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31 January 2014

Cheesy Ham, Egg & Zucchini Breakfast Bread Cups


The house has finally quieted down when it was already past 3 in the morning. Strong winds and rain were pounding hard on our windows. At around midnight, at the first sign of sleepiness, I immediately closed my computer and declared it a night. Midnight is quite early for me to go to sleep but lately, my nights have become longer, much longer than I want them to be, that I barely get any sleep at all. With both kids sick at home the whole week, it had been quite difficult to remain standing with eyes wide open the whole day. So last night, I decided to recuperate on some sleep but the thunders and lightnings arrived and my sleep was completely forgotten.

30 January 2014

Calamansi Lemon & Vanilla Granita


It just happened. My four calamansi trees decided to yield fruit all at the same time with a stupendous amount. For one whole month, I had been making calamansi juice every single day for the whole family! It was a rare moment for my trees and I really appreciated every single tiny green fruit it gave us. I remember going out in the cold almost daily to gather the fruit that I would be needing to prepare the juice. It was wonderful to harvest fresh ingredients straight from the trees! 

28 January 2014

Mascarpone Affogato al Caffè and Umbrian Towns Montefalco & Bevagna


Oftentimes, I take home ideas after I travel. A break from the usual four corners of my house to a new place without any corners limiting me is a big refresher. When I feel that daily routine stress is weighing me down, I approach the subject of a weekend out with my husband and off we go somewhere with the kids. It's a chance for me and my family to stop from our routines and take a stride of discovery together.

25 January 2014

Baked Stuffed Shell Pasta (Conchiglioni) With Ricotta, Chicken and Spinach


The day I was preparing this dish, I got a strange message from a friend. She was asking if the address she wrote was where I used to live. I don't usually like messages like that because it can either be bad news or good news, but definitely nothing in between. So I replied, yes, why? If messages can also carry emotions, I could have also sent agitation in full bold letters.

24 January 2014

Thick Hot Chocolate With Cotton Candy


I have been noticing pre-made cotton candy canisters at the supermarket lately. With Peppa Pig and Barbapapa winning the hearts of all toddlers these days and since they are both pink, they are selling well. Being a child of "cotton candy in the entertainment parks only era", I can't help wonder how it tastes like. Cotton candy used to be a special treat that you only get at night time in the parks and something that your parents despised because they are the worst stickiest things a child can eat while walking. I am undecided about its easy availability at the supermarket. I still like to think that my kids can only get them at the parks even if I know that they will create sticky problems. But the modern and consumer-oriented age doesn't give us this possibility anymore. Everything is within reach anytime, anywhere.

Monari Federzoni: Boozy Strawberry & Balsamic Vinegar Shake


I know, it's still in the middle of winter and what am I doing holding a glass of very cold strawberry drink? The ones living in the negative zero zones should be shaking their heads at me and ready to switch sides with me. We have been having a not-so-cold winter (and I hope that it stays that way!) and I have been seeing strawberry punnets lately. They're locally grown, which is a great surprise because when they are off-season, they are usually imported. The strawberries did not really take off well in the sweetness factor but well, I am in a big time strawberry mode so let the strawberries reign!

22 January 2014

Apple and Pine Nut Cake


When I was driving home last night from my wine class, I couldn't help reminisce about my younger days on those innumerable times when I was driving home very late at night. I used to stay out until the wee hours of the morning and at quarter to eleven last night, I was already feeling uneasy that I was still out on the half empty roads of Rome. I felt old. The other drivers I passed had the same look as I had. It seemed like they also want to reach home and tuck themselves under their warm covers. That's one of the insurmountable pulls that our homes do to us.

19 January 2014

Garlic Kale Pasta


Imagine my surprise when I went home and saw my two kids and husband having a potato chips party in the sitting room with the TV blaring and the kids walking around the room with chips in their hands. We just changed our TV table and the old one that was supposed to be taken away from the house was in the middle of the room this time covered with glasses of Coca Cola, different kinds of potato chips and paper napkins (at least!). All of them had their mouths full of chips while smiling guiltily at me. Ciao Mamma!

15 January 2014

Veal in Barolo and Grapes and the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) 2014 in Tbilisi, Georgia


Wines. Years ago, I was just moving along the outskirts of this sphere, preferring other drinks than wine. When I finally decided to open the door and step in to the interesting world of wines, I was in a remarkable place to start that journey. I was in Cape Town, South Africa. My wine adventure jump-started there in the beautiful area of Franschoek, where vineyards claimed importance to their wines.

13 January 2014

Griddle-Cooked Salmon with Soy-Ginger Sauce


Fish and kids have the same relationship as veggies with kids, if ever there's a good connection at all. And like any other families, I have difficulty in feeding my little ones but I got lucky with two kinds of fish. They make exceptions for sole and SALMON. With salmon, we are limited to just one way of cooking them. On the griddle with no oil nor salt. It's the healthiest way to eat them and I am really happy that they prefer to have them as simple as that. Salmon is a naturally oily fish so I don't add anything anymore when I cook them. Not putting salt was not by choice at the beginning but was just due to my forgetfulness. Every time I forget and try to sprinkle salt on them later on, my son stops me and tells me that it's already fine while the rest of the family agree with him. From then on, I don't put anything at all on our salmon anymore.

12 January 2014

Homemade Asian Spicy Vinegar Dipping Sauce

 

Don't run away from what you see in that jar! Those chilies and garlic can really scare the living daylights out of anyone but the sauce is not as spicy as you think. You can control the spiciness by crushing as much chilies and garlic as you want. You can either crush them in the jar itself (if everyone in the house agrees with your chili factor) or just crush them in your own sauce bowl when you are about to use it (that's more like it!).

11 January 2014

Spicy Lentil and Soybean Curry


Twice a week, for 45 minutes, I wait, along with other mothers and a stray father or two outside our daughters' ballet room. Most of us stay close to the closed door and wait until the class finishes. Forty five minutes is a bit long to hang around and twiddle our thumbs but it's too short to leave the place and run around the town doing errands. So I take my computer with me to catch up on work while waiting while some mothers go to the bar next door, some leave and some sit down waiting. But there is a mom who doesn't just sit down and wait. She sometimes has a package with her. A warm fragrant one.

08 January 2014

Ginger and Chicken Soup (Tinola)


Nothing can be more perfect in this chilly weather than to prepare this chicken soup made with loads of ginger, green papaya and moringa leaves with a dipping sauce of calamansi lemons and fish sauce. I'm still the same person, don't worry and I am speaking normal too. Those ingredients might sound too strange to you so let me explain.

07 January 2014

Spiced Paprika Eggplant


I need a vegetable side dish. Fast! Lately, I have been neglecting to prepare vegetable dishes at home. Maybe because one side of me is tired of coercing the kids to eat them continuously or the other side of me is just being choosy and not admitting it. The only remaining vegetables I see in the vegetable bin are aubergines or eggplants. They are not my best vegetables. In fact, I can only eat them in chosen dishes like Parmigiana, Omelettes or Salads. That's the extent of my love for this vegetable but that love is extremely strong because I can eat portions fit for an army. So this dish is a trial to make myself step forward in approaching aubergines better with new flavors.

06 January 2014

Pepper and Paprika Beef Sandwich


If I want to stay on the good side of my children, I stick to the 3 Magic P's that never yield any complaints nor pouts, just big smiles and thank yous. Pizza, panino and pasta. There's love in that order. 

05 January 2014

Chicken Adobo Sandwich


I think leftovers are slated for sandwich fillers most of the time. They're given new life and sometimes they even come out much better than how they were originally cooked. If it's adobo I cooked, then the leftover gets a bit of fluffing up in the saucepan. Whereas if it's rotisserie chicken, then out comes the soy sauce and lemon combo and they all go straight to saucepan to get some shortcut adobo taste. These revived chicken strips go straight to the waiting arms of a packed sandwich and my brunch is perfect.

04 January 2014

Beef Stew in Chorizo and Red Wine Sauce


When I watch the news, I always see bad weather in a lot of areas. Heavy snow storms, continuous rain and low temperatures. Luckily, we are spared from them for now. I can't really complain about having very cold weathers because we don't always get cold spells and we only get rare snowfalls. We have one of the nicest winter weathers here. Mild and quite pleasant to enjoy outside on a sunny day. It's even nice sometimes to stay on a table outside a pizzeria to enjoy the sun beating down on your face while eating your pizza. Yes, when the weather's right, it's great to enjoy winter outdoors!

03 January 2014

Baked Lemon Soy Chicken and Rice Platter


For a family of 4 with different tastes, mealtimes are often chaotic and frustrating. And it's also the noisiest part of our day. One child is bewildered because the glass served to her is red instead of the violet one and refuses to eat with us unless we change the color, and out comes "Where's my sparkling water? I don't like flat water!". The other one takes one look at the food, sees a teeny bit of white and declares that he won't eat then he takes a chance in dining with the iPad beside him. The "I-slept-a-full-9-hour-night" me would find it amusing but the sleep-deprived me would not be so amused at my usual mealtime chaos. Someone told me once, "live it, love it, for your children will not always be children. When they grow up, you will definitely miss these moments". Really?

02 January 2014

Kir Royal and Ham - Cheese Antipasto


Of all the days of the year that I had to feel a bit on the lazy side, it had to be New Year's Eve. After the haste and unplanned Christmas Eve dinner at home, all my adrenaline pumps shut down. Round 2 was New Year's Eve dinner that for all the patience in me, my husband and I were too late in booking a restaurant nor hotel with a reasonable price. I could have booked the only remaining restaurant for €190 a person for the big night but I didn't want to splurge so much for one night. We are a family of 4 plus we would be needing a hotel room. That would make quite an unwelcome dent to our account.