Friday, September 28, 2012

String Beans with Pancetta & Almonds

I was at the deli today
picking up some ham and provolone for the sandwiches
I'm making for my daughter's Volleyball Teammates. 
It will be a long day at the tournament tomorrow.
While waiting for my meat being sliced,
 I browsed the deli counter and found pancetta,
I thought it would be perfect for the strings beans I bought a few days ago.
I made this as a side for our dinner tonight,
 and I'm not even done plating it,
my daughter and her bestfriend devoured it.
Leaving very little for dinner.
If a recipe calls for nuts,
I always make 2 different plates here at home,
because of my daughter's nut allergy.
The kids liked this side dish without the balsamic vinegar,
kids have a totally different palate than us adults.
My daughter loves coconut vinegar but does not like any other vinegar.
I feel like I'm running a restaurant here at home with all
the special dishes I have to make to please everyone.
And to avoid an Allergic reaction disaster. 

Update on my post about Volleyball:
My daughter chose her school team.
Fagilioni con pancetta e mandorle to my Italian friends.
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 lb pancetta, cut in thin 1/2 inch strips
2 shallots, diced
1lb String beans, washed, tips cut
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
balsamic vinegar
  • Boil water in a pot, blanche string beans for 3-4 minutes. Drain in a colander and plunge immediately to ice water to stop the cooking. Drain thoroughly.
  •  In a large skillet, add olive oil and pancetta. Cook pancetta until brown and crispy.
  • Add shallots.
  • Add String beans, stir for 3 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle with Balsamic vinegar.
  • Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds. Serve warm.
  • You can substitute almonds with pine nuts. I just happen to love almonds.
  • If you can't find pancetta, you can substitute with bacon.
  • This is a perfect pair for any fish dish or just by itself, a perfect light lunch.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Freezing Herbs

Well ... Fall is here!
Leaves are changing, and we got our first frost the other night.
I have been busy for the past month
 and have neglected my herb garden for weeks.
A few herbs are turning yellow, overgrown,
and the bed needs weeding.
My overgrown herb garden.
The nights are getting cooler
and not for long my summer garden will either be lost or preserved.
I chose the latter.
I would hate to lose and waste
anything that comes from my garden.
Last years herbs just went to waste
and this year I am not forgetting to freeze them.
I'm sure this will be put to good use when winter comes.
Cut herbs.

Wash well.

Spin dry in Salad Spinner.
Divide about 3-5 branches,
depending on how much you think you will need for your recipes,
 and Store in ziploc bags.

Store in plastic container and Label and date.
Another way of freezing your herbs:
  • chop herbs
  • fill ice cube tray halfway with water
  • place chopped herbs in ice cube trays
  • freeze
  • after it's frozen transfer to a ziploc bag, label and date. 


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chicken with Ginger & Chayote Squash Soup (Tinolang Manok)

Ah the Perks of Preschool.
My little Taz,
learns his letters, numbers, words,
he learns to be attentive, to respect, to listen, and to share. 
Last week when I picked him up,
he greeted me with his usual warm hug and yummy kisses,
and gave me the very cute art work made for that day,
and the Flu virus
someone so nicely shared.
Parents ... please keep your child at home if they are sick!!!
I'm not sure how my little Taz just got the sniffles
and I got the worst of it.
Getting old I guess,
my immune system is not as strong
as when I was younger.
Well my Mom duties does not stop when I'm sick.
I needed to make dinner.
 I remembered the Filipino version of chicken soup
my mom used to make.
This soup is usually made
with Green Papaya and Pepper leaves or Moringa Leaves (Malunggay leaves),
but since it's not available anywhere where I live,
I used Chayote squash and Cilantro.
It's a light, refreshing and aromatic soup.
Just perfect to feed your flu.
The warm broth is soothing and comforting.
The Ginger in this soup is known as a stomach-calming agent,
and aids in the body's use and absorption of other nutrients and medicines.
Ginger and Lemon grass are both known to be a great remedy
for the cold and sore throat.
A bowl of this soup is just the perfect dose!


4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
2 lbs chicken, (bone-in, cut in small pieces)
1 large onion, diced
2 tbsp ginger, peeled & cut into strips
2 lemon grass
3 chayote squash or 1 medium green papaya
1/2 cup cilantro or pepper leaves
Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large pot, add water, stock, onions, ginger and lemon grass. Bring to a boil at medium-high heat.
  • Add chicken. Bring to a boil. Then lower heat to medium and continue to cook for 10 mins.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add chayote squash or green papaya. Cook until squash/papaya is tender.
  • Add cilantro (or pepper leaves or moringa leaves if available).
  • Serve hot.


  • You can find all ingredients in your local Asian Market. If you live in California all ingredients are available in any grocery stores.
  • This soup is usually made with just water or rice washing, I added broth with water to add more flavor to the soup.
  • I chose not to sauté the chicken with the aromatics because the less oil I use the better.
  • I use chicken drummettes because my children prefer it.
  • We usually pair this with rice, adding it to the soup.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Beefy BBQ Meatloaf


When the weather starts to get cooler,
I get the
cravings for comfort food.
One comfort craving I have that everyone loves
to eat for dinner is meatloaf.
A dish I think you can never go wrong in serving to just about anyone.
I love making this no fuss beefy bbq meatloaf.
It is an easy, throw it all in the bowl recipe. 
I pair it with
my kids favorite side, boiled yukon gold potatoes
my favorite caesar salad.

My craving for my Beefy Bbq meatloaf is perfect for another
busy school night.
Because really ... who wants to be in the kitchen
after a full day of activities.
I'm no June Cleaver
and even Martha Stewart gets her hair ruffled sometimes.
And if there's any leftover left,
a it'll be a perfect meatloaf sandwich the next day
for my husband and daughter to take to work and school.


1 lb angus lean ground beef
2 lbs 85/15% lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, beaten
2 tbsp catsup
3 tbsp bbq sauce
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
BBq sauce to top


  • Preheat oven at 350 F degrees.

  • In a large bowl, add all ingredients and mix well by hand. Avoid mashing or squeezing the meat, this will make the meatloaf dense.
  • Free form into 2 large loaves or 4-6 mini individual loaves.
  • For the 2 Large loaves, bake for 1 hour. Spread Bbq sauce on top of meatloaf, bake for another 5 minutes.
  • For the Mini loaves, bake for 40 minutes. Spread Bbq sauce on top of meatloaf, bake for another 5 minutes.
  • Or bake until internal temperature reaches 155 F degrees.
  • Serve hot.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chinese Chopsuey (Stir-fried Vegetables) / Remembering 9/11

I'm so ready to pull my hair out!!!
This is a crazy month at my household.
My 3 yr.old just started pre-school,
my daughter and her activities,
 and here I am thinking I will have plenty of ME time.
Boy was I wrong!!!

I would like to extend an invitation to my fellow Food Blogger Friends
to guest post for The Red Apron.

Stay tuned,
My very talented friend Elizabeth Quirino of
The Queen's Notebook will be guest posting.
Her other blog Asian in America
has been featured at the NY Times.

Just like promised I will be sharing a quick and easy recipes this month.
Here's a dish we normally served on special occassions.
vegetables are very expensive in the Philippines.
Most of this vegetable ingredients come from the Northern Cordillera.
Thrives well up north because of  the cooler weather.
It is costly, because it has to travel far, thus freight is expensive.
The answer to why I say it is mostly serve on special occassions
such as Fiestas, graduations, birthdays,weddings and honoring the departed .

Today is a special day for all of us here
in the United States of America. 
11 years ago my special day was followed by an unimaginable tragedy,
today I would like to pay tribute
 to the heroes and victims
of 9/11. 
And let us not forget the men and women in uniform
who enlist to protect us
from tragedies like this from happening again.

                    photo courtesy of SAKS

 To honor this day,
 I made this
healthy, colorful, and delicious dish everyone will love.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb shrimps, peeled and deveined (optional)
1 cup pork strips, (optional)
1 cup beef stir-fry strips, (optional)
2 carrots, sliced
1 chayote squash, sliced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 can sliced water chestnuts or 1/2 cup sliced fresh water chestnuts
1 cup cauliflower
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup snow peas
1/2 head Cabbage or Napa Cabbage, cut to 1 inch wide strips
salt and white pepper to taste


  • Slice vegetables

  • Sauté onions and garlic until golden brown.
  • Add shrimps or pork strips or beef strips, cook until brown. (This is optional for my Vegetarian friends)
  • Add carrots, peppers, water chestnuts, cauliflower, stir-fry for 2-3 mins.
  • In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with vegetable broth. Add to the vegetable mix.

  • Add snow peas, cabbbage and soy sauce.
  • Cover and let cook for another 5-8 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Serve.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ginisang Ampalaya (Bittermelon with Shrimps)

Bittermelon, Ampalaya to the Filipinos.
It lives up to its name ... bitter. The most bitter edible vegetable.
Bittermelon is a member of the gourd family. 
It is known to contain phyto-nutrient, polypeptide-P,
 a plant insulin known to lower blood sugar levels. 
It is an excellent source for different nutrients and flavanoid 
such as folates, vitamin A,
 beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthins.
Most of these nutrients play a role in prevention
of aging, cancers, and various diseases.
I'll eat it everyday if I have to.
I'm not ready to see lines on my face yet.
I use to hate this when I was a child,
I never understood why the adults love it so much.
The oldies would tell us, "It's good for you,
it has plenty of nutrients and vitamin C."
That never worked, I refused to eat it.
It was too bitter.
As I grew older,
I have learned to appreciate the different flavors and textures of food.
And have been willing to try anything,
anything healthy,
anything that is not from a can or a box that just need microwave heating.
Filipinos have this silly mentality
 that everything with a barcode from a different country is good food.
Thanks to all the food shows,
food blogs, social media, and just simply the internet,
it is slowly changing.

Of course, my children refuses to eat this as well.
But just like any other bitter tasting vegetables, such as broccoli,
I am not giving up.
I just give it to them in the tiniest bite,
hoping one day they'll appreciate this dish like I have.
There are different ways to make this dish,
with a bit of broth, or just dry, thin and chunky slices of bittermelon,
 with meat or shrimps or just the vegetables itself.
I prefer mine it with broth and I sliced the bittermelon thin,
it lessens the bitterness of the dish.



2 pcs. Bittermelon or Ampalaya, seeded and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onions, sliced
1 large tomato, diced
1 cup of vegetable broth or water
2 eggs, beaten
10-12 pcs. shrimps (optional)
1 cup pork, small cubes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste 
  • scoop out seeds.

  • thinly slice bittermelon.

  • soak sliced bittermelon in salted water, for about 15 mins. (1 tbsp salt to 3 cups water)
  • Rinse and squeeze out all liquid from bittermelon, transfer to another bowl.
  • In medium high heat, sautee onions, tomatoes, and garlic until garlic is lightly brown.
  • Add vegetable broth or water.
  • Add bittermelon, cook until broth boils.
  • Add eggs, cook for another 2 mins.
  • Take out from heat and serve.
  • I chose to slice the bittermelon thin, it helps lessen the bitter taste of the dish.
  • You can also slice it to about 1/2 inch thick if you prefer it chunky.
  • Best serve with steamed rice.
  • For my vegetarian friends, you can of course totally omit the shrimps and pork.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Brightening Mom's Day Everyday

My husband knows how I love Orchids,
so everytime there is an occassion there is only one flower
that will brighten my day,
the elegant blooms of Orchids.
Orchids liven our house besides a few houseplants I have.
I like having one in the living room, and the bedroom.
Summer time we get loads of Orchids
at our local Kroger (Ralph's to Californians) grocery stores.
I always treat myself and get potted orchids.
It is so darn cheap during the summer time
and they last longer for you to enjoy, roughly about 3 months.
To make a statement on my living or dining room table,
I transfer my orchids to a planter. 
When you transfer your orchids,
make sure the roots are exposed to sunlight and air.
I had these planters for years,
and been sitting on one corner of our garage.
These planters were filled with beautiful flowers from my previous employer
Alan Singer, President and CEO of Hollywood Center Studios.
One of my most favorite employers ever.
Very nice, smart, generous, and a well respected man.
Alan's niece had a big birthday party at his gorgeous home
overlooking the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles,
after the party, instead of discarding the beautiful flowers,
Alan and girlfriend offered to give the flowers to me
knowing that my daughter was having her big 3 year old party the next day.
It was perfect for her Cinderella party.
Our house were filled with gorgeous and fragrant flower.
Cinderella and Princess Aurora who came to grace the party
 were pretty amazed with all the flowers themselves.
Back to the orchids!
I transferred it to the large planter,
I kept the orchids in plastic container it came with, 
so it is easy to take out for watering.

Placed the plastic container  in the middle of the planter,
surround it with more orchid bark to keep it in place.
I topped it with the moss growing from my yard.
Added some pebbles for decorative purposes.
A gorgeous arrangement that will cost you about $50-$100
depending on what city you live in.
My cost $15.47.
Orchids was $10.59 plus tax and $ 4.88 for the orchids bark.
A gorgeous inexpensive arrangement to give to friends or to yourself!
  • Water your orchids once a week and let water completely drain out.
  • Mist your moss 2-3x a week so it doesn't dry out and die.
  • For more on Orchid care -> My Orchid Care

Saturday, September 1, 2012


I want to share my photos of the Blue Moon last night.
Despite of it's name,
the moon is not blue as some people expect.
It is the second moon in a calendar month
and it happens only once every
2-3 years.

To see a blue-colored moon is very rare,
 unusual sky conditions such as certain-sized particles of dust or smoke
can create blue-colored moon.
The last blue-colored moon was when Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines errupted in 1991.
And what a tribute to Neil Armstrong,
Blue Moon happened on the day of his Funeral.
"Godspeed, Neil Armstrong!"
I'm amaze with the shots I took with just using my T3i .Great camera!

Despite the thick clouds I manage to get a few great shots.

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