Friday, June 30, 2017

Vegan Picadillo Using Cauliflower Walnut Meat

My son-in-law let me taste the picadillo he made the other night. He used ground beef for the meat. I decided to make my own using vegan meat I had been wanting to try to make, Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat, from the wonderful website Pinch of Yum.  And so I did.

I used two cups of the vegan meat for the Vegan Picadillo and it really flavored the dish.  You do not have to add any other seasonings.  It added the zing to the dish.  The picadillo is pretty satisfying with rice but it certainly can be used for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, stuffing for peppers and empanada and for a sandwich.

Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

Vegan Picadillo

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 12 oz mixed vegetables, steamed in the microwave
  • 1 large potato, baked in the microwave, cubed
  • 2 cups cauliflower walnut meat (recipe below)
Heat the oil in a saute pan.  Add the onion and tomato and saute till the onions are cooked.  Add the tomato sauce, mixed vegetables, potato and cauliflower walnut meat to the pan and heat through with stirring.  Serve with rice or as a filling for a sandwich or tacos or burritos etc.

Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

Makes about 5 cups

From the website Pinch of Yum
  • cauliflower florets from 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 pieces chipotle from can
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place all the ingredients in a large food processor. If you have a medium sized one, do it in two batches. Pulse till the ingredients are blended and the mixture is mealy in texture. Transfer the mixture into a sprayed pan and spread the mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes and stir half way.  

Brother Sister

Growing together.
Taking steps one at a time.
To know the other.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 2.. Muito Obrigada and Baden Baden

These two phrases, muito obrigada and Baden Baden are what I remember the most when I started reminiscing about my six week stay in Sao Paolo, Brazil in the seventies. The first reflects the Portuguese language used in this country and the latter phrase is the name of the dorm I stayed in while I was there.

When I heard the term muito obrigada, I thought, it sounded like it meant we are obligated.  I found this weird considering you just did someone a favor, why then are you obligated? The phrase actually stood for thank you in Portuguese.

Baden Baden is the name of the dorm I stayed in with three other female attendees of the course I was taking at the Biological Institute.  It was walking distance from this research place.  The room was really too small for the four of us but that was all they had and the rent was cheap.  We shared a bathroom with people in three other rooms. I never liked going at night to this bathroom.  Irma from Honduras, one of my roommates, nixed the idea of me using a potty in the room instead.

The food came with the rent and was served in a big dining room in the adjacent building.  I was very amused when the persons living there greeted each other with not one both four or five kisses on the cheeks when they see each other.

The lady who organized the course at the Biological Institute, Elsa, saw to it that we were also entertained while in Sao Paolo. She had a terrible time in a similar course she attended in Vienna which was all work and no play. A secretary at her office took us out once or twice to a club named Tele Teco, another name I remember. When the disco music played, the rage in the seventies, I thought we were going to a dance floor. Was I shocked when our host stood up and danced where we were sitting.  I forgot already if I followed suit.

The course had two main instructors, Dr. Buchtela from Germany and Dr. Brooks from England.  They were both recruited by the International Atomic Energy Commission the sponsor of the course. The attendees came from all over the world. My roommates were from El Salvador, Honduras and Spain.  Other attendees were from almost all the continents, Iran, Israel, Sudan, Indonesia to name a few.

I learned a lot in the course and was too intense the English instructor kidded I was just like Seville, my office mate from the Philippines who took the course in Vienna that he had to boot out of the lab for staying beyond the time allotted for the experiment.

I remember a long weekend I spent on a train with two other attendees, one from Israel and the other from El Salvador to get to the Foz de Iguacu or the Falls of Iguacu. It was in the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Being there has an added novelty since it would be considered having set foot in those three countries.  The falls was breathtaking in its massiveness and beauty.  The force of the water cascading from the natural huge rock formations was magnificent.

We also got to go to a beach in Brazil as a group.  The trip took almost half a day.  The traffic in Sao Paolo was worse than Manila.  I remember hundreds of Volkswagens piled in traffic.

Sao Paolo is a melting pot and I noticed a lot of Japanese living there. The owners of the dorm we stayed in is from Germany.

As for the food, I will never forget the meat I had at the churrascaria that were shaved from the long skewers. I also loved the white tuber, cassava, that was omnipresent in their meals.  I also relished the drink Guarana.

I explored a couple of the universities for further studies.  The language barrier existed so I was not that enthused about fulfilling that goal there. It would be somewhere else.

One day, as I was going home, somebody working at the Institute stopped in his Volkswagen offering me a ride to my dorm.  I obliged and while there he presented me with a small box with the words From Brazil with Love. Inside was a ring with a stone an inch long.  He wanted me to have it as a souvenir. While we were closed to the dorm he pointed to an engagement ring I was wearing.  I was not engaged though and just wore it to ward off guys. Well I accomplished that in this case. While he pointed to the ring he said, " You Engaged" in halting English. Before I could explain he let me off his car and I walked the rest of the way to the dorm. I have talked to him briefly while at the Institute and he mentioned a friend who was married to a Filipina.  Guys tend to do that, namely copy their friends. It just did not happen what he was thinking.

When the course was done, somebody had an idea to give a party to the organizer of the course, Elsa, and the two instructors.  We decided to hold the party at Baden Baden, the dorm we were staying.  They had a huge dining hall that could hold the honorees and the attendees from the course.

When I was with the others in a bus en route somewhere before this party, I was angrily confronted by one of the attendees from Africa. He was asking why they were not invited to the party which I helped organized. I denied this was the case.  I was shocked to know later that it was the truth. The owners of Baden Baden prohibited blacks from certain countries to attend the party. This was a rude awakening for me about discrimination in action and I felt sorry I was part of it. The other organizer never informed me.

I and Irma from Honduras took a trip to Rio de Janeiro for a short stay to see the world famous beaches.  I remember daring to wear a t-shirt with Sou Virgen written on it which got a lot of smirk from guys.

Irma and I also took at trip to Venezuela to visit a friend's family who helped me prepare my coming trip to the United States and Europe. Venezuela was beautiful and the family I stayed with were wonderful.  They generously offered for me to leave some of my belongings at their house to make my trip to the US and Europe easier.  I left a whole luggage of clothes behind.  Little did I know I would be needing them sooner and not for a short trip and not as a tourist either.

Muito obrigada, Brazil! Hello America.

Note: This is Part 2 in the series From Longaniza to Hot Dog.  It is an account of my immigration from the Philippines to the United States.

You might want to read From Longaniza to Hot Dog. Part 1. Brooklyn and Sao Paolo

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Shantung Shrimp

As a child, my parents loved to take me and my siblings to two Chinese restaurants in downtown Manila on special occasions or when we go shopping in that part of the city. They were San Jacinto and Shantung Restaurants both of which were in Chinatown Manila.  I loved all the dishes in San Jacinto but unfortunately it closed down.  I am not sure if Shantung is still in operation. We went to this latter restaurant because of one particular dish, the spicy tomato based Shantung Shrimp.  We did not mind lining up to get a table at the always crowded small restaurant to satisfy our hankering for this dish.  Its taste has haunted me lately and I finally decided to recreate it.  For the tomato based spicy sauce, I opted to take a safe and minimalist approach.  I used catsup which is already flavored and as for the spice, I relied on Sriracha sauce.  What resulted captured the spiciness and the tomato texture of Shantung.  I have not had this dish at Shantung for decades so I would just say it was close and enough to satisfy my craving for it.

This is an easy one pot dish and cooks in less than fifteen minutes.  It has only six ingredients.  So for a quick and impressive dinner this is a delicious and lovely one to try.  It is good with any kind of rice, white or brown and any steamed vegetables. I would start with one tablespoon of Sriracha and increase it if you have to.

Shantung Shrimp

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1-2 tbsp Sriracha sauce (start with 1 tbsp)
  • 2 dozen raw medium sized shrimp unpeeled or peeled (I used unpeeled ones)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Saute the onion and garlic in the heated oil till they are cooked.  Add the catsup, Sriracha sauce and the shrimp to the sauteed onion and garlic and allow the mixture to boil gently till the shrimp turn pink. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve over rice and a side of steamed vegetables.

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 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


  • 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
  • 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 

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


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

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


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.