Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Apple and Berry Tarts with Gelato

I can honestly say that I am not a baker especially when it comes to anything pastry. I am not a fan of desserts but my children and husband are. I think they will eat anything sweet I put on the table. For Thanksgiving this year, since I had to prepare everything again for the family dinner, I decided to make the dessert instead of buying.  Sometimes, one of my siblings usually brings the dessert which most likely will be an apple pie or cherry pie or a cheesecake.
I came across a basic recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks for an apple tart and I decided to copy and made the tarts for Thanksgiving dinner and for my dinner with friends. I added gelato (pistachio and mango) on it and made it quite an amazing dessert. It was a hit!

Slice 2-3 fruit of your choice (I used Fuji Apples). Toss in half a cup of brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Separate puff pastry sheet into three and layer fruit on top. Bake for 15-20 min at 405 degrees, or until the puff pastry is golden brown and are sufficiently puff. Take out from the oven and let cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar and serve with your favorite gelato, frozen yogurt or ice cream.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Seafood Paella

I had one year subscription of Bon Appetit for free and I really enjoyed reading the recipes. I kept saying that one day, I will try to make at least a few of them. I had my eye on a Paella recipe for months. I love Paella because it reminds me of a filipino dish called Luzon-Style Rice or Biringe that I used to love back home. My mom, grandmother and a few of my aunts usually makes it for Fiesta or a birthday party. Their recipe is actually simple but I found a much simpler one in the January 2009 Issue of Bon Appetit - Best of the Year.  I decided to serve this dish to my good friends for our quarterly dinner get together 2 days after Thanksgiving. I thought it will be a nice change from the standard Thanksgiving meal. I was pretty sure they didn't want to see turkey and stuffing again on the table.

INGREDIENTS: Serves 6 - 8

1/8 cup of olive oil
1/4 lb fresh chorizo or polish sausage, cut in 1/2 inch pieces (mild or spicy, depending on preference)
6 crushed and chopped garlic gloves
1 cup fresh chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron
1 cup medium -grain rice
6 cups simmering chicken stock
1/2 lb shrimp (about 16-20 in shells without heads)
12 fresh mussels (scrubbed and de-bearded)
1/2 cup frozen petit peas
1/2 cup fresh or roasted red pepper strips

Heat olive oil in large pan or paella pan over medium heat. Add chorizo and garlic and continue cooking until browned. Add tomatoes and saffron and cook until liquid evaporates. Add the rice, cooking an additional minute or two, then add the chicken stock. Once the stock comes to a simmer, add the shrimp, mussels and peas. Taste stock, adding salt and pepper as needed. Before the rice absorbs the liquid, arrange the seafood, adding red pepper strips. Do not stir. Simmer until all the liquid evaporates. Cook a few more minutes to create a lightly toasted rice crust on the bottom of the pan, this happens when you hear a faint fying sound and smell the toasted rice. Let the dish resta few minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lemon Cornish Hen with Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce

Okay, I admit we love chicken in my house. There's so many ways to cook a chicken. But what about Cornish Hen? They are chicken too and I must say that I always consider it a nice treat whenever I get a chance to have one. While shopping at Walmart this past weekend, I found them in their frozen section and you betcha - I grabbed 4 for a family meal one day this week for dinner. I love that they are personal sized, everyone gets dark and white meat. No fighting over the thighs, no one complaining that all they got was breast. You all get your own, one bird each LOL.


4 Cornish Hen
8 bay leaves
4 whole lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1 gallon ziplock bags
2 cups Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce (1 cup for basting and 1 cup for sauce)

Thaw out the Cornish hens in the fridge for 2 days if frozen. When the hens are completely thawed, remove from plastic wrapping, rinse and pat dry. Season each hen with salt and pepper inside and out according to your salt intake. I usually just sprinkle the salt and pepper all over the meat. Dice 2 lemon with skin and divide it into 4. Stuff each hen with 1/4 part of the diced lemon and 2 bay leaves. Put 2 hen in each of the ziplock bag. Cut the other 2 lemon and squeeze 1 whole lemon juice inside the ziplock bag, close tightly and shake. Do the same with the other 2 hens and marinate for 2 hours or overnight if you want just to prepare them for the next day meal.

Turn the oven to broil for 425 degrees. Take the Cornish hens from ziplock bags and arrange in a deep baking pan. Broil for 15 minutes or until they are dark brown and crispy on the top. Baste the hens with the chili sauce and broil for 2-3 minutes. Turn them over and broil for another 15 minutes or until they are dark brown and crispy and baste with the remaining chili sauce and broil for 2-3 minutes.

Take out the hens, serve with your favorite vegetables and your favorite carb. Dip each bite in the chili sauce. Another option is to pair it with romaine lettuce with shave parmesan cheese, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a much healthier meal!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Baked Wild Salmon in Banana Leaf with Mango Chutney

I haven't had salmon in a long time and I decided to buy some today and experiment with a new recipe. I usually bake it with soy sauce and lemon juice or teriyaki sauce. I don't like overwhelming my salmon with too much spices. I checked out my pantry and found a jar of mango chutney I bought a couple of months ago and haven't used. I paired the salmon with steamed broccoli with Nori seasoning, sliced persimmon and steamed rice.


4 - 4oz each wild salmon filet
4 tablespoons of hot mango chutney
1 tablesspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of ground black pepper
2 whole lemon (1 for garnish)
4 sheets of banana leaves (5x7 each)
4 sheets of foil (8x10 each)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the foil next to each other and put the banana leaf on top of the foil. Season the wild salmon individually with salt and pepper according to your salt intake. Arrange the salmon on top of the banana leaf and center it. Spread 1 tablespoon of the mango chutney on top of the salmon. Slice 1 lemon in thin rounds and garnish each salmon with a slice. Slice the other lemon in half and drizzle a bit of juice on top of each salmon. Wrap the salmon by folding each side of the banana leaf on top of it. Then finish it by wrapping it with the foil. Put the wrapped salmon in a non stick baking pan and bake for 35 mins. Serve with your favorite vegetables and steamed rice.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

General Tso Chicken

To be honest, I don't remember the last time I had General Tso Chicken and it is my husband's favorite Chinese entree. I think this is the only entree that he order whenever we go to a Chinese restaurant. He likes it because of the variety of taste in one meal - sweet, tangy, spicy and the crunchy texture. I am not a fan of anything sweet on my meat but I decided to give it a try and twist the recipe I found on Food Gawker just a bit to make it my own General Tso! The result was quite tasty!

The recipe is simple if you love to cook Asian food because I'm sure you already have most of the ingredients in your pantry. If not, then I suggest you invest on some of these ingredients because they are inexpensive and you'll be able to use them with other Asian dish recipes.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves 4-6)
2 lbs breast of chicken (sliced in cubes)
6 jalapenos peppers sliced
4 teaspoons minced ginger
4 teaspoons minced garlic
6 cups of peanut oil or vegetable oil for deep frying
4 cups corn starch
1 pinch of sesame seeds for garnish

4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons sesame oil
2 egg yolk

3 tablespoons tomato paste and mixe with 2 tablespoons of water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
6 teaspoons white sugar
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

Mix ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

Toss the chicken in the corn starch in 4 batches to avoid clumping. Shake off excess cornstarch before frying. Heat the frying pan with oil until it is smoking a little bit. Add the first batch of chicken and deep fry until cooked through. Stir constantly to avoid burning.  Remove chicken with slotted ladle when it is medium brown and drain on paper towel. Repeat with the last 3 batch.
After all the chicken is cooked, heat a different frying pan and add 2 tablespoons of peanut or vegetable oil. Add the ginger, garlic and jalapeno peppers and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add the sauce mixture and stir until it thickens. Add the chicken and stir well to coat with sauce. Transfer the chicken to a big platter and garnish with sesame seeds. Serve with steam rice and your choice of salad or veggies.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Jicama, Chinese Cucumber, Basil & Arugula Salad

I love making salad! There are so many ways to make it especially if a farmer's market is nearby because of the abundance of greens and fruits they sell to make a refreshing salad. I picked up some baby jicamas, chinese cucumber and Thai basil at the farmer's market yesterday near my job in Oakland. I mixed them with the Arugula I picked growing in my green room and made a salad to pair with the Chicken & Prosciutto ravioli I cooked for dinner. This salad is very refreshing! The dressing is simply lime juice, olive oil salt and pepper.

2 baby jicama peeled and diced
2 chinese cucumbers diced (substitute 1 regular cucumber and diced)
20 pieces of thai basil leaves
40 pieces of arugula leaves
1 whole lime
1 tbs olive oil
shaved parmesan cheese (optional)
pinch of salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Slice the lime, squeeze and drizzle the juice all over the mixture. Drizzle the olive oil on the salad and mix well. Serve with a pasta dish or any entree.

Chicken & Prosciutto Ravioli w/ Basil, Garlic & Tomato Sauce

Buotoni Pasta is one of my favorite fresh refrigerated pasta brand. Today, i'm going to try the Whole Wheat Ravioli. I always make my own sauce with fresh ingredients. I picked up some sweet basil, Thai basil and beef steak tomatoes at the farmer's market near my job. The sauce is so simple to make but it is very tasty.

8-10 ounces of Boutoni Chicken & Prosciutto Ravioli
6 cloves of chopped garlic
1 large beefsteak tomato
20 pieces of fresh sweet basil leaves
15 pieces of fresh thai basil leaves (purple in color)
1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 tsp dry Italian Seasoning
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup of water
3 tbs of Olive Oil

Boil ravioli for 10 minutes or as directed on the package. While the ravioli is cooking, heat the pan and add the oilve oil. Add the chopped garlic and stir until brown. Add the chopped tomato, stir and simmer for 3 minutes until the tomato releases its juice in medium heat. Add the sweet and Thai basil, italian seasoning, pepper flakes and water. Simmer for 2 more minutes until the sauce thickens and add salt and pepper to your tasting.

Remove the ravioli from boiling water, put in a large serving dish and top with the sauce. ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mango Shrimp Curry with Honey and Lemongrass

I was craving for something spicy for dinner tonight. I checked out one of my old recipe books and saw something that was enticing - Pineapple Shrimp Curry with Red Chilies. As I was reading the recipe, i thought it was a little boring so I added a little twist to it and the outcome was outstanding!


1 lb Jumbo shrimps shelled
1 cup mango chunks (frozen or fresh if in season)
4 cups coconut milk 
4 tbs yellow curry powder
6 cloves garlic crushed and chopped
1/4 cup honey
2 tbs lemongrass sauce
2 jalapeno peppers chopped
4 tbs fish sauce
2 tsp butter

In a medium pot, heat butter, add garlic and brown. Add 2 cups of the coconut milk and boil for about 5 minutes. Add the curry and stir until completely dissolved. Add the other 2 cups of coconut oil, mango, lemongrass sauce, fish sauce and honey. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower heat after it started boiling and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Add shrimp and jalapeno peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with steam rice and enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Filipino Chicken Adobo

If you are Filipino, you must know how to cook this dish! At least, that's what everyone thinks. This dish is a staple that you will find in every Filipino household. I have cooked this for many family gatherings, and brought it to potlucks at school, church and even at work. It's one of those you just can't get enough dish.

2 1/2 lbs of chicken legs (10 pieces)
4 large potatoes quartered 
3/4 of white vinegar (or 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar)
1/4 cup of soy sauce
10 cloves of garlic smashed and chopped
1 medium white onion chopped
4 bay leaves
1 tsp of black pepper corn crushed
4 tbs of vegetable oil
1 cup water

Combine and mix thoroughly the chicken, vinegar, 1/2 of garlic, black pepper and bay leaves in a medium pot, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir a few times while simmering making sure it doesn't burn. In a pan, saute the other 1/2 crushed garlic and brown. Add the onions and saute with the garlic until it caramelized. Remove from heat and add it to the pot with chicken and stir. Add the potatoes, soy sauce, water and boil for 10 minutes. Lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender and the juice has reduced and thicken.Adjust the vinegar and soy sauce according to your taste (some likes it with more vinegar taste, some likes it more a bit salty taste or even a little sweet tangy taste). If its too sour for your taste, add a few pinch of brown sugar until the sourness is to your liking.  Enjoy with steam rice.

HINT: Chicken Adobo taste even better the next day so  DO NOT pass the left overs!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

MJ's Chicken Lumpias

I kept bragging about my lumpias at work so I decided to take out the old recipe I learned from my mom and made some of these delicious meat pastries for my co-worker's birthday.  It will be a nice surprise treat for him because he's never had them!!
I have made thousands of these lumpias to make extra money when I was a single mother. They are always a hit because they are quite delicious.

Ingredients: (Makes 90 pieces)
1 package of frozen Lumpia wrapper - 25-30 sheets (you can buy this from any Asian store)
1 lb ground chicken
2 large carrots (shredded)
4 stalks of celery (diced)
1 bunch of green onions (diced)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 cup water
2 tablespoon flour

Combine all the filling ingredients with bare hands and mix thoroughly in a large bowl. Set aside and start peeling the wrappers individually and slowly to prevent from ripping. Set aside and make the paste mixture by combining the water and the flour, mix it and cook in the microwave for 30 seconds. Make sure it doesn't get hard.

Grab a flat cutting board or a flat plate. Lay one wrapper at a time on the flat surface. Scoop a spoonful of the filling mixture and spread on one end of the wrapper. Roll the mixture tightly towards the other end (like rolling sushi or taquitos) and leave a 1/2 inch at the other end to spread the paste to seal the edge of the rolls. Repeat until all sheets are used. Discard unused sheets. Slice the rolled lumpias into 3 pieces.

Get a heavy skillet and pour a half inch depth of oil. Heat the oil for about 5 minutes. Keep the heat on medium high to prevent them from burning. Use the sides of the skillet to slide the rolls into the oil. When you side the sides, you're preventing oil from splattering when each piece hits it.

Fry about 6-8 rolls at a time and cook each side of the lumpias until they are golden brown and making sure the filling is cooked thoroughly without burning the outside. Place done lumpias onto paper towels to drain excess oil. Serve immediately with hot chili sweet and sour sauce or plain.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Caribbean Beef Ribs Topped with Peach Pineapple Salsa with a Touch of Honey

Happy Halloween!!!

I woke up craving for some ribs. Once again, I had to come up with something a bit different than the usual BBQ sauce. I must say that I was surprised by the outcome of my creativity. The combination of the Jamaican Spiced Seasoning, the sweetness of the honey and the Peach-Pineapple salsa made the taste quite divine!

I paired the ribs with coconut rice and black eye peas with roasted whole garlic.  This was a nice dinner treat for the family on Halloween night.

3 small slabs of beef ribs (4-5 ribs each slab)
Dry Jerk Seasoning (see pic below or use any carribean dry spice)
1 1/2 cups Peach and Pineapple Salsa (mild)
6 tbs of honey
Meat tenderizer
2 whole limes

Drizzle the ribs with meat tenderizer and let it sit for 15 mins. Then rub jerk seasoning all over the ribs. Cut the limes in halves and squeeze all over the ribs. Put the meat in the large bowl and cover with Saran wrap for 30 minutes to marinate.

Turn the broiler to 475 degrees. Arrange the ribs on a flat baking pan and cover with foil, let broil for 30 mins. Try the meat for tenderness and then remove the foil. Continue to broil until top of the ribs are crispy brown then turnover and broil to brown the other side (about 3 minutes each side)
Take out the ribs and set aside on a platter. Mix the honey and the salsa and pour all over the ribs. Serve with rice or pasta and your favorite vegetables.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Soul Pasta - Collard Greens, Hotlinks and Shell Pasta

My daughter and I got home a bit late tonight not due to the closure of the Bay Bridge but because we had to stop by a couple of fabric store to buy a few more materials for my son's halloween costume. I walked in the kitchen and checked out the fridge for some left overs. Nothing was good enough for my eyes nor to feed my husband and 2 grown kids. It's almost 8pm so I needed to cook something very easy. I decided to be creative with whatever items I have so I can feed the rest of the family.

Here is what came out of the items I found in my fridge, freezer and cabinet!

Ingredients: (Serves 4)
- 1 lb bag of medium Shell Pasta

- 1 lb store brand frozen chopped Collard Greens
- 4 pieces of Hot Links sausage sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion chopped
- 6 tbs of olive oil or vegetable oil
- salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta as directed on the bag or box. While the pasta is cooking, heat the frying pan. Add the oil, after about 1 minute, add the garlic and brown. Add the onions and caramelized (about 3 minutes), add the sliced hot links, stir and cook for about 5 minutes (covered). Stir again and add the collard greens. Salt and pepper to taste. Keep stirring until the ice melts from the greens. Add 1 cup of water and let boil to cook for 10 minutes making sure the juice doesn't evaporate completely. Don't let it dry out.

Put pasta on a plate and top it with the greens and a little bit of the broth. Enjoy! 

Cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls, grapes & basil w/ blueberry vinegrette

Even your kids can easily make this quite refreshing tangy and sweet salad!! The recipe is the title itself! It's that simple!

- Cherry tomatoes
- Mozzarella balls cut in half
- Green or Red grapes cut in half
- Chopped Fresh Basil
- Blueberry vinegrette dressing

Toss all dry ingredients in a large bowl and drizzle with dressing

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Beets, Figs, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad

This is an elegant tasty salad you will definitely enjoy! It features red and golden beets, figs, goat cheese and arugula, drizzled with a light dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

- 1 big red beet

- 1  big golden beet

- 2 ripe figs

- 1/4 cup crumbled goat or blue cheese

- 1/2 cup arugula, rinsed and dried

- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

- 1/2 lemon

- salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the beet tops from the beets and bottom. Wash and thoroughly dry the beets. Place beets in a roasting pan or on a flat baking pan. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 30-45 minutes. Test for doneness after about 30 minutes of cooking by piercing the beet with a knife. If the knife easily enters the beet then its done. Remove the beets from oven and let cool for 20 minutes or if you can handle to remove the skins off the beets by hand. Slice the beets and arrange 3 slices on a salad plate. Put several pieces of arugula greens on top of beets, top with the figs and add goat cheese. Whisk the olive oil, lemon and salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing on the salad.

MJ's Tasty Heirloom Tomatoes

I know that the season for the Heirloom Tomato is over but I thought of sharing this very tasty salad that I have created and served at several parties this summer. I never thought I would love tomatoes more than ever! If you love tomatoes, try making this salad and substitute with firm beefsteak tomatoes or regular red tomatoes if you can't find heirloom.

Ingredients: Serves 2

- 2 big heirloom tomato or beefsteak tomato
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil
- 1 ripe but firm diced (for crunchiness) peach or nectarine
- 1/2 cup Blue Cheese and Gorgonzola Cheese combined
- Paul Newman's Own Olive Oil & Vinegar Dressing
- salt and pepper

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on a plate and drizzle with salt and pepper. Spread the chopped fresh basil on the tomatoes, then layer with chopped peaches or nectarines and the combined cheeses. Drizzle the salad with Paul Newman's dressing or any vinegrette dressing you prefer.

2nd Option: Substitute with Blueberries if peaches not available

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bowtie Pasta w/ Sundried Tomatoes, Pine Nuts, Pepper Flakes & Garlic

This is a very simple to make no meat pasta dish and it is quite tasty when paired with Reisling or Pinot Gris to cool down the spice of the pepper flakes.

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

- 2 16 oz boxes of Farfalle (aka - bow tie pasta) any brand (you can also use fresh made pasta if you prefer)
- 4 tablespoons of chopped sun dried tomatoes (any brand) in juice
- 1/4 cup of raw pine nuts
- 2 pinches of pepper flakes
- 6 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
- 2 tsp of dry Italian Seasoning
- 6 tablespoons Olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

Boil pasta as directed on the box. Heat pan, add pine nuts and make sure not to burn them by turning down heat and stir. As soon as they look a bit roasted, put aside. In the same heated pan, (medium heat) add olive oil and brown the sliced garlic. Add the sundried tomatoes, pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, stir and cook for about 3 - 5 minutes until the tomatoes released their juices and oil. Remove from heat and toss in a bowl with the pasta. Add the roasted pine nuts, salt and pepper to taste. Serve this delicious pasta with a small bowl of salad and a bread roll or a slice of toasted garlic bread or SERVE AS IS!