-winning having conquered the Ultimate Taste Test 8.0!). Their burger patties are also bestsellers!

ANGUS BEEF TAPA - Original, 1Kg, P550
ANGUS BEEF TAPA - Hot & Spicy, 1Kg, P650
ANGUS BEEF TAPA - Korean, 1Kg, P650
ANGUS BEEF TAPA - Premium Lean, 800g, P650
ANGUS BURGER PATTIES, 4 - 250g (approx) Patties/ pack, P550

To order, call 02.6229740 or text 0917.5331371 (Look for Michelle, Alabang area) or any of the distributors nearest you.

Want to be part of the JAM Foods family? They are still open for distributorship!
Shoot them a text (via 0917.5331371) with your name, email and mobile number or send a letter of intent to

Saturday Power Brunch before my daughter's swimming party!

Sunday Brunch! I was actually dreaming about this at 1am!

Yesterday's Brunch Baon. 

JAM Foods Angus Beef Tapa. Wow! I never thought Tapa would be this addicting! Alas, they have just proven me wrong.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

EDIT: Carrot Fantasy Extreme Level 26

So before you say anything about my previous post, let me tell you, that the strategy as shown on the first Carrot Fantasy Extreme Level 26 walkthrough WORKS. But because I've been playing Carrot Fantasy every single day, while waiting for the Ice World update (I like setting challenges to make the game more interesting for me, ie. playing on 2x speed without getting killed, or playing Extreme Levels 17-27 on 2x speed without having to repeat a level, etc.), I've discovered easier ways to play each game.

And so it is true for Extreme Level 26. While playing on my iPhone last night, I discovered that after planting my AIRPLANE TOWERS at the bottom of the track and upgrading them to max (around wave 10), I can proceed to upgrade my ROCKETS and not worry about the pests running down the track to eat the carrot. So, after playing it foolproof last night, and this morning, here is an easier way to finish Level 26, and on 2x speed, too, without risking your Golden Carrot potential.

First, play the original walkthrough until Wave 10. After which, this is what you can do:

By the end of Wave 10, you would have been able to upgrade those AIRPLANE TOWERS (bottom of track) to max. My initial walkthrough suggests to upgrade the FREEZE TOWERS next. But this new updated walkthrough is telling you otherwise! Haha! Upgrade your ROCKETS first!

Upgrade those ROCKETS on the left first!

Upgrading the ROCKETS will help you kill off the pests
without having to worry about them getting to the carrot.

After upgrading your ROCKETS, you can work on upgrading the FREEZE TOWERS and the rest of your AIRPLANE TOWERS.

Notice that the action happens all on the left side? The pests can't even get close to the carrot!
I planted an AIRPLANE TOWER on top of the the FREEZE TOWERS (I deleted one) to help with defense.

Proceed with upgrading your existing FREEZE TOWERS and AIRPLANE TOWERS to max.

As you go through the rest of the waves, plant more AIRPLANE TOWERS (and upgrade) to build your defense. Similar to the first walkthrough, I planted the AIRPLANE TOWERS left of the track to defend the carrot.

By the beginning of Wave 20, your game board should look like this.

Wave 20 will enable you to plant more AIRPLANES. I did so, to the left of the others for extra measure.

Pow! Pow! Pow! Bye-bye, boss!

Gold and Clear! 

Did this walkthrough work for you? Let me know!

P.S. Does anyone still need a thorough walkthrough for Extreme Level 17? If not, I shall post about food next. I must warn you though, this one's addicting. I can't get enough of it. So far, I've had it everyday, except Monday. *grin* 

Monday, April 22, 2013

As Requested: Extreme Level 26!

I've received numerous requests for a Level 26 walkthrough. I haven't even written a thorough one for Level 17, but oh well. So I played Level 26 over a dozen times this past weekend just to make sure I get the right steps on screen capture. I hope this helps you, Samantha and everyone else.

This walkthrough is slightly different from the game I played the first time I won. I adjusted my game as I saw fit. Here it goes:

Start off by planting an AIRPLANE TOWER on each of the two plots available (as shown). Aim the left AIRPLANE TOWER on lower right chest found directly above it.

You should be able to upgrade the left AIRPLANE once by the second wave.

You will eventually get to break open both chests on the left by the 3rd wave. After which, aim the left AIRPLANE TOWER on wine bottle on its right.

Meanwhile, once you can, upgrade the AIRPLANE TOWER on the right once.

Once your wine bottle is destroyed, plant a new AIRPLANE TOWER as shown below. Aim for the rocks/ corals on upper right of track (beside carrot).

Next, aim the AIRPLANE on the right at the chest nearest it. Your two other airplanes and other towers should be able to kill off the pests coming towards it.

Make sure you upgrade the airplane on left (not the left-most) but the newly planted one
when you can. You should be able to in the middle of this wave.

After the first chest on the right breaks open, aim for the next chest beside it (top, and to the left). Then plant MUSHROOMS on the plot next to track and upgrade to max as you go along.

Once the upper chests are open, aim for the lower ones.
Then destroy the rest of the obstacles.

Replace your STAR TOWERS on left with AIRPLANE TOWERS. I only replaced the ones nearest the track and deleted the two other STARS and the SUN TOWERS for extra coins.

By the 9th wave, make sure you've planted enough MUSHROOMS to help you earn more coins, and enough AIRPLANE TOWERS to help you kill off the pests. The next wave (10th) should help you upgrade most of your AIRPLANES (at least the ones in the middle) to max.

If you've been playing on 2x the speed, you should slow down after the 10th wave. The 11th - 15th wave could be tricky. And the AIRPLANES could miss a pest. So it is best to slow down first, if you haven't been playing on 1x speed mode.

By the 11th wave, work on upgrading the FREEZE TOWERS to max.
I deleted the upper left FREEZE TOWER as it doesn't have much reach on the track.
This is how your plot should look like by the 13th wave. 

Once you've upgraded all your AIRPLANE TOWERS to max, plant another MUSHROOM on space between two airplanes on lower left of track. That should help you slow down the pests. Upgrade to max. You may also plant another AIRPLANE TOWER on the plot where you deleted the FREEZE TOWER. Upgrade that one to max.

Then you can start working on upgrading your ROCKETS.
Work on the ones on the left first.

Once you have updated your ROCKETS, you can start planting more AIRPLANE TOWERS around the track with your extra coins (as shown below). By the start of Wave 20, your track should look like this:

All those AIRPLANES should do the trick. 

The last wave should help you earn more coins to at least add three more AIRPLANE TOWERS on the left. Upgrade to max. You should be able to kill off the boss with these TOWERS.

Bye-bye, BOSS!

Yay! Golden Carrot!

Bonne chance, everyone!

EDIT! I updated this walkthrough here. Should be easier and better. Ha!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Carrot Fantasy Update!

Have you checked the app store for updates? There's a new one for our favorite game! Six (6) new Extreme levels to keep us fans at bay while waiting for Ice World!

But yea, sadly, it isn't much of an update. I updated my app Friday, over lunch, and was done with all six levels in less than an hour. How sad is that?

Stage 22, Gold and Clear!
Stage 23, Gold and Clear!
Stage 24, Gold and Clear!
Stage 25, Gold and Clear!
Stage 26, Gold and Clear!
Stage 27, Gold and Clear!

What now?

And I finished it Saturday on my son's iPad. Yes, I downloaded the app on another gadget just because aside from Candy Crush (which frustrates me to the bone), there isn't another game I love more than Carrot Fantasy.

Do you need walkthroughs for any of the new stages? I found them to be pretty easy, so I think you'd do fine. If you need help, just holler.

Yoohoo, please be done with Ice World soon!!!


I haven't been posting. I know. I have been in a lot of pain the past week. First, it was stomach problems. I've always had tummy problems - a Gastro thing I got from college, and because this is a "lifetime" thing (they say), I got it last week and it was bad. I still think it's because of all those food from Korea, but maybe (I think) my liver is acting up. I need to start eating right.

Photo from
Then, after lunch Friday, my tooth started hurting. I am due for a root canal soon, and my dentist was at a dental convention over the weekend. I wanted to pull my tooth out right away. Let me tell you, I would rather give birth than get a toothache. Ang sakit!!! 

Today, after taking pain medication for the nth time, I finally received word that she can fit me in for that root canal tomorrow! BEST. NEWS. EVER.

So please excuse the absence. I shall blog again when I am no longer in so much pain. Haay!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Remembering God's Goodness

I was driving to work today. Actually, I was driving home last night and thinking about life in general, and my thoughts from last night came back as I drove to work this morning. My thoughts? Well, last night, I was thinking this: Life isn't exactly as grand as I would have wanted it to be. I am feeling needy. Not wanting, but a little needy. I must admit, I have my toes in a rut. Alam mo yon? I feel fine, but then there are days... days when I know I haven't been doing enough, hence my state of being - our state of being (meaning my little family).

I suppose this feeling is an indirect result of our recent Korea trip. I didn't want to take any trips this year (even cancelled our annual Hong Kong escapade) because I wanted to be out of debt for a change, plus we're trying to save up for something bigger in the next two years. But then, my mom got us tickets and everything else happened. While there, I realized how blessed my little family was is and yet, at the back of my mind, my thoughts kept bringing me back to how it was when I was growing up. My parents provided for everything.

And then here I was, relying on myself and my meager income. And everything else comes as handouts. Don't get me wrong. I am blessed and thankful. God knows how much I appreciate my folks and relatives - people who love and think about me and my kids, even when they don't really have to.

But then, isn't this my sole responsibility? Ours (R's and mine)? It irks me whenever tuition time comes along, and I ask R about maybe sharing a bit and he says to ask my folks. It isn't their responsibility. And so, to save myself the hassle and heartache, I have stopped asking. And to save face and humiliation (c'mon, it is humiliating!) of asking my folks, I have resorted to borrowing from the office just to pay for A's tuition, etc.

And yes, maybe this is all about spending well beneath our means - in order to survive. Or purging most of our belongings (selling it, etc) just to make ends meet. But do my kids have to go through this? Isn't it enough that I've sacrificed so much of my own happiness just so they'd be happy?

I think about these things.

And so as I drove to work this morning, and as these thoughts came drifting back, God whispered something into my heart and head:

"I am here."

Indeed, He has never left my side. Even when R has refused to support us financially, I have never found myself lacking. My salary may just slip through the keys of my laptop (not my palm, since I don't even get to touch the cash! I pay for all our bills online, LOL!) but I am never lacking. Never.

See, it is often easy to forget about all that God has done, especially in times of need. Man tends to focus on the problem - even when God had always taken him out of his ruts in the past.

And you know, God has never failed me. Us. He's provided for tuition, rent, groceries, credit card bills, utility bills, etc. (including trips out of the country!) - even when it seems the money isn't enough or will never come. So this morning, as I drove to work, I remember exactly how good God has been. He has carried me and my little family all these years.

Today, He says, I am never alone. 
Today, He says, He is always with me.
Today, He says, He will provide.

God is good.

And yes, I am not feeling so needy anymore.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. 
His love endures forever."
Psalm 136:1

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