Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Day Like This

After uhmm, maybe two to three months of no weekend brunch, we finally had nothing planned on a Saturday, that we decided to try out this Swedish restaurant featured last night in the Food Network show, "$24 in 24".  Jeff Mauro is actually a Chicago local guy so he knew good (and cheap) eats around town, and for breakfast, he went to Ann Sather.  This place is actually famous for their cinnamon rolls and french toast, which apparently Rachael Ray also featured in one of her shows.  So at around 8:15 AM, we took the Red Line to Belmont where the restaurant was just a few steps from the station.  The place was cozy, Swedish traditional looking. And the staff were all so attentive and friendly.

Here's hubby and his french toast - thick cinnamon bread filled with mascarpone cheese and topped with strawberries and blueberries.  Good size, creamy, not overly sweet, perfect breakfast for a sweet tooth.

I had the Swedish Sampler which was composed of a Swedish Pancake, Potato Sausage, Meatball with Gravy, Lingonberry sauce, fried egg, and yup, the potatoes and (smothered) cinnamon rolls you see in the photos are the sides!  I was happy to see the main dish in a modestly sized portion, because the cinnamon rolls were humongous!  Oh, and the potatoes were heavenly - I loved the smokey, rosemary flavor.

After breakfast, it was still too early to go anywhere (e.g. mall or theater), so we passed by the weekend fresh market at Division street. It was a gorgeous day - I could not help but take a picture.  Love the cirrus clouds, hehehe!

Hubby with our purchased produce - organic bell peppers and basil.

Yup, fall is here... and so I wore a scarf and a jacket today.

Division Street is just a block from our place so we went home for a while to take a nap and dropped our Ann Sather baggie and vegetables.  What a lovely, lovely morning, no stress, no fuss, great weather - I wish everyday is just like today.  This is just what I needed after a very long week.  

At around 11, we're on our way to Macy's for a little shopping.  Then, we had lunch at our favorite Noodles by Takashi... ahhh... after a long time!  We ordered the usual ramen and Chicken Tatsuta-age.  This place is really a must-try - aside from the obvious that it's super delicious, it's also relatively cheap and food is freshly cooked right in front of you (almost). And just our luck, we had our Macy's frequent diner card filled out, so the ramen was free!  Lunch for two at $11 - not bad at all!  Just look at the pictures.

Miso Ramen and Chicken Tatsuta-age (of course, we had white rice as side!)

We capped our day with a Reese Witherspoon movie, and this homemade Chicken Parmigiana.  Thought I'd make something Italian, as inspired by my fresh basil and bell peppers from the Division Street Market.  It was a hit with hubby, as I got a kiss on the cheek and a "thank you wifey for always cooking restaurant-quality food". :-)

Chicken Parmigiana which I paired with Angel Hair Pasta with creamy tomato sauce (not in picture)

I guess you don't really have to plan your activities each time to make sure your day turns out the way you want it to be.  And I've had enough of planning in the last few weeks!  Haha!  
Thank you God for a day like this.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Janice and Bianca's Dishes

Oh wow, I'm finally posting something on my poor feeling-abandoned blog... wooohooo and pat on the back for me!  Being extremely busy at work (this is probably my most challenging yet) and being (sighhh with a smile :-)) pregnant, kept me from blogging.  Again, no complaints, but looking at my diminishing blog roll at the right (yup, look at the right of this page), I felt kinda sad!  Today, I decided to at least enjoy what's left of my weekend by sharing some wonderful recipes I found in (drum roll)... Kris TV!  Yup, apart from the Food Network, there's actually a lot of really easy recipes you can learn from this show.  Last week, Janice de Belen and Bianca Gonzales shared their own recipes and I was instantly hooked.  I actually have a little bit of trivia about these two celebrities...

Janice de Belen, as most Pinoys know, is one of the best dramatic actors in Philippine television and cinema.  I also think she has one of the most beautiful and recognizable faces in Showbiz and I really do love her not only because of these facts, but I actually have a cousin, who looks just like her!  I hope she doesn't kill me when she reads this blog, but I'm really proud being her cousin - mind you, she's an accomplished MD and mother of two adorable little boys.  See the picture on the right?  That's her!  Ok, so before the topic goes off somewhere else, in the Kris TV show, I learned that Janice is also a very good cook and even took formal training a few years ago.  So the dish she demonstrated was actually just her own invention - Lemon Butter Prawns with Garlic Pasta.  I did a little variation here, because I did not have "black prawns" and regular spaghetti noodles.

Garlic Infused Olive Oil and the finished dish, Lemon Butter Prawns with Garlic Whole Wheat Spaghettini

Garlic Infused Olive Oil 
(Heat 1 Head Minced Fresh Garlic in 1/3 cup Olive Oil for 15 mins)
Jumbo Shrimps (about 10 pieces)
1 Package Whole Wheat Spaghettini Cooked
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Garlic Minced
1 Tbsp Lemon Rind
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Salt & Pepper
Parsley Flakes

Heat the butter and olive oil in a shallow pan.  Add the shrimps and cook each side for about 30 secs (or until it turns orange).  Add the lemon rind and juice.  Set aside.  
In the same pan, add the cooked pasta and garlic oil.  Season with Salt and Pepper.  Turn of the heat.
In a plate, add the pasta and top with the cooked shrimps.  Garnish with Parsley flakes.


The next dish I made, thanks to Kris TV, was cooked by Bianca Gonzales.  So here are some trivia about Bianca.  Back in grade school, she was actually my bus mate in La Salle Zobel!  I don't think she'd remember me, because she was about five years younger and we never really talked, except if she had to say "excuse me" to get through our crowded bus or when she had to sit next to me.  Never thought she'd be in showbiz, but at least she's one of the classier ones!  Oh and my trivia doesn't end there - similar to my Janice story above, she's also a look-alike of one of my best friends.  See picture in left - and apart from the obviously good looks, they have the same demeanor too!  Funny because after watching the show, my friend sent me an e-mail just to check in and I was just thinking about her... So back to the recipe... Bianca cooked her own version of Pininyahang Manok.  The way she did it looked so effortless and the ingredients were simple but interesting.  I again put a little variation by adding some milk, potatoes, chili pepper flakes, and patis (instead of salt).  This one's too easy and will take only about 30 minutes - anybody can do it!

Pininyahang Manok

6-8 Pieces Chicken (adobo-cut)
1 Can of Pineapple Chunks (including the juice)
1 Small Can of Liver Spread
1/3 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Cheddar Cheese Grated
1 Large Potato Diced (about1/2 inch)
3 Cloves Garlic Minced
1 Small Yellow Onion Minced
Patis to taste
Chili Pepper Flakes
Vegetable Oil

Saute the garlic and onion in vegetable oil.  Mix in the chicken and cover for about 5 minutes.  Add the liver spread, pineapples, pineapple juice, milk, cheese.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the potatoes, dash of patis, and a pinch chili pepper flakes.  When the potatoes are tender, your Pininyahang Manok is ready!  Serve with steamed white rice.  

I was nervous making this, because it's my first time and we've never had this in our household.  We had this for lunch today and hubby loved it.  So did I!  Definitely a nice break from the usual Chicken Curry.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What do you know, homemade longganisa!

Ever since I found out that I'm pregnant, I became way too conscious about what I eat and betchabygollywow it's not the easiest thing in the world for a foodie like me!  Apart from the fact that I miss sashimi (and other yummy raw food), ham (and all those deli meats), and coffee (the third menu link on this blog's header!!!), I also can't gain too much weight - and I thought I already had the license to eat whatever's preggers-friendly to my heart's content.  I never thought it would be this limiting.  In our recent trip to Manila, my Mom told me that all these were nonsense!  Ha!  When she was pregnant, she ate everything - even the biggest fish with the highest mercury content - and we sisters turned out just fine, I think (hmmm, if she were more cautious then, I would've been a genius hehehe).

One of my cravings lately is longganisa.  Actually, tapa, tocino, and all those connected to the "silogs". Unfortunately, these wonderful stuff contain sodium nitrite, which is a kind of preservative apparently dangerous for pregnant women and this article will tell you why.

After years of trying, and having a pregger's worst nightmare happen in the last year, I will do everything in my power to take all precautions and make these limitations work for me.  I am bigger than you, longganisa, and I can easily take you down.  Hehehe.  So... in my nauseated moments in bed, I found myself browsing through you-tube instructional videos of all-natural, skinless longganisa!  And it's actually easy (calling Spanish Pinay).

- 1.5 lbs ground pork (I used the lean kind in my goal to be healthier)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly-cracked black pepper
- 1 head of garlic minced
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 1/3 cup annatto (atsuete) seeds juice (soak the seeds in water)

Just mix all ingredients together and roll them in cling-wrap, about 1 inch thick and 7-8 inches long.  Let it cure in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, cut into three pieces, and remove the cling-wrap.  Fry in vegetable oil (or olive oil) until it caramelizes and becomes golden reddish brown.  Serve with garlic rice, fried egg and tomatoes.  Even better, dip in seasoned vinegar, like my favorite Pinakurat.

Yup, I couldn't believe I just made my own longganisa.  It was actually good - comparable to McDonald's skinless longganisa, but more garlicky, like a skinless Vigan longganisa.