Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers with Beef

When the cat's away, the mice will play.

Indeed, that's exactly what I did when he was away.

No silly, wipe off that naughty smile on your face. You see if you follow my blog, you will notice that my new post veers away from my usual flavor profile. And when you cook for yourself, it gives you a chance to be playful.  That's the kind of play I'm talking about - being creative in the kitchen without any constraints or limitations.  And I especially focus on the flavors - new and old - and experiment with unfamiliar ingredients.

I've always loved stuffed peppers - it is always in my to-cook-list that I carry around. Why is it on the list?  Well I'm not sure. So when I saw the vibrant colors of bell peppers at the store the other day, I knew right away that stuffed peppers will be in my menu very soon. Quinoa, on the other hand, is something that I've only discovered recently. And how to spell the word quinoa - much more how to enunciate it - is always a challenge but I love to use this pseudo-cereal as a substitute for rice.

So I must admit, I have been terrible on the occasions when I need to fend for myself. Why bother cooking just for me? But the colorful bell peppers in my fridge seduces me to change my mind... So A-HA!... The moment to make stuffed peppers reveals itself to me. They look so festive, nutritious. And most of all, it makes me happy! 

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers with Beef 

1 cup quinoa
1/4 c water
1 can beef broth
1/2 lb beef
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 pcs bell pepper
1/2 c crumbly Gorgonzola, divided
1/4 c Panko bread crumbs
1/2 c pineapple tidbits
1/2 c cubed tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasoning

Pre-heat the oven at 375 degrees.

Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh.  In a stockpot, add the broth and water.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Stir in the drained quinoa.  Lower heat and cook it for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the top of the bell peppers. Remove the seeds and the insides, creating a nice pepper cup.  Set aside.

In a pan, saute onions and garlic with olive oil. When onions are translucent, add the beef.  Sprinkle the Italian seasoning and season with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, mix  the cooked quinoa and beef.  Mix them together.  Add pineapple tidbits, grogonzola and tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Fill the bell peppers and bake it for 15 minutes.  (Note:  I want to keep my peppers firm and also make sure not to dry up my beef and quinoa)

When the cat is away the mice will play?

Hmm maybe I did.  *wink... *wink.  Thank you Ann, Viv and Dave, Rene and Majessa for keeping me busy over the weekend  Cheers!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Red Snapper with Lemon Coleslaw on a Spinach Cup and Wasabi Mayo

He called me from work last week and asked  "What are you having for lunch?"

 "A Spinach Wrap!"  was my reply.

And he said "It sounds healthy and refreshing! That's good!"

Then, the next day, he called again and asked the same question and I replied "Spinach Wrap" 

"Hmm, Yum Again!" he said.

And for the remainder of the week, he popped the same question.  Yes you guessed it right, I answered: "Spinach Wrap!"

"What?  SPINACH WRAP Again??? Don't you get tired of it?" he asked in disbelief. "Love, you are usually creative. What happened?  Aren't you inspired at all?"

I smiled, little did he know that I've been enjoying my spinach wrap marathon lately. I use my spinach wrap as a blank canvass, and pretty much. everyday I create a colorful new picture. It depends on my mood, really.  Sometimes I could easily throw in any left-overs from the previous night to a bed of spring greens.  Sounds healthy, right?  Or sometimes, I would grill it with cheese (oooh gooey) or add some cream with fresh fruits... oh so divine...  

So ok, in case he calls today, and he pops the same question... I will not say Spinach Wrap.  This time I would say:  Red Snapper with Lemon Coleslaw on a Spinach Cup and Wasabi Mayo.  

I can't wait to  hear what he has to say this time.  How about you... What are you eating for lunch today?

Happy Monday!

Red Snapper with Lemon Coleslaw on a Spinach Cup and Wasabi Mayo


Pan-fried fish strips
I used Pan Fried Red Snapper which I seasoned with salt and pepper and lemon.  Pan fried each side, takes about 4-6 minutes)

Lemon Coleslaw
Mix 1 cup coleslaw mix, 2 tbsp mayo, lemon juice from lemon, 1 tsp sugar ,salt and pepper to taste. You may also add a drop of sesame oil a teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds.

Wasabi mayo: 2 tbsp mayo, a dot of wasabi (you may add more if you want)

Small Spinach wraps

Assemble them all together and you will enjoy a refreshing lunch in no time.  Enjoy

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Weeknite Cooking | Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

If pork chops were characters in a play and I am the writer, they will definitely fall into the main character. Where will Kermit be without Miss Piggy?  The pork chop is the star of the play - acting along with the most valuable supporting casts, including veggies shrimps, crabs and steaks. They are always a good fit for a feel good story.  Much like a Julia Roberts-Hugh Grant romantic comedy.  Oh and the Kermit-Miss Piggy relationship is one of the successful long-term Hollywood relationships.

Pork chops always bring smiles to my dinner table.  And there's a delightful feeling of nibbling at the meat on the bones, savoring every flavor it brings... It's one of the characters in my fridge because yep, it's easy to prepare them and it always spells SPECIAL once on the dinner table.

And while I was taking pictures, the pork chop evokes sweet memories of Sunday dinners past. I remember when my brothers came home from the seminary and you know it's a special dinner because pork chops are in my Mama's repertoire. Perhaps you would enjoy having it for your weekday dinner - as a pick-me-upper for the Tuesday Blues - just as it did for me and my husband... Enjoy!

Pork Chop in Balsamic Reduction
4 pcs pork chops (bone in)
2 large onions
1 cup baby bellas
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup crema di balsamico
2 tbsp steak sauce
salt and pepper

Heat a heavy pan.  Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Make sure to season both sides.  Put oil into the pan.  Add the chops.  Leave it alone for 4 minutes.  The pork should have a nice brown crust. Turn the chops and do the same on the other side. Set aside the chops.

Pour the drippings and leave around a table spoon of oil in to the pan.  Add sliced onions.  Cook until onions are caramelized.  Add mushrooms, give a quick stir.  Add crema di balsamico and steak sauce.  Let it simmer. Put the chops back into the pan.  Let it simmer for about 6-8 minutes or until the chops are cooked.  .... voila... ENJOY! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring Fling | Lumpiang Hubad (No Wrap Spring Rolls)

I feel like having a Spring Fling.

OK, calm down now, I was referring to the weather. Spring has remained elusive... well, especially here in St. Louis and in most parts of the East Coast. But this morning, the gentle warmth of the sun touching my skin made me instantly fall in love with the season.  It's about time to park those winter layers inside the closet... put away those boots... and yes let the song "Here comes the sun..." get stuck in your head.

Along with getting rid of the layers of clothing, maybe it's also a good time to get our bad habits out the window and say... "I'm ready for a fresh start!"

Lately, I've been challenging myself to eat healthy.  And it feels good to be in that zone.  Nope I'm not even saying the dreaded words ("I'm on a diet") but keeping a healthy option is what I go with.

So for today, I share a classic Filipino dish called Lumpiang Hubad (or Spring Roll sans the wrapper). Filipinos have different kinds of lumpia (spring rolls), the most popular one is called Lumpiang Shanghai. It is filled with pork rolled in a thin wrapper and deep fried.  But the healthier version is what we call Lumpiang Sariwa (or Fresh Lumpia). The word "fresh" means it's not fried. It is made mostly of vegetables and rolled in a thin crepe that is soft and refreshing to the palette. But this recipe calls for no wrap or spring rolls.  Sorry I find it hard to directly translate the name of this dish.  Hubad in Filipino means Naked in English... so it doesn't sound right to call it Naked Spring Rolls haha.. But before I confuse you any further with my Spring Fling, here's the recipe.

Lumpiang Hubad (No Wrap Veggies)

1 chicken breast julliened
1/4 lb shrimp, deveined and julliened
1/2 medium sized cabbage, sliced into strips
2 medium carrots, sliced into strips
1 medium singkamas, sliced into strips
1 c green beans, julliened 
4 pcs garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp oyster sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp annatto powder (optional)

In a cooking pan, saute onions and garlic with olive oil. Mix in annatto powder, give it a quick stir. Add chicken slices. Saute for five minutes, stirring frequently. Add shrimp and give it a quick stir.  After about 4 minutes add in all sliced vegetables and season with oyster sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes or until done. 

For the peanut sauce 

1/2 cup of light soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar (you could adjust it accordingly)
2 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 c cornstarch dispersed in water (make sure to have no lumps)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c peanut, crushed

Mix all the ingredients together : soy sauce, water peanut butter and sugar into a saucepan. When boiling, add the cornstarch mixture, stirring continuously to avoid lumps. Remove from heat when the sauce begins to thicken.

Garnish with crushed peanuts and minced garlic.

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