Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Harissa Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa

Because I left you with such a heavy, stick-to-your-ribs dish last week, I thought to share something a little bit lighter now, lest you think I am totally over-indulgent (although that wouldn’t be too far from the truth).  While I do admit that I am leagues away from being a virtuous eater, I don’t eat rich, fat/meat/starch/pastry-laden meals every day.  I do, however, maintain that I only ever eat food that I like.  I cannot, even if I wanted to (and why would I want to??), eat food that feels like punishment.  Food, for me, is about pleasure. 

And not all pleasure need be guilty.

Anything that I eat, or post, that looks healthy is eaten only because I think it is delicious.  Never for the sole reason of its health benefits.  I love oats and anything cereal-y or grain-y (although grains are getting quite the bad reputation nowadays…I can never keep up with what is good or bad so I don’t even try). Search for “oatmeal” in this blog and you will see just how much I worship at its altar.  I love vegetables and have a secret love affair with vegetarian food (as illicit as can be for a meat lover like me).  I love tofu…in all its forms, except when it is trying to be meat (Is tofu out now? Or in? Again, I can never follow).  A bowl of perfectly steamed broccoli drizzled with the best olive oil you can find and spattered generously with sea salt is one of my favorite things in the world (yes, right up there with pork crackling and foie gras).

So quinoa…love it, don’t care if it’s in or out or somewhere in between.  It is nutty and chewy pearls of goodness that you can have both savory and sweet.  And it just so happens to be good for you.

Harissa Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa
  • 3 Asian eggplants, sliced diagonally
  • 2 white onions, each cut lengthwise into eighths
  • 1 400-gram can chickpeas, drained
  • 3 roasted and peeled red peppers, sliced (you can used bottled or canned, or why not roast your own?  Here’s how!)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons harissa
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • To serve: garlic yogurt and chopped green onions

- In a bowl that will fit all the eggplant, onion, and chickpeas, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, harissa, and honey.  Taste it and season with salt and pepper.  You want it slightly saltier than normal as the flavor will soften when you mix this with the vegetables.  Feel free to add more harissa or honey if you want it spicier or sweeter.
- Toss all the eggplant, onions, and chickpeas into the dressing and mix until everything is coated in the honey-harissa mixture.  Tumble this all out into a baking dish that will fit all the vegetables in one layer.
- Roast the vegetables in a pre-heated 400F oven for about 30 minutes, tossing once or twice.  Add the roasted peppers to the pan, turn through, and roast for another 15 minutes or so, until the eggplant and onions are soft and yielding and everything has taken on a burnished tone.
- While the vegetables are roasting, make your quinoa.  Take 1 cup of quinoa and rinse thoroughly.  Place the rinsed quinoa in a pot with 2 cups or water and sprinkle in a bit of salt.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until quinoa is cooked though (it should still maintain some bite and should not be mushy).  If you find there is still excess water when it is done simple strain the quinoa well, and then transfer to a plate, fluffing with a fork.
- When the vegetables are ready, pile some quinoa in a bowl, top with some of the roasted vegetables (make sure everyone gets a bit of everything!), dollop on some garlic yogurt, sprinkle on some green onions, and enjoy!

Since I work from home lunch is usually a solitary affair, except for now when the little one is off school.  So it is usually at lunch (i.e. when the husband is at work) that I have these little quasi-vegetarian meals.  I eat meat (and how!), make no mistake, but I love these bowls stuffed to the gills with vegetables and grains/seeds.  And this is a favorite combination.

About the garlic yogurt: Garlic yogurt, or some form of yogurt sauce, is something I make a lot.  It’s great because you can make it in small quantities so there’s no waste…also perfect for eating solo.  And, it’s healthy and delicious.  Just take some spoonfuls of Greek yogurt, add finely minced garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  To this you can add chopped herbs, or, as I particularly like with this dish, more harissa and some cumin.

Something I do that makes all this easy for me (and for you as well if you are thinking of injecting more vegetables in your life) is having a lot of already cooked and prepped vegetables and grains at the ready.  Cooked quinoa, brown rice, or barley in the fridge, along with steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and peas; roasted red peppers, eggplants, onions, and root vegetables.  I also like having a can of chickpeas in the pantry for meals like this (or any form of beans/legumes either cooked fresh or canned – I’m not averse to convenience).  If you have everything ready to go, the easier it will be to put lovely things like this together (and yes, easier to eat healthy and not fall into the trap of grabbing that leftover slice of pizza!).

So whether you are a paragon of virtue (and if you are I salute you!) or, like me, just someone who enjoys delicious things (sometimes good, sometimes wicked) do give this a try.  I hope you like it!

What are you planning for Easter?  We are staying in the city (which will be devoid of traffic…hooray!) for a suburban staycation and all manners of lazing around.  Maybe an Easter egg hunt for the little ones.  If I’m not back here until then, I wish you all a wonderful Easter holiday!

Friday, April 04, 2014


I don’t have an actual exact fabada recipe that I follow.  I have basically cobbled together bits and pieces from the way different people in my family (my mom, my dad, my uncle…you get the picture) make fabada, coupled with what I personally enjoy in it.  I've never posted it before because I didn't really have a recipe to share.  But people have asked and so I've decided to share the story of my fabada, if not the recipe, here with you.

There are people who would argue what exactly makes a traditional fabada...that is not an argument I want any part of.  I make it my way because that is the way I like it.  I like my fabada thick and hearty, deeply flavored and packed with both beans and meat.  The kind of meal you would give a hungry sailor after he had been out to sea for a month.  Others prefer it soupier and lighter…if you are one of those people, this fabada may not be for you. 

So…if you are from the hungry sailor school…let’s get started!  What I am going to give you is my basic method, a framework, the range of ingredients I use, what I do to them, and why.  You can then play around as you heart desires!

Obviously.  Some people prefer small white beans, some prefer the jumbo specimens, but I really like how the medium ones turn out, so that is what I use.  Strangely enough, my favorite so far are these ones. I say strange because they are not Spanish. If you’d like something a little more authentic you can go to Terry’s Selection and knock yourself out.  They have both little white beans and the huge ones that seem to be so popular with everyone else but me.  I’m sticking to my favorites (which you can find in Santis Delicatessen).  I’m more of a happy medium person myself anyway. Whatever you choose, use dried and make this from scratch.  I am not averse to shortcuts (in fact I have published a “cheat’s" version of fabada in Yummy magazine many moons ago), but this is the long slow road to bliss version.

I use two kinds: bilbao (which I think is only referred to as “bilbao” in the Philippines) or any deeply flavored, dark red Spanish cooking chorizo, and morcilla (Spanish blood sausage).  For the chorizo bilbao/cooking chorizo: I like to use something fairly fresh (i.e. not from a can) but strong, because it will need to share all its flavor with the resulting stew.  Usually the wrinkly looking dark ones are good – but you want to make sure they are cooking chorizo, NOT the type that you slice and eat for drinks and nibbles.  If I see some that say “viejo” I’ll usually get one to just make the stock good and strong.  I like to get the house-made chorizo bilbao from Alba’s restaurant or the chorizo from Terry’s Selection.  For the morcilla: I get this from Terry’s, nowhere else.

Ham Bone or Ham Hock
This is, no pun intended, the back bone of this dish.  It is what gives it depth of flavor and body and, not to wax religious or anything, a soul.  If you can get the bone of a jamon Serrano then you are in luck.  This is the best and will impart awesome flavor to your fabada that will push it further than you ever thought it could go.  I sometimes find some in Alba’s but you have to seriously stalk them for it.  You may be able to get from Terry’s as well – I haven’t tried but it’s on the to-do list.  If your family buys legs of jamon and you get to keep the bone, let’s be friends.  Worth the wait and the effort however way you get it.  If you can’t manage a jamon Serrano bone don’t despair.  I have used other, more readily available ham bones with great results (Majestic and Excelente).  Another lovely option is to use a ham hock…a small bone-in ham (from the hock, which is the ankle or thereabouts).  Then you have both the flavor and the ham meat.  If you are using just the bone you can buy jamon Serrano bits from Terry’s or, failing that, can use any other ham bits.

I use slab bacon, not the sliced ones you have for breakfast – I like seeing hefty chunk in my stew.  I get this from Santis (where they will slice from a big slab to your specifications) or from most supermarkets (in Rustans they have what they call “picnic bacon” which comes in a small slab which will do as well).  I have also tried it with Tyrolean bacon (from Santis).  More recently I used guanciale which I had around and it was fantastic.

I use onion, garlic, black pepper, bay leaf, and dried oregano.  This is what my mom uses and so I do to.  They impart a familiar waft of scent that forever ties fabada to my childhood…which is one of the other reasons I love it so.  Also, from my dad, pimenton de La Vera.  Get the type that has a Denominación de Origen – those are the only ones that really taste of smoky Spanish fantasies.  Just trust me on that.  Sometimes, if I want to give it a kick, I add 1 or 2 (or 3) long green finger chilis (siling pang-sigang).  No salt – with this much cured meat you will hardly ever need to add salt.

The Method/s

I actually have two, and each takes two days.  Don’t panic!  The reason it takes two days is precisely because I like to avoid panic.  I chop up the work so you never feel too overwhelmed with effort.

Before you get started: Soak the beans…if you want.  Yes, I don’t really have a strong opinion here.  I’ve forgotten this step many times.  The will just need to cook for longer.  It has never resulted in disaster.

Method 1/Day 1
Make your ham stock:
Put the ham bone in a big pot with a couple of onions (peeled and cut in half), some garlic (peeled and left whole), a bay leaf, and some black pepper.  Cover with water by a good 2 inches.  Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer.  Skim away any scum and simmer for about 3 hours (or more!) until stock is fragrant and tasty.  You want it to have reduced and be full of flavor.  When done, pick the ham bits off the bone (or the meat if you used a ham hock) and set aside.  Strain stock and set aside.

Method 1/Day 2
Place a large pot over medium high heat and add some olive oil.  Sauté some chopped garlic (about 5 cloves) and onions (one large) until the onion starts to soften.  Add the dried oregano (my mom used to make a small cup in the palm of her hand and use that to measure), a bay leaf, and some ground pepper.  You can also add the chili now if you are using.  When the onions are soft add the chorizo bilbao (I use around 3 pieces, sliced fairly thickly…I like chunks!).  Sauté until the chorizo starts rendering some of its orange oil then add the bacon slab (I use around 400-500 grams, cut into hefty chunks).  Sauté just to seal the bacon pieces, then add ham bits/meat and beans (I use 2 400-gram packs of the beans I mentioned above).  Add a good couple of teaspoons full of pimenton and then stir to coat everything.  Add the stock so the liquid is more or less 1 to 3 inches over your ingredients (this all depends how soupy you want it…you can always add more stock later).  Bring to boil then lower heat to a slow simmer.  An hour or so into the cooking time, add a whole peeled onion and a whole unpeeled head of garlic.  After another hour add the morcilla (about 2 pieces, thickly sliced).  Stir gently as the morcilla is very soft and you don’t want it to be totally disintegrated.  Cook until the beans are soft, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking or scorching.  Taste throughout to see if it needs more seasoning or if you need to add more stock.

Method 2/Day 1
(All approximate quantities the same as in Method 1)
In a big pot place the beans, the ham bone or ham hock, chorizo bilbao (whole), bacon slab (whole), one or two whole onions (peeled), a whole head of garlic (unpeeled), two bay leaves, some black pepper corns, dried oregano, and the chili if using.  Cover with water by a good 2-3 inches.  Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer.  Skim off any scum.  Let this cook long and slow until everything is soft and yielding.  Stir occasionally just to make sure everything is going as planned and nothing is sticking.  This will take hours but you can get a ton of things done while waiting.  Remove the meats as they cook and soften, and set aside.  The chorizo is usually done first, followed by the bacon.  You want to wait until they are nice and tender.  If you are using a ham hock it will usually be done the last (before the beans).  If you are using a ham bone just keep it in until the beans are soft.  You want (or more to the point, I want) the beans to be soft and creamy, without turning into mush, although some may and that's ok because it will thicken the stew.  Test about 4-5 beans to make sure they are done.  When the beans are soft, turn off the heat.  Tuck all your cooked meats, and the beans when cooled, separately, into your fridge for a nice rest.

Method 2/Day 2
Take your meats and beans out.  Cut the chorizo and bacon slab into nice hearty chunks.  If your ham bits are already smallish do not chop further.  If you’ve used a whole ham hock then shred the meat with a fork, again, quite chunkily.  Slice the morcilla thickly.  Get some new bacon and chop into lardons.  Chop an onion and some garlic.  Place a pot on medium high heat and, when hot, add a couple of generous swirls of olive oil.  Add the morcilla slices to the hot oil and pan-fry on each side until just cooked.  This will take a couple of minutes max, if that.  You don’t want to overdo it.  Remove the morcilla from the pan and set aside (I like to add the morcilla to the fabada last so that it doesn’t disintegrate).  At this point you can, and I sometimes do, fry new chorizo bilbao, likewise thickly sliced, and then set aside to also add later.  This way you have some freshly cooked chorizo along with the chorizo you boiled yesterday.  Why not?  You only live once.  Now you have a decision to make.  Take a look at all the orange-tinted oil in the pan.  That glorious, chorizo-scented oil.  Do you want all of that in your fabada?  Or do you want to be prudent and remove some of it?  The choice is yours friend.  Do what your heart tells you is right.  Nobody is watching.  Ok, now add the onions and garlic to the morcilla/chorizo-stained oil (however much or little you left).  Sauté until the onions soften.  Add all your chopped meats and a good couple of teaspoons full of pimenton and toss to coat everything.  Things are going to look angry-orange and crazy-wonderful.  At this point, if you have any lying around, you can deglaze the pot with some glugs of wine, scraping all the wonderful bits from the bottom of the pan.  Now add your beans and mix gently, trying not to crush the beans but not making too big a deal if some take a hit.  Add some freshly cracked black pepper and the morcilla (and extra chorizo if you decided to add some).  Mix (gently!) and taste.  Does it need salt?  Most of the time, it doesn’t so do not try to salt this dish at any point aside from the very end (and I’ve never had to).  I also sometimes add more pimenton or black pepper if I feel it’s lacking in the smoky department.  If the fabada seems to be too dry for your tastes just add some water and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

You are done!!  You now (hopefully) have a good, homey, comforting, cure-all-ills, stick-to-your-ribs fabada that can feed hungry sailors.  You can make this a day before because it benefits from “sitting” for a bit.  My dirty secret: I love fabada on day 5, when it has started to, um, age like a good vintage ;)  But that’s only for experienced bean eaters.

You can have this with a good hunk of crusty bread, or, as we are more inclined to do in these parts, with a good mound of steaming rice and a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar.

Despite this painfully lengthy post, or maybe as evidenced by it, the most important ingredients in fabada are love and patience.  Tend it well, don’t rush it, and it will repay you in spades.

Like I said, there are many ways to cook fabada.  This is mine.  Remember, fabada, and all eating, at least to me, is about pleasure.  And no one can tell you how you should experience pleasure – only you.  So my wish is that you make this your own.  Have fun and happy cooking!

***If you have any questions about the procedure, ingredients, or suppliers feel free to drop me a comment or email! :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Something is horribly wrong with my internet connection.  I’m loading and reloading web pages, checking and rechecking my email on the treacherous MS Outlook, starting and restarting my router…and yet still, the connection remains tenuous, sporadic, wonky.  I sigh noisily in frustration.  How can I work??  How can I do anything??

Being almost fully dependent on the internet for my job, and being likewise dependent on it for my hobby (this blog), leaves me, as you can imagine, in quite the frazzled state when my ISP decides to toy with me.  I can neither work nor play.  As I sit here and write this though, offline, I scratch my head and think…when did I, when did we all, get so dependent on technology?  I am part of that generation that straddled the time before the internet, and the time after.  I used a typewriter during university to write my papers (no delete, no editing, no copy/paste, and no spell check).  If I wanted to call my parents from school I used a payphone.  Planning jaunts with friends was based on your word of honor, there was no possibility of “texting” to say you couldn’t make it or were running late.  I can still remember those times so clearly, cast in the golden glow of a bygone era.

I also remember clearly, the moment the internet arrived.  We had dial-up (Oh that strange dial-up screech!) and I thought it was the cat's meow.  There were prehistoric chat rooms, all monochrome and basic, with none of the Technicolor bells and whistles social media has today.  There was my brother and I, jockeying for turns to “connect”.  I remember my first mobile phone…huge, unwieldy thing.  I remember the thrill of communicating through SMS.  After that, in what seemed to be a blink of an eye, although it’s really been decades, this new way to connect and communicate gained such size and speed and fantastical proportions that now many cannot imagine the world before it.

And as I sit here anxiously checking if the connection is up and running, I take a step back, a deep breath, and a little reality check.  There’s a reason it’s called “virtual”.  A lot of the times, best kinds of connections and the real and old fashioned ones.  A hug, a kiss, eye contact, a hand on an arm in emphasis, or one on the back for guidance and protection while crossing the street, your baby’s little hand grasping your finger with surprising strength, your dog’s warm body beside you in bed, a sonnet read aloud, happy tears, the way your mom smells.

Baking cookies for your child’s last day of school.


Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted very slightly from the Ambitious Kitchen)
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 jar of Nutella, chilled in the refrigerator
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. 
- Melt the butter in a skillet until browned (not burned!), with a warm nutty aroma. You can find a fantastic tutorial on browning butter over at Simply Recipes. Set aside to cool a bit.
- Mix the butter and sugars in an electric mixer until thoroughly blended (give it a sniff…this mixture smells awesome, like all your candy dreams come true!).  Beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined.  To this, slowly add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
- Place the cookie dough in the refrigerator overnight (which I now try to do with all my chocolate chip cookie dough since this), or at least for 2 hours (to chill enough so you can form the dough).
- Once the dough is chilled measure about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball.  Flatten the dough very thinly into the palm of your hand.  Place 1 teaspoon of the chilled Nutella in the middle and wrap the dough around it.  Gently roll the ball and make sure that the Nutella is not seeping out anywhere.  Use little bits of dough to patch up any holes.
- Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet (I don’t feel the need to flatten the dough anymore as per the original recipe).  Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for 9-11 minutes or until the edges of the cookie begin to turn golden brown.  They will look a bit underdone in the middle but that’s ok, they will continue to cook out of the oven. 
- Cool the cookie on the pans for about 2 minutes then sprinkle with a little se salt.  Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies were a resounding success with little C’s classmates and teachers.  I didn’t put any sea salt on the batch I sent to school with her but I did try some with and it is toe-curling good.  Really.  The cookie itself resonates with that nutty burnt caramel flavor you get from brown butter and the chewy, Nutella-seeping center can cure a myriad of ills.  This is now tied in first place for my favorite along with THIS one.  Like will most of the cookies I make, I only bake what I will use and freeze the rest of the dough, either in logs, or in the case of these Nutella-stuffed ones, in balls.  I can think of no greater comfort that knowing you have frozen cookie dough in your freezer, for, you know, “emergencies”.

Albeit I don’t get to do it that often, what with work and life and all that jazz, I love this act of making something for my child to bring to school and share with her friends.  Just the very old-fashioned, home-and-hearth-ness of it makes me feel I am giving her something good and solid (despite the fact that what I am really giving her is chocolate and sweets!).  It also, I fervently hope, makes up for the fact that I will most likely never teach her to finger-paint or do origami.

Don’t be misled though, I am in no way of the camp that decries the internet as “evil”.  I love the internet!  Which should be obvious as sit here and post on my blog…an activity that would be impossible without the internet and has, for me, lost none of its charm.  I love how it has given me another way to reach out, interact, and connect with people I would have otherwise never had the chance to.  It can truly be a wonderful tool.  But it is only one of many.  And even with the frustration of dealing with an iffy connection when you are trying to get work done, I am happy to be reminded of that.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Orange Ginger Chicken

As summer rolls around, we all look for ways to escape the steamy city fug.  Sometimes that means jetting off to one of our 7,000 (plus, plus) islands to lie on white beaches, sip chilled fruit drinks, and marvel at glorious sunsets.  Other times it means packing a whole host of toys and snacks into our car and driving to the suburbs – to one of our friends who are lucky enough to have both a garden and a pool – for a much needed break from the heat that our concrete jungle so skillfully traps within its walls.

The other week, with city-escape in mind, we were at friends’ house for swimming and barbecue.  They have a wonderful home with spacious garden where the kids can run around, a pool where everyone can cool off, and a grill that looks like a little space pod.  They also have a mango tree that produces the best Indian mangoes that are absolute magic with bagoong (shrimp paste).  It is usually while lazing on a lounge chair under that tree, eating those mangoes with the aforementioned shrimp paste, listening to the birds we do not hear in our city flat, that C and I dream and wonder, for one glorious minute (or two), about packing it all in and moving to the suburbs.

Anyway.  It was during that barbecue that I met this lovely girl.  We sat beside each other for lunch and chatted away about food and kids and dancing and the possibilities of a zumba class in my future.  We talked about feeding our kids healthy stuff, and homemade food that was quick and easy.  With a friend, she had written a cookbook about that very subject!  And shyly offered me a copy…would I like one?  Um, yes please and thank you :)

Here’s one of the recipes…

Orange Ginger Chicken
(adapted from Healthy Cooking for Happy Kids by Katrina Ripoll and Lara Saunders)
  • 6 pieces chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • A dash of sesame oil
  • Optional: a dash of chili oil

- In a bowl, mix together the marmalade, soy sauce, ginger, water, garlic, sesame oil, and chili oil if using.
- Pat your chicken pieces with a paper towel until very dry.  Place in one layer in a baking tray or pyrex dish.  Pour about 2/3 of the marmalade mixture on top and save the rest for basting.  Rub the marmalade mixture all over the chicken.
- Place the chicken in a pre-heated 350F oven for about 45 minutes – 1 hour or until chicken is done (when there’s no pink in the juices when pierced), basting with the reserved sauce and pan juices about 2-3 times throughout.
- When the chicken is done, transfer pieces to a platter.  Transfer all the juices and sauce from the baking dish into a pan, together with any remaining sauce that you used for basting.  Simmer rapidly for a couple of minutes or until slightly reduced.  Serve alongside the chicken.

The original recipe uses chicken breast fillets and pan fries them, and then adds the sauce to the pan, letting it bubble away for a bit.  I didn’t have any breast fillets, but I always have chicken thighs hanging around so I used those.  And because I prefer cooking in the oven rather than on the hob (because ultimately I am lazy) I decided to bake them.  I’ll give myself plus points though because I used homemade marmalade (here’s the recipe).

I loved how this turned out.  Firstly, let me just say I could drink this sauce.  Just from the first lick I knew I would like the finished product.  It’s sweet, savory, sticky, and if you use the chili oil, can also have a bit of a kick.  Basically all that I gravitate towards in a sauce.  So, at that point, I was already sold.  Added to that, it’s a breeze to make and quite thrifty too if you consider chicken being one of the most affordable meats here.  This is definitely going to be made again…along with other variations: maybe with prawns next time (not so thrifty but we all deserve a splurge sometimes right??).

There are more dishes I’ve bookmarked to try, like the World Cup Chilean Chicken and the Sunny Mango Sponge cake.  What I like about this cookbook is its relaxed and approachable vibe.  It focuses on the basic concepts of healthy eating without being too stringent about it, especially important and appealing I think for moms who, between work and family, have hardly a moment to cook.  I also secretly like that it’s written by two Filipino moms – I love seeing more Filipinos out there, being published and sharing their great ideas with the world!

Maybe I’ll be making one of these recipes for our next suburban potluck…let’s see!  Until then, we are getting our sunnies on, whipping out the flip flops, and trying to stay cool!  Hope you are all having a fantastic weekend!