Monday, March 31, 2014

Sesame Buns

The best part about making your own bread is that you know exactly what goes in it. You don't want plastics in there that they use to make yoga mats then make your own bread. There isn't always time, but it's important to really sit down and ask ourselves what we are really putting in our body. Better yet, what are we really feeding our kids? You want to substitute whole wheat flour? Do it. Make it your choice to eat healthier. We're trying to minimize the ingredients that we can't pronounce in the foods that we eat. It's as simple as that. Plus healthier and cheaper together really is an unbeatable combination.

Sesame Buns
Sesame Buns

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup bread flour
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp rapid rise yeast
1 tbsp powder milk
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla flavor
1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water

preheat oven to 350 F
-mix all the dry ingredients (flour,sugar,salt, powder milk,rapid rise yeast)
-add oil, eggs,vanilla flavor and water
-knead for 7-10 minutes using the dough hook attachment
*if the dough is too wet, dust with more flour
-let dough rest for 10 minutes

-turn the dough in to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (approximately 5 minutes)

-divide to 9 pieces for large buns or 18 for slider buns; add sesame seeds on top

-let the dough rise for 1 hour
-bake for 15 minutes
-remove from the oven and egg wash then cook for another 5 minutes


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Beef Tapa Sliders with sauteed Baby Bellas and onions with Sriracha Aioli

As often as I find myself trolling aisles of the supermarket, every time I look at the meat section, I get sticker shock looking at beef prices. The price alone can make you start thinking about being a vegetarian... or at least eat a whole lot more chicken. We all love working with the sexy and exotic ingredients, but realistically, lots of people will be filling their carts with the family packs of chicken thighs, pork shoulder or beef chuck. Fortunately, along with being the less expensive cuts of meat, they're also packed with flavor. We just have to be creative in working with them. I would love to use Wagyu brisket to make these sliders but for all intents and purposes, $4.99 per pound Chuck steak will work for us working class folk. :)

Steak Sliders with sauteed Baby Bellas and onions topped with Sriracha Aioli 

1 lb Chuck steak sliced thin
3 cloves garlic minced
3 Calamansi or 1 lime
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
pinch of black pepper

marinate the meat for at least an hour

1 cup Baby Bellas or Button mushrooms sliced thin
1 yellow onion sliced thin

saute and set aside

Sriracha Aioli

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tbsp of Sriracha 
1 tsp of soy sauce
1 tsp of honey
1 tbsp green onions sliced very thin

Sesame Bun Recipe

*a very sharp knife and cutting against the grain is the way to go

*make sure that the pan is very hot when you cook the beef. cook to your desired temp, although well done and with nice caramelization is the way to go. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pan Fried Tofu with Soba Noodles

I gave up smoking 4 years ago and to this day I still get cravings. Everything in moderation doesn't work for cigarettes. Well not for me at least. Being a vegetarian never crossed my mind but I do understand that cutting down on meat should be addressed. Maybe one meatless day will be a nice step towards a healthier lifestyle. Well maybe one meatless meal for that day. To be continued...

Pan Fried Tofu with Soba Noodles

Pan Fried Tofu with Soba Noodles

1 package tofu cut in to desired size
cornstarch for dredge
salt and pepper

 lightly dust tofu pieces and brown on both sides. set aside

1 package soba noodles under-cooked according to directions (since we will be stir frying the noodles, it's best to be at least 1 minute before the cooking time.
3 cups of your choice of shredded vegetables
(shredded yellow squash, carrots, cabbage onions and some minced garlic)
2 tbsp of sesame oil
5 tbsp of soy sauce
salt and red chili flakes to taste

stir fry the onions and garlic until fragrant then work your way down the vegetables from hardest to softest. leave the vegetables with a slight crunch and then add the noodles, sesame oil and soy sauce. season to taste. 
Tofu sauce
1 tsp prepared black bean sauce
1 tsp sambal
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice wine
1/2 cup water or your choice of broth
2 tbsp cold butter

reduce this mixture in a pan by half then whisk in the cold butter to thicken the sauce. 

arrange the noodles in a serving platter, place the tofu slices over the noodles and sauce over the whole dish. serve immediately. ENJOY!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


We were craving something from home. You take for granted the fact that in Los Angeles, you can get authentic food from everywhere. Out here, not so much. Maybe with a little digging around we'll be able to find those gems, but for now, necessity is the mother of invention. HA! Save money and learn how to do it yourself.

Kutchinta or rice cakes is a traditional Filipino dessert.  I remember street vendors hawking these little guys in bamboo baskets lined with banana leaves in the afternoons. It's nice to have a slice of home once in a while.



Kutchinta (Rice cakes)

1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp annato powder diluted in 1/2 cup of water
1 cup water
1 tsp lye water
grated coconut


Mix all the dry ingredient well
add the diluted annato then slowly add the rest of the water
add the lye water and continue mixing
once everything is incorporated, pour the mixture in to the molds and steam for 25-30 minutes depending on the size of the molds
let cool and serve with grated coconut

use a cheese cloth or towel to prevent the water from dripping in to the molds


Sweet and Sour Meatballs

The 4 year old isn't a big fan of meat. I have a feeling she just doesn't like to chew the meat, so ever since she was able to eat solids, it's been ground meat made in to her favorites. She does get tired of the same old dish so I have to change it up. Siu Mai to Spring rolls to 5 spice pork and now....the meat ball. She calls all the food she likes her favorite. If it's red and's her favorite. It's so hard to get this littler person to eat sometimes and I'm sure many of you can relate. Hopefully this one becomes a new favorite by the Boss Lady....

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
2 eggs
1 cup small diced red onions
4 clove garlic minced
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
4 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for an hour
brown the meatballs in a pan then finish them off in the oven for 15 minutes at 375.
you can also just cook them off in the oven for 30 mins at 375.

Sweet and Sour sauce

1 tbsp sliced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp diced red onion
2 tbsp diced red bell pepper
5 tbsp ketchup
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
(slurry: 1 tsp of cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water)
pinch of salt

in medium heat, sweat the garlic and ginger and when fragrant, add the onion and bell pepper
saute for a minute then add the ketchup and stir for another minute
add the water and vinegar and bring to a boil then add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
whisk in the slurry, stir for another minute on low heat.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Grilled Soy Ginger Chicken with Java Rice and quick pickled cucumber

Between all the gardening and fixing the hole in the back of the truck, dinner needed to be quick and easy. It is the reality for most of us, right? Same story, look in the fridge then the freezer then the pantry then decide to just eat out. Either that or you got stuck in traffic and just ran out of time to make dinner so you drive up to the window. We neglect to realize that with a little bit of planning ahead, we would be able to eat a little healthier and/or save a lot of money. Last night, I found these chicken tenders in the freezer so I tossed in some left over dressing from the Scallop and Quinoa Salad. Turned out something simple, yet quite a tasty dinner. Best part was the whole meal for 3 and a half cost about 10 bucks.  It can't always be sexy Instagram/Facebook worthy meals, but at the end of the day, you please the most important audience there is. The Family. 

Grilled Soy Ginger Chicken with Java Rice and quick pickled cucumber

Grilled Soy Ginger Chicken with Java rice and quick pickled cucumber

8 chicken tenders or 2 large chicken breasts cut in to strips marinated in Ginger-Soy Dressing for at least 2 hours but best overnight. 

Java Rice

3 cups cold rice
1 tsp annato powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 yellow onion small diced
3 garlic cloves minced
1/2 red bell pepper small diced
4 strips of bacon
2 tbsp soy sauce

brown the bacon then drain most of the oil. sweat the onions, garlic and bell peppers for a minute until fragrant then add the paprika and annato powder. saute for about 30 seconds then add the cold rice and stir briskly to break up the rice. add the bacon and soy sauce and stir until incorporated. keep warm

Quick Pickled Cucumber

2 cucumbers seeded and shredded
1 red onion sliced thin
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

dissolve the sugar in the vinegar then combine all the other ingredients and keep in the ref for at least 30 minutes.

Transplanting seedlings

Luckily my wife has a green thumb or else we would have some fantastic looking crates that are filled with dirt and not much else. These are seeds we bought a little over a week ago and planted. The herbs and tomatoes are lagging a little bit but the vines have grown quickly and are set for transplanting. Hopefully we'll have positive updates in a few weeks.     

snow peas

green beans
half finished compost to be covered with topsoil 
transplanted snow peas

Seed Preparation

Starting a vegetable garden doesn't have to be some big production and a spending spree at the Home Depot. Upscycling or recycling or repurposing or whatever the new catch phrase is nowadays. Think before you throw away household items. The landfills are getting full with our unnecessary crap. Let's be a little bit more responsible and creative. I think a small vegetable garden is a worthy investment of our time, given that the rewards are paid in multiple ways. Teach the kids a skill. Better yet teach yourself a new skill. At the end of the day, eating some fresh picked vegetables from your garden that you grow won't kill you....quite the contrary. :)

tissue roll and used plastic cup for planting

herb seeds preparation

used plastic cup

papaya seeds

asian squash seeds

tomato seeds

Organic Veggie Garden Pt. 1

This is our version of container gardening. These are produce that we bought when we first got here and instead of throwing away the stems, we planted them to get a head start in the Spring season. We don't use chemical fertilizers, but instead we use our own compost. It's a good feeling to start crawling towards self sustainability. In time, we will be able to incorporate more things from our garden to the recipes that we post here, but most importantly, to our own diet. Healthy is wealth!

Sweet potato

kangkong ( water spinach, swamp cabbage)

Chinese celery


camote ( sweet potato leaves)

Camote (sweet potato)

garlic and shallots


malunggay (moringa)

calamansi tree
spring onion

our small organic garden... to be continued.
the little farmer

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Easy Cheesy Frittata

The Frittata is a very flexible dish. Just open the fridge and if you have eggs, scrounge up the other ingredients and you'll have a tasty dish in minutes.  This time around we had some ground beef in the fridge just waiting to be called up to the stove. So I picked some sweet potato leaves from the garden and grabbed some peas and carrots in the freezer. Sunday Brunch!

Easy Cheesy Beef Frittata

Easy Cheesy Frittata

1 lb ground beef
1/2 yellow onion small diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
handful of sweet potato leaves or spinach
2 tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper
6 eggs
optional: shredded cheese for topping


Brown the ground beef then drain the rendered fat. Put the meat back in the pan then add the onions and garlic and when fragrant add the peas and carrots. Season with the soy sauce, salt and pepper. Stir in the greens then remove from the fire once they are wilted.

Once the mixture has cooled, beat the eggs then add it to the mixture. Pour the mixture in to an oven safe dish with a thin layer of pan spray. You may spoon the mixture in to muffin tins for individual servings. Top with the shredded cheese. Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 15 minutes.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Whole Grain Thin Spaghetti Aglio e olio with Roasted Tomatoes

Andiamo a mangiare! Let's eat. Simple doesn't have to mean dull. Proper preparation and fresh ingredients can mean a very nice meal. Here's to Italy's mac and cheese!

Whole Grain This Spaghetti Aglio e olio with Roasted Tomatoes

Whole Grain Thin Spaghetti Aglio e olio with Roasted Tomato


1 box whole grain thin spaghetti
6 large garlic cloves sliced thin
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive

Roasted tomatoes

4 Roma tomatoes diced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dried oregano
salt and pepper

toss ingredients together and roast in the oven for 25 minutes at 450 until tomatoes have caramelized.

Garlic-Butter spread for bread

1 stick unsalted butter softened
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 tsp paprika


Cook pasta according to instructions. (no sense in guessing games and throwing pasta at the fridge to see if it's done. it says right on the box. HA!)
as soon as the pasta goes in to the water, place the sliced garlic in the cold oil and fire it up until it starts to sizzle. at this point, turn down the fire to low so it doesn't burn. we are looking for a pale golden brown hue to the garlic. once the garlic is light brown add a quarter cup of the pasta water to the garlic and oil to stop the cooking then turn the fire off. drain the pasta and place on a platter then drizzle the garlic and oil over them. add the Parmesan cheese and chili flakes and toss to coat.

Serve with garlic bread. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mango Shake with Tapioca Pearls

Spring is here in Florida! Pre-workout drink. It isn't the healthiest but it sure beats soda... right?

Mango Shake with Tapioca Pearls

Mango Shake with Tapioca Pearl

1  cup of mango
2 cups crushed ice
2 tbsp sugar or whatever your choice of sweetener
1/4 cup of evaporated milk

cook tapioca according to instructions

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup water

heated until sugar is dissolved then add the cooked tapioca to sweeten them for at least 30 minutes at room temp. leftover tapioca should be kept in the fridge then reheated for next use.