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30 November 2013

Vanilla Panna Cotta With Cherry and Brandy Sauce

Cherries and brandy work perfectly together. It reminds me of a brandy cocktail that I used to have that was served with a couple of cherries. When I have a lot of Vignola black cherries surrounding me in my kitchen, all I can think of is to cook them to make some dessert. That's a little lie. All I can think of is pop them in my mouth until my tummy won't be able to take it anymore.

Tapioca Pudding With Coconut & Raw Cane Sugar Syrup

You know you found THE dessert when you pop it in your mouth and your eyes grow wide open. Wow! That was delicious! The succeeding spoonfuls were even merrier. This is one of my most loved desserts. Ever. This proves that going minimal can create something absolutely great because believe it or not, it only uses four ingredients.

27 November 2013

Umbria: Getting to Know the Typical Breakfast, Sagrantino of Bocale Wines & Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If you ask some foreigners living in Italy about which region they like best, Umbria pops up quite often. I would think it would be Tuscany as it is the most popular region, but instead, Umbria seems to get the attention of everyone. Even Italians themselves would soften their voice a notch when you speak about Umbria. What does it have that captures everyone's hearts?

26 November 2013

Rich Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Gelato

My work requires me to create recipes continuously that can be possibly deemed interesting for different ages, cultures and palates. It's a big challenge to think, produce and please. But you can raise your eyebrows if I say that there is a more important tiny core group that I am always desperate to please. On a daily basis.

Chicken, Basil & Spinach Stir-Fry

While I am in the kitchen and I observe a couple of little lurkers in the kitchen checking out what's cooking in the pot, I can already understand how our dinner is going to be. My bigger son, who can easily peek inside the saucepan can recognize the ingredients. My smaller daughter though, has to rely on her nose to understand if the scent permeating from the saucepan is to her liking or not. Most often? I hear complaints and it's a promise of a long dinner. Sigh. Welcome to my world as a cooking Mom.

25 November 2013

Agriturismo Terra Sabina & Ristorante La Casina Nel Parco in Poggio Mirteto

After a hectic week at the city, sometimes (maybe even always), we desperately need some time off from the urban life and escape to the countryside. Nature has a natural way to heal those trembling nerves we have that developed while rushing through city life. City life is nice, sometimes, because everything is accessible and it's just easier. With all the modern technology surrounding us, what else is there? Or so it seems.

23 November 2013

Red Wine Chicken With Mushrooms

Chicken is important in my house. It's the only kind of meat that I cook where I don't hear any complaints from anyone. As long as there is white meat for one side of the family and red meat for the other half. I'm in the red section along with my son while the white duo are my husband and daughter. You see, we really are divided with our tastes.

21 November 2013

Mediterranean Barley Salad

I'm one of those people who ate badly in my younger years. Chips here, overly sweet cakes there, fried food, endless pork meat, burgers from fast food chains, hotdogs, all drowned with a big glass of Coca Cola filled with ice. Be still, my heart! For a minute there, I was actually going to say yum!  I did not become a super health food nut but I learned to regulate. I still eat all of those food mentioned above but with regulation now in my diet. I finally understood how bad my body will become if I continue eating like how I used to when I was young. It had not been easy but I did it.

20 November 2013

Salmon Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls) & Fish For Sushi

Japanese cuisine. How well do you know it? And how well do you like it? It's one of my favorite cuisines, actually my top 3 if you really want to know. Being a fish lover, it really fits my palate. Fresh and minimal Asian ingredients in simple yet delicious compositions.

18 November 2013

Stir-Fry Rice With Shrimp, Vegetables & Soy Lime Sauce

So many times, I have been asked what kind of cuisine I prepare for my family at home. Because my kids are confronted by two cultures, I try to balance it out the right way, in my opinion. Italian food is what you will most likely see on our table, usually pasta dishes then sometimes fish or meat dishes accompanied with vegetables and yes, pizza. The question is, how do I integrate Asian food to our diet?

15 November 2013

5 Simple & Healthy Tomato Salads

Lycopene. Do you know what it is? It's a carotenoid, from the family of pigments that gives fruits and vegetables the bright hues of orange, red & yellow. It's also an antioxidant that helps lower the risk of strokes, prostate cancer and other kinds of cancer. And where do we get this incredible lycopene? From our very own fridge. They come from the tomatoes

12 November 2013

Food Staples: Rice & Bread and Sending Help to the Philippines

I guess like half the world, I find myself glued to the news in my free moments these past days. I have a million things to do and to write but my heart is just not into doing anything but staring at the footages and keeping myself up-to-date with what's happening in Tacloban City in the Philippines. For this post, I don't have any recipes to share because I would rather focus on a couple of food staples that are needed. Rice & bread.

11 November 2013

Rosemary & Orange Tisane and A Day of Foraging for Wild Edible Plants

With all the wild plants growing on the grassy area around our house, I had been meaning to learn from a plant expert what are edible, how they can be cooked and with what they are delicious with. Nettles are bothersome because both my kids are always playing outside. Both of them, at the initial part of their discovery of nature, have had prickly contacts with the plant and well, you know how it is. They were howling with pain. But I know that those plants are very good with risotto which I have yet to try and it was confirmed in this tour that it definitely is!

09 November 2013

Grilled Sausage & Sage Skewers

With just two ingredients, you can already come up with a good meal. I did. If you have some sausages, whatever kind they are (I used some lugànega), sandwich them in between some fresh sage leaves. You can't imagine how wonderful the smell is emanating from the kitchen. I didn't even know that sage can smell so great on the griddle (or on the grill if you are cooking outdoors). And what's also great is that not only would you smell it but you would also taste it in the sausages because each piece of meat is sandwiched in between these leaves.

08 November 2013

Turkey, Almond and Apple Stir-Fry

As I am writing this, I am also waiting for news about how the Philippines is faring as the monster typhoon Haiyan (or Yolanda as it is locally called) is starting its landfall in the central part of the country. It's the world's strongest typhoon of the year (I heard that it can be the strongest of all times!) with gust winds at 380 kph. God, that's strong! 

07 November 2013

Camembert Panè With Plum Cognac Sauce

The small ballet shoes are ready and poised on the table to be worn by our little princess today. I prepared them yesterday, sewing the garters on the sides of the soft leather to fit her feet. Along with her shoes, I took out the rest of the ballet ensemble for today's class. All delicately soft and pink. My little girl is a little ballerina. So much enthusiasm is going on in her!

05 November 2013

Mint & Chocolate Ice Cream Roulade

Mint ice cream is green, not white! My son's favorite ice cream flavor is mint, the bright green mint. No, make that neon green mint. Looking forward to his scoops of mint & chocolate artisan ice cream in Eataly, he was so disappointed when my husband handed him a cup of white & brown ice cream. He hates white food. Imagine the panic. He immediately pointed out the color discrepancy and he wouldn't accept that mint can be white! We explained to him that the natural ice cream without color additives are white because the mint oil used for making the mint ice cream is transparent, not green. Natural or not, he really prefers the color that glows in the dark. Sigh.

04 November 2013

Pasta and Lentils With Crispy Bacon & Zucchini

The long weekend has passed. With all the excitement of my kids to celebrate Halloween, we just ended up sporting masks and hats at home and eating potato chips and popcorn in front of the TV while we watched Ralph Spaccatutto (Wreck-It Ralph). I felt bad that we didn't plan anything. Halloween is something new to Italy. I still remember years ago, when I moved here, I was all worked up to celebrate Halloween but I couldn't find a single decor or any mention of it. It curbed my enthusiasm. Prior to my move to Italy, I loved decorating the house, dressing up, taking my nieces and nephews around, seeing excited kids in costumes hollering "Trick or Treat!" and handing out candies to the neighborhood kids. It was always one big fun event! After waiting year after year, I gave up hoping to go around trick or treating here. Aside from being an American tradition, it can also be difficult to go trick or treating here because the majority live in buildings with small elevators. 

03 November 2013

Balsamic Vinegar Roasted Chicken with Potatoes

Last night, I hit 9,000 likes in Apron and Sneakers Facebook page. It's an incredible number to see and I wish I can shake your hands one by one for giving me the support I need. It's a very nice pat on the back for letting me know that I can do it and you like what I am doing. I can't help thinking back almost 3 years ago when I first hit the publish button in the computer. I thought, Who will ever read what I post? Only my husband will be my follower!

02 November 2013

Castello di Monterone Hotel (Monterone Castle) in Perugia, Italy

It was my husband's mistake when he showed me a picture of Castello di Monterone (Monterone Castle) at the internet. There was no turning back because he knew that I have a weakness in staying in historical hotels. A 13th century castle with a history intertwined with the Templar Knights? Mamma mia! Yes, I'm packing my bags!