21 December 2015
What strikes me most about this cocktail is the aroma that emanates from the combination of ingredients. It smells beautiful, fresh and healthy. With vanilla, pears, clementines and fresh thyme (if you are able to get a few sprigs), you are in for a festive cocktail that's almost as fresh as summer with winter ingredients. Adjust the amount of rum according to the strength you want. The quantity I put in the recipe is not too strong because this kind of cocktail is great during the day, maybe while waiting for lunch to be ready, something that is enjoyable that does not give a strong kick.
19 December 2015
It's that period again when everyone is stuck in traffic jams, the commercial centers are crawling with Christmas shoppers, there are the kids' recitals to attend, parties here and there, haircuts to be done, food shopping to accomplish and just about anything that has to be done that's squeezed in one single period. Christmas period is festive but behind the festivities is a lot of work (and stress) to deal with. Until now, my family and I are running around meeting appointments and trying to accomplish things we need done. I am also guilty of still not having put up the Christmas tree. I know, we are just seven days shy from the big day. We will have to put it up this weekend. I promise.
17 December 2015
We all love a pot of home cooked dish with loads of flavor in it but the long-standing obstacle to having one is always the question of time. Do we have the time? I usually don't but if I can clone myself then maybe I can hack it. Working from home may be the most comfortable job there is but it doesn't mean that I have all the time to accomplish everything either. With two kids and a dog, imagine how chaotic the house can be after the three of them decide to play together, which is practically the whole time they are on their feet.
15 December 2015
You are in the Rose Valley, where roses grow for the production of Bulgaria's world-famous rose oil and where native grape variety Karlovo Misket Cherven (Red Misket) come from. You are in Chateau Copsa surrounded with the outstanding views of the vineyards, sunset and the Balkan Mountains and with a glass of wine in hand. What else is there to do?
14 December 2015
We are all guilty of eating twice as much when Christmas season arrives. Eating and drinking go with celebrations with friends, families and just about everyone who has a good holiday cheer to share with us. When December starts ticking, our calendars get fully-booked with get-togethers involving loads of food and drinks. What is celebrating without them anyway? That's the fun of it! We rebel from ourselves for our obsession with calorie-counting. When the month starts, we forget about diets, weighing scales and calories but we need to remind ourselves that we should sneak away from holiday food and go for simple and healthy fares whenever we can. Keeping a good balance of rich and healthy food will keep us right on track.
13 December 2015
I call my slow cooker the magic cooker because life had been much easier after I had it. Putting all the ingredients together in it and leaving it to cook my dinner safely while I am not home is something that I never thought I can ever do before I knew it existed. With the minimum cooking of 4 hours on high or 8 - 12 hours on low, your dinner will come out as delicious as it smells while it is cooking.
12 December 2015
With oatmeals, it's either you love them or hate them. Let me tell me which side I am on. I am on the love side while the rest of my family - siblings, parents, husband and kids never shared (and still don't) my enthusiasm in having a warm bowl of this wonderful, healthy groats. I was the strange one who loves a warm bowl of chocolate or plain oatmeal in the morning while the rest have their more interesting breakfasts. But I don't keep myself from enjoying a big world of other combinations of ingredients that I can add to my oatmeal bowls. Most of the time, I go for sweet blends especially fruits but in some moments, savory oatmeal breakfasts are actually great alternatives. Mix it with crunchy pancetta (or bacon), cheese and eggs and enjoy a savory kind of oatmeal.
11 December 2015
Let's get this straight. Antipasto means appetizer in Italian and like with any appetizer in other parts of the world, it can be anything - hams, cheeses, seafood, pickled vegetables, crostini, bruschette, bite-sized pizzas (pizzette) and the list can go on. In Italy, it is the first course followed by pasta dish then the main and side dish, fruits then the dessert. And when you are eating in an Italian table, take your time because dinner can be quite long and amazing.
10 December 2015
Easy Zucchini Fritters are very quick and easy to prepare and not only that, they are also rich in fibers, Vitamins A & C.
When we find ourselves in moments of rushing, we look for the things that can curtail a little bit of time to accomplish as many things as we can. Most often, we try to cut on our time in cooking and just go for take-outs. There's nothing really wrong with it if you go to the health food places and steer away from unhealthy meals from fast food places but when you have a family of four, it can be quite heavy on the pocket when it becomes too frequent.
09 December 2015
Extra virgin olive oil, referred to as the liquid gold is that super healthy ingredient that makes all Italian dishes taste so good. Read on and find out why you should grab a bottle now.
I have three olive trees at home that keep on growing and shedding ripe olives everywhere. We never picked the fruit and our fault was that we barely trimmed the branches to keep them from growing too tall. Now they serve only as shade-providers and my most indispensable source of props when I take food photos. The leaves, olives and branches are quite unbeatable as beautiful and natural-looking decors.
03 December 2015
Just like last year's Thanksgiving, I created some recipes for this special occasion for the site of Thanksgiving. When I was assigned to create something for breakfast, so many ideas were crossing my mind but then, I had to stick to something simple, light and easy to put together because the whole day would be dedicated to cooking an abundance of food for the family. Thanksgiving is the time when everyone takes out their best recipes and cooking skills because it is one of the important moments when the families stay together.
If I have chorizo and shrimp everyday, I would make this every single day. That's how much I love this one-pot meal. I may be biased because I am totally nuts about chorizo but when I make this, even my whole family gives me the thumbs up. So yes, it is a unanimous opinion of kids and adults. This definitely counts as a quick and easy recipe to be kept in the file of ideas in everyone's kitchen. It takes about half an hour (35 minutes in the recipe) to make, all in one pot (hurray!) where you put all the ingredients at the same time, cover and wait until all the water has been absorbed. Do keep in mind that rice expands so think about space for growth in the pot.
01 December 2015
Let me take you back to Bulgaria and refresh our memories about the wines I tried and the wineries I visited during and after the Digital Wine Communications Conference 2015 in Plovdiv (#dwcc15). It had been a whirlwind of tasting of wines from different parts of Europe and most especially from Bulgaria itself.
Bulgarian winemaking has a long history dating back five thousand years ago, from the period of the Thracians. The country has been producing wines continuously that it even became the second biggest wine producer in the 1980s but declined along with the fall of communism. About 10 years after, Russia's Anti-Alcohol Campaign made a big dent to the country's demand for export and it resulted in abandoned vineyards and low quality wines. But upon entry to the 21st century, things made a sudden turn. Interest in investing in vineyards that can produce quality wines finally emerged. Thus, we have a few bottles of good Bulgarian wines floating around in and out of the country nowadays. There are a number of new vineyards that are well-muscled with modern equipment, quality grape varieties of both local and international varieties, dynamic objective in producing the best they can and passion for what they stand for. Let's watch out for Bulgarian wines because they are making a comeback with competitive quality wines.
29 November 2015
You know how some recipes evolve from one recipe to another over the years of cooking it and from the hands of one cook to another. This is a classic case of it. The first time I encountered these rolls was in college when a friend made them using boneless porkchops, rolled and filled with cheese. The rolls were much thicker because the regular slices of porkchops are on the thick side but as soon as they are cooked, they are delicious! I loved them so much that I cooked them often.
28 November 2015
Christmas season is coming to a close and with two kids in Elementary School, the Yuletide season has another meaning for me. Christmas recitals, parties, projects and you can insert sick kids too! My husband and I are in full-throttle going through lists of things needed for the coming Christmas projects and recitals. It's a treasure hunt of odd things for the projects and costumes.
27 November 2015
You know that something special awaits you as you enter the Cypress Avenue in Bolgheri lined with elegant cypress trees standing like royal soldiers, because like any cypress-lined road in Tuscany, something supremely beautiful is at its midst. My destination - Tenuta dell'Ornallaia (Ornellaia Estate), the winery where excellence is supreme, in both its wines, arts and passion.
25 November 2015
Just with the color alone you know that you will get a very tasty chicken and rice dinner. The secret for a delicious-looking chicken is when it has a rich color of almost burnt brown. Because of the soy sauce and honey, I got the result that I was looking for. And the flavor is teriyaki - that makes it even a world better because aside from sushi and sashimi, teriyaki is the third best Japanese food for me. So let's start with this simplified version of chicken teriyaki that I paired with miso rice. It's easy and and really worth your time. I can actually do this over and over again.
23 November 2015
Contrasting flavors of sweet and sour, as the name suggests, is typically found in Asian dishes. The most popular can be pork in Chinese cuisine but whole fish can also be covered in this delectable sauce cooked with strips of carrots, onions and ginger like in the Philippines. Mmmmm. Did anyone say sweet and sour fish? This is one of my favorite childhood dishes and I think it's time I introduce it to you and maybe, you can try making it at home. So take out that Asian food lover in you and make this easy fish recipe.
21 November 2015
I love pineapples and when I add them to the dishes I prepare, I love them even more, be it sweet or savory. So, yes, I am one of those people who would stop at an entry in a menu when it's written Hawaiian because for me, it is synonymous to pineapples. I grew up knowing that all Hawaiian dishes have pineapples in them but I know now that it's not true. But going back to the pineapples, here is one of my favorite meals that I created with loads of pineapples in them.
13 November 2015
|Built in 1882, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, this Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral became an iconic architectural landmark of Sofia.|
Sofia happened more than two weeks ago and I can still remember vividly how this city took me in a tight embrace. Simply told, I loved every single minute I was there: the relaxing walks I had, taking in the sights, drinking the local wines and the trying out the food, be it international or traditional. Sofia is so full of surprises that are waiting to be discovered and appreciated. For a tourist, this is the place to be because the mixture of modernity and history in an energetic young city (after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989) is a very interesting experience. Plus you don't need to dig deep in your pockets because the prices are still very affordable.
11 November 2015
Did you ever think of making your own pasta instead of buying them? I know, it can be intimidating to make your own because perhaps you don't have a pasta maker sitting around in the kitchen or just because you don't think you will be able to carry it off. Don't worry, the answer to the two questions is that yes, you can make your own tagliatelle even without a pasta maker and yes, you will definitely be able to do it - like a pro! I learned this from a chef in a show cooking who was making the pasta like it is the most natural thing in the world. And I am excited to show it to you too. Shall we start?
09 November 2015
I believe that I am not alone in having leftover problems when meals are finally concluded and I start clearing up the table. Being the one who takes care of the before and after meals at home, I tend to push everyone to eat up and not leave the leftovers. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes I'm not. I don't like wasting food. However, there is one kind of food that always (whatever I do) remains. Rotisserie chicken and roasted potatoes are quite popular in Italy and they are usually sold side by side the pizza al taglio (pizza by the meter) in the pizzerie.
08 November 2015
While the sun was rising, we drove through Thrace countryside making our way from Vinero Winery to Arcadia Vineyards on the last day of our Turkish press trip. With 3 hours traveling time in between them (but just about 2 hours from Istanbul), we left Vinero with our boxed breakfasts at half past six in the morning, groggy from a very early start, with the still dark skies looming above us. At around ten, we finally entered Arcadia Vineyards' estate as Zeynep Arca Salliel met us with an enthusiastic welcome.
07 November 2015
Turkey. The first time I set foot on it was last year at the airport, as I transited in between flights. I wondered how it was like outside, in a country that is known to be bustling with rich culture, history and diversity. It's the meeting point of Asia and Europe and inquisitiveness was engulfing me as I waited for my ongoing flight. I told myself that maybe, in the near future, I will be able to satisfy the myriad of curiosities that are crossing my mind and see for myself how Asia and Europe are bridged together in one place. That "near future" arrived sooner than I hoped because along with this year's Digital Wine Communications Conference 2015 (#dwcc15) in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, there was also a 4-day pre-conference press trip to Istanbul and Thrace in Turkey and that is where I discovered Turkey and its wines.
03 November 2015
When I was speaking with a friend once whose work life is a combination of traveling and running around her neighborhood (in those rare moments that she is home), I just realized how badly she needs alternatives for using her time wisely. That includes having home cooked meals that don't need elaborate and long preparations because with a life like that, the easiest and most possible option is always take-away. Perhaps it's more delicious than home cooked meals at times but healthwise, I would still go for the ingredients that I bought myself and put together in my pan.
30 October 2015
No, I did not disappear from the face of the earth even if I feel like it after not writing for almost two weeks in my blog. At the moment, I am in Sofia, Bulgaria, waiting for my flight back to Rome. I had been away the past days in Wine Press Tours in Turkey and Bulgaria plus a Wine Convention to get to know the indigenous wines of both countries. That will be a series of posts that I will be writing as soon as I sort out and organize the notes that I had been jotting down everywhere. If you want to take a peek at how these two countries are, just visit my Facebook page where you can see all the photos I had been posting. Maybe you will even find Bulgaria and Turkey as new travel destinations. But for now, let me get back to my old routine and share with you this Asian recipe that you can make from scratch even from the ramen noodles (if you feel like it).
17 October 2015
I like creating food with less ingredients as possible and these Cheese-Stuffed Roasted Bell Peppers use only three basic ingredients: bell peppers, cream cheese and chives. If you really want to stretch it, you can skip the chives. But only if you can't find them or you don't like the oniony taste like my husband. He takes his time in picking them away one by one. I always tell him that he is missing out on such a delicious combination of flavors but any uncooked relative of the allium family really can't stay on his plate.
16 October 2015
There's nothing easier than to gather a few ingredients, throw them all in the slow cooker and just forget about it while you mind other things. And I can even say that it's pure magic when the dish that was so effortlessly put together is a big winner. Slow cookers are really great help in the kitchen. With its slow cooking at a low temperature, the flavors blend amazingly well while the meat becomes very tender. I especially like using it when I am cooking chicken because I find the meat to be more tender than usual and the absorption of flavors is ten times more.
12 October 2015
Sunday is the only day of the week when we can be lazy and be allowed to stay much longer in bed (dog included). After a very late night of staying up with friends over a great dinner and getting home at almost 2 in the morning, we were all groggy with sleepiness. Only our dog had the energy to jump around as if we didn't see each other for years when we actually just separated for a few hours. But dogs are done that way. Loyal, perennially happy and just beaming with love for his family. We love you to the moon and back too little one.
10 October 2015
It may not compare to a tender, juicy beef burger but it can go down smoothly to a much better digestion and abundant nutrients backing up every single forkful that you eat. Shrimp, tofu and and fresh salad leaves. That is a very healthy choice that your body would probably be thankful for right now. And it has exciting blends of flavors too. If you love Asian food, then hop right in and find out how good this salad is.
I have to be honest, cauliflower is one of my least favorite vegetables. There are only three cauliflower dishes that I can really enjoy and this Easy Roasted Cauliflower is the fourth one. Mentioning the other three recipes, I think I should share them with you. I suggest that you try them because they are worth your time and effort. Pasta with Cauliflower and Raisins is a traditional Sicilian dish that my mother-in-law taught me, Slow Cooker Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole is a simple and healthy vegetarian dish that you can pop in your slow cooker anytime and lastly, the Roasted Cauliflower Soup which is one of the 3 detox soups that are great to have on the days you want to go light.
08 October 2015
These shrimp have the hearty notes of a tropical island. I can imagine the sun, sand and the sea and I can also smell the coconut. Coconut and shrimp are two of the biggest representatives of tropical islands because they grow there in abundance with superior quality. These shrimp are simply coated with the coconut along with some Panko then baked in the oven. And the lime - don't forget to include it because it gives a much better taste. It is more aromatic than lemons so if you can, try not to substitute with this recipe.
06 October 2015
Travel the world in one place. At the EXPO in Milan, you can do just that. To see everything, you need days to see most of the 1.1 million square meters of sprawling area of exhibitions of incredible pavilions from different parts of the world. Left and right, as you walk along its grand main corridor, various participating countries, 145 in total, showcase pavilions of every imaginable architecture exhibiting their unique interpretation of the EXPO's theme: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.
02 October 2015
I took out my socks today. I have been going around with sandaled feet for the past four months that it feels strange to start covering up again. I had an extra-long summer this year because I went to the Philippines (tropical weather - hot!) at the end of May and when I came back to Italy in July, summer just started. This had been my longest summer and I guess, I am ready to say goodbye to it and make room for some autumn cold. But I am not letting go of it just like that because I still have a coffee drink to share with you. It's a very refreshing one with loads of ice and an exotic flavor of coconut and muscovado sugar together.
01 October 2015
The local fruit and vegetable vendor seems to have a bright smile everytime his shop is full of shoppers. True, for economic reason, that is a probably the best reason behind that curved angle but I think there is more to that amused smile than just good business. He seems to be the kind of person who likes to promote good health and good food through what he knows best - the fresh vegetables and fruits that he is selling every single day. I have a feeling that if doesn't need to pay his bills, he will stuff all our bags with fresh produce that we can cook and feed our families with - for free!
As much as blueberries as very healthy, they are also very fun to be creative with. It remains one of my favorite ingredients in making something good, delicious, purply and healthy in the kitchen. The kind that pulls my daughter's attention because she is crazy about everything purple. These Frozen Blueberry Cheesecake Balls are are great to pop in the mouth (maybe if you make them lightly smaller than my version).
30 September 2015
Sweet and spicy at the same time. It has all the Asian prints in them. This Honey Sriracha Chicken is a hit in my own table. Chicken, for that matter is always well accepted by my kids and on a step closer to healthier options, they even prefer the white meat. Lucky! Soy sauce, honey, sriracha, ginger, lime are the main ingredients that work together in this simple and delicious dish. It is a kind of chicken meal that is perfect for a weeknight dinner. It requires easy ingredients that you most probably already have at home and cooking doesn't require so much expertise in the kitchen. It's really great when you are pressed for time.
29 September 2015
Green is the color that makes imaginary allergies come out from kids because well, vegetables have that color. It's funny when I serve the greenest of all greens on the table and see pouts and big eyes. Oh, and complaints like I am mistreating them. Sigh. I was a kid too and I also went through that green allergy phase. Green food only goes with the right age I guess and I will wait for the time to happen when they request for a green dish.
28 September 2015
In the kitchens, whipping up dishes has completely evolved to a more versatile one. We can create them according our needs and most especially, according to how we want them. Gluten-free diets, vegetarians, vegans, there are no limitations anymore because with so many available ingredients we have nowadays, anything is possible. Let's start with mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is commonly done with eggs, olive oil (or extra virgin, depends on where you are), lemon juice or vinegar and salt. Vegans can't eat it because of the presence of animal products. You can create a simple one at home without the eggs too if you are vegan. Substitute them with plant-derived unsweetened milk like kamut, hemp, almond, hazelnut, oat, etc.). Just put everything in the immersion blender and press to mix until it becomes creamy and gets that mayo-like consistency.
25 September 2015
At one time or another, emergencies touch our kitchens especially when we are expecting company in short notice. Fortunately, almost all of us have a pack of Oreos in the cupboard. It's one of those necessities that we grab at the supermarket without thinking, whether or not we have kids at home. Only because we are kids at heart anyway. I am guilty of taking nips from my kids snacks every now and then. What I loved when I was a kid remains a favorite until I am all grown up and Oreos is one of them.
Here, I have three kinds of desserts that are simple to prepare and use easy ingredients including Oreos.
22 September 2015
Summer has officially ended but not just yet in my kitchen. If there is anything else that can make anyone in the house rise and shine in the morning with anticipation, this has got to be it. The vivid red and yellow mirror the beautiful colors of a summer sunrise and it's just the right breakfast to have to brighten your morning. But it doesn't stop there because this smoothie is fully loaded with vitamins and minerals because it has three kinds of fruits in it plus almond milk. Strawberries, mangoes and oranges give a full dose of Vitamin C, antioxidants and fibers that our bodies need plus some protein from the almond milk.
19 September 2015
Quinoa should be the one of the most popular ingredient that every health-conscious person uses especially vegetarians and vegans. It is a pseudocereal meaning that it is not a true cereal and it is not even a member of the true grass family. So quinoa, which family do you belong to? It is a chenopod and an Amaranthaceae so it is related to tumbleweeds, Swiss chard, spinach, beetroots and amaranth, which is also a pseudocereal. Quinoa is a high source of protein, antioxidants and fibers.
18 September 2015
My kids would always think of me as a very bad navigator in the commercial areas because I keep on losing my way around. Little do they know that I actually do it on purpose so I can circumvent fast food chains. But don't get me wrong. My kids do eat burgers, fries and chicken nuggets in fast food chains. What's the happiness of childhood without them anyway? I just try control the frequency of our trips there and most especially, I am trying to educate them in knowing what they are eating.
16 September 2015
If you love lemons, then you are in my circle of citrus-loving friends. We are bound by one great aromatic, yellow thing in the kitchen. Lemon is one of my favorite ingredients to use in the kitchen because not only can I cook with them but I can also use them as natural deodorizers in the dishwasher, make pitchers of juice, liqueurs, sorbets, use them in dipping sauces addictively and of course, bake with them. I can go on how beautiful and delicious lemons are but I will just stick to these Lemon Basil Bars.
14 September 2015
When I was in the Philippines, I was given by Manila Global Brand a few sachets of True Lemon to try, aside from the Honey Stix. They are crystallized cold pressed lemon that you can use as how you would use real lemons. Living in Italy, lemons can be found everywhere easily and to boot, we have different kinds of lemon trees in our garden. But having some True Lemon sachets on hand, I wanted to try them out because when I happen to find myself without lemons at home, I can use True Lemon instead.
13 September 2015
Honey Stix has everything that kids (and maybe adults too!) would get crazy about. I won't deny the fact that I did have a straw dangling in my mouth while I was photographing them. I am a kid at heart and I couldn't resist popping one in my mouth because I had to keep on looking at them through my lens. It's not easy, believe me, reading all the flavors in front of me. Then my daughter was hovering around like a bee asking me continuously if she can already have one.
12 September 2015
When you want those mouthwatering sliders but absolutely cannot, there is a perfect solution for a very healthy vegetarian or vegan bite. Instead of the meat patties, make them with mashed chickpeas and quinoa then accompany them with grilled veggies. Flavoring them with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil makes them tasty as you want them but still retaining the healthy side of it.
11 September 2015
Little picky-eaters, beware! Your parents have a secret weapon to put some nutritious food in your bodies! Yes we do, with these Chocolate Avocado Pops loaded with fresh bananas, avocados and almond milk. The chocolate that you see is actually bananas in disguise. Don't worry, the kids won't notice it unless you tell or leave the banana peel lying around of course. My youngest is crazy about anything chocolate and when these were ready for eating, she was right beside me to claim her share. I gave her one and I carefully watched her reaction.
10 September 2015
I won't disguise it. It is another coconut milk recipe. If you are like me who grew up in a place where coconut trees are everywhere and heaps of fresh and dried coconuts are in all market corners then you must understand that I am accustomed to eating food with coconut. We had a couple of tall trees in our backyard when I was small and we would drown ourselves with the freshest coconut water and pulp just minutes from falling from the trees when someone talented enough manages to climb the 99 steps carved out in the tree trunks. But don't confuse coconut water from coconut milk because they are different from each other. Coconut water comes from fresh coconuts while coconut milk comes from the pulp of dried coconuts that are grated then squeezed.