Wednesday, August 31, 2016


"Not either or but

more"*.  Night and day. Strong and weak.

Good and bad. All one.

* From Divergent by Veronica Roth.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with General Tso's Sauce (one step)

This is a one step version of the previous Slow Cooker General Tso's Chicken recipe I posted a while back. The original recipe consisted of two steps.  After the slow cooking process, the chicken pieces were further pan fried to crisp the chicken breast to give that characteristic crunchiness of General Tso's chicken.  I decided to try to skip that second step in this version and find out if I will be happy with the results.  I would say I was.  Proof of how good it was, my granddaughter, Maddie, was very upset when her mom ate all what I shared with them last night.  I already knew she liked it when she ate this first at my house before I brought her home.  Picky Maddie ate it!  I am posting this recipe for her mom and all of you.

Maddie ready for her first day of gymnastic this fall.  

The sauce which is exactly like that of the original recipe except for the absence of cornstarch had the unmistakable General Tso's taste.  The only difference between the two recipes is I dredged the chicken thighs in the flour mixture hoping that the flour coating would envelop the chicken and also thicken the sauce. It actually barely did.  The liquid given off by the chicken during the cooking diluted the sauce.  If you have time you can transfer the slow cooked chicken in a saute pan and evaporate some of the liquid in the sauce to thicken it.  I did not.  The sauce is spot on and just as addicted, the texture was secondary to me.  My craving for this dish was satisfied,

This is a good alternative for the original recipe when you are in a hurry like I was but had to have the craving for that General Tso's sauce with your chicken satisfied conveniently.

Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with General Tso's Sauce (one step)

Based on Slow Cooker Healthier General Tso's Chicken

  • 8 chicken thighs or legs or a mixture.
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder

General Tso's Sauce 

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp sugar or splenda
  • 3 tbsp orange marmalade (I used sugar free)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
Combine the flour, salt, black pepper and garlic powder in a bowl.  Generously dredge the chicken thighs in the flour mixture. You can save the rest of the leftover flour mixture.  

In another bowl, mix the ingredients to make the sauce.

Place the floured chicken thighs in the slow cooker and add the sauce over it. Coat the thighs in the sauce.

Cook at high for 4 hours or at low setting for 8 hours.  I cooked mine in an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.  You can thicken further the sauce by in a saute pan if you like.

Serve over rice.  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Baked Pepper Pierogie Casserole

Are you looking for an easy and a crowd pleaser of a casserole?  This is the dish to fall back on. You just need a couple of packages of frozen pierogies thawed or better yet some homemade ones if available and pour your favorite marinara or pasta sauce over it.  For more flavor throw in some sausages and green or red or yellow peppers and you are good to go to your next pot luck.

I happen to have some homemade pierogies that I bought from our church. The cheese potato filling was prepared by Sharon Torick and the dough from Sharon's recipe was made by volunteers from our church who mixed the ingredients, flattened out the dough, shaped them into circles and crimped the edges. Another group boiled the pierogies, drained them and packaged them for sale as a fundraiser.  We made about two hundred dozens in two days as a group.  I actually made the circles. Here are some photos from the pierogie making party (it is always a party when women and men from our church gather!).

These homemade pierogies are good cooked in butter topped with sauteed onions but I wanted a healthier way to serve them and I came up with this recipe.  Note no butter was used and vegetables were added plus nutritious good old tomatoes.

I brought this to a pot luck and the guests gave it a thumbs up.  I might add my picky taster, my husband Bob, gave the big OK too.

Baked Pepper Pierogie Casserole

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow or red pepper, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 pieces smoked sausage, cut into cubes (about a cup) (optional)
  • 24 potato cheese pierogies (homemade or from a package)
  • 1-24 oz jar marinara or pasta sauce
  • cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Heat the oil in a saute pan at medium heat. Add the pepper and onion in the heated oil in the pan and saute till the vegetables are crisp.  

Spray a 13 x 9 glass pan or other casserole dish with cooking spray. Distribute the pierogies on the casserole dish.  Pour the marinara or pasta sauce over the pierogies.  Distribute the sauteed vegetables and sausage cubes (if using). Cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Trusting Nature

Allow the pull of

gravity. You can rise up.

Wiser from the fall.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


According to Richard Rohr, we can only be whole if we accept our imperfections. God loves us unconditionally so why should we not do the same with ourselves..

I only found inner peace these past few years when I learned to forgive myself when I say the wrong thing or make the wrong move in a situation.  I used to dread going through the day's events at night before I sleep since I would be feeling so small having said this or done that.

It does not mean I am not sorry for what I have done but I am embracing more my being human and not too hard on myself. My imperfections are part and parcel of my whole self. I have found more peace as I end the day and also in starting a new day when I have lived with my whole self with all its dings.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

View from a Window

View from my brother's house in Malabon City, Philippines.

Busy, simple charm.

Tricycles hum. Treats hanging

in stores.  Vendors with carts.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Zucchini Cranberry Walnut Salad

I have this love fest for Aldi's Grocery Little Salad Bar brand Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad shown below. When my sisters, Bebeng and Menchie (shown below with Maddie my granddaughter) came for a visit this month, they also found this salad irresistible.  So much so they made sandwiches out of this salad to take with them on their airplane ride to Los Angeles.  Luckily they left me with one full container of this awesome salad which I ate with gusto.

I had been off my plant based diet when my dear sisters were here and I have decided to go back to this approach to eating.  For one thing I have not had a cold or flu since I adapted this way of eating and I want to stick to it.  I am a believer.  Anyway I could not get this chicken salad off my mind especially during lunch. What is key to this salad is the combination of the ingredients and I thought that as long as I could mimic the delicious dressing, substituting some kind of veggie with a crunch for the chicken might work.

I resorted to using good old zucchini.  It has a neutral taste and good crunchy texture.  I added nuts, walnut, in this recipe and dried cranberries that give the salad its distinct personality and deliciousness. I used light Miracle Whip but one can use plant based mayo.  I just have this love fest with Miracle Whip. I added rice vinegar which gave the dressing an added tang.

Did I miss the chicken?  Of course there is nothing like having chicken pieces but you know what with the delicious dressing, the nuts, cranberries and crunch of the zucchini, you will fall in love with this vegetarian version like I did. Try it.

Zucchini Cranberry Walnut Salad

  • 1 large zucchini, cubed 
  • 1/2 cup walnut
  • 1/2 cup sweet dried cranberries
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup light Miracle Whip
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  Serve over lettuce or over lettuce lined bread or as it is as a salad.

Looking into the Future

Palawan (Philippines) Underground River, voted one of the seven natural wonders of the world.  


is the thrill. Uncertainty

of what lies ahead.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Entitled Creatures

Royal Garden, Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Cross the road anytime, 

anywhere with attitude.

Dignified, royal. 

Slow Cooker Barbecue Honey Glazed Pork Ribs


I love glazed ribs especially the ones they serve at the Fortune Star Buffet at the Miracle Mile Mall in Monroeville PA. This one in this post comes close. It was conveniently prepared in the slow cooker. I actually adapted the recipe from the one my daughter used for chicken wings. She obtained it from BuzzFeed where oven baking was used twice in the procedure. This recipe uses a one step dump and forget it approach and it worked.

The ribs were tastefully coated with the sauce and I did not feel the need to bake it to caramelize the glaze though one could. The gooey honey barbecue mixture was thickened by the flour spice blend and successfully stuck to the ribs.  This is an easy delicious recipe for a family gathering or a large crowd.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Honey Glazed Pork Ribs

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 lbs country pork ribs (I used boneless)
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
Mix the flour, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl. Dredge the ribs in the flour spice mixture. Place the ribs in the slow cooker. Add the barbecue sauce and honey. Cook for 3 hours at high or 6 hours at low. I cooked mine in an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Lumpiang Hubad or Filipino Lettuce Wrap

This is the Filipino version of the lettuce wrap.  This vegetable dish is actually the naked version of the Filipino Fresh Lumpia.  It is fresh since it is not fried like the Fried Filipino Lumpia or egg roll.

The regular Fresh Lumpia is the Filipino take on wraps.  We use either the spring roll lumpia wrappers from the frozen section of the Asian store or a crepe like egg wrapper made on a skillet.  Two very different wrappers with the same type of filling of chopped vegetables and if you wish meat or shrimps or both.

In this version of fresh lumpia, my sister Menchie made a naked version sans any wrappers during her recent visit in Pittsburgh.  In lieu of the wrapper, romaine lettuce is used.
Menchie with Fallingwater at the background.
This is a vegetarian dish. The essential vegetables in this dish is the green beans and sweet potatoes.  These two set this fresh lumpia apart from the other chop chop salads or lettuce wraps and give the dish its Filipino flavor. You can add chickpeas if you like for added protein.  The sauce we use has that slight salty mainly sweet flavor that brings out the flavor of the mixed vegetables used.

Lumpiang Hubad or Filipino Lettuce Wrap

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and julienned
  • 1 cup baby carrots, julienned
  • 3 cups green beans, sliced into small cubes
  • 3 stalks celery sliced diagonally
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Romaine lettuce leaves, separated and washed
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Saute the vegetables in the heated pan till cooked. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste. Place the sauteed vegetable in individual Romaine lettuce. Serve with the lumpia sauce. 

Lumpia Sauce

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch in 2 tbsp water
Mix the four ingredients in a sauce pan and allow to boil. Add the cornstarch in water to the mixture and allow to boil till mixture thickens. 


Ohiopyle Park, PA.

Flow like the river.

Glide serenely through the rocks.

It is what it is.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Chicken Breast with Vegetables in Oyster Sauce

My two sisters from Los Angeles came to visit for a couple of weeks here in Pittsburgh.  Both are excellent cooks who helped prepare dishes for my grandson Luca's baptism celebration.

One of the food they prepared was Chicken in Oyster Sauce.  It is a simple dish loaded with vegetables concocted by my sister, Bebeng or Josie.  It is an excellent addition to your buffet for any family gathering.  Easy with short list of ingredients.  You can add other vegetables like snow peas or broccoli and even mushrooms if you like.  

My two sisters, Menchie on far Left and Bebeng or Josie on far right. 
Menchie and Bebeng at the Rivers Casino
Menchie and Bebeng at the Pennsylvania Macaroni Store in the Strip District

Chicken Breast with Vegetables in Oyster Sauce

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 inch fresh ginger peeled and minced
  • 3 lb chicken breast cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup oyster sauce
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 yellow and/or red peppers, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch in 4 tbsp water
Heat oil in a large saute pan at medium heat. Saute the ginger.  Add the chicken and saute till cooked. Add the oyster sauce with stirring. Add the vegetables till cooked but still crispy. Add the cornstarch in water mixture. Continue to cook till sauce thickens.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Architecture fused

with nature. Spectacular

marriage of beauty.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Linquine with Lemon Almond Cheese

This is a plant based version of creamy linguine.  I used homemade almond cheese for the sauce.  I spiced up the dish by first sauteing jalapenos and garlic in as little olive oil as possible.  I then added the almond cheese (see photo below) I made and added the rest of the ingredients. 

I like the lemony taste of the almond cheese over the linguine.  It gives it a refreshing taste coupled with the kick from the jalapenos and garlic mixture.  It is a welcome change from the usual regular cream laden linguine.  

Linguine with Almond Cheese

  • 8 oz cooked linguine (save 1 cup pasta water)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 12 pieces bottled jalapeno
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 cup almond cheese (recipe below)
  • 1 cup pasta water you saved
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp dry onion flakes
  • 1 tbsp dry garlic flakes
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Saute the jalapeno and garlic in the oil at medium heat.  Add the rest of the ingredients and heat through.

Lemon Almond Cheese

  • 1 1/2 cups almond 
  • 1 cup water
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
Place all the ingredients in the blender and mix for 5 minutes till creamy.