Monday, June 29, 2015

Spinach, Strawberry and Grilled Shrimp Salad





I just had this for lunch and I am a very happy person.  This salad is really good.  I never thought I would crave for more and regretted not preparing a double or even a triple batch.  The shrimps cooked in the mixture of spices are just perfect with the spinach, strawberrry and dried cranberry salad doused with the amazing vinagrette.  Double or even triple the recipe depending on whether you are eating this as a side salad for one or as a whole meal.  Be happy and make this salad asap. 

Spinach, Strawberry and Grilled Shrimp Salad (one serving) 

Ingredients

Grilled Shrimp

  • 4 large raw shrimps, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp lime
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Vinagrette

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar or splenda
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

Salad

  • 2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 6 strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 small onion, sliced

 

1.  Heat a nonstick skillet at medium high and add the 1 tbsp olive oil.  While the oil is heating up, add the lime. cumin. coriander, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Add the shrimp and coat it thoroughly with the mixture.   Then pan grill the shrimp in the heated skillet or you can place shrimp in a skewer and cook them in your outdoor grill.

2.  Mix the ingredients of the vinagrette in a bottle with a lid and shake till thoroughly emulsified.

3.  Arrange the baby spinach, strawberries, cranberries and onion in a plate.  Pour the vinagrette and place the grilled shrimps on top.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Slow Cooker Ginger Chicken Stew (Filipino Tinola)





This is one of the Filipinos' favorite comfort food.  The chicken is cooked in ginger, garlic and onions.  Vegetables that are traditionally used in the Philippines are sturdy ones such as chayote or green papaya wedges and leafy ones like hot pepper leaves or malunggay.  When I cook this, I use instead locally available vegetables such as cabbage, spinach and plain white potatoes.  I also occasionally add banana peppers.  Feel free to use the traditional chayote and hot pepper leaves if you have access to them.  For myself, I find the vegetables I substitute satisfactory in terms of texture and taste.   

The key to the success of this dish is to saute the ginger, garlic and onions whether cooking in the stove top or slow cooker.  The mixture gives the broth of the dish its characteristic subtle heat from the ginger and its delicious comforting taste that will make you slurp the soup to warm your heart. 

Here is the slow cooker version of the Filipino Tinola. 

Slow Cooker Ginger Chicken Stew (Filipino Tinola)

Ingredients

  • 8 pieces chicken legs or thighs
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 inch ginger, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 potatoes, cut into one inch pieces
  • 1/2 cabbage, quartered
  • 10 oz spinach, fresh or frozen
  • 1 banana pepper, optional
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper (you can add more after the chicken is cooked according to taste)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce and more for dipping
1.   Heat the oil in a saute pan or directly in the slow cooker bowl if the slow cooker has a saute mode.  Add the ginger, garlic and onion until they are softened.

2.  Transfer the sauteed ginger, garlic and onion into the slow cooker bowl if using a saute pan and add the water. 

3.  Then add the chicken, potatoes, cabbage, spinach and banana pepper if using.  Season with salt, pepper and fish sauce. 

4.  Slow cook for 3 hours at high setting or 6 hours at low setting.  I used an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker where I cooked the chicken dish for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.

5.  You can serve this with rice and fish sauce on the side for dipping.

























Coconut Strawberry Ice Cream in 10 Minutes or Less



If you want ice cream right now and you do not have the time and neither do you have an ice cream maker or those expensive high powered blenders then this double baggie method is for you.  It takes only 10 minutes or less to change any milk and fruit mixture to the yummy consistency of ice cream.

You fill a gallon bag with ice and salt mixture.  Then fill a smaller quart bag with your milk and fruit mixture.  Then place the smaller quart bag into the bigger gallon bag and shake the two bags making sure the smaller bag is covered with the ice salt mixture.  You might want to cover the bag with towel so your hands will not suffer from the coldness of the ice salt.





I wanted a vegan ice cream so I used strawberry and coconut milk for my ice cream flavor but you can use any fruit and any milk combination. Both my granddaughter, Maddie and daughter, Bettina, loved the delicious result.

Coconut Strawberry Ice Cream in 10 Minutes or Less

(Adapted from this site)

Ingredients                                 

Ice cream mixture:

  • 12 strawberries, hulled and cut
  • 1 ripe banana, cut 
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp agave extract (you can skip this if your strawberries or other fruit happened to be sweet)

Double Baggie Method

  • ice
  • salt (table or rock salt with the latter being preferred but both will work)
  • ziplock gallon bags
  • ziplock quart bags


1.  Place all the ice cream ingredients in an ordinary blender and puree till mixed and homogeneous. 

2.  Place 2 cups of ice and 1 cup salt in a gallon bag.

3.  Place 1 and 1/2 cup to 2 cups of the pureed fruit mixture into quart bag and seal. (Do not add more than 2 cups)

4.  Place the sealed quart bag into the gallon bag and seal the gallon bag.  Be sure the quart bag is covered with ice salt mixture and then shake the bags.  Do not do it too vigorously or you might puncture the bags.  You can use a towel to cover the bag to protect your hands from the coldness of the ice salt mixture. 

5.  Repeat the process with new fresh bags for the next batch.  This is actually can be a good group activity for a party or family gathering with a pair preparing a bag for each pair. 












Low Carb, Low Fat Confetti Pepper Breakfast Lettuce Wrap




This breakfast hash featuring onions, green, red and yellow peppers plus jalapeno peppers for a kick is scrambled with egg beaters.  The mixture was cooked in a non skillet pan without using cooking spray or oil.  Instead I just used little water to cook first the vegetables and then poured the egg beaters into the softened vegetables and cooked it in the leftover water with stirring.  The breakfast hash is then served in lettuce leaves to make it low carb with tomato salsa.  One can also eat the hash on a tortilla if you are not do not mind a few carbs.

The seasoning of garlic powder and cumin enhance the taste of the hash so that you will not miss the saltiness or smokiness of a bacon or sausage.  This is a very satisfying and delicious not to mention healthy breakfast alternative for you and your family.  Try it!

Low Carb, Low Fat Confetti Pepper Breakfast Lettuce Wrap

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 each green, yellow and red pepper, diced (you can use any combination of pepper)
  • 1/2 to 1 piece of jalapeno, chopped  (I used sliced 6 jalapeno slices from a jar)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup egg beaters
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • salt and black pepper to taste
1.  Place the onion and green, yellow and red pepper in a non stick skillet and add water to just cover the vegetables.   Cook the vegetable mixture in boiling water till cook but not too limp. 

2.  Add the jalapeno pepper, garlic powder, cumin and black pepper to the vegetable mixture and stir.  Making sure there is a little bit of boiling water left in the pan, lower the heat and add the egg beaters and stir the egg and vegetable till the egg is cooked. 

3.  Season the cooked hash with salt. 

4.  Place the hash on top of lettuce leaf (or tortilla).  Serve with tomato salsa and low fat yogurt or low fat sour cream. 



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Picture that Moved Me


When Maddie's Mom, Wendy, uploaded this picture of Maddie in facebook, I read the comment made by her Uncle Bubut that said, "Just looking at the photo gave me a feeling of serenity".  I then made a comment, "Maybe because she was using her mommy's comforter and pillow from way back when she was that age more than thirty years ago".
And then I cried for several minutes in the middle of the night because I found the picture to be beautiful and serene as Bubut described it.   As Henry Wordsworth Longfellow says, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever". I was very happy my heart could burst.  Perhaps I am seeing not only Maddie, who we are all crazy about, but also her Mom, Wendy, my first born.

The comforter was given by Mrs. Miguel of Des Moines, IA while I was in graduate school as a shower gift for me when I was pregnant with Wendy . The pillow case was made by my sister Menchie who came with my mother for Wendy's baptism.

I kept a lot of Wendy's baby stuff including plastic toy dishes and a set of play dishes made of Tupperware from my friend Nina, a Tupperware dealer. These are Maddie's favorite toys when she comes over to our house.  She also loves to ride her Mom's "horsie horsie".  All these are more than thirty years old!

I cried possibly also because I had a wonderful though exhausting experience at the Grove City Outlet with Wendy and Maddie earlier that day this picture was taken.  I helped Wendy choose clothes and also amused Maddie at the playground while her Mom shopped.  It was exciting to see Maddie take on the slide several times and ride the quarter operated elephant that went around.  These are activities she was afraid to try on in the past.  I was very proud of her as she took baby steps to meet the challenge of overcoming her fear and enjoy her new found skills.  It was a joy to hear her laugh everytime she went down that slide.


Maddie on the elephant that went around as you dropped quarters.  She did this three times and wanted to go on it forever until others told her the horses and elephants need to rest.  That pacified her.

I will always cherish the memory of the two of us eating Harry and David's Gourmet Popcorn with the strawberry coating melting into her clothes as we sat on a bench waiting for her mom to finish shopping.   I left the popcorn in her stroller while I was watching her take the slide many times that afternoon and the chocolate and strawberry coatings melted. 

If Maddie looked happy in the picture one would not be surprized, she had a satisfying fun filled day.  The serenity that one can glean from the picture is from the innocence of a child being grateful for whatever came her way. And perhaps I cried since I was grateful for being with two persons I really loved that day, my first born and her own first born.

  

Slow Cooker Rolling Stone Spare Ribs with Kale Mashed Potatoes

 

The Rolling Stones Pittsburgh Performance during their Zip Code Tour 2015

I named these ribs after the Rolling Stones who were here in Pittsburgh, PA during their Zip Code Tour 2015.   They performed at the Heinz Stadium this past Saturday, June 20 and despite the dismal wet weather they attracted 55,000 fans to watch their impressive performance.  Luckily the rain stopped when they performed at around 9:15 pm that evening and we were able to put away our ponchos and make shift rain coats made of garbage bags for some.  Actually the rainbow appeared at around 8:30 pm after the short opening act of the AWOLNATION group.  Yes we sat through the opening act with the rain pouring. 

This is my first rock concert in many years and my second if you count the Bee Gees concert in the late 1970's at Ames, IA when I was a graduate student and I was not disappointed.  Upon hearing the first song with Mick Jagger still sprightly despite his 72 years cavorting on stage with his Jagger moves and the two guitarists, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, electrifying the audience with their incomparable guitar skills, I was totally mesmerized and forgot the long, miserable wait under the rain.

The stage at Heinz stadium with the signature Rolling Stone tongue logo.  Note the people in yellow ponchos braving the rain before the perforpmance.
The people started coming in for the main performance of the Rolling Stone.  Note the Pittsburgh zipcode beneath the logo of the Zip Code Tour.
My salute to the hardworking Mick Jagger.  He still has "it" and his moves are so delightful and unique.
The screen showing one of the original members, the drummer, Charlie Watts.
The one and only Mick Jagger.  Mick, you were awesome and truly an inspiration for this aging fan.  If you can do it so can I.

Rolling Stone Spare Ribs with Kale Mashed Potatoes

The tail gate party we had in the Red Zone parking lot near the stadium with Milyssa, me and my husband Bob featured these ribs, kale mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables and strawberry parfait for dessert.  We were lucky to park under a bridge which protected us from the drizzle that started at around 5 PM and were able to eat the tail gate fare without having to use a poncho or umbrella. 
Actually only Milyssa ate the tail gate food while Bob and I munched on the De Lallo's olives and crackers that Milyssa brought.  I ate since I could not wait while I photographed the pictures for this blog before leaving for the concert while Bob ate the ribs and mashed potatoes for his late lunch at 3 PM.  Milyssa loved every bite of the ribs and mashed potatoes.  Lucky for her she waited and delighted in eating the tail gate food as it should be eaten in the parking lot.  Shame on us who could not wait.

The sauce for the ribs is a compromise of what Bob wanted, namely just bottled barbecue sauce and my desire to have a citrusy, sweet sauce.  I just decided to combine both.  I healthy-fied the mashed potatoes with the addition of kale and I really liked the result and so did Milyssa, Bob and the rest of my family who had it the next day for Father's Day dinner with New York Strip Steak.

Here are the recipes for the Ribs and Kale Mashed Potatoes.

Slow Cooker Rolling Stone Spare Ribs

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs country pork spare ribs
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder to taste
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
1.  Mix all the ingredients in the slow cooker with a whisk except the ribs. Then add the ribs cut up or in small sections and coat with sauce.

2.  Cook for 8 hours at low or 4 hours at high setting.  I used an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker where I cooked the ribs for 3 hrs at slow cooker setting.

3.  You can eat the ribs straight from the crock pot or you can transfer the sauce in a pan to thicken the sauce and transfer it to the slow cooker to coat the ribs.  You can also grill the ribs and  use the thicken sauce to baste the ribs while grilling them.

4.  Serve with Kale Mashed Potatoes (shown below)


Kale Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 8 whole medium sized red potatoes with skins on
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup butter (you can use more)
  • 2-3 cups kale, stems removed and cut to bite size
  • salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
1.  Place the red potatoes in a pot.  Add water to cover the potatoes and cook them until they are done for around 15-20 minutes.  During the last 5 minutes, add the kale to the boiling water. 

2.  Remove the kale and set aside. 

3.  Drain the water and return the potatoes into the pan and add the butter and evaporated milk.  Using a potato masher mix the ingredients together.  Then add the kale and incorporate it to the potatoes.  Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.















Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Simple Truths from Sue Monk Kidd



This quote comes from Sue Monk Kidd, the author of the novel, "Secret Lives of Bees", that had sold 6 million copies and was in the New York Best Book List not for 2 weeks but 2 years.  This quote was the one that she decided to use at the end of the interview she gave to Oprah in her show, Super Soul Sunday.  It is a summation of her approach to life and her life itself. 

Her writings, including her novels, are laced with deep spiritual thoughts. Not surprising since Sue Monk Kidd has always been a deep, God-centered person. Of all the factors that could have influenced her to write,  it was a spiritual book, Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain, that inspired her to have the courage to write. In the interview with Oprah, she cited her mantra that life is pursuing and fulfilling ones authentic self, which is culled from Thomas Merton's spirituality.

In this particular interview she shared how she, at thirty, gave up her career in nursing and just announced to her husband one day she wanted to be a writer.  She took classes in writing thereafter and wrote three religious memoirs before she became a blockbuster novelist.  It took her 20 years before she attained this huge success that we know of now. 

When the first pages of The Secret Life of Bees were published as a short story, her mentor commented they were not fitted to be transformed to be a novel.  It took her years to ignore this disappointing comment that could have discouraged anybody from moving on to pursue what one had envisioned. We are very lucky she is not a quitter and converted that short story into this famous novel which was also the subject of a well loved movie of the same name.

Being holy and living in themselves can be daunting.  I hope the simple truths contained in this poster from Sue Monk Kidd will inspire you each day.  It is simple but so true.  I hope also that her courage to pursue her dreams and authentic self also inspires you to do the same. 

Slow Cooker Honey Orange Pork Ribs





I do not hesitate to ask restaurant personnel for the recipes of dishes that I fall in love with at their establishment.  The recipe for this easy but delicious ribs was given to me by the cook at the now closed City Buffet in Monroeville.  He did not know how to speak English so a wonderful waitress translated everything for him when I asked him for the recipe.  It was not easy but we did it and here is the result.

This dish does not contain any soy sauce which is surprising for a dish in an Asian buffet.  He did not even mentioned any salt at all in the list of ingredients.  The main ingredients for the sauce are catsup, honey, orange juice and lemon.  The combination is deadly good.

My husband ate two slabs of the baby back ribs I cooked in this sauce in the slow cooker two nights ago and he is a picky eater.  It has a subtle orangey taste that sets off the luscious taste of the ribs.  You can double the recipe of the sauce if you like especially if you will evaporate the liquid in a pan after the slow cooking process.  Straight from the slow cooker was how my husband ate these ribs.  He did microwave the dish before eating it so it helped concentrate the flavor. 

Try this simple but delectably coated pork rib recipe.  Be sure to practice portion control.  It is hard to stop eating those darn ribs. 




Slow Cooker Honey Orange Ribs

Ingredients

  • 1/4 catsup
  • 2 tbsp sugar or splenda
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (I used store bought one that came in a bottle)
  • juice of one lemon (about 3-4 tbsp)
  • 4 tbsps honey
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch in 1 tbsp water
  • drops of sriracha or hot sauce according to taste
  • 3 lbs pork ribs (I used baby back ribs but you can use other kinds) (Note 1)
1.  Combine all the ingredients except the pork ribs in a slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

2.  Add the pork ribs and try to coat them with the sauce.  You can always coat them later with the sauce later if you are adding the ribs in slabs.

3.  Cook for 4 hours at high or 8 hours at low setting in the slow cooker.  I used an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker and I cooked the ribs for 3 hours at slow cooker setting.

4.  You can eat the ribs right off the slow cooker or you can concentrate the sauce first in a pan and then coat the ribs with the thickened sauce.

5.  You can serve this with rice or pasta or potatoes (french fries or mashed or baked). Side of cold salad or steamed vegetables will be good sides.

Note

1.  I have used pork chops instead of ribs and they were just as juicy and delicious.

2.  You can deepen the orange taste with orange marmalade though I have not done this myself.  I did not have any when I prepared it. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Thai Fish Veggie Rice Bowl





Restaurants featuring rice and noodle bowl dishes are sprouting all over the world.  Be it in a mall in the countries in Asia or here in the United States.  It is however nothing new in Asian countries.  The Japanese have eaten their soba noodles in bowls and the Chinese their fried rice.  Filipinos love slurping their hot sinigang soup from bowls also. 

This recipe is one of my go to recipes for any fish fillets I have, like tilapia and haddock for example.  The Thai sauce consisting of fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar brings out the delicious taste of the fish as well as the vegetables.  One can use any variety of vegetables and aside from the ones I used in this recipe one can add eggplant and even mushrooms.  

Thai Fish Veggie Rice Bowl

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs haddock fillets, cut in 2 inch pieces (one can use also tilapia fillets or other type of fish fillets)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbsps oil
  • 1 lb green beans (cooked in the microwave)
  • 2 whole red and yellow peppers (any color will work)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 6 tbsps fish sauce
  • 2 tbsps soy sauce
  • 2 tbsps sugar or splenda
  • fresh or dry basil (optional)
  • cooked white or brown rice
1.  Combine the flour, garlic powder and black pepper in a plate.  Carefully dredge the fish in this flour mixture. 

2.  Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saute pan at medium heat and pan fry the fish till done.  Put the fish in a plate and put it aside covered with foil.

3.  Combine the red pepper flakes, fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar in a bowl and set aside. 

4.  Place 1 tbsp oil in the same skillet.  Saute the onion, garlic and peppers.  Add the cooked green beans and heat through.  Carefully place the cooked fish on top of the vegetables.

5.  Pour over the prepared sauce over the fish and into the vegetable mixtures and heat the mixture just to warm the fish.

6.  Place cooked brown or white rice in a bowl.  Place one or two pieces of the fish and vegetables to each bowl and serve.  You can place dry  or fresh basil on top. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Spanakopadilla






 

Spanakopita + Quesadilla = Spanakopadilla.  Since retiring from teaching chemistry six months ago, I have not written any equation of any type at all, whether mathematical or chemical (you know the ones which you needed to balance).  This is my first.  It is a short hand form of saying that you could get two wonderful dishes of very diverse origins in one awesome vegetarian recipe,  the irresistible crunchy Greek spanakopita and the gooey Mexican quesadillas. 

Instead of using the usual puff pastry dough, one uses tortilla, to envelop the cheesy, spinach filling found in spanakopitas.  Using tortilla instead makes this a very convenient dish to prepare.  Almost everyone has tortillas in the fridge or pantry waiting for the next soft tacos or quesadillas to be prepared for a family meal.  Plus puff pastry dough is loaded with butter so this is a healthier alternative.

This is an excellent portable lunch to go as well as a crowd pleasing appetizer.  Served with a hearty salad or soup this can definitely be part of a family meal.  So good that I am using the often repeated phrase that you hear from me, "I almost ate the whole thing". 

It is also flexible in the sense that you can use any combination of cheese you might have.  For example I used goat cheese instead of feta in the original recipe.  The herbs and spices can be fresh or dried the latter being the one I used since I did not have fresh ones.   You can also add beans and/or mushrooms to increase the nutritional value of the dish which I have done at one time. 

I have to thank a a friend of mine, Sheila, who I met at the now closed Monroeville Curves for this wonderful recipe.  We frequently exchanged recipes, healthy or otherwise, while doing the exercise circuit at this health club and this is the one I promised myself to share if ever I had a blog.  You will love it.
 
Sheila who provided the wonderful recipe.  We used to go to the now closed Monroeville Curves where members frequently exchanged recipes.

Spanakopadilla

(Adapted from a recipe provided by my friend Sheila)

Ingredients

  • 4-5 tbsps. olive oil
  • 1 (9oz.) bag baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup. finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup. minced scallions
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh dill (I used dried lemon dill)
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley (I used dried parsley)
  • 2/3 C. crumbled feta (I used goat cheese)
  • 4 (8 in.) flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded whole milk mozzarella (do increase the amount if you want it extra gooey)
1.  Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush a large heavy baking sheet with 1 tbsp. of the oil or you can spray it with cooking spray.   Set it aside. 

2.  Add 2 tbsp oil to a large nonstick skillet that has been warmed over medium heat. Add the spinach and saute it until it is just wilted, about 2 min. Transfer the spinach to a plate to cool, about 10 min.

3. While the spinach is cooling, add another 1 tbsp. of the oil to the skillet, then add the onion, scallions, and garlic. Saute them until they have softened, about 2 to 3 min. Let them cool in the pan for about 10 min.

4.  Lightly beat the egg in a medium bowl, then whisk in the salt, pepper, nutmeg, dill, and parsley. Stir in the cooled onion mixture. Gently squeeze handfuls of the spinach over the sink to remove the excess moisture. Add the spinach to the bowl, then add feta or goat cheese stirring gently to combine the ingredients.

5.   Arrange the tortillas on a work surface. Sprinkle a generous tablespoon of the mozzarella over half of each tortilla. Top the mozzarella with a quarter of the spinach mixture.  Distribute it evenly and leave a thin border at the edge. Sprinkle another generous tablespoon of the mozzarella over the spinach, then fold over the other half of each tortilla. Set them on the baking sheet and brush the tops and edges with the remaining oil or you can spray them with cooking spray.

6.  Bake the spanakopadillas on the top rack for 10 min. Remove them from the oven, flip them over, and let them rest bottom side up on a cutting board for 5 min. Cut each tortilla into thirds.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Vegan Orange Ginger Glazed Tofu

 

I love this dish! So good I almost ate the whole recipe in one seating.  I had something similar when I ate at the super buffet place in the Philippines, Banzai.  Instead of falling in love with all the delicious, exotic Asian food in this Japanese restaurant, this was the dish that I could not get off my mind.  I just had to have it when I arrived here in the States. 
 
Part of buffet offerings at Banzai, Manila, Philippines

I found this recipe in about.com.  The tofu took the place of chicken in a similar dish found in most Chinese restaurants.  I did not change anything in this excellent recipe except for the amount of ginger and cornstarch which I doubled.  I tell you non vegan guys,  you will not miss the chicken.  You will be hooked on tofu once you taste this.
 


Vegan Orange Ginger Glazed Tofu

(Adapted from about.com)

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 block firm or extra-firm tofu, well pressed (see Note 1) and diced into cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (see note 2)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water

1.  Saute the tofu and garlic in olive oil for 3-4 minutes, until the tofu is just lightly browned.

2.  In a bowl whisk together the soy sauce, orange juice, rice vinegar, marmalade and ginger.

3.  Add the sauce to the tofu and heat for 3-4 minutes with stirring so as to coat the tofu with the sauce.

4.  Add the cornstarch and water slurry to the tofu in the pan and allow the
mixture to boil until the sauce thickens.

5.  Serve over rice.  I suggest that you double the recipe.  This tofu with rice is so addictive you will be left with nothing to share with your loved ones.

Notes:

1. See a past blog post on two ways to press tofu. 

2. Though I used the 3 tbsps of soy sauce, I feel you can lower this amount to two tbsps. 

Slow Cooker Easy Hot and Sour Soup


 
Hot and Sour Soup is my friend Lena's favorite when we go out to eat at the Chinese buffets in Monroeville.  She always starts her meal with this soup and she always requests me to ladle mostly the solid goodies in it and less of the broth. 
 
Lena has not been able to see for almost two decades now and she relies on others to help her including when she eats out.  She has been my Chinese buffet buddy so I know exactly what to get her.  The soup is usually followed by crab rangoon, fried chicken wings, an egg roll, baked mussels and General Tso's chicken.  For dessert, she will have tapioca and some fruit.
 
She fell just a month or so ago but she has maintained her appetite.  Lena loves to eat.  This past week Lena was brought to the hospital again since she was not feeling well.   I wanted to visit her after I attended Mass.  I prepared this easy hot and sour soup in the slow cooker before I left for church  so it would be conveniently ready to be brought to her during my visit.  When I visited her at the hospital yesterday I was happy to see her skin color with the healthy hue had come back. I am not sure if she was able to eat the soup since I left for another church function before her lunch but her granddaughter, Gianna, who ate it even though I warned her it was spicy, liked it.  I left the hospital happy since Lena was looking good and very eager and hopeful to eat the soup for lunch.
 
I based the recipe on the one done on the stove top that I found in cooks.com.  It featured ingredients I happened to have on hand.  Mushrooms, bamboo shoots, cooked pork, tofu and chili paste for the heat.  I found the amounts of most of the ingredients too meager and doubled most of them to make the soup more robust like one would find in a good Chinese buffet.  I wanted the hot and sour soup to be filled with those goodies like Lena would want.  I kept the amount of chili paste and other spices the same as the original recipe. 
 
This is a very easy recipe to use if one has a craving for the popular and satisfying hot and sour soup.  It is very convenient for days like a Sunday since you will have a good, robust soup for your lunch or dinner waiting for you when you come back from church. 
 


Slow Cooker Easy Hot and Sour Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken stock (or 4 cups water and 4 chicken bouillon cubes)
  • 3 tbsps soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic chili paste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cooked pork (or chicken)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2/3 cup canned bamboo shoots
  • 6 oz tofu, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup water chestnuts, diced (optional)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 green onion stalks, diced (including tops)
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1.  Place the first six ingredients in the slow cooker and mix them with a whisk or fork.  Add the pork, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and tofu and cook for 3 hours at high or 6 hours at low. I used an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker and cooked the soup for 2 hours a slow cooker setting.

2.  At the end of cooking time, slowly add the beaten egg in a fine stream into the hot soup.  Then stir soup several times.

3.  Add the green onions and sesame oil to individual bowls before serving the hot soup. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Slow Cooker Asian Chicken Barbecue


 

This barbecue chicken recipe has an Asian flavor of sweetness from the 7-Up or Sprite or pineapple juice, catsup and sugar, the saltiness from the soy sauce plus the tang from the lemon juice.  The garlic and red pepper flakes complete the flavor of this simple but delicious dish.  The slow cooking actually saves you time since you are actually marinating the chicken as you slow cook it.  Thus skipping the marinating process that is the norm for most Asian type barbecue chicken.  Chicken with the bone are also hard to thoroughly cook and the slow cooking process assures you that you safely cook your chicken with no uncooked portions especially near the bones. 

You can eat this chicken dish straight from the crockpot.  You do have an option to grill, broil, pan fry or bake the chicken using the ample delicious sauce as basting material.  Enjoy this with your family and friends.  They will love you for preparing this delicious dish next time you have your picnic.   

 

Slow Cooker Asian Chicken Barbecue

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup tomato catsup
  • 1/2 can 7-Up or Sprite or 3 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or according to taste
  • 4 lbs chicken thighs or legs or both
1. Place all the ingredients except the chicken in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.  Then add the chicken pieces and coat them with the mixture.

2.  Slow cook for 3 hours at high setting or 6 hours at low setting.  I used an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker where I cook the chicken for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.

3.  You can eat the chicken straight from the slow cooker with rice.  You can also broil the chicken with some sauce on top (I used this process for preparing the chicken in the pictures above) or pan fry in the sauce or bake the chicken basting it with the sauce.  If you have the grill on, you can spray the chicken with Pam spray or brush with oil first then grill the chicken using the sauce to baste it.  Microwaving the chicken with sauce can also concentrate the sauce giving it a deep sweet BBQ flavor.  What ever method you use to finish off the chicken will go real fast since you have now marinated it during the slow cooking process as well as thoroughly cooked the chicken. 

Note:
Straight from the slow cooker, rice and steamed vegetables or ramen noodles with vegetables are good sides.  Broiled etc, the bbq chicken will go with french fries or potato salad or even mac and cheese.  To balance it off have green salad with the bbq chicken. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Microwaved Fruit and Nuts Rice Krispie Treats





Portable, really delicious and nutritious.  If you need a bar that will give you the energy you need as well as satisfy your sweet tooth or hunger till the next meal these treats fill the bill.

The fat content was lowered by using some banana for what would have been more peanut butter plus it gave the treats added sweetness and flavor.  You can choose the nuts and berries you want.  They give added nutritional value to the bar aside from the protein powder.  They do increase the calories but they are not empty ones.

I prefer to store them in little plastic containers rather than plastic baggies since they are still not as hard as the store bought bars..  Or one can cover them with aluminum foil.  They are firm enough so you can store them in your handbag and needs no refrigeration to keep its shape and texture.    It is really awesomely delicious.  Portion control please. 

 

Microwaved Fruit and Nuts Rice Krispie Treats


Ingredients:


1/4 cup Splenda or sugar
1/4 cup Agave
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 of a banana, mashed
3 cups Rice Krispies
2 tbsp cashew nuts or other nuts
2 tbsp dried cranberries or other dried fruit
1 tbsp mini chocolate chips
2 tbsp protein whey powder, optional (chocolate flavored or other flavor you like)

Microwave the Splenda or sugar and Agave until the Splenda dissolves. 

Meanwhile thoroughly mix the mashed banana and peanut butter and add them to the Splenda and Agave mixture. 

Add the Rice Krispies, nuts, cranberries, chocolate chips and protein powder to the mixture and thoroughly mix them together so the ingredients are distributed equally throughout. 

Place in a glass loaf pan lined with wax paper and microwave for 2 minutes at 80 % power or until the mixture hardens enough but not brittle nor rubbery.  Cool and cut to bars or squares.