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30 September 2014

Mustard, Sausage and Onions in a Skillet

What can I do without one-pot dinners? They are easy to put together, I use only one pot in cooking and yes, I wash only one pot too! There are times when cooking is great while you're doing it but when you finally conclude the plate with the finishing touch and you start looking around the kitchen for the mess that you created, you just want to seal the door of the kitchen and close it. Cooking is fun but cleaning up is another thing. But bring it on, I cook so I clean up after myself too!

29 September 2014

Caprese Salad in a Jar

The colors of the Italian flag are red, white and green and that is always the first comment anyone says when they see the Caprese Salad. To be honest, I do love mixing red, green and white in salads because the colors depict freshness and it also epitomizes the Mediterranean diet. Red, plump tomatoes always play a big role in the red of my salads, I love using anything green like basil, arugula or lettuce and for the white, there are always fresh white cheeses like mozzarella, burrata or feta that go so well with other fresh ingredients.

28 September 2014

Barley, Feta and Asparagus Salad in a Jar

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon at home today and over everything, it's quiet. Both kids are busy with their separate activities in different rooms. With my son's recent change of selection in TV programs from cartoons to National Geographic and History Channel (hurray!), he is, as always, hooked in front of the TV watching a show. This time, it's all about submarines. My daughter is in another room drawing and coloring continuously while watching cartoons. Our dog had long given up making us play with him and he is sleeping peacefully outside under the sun.

27 September 2014

Pineapple, Chicken and Potato Salad in a Jar

I'm not in the habit of preparing my salads or food for that matter, in jars, until I discovered that it is actually very convenient. And they are so compact too which makes them easier to take around than the regular food containers. I think if I am sitting on a bench to eat my lunch, a jar layered with the ingredients looks better than a food container, doesn't it? Plus, it is easier to hold too. Sometimes, when there's no one to cook for at home, I prepare my lunch in a jar the night before then I just grab it from the refrigerator and eat while I am working in front of the computer. Rarely does a crumb fall and I am done with my food within minutes with just a jar and a fork to wash. Convenience is the key word.

26 September 2014

Warm Espresso-Chocolate Sauce on Homemade Vanilla Gelato

Now that summer has finally drawn to a conclusion, my gelato fixes have also diminished. But hey, I will never stop eating them even in the cold months. We never stop eating them anyway at home. In my house, if the kids cannot find gelato, they start acting like it's the end of everything. If only they knew that before they were born, all the gelaterie (gelato shops) close in winter and the commercial gelato production stops too. Because of the current changes in demand, it is now normal to see them open even in winter and there is also a continued supply in of commercial gelato in the supermarkets. So nowadays, it's ok to have a gelato craving when the temperature is below zero. You are covered.

25 September 2014

Healthy Soy-Lime Chicken Skewers

Going around Asia, the streets are a melting pot of street food. Movable carts selling different kinds of specialties line the sidewalks while you walk around and hop from one stall to another. In those small carts are also portable stoves or grills to cook the food while you wait. The variety is incredible and most of the time, they taste even better than the ones at home. 

24 September 2014

Pasta with White Fish, Tomatoes and Zucchini

Swordfish and paccheri, I like putting them together in a pasta dish. Paccheri are a kind of pasta that are shaped like big tubes which can either be stuffed or just used as regular pasta. In this dish, it's delicious just mixed with the swordfish and vegetables and you don't even need to exert so much effort because this dish is so easy to prepare.

Tuna Pepper Steak with Cucumber Sesame Salad

One of the best tasting tuna I ever had in my life was not in a fancy restaurant with chefs clad in their toques but in a shack of a restaurant in a faraway island in the Philippines called Siargao Island, a place not frequented by tourists at all. The cooks are clad in their simple flip-flops, shorts and tank tops, grilling the freshly caught tuna in their makeshift barbecue grill while you wait in their tired-looking tables. The only available food was the fish that they caught for the day grilled on coals and served in skewers, ice cold bottles of San Miguel beer or Coke and steamed white rice. Simple, straightforward and outstandingly cheap at a little bit more than a Euro for a whole meal that's even fit for two.

22 September 2014

Superfood Strawberry and Goji Berry Smoothie

Like most smoothies, this Strawberry, Goji Berry (or Wolfberry) & Elderflower Smoothie is sweet, healthy and easy to prepare. I just like to soak the dried goji berries in water a few minutes before mixing up all the ingredients in the blender. That way, they soften well and they can blend better with the other ingredients in the smoothie.

21 September 2014

A Weekend in Campania and The 2014 Campania Food & Wine Tour in Sorrrento & Amalfi Coast

When summer arrives, my family and I usually travel to the north of Italy to the mountains and to the sea. The different regions have different characteristics in gastronomy, terrain. culture and history. That's what I like about this country. Every single region has a surprise up its sleeve to make you marvel at its uniqueness. So every single place that I visit is always worth the trip. I have shown you Alto Adige/Sudtirol, Liguria (Italian Riviera), Tuscany, Abruzzo, Marche, Sicily, Sardegna and Puglia in my past posts (see other places at Travel in Italy) but this time, let me show you an ancient town more southern than Rome, close to Naples, in the region of Campania.

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.