Friday, March 30, 2007

It's Friday

and the end of the month which means another potluck at my husband's workplace, so since I picked up my daughter from school I have been hauling butt to the kitchen and cooking up a ziti for them. I suppose after two years of his coworkers begging for that or Lumpia I will go with the ziti. (While it is a process it's certainly a lot easier to make than Lumpia!) In true typical Jennifer style, I completely forgot the ricotta cheese as well as the parmigiano reggiano, so it's just mozarella. I'm sure it'll be good despite that.

With the sun coming out and Spring blooming it's days like these where I wish I knew how to grill (I leave that up to the Grill Meister, my husband) instead of baking in my house. Maybe this weekend we'll grill up some chicken and steaks, I don't know.

Here's to a great weekend!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Sopranos is coming back on April 8th

Of course we don't have HBO (wahh) but I am looking forward to seeing what is going to happen in this final season. If you are an avid fan like myself you must drool over the many dishes that they make in the show. I actually bought the Sopranos Family Cookbook a year or so ago and while I haven't attempted to make any of the dishes, I love the history and the pictures as well as the recipes in there. I'm dying to bake Carmela's Pineapple Ricotta ("Rigot") Pie. I am not a fan of Ricotta's texture, but this sounds like a recipe I can't pass up. I also recently bought Entertaining with the Sopranos on eBay for a heckuva deal, am waiting for that to show up in the mail now.

Another favorite recipe I have tried to replicate on my own (and am actually making for my husband's company's potluck on Friday night) is the Ziti al Forno. I found a recipe on Recipezaar and here it is:

1 lb, ziti pasta, cooked
pasta sauce
meatballs ("Sunday Gravy" with meatballs, there is a recipe for their "Sunday Gravy" in the book but I've never made it)
1 cup freshly grated romano cheese or parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
8 oz mozzarella cheese (diced up)
grated cheese to sprinkle on top

  1. put all the ziti in a large bowl.
  2. toss ziti with 3 cups of the gravyand half of the grated cheese.
  3. spoon half of the ziti into a casserole dish.
  4. spread the ricotta over the top of the ziti.
  5. sprinkle with the mozzerella and rest of grated cheese.
  6. pour on 1 cup of sauce.
  7. top with remaining ziti and rest of sauce (it will be almost overflowing) sprinkle with more grated cheese.
  8. bake covered with foil for 45 minutes and then uncovered for 15 minutes.
  9. let stand 15 minutes.
  10. tell me immediately how it was! (That's per recipezaar's instructions!)
That's probably the one dish I don't mind making and while it is a bit time-consuming, I enjoy making and eating it. I can never find actual ziti pasta in any of the grocery stores here, so I generally use penne pasta or sometimes even rigatoni and do a variation with that.

I can't wait to read reviews after April 8th's season premiere!

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Recipe Review: Butter Mochi (Diana's Desserts)

Also known as Sweet Rice Flour and Coconut Cake.

This is a lot like Bibingka, but the difference is it's a bit more dense and rich than the Bibingka I have made previously. I think the addition of coconut milk and eggs is why it's more rich and why the flavoring is a bit more exotic and not quite as doughy as Bibingka is.

It's quite simple to make (at least to me, I find baking rather easy and not too hard) and when you combine the dry and wet ingredients together, it's a thick and creamy batter that is easy to spread in the pan. It looked like any cake would look.

The only thing I'm not too keen on is the coconut on top. I think if I add coconut it'll either be inside the cake or not at all. I think I'm starting to get a little sick of coconut at this point, but it really does give it that exotic flavor that I am so used to.

Here is the recipe:

3 cups mochiko* (sweet rice flour; 1 lb)
2 1/2 cups organic evaporated cane sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 (14-oz) cans unsweetened coconut milk (not low-fat)
5 large organic eggs
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) organic unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract

Sweetened shredded coconut, for topping (optional)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C.

Whisk together mochiko, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together coconut milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla in another bowl. Add coconut mixture to flour mixture, whisking until batter is combined.

Pour batter into an ungreased 9 x 13-inch baking pan, smoothing top, and bake until top is golden and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool cake completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours. Sprinkle top with shredded coconut, if desired. Cut mochi into 24 squares before serving.

Cooks' note:
Mochi keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Common food staples

What do you usually have stocked up in your pantry? When it comes to common staples, what are the items you just can't live without?

For me the following is almost always in the house:

dried beans/lentils
canned tuna
tomato sauce
Cream of Mushroom
canned refried beans
canned veggies
sugar (both white and brown)

Dried beans and lentils are an excellent source of protein and whenever I am out of meat in my freezer, make for a nice meal. Pasta and rice too are staples, I almost have one or the other (or a potato) as a side dish. Canned tuna is wonderful because it is a bit versatile- you can serve it in a sandwich or with a pasta (like Tuna Casserole). Tomato sauce is important because I either use it for spaghetti or one of my casseroles. I can't live without Cream of Mushroom (canned). I haven't resorted to making it on my own and perhaps I should, but I love the Campbell's stuff. Canned refried beans are great too, for a meal or a snack, just put it in a tortilla and you have a little meal right there. Canned veggies are essential too, but I am considering switching to frozen because of the processed nature of canned veggies. Flour and sugar in case I need to bake anything.

Any of those ingredients above can make a meal for a family and that is why I usually almost always have them in stock in my pantry. Since we stopped doing the once-a-month shopping trip, I am finding myself not running out of food towards the end of the month. Generally speaking, we do a small trip to the grocery store or gas station for milk and bread once a week or every other week, but for meats and other items we go twice a month now.

Speaking of grocery shopping, I love Costco. Now I can understand why my mom and sister hesistate to shop there because they are both single and don't have the need for things in bulk, but I'll tell you- for a family, it's awesome. I mean, I was buying refried beans (one of my staples) at the grocery store for 4 for $5 (small cans!). At Costco I get 8 cans for $5.79. Bread too- the more organic or wholegrain breads you pay $3-4 per loaf at the grocery store, I can buy it for under $5 for two loaves at Costco. 3 lbs of bananas is $1.30? Insane, isn't it? It's easy to get carried away though, which is why I usually have a list and usually stick to it for the most part.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My answers to the MeMe below

1. What are your favorite types of food? Are they foods you grew up with? Any specific cultures you tend to cook the most?

I love the Filipino foods my Nana makes, pancit, adobo, kangkanin (obviously), sukah (it's a dipping sauce and I'm probably spelling it wrong). I also love what my dad's mom (my Grandma who is from France) makes as well- general comfort foods- a nice tossed salad with bell peppers, her mac n cheese with Velveeta, fried chicken. Dad's cooking is good too except for when he experiments! His Prime Rib he cooks in his Ronco Rotesserie is awesome. My mom makes this delicious Orange Chicken (not the same as what you get at a Chinese restaurant) dish and something else I'll share someday with you all called Rappolio (a cabbage soup). I tend to cook Mexican and Italian foods the most because they are so easy to make and just a real time saver. I'm not very adventurous these days when it comes to cooking.

2. Describe your fall-back dish when you don't feel like cooking (no take out!).

It's always either breakfast for dinner (eggs, potatoes, sausage) or burritos (just refried beans, cheese and ground beef, tomatoes, and whatever else I have). Great fall-back dishes for me! Especially this week because I haven't had any time or desire to cook.

3. Could you create a foodie Haiku or poem? Would you care to share with us?

A baker I am
Cooking is too tedious
Looking for shortcuts

Okay so that kinda sucked...

4. What is your favorite holiday food-wise? What do you typically eat during that holiday?

I love Thanksgiving food-wise. The turkey, the mashed potatoes, the gravy from scratch, the pumpkin pie...YUM! I love it and can't wait to create another delicious Thanksgiving with my SIL this year!

5. If you could find one recipe that would satisfy your palate for the rest of your life, what would it be and why did you choose that one recipe?

Hmm. That is a really tough one. I think anything that involves pasta, a meat (probably either chicken breast or ground sirloin), maybe some tomatoes, bell peppers, cream of mushroom and I'm good to go.


Monday, March 19, 2007

With an open mind and hungry stomach I invite you...

to do this MeMe.

In typical GETTING TO KNOW YOU fashion, let's change it up a bit to find out what your fancy is, at least food-wise. My answers will be posted tomorrow.

1. What are your favorite types of food? Are they foods you grew up with? Any specific cultures you tend to cook the most?

2. Describe your fall-back dish when you don't feel like cooking (no take out!).

3. Could you create a foodie Haiku or poem? Would you care to share with us?

4. What is your favorite holiday food-wise? What do you typically eat during that holiday?

5. If you could find one recipe that would satisfy your palate for the rest of your life, what would it be and why did you choose that one recipe?



Sunday, March 18, 2007

Recipe Review: Bibingka

As posted before, my friend Kate of Escaping Suburbia received a recipe from her husband's auntie for Bibingka. This weekend I decided to make it since I am feeling better now. Well, my journey of finding everything I needed for this recipe began on Friday night when I took my daughter to the grocery store with me to find everything I needed. I could not believe this grocery store (a major grocery store, mind you) did NOT carry Mochiko Rice Flour. I thought, you guys have an Asian food aisle and NO Mochiko? What is wrong with you?? And they said they might get some in but were not positive. I ended up going home with what I did have and the next day my husband ran to another grocery store in town and found some Mochiko there.

I made the Bibingka last night and thought maybe I had mixed it wrong because it was soupy like and the butter I had added didn't seem to mix well. I went ahead and poured it into my 9x13 pan and baked it for about 45 minutes per the directions of the recipe. The only thing I altered on the recipe was I used light brown sugar instead of white sugar. Normally I like to use dark brown sugar but I grabbed light by mistake. In any case when I pulled it out of the oven the edges were all crunchy and brown looking and the top looked golden and delicious. I let it sit for about 15 minutes and then cut out a slice for myself and my daughter. We tried it and it was like being back in Nana's kitchen, taking a bit of this ooey gooey cake that brought back so many childhood memories. It's delicious! I am still looking for a Puto recipe that is like the one I used to get at Fajilan's, but I haven't tried any of the ones I did find yet. We shall see! That is next on my agenda. Thank you Kate and please give Auntie S. my thanks and tell her I said it was WONDERFUL!
I called my Nana today and she told me something I never knew- she has never baked in her life. Unlike me, the baker in the family, my Nana prefers to cook on the stove and not have to measure things out. I told her about the Bibingka and told her it was similar to a Kangkanin she made in the past. I told her when I come home I'll teach her how to make it in the oven and she said she'll teach me how to make her brown sugar rice Kangkanin. How I miss her...and despite the miles separating us, I feel so fortunate that I can still at least speak with her over the phone and connect with her. She's 85 years young and still going strong.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

On March 14, 2000

I gave birth to my daughter at 9:22pm via ceasarean section (unplanned). She came out at 8 lbs, 21.5 inches long and had a head full of black hair. The realization of being a mother hit me when I had to take her back to the hospital to have her bilirubin levels checked for jaundice and I said, "I am here for my daughter's bilirubin check". All of a sudden I thought, I am a mother. I am responsible for this little life in front of me for at least the next 18 years, well, technically speaking, but I will be a mother for the rest of my life.

At her first birthday party she wasn't quite walking yet but scooted herself all over the place, going up to a sliding glass door and playing with a puppy that was on the outside of that door.

At her second birthday party we stayed at home and had a low-key birthday party.

At her third birthday party we knew it was the last one we were going to have in California as we were planning a move to Washington State later in May. It was held at McDonald's and sometimes it feels like it was only yesterday that we had that party.

At her fourth birthday party I ordered this delicious chocolate and raspberry cake from a friend of my SIL's and we had another low-key party at my SIL's house, this was before my nephew was born.

At her fifth birthday party we celebrated with the GPIL's at their house, my sister and mother had flown up for the weekend.

At her sixth birthday party my daughter invited her close friends from our apartment complex and we went next door to a pizzeria (which is now closed).

And we just had her seventh birthday party last Saturday at a place in Bellingham called Tube Time, which was run by teenagers or so it seemed (some with major attitude problems, which is one reason I will never go back). She invited two of her classmates and I invited a fellow friend and her four kids, she happens to have first graders as well at the school and my daughter knew them. They had a blast playing on the rolling slides, in the ballpit, and climbing through all of the tubes. Despite a partially crazy experience, it was a fun day for her. We took her out to Red Robin for dinner after that because she loves that place (who wouldn't? Bottomless fries, oh yeah!).

So another year and another birthday has passed and she's one year older now, which has me thinking back to her first birthday and saying, "where did the time go?".

Sometimes I miss that little baby of mine who would fall asleep in my arms at night...but I think of how much she has grown and I am a proud mother.

With that, I wish you all a very happy St. Patrick's Day! I always thought we were Irish on my father's side but found out about maybe 5-6 years ago that we are actually Scottish!

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Friday, March 16, 2007

The older we get

the longer it takes for crap to leave our systems. I spent a good 3 days down from that bug, and another 2 recuperating from that. There has been no regular meals or exercise to say the least. My husband and daughter were left with a pot of spaghetti I made on Monday night (I was still sick but it wasn't as bad- which was when I posted as well). Both are complaining over icky leftovers. Wahhh. Cry me a river. I still had to do what I needed to do despite vomiting and feeling generally gross.

Even with that said, I was able to handle taking my daughter to her doctors appointment- which fell on her bday, which was Wednesday, and decided to treat her to some crap fast food so she wouldn't think I was completely negligent in not totally celebrating the day of her birthday (a post about that will come probably tomorrow or Monday).

But the best thing about having kicked this stupid bug?? I can eat REGULAR food again. I can't tell you how sick I am of bland boiled chicken, chicken broth, jello, crackers w/o salt, graham crackers, bananas, Gatorade, applesauce, tea, you name it. Boooring.

Now hopefully sometime next week I will be able to make that Bibingka I've been craving.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Short hiatus

I have rotavirus or some sort of stomach ailment. I got it from my daughter and I am living off of chicken broth and jello. Funnn.

I'll be back when this crap goes away. Argh.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Aha!!! Bibingka cake recipe!

As you know, I have been looking for a Filipino dessert. Thanks to my lovely friend Kate of Escaping Suburbia, her father-in-law is also Filipino and her DH's 92 year-old auntie sent her an email of a recipe of the Bibingka cake recipe I wanted to try. I know this is not exactly what I am looking for but this is what my Nana made at home and it's SOOOOOO good. With a stick of butter though, it's not for the health-concious person!


l box rice flour (Mochiko)

3 cups milk

1 stick butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 cup dried coconut

Mix all together and bake in a 7 X 13 rectangular pan till top splits and edges are browned.

350 degree oven, spray pan first.

How long to cook?

From Kate's MIL: I think it was about 45/50 min. Good luck..... the inside has to be
sticky to the touch.

Diana's Desserts also has a similar recipe with a picture of Sweet Rice Flour & Coconut Cake (Butter Mochi) that I want to try as well. Because this weekend we are having cake for my daughter's birthday party, I will probably only make Kate's MIL's recipe above and save the Diana Desserts one for another time.

I'm drooling at the thought of having some Bibingka!! YUM!

Edited to make some corrections! Sorry!

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Rigatoni bake

I made this on Sunday night, but I decided to make a Rigatoni bake. Here's what I did:

4 Italian Sausage links (Mild)
1 lb lean ground beef
Spaghetti Sauce (see this entry for the recipe)
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (to your likings)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese (to your likings)
1 shallot or white onion, chopped
Garlic Salt for ground beef flavoring
1 package (16 oz I believe?) Rigatoni

1. Begin by making your spaghetti sauce and browning ground beef in a different pan (make sure you season it first) and cook/brown Italian sausages thoroughly (also in another pan). Before the ground beef is thoroughly cooked, add the chopped onion. Let the onion wilt and then put the burner on simmer. Tend to your sausages and when thoroughly cooked, let cool off for about 15 minutes and then dice up into bite sized pieces. Add the sausage and meat mixture into the spaghetti sauce and let simmer while you prepare the Rigatoni.

2. Begin boiling water and when it comes to a boil add your Rigatoni and cook for 10-12 minutes to your preference (I don't really care too much for Al Dente so I go in between Al dente and soft). Drain and set aside. Get out a casserole dish (non-stick is great, if you don't have non-stick use PAM so the noodles won't stick) and put all of the pasta in the dish and then add the spaghetti/meat mixture on top. Then add your shredded cheeses and put in the oven at 350°F for about 15-20 minutes til the cheeses are melted.

3. Let cool for about 15 minutes and serve!

It is a bit time consuming but it's well worth it. I was hoping for leftovers but my husband liked it a lot and basically took the rest to work with him. And that makes me more happy than anything!!! (Speaks volumes for me!)

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

March madness

I got a call from my daughter's school today to pick her up early because she had vomited all over herself. When my husband got her home, she told me that her tummy started hurting after eating a cheese pizza for lunch at school and that's when the vomiting commenced. Poor baby.

I guess tonight is a soup, crackers and Ginger Ale night for her.

So far this year she missed one day of school, which happened to be yesterday due to doctor's appointment and some medical tests being run and it happened to take up a huge chunk of our time.

Maybe the warmer weather has something to do with it too? I haven't been feeling like myself at all this week, very lethargic, sore throat, tired, and achy all over. Be gone winter blues!

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Monday, March 05, 2007

This is interesting!

Lemony Lemons posted this cool gidget/widget thingy on her blog, so I thought I'd copy as well!

Very interesting!

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Bamboo steamer

I don't have a steamer to make the Filipino dessert that I want to make below, so I went ahead and found one on eBay, brand new, 8 inches two tier bamboo steamer. I am wondering if this will work or be big enough for what I want to do.

If you have any suggestions I'm open to them!

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Looking for a Filipino dessert recipe

When I was a child, my Nana used to find someone to take her and me to this Filipino specialty store called Fajilan's (I think that was how it was spelled) in Seaside, California. I used to get Pocky (those sticks dipped in chocolate or strawberry sauce), or those rice paper covered candies (hated the candies but loved the dissolving rice paper on them). On certain days, Nana would buy me a sandwich ziplock bag of a dessert she called "cuncanun" (okay I'm spelling it out as it sounds). It looked like white bread, but was spongy and more translucent and had a sweet flavor to it. When Fajilan's closed, the dessert I grew up with and loved went away as well.

So I did a Google search on "Steamed Rice Flour dessert" and found the following:

Chow Times had a dessert called Pak Thong Koh, which looks VERY familiar to the spongy dessert cake I coveted as a child. I wonder if this is it, and I'm wondering where the country of origin is for Pak Thong Koh. Thailand? Vietnam? If anyone knows please let me know!

Another one they had on their website was Cassava Cake, which I have seen pictures of and while it also looks familiar, texture-wise it's not quite as spongy as the Pak Thong Koh, so I'm wondering about this one too.

Then I saw a picture from a comment on Chowhound, which looked a LOT like the dessert I'm dying to replicate.

If you know what I am talking about and have a recipe, please let me know. It's more on the spongy side and not heavy whatsoever and was a transculent white.

Ahhh, memories!!! Nana doesn't know how to make it, otherwise I would ask her.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Breakfast for two

Today we woke up to another bout of snow, and while my husband took our daughter to school, I whipped up some eggs with Monterey Jack cheese and green onions and fried up some potatoes (ya know, the frozen kind?). Normally I don't cook breakfast like that so early in the morning (for both of us), but I decided it would be nice to share a breakfast together.

I contemplated putting some mozarrella in my eggs instead of the Monterey Jack, but decided I didn't want something ooey gooey. In any case after frying up the potatoes and then laying the eggs on top of the potatoes, it ended up perfect. I think it could have had some more onions in it (perhaps some shallots would have been a nice touch), because the green onions are so mild there really wasn't much to them. It was a nice breakfast though.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Welcome March, welcome...snow??

Seriously. I hope this is the last of it. I am ready to move out of this stinkin' place already!

All I can say is, welcome March, in 13 days I will have a 7 year-old kid. *Sniff*.

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