19 September 2014

Mediterranean Quinoa-Stuffed Baked Tomatoes

When I was young, my choice of entertainment reading was my family's enormous dictionary that was a quarter of my weight which I alternated with our three sets of encyclopedia. One set was from my Dad's schooldays which had pages made of onion-skin paper with minute printing. The other set was current, bought by my parents for us kids to do our school researches (there was no internet then) and the third one was a child's set when we were smaller with more pictures and simple text. For years, I would carry one volume at a time to my bedside and read them. I thought it was normal because my older brother had the same choice of reading material too.

18 September 2014

Healthy Mashed Potatoes Wrapped in Spinach

Violet is my daughter's favorite color and when I use anything violet, she's very active in helping me set up the table for photographing. And when I say that I need violet flowers, she runs faster than a roadrunner to get me not one, but the whole plants' flowers, leaving maybe one so that the bees don't get hungry. Well at least there's a nice thought. Now that both my kids are bigger than when I started blogging, they participate in my work. They are my second and third set of eyes who help me coordinate the colors and give me ideas on what to use as props. My daughter specializes in violet while my son is more open-minded to other colors. After putting together plates continuously almost everyday, I run out of ideas sometimes and my two little assistants step in.

Easy One-Pot Chicken and Rice Dinner

The first week of school is incredibly chaotic. Full-day and half-day classes all end at the same time. Since all the kids go out practically at the same time with 5 - 15 minute intervals in between them, looking for parking is hopeless. I always end up parking at where I am not supposed to (sshhh!), always fearing in getting a ticket. I'm that car that is always parked a tad too close to the traffic light. It's fishbone parking so making it longer than it should be takes away one lane for the cars who need to turn.

16 September 2014

Easy Mint Yogurt with Strawberries

Yesterday was the first day of silence at home. I enjoyed it - doing nothing, in spite of all the plans I had to do as soon as the kids left for school. I had such a long list of pending things to do but I just dropped everything for a couple of hours of relaxation. But yes, at the back of my mind, there was this voice reminding me to do this and that until finally, I tackled what I had to tackle which was laundry. The best part is to put everything in the washing machine and the chore gets worse as you take them out to hang. I have mountains of dry clothes waiting to be ironed that never get flattened. That only means that ironing is my worst enemy. Is there actually anyone who loves ironing? I wonder.

13 September 2014

Fig Tartlets with Custard Cream and Pistachios

Our fig tree yielded quite a good batch of fruit this summer and for the first time after more than a decade, we had the tree to ourselves. It's an old tree planted by the person who lived in our house years before we moved in and it's located right in the middle of two garages, one ours and the other, our neighbor's. Now that neighbor moved away and we had full access this year. And you know what? Figs are my second favorite fruit (next to mangoes).

12 September 2014

Baked Corn on the Cob with Parmesan and Flax Seeds

It's the last weekend before school starts on Monday and I am in the car traveling south with my husband driving and the kids and our dog at the back. This summer had passed in front of me in a blur. I took more trips than usual, mixing work with holidays with my family. There's been a lot of running around, packing and unpacking but at the end of them all, we got to spend more time together. And what made this summer more special is that we finally adopted a puppy from the shelter. The family is complete again after the loss of our dog two years ago.

11 September 2014

Seafood Spaghetti Baked in Parchment Pouches

Treats, big or small, come in tied packages. That is exactly what this is when I have the luxury of having extra time to pamper myself and my family with something delicious. I love wrapping up individual portions in parchment paper, minding which one belongs to whom with different colored silicone strings to remind me because the four of us have different quantities to eat and ingredients that some don't eat and some do.

10 September 2014

Breakfast Fried Rice with Bacon, Ham and Eggs

Growing up, I was told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because that is where you get the nutrients to energize your body and mind to get through the first part of the day. And it takes extra effort because just to will yourself to get out of bed, wake up and start moving can take a crane's work to hoist you out of the morning cobwebs. I don't know about you but most of the time, I need a crane in the morning! I'm not really your all-smiles morning person. I'm the one you will notice dragging herself around a breakfast room. 

09 September 2014

Pan-Seared Peaches and Cinnamon with Greek Yogurt

Passing a fruit and vegetable stand is like passing by a beautiful window display of clothes and bags. I simply have to stop and stare. The only difference is, I always end up buying something from the fruit and vegetable stand while I keep myself tamed in the clothes shop. The only time I leave a fruit stand empty-handed is when I am traveling and taking home anything fresh is impossible. And that alone takes self-control.With this dessert though, I had the satisfaction of buying as much peaches as I wanted.

05 September 2014

Lemon Almond Cake with Strawberry Sauce

Strawberries and lemons epitomize sunshine and summer. With just their bright reds and yellows, I already feel lifted. Colors affect my mood so much. Throughout my years in my parents' house I have always painted my walls yellow and chose equally bright color accents to go with it. My friends and family would often tease me that they need sunglasses to  stay in my room. Too bright! That was what I wanted to wake up to when I was young to brighten my morning, literally.

04 September 2014

Cheesy Calzone with Kale and Spinach

Pizzas are beautiful to look at with all the toppings making a united delicious look in inviting you to slice and have a bite. Especially when the mozzarella is melted and is making a gooey cheesy mess. Have I said enough? I am preparing baked potatoes and sausage with rosemary and I am imagining biting on a slice of pizza with the mozzarella stretching for meters! I don't even dare say pizza out loud in our house or the kids will start hollering pizza for dinner and might forget about the dinner cooking in the oven.

03 September 2014

Pasta with Cauliflower and Raisins

If it comes from Sicily, then I will have it on my table please! Sicilian food is the first regional cuisine I fell in love with in Italy. Not because I married a Sicilian nor because my mother-in-law and her sisters make magic pots of incredible food in the kitchen. It's because they are rich in flavors and the ingredients hailing from Sicily itself (not Rome, nor Tuscany or whatever part of Italy) are very tasty. I think it's because of the warm climate that they have there and most days are sunny too. The vegetables and fruits thrive pretty well and these factors give a boost to the flavor department of nature's yields.

02 September 2014

Potato Frittata Sandwich

Being back home after our last summer holiday of absolutely no cooking recharged me in my desire to take reign again in my familiar little realm. But not until I saw the long queue of ants having their own holiday in our house. It was quite a big party of ants that stretched from one end of the house to the other end, and you know where it leads to of course. To our pantry with some adventurous ones branching out to the left side which is the kitchen. After a long car trip, emptying the car of the luggage and unpacking them, kids declaring that they are hungry and a dog who is finally free from his confined space, I rethought and pushed aside the hopeful plans of a smooth sailing cooking therapy in the kitchen.

27 August 2014

Coconut Granita with Mango Sauce

Well there it is. I had been thinking of putting together tropical flavors in a granita for such a long time but I just kept on putting it off. Next time, tomorrow, later. I am sometimes plagued by proscrastination that to just venture to something else that takes less thinking attracts me more. 

When I finally got around to making this, I reprimanded myself for not tackling this recipe sooner because it immediately won me over. I love it, no kidding. I never really thought of substituting Italian, or Sicilian flavors with the granita (what will the purists say) but this has got to be an exception because truly, you can easily fall in love with it. Imagine soft and silky coconut granita made of coconut milk then covered with mango sauce. Yum!

26 August 2014

Grilled Pineapple with Rum Syrup and Frozen Yogurt

After a long dinner of all the courses, my friends declared that they were very full. I told them, that they cannot NOT skip the dessert and I promised that they would love it. There were excited answers but I can see that they were really full. The answer was to stand up from their seats and help me empty the table to move around and create more space in their tummies.

24 August 2014

Grilled Salmon and Asparagus with Grated Egg

Yesterday, I grilled some salmon without anything, not even salt, like how my kids want it. I usually salt my food after cooking and I almost always forget to do it especially with salmon because once I am done cooking, I immediately call everyone to the table while the fish is still hot. But with the arrival of the kids, the chaos arrives too then salt is always forgotten. What I like though is when I do remember it, I usually pass around the salt shaker for them to put salt on their salmon but no one wants it. Even if it is redundant, it always puts a smile to my face when I get refused with the salt shaker. Salt is not good for us. That's what i always tell them.

23 August 2014

Smoked Salmon, Feta and Avocado Salad

Our dog is not a dachshund. When we got him from the local shelter, we were assured a hundred times that he will not become big. He was among the hundreds of abandoned and homeless dogs in the shelter but when we picked him, he just arrived there with his brother at less than a month old. After having a large breed for more than ten years, we wanted our new family member to be less hairy and smaller so that he can be more manageable to travel with in the car and for the kids to be able to walk him, not the other way around. Every week passed and our little puppy kept on growing longer and taller that when we do encounter real adult dachshunds, they pale in size.

22 August 2014

Glass Appetizer of Grilled Asparagus and Pears with Blue Cheese Sauce

I wonder if all you have been glued to the news lately like me. Left and right, the world seems overtaken with tragic events. Lately I have been dreading turning on the television in the kitchen while I prepare breakfast for the kids. I tried once but I didn't like staring at the blank screen on the kitchen counter so I turned it on eventually. It was on the local news channel then after hearing the headlines, I quickly changed it to something more pleasant. Peppa Pig and her family was much, much more bearable that morning. If Peppa Pig can make my daughter entertained, then maybe she can work her magic on me too.

19 August 2014

Jam Cook Iphone App: Check Your Pantry and Discover Awesome Recipes!

How many frustrating moments have I had while staying in the pantry? There were moments when I was sure I had a bottle of the ingredient that I needed to use for the dish I was preparing but there's none. There were also moments when I finally gather my courage and put my pantry shelves in order to keep track of what I have because they tend to get lost inside the cupboards. Once, I even made a handwritten list of what I had in there. It was a marvelous job! I had to give myself a big pat on the back for the huge work I did. Fast forward? It didn't happen again and the list was never updated. That sad piece of paper is still hanging on my magnetic board in the pantry just collecting dust but still reminding me everyday that hey, I need to systemize my stuff in the pantry.

18 August 2014

Mediterranean Tomato Tart

When I am at the farmer's market, I cannot imagine skipping the tomatoes at all. There are more varieties than the regular market stalls and the tomatoes are much uglier (gnarly and all) but you cannot negate the fact that they are much sweeter and taste more like tomatoes that their watery cousins at the supermarkets. The aroma is also much stronger. It's the kind that makes you stop yourself from digging into the bags while still in the car and eat them like an apple while driving. It's just the unbecoming sight of dripping tomato juices that is stopping me from really doing it.