learning the art of cooking

When i was still living in my parent’s house, i never cook. My mother does all the cooking. She’s one talented cook. I remembered all the dishes she served us through the years and somehow they served as inspiration when it was time for me to cook for my own family.

Is cooking a talent or a skill? For me it is both. One needs to learn the skill to be able to know the techniques and be talented. While some learns faster and finds it easier some don’t. It is really the love of cooking that inspires us to be better, to try again and to improve our creation.

The need to serve delectable food on the table and my love for cooking made me  a good cook (that’s according to my children).  Over the years, i learned and continue to learn. I never follow an exact recipe but rather relies on inspiration from recipes that i read, or cooking shows that i’ve watched. The problem with recipes or in cooking shows is that either the ingredients are not available locally or just cannot be found or just plain expensive so there is a need to be creative in switching to an alternative ingredient which i do most of the time and that’s where my MAGIC goes to action.

For today, i am sharing my own version of SALMON PASTA WITH MUSHROOM AND SPINACH IN WHITE SAUCE. To put it simply it’s just an ordinary pasta dish with shredded salmon toppings. It is so easy to prepare.

Season salmon with salt, pepper and rosemary. Pan fried in oil (or add butter if you wish) til cooked. Set aside to cool and shred the meat. Then prepare white sauce or bechamel sauce. Put some butter on pan, add a little flour while constantly stirring then pour in milk (or add cream for a thicker sauce) and season with salt and pepper. (My secret ingredient is pork bouillon cube for the sauce flavoring). Add the shredded salmon, mushroom and spinach. Set aside some shredded salmon for toppings. Serve on cooked spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine or any pasta that you like.

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A post would not be complete without kitty photos. Sharing with you Puti’s adventures. She decided to dive into my bag. I’m not really sure what she’s looking for.. “Sweetie, i got no MILLIONS in my bag.”.

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Oh, what did you find? Sorry for interrupting your adventure kitty but mommy’s gotta go. 

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Puti my foster kitty has that habit of going inside of just about anything, bag or shopping bag, plastic bag which i am always closely monitoring for safety, cabinets and drawers. One advise for cat parents, never leave shopping bags, especially plastic ones just lying around the house. They should be kept properly as kitties love them and sometimes get stuck or snagged on their handles.

Happy Wednesday and i hope my kitty Puti made you smile today.

it’s saturday and i’m craving for pasta

Pasta is one of my favorite dishes to cook. They are so versatile and so simple to cook. There are a ton of ingredients to choose from to make a pasta dish and the possibilities are endless.

Today i am sharing with you my own version of Salmon and Spinach Pasta. Sounds delish right? Yes it is. My kids loved it. This is how i prepare it:

  • Cook pasta according to your liking.
  • In another pan, pan fry salmon slices in olive oil. Don’t forget to season it with salt and pepper before frying. Don’t overcook. Once done, shred into bite size pieces.
  • For pasta sauce, melt some butter in pan, add a bit of flour. Once cooked, slowly add milk and cream. Season with salt and pepper. For my secret ingredient i usually add chicken cube to make the best tasting sauce. Stir continuously until it thickens then add the shredded salmon and spinach leaves. Save some shredded salmon for toppings.
  • Once sauce is prepared, add in the cooked pasta, blend well and serve.

And here it is… presenting my own version … creamier, chunkier and loaded with more spinach which i love.

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my own version

My inspiration came from this dish which i have tasted in one of the popular restaurants.

restaurant version

restaurant version

Happy Saturday to all.

travel theme: big

I searched my archives for “BIG” photos and found mountains, roads, buildings, houses, trees and others. I’m sure that a lot of fellow bloggers would be posting about that so i decided a different approach in interpreting the travel theme challenge.

My “BIG” interpretation would be BIG APPETITE. Well, it has been raining non-stop since yesterday and i’m always being roused from my sleep last night because of the sound of the rain. The coolness of the weather makes me want to just stay in bed a little longer but i have hungry mouths to feed and some more mommy chores to do.

Today, i prepared these for lunch.

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mango kani salad

This salad is a favorite and it’s called the Mango Kani Salad. Kani means crab in Japanese. It only consists of shredded crabsticks, julienned cucumbers and mango. I will be adding kewpie or Japanese mayonnaise to serve. Yum!

For main course, i cooked my own version of Afritada which is ribs cooked in tomato sauce with carrots, potatoes and bell peppers. I just added some sugar to even out the sourness of tomato sauce. The kids love this dish.

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afritada

I’m sure these could really satisfy their BIG APPETITE.

Hey kids! it’s lunchtime!

Happy Monday to all.

Don’t forget to visit Ailsa’s blog to check out more photos of really “BIG” structures.

snack of the day: rice balls in coconut milk

It has been quite sometime since i posted something about cooking. Today, i’ll be sharing with you our snack of the day.

I spent my childhood days in the province and one of the most popular snacks would be rice balls in coconut milk. Back in those days, sticky rice grains would be finely ground by hand to make rice flour, adding some water to make it sticky enough to form into little balls. As children, we really enjoyed rolling the dough in our palms forming well.. not so perfect rice balls but it’s okay. Mature coconut would be grated by hand too. Hot water would then be added to grated coconut to wake it up, squeeze it to extract coconut milk. So tiring isn’t it?

Thankfully these days, rice balls also called tangyuan are now available in the supermarket and they come in a rainbow of different colors of pink, green and white. Coconut milk is readily available in cans or tetra packs and even in powder form too. No fuss and no worries that i could make this snack anytime. This is my daughter’s favorite snack.

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rice balls in coconut milk

The ingredients are super simple.

1 pack of mini rice balls (as written in the package: do not defrost)
2 tetra packs of coconut milk
sugar to taste

For the procedure, just let the coconut milk boil for a while then add the rice balls and add sugar to taste. Don’t forget to stir it constantly to prevent the rice balls to stick together. It’s quite easy to know when the rice balls are cooked. If you see them rise up and all plumped up then it’s cooked. I usually reserve some coconut milk that i drizzle on top upon serving.

I love the chewy texture of the rice balls as complemented by the creaminess and the richness of the coconut milk.

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rainbow rice ball

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coconut milk

cheezy tater tots

I’ve had some frozen tater tots sitting inside my freezer for quite sometime now and here’s what i did to make it super delectable and yummy.

Good thing that all the ingredients are readily available in my fridge and pantry.

  • ground pork
  • cheddar cheese (grated)
  • mozarella cheese (grated)
  • cheese sauce
  • bell pepper (diced)
  • onion (diced)
  • garlic (finely diced)
  • cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat some oil in the pan, toss in the garlic followed by the onion, diced bell pepper and then the ground pork.  Season it with a little salt and some ground pepper.  Just let it cook for a while then add cream and cheese sauce plus the grated cheddar cheese.

In a rectangular baking pan, arrange a layer of tater tots then add some of the ground meat mixture, top with some grated cheddar and mozarella cheese.  Repeat procedure for the 2nd layer.   Cover the baking pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees.  After about an hour bake again uncovered for a few minutes more to make the cheese topping melt as well as give it a slight brown texture.

I was delighted about the outcome since my kids really loved it.

Sharing with you some photos of my creation.

cheezy tater tots

cheezy tater tots

cheezy tater tots

happy new year!

I promised my hubby (who is sea-based) that i would be posting the photos of the food that we shared during the new year celebration.  So, here they are, our simple new year feast.

fresh fruit platter that i made consisting of dragon fruits, pears and apples

macaroni salad prepared by my sister

beef kare-kare, a specialty of my sister-in-law

chicken roasted in turbo broiler prepared by my mother

oven baked baby back ribs, my own specialty and the kids' favorite

sausages grilled perfectly on hot charcoal

grilled pork belly that i just seasoned simply with salt

my perfect dipping sauce for grilled pork and fish (see my previous blog entry)

grilled fresh tilapia, my brother's favorite.

novellino wine

Adding to the excitement of everyone, meet Jack, the two month old puppy who is the new member of the family.  He is so cute and adorable.  Who could resist this little face of cuteness overload..  He provided us with his own ways to entertain us.  I guess we all fell in love with Jack.  If you could only see how his teeny-weeny tail wag.. so cute.

jack, new member of the family

I became more excited when i received this souvenir Burj-Dubai paper weight as a gift from my sister who arrived home just to spend the holidays with us.  She never fails to give us nice little gifts from Dubai.

paper weight

Everyone really had fun.  I had fun too even if i missed my hubby so much.

Welcome 2012!

oven-baked BBQ back ribs

I have always been the type of a person who cooks without any preparation at all.  What i usually do is i just buy a variety of meat, fish, and vegetables in the grocery when i do my weekly shopping then by the time i want to cook i just pick out the ingredients in the fridge.  The type of menu will always depend on what ingredients i have at the moment.

Most often during lunch or dinner, the kids would ask me the name of my recipe and when i say i don’t know, they would have a strange look on their faces.  But even then, its a great pleasure and joy upon hearing them commenting how delicious and delightful my creations are.

When i cook a meal, i would base it on food shows that i see on tv, from what i read and from what i see and eat when dining out.  So, i usually get inspirations from them.

One of my specialties is bbq back ribs or shall i say oven-baked ribs.   Instead of grilling it in charcoal, i cooked it in the oven instead.  For full flavor, i marinated it overnight with bbq sauce and making use of the meat injector so the marinade will really penetrate deep inside the meat.  For the recipe, it’s so easy, nothing fancy and extraordinary.  It’s just a matter of picking out the best brand of bbq marinade at the grocery, make some diagonal shallow or slight slices on the meat, pour out the bbq marinade fully covering the slab , use the meat injector (if you wish) for more flavor to the meat, leave it overnight and the next day, pop it in the oven.  That’s it.

Here’s a photo of my creation.

bbq back ribs

The kids couldn’t wait.  After slicing them in individual ribs, they are gone in a flash.  Everytime my son’s classmates come here at home, it’s always been their favorite .  Just some time later, this is how it looks.

the boys loved it, and this is all what's left