Mothers Who Brunch - Please Adopt Me
Raise your hand if you have friends who are magicians in the kitchen...
Behind this screen, I am raising both arms and legs (with toes spread) because I do!
Have you been introduced to my kitchen idols, the tag-team geniuses behind Mothers Who Brunch? Two ladies bound by their passion for food and all things homemade, have gathered women all over the Metro in hopes to inspire them to create delicious and unique meals for their friends and families.
In my eyes, Michelle and Sabrina are sorta like the Martha Stewarts of Manila. Their effortless work in the kitchen never ceases to amaze me. While I observe them whip-up their own unique concoctions, my mouth begins to salivate. My tummy grumbles in anticipation to take the first bite.
What I appreciate most about these friends is their generosity to share kitchen secrets. They continue to motivate me on my quest to be the kitchen wizard I can only dream of becoming.
Now that we are nearing Christmas, I need a little push. I promised myself to put more effort with holiday preparation this year. Want to know a secret? My husband Frank is an amazing cook and Christmas dinner is usually left entirely up to him (Don't judge me. I am good at fixing the decor). But, his 2017 holiday request is that I hold off on the vino until supper so I can assist him with Noche Buena preparation (you know, because #cheapdrunk)...
Here, I pick the brians of Michelle and Sabrina for a little holiday inspiration.
"Hi guys! Yes, we know each other... I have invaded your kitchens many times, but pretend to introduce yourselves and share how your passion for kitchen and all things yummy came to be?
mommanmanila: I am a wife to Nino. Mom to four beautiful beings. An Advocate. A teacher. A student of life. A work in progress. A lover of food, and the process of preparing it. I grew up in the kitchen with my mom and the generations before her. I helped chop, saute, prepare, and eventually, I took on the role of preparing desserts for the family since my mom focused on the meals. Being in the kitchen is my happy place. One of my languages of love is “acts of service,” what better way to “serve” my family and friends by preparing something with my own hands to nourish their bodies. Best feeling ever? Watching my family gobble up something I prepared. Sometimes, when I’m down, you can see me in the kitchen with 5 burners going and an eggplant parm in the oven. It can be a meditation. And the benefits of 5 burners going at once? I don’t have to cook for two more days!
Nikki's thoughts: *jaw drops* Five burners? Is she a kitchen fairy? Kitchens have nearly exploded under my watch using the microwave.
sinfullysabrina: I was in the advertising sales industry for many years but just this year I decided to resign and be a stay at home mom. I have one child, his name is Sancho. I am also wife to Sieg. Interestingly enough, I was always such a picky eater in my younger years. My mom did not enjoy being in the kitchen but when I took up Hotel and Restaurant Management in college, it sparked a love for cooking and being more open to new flavors. I started preparing romantic meals for my then-boyfriend (now my husband!) as our special anniversary celebrations. It was a lot of work but I enjoyed every bit of it. I think I was a “Tita” at heart even at 18 years old. Now, I just really enjoy feeding my family and entertaining at home, it’s really my language of love.
Nikki's thoughts: I met Sabrina and Sieg in high school. Hands down, these two were #couplegoals since way back when.. Sabrina and I both became moms at a young age too. I have since witnessed her grow to be the awesome wife and mom she is today.
What made you decide to join forces to become “Mothers Who Brunch?”
mommanmanila: We have a common friend who is also a blogger, Patty Cuyugan (www.mrspcuyugan.com) who kept telling me about her friend, Sabrina. At the time, Pattty and I were hosting Crafternoons. We hosted and event for a salon for some of the momma bloggers, and Patty wanted to invite Sab. We met then, and of course by that time I was already stalking Sab’s blog. She takes beautifully styled food photos. I was intrigued by her love of Filipino food because it was never my comfort to prepare Asian dishes. My comfort food was typically Italian or European dishes, and I wanted to learn more. About a year later we attended another event together where we both learned that we were actually intolerant to all of our favorite foods. At some point, we looked at one another in disbelief, asking each other what the heck we were going to do now that we realized we couldn’t bake and eat our baked goods without suffering the ill-effects.
After that event, we promised that we would cook together. We wanted to invite Patty and another friend Joei Gana. We intended to cook together so we could teach them some new dishes and because Sab and I must secretly be from Texas, we had the “Go big or go home” attitude and it became a full fledged event. That was May 30, 2015.
We have been inviting mommas to come play with us in the kitchen ever since.
sinfullysabrina: Same as Mish! Haha!
Nikki's thoughts: Why, Thank you, Patty! Thanks to you, my tummy looks forward to MWB cook-fests and luckily, I share the same food intolerances as they do. Whoot! Whoot!
What advocacy does Mothers Who Brunch share?
mommanmanila: Hmmm. This is a good one. If it is my personal mission to provide the best (and easiest) meals possible for my family and friends when they join me at my table, that carries into our joint mission as MWB.
Our tagline is: GATHER. INSPIRE. FEAST.
We enjoy bringing mommas together. There is power in numbers, and the more mothers who you can lean on in times of need or even celebration only empowers us each, individually. Since we both love brunch, it just sounded more fun than “Ladies who Lunch.” We are not ladies of leisure because we both balance so many things in our daily lives.
Officially, this is how we present ourselves:
Mothers Who Brunch is the vision of two moms who enjoy bringing fellow moms together for brunch, to share, inspire, and feast. The possibilities for brunch are endless, much like when you gather moms. We inspire one another. We learn from one another. We support one another. We aim to encourage the hands on moms to do more fun and beautiful things not only in the kitchen, but in the home and with her family.
sinfullysabrina: Taking away from our tagline (Gather. Inspire. Feast), we love being together in the kitchen, inviting other women to join us and just really learning from each other. We do love to cook but there’s always something you can learn from somebody, I really think that is what MWB is all about. But not to forget, a huge part of it is the FEASTING.
Nikki's thoughts: This is exactly true; gathering together, making new friends, inspiring one another through stories and opening our palettes to new flavours. "Gather. Inspire. Feast." Love it!
It is officially "Christmas" in Manila. Paint me a picture of what Noche Buena tastes like in your homes.
mommainmanila: Ah. This is my favorite holiday of the year. The Italian Tradition of The Feast of The Seven Fishes has always been a tradition in our home, once we had kids. I grew up with a mix of both Italian and Filipino Dishes at home, but when Nino and I got married, we both enjoyed the idea that we would prepare 7 different dishes for our extended family as they joined us at our table. With a family as big as I had in NY it almost always became pot luck. Nino and I would prepare most of the dishes while asking our family members to contribute a bit as well. Here in Manila, since our family that we celebrate is quite small, we both tag team the menu with someone preparing 3 dishes and someone preparing 4 dishes. We also supplement by ordering caviar pie and other apps to make sure we have the 7 fishes covered.
Here is a link about the tradition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_the_Seven_Fishes
Side note: When we were still celebrating the holiday with Nino’s family, I would alternate every year and make a Noche Buena Feast to please my inlaws. At that time, we would have ham from Excellente, ensaymada from Cunanan, fresh batirol that I would whip up on the stove in our ceramic pot, and I even learned how to make Puto Bumbong from scratch. I did this for a few years only but I enjoyed the learning process.
sinfullysabrina: In our Home, we have early dinner wherein I usually end up cooking paella or a spicy seafood stew, Manila Belly and anything that goes with whatever crazy theme I have in mind. Last year I went for Mexican Christmas Fiesta theme! But I still keep the tradition of preparing Noche Buena after 10pm mass by serving Baked Ham, hot (tablea) chocolate, bread, chestnuts and other fruits.
Nikki's thoughts: "Uhmm.. 7 fishes? 7 dishes? Puto Bumbong from scratch... Theme- what theme; not just fruit salad and embotido? Huwhaaat?"
What are your favourite holiday meals to prepare for the family during the holidays?
mommanmanila: All! Cooking is a family affair. Getting the kids in the kitchen is fun. It’s educational for them, and it also helps them make better food choices. Another favorite gathering I look forward to every year is my Cookie Swap. This is a fun gathering where I get to invite my baking friends to share a cookie recipe with all my other baking friends. Gia bakes her own cookie. So do I. The kids help decorate. Nino helps with the home made decorations each year. Truly a family affair. And of course, I bribe everyone by saying that they will be rewarded with cookies!
sinfullysabrina: Every year I make paella and spicy seafood stew, either for Christmas or for New Year but it has been our holiday staple since I got married. But I also like to get experimental with certain cuisines so I like to change it up sometimes, depends on the mood I’m in.
Nikki's thoughts: I am inviting myself over and will bribe them with wine.
What advice can you give other mommas (especially to kitchen-illiterate ones like myself) to make this season’s spread stress-free and memorable?
Nikki's thoughts: My ears are peeled for this one.
mommanmanila: There is absolutely no need to stress. Focus on one or two dishes that you know you are good at, and don’t feel bad about ordering or supplementing what’s on your table with dishes from restaurants or home chefs/bakers. I love the fact that there are so many other mommas out there that enjoy cooking and have made small businesses out of their love of cooking as well! Let these ladies do some of the work for you. I think if you can plan ahead, you will be able to pull it off. No sweat. Get the kids involved in setting the table, making the name cards, or even get their input on menu items. Holiday meals don’t have to be extravagant. In fact, some of the best holidays are the ones where we know what will be exactly on the menu every year….like Thanksgiving!!!
Also-adding a little extra oomph like playing holiday music, or lighting a candle that smells like pine trees for Christmas excites a few more of the senses...it’s like an added touch. It’s fun and easy to do too. (I have my big kids make the play lists on Spotify.)
sinfullysabrina: We can’t do everything. As much as we’d like to think we can, we can’t! It’s too much stress on yourself, especially in the holiday season. So give yourselves a break and order things that are too difficult to make. I think I heard the great Ina Garten say that in parties that you will host there are dishes that you should buy, make on the day of and make ahead. I totally agree! Also, if you’re a kitchen novice, start simple. Anything you make is prepared with love and I’m sure your family appreciate the extra effort.
Nikki's thoughts: Huh? So, it's ok to supplement by ordering a dish or two? Trust me, I know a fine circle of Momma cooks who I am more than happy to support during Christmas. Well, that makes me feel a whole lot better.
Now if these fine women did not spread the warm and fuzzies or inspire you to get cooking this holiday season, I don't know what will. I have been scrambling with the idea of how I can contribute in the kitchen in preparation for Noche Buena this year. I just needed a little push. Luckily, I did not need to look far.
Food is a passion, cooking is art. It does not need to be work. It can be enjoyable.
Now, I saved the best for last.
Sabrina and Michelle shared this fun and delicious recipe from their recent event with Crate and Barrel that everyone, especially the kiddos will enjoy.
Eep! I can just imagine snacking on this while we wrap presents and watch Rudolph on Netflix.
Can you taste it? It smells like the holidays...
Sweet Potato Fries:
2 large sweet potatoes or 4-5 small ones, peeled and cut into ½ inch strips
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
1/2 cup prepared cranberry sauce
200g feta cheese, crumbled
250g roasted chicken or turkey meat (not deli meat), shredded
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, plus whole fresh rosemary twigs to garnish
2 cups store-bought gravy, heated
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
2. On a large baking sheet, toss all sweet potato ingredients until sweet potatoes are evenly coated.
3. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and beginning to brown on the bottom.
4. On a warm platter or in a warmed cast-iron skillet (for presentation only), add a bed of fries.
Top with feta cheese and chicken/turkey.