Saturday, July 28, 2012

Leftover Surprise | Stuffed Croquettes

In my  household, men and leftovers don't mix.

Last week I made a tray of lasagna and with only three of us, this means leftover galore. I served it again the following day, and then another day, and my husband looked at me like "Ahhh... are you kidding me?", with my son also looking a bit puzzled.

"Oops sorry, I forgot about the unwritten rule..."  I minced.

So the other day, I made a ton of spaghetti sauce, and with potatoes being on sale, made lots of mashed potatoes the next day.  And yes you're right, today we had left overs.  But for a wife like me (and I'm sure just like most of you) I operate my kitchen expense with a strict budget... so these left-overs must be used in a productive/creative way.

Now the recipe I'm going to share with you today is what I call "leftover surprise".  It's one of those dishes that I whip up so that the men in my household will not suspect (or even care) that it was made from leftovers, haha!

So here it goes, my version of stuffed croquetas or meat-filled potato croquettes.

Stuffed Croquettes

left over mashed potatoes (if not follow the recipe below*)
1 cup bread crumbs (garlic and herb flavor)
left over spaghetti sauce (make sure to drain the liquid)
* 4 medium potatoes, boiled and peeled (TIP: For shorter time, microwave potatoes for 2-4 minutes)
1/2 c milk
1 large egg
salt and pepper

Mash the potatoes.  Add butter and continue to mash until potatoes are smooth.  Add the egg and mix it thoroughly.  Add in the milk and 2 tbsp of bread crumbs (or until potato mixture is not too mushy). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the mashed potatoes into small balls. (ping-pong size balls)
Roll to an oval shape and flatten between the palms of your hands.  Add a spoonful of the spaghetti sauce (you could use any left over ground beef dish like picadillo).  Seal the top and the sides with more mash potatoes; using your palm re-shape the mashed potatoes just as like the photo..

In a skillet, add 2-3 tbsp of oil.  Pan fry each side of the croquettes until nice and brown.  Your family won't suspect that it's a left-over surprise... ***wink ***wink!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On a Roll | Cabbage Roll in Hoisin and Fish Sauce

I am struggling to write a new post.  

Well, my first class at Whole Foods last week was monumental.  I had been busy with the preparation for this class for the past four months.  And when I was finally teaching to a room full of food enthusiasts, the whole scenario felt surreal.  Yes, I am happy to report that my first class was indeed a blast!

I wanted to tell you right away immediately after the class.  But I guess I was too excited, as I suffered from writer's block.  I stare at my screen and I struggle to find the right words.  And so it has been like this for almost a week.

However, this morning I found a message from an old friend, Olive.  She mentioned she started reading my blog.  She expressed how she was inspired by it.  As if bitten by a bug, she has been promoting my blog and FB page non-stop for the last 24 hours.

Ferdie, a relative and a schoolmate from high school, was surprised to learn that I write this blog.  We had a short chat this morning and he was excited to read my posts and shared his appreciation online.  He loves to cook and is all the more inspired because of my blog.

I sit down here and I realize that their words of appreciation inspire me.  Their kind words, along with the others who comment and share their compliments, inspire me to continue writing.   Yes they may be unaware but it is because of friends like them and their kind words that fuel me to move on.  You, my readers, are the reason why I sit here and continue to write.  I am all of a sudden so inspired!

I. Must. Post. Something.

So here I am again on a roll... well literally and figuratively... as I share with you...

Cabbage Rolls with Hoisin and Fish Sauce


12 cabbage leaves

For the Filling:

l1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef
l1//2 lb shrimp, chopped
l2 tbsp oyster sauce
l1 fresh egg
l1/2 c water chestnut, chopped
l2 medium carrots, chopped
lgreen onions thinly sliced
l2 tsp sesame oil
l1 clove garlic, chopped
lsalt and pepper to taste

Drop the cabbage rolls in a pot of boiling water seasoned with salt (addendum as I just got a tip from my friend Cherrylyn to add a tsp of baking soda in the pot of water too.  This will make your cabbage look nice and green) Cook until the leaves are pliable.  This usually takes 3 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Mix all the ingredients of the filling together.  Divide the filling into 12 portions.  Place the filling on each cabbage leaves and roll.  Fasten the roll with a toothpick.  Poach the rolls on the same pot of boiling water.
For the Sauce:

1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 lime - add the lime juice
1 clove garlic - minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce and 
1/2 cup chopped peanuts

In a small bowl, mix the fish sauce, water, lime juice, garlic, sugar, chili sauce, hoisin sauce and chopped peanuts together.  

Serve the rolls with the sauce on the side.

I served this dish recently and I added corn and mushrooms

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Upcycled | Asian Inspired Barbecue Ribs

It's Saturday, let's take it easy, Love!

My husband said in response to my litany of things to do for the weekend.  "We could do grocery shopping later, for now, let's just relax"

While he and my son "relax" by watching re-runs of How I Met Your Mother or the re-cap of the latest N.Y. Yankees' victory, I found myself sorting the laundry.  This was when I realized how much I have changed living here in America.  It's "wild" to know that I am now wired to think that doing laundry is "relaxing".  Or washing dishes can be calming, as I shared in my last post.  I have turned to be so domesticated!!!   

You see in the Philippines, I rarely washed dishes.  I never did laundry.  If you think I'm sort of a princess, no I'm not.  But that's just how it was in the Philippines, and it still is for a majority of the people that I know.  You have an army of helpers doing stuff for you... like for each chore (laundry, cleaning, etc.) there is someone assigned to complete these tasks daily.  In fact, one of my former helpers asked me on my last visit how I am surviving in this country without them. "Take me with you Ma'am", she suggested.  

But there is no need.  We all evolve, or better yet, we upcycle ourselves to adjust to a new environment. I enjoy my life in my new home. If I didn't move here with my family, I couldn't imagine myself blogging about home-cooked food... What's there for me to share when I would probably have someone else cook for me.  Then I would not have made it to the Babble's Top 100 Mom Food Bloggers (ahem, it's a shameless plug but it is Babble, an online magazine's annual search). I'm proud to be mentioned in the same league as the famous food bloggers like Deb of Smitten Kitchen and Jenny's Dinner: A Love Story.  But most of all, I am proud to be the only Filipina in the list.  

Thank you Babble, for this is a great honor.    And to celebrate, I made this Asian Inspired Barbeque Ribs using my old barbeque sauce recipe from the Philippines.  I shared this marinade here previously.  But just as I upcycled myself, I upcycled the marinade and added Lee Kum Kee's Chiu Chow Chili Oil to give some kick to it.  This chili oil contains chili, garlic, sesame oil and soy sauce.  Along with the hoisin sauce, this makes for a perfect blend to provide flavor and heat to the ribs.

Asian Inspired Barbeque Ribs

5 lbs. of St. Louis Ribs
10 cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp Hoisin sauce (you could add more if needed)
1 tbsp Chui Chow chili oil (again, you could add more if you want it hot)

Mix the garlic, sugar, hoisin and chili oil in a bowl to make the barbecue sauce.  Once mixed, spread the sauce on each side of the slab.  Apply the sauce thoroughly around the meat and leave it for an hour.  It's even better if you could leave it overnight.  Make sure to refrigerate the meat if you decide to leave it overnight.

Set your oven to 350 degrees.  Put the ribs on a pan with its arch up (like an inverted U) and cover it with aluminum foil.  Bake it for an hour. 

Remove the pan from the oven and remove the foil.  Make sure to use kitchen mitts because it will be steaming hot.  Bring back the pan and broil it on high for 5 - 10 minutes until the sugar caramelizes and will give the slab of meat a nice crust.  Please be careful not to burn the meat, remove from the oven once the top caramelizes and has a dark brown color.


P. S.
If you are in St. Louis, I am excited to tell you that I will be hosting a cooking class, Everyday Asian: Spring Roll Marathon.  The class will be at Whole Foods in Brentwood on Thursday July 19 at  6:30 pm. Click here to register.  It will be a fun cooking activity... that's a promise!  I hope to see you on Thursday... I am sooo excited!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Send Off | Banapple Bread

I'm not good at saying goodbyes.

With three kids already off to college, you might think that I would be a pro at saying goodbye... But nope, I'm a sappy mom!  I cry at the sight of  a packed suitcase in the hallway.  My voice cracks when they tell me their flight schedule.  But the worst is when I take them to the airport... ahh it's a different scenario when I tightly clasp their hands as we stand in line to check in for their flight.

"Drama-rama!" my kids tease me.  And drama-rama it was indeed when I sent my daughter off a few weeks ago.  I stood at the entrance of the security gate in silence, as she left my side to go through security.  I could feel my heart pound faster... and my lacrimal glands increase its productivity as tears welled up in my eyes.  Oh the drama.

"Mom, I'm coming back," she assures me.

Deep down inside I know she will be home again, just like my two other kids.  I also know that my home-cooked meals will be one of the driving forces that bring them all back.  Because it is here, back home, where they can enjoy all of their favorite dishes that their dorm/apartment enclaves cannot offer them.  Yes, food connects them to home.  And that's why I send them off with more food when they leave... homemade goodies which will surely have them looking forward to their next homecoming.

Mom, this banapple bread is delicious! My friend, Gerleroz, loves it... read the text from my daughter, Izzy, a few hours after she landed at LA.

I knew then that she misses home just as much as I miss her. But, at least for now, a bite of my banapple will give her a taste of home.

Banapple Bread


for the bread:

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
3 large bananas
1 cup milk
1/2 cup roasted peanuts

For apple crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 pc apple sliced
1 stick butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg


Pre-heat oven at 350 F.

Grease pan with butter.
Make the apple crumbs by stirring together sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. With a pastry blender, cut butter  until mixture is course add apple slices.  Set aside in the fridge.

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

In another bowl, mash the bananas.  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 banana bread.

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

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Jalapeno Mustard Beef

I don't know about you but I love washing dishes.

When washing dishes, my mind runs faster than the water flowing from the faucet.  It's a time when my mind wanders... of what chore to do next, maybe pay the bill, then call a friend after... Again, I think it's the sound of running water that soothes me... I don't know why but my brain has been pre-conditioned that way.

Well this dish is born out of that... like a light bulb in my head had switched on while I was washing dishes.  It just happened that I didn't know what to do with a chunk of beef chuck that I had thawed.  

Thought Balloon:  Why not cook with your favorite condiment right now?
Me:  What is that?
Thought Balloon:  Your Jalapeno mustard that you use on your burgers.
Me:  That's a good idea.
Thought Balloon:  The hint of jalapeno goes well with beef so why not add cilantro on it too.
Me:  I don't want to add cilantro because it might mask all the other ingredients.

Oh well, I might as well lose this argument to myself.  But before my attempt in creative writing confuses you further, here's a new favorite dish on our table.

Jalapeno Mustard Beef with Cilantro


1 tbsp olive oil
3 lbs beef chuck roast
2 medium size potatoes (sliced)
2 tbsp mustard jalapeno
3 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 stalk celery (chopped)
1 medium onion (chopped)
3 cups beef stock


Season the beef with salt and pepper.   Add olive oil on a dutch stove oven and brown the beef on all sides.  Do the same with the potatoes.  Set aside.

Mix all the other seasonings together.  On the same pan, saute all the  veggies.  Put the beef back and pour over the seasoning together with the cups of beef stock.  Once it's boiling, lower the heat.  Cook until beef is fork tender (about 2 hours for 3 lbs of beef). Add potatoes and let it simmer until cooked.

Let the beef rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board before slicing.  Sprinkle with tiny specs of cilantro... ENJOY!

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