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