My weekend with Sam Cupcakes with herbal tea

Yes, the title is a play on the movie about the beautiful American actress. And, yes, it’s just Sam who’s home for the weekend. Alex hasn’t been home for many weekends; she’s deep into rehearsals and stage set-up, and will be for another few weeks. I miss her so. We talk via Face-Time often but it’s not really the same as having her here. But, anyway…

Even with only one daughter home for the weekend, things don’t really slow down — especially in the kitchen. Sam has this thing about having at least one baking project every weekend. And I don’t mean Sam baking anything. Rather, it means, “Mommy have you baked already?”

So, last night… late last night, I baked following her brilliant but vague suggestion. She always has ideas. Last night, she said tea-flavored cupcakes but without saying exactly how it would be executed. Like, she’s done her part by coming up with the idea and it’s my job to execute it. Okay, I’ve seen a lot of tea-flavored cupcakes around the web — green tea cupcakes, mostly. But Sam wanted something fruity and I figured we could use the bags of strawberry and mango infusion. Not real tea but herbal tea. No, they are not the same.

I heated milk, dropped in a couple of teabags and let them steep. Didn’t work. The milk hardly acquired any flavor. Worse, the liquid didn’t turn a deep dark red the way water does when I drop in a bag of that strawberry and mango infusion. I read the tea bag label, checked if there was any bark among the ingredients or anything that would be as hard as a bark. Nothing. Just peels and leaves. I cut open two teabags and dumped the contents directly into the milk. I made the cupcake batter, poured in the milk (yes, including the contents of the tea bags), added the finely grated zest of one lemon, scooped the batter into the prepared pans, put the pans in the oven and…

Oh my goodness, the aroma alone while the cupcakes were baking was to die for. And when they came out of the oven, I couldn’t wait until they were cool. Unbelievably good. All the concentrated flavors of those bits from the tea bags just seemed to explode. My only complaint — the color of the cupcakes was rather dull. I have to do something about that next time. When I’ve fixed that small issue, I’ll post a full recipe for… okay, I still have to think of a name for those cupcakes.

Meanwhile, I do have a soup recipe to share. Speedy loves soup, especially when it’s rainy. Sam loves soup whatever the weather condition. This soup was made with chayote, carrot, potatoes, spinach and the meat from the scrap bones I used for making the broth. vegetable soup

Recipe: Rainy day vegetable soup


  • 2 tbsps. of vegetable cooking oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 10 c. of meat broth, preferably home made
  • 1 large chayote, peeled and cored, and cut into half-inch cubes
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
  • 1 to 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
  • patis (fish sauce) or salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 and 1/2 c. of flaked or roughly meat (I used the meat from the soup bones) — pork, beef or chicken will all do
  • a large handful of spinach leaves


  1. Heat the cooking oil in a pot.
  2. Saute the onion and tomatoes (don’t say that the garlic has to be sauteed first) until a bit softened. Add the garlic and saute for another half a minute.
  3. Pour in the broth. Season with patis or salt, and pepper. Bring to the boil.
  4. Drop in the cubed carrot and chayote (because they take longer to cook than potato). When the broth is boiling once more, lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer the vegetables for about five minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  5. Drop in the cubed potatoes. Simmer for another five minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings again. Yes, remember layering flavors. Every ingredient you add will absorb seasonings so the broth will be blander than it was in the beginning.
  6. Add the meat and spinach. Continue cooking just until the meat is heated through and the spinach leaves are wilted, about two minutes. Taste one last time and, if needed, adjust the seasonings once more.
  7. Serve the soup immediately.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 to 25 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4 to 6


  1. Carol B. says

    If there’s anything I am afraid to try (again) in my kitchen, it’s baking. After a disastrous attempt on chicken empanada (masarap sana kaso crust crumbles even before it reaches your mouth, lol), I thought baking is not for me. Somehow, reading your posts about baking make it seem so simple and easy to do. When you include the not-so-perfect results of your attempts, it made me feel that it is normal to make a mistake. Na hindi ako bobo sa larangang ito dahil pinagdadaanan ito ng kahit sino. It somehow encouraged me to try it again. I want to learn how to bake cakes and pastries but when the result didn’t come out the way I imagined it, napu-frustrate ako.

    I am going to give it another try before christmas. I’ll start with the simple ones para hindi naman maging masyadong discouraging ang results. I want to perfect the chicken empanada dahil pareho namin itong paborito ni hubby at wala kaming mabili dito na swak sa taste namin pero ito siguro ang huli kong ita-try. If you have any tips on how I can make the perfect dough for my empanada, I will really appreciate it.

    Thank you for the inspiration and encouragements I get from your posts.

    • says

      Hay, Carol, baking was harder for me to learn than cooking. I couldn’t really bake when I started my food blog. It took years and many attempts before I could say I could really bake already. :)

      • Carol B. says

        I’m a believer of the saying “practice makes perfect”. Kaya lang ang mahal kasi ng mga gamit sa baking tapos kung laging palpak nakakahinayang.

        I think you mentioned in one of your older posts that unlike cooking, baking is exact. Sa cooking kasi mas madaling i-correct ang mistakes. Mas madaling i-adjust ang lasa. I once tried to bake macaroons, ayos sana ang lasa kaso nung lumamig, talagang sinubukan ang tibay ng ngipin ko hahahahaha.

        I’m already a follower of your blog even before ka pa natutong magbake. In other words, I saw your progress in baking – from the stage na bumibili ka ng mga books for your baking up to the stage that you start creating your own receipes. I hope I’ll get to that point, too…someday.

  2. housekeeper says

    *Excited about that tea cupcakes recipe!*

    Thank you Ms. Connie for all the inspirations. Several years ago, as a new wife in a foreign country, I relied on your blog for recipes of food that I miss in Pinas.

    I have learned a lot. Strangely, now that I am in the next phase of my life, I am more interested now in your adventures with your kids, garden, and pets! ;-)

  3. Che says

    Hi Connie,
    I am addicted to your site. :) because of you, hubby thinks I can cook very well.
    We currently live in the UAE, but have plans of going back to Manila soon.

    Just curious, approximately how much do you spend on your grocery shopping (including palengke) in a month?

    It would be helpful to have an idea as I cook most of your recipes anyway :)
    More power to you x

    • says

      We used to go weekly. Two years ago, 3K a month was more than enough. But since it’s just Speedy and I in the house most of the time since 2010 when the baby bunso went off to college to join baby panganay, it’s not a weekly thing anymore. More like as the need arises. :D So, there is no uniform amount. Depende kung ano gusto lutuin. O kung tinatamad magluto. :-P

  4. says

    Will be cooking the rainy day soup tonight. Will need to use ground beef and omit the spinach tho, due to the limitations of my ref and freezer :D hope it turns out well. Thanks!