Saturday, September 23, 2017

Good morning

Another day I'm
blessed with. Whatever is in
store, I am grateful.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

It'll Be OK

It'll be an OK
day. You're OK. You're held in
the palm of His hands.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

CSJA Maxim 77 St. Bernadette Convent Prayer Group 9/18/17

The two page handout above was prepared by Natalie for our prayer meeting at the St. Bernadette Convent this past Monday on September 18, 2017.  Maxim 77 was discussed which was on Love. The scriptural passages suggested in the flip up book on the Maxims were also provided in the handout for our convenience and so was the suggested application. To complete the discussion we covered what Marcia Allen, CSJ says in her pink book on the Maxims.

At the end, one would note that Natalie pointed out that we have come full circle starting with love in Maxim 1. She also referred to other maxims which touches on this subject.

Thanks Natalie for this wonderful handout.  We share this with all of you as we are in union in spirit as you read this post.  Have a nice day.  God is good.

PS Thanks also to Dottie for the awesome coffee chocolate bars she brought for the meeting and the hospitality of Sr. Bernadette.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Paula's Prayer Group Meeting September 14, 2017

It was the national day of prayer when we met and Sr. Paula gave a handout featuring a prayer by St. Augustine above.  During our meditation period, Paula played the song, "You Are the River, I Am the Flow" by Jan Phillips, which you can play by clicking the arrow in the image of the Youtube video below.

Paula shared after the reflection period, that as one of the lyrics say, her wish is to be the breath to refresh the world.  As I was opening my refrigerator after the meeting, I saw on my refrigerator door, the card that was given out during the last annual retreat to identify and remember our prayer partner that year. I was struck by the phrase in it that carries the same message."Let your life speak".

I hope the prayer in the handout and the words and music in the video give you comfort during these times of uncertainties and chaos. Someone up there is in charge. We should not fear but feel His unconditional love and mercy.  See you at the recollection this Sunday.

Separation and violence

Lose oneness with God,
and love, ego kicks in, non
violence ceases.

Note: Inspired by my reflection on today's Daily Meditation by Richard Rohr.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Happiness is to
be shared not kept to oneself
fearing losing it.

Note: Gleaned from the reflection given by seminarian, Jordan Sonnett during a Saturday Mass.  Jordan is spending his pastoral year at St. John the Baptist, Plum PA.

Slow Cooker Pepper Tomato Marinara Sauce for Vegan Meatballs

Last Saturday I was at the McGinnis Specialty Store in Monroeville PA for their Authors Event featuring 17 authors who showcased their books to the public.  A couple of my own friends who have published books were there namely, Sally Lipsky and Margaret Soboslay.  Sally has just recently published her book       while Margaret featured two of her published books.  See photos below. Sally's kindle version of her book is free till this Thursday, September 21, 2017 at  Hurry and order! Click on the book below to order.

Beyond Cancer: The Powerful Effect of Plant-Based Eating: How to Adopt a Plant-Based Diet to Optimize Cancer Survival and Long-Term Health by [Lipsky, Sally]

Margaret with two of her published books.  They are also available at  

This event was organized by the indefatigable McGinnis Monroeville events coordinator, Karen Novak. She also has been the organizer for many years of the McGinnis Book Club which I belong to.  In fact several authors who have been guests at our book club monthly event were at this Authors Event.  Here are the pictures I took of some of the authors as well as vendors who shared tasting samples of their goodies.

I had to hurry home since my husband was singing at the Filipino dance recital of the Philippine American of Performing Arts of Greater Pittsburgh (PAPAGP) Association  that same afternoon. I had the option at McGinnis to eat one of their fabulous lunch menus or take home some awesome to go items but instead I could hardly wait to go home to eat the Vegan Spinach Sweet Potato Meatballs in the easy amazing Pepper Tomato Marinara Sauce.  It is that haunting and delicious. Even my picky taster my husband gave it a thumbs up.

I have featured this meatball recipe in the past where I have suggested to use store bought marinara sauce from a jar.  In this blog post, I am highlighting an easy but amazing sauce made from just four ingredients to use with these meatballs. Here is the simple easy peasy recipe.

Slow Cooker Pepper Tomato Marinara Sauce for Vegan Meatballs

This was inspired by the ingredients I saw in the Mancini Brand Marinara Sauce

  • 2-14 oz can stewed tomatoes (Note 1,2)
  • 1 bottle grilled piquillo peppers in water (Note 1,3)
  • 2 tbsp dry onion flakes
  • 1 tbsp dry garlic flakes
  • vegan meatballs or other type of meatballs (see this recipe)
Combine the first four ingredients in a slow cooker.  Place the baked meatballs (see this vegan recipe) on top of the sauce. Cook for 3 hours at high or 6 hours at low.  You can also do this in a skillet.  Allow the sauce mixture with the baked meatballs on top to first boil and then simmer.


1. I prefer to add the tomatoes and peppers whole but you can chop them or even blend them after cooking for a more homogeneous mixture.  I like putting the sauce in my hoagies even without any meatball so I prefer them both whole for texture (see photo below).

2.  Stewed tomatoes are sweeter than the other types.  I highly recommend them. But you can use other types of canned tomatoes.

3.  Piquillo peppers are one type of peppers which are milder.  I again highly recommend them. But again you can use other types of bottled peppers.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Vegan Longganisa Filipino Sausage

The Filipino breakfast is usually graced by the presence of a cylindrical shaped sausage made of usually ground pork, pork fat, sugar, garlic and other spices.  It is called longganisa.  This vegan version of this popular breakfast Filipino sausage was adapted from the awesome blog Astig Vegan written by the brilliant and creative RG Enriquez. I tweaked Ms. Enriquez's recipe by substituting some of the ingredients with what I have or preferred to use.  I substituted the tofu called for in the recipe with a combination of walnuts with cauliflower which I have used previously in the past in this blog as a meat substitute, see here. For extra oomph, I substituted the chili oil or sesame oil in the list in the Astig Vegan recipe with chili garlic sauce from a bottle. I also dropped the porcini mushroom but kept the shitake mushroom in my tweaked recipe.  I did not add the pine nuts since it is taken cared of by the cauliflower and walnut meat mixture.  Since I did not have liquid smoke I used instead smoked paprika.

The sausage is easy to prepare and involves only the mixing of all the ingredients in a food processor or blender.  The original pork longganisa are traditionally encased in a casing which is not done with this vegan version.  To keep the cylindrical shape of the vegan sausage, bread crumbs in my case panko crumbs are used.

I experimented with three methods of cooking the longganisa, namely pan frying with coconut oil, baking and microwaving. Every single method is comparable to each other in giving you the satisfaction of eating the original longganisa usually made from pork or chicken. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. If you are in a hurry you can use the microwave method.  If you do not mind the oil added, you can pan fry.  If you have time and want to skip the oil you can bake.  The most moist sausage results from the pan fry method. If you use coconut oil you have that added flavor.  The sausage had a hard time keeping its shape when pan fried.  It might be because I used less oil, one tbsp, rather than three that must have been needed.  The best shaped sausage comes from the baking method which also gives a crispy coating.  One has to be careful not to over bake or the longganisa will get dry and taste burnt. The microwave method cooks the sausage best with its shape intact. It does not have the crispy coating though.  One can combine the microwave and pan frying methods by initially microwaving the sausage and then pan fry it in coconut oil to crisp the outside.

pan frying in coconut oil
baking in a toaster oven


When I was tasting the mixture I could not help eating the uncooked sausage since it was that good.  I would suggest microwaving a bit of the prepared sausage and then adjust the sweetness or spiciness or saltiness of the sausage. Cooking sometimes tend to lessen the sweetness or spiciness of the sausage. I decided not to go overboard with any spices in preparing the sausage in order to please most of my family and vegan friends. Next time, however I would add more than 3 cloves of garlic.  I want mine more garlicky.

This is a flexible recipe that you can make your own.  You can go with tofu like Astig Vegan or with the cauliflower walnut meat.  One thing sure, as a vegan or even non vegan, Filipino or non Filipino you will fall in love with the well loved longganisa. Now you have a healthier version to top it all.

I dedicate this recipe to my new found friend Ivy (Vivian) the daughter of my former office mate in the Philippines, the late beloved Mrs K. Ivy requested that I develop this recipe since she plans to go vegan.

Vegan Longganisa Filipino Sausage

Inspired by the recipe in Astig Vegan

  • 1/2 cup walnut
  • 1/4 of one cauliflower head, cut roughly
  • 1 oz dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in a warm water for around 20 minutes, then drained
  • 1/4 cup coconut brown sugar or brown sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp balsamic or coconut vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce from a bottle
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • maple syrup to taste
  • 1 cup Panko crumbs or vegan bread crumbs
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil if frying
Mix all the ingredients except the last two in a food processor or blender until they are well mixed.

Transfer the mixture in a bowl and add the breadcrumbs and mix.

Score the mixture into 8 or more sections and shape each section into a cylinder or pattie.

If frying, heat the coconut oil in a cast iron skillet and fry the sausage till heated through and browned on the outside.

If microwaving, shape the cylinder into smaller sizes and microwave a few at a time for one minute depending on the wattage of your microwave.  This is a good method if you have frozen your shaped uncooked sausage.

If baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees centigrade and bake for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Check for doneness half way through.  

The original pork longganisa is usually eaten with eggs and fried garlicky rice.  This combination is called for short Longsilog in the Philippines.  I ate mine with fresh cucumber and tomatoes and fresh leaf spinach. Later I ate it with plain cooked white rice with pickled cucumber and grape tomatoes.  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Turtle Tale

This was no ordinary turtle that I found two years ago by the road with the rest of somebody's trash.  It was a large dark green creature with a removable shell that serves to cover the sand housed in the lower half of its body when not in use. I envisioned it would be my granddaughter Maddie's sandbox. I did not hesitate to park at the shoulder near the house and hauled the large two part plastic turtle to my car.

It took a couple of years before it was filled with sand. It just leaned unused on the wall of our house in the back yard underneath the deck. I knew it would be utilized eventually. I realized in life things do happen except not in ones time. I just had to be patient and wait for that proper time which was not easy for me.

Last year I had wanted to place it on our deck and fill it with sand. This would have been more convenient for me since I never liked sitting outside in the yard to watch Maddie play. Everybody in my family nixed the idea since it just would not fit in the narrow deck we had then so they claimed. Our deck was not also safe for her to be in. It had rotting wood that had splinters from years of neglect. Maddie at three years old also was not into playing with sand then but it would be just a matter of time.

This is the second year we got a family membership to the delightful Pittsburgh Zoo. Last year they opened the so called Island which features animals from tropical places around the world including crocodiles and pigs from the Philippines. It also has a large sandbox which was inviting to a lot of kids but not to the then three year old Maddie. This year, however, things have changed for Maddie who just turned four this July. Playing in the sandbox is now the highlight of her trips to the zoo.

This summer we decided to finally build a new and larger deck. One of the reasons I opted for a bigger one was to have space to house the plastic inflatable pool Maddie loves to play in. I was also looking forward for Maddie to play in the green turtle sandbox that had been sitting idle underneath the old deck on this expanded one.

When the new deck was finally finished, the builder warned us to not put heavy objects like hot tubs or heavy fire pits or that inflatable pool he heard me say I was planning to use the deck for. Their weight can cause the floor to sag. The first two were not in my agenda so I did not care but the last one was a let down.

I just set aside my disappointment and focused on shopping for a dining table, chairs, umbrella, namely, stuff for what decks are made for, namely, dining. Last Sunday, when we finally got to eat outside in our deck with Maddie's family I decided it was time to use the deck for what I always dreamed, a place for my two grand kids to play. I asked my husband to bring up the turtle sandbox to the deck and fill it with what sand we have. Seeing Maddie and her younger brother play with so much fun in it gave us all great joy.

Through this all I was wondering why I was obsessed in using this sandbox. The answer came to me when I was watching the TV sitcom Mike and Molly named after the lovable, adorable main characters who were married to each other. In this sitcom's particular episode Mike was totally devastated when Molly's Dad decided to sell the boat Mike had helped him rebuild. He was promised by Molly's Dad that they would go fishing when it was done which now would not happen.

Mike's mom explained his son's extreme disappointment and meltdown with the story that involved Mike's Dad. Young Mike one day saw his dad packing his clothes. When Mike asked his dad why, he said he was taking a trip but would come back the next morning and they would go fishing. Mike waited early the next day sitting on the porch for his dad but sadly he never came back.  His dad left the family for good and Mike's wish to go fishing with him was not fulfilled.

This sitcom's episode is sort of a metaphor for an incident, albeit less dramatic and traumatic, that happened to my daughter Wendy, Maddie's mom. When Wendy, was the same age as Maddie she had a sandbox made of bricks which I and her grandma built for her. Wendy spent countless hours playing in it. Unfortunately it did not have a cover and the neighbor's cats pooped in it. We decided for health reasons to dismantle the sand box. Later on when Wendy was an adult, she mentioned she was devastated when we decided to do so. My heart sank when I heard this since I did not know the extent of her disappointment until then.

When I saw the TV sitcom yesterday, I finally realized why I badly wanted a place for the green turtle sandbox and for it to be used. I just wanted to make it up to Wendy through her daughter.

All is well with the sand box. Except for one thing. Maddie's baby brother who is one and half decided to eat the sand while in it. It is not the proper time yet for him. But as I have learned from my experience with the green turtle sandbox, there's always a time and place for everything and a reason.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Veggie Loaded Super Grains Fried Rice

I have used the Simply Nature Brand Mixed Super Grains which consists of a mixture of buckwheat, millet and red and white quinoa in the past when I prepared a vegan jambalaya recipe, here. I did not even wash and drain the mixture before cooking like I do with pure quinoa to remove that certain taste. I just dumped the super grains in my rice cooker and cooked them according to package directions.

Available at Aldis Grocery Store

I have plenty of leftovers of this cooked mixed super grains in the fridge and I thought, what better use of it than to make some kind of quasi fried rice with it.  I decided to not use oil at all, however. Instead I relied on the even heating performance of  a good cast iron skillet and just enough vegetable broth for the grains not to stick to the skillet. It really worked. It was not soggy at all.  You have to add just enough broth to cook the vegetables and then add a bit more after the grains and sauce are added but just enough so the grains would not stick to the skillet. Too much broth will make it soggy.

The mixture of soy sauce, catsup and smoked paprika gave the grains that fried rice flavor with a little oomph to it that would make you forget it was not even fried.  This rice or shall I say grain dish is reminiscent of the so called Java Rice made famous by the Aristocrat Restaurant in the Philippines.  This quasi fried rice recipe was inspired by the one found in the wonderful blog Adora's Box for Java Rice or Paprika Rice. Similar to cooking most fried rice, it helps that the cooked mixed super grains were in the fridge overnight to make them dry. During the cooking process you do need to mix them with the rest of the vegetables with some broth or they will be too dry.

The Super Grains themselves have great nutritional values. With the added vegetables, it brings its super food status to the stratosphere. You can add any vegetables you want.  I opted for the crunchy ones like carrots and celery and the customary green peas found in most fried rice recipes.

It is a craving fixer for Chinese food or any comfort food for that matter.  I have had it as is even cold like you sometimes do with the Chinese food fried rice leftover. This is perfect with almost anything including soup or some main dish like vegan vegetable fritter, here or with fried chicken for your meat lovers in the family. They would love this. Vegan or not.

Veggie Loaded Super Grains Fried Rice

Inspired by a recipe from Adora's Box

  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, cubed
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 cups super grains mix, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup catsup or 2 tsp tomato paste with some sweetener like maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 stalks green onions, sliced

Add about 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth to the cast iron skillet or non stick one and add to it the onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Allow the broth to boil to cook the vegetable mixture.  Add more broth if needed.

Leave some broth at the bottom of the pan and add the super grains.

Add the soy sauce, smoked paprika and catsup with constant stirring till the mixture is heated through and the sauce well distributed.

Add frozen peas and allow them to thaw and cook. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can add more soy sauce or even paprika or catsup to adjust to your taste.

Garnish the finished product with sliced green onions.

Enjoy. Warning: You might find yourself sneaking and raiding your fridge in the middle of the night. Ha, ha.


Photo generously shared by Flordeliza Vivandor Ongkeko

We will be transformed
if from falling and failing
we find our true self.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Splendour in the Sand Box

Profound experience.
First encounter with earth. Rough.
Gritty. Dirty. True.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Reality- Light and Shadow Co- exist

We see light better
with the shadow. Accepting 
both we are made whole.

Adapted from Richard Rohr's daily meditation for today and his book with John Feister, Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety(St. Anthony Messenger Press: 2001), 163-164.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

You Are Loved

Always, since you were
born. He created you. Not
random. He chose to.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Vegan Burrito with Chipotle Carrot Walnut Meat

One of my two daughters is the take out queen.  She does not like to cook.  She would text me sometime when she felt like visiting or something and ask what I have cooked or what I am planning to cook.  Usually I do not see the text message or she does not like what I have and she will come with a take out from Sheetz and lately from Chipotle Restaurant. One particular meal she buys which she lets me have some of is Chipotle's burrito bowl.  I love it.  It is ground beef with rice, tortilla chips and salsa.  She skips the guacamole since you pay extra for it.

This dish is a copycat of Chipotle's burrito bowl except that it is a burrito period. The rice is a filling rather than a side dish. One thing more it is vegan. Meatless.

It uses a delicious plant based source of the meat made from carrots and walnuts. I have published several dishes using a similar plant based meat recipe made from cauliflower, here, here and here. I decided to try to use carrots instead of cauliflower since I always had them.  It was just as good.

Forget going to Chipotle, make this instead. You will not miss the meat. Your family and friends will not say either, where's the meat. They would not know it is not.

Vegan Burrito with Chipotle Carrot Walnut Meat

4-6 burritos
  • 1 to 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 3 cups chipotle carrot walnut meat (see recipe below)
  • 1-14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4-6 lettuce leaves, whole pieces (I used Romaine lettuce)
  • 4-6 large tortillas

Warm the tortillas in the microwave by placing 4-6 tortillas between two slightly dampened paper towels. Microwave on high for 40 seconds until warm. Leave them wrapped until ready to use.

Heat the Carrot Walnut Meat in a skillet till they are warm. Combine it with the tomatoes, green onion, rice and black beans in a bowl.  You can also layer these ingredients instead of mixing them first.

Place a tortilla on a plate and place a piece of lettuce leaf on top.  Spoon the mixture on top or add the different ingredients in layers.  Fold the sides over the filling, and roll the tortilla into a tight cylinder. Repeat with the other tortillas. Serve with salsa.

Chipotle Carrot Walnut Meat

Inspired by this recipe from Pinch of Yum

Makes approximately 3 cups.

  • About 8 oz baby carrots to measure approximately 2 cups
  • 1 cup walnut
  • 2 x 1 inch strip of canned chipotle to give approximately  2 tbsp
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse till they are blended and mixture turns mealy in texture.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

With Joyful Abundance

Learn to play from our
little children and we will
learn to live our lives.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Spirit of Discernment

Discernment from our
consciousness not conscience. Not
from guilt but our heart.

Inspired by Richard Rohr's Breathing Under Water book, Chapter 10.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Forgive out of love
not guilt*. Unconditional.
Life transforming. Growth.

* From Richard Rohr's reflection series on forgiveness.