Tofu with Mushroom Sauce

It was a Japanese night for us. Not intentionally, though. I didn't know what to cook and we definitely didn't want to have ham again for the nth time in a row (leftover from Christmas dinner, mind you!). So I looked in the fridge and saw a block of tofu and a few pieces of mushroom. Easy. Stir Fry. But I saw a great recipe online that would make use of other "stuff" I had in my pantry. And by "stuff" I mean ingredients we rarely use and I only remember when I clean out the pantry. So I decided to try it.

Of course, I had to tweak it and use whatever I had (I wasn't in the mood for a quick run to the grocery store). I am pleased to say that it turned out great. No - it was awesome! The combination of flavors went very well together. In fact, when we ran out of fried tofu, hubby got some rice and mixed the sauce with it.

On a humorous note, I used powdered dashi mix, and I had to guess the ratio of water to powder mix because the instructions were in Japanese! There was a note on the front of the box that said "directions on the back panel," but lo and behold - they were written in Japanese. Hahaha. It did say 2 teaspoons (or whatever) of powder mix, but how much water? I had to go by taste.

Click for larger image


As with the edamame, it was also by chance that I saw a bag of them in the freezer. Well, what could go well with a block of soy but... more soy! But seriously, if you haven't had edamame, you are missing out! They taste so good - like peanuts, only better. They are also chockful of nutrients. 

So there you go. Our Japanese dinner. And as Kevin Brauch would say, "Konbanwa!"

What you need: 

1 block of tofu
6 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dashi mix
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1/8 cup of shaved carrots
2 tablespoons Vidalia onion, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
Canola oil for deep frying

What to do:

Drain tofu and wrap in several layers of paper towel to absorb extra water. Set aside.

In a small saucier over medium-high heat, combine water, dashi mix, mirin and soy sauce. Bring to a soft boil, then add carrots, onions and sliced mushrooms. When it starts boiling again, pour in the cornstarch-water mixture and stir. Lower heat to a simmer and continue cooking for about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the drained tofu into 1 inch cubes and deep fry in hot oil until lightly browned. Place fried tofu in a serving platter and generously drizzle with mushroom sauce.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Firm tofu works best in this dish.
2. Original recipe called for katakuriko (potato starch). I used corn starch.
3. Hubby suggested adding more veggies like baby corn and water chestnuts for texture.
4. I used shaved carrots because I didn't feel like cutting it very thin with a knife.

Happy New Year!


Shish Kebab with Tahini Sauce

The term "shish kebab" is a Turkish word that means "skewer" or "roast meat." Over the years, it has included roasting veggies to add more flavor and variety to the dish.

In Filipino, food skewered on a stick is generally referred to as "barbecue," but it is usually pork or chicken rather than beef. 

Truth be told, I made this dish because I don't want to waste the tahini we bought  when we made hummus. It went very well with the meat, and made the dish really delish!

What you need:

For the kebab
1 lb sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 red bell pepper, cut into squares
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoon + 1/2 tbsp canola oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the tahini sauce
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
dash of salt
1/4 cup Tahini
3 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoon water

What to do: 

Prepare the dish by combining garlic, lemon juice, 2 tablespoon oil, salt, allspice, cinnamon and pepper in a large ziploc bag. Place the beef and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Mash garlic and salt in a bowl using the back of a spoon until paste forms. Whisk in tahini, lemon juice and water. Refrigerate prior to use.

Preheat grill to high. Remove beef from the bag and discard the marinade. Brush onion wedges and bell pepper pieces with oil. Thread beef slices onto skewers, followed by the veggies. Grill for about 5 minutes, or until desired doneness. Serve with tahini sauce.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Traditional shish kebab has a lot more spices - coriander, paprika, cumin, etc. I just used the ingredients that I thought would suit our taste buds.
2. Make sure the beef cut is tender - chewy meat is not "good eats".
3. Not a fan of tangy sauces? Reduce the amount of lemon juice to half.


Christmas 2011

A simple cake for HIS birthday

Happy Birthday, Jesus! YOU are the reason for this season.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Merry Christmas!


Easy Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Son likes anything mint, and his new (seasonal) favorite is the Peppermint Hot Chocolate from McDonald's. Well, I found myself having some leftover candy canes and peppermint candies from one too many Christmas parties, so I thought I'd treat son to a (semi) homemade drink. Boy, did he love it! He was able to control the flavor (more mint!) and had a lot more "extras" in his drink.

Yet again, this is semi-homemade (hence the word "easy" in the title) because I used ready made chocolate drink mix. But son didn't mind. He was just too happy with his drink - it was like drinking milk and eating candy at the same time!

What you need:

1 package(1.25 oz) chocolate powder mix (I used Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Sensation)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
dollop of whipped cream
1 teaspoon crushed peppermints
handful of chocolate chip morsels

What to do: 

Place milk in a cup and heat in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Add chocolate mix powder and mix well. 

Pour in peppermint extract and stir. Top with whipped cream. Garnish with crushed peppermint, chocolate chips, and candy cane.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. I thought I put too much peppermint extract, but son said it actually needed more. You can tweak the amount according to your preference.
2. Use Reddi Whip instead of whipped cream. It would also make a prettier picture.


Reindeer Noses

 These adorable Reindeer Noses are the handmade gifts I gave to friends this year. Actually, it is semi-homemade, since I just bought the candies and packaged them. I got the idea from here, and I thought it was great! I don't have a special Rudolph stamp, but I think my Holiday Lineup stamp worked well. I also love that all of Santa's reindeers reindeer are complete in this stamp, and that they are giving Rudolph that funny look. It added a humorous touch to the gift.

Pardon the crude coloring, I just used regular colored pencils for this project. I also used a distress technique to produce an "aged" look on the paper.

The brown candies were dark chocolate malt balls. They were soooo delicious! Of course, I had to do some "quality control" so I ate the mis-shapen ones. The red candy was either a gumball or Red Hots. 

It was fast and easy, especially compared to my original plan to give away Cake Pops. And so cute, too! 


Panang Chicken Curry

I have to admit - I didn't know the difference between regular curry and panang curry prior to writing this post. All I know is that everytime I see panang duck on the menu, I have to order it. Panang's flavor (at least to me) seems to be richer and deeper.  As with the duck, well... it's just my favorite meat to go with it.

After some research, I found out that they both have the same predominant ingredients - dried chilis, coriander, cardamom, lemon grass, garlic, etc. However, panang contains cumin, green peppers, mace, and others not found in red or yellow curry.

Hubby surprised me with several cans of panang curry when he went to the Asian store and I was excited to use it. What he got me was in paste form, but truth be told, I have never seen panang curry powder before. I am sure it exists, but I don't know where to buy them. I prefer the paste anyway. 

And since I have not fully recovered from our adventure with Mr. Duck, I opted  to use chicken instead. It turned out delicious, not quite restaurant quality, but close enough for home consumption. :-)

What you need:  

1 lb chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
1 carrot, coined
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 can (15 oz) coconut milk
3 tablespoons Panang curry paste
1 tablespoon fish sauce (patis)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup Thai basil
2 teaspoons Canola oil

What to do: 

Heat Canola oil in a wok over medium-high. Add in the chicken and cook until brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in about 2 tablespoons of coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of Panang curry paste and stir well.  Let cook for about a minute.

Add the remaining coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, sugar, carrots, and bell peppers. When it boils, lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, or until chicken is tender. 

Add basil then turn off heat. Serve with hot rice.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. When browning chicken, stir constantly. Otherwise, the chicken would stick to the bottom of your pan.
2. Use regular (sweet) basil if you don't have Thai basil.
3. Want more heat? Add more curry paste.
4. ALWAYS wash your hands after handling poultry to avoid cross contamination. Use a separate cutting board for chicken!
5. If you don't like fish sauce, substitute with salt. 

Labels: ,

Arroz con Pollo Valenciana ala Columbia

I was amazed when I saw this recipe online. And from the website of Columbia Restaurant itself! I felt that it was very generous of them to share the recipes of their delicious fares online. 

My family loves Columbia restaurant. We have been to three of their seven locations, and all of them are quite phenomenal. Our favorite, though, is the historic Ybor City branch where they feature Flamenco dancers every Monday to Thursday at 7:30pm. But of course, we don't go there for the dancing. We go there for the food!

Anyway, I was thinking of making regular Yellow Rice and Chicken, but I didn't have saffron, so I took the short cut again - using pre-packaged yellow rice. As I was browsing for recipes online, I stumbled at Columbia's recipe, and decided to copy bits and pieces of it. I was really excited, the prospect of making those delicious recipes in my kitchen was just too much! A serving of Arroz con Paella Valenciana at Columbia is $24.95 (not including tax and tip), but I could make it at a fraction of the cost at home.

And as expected, it was delicious!!! All that was missing was the Flamenco dancers, the fine ambiance and the polite waiters. But even though the restaurant's recipes are online for home cooks to reproduce, I still encourage you to try Columbia Restaurant's authentic Cuban dishes. No, this is not a sponsored post. I just happen to like the resto and am spreading the love. :-)

P.S. Don't forget to try their Boliche Criollo and 1905 Salad!

What you need:

1 pkg (16 oz) Vigo yellow rice
4 cups chicken broth
1 lb chicken breast, cut in cubes
4 pieces chorizo, coined
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1/4 Vidalia onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup peas
1 tomato, sliced
2 tablespoons white wine
pinch of salt
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

What to do: 

Cook yellow rice according to package directions. However, substitute water with chicken broth.

Heat olive oil in a wok over medium-high. Saute garlic and onion for about a minute. Add chicken and continue cooking until chicken starts to brown. 

Add the bell pepper, peas, tomato slices, and chorizo. Season with salt. Pour in the white wine, and cook for another five minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the cooked rice to the pot and mix well. Serve hot.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Original recipe called for asparagus tips, and roasted red bell pepper. I tweaked my recipe.
2. Substitute chorizo with smoked sausage.
3. Since you are dealing with poultry, cross contamination may happen. Make sure you always wash your hands when handling raw chicken, and use a separate cutting board that you use ONLY for chicken.


Fish Tacos

Most of the dishes I cook are spurred by cravings. Hubby was craving for fish tacos, which made me want some too, so we decided that we were gonna have fish tacos this week. And for an added bonus - I got the taco shells (whole grain, of course!) for FREE because of an awesome coupon from an awesome friend. 

I almost didn't get a picture of this dish because I wanted to eat it as soon as I finished clumsily assembling it. Oooh, it was good.

Über Close up!

What you need: 

2 mahi-mahi filets
2 teaspoons Canola oil
1 avocado
1 lime

1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, rinsed (leaves only)
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 stalks green onion, chopped

For the dressing:
1/4 cup Canola oil
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper, to taste

What to do: 

Combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Mix well. Set aside.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high. Lightly fry the fish, making sure not to overcook it. The best way to tell is when the edges have browned, but the meat is still flaky and moist. When the meat has cooled, cut it into thin slices. 

Assemble your taco. Place a soft shell on a plate and lay the fish slices. Drizzle with the dressing. Layer the tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and avocado on top of the meat. Squeeze some lime over the taco before serving and enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Any kind of white, firm-fleshed fish will do!
2. Try marinating the fish with a little bit of the dressing for a few hours prior to frying.
3. If you don't like tangy dressing, reduce the amount of lime juice and add more honey.
4. Adjust heat by adding more red pepper flakes.


Cake Pops


Pardon the "sweaty" look. I just took it out of the fridge!

I made some cake pops since I was thinking of gifting them to friends for Christmas. I love handmade gifts, and I thought these would be such a great idea. However, I have encountered some difficulties in making this first batch of cake pops. 

First, the cake I bought was the moist kind. Which is really, really good when you eat it immediately. With making cake pops, I had to freeze it for a few hours so it would hold its shape and stay on the stick. 

Second, even after freezing, it was still a challenge to coat it with chocolate while remaining on the stick. 

The taste was excellent, but I have to make some major tweaks with my technique. Maybe use regular cake mix instead of the moist kind? I will try it and will let you know the outcome. In the meantime, enjoy the recipe of my moist cake pops! :-)

What you need:

1 box cake mix (I used Betty Crocker's Super Moist White Cake Mix)
oil, water and eggs called for in the cake recipe

8 oz cream cheese frosting (about half a tub)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 tablespoon oil
candy sprinkles, nonpareils, and other decors

What to do:

Bake cake according to package instructions. Set aside to cool.

When the cake has completely cooled, slice the cakes in small squares and crumble them completely. Place the crumbled cake pieces in a large bowl. Add cream cheese frosting and blend well (using your hands, of course). 

Prepare a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Gather about a tablespoonful of cake and shape it in a ball. Place on the sheet pan. Repeat the process until you have used up all your cake. Refrigerate (or freeze!) for at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the chocolate. Place the morsels on the top part of a double boiler and melt. Or, you can put it in a mini Crockpot just like I did! Add the tablespoon of oil and mix well.

Have a stick ready by dipping the top end in chocolate. This is so the cake would stay put when the chocolate at the end of the stick hardens. Poke the cake ball with the stick, making sure the stick doesn't go through! Dip the cake ball in the chocolate and slowly rotate to remove the excess chocolate.

Stick the cake pop in a styrofoam square to keep it upright. While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle the top with nonpareils or candy sprinkles. Repeat until you have used up all your cake balls.

If you are planning to give it as a gift, wrap in a clear plastic with a pretty bow. :-)

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. You can make cake pops from scratch (not from a box). It is just easier and I didn't wanna mess up with that (hahaha).
2. Cake pop makers can be purchased from stores - but the pop itself is pure cake - no cream cheese frosting to hold it.
3. Not a fan of cream cheese frosting? Try buttercream.
4. If you don't have a double boiler or mini crockpot, just zap the chocolate morsels in a microwave for a few seconds. If it hardens, just re-zap it!
5. Consume immediately! I noticed that after a week in my fridge, the cake pop went through the stick! Too dense, I suppose.


Product Review: Nonni's Biscotti Turtle Pecan

I am in denial. I keep telling myself that I don't like caramel, but I find myself eating (and enjoying) a lot of products with caramel. For instance, I cannot resist Twix bars, DeMet's Turtles, and I am certainly loving this new Turtle Pecan biscotti from Nonni's.

While son sticks with the tried and tested Cioccolati flavor, I love branching out and trying new variants. Out of all that I have tried, I think I like this Turtle Pecan the best. Read on to know why.

What I liked: 

- Individually wrapped, Nonni's style. I like it that way -it kinda' tells you that the product is always fresh.
- The thick layer of milk chocolate on the bottom in always a plus.
- The chewy caramel chunks in the cookie. Ooooh, it is just delish! 
- Only 110 calories per serving. Yipee!

See the circled part? That's the yummy caramel!

What I didn't like: 

- Hard to find! Unlike the "Originali" and "Cioccolati" variety which are always in the aisles.
- A bit pricey. About $4 for a 6-pack. (But I got mine on BOGO so yay!!!)

The Verdict:

It's really hard not to love this product. It is absolutely delicious and very well-balanced - not overly sweet and not bland at all. Just the light, perfect yumminess that would go well with your morning joe. And 110 calories a piece! My (supposedly) healthy cereal has 160 calories with FAT-FREE milk! I would gladly indulge on that sumptuous biscotti! So yes, this product is highly recommended. And I would buy it again - if they put it on sale (or if I have a coupon). 

Labels: ,

Chop Suey

Let me tell you beforehand that I kinda' "cheated" on this recipe - I used a pre-made mix for this. I just thought it would be quicker, and I have a penchant for semi-homemade. ;-)

The first time I made this dish, hubby almost had a heart attack because I bought everything fresh - including some quail eggs that we had to get from the Asian store. It cost a fortune, I tell you. As a new cook,  I was ingredient-happy. The result was Chop Suey that took us an eternity to finish. Imagine having a whole head of broccoli, cauliflower, pound of chicken, etc in a dish meant  just for two people! 

Now, after cooking it a bajillion times, I learned. Just a few of this and that would make a dish that would be enough for us, with a day's worth of leftovers. I also got smarter - using ingredients that we have on hand, instead of going to the store to buy everything. Oh, I have come a long way. :-) 

What you need: 

1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 can (14 oz) baby corn
8 oz portobello mushrooms
1 carrot, coined
1/2 pound chicken cutlets, cut into bite-size pieces
4 cloves garlic
1/4 Vidalia onion
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 pack Mama Sita Chop Suey mix

What to do: 

Dissolve Mama Sita mix in water. Stir well and set aside. 

Wash your mushrooms by putting under gently running water for a few seconds, then wiping with a paper towel. Remove the stems and slice lengthwise.

Prepare the baby corn by draining the water from the can and cutting the corn in half diagonally.

Heat cooking oil in a wok over medium-high. Saute the garlic and onion for about a minute, then add chicken. Cook, stirring constantly until meat is browned. Add the vegetables and continue cooking for about 2 minutes.

Pour in the dissolved mix and bring to a boil. The lower the heat to medium and cook until vegetables are fork-tender.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Try a variety of veggies - use green or red bell peppers, bean sprouts, asparagus, etc.
2. Instead of chicken, you can use pork, shrimp, or beef!
3. Add quail eggs or regular hard boiled eggs.
4. Of course, you can always cook it the traditional way. :-)


Hello Kitty Christmas

After Thanksgiving and all the Black Friday shopping madness, it is time to think of Christmas. Yay! It is probably my favorite holiday, as it is the birth of our Lord.

My shop is getting some Christmas goodies too. I made this Hello Kitty card and I loved how it turned out! I guess I have never outgrown my love for Hello Kitty. :-)

Isn't she cute, with her candy cane and all? ;-)


Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon-Spiked Cream

So I just got my December 2011 issue of Food Network Magazine, and I saw hubby flipping the pages. I told him to choose a dish from the magazine that he wants me to make, and this was the result:

He probably marked about 20 dishes! I am gonna be a busy lady!

This cheesecake recipe is from the October 2011 edition, and contributed by Emeril Lagasse. Lately, I have been enjoying trying out recipes from magazines. I am starting to see my blog as a "test kitchen" of sorts... I post those that turned out good, while the unsuccessful ones remained buried with only photos to remember them by. :-|

This recipe was good, but not overly sweet. I was quite disappointed with the crust, but the addition of the chocolate sauce more than made up for it. The texture was also more cake-y than silky, and it was because it called for flour. Not sure what would have happened if I skipped the flour, and I am not one to experiment much in baking. As I have previously said, baking is an exact science and doing away from the tiniest ingredients would make or break the product. Also, I wouldn't really veer away from Emeril's recipe because most of his recipes that I tried were really awesome.

What you need: 

For the cheesecake:
1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 45 crushed wafers)
1 cup ground pecans
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 pounds (4 blocks) cream cheese, cubed and softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
6 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups canned pure pumpkin

For the topping:
2 cups sweetened whipped cream
dash of bourbon
chocolate syrup (optional)  

What to do:  

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the wafer crumbs, ground pecans and melted butter in a bowl. Press into the bottom of a 12 inch springform pan.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, mix the cream cheese until smooth (this might take a minute or two). Add the brown sugar and process until blended. Add the eggs one at a time, processing until fully incorporated, then blend in the heavy cream. Add the flour, salt, cinnamon and vanilla and blend until smooth. Add the pumpkin and continue blending until smooth. 

Pour the filling over the crust in the pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the cheesecake is just set. Remove from the oven. Use a knife to loosen the cake from the side of the pan; this will prevent it from splitting down the center. Let cool completely before slicing.

Meanwhile, make the topping: Combine the whipped cream and bourbon in a bowl and mix until blended. 

Remove the side of the springform pan and slice the cheesecake. Top each piece with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and some bourbon whipped cream.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. To crush the wafers and pecans, place them in a food processor and grind until fine. Careful though - you don't want powdered wafer! :-)
2. If you don't have a springform pan, you can use a 9" X 12" pan. Just make sure you line it with parchment paper.
3. Don't feel like making the spiked whipped cream? Use regular whipped cream instead.
4. Oven heat varies. Make sure you keep an eye on your cheesecake. If it starts cracking, it means you overcooked it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for HE is good. His love endures forever." -Psalm 107:1 



My carving skills aren't that great. :-(

Another cute and whimsical idea I got from a magazine. It is called a "cupple", from the words cup and apple. Such a great craft for kids, I am sure they will love t.

No waste too! I used the flesh of the apple to make the juice. ;-)

This is from the November 2011 issue of Disney Family Fun magazine.

What you need:

1 apple
1 calamansi 
2 tablespoon cranberry juice
1 cinnamon stick

What to do:  

Slice off the top of an apple. Hollow it with a melon baller or spoon, leaving 1/4-inch thick walls around. To prevent browning, drizzle the apple's edge with calamansi juice. 

Meanwhile, put the flesh of the apple in a blender and blend until it turns to liquid. Add cranberry juice and blend for about 5 seconds (just to mix things up). Pour into the cupple and garnish with cinnamon stick.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Substitute cranberry juice with seltzer water for an extra kick.
2. Lemon or lime would work if calamansi is not available.
3. Be very careful when hollowing the apple - you don't want to scratch the surface as the juice would leak!


Coconut-Curry Tuna

I was looking for a "dish inspiration" when I saw this recipe in the June 2011 edition of Everyday Food magazine. The original recipe was actually "Coconut-Curry Mussels" but since the only seafood I had in my fridge was tuna, I had to make a major tweak.

It still turned out good. I paired it with some egg noodles to make a complete dish. Yum!

What you need: 

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups egg noodles
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon yellow curry powder
1 pound tuna fillet, cubed
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup peas

What to do:  

Cook egg noodles per package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger. Saute for about a minute. Whisk in the coconut milk and curry powder, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the cubed tuna and peas. Stir to combine. Cover and reduce heat to medium-high, cook for about 5 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and stir in lime juice. Serve over cooked egg noodles.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

 1. Not a fan of pasta? Serve with rice instead.
2. Try different seafood - mussels, shrimps, scallops, etc.
3. Garnish with cilantro!
4. Use premium coconut milk. First pressing is always the best!

*Nope, I'm not an endorser. I just like Thai Kitchen coconut milk. I have tried a lot of brands, but I think this is the best.


Funny Sign, and the Owl

I just had to take a picture of this sign when I saw it.

Unfortunately, I didn't see any iguanas crossing. 

On a side note, the hooting sound from outside my window is driving me nuts. I think it is a Horned Owl, but I can't be so sure since I can't find it. I always hear it at night, and I wonder if my dog is bothered by the sound too. I mean, it just goes on the whoooole night. I am so tempted to go out with my camera and search for the owl, but the mosquitoes would probably eat me alive. Oh well. The bright side is, with the owl in our yard, there would be less critters around. 


Chicken Afritada

I remember that my fondest memories of chicken afritada was cooking it with "Skyflakes" - our local version of Club crackers. I never understood why we crushed it and put it in the dish, but my brother and I loved breaking up those crackers and sprinkling it on top of the boiling dish, pretending it was fairy dust (or sand from the sandman haha).

Now that I am more knowledgeable about cooking, I know that those crackers were used to thicken the sauce. Which was how we used to like it.

In this recipe, I did not use anything to thicken the sauce, because hubby likes "soupy" dishes. But I did use a lot of good ingredients to make this meal tasty and delicious!

What you need: 

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cut into cubes
1 large Russet potato, cubed
1 green bell pepper, cubed
1 large tomato, quartered
1/4 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon canola oil
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoon patis (fish sauce)
dash of black pepper

What to do:

 In a pot, heat canola oil over medium-high.Saute the garlic and onion for about a minute, then add in the chicken to brown. Season with patis and black pepper. Add fresh tomatoes, tomato paste and water. Mix well and bring to a boil.

Add potatoes and bell pepper. Lower heat, then let simmer for about 30 minutes or until chicken is fork tender. Serve with steamed rice.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. If you want a thicker sauce, add breadcrumbs.
2. Use pork instead of chicken. ;-)
3. Some people put carrots in afritada. 
4. Substitute fish sauce with salt. 


Blueberry Blast Smoothie

This was actually a "forgotten" post. I made it several weeks ago - when blueberries were in season. Why it never made the "blogging stage" still eludes me, but I am publishing it right now.

After making this drink, I refrigerated it for about 10 minutes, hoping to have it during the hottest time of the day. However, after just a few minutes, I noticed that the color changed - from purple to almost brownish. I don't know if the yogurt caused the color change. It was still very, very good, though. The flavor was not affected in any way. ;-)

What you need: 

1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoon honey

What to do: 

Wash blueberries thoroughly and dry.

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend, pulsing, until all ingredients are mixed well.

Pour into a big mug and enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Try adding other fruits! Blackberries and raspberries come to mind.
2. Don't have plain yogurt? Skip it!
3. Add some crushed ice - but don't forget to add more milk or sugar so the taste doesn't get "watered down". 


Special Embutido

I already have a post for embutido, but I wanted to make my grandmother's embutido - the delicious, unforgettable kind. Sadly, because I couldn't get some of the ingredients here, I had to be creative and wish for the best (hahaha). 

When my grandmother used to make embutido, she would wrap it in caul fat, which is a lining  in a pig's intestines. Sounds really gross, but it is actually a natural sausage casing, and when cooked, caul fat melts, leaving the meat moist and succulent.

Anyway, since caul fat isn't something I can buy from our local store, I decided to just use cheese cloth. No, it didn't melt, but it also held the meat very well.  And I loved that I boiled it instead of steaming it because - aside from the meat being very moist - I used the liquid as the base for sauce. Yummy!!!

 What you need:

For the embutido:
1 1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 green + 1/2 red bell pepper
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 carrot
1/2 Vidalia onion
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 eggs
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon Worcerstershire sauce
3 tablespoons raisins
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced in quarters
1 can Vienna sausage
1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the sauce:
6 to 8 cups of water
1 teaspoon canola oil 
1/4 Vidalia onion, sliced
2 pork bouillon cubes
2 tomatoes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water

What to do: 

Using your food processor, grind the peppers, carrot, and onion. Place in a large bowl. Add in all the embutido ingredients, except the hard boiled eggs and sausage. Mix well.

Place a good amount of ground pork mixture on the top end of a piece of 10"X10"cheese cloth and flatten it a bit. You should be forming a rectangle of sorts. Put a quartered egg on top of the meat, then a piece of sausage. Alternate the egg and sausage until you reach the end of the meat mixture.

Form a log by rolling the meat and seal it by lifting the top part of the cheesecloth and rolling towards you. Secure by twisting both ends like you would twist a candy wrapper. Repeat the procedure until you have used up all the meat. Set aside.

In a pot, saute the garlic, tomatoes and onion in oil for about a minute. Lower the heat, place the embutido logs in the pot (on top of the onions) and pour about 6 to 8 cups of water. Crank the heat up to high until water begins to boil. Once boiling, drop the pork bouillon cubes and bring heat back to low. Allow meat to simmer for about an hour.

Remove meat to cool. Add cornstarch, soy sauce, tomato paste and sugar to the boiling broth. Cook for about 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Serve with the embutido.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. I made a lot of substitutions in this recipe because I didn't have some ingredients. Feel free to use sweet pickle relish instead of vinegar, and fresh garlic instead of garlic powder.
2. Don't have cheesecloth? Do it the regular way then - by using aluminum foil, then steaming instead of boiling.
3. Skip the bouillon cubes if you don't have any. Try cooking it in beef broth instead.

Not Just A Food Blog © 2012 | Designed by Canvas Art, in collaboration with Business Listings , Radio stations and Corporate Office Headquarters