Swedish-style Meatballs with Eggnog

SwedishMeatballs9To celebrate the New Year, I had some eggnog, but had some left over. What can I do with leftover eggnog? Didn’t feel like drinking anymore of it since it is sweet and rich and wanted to avoid such things for a while, so, inspired by The Food In My Beard’s Beef StrogaNog, I decided to make Swedish Meatballs with Eggnog. Continue reading

Happy New Year 2013! + a New Year’s Pizza

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As much as I wanted the holiday season not to end, I am happy that it is 2013! Looking forward to this new year and all that it brings. We had a nice, laid-back New Year’s Eve celebration that included our tradition of watching a Planet of the Apes (from the late 60’s and early 70’s) marathon , setting out 13 round fruits for a Filipino tradition, and of course eating good food. How did you celebrate New Years Eve and/or New Year’s Day? Continue reading

A quirky cookie, an Allergy-free version of Costco’s Aussie Bites

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A part of me wishes that the holiday season won’t end. It’s a time of fun with family and good food. Probably the reason that I don’t want the season to end is because I’ve been battling the stomach flu since Christmas Day and wasn’t able to enjoy it as usual. Nevertheless, I am better now and am itching to get back to cooking and blogging. Last week, I promised to post a recipe of one of the holiday treats that I made and gave to friends and family, so here it is…..a post on Aussie Bites! Continue reading

Better Than Sex Cake

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Christmas is almost here! It’s been a bit hectic with all the holiday preparations so I haven’t had much computer time. I love getting ready for the holidays and I always get ambitious with my holiday baking. This year, I think I made about 7 different holiday treats to package and give to friends and family. I’ll do a post on one of the treats in a day or so. I love giving homemade gifts 🙂  Last year, I think I did 10 different holiday sweets. I don’t bake or make so much sweets during the year because my husband and I don’t like to eat sweets often so I like to really go all out during the holidays to take care of my baking itch.

On Thursday last week, my husband had a holiday potluck at his work and he asked If I would like to make something for him to bring. My mom gave me the great idea to make the Better Than Sex Cake. When we were growing up, my Mom would make this for special occasions and birthdays. Her coworkers loved it when she brought it to work too. It was a hit with everyone every time. I didn’t know the name of this cake until sometime in my twenties since, as kids, we always called it “the chocolate cake with skor bar” or “chocolate caramel poke cake.” Continue reading

Brussels Sprouts Chaat Salad

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Is it weird to eat salad for breakfast? With all the holiday cheer of sweets and indulgent foods, I’ve been trying to achieve a balance and eat some good stuff too (like salad for breakfast)! Have you ever had salad for breakfast? Yesterday, we took our Papillon-mix to the groomer at 8 am and then I went back to sleep. I guess it’s a luxury for me right now to be able to go back to sleep or sleep in and wake up late. Since it was late-breakfast to early lunch-time, I had a brunch of Brussels sprouts salad with chaat masala. Continue reading

Latkes for Dummies Recipe

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Happy Chanukah friends, family, and blogosphere! Time to make latkes! Everyone in my family loves latkes aka potato pancakes. Part of my husband’s family is Jewish so I have come to love this dish. Last year, we spent the holidays with his family and I had fun learning how to make latkes and partaking in the tradition. A couple of years ago, we got the Latkes for Dummies recipe from his Grandma, but didn’t get around to making them until this holiday season (plus I couldn’t find where I put it so she e-mailed us the recipe–Thank you!). The Latkes for Dummies recipe is really tasty and very similar to the family recipe except that the family recipe is done by taste.

Hanukkah or Chanukah is known as “the festival of lights” that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and commemorates the recapture of the Holy Temple from the Greeks. Oil is central to this eight-day holiday because of the miracle in which the oil used to light the Temple’s menorah was supposed to last only one day, but burned for eight days. To celebrate Chanukah, the tradition is to eat foods fried in oil such as latkes and jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot).

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Holiday Side-Dish Inspired Pizza

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We all have our favorite holiday foods. Some of my favorite holiday side dishes are green bean casserole and brussels sprouts with apple and bacon.What are yours? Why not have those holiday dishes on a pizza? Using the skillet-broiler method for making pizza, that’s what I did recently and had some fun with holiday side-dish inspired pizza. Continue reading

Eggs in Purgatory (Uova in Purgatorio)

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Eggs in Purgatory. Doesn’t it sound a bit creepy? It definitely stands out as a name for a dish (I have a fascination for things with interesting names). In Italian, it is Uova in Purgatorio. Fun to say aloud. Whatever you call it in wherever country, this is a simple yet satisfying dish. Something rustic and comforting that is great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is the traditional dish for Italians on New Year’s Day and I might just have to make it then too even though I am not Italian! Continue reading

Chaat Masala Chips – Two Ways

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About a week ago, at lunch, I was at home heating up a bowl of chicken and vegetable noodle soup and wanted something crunchy with my meal. Something crunchy that was also spicy. Chips! Who hasn’t liked those sensations that you get from eating chips? It’s those sensations that hook you. Crunch. Flavor. Crunch. That’s why chips are so addicting. Can’t explain that experience of eating chips into words very well. Some phenomenological qualia that’s addicting. Lol. However, chips are usually fried and I don’t like to eat fried foods often. When I make nachos, I make my own tortilla chips by baking them, so I decided to make myself some baked tortilla chips since I had some corn tortillas on hand. Of course, normal fried tortilla chips taste better, but baking the chips is a nice compromise. For the flavor kick, I used chaat masala, an Indian spice mix that I really enjoy. I like the hint of sweetness from the amchoor (dried mango powder) in the blend of spices.

I’m also a fan of veggie chips and earlier this week wanted some kale chips. Why not spice it up with some chaat masala? Kale with  garlic, salt & pepper is a great classic, but it also pairs well with the sweet and spicy notes in chaat masala. Below is a recipe for chaat masala chips, two ways:  spicy kale and tortilla chips. Continue reading

Jeera Spaghetti

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Suraj, a friend of mine since first grade, loves talking about food and the recipes he tells me about, especially his family recipes, always sound so good. He gave me some pointers on Vegetable Manchurian, which I have featured in a previous post. Here is one of his recipes Jeera Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce. It is a great dish for a weeknight when you are busy because, like many pasta dishes, it does not take too long to make.

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Stuffed French Toast with Poached Apples, Pecans and Cider Sauce

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On Wednesday, I thought that it was just another Fall day when my husband texted me in the middle of the day while he was at work, “We should have French toast tonight for National French Toast Day.” I was planning to make French toast aka pain perdu this week for dinner since we got some raisin challah from his Grandma on Thanksgiving. We both love breakfast foods anytime of the day, not just in the morning so it was the perfect day for it. I had some American-style Neufchâtel cheese in the fridge and an extra Granny Smith apple that was not used in the Dutch apple pie that I made for Thanksgiving, so we celebrated the beloved breakfast treat by having Stuffed French Toast with Cider-Poached Apples. It was an excellent way to celebrate the day! Continue reading

Mommy Bene’s Macaroni with Beef Recipe and Giving Tuesday!

Hey everyone! Happy Giving Tuesday! After Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, charitable groups have pooled together to start a new tradition, Giving Tuesday! Basically, after all the “consumption time” it is a day to give back, show some generosity and help others by volunteering or donating to a cause. Continue reading

Pumpkin Doughnuts

I hope you all had a fun and relaxing Thanksgiving! I know that I had a good time this holiday with my family. Even though I made a bunch of pies this Thanksgiving–pumpkin, Dutch apple, and cannoli pies; I still was in the mood to do some baking and for something pumpkin-flavoured. Call me crazy! Today I baked pumpkin doughnuts, and yes, of the gluten-free variety. I really have been bit by the gluten-free baking bug. 😀

If you wanted to, you can fry these cake-style doughnuts, but baking is easier and it tastes great!

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Seafood & Vegetable Ya Mein (peanut noodles), a birthday dish for my favorite twins, my Mom and my Aunt

Yesterday was my Mom’s and my Aunt’s birthday. They are identical twins who are both very successful and are role models of mine. Though my Mom lives close to me in Southern California and my aunt lives in the Philippines, they sometimes see each other at family events (last time was at my wedding!) or when my aunt visits us. Since they are twins, It’s cute to see them together and it’s fun to joke and laugh with them.

Like many Asian cultures, we also celebrate birthdays with a noodle dish to represent a long life. In the Philippines, we have pancit for birthdays and also for special occasions where we feast with lots of food. When we cannot all be together to celebrate, we still have pancit, or at least some type of noodles.

To celebrate their birthday, I made a dish called “ya mein”. Continue reading

Quinoa Soda Bread

I am a big fan of Irish breads. Hearty, no-nonsense breads that go well with soups or as I sometimes like it with either Irish cheese or Irish butter. Irish soda bread is one of my favorite breads whether it is sweet  with raisins as in the Americanized version or rustic and dense in the traditional version. Continue reading

Gluten-Free Quinoa Flour Chocolate Biscotti

Biscotti is one of my mom’s favorite cookies. Actually, probably a favorite of my whole family as it is often requested, especially during the holidays. Now that I am doing more gluten-free cooking, biscotti has been on my gluten-free baking list.

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Pan-Seared Scallops & Crunchy Apple Salad Lettuce Cups

I was watching Gordon Ramsay make a simple, yet elegant dish of pan fried scallops with crunchy apple salad on the first episode of his latest TV show Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery CourseImmediately, I knew that I had to make that dish for Thanksgiving. Continue reading

Baguettes – Egg-less & Gluten Free

For a change of pace from what I normally eat, today I baked egg-less gluten-free baguettes, and I can say that I am not disappointed with the results. They really look and taste like bread! Although these GF baguettes do not have the same flavor and texture of traditional baguettes, they have a pleasing earthy flavor all their own. It is hearty, crusty, with a tight, soft crumb. Continue reading

Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

Acorn squash is stocked in markets this time of year and it is one of my favorite types of squash. I think most squash are my favorite though. Dark green skin and orange flesh, it is a beautiful-looking squash. I grew up eating squash often as my Dad grew them and still does. Summer squash, winter squash, all different types of squash. I get some nice free squash and pumpkins sometimes 🙂

Roasted acorn squash with wild rice stuffing is a vegetarian dish that I used to eat on Thanksgiving when I did not eat meat and wanted to have something besides tofurkey. I first cooked this dish about 4 years ago after I heard an interview on NPR about a vegetarian Thanksgiving and some veggie-friendly recipes. Continue reading

For the meat lovers: Flap Steak and Nachos

Flap Steak also called Flap Meat or Sirloin Tip is an affordable, yet pretty good cut of meat. There’s isn’t much fat on it too. I don’t eat meat much meat (usually one meal a day) or red meat for that matter, but when I do, I want a juicy, tender, and flavorful piece of meat. This flap steak fits the bill perfectly. I love the grooves on the meat itself, which helps flavor the meat if you use a dry rub or marinade. My husband’s uncle is a master griller and BBQ guy who knows how to make awesome flap meat. I need to ask him for his recipe, but here I’ve used a spice rub based on a recipe from Serious Eats. Continue reading

Pão de queijo (cheese buns), a cheesy gluten-free bread

Pão de queijo is a popular cheese bun in Brazil. It’s made from tapioca (cassava) flour so it is a gluten-free bread. Not that I am on a gluten-free diet, but I think it is good to know. My husband wants to eat healthier foods nowadays. I’ve had some tasty gluten-free foods and it’s fun to experiment with it. I’ll be posting my gluten-free recipe experiments pretty soon.

A couple of years ago, I encountered pão de queijo at Fogo de Chao, a Churrascaria (Brazilian Steakhouse) in Beverly Hills. We were celebrating my grandparents-in-law anniversary and their birthdays. For many of us in the family, it was our first time at a churrascaria. After discovering the cheese balls that were almost hidden in the cloth-lined basket, I ate quite of few of them. So did my mom. The parade of meat  and the sides were great, but I really enjoyed the cheese buns probably more than anything that I tasted there. Chewy, light and densely cheesy. So addictive! Continue reading

First Year Wedding Anniversary

Yesterday was our first year wedding anniversary and we made a great dinner together! Pork chops with sauteed apples and white & wild rice with mushrooms. More on that later! Continue reading

Red Lentil Stew – a Remix of Filipino Mongo (mung bean stew)

Red lentils! I have never had them before, until very recently. Have you? Though lentils are a staple in many parts of the world, I didn’t grow up eating them. As an adult, I’ve had lentil stews a couple of times such as the canned soup variety or a lentil dish at an Indian restaurant. The taste and texture of lentils reminds me a lot of a mung beans, something I did grow up eating. We often ate mung beans in a savory Filipino stew called Mongo (Mongo Guisado or Ginisang Mongo) or in Hopia Mongo, a flaky pastry filled with sweet mung bean filling. Mongo is a comfort food that even kids with picky palates love. My dog Swift, a 17 year old Labrador mix, has loved Mongo stew with rice since she was a puppy! When she got sick and didn’t want to eat dog food, she would eat Mongo!

While shopping at Trader Joe’s, I saw a brightly orange and green colored package of Red Split Lentils. Somehow the bag of orange-red beans was calling me out and telling me that I needed to get it. I guess I have a penchant for buying colorful foods.

Don’t these look interesting? (traderjoes.com)

Using the red lentils, I decided to make a dish that reminded me of the Mongo stew that I grew up with and still love, but with an Italian and American twist. Remix time!

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Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte – Make it your way!

Fall is finally in full swing here in San Diego after that September heatwave where we had temperatures that went up to about 110 degrees. That was sweaty time, now it’s sweater time! …and time for some yummy hot beverages. I usually drink a variety of teas from our budding tea collection, but I miss coffee now and then, especially seasonal coffee drinks. At times, I like going to local coffee shops and sometimes even Starbucks to get my fix, but I don’t like all that sugar and having to spend too much $$$$ on a drink. Like one comedian said, “You think I want to stand in line at Starbucks and spend that much money everyday? I would rather learn how to make that **** myself!”

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Black Beauty – Kimbap

“There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast it is all a sham – all a sham, James, and it won’t stand when things come to be turned inside out and put down for what they are.”
Anna Sewell, Black Beauty

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Black Beauty! Do you have memories reading this book as a child? I almost forgot about this great book until I stumbled upon a blog post on Kimbap (Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls aka Korean “sushi”).  Holly at beyondkimchee.com calls the rolls “black beauty.” At first I chuckled because those words sound sort of awkward to say out loud (try saying any color before the word “beauty” – it’s kind of funny to say), but then I remembered the book from my childhood. Continue reading

MasterChef Audition – What was it like?

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So what is it like to audition for the reality TV cooking competition MasterChef? A little over a week ago, I auditioned in downtown San Diego. I never thought that I would try out for a reality TV show! But with the urging of good friends and support from family, I thought, “Why not?” I know that I can cook well enough to impress the judges on the show: Chef Gordon Ramsay, Chef Graham Elliot, and Restauranteur & Wine Expert Joe Bastianich.

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After registering online, filling out an 11-page application, and days of practicing a signature dish, I was ready to WOW everyone who tried my food at the casting call. Continue reading