Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chicken Tikka Masala

Indian food is another type of food I learned about and became addicted to through work. My friends from work and I used to always go to this Indian restaurant where I would order the Chicken Tikka Masala. I never got a chance to eat Indian food outside of work, because my husband says "curry" doesn't always "agree" with him. So I was limited to eating Indian food while at work or at functions my good friend, Kiran, would invite me to. Kiran and her mom were kind enough to teach me this recipe, and when I had my husband try it, he became an instant fan of Indian food. Surprisingly, this dish isn't really a "curry" and was really simple to make. Thanks to my friend, I'm able to eat Indian food anytime I feel like it :) Thanks for this recipe Kiran and mom! And thanks for supplying me with some of the spices for this dish!

1 Tbsp. oil
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken (cut into cubes)
1 small onion, chopped
3 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (more if you like it super spicy)
2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garam masala
heavy cream

1) Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add onions and cumin seeds. Cook until onions start to brown. Add garlic and ginger and cook for about a minute. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce and salt. Cook tomatoes through.

2) Stir in chicken. Add red pepper flakes, turmeric, and paprika. Simmer until chicken is done (about 10 minutes).

3) Add garam masala and a splash of heavy cream and cook for another minute to incorporate the flavor. Serve with basmati rice and naan or rotti.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stuffed burger

Its friday night (yay!!!) and I got home late because I had to put in an extra hour at work. Too lazy and too hot to really slave over a hot stove, so I decided to do a quick burger. Our bbq grill is totally out of commission, so I cooked this beautiful piece of work on my handy-dandy grill pan. I know this dish is probably not for the diet conscious, but once in a while we're allowed to cheat for the sake of convenience.

2 hamburger patties
shredded cheese (I used a mexican cheese blend)
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
salt and pepper to taste
sliced red onion
sliced tomatoes
avocado slices
thousand island dressing
toasted hamburger bun

1) Season the hamburger patties with salt and pepper. Place a handful of cheese on top of one patty and place butter on top of cheese. Cover the cheese and butter with the other patty. Seal the edges well so that the cheese doesn't ooze out of the meat. Grill on each side for 5-8 minutes, until cooked to your liking.

2) On the toasted bun, place lettuce, cooked hamburger, thousand island dressing, tomato, onion and avocado slices. Serve with your favorite side dish.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Crockpot Ropa Vieja (Shredded Beef)

Being a working mom, a crockpot has been my best friend in the kitchen. Throw everything in the pot, set the timer on, and let it cook all day. I come home and the house smells so good with the scent of dinner in the air. The meat always comes out tender and there isn't much to clean up except the one pot. You can make breakfast, lunch, dinner or even dessert in a crockpot. Its awesome. I love my crockpot!

Tonight's dinner is a tribute to our favorite Cuban restaurant, Versailles. My husband's favorite dish is their shredded beef, Ropa Vieja. So when I came across a recipe on cdkitchen.com, I tried it out and it came out really good. I adjusted the recipe a bit to accomodate feeding only about 4 people. The recipe also called for green olives for garnish, which I omitted because I'm not a huge fan of it. When I first made this dish, my husband instantly LOVED it and actually said it was "heaven." lol! Needless to say, this became one of my signature potluck dishes. Literally translated, Ropa Vieja means "old clothes." Its real simple to make because you just throw everything in the crockpot. I serve this on top of a cuban rice pilaf and fried plaintains. yummy!

1 medium onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. worcestershire
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
16 oz crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 lb. skirt or flank steak
1/2 cup vegetable or beef broth
2 bay leaves

1) Combine onion, bell pepper, garlic, vinegar, worcestershire, bay leaves, cumin, crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper in a bowl. Toss to coat well.

2) Place half of the mixture on the bottom of the crockpot. Place the steak on top and spoon the remaining mixture on top of the steak. Pour broth around the steak and tuck in the remaining bay leaves.

3) Cover and cook in crockpot on low for 8-10 hours, until steak is fork-tender.

4) Once cooked, remove bay leaves. Remove and shred the meat in to small pieces and return to the sauce and stir. Serve over cuban rice pilaf with a side of fried plaintains.

Monday, June 22, 2009


This is a traditional Spanish dish that made its way to the Philippines. There are different ways this dish can be made, so this is my version. Its a whole meal in one dish. The good thing about this recipe is that you can use any type of shellfish you'd like. I used shrimp and mussels for this recipe. I haven't made this in a while, so I decided to make it for my daughter to try.

2 Tbsp. oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups sliced polska kielbasa
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 lb. chicken wings, fried
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb. mussels on a half shell
3 Tbsp. annato seed oil (annato seed cooked in oil until the oil changes into a red color)
1/2 cup frozen peas

1) Heat oil in a pan. Add rice. Cook until rice starts to look opaque. Add garlic and onions and cook for about a minute. Add kielbasa and bell pepper and stir until sausages start to brown. Stir in salt and cayenne pepper.

2) Add chicken broth and annato seed oil. Tuck in the chicken under the rice and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Add mussels, shrimp and peas to the mixture and cook for another 15 minutes, carefully stirring occasionally, until rice is done.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Penne with Basil and Sausage

I love using fresh basil on pasta dishes. So I ended up buying a bunch from our local Farmer's Market the other day and decided to use it for lunch today. I wanted to make something quick and easy so I wouldn't have to wash too many dishes. So I tossed a few ingredients together and came up with this dish. It only takes 6 ingredients and about half an hour.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sliced Italian sausage
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 lb. cooked penne pasta
salt to taste

1) Heat oil in a sautee pan. Add garlic. Then add sausages. Cook until sausages are cooked through.

2) Stir in half of the chopped basil and cook for about a minute. Add the cooked pasta and cook for another minute. Add salt to taste. Toss in the remaining basil and serve.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Macaroni & Cheese

A lot of people ask me how I find time to cook our meals everyday, have time to do this blog, and take care of my toddler while going to work for 10 hours everyday. Well, it takes LOTS OF PLANNING. I'm known to be quite organized (although you may not be able to tell that by the looks of the family room right now). I plan for my meals during the weekends and prepare everything I can in advance to minimize the preparation time when I get home from work. Then, all I have left to do is put everything together, heat it up and serve it to my hungry family. This Mac & Cheese recipe is one of those dishes I prepare the night before and then throw it in the oven the next day to finish cooking. It's one of my daughter's favorites. I tell her all the time (even though she may not understand yet) that she'll never eat mac & cheese from a box as long as I have this recipe. And my brother, the picky eater, suprisingly asks for this around Thanksgiving time too. Of course this a great comfort food any time of the year.

1/2 lb. small elbow macaroni (cooked according to the package)
3 Tbsp. butter, plus more for topping
2 3/4 cup warm milk
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs

1) In a saucepan, melt butter. Add flour when butter begins to bubble. Whisk for 1 minute.

2) While whisking, slowly pour warm milk. Whisk constantly to eliminate lumps. Continue cooking until mixture starts to bubble. Remove from heat.

3) Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Add cheese and mix thoroughly.

4) Add cooked macaroni into cheese sauce and stir until cheese is evenly distributed. Pour mixture into a greased casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs. Spread small pats of butter on top of bread crumbs. Bake at 375 deg. F for 30 minutes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Albondigas (Mexican Meatball soup)

Living in L.A. and doing what I do for a living, I get exposed to different cultures and their foods. L.A. is a mecca for Mexican foods. My friends from work and I used to eat at this Mexican buffet restaurant and we would always look forward to eating their meatball soup - Albondigas. So we each researched a recipe and this is what I came up with. I've been in a soup fix lately, especially because my daughter likes to eat soup with rice. So this is what's for dinner tonight.....

1 lb. ground beef (you can also use ground turkey or chicken)
3 Tbsp. uncooked long grain white rice
1/2 cup onion, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 egg
2 quarts chicken broth
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, sliced
1/2 cup carrots, cut into small cubes
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup salsa (medium or mild)
salt to taste

1) For the meatballs: combine the first 8 ingredients and form into 1 inch balls. Refrigerate while preparing the soup.

2) In a stock pot, sautee onions, celery and carrots until onions are opaque. Add salsa and broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt to taste.

3) Bring soup to a boil and carefully place meatballs into soup. Cover and reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve in a bowl with a little bit of white rice.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tinola (Filipino chicken soup)

My family consists of great cooks. Especially my Lola. Unfortunately for me, I never really watched her cook. I was 9 years old when I left the Philippines and my grandparents behind. But I took with me fond memories of how great her food tasted. I learned most of my Filipino cooking from watching my dad. From him, I learned that the essence of Filipino cooking starts from the basic sautee of chopped garlic and onions. This recipe is an example of that, which I learned from him. The traditional recipe calls for chayote, but my husband really isn't a big fan of it. So I've substituted it with potatoes instead.

1 Tbsp. canola oil
1/4 cup onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch of ginger, sliced into strips
1 lb. chicken (I used drumsticks and wings)
2 medium sized russet potatoes (peeled and quartered)
8 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat oil in a stock pot. Add onions and garlic. Sautee for about a minute (make sure garlic doesn't burn). Add ginger and continue sauteeing until the onions become opaque (about a minute).

2) Add chicken and sautee until it starts to brown. Add potatoes and chicken broth. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken cooks through. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve with steamed white rice.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Samoas bar

Who doesn't love girl scout cookies?!? My asbsolute favorite are the Samoas. So when I came across this recipe from Beantown Baker, you know I had to try it out. I think this'll tie me down until the next girl scout cookie season.

1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt

3 cups toasted coconut
12 oz caramel squares
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. milk
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

2) Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Slowly add flour and salt and beat until dough is crumbly. Spread dough evenly into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are lightly brown. Cool completely.

3) Combine caramel squares, milk and salt in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping a few times to stir. When smooth, add toasted coconut.

4) Spread coconut mixture evenly on top of cooled crust. Allow coconut mixture to completely cool. Once cooled, cut into bars.
5) Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 1 minute, stopping every 20 seconds to stir. Once melted, dip the crust side of the bar into the chocolate and allow the bar to cool (chocolate side up) on a greased tray so the coconut side won't stick to the tray.

6) Once the chocolate on the bar has hardened, drizzle the remaining melted chocolate on top of the coconut mixture. Allow the drizzled chocolate harden and serve.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chicken Croquettes

I'm not quite sure of the origins of this dish. I see this on American menus and Hispanic menus (mostly Cuban menus). But I remember my Lola making a variation of this when I was a little girl and she made it with fish. So I think about her whenever I make this. You can make this with any kind of meat you like (beef, chicken, fish, turkey, shrimp). This is my husband's favorite. And I found out today that my daughter loves it too.

1/2 cup boneless, skinless chicken, minced (you can also use ground chicken/turkey, or ready-made cooked chicken)
1/4 cup onions, minced
2 tsp. chicken bouillon
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 cups bread crumbs
oil to fry

1) Combine chicken, onions and bouillon. Mix thoroughly. Add mashed potatoes and mix thoroughly.

2) Form chicken mixture into small patties. Combine egg and milk in another bowl. Dip each patty into milk mixture, then coat the patty with bread crumbs. *If your mashed potato is very soft/wet, you can eliminate the milk mixture and just coat the patty with bread crumbs.

3) Pour oil into a frying pan (enough to cover the entire bottom of the pan). Fry patties for 3-4 minutes on each side. Place the croquettes on a paper towel to drain the oil. Serve with tartar sauce.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This is one my family's favorite recipes. Its a spin-off to PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce wraps. This recipe calls for a lot of chopping/mincing/dicing, so I strongly encourage you to use a food processor.

8 dried Shiitake mushrooms (soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes and drained then minced)
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. dry sherry
2 tsp. water
1 tsp. soy sauce
salt and pepper
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken (minced, or you can use ground chicken)
5 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. fresh ginger (minced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 green onions (chopped)
8 oz can bamboo shoots (minced)
8 oz can water chestnuts (minced)
iceberg lettuce leaves

Cooking sauce
1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. dry sherry
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch

1) Combine cornstarch, sherry, water, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Add chicken and coat thoroughly with the mixture. Stir in 1 tsp. oil and let sit for 15 minutes.

2) In the meantime, combine all ingredients for the cooking sauce and set aside.

3) Heat 3 Tbsp. of oil. Add the chicken mixture and stir fry for about 3-4 minutes (or until chicken is no longer pink). *Make sure to separate the chicken as they will stick together in large clumps. Add ginger and garlic. Stir fry for another minute.

4) Add mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and green onions. Stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add the cooking sauce mixture and cook until thickened and hot. Serve with Iceberg lettuce leaves.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pad Thai

I have been craving Pad Thai like there's no tomorrow! So I had lunch with my best friend last Friday at this Thai place near us called Sanamluang and their Pad Thai was, by far, the best I've ever had. So I searched online for a recipe to try out. Its not quite as good as Sanamluang's, but it'll hold me down until my next trip there. This recipe is from the archives of the Foodnetwork (my favorite channel), but I tweeked it a little.

5 Tbsp. oil
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 cup boneless, skinless chicken, cubed
1 cup whole shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 pound dried rice noodles (soaked in cold water for an hour and then drained, or soaked in boiling hot water until al dente)
10 Tbsp. Pad Thai sauce (recipe below)
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. ground chiles, or to taste (optional)
4 Tbsp. crushed roasted peanuts
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 cups bean sprouts

1) Heat oil in wok. Add garlic and stir-fry until golden brown. Add chicken and cook for about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until the gray color is almost gone. Remove shrimp to prevent from overcooking and set aside.

2) Add noodles. Stir fast and try to separate noodles as they will often stick together. Add a little water and stir a few times. Add Pad Thai sauce and keep stirring until everything is thoroughly mixed. The noodles should appear soft and moist.

3) Return the cooked shrimp in the wok. Push the contents of the wok to the sides and add eggs in the middle (If the pan is too dry, add a little oil). Spread noodles over the eggs to cover. When eggs are cooked, stir noodles until everything is mixed well.

4) Add chiles, peanuts, green onions and bean sprouts and mix well. Serve on a platter and top with more bean sprouts and peanuts for garnish.

Pad Thai sauce

1 cup tamarind juice (tamarind soaked in warm water for 20 minutes and squeezed through a sieve)
1 cup palm sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup fish sauce
2 tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan and cook on medium to low for an hour until it is well mixed and has the consistency of syrup. *It is important to stir the mixture often to prevent burning.

Friday, June 5, 2009

"The Elvis"

My sister-in-law, Deby, brought some amazing cupcakes one day for my mother-in-law's birthday and I fell in love with the "Elvis cupcake." Its a banana cupcake with peanut butter frosting. I don't claim to be a good cake decorator, so the frosting on the cupcakes looks really elementary amateur. But hey, it'll be eaten anyway! Here is my version of the Elvis:

Banana cupcake
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup mashed bananas
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

2) Mix together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Set aside

3) In another bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add this mixture to to the creamed mixture. Add buttermilk and banans to the batter and beat together well.

4) With an ice cream scoop, scoop batter mixture to lined muffin tin. Bake in the oven for 28-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

5) Completely cool and top with peanut butter frosting (recipe below)

Makes approximately 2 dozen cupcakes.

Peanut butter frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp. milk (more if needed)
2 cups powdered sugar

1) Beat together the butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer.

2) Gradually mix in sugar. When it starts to get thick, add milk one tablespoon at a time. *If the mixture becomes too thick, add a little bit more milk to get the consistency you desire.

3) Spread over cooled cupcakes.

(cupcake and frosting recipe from Allrecipes.com)

BBQ Chicken Pizza

For my first recipe entry, I guess I should start with something simple. Our new favorite pizza place is now Big Mama's & Papa's. We always like to get their BBQ Chicken pizza. Here's a quick and easy way to get your pizza fix. You'll be surprised how easy this recipe is.

1 tube of refrigerated pizza dough (like Pillsbury, found in the refrigerated cookie dough section)
1/4 cup of BBQ sauce (I used a store bought bottle)
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
Shredded mozzarella cheese
chopped cilantro for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2) Spread pizza dough on a greased cookie sheet. Separate about 2 Tbsp. of the BBQ sauce and spread a thin layer of the remaing sauce on top of the dough.

3) Mix together the reserved 2 Tbsp. of BBQ sauce with the cooked chicken.

4) Top the dough with the cooked chicken mixture, onions, red bell pepper and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Add chopped cilantro for garnish and serve.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Welcome to my food recipe blog

So I decided to create a blog to 1)track all my recipes electronically instead of keeping them in binders (I'm running out of places to store my cookbooks and binders of recipe printouts); and 2) for family, friends, and especially my daughter to eventually be able to look up the recipes of favorite dishes I've made. I'm really excited about starting this blog. So I'm hoping this blog will be useful for everyone, and that I'll be able to keep up and maintain this blog. Having a toddler may keep me too busy to update this, so be warned.