Category Archives: Recipes

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DIY Food Gifts for the Holidays

I prefer beating the holiday rush by avoiding going to the malls because it seems like they could offer only two choices: expensive fancy stuff or inexpensive generic stuff.  I plan to keep it smart and simple by baking and cooking homemade food gifts.

Making my own gifts means I get to save time and energy. One might argue that cooking and baking take forever and too much effort.  I think it’s more grueling to drive to the mall, find a parking spot, roam from one crowded store to another, then report to a seemingly endless line at the checkout. I rather be at the comfort of my home, listening to my favorite playlist, and taking my own sweet pace.

I also get to save more money with homemade gifts because one recipe goes to two gift recipients -or more depending on the serving size.

And generic, thoughtless gifts? Forget it. Homemade gifts are one of the most thoughtful gifts you could give to your loved ones. After all, it’s the thought that counts!

Here are four simple and inexpensive food gifts that I’ll be making for the holidays. Feel free to try them too!
persimmon cookies 1



Persimmons are in season here in the US and are growing so bountiful that I didn’t even need to buy them at the market. Family and friends that have persimmon trees keep giving me bags of persimmons from their overflowing tree. I never get tired eating the fruit because they are sweet as a candy and juicy as a peach especially when very ripe. If you don’t have any persimmon harvests, I’m sure you could find them at an affordable price at your local markets.

The persimmon cookies came out soft, chewy, and sweet. I got the recipe from the site, My Eclectic Kitchen. If you really don’t have the time to bake it (or don’t feel confident baking or don’t have an oven at home), then simply print out the recipe and gather all the ingredients and give them as a cookie kit.


As for the gift wrap, I simply re-used and upcycled a candle jar.

To remove the leftover candle from the jar, I put it in the freezer for at least four hours. You may also do this overnight. Using a small knife, I lightly stabbed the leftover candle to divide it into pieces then picked out the broken candle pieces and washed off all the wax contents. I suggest using a strong dishwashing liquid to scrub off and clean the container.

I thoroughly washed the lid too. My candle lid had a brand name etched on it so I hid the brand name by using a decorative tape I got from Daiso. I simply taped all over the lid and along the sides. This step didn’t need complicated measurements or procedure. Because the tape’s design pattern was not for Christmas, I also put a red holiday ribbon on top of the lid.


vegan choco truffles gift



This recipe is ridiculously easy and very hard to mess up. I had so much fun making these and playing with my favorite truffle coating like coconut, toasted almonds, and cocoa powder.  Next time, I’d also like to use pistachios, chocolate syrup, and many more.

You could shape these truffles any way you want – flat bottom, sphere, big, bite size, or even heart-shaped.

You could check the recipe from my earlier post: Vegan Chocolate Truffles.


I simply  re-used and upcycled an empty jar. Just like the persimmon cookies, I also thoroughly washed the jar and its lid.

Conveniently, the lid didn’t have any markings, labels, or anything written on it so there was no need to tape it over.

To put a holiday touch to the gift, I placed a red ribbon on top. I bought the ribbons in bulk at a nearby convenience store.




I’ve featured this recipe on my YouTube show, Astig Vegan Cooking. The recipe is super simple and does not need any special handling, kneading, or other delicate baking procedure. Just make sure that the water is very cold and the rest will be easy.


I used single pie pans so I could maximize my budget. The recipe is good for four mini pie pans. But if you plan to give this dish to a couple or a family to share, you could use the recipe as one serving using a 5-inch pan. I got the mini pie pans on Amazon but I’m sure you could also get them at big stores like Smart and Final or Safeway.

To package it, I used a Saran plastic wrap that I already have in my pantry and tied it using a red ribbon that I also found around the house.


vegan bibingka gift



I make Bibingka every time there’s a special occasion. Recently, I’ve baked some for a baby shower and they were a hit!  Now I’ll be making Bibingka as gifts for Christmas.

The recipe takes less than an hour to prepare and bake. It also yields plenty of servings especially if you use a muffin pan.

To make the Bibingka extra special, sprinkle some evaporated cane sugar and coconut shreds as toppings. You could get the full tutorial on my YouTube show, Astig Vegan Cooking.


There are plenty of ways to gift wrap these mini cakes but I went with a tin container that I got at Daiso. For presentation, I lined a sheet of parchment paper before placing the Bibingka cakes inside the tin.

Because I had the tin container a long time ago (I think it was meant for Valentines Day), it didn’t have a holiday look. It was colored red and white and had red hearts all over. I topped the tin container with a red ribbon and it instantly became more appropriate for Christmas .

If you don’t have a tin container in a similar holiday color scheme, you could either paint it white or glue on a decorative pattern paper. You could also use a basket or a nice glass bowl or container then wrap it in cellophane or plastic wrap.


To go with this blog post, I also have a quick video explaining what I’ve done:


The holiday shopping could be stressful year after year. Make it more enjoyable by making your own holiday gifts. You’d be surprised by how easy and even relaxing it could be. Have fun and happy holidays!


ravioli duxelle in cashew cream sauce


Thanks for visiting and checking out my dish for the Virtual Vegan Potluck. I’m thrilled to have you here!

This ravioli dish is a labor of love but oh so worth it. Everything was made from scratch: the ravioli pasta, the filling, and the cashew cream sauce.

If you’re going to try this, please be advised that the dough needs to rest overnight, the cashews need to soak for at least four hours, and you’ll need a pasta maker to roll the pasta sheets. With that said, this dish is perfect to make on a Saturday night and enjoy by Sunday morning.

If you prefer, you may skip making the ravioli pasta and get the store bought kind and just use the sauce recipe here. It’s up to you!




  • 2 tablespoon refined coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. Marsala wine or dry sherry
  • 6 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, minced
  • 2 ounces of chantrelle mushrooms, minced
  • 4 1/2 ounces of crimini mushrooms, minced
  • 2 tsp. parsley, minced
  • black truffle salt (or a drizzle of truffle oil)
  • freshly ground pepper


  1. Using a clean kitchen cloth, squeeze out all the water and moisture from the mushrooms. This will result to a more concentrated mushroom flavor.
  2. Using a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute the shallots in oil. Follow with the garlic.
  3. Sprinkle some salt to “sweat out” the flavors from the shallots and garlic and saute until the shallots have turned soft and translucent.
  4. Deglaze the pan with dry sherry or Marsala wine.
  5. Add the mushrooms and mix well. Turn up the heat to release the remaining water from the mushrooms, occasionally stir, this will take about 10 minutes. The mushroom should shrink in size by half -if it hasn’t, saute for another 5-10 minutes.
  6. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley. Saute for another 5 minutes in low heat.
  7. Turn off the heat and set it aside to cool.



  • 1 pack soft tofu
  • 1 tabelspoon. coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cup unbleached flour plus more for dusting


  1. Using a blender or food processor, blend the tofu, coconut oil and salt.
  2. Pour the flour one cup at a time until the mixture forms into a dough.
  3. Lightly dust a clean counter top with flour. Place your dough on the counter and add more flour to your dough if it’s still too sticky and needs firming up.
  4. Knead the dough for 15 minutes. Dust some flour as you knead to keep the dough from sticking.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic saran wrap and let it rest in the fridge overnight.
  6. The next day, take the dough out from the fridge and let it reach room temperature before rolling.
  7. Divide the dough into small parts and roll each part using a pasta maker (starting from setting 1 up to setting 4). You should end up with thin pasta sheets. Pair up the pasta sheets to make the top and bottom part of the ravioli.
  8. Place one sheet of pasta on the flour-dusted counter top and add about a tablespoon of the filing leaving about 2 inches of gap between fillings.
  9. Lightly dab water all around the filling and all around the corners to make the pasta sheet sticky.
  10. Place another sheet of pasta on top and lightly press down, carefully and tightly sealing the sheets, leaving no air pockets.
  11. Using a knife, cut out the pasta sheets to ravioli squares.
  12. Place ravioli squares on a tray that is covered with parchment paper, dust lightly with flour and place the ravioli in the fridge while you prepare the sauce.



  • 2 cups of raw cashews soaked in water for at least 4 hours
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable broth powder (or use 2 cups vegetable broth liquid instead of using 2 cups water)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 garlic clove


  • In a blender, combine all the ingredients. If the mixture is too thick, add more water. Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, set aside.




  • 10 cups of water
  • 1-2 teaspoon salt
  • prepared ravioli squares


  1. Using a pot, bring the water to a simmer. Add the salt.
  2. Once the water is simmering, GENTLY place the ravioli one by one.
  3. Cook for 5 minutes and gently remove the ravioli from water.
  4. Upon serving, top the ravioli with cashew cream sauce.

Thanks again for checking out my dish.

There are plenty more recipes to peruse. Please feel free to stick around. Enjoy and happy holidays!

Click on the button below to check out Divine Spice Box:


Click the button below to check out Create Mindfully:Stay-Calm-Go-Forward-resized

To go all the way back to the beginning of the Potluck, check out Virtual Vegan Potluck 2014:





vegan truffles medium shot


When I think of the holidays, I dream of indulgent sweets like cookies and truffles. Maybe it’s the cold weather or the holiday spirit that puts me in the mood for them.

What I’m not in the mood for is leaving the house to brave the cold, which is why I rather make my own truffles instead of buying them.

Another plus for making my own truffles is that I get to customize what coating goes with the chocolate. For example, I’m not a fan of peanut butter and liqueur but I love toasted almonds and coconut shreds.

When it comes to truffles, I also prefer vegan milk chocolate to dark chocolate. To make my vegan milk chocolate flavorful, I used French Vanilla almond milk creamer. Other flavors like Hazelnut could work too.



Makes 12-15 chocolate truffles

vegan truffles wide shot2

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet vegan chocolate chunks (I used the brand “Enjoy Life”)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used a French Vanilla almond milk creamer)
  • a pinch of salt
  • small bowl of crushed or chopped almonds
  • small bowl of dried shredded coconut
  • small bowl of unsweetened cocoa powder


  1. Melt chocolate chunks in a double boiler or in a metal bowl on top of a saucepan with simmering water in low heat. Keep stirring until the chocolate has fully melted.
  2. Add the coconut oil, non-dairy milk, and salt. Mix well.
  3. Turn off the heat and transfer to a 5-inch pan (I used a pyrex container)
  4. Let it cool until it reaches room temperature then refrigerate to chill for at least an hour.
  5. Using a melon ball scoop (or a small ice cream scoop or a teaspoon), scoop the chocolate then using your hands, shape the chocolate to form into a ball.
  6. Dip and roll each chocolate truffle to your coating: nuts, coconut shreds, cocoa powder.
  7. Put them in the fridge to chill for another ten minutes.

vegan truffles med shot

These truffles are great to serve at holiday parties. They also make excellent holiday gifts.

On my next post, I’ll show you how I wrapped my vegan chocolate truffles into a nice holiday present. Stay tuned!


Vegan Filipino: Pinakbet Stew

Stews come in many forms in Filipino food. Some are laden with meat while others are full of vegetables. One particular stew I love to eat is Pinakbet.

Pinakbet is a hearty Filipino stew made up of vegetables like squash, eggplant, string beans, okra, and many more. It has a nice savory taste that pairs well with a side of rice-make it brown rice for a healthier version.

Pinakbet usually comes with few pieces of fried pork which you could easily replace with fried tofu or tempeh. It is traditionally seasoned with onions, garlic, and Bagoong or shrimp paste but you could also use soy sauce.

It took me awhile to feature this dish because I thought people won’t be interested having me veganize this already vegetable-heavy dish. Much to my surprise, I got requests for it.

I was glad to get the requests so I got to work and shot an episode.


I hope you give Pinakbet a try. If you do, I’ll send you a sample of my vegan Bagoong as token of my appreciation and as a holiday gift.

pakbet bagoong giveaway


I’d love to send everyone who remakes the Pinakbet a sample of my vegan shrimp paste but I’m afraid I would have to limit the offer to US residents and only until December 31, 2014.

However, the full size vegan Bagoong is available for purchase.

buko pie wide

Vegan Coconut Pie “Buko Pie”

The holidays wouldn’t be complete without pies-warm, sweet, filling pies.

To change things up a bit from apple and pumpkin pies, I’ll be making and bringing Vegan Coconut Pie to the party.

Vegan Coconut Pie or Buko Pie is a delicacy of Northern Philippines primarily in provinces like Laguna and Tagaytay. Its coconut goodness will make you feel warm and cozy inside.

In the video below, I’ll show you how to make one. You’ll be surprised by how many stores carry fresh and frozen coconuts alike so feel free to check your neighborhood stores.


My friends at Coco Jack also sent me their Coco Jack tool to show you how it works as well as to offer you a 10% discount. Just enter the coupon code: ASTIGVEGAN

I hope you enjoy the video. Kain na, let’s eat!


roasted squash on a plate

Roasted Caramelized Kabocha Squash

Recently I’ve been into oven roasting everything, roasting kale, roasting brussels sprouts, and now roasting kabocha squash.

I love that the process of roasting makes the vegetables taste sweeter and more charred, not to mention it’s also very simple to do. One of those “set it and forget it” type of cooking.

Healthwise, I think roasting is healthier than frying because it uses less oil.

Roasting kabocha squash requires minimal ingredients-only three to be exact. This dish is perfect as a Fall snack or as a side dish to your Thanksgiving meal.



roasted squash on a plate med shot



  • 1/4 of one kabocha squash, seeds removed, cut to wedges
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • drizzle of olive oil


For easier squash cutting, cut the squash using a cleaver or a chef’s knife and cut down by hacking in and moving the top and bottom part of the knife in a seesaw motion until you’ve fully cut the squash. Lay the flat side down then repeat the seesaw motion to cut the squash in to wedges. You could also microwave the squash first for 3-5 minutes to soften the skin.

You could easily remove the seeds using an ice cream scoop or spoon.


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lay a piece of foil or parchment paper on a baking pan and place the squash on top.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the brown sugar all over the squash.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes. During the 20 minute mark, flip the squash over to cook the other side.
  5. Serve as a snack, side dish or dessert.


roasted squash prep

roasted squash prep 2

roasted squash final


roasted squash on a plate wide

roasted squash on a plate


This dish is great as is or you may add more ingredients. For example, sprinkle some cumin, salt, or paprika. You may also drizzle some cashew cream on top before serving.

Serve with your favorite hot drink like coffee or tea. Kain na, let’s eat!

I submitted this recipe to the Virtual Vegan LINKY Potluck



Beer Battered Kang Kong Recipe

beer battered kangkong wide

Kangkong is a semi aquatic plant that also goes by the name water spinach. The main difference from spinach is that water spinach has crunchy stems, which is great for a beer battered recipe.

For my latest video recipe, I’m featuring just that: Beer Battered Kangkong.

The recipe takes less than ten minutes to make which is ideal for those who don’t have much time in the kitchen. But if you do have time to spare, then I suggest making tons of these because leftovers stay crunchy until the next day.

beer battered kangkong
You could also serve these crunchy Kang kong at parties and get togethers.

When cooking, just make sure that the oil is very hot and that you’re using light beer, not dark. It also helps if your greens were rinsed and fully dried before frying.

To remove excess oil, you may serve the Kang kong on layers of paper towel.

I hope you enjoy this video recipe as much as I enjoyed shooting it for you. Let me know what you think!