Monday, November 13, 2017

What is understanding?

Understanding starts,
as need to be understood
ends. Open hearts, minds.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Baked Vegan Embutido (Filipino Meat Loaf)

This is the vegan version of a well loved Filipino dish called embutido, a meat loaf laden with vegetables.

I recently posted an embutido recipe using ground meat wherein I used beef instead of the customary pork.  Since my success using walnut meat, here, here, and here, I decided to make a vegan version using this to substitute for the beef. The result is pretty close to the carnivore version.

Eating the vegan version conjured the same nostalgic feeling I felt eating the meat version when we had this festive looking meatloaf during fiestas and Xmas holidays.

This can be eaten warm with rice or cold between bread. So good. Blissful comfort.

Baked Vegan Embutido (Filipino Meat Loaf)

  • 1 cup walnut
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 1 whole green pepper, cut into large pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers from bottle
  • 1/2 cup pickle relish
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp onion soup dip mix from a box or homemade (recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 3 tbsp water for ten minutes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato, peeled and mashed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees centigrade.

Place the first three ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse till mixed. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add to it the rest of the ingredients and mix. 

Transfer the mixture into a large loaf pan or two small ones. Bake for 30 or 40 minutes for small loaves or until done.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff

I first tasted beef stroganoff not until I was in the States. Once I had it at my late friend, Laurie's house. She paired it with a special angel cake. Laurie was a close froend together with Kathy when we worked at the now closed Marion Labs in Kansas City. Those were good old days, stressful due to the demands of our job but made fun by friends like them.

This is my vegan version that skips the cream or sour cream and used instead almond milk thickened with cornstarch. The garlic flakes and nutritional yeast enrich the dish.  It works.

Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff

  • 1-8 oz package mushrooms, sliced 
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp dry minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp dry onion flakes
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup more vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch in 1 tbsp water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Add the 1/2 cup broth, the mushroom, garlic, and soy sauce in a skillet and allow the broth to boil to almost dryness. Stir till the mushroom browns. Add the milk, additional 1/2 cup  of broth, nutritional yeast and mustard. Allow the mixture to boil then add the cornstarch slurry. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over noodles or as a sauce for meatballs. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Lessons in Humility and Compassion

Nothing can humble
you more than pain, and feeling
one with those with it.

Note: Photo courtesy of Flordeliza Ongkeko.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

From Longaniza to Hot Dog, Part 7. At A Crossroad

It was 1976, and it had been one and half years since I started my MS in Chemistry at George Washington University (GWU).  My round trip ticket back to the Philippines would be expiring soon and I needed to use it up.  This ticket was supposedly used on my return to the Philippines via a trip to Europe after my training course in Brazil.  An unexpected opportunity came up which made me postpone my return home and that trip. A graduate assistantship at George Washington University fell on my lap.

That summer I decided to take an American Express tour of Europe which started in England, followed by a hydrofoil crossing to France, then proceeded to Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Monaco ending with a five day tour of Spain.  It was a hectic three week trip labeled by our tour guide as educational when we complained it was stressful rather than relaxing.

I had for a roommate a middle aged blond lady from New York who brought with her countless number of pills and her unhappy self.  Luckily I met a lady from Columbia, two teenagers from Mexico and another teenager from the States who I hanged out with during the trip.  Most of the people in the tour were from Spanish speaking countries because of the inclusion of Spain in the itinerary.

I remember fondly the favorite phrase of Marcella, one of the teen sisters from Mexico.  Every time we finished dinner, she loved to quip, "The night is young" pronouncing the y as a j as most Spanish speaking people pronounce it.  Due to her joie de vivre, we hit the discoteques or discoteca as she calls them most of the evenings during our trip. One of my most memorable experience of this tour is dancing the waltz at a discoteque located in a former castle in Bolzano, Italy.  We picked up our dates as we passed a café during a stroll after dinner.  I paired up with Daniel,  a blond German looking guy, who was such a good dancer during the waltz that I looked and also felt like a well trained contestant in Dancing with the Stars.  He made me look so good one of the guys wanted to switch with him.

I could go on and on with the other adventures I had but I want to focus on how two persons who happened to be chemists helped me answer two questions I had when I embarked on this trip.  I was in my twenties when another important decision came up and had to be made.  I needed to decide whether I would go home after my Masters degree at GWU or continue further for my PhD.  One of my officemates in the Philippines advised me to stay in the States because it would be hard to go back since the martial law declared by our then president, Ferdinand Marcos, was still in effect.
The decision should have been a no brainer after hearing this advice but I had two questions nagging me. 

I actually had been wanting to write about this important point in my life these past weeks for this series. I happened to have attended a one day writing course under the talented, generous hearted author/teacher Ann Cowley.  In one of the sessions, she asked us to draw a map of the street or place where the event we wanted to write about took place.  I decided in my case to draw the bus I rode during the land tour in Europe to stimulate my memory.

The image of the first of the two persons I mentioned previously easily popped in my memory. He was a typical wasp, traveling alone and barely smiled or talked.  Still I gathered the nerve to ask him the question looming over my head.  I asked him if I should go on for a PhD since the time involved was long.  He was a straight shooter and he answered the question by sharing his own experience.  Two or three years before the trip, he was finishing his MS degree and decided instead to end his graduate work with that since he thought it would take more years.  He said he regretted this decision since looking back had he decided otherwise he would have been finished with his PhD by the time he was taking this European trip.

I still had another question I wanted answered.  It was both philosophical and practical.  Is it worth finishing a PhD?

There was another person in the tour that helped me resolve this question.   His bespectacled, dark hair and Asian features appeared as I drew the bus and the seats.  He always took the first front seat since he was always the last to come back to the bus.  He was awkward and at times looked fumbling and absent minded. He was not serious looking at all.  It is hard or is it easy to believe he has a PhD in chemistry. When I asked him the question, he took the persona of a guru and a seriousness unexpected from the laid back personality he had presented.  He gave me one of the best advices I have heard in my life.  He said, "When you take your PhD, do not take it for money or prestige or anything else.  You do it for yourself".

With these two questions dismantled like cobwebs in my head, I enjoyed the rest of the European tour with more peace and an excited expectation of that new chapter of my life that would be coming.

Note:  This is Part 7 of the series From Longaniza to Hot Dog which recounts my immigration to the United States from the Philippines. You might want to read the following:

From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 1 Brooklyn and Sao PaoloFrom Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 2 Muito Obrigada and Baden Baden
From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 3 Life Changing Question
From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 4 Second Thoughts
From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 5 Places I Lived At In Washington DC
From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 6 People and Places

Monday, November 6, 2017

Wisdom from Death

Faced with death, you will
cherish the present moment.
Grateful for living.

Note:  Gleaned from Oprah Winfrey's interview with Bother David Steindl-Rast in her show, Super Soul Sunday.

Slow Cooker Chicken Guisantes (Green Peas)

Filipinos love to keep a few certain canned goods in their pantry. They are items that are hard to get or keep fresh in our country where most households did not have refrigerators when their favorite traditional recipes were first developed. Among them are evaporated milk, condensed milk, fruit cocktail, pimientos and green peas or guisantes.

This recipe is very popular in the Philippines because it is easy to prepare and masarap or delicious. The star of the dish is green peas or guisantes. I used canned ones but you can use the frozen type. This vegetable imparts a certain sweetness to the dish that distinguishes it from other similar tomato based Filipino dishes like chicken afritada.

I adapted a recipe I found from this source and tweaked it by using the slow cooker and adding vegetables like carrots and potatoes aside from the green peas.

My family loved this when I served it this past weekend. I just dumped the ingredients in the slow cooker and went about sweeping accumulated stuff from my kitchen and living room floors lest my toddler of a grandson choke on them. I do love guests coming to my house for this reason. It motivates me to clean and sweep. Ha, ha.

You will enjoy this easy no fuss recipe, guaranteed. Have plenty of cooked rice on hand.

Slow Cooker Chicken Guisantes (Green Peas)

Adapted from this source

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper from bottle or chopped bottled pimiento
  • 2 lbs chicken thighs (I used boneless and skinless)
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut to one inch pieces
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1- 14 oz can sweet peas, drained or frozen sweet or green peas

Place all the ingredients except the green peas in the crockpot and mix. Add the peas last so it would not get mashed during mixing or add it at last minutes of cooking. Then slow cook for 3 hours at high setting or 6 hours at low.  I cooked mine in an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours.

Serve over hot rice. Heavenly good!

Big fat burn 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Slow Cooker Embutido or Filipino Meat Loaf

Embutido is the Filipino version of meat loaf. Typically it is made from pork and stuffed with hard boiled egg and vienna sausage or hot dog in the middle. I am using ground beef in this recipe and skipping the stuffing. But you can view how Panlasang Pinoy stuff the roll in their video.

I could not help picturing in my mind my late Tita or Aunt in English Awing making tons of embutido rolls during the Christmas holidays. She did it for my late parents who gave them to loyal customers of our gas station as thank you gifts paired with macaroni salad. Aren't these customers lucky?

My Tita Awing's real name is Aurora Cortes and she was a public school elementary teacher.  I used to tug along with her to her school or other chores she was doing when I was young.  Come to think of it this is very much what my granddaughter Maddie does with me these days.  One time I held on to a skirt of a lady thinking she was my Tita Awing. That made her laugh but I was embarrassed. I literally clung to her everywhere. She loved to cook just like my other aunts, thus it was great joy for her to help my parents during the holidays making the embutido and macaroni salad.

My Tita Awing

I took over this job of hers later when I grew up and one time I lost a band aid from my finger into the meat mixture as I was blending it. I was worried sick it went with one of the rolls given to the customer. Luckily it got into a batch for our own use. So be sure to remove band aids or loose rings from your fingers when mixing the ingredients. Ha, ha.

Otherwise this is an easy recipe made easier using a slow cooker. Traditionally the rolls are wrapped in cheese cloth or aluminum foil and steamed. I decided to forego this wrapping step since the slow cooker I am using do not respond well to aluminum being used in the metal bowl. You can however do so if using a ceramic crock pot. You will have better shaped rolls.

Typically we eat embutido sliced and warmed with rice and topped with catsup or cold between two pieces of bread. Eating this either way these past few days brought back memories. Btw my husband, my picky taster, gave this two thumbs up and he is non Filipino. I assure you will love this and will make your own memories eating it with your family.  Note this freezes well too.

Slow Cooker Embutido or Filipino Meat Loaf

Adapted from Panlasang Pinoy

  • 1 cup baby carrots 
  • 1 green pepper, sliced coarsely
  • 1 red pepper, sliced coarsely or two pieces roasted peppers from bottle
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 2 lbs ground meat (I used ground beef)
  • 2 raw eggs
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place the carrots, green pepper, red pepper and onions in a blender or food processor and pulse till finely chopped. You can also do this step by hand.

Transfer to a large bowl and add to the mixture the rest of the ingredients except salt and pepper. Mix by hand till blended. Season with salt and pepper and mix.  You can microwave a small portion and taste if you have enough salt or pepper.

Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker and shape into a cylinder.

Cook for 3 hours at high setting or 6 hours at low. I cooked mine in an Aroma Brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.  Using a large spatula transfer to a serving plate.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Come Rain, Come

Pitter patter. It
does not matter. We're ready.
All sleek and shiny.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Love Made the World

Evolving through it.
We're from God's love, part of, not
apart from the whole.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Slow Cooker Pork Chops in Red Wine with Potatoes and Green Beans

This was inspired by recipe I found in the Pioneer Woman website.  I made a slow cooker version of the adapted recipe and also skipped the step of sautéing the pork chops in oil and butter.  I decided it to be a complete meal and added potatoes and green beans to the slow cooker together with the other ingredients.  I did not use as much garlic like she did (she used 18 cloves!). Overall it has the taste common with dishes cooked in wine, namely, that flavor associated with French type stews.  Easy and flavorful dish for dinner.

Slow Cooker Pork Chops in Red Wine with Potatoes and Green Beans

  • 2 lb pork chops (I used thinly sliced center cut ones)
  • 1 beef bouillon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 5 -10 whole peeled garlic, smashed
  • 1 tbsp onion flakes
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1.2 lb green beans
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste

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

My Despicable Back

Vertebrae oh my
vertebrae. How dare you friend
betray me. Such pain.

What is Fun?

Expression of joy.
Openness to sharing. To
let go. Be a fool.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Vegan Four Ingredient Sweet Potato Dip

I tried a cheese sauce made from potato and carrots from the web but I found it too tart.  Tasting what I made from this recipe I realized it really only needed the garlicky taste with the nutritional yeast. So I made a batch of my own tweaked recipe.  Instead of using the vegetable duo I used sweet potato, my favorite superfood.  I eliminated the rest of the ingredients and presto I was happier with the result.  Here is the simple recipe.  I do like using dry minced garlic for convenience but you can use fresh. I used a Cuisinart small blender for this recipe since I prepared a small batch. The recipe goes well with tortillas. 

Vegan Four Ingredient Sweet Potato Dip

  • 1 sweet potato (about 1/2 lb)
  • about 4 tbsp vegetable broth (start with 2 tbsp and add to get the consistency of the dip you want )
  • 2 tsp dry minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • black pepper to taste
Place four slashes about 1 mm deep into each side of the sweet potato.  Bake in the microwave for 3 minutes or one can pierce a fork into the potato.  You can also boil the potato or bake in the oven.

Scoop out the flesh of the baked sweet potato and place in a small blender.  Add the rest of the ingredients and blend till smooth. 

Serve with tortilla chips.  Enjoy.  I did.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Vegan Butternut Squash Apple Soup

Panera Bread is a favorite place to have meetings large or small.  I went there to meet with Peg to discuss what I would teach for her CCD religion class that I was to sub for her.  As I waited for her, I ordered Panera's Squash Autumn Soup. It was delicious and had that heartwarming, homey taste to it. I waited for Peg and waited and panicked I might have gone to the wrong Panera. When I called Peg, it turned out we switched the meeting place to King's during our previous phone conversation. The initial one we agreed on, Panera, somehow stuck in my memory.  Senioritis kicked in.

Anyway, the taste of the soup stayed in my memory with no problem and made me search the web for copycat versions.  I opted for an easy vegan one from this site. I tweaked the recipe to exclude oil and relied on my Vitamix blender to do most of the steps in the original recipe.

This present version of mine is different from the one I posted in the past. I added apple to this new version and used curry powder. I skipped the coconut milk and green chilies. Both versions are delicious with its own personality. This new version is the more reserved of the two but so comforting like your worn out blanket.

Vegan Butternut Squash Apple Soup

Adapted from this site

  • 2 cups butternut squash, roasted, seeded and peeled (note 1)
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (I used the original, unsweetened)
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)

Place all the ingredients in a blender and mix till homogeneous. If using a Vitamix blender increase the setting to 10 and blend till mixture is heated. Or transfer to a pot and heat through.


1. I cut the butternut squash lengthwise in two, placed the pieces cut side down in a pan and baked for 20 minutes. I then remove the seeds and skin. You can also microwave the pieces till soft.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Beautiful Sharing and Caring

The hand on his waist
Says "I care, I do not want
you to fall". Great start.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

I Wonder Why

At times, it's hard to
believe we've been forgiven
by Him who loves us.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Art of Being a Humble Conversationalist

I heard these tips during the reflection given by Jordan Sonnett, a seminarian doing his pastoral year at St. John the Baptist Church, at one Saturday Mass. Everytime he mentioned one habit to correct I heard myself saying, Ouch I have done that.

It took me awhile to publish this list since I broke most of them in several meetings I attended right after I heard them. I decided I better figure out why it was becoming too challenging a task.

It has something to do with motivation. I was still looking into my ego or self or what happens to me if I do not follow the tips. When I switched into realizing what my brattiness during meetings or conversations do to the other person, my heart softened. It really was about using the two great commandments to motivate me. Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Making the other the focus has helped me to listen, wait to give opinion, not to correct, allow the other to talk about him or herself and not to interrupt. One important bonus - it has helped me get out of trouble of hurting other people's feelings and as a result I sleep better at night.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Sister Paula's October 12, 2017 Prayer Meeting

The messages in the handout above are all so beautiful and comforting I would just say peace and joy to you all.  Do reflect on its message as you listen to the powerful video below about God's loving assurance that He will always take care of us.  Have a nice day and weekend.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

From Longaniza to Hot dog, Part 6. Memories of Places and Faces

This is me in front of the Washington Monument in the seventies.

After I read my piece on places I lived at while I was in Washington DC during one of our life writers group meeting, Margaret, one of the members, asked me what I did for fun while in the nation's capital. She herself stayed in the same city and mentioned several places she visited and parks she took strolls in.

When I thought about what I did aside from study and do research in the lab during my stay in the nation's capital as a grad student at the George Washington University (GWU) from 1974 to 1977, the images that came to me were not only the places but faces of people that made my whole experience in this tourist spot fun.

My memories of those times were against the beautiful backdrop of the city's beautiful landmarks. First of all let me tell you how a friend's son who was a taxi driver nicknamed the city's famous tourist spots. He called the White House, the Clown Box, the Washington Monument, the Pencil and something else obscene, and the Kennedy Center, the Kleenex Box. The monickers he coined are pretty fitting especially the first one considering its present main occupant.

GWU is just a few minutes walk from all of these edifices. I remember having picnics with Filipino friends eating adobo and rice at the grounds where the Washington Monument was. I used to go grocery shopping at the supermarket of the infamous Watergate apartment complex close to the Kennedy Center. I walked past by the White House on my way to shop downtown. None among my friends had any car and the Metro was not constructed yet then.  I wore out several shoes I brought with me from the Philippines those two and half year stay in this city from walking long distances.

I loved visiting the museums in DC and I was glad I had Lawrence that went with me to visit them. He was an undergrad from Hongkong who was in one of my classes. He was younger than me and quite boyish looking. We were sort of an item and another jealous admirer from Iran, Amir, referred to him as somebody so small I could fit him in my pocket.

The favorite past time of a Filipino friend, Lily, that was affordable for me a grad student with a meager stipend, was walking to Georgetown and just window shopping and then capping the day with a double scoop of the fabulous ice cream from one of the fancy creameries. I should not forget to mention we also window shopped for shoes at stores with blaring music where my friend Lily would take her Spanish friend who was with us to dance right there in the store when salsa or meringue music came on.

When I was writing my thesis I asked a friend, Irma, to draw the glass apparatus I helped built with Doreen, another grad student which we called KATE which if my memory is right stood for Kinetic Apparatus for Trifluroethylene Experiments. After spending hours of drawing the apparatus, Irma and I got hungry and the only money we had was Irma's spare coins. We decided to go to the Ruby Restaurant in Chinatown for dumplings. Irma did have a car so we safely got there close to midnight.

I spent hours doing research at my adviser Dr. King's lab doing work on a compound similar to the miracle cancer drug, fluorouracil or 5-FU. Since the gas chromatograph that we used for analysis was in demand, I would take the night shift to use it. One evening one undergrad who adored the Grateful Dead offered to bring me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I could not believe I trusted him despite him having a friend whose grocery list I happened to read listed buying hallucinogens as one of them. Yes I was in DC during times when people smoked funny things and did make love. I did not do either one but I still had fun doing simple stuff.

Seville, my roommate at the first apartment I stayed in, and I baked cakes from boxed mix and prepared casserole from ground beef patties with cream of mushroom and Lipton onion soup mix. We served this to our guests in our living room with our beds serving as the seating area. This is the same room where in the middle of the night, to her chagrin I would ask her questions like "What is life". I prepared a complete turkey dinner at this same apartment which had a separate kitchen for a former suite mate at the grad dorm at GWU, Mary, for thanksgiving. It was my first time to bake a turkey evident by the fact the wrapper with its neck and gizzard was still left in the cavity when I served it.

I was a foodie even then so food I ate are forever in my memory. I loved Manang Cris' spaghetti with mixed vegetables she was proud of at her apartment and the chicken mole during the Friday ukelele soiree at Dawn's place. She was another grad student who was married to a really funny Mexican, Al, who loved playing ukelele all night with the undergrad Mexican students at GWU.  Other dishes I loved eating were Lawrence's green pepper steak and Merle and sister Lily's tuna casserole served with beer biscuit.

Despite having no formal kitchen in the last place I stayed in at DC, I was able to prepare chicken afritada made of fresh tomatoes, green and red pepper I brought back from Philadelphia where I, Seville and Manang Cris attended the International Eucharistic Congress.  We got there courtesy of Mitchell from the lab who could not get over how much food we brought in his car and ate on the way there and the produce we brought back. I served this iconic Filipino dish with rice and pancit, a noodle dish, to the professors and lab mates to celebrate my having successfully passed my prelims. We ate picnic style right on the grounds of GWU in front of Corcoran Hall which housed the chemistry department.

This beautiful city was not always a fun place. On weekends it was quite dead with old people with their shopping carts walking the streets talking to themselves. Everybody in town preferred to go out of town including Lily who always took me with her to Baltimore to stay over the weekend with her relatives. One time when I came home to my apartment it felt so solitary and lonely I even welcomed the sight of the cockroaches running in my apartment. On most days the bustle in the lab and the company of the other graduate students and the outings with Filipino friends kept my stay memorable and a happy one. It really was not only the places at DC that mattered but the faces that came with it.

Below is what I wrote at the back of the first picture shown above.

Looking back, no question about it I did have good luck. I started making my dreams come true at an amazing place in the company of wonderful friends.

Note:  This is Part 6 of the series From Longaniza to Hot Dog which recounts my immigration to the United States from the Philippines. You might want to read the following:

From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 1 Brooklyn and Sao Paolo
From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 2 Muito Obrigada and Baden Baden
From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 3 Life Changing Question
From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 4 Second Thoughts
From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 5 Places I Lived At In Washington DC

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Slow Cooker One Pot Pierogie Meal

One pot meals are the rage nowadays. Who wants to wash several pots and pans. This recipe is a one pot dish and also a dump it and forget it at that cooked in a slow cooker.

Pierogies are usually bought frozen in boxes like the Mr. T's brand or at church fundraisers as homemade ones you freeze for future use. The latter was what I used for this recipe. They were prepared by the ladies of our church under Sharon Torick's leadership.

I have baked them before, here and also sauteed them in a skillet with butter. In both cases I had to thaw the pierogies even those I buy homemade which I freeze since I buy truckloads of them.

In this recipe I dumped the frozen pierogies without thawing that I bought from our church in my crockpot. I added other ingredients for an easy one step one pot meal.

I was very pleased with the results. The pierogies held its form and had that pillowy texture without being mushy. The other ingredients consisting of onions, green pepper and hot dog made it a complete comforting meal. Veggies and meat. Checked.

Try this with fresh frozen or the frozen boxed pierogies and your family will have a comforting delicious meal on any busy day. It works. My husband gave it the thumbs up.

Slow Cooker One Pot Pierogie Meal

18 large frozen pierogies or 3 
dozens small ones (I used homemade ones with potato cheese filling)

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1/2 to 1 stick butter

2 green or red peppers, sliced

1 large onion, sliced

1 package hot dog or sausage, cut to bite sized pieces

Place all the ingredients in a crock pot.

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.

Putting On the Brakes

Slow down and catch up
with ourselves. To realize
we are one with God.

Note: Gleaned from Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation for today by guest writer James Finley.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Slow Cooker Lemon Sage Chicken

My late father did the food shopping for our family at our palengke or market place in Malabon.  He would buy what was on sale that day and he would not hesitate to haggle either.  Haggling is part of the game when shopping in the Philippines whether in the market place or even during large transactions.

I did not haggle for the price of one of the ingredients in this dish, namely, the sage.  This herb was generously given to me by my friend, Antonella when I brought her home from our mahjong session at the canoe club in Verona.  I was planning to just freeze it until I find use for it but I decided instead to find a dish using sage in the internet and  found a recipe for Lemon Sage Chicken from this wonderful source.

The recipe I found was not meant for the slow cooker but for the grill.  Most of the ingredients I included below were envisioned to be part of a marinade for the chicken before it was to be grilled.  I was not into grilling nor did I have the time.  When I cooked this I had people coming to learn how to prepare pasta dough at my house.

I decided to use most of the ingredients in the recipe I found in the internet but skipped the oil in the recipe and added baby carrots and potatoes to make it a one pot meal.  This lemon dish is simpler than the one I cooked previously, here in the sense that no canned soup nor dairy were used but still it is just as delicious.  I have also used sage in another chicken dish, here which also used milk.

The sage in the recipe below was surprisingly not that pronounced for which my husband was grateful since he does not like too much herbs in dishes.  It gave a tinge that makes you say "what is that"  when you eat the dish.  The lemon on the other hand dominated the taste which gave it a refreshing delicious flavor.

I suggested in the recipe to have three things available at the end for people to add to give oomph to the dish, namely,  sea salt in a grinder, whole peppercorn in a grinder and dry minced garlic flakes in a bottle.  Believe me. they make a lot of difference added to the cooked dish.

Slow Cooker Lemon Sage Chicken 

Inspired by this source

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs or any cut of chicken
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 3 potatoes. peeled and quartered
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch in 1 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp fresh sage leaves (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • sea salt in a grinder, whole pepper corn in a grinder and dry minced garlic flakes (as garnish for added flavor)

Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker except the last three ingredients.  Cook for 3 hours at high setting or 6 hours at low setting.  I cooked mine in an Aroma Brand rice cooker/slow cooker at slow cooker setting for 2 hours.

When serving, offer the diners the sea salt. whole peppercorn and dry garlic flakes to add to the dish for added flavor.  They are better applied freshly ground or straight from the bottle in the case of the minced garlic flakes.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Kale Black Bean Poblano Burger with Japanese Steakhouse Dip

I wanted to use up the kale I bought which came chopped in a bag.  I thought of incorporating it in a recipe I had used before in this blog, here.  Since I used a whole poblano pepper,  the burger came spicy but good. I needed something to cool down the tongue to complement the heat of the burger.  I decided to use the Japanese Steakhouse Dip I brought from Sawa Restaurant. Wow. It was perfect pairing.  I concocted a no oil and vegan version of the dip from a recipe from this source.  Wow wow. You should try this combination.

Kale Black Bean Poblano Burger with Japanese Steakhouse Dip

Adapted from previous blogpost

  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1/2 or 1 whole poblano pepper, stem and seeds removed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 head of a cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chipotle from can
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds in 3 tbsp water, allowed to steep for 10 minutes
  • 2-15oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups loosely packed kale leaves, chopped
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place all the ingredients except the panko bread crumbs in the blender or food processor in the sequence given and pulse before adding the next item in the sequence if using a blender so as not to overload the blender.  Transfer to a bowl and add the bread crumbs to the mixture and blend well.

Form into large or small patties.  Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Serve with the Vegan Japanese Steakhouse Dip (recipe below).

Vegan Japanese Steakhouse Dip

Adapted from this source

  • 1 cup vegennaise (I used low fat)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • a dash of cayenne pepper

Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix with a fork or a whisk till smooth.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Easy Ramen Shrimp Vegetable Bowl

When I want a quick noodle dish to comfort me, I resort to using instant Ramen noodles that come in packages for a quarter or so. I do skip using the dry soup flavoring packet that comes with it but I have to confess on some occasions I have succumbed to utilizing it when I wanted a sure proof flavored Ramen dish. How can one beat salt and MSG to satisfy who you are feeding?

Before I get to the recipe in this blogpost, I would like to mention the book Prison Ramen. It is a book written by a former prison inmate with his friend that gives a glimpse of prison life while providing us the creative ways a prisoner like him use instant Ramen with whatever available staples their situation allows. For example in one dish he added orange flavored kool aid and pork rind to his Ramen concoction. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

In my case, it is convenience and laziness that move me to use Ramen noodles in many ways. I am grateful I have fresh vegetables in my fridge and a freezer where I store frozen shrimp. This Ramen dish can either be a soup or a stir fry noodle dish. No flavoring packet is used but instead vegetable broth is resorted to for flavor together with what the shrimp and vegetables impart.

Part of this recipe is very similar to this past blogpost on Mixed Vegetable Shrimp Delight.  I simplified the stir fry step by skipping the sauteing of garlic and onions in oil and just used dry onion flakes and dry garlic flakes.  I cooked three vegetables with the vegetable broth and added the shrimp in the shell with it later. You can use other vegetables like green beans and zucchini also as well any meat either fresh or cooked in this flexible and easy dish.

I prefer to cook my Ramen in the microwave so I do not over cook it.  I submitted a Ramen dish , Thai Hot and Sour Soup with Ramen Noodles, in a soup contest and one judge made a comment my noodles was overcooked.  In this particular recipe I submitted, I cooked the noodles with the other ingredients thus rendering it soggy. It would have been better if I had the Ramen noodles on the side.  I find 3 minutes to cook one packet or even two packets are sufficient.  Do check.  Ramen noodles easily cook further after the actual cooking time.

Easy Ramen Shrimp Vegetable Bowl

Inspired by this recipe, Mixed Vegetable Shrimp Delight

  • 2 packets instant Ramen noodles, skipping the flavor packet
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth (or more as needed)
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, cored and cut into pieces
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 cup celery, sliced
  • 1 tbsp dry onion flakes
  • 1 tbsp dry garlic flakes
  • 1/2 lb frozen shrimp in its shell, (you can use fresh peeled or unpeeled)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place the Ramen noodles in a bowl.  Add water enough to cover the noodles.  Microwave for 3 minutes for 1 or 2 packets.  Do not overcook.  Drain and set aside.

Place the vegetable broth in a large skillet.  Allow for it to boil.  Add the cabbage, carrots and celery and braise them till they are cooked but not soggy.  Add more broth if needed.  Add the onion flakes, garlic flakes and the shrimp.  Allow the mixture to further heat, adding just a bit more broth if needed, to cook the shrimp.  Again do not overcook.

Arrange the Ramen noodles into four bowls.  Distribute the vegetables and shrimp among the four bowls.  If you want it more a soup add more heated broth.  

Monday, October 2, 2017

Toughing It Out

One comfort in life,
some bad things do pass. We wake
up and the hurt's gone.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Carrot Apple Raisin Salad

This side dish or dessert is inspired by the Jewish dish called Charoset which I had during the Seder Meal during Holy Week at my church.  The one who prepared it gave me the recipe but I could not find it. So I googled what I thought were the ingredients and came up with this source which had a recipe for Carrot Apple Salad with Raisin Nuts and Honey. I prepared the dish according to the direction of the recipe except for substituting maple syrup for honey since I would like it to be a vegan dish.

When I brought it to my Plant Based Group a member suggested that I add wine and vanilla and eliminate the maple syrup and lemon juice.  The final recipe below is a result of that suggestion. I kept the lemon juice, eliminated the maple syrup and added the wine and vanilla.  I am glad I heeded the advice because the salad was brought to a new level.  I understand Charoset is not customarily made with carrots but I wanted a carrot filled version for bulk, fiber and crunch.

Carrot Apple Raisin Salad 

Adapted from this source

  • 1/2 lb baby carrots
  • 2 apples, cored and quartered
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4-1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup wine 
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
Add the carrots, apples and walnuts in a blender and pulse till they are in small pieces but not pulverized.  

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients and mix.