Sunday, November 30, 2014

Coconut Vanilla Mug Cake

This is a very moist, delicious cake with just the right sweetness to it enhanced by the sweetened shredded coconut sprinkled on Cool Whip topping.  It is a simple, easy and quick cake to make when you have a craving for a relatively healthy vanilla cake.  It is made without any eggs and yet it has a very fluffy consistency.  Its preparation is made simpler and quicker if you make it from the homemade yellow cake mix found in this blog which I have successfully used for making other mug cakes

This recipe was adapted from the vanilla mug cake found in the wonderful Table for Two website.  I used oil not butter and half the amount of shortening or oil in the original recipe from this aforementioned blog.  The result is just as delicious a cake but easier to remove from the mug so one can ice it more easily with the Cool Whip and shredded coconut.  The original recipe is moister I would admit but meant to be eaten straight from the mug since it is difficult to transfer it from the mug to a plate if you want to do so.

Enjoy a quick heavenly dessert and make this awesome coconut vanilla mug cake.  It is in a perfect single serve recipe just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth asap.

Coconut Vanilla Mug Cake

(Adapted from Table for Two)

  • 4 tbsps homemade yellow cake mix (recipe for one batch is below)
  • 3 tbsp milk of your choice (I used 2 % milk)
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • Cool Whip or similar topping
  • sweetened shredded coconut
Spray a coffee mug or cup with cooking spray and set aside.

Place the homemade yellow cake mix in a cereal bowl.  Make a well and add the milk, oil and vanilla in this well and blend these liquid ingredients with the cake mix using a fork. 

Place the batter in the coffee mug and microwave for 1 minute and 10 seconds.  (I used a 1100 watt microwave oven). 

Cool the cake and then transfer to a small plate.  Spread Cool Whip all over it and sprinkle with as much shredded coconut on top as you like or what your waist would allow. 

Homemade Yellow Cake Mix (equivalent to one box of Yellow Cake mix)

(Adapted from I Am Baker)
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (or 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup Splenda)
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

  • Mix all the ingredients in a jar or ziplop bag. You can use this for several number of single serving recipes. Check out also the Microwaved Pumpkin Mug Cake recipe in this blog.


    Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    What I Am Most Grateful For

    What I am most grateful this year is learning to see things and events with new eyes of hope and gratitude.  
    With my new perspective in life, every ordinary event and day become extraordinary.  An awful incident turns to a learning experience.  Everyone becomes a wonderful image of God.  My day now starts with a lot more hope rather than dread and ends with deep gratitude and peace rather than restlessness and guilt. 
    Happy thanksgiving to you all and God bless you and your family.  Thank you for reading my blog. 

    This beautiful image was taken from this website which contains other gorgeous photographs.  The wonderful quote came from Brother Steindl-Rast's awesome website.  Check out more daily words of wisdom from this inspiring site. 

    Last-Minute Nut Balls

    These awesome nut and fruit balls are healthy, delicious and easy to make.  Just a whirl of the ingredients in the food processor and you have these addictive morsels to serve and savor. If you need an additional option for a dessert for your thanksgiving this is it.  

    The combination of the dried fruits chosen gives just the right sweetness to the balls while the nuts give them added texture and goodness.  The lemon juice and zest give them a refreshing spunk. Enjoy them with your tea or coffee or even milk or wine or just plain good old water.  Anything. These balls rock.

    Last-Minute Nut Balls   

    (Adapted from the Curves Magazine)

    • 1  cup dried apricots
    • 1 cup dried cranberries
    • 1 cup dessicated coconut (I used sweetened)
    • 3/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
    • 2 tbsps lemon juice
    • 3/4 tsp lemon zest
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • Chocolate chips if you are coating some (optional)

    1. Combine all ingredients except sugar and chocolate chips (if using for coating) in a food processor and mix at 10-second intervals until it becomes one cohesive mass.

    2.  Form the fruit mixture into large marble-size balls, then roll in sugar.


    You can coat some of the balls in chocolate for variety using melted chocolate chips. The balls are awesome as is though.

    If you want to save on calories skip rolling the ball in sugar.

    Monday, November 24, 2014

    Ground Beef Menudo - Filipino Sloppy Joe

    This is my delicious ground beef version of a popular Filipino sandwich snack called menudo which is usually cooked with ground pork in the Philippines.   I consider this menudo the Filipino counterpart of the Sloppy Joe.  I have previously posted Slow Cooker Pork Menudo in this blog which is more a stew served during the main meals of the day either lunch or dinner.  The ground meat version is more "palaman" or filling for a sandwich.  The difference between the two is the size of the meat which is ground in this sandwich version and the way the vegetables like potatoes are cut in smaller sizes to be a a more convenient filling for a sandwich.

    Filipinos love to eat savory snacks in between meals.  Some of the favorite items in the carinderia (little rustic eating places usually in front of a person's house with just a bench or two) are pancit or noodles of every kind, lugao or rice porridge similar to the Chinese kongee and sandwiches filled with cheese pimiento or menudo.

    Picture of a typical carinderia from this website

    I remember buying pork menudo sandwich at Aling Aya's carinderia beside my grandmother's place in Malabon when I was growing up.  We used to live at my grandmother's place in Cuatro Cantos in Malabon till I was 10 years old.  Her daughter-in-law Tina would make it for me while Aling Aya asked me questions about how my Lola Fina (my grandmother Rufina or Fina for short on my father side) and my parents especially my mother who she referred to as Inso Naty were doing.  I find this perplexing since  she visited my grandmother everyday.  They were BFFs as we call them nowadays.  I remember Aling Aya in her duster and long, newly shampooed hair over her shoulder listening to my Lola Fina who always had an opinion or two about the day's events and life in general. 

    This past week, for some reason I had a craving for this savory snack but I had only ground beef.  So I recalled how Aling Aya's ground pork menudo was and adapted it using ground beef instead.  Here is the recipe of a very delicious and comforting sandwich.  If you get tired of leftover turkey after Thanksgiving, do not order pizza like most people do.  Try this.  So good and so easy to make.

    Groud Beef Menudo-Filipino Sloppy Joe

    • 1 lb ground beef (or pork)
    • 1 large piece of roasted pepper from a jar , cut to small 1/8 inch pieces
    • 2 tbsp raisins
    • 1 potato cut to small 1/8 inch pieces (cook in microwave with some water covering it for 2 minutes or till soft)
    • 1/2 to 3/4 cup catsup
    • 1 tbsp minced dry onions
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Saute the ground beef or pork in a pan till cooked.  Add to it the other ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes or so at low till the taste blends.  The consistency should be like sloppy joes namely thick enough to spread on a bun or piece of bread.  Serve on a bun and enjoy with your favorite Coke or Pepsi or Sarsi (Filipino cola) drink over ice.  Ang sarap ng buhay.  Life is satisfying.

    Thursday, November 20, 2014

    Part VII The Small C. Embodiment - Key to Presence and Healing

    I wish I knew the importance of embodiment as I was healing from my cancer two years ago.  I just want to share with you what I learned about it during a recollection I attended recently and its significance not only to meditation but also to healing.


    First, here is Wikepedia's definition of embodiment in relation to philosophy and psychology:

          Embodied or embodiment may refer to: 
      Embodied cognition (or the embodied mind thesis), a position in cognitive science and the philosophy of mind emphasizing the role that the body plays in shaping the mind.
    But why is embodiment or bodily knowing important to presence and healing?

    This past Saturday, I attended a whole day recollection organized by the Memorial Day committee of the Associates of the Sisters of St. Joseph headed by Monica Maghrak which was held in Baden, Pa.  We had for our presenter, Martha Robbins, Th.D., Associate Professor Emerita at the Theological Seminary of Pittsburgh and presently the Director of the Pneuma Institute.  The topic was "Healed, Called by Name, and Sent". 

    Using Mark 5:25-34 (the story of the hemorrhaging woman), Dr. Robbins introduced us to praying with Scripture called Imaginative Contemplation.  She first set up the scripture chosen by elaborating on the attitudes of that time regarding bodily fluids like menstruation.  For them, these are signs of lack of cleanliness to the point people with them are prohibited from temple services.  The hemorrhaging woman had the unusual and unfortunate fate of menstruating daily, nonstop for more than 10 years.  Thus her desire to be cured was as tremendous as that of the more influential Jarius in the same scripture reading who wanted so much to have his ailing daughter be cured. 

    After delivering the context of the scripture reading, Dr. Robbins conducted the meditation wherein she read the scripture verses interspersed with her very own effective comments to guide us.  During this guided meditation, we were invited to use our senses - auditory, visual, touch and smell.

    This was followed by silent reflection wherein we were provided several questions.  One of them, to my surprise was,

                       "How are you aware of your own bodily knowing?"

    During the large group discussion with Dr. Robbins that followed this particular question was again emphasized by the title chosen for this segment, Bodily Knowing and Healing.

    To further expound on the importance of bodily knowing, Dr. Robbins used the reading for Friday, August 8, 2014 from Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation website.  It was entitled Open Heart, Open Mind, Open Body and subtitled How to Stay Open.  This meditation was actually adapted by Rohr from his book, Breathing Under Water:  Spirituality and the Twelve Steps, pp 11-13.

    The saying in the poster at the start of this post was taken from this meditation.  Let me quote further from this meditation by Rohr to elaborate on the importance of bodily knowing,

    To keep our bodies less defended, to live in our body right now, to be present to others in a cellular way, is also the work of healing of past hurts and the many memories that seem to store themselves in the body. 

    Furthermore, Rohr continued with the following:

    It is very telling that Jesus often physically touched people when he healed them; he knew where the memory and hurt was lodged, and it was in the body itself. 

    Note that, in the scripture reading during our day of recollection, the hemorrhaging woman took a risk and the initiative to actually be the one who touched Jesus who then was so pleased with her strong belief and healed her. 

    Richard Rohr ends this meditation with the following:

    For many of us, the body is more pressed and denied than even the mind or the heart.  It makes both presence and healing quite difficult, because the body, not just the mind, holds our memories.

    The meditation further laments the fact that the Christian religion though it believes in God taking a human body, is so reluctant in embracing and knowing the body. For example, illnesses give us body knowing. What does it mean? It might have some message for us. How do we pay attention to the rest of our body?

    Perhaps the reason I was surprised on the emphasis on bodily knowing during the recollection was because I had been so "trained" to the mind over matter mentality and never thought of how to tap on my body and its senses to unleash any pain that is lodging in there to help my mind be at peace. 

    These are just some foods for thought I want to share with you.  Perhaps you can use them next time you do your meditation or as you are presently battling or healing from an illness or painful emotional experience in your life.  God's peace and love be with you all.

    You might also be interested:
    This blog is part VII of a series of blogs, The Small C, on my experience with cancer and insights I gained from it. Here are the links to the other parts of the series.

    PS.   Allow me to share some pictures from the wonderful recollection. 
    Dr. Martha Robbins

    Mary Cay Burke Hammill singing the Litany of the Saints during the memorial rite for the associates and sisters who have journeyed with us.

    Sr. Elaine was at my table and during the discussion I was very delighted to hear the name which she thought she was being called during the sharing on Mary Magdalene meeting with Christ during his Resurrection, (this was the second reading covered during the recollection).  The name was Cara Mia Elena.  Love it! I also love the little cute handbags she brings with her like that green one above. 

    Monica Maghrak, the chair of the Memorial Day Committee, thanking Dr. Robbins for the excellent talk.

    Excuse the blurred picture.  Sr. Paula Drass as she went around Medaille Hall fielding insights.  Pictured also are Monica with her wonderful friends who helped her set up during the recollection.

    The captivated audience consisting of associates and nonassociates soaking in the wonderful presentation that day.

    The members of the Memorial Day committee with Dr. Robbins and Sr. Paula.  From left to right,  Mary Cay Burke Hammill, Monica Maghrak, Dr. Martha Robbins, Patty Hammond, Sr. Paula Drass, Kathy Haver and Linda Biel.  Not pictured is Kathy Lotzmann.  Thank you all for your wonderful work and effort to make the day so wonderful and enlightening. Oops I forgot to take a picture of the baked goods served that day.  Awesome. See you next year. 

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    Slow Cooker Spiced-Up Vegetable Fish Soup

    This delicious, hearty soup has just the right kick to it and perfect for the cold days ahead of us.   The Chinese use spices to both cool themselves during hot weather and warm themselves during cold days.  This soup has just the right hotness to warm you up during this winter.  You can also modulate the heat according to your taste.  A friend of mine who I would consider having a conservative taste loves this soup and suggested that I post the recipe. 

    It is also very easy to prepare thanks to the use of the crock pot.   You can also use frozen vegetables instead of the fresh ones in the recipe to save time.

    I submitted this to the McGinnis 2014 Souper Bowl Monroeville Contest wherein I used canned crabs instead of fish.  One can also use a mixture of seafood for this recipe and come up with a sensational version similar to a Bouillabaisse soup. 

    Give yourself a break and go home from a hard day's work and drive to this hearty awesome soup and enjoy it with your family with a crusty loaf of bread and salad. 

    Slow Cooker Spiced-Up Vegetable Fish Soup

    • 2 quarts water
    • 1 tbsp chicken bouillon granules
    • 1 tbsp beef bouillon granules
    • 1 tbsp seafood seasoning or more to taste
    • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • Kosher salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper (optional) to taste
    • 1 1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes
    • 1/2  tsp hot pepper sauce
    • 3/4 cup sliced carrots
    • 1 diced celery stalk
    • 3/4 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
    • 3/4 cup  cut green beans
    • 1/2 cup diced cabbage
    • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
    • 1 cup cubed potato
    • 1 pound fish, cut into large pieces or as individual frozen tilapia pieces which come in individual packs
    Combine all the ingredients in the crock pot bowl with the fish last and on top and cook on high setting for 4 hours or 8 hours at low.  I cooked mine in an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.   

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

    Peaceful Stillness

    Father Tom Smith's beautiful sermon in today's Mass at St. Bernadette Church, Monroeville, PA was on practicing peaceful stillness during the day.

    In so doing, you can find God within you and realize you are an image of Him or Her.  This in turn will bring you much sought after peace and happiness.

    He suggested taking 10 deep breaths three times a day to tap on this reservoir of stillness within us to sustain us through out the day. 

    He then ended his sermon with this, "Be still and find God not only within you but in each other". 

    Acknowledgement:  Beautiful image was taken from

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

    Banana Bread from Homemade Yellow Cake Mix

    Nothing warms the soul better than a slice or two of banana bread with a cup of coffee.   The first snow fell two days ago around the areas where I teach. Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprized to see snow on the roads as I drove closer to IUP in Indiana County, Pa since we did not get too much of it, in fact just a drizzle, in Monroeville where I live.  
    On such a cold, dreary day, it is always comforting to wake up to a breakfast featuring ones favorite banana bread perhaps slather with butter or cream cheese coupled with the aroma of Hazelnut flavored Keurig coffee. With this in mind, plus I have to bring some goodies for a meeting the next day,  I baked 5 mini loaves of banana bread after I came home yesterday afternoon from work. 
    Thanks to the homemade cake mix I made several weeks ago I did not feel overwhelmed to bake though I was pretty tired being the end of the working week.  The homemade cake mix eliminates the measuring of four ingredients of a yellow cake mix namely, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Plus the mix contains half Splenda and half sugar to lower its carbohydrate content.  It also does not have any shortening or powdered milk like the store bought ones.  In other words, I could control the amount of these two ingredients also.   I did have to figure out how much oil, eggs and milk to use to approximately equal the results given by the store bought yellow cake mix when preparing it to make banana bread. 
    Here is the quick and easy recipe I came up with.  The resulting banana bread was very light and moist and of course deliciously satisfying and comforting.  It will definitely brighten your morning.


    Banana Bread from Homemade Yellow Cake Mix




    • 3 and 3/4 cups of Homemade Yellow Cake Mix (recipe for 4 batches and recipe for one batch can be found in this blog)
    • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
    • 3/4 cup milk (I used 2 %)
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
    Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.  Spray 5 mini loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.
    Place the cake mix in a bowl and make a well in the middle.  Add the oil, milk, eggs and vanilla in the well and using a whisk or a electric mixer blend the dry and wet ingredients together.   Add the mashed bananas to the mixture and continue to mix till the bananas are incorporated with the rest of the ingredients. 
    Distribute the batter into the 5 mini loaf pans.  I filled each mini loaf pan halfway but you can use more batter if you like.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

    Thursday, November 13, 2014

    Slow Cooker Tex Mex Kale and Butternut Squash Quesadillas

    I found a way to cook both the kale and butternut squash at the same time for this delicious vegetarian dish.  I used my slow cooker! 

    I placed the kale (I bought a bag of cut ones) with a small amount water and sliced onions and minced garlic in the slow cooker and then place on top of it the butternut squash wrapped in aluminum foil. 

    I then proceeded to cut the cooked vegetables to cubes and small pieces and mixed them with canned red beans, jarred jalapenos and the spices chili, cumin and salt and pepper.  I topped the mixture with cheese and used this Tex Mex blended goodness to fill tortillas which were then pan fried.


    Slow Cooker Tex Mex Kale, Butternut Squash Quesadillas

    • 8 oz cut kale in a bag
    • one onion, sliced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 butternut squash (I cooked a whole one and used half of it for this recipe)
    • 1 can red kidney beans, washed and drained
    • 3 tbsps chopped bottled nacho jalapeno slices 
    • 1/2 tsp cumin or more to taste
    • 1 tsp chili powder or more to taste
    • salt and pepper according to taste
    • 2 cups cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
    • 7 to 8 8- inch flour tortillas
    • cooking spray
    Place the cut kale, onions, garlic and water at the bottom of a slow cooker.  Wrap the butternut squash in aluminum foil and place the wrapped squash right on top of the kale mixture.  Slow cook for 4 hours at high or 8 hours at low.   I cooked mine in an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cook setting.

    Drain the cooked kale mixture and place it into a bowl.  Scoop out the flesh from 1/2 of the butternut squash and dice them and combine it with the kale mixture.  (Keep the other half for other purposes).  Place the drained red beans and chopped jalapenos into the mixture and then add the cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.  You can heat the mixture through if you like to blend the taste or you can just mix them till the ingredients are well blended.

    Spray one side of a tortilla and place the sprayed side down on a sprayed skillet. Place 1/2 cup of the mixture on top of just one side of the tortilla and place 1/4 cup of cheese on top and then place the other half of the tortilla over it.     Pan fry in a pan sprayed with cooking spray till one side turns crispy.  Flip and crisp the other side.  Cut into wedges.

    Repeat the filling and frying with the other flour tortillas.

    Part VI. The Small C. A life well lived in the present takes care of itself - and the future

    Even though I had cancer more than two years ago, the thought of my mortality never really occurred to me as much as what happened this past October. I knew that there was a possibility of my dying from my cancer, but I was very focused on fighting the disease and surviving from it. The thought of death was there but somehow the kind of fear of it that I had recently never occurred with the same intensity.


    This past October, the unexpected death of my beautiful and very kind next door neighbor, Kathy, at a relatively young age of 57 years old in her sleep shook me. I cried because it was all very sad and shocking and because I would miss her smiling and waving at me from her front porch as I drove down our driveway from work. To my surprize, I also felt for the first time in many years this fear of death and how prepared I was for it.

    Again, God gifted me with words of wisdom that gave me peace and insight to deal with this fear. I have been using an online daily prayer site called Sacred Space as recommended by Sr. Paula.   The October 21st commentary in its Living Space section featured the quote shown in the image above. Somehow these words of wisdom gave me the serenity and strength to move on and as the beautiful lines suggest to live my life to the fullest and not to worry. Living well in the moment day to day will take care not only of the present but that certain and yet uncertain future. 
    Acknowledgements: Quote was taken from Sacred Space

    This blog is part VI of a series of blogs, The Small C, on my experience with cancer and insights I gained from it. Here are the links to the other parts of the series.



    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    Microwave Fruity and Nutty Protein Bars

    If you are in a hurry for your fitness class or exercise in the gym and you do not have time to eat a proper breakfast or lunch or dinner or whatever meal it is to supply the energy you need, then keep a stash of this delicious and nutritious portable protein bars.

    The fat content was lowered by using some banana for what would have been more peanut butter plus this fruit gave the bars added sweetness and flavor not to mention potassium.  You can choose the nuts and berries you want.  They do increase the calories but they are not empty ones.  Aside from the peanut butter, whey protein powder was added to boost the content of this food group in the bar.  I decided to use cocoa powder instead of chocolate chips not only to lower the calories but also to cover the sometimes aftertaste of whey powder.  The protein powder can be increased if you desire.   The bars are so good you will not even notice that they are one of those healthy energy treats.

    They are firm enough so you can store them in your handbag and needs no refrigeration to keep its shape and texture through the day.  Do refrigerate the leftovers though to keep their freshness.   

    This recipe is for two generous servings but bigger batches can be prepared.  I decided to use the microwave for baking the bars for convenience but they can also be baked in the oven.


    Microwave Fruity and Nutty Protein Bars


    • 1 tbsp Splenda or sugar
    • 1 tbsp Agave
    • 1 tbsp peanut butter
    • 1/4 of a banana, mashed
    • 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
    • 1/2 tbsp protein whey powder (I used chocolate flavored)
    • 3/4 cups quick cooking oats
    • 1/2 tbsp chopped walnuts or other nuts
    • 1/2 tbsp dried cranberries or other dried fruit

    Mix the Splenda or sugar and Agave until the Splenda dissolves. You can warm the mixture for 5 seconds in the microwave if you like. 

    Meanwhile thoroughly mix the mashed banana and peanut butter and add them to the Splenda and Agave mixture.  Then add to the mixture. the cocoa powder and protein whey powder and  throughly mix all the ingredients together.

    Add the oats, nuts, cranberries to the mixture and thoroughly blend them together so the ingredients are distributed uniformly throughout. 

    For this small batch, you can just shape the mixture into a 2 inch square and place in a microwaveable plate.   Microwave the mixture for 30 seconds.  Cool and cut into bars of the size you want.    . 

    Sunday, November 9, 2014

    Slow Cooker Filipino Pork Menudo

    When I have a party in which my guests are expecting Filipino dishes, pork menudo is what I serve together with chicken adobo and pancit (noodles).  It is a tomato based dish and is usually prepared with pork.  Tomato sauce is customarily used but in this recipe I utilized the combination of catsup and tomato paste.  I usually add ham and if I do not have that I use hot dog which I did with this recipe to give it a smoky flavor.  I consider menudo the Filipino version of the cassoulet.  Vegetables like potato, carrots, green and red pepper are also added.  I added chick peas when I prepared it today and would have also added raisins but my son-in-law who is coming to dinner is not very fond of them. 

    My daughter, her husband and my granddaughter are coming for dinner and I know that with church, my Sunday lunch out with my husband, getting new tires installed for my car and grocery shopping, I will be too tired to prepare something before they come .  I have been very satisfied with the results of using the slow cooker with three other Filipino dishes, Beef Caldereta, Pork Filipino Barbecue and Chicken Afritada, all of which are found in this blog that I decided to try using my trusty Aroma brand rice cooker/slowcooker to cook menudo today. So while I was doing all these activities, the Pork Menudo was cooking in my slow cooker. 

    Once again, it was a successful experiment.  The slow cooker did a wonderful job cooking a classic Filipino dish.   The Pork Menudo got a thumbs up even from my picky husband and son-in-law both of whom are not Filipinos. 

    Slow Cooker Filipino Pork Menudo


    • 2 pounds pork butt, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    • 3 hot dog cut into 1/4 inch long pieces (or ham especially the bones if you have them)
    • 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 medium onion, sliced
    • 1 cup catsup
    • 2 tbsp tomato paste
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 2 tablespoon fish sauce
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1/2 tbsp peppercorn
    • 1 green pepper, cut into strips
    • 1 piece roasted red pepper, or 1 fresh red pepper cut into strip
    • 1 can garbanzo beans, washed and drained
    • 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water (optional)
    • salt and freshly ground pepper

    Mix all the ingredients in the crockpot and cook for 8 hours at low or 4 hours at high setting.  I cooked mine for two hours using an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker using the slow cooker setting.  Serve with rice.

    Today, I also served with this dish Pad Thai but any other Asian noodle dish or Filipino pancit will be a good accompaniment to this robust and delicious dish. 

    Thursday, November 6, 2014

    Single Serve Homemade Vanilla Funfetti Cake


    Once in a while you have a craving for a good old vanilla cake -  not a chocolate one not even a brownie or cookie.  Here is a recipe for you.  Easy, fast and yummy.  Not to mention colorful!  It will not only satisfy your sweet tooth but it will also make you happy.  It is not only a happy cake but also a safe one to eat since it is in a single serve form. 

    I adapted this from the recipe found in the beautiful blog Averie Cooks.  To modify it for single serve, I had to find a substitute for the egg called for in the full recipe.  It is difficult to use 1/8 of a whole egg (the single serve is 1/8 of the full recipe).  I looked over the website for a more convenient option and decided on using baking soda and vinegar which when combined form bubbles just like in a chemistry or science project. These two are usually in ones pantry already.  It also does not impart an added flavor such as the other options like banana or applesauce. 

    Single Serve Homemade Vanilla Funfetti Cake

    (Adapted from Averie Cooks)


    • 1/4 cup homemade cake mix (recipe found in this blog, or store bought yellow cake mix)
    • 1 tbsp milk
    • 1/2 tbsp low fat yogurt
    • 1/2 tbsp oil
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 1/8 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp vinegar
    • 1 tbsp sprinkles
    Place cake mix in a cereal bowl and make a well in the middle. Place the milk, yogurt, oil, vanilla, baking soda, and vinegar in the well.  Mix the mixture with fork till well blended.  Add the sprinkles to the mixture and mix again.

    Place the mixture in a mug that has been previously sprayed with Pam or oiled.  Microwave for 60 seconds. Toothpick should come out just clean and the cake should still be soft and moist not dry.

    Cool and transfer to a plate and frost with your favorite frosting and top with more sprinkles.  Enjoy your colorful and delicious creation.  Don't worry, be happy.


    Monday, November 3, 2014

    Slow Cooker Filipino Chicken Curry

    I love Indian dishes and have eaten them in restaurants and have cooked them myself.  However, I still have a hankering for the chicken curry prepared the Filipino way.

    Every Sunday when I was growing up, I always looked forward to our  family consisting of my Tatay (father) and Nanay (mother),  my two sisters (Ate Bebeng, Menchie), three brothers (the late Anton, Benjie and Chot) visiting my maternal grandmother at her house in Quezon City.   This was about a half hour to 45 minute drive in our jeep from our home in Malabon, Metro Manila. The highlight of the day was lunch consisting of dishes prepared by one or more of my aunts, Titas Con, Awing, Eyang and Loly, all of whom stayed single except for the latter. 

    My brothers, sister and a cousin with my grandmother, Lola Sepa at the living room at her house in Quezon City, Philippines.  Menchie our youngest was not born yet when this was taken.  Left ro right:  Benjie, Anton, my Lola with Chot in front of her, me, Ate Bebeng and cousin Nonie.

    My parents, Benjamin and Natividad,  and four of us siblings ( myself, Benjie, Ate Bebeng and Anton in front) by the piano at my Lola Sepa's house. 

    One of the favorite dishes served during those splendid lunches was chicken curry.  The painstaking preparation consisted of shredding the fresh coconut to be used in a sort of a sawhorse where the person sat and shredded the coconut right from its shell.  The juice then was lovingly expressed from the shredded coconut by hand.  Sometimes live chickens were butchered and dumped in boiling water to remove their feathers. 

    Although they prepared the same dishes over and over again, my aunts were always discussing how they could improve cooking the dishes better every week.  They were foodies to the max.

    I remember the taste of the Filipino chicken curry as being very simple, and less complex than a tikka masala for example.   It did not have many spices other than plain curry powder straight from a McCormick bottle.  Its texture due to the coconut milk used just had the right thickness to soak the rice.  The coconut milk also imparted that exotic but not too sweet taste.  For the final Filipino touch, patis (fish sauce) was added to balance the sweetness of the coconut milk.  So so good.  Memories of those Sundays came back when I ate the recreation of this dish using the recipe below.

    I decided to cook this dish in a slow cooker this past Sunday while I went to visit my granddaughter, Maddie, whom I have not seen for a week.  I needed my Maddie fix.  The soft texture of the chicken complemented the simple but rich tasting curry sauce.  Easy and delicious.  Perfect lunch or dinner for a busy Sunday with the family. 

    Slow Cooker Filipino Chicken Curry



    • 1 tbsp curry powder
    • 1 cup coconut milk from a can
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
    • 1 - 2 tbsp patis (fish sauce) or according to taste
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 1 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
    • 2 lbs chicken pieces (I used 8 chicken legs)

    Mix all the ingredients first in the slow cooker bowl except the chicken and then add the chicken pieces and coat them with the mixture. 

    Cook in the slow cooker at high for 4 hours or low for 8.  I cooked mine in an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker at slow cooker setting for 2 hours.

    Serve with rice and steamed vegetables.