you complete me

There is only one thing in my kids’ mind when you ask them about their ultimate comfort food… it’s lasagna. (See below if you want to know my lasagna recipe). And what is lasagna without cheese, lots of cheese? My fridge is never without cheeses… cream cheese, quick melt cheese, cheddar and mozzarella.

Cheese makes everything delightful. It is so FLAVORFUL, so good, so addicting. It is so versatile too. It could be an appetizer, a dip, mixed with desserts and great for baking/cooking. Just thinking about it makes me want to grab for some bread right now and make a grilled cheese sandwich. Cheese… you complete me. Yum!

How about you? What’s your ultimate comfort food?


My lasagna recipe. (I’m sure i already blogged about this but i’m sharing it again)

As a busy mom, i oftentimes make shortcuts when cooking. So i use ready bake lasagna sheets and store bought spaghetti sauce when i cook the ground meat. I sometimes make use of mozzarella sheets if i have them. It’s not often available so grated mozzarella is the next best thing. If out of mozzarella or on a budget? I also make use of quick melt cheese.

For the white sauce. Just melt butter in pan, add some flour, stir to cook and slowly add milk. Stir to prevent lumps. Season with salt to taste or in my recipe i just drop a pork bouillon cube to add more flavor. You may add some cream too for that creamier texture. Bring it to boil with constant stirring to make it even more glossy.

For the ground meat. I usually buy a combination of pork and beef. Based on my own experience, purely ground beef results to an oilier meat sauce. Put ground meat on pan, add some salt, chopped garlic and onion. When cooked, stir in store bought spaghetti sauce. Give it a dash of italian seasoning, some salt if needed and a little sugar to balance acidity. Simmer and set aside.

For layering. Just alternate white sauce and ground meat on a baking pan adding some mozzarella if you want an ooey-gooey lasagna but quick melt cheese will do just fine. I bake it for about 40 minutes with the pan covered in foil at first to prevent burnt cheese topping then i remove the foil covering and bake it just a little more time until the topping has a golden glaze. (Tip: To test if your pasta is cooked, just pierce it with a toothpick or a chopstick and you will know and feel if it’s done.)

Cool… serve… and enjoy! Best paired with toasted french bread with garlic parsley butter spread.

Boots: Mom… did you just say LASAGNA?
Mom: Yuppp! Oh! I thought you’ve just eaten ’cause you still have food stains on your mouth, hahaha… 

feeling italian

My new year is starting nicely. We are experiencing colder weather brought about by the northeast monsoon or the cold wind that blows into the country from Siberia. The cold breeze is a welcome relief from the usual summery weather and this will last until about February. So… what to do on a cold and misty day? ….. EAT OF COURSE !!!

I may not be as great as a chef but for my children i have the SUPERPOWER to create beautiful dishes that bring comfort and happiness in their every bite. Sharing with you two of our family’s favorite and enjoyable meals.

Italian Roasted Chicken with Baby Potatoes and Carrots
Italian roasted chicken is so easy to prepare. Marinate chicken thighs, baby potatoes and carrots with Italian seasoning, olive oil and salt and pepper. Pan fry chicken thighs til slightly brown on both sides and transfer to a baking tray lined with carrots and potatoes at the bottom. By doing so, the potatoes and carrots wouldn’t dry out when exposed to roasting as they will absorb all the juices of chicken upon roasting. Bake covered with foil and when done, bake uncovered for some minutes until skin becomes a bit crispy and golden. Believe me, they are absolutely delicious. The potatoes and carrots are sweet, soft and delightful.

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Marinara Sauce
Marinara sauce is the most incredibly simple sauce to prepare needing only the most basic ingredients like garlic, onions, tomatoes and herbs. Just cook minced garlic and onion in olive oil, add diced tomatoes in can, season with salt and pepper with lots of Italian seasoning. Italian seasoning is readily available at the spice section at the supermarket or you may prepare the combination by yourself. It is a mixture of dried basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram and oregano. I added some sugar to my sauce to give it a hint of sweetness complemented by the tangy, tarty and citrusy taste of tomatoes. For added texture i add fresh finely diced de-seeded tomatoes  Simmer for a while and the result is deep and luscious MARINARA SAUCE a perfect combination for my mac and cheese balls. I think this is one of the most versatile sauces. It could be a dipping sauce, a pasta sauce and a base sauce for any meat and seafood too.

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Cooking may be a bit tiring but oh so worth it. After all, food is always the center of family gatherings. Happy tummy means happy kids.

Happy 5th day of 2017. I hope your new year is starting great.

mushroom and vegetable chips

I hope everyone is having an awesome Wednesday.

I had some free time today and managed to clear out the garage of clutter. It was tiring but so worth it. As a reward for myself i munched on my new found love and addiction… mushroom chips.

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I super love the crunchiness in every bite. It has that deep umami flavor that brings out the taste of the mushroom. I’m quite sure it is dehydrated thus it doesn’t have the greasiness found in most chips. Unfortunately it is not available locally which means i need to tell my sister that the next time she comes home from Dubai, she should bring me lots and lots more of these chips as they are so incredibly good. I think this is a healthier version of the usual kind of chips. Based on the product description, there is no chemical preservatives as it only contains canola oil, salt and sugar.

Last night i tried the vegetable chips… they are absolutely addicting too.

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I love the crunchiness of the vegetables. Like the mushroom chips, these are also dehydrated and almost greaseless. Included in the pouch are sweet potato, purple sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, green bean, okra and onion. Oh gosh, it’s heavenly in every bite. I could taste the sweetness of the veggies and that hint of saltiness from the sea salt. Too bad, these are also not available locally.

It’s 3 days before new year and sooner it will be Star’s birthday too. Yep, she was born December 31 and will soon be turning 5. How time flies. Will surely give Star lots of cheers and kisses on her birthday… and gifts too.

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In response to The Daily Post daily prompt: OVATION.

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.

fun things to do on a rainy day

I love rainy days. While some people hates it, i do find it relaxing. Besides it is an excuse for staying longer in bed. But why is it that sometimes we feel sad when it rains? Must be the effects of the sound of the rain as it trickle on the window, or the gloomy surroundings that the dark clouds bring. But for me, rain only means one thing…. FUN and FOOD.

So, to set the mood up, here are the things that i usually do on a rainy day.

  • cook a favorite dish …

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“I just pan seared porkchops which i seasoned with mixed herbs and sea salt. in oil and butter till golden brown on both sides and finished cooking them in the oven. Result: moist porchops, fork tender and so delish… “

  • listen or watch the rain as it falls.. not only it is mesmerizing but also relaxing
  • eat comfort food.. sweets or desserts are on my number one list

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“Just add milk. or in this case oats milk to a bowl of chickpeas… ah so divine…” 

  • watch my kitties as they curl up in a ball to stay warm, or just groom each other.

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“Lickety-lickety lick… Kuting is definitely loving it.”

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“cute kitty puddle… “

  • take photos of raindrops on flowers .. yes, doing this all the time.
  • dance under the rain.. no age limit, just have fun doing it.
  • read magazines over a cup of hot coffee
  • or maybe all of the above…

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“Hey Tiger, wait for me… i will take a nap too.. gotta get our fleece blanket first.”

Cool weather plus comfort food plus the simple luxury of the softness of my couch plus the warmth of my nap buddy Tiger equals pure bliss. Happy Sunday!

pink dragons

I consider the dragon fruit as the MUSE of all the exotic fruits that i know and tasted. Its pink fluorescent color is so vibrant and attractive. What makes this fruit unique is that it is actually a fruit of a specie of cactus plant. The fruit has soft leathery peel that is bright pink and is covered by scales or fins hence the name. The flesh is either deep magenta or white in color depending upon the variety, and the taste is similar to a pear or kiwi but with a mild and delicate taste that is delightfully refreshing. Personally, I prefer the deep magenta flesh because it is sweeter.

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How to eat a dragon fruit? Just slice the fruit (no worries, it will cut easily) and scoop out the flesh. Doesn’t want to use a spoon? No problem, cut it in quarters, peel back the skin (you’ll be surprised how easy you could peel off the skin) and bite into it. Don’t worry about the seeds, they are edible much like a kiwi fruit.

Today’s weather has been really crazy. One moment we experience a heavy downpour and the next moment sunshine. I am feeling so lazy and the kitties are too, preferring to take a nap than play. Anyway, here’s two of my best buds Tiger and Boots saying hi. “Hello WP friends.”

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everything heals

As i contemplate on what my life has become, i wondered if all the things that happened are a form of PUNISHMENT. Maybe i was bad in my previous life or just plain unlucky in love. My first marriage ended in failure. I became a single mom and i tried with all my might to provide my kids their needs. Sometimes i wake up in the middle of the night just crying because i just felt so tired… physically and mentally tired. It is no joke caring for three kids all your own. But i triumphed. Although my life was not that good i did a good job.

Years later, i remarried and i thought everything would be even better. Or so i thought. Because after fifteen years, it would end… it was a failure because of his cheating. I had to deal with a lot of challenges again and struggle with all the emotional trauma and regrets. Yes, there are a lot of regrets. All those years wasted because of his stupid mistake. I couldn’t bring back those precious time but i believe that everything heals.

Everything heals. Your body heals. Your heart heals. The mind heals. Wounds heal. Your soul repairs itself. Your happiness is always going to come back. Bad times don’t last. – LessonsLearnedInLife.

I know that it isn’t easy to achieve happiness but past relationships should not ruin future happiness. I know it is easily said than done but it would be really unfair to myself if i would not give it a try … one day at a time.

Don’t let past relationships ruin your future happiness. Scars remind us of where we’ve been not where we are going. – Unknown – TinyBuddha.com

Oh well, inspite of all the drama, i am feeling grateful about a lot of things. I am grateful for flowers around us as they help in calming the mind and the body.

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I am grateful for a little bit of cooking knowledge because i find it relaxing and at the same time fulfilling and all the food i have created and recipes invented are the CHERRY ON TOP.

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I am grateful for my wonderful cats because they always make me smile. Here’s a video of my rescued cats Ashton and Kuting grooming each other. Please enjoy!

Flower, food and cats equals happiness.