Monday, January 15, 2018

Salad Greens with Roasted Pears and Asian Orange Dressing

One of our go to places to eat at after Sunday Mass is Apple Bees Restaurant where I usually order their Asian chicken salad. This is my vegan take on this delicious hearty dish adding roasted pears and store bought vegan CHICKENLESS tenders. The brand I used for the latter is Earth Grown sold at Aldi Grocery Store. This company carries many other vegan products that are so delicious even a carnivore would eat them. No rubbery taste or texture. Sometimes vegans need some help and they do a wonderful job.

As for adding the roasted pears I got this idea when my line dancing class got together at my friend Clare's house for dinner to see their fabulous Xmas trees. She served this delicious salad with roasted pears and feta cheese. I was enamored by the sweet roasted pears which easily became part of my bucket list to prepare and use for a salad. Clare used champagne dressing but in this recipe I decided to go Asian that has an orange flavor and heat from chili paste. It is pretty close to what Apple Bees uses but with more personality but not in your face way. Combined with chickenless tenders this dressing makes eating this salad feel like you are devouring General Tsos chicken but with healthy greens instead of rice. No guilt but just pure bliss and fiber. You will feel life is good.

Me, Judy one of our line dancing teacher, Janet and Clare.

Dennis and Clare.

We had a good time looking at the tree ornaments, pandas in the white tree, santa clauses in another and the variety kind in their grand main tree. Too bad our line dancing teacher Roz could not come but here is a picture with her below taken when we went out to eat at Sawa Restaurant December 2016.

Salad Greens with Roasted Pears and Asian Orange Dressing

  • Pears cut into slices or strips
  • Salad green mix, (I used spinach and Romaine lettuce)
  • Asian Orange Dressing (recipe below)
  • peanuts
  • Earth Grown Vegan brand Chickenless Tenders or other vegan meat, cut into strips (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a pan with parchment paper or foil and set aside.

Place pear slices in the pan and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

Distribute the salad greens into bowls and place roasted pears, peanuts and Chickenless Tenders strips if using. Serve with Asian Orange Dressing.

Asian Orange Dressing

  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp chili garlic paste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp orange marmalade
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Place all the ingredients in a glass jar and warm the mixture in the microwave for a minute and mix with a fork or shake thoroughly. You can also use a blender.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

You Phantom Snow

You crept in the night.
Behold your beauty but with
Shoveling in sight.

Antidote to Worrying

Let your heart be excited and not downtrodden by things you are not in control of.  As a popular song I heard as a child says,

Que sera sera. 
What will be will be.
The future is not for us to see.

Since we cannot see what is to come, why not choose what we can be excited about and be happy. The bad could come but why suffer twice, namely worrying sick before it happens and when it actually does.

You can be proactive about your worrying and just list what you can do to prepare for what you can control. Are you procastinating, then stop worrying and do something. Just think how good you will feel. Sometimes worrying signals you have to do something you do not want to do. Just do it.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Friday, January 12, 2018

Slow Cooker Sambal Pork Chops


My oh my.  This  is so comforting I could not stop tasting and then devouring  it.  The mixture of just enough of everything, heat, saltiness and sweetness, makes you want more and more over your rice.  It is a rice guzzler so have enough of it.  The addition of diced tomatoes helps in enriching the sauce or else it would have been another Asian tasting dish.  So heavenly good.

I adapted this from the recipe I saw at the Valerie's Cooking show at Food Network.  She used almost the same ingredients except for the meat.  She used chicken while I used pork chops. She and I used bottled chili garlic paste or sauce to give the kick that sambal dishes are known for.  She also utilized fresh garlic, onions, galangal and lemon grass.  I did not bother to buy those two last exotic items and just substituted ginger powder for the galangal and plain lemon juice for the lemon grass.  I also used dry onion flakes and garlic powder instead of fresh ones.  It was one of those days.   Too busy to cut anything or sauté them.  Valerie sautéed some of her ingredients but I did not.  I just dumped them in the slow cooker which incidentally is my new Crock Pot brand Casserole Slow Cooker.

As I mentioned previously every flavor was subtle but together they form a rocking move on your tongue. This is a very good dish on  a busy day when you are too lazy to cut any ingredients or saute anything.

Slow Cooker Sambal Pork Chops

Inspired by the recipe from Valerie's Cooking
  • 3 lb assorted pork chops
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup garlic chili paste
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp dry onion flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • cilantro leaves
Combine all the sauce ingredients except the pork and cilantro in the slow cooker and mix. Place the pork chops on top and cover with sauce.  Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours at low. I cooked mine in the Crock Pot Casserole Slow cooker at high for four hours.

Serve with rice topped with cilantro leaves.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Rest and Be At Peace

He made you. Chose you,
Called you by name. You are His.
You'll always be loved.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Cookie Dough Chocolate Bark

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Vegan Banh Mi Sandwich with Sweet Potato Bacon

My favorite Banh Mi sandwich is the one I ate at the Pachanga Casino in California. It was spread with liver pate and had cold cuts as the meat. I had always wanted to recreate this using plant based ingredients and I think I have.

I used the Vegan Garlic Walnut Spread I prepared recently which is a dead ringer in looks and most importantly in taste to the liver pate. It gave the sandwich that garlicky taste which I love and moistness.

For the meat, I wanted something smoky and opted to use an updated version of the Sweet Potato Bacon I have prepared a while back. I added molasses and smoke paprika to the original recipe to add that smoky flavor I was looking for.

The addition of cilantro and pickled carrots and daikon radishes to this vegan version complete the Banh Mi experience I was craving for. It is as delicious and satisfying as the one I had at Pachanga Casino which I could not get off my mind.

Vegan Banh Mi Sandwich with Sweet Potato Bacon

Spread the baguette with the garlic walnut spread and add the other ingredients in layers.

Smoky Sweet Potato Bacon

Good for 2-3 sandwiches

Inspired by this recipe

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp molasses 
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.

Combine all sauce ingredients and toss carrots in it. Place the carrots in the prepared pan and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Why do we cry?

I have had bouts of uncontrollable tears dripping down my face or just making my eyes glisten. The moments come when I least expect and can be embarrassing.

These moments never cease to surprise me and are usually accompanied by a warmth in my heart and emotions that overwhelm.

To explain why to some who have witnessed me do this is sometimes difficult. It is equally so for me until I found the words in the poster above and below that might just explain the unexplainable.

When the eyes see what
the heart feels.  The mind knows what
the soul is saying.

For me they are revelations, realizations that are gifts from God for which I am grateful.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

As We Age

New wisdom. Greater
peace that comes from knowing that
God never leaves us.

Note: Photo of painting by my friend Win Konnoff. 

Monday, January 1, 2018


Picking ourselves up.
Believing in a higher
power that sustains.

Note: Happy New Year to all. The ornament is made of bread. It is one of my favorites among those found in my friend Clare's awesome Xmas tree.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Lessons Learned

I remember the nurse putting some kind of mask on my face as I lay down on the
operating table and said sweet dreams. After that, I had no recollection what happened to me during my gall bladder surgery in the late eighties. I never, however, forgot the impression that experience gave me. I learned that it is okay to let go of ones control of life. I did that during my surgery and everything turned out well.

Recently a similar learning experience occurred to me except it was a lumbar surgery that did not happen to my disappointment.  I prepared so hard for the procedure. Getting the physical exam and MRI on time.  Remembering countless things: the special soap to use for a week, the nose thing twice a day, the meds I had to skip and the herbs and spices I could not use. I did not want to forget these countless do s and don't s.

Plus I had to do some preparations for after the surgery. Preparing food during recuperation when I could not cook. Cleaning the house and clearing anything I can trip on. Doing my laundry. Clean, clean which I seldom do.

I got the news on the phone that the insurance did not approve the surgery the day before I was to have it. I was on my way upstairs to launder sheets on the bed of our guestroom which I might use while recuperating. I felt what a prospective bride might feel when the groom backs out. Such a letdown.

I was told I would have to appeal which I did that same day. But as the day progressed, it sank in that the process would take time.

I cried every single night as I waited for the insurance to finally approve the surgery it declined. The urgency I felt to have it for several reasons plus the nerve wracking preparations that I had to do contributed to the frustration and anger that ensued.

I got over these emotions after a week and learned an important thing along the way. Things can wait and I could learn to do so. Urgency sometimes is in the mind.  I hope this experience will stay with me especially in moments I just have to have something that I want urgently.

I lived through the disappointment and survived,  like most other times in my life. I just need to realize things will happen just not in my preferred time but God's time.

Slow Cooker Chicken Adobong Asado

This is a hybrid dish that combines the flavors of two iconic Filipino dishes, adobo and asado. I had this during the Christmas party of the Philippine American Performing Arts of Greater Pittsburgh (PAPAGP). It was prepared by Amy, one of the members. I fell in love with the taste of this delectable dish which comes from the Pampanga region of the Philippines.

It takes two steps which can be both conveniently done in the slow cooker. First you prepare the adobong chicken then add the ingredients to the cooked adobo to give the dish the taste of asado. The second step or both steps for that matter can be done in the stove top if one prefers.

My husband, my picky taster, gave this two thumbs up. It is good the first day but even better the next. One can easily use leftover chicken adobo and add the asado ingredients later. Whatever works.

Chicken Adobong Asado

Adobo Step

  • 4.5 lbs chicken legs or thighs
  • 1 cup soy sauce 
  • 1/2 cup vinegar 
  • 8 garlic cloves 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 2 tsp peppercorn

Asado Step

  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-8 oz can mushroom, drained
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 green pepper sliced

Place the first six ingredients in the slow cooker or the ones in the adobo step and cook at high setting for 4 hours or at low for 8 hours.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of the adobo sauce then add the rest of the ingredients or the ones in the asado step. Slow cook for 2 hours at high setting.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Easy Broccoli Ham Quiche

Men do eat quiche. My picky taster, my husband, loved this.

I had asparagus ham quiche made by my friend Chris yesterday during the luncheon hosted by our gracious friend Dottie. We all loved it and I was determined to make it. Since I did not have asparagus I subbed broccoli when I made it for breakfast this morning. . The result is just as satisfying as Chis’ quiche.

Quiche is now my go to dish for the holidays when we have plenty of ham leftover we just do not know what to do with it. With good old Bisquick preparing it is a cinch.

Easy Broccoli Ham Quiche

  • 1-10 oz frozen broccoli, thawed and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 cup ham, chopped
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 slices American cheese, cut into
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Bisquick mix
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a large pie plate with cooking spray. 

Place the onion, ham and broccoli in the pie plate. 

In a bowl combine the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour to the ham mixture. 

Bake for 35 minutes or till the toothpick comes out clean.

Christmas Tree at PPG

How I love thee. With
you I get to pose with Aunt
B and smile with glee.

Vegan Garlic Walnut Spread

Amazing! Excellent taste. Great consistency. Easy to prepare. The secret ingredient is bread to get that spreadable consistency. No oil or beans or tofu or cheese or yogurt was used. Just bread. Yes bread. Straight from your pantry.

This is so good I used the crust I cut off from the bread to wipe off the spread left on the blender I used. It looks and taste like liver pate without being made from chopped liver. For flavor, I used dry basil as the herb but you can utilize others like oregano, thyme etc. The original recipe this was adapted from included cilantro as one of the ingredients which I did not use but you can. You can also add chives or green onions if you like.

This can be used as a spread for sandwiches and crackers or toppings for pizza or on top of steamed vegetables or soup like a pesto.

I served this at the potluck December meeting of the Plant Based group I belong to and the members liked it. Here are pictures from the potluck.

Easy Garlic Walnut Spread

Adapted from this recipe

  • 2 pieces bread, crust removed
  • 1 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste 
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 to 4 tsp dry basil
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder

Soak the bread in enough water for around five minutes. Set aside. 

In a food processor or blender add the walnuts and garlic until they are pulverized.

Add the bread that has been squeezed dry and blend.

While the motor is running add the lemon juice until the mixture is pasty in consistency. You can add water to adjust the consistency if you need to. I did not have to do that in my case.

Add the rest of the ingredients as you mix by hand till you get the taste you want.