Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Coffee Cake

The sweet aroma flowing through my house right now is a delicious coffee cake baking in the oven.  My husband called me from work yesterday and asked me to send the recipe to his friend stationed in Belgium.  I love sharing my recipes ... especially this one, which is my mom's most famous and highly requested in her repertoire.  This yummy cake is very easy to make and always comes out perfect.  Enjoy!

Mom's Coffee Cake   *Printable Recipe*

Cake:
1 Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs

Topping:
4 T brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Combine cake mix, sugar, sour cream, and oil.  Add eggs.  Coat bundt pan with cooking spray.  Sprinkle topping to coat pan.  Pour 1/2 batter in pan.  Sprinkle more topping.  Pour remaining batter.  Sprinkle remaining topping.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Here's a step-by-step...
Simple ingredients
Batter ready to pour
Spray pan with cooking spray.  Don't be afraid to over-spray so the cake doesn't stick.
Generously sprinkle pan with topping.  This makes a nice crust on the outside of the cake.

Coated and ready for batter

Pour 1/2 batter

Sprinkle about 1/2 of remaining topping

Pour in remaining batter

Sprinkle with remaining topping
Voila --- Enjoy!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

Thought I'd try my hand at making Eggplant Parmesan for dinner.  I searched several food sites for a recipe with rave reviews.  Found one that sounded good and I'm pleased to report that it was a snap to pull together......and let me tell you.....it was incredibly delicious!!  My husband and I didn't miss the meat at all and couldn't stop eating this yummy creation.  If you're interested in the recipe, click here.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Vegetable Potpurri

It's Sunday and I have a lot to accomplish today, so I made a super easy, nutritious, and quite tasty meal for my family called Pinakbet (pronounced Pin - awk - butt).  Pinakbet, is a veggie dish that was one of my favorites growing up.  My mom, an amazing cook, would throw this together in a pot using a potpurri of vegetables from my dad's garden.  She served it with rice and a side of fish or meat.  Many filipinos from the northern region of the Phillippines, where my dad is from, are familiar with this dish and cook it in a variety of ways....meaning, no two pinakbet recipes are the same.  I made a few tweaks to my mom's yummy recipe to adapt to my family's diet and busy schedule.  We love it and never feel guilty eating a ton of it.

Judith's Pinakbet
1 28 oz bag of frozen veggies (I prefer Pictsweet Vegetables for Soup)
1/2 acorn squash, cut in chunks
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 T ginger, minced
1 chicken boullion cube (I prefer Knorr brand)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 T olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Saute garlic & onions in olive oil until tender.  Add frozen vegetables, acorn squash, boullion cube, garlic powder, salt & pepper.  Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Serve over white or brown rice.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Blue Hour

I recently shot this photo during the blue hour earlier this week.  It's a photo of a blurry flag pole, but I really liked the colors I captured.  The sun had recently set and the sky was crystal clear.  I'll have to try this shot again, but next time with my tripod for more stability.

Friday, February 24, 2012

It's a Couscous Kinda Day

It's a balmy 84 degrees and sunny today in Virginia.  Hard to believe that it was snowing last Sunday, but that's just the kind of unpredictable weather that we've become accustomed to.  Nevertheless, kids were out playing in our neighborhood, windows were open, and the energy levels were high.  Because it was so beautiful outside, I didn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking so I whipped up one of my favorite quick and easy meals for my son & I to enjoy for lunch - Cheesy Couscous.  Tastes like mac and cheese, but so much healthier.  Plus huge bonus, the toddler doesn't know he's noshing on a veggie.

Cheesy Couscous   *Printable Recipe*
1 cup Israeli Couscous
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 chicken boullion cube (I use knorr brand)
3 T butternut squash puree
1 1/2 T grated parmesan cheese

Boil couscous in water with boullion cube.  Cover and stir occasionally for 8-10 minutes until cooked.  Add butternut squash puree and parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Strife-filled Weekend

It's Wednesday, and I'm still trying to settle down from an exhausting weekend.  We road-tripped it up to Pennsylvania to spend the President's Day holiday with family, because what's a holiday without a little family drama.  We enjoyed going house to house reuniting with relatives and watching our son play with his cousins.  However, little did we expect to be walking into a lion's den engulfed with hostility and contempt when entering one of the houses.  Although I know the anger wasn't directed at me (or so I think), the resentment was in the air and made for a very unwelcomed visit.  Needless to say, strife and confusion can really mess with your mind, so I'm turning to my bible to help me shake off this nonsense.  "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." - Matthew 6:33

A scripture that I found to help me overcome this past weekend:

"Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." - 1 Peter 5:8-9

Walking into the lion's den sure wasn't fun.  Unfortunately, I let it steal my joy and peace over the weekend, but no longer.  I need to stay alert and less vulnerable to attacks by keeping my eyes on Christ so the enemy will flee (James 4:7).  I pray that this trial is over, my lesson learned, and my spirit renewed. I also pray for people in the family who struggle with strongholds.  May they be free to love others and enjoy their life.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Brown Rice Cereal

It's a great day here at our small military base in Virginia.  The commissary (military grocery store) now stocks Brown Rice Cereal!!  WOW!!  Now that's a step in the right direction folks.



Friday, February 17, 2012

My Go To Dish

On very busy days like today, I struggle to figure out the family dinner situation.  So many questions... What can I throw together? Will the super-picky toddler eat it?  Do I have all the ingredients?  How long will it take to get it on the table?  Blah....blah....blah...

My "go to" dish lately has been a filipino dish called, chicken adobo.  It's so yummy and one of my favorite comfort foods.  It's something I grew up eating and want my family to enjoy as well.  Fortunately, everyone in my family loves it and I never have to worry about putting away leftovers after this meal.  Even the picky toddler finishes his plate.  Because this is unique to most, easy to make, and very tasty, I've made this dish for many people throughout the years ... and have yet to meet anyone who isn't a fan of chicken adobo.  There are many ways to cook this traditional filipino dish, but here's the recipe I learned from my mother.

Chicken Adobo          *Printable Recipe*
2 pkgs chicken thighs (approx 12 thighs)
4 T soy sauce
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chicken boullion cube (knorr brand)
1 T sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
1.5 T olive oil

In a pot, saute garlic and onions in olive oil until tender.  Add chicken thighs, soy sauce, vinegar, boullion cube, sugar, garlic powder, pepper, and bay leaves.  Cover and cook over medium heat.  Stirring occasionally for approx 30-40 mins until chicken is tender and easily falls apart.  Serve over white or brown rice.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thai for Lunch Anyone?

This morning I sent a crockpot full of Thai Red Chicken Curry and a big bowl of Jasmine Rice to my husband's unit for the Soldiers to enjoy during their lunch fundraiser this afternoon (he's serving in the U.S. Army by the way)....in hopes that people would enjoy it.  The fundraiser has been such a successful event in raising money to support family oriented events.  The concept:  family members donate home-cooked meals (in crockpots) & desserts during lunch time and Soldiers pay whatever they can for a yummy warm meal and sweet treats.  I made my Thai curry dish because I can make it the day before and its much more flavorful the day after it's made.  I really don't know why that is, but I think the spices are just absolutely incredible the next day.  Plus....I just pop it in the fridge at night, my husband takes it to work the next morning, plugs in the crockpot, cooks it on low, and by lunch time it's perfectly heated and ready to eat.  My husband called a few minutes into the lunch to tell me that the crockpot was empty, bowl of rice was gone, and there were many rave reviews on my dish.  YAY!

In case anyone wants my recipe, here it is.  It's one that I created after searching for the perfect recipe that resembled my favorite Thai restaurant's dish.  I butchered several that I found on the internet and finally came up with my little masterpiece.

THAI RED CHICKEN CURRY   *Printable Recipe*
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chopped onion
4 teaspoons Thai red curry paste (or 5 teaspoons for a hotter curry)
2 cloves garlic— chopped
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 chicken boullion cube (knorr brand)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1.5 cup bamboo shoot strips 4 kaffir lime leaves
1 red bell pepper - thin slices
2 uncooked skinless chicken breast fillets—cut into thin slices
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
6 large fresh thai basil leaves—finely sliced

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic until tender. Stir in red curry paste and cook for a minute. Then add coconut milk, water, boullion, fish sauce, sugar, kaffir lime leaves and bring to a boil. Add red pepper & bamboo shoots. Cover with a lid, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for approx 10 minutes. While the curry simmers, cook some jasmine rice. Add chicken to the curry and simmer, covered, for another 5-10 minutes until chicken is cooked. Stir in lemon/lime juice and basil. Serve on a bed of jasmine rice.


If you're wondering where to get some of the ingredients, such as kaffir lime leaves, red curry paste, fish sauce, etc.  I purchase these at a local asian grocery store.  They're all fairly inexpensive.  For example, a bag of 10-15 kaffir lime leaves is $1 and a large bag of thai basil is $1.50.  Just so you have an idea of what the items look like, here are a few photos.
Red Curry Paste
Kaffir Lime Leaves
Bamboo Shoots, Fish Sauce, Red Curry Paste

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lovin' on Granola

Happy Valentine's Day!  We're lovin' on some yummy homemade granola at our house for breakfast this morning.  I made this granola last week and I'm ecstatic about finally finding an incredible recipe.  After many attempts with various recipes on the internet, this one is hands-down delish!  This recipe was given to me by a sweet young mom from my Tuesday morning bible study.  It's absolutely amazing and super easy breezy to make!  Just add your favorite yogurt (I prefer Stonyfield Fat-Free French Vanilla), a handful of fruit, and its a delightful wholesome breakfast or snack.  You can store the granola in an airtight container (I use a ziplock bag) at room temperature for up to one week.  I use about a 1/4 cup of granola per 1/2 cup of yogurt, which makes this recipe go a pretty long way....approx. 25 servings.

Easy-Breezy Granola  *Printable Recipe*
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup flax seed
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil
2 T light brown sugar
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Using a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients until evenly distributed; the mixture will be stiff and sticky.  Spread the granola mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet and place in oven.  Bake, stirring from time to time, until browned, 45-60 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  When cool, break apart any clumped bits.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Celebration!

Took some time away from the blog to adjust to a few changes with our family, but I'm back and excited to share some great recipes that I've experimented with over the past several months.  On Christmas Day, I spent the morning in the kitchen cooking one of my favorite filipino dishes, pancit.  This is a traditional filipino noodle dish that my mom makes for special occasions and birthday celebrations.  It kind of resembles Chinese Chow Mein, but so much more flavorful (in my opinion).  Since Christmas is Jesus' birthday, I thought my little family would enjoy this yummy delicacy filled with shrimp, chicken, pork and veggies.  It turned our great!  I included my mom's recipe below, but be forewarned that the seasonings to include salt & pepper, soy sauce, and fish sauce are loose measurements.  It's really "to taste", so you have to constantly taste this dish while cooking to make sure it's seasoned to your liking.

Mom's Filipino Pancit    *Printable Recipe*
1 pkg canton egg noddles (found in Asian grocery store)
  • 4 pkgs white vermicilli noodles (found in Asian grocery store)
  • 1 pork chop
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 2 chopped celery stalks
  • 10 peeled uncooked shrimp
  • 3 rehydrated sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 T Soy Sauce
  • 2 cubes chicken boullion
  • Fish Sauce to taste (use 1 tsp at a time because this stuff is potent)


  1. In bowl, soak vermicilli noodles in warm water and drain when soft.
  2. Boil pork and chicken in 4 cups of water. Reserve broth.
  3. Slice pork and chicken into strips, set aside.
  4. In large pan or wok, saute garlic and onions in olive oil until onions are translucent.
  5. Add sliced chicken & pork, salt, pepper, soy sauce, boullion cubes. Add 1 cup of pork & chicken broth. Let simmer.
  6. Add shrimp, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Let simmer. Add fish sauce and additional soy sauce to taste.
  7. Drain liquid from meat & vegetable mixture. Put meat & vegetable mixture in bowl and set aside.
  8. In large pan or wok, add noodles and to the liquid. If noodles are too dry, add reserve broth to moisten noodles. When noodles are tender and moist, add meat and vegetable mixture and toss until combined.
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