Tag Archives: recipes

Mango Sago

Whenever I look at the calendar on my wall, I always find myself shocked that it’s already August. Summer is nearly over, and for most of my friends (and my younger brother), school is starting in a matter of days. Not weeks or months—days.

The feeling of a waning summer hasn’t really set in for me yet, mostly because Stanford University, where I’ll be an incoming freshman this school year, follows the quarter system, so my move-in date isn’t until mid-September! (The flip side, of course, is that I’ll be taking midterms in May while everyone else is beginning their summer breaks.)

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It really has felt like an eternal summer for me. But even though the days have been getting shorter (technically) and everyone has been buzzing about going back to school, the mangoes are still sweet—summer must still be going in full force. Continue reading

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Mom’s Spaghetti

Ever since I was young, I’ve always thought that my mom makes the best spaghetti ever. And I do mean that very seriously—nothing compares to the orange heaven that is my mom’s spaghetti. A few years ago, a family friend from Italy invited us over for dinner. While she made some of the most delicious pastas I’ve ever had, my mom’s spaghetti still reigns supreme.

In the Philippines, spaghetti is seen more as a snack than a full-fledged meal, and it’s usually very sweet when compared to the spaghetti we eat here in the United States. That’s why if you go to Jollibee or a McDonald’s in the Philippines, you’ll notice the spaghetti will taste totally different! (And, yes! They have spaghetti!) My mom says that every Filipino person has a different way of making their spaghetti. Hers has more garlic, is less sweet, and uses bacon instead of hot dogs. But for what it lacks in sugar, it makes up for in flavor.

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In the summer before ninth grade, I took a cooking class as part of Senior DECATS, a selective summer program only available to academically talented students who attended a Catholic middle school. It was my first real exposure to cooking—and also where I learned I enjoy tasting food more than making it! For our biggest group cooking challenge, we had to prepare the best spaghetti we could.

Well, actually, we were told we needed to find one of the teaching assistants who had been hidden in the park across the street, with the first group getting to pick their ingredients first—much like a MasterChef competition. But that’s a story my thirteen-, almost fourteen-year-old self told on my personal blog, Kuya’s Notebook, after it happened, complete with blurry iPhone pictures and full recollections of middle school students trying to get out of cleaning for the day. Continue reading

White Toblerone Macadamia Cookies

Wow, it sure is crazy to think that 2013 is taking its last few breaths. Pretty soon, the full force of 2014 will be upon us! It’s weird to think how quickly this year went by. But as the seasons change and our calendars change dates, some things always stay the same.

The last day of the year will always be December 31, and it’s been that way for a very long time. If I’m not mistaken, December 31 was created back when Julius Caesar reformed the calendar in 45 BC, where December was given 31 days instead of the 29 it had under the old Roman calendar.

Mixing the Toblerone with the cookie dough

On this last day of the year, people everywhere will begin making resolutions to themselves. Some of that will include eating healthier, losing weight, exercising more, getting more sleep, procrastinating less, etc. Personally, I don’t have my list of New Year’s resolutions ready yet, but I will! I’ll probably post them on my personal blog (kuyasnotebook.com) later today or tomorrow when I finally have the list finalized.

Before midnight rings, it’s also important to clean the house and get everything ready for the new year. Today has been filled with cleaning, tidying things up, and just getting the house ready to soak in all the luck that 2014 has to offer.

Preparing the cookies

Filipinos have always been superstitious about New Year’s, probably a product of our Chinese ancestors. A few important things you should do before the calendar rolls over to January 1 include:

  • Cleaning your house
  • Fill your wallet with money (no empty wallets unless you want an empty wallet all year!)
  • Scatter coins around the house and outside your door
  • Eat round grapes at the stroke of midnight
  • Have long noodles for long life

I’m also going to be jumping twelve times at midnight to increase my height this year. 🙂

Cookies in the oven

Also, on New Year’s Day, it’s very important that you don’t clean anything and don’t spend any money at all! You wouldn’t want to wipe away the good luck that came in on New Year’s Eve, and your spending habits on January 1 will last for the rest of the year! As in, if you spend money of New Year’s Day, you’ll spend away too much of your money this coming year!

Bok Choy and Broccoli has a very international audience, many of you hailing from the United States, Canada, and the Philippines. Please in the comments leave how you celebrate the New Year and what your superstitions are (if you have any)! Until next time, have a great 2014 ahead of you!

Toblerone Cookies

White Toblerone Macadamia Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup salted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups (approx. 2 bars) white Toblerone, coarsely chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, comine flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well with a wire whisk. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, blend sugars at medium speed. Add butter and mix to form a grainy paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the flour mixture and macadamia, and blend at low speed until just combined. Do not over-mix!
  5. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto un-greased cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until edges are just beginning to turn golden brown. Transfer cookies immediately to cool, flat surface.

Vegetarian Flatbread with Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Spread

Hello from New York City!

I just arrived in the Big Apple yesterday evening. Within just the first few hours of getting into New York, I met with some of my relatives and had dinner and dessert overlooking Times Square. The bright, flashy lights of Times Square were completely breathtaking. I’ll have a post filled with photos on Kuya’s Notebook either later today or early tomorrow.

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So what else is on the agenda this week? Tomorrow, I’m heading off to Columbia University and going to Hangawi, a vegetarian Korean restaurant, to celebrate Meatless Monday (do click the link, you never know what surprise you’ll find, wink wink)! Later this week, it’ll be pizza time—and I’ll get to eat delicious New York pizza! Yummy! All I have to do now is fold my pizza like a New Yorker, and I’ll be all set.

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The quest for the perfect pizza began in Italy, about four years ago. We were on a vacation to Sorrento, and I, as a picky eater, wanted to find the perfect pizza. The pizza I’d had from here in the United States included the usual variety: cheese, pepperoni, that weird one filled with vegetables that I wouldn’t even touch, the meat-lovers, Hawaiian, etc.

Personally, I found cheese and pepperoni to be my personal favorites (read: only ones I’d eat). The vegetable one was just plain strange and disgusting (I still feel that way about some of the veggie-lovers pizzas), and the meat-lovers pizza was just plain gross. Hawaiian pizza was my mom’s favorite—and eventually mine too before I stopped eating Canadian bacon—but that one was best left to mom.

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In Italy, my first instinct was to ask for a pepperoni pizza. Guess what kind of pizza doesn’t exist in Sorrento? (That’s right, pepperoni.) I realized the closest thing to what I was used to was margherita pizza. And that was my first experience of margherita pizza. There was another pizza I tried that even had french fries on top! How awesome is that? (Okay, maybe it’s not that cool, but I think most eleven-year-olds would have the same reaction as I did.)

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I may not have gone to Naples, a place famous for its pizza, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the pizza there in Sorrento. The best pizza I’ve had is definitely from Italy—there’s just something about it that just feels so… authentic! Although, New York may attempt to compete for that coveted “best pizza” spot… who knows?

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When we decided to share this recipe, my mom jumped at the opportunity to use some of the basil we’ve grown in our backyard. She was so excited, I just had to snap a picture of her running out of the kitchen, to our backyard, and picking it.

My mom would always make this vegan flatbread with Italian-inspired ingredients. I would always be so excited when I’d hear her say she was going to make it for dinner. When I first got my braces on, I wanted to cry because it meant I couldn’t eat it easily. (To the ire of my orthodontist, I did it anyway.) But now that my braces are off, I don’t need to worry about it anymore!

So forget what I said earlier. I think I already found the best pizza in the world.

It’s the one my mom makes.

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Vegetarian Flatbread with Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Spread

Good for 3 people.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 1 eggplant, cut in rounds
  • 1 can artichoke slices
  • 1 small tomato
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 flatbread (can be substituted with pita or naan bread)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. In a food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and olive oil. Process until puréed.
  3. Wash and cut the eggplant and cut it in 1/4 inch round slices
  4. Place the eggplants in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let it stand for about 15 minutes to rid of excess water and for a less bitter taste.
  5. Drain the artichokes from the can and set aside. Slice the tomato thinly.
  6. Brush the bread with olive oil and spread the kalamata mixture.
  7. Layer the bread with eggplants, artichokes, and tomato. Brush with olive oil if desired.
  8. Place the pizza in the oven and cook for about 12 minutes or until the vegetables are roasted and the bread is crispy.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Dip

We’re in the final stretch of July, the last ten days before we flip the page in our calendars and face August. So while we have this last week and a half, let’s enjoy it and collectively have our tastes of summer. What do you think of as “summer food”? Personally, I’d have to say olives and sun-dried tomatoes.

This Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Dip is a perfect way to have a quick and easy start to a summer meal, especially with crunchy breads or pita chips!

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I’ll be completely honest. This is actually a precursor to tomorrow’s recipe, which will be a full meal with an Italian-influence—perfect timing for my upcoming trip to New York City!

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Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Spread

  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (plus a little extra for drizzling)

Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and the extra virgin olive oil in a food processor. Process until finely puréed. Place the mixture on a plate and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Stir well until mixture is no longer paste-like. Combine well with the oil. Serve with pita, crackers, or bread. (We highly recommend parmesan-crusted crisps!)

Waldorf Grape Salad

It’s been a few years since I last stepped foot in the Waldorf Astoria New York. It was my first trip to the Big Apple, a city I had always dreamed of seeing, even in my young, fresh-out-of-fourth-grade body. To make it even better, I was staying in the Waldorf Astoria New York, a luxury hotel in Park Avenue. It was as if I was a part of the rich and famous.

It was the luckiest trip I’ve ever been on—we were upgraded to a suite and given free breakfast for our entire stay since the hotel gave away the room we booked (we were late because of a bizarre plane delay). One night of fitting a family of four into a two-person room was heavily rewarded! And when the second part of our vacation—a flight to Florida—was abruptly cancelled because of an impending hurricane, we were able to stay in the suite AND get more free breakfasts.

As cool as seeing rooms of where Brad and Angelina slept (as well as foreign dignitaries) and sitting in John F. Kennedy’s rocking chair, my absolute favorite place in the whole city was definitely the Nintendo World Store in Rockefeller Plaza. I had my Nintendo DS with me—as always—and I was so excited to meet Mario! I’d love to say it was dumb luck that allowed my brother and me meet the red-hatted mascot of Nintendo, but the truth was, I had planned to go on a very specific day and hour to maximize my time with him.

Five years later, I haven’t been back to the Waldorf Astoria New York ever since. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience—we don’t have as many Hilton points after my dad began traveling less for work, and we definitely can’t afford another suite at a luxury hotel.

But to celebrate its memory, here’s a Waldorf grape salad made with walnuts and blue cheese.

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If you didn’t know, a Waldorf salad is made of fresh apples, celery, and walnuts, plus mayonnaise and lettuce. It got its name because it was first created in the late 19th century at the Waldorf Hotel—this was before it became the Waldorf-Astoria, which is now the Waldorf Astoria New York.

But, we decided to experiment a little and make it with grapes instead. Because why not? Pretty soon, the “Big Apple” will be known as the “Big Grape,” just because of this recipe! (Okay, maybe not.)

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Actually, I’d like to include a little travel announcement in this post…

I’m going to New York City next week!

My mom and I are both heading out to NYC next week for four days, and I can’t wait to hit some fun restaurants and places! My most recent visit was last summer (around this time) for only about a day and a half, and we squeezed out every last minute. Definitely look forward to some new restaurant reviews next week, as well as more about my trip to the city on my personal blog, Kuya’s Notebook.

One of the things I really wanted to do with this blog was include restaurant reviews from my travels. While I don’t travel as much as I would like—which would really be traveling at least every season (I enjoy traveling, if you can’t tell)—I definitely want to share the trips I do go on when I go on them!

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Be sure to stick around! We leave for Manhattan on Sunday, but don’t worry! We won’t leave you hungry—not even for a second! And you can keep updated with our travels on my personal Twitter @kuya_joshua or on Kuya’s Notebook! (Plus, our Facebook page will stay updated during our travels!)

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Waldorf Grape Salad

  • 2 pounds (about 7 cups) organic grapes (red or green… or both! Your choice!)
  • 2 tablespoons organic canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup blue cheese (add more if desired)

Wash the grapes and pat dry. In a large bowl, combine the grapes, canola oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, kosher salt, walnuts, and blue cheese. Chill until ready to serve.

Quinoa Cereal (with Pecans)

Happy Monday! (I honestly never thought I’d say those words… ever!) They always say you should start your day off with breakfast since it’s the most important meal of the day and all that other stuff. But, what do you do if you (gasp!) don’t like breakfast? You look for a better, more exciting breakfast food! Take this quinoa cereal, for example—it uses one of my favorite grains!

Back when I was originally trying to go weekday vegetarian in the winter, I began frantically searching for vegetarian/vegan recipes that could sustain me from Monday through Friday (and possibly even on the weekends). I ended up finding an incredibly interesting concept—quinoa cereal! It was originally a vegetarian recipe being reposted on a vegan challenge (advising to just substitute cow’s milk for soy milk).

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At the time, I really wanted to try quinoa. (Turns out, of course, that I’ve had it many times before, but I never knew.) I ran to my mom, demanding that we try this recipe… especially since my mom and I both hate breakfast (wonder what I got that from…?). The only difference was that we used raspberries way back in December instead of blueberries now.

That ended up being my first food picture using the camera I still use today. I still look back at it and feel proud, despite some of its flaws. My photography has definitely improved since then (no more reliance on auto “food” mode!) and I know how to better set up food pictures.

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This quinoa cereal is completely vegan, but if you’re not a fan of rice milk (or the alternate organic soy milk), you can use organic 1% milk. Personally, I’m still scarred from some of the vegan documentaries I watched (like Vegucated, which is amazing by the way) to NOT use a milk alternative, especially when there’s no real difference in taste. (That, and milk sometimes makes my stomach hurt…) Personally, I think rice milk has the best taste with this recipe, but soy milk is good in here too.

Also, you can switch out agave nectar for local honey. We didn’t have any agave nectar, so my mom’s local honey was all we had. (Local honey, especially in your tea, is a great alternative to sugar, plus it helps with seasonal allergies.) Of course, if you would prefer not to use honey, agave nectar is always a good alternative.

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Quinoa Cereal with Pecans

Adapted from 101 Cookbook’s Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice milk (or organic soy milk)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup organic quinoa (rinse first!)
  • 1 cup organic blueberries
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • drizzle of agave nectar or local honey

Directions:

  1. Combine milk, water, and rinsed quinoa in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over low heat.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes (or until most of the liquid is absorbed).
  4. Turn off the heat, cover, then let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the blueberries and cinnamon.
  6. Transfer to individual bowls and sprinkle pecans and possibly pomegranate seeds. End with a drizzle of agave nectar/honey on each bowl to taste.