Pizza Night!!!

The kid can be a picky eater, but when it’s pizza time… all she wants is CHEESE!

She will (and does!) pick all other ingredients and put them aside!


Because I was feeling a bit lazy and because the kid kept asking for it, we had pizza night.  For her… cheese pizza.  For me… Hawaiian!

The best pizza crust recipe (for me) is the Olive Oil Dough from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in 5 minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  But I halve the recipe since I don’t have a container that’s big enough.

1-3/4 cups lukewarm water
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon Himalayan pink salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3-3/4 cups bread flour

Just stir everything together and then leave it at room temperature for a couple of hours.  Then stick it in the fridge overnight.  The next day, pinch off some dough and roll out as thin (or thick) as you like.  We like ours super-thin, about 9-1/2 inches in diameter.  (Then again, an off-the-shelf frozen pizza crust works just as well, too.)

Put some fresh diced tomatoes (or by all means use the ones from a can, just remember to drain them… or go ahead and spread on some ready made pizza sauce, that’s fine too!) then pile on the cheese!  In our case we already had cheddar, parmesan, and toast cheese so we just had to get some mozzarella (I saw an all-in-one pack of shredded pizza cheese and was so tempted to buy it; and I’m sure I would have if we didn’t already have other cheeses at home!)

Anyway, bake the pizza at the highest setting (as possible – ours was about 475*F) of the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes… then enjoy!!!

(for the Hawaiian just put sliced ham and pineapple chunks!)





Japanese-style Chicken Curry

Curry is no stranger to our table, but we usually have the Thai kind, and our usual local variety… but this time I wanted to try Japanese-style – a thick, sweet-ish curry.

I decided to follow the recipe for the curry base here, from scratch with only 5 ingredients!!!

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

First make a roux – melt the butter then add the flour.  Stir and cook over low heat until the roux is browned.  add the other ingredients.  Set aside while the curry dish is cooked.

400 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into serving pieces (cleaned and patted dry)
4 ginger slices
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion, sliced
2 potatoes, cubed
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup curry roux
2 tablespoons sweetened applesauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 small red bell pepper, cubed

Saute the ginger, garlic and onions until soft.  Add the chicken and stir fry a couple of minutes.  Add the cubed potatoes. Add about 1 cup of the chicken stock; set the heat on low.

Add about a cup of chicken stock to the curry roux, to loosen it a bit and then put it into the pot. Stir to dissolve and mix everything; add remaining stock and applesauce. Let simmer until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through. Add the cubed bell peppers last (to keep them crunchy) Season with salt and pepper.

Serve hot over rice!!!


Filipino-style Cheese Cupcake

Even before knowing about (American/Western) cupcakes, we were happily eating cheese cupcakes (we are the ones with cheese ice cream too!).  When I was a young girl, all the neighborhood bakeries had their own version of cheese cupcakes.  Some were crumbly, extremely cheesy, sweet, heavy… there were all kinds of it.  My personal favorite was the soft kind with a lot of cheese flavor and cheese strips on top.

I tried many recipes for cheese cupcake and got a myriad of results – crumbly, heavy, sweet… none were as cheesy as I would like.  I later discovered, when someone revealed a trade “secret”, that commercial bakeries used cheese flavoring (either a concentrate liquid or powder) to enhance the cheesy flavor.  Well, I don’t know where to get cheese flavoring, then again, I preferred to achieve flavor naturally.  I was able to do by using parmesan… not the “real” stuff but the prepared and already grated ones readily available in the supermarkets.

1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter-margarine blend
6 tablespoons sugar
1 cup condensed milk
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup quick-melt cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Mix the dry ingredients together, then set aside.

Beat butter and sugar together. Add the condensed milk.

Add half the flour mixture and mix. Add the evaporated milk and mix. Add the remaining flour and mix. Fold in the grated Parmesan. Fold in half the quick-melt and cheddar cheeses.

Scoop batter into paper-lined muffin cups. Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 15 minures. Take the pan out and quickly sprinkle the rest of the cheeses on top of the cupcakes. Return to the oven and bake further, about 10 to 15 minutes. Take care not to over-bake.

Bola Bola Soup

Bola is our word for “ball”, so literally, bola bola is 2 balls.  But what it really means is any kind of “meat” balls… so it could refer to meat, fish, chicken, beef, squid, mushroom, etc.

The bola bola that I knew consisted of 2 kinds – the fried one and the processed one that was usually floating in chicken soup!  It was a bowl of comfort!

The simplest kind is the one with fish or chicken stock and fish balls, with chopped spring onions as garnish.  The more elaborate ones have shredded chicken, noodles, pechay, sometimes even mushrooms, and several kinds of balls.

The first thing I always do is boil chicken breast with onions, salt and ginger ti make the stock.  The stock is strained of impurities and the chicken is shredded and put back into the stock.  The stock then is reboiled and the balls are added.  When the balls float to the top, it is time to put in the pechay (wombok).  The soup is ready!

To take it one step further, the soup can be ladled into a bowl with parboiled egg noodles to make noodle soup!


Dexter’s Chicken and Apple Biscuits

Dexter has been in doggy heaven for 3 years now.  I still miss him.  But we move on and forward, even as we keep him (and other loved ones as well) close in our hearts.

This is one of his favorites –

I found a recipe in one of my doggie cookbooks (yes, I cook for my furbabies too!) and made some major adjustments. The original recipe called for ground beef and diced carrots. While Dexter likes carrots, beef made him ill.  So I used ground chicken instead.

What I did –

1. Preheated the oven to 325*F.

2. Sifted 1¼ cups fine whole wheat flour and ¼ cup skim milk powder together.

3. Added an 1 egg white and 3/8 cup cooked ground chicken and 1/4 cup diced apple (diced in very small dices).

4. Mixed the mixture with my hands. The goal was to have the mixture resemble pie dough. Not too dry but not wet either, just moist enough to roll out. (I thought the mixture was a bit dry so I added about 1 to 2 tablespoons chicken broth and mixed until I got the consistency that I wanted.)

5. Rolled the mixture out to about 1/2-inch thickness (use a floured rolling pin on a floured surface) and used my doggie bone cutter to cut into shape. The little girl placed the cut out dough shapes onto a paper-lined cookie sheet. We actually stuck the pieces very close together since they wouldn’t be expanding anyway.

6. Baked them for about 22 to 25 minutes until the cookies were dry. Dexter prefers chewy over crunchy so we baked them just about 20 to 22 minutes. For a crunchy cookie, bake a little longer. Take care not to burn them though.

7. Cooled the cookies on a rack.

Dexter loved them!!!  The other furbabies loved them too!  (While I call this Dexter’s, they are really for all the furbabies!)


Tofu and Mushrooms with XO Sauce

As I’ve said before, the secret to any good XO dish is the XO sauce!  If you have a good XO sauce (traditionally a scallop-based sauce, but other variants such as abalone has been available in the market), you can virtually mix and match any combination of ingredients!

Take this combination of tofu and mushrooms.  It is a standard in our kitchen since I always, always have mushrooms, and tofu is one of hubby’s and the kid’s favorites!

This is one of those recipes that really does not have specific measurements…

Always begin with a hot pan and the golden “trio” of garlic, ginger, and onion.  Saute until soft and fragrant.  Toss a heaping spoon of the XO sauce (use as little or as much as you like!) into the pass and stir fry until fragrant (trust me, the fragrance is divine!)  While optional, diced red bell peppers may also be added (it adds color as well as texture and flavor).

Throw in the mushrooms (use whichever ones you like – my personal favorites are shitake, enoki, and the Korean king oyster) and stir fry several minutes until the mushrooms are cooked.  De-glaze the pan with some rice wine and a splash of oyster sauce and sweet soya sauce.  Add a little water if you like a saucy dish.  Then add the sliced tofu (my favorite shape is the cube).  Adjust the seasonings according to personal taste.  Cook until the tofu is heated through and then thicken the dish with cornstarch slurry.  Garnish with sliced leeks.

It’s super delicious on top of steamed rice!


Maple Apple Loaf

I was doing a bit of (ehem) light spring cleaning in the kitchen when I found a small bottle of maple syrup in one of the back cabinets… it must be years old, but it was still sealed.  I took a chance that it was still ok and it looked, smelled and tasted fine.  So I figured I was going to bake a loaf with it!  (I was a bit envious of brother E’s Maple and Walnut Loaf)

But I couldn’t find my walnuts!  (The fridge and freezer got reorganized and crazy me, I forgot to put labels!)  What I did find was a lonely apple in the fridge.  Goodness knows how long it’s been there but it was still firm and crunchy soooo….

Hello Maple and Apple Loaf!!!

Of course I had to do a bit of adjusting… for instance I added apple pie spice to the dry ingredients… reduced the sugar a bit more (from 1/3 cup to 3 tablespoons, keeping in mind that there’s still maple syrup to sweeten it, as well as the apple) and grating the apple (kinda like grating carrots of carrot cake… the apple yielded about a 1/2 lightly packed shredded apples.  Oh, I also omitted the heavy cream, because I thought, the shredded apples would take its place.

The house smelled absolutely heavenly while the loaf was baking.  The little girl even ran from her room to the kitchen exclaiming what yummy smell is that??!?!

The loaf baked nicely with a texture that’s much softer than the other variants.  But it was definitely delicious!!!!

The adjusted recipe (but still based on the “master loaf” recipe)

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
3 tablespoons sugar (reduced from the original 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup melted butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup

1 apple, peeled, cored, and shredded

Mix together the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and mix until just blended. Don’t over-mix. Fold in shredded apples.

Place batter in a greased and lined medium-sized loaf pan (our standard size locally is 7×3 inches but the batter reaches almost to the rim edge)

Bake in a preheated 325*F oven, about 40 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool completely before slicing.

Peanut Butter Banana Choco Chip Loaf

I was already a young adult when I discovered the fantastic combination of peanut butter-banana-chocolate… and I was skeptical at first, but WOW!

So it was a no brainer that I would add peanut butter to our regular banana choco-chip loaf (the master loaf recipe variant).  In theory it was easy to say just add, say, half a cup of peanut butter to the recipe but as brother E discovered, it was easier said than done.  His first try at the combination was not as expected.

The good thing about his experience was that I could learn from it and adjust the recipe… it seems that the batter had a bit too much fat, especially since local peanut butter was used.  (The local peanut butter is a “natural” type, with a layer of oil sitting on top of the peanut butter.)

In my case, I also used a local peanut butter, a homemade one by one of hubby’s associates.  I have to admit I am not used to (or fond of) the local peanut butter, since I am quite turned off at the copious amount of oil that I see, but who am I to turn away a gift?  I just poured the oil out and tasted it.  Truth is, the peanut butter is delicious (now I want to know where I can buy the stuff!!!!!)

Anyway, to make a long experiment story short, I adjust the recipe by reducing the butter to 1/4 cup, adding 1/2 cup peanut butter and 2 mashed bananas.  The batter was so thick that I added 2 tablespoons water.  The batter was still thick but I didn’t want to mess up the proportions further (besides if this experiment was a failure I could try again!)  For the procedure, I mixed the wet ingredients together, added the mashed bananas before stirring in the dry ingredients.  The chocolate chips (semi-sweet chips and mini dark chips) were folded in last.

The resulting loaf was good.  It wasn’t oily, and the texture was ok.  The top was quite brown though but it did not burn…  As for the flavor, both peanut butter and banana were there.  As for the aroma… the kitchen smelled heavenly!!!

Mix together 1/4 cup soft butter (reduced from 1/2 cup originally), 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 egg, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Add 2 mashed bananas and 2 tablespoons water.  Stir in 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar (reduced also), 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Fold in 1/3 cup chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into a 7×3-inch loaf (our local “standard”) pan has been greased, lined, and re-greased.  Bake in a preheated 300*F oven for about 40 to 45 minutes.  Ten with foil if the top gets too browned.

It is wonderful when enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee!!!!


Super Easy Lobster Rice

Truth be told, this is a super cheat recipe…


Well, first of all, I couldn’t afford lobster!!!!  So the cheat part of the recipe is that I used the “doggy bag” that hubby brought home the other day (he had a business dinner at a [very very] posh restaurant).  One of the guests requested lobster and there were leftovers…

The super easy part is using the rice cooker!  Place 2 (rice cooker) cups, rinsed clear beforehad, in the rice cooker.  Mix the leftover lobster dish (which was cooked in garlic) with the appropriate amount of water and pour into the rice cooker, then switch on the rice cooker.

When the cooking is done, fluff up the rice with lobster pieces and serve!

How easy is that?????

Best part is how yummy it was!  The rice was infused with lobster goodness!


Mommy’s Marinara

My mother is a recipe hoarder.  Me?  I definitely got it from her… I also hoard recipes, cookbooks, etc. etc.  These days my cooking/baking list grows even longer since I’ve added her recipes to mine!

There is one recipe, however, that is NOT written anywhere.

A long time ago (when I was just past my teenage years, in fact), I went through a stage where I abhorred meat sauce for pasta.  I was lamenting about it that particular day when she said (paraphrasing here) “what’s your problem? it is so easy to make simple spaghetti sauce!”

She then goes on and dictates “the recipe” (again, paraphrasing here)-

Sauté 4 cloves garlic (smashed) and 1 small onion (minced).  Add a pinch of chili flakes, then pour a (big) can of stewed whole tomatoes in the pot.  Add a fistful of Italian seasoning and season to taste (large pinches of sugar, salt and pepper).  Lightly crush the tomatoes.  Simmer 15 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Use the time to cook the pasta, 1 medium pack (which later I found out to be 500grams spaghetti, more or less).  In the last few minutes of simmering the sauce, throw a fistful of grated parmesan in the pot.  Mix.  Done.

Then she continues to say that it is easy to vary and add flavor – add whatever it is before the tomatoes…

for meat sauce, stir fry ground meat (anywhere from 250 grams to 500 grams), add the tomatoes when the meat is browned

for veggie sauce, add diced peppers or pimientos, sliced mushrooms, diced zucchini, carrots, asparagus, eggplant, etc.  (if you want the veggies to stay crunchy, add in the last 10 minutes of simmering)

for seafood, add 1 small of anchovies and seafood as desired (just don’t over-do it!)

Later on, someone told me that this was basic marinara sauce.

I’ve used this formula for years!  And hubby loves it!  Any which way I make it! And I’ve made it with shrimps, meat, veggies, clams, mussels, crab, even with canned sardines!!!

But my absolute favorite is this mixed seafood!