Corn muffins are something that I grew up eating when we dine out in a rotisserie restaurant in my home country. There’s something about munching on that almost chewy corn kernels and the coarse cornmeal dancing around my mouth with each mouthful I take. I look forward to having a piece or two of these yummy muffins whenever we dine in this restaurant. The bad news is that in my home country, this restaurant is the only place I know where I can get these corn muffins. So back then, I have to wait for the chance to go to the shopping center and buy.
Now that I love spending time in the kitchen and cook food for my family, I suddenly felt this pang of muffin craving getting over me. I have a pack of polenta sitting in my cupboard so I thought that I can easily make these. For this recipe, I made a baby-friendly version for my toddler, too (no sugar). But if making these for adults, simply double the quantity of the sugar from the recipe to sweeten the entire batch!
1 1/4 plain flour
3/4 polenta / cornmeal
1/4 cup corn kernels
2 tbsp honey
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 175 C.
In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients, except for the sugar. Note, you may include the sugar if making for adults only.
Add the corn kernels and squish each piece as you mix.
Add in the eggs and milk and mix thoroughly.
Add in the butter and mix until well combined.
Grease a muffin pan with more butter or oil. Pour in 6 muffin moulds for the baby version.
Add the sugar in the remaining batter and mix thoroughly. Pour in the remaining 6 muffin moulds for the adult version.
While I was listing down the grocery list for the week, I realized it’s been a while since I had eaten a vegetable called upo. I never really knew the English translation for this vegetable but found out it is called bottle gourd. Anyway, since I relocated, I get to eat other vegetables uncommon in my home country but of course; it made me miss some of the dishes I grew up with. One of those dishes is sautéed upo with pork mince and misua. Misua (or miswa) is a type of noodle that is very fragile and brittle. I can compare it with angel hair pasta in terms of thickness.
I rarely see upo around but there are times when I do, I already have lots of grocery items in my basket. This time around, I needed to buy one since I was craving for it. The only problem was, there was none! So I bought a packet of wingbean and chayote instead. I thought the chayote will have a similar taste (different texture, though!) so that is enough to satisfy my craving.
1 bundle of misua
200 g pork mince
2 big chayote, chopped
200 g wingbean, chopped
2 garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp fish sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup water
Heat pan over medium-high heat and add the oil in.
Saute garlic until golden brown and add the onion to cook until translucent.
Add the pork mince and cook thoroughly. Season with fish sauce, salt and pepper.
When the meat is cooked through, add the chopped chayote.
Pork mince should be “watery” by nature so wait for the natural juices to come out. If it doesn’t, add water as needed.
Boil until the chayote is still firm but can be pierced through. Add the chopped wingbean.
Beef kaldereta is one of my favorite dishes that I would often request for my grandmother to cook for me. I just love the rich and deep tomato-based flavor of the sauce and the mouth-watering goodness of beef chunks slow cooked to perfection. It could be that it suits my palate a lot better than Pork Menudo or probably due to the fact that we seldom cook it at home. Beef is kind of expensive in our home country and when you decide to buy it, it is no guarantee that you will get the good quality beef! Especially if you buy it from the butcher’s, there is a chance that the meat will be chewy or require hours upon hours to cook so you don’t end up losing your teeth when you bite it!
After relocating, I realized that beef is a common staple here and a lot cheaper, too! So it is really convenient for me to be able to cook it when I want it! Last week, I was craving for it so bad and realized it’s been a while since I cooked it. So I decided to give it a go and make use of the remaining chicken livers I used to cook for my son’s food to thicken the sauce instead of the canned liver pate.
1 kg beef chunks (I used flank steak cut into cubes)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup coconut milk
50g chicken liver, cooked and crushed into tiny bits
2 tbsp oil
3 medium potatoes, cubed
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup green olives, pitted
salt and pepper to taste
If the chicken liver is still uncooked, simply pan-fry it with butter. Using a fork, crush into tiny pieces or use a blender to do it. Set aside.
In another pan, set over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, saute the garlic until golden brown and add the onions to cook until translucent.
Add the beef chunks and chicken liver. Cook until all sides of the beef chunks are browned. Reduce the heat to medium, add the bay leaves and cover. Wait for the juices to come out and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato sauce and olives and mix well. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the beef starts to get tender.
When the beef starts to get tender, add the potatoes and green bell pepper. Mix well and cover to cook the potatoes.
When the potatoes are almost cooked and beef pieces are tender, give a taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Add the coconut milk and wait to boil.
When it starts boiling, reduce to low heat and simmer for 2 minutes and remove from heat.
My husband loves pork menudo. It is one of his ultimate comfort food and I can bet he will sing “If you’re not here….” The moment he sees that pork menudo is our viand for a certain meal. Well, he will not sing the entire song anyway – he doesn’t know the complete lyrics! And then he would tell that pork menudo is one of his favorite dishes when growing up. He would go on telling me how he would eat it without getting sick of it every time he will have lunch after school. He said that his usual options were either pork menudo or the sautéed pork mince with tomato sauce.
Last week, I thought it’s been a while since we had pork menudo so I thought I’d cook some for our week’s viand. Not to mention that I wanted to use up all the spreadable liver that our Italian friend gave us. My husband and I don’t particularly enjoy munching on liver anyway. And since I am starting to get sick of the taste and the bottle is still half-full, putting it in the menudo will not only make the sauce thick and tasty – it would finish the remaining liver spread, too!
1kg pork, diced (I used a mix of pork belly and pork neck)
1 medium potato, cubed
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 medium carrot, cubed
1/2 cup tomato passata
2 tbsp liver spread (I used the leftover from my Italian friend’s gift)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
a handful of raisins
2 dried bay leaves
1 cup chopped hotdogs (I just used the frankfurters from the groceries)
2 tbsp oil
Heat a pan over high heat and put the oil in.
Saute garlic until golden brown and add the onion in. Cook until translucent.
Add the pork pieces in and cook until all sides are browned. Add the hotdog pieces, liver spread and bay leaves. Stir to combine.
Add the tomato passata and bring to a boil. When the pork pieces are a bit tender, add the potatoes in.
When the potatoes starts to get soft, add the rest of the vegetables.
I was making our week’s grocery list when it occurred to me that I don’t want to cook the same old dishes I have been making for the past x years of my life. I wanted to cook something slightly different but not too extraordinarily uncommon for my taste buds. Realizations like these make me usually crave for a recipe idea or food hack and shortly after, I am Googling nonstop to find something that will spark my interest.
I was browsing thru the recipes returned by the search engine when I came across this recipe. Personally, I haven’t tried Panda express’ orange chicken but grew up eating lemon chicken as a usual order when in a Chinese restaurant. I love the sweet tangy chicken fillets doused with sauce and just the thought of it made my mouth water. I made a few alterations to the recipe to suit my taste buds better and I can say it will be one of my favorite dishes to cook!
7 pcs large chicken breast fillets, cut into chunks
1/2 tsp black pepper
oil (lots of it), used to fry + 1 tbp to cook the sauce
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
1 inch ginger, cut thinly to strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 red chillies, sliced thinly
4 stalks spring onion, chopped
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
1/4 cup water
1 tsp sesame oil
4 tbsp soy sauce
5 tbsp sugar
10 tbsp rice white vinegar
grated orange zest from 2 medium oranges
In a small bowl, mix the sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, orange zest and rice white vinegar. Set aside.
In another small bowl, mix 1/4 cup water and flour. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix the egg and cornstarch. Once thoroughly mixed, add the chicken pieces in and make sure everything is coated evenly.
Place a pan over medium-high heat and put about 5 tbsp of oil. Once the oil is hot enough, drop the chicken pieces in and cook until all sides are seared. Set aside.
Using the remaining oil, saute the garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute or until the garlic starts to get golden brown.
Add the chilli pieces in and toss around the pan.
Add half of the spring onions and pour the Shaoxing rice wine. Quickly add the soy sauce mixture in.
When it starts to boil, add the chicken pieces and cover for a while. Let it simmer for about 2 minutes and add the flour mixture.
Carefully stir to combine lowering the heat to medium low to avoid burning the sauce.
Once the sauce starts to thicken/boil, remove from heat and enjoy.
Yogurt is a common snack here in our household. I prefer to have the plain Greek-style variety so not to have much sugar in it but there are times when I also buy the flavored yogurt options. If I am lazy, I just scoop a few teaspoonfuls of yogurt in my glass to eat as a snack. It is quite filling but the taste can be pretty ordinary (and boring). Especially if I only have the plain Greek yogurt variety at home, the only way for me to eat it is by putting a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey to sweeten a bit.
Then it occurred to me that I can try to jazz things up a little and get creative. I regularly buy a number of fruit options for our house anyway so adding fresh fruits to have varying tastes can help make this dull and routine snack a little bit exciting! Since making this for my snack, I have been using different fruit combinations and so far loving it!
5 teaspoonfuls Plain Greek style yogurt
2 tbsp flavored yogurt of your choice or fruit smoothie
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup chopped fresh fruits (I used a combination of banana and strawberry for this)
Get a glass and put the chia seeds in.
Scoop some plain yogurt and fill it until about halfway of the glass.
Place the glass inside the fridge and let it stay there at least for about 10 minutes. This will allow the chia seeds to absorb some of the “liquid” from the yogurt and make it gelatinous.
After about 10 minutes, take it from the fridge and add a bit of flavored yogurt or smoothie (whichever you prefer to use).
Chop some fresh fruits and use it as a topping.
Eat and enjoy!
Note: If you are not mixing with flavored yogurt or smoothie, sweeten it by adding 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey. Or, simply enjoy the natural sweetness of the fresh fruits!
Ugh, I still have lots of red wine leftover from Christmas and when I say lots, I meant one full bottle and a half. I drink wine from time to time but I can’t finish an entire bottle in one sitting. My husband is pretty useless with red wine, too. He gets drunk really easily and gets sleepy. Not unless we want to sleep like a baby, that’s when we will drink the entire bottle after opening. But now that we have a little boy around, we know that getting too sleepy at night is not possible. Especially for me because I am still breastfeeding him, I can just enjoy a few glasses but not too much that I’d get drunk to hear him asking for milk!
Red wine starts to taste acidic when left open for too long. You can still try to drink it but it doesn’t give you the same pleasurable experience you had the first time you popped open a bottle. I discovered that wine, in general, remains drinkable only within 2 days after opening. After that, it is better to use it to cook.
Because of this, I decided to make this lamb stew in red wine so I can finish the half bottle of red remaining in our fridge. That was open since Christmas and there is no way for me to drink it anymore!
1 kg lamb, diced
1 big carrot, cubed
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 stem of fresh rosemary
1 cup red wine
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp olive oil
half red bell pepper, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, mix the flour and lamb pieces. Make sure all meat pieces are coated with flour.
Place a pan on high heat and put the olive oil in.
Cook the lamb pieces until all sides are browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
Saute onion and cook until translucent.
Place all vegetables inside the pan and cook until slightly soft.
Put back the lamb pieces in and season with salt and pepper.
Pour the wine and bring to a boil.
Once it is boiling, reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until the meat is tender.
I love yakisoba and this is one of my favorite comfort food. I remember I can finish 2 packets of instant yakisoba as a snack and love the saltiness of each bite. I know instant noodles are not really healthy due to the high salt content so I try to avoid eating it as much as I can.
Eating noodles is a common option when I am craving for a comfort food. I don’t know about you but who wouldn’t want to tuck in a bowl of noodles when feeling down? I’d say pasta and noodles are almost equal footing when it comes to bringing me comfort when I am too lazy to eat my usual rice dishes and viand.
Good thing, I learned how to make yakisoba from scratch. Well, I have no plans to learn how to make noodles from scratch (no, thanks!) but at least, I can come up with the sauce. Doing so, I can easily adjust the amount of salt I use when I cook! Ever since I learned of the recipe, I stopped buying the instant yakisoba option.
Recipe (serves 2):
300 g cooked egg noodles (I used a store-bought option for this)
1 cup chopped mixed veggies (I bought a pack of stir-fry vegetable for this)
1 chicken breast, chopped
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp kecap manis
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce (I used Kikkoman for this)
ground black pepper
dried chilli flakes (optional)
Heat a sauce pan over high heat and place the sesame oil in. Once the pan and oil is hot, add the chicken breasts and season with black pepper. Cook until all sides are brown. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and set aside.
Add more oil if most of the oil has been absorbed by the chicken pieces. Add the stir fry vegetables and toss for a minute.
In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, kecap manis, oyster sauce and chilli flakes. Add the sauce mixture in the pan and wait to boil. Add some water, about 1/8 cup (just enough to cook the noodles with).
Once the sauce is boiling, add the chicken pieces and mix. Add in the noodles and make sure to incorporate the sauce to the noodles.
When I cook steak for dinner, I usually have a bag of chips at hand. My husband loves potatoes and would often tell me he loves the “after taste”. I don’t have anything against or issues with potatoes since I enjoy eating it as crisps or chips but I don’t relate to my husband’s “love” for the vegetable. But to satisfy my husband’s food craving from time to time, I usually include a bag of chips as part of our side dish.
However, the bag of chips we usually buy for steak side dish was out of stock at the time I did our grocery shopping. Since I bought a big bag of kale and only meaning to use it to cook some salad (and add to my son’s food), I thought why not make some kale chips instead? I remembered my husband told me that his former housemate used to make some and I have been meaning to try it out myself. I bought a pack of kale chips at an organic food stall and loved it – except for the fact that it was too salty for me!
For this recipe, I made this the “baby-friendly” version since I meant to share it with my son.
Kale leaves in bite-size pieces with the thick stalks removed (quantity is just enough to cover a baking tray WITHOUT clumping)
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
1 tsp olive oil
Wash the kale pieces carefully and pat dry. Line a baking tray with paper towels and place each pieces beside each other. Put another layer of paper towels on top of the leaves and pat to absorb more liquid.
Preheat the oven at 175C
Remove as much excess liquid as possible by patting the leaves. Once the leaves are dry enough, remove from the baking tray so you can line the tray with greaseproof baking paper.
In a bowl, place the kale pieces and mix with olive oil. Use your hands to make sure each leaf is covered with oil. Be careful not to press the leaves to squish it!
Arrange the kale leaves on the baking tray. Sprinkle on with some grated Parmesan on top of each leaf.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Note: While the recipe resulted to crispy kale chips, it has a bit of a “bitter” aftertaste. I’d probably reduce the temperature and use a longer cooking time and update the recipe once successful 🙂
Risotto is another comfort food that I love to eat but seldom cook for dinner. It takes a little more effort (and cooking time) to enjoy a nice plate of risotto. Unlike other meals that I can cook in huge batches and just store in the fridge, the risotto is a dish that should be eaten immediately as soon as cooking is finished. Why? Simply because the rice will absorb the liquid and you will end up with stodgy lumps of rice (something that closely resembles sticky rice).
Apart from the additional cooking time required, my husband is not a fan of risotto. He eats it from time to time but says that having it regularly feels “too heavy” for him. I am not sure what exactly he meant by that since rice is a staple in our dishes anyway. But probably the type of rice used in risotto is heavier in comparison to other rice such as Jasmine?
Anyway, since it’s been a while since I had risotto, I decided to make some for dinner a couple of evenings ago. I figured I have chicken breast pieces in the freezer and some button mushrooms – combine them together and I’ll have chicken mushroom risotto!
Recipe (serves 2):
1 cup arborio rice
1 big chicken breast fillet, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
a handful of chopped mushroom
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
50 g butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan + garnish
1/2 cube chicken stock
fresh ground pepper
4 cups water, boiled
Place the butter in a pan and place on medium-high heat. When the butter stops the sizzling sound, add the chicken pieces and cook until brown. Remove the chicken pieces and set aside.
Add the onion in the pan and cook for 2 minutes or until translucent.
Add the chopped mushroom and cook until it starts to get soft.
Add the rice and saute for about 2 minutes. Add about a cup of boiled water and thoroughly mix the liquid with the rice.
Add the half cube chicken stock and mix to ensure it is fully dissolved.
Keep on gradually adding water and thoroughly mixing into the risotto rice. Repeat until the rice is close to al dente.
When the rice is close to al dente, add the chicken pieces into the pan and the grated Parmesan. Add more liquid it necessary but make sure it is just enough to cook the rice.
Remove from heat and garnish with more Parmesan. Serve with freshly ground black pepper.