Parmesan-Crusted Haddock

We have been "parmesan-happy" lately because I have been cooking a lot of dishes using parm. There's something about it that makes even a simple recipe so good... it gives a hint of saltiness without over-powering the dish.

On with the dish. So why haddock? Because aside from haddock being chock full of vitamins and minerals, it also made the list of "fish with the lowest mercury content" along with salmon (yay!!!), flounder, and others. It is a fact that some big fish have high mercury content and as such, should be consumed in limited amounts. 

Being a sushi lover, I am sad that tuna is in the "bad" list... and we are actively doing our best to limit our intake of said fish. 

Now, back to the haddock. Did I tell you that it is cheap too?  :-)

What you need: 

3 haddock loin fillets
6 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
dash of dried thyme
salt, pepper, garlic powder

What to do: 

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Make sure fillets are dry by gently patting them with paper towels. Season  fish with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cover and put in the fridge for about 30 minutes to let the seasonings set in.

Meanwhile, combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and thyme in a bowl. Mix well.

Prepare a glass baking dish and coat surface with cooking spray. Set aside.

Dip the fillets in milk, then roll in bread crumbs mixture. Place on the prepared baking dish. Repeat until you have used up all your fish. Drizzle with melted butter.

Bake in the oven for 15 - 18 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. 

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Sometimes I like to use Old Bay Seasoning for fish. Try it!
2. If frying instead of baking, use the melted butter instead of oil.
3. Tilapia or any kind of white fish would work well in this recipe.


This was my pumpkin creation. I carved it myself! :-)  Did it look like the pattern I used?

Yeah, my pumpkin lost a couple of teeth. Too much Halloween candy!

Happy Halloween!


Boiled Garlic Spinach

On a sushi plate. Yeah!
I wasn't very fond of eating spinach as a child. Even after the countless Popeye cartoon shows my brother and I watched where we were "brainwashed" that eating spinach would make our muscles bulge and we would acquire super strength.

Even as an adult, I really wasn't a fan, until I had it in this "special" way. Funny thing was, it wasn't even special - in fact, it was just a side dish that was served with mashed potatoes from an Italian restaurant. My mother-in-law loved it so much that I got curious and tried it. And fell in love with it ever since. It was actually just boiled spinach with lots and lots of garlic (thanks to my mother-in-law for the recipe!)

Now, it is a staple at our house. I was actually wondering why it took me a while to blog about this, when we have this dish several times a month. Nothing but some good ole' antioxidants to keep the family healthy! (We eat too much sweets so we need to balance it out hahaha).

What you need: 

6 oz pack fresh spinach
6 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup culinary broth

What to do: 

Wash spinach thoroughly and dry.

Place a pot over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Saute garlic for about a minute, or until sides begin to brown.

Add spinach and broth. Cover. Turn down heat to low. Cook for a minute or two. Serve hot. (Easy peasy!)

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Substitute water for culinary broth.
2. Top with crushed garlic bits (anti-vampire!).
3. Serve with bagoong (ala Chowking's Kangkong with bagoong). 


Butterfly Season

This is a Zebra Longwing butterfly. It is, by far, the hardest to stalk! It probably took me two weeks before I got some decent pictures of this beautiful insect. But I can always trust my Cosmos flowers to attract the  butterflies. 

I have noticed that most of the butterflies I see in our yard are somewhat in the yellow family. I always see the Cloudless Sulfur butterfly but I don't even bother to attempt taking a snap of it as it wouldn't stay put! However, hubby got lucky as he was taking random pictures of my Cosmos.  And of course, the Passion Butterfly is a perennial favorite.  

I have only seen this butterfly once in our yard, and I was lucky that it stayed long enough for me to run in the house and grab my camera. It is a Giant Swallowtail butterfly. Beautiful as it is from that angle, the underside is even prettier.

Peacock Flower (I thought it was the flower of our Chocolate Mimosa!)
Funny how Florida seasons differ from almost every other state in the country. It is now mid-Fall but flowers are still blooming. Our trees are still green, and they would start changing colors by January (when the rest of the country is coming out of winter). I don't mind, though. I love Florida weather (except when it gets really, really hot that it burns your hands just to touch the steering wheel of the car). 

Weather is getting cooler, though. In the Philippines, this usually marks the start of Christmas season. It is one of my favorite holidays as it is the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I am missing Philippine Christmas so much that I made Parol (lantern) cards.

Have a great day!!!

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The Pouch Principle

Alton Brown introduced us to the "Pouch Principle." To borrow his own words, "cooking in a pouch is a remarkably simple method capable of producing remarkable complex aromas and flavors." And it is sooooo easy. I think of it as foil, assemble, cook, eat.

Here is how it goes. You get to choose several ingredients and cook them in a pouch with liquid. Pick the meat, carbs, seasoning, and liquid that you want. Here is a list: 


 As for the liquids, here are your choices:


There is no real formula, but usually, you pick one type of meat and veggie from the list,  two types of aromatics and dry seasoning, maybe 3 liquid seasonings, and the starch is optional. For this recipe (adapted from the Food Network), here is what I chose (for 2 pouches):

1 package ramen noodles
2 tablespoons dried mushrooms, chopped
6 pieces snow peas
2 Flounder fillets, sliced into 1/2" squares
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoons chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups culinary broth
1/4 cup mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 (18 inch squares) aluminum foil

What to do: 

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a bowl, combine all liquid ingredients and mix well. Set aside.

Divide ramen noodles (and the rest of the dry ingredients) evenly and place in the middle of the aluminum foil. Stack the ingredients over the noodles in this order: snow peas, chopped mushrooms, fish slices, chopped onions, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and kosher salt. 

Pull the sides and corners of the foil up to form a small basket shape leaving an opening at the top for the liquid.

Pour the liquid into the pouches , making sure you distribute them evenly. Press the foil together to seal, but leave a small opening to allow steam to escape. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

*To view the Good Eats episode where Alton Brown shows us the procedure, click here (starting at the 4:49 mark).

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Different combinations of liquids would produce different taste - try it first before pouring it in the pouch (sometimes it comes out salty!).
2. Feel free to experiment with seasoning. If you like heat but don't care for red pepper flakes, use Tabasco instead.
3. Your choices are NOT limited by what's on the list. Example - I used culinary broth instead of the broths listed down. :-)

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Spaghetti with Pesto and Chicken


I was very excited to try my homemade pesto and of course, paired with pasta! I used whole grain noodles. I love whole grain - whether pasta, bread, cereal, etc. The "chewiness" that people frown upon is a small price to pay for healthier food. I am glad that more and more brands are branching out to the "whole grain avenue." 

Make no mistake, though - there is a difference between whole grain, whole wheat, multi-grain, and other whatnots. And that is why it takes me about 15 minutes just to choose a loaf of bread in the grocery store.

Back to my recipe. I used my pesto recipe from here to sauce up my pasta. As for the chicken, those were leftovers from my Chicken Parmesan that I heated up and sliced to add some protein to the dish. Quick, easy, and yummy!

What you need: 

2 portions (about 4 ounces) of uncooked whole grain spaghetti
3 tablespoons of basil pesto, divided
2 pieces Chicken Parmesan cutlets, sliced
sprig of basil leaves (for garnish)

What to do: 

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Divide the pasta and place in two bowls. Mix in 1 1/2  tablespoons of pesto per bowl. Add sliced chicken pieces and garnish with basil leaves.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Add more (or less) pesto to your liking!
2. Leftover rotisserie chicken also works well with this recipe. Just make sure it is not BBQ flavored or something.
3. A sprinkle of parmesan cheese would add extra flavor to the dish.


Basil Pesto

I made pesto a few days ago after seeing that our basil plant was growing well. I have read in several websites that the more you harvest basil, the more it yields leaves. So harvest was what I did. 

With the coming of Fall though, the weather has been cooler and it has been raining a lot, so my poor plant looked like it is gonna die from too much moisture. I hope not. But if it does, I am glad to say that it lived a full, beautiful life. (Why do I feel like I am giving a eulogy?)

Anyway... I adapted the pesto recipe from my friend Peach's blog. Her daughter loves pesto, and of course, I trust the wisdom of a child. Especially when it comes to food! :-) Please visit her blog, her food and platings are awesome!

What you need:

about 50 pieces fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoon pine nuts
4 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

What to do:

Place the basil leaves in a food processor and pulse for about 2 or 3 times. Add the garlic, cheese, pine nuts, and about a tablespoonful of olive oil. Grind for about 10 seconds.

Slowly add in the rest of the oil in a constant stream while grinding. If you see that some of the leaves are stuck, scrape the sides of your food processor with a spatula. Add the cheese and pulse until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Substitute pine nuts with crushed almonds. (Thanks to my mother-in-law for the pine nuts! She made pesto too, and gave me about 2 cups of her leftover pine nuts.)
2. You can use regular grated parmesan cheese.
3. Pesto can be used in a lot of dishes! Spaghetti, toast, etc! I will post one on my next entry.
4. Freeze leftover pesto by putting it in a ziploc bag or an ice tray. It will keep for up to 2 months. 


Speaking of Fall, check out this headband I made that would surely match your Fall outfits:
Click me!


Chicken Parmesan

This is my favorite go-to recipe for chicken. It is very easy to make, has few ingredients, and the meat stays moist! We try to do away with chicken because of its tendency to dry out, but not in this recipe! The mayonnaise coating does wonders to the dish, and the Italian breadcrumbs just give it so much flavor. We all love it!

What you need:

1 pound chicken cutlets
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs

What to do:

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine mayonnaise and parmesan cheese. Mix well.

Coat chicken cutlets with the cheese-mayo mixture, then carefully dredge in the breadcrumbs. Place on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. You can use any part of the chicken, but cutlets work best.
2. If using chicken breasts or thigh, place chicken parts on the baking sheet and top them with the mayo-cheese mixture. Then sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
3. Substitute Italian breadcrumbs with regular breadcrumbs - just add a dash of your favorite herbs!


Fall Fever

What a beautiful Fall day! I woke up to a nice 50°F and it was gorgeous! Ok, maybe that was a tad cool for us Floridians, but still gorgeous! The weather warmed up as the day went on, and even at mid-noon, the breeze was still cool. I wish it was like this EVERYDAY.

I decided to bake some muffins (from a box, of course) and decorate it with some Fall cupcake toppers. I also used some Fall-themed cupcake liners to complete the look. (By the way, those were chocolate chip muffins).

Here are some pictures that son took from our backyard:

Click on the image to see the beautiful insect on the leaf

Yes, that is a tomato!

Happy Fall, y'all!

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