Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ricotta Pancakes, Hotcakes!

I have been such a slacker. I know. I'm not proud of it.

You don't know how many times I've attempted to post something new. I know my blog had been looking pathetic. I look at other blogs and marvel at how they are able to find time to update their blog consistently.  Am I the only one slacking here or what?  I have to get better at this.  If others can do it, so should I.   So.Help.Me.God. :)

Anyhow, I am here and I have something for you.  My ricotta pancakes.

 In the Philippines, we actually call pancakes as "hotcakes". I don't know why but maybe because they're best eaten hot and fresh from the pan?  Hmmmm.

Making pancakes for me evokes a lot of childhood memories.  My Mom taught me how to make pancakes from scratch at an early age.  She would often make this for my father who loves them, not just for breakfast but as an afternoon snack.  I remember that my father would simply sprinkle the cakes with a bit of sugar, roll them like a cigarette and eat them that way accompanied with a hot cup of coffee.

So you see,  making pancakes is near and dear to my heart.


This time though, the pancakes I made are not for my father.  Rather, I made them for the most wonderful staff at Metro Life Church.  Many blogs ago I mentioned that the hubby and I had gotten involved in our church's Hospitality ministry in which we have the opportunity to cook breakfast for the staff at least once a month.  Let me tell you, this ministry has helped us practice our craft. We so much enjoy doing it.  We love doing it. We are so thankful for it.

A couple of Sundays ago was again our turn to prepare breakfast.  Earlier in the week, I had no idea on what to do.  All I know was that I wanted to do something simple and light.

The inspiration came to me later in the week.  I had been craving for lasagna lately and then...the idea hit me -- ricotta! Ricotta Pancakes. I know the addition of ricotta is going to make the pancake light. I shared my idea with Mr. J and he agreed. So that settled it.

I've made Tyler Florence's ricotta pancakes before but I thought his version had too much work and ingredients involved.  So I searched for something simpler to do, in which  my star ingredient - the ricotta - can truly shine.  Thankfully, I found the recipe below. 

So, here they are.  Pancake ricotta for the church staff.


1 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
pinch salt
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Combine ricotta, milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a separate bowl.

Beat the egg whites in an electric mixer until stiff. Add the dry ingredients to the ricotta and milk mixture, stirring gently until just combined. Whisk in a small amount of the egg whites to lighten the batter, then fold in the remaining whites.

Heat a griddle over medium-high heat, and brush the surface with butter. Use a ladle or measuring scoop (we used a 1/3 cup measure) to pour batter onto the griddle. Cook pancakes for about 3 or 4 minutes, then flip, cooking until both sides are golden brown.

NOTE:  Serve your pancakes with fruit or maple syrup, and fresh fruits (berries would be the best).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Swordfish ... on a stick!

Hello again, fellow food lovers!

It's definitely summer time here in South Florida. Never mind the snow and the chill on the other parts of the country, but here, the sweltering heat has already started!And what better way to announce the change of seasons than to get the grill fired-up and burn (ahem...cook) something that's skewered. For your viewing pleasure, we have taken some swordfish and assorted veggies and made some kebabs that eventually made it onto the grill.

First, find some really fresh swordfish steaks approximately 1/2-to-3/4 inches thick. The reason being is that this type of fish cooks-up really, really fast. So buy it thick, and keep a close eye on it while its on the grill. Next, you will cut the fish into cubes, and alternately skewer them along with whichever veggies you choose to use with this, keeping in mind that we eat with our eyes first. For this kebab, we used red onions and red peppers. Just be sure to cut them close to the same size as your swordfish cubes, so everything cooks at about the same rate. (Note: if you're using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 1 hour before using them, unless you want burnt skewers. If you're using metal skewers, then no problemo -- No soaking is necessary.)

You don't need a lot of seasoning for the fish, just the RIGHT seasoning. Some sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic and lemon, and you're ready to start grilling. Get your grill going strong at roughly a medium flame, then oil up your grill and place your skewers down. I would say4-5 minutes per side and your done, unless you want it a little charred then go maybe 1-2 more minutes per side. Basting it with some melted butter while its still on the grill is an excellent way to do this "charring" as well. Be cautious and remember this fish cooks fast, and with the butter the flames will get hotter. Don't overcook it, or it will get dry and not taste so good. Flavor is what you're after!

There are many side dishes that would go well with this, but we chose to serve this over a bed of couscous pilaf.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Spring is here! ... and yes, I'm back again.

You probably don't remember me anymore because I am the biggest slacker of all time, but I am hoping to correct that. I am making my resolution now, it's not to late to do so, is it? I will try to post as often as possible from here on. Cross my heart and... nope, I don't want to die, not yet anyway! Haha!

Well, spring in Miami is totally different than most cities in the US. For one, we don't really have an obvious change of seasons here as you probably know. It is hot here most of the time! Except for a few trees flowering during this time of the year, there's really not much difference from summer. Temperature is already in the 80's!

Which brings me to my post today. Halo-halo.

Halo-halo is the Filipino word for "mix". It is a traditional summer frozen dessert in the Philippines. For some reason, I have been craving for it these past few days... I blame it on the heat.

Halo-halo is very quick to prepare. It is really nothing but a melange of different fresh tropical fruits, cooked sweet beans with crushed ice, milk and sugar. It's a poor man's version of a shake, if I may say so.

But it's delightfully refreshing.

Above are the halo-halo that Mr. J and I enjoyed while lounging by the pool in a beach resort in Cebu, Philippines. The halo-halo was served in a young coconut shell which makes for a great presentation, and was perfect for Mr. J who loves coconut. As you can see, ice cream and chocolate fudge are added to the mix which made this particular halo-halo richer... and yummier! The whole mix was topped with a few corn flakes. Corn flakes??? Yes, the breakfast cereal! Sounds weird, huh? Maybe, but the flakes totally work, adding a crunchy texture to the whole concoction. Perfect.

You don't believe me? Well, I dare you. Try it and see for yourself.

You'll thank me later


Your choice of the following ingredients ( few or all of them)
1 ripe large banana
2 ripe or 1 canned mangoes
1 cup firm gelatin set into gel and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup canned ripe jackfruit
1/2 cup sweet corn
1/4 cup sweetened beans, drained*
1 cup kaong or nata de cocos, drained*
1 cup young shredded coconut, fresh or canned
1 cup cooked sweet yams or (ube halaya) glutinous purple yam, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cup shaved ice
2 cup evap milk

Optional toppings:
4 scoops of favorite ice cream
drizzle of chocolate fudge
a small sliver or two of caramel (leche) flan
1/2 cup chopped peanuts, rice krispies, or corn flakes

1. To assemble - layer your fruits in a bowl or tall glass.
2. Top with crushed ice.
3. Pour milk over ice.
4. Then top with topping of choice.
5. Garnish with corn flakes and maraschino cherries.
*Available in Asian markets / groceries.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I am sure that you have been watching the news regarding the terrible events in Japan..... the earthquake... the tsunami... the radiation. Tragedy beyond words. Utter devastation.

I cannot even begin to imagine how it feels to be in the midst of that situation, let alone the sheer pain and grief of losing everything, including loved ones.

Japan is such a beautiful country with a fascinating culture and equally beautiful people. Strong. Proud. Determined. Smart. They are survivors.

They have come a long way from the Hiroshima bombing in World War II. No doubt, they will be able to overcome these horrific events and bounce back from it stronger than ever. In time.

For now, they need our help.

PRAY. Pray for all those affected that they will feel the love of God in this most difficult time.

DONATE. For me, there is no better organization for delivering fast, effective emergency relief than the Red Cross.

Please visit the link below to learn how you can donate to the Red
Cross today.

American Red Cross
Japanese Red Cross

Time is of the essence. Basics like food and water are running out fast. Your response is needed urgently.

Every bit helps.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ropa Vieja


The weather in South Florida has been so gloomy these couple of days, so I longed for something warm, comforting... something to satisfy my soul. So I thought of Ropa Vieja.

Ropa Vieja, or translated literraly as "tattered clothes or rags", is a Latin American cuisine. It is named as such because the shredded beef resembles so much like the ragged edges of an old clothing.... as explained to me by my Hispanic friends.


This dish is very similar to some dishes that we have in the Philippines, that's why I've taken so much liking to it. It is actually nothing but beef stewed in a tomato-based sauce. What makes this different though, is that it requires a specific cut of meat – flank - which can be shredded in long pieces.

In my opinion, the real secret to this dish is in the length of time the meat is braised. Longer braising allows more time for the flavors to meld well together, resulting in a very flavorful, tender meat that just melts in your mouth! Yum!


Pictured here is my version of Ropa Vieja. It is my opinion that the best way to enjoy this dish is to have it with rice. Plain rice. A little maduros (or fried plantains) on the side completes the meal.

Then you will be a happy camper.

Ropa Vieja
Adapted from Cooking Light

Cooking spray
2 (1-pound) flank steaks, trimmed
3 cups thinly vertically sliced red onion
2 cups red bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
2 cups green bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons thinly sliced pitted green olives
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon no-salt-added tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 steak to pan; cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove steak from pan. Repeat procedure with cooking spray and remaining steak.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, bell peppers, and garlic to pan; cook 7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in olives and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper); cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in vinegar, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook for 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in broth, tomato paste, and bay leaves. Add steaks; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 1 1/2 hours or until steaks are very tender. Discard bay leaves.

Remove steaks from pan; shred with two forks. Stir shredded beef and cilantro into pan.

Note: This dish is definitely better the next day. Left-over meat can also be eaten with tortilla or taco.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Breakfast Light and Delicious

Hello friends!

It has been a while since our blog has been updated. Life has a funny way of demanding your full attention, but hopefully it will once again permit us to share with you some incredible dishes we've created recently.

A wonderful opportunity came our way. A few months back, Mr. J and I have joined the hospitality ministry in our church. Every so often, roughly once a month, we have the pleasure of preparing breakfast for the awesome staff at our church,Metro Life Church,on Sundays between the two services. Yay! We love to do this since it is a good outlet for our culinary adventures. But wait, this came with a couple of minor challenges. First, the food has to be low-fat, whole grain and "heart-healthy" for the sake of our dear Pastor who has had a serious heart attack a couple of years back. We are primarily cooking for him so this has to be strictly followed. Secondly, the food has to be simple enough since the staff has only 25-30 minutes to eat breakfast before the next service starts.

Hmmmm... healthy breakfast. We can't serve oatmeal/muesli, fruits or dry whole wheat toast all the time, can we now? Definitely, the challenge is for us to come up with healthy breakfasts without sacrificing the deliciousness of our food.

For starters, we created a kind of deconstructed eggs florentine inspired by my fave celebrity Chef, Giada de Laurentiis. Normally, eggs florentine is served on English muffins, but instead, the beefsteak tomatoes took its place. This definitely lightened the dish a lot. The tomatoes are cut into almost 1/2 inch thick slices, seasoned with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Then they are topped with a creamy, cheesy spinach. For a healthier version, we used non-fat milk instead of heavy cream and reduced-fat cheese for the spinach. Then, lightly poached eggs went on top of the tomato-creamy spinach layer. Finally, we garnished it with strips of baked turkey bacon . (I wanted to just crumble them on top, but I discovered that turkey bacon is not crumbly like the regular one).

Almost always, some type of fruit is provided either as an alternative to those wanting something lighter, or as a side dish complimenting the main dishes. Today, we served fruit salad with strawberry, kiwi, and bananas sliced into bite-sized pieces. We let the strawberry and kiwi macerate in sugar and limoncello (lemon-flavored liqueur). Yes, we served a liqueur infused fruit to our Pastor - no wonder he was preaching so good today!!! LOL!!! Seriously, we only used a couple of tablespoons of it so it provided zero intoxicating effect . The limoncello infused the fruit with a bit of lemon flavor and served double-duty by keeping the bananas from turning brown. It was a wonderful alternative to using lime or lemon. Thanks, Ina Garten for this idea!

For the finale, we wanted to make sure any hunger pangs were satisfied, so we made a Danish pastry braid with two different kinds of filling: apple-cinnamon and apricot with confectioner's cream. Both Danishes were topped with coffee-infused glaze. The recipe came from the book, Baking with Julia.

In order to make the Danish a bit "healthier", I decided to experiment a little bit by using whole wheat pastry flour with the apricot-cream filled Danish. Admittedly, I had a bit of apprehension since I've never used whole wheat for pastry dough before. So, as a fall back, I decided to also make the regular dough using all purpose flour incase the whole wheat pastry was unsuccessful. I decided to fill the whole wheat pastry with the cream-apricot filling; while the regular pastry was filled with the apple-cinnamon.

Thankfully, the whole wheat pastry dough worked! They both tasted delish. There's nothing better than freshly baked Danish pastry! I did notice though that the regular all purpose flour came out more puffy than the whole wheat one. Not that this matters since it didn't affect the taste; and I'm not sure if the puff was was due to the flour, or due to how I handled the dough.

Any theories, you pastry Chef's out there? Anyhow, everyone liked the breakfast.. **sigh of relief here**.

It's a great feeling to know that your food is well appreciated, isn't it? We are cooking again in two weeks so we'll keep you posted. Hopefully, we'll be able to come up with another creative, healthy breakfast. Suggestions are welcome.

Eggs Florentine
by Giada de Laurentiis

You Need:
Vegetable oil cooking spray
4 thin slices prosciutto
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups (5 ounces) baby spinach
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 beefsteak tomatoes, trimmed and cut into 1-inch thick slices

1. Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray.

2. Arrange the prosciutto in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake until crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before crumbling into small pieces.

3. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and nutmeg and cook until the spinach has wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Fill a small saucepan with 3 inches of water. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the lemon juice. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Crack an egg in a small bowl, taking care not to break the yolk. Slowly slide the egg into the water. Using a wooden spoon, carefully stir the water around the egg. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes until the white has set and the yolk is still soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove the egg from the water and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining eggs.

5. To serve, place a tomato slice on each salad plate and season with salt and pepper. Spoon 1/4 of the spinach sauce over the tomato slice. Top with a poached egg and sprinkle with the crumbled prosciutto. Serve warm.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Strawberry Tart


I am back!

It’s been a while since my last post. I know, I know… this blog went into hibernation for almost 2 months. It was never my intention to neglect you guys, but it was a case of the spirit-being-willing-but-the-body-is-weak for me.

It has really been so hot these past few weeks here in Miami. After the initial rainy season as the summer began, the heat came with vengeance! We have been averaging 90+ degrees here everyday, with some days even up to the 100's. Talk about being hot and humid!

The heat sucks up all my energy, it seems, that at the end of the day, I barely have enough left to get through dinner. I'm pretty sure that the heat has affected my brain as well, and has caused the creative side of it to go into its sleep-mode. Hence, the lack of inspiration to blog.

The truth is, I’ve also been busy. Last month, we went on a road trip to visit Mr. J’s family in Ohio. Yep, we drove from Miami to Akron. It was a long drive, but we enjoyed every bit of that adventure. The best thing about driving is being able to do everything at our own pace. We stopped where we wanted to and even did some things that were totally unplannned! I used to not like doing anything not planned, but in the few years that I’ve been married, I’ve learned to be flexible. Thanks to Mr. J who taught me how to relax (that means, to do away with planning once in a while) and just enjoy. Spontaneity does bring good surprises -at times- wouldn’t you agree?


Growing up in the tropics, it seemed that we have summer all year long - we can practically swim almost the whole year round! In my early teenage years, we lived in an area where the beach was just a few minutes away. My father loved to go snorkeling, so we were at the beach almost every weekend! Can you imagine how dark I got as a young girl?

I have so much memories of our countless family beach outings. Thinking about those times never fail to make me smile.

Just like the berries that abound in summer. They make me smile too.

Another reason why I love this time of the year -- berries. There's the strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, black currants, cherries - you name it, I love them all. (here in Florida, the strawberry season comes a bit earlier, but at this time, we still enjoy the strawberries coming from the other parts of the country.)


I enjoy the berries eaten as is, but I equally love them on desserts as well.

So, here’s a classic “strawberry-licious” tart which I’ve done a few weeks ago. To make this tart extra special, I made the pie crust as well. If you don't have time to make the pie crust, you can use the store-bought ones by all means. Making the crust requires a bit of effort, yes, but it is definitely well worth doing if you can.

Sharing this tart to Lasang Pinoy Sunday (La.PiS)– Crusty – for a flaky, perfect pie crust.

Have lots of fun family get-aways and memories in summer!

Strawberry Tarts
Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons cold shortening (recommended: Crisco)
1/4 cup ice water
2 cups Pastry Cream, recipe follows
2 pints whole strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup apricot jelly
3 tablespoons shelled pistachios, halved, optional

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse about 10 times, or until the butter is in the size of peas. Add the ice water and process until the dough comes together. Dump on a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough and fit into 4 (4 1/2-inch) tart pans with removable sides. Don't stretch the dough when placing it in the pans or it will shrink during baking. Cut off the excess by rolling the pin across the top of each pan. Line the tart shells with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill them with dried beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, prick the bottom of the shells all over with a fork, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Before serving, fill the tart shells with the pastry cream. Arrange the berries decoratively on top of the cream. Melt the apricot jelly with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the top of the tarts. Sprinkle with pistachios, if using, and serve.

Pastry Cream:
5 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Cognac
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don't be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, Cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.