Sep 26, 2012

Coconut Chicken Strips




In a previous post, I mentioned that a friend of mine invited me to her house for a Demarle food demonstration. There she showcased the lovely products from Demarle and prepared for us some really delicious meals from appetizers to desserts. Not only was I impressed with the Demarle products but with the food that she made.
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Sep 22, 2012

3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies



I love cookies! I cannot stop eating them once I start munching on them and for this reason, I avoid making or even buying them. The only time we have cookies in the house is when a kind soul donates to us.

But today I found what I thought was the easiest cookie recipe ever! So, I instantly forgot my resolve to not bake cookies ever - decided it was about time I post a cookie recipe on this blog.
I discovered this very easy (but I knew would certainly be a yummy recipe!) from the Facebook page of the southernladycooks.com. She graciously shared this recipe on her site and I was so happy to try it because I have all the ingredients handy. My peanut butter in the pantry has been begging to be eaten and seems always to be untouched despite my son's constant request to add it to his oatmeal. So I thought, finally we can finish this peanut butter and for a very good cause - Peanut Butter Cookies!
Without further ado, here's the easiest Cookie Recipe ever!
 



And as you can see from the photo below and above that it was a success! For a twist, I replace half the sugar with Chocolate Chips so we have both yummy peanut butter and chocolate too! Super! :-)



My  husband and two tots loved it! Me too! We love the texture from the crunchy peanut butter and the brown sugar granules too! My husband suggested though that perhaps I should lessen the sugar next time as he prefers a more peanut buttery taste! I will, next time, for this recipe is now a keeper. Thanks to the southernladycooks.com for this, we are forever grateful! 

Cook's Notes:

As you can see the cookies are rather big. I didn't realize they would expand that well considering there was no leavening agent. I used a large ice cream scoop and made about 10. However, now that I know that it expands, I am certain I can easily make a dozen out of it and I dare say up to 20 if I use a smaller amount per cookie.  

The assembled cookies before they were baked in the oven.



After baking, see how much they have expanded. 


But whether you want to make extra large cookies or teeny-tiny ones, for sure they will be yummy! That's what matters! Most of all, with a Silpat, it's fuss-free baking! Easy clean-up and cookies never stick!

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Sep 21, 2012

Pork or Beef Menudo



I bought a big family pack of boneless pork ribs this week so I had been cooking Filipino food like crazy! Adobo, menudo, Asian Bar-B-Q ribs are just some of the recipes on my menu list.

This particular menudo recipe is one which my mom cooks for us especially when I am at home on vacation. She told me that to give the meat a really good flavor you need to cook it with fresh tomatoes and not just dump it with the tomato sauce. Also, she does not use tomato sauce (though that's fine if you prefer to use this instead) but ketchup 'cause it's a little sweeter than tomato sauce (at least the Filipino ketchup!) and enhances the flavor of the whole stew. Another technique that she told me is to make sure that you only put the ketchup towards the end of cooking so it does not overpower the whole dish but "enhance" it. So, my only contribution here really is adding a little lemon juice to perk up the dish - I think that and fish sauce really make this a yummy dish.

Think of this recipe as a basic guide and tweak the seasoning to your liking. This dish is so good that you won't even miss the liver pate that is added in traditional menudo. My hubby doesn't like  liver so am glad that I can make a delicious menudo without it! Thanks, Mom!


Ingredients

2.2 lbs/1 kilo pork (Pork belly, shoulder or boneless ribs), chopped into cubes (1 to 11/2 inch)
2 Onions, chopped
1 head Garlic (or 6-8 cloves), peeled
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 large Plum Tomatoes, chopped
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce*
2 dried or fresh Bay (Laurel) leaves
1/2 cup Water
2 medium to large Potatoes, cubed
2 medium Carrots, cubed
1/4-1/3 cup Ketchup (pref. the Del Monte Tomato Ketchup brand)*
1 Red Bell pepper, chopped (roughly the size of the carrots and potatoes)
1/2 cup raisins (I end up using more 'cause I love raisins on anything!)
Brown sugar, to taste

*If you're not a fan of fish sauce you can replace it with Soy sauce (start with 1-2 Tablespoons) and a little lemon juice (2 teaspoons). You can adjust the taste to your liking. Fish sauce is great though. :-)

*You can also use tomato sauce.

Procedure

Place the pork cubes in a large pan or Dutch oven and let it cook in medium heat until it changes its color. No need for any oil as the meat will release some of its fat in the process. Add the garlic and onions and sauté. Season with a little salt. Continue to cook until the pork has browned (but not fried all the way) and the onions have softened.

Add the tomatoes and fish sauce and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the bay leaves. Cover and simmer on low until the pork is tender.

When the pork is already tender, add the water, potatoes and  carrots. Cook covered until the vegetables are tender. Add the sweet peppers, raisins and the ketchup (or tomato sauce). Cook for another 5 minutes or just until the raisins are re-hydrated and the sauce is fully heated through.

Adjust the seasoning to your taste. If it's a little tart, sprinkle some brown sugar to balance the taste. Don't make it too sweet as you have raisins to balance the sour and savory flavor of the other ingredients. It should just be a perfect balance of sweet, tart and salty! Have it with rice, of course!

If you wish to print the recipe, there's a print-friendly icon at the end of the post. Click on the "remove images box" for easy printing.

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Sep 19, 2012

Ultimate Pork Adobo (Chinese Style)



If there is a dish that defines what Filipino cuisine is all about - it's adobo, the unofficial, national dish of the Philippine islands. There are as many versions of adobo as there are many islands in the Philippines. Perhaps not as many as 7,107 islands (the whole Philippine archipelago) but ask each Filipino family and each will tell you their own adobo recipe handed down from one generation to another differentiated not so much by the kind of ingredients they use but more on the style or technique in cooking the dish.

Adobo always has meat - that's the star of the dish. It can either be chicken or pork or a combination of both. While the name is of Spanish origin and is similar in some ways to the Latin/Hispanic "adobo" in the sense that meat is steeped in or immersed in a sauce and cooked in it, adobo in the Philippines refers mainly to the dish (as in Pork adobo) rather than a cooking technique. Typically, adobo is cooked in a soy and vinegar sauce with bay leaves, lots of garlic, black peppercorns (whole or crushed), and may be sweetened with a little sugar or even pineapple juice or syrup. Because of the long and slow cooking, the meat absorbs the delicious flavor of the sauce and is so good paired with rice. Normally, we cook a lot of adobo so we have left-overs which can be re-heated day after day. The longer the adobo stands (in the fridge of course, though in the olden times it's the vinegar that served as its preservative) the better the taste. When you have some left-overs (if you ever have some 'cause you may want to eat it all in one sitting - so more-ish!) serve it with fried rice and some fried eggs and you have a classic Pinoy breakfast - AD-SI-LOG - short name for Adobo (this dish) - Sinangag (Fried Rice) - and Itlog (Fried Eggs). Yummm!

For this particular version, I depart from the usual adobo (though I will be posting a recipe for the classic adobo in a future post). Here I am making an adobo without using vinegar - Chinese style. For this I am deeply indebted to my friend Rebecca who graciously shared with me the ingredients she used and the way to make it. After I tasted the adobo she brought in one of our Filipino parties, I just had to get her recipe. It's so good you won't even miss the vinegar! I have never made pork adobo any other way! For me this is the ultimate pork adobo. Even my husband (not really a big pork fan) loves this and never says no when this is on the table.

What I particularly love about this adobo is the addition of mushrooms. I have seen adobo with pineapple rings but never one with mushrooms and this gives the adobo even more depth in flavor and adds a lot in texture. I have tried many kinds of mushrooms -both dried and fresh shiitake, enoki, mini-portobellos and the common white button mushrooms. Any of them are great for this dish but the best for me are the fresh shiitake 'cause they are so meaty and fully absorb the flavor. If using dried shitake, don't forget to rehydrate them first before using and keep the liquid used in rehydrating them 'cause you can add that into the sauce for an even better flavor (if that is even possible with this already yummy sauce!).

So here goes the yummiest and easiest Adobo ever!




Ingredients

1 kilo / 2.2 lbs pork (get the part with some fat on it like pork shoulder, boneless country style ribs or pork belly)
Oyster sauce – 1 1/2 Tbsp
Brown sugar – 2 Tbsp (adjust to taste)
Soy sauce – 1/4 cup (I use Kikkoman)
Garlic – 6-8 cloves, minced or crushed or chopped (a small head of garlic may be used)
2 Bay leaves
Freshly ground pepper (or whole black peppercorns), to taste
8 oz fresh mini-bella/portobello mushrooms, or 2 - 4 oz shiitake mushrooms (fresh or dry)
A few drops of sesame oil (Very essential!)

Procedure

Clean the pork. Cut up the pork adobo style - about 1 1/2 - 2 inch cubes or chunks. They will shrink as they cook so I make it a little bigger. 



In a deep pan or a Dutch oven, mix the soy and oyster sauces, sugar, garlic and ground or whole peppercorns. Coat the pork with the sauce. Insert the bay leaves.

Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low until pork is tender between 1 1/2 - 2 hours. 

When the pork is already tender, add in the mushrooms. Continue to simmer until the mushrooms are cooked and tender about 5-10 minutes.

Add a few drops of sesame oil. Serve hot with rice.

Cook's Notes:

If using fresh Shiitake (4oz) - clean them quickly under running water or wipe the tops clean. Cut of the stem (can't eat them too chewy!) and then chop.

If using dry Shiitake (2 oz) - reconstitute/rehydrate the mushrooms in warm water for about 20 mins or until tender. Reserve the water. You may need to strain it first to remove any impurities and add it as needed if the adobo sauce dries up. This liquid is so full of flavor so don't throw it away especially if you like a more liquidy adobo.

If you wish to print the recipe, there's a print icon at the end of the post. Click on the "remove images box" for easy and convenient printing.

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Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)
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Sep 17, 2012

Blueberry Muffins




Oh summer...why are you saying goodbye? I miss you already! I feel the fall chill each morning when I wake up but I am still holding out for an Indian summer.

I read in Facebook or was it Pinterest, I don't know...one of those. It said that we should arrest summer for speeding! I say yeah, lock it up, throw the keys away so summer stays forever. Sorry, am speaking as a Manilena here - from the Philippines - where it seems to be summer all through the year.

For my homage to summer, here's my tot's favorite - blueberry muffins. I essentially used my from scratch blueberry cake batter here. What came out is a really moist, cakey and delicious muffin with a little crunch on top. This is why I wish summer won't leave us. Oh well, I can still eat my muffins.... Let me go grab one!


Ingredients

2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups sugar (you can use either white or brown or a mix of the two)*
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup olive oil (light or the fruity version or plain vegetable oil)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups fresh blueberries (sometimes I add a little more if I have a lot of berries)


Procedure

Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Line your muffin pan with paper cups.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Set aside. In another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients (eggs, sour cream, oil and vanilla).


Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix. I use a spatula to fold in the flour and mix everything together but you can also use a whisk. The batter should be thick.


Fold in the berries.


Divide evenly among the 12 muffin cups. I use a large ice cream scooper for this. So handy! A full scoop per cup is about right. There is enough batter (nearly full) for each cup, sufficient to give your muffin a nice dome.

Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and after about 8-10 minutes (when it's cool enough to handle) transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!


Some tips:

*I suggest using either all brown sugar or 1 cup brown and half cup white sugar. It will make the batter look brownish but you have a nicer looking muffin. If you use all white sugar, the muffins will look rather pale. The brown sugar gives the muffins a better color. See below the color of the muffin when you use more brown sugar than white. Lovely, isn't it?

If you wish to print the recipe, there's a print-friendly icon at the end of the post. Click on the "remove images box" for easy and convenient printing.


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Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)


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Sep 15, 2012

Penne with Peppers, Fresh Tomatoes and Basil


I love going to the farmer’s market to buy fresh produce which I can immediately use for easy stir-fries or pasta dishes. Usually, I would buy some fresh ripe tomatoes, colorful peppers and fresh herbs which I love to use in making fresh pasta sauce. While browsing the internet, I chanced upon this recipe - Penne Pasta with Peppers, Tomatoes and Basil from Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta. Since I had the ingredients needed for the dish, I began to work on it and simply adapted it to what has now become a favorite summer pasta dish.
According to Hazan, it makes a difference if you peel the peppers before you use it as it removes the bitterness coming from its skin and brings out its sweetness. I followed his advice and it was spot on. I also peeled the tomatoes as recommended by him and the result is a really juicy yummy tomato sauce.



This is such a simple dish but really big on flavor. Unbelievably delicious!
Ingredients
  
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp butter
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bell peppers (red & yellow), peeled, seeded, cut lengthwise into thin strips, then minced
1 1/2 lbs ripe tomatoes (about 2 beefsteak tomatoes or your fave one), peeled and chopped
10 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Penne or any pasta of your choice
Parmesan cheese to pass around
Procedure

Cook the pasta according to package directions while making the sauce.
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the butter and let it melt, don’t let it burn. Once the butter has sizzled and melted, add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the onion and sauté until it’s soft about 4-5 mins. When the onion has softened, add the peppers and season with a little salt. Cook for about 8-10 mins or until fully tender. Stir in the tomatoes and continue to sauté for another 10 mins until the tomatoes have reduced and the liquid released has dried up a bit. Halfway through, stir in the chopped basil.
When almost done, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the freshly cooked pasta of your choice to the sauce and mix until the pasta is fully coated. Serve immediately with parmesan cheese on top. Oh, yum!

If you wish to print the recipe, there's a print-friendly icon at the end of the post. Click on the "remove images box" for easy printing.



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Sep 11, 2012

Frikkadel - Delicious South African Braised Meatballs



In 2007, we had the chance to go back to South Africa. We stayed there for about six months. We really had the best of time. We love the people we met and became friends with. We love the stunning scenery especially the game parks. And of course, the food, the glorious food we enjoyed tremendously.
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Sep 8, 2012

How to get the perfect Dome on your Muffins (Simple Techniques to make your muffins look great!)





I love muffins! Blueberry muffins were the first muffins I have ever attempted to bake. The taste was great and some of the people I have shared it with loved them too. However, I was never fully happy with the way they looked. They look small and rather flat on top, unlike the yummy muffins that I see from bakeries and coffee shops.

 This muffin was cooked in a Demarle Flexi-Muffin tray. 
No need for any liners when you use Demarle.

So, I did  a little research and in the process discovered these few simple techniques that can make your muffins look like they were made by the pros. Here goes:


1. Make sure you use the correct temperature. I suggest baking your muffins at 400 F.  I know most muffin recipes (including the ones I have used previously) all tell us to preheat our ovens to between 325-375 F. That heat range is just not enough. While it will surely cook your muffins, it will not give you the full rise that you want. You need a higher temperature (others even recommend 425F to begin with but that makes my muffin too dark!) to immediately activate your leavening agent to start working. Of course, you need to adjust cooking time, unless you prefer crunchy muffins! :-) For me it's between 18-20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean (as they say!). Experiment!

2. I had the privilege of watching a pastry chef make some muffins and I asked her what tips she can give to make sure muffins rise nicely. She told me to make sure that all the ingredients needed are in room temperature (that means -- eggs and butter shouldn't be used straight from the fridge). Leave it out first before you use it. I didn't ask the reason why but I can imagine if you need high heat to help the muffin rise during the first few minutes of baking, I guess, if you put cold ingredients there then that won't help. That's my own non-scientific reason. Perhaps I should research more. Clear as mud, huh?

Also, especially, if you are using the cream method for making muffins - make sure that you add each egg one by one, instead of dumping it all in one go. This is to ensure that each egg is properly incorporated in the batter.

* Another helpful tip she shared (not related to this topic but I'll share it anyway!) is that eggs should be placed in a separate bowl or receptacle when you prepare it. Do not immediately dump it with the other ingredients. In case the eggs are rotten - then at least, you can just replace the eggs and not the entire batter. Very practical.

3. Once you have mixed the batter altogether immediately place it in the muffin pan and then directly to the oven (without much delay). This is especially true if you are using baking soda. I think this was my worst mistake, I often leave out mine in the counter for who knows how long (like I almost  forgot I was actually baking or perhaps remembered...ooooopppps... I did not preheat the oven and then had to wait!).  I think I am getting better at this! :-)




This was another tip I got from a pastry chef who said that once you have mixed both wet and dry ingredients the acids in the leavening agents begin to work right away and if you leave them in the counter top too long then they become ineffective. While baking powder has the double acting capacity and heat may assist in giving it the rise it needs that's not the case with baking soda. Either way, why risk it? If you want yummy looking muffins go for that oven quick!

4. Make sure your batter is thick. You don't want a liquidy batter so if that happens to you make adjustments in your recipe - perhaps you need more flour, perhaps less butter or oil.  Remember it should be "spoonable" not "pourable." I think that's a pretty good test!

5. Now this final technique makes a lot of sense, if you ask me. Fill your muffin pans/cups until it is nearly full. Therefore, forget what you have read in muffin recipes that say fill up your tins 2/3s full. It's quite obvious, it will not rise as high if there's not enough batter on the muffin pan. This means, instead of 12 you will probably only make about 9 muffins (unless you really have a lot of batter!). Don't forget to add some water to the empty cups when you bake them.




There you go! While I may not have given you the most scientific of all explanations, baking is a perfect science after all, I have found these simple tips to be quite helpful. Hopefully, it will be helpful to you too! :-)



Disclaimer: I am not a baker nor a pastry chef just a humble lawyer (what do I really know?) so I cannot fully guarantee the results but these have worked for me so try it and hope it works for you too! Please do let me know. Thanks for reading and dropping by! Have a great day! :-)

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All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16
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Sep 6, 2012

In Memoriam

On September 6, 2011, we laid down to rest, our third child Brooklyn Alexie Raines. She was only 37 1/2 weeks old and was delivered stillborn. Today, a year after, we commemorate her short life. I believe that even though I never saw her alive (though felt her kick many times while she was in the womb), she has given my family so much reason to live for. This is why I am writing this piece, to honor my little baby, and to ensure that her memory lives on and that her passing is not in vain.




What happened to us on that fateful day of 29 August 2011 can only be described as tragic. It was obviously the saddest moment of our lives and the pain, though it may ease up as the years go by, will probably never go away. However, I will not linger on this for no amount of commiseration will ever bring her back. Instead, I want to remember the short life she lived and what she meant to us.

I believe that despite what happened to us, there is still so much reason to rejoice and give glory to God for. Just a few months before, on June 5, 2011, we had a major car accident. You can see below the damage it has caused our car. We were hit from behind by an SUV running at the speed of 90 mph. The car was totaled. Miraculously, truly by God's grace, all 5 of  us survived. Yes, Brooklyn too, survived the ordeal. Sadly, a few months after, she left us.



You may wonder...how can a baby survive such an accident and then eventually say goodbye? Why? I honestly do not know the answer. Certain circumstances that happen in life sometimes leave us without any clear explanation. It was God's providence and I accept it. Of more importance to me, rather than answering the question why, is to ask what has God done for us? 

One of us was taken away but the Lord in His kindness and mercy chose the rest of us, all four of my family to continue living. I still have my two beautiful tots. I still have the most wonderful husband in the world who truly lives out 1 Corinthians 13 on a daily basis. I have lost Brooklyn (and my sorrow is beyond words) but the Lord allowed me to keep the rest of my family. For this I am truly grateful. I cannot ask for more. Brooklyn has shown us that life is precious and that every single moment counts.
  



If there are any lessons at all to be learned in this difficult experience; it is to truly trust God and to be thankful regardless of the circumstances. As I look back, I cannot imagine how I managed to keep myself in one piece if not for the love of God that has been shown through Mark, William and Sophie, my immediate and church family and countless friends. During the most trying times, they were there for me, lifting me up in prayers, helping me in practical ways and, comforting me in my grief. Sometimes it is when we go through the toughest times that we truly experience God's love and presence. This is when I learned to trust Him more, to depend on Him more. I do not know what tomorrow may bring (Life is indeed short as Brooklyn's experience has shown) but I am assured in Romans 8:28 that "...all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."   

One of the Lord's kindest providence was the timing of the burial. We wanted to have it on a Monday after my parents have arrived from the Philippines. However, we could not do it because it was Labor Day, a holiday, so we had to postpone it till the next day, Tuesday. This was the same day that my little boy William was to attend his first day of Kindergarten. I was apprehensive and a little anxious about the timing of it all. How can these two momentous yet significantly different situation happen on the same day? I didn't know how I can bring myself to say goodbye to Brooklyn in the morning and then bring William to school immediately thereafter. It seemed odd. In hindsight, I think I know why the Lord orchestrated it this way. It was no mere coincidence. In the morning, as we laid Brooklyn to rest, I, and the rest of the family, were not only in tears but quite in deep sorrow.  But then just before noon, we were all excited to see William off to school. If it did not happen this way, I would have just been wallowing in my grief all day long. But the Lord reminded me, while there is much sorrow when you say good-bye to a loved one there is also much to rejoice when you see life around you. Taking William to school for the first time that same day gave me hope and peace and even joy knowing that I still have so much to live for.   

After what happened, I also have learned to appreciate and love my family more than ever. Yes, there are so many challenges in raising children and managing a household, but the Lord has given me the chance to build my own house (for this I am eternally grateful) and I hope and pray that I will give Him honor and glory as a Mom and a Wife. I thank the Lord for my loving family and for Brooklyn who gave us much joy albeit in a very short time. Like David, I look forward to meeting her again someday. 




For now, as we look at the many sunrises and sunsets in the horizon, we pray that we will keep Brooklyn's memory afresh and never forget how the Lord dealt kindly with us during this very difficult time. My hope is that when you read this, not only will you remember our little Brooklyn but that you may seek the Lord, feel the same love that He has shown us, and have joy and peace amidst all trials and afflictions. To God be the Glory!



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Sep 3, 2012

Slow Cooker Melt-in-Your-Mouth-Meat-Loaf

Gluten-Free Version

One of the earliest cookware that I have purchased when we first came to the USA was a slow cooker. I've had mine for about 7 years now and it has truly been my best friend in the kitchen. I rely on it when we have guests. I like that you can just place your favorite ingredients there and then leave them to cook for 6-8 hours and you come back with the yummiest dish (as you smell the aromatic flavors waft through your house) and you didn't even fuss. I can cook hours ahead of time which leave me more time to do other things (like clean the house perhaps before the guests arrive!). And of course, it's indispensable in summer time 'cause I can cook desserts in it without having to turn on the oven. What a big help.

I have quite a few recipes that I cook in the slow cooker over and over again.  One of them is the Meatloaf - a classic American comfort food. If you don't do it right,  meatloaf can be dry and bland. But since this one is cooked in the slow cooker, it has never happened to us. It always comes out moist and flavorful, too. For this I am indebted to Taste of Home's - Melt-in-Your-Mouth-Meat-Loaf recipe. I adapted it to suit my small family and, at that time, used the the ingredients available in my pantry. Since it all worked out well (sometimes we finish the whole loaf in one sitting, courtesy of William!) I decided to just stick to my simple adaptation.

Also, since we have been dabbling on a more gluten-free diet, I have replaced the breadcrumbs with ground almonds, but if you're not into this, feel free to just use bread crumbs. Honestly, I can't say which is better because they are both good. I don't even miss the breadcrumbs when I use the ground almonds but I leave that decision to you! Enjoy!

Regular Version

Ingredients

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup ground almonds (I use Trader Joe's)*
1 small onion, chopped
3/4 tsp salt 
3/4 tsp rubbed sage (the most important!)
1 pound ground beef 
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp Gluten-free soy sauce

*Use seasoned bread crumbs instead if not doing the gluten-free version

Procedure 

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well (mixture will be moist). Shape into a round loaf.



Place in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until no pink remains and a meat thermometer reads 160°F.
   

In a small bowl, whisk the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard and soy sauce. Spoon over the meat loaf. Cook for another 15 minutes or until heated through. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

If you wish to print the recipe, there's a print-friendly icon at the end of the post. Click on the "remove images box" for easy printing.


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Sep 1, 2012

Chai Tea



I love Chai Tea! I was first introduced to Chai Tea in December 2003 during our honeymoon in New Zealand. A friend of Mark is married to a lovely Indian lady and we stayed with them while in New Zealand. She brought us to one of the tea shops in Christchurch and convinced us to try Chai Tea. I have been hooked eversince.

Here's a photo of myself in Christchurch in 2003 and many pounds ago!




Since then till recently, I never learned how to prepare my own Chai. So more often than not, I end up buying from Starbucks or getting a prepared mix from the grocery. While they taste ok, I find them to be so sugary.

Finally, last July our friend Samuel B. from India came to visit us. Not only did we have a lovely time with him, he taught me how to make Chai Tea! The authentic way and with only 1 major ingredient - Cardamom pods. Wow! It was the best Chai I have ever had! I think the reason why I never tried to make it was the thought of having to mix or grind many spices. I was so wrong. It is quite easy to make. Thanks to Sam I no longer need to spend money to make my own authentic Chai Tea right in our own home.

Here's what a cardamom pod looks like.


File:Sa cardamom.jpg

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia by Sanjay Ach.

While cardamom is the most essential spice to any Chai Tea, sometimes I experiment by adding a cinnamon stick, star anise or fennel seeds to the mix. I make about 2-3 cups worth 'cause I like to have one in the morning (as replacement for coffee) and one in the afternoon, to keep me alive!

So enjoy your homemade Chai Tea! Have it with ice in the Summer and serve hot during Fall and Winter!


Ingredients

6 cardamom pods, crushed or split open
1 stick cinnamon (optional)
2 Chinese star anise  or 1/4 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
2 cups water
1/2 - 1 cup milk (use more if you want it creamy)
2-3 tsp black tea leaves (or 2-3 black tea bags)
Sugar, to taste


Procedure 

Place the cardamom pods and the other spices (if using) in the sauce pan (big enough to accomodate about 3 cups of liquid). Pour in 2 cups of water.




Using medium high heat, bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil lower the heat to medium and continue to boil for another 2 minutes to extract more flavor. Add  the milk and wait till it boils again. Once the liquid starts to boil and the milk is starting to foam well, add the black tea.






Cover and remove from the heat and brew for 3-5 minutes depending on how strong you want your tea to be.


Strain then transfer the remaining tea to a mug or tea cup. Add some sugar, to taste.




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But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 1 Timothy 6:6-7
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