Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Then and Now



To the museum
she went. Met T-Rex with her
puppie. Both impressed.



Sunday, June 25, 2017

Slow Cooker Sour Cream Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes




I asked my husband what he wanted for lunch today and he requested no frills ham.  I have to think of a potato side dish to go with it and this is what I came up with.  He gave it a two thumbs up.

It is a slow cooker scalloped potatoes which I thought was better than any sour cream boxed one I have had before.  It is made from readily available ingredients in your fridge.  This was inspired by a recipe I found in the getcrocked.com website.  I tweaked it into this simpler form. I used sour cream instead of the cream cheese in the recipe and also used dry onion and garlic powder for convenience. I mixed all the ingredients in the crock pot bowl to minimize on dishes to wash.  I also added cornstarch to thicken the sauce.  For the cheese I chose mozzarella but you can use which you have or prefer.  This cheese paired well with the sour cream to make a white creamy sauce.  Beautiful and oh so delicious.

Slow Cooker Sour Cream Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 lbs Idaho potatoes, peeled and sliced
Butter the bowl of the crock pot.  Place all the ingredients except the potatoes in the crock pot.  Mix thoroughly with a spoon.  Place the potatoes on top of the mixture.  Cook on high for 3 hours or 6 hours on low.  I cooked mine in an Aroma Brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.  You can sprinkle with dried parsley on top if you wish.




Saturday, June 24, 2017

Like a Sponge




My heart was. Soaking
the sadness, sorrow of friends'
loss of a loved one.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Be a Mystic







Don't just see, or just
reason it out. Experience 
it.  Take it all in.




Spinach Strawberry Salad with Chia Seed Dressing



Everybody loves a spinach strawberry salad especially during summer and if you have it at Eat and Park Restaurant around here in Pittsburgh you love it even more because of the dressing.  They do use a sweet sesame seed one.  Since I did not sesame seeds that had not expired in the pantry, I decided to add instead chia seeds.  The seeds was pretty neutral in its taste but when it comes to nutrtional value it packs a punch. Try this for a change and your body would love it.

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Chia Seed Dressing


  • 1-8 oz bag spinach leaves
  • 4-6 stawberries, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced and placed in cold water
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 recipe chia seed dressing (recipe below)
Arrange the ingredients in four salad bowls and pour dressing on top.

Chia Seed Dressing


  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp sugar or other type of sweetener
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients in a blender.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Be Grateful




Gratitude will make
you live in the moment and
forget the future.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Stir Fried Vegetables with Citrusy Brown Sauce





I decided to give the usual stir fried vegetables a twist by adding orange juice to the brown sauce that it is mixed with.  It gives a tangy and refreshing taste to the dish.  You can use any vegetables you have to stir fry. I used little oil and added vegetable broth to help to cook the vegetables. I also cooked the vegetables starting with the onion, garlic and ginger and then started with the vegetables that need more time to cook. You want the vegetables to be cooked but still crispy. I added baby corn and straw mushrooms to make it the way most Chinese restaurants do it.  Why not but you can skip them.

Stir Fried Vegetables with Citrusy Brown Sauce

Vegetables

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups baby carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 head of cabbage, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1-15 oz can baby corn, drained and cut in half
  • 1-15 oz can straw mushrooms, drained
Sauce
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or large saute pan.  Add the onion, ginger and garlic.  Saute till the onion is transparent. Add the baby carrots, celery and broth to the mixture.  Allow the mixture to boil till the vegetables have cooked but still crisp.  Add the cabbage and continue to boil till cabbage is cooked. Add the green and red pepper and continue to boil to cook the vegetables.  Add the baby corn and straw mushrooms. Add the sauce and mix until the sauce thickens.  Eat over rice or noodles.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Paula's Prayer Meeting June 13, 2017




The handout above gives beautiful reflections on each of the person in the two Trinities.

I would like to quote the following from Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation on the Trinity which he considers to be a Dance, "relational, open and creative". Understanding it will help us learn to know ourselves and to live from the "bottom up" and in a nondualistic manner.

Niels Bohr, the Danish physicist who was a major contributor to quantum physics and nuclear fission, said the universe is “not only stranger than we think, but stranger than we can think.” Our supposed logic has to break down before we can comprehend the nature of the universe and the bare beginnings of the nature of God. I think the doctrine of the Trinity is saying the same thing. The “principle of three” breaks down all dualistic either-or thinking and sets us on a dynamic course of ongoing experience.
There are some things that can only be known experientially, and each generation must learn them for themselves. The “prayer of quiet” is a most simple and universal path. Of all the religious rituals and practices I know of, nothing will lead us to that place of nakedness and vulnerability more than regular experiences of solitude and silence, where our ego identity falls away, where our explanations don’t mean anything, where our superiority doesn’t matter and we have to sit there in our naked “who-ness.”
If God wants to get through to us, and the Trinitarian Flow wants to come alive in us, that’s when God has the best chance. God is not only stranger than we think, but stranger than the logical mind can think. Perhaps much of the weakness of the first two thousand years of reflection on the Trinity, and many of our doctrines and dogmas, is that we’ve tried to do it with a logical mind instead of with prayer. The belief in God as a Trinity is saying God is more an active verb than a stable noun. You know it in the flow of life itself.
Adapted from The Shape of God: Deepening the Mystery of the Trinity 
(CDDVDMP3)

The Daily Meditations for 2013 are now available
in Fr. Richard’s new book Yes, And . . . .

Give a CAC Bookstore certificate, an invitation to transformation and peace.

Strawberry Muffin in a Mug Using Homemade Pancake Mix



Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you want a muffin. And quick.  You want not just any muffin but a fruit filled one. This is it.  It was that kind of morning today so I decided to even make it easier by using my big batch homemade pancake mix I made two days ago. The recipe is provided below. Using this, I at least whittle down the number of ingredients I needed to five excluding the fruit.

I based this recipe loosely on the coffee cake one I found in the blog Chocolate Covered Katie except I substituted my homemade pancake mix for some of the ingredients. I also skipped the streusel topping in the coffee cake recipe and mixed strawberries to the batter instead.



Strawberry Muffin in a Mug from Homemade Pancake Mix



  • 3 tbsp Homemade Pancake Mix (recipe for Big and One  Batch are shown below)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp water
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 strawberry cut into pieces
Mix the pancake mix and the sugar right in the mug or cup.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with a fork.  Add the strawberry pieces and mix.

Microwave for 1 minute at high setting. (I used a 1100 watt microwave oven).  


One Batch Homemade Pancake Mix


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  


Big Batch Homemade Pancake Mix

  • 10 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
Mix all the ingredients in a large container with a large spoon and replace the cap and shake well.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Time Flies




Life passes by so
fast. Relish what's there now so
in your mind it'll last.





Tofu Pineapple Lettuce Wrap



This is an easy and refreshing salad or entree to prepare for lunch or dinner or for your next picnic.

The tofu glazed with the Hoisin sauce and topped with the crunchy Panko crumbs combined with the sweet tangy pineapple will make you feel like you are in the beach somewhere. Refreshing and so easy to prepare.



Tofu Pineapple Lettuce Wrap


  • 1 block firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup Panko crumbs
  • 1- 14 oz can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 red pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 6 Romaine lettuce leaves
  • Salsa

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a small baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Pat dry the tofu with a paper towel. Cut the tofu across the block into three rectangular pieces. 

Spread one side of each tofu piece with the Hoisin sauce and then dredge into the Panko crumbs. Flip the piece and do the same to the other side.

Place the tofu in the baking pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes till brown and firm.

Cut the tofu into cubes and use to assemble the lettuce wrap together with the pineapple and red pepper. Serve with salsa.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Thai Napa Cabbage




Simple, easy and comforting vegetable side dish.  One pot convenience with short list of ingredients. The addition of the peanut butter to the coconut milk is what gives it that Thai flavor.  To keep it vegan, I avoided using fish sauce and opted to utilizing salt.  It still works.  So comforting.

Thai Napa Cabbage


  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1-inch ginger, minced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, about 2 cups
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • about 20 napa cabbage leaves, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 tsp salt to taste
  • 3 pieces dried chili pepper, crushed or 1/2 tp 1 tsp red pepper flakes

Heat the coconut oil to medium heat in a saute pan.  Saute the ginger, garlic and onion in the heated oil.  Add the curry powder.  Saute the vegetables and spice till onion is translucent.  Add the coconut milk and  heat through.  Add the peanut butter.  Add the napa cabbage.  Season with salt.  Add the chili pepper.

Serve over rice.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Empathy



A listening ear
all was needed and the shame,
secret was no more.



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Connections










All that matters in
life are the relationships

we make with God, all.






Sunday, June 4, 2017

Slow Cooker Hoisin Chicken



Easy dish to prepare.  Two ingredients!  How simpler can it gets.

I have heard of brining boned in chicken or its parts or boiling it in salted water or whatever herbs before deep frying.  This helps shorten the deep frying time and also ensures the chicken is totally cooked.  For me the slow cooker sort of takes care of the brining and boiling of the chicken.  This time I used the marinade itself.  I then baked it rather than deep frying it.  It took only just 15 minutes to crisp the skin and outer flesh.

Slow Cooker Hoisin Chicken


  • 3 lbs chicken legs
  • 6 tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • 6 tbsp water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit if wishing to do the baking after the slow cooking.

Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker.  Cook for 3 hours at high or 6 hours at low setting.  I cooked mine for 2 hours in an Aroma Brand rice cooker/slow cooker at slow cooker setting.  You can eat the dish as is over rice or you can do the next step.

Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.  Remove the chicken pieces without the sauce from the slow cooker and spray each chicken piece on both sides with cooking spray and place in the prepared pan.  Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

You can eat the baked chicken with or without the sauce from the slow cooker.  Perfect with rice or noodle dish.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Mother's Memories




Delicate yet strong
like the lilies, the daughter
taken oh too soon.


Note: Photo taken of the little garden patch created in memory of a friend's daughter.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Chickpea Spinach Curry





Freshly cooked rice is such an appetite and craving builder.  That was what happened this morning.  I just have to have something curried with it. Nothing is easier than making this dish to satisfy this craving.  It is also healthy and vegan and can be prepared in less than 15 minutes.  To increase the nutritional value of the dish, I added spinach to the curried chickpeas. It actually helps in mellowing the richness of the dish.  I kept the list of ingredients short and simple since I really wanted my rice pronto with something curried and this dish fitted the bill perfectly.

Chickpea Spinach Curry

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 -16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup coconut milk from a can
  • 1/2 of an 8 oz bag of ready to eat spinach
Heat the coconut oil in a medium saute pan.  Add the onion and garlic.  Then add the curry powder.  When the onion gets translucent add the chickpeas and the coconut milk.  Heat the mixture through to blend the flavors.  Then add the spinach and continue to heat to barely wilt the spinach.

Serve over rice.  Yum.



Brother Sun






You lift my spirit.
Set the day right. My mood is
light, happy and bright.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Happiness





Comes from the inside.
Not from the outside. Peace, strength
from trusting in Him.




Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Warm Unspoken Hello





The glint in the eye.
The joy in the surprised face.
And the widest smile.




Saturday, May 27, 2017

Microwaved Gluten Free Bean Thread Noodles







This is an easy noodle dish to accompany your stir fried or steamed vegetables or dumplings or any meat dish for that matter.  It takes three ingredients and 10 minutes cooking in the microwave.

It uses Saifun or bean thread noodles from the Asian Store. The noodles are made from mung bean, starch, potato starch and water.  It is a good gluten free noodle dish and serves as another option aside from rice sticks noodles. It is glassy looking and has a slippery texture when cooked. It absorbs easily the soy sauce or other sauce you add to it. The bean thread noodles come in bundles.  I used all three bundles from the packet I bought but you can just use one packet and adjust the amounts of the other ingredients accordingly.

I simplified the preparation of this dish and just relied on the addition of dry minced garlic from a bottle. One can add ginger powder if you wish but the garlic is sufficient.







This is an easy, delicious and highly satisfying dish to prepare.  Perfect accompaniment to any meal, Chinese, American etc. Next time you need a side dish in your meal, try this.

Microwaved Gluten Free Bean Thread Noodles

  • 1- 5.29 oz packet Saifun or Bean Thread Noodles ( three bundles) (from Asian Store)
  • water
  • 2-3  tbsp soy sauce
  • 1-2  tsp dry minced garlic (I used McCormick brand)
  • 1/8 tsp ginger powder (optional)
  • black pepper to taste
Place the three bundles of bean thread noodles in a microwave safe bowl.  Add just enough water as to cover the top of the bean thread noodles so that the noodles are submerged.  Microwave for 10 minutes at 100 percent power setting. I used a 1100 watt microwave oven.  You know it is done when the noodles absorb the water and plumped up and get soft and edible.

Add the soy sauce, minced garlic, ginger powder if using and black pepper to the noodles and mix.

Serve with any steamed vegetables or stir fried vegetables.  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Filipino Fried or Grilled Pork Chop


Filipinos love to pair up Sinigang, a soup cooked in tamarind, with fried or grilled pork chop.

During my stay at my sister, Bebeng's house in Los Angeles, I had Sinigang with grilled pork during the celebration of Mama Sol's death and the fried version this past Saturday.

My sister's recipe is very simple using only five ingredients or four if you are grilling. The amounts of the ingredients are to taste. It is very forgiving so relax, it will work.

Shown below are photos I took of her cooking the fried version.

Pork chops are allowed to marinate for an hour (or more).

The pork chops are fried in oil.

My sister Bebeng frying the pork chop while boiling the Sinigang na Hipon this past Saturday. This was supposed to be our detox meal after Las Vegas derailed by the pork chop.

Here is the photo of the mouth watering result.

We love to eat the pork chop with vinegar with chile pepper as a condiment. Shown above is an array of different types of vinegar.


My plate with fried pork chop, rice and shrimp from bowl of Sinigang shown  behind the plate. Heavenly!

Below are photos of my brother in law, Bubut, cooking the pork chops in the grill.





Filipino Fried or Grilled Pork Chop

  • Pork chops
  • Patis or fish sauce
  • Juice of lemon
  • Garlic
  • Black pepper
  • Oil (if preparing the fried version)

Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a bowl or large zip lock bag. Marinate for one hour or overnight in the fridge.

If frying, heat the oil in large pan and fry the pork chop without the marinade.

If grilling, cook the pork chop on top of the heated grill turning the pork chop now and then till cook on both sides.

Serve with rice and side of vinegar with chili pepper.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tempura Shrimp Chalupa





I had this chalupa last night towards the end of a wonderful stay at Los Angeles at my sister Bebeng's house. It was prepared by my other sister Menchie who wanted to make a point it would be better than anything I could eat in any Mexican place. Boy is she right!

The crunchiness and flavor of the deep fried tortilla and the tempura coated shrimp with the accompanying vegetables made the chalupa spectacular.

Nothing beats something fried anytime and the deep fried tortilla proves it. It takes the chalupa a notch higher than the non fried shrimp taco which uses just tortilla straight from package. The taco is also amazing but the chalupa is the bomb.

I prefer flour tortilla over corn but one can use either one. Prepared tempura mix was used according to package instructions as the batter to coat the shrimp.










Tempura Shrimp Chalupa

( Recipe courtesy of my sister Menchie)

  • Shrimp
  • Tempura mix from grocery or Asian store
  • 6- inch flour or corn tortillas
  • Lettuce, any kind shredded
  • Cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Lime wedges
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Grilled Anaheim chilis, optional
  • Pico de gallo from chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapenos
  • Crema fresca or sour cream
  • Hot sauce
  • Oil

Prepare the vegetables and set aside.

Fold the tortilla just so to make a pocket with around one inch space at the fold and deep fry in hot oil.

Prepare the tempura batter according to package instructions in a bowl. Add the shrimps to the batter and deep fry in hot oil.

Assemble the chalupa by layering the vegetables and tempura shrimp in the deep fried tortilla. 

Serve with crema fresca or sour cream and hot sauce.

Enjoy like I did. 


When Worried





About this and that
Would it matter in the end?
Let go. Life's too short.




Monday, May 22, 2017

To Win Is To Lose





In obeying laws
our limits seen. Conquer through
His power not ours.



Note: Thoughts gleaned from Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation for today.




Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sinigang na Hipon (Shrimp Cooked in Tamarind)


Sinigang is the Filipinos' answer to the Chinese Hot and Sour Soup and the Thai's Tom Yum Goong. Sinigang features just like its counterparts an ingredient that imparts the sourness to the soup and usually it is tamarind just like what the Thais use.  The Chinese use vinegar.

Most Filipinos especially those living in the United States have been using packets of tamarind soup mix from the Asian stores. I have used it in a sinigang recipe in a past blogpost.



I have also used frozen tamarind paste from the Asian store in the plant based version of sinigang in a past blogpost. Either sources of tamarind worked for me. My talented sister, Bebeng, who cooked this delicious shrimp version of sinigang used the packet mix for her recipe featured in this post.

Any cut of meat or seafood can be used to prepare sinigang including pork, beef, salmon, milkfish, or shrimp. My sister opted to use large Argentinian shrimp she purchased from the Island Pacific grocery store in Los Angeles.

For the source of hotness in the dish banana peppers were added whole during cooking which can then be opened by the person being served by choice. The saltiness is imparted by the fish sauce or patis both during the cooking process and also as a condiment when eating the dish.



Kangkong or water spinach which is available in Asian stores was used in this recipe but plain spinach or kale can also be used as the green leafy vegetable for this dish. Other vegetables like Daikon radishes, green beans can also be added as well as the usual vegetable ingredients tomatoes and onions.  My sister chose to add lemon grass and ginger in this recipe which I usually do not use. I consider them optional ingredients since they are not usually used by Filipinos in their sinigang.

My sister has a secret ingredient in her sinigang or other fish soup dish. Chicken broth! This contributes added richness without being a distraction. I usually do not use it but you can like she did.



The method of cooking is simple and involves sauteing and boiling processes. No fancy steps. She actually cooked this while frying pork chops a favorite accompanying dish to this iconic delicious Filipino soup.


The tomatoes, onions, ginger are sauted in oil.

The banana peppers and fish sauce are then added to the sauted vegetables.

She adds the stalks of the kangkong, the large unpeeled shrimp, chicken broth, the tamarind or sinigang mix, lemon grass and water.


The mixture is allowed to boil till the kangkong stems and shrimp are cooked.

When the kangkong stems and shrimp are close to being done the kangkong leaves are added.


Sinigang is one of those dishes that leave you fully satisfied and happy during eating it and after. It is one of the Filipinos favorite comfort food and would be yours too.

 

My sister, Bebeng, lovingly ladles the steaming soup into bowls.

I thank my sister for cooking for me this and other fabulous dishes during my stay at her place. I am also grateful to her family and my other sister, Menchie and her extended family for their hospitality.


My sister Bebeng on the right with daughter, Jona, and husband, Jun.

Left to right myself, Menchie, Bebeng, Chris with Chaz during the party after the Mass for Mama Sol, Menchie's late mother in law.

Menchie, Chris, Bubut, Chris with Chazzie.

Mama Sol's other daughter Queenie with husband and children and son Louie.


Sinigang na Hipon (Shrimp Cooked in Tamarind)

(Recipe courtesy of my sister, Bebeng)
  • 4 tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2 inches ginger, peeled and minced (optional)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 3 whole banana peppers
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, cut into two inch pieces and bundled together with rubber band or string (optional)
  • 2 tbsp patis or fish sauce and more as condiment 
  • 2 dozen large shrimps (Argentinian shrimp was used)
  • 4 stalks or more Kangkong or water spinach, stems and leaves separated
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 2 packets tamarind soup mix
  • Water just enough so liquid part is barely above the solid mixture
Saute the first three ingredients in oil. Then add the rest of the ingredients except the kangkong leaves. Allow the mixture to boil. When the shrimp and kangkong stems are almost done add the kangkong leaves.

Serve with rice and more fish sauce as a condiment.