18 April 2015

Spanish-Style Slow Cooker Breakfast Frittata

Going around today, I couldn't wait to get out of my winter shoes, jeans and sweater. It was sweltering hot walking around under the sun! I still haven't had the time to switch our clothes to the next season so we are still wearing the lightest winter clothes I can get. And the lightest weren't even enough. I was longing to wear sandals, shorts and tank tops. I promised myself that I will have to face the herculean job of switching clothes tomorrow. Wish me luck!

16 April 2015

Quick and Easy Microwave Apple with Yogurt Dessert

Have you ever used your microwave for cooking? Maybe I should ask first if you have a microwave at home. I know someone who doesn't trust microwaves at all even if she has one at home, which means she barely uses it. I am guessing that there are a lot of people like her too. Radiation is a major concern about it but after reading a bit from trustworthy sites like the FDA, we can be assured that microwave cooking is not bad for our health. In fact, since it takes much less time in cooking than regular ovens, it retains the natural vitamins and minerals more. I google anything that comes across my mind and when I do so, a lot of sites come out speaking about contradicting things. It's frustrating sometimes because a lot of people write about important health issues that speak about contradicting things without basis. So choose the sites well when you want to know about something  important.

15 April 2015

Carbonara with Zucchini Noodles

Carbonara, that fully-loaded pasta that everyone loves but cannot eat as much as they want. There are the toasted pancetta, eggs, loads of Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino cheeses and the pasta itself. Truly, there is nothing not to love about this absolutely delicious dish but it is just heavy and it is something to be enjoyed just a few times. I rarely make carbonara, but when I do, I make sure that I make bigger portions because it is one of the favorite dishes at home.

Ginger and Lime Breaded Fried Chicken

After an unplanned long weekend away from home, over everything - a break from work, I am back with a fresher mind in continuing where I left off. Five days have been a lot in staying away from my blog but I think I needed it because I got to spend more time with myself and my family. There were a lot that needed noticing and one of them was how life rolls with my computer closed and being hundreds of kilometers away from my kitchen. Sometimes a little reminder can make a tenfold difference.

09 April 2015

Healthy Greek Salad

It has been years and I can still remember how good the salads were in Greece. I can still pick some ingredients from my memory like feta, tomatoes, olives, lettuce, loads of extra virgin olive oil. The freshness of the vegetables in my mouth and the sweetness of the tomatoes are still vivid. I rarely order salads in restaurants but when I was in Greece, it was one of the dishes that I kept on ordering. The flavors of freshness were explosive in the mouth and their salad convinced me how important the quality of the vegetables are. The main rule applies - the simpler, the better.

08 April 2015

Slow Cooker Balsamic-Glazed Chicken Breast

I usually precook the meat before I put it in the slow cooker but this time, I placed all the ingredients altogether, pressed start and waited for six hours. The sauce (which never evaporates in the slow cooker) got a very quick postcooking treatment in a small saucepan to thicken it which I poured back on the chicken. Do you want to know the outcome? It is one of the best tasting chicken I have ever had.

06 April 2015

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Wild Rice

I had a great Easter weekend. Did you? This year, my family and I stayed put in Rome and celebrated Easter Sunday with some relatives. My husband's aunt hosted the lunch in her house so our assignment was just to take the bottles of red wine. Again, no cooking for me. I was on a kitchen holiday and it had been a delicious treat. The food, as always, had been very good with some traditional homemade torta pasquale or Easter cheese bread (we had two versions), salame and egg to start the long and abundant meat-based lunch. To conclude it, we had some of aunt-in-law's pastiera napoletana, a typical Easter pie made with ricotta that originated from Naples.

04 April 2015

Vanilla Gelato with Crème de Cassis, Lingonberry Syrup, Fresh Berries and Mint

The refrigerator had been continuously full lately because I had a lot of recipes queueing to be cooked and photographed. I try not to waste ingredients so I make sure that I get to cook the recipes that use the same ingredients together on the same day (I wish!), maximum 2 (more realistic) or even 3 days (hoping the ingredients resist to stay fresh). The thing is, my main concern is how to keep the contents from tumbling out when we open the door.

03 April 2015

Drunken Beans (Frijoles Borrachos)

They're beans alright. Pouts. Sigh. But there are bits of pancetta (or bacon) too. Really? Now that's more like it. Beans cooked in dark beer with bits of toasted pancetta (pancetta is easier to get here) is a delicious way to eat beans. I have to say that I really love the Mexican frijoles borrachos because the dark beer and bacon make it so full of flavors. A more genuine dish would have epazote but it's nowhere to be found here in Italy even the dried ones. So my own version of this drunken bean dish is simplified with canned beans (of which I usually use borlotti or cannellini instead of pinto), bacon (pancetta) and dark beer. 

01 April 2015

Slow Cooker Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole

Turning on the oven adds to the electric bill a whole lot and I try to find other ways to cut down in using it whenever I can. Fried or baked? I choose baked anytime. But slow cooker over oven? I would usually prefer the oven but with this recipe, I find that the slow cooker works perfectly well. You don't need an oven to make this vegetarian casserole. Just a couple of hours in the slow cooker is enough to attain the beautiful double cheese and breadcrumb crust on top of the broccoli and cauliflower.

30 March 2015

3 Detox Soups to Have on the Days You Want to Feel Light

The other day, I had an insistent craving for something unhealthy. I had been trying to shoo it away but it remained there in my mind and it clearly wouldn't go away until I had no choice but to relent. It's clear that I had the choice because I could have just stayed firm and went for the healthy route. I had the strongest craving for potato chips and chocolates downed with ice cold soda and so I had them for a late afternoon snack that later became dinner because they filled me up and I didn't digest fast enough when dinnertime came. It was short of saying that I didn't feel so great afterwards and I wished that I never had any but hey, we all have our unhealthy but happy moments.

25 March 2015

Seafood Mix with Fried Barley and Garlic Lime Sauce

When my kids casually stroll to the kitchen while I am preparing dinner, they usually look around for some clues what will be on the table soon. Seafood has a particular aroma so they already know that it will be one of those meals that they cannot complain about. If their father requires them to eat their fruit everyday, I make sure that we all have fresh seafood on the table at least once a week. With my persistence, they each have their own favorites now after a struggle of even making them eat before. My son loves clams, shrimp and salmon while my daughter loves salmon but only with soy sauce and lemon dipping sauce. For now it is like that but I know that when they grow older, they will open more possibilities for more kinds of seafood.

24 March 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken, Potatoes & Mushrooms

You're not too tired yet of all these slow cooker recipes avalanching from my blog are you? It's ok to admit it because I myself am getting weary continuing to write about slow cooker this and slow cooker that. But let's face it. We still do have our slow cookers on our kitchen counters and we still are using it, aren't we? In fact, I have another recipe project for tomorrow that should be published in about 10 days. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I am the only one who takes away the slow cooker and puts the gelato maker in its place because I am already starting with summer recipe projects. I have a small kitchen so I have to learn how to systematize things around me.

23 March 2015

Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Casserole

Everytime I pass one of the three apricot trees in our compound, I gaze at the budding blossoms waiting to open up and delight us with its beauty. Out of the three, the one in the sunniest position blossoms ahead of the other two. We have some fruit trees in the garden but the apricot is my favorite. Its small white flowers coming out from the dark pink to almost bordeaux buds are spectacular. These blossoms are already out as well as the quince blossoms and some other beautiful buds that are preparing to bloom.

Quinoa Salad with Grilled Vegetables

When quinoa became a sensation, everyone, including me, started using it everywhere. One of the first recipes where I used it in a unique way (that became quite popular) was in a smoothie. When I had some leftover cooked quinoa in the fridge and I needed something to thicken my Chamomile, Strawberry & Quinoa Smoothie, I looked at the quinoa resting in its bowl and I thought, why not? That 'why not' gained me quite a number of ripples in my blog. It is also one of my favorite smoothies because it is healthy, subtle and delicate.

22 March 2015

Quinoa Nasi Goreng

Solar eclipses don't happen often so when I saw in the television that it can be seen partially in Rome, I couldn't wait for the day. Friday it was and both of my kids were home. After all the prep talk about the importance of not looking straight at the sun, explaining and demonstrating to them how the moon will cross the sun's path, we always go back to number one. What will happen again Mommy? And more than anything, they had an intensifying fear of the sun. They refused to go out and see the eclipse outside. Did I explain something wrong?

20 March 2015

Slow Cooker Kale and Quinoa Soup

From a food photographer's point of view, there are some kinds of food that are impossible to take good photos of. Soups and brown food are examples and when I have them in the list of recipes that I have to create, I dread the time when I have to take photographs because however much the creative juices are running in my mind or whatever food props I use, I come out with a barely acceptable piece. But that doesn't mean that the food is not delicious. That just means that looks can be really deceiving because non-photogenic subjects can be also the next best dish that you've ever had.  I just wonder how I can make it a winner too in the photos.

Slow Cooker Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

There's the kid in me that gets very excited when meatballs are for dinner. All kids love them don't they? And that continues on until adulthood. Love for meatballs doesn't have barriers or limits and there even so many different kinds to enjoy. Ideas are also becoming more creative and nowadays we can find some that are adapted to most diet needs like these mouthwatering meatballs cooked in tomato sauce and with melted mozzarella cheese in the middle. Did I just get your attention? Since tomorrow spring officially starts, I would like to share this meatball recipe before you stash away your slow cooker. And to be honest, I think I still have a few slow cooker recipes to share.

18 March 2015

Zucchini-Crusted Pizza

When I was asked to make this, I didn't know from where to start. After skirting around the assignment for a while, the inevitable arrived. It was time to submit my recipe and photos. Being the birthplace of pizza, Italy only has the traditional pizza crust, differing from thick or thin crust.  Zucchini is an unexpected ingredient to use and so I finally settled myself in front of the computer and started to learn about using zucchini as pizza crust.

17 March 2015

One-Pot Meal: Cheesy Polenta, Sausage, Mushrooms and Eggs

How did your weekend go? Mine had been quite slow and quite pleasantly relaxed like most of my weekends lately. I decided to slow down a bit and smell the roses. Running around with too much haste makes things happen faster but I forget how to enjoy what's around me. Some things can wait and some things need more attention. I think it is time to make amends with myself for forgetting how to live life better and I want to start it with slow Sunday brunches with my family, still rumpled from the previous night's sleep. Yes, it is nicer that way.

13 March 2015

Villa della Pergola in Alassio (Italian Riviera)

I've been keeping this secret of a place in my external drive for a long time and after I had just recently browsed through my archives, the pictures just came tumbling out to me and left me wondering why I never shared all these photos before. I took them on both my visits to this beautiful 19th-century British villa in Alassio, a town in Liguria (along the coast going towards France), Italy.

12 March 2015

Garlicky Beef Tenderloin Tips (Beef Salpicao)

When I made this then went through the painstaking job of photographing it afterwards, I was suffering from having to stop myself from picking a little piece of tenderloin with one of the forks in the picture. Believe me, it was hard. I was aware that if I did so, I would dirty the fork then ruin the way I put together the dish. This only happens to me when I love the food that I am photographing while its irresistible aroma keeps on beckoning me to grab a piece. Beef salpicao, as it is locally known in the Philippines is a very tasty and tender meat dish that is pretty popular on cocktail hours.

Bruschetta con Capuliatu e Basilico (Bruschetta with Sicilian Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Basil)

There is something about speaking with older people that has always captivated me even when I was a child. It's true that the more years a person adds to his life, he also gains more wisdom, stories to tell, experiences to share and practical advice to give. It's like shedding off what is unnecessary and just going back to basics, what's important and what is genuinely good. In Italy, one of my favorite topics in speaking with them is food. The advice they share sheds light to what was good hundreds of years ago (even before their time) and still good until now.

10 March 2015

Chicken Parmesan Rolls with Homemade Marinara Sauce

Yesterday was International Women's Day. I think it's the first year that I didn't receive a bunch of mimosas but I don't really mind because from breakfast until dinner, my husband and kids took over. Breakfast, like all days, my husband prepared everything, lunch was in the woods with simple tramezzini (triangular sandwiches) and gelato while dinner was pizza al taglio that my husband and kids ordered take out from our local pizzeria. And to conclude the celebrations, we had a proper lunch at a good cozy restaurant today. I think all these treats were much better than any bunch of mimosas, don't you think?

09 March 2015

Frittata Soup

Leftovers, what do I do with them? I am sure you asked yourself exactly the same question a hundred times. After meals, however great or simple they were, there is always a piece that remains - too small to be considered a part of a meal again but you are just too full to eat more. I tend to almost beg my family to finish everything on the table so that we don't waste any food because my kids are not enthusiastic about having them again in the succeeding meals. Unless I think of a good recipe where I get to revive the leftover and make it into something interesting again.