Jul 15, 2016

Chicken Parmigiana

I did a lot of driving back and forth today, and barely had time for lunch. Caught up in traffic I looked up to see a McDonald's billboard, which showed their newest offering, which they called Chicken Italianna. 'Our signature chicken fillet with meaty tomato sauce,' it said. I decided to make a quick drive-through to give their new dish a try.

It was good. Or baka gutom lang ako. :)

Anyhow, that inspired me to make Chicken Parmigiana for dinner.  My mom wanted Afritada, but all I had in my freezer were chicken fillets, and I was really gunning for Parmigiana. :)


What's In It?

1 kg chicken thigh fillets, pounded to 1/4" thick
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 pack Aji Crispy Fry breading mix
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup butter
1 can Del Monte Diced Tomatoes
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (parsley, thyme, basil and oregano)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar (optional)

1 cup shredded mozzarella

2 cups + 3T cooking oil, for deep frying and sauteing
a few stalks of parsley, chopped, for garnish

Kitchen Conjugations:

In a small wok, heat oil over medium heat.

In a bowl, marinate chicken fillets in salt and pepper.  Set aside and assemble the ingredients for breading:
In a shallow plate, pour flour.  In another bowl,  beat eggs.  In a third bowl, mix bread crumbs, breading mix and parmesan cheese.

When the cooking oil is hot and ready, start breading the chicken fillets-- coat them with flour, dip them in the beaten egg, then coat with the bread crumb mixture. Drop 3-4 pieces at a time into the hot oil and deep fry until golden brown.  Do the same for all the chicken fillets.

As the chicken cooks, prepare sauce-- in a wok or shallow sauce pan, melt butter, then saute onions and garlic. Stir fry for about two minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent.  Pour in the diced tomatoes and press the tomatoes to the sides of the pan to release the juice. Stir in salt and pepper, and allow the sauce to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.  Add in sugar if using, then allow to simmer for 1 or 2 minutes more. Stir in herbs, check seasonings, simmer for 30 seconds more.  Remove from fire and set aside.

In a baking dish, pour some of the sauce to line the bottom of the pan. Arrange chicken pieces on the pan, top them with some of the sauce and the shredded mozzarella.  Bake for 15 minutes at 200C or until cheese melts.  Garnish with chopped parsley or other Italian herbs and serve.

Great with any pasta, baked potatoes, even steamed rice. :)


1. The baking gives the dish a new dimension in terms of flavor and texture, but if you do not have an oven, you can skip the baking part and serve the Chicken Parmigiana after topping it with sauce, cheese and herbs. 

2. Quickmelt cheese can be substituted for the mozzarella.

3. Clara Ole Three Cheese Spaghetti Sauce is a good alternative for the diced tomato sauce I used here.  I just like my sauce to be a bit chunky kasi.  I think the 250 g pack will do.

4. Vegetarians can use sliced eggplants in place of the chicken.  

5. Pork cutlets and fish fillets can also be used in place of the chicken. 

6.  In place of the Crispy Fry breading mix, you may use 1/4 cup all purpose flour + 1/4 cup cornstarch + 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper + 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder + 1/2 teaspoon onion powder + 1/4 teaspoon paprika + 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Jul 10, 2016

Chili Garlic Squid

This dish was inspired by a dish we ate at a Chinese restaurant somewhere in Quezon City last year. That one didn't have carrots and green beans, though. :)

I always turn to seafood whenever I need something quick, because it is the quickest-cooking things on the planet. :) Last Wednesday, having been preoccupied with general cleaning, I lost track of time and didn't have much time to prep for dinner. So, we had New Zealand Greenshell Mussels in soup, and this dish.

I love how the knifework done on the squid to make it look this fancy, and the fact that they're available at the frozen goods section of Shopwise.  Alternatively, you can use squid rings, squid heads, squid wings, frozen or fresh (as long as they've been gutted and the ink sac removed), even baby octopus.


What's In It?

1 kg squid, flower-cut (thawed if frozen)
150 grams green beans, ends removed, sliced diagonally into 2" cuts
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into strips
a pinch of salt
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium scallion (red onion), peeled and sliced
5 T cooking oil
2 T Lee Kum Kee chili garlic sauce
2 T Lee Kum Kee Hoisin sauce
1 t brown sugar (optional)

Kitchen Conjugations:

Heat cooking oil in a wok over high heat.  Stir-fry carrots and green beans with a pinch of salt until half-cooked. Remove from the wok and set aside.

In the same wok, saute scallions and garlic for one minute, or until scallions are soft and transparent. Stir in hoisin sauce, then add in squid. Stir in chili garlic sauce (and brown sugar, if using) and stir-fry the mixture for one minute. (No need to add any water as squid is watery and will leak out water during cooking.)  Add in the carrots and green beans and stir fry for another minute or until the veggies are cooked but still crunchy.

Serve with hot steamed rice.  Enjoy!


1.  These squid have been parboiled, already cooked, that's why stir-frying time has been limited to 2 to 3 minutes to prevent them from getting tough and rubbery.  If you're using fresh squid, cooking time will take about another 2 minutes (over high heat).

2. Shrimps, chicken breast strips, firm fish fillets and mushrooms can be used instead of the squid.

Jul 3, 2016

Spicy Floss Bun

Rain, me, coffee and this floss bun. Splendid!

Couldn't believe how much floss is on this one considering it cost only P25.00 each, much less than what one would shell out at BreadTalk.
Hurray for Shopwise bakery!

(Another favorite of mine is their Spanish Bread, which costs only P5.00.  If you're lucky you can get the freshly baked, hot off the oven ones.. so yummy! Or have them warmed for you for free.)

Since I ate my floss bun three days after purchase, I found the bun wasn't as soft as it was. But that 'issue' was quickly resolved  by a few minutes of warming in a preheated oven toaster. :)


Jul 1, 2016

Thai Spring Rolls

I love Thai food. Can't explain why, but whenever possible, I'll eat Thai. <3 p="">
My first taste of Thai food was in 1990 in the Flavors and Spices restaurant in Alabang Town Center. We had Chicken in Pandan Leaves, Seafood with Hot Basil, Tom Yum Goong and Thai Spring Rolls.

Since then, I've tried replicating what I ate in our kitchen.  Since basil and the ingredients of Tom Yum weren't readily available back then, my first replication success was with Thai Spring Rolls.

PS:  I think, now that I have eaten Vietnamese Spring Rolls, that the two are very similar, if not one and the same. :)


What's In It?

100 g sotanghon (vermicelli) noodles
20 g taingang daga (woodear) mushrooms, soaked in warm water until soft

100 g togue (mung bean sprouts), washed and drained
1 small carrot, peeled and julienned
100 g ground pork
3 cloves garlic, mashed
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
2 T oil for sauteing
2 t brown sugar
2 t fish sauce
pinch of ground black pepper

20-30 lumpia (spring roll) wrappers
cornstarch slurry
2 c oil for deep frying

Kitchen Conjugations:

Soaked sotanghon in water for 15-20 minutes or until they become soft. Drain water and cut sotanghon into 4-inch lengths.  Set aside.

Over medium heat, saute onions and garlic in oil. Add in pork and stir fry for 2 minutes or until pork loses its pinkish tint.  Add in sotanghon, taingang daga, carrots and togue.  Stir fry for one minute. Season with brown sugar, fish sauce and ground black pepper.  Remove from fire.

To the ingredients, add in the sotanghon.  Stir.  Check and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Now, assemble the spring rolls.

1. Put a tablespoon of the filling at the center but about three inches from one of the edges of the wrapper.  Spread the filling out to form a small log.

2. Fold the edge nearest to the filling over it, ensuring there is no gap between the filling and the fold.
Then fold over the right and the left edges over the filling, again keeping the roll tight..

3. Roll the folded edge towards the other end of the wrapper, making a cylinder, stopping about two inches from the other edge. 

4. Brush the space/gap with a little cornstarch slurry to moisten it then continue to roll the cylinder over it to close the roll.

5. Do this for the rest of the filling and wrappers.

Time to fry!

Heat the cooking oil in a wok or deep fryer. Fry the rolls in batches of 5-6 to ensure they are fully submerged. Cook until they are golden brown. Remove from the pan and stand rolls over a cooling rack or colander to drain oil.

Serve immediately with sweet chili sauce as dip.

Jun 18, 2016

Bacon Potato Salad

You know we like a certain food item so much when it gets replicated in my kitchen. Siempre because it would be too costly and cumbersome to keep going back to a certain restaurant to get your fix of that favorite, di ba?

Pancake House's Warm Bacon Potato Salad is one such favorite of ours. My second son still orders it everytime we come to dine in Pancake House, but it's still a delight that I can whip up a batch anytime the craving kicks.

Pancake House serves this salad warm, maybe because it's freshly made and hadn't had time to chill. But it still tastes great at room temp and even chilled.


What's In It?

500 g potatoes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and minced
100 g bacon, fried to a crisp, drippings reserved
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Alfalfa sprouts (for garnish)

Kitchen Conjugations:

Wash potatoes well and cook in boiling water until fork tender. Remove from fire, drain water and set aside potatoes to cool.

Break bacon into bits.  Set aside.

In a salad bowl, make the dressing by combining mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Add in about a teaspoon of bacon drippings and the minced onion. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Do a taste check of the dressing, adding a little more salt or pepper if needed.  Set aside.

Cut the unpeeled, cooked potatoes into chunks, and combine onto the mayo-mustard dressing.  Toss to coat well, adding the bacon bits.

Serve on a bed of lettuce garnished with alfalfa sprouts and more bacon bits.  Enjoy!

Jun 17, 2016

Birthday Boy's Bento Box

This is my version of the Kiddie Meal, served in my youngest son's birthday party in school last year.

Buying party meal packs from Jollibee or McDonalds would have been simpler and less taxing for me, but I went the DIY route because:

1) I wanted to serve smaller portions, because I saw how kids often had leftovers from JB/MD packs, and
2) I had wanted a meal-lootbag-souvenir in one, to simplify distribution, and of course, to cut down on costs.❤️

I also think the Bento Box is a practical souvenir, one that can be used and reused long after the party is over. To personalize it, I scanned the lid to get the actual size of the stickers I need to make to cover the existing ones, and made my own on Photoshop.

What's In It?

  • Homecooked Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, with star-shaped cheddar cheese 
  • Jelly-marshmallow strips that I shaped into an M, my son's initial
  • Cocktail hotdogs
  • Chocolate and jelly cups
  • Ham and cheese mini-sandwiches
I cut out star-shaped holes on the mini sandwiches to allow the kids to see the filling, and entice them to eat.
I wanted to make the contents as colorful and kid-friendly as much as possible as I do not want any of the food to go to waste.

Based on the reactions of the kids (and the teachers), the birthday bento box idea is a success. :)

Jun 10, 2016

Tuna Garden Salad

My mom comes home from Australia for a vacation every two years and stays with me.  As she misses Filipino food and I miss her, we make up for lost chances by indulging in what she likes. When she leaves, she leaves with excess poundage, but is not worried, confident that she'd easily lose the weight because she won't be indulging in Aus as much as she did back here.

Meanwhile, ako, not as lucky.

So in attempt at a 'Balik Alindog' program, I'm trying to eat light dinners such as this.


What's In It?

For the Salad:

3 cups shredded mixed salad greens (Romaine, Lola Rossa, Iceberg lettuce)
1 small carrot, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
1/8 cup black olives, pitted and sliced
1/8 cup green olives, pitted and sliced
2 salad tomatoes, halved and sliced into wedges
1 small red onion, peeled and diced
1 can tuna flakes in brine

For the dressing:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Knorr seasoning
2 teaspoons honey or brown sugar

Kitchen Conjugations:

Wash and dry salad greens; transfer to a serving bowl.  Garnish with the other salad ingredients.

In a separate bowl, combine ingredients for salad dressing, stirring well to ensure the sugar is dissolved.

Pour dressing onto salad and toss.

Jun 9, 2016

Pizza Muffins

I originally made these pizza muffins as part of the menu for my youngest son's 3rd birthday party in school.
I had wanted something popular with kids, something that's already portioned and easy to distribute, and something that can be in kid portions.

I got the recipe from an issue of Yummy magazine, and tweaked it to suit my taste.

I think these pizza muffins are also good as baon for both schoolers and their parents. :)  It's also a quick snack you can whip up if you have surprise guests, or something your kids can make by themselves. :)

What's In It?

2 cups flour
14 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
12 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cheddar cheese, cubed
1 cup sour cream (1 cup milk with 1 teaspoon vinegar)
2 eggs
14 cup butter, melted
12 cup bell pepper, finely chopped
1⁄2 cup sweet-style pizza sauce
12 cup shredded quickmelt cheese

Toppings: Small slices/bits of Italian Sausage, Salami and Ham

 Kitchen Conjugations:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, eggs and butter until smooth. 
  2. Add in flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Stir until all the flour and sugar have dissolved.
  3. Stir in cheese cubes, Italian seasoning and diced bell pepper.
  4. Spoon mixture into muffin cups, until three-fourths full.
  5. Spoon a tablespoon of pizza sauce on top of each muffin, top with shredded cheese and other toppings of choice.
  6. Bake at 200C for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. 
  7. Cool on on a wire rack and remove from molds.

I bought these disposable foil tins from Japan Home, P88 for a pack of 12 tins.

Jun 7, 2016

Starbites Cake Pops

One night in April 2014, apart from the Espasol, I also made Brownies...but from a mix. I don't know why, but while I followed the box instructions to the letter, the brownies didn't turn out as I expected...they were more 'cake' than brownies...more crumbly than fudgy. Fail! 

So I crumbled the cake, stuffed it into silicon molds and turned it into cake pops. Presenting...'Starbites.'

You could do the same for stale cake and similar cake fails. :) I think this is a good idea for kiddie parties or bring-to-school goodies to share. It's also a quick pop-in-the-mouth sweet tooth craving. :)

What's In It?  

Two pouches of Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix + water + vegetable oil + 2 eggs, mixed and baked according to package directions.

Multi-colored M&Ms or Nips

Kitchen Conjugations:

Crumbled the cake and pack them into silicon molds. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the cake pops to set.

Unmold and top with M&Ms.

I think this would also be a good base for a Rocky Road cake pop. :) For that you only need to put marshmallows and nuts and maybe drizzle with sugar glaze.


Jun 6, 2016

Bacon and Egg Breakfast Cups

My brothers and I attended a school that was a 30 to 45-minute drive away. But because we rode the school bus which had to pick up several other students, we had to be ready to go by 5:30 am. That meant our mom, who also had to go to work, had to be up as early as 4am to make breakfast, our baon and also to get ready for work. On many days we simply took our breakfast with us and ate on the ride to school.

I look back on those days as, coincidentally, the new schoolyear starts today for most students in the country. Portable breakfasts like this are important for schoolers and workers on the go. However, it's also a great brunch served with a salad, as a savory snack or as an appetizer.


What's In It?

6 Bread slices, ends removed
1/4 cup melted butter
6 bacon slices
6 eggs
Italian seasoning
1/8 cup cooking oil

*Other things you'd need:
6 large aluminum or glass muffin cups
Round cookie cutters
Oven/oven toaster

Kitchen Conjugations:

Preheat oven to 150-200C. Prep muffin cups, brushing the sides with cooking oil.

Dip the bread slices into the melted butter to soften them. Cut into circles so that they fit the bottom of the muffin cups. Line the muffin cups with the round bread slices.

Line the sides with bacon. Crack one egg into the space in the middle and sprinkle a little Italian seasoning.

Bake in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the eggs are cooked and set.

Bon Apetit! :)

Jun 2, 2016

Stir-fried Sirloin with Snowpeas

Because I've not been using my BPI Express Online account often enough, I've forgotten my password and had to reset it, and to activate the new password, I had to go to the nearest ATM and perform the activation.

Getting there I found that all the parking slots near the ATM were taken, and the only vacant slot was that reserved for Fresh Option customers. So it was two things -- either kapalan ko ang mukha ko and park even if I was actually going to the ATM, or buy something from the Fresh Options meatshop.

I suppose you know what happened. And that's where I got the sirloin for this recipe.


What's In It?

500 g sirloin, cut across the grain into 1.5" x 0.5" strips
3 T oyster sauce
3 T light soy sauce
2 T rice wine
5 T cornstarch
2 T brown sugar
1.5 t ground black pepper
1 t sesame oil
1 medium onion
half a head of garlic
3 T cooking oil (for sautéing)
1/2 cup water
200 g snow peas

Kitchen Conjugations:

Prepare marinade by mixing oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar, black pepper and sesame oil. Mix in sirloin strips and cornstarch, blend well.  Set aside and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes.

Wash snowpeas and remove ends.  Set aside.

Peel and slice onions.  Peel and mash garlic.  Set aside.

Heat water in a wok or frying pan until it boils.  Drop and blanch the snow peas for half a minute.  Remove from pan and set aside. 

Drain water from the pan and add cooking oil. Over medium heat saute onion and garlic for about 2 minutes. Turn up heat then add in marinated sirloin, stir a little and cover to allow the beef to cook, for about 2 minutes.  Uncover and turn the beef slices to allow the other side to cook. Cover and leave to simmer for 2 minutes.

Stir then check seasonings.  Adjust if necessary. Add in snow peas, stir a little to allow some of the beef drippings to coat the pods for half a minute.  Remove from fire and serve hot. 

Best enjoyed with steamed rice. :)