Monday, January 30, 2012

Super Bowl Grub: Crispy Chicken Bites with Wasabi Mayo

Are you ready for your gameday grub?  Yeah it's Super Bowl Sunday this weekend, I'm sure you already know that.  I bet you are ready for a nice thick and sticky glazed hot buffalo wings. Or those platters of chips and salsa maybe?   How about those thick and creamy, cheesy dip... yum!

But if you are tired of the usual spread and you are looking for something new to add to your Super Bowl Sunday repertoire, honey you're in the right place.  I am  so excited to share with you
something new and refreshing, my Asian inspired  : Crispy Chicken Bites with Wasabi Mayo ta-dah!

Crispy  Chicken  Bites with Wasabi Mayo
(note: you have two options on how to make the crispy chicken: bake or fry)

4 pcs. chichen breasts (or you could have boneless chicken thighs too)
2 pc Cucumber 

For the breading
1/2 c flour
1/2 c cornstarch
4 tbsp five spice
salt and pepper to taste

Fill a large skillet (cast iron is best) about half full with cooking oil.  Heat until very hot.  Meanwhile roll the chicken pieces into the breading. Shake off excess flour.  Drop the pieces into the hot oil.  Make sure there is enough space to stir the chicken pieces.  Deep fry until golden brown.  Drain the fried chicken and let it rest.  Slice them into bite sizes.  

Now if you  prefer to bake.  Place the breaded chicken on a greased pan.  Bake uncovered at 400 degrees.  Bake until the chicken is golden brown and until the liquid from the chicken runs clear.  Slice them into bite sizes.

Wasabi Mayo
1/2 cup mayo
2 tbsp wasabi paste

Mix wasabi paste with mayo.  You could add more wasabi paste if you want a bolder kick.
Arrange chicken slices on cucumber and add a dollop of wasabi paste.    

So are you ready for some football?   I am... GO GIANTS!  (in case my son reads this haha!)

This post is on Top 9 Super Bowl Eats at Daily Buzz Moms.  Thank you DBM for the feasture!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

All Good Things St. Louis: RUE LAFAYETTE

Back from the holidays, the months of November and December just flew by.  Both months greeted me with a lot of warm hugs and hellos with family reunions and celebrations, kids coming home from college and out of town vacations. I felt like I danced with different rhythms of life and loved it.  

January is almost over and all of a sudden the music changed into a slower rhythm.  Slow mornings like today made me realize that adjusting to life in St. Louis took a back seat.  The past two months were all things holiday and family fun.  As I go back to the "normal" rhythm of life I would also like to bring back a feature I started when I just moved here to STL: All Good Things St. Louis. Today I will take you to Rue Lafayette.

I still had a few more boxes to unpack when my kids from college and my brother from the Philippines came to visit in time for Thanksgiving.  So while I was showing them around our new neighborhood, we came across this French Cafe, which was a few steps away from where we live.  Guess what prompted us to stop by.... Was it the quaint facade?  Maybe... 

OK, it was because of these signs! What with my brother who just came from a tropical country and my girls from California, the cold temperature begged for a cup of hot chocolate... and boy did these signs call our names. 

We were greeted with an ecclectic entry way... and my heart skipped a beat as I loved the vibe of the cafe. The cafe is within a boutique where you find antiques, jewelry and even French soap.  A kindred spirit enclave, and I felt right at home.  In retrospect it was not the ambience that made me fall in love with the place, it was the friendly staff and owner, Araceli. She came up to us and figured we were new in town.  And our conversation flowed like we've met before.  Being a transplant herself she knew how it was to be in a totally new place so she made us comfortable.  She even gave us tickets to take my visitors around.  Her gesture was like a warm hug that said we got the right place in the right neighborhood.

Our firsr order?  You bet it had to be "the best hot chocolate in the world", and boy did it really delight us.  With temperatures in the mid-40's (Farenheit), a warm frothy mug of chocolate hit the spot.

The croissant is also highly recommended.  It's flaky, buttery and fresh.  And the macarons, those delicate French macarons, transported us to Paris.

Ok we might have indulged a little bit... and to think that it's breakfast.  But for my girls who were just fresh from a red-eye flight from Cali, and for my brother who was still jet-lagged from his 30 hour flight from Manila, they needed the sugar... and it was a sure way to welcome them in my new city, and my new neighborhood.

I was glad we made the un-planned pit stop... Rue Lafayette showed the best of my new neighborhood... And as I saw the now empty plates, and the smiles from my brother and my girls, all are good signs to know that I am home...


Guess who was at the Rue today?  It's Mayor Slay! Here are some snapshots we took.

Araceli (the owner) is the lady on the left and Mayor Slay is the gentleman on my right.

with Vicky Destre of Victoria Destre Designs and Richard Flemings

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A plate for Joey: pan seared salmon with green tea and lemongrass sauce

The sound of him playing the guitar resonates through the whole house.  Never mind if the projects that we had planned, which included hanging picture frames on the wall, were left undone.  The music coming from the frets of the guitar was so soothing and beautiful, but I sensed that it would stop soon.

When his luggage was all packed, I knew that I had little time left with him.  Soon he will be back in college, soaked with school work and surrounded by his friends.  His time with me could wait... well at least until the next school break.

I cherished the extra two weeks my son Joey spent here at home while his sisters had all returned to California after the holidays.  His stay was highlighted by the good times we had, the silly giggles, the games and the great food.  Sometimes our games sounded moronic, but it is very touching for me to know he is still my unica hijo.  

The dish I made for him for his last lunch home before he heads back to Cornell was pan seared salmon with green tea.  I spiked it with lemongrass, ginger and honey sauce.  This salmon recipe was inspired by his healthy eating options and the tea time we had every night (started by my eldest daughter during the winter break).  This is the perfect way for me to express how much I treasured the time he spent here at home - by preparing this special plated dish for him.

Pan Seared Salmon with Green Tea-Lemongrass- Ginger sauce

Salmon slices
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Drizzle some olive oil on both sides as well.  Let it stand for 5 minutes.

On a hot skillet (use a non stick pan) sear the salmon slices on both sides.  It took me 3 minutes each side since my salmon slices are thin, if it's thicker allow 5 minutes of cooking time each side.

brew 1/2 cup of tea together with lemon grass
1 tbsp agave or honey
freshly grated ginger root
2 cloves garlic, minced
soy sauce
salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients together.  Season with soy sauce and pepper.  Adjust the taste according to your preference.  Sprinkle sesame seeds and enjoy!

Before you leave,  I'd like to share with you 2 great news.  Last Monday,  Foodbuzz picked my Monay post as one of the top blogs featured in their baking buzz for a week. And if you notice a new badge on the right, that's because Foodista picked my post It warms my heart: Turkey ala Pho as the blog of the day,  Also my Steamed Tamarind Chicken  was featured as Featured blog. on Foodbuzz FB page I could have not done it without your constant support.  Maraming Salamat! (Thank you very much!)


Monday, January 23, 2012

Fresh Start: Steamed Tamarind Chicken

I really haven't been following Oprah.  I mean the Oprah episodes that I've seen are far and few between.  So I was surprised to see a magazine subscription sent to me a couple of weeks ago.  I found out later that  a close friend of mine, Cathy, had given me a full year subscription of the magazine O as a gift.

A Fresh Start
is the theme for January.  And you know it's January when the gym is packed and the park is full of people running, walking and roller blading. Magazines and blogs talk about resolutions:  to spend more time with the family, to start getting organized, to lose 20 lbs., etc.  Sorry I digress.  But the magazine offers fresh strategies on how to better oneself with the start of the new year, and boy I am so inspired.

With O magazine and my friend Cathy on my side (she calls me and emails me regularly to check on my diet and organizing projects) I can't fail.  I am set to clean my pantry and make a conscious effort to make our food healthier.

So just like my previous Kulinarya post, I am making a healthy version of another Filipino dish called sinampalukan manok (chicken with tamarind).  Instead of doing the traditional soup with chicken version, I steamed the chicken and used the same sinampalukan manok ingredients as a dry rub... 

Pinasingaw na Sinampalukang Manok (Steamed Tamarind Chicken)

This recipe is under the category I can't believe it's that easy recipe.  You can also prepare chicken soup stock with tamarind and serve it on the side (making this a deconstructed version of sinampalukang manok).


Chicken cut ups or whole chicken
Sinigang mix
4 cloves garlic, minced
freshly grated ginger
lemon hedges

Clean the chicken pieces and pat dry.  Make a rub by mixing the 3 ingredients:  sinigang mix, garlic and ginger.  Rub the chicken with the tamarind rub.   If you are doing the whole chicken, rub inside the cavity and inside the skin.  Throw in lemon hedges in the cavity.

Steam the chicken for 45 minutes to an hour or until the chicken is fully cooked.

Best served with rice (I used brown rice), cooked with the drippings from the steamed chicken.  But please note, remove the visible fat and just add the liquid used to steam the chicken...


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kulinarya: Gluten Free Yema Cake


I mumbled to myself while I was putting the frosting on my chiffon cake.  You see I'm a novice baker but I stepped up to the Kulinarya cooking club's challenge this month. The challenge was:  come up with a dish or dessert that you want for your birthday.  But the hosts, Pearl of Sassy Chef and Thea of Words and Nosh, added a fun twist, which is to make it healthy.

I took the challenge literally.  I mean what symbolizes a birthday more than a cake... You know the drill: blowing the candles while everyone sings, making a wish and just enjoying the celebration. So I made myself a cake... and I chose to make Yema cake. Yema is a popular dessert in the Philippines; a sweet concoction of eggs and condensed milk.   For the healthy option I made a gluten free chiffon cake and for the frosting I used egg substitute and sugar free condensed milk and soy milk.

With all the substitutions, the cake still came out delightful.  Let's take the candles out.  When you are over 40 you want to keep the candles out, instead I added sugar free candy pearls just to jazz it up a bit.

For the chiffon cake recipe, hop on to Feel Good Recipes  to get the gluten free recipe.

For the yema frosting:
1 can sugar free condensed milk
3 tbsp egg substitute
1 cup soy milk
1 tbsp canola oil


Mix the condensed milk, egg substitute and soy milk in a bowl.  Stir and mix them together nice and well.  Pour the mixture in a double broiler and cook over medium heat until it thickens.   When it thickens, add the oil until you have achieved a spreadable frosting...

You see, you could have your cake and eat it too...LOL!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Ibanag Longanisa Experiment

I can't tell you how gratified I was when Nami of Just One Cookbook blog fame featured my Arroz Ala Cubana. One of the goals of my blog is to promote Filipino food, and I'm glad I have been able to do so. Nami, who has a Japanese background, sharing that her family loved my Filipino dish is just one example of my goal.

I also appreciate readers who email me to share how my blog has inspired them to cook. Recently, I received emails from two of my readers. These two emails have made me doubly excited because the readers who sent them are from my hometown. Mae, who balances her time working at DENR and being a mom wrote:

I enjoy reading your blogs which I find heartwarming and inspiring. Like you, I love going to the kitchen, too. I'd like to believe that it is in the kitchen where we, moms, put our magic wands to good use. Isn't it that the best ingredient that we sprinkle in every dish is LOVE?:-)

She further shared that when she tried one of my recipes, she was so pleased with the finished product. More than that, her kids showed their approval by overwhelming her with hugs and kisses.

Melisande describes herself as a novice in the kitchen and she emailed me saying:

I used to hate cooking but not anymore... and that's because I find a lot of inspiration in your blog... I don't think I'll ever become as good as you are in cooking but I hope I become a good mom like you.. God Bless!

I share my stories and recipes to inspire home cooks like me to be creative in the kitchen and to celebrate family life around their dining tables. Nothing thrills me more than knowing that some readers try the recipes and appreciate the family stories I share. I thrive on feedback, so all these emails do me a great favor.

So with Mae and Melisande in mind, I was inspired to make this dish using ingredients that are readily available in my hometown of Tuguegarao. I took a breakfast staple, Ybanag Longanisa,which I shared a few posts ago, and mixed it with an unexpected partner: tahong (mussels). An easy and inexpensive fix; yet I'm sure it will bring forth love and warmth around the dining table.

Tahong con Longanisa (Mussels with Sausage)

6 pcs. Longanisa
2 lbs. mussels 
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato sliced
maggi seasoning
3/4 cup white wine


Cook the longanisa in a large sauté pan with 3/4 cup water over medium heat until they turn golden brown on all sides. Set aside. Using the same pan (but pour out excess fat, use only about 2 tbsp) saute garlic, onions and tomatoes.

Toss the mussels into the pan, and increase the heat to high. Cover lightly with a lid and cook over medium heat for 2-3  minutes or until the shells have opened.  
Meanwhile slice the longanisa into halves.  Add it back to the pan.  Toss and cook a little more.  
Pour in the white wine,  to deglaze the pan.  Scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Stir until the wine reduces by half.  Season with maggi seasoning, salt and pepper.

Garnish with toasted garlic and cherry tomatoes.


Friday, January 13, 2012

it warms my heart (turkey soup ala Pho)

I woke up early one morning and wondered why it seemed brighter than usual. It was chilly so I tiptoed to my kitchen to make myself a cup of hot tea. A few minutes later, I received a call from my husband, who was out of town, and he asked me if it was snowing.

"There's a chance of snow today," he said. And as soon as I heard those words, I ran towards my window and realized that that was the reason the morning looked brighter: the immaculate white snow glistened as it  blanketed the area around my home. Of course it was cold... but that could not stop my excitement. I immediately grabbed my camera and ran out to my porch to take snapshots of the beautiful white morning. I watched as the snowflakes descended from the grey skies like tiny angels twirling with each gust of wind. It warmed my heart as I raised my face towards the sky and one of the snowflakes gently landed on my tongue. It was indescribably soothing and uplifting.

Inspired by the morning's miracle, I instinctively made a pot of soup; something that would simmer for hours, but also something that I haven't cooked before. And sure enough, I surprised even myself to make a pot of turkey soup ala Pho.  I put "ala Pho" as a disclaimer because I only used the spices I had available in my pantry. Also, I don't like putting mint and other vegetables in my Pho, so this is just my take on the Vietnamese dish. Nevertheless, the long hours of simmering lent a comforting feeling, and it certainly hits the spot like an authentic bowl of Pho would.

Turkey Soup ala Pho


bone-in whole turkey breast (4 1/2 to 5 pounds), thawed if frozen 
1 medium onion   quartered
1 2 inch unpeeled ginger, smashed or pound to release the flavor
3 cloves of garlic minced
3/4 tsp five star spice
2 pcs star anise
1 tbsp annatto seeds
1/3 tsp red bell pepper flakes
3/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp peppercorn
8-10 cloves
3 stalk celery
1 package of sotanghon noodles (vermicelli)

Roast  all spices together except celery,garlic and onions.  Put the spices in a pouch.
Fill the stockpot with water.  Put the pouch and celery, garlic, and onions and let it boil.  Now put the left over turkey in the boiling pot.  Let it boil for two hours.  Remove turkey and shred the turkey breasts and the rest of the meaty section.   Strain the soup.  Add sotanghon noodles and let it simmer for a few minutes until the noodles are soft... and you will be slurping the soup in no time... enjoy!

Here are some snapshots i took from my window

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Monay (Filipino Bread Rolls)

I'm in a baking mode... baking breads that is. You see, while two of my kids are still home for their winter break, baking bread in the morning is a sure way of waking them up. And we all know how college kids are with their sleeping schedule, or lack there of. This is a good mom-strategy sans nagging LOL!

You'll love the bread that I'm going to share with you.  It's called monay, another local bakery staple back home. A few posts ago, I shared with you pan de sal. I collected a lot of memories eating pan de sal as I was growing up, but I couldn't immediately identify a monay story because I don't remember eating much of it as a kid. Oh boy, did I miss out...

This monay story began a few days ago during a New Year's eve party at my sister's house in Orlando. My sister and brother-in-law usually host New Year's eve parties, where around fifteen families gather to wait until the clock strikes midnight.

As the night progressed, the topic of conversation was, of course food, but more specifically the monay. Everyone raved about the monay of Raffy, one of their friends. "Oh you have to try his bread, you'll love it!" the guests would say to me.

During the party, Raffy was busy in the kitchen prepping his monay. He set the dough aside to rise, and timed it so that the rolls were freshly baked right before midnight. The pleasant smell consumed the entire house and excited all the guests. Soon enough, everyone found their way to the kitchen and the monay was devoured within minutes. Not even the Disney fireworks, which were clearly visible from my sister's backyard, distracted people from getting the freshly baked bread. Everyone grabbed the rolls soon as they were pulled out of the oven.

So when we returned home from Orlando, my kids could not wait for me to  make my own version of it.

So this morning I baked a batch... and the smell of the freshly baked bread wafted through my kitchen, found its way into the bedrooms, and my kids were up and around the dining table in no time.

These bread rolls are a must try... they are buttery, tasty and dense. Just like with any bread, it is best to eat the rolls as soon as they get out of the oven.

Monay ala Raffy (Filipino Rolls)


Dry ingredients:
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c powdered milk

Wet Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 pack of yeast
2 tbsp butter
2 egg yolks

Set the oven at 375 degrees.
Mix all the dry ingredients together.  Set aside.
Meanwhile mix yeast with warm water.  Make sure that your yeast is active, meaning bubbles should be visible.  Add sugar and give it a stir.  On a small bowl, mix the melted butter with the yolks. Now, mix both the yeast mixture and the butter mixture together.

Slowly mix the wet and dry ingredients together until it becomes a dough.  Knead the dough and form a ball  Put the dough in a bowl and cover it with a kitchen cloth. Leave it for 2 hours until the dough doubles its size. (another alternative is put the dough in 180 degrees oven for 30-40 minutes.

When the dough doubles in size, knead it again for about 5 minutes.  Form a log and slice it into your desired size.

Arrange the rolls in lightly oiled pan.  Brush an egg wash on top. (eggwash: egg yolk and a little water) Bake for 20 minutes or until the top turns golden brown.

Thank you Raffy for sharing your recipe and for making monay during the party.  And thank you Nangnang for assisting me throughout the process.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ube Bread (Purple Yam Bread) with Cinnamon Streussel

Joey (my son): Mom make some Zucchini bread.

Me: I don't think I ever made one yet.

Joey: Oh yeah, you haven't but Nicci's mom made some and it was good!

Me: Let me get the recipe and I'll make it sometime.

Joey: You could make your own version mom. I think it's like banana bread; just replace the bananas with Zucchini

That's when an idea popped in my head. Since I didn't have any zucchini in stock but had a bag of frozen grated ube (purple yam), then why not make ube bread instead.

So here friends, I'm excited to share with you my first attempt to make Ube Bread...  it's not as purple as other ube breads (maybe you could add more ube to make it look ube-usque) but this bread disappeared fast from my kitchen... enjoy!

Ube Bread with Cinnamon Streussel
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup sugar
1tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice
1 cup grated ube
1 cup milk

For the streussel:
1/4 cups flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt


Pre-heat oven at 350 F.

Grease pan with butter.

Make the streusel by stirring together sugar, flour, and salt and cinnamon. With a pastry blender, cut butter  until mixture is course. 

In a mixing bowl,  mix together flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Add in salt and sugar.

In another bowl place the grated purple yam.  Pour in the milk and beat the eggs.  Add the flour mixture little by little.  Add vinegar and mix thoroughly.

Pour into a baking pan.  Add the streusel on top of the ube bread.

Bake for about 30 - 40 minutes. Let it cool.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ginataang Halo halo

Fresh starts... second chances... clean slates. I love what the New Year represents. 

That was the Facebook status of my friend Agnes that I came across this morning. I thought that this status would be a good way to start my first post of the year. No matter what your personal goals are, no matter how many times you've tried and failed, the New Year allows you another chance to make it right.

The New Year also allows you to look back on the year that has been. Yes, I am truly grateful for what 2011 brought me. With 92 blog posts, I think I have outdone myself more than the previous years of sharing stories and recipes from my kitchen. I look forward to sharing even more this coming year... and hopefully you are still there with me every step of the way. 

As I thought about my first post this year, I thought of giving you the "circular dish" stamp just like in the previous years. Having said that, I would like to share with you guinataang halo halo, a dessert/merienda (snack) simmered in sweet coconut milk.  So let's start off with something sweet and sticky, rich and creamy as we say hello to 2012!  

Happy New Year friends! I hope the New Year gives you more reasons to gather and celebrate around the table... Cheers!

Guinatang Halo-halo
This may be served either warm or cold.  But since it's winter, a warm bowl between your hands will be as soothing as biting into a warm sweet pillowy soft sweet rice dough... enjoy!

3-5 cans of coconut milk (I used a lot of coconut milk to give a thick sweet coconut soup)
2 medium size sweet yam, cubed
2 medium size taro , cubed (you could also use purple yam)
1 cup sweet rice flour (add water to form a dough, then make marble sized balls out of it)
1 cup tapioca pearls (to cook it perfectly)
3 pcs saba (bananas) cubed
1 bottle of sweetened jackfruit, shredded
2 tbsp vanilla
1 cup sugar (adjust sugar according to taste)


Pour  cans of coconut milk (reserve half a can for later) in a stock pot over medium heat. Let it simmer.  Once it simmers, add sweet yam and taro. Cook it for about 10-15 minutes. Then  you may add the round rice flour dough and cook it for another 5 minutes.  Add ttapioca pearls and jackfruit.  Stir the pot until cooked. Pour the remaining coconut milk for a creamy texture. Add sugar according to taste.  I used about 3/4 of a cup but you may add more if you'd prefer a sweeter blend. (optional: add vanilla flavor)

Now you are ready to have a comforting bowl of goodness!

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