Monday, March 23, 2009

White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies & 100th Post


It’s my 100th post! Yay!

I don’t know what but the number 100 sounds like a big deal, huh? It’s like reaching a milestone. It did take me a year to reach 100 posts but still, it is some sort of an achievement considering that I’ve had homepages in the past that I haven’t attended to after the novelty wore of… However this time, I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow this blog, at least, not for a very long time.

This past week turned out to be eventful for us -- an action packed, hair-raising thrill of an experience. I’m not talking about the Twilight movie (which was neither scary nor suspenseful) but rather, I’m talking about our REFGRIGERATOR CATCHING FIRE!

Yep, we had fireworks right in my own kitchen. Imagine the horror of having our fridge burst into flames right before me? You don’t see that everyday, do you? We had power outtage one evening, and the surge of current when the electricity came back on apparently was too much for my old, faithful fridge that she gave up on us. She went out not just with a bang but with fireworks to boot… literally!

Thankfully, the fire didn’t catch any paper, plastic or cloth nearby (there wasn’t any, whew!) so it went out immediately just as instantly as it happened. But of course, I already screamed “FIRE!” to the top of my lungs that Mr. J must have leaped from upstairs going down to the kitchen as he was there in an instant. Scary thing, huh? Once again, I am just so grateful that nothing worse happened – it could have razed our house to the ground, you know.

Well, this leaves us with no choice but to get a new fridge! Yipee! And who wouldn’t want a new fridge? Yeah, I wish that the timing was better (with what’s going on in the economy, I don’t think we should be spending on anything right now), but this case is an exception. We gotta do what we gotta do, right?


After all that excitement, I certainly needed something to calm me down .. something familiar, comfortable and easy but yummy - like this white chocolate macadamia cookies.

This is Mr. J and I's all-time favorite cookie. It's especially good for me as I need to stay out of caffeine, which dark chocolates (or regular ones for that matter) have plenty of. Though technically, white chocolate is not really chocolate - but it's a good enough subsititute for me. I'm willing to be fooled, if it's this good.

So, do you like your cookies crunchy or soft? Well, I'm kind of in between. I like them not to crunchy - I like them a bit softer, so I underbake them a little bit (about 2-3 mins), and just leave them a minute or two on the cookie sheets before removing them. Also, I feel like it's better to toast the nuts before mixing them in the batter as it helps heighten the flavor of the macadamia in the cookies.

Keep these away from you... They're dangerous. You don't want to eat them all at once, do you?


White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
10 ounces white chocolate* (chips or bars cut in chunks)
1 cup macadamia nuts*, chopped into chunks

1. Heat oven to 375 F. In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt with electric mixer until creamy.
2. Add eggs, beat well. Stir together flour, and the baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture,beating until well blended.
3. Stir in white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.
4. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Make sure to space them evenly to allow for spreading, about 1-2 inches apart.
5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. (Edges are golden brown and center is set.)
6. Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool completely.

*NOTE: Use good quality chocolate like Ghirardelli, Callebaut or Godiva. It makes a difference. If you're toasting the nuts, make sure that you cool them first before adding on to the batter. If you can't find macadamia around, probably a good substitute would be cashew nuts. As mentioned above, undercook slightly for softer cookies.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sweet Challah


This past week has gone by so fast. I couldn’t even believe that the weekend has come, and just as quickly, is gone. But you know what they say, when one is busy, one barely notices the time. I was defintely preoccupied at work. It was a pretty interesting week for me, to say the least. I wish I can engage you in an office gossip – but nah… LOL… you wouldn’t appreciate that in a food blog, would you now? ;oD

Anyways, I’ve always been a person who cannot sit still. I like to be busy. No, I thrive at being busy. I am always doing something even when I am sitting down. I’m the type who’s ever on-the-go and always ready to rock and roll, so to speak. I’m used to last minute changes and I adapt immediately to situations when need be.

The downside of this is that it isn’t easy for me to relax, and by this I mean, to just sit down and do.... nothing. I feel like there is always something important for me to do with my time. I have to deliberately slow down. Mr. J is very good at reminding me of this (thank God). I realize that I do need to take a break once a while. It is indeed important to take the time to appreciate the things around us, to enjoy and take in what we have at the moment, otherwise, we might miss out on a lot (and it might be too late when we realize that we did).

Anyways, enough about my rambling.


I love bread. Growing up though, I wasn’t so much of a bread eater. As you know, being Asian means that my house had more rice and noodles than bread. In the Philippines, the only meal served with bread is breakfast (pan de sal). Other than that, bread is more of a snack item to Filipinos than anything else.

However, my short stint in Europe years ago, and now being based in the U.S., have slowly changed me. I’ve come to eat bread with my meals more and I don’t crave rice as much as I used to. (Ugh. I can almost hear the gasp of some Filipinos who may scream “sacrilege!” )

I love to bake bread. Nothing compares to that sweet aroma that tantalizes our senses when baking at home. Unfortunately, with all the hustle and bustle of life, I rarely get the chance to bake them--- and I mean bake ’em in the old fashion way of kneading and manhandling the dough! Hehehe…. (It’s a good stress reliever, actually).


One of the breads that I love eating is Challah (pronounced “khal-lah” - you gotta make that gutteral sound too). Challah is a braided, eggy loaf of bread traditionally eaten by Jews during Sabbath, holidays and other ceremonies. It is very close to the French brioche.

I decided to make Challah for the first time. I buy it all the time so might as well try my hand at it. It came out good, didn't it? With a bit more practice, I'll have the braiding part down in no time.

Nothing beats home-made breads. They’re the best.

Sharing this home-made Challah to Lasang Pinoy Sunday: Bready Or Not. Lasang Pinoy (La.Pi.S) is a weekly food thematic photography meme, Filipino style.

This is also my entry to Homemade#2 Bread, an wonderful event by Ben. Hop over to there to check out all the wonderful creations by other home bakers.

Sweet Challah
from Cooking Light
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100°F to 110°F)
3 tablespoons honey
Dash of saffron threads, crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour (about 14 1/4 ounces), divided
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon cornmeal
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds* (I used more than this amount)

1) Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl; stir in honey and saffron threads. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add melted butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and egg; stir well with a whisk.

2) Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour to yeast mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.

3) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).

4) Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

5) Punch dough down. Shape dough into a ball; return to bowl. Cover and let rise an additional 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 15 minutes.

6) Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), on a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 25-inch rope with slightly tapered ends. Place ropes lengthwise on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal; pinch ends together at untapered ends to seal. Braid ropes; pinch loose ends to seal. Cover and let rise 20 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

7) Preheat oven to 375°.

8) Combine 1 teaspoon water and large egg yolk, stirring with a fork until blended. Uncover loaf, and gently brush with egg yolk mixture. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

*NOTE: You may also leave the poppy seeds out, or substitute with sesame seeds, or maybe use sunflower seeds for that matter.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mustard Flavored-Tuna & Veggie Tartlets and a Blog-anniversry

I have an impulsive nature. I always have ever since I was young. But I have to admit that with age comes restraint (I'd rather call it wisdom though). I’d like to believe that since I am now much wiser, hence I'm less impulsive.

Well, this blog is a result of such impulse. I didn’t plan on having a food blog, never thought of having one ever before in my life – although to be honest, I had already been browsing other food blogs for recipes and inspiration. But one day after entertaining some friends in the house, I wanted to take a picture of my husband’s creations, thus, the thought of starting my own food blog came to mind… and I acted out on it immediately.

And so, Spice Of Life was born in cyberspace around this time last year. Wow. Time indeed passes by so quickly. This is one of those rare times that my impulse yielded some positive results.


I am truly thankful that I have this blog. Despite the dedication and the hours that it requires, I do love sharing my passion with you. This blog had opened a whole new dimension of culinary exchange for me and have allowed me to meet some of the most talented, creative, fun and kindhearted people from all over the world. Albeit these friendships are virtual, nevertheless I feel that sharing a common love and interest in food and food photography have somehow forged a bond among us.

So, to all those who faithfully visit and for those who are just checking this blog out for the first time – THANK YOU. I do hope you’ll continue to come, and I look forward to learning from you in as much as I hope that somehow, I’ve inspired you to cook your meals at home through this blog.

To celebrate my blog's 1st birthday, I’ve decided to do a recipe that’s from one of the most favorite food blog that I visit regularly –
Bea of La Tartine Gourmande. I distinctly remember this particular dish of hers, because I was attracted to its vibrant colors, not to mention that I love Tuna. It is a very pretty and nutritious dish…. and did I tell you that I love tuna? :o)

So to celebrate my bloganniversary, I have created Bea’s
Mustard-flavored Tuna and Veggie Tartlets. The only minor thing I did to the recipe was to change up the flours. Her’s is a gluten-free version but since I have no gluten problem, I decided to use ½ cup wheat flour instead of quinoa, and ½ cup teff instead of millet flour. Thus, my crust came out darker than hers.


This is a very filling but healthy dish. I especially like the fact that you get the crust, tuna, cheese and veggies all in one bite! I’m glad that I tried this. If you want to, check out the recipe

Bea, I hope that I’ve done justice to your beautiful creation.

I am also serving this dish to the Lasang Pinoy: Tri-colore. The three colors here being the green from the zucchini, red from the tomatoes and white from the cheese.

Lasang Pinoy (La.Pi.S.) is a weekly thematic food photography meme, Filipino style.