Friday, May 27, 2011

Ben's Chili Bowl

Ben's Chili Bowl is considered a landmark in Washington DC. It was established by newlyweds, Ben and Virginia Ali in 1958. It is a restaurant known for glorious chili and their famous sausage known as half smokes. It has survived numerous riots and has remain unchanged as the neighborhood changes. Businesses shutdown, but Ben's Chili Bowl stayed on.
This is a place where people from all walks of life converge. There's no special treatment for anyone (even the president): to get your dose of chili in your fries and their yummy sausage called half smokes -you have to line up. The service is quite fast though that by the time you reach the counter, you had already made up your mind as to how you will have your chili which in my case: in my half smoke, the fries and in a bowl for an unadulterated taste.
The chili is soooooo yummmyyyy! It's a chili unlike any other. You have the heat but the heat does not overwhelm but only enhance the taste of the dish. The half smokes are charred to perfection and the hand-cut fries are crunchy and had the "i just got out of the fryer" feel. With all the spicy goodness of the food that we had, it was good that we ordered coleslaw because it chased some of the heat away.
The food with the drinks did not break the bank. It was yummy and affordable - a real treat!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Special Chicken Adobo

My husband can eat adobo every single day and never complain. This is his favorite dish. Because of that, this became my go-to-dish on very busy weeks or days when I can't figure out what to make for his baon. What's nice about it is that you can adobo almost anything! We had adobo-ed ribs, pork tenderloin, fish, chicken livers and even vegetables ! All one has to remember is the base consisting of the magic 4: garlic, vinegar, soy sauce and pepper.

Here is my recipe for Chicken Adobo:
1.5 kilos chicken drumsticks (you can use chicken wings)
1 head of garlic,crushed
3 tsp black peppercorns or 2 tsp ground black pepper
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 pcs bay leaf
1 tsp red pepper flakes (we like a little heat)
sugar to taste (hubby likes it sweetish)
hard boiled eggs (chicken or quail eggs)

1. Heat oil and saute garlic. Do not allow garlic to brown.
2. Add chicken drumsticks to the mixture. Then the bay leaf and black pepper. Stir every now and then to allow chicken to cook. It's ready when blood does not come out of the chicken flesh or bones when pierced.
3. Add soy sauce and stir a little. Then add vinegar and water. Once vinegar is added, do not stir because if you do, the vinegar will not cook properly and will leave a sour note on the dish. Lower fire and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.
4. Add sugar to taste and pepper flakes. Add the hard boiled eggs. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
5. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Voila! - An Aswer to One Lazy Cooking Day

I'm not fond of buying ready-to-cook lunch/dinner but there are times when I keep one or two in the fridge for when days like this happens. My rule is: the hubby will only have something like this once or twice utmost in a week but I will always make sure that he will go home to a hot home-cooked meal every single day.

Voila! Alfredo Chicken is one of the best tasting ready made dish we ever had. It has good garlicky Alfredo sauce, lots of vegetables and it's so easy to prepare. I usually prefer following the stove top cooking instructions as opposed to that of the microwave. I don't know but I do like preparing ready-to-cook food on a skillet rather than a dish.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

State Fair Corndogs

I know that we are not supposed to eat processed foods but sometimes, we just can't help it. Like this corndog for instance...

My husband's been urging me to buy corndogs since he saw one of his co-teachers have it for baon. He was curious if it's really tasty. I, on the other hand tried my very best not to buy one because I don't think it's healthy and I really prefer making something from scratch - at least I would know what I'd be putting in it. Nevertheless, I succumbed...

It reminded me so much of the waffledogs that we buy in Fiesta Carnival except that it's a corndog. I have to say that it's better than the first corndog I had at one of the stalls inside University Mall in Taft Avenue. The hotdog was not salty at all and the honey corn batter was very yummy and crispy (I reheated it in the toaster oven). It's not at all that bad. I guess, Bem can have this from time to time (maybe once or twice a week) but hopefully, I could make this from scratch and tweak it a bit to make it healthier. When that time comes, then he can also have that for baon.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Goto delight

Goto and lugaw are both savory and soupy porridge (congee), eaten by a typical Filipino household. The difference between the two lies on the main ingredient, Goto uses tripe with or without intestines while lugaw uses chicken wings,legs or thighs.

I love lugaw and goto for breakfast or dinner especially on a rainy night. It's soothing, filling, cheap and easy to prepare. Aside from that, I like to think of the many toppings I can use to jazz them up. The thing is I've never cooked one before so this was a challenge. Well, I am happy to report that I managed to cook my first goto with such great results! This won't be possible if not for Miss Connie's Home Cooking Rocks( which helped me figure out how to cook this dish. Miss Connie, thanks a lot!!!!

Ingredients for the Goto (serves 6 hungry adults):
1 cup cooked malagkit or fancy california rice (cooked in 4 cups water)
1 cup jasmine rice
3 tablespoons chopped ginger
1 whole head of garlic,crushed
1 large onion,chopped
1 kilo of beef tripe (boiled to preferred tenderness) cut into strips
2 cups chicken stock
4 cups water (add more if needed)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
patis/fish sauce to taste

hard boiled eggs
chopped green onion/chives
fried garlic
crispy pork belly (ingredients and procedure to follow)
fried extra firm tofu
special soy condiment (soy sauce with vinegar, garlic, sugar, onions and pepper flakes)
crushed chicharon/chicharrones
lemon juice

1. Heat oil in a stock pot. Saute onions, ginger and garlic. Don't let the garlic brown.
2. Add the tripe and season with 3tbsp fish sauce. Let it simmer.
3. Stir in the rice into the pot, then add the chicken stock. Let it simmer then add water from time to time. (note: the soupier, the better - in my opinion).
4. Once the rice is cooked, add the cooked malagkit and stir. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Put additional patis/fish sauce to taste. Add more water if the mixture is too thick. Simmer for additional 5 minutes in low fire.
5. Turn off the stove. Serve in individual soup bowls with the preferred toppings. Enjoy!

Crispy Pork Belly
Rindless pork belly (bacon cut)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In an aluminum covered baking sheet, place on top a baking or cookie rack coated with cooking spray.
3. Arrange pork belly (seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides) on top of the rack. Then put the baking sheet in the oven and let it cook for 25 minutes.
4. After 25 minutes, carefully remove the rack and turn the bellies to its other side. Put back in the oven, lower the heat to 350 degrees F and cook for 15-20 minutes til golden brown.
5. Turn off the oven and arrange pork bellies in serving dish. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In my fridge: Dole Mandarin Oranges

I like eating fruits in their natural state but this is an exemption!

I love........
1. how the mandarin oranges swim in natural fruit juices.
2. that I can enjoy the sweet and plump sections of mandarin without the need to peel them.

3. how it doesn't break the bank at all because for the price of 2 for $5 minus a $1 coupon, it's not so bad after all.
4. the fact that I can store it in the pantry and have an available fruit snack just within my reach anytime...every time.

I'm positively in love with this product.

Friday, May 13, 2011

my semi-homemade empanada & california iced tea

I love empanada but so far, I have not chanced upon any store here that sells empanada. This makes me miss my home more because in Muntinlupa, we are just a few steps away from Red Ribbon and I can always buy a steady supply of meat or chicken empanadas if I have too. It was a good thing that I happen to chance upon several empanada recipes that made use of Pillsbury biscuits (the one inside a compact roll that makes anyone jump when they open it).

My empanada turned out well but it looked more like a Jamaican patty than an empanada. Still, it tastes really good!

For my crust, I made use of Pillsbury buttermilk biscuit. Inside the tube, there are 8 biscuits and from it you can make either 8 small empanadas or 4 big empanadas.

For the filling, I made use of a roll of Jimmy Dean's hot breakfast sausage but anyone can use regular ground beef. I sauteed some crushed garlic (6 cloves) and chopped onions in 2 tbsps of vegetable oil. After that, I added the sausage and seasoned it. Once it's all browned up, I put in a little salt, cumin and paprika. After that, I added my leftover pasta sauce, but you can use tomato sauce too. Then, I added some raisins and 2 tbsps sugar (my husband likes it a little sweetish). While it simmers, I added red pepper flakes because we like our empanadas with a little bite. Let it simmer and then turn the heat off after 7 minutes.

The tricky part was the merging of the biscuit and the filling. It is easier to put more filling when making big empanadas because you have a flattened biscuit on the bottom, at least 2 tbsps of filling in the center and another flattened biscuit on top to cover the whole thing. If you're making the small empanada, you can only put a tablespoon of filling in the middle and you need to be sure that the biscuit is flat enough and wide enough to enclose and secure the filling. Based also on my experience, it would be best to let the filling cool down.... not a bit but a lot! It is easier to put in the filling when it's fresh from a cold sleep in the refrigerator. Suggestion: make the filling first, let it sleep in the fridge and just assemble the whole empanada the next day.

Arrange empanada on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake inside a preheated oven set at 350 degrees F for 20 - 25 minutes or until it's golden brown.

I like to dip the hot empanada in cold sour cream with chopped chives and the perfect drink to pair this with is the California iced tea. I learned this recipe from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa. She sad that this drink is part lemonade and part iced tea.

For the California iced tea, I steeped 5 bags of black tea in 4 cups of boiling water. Then, I extracted 1 cup of lemon juice from 6 medium size lemons.

In a glass pitcher, I put in the lemon juice, added the black tea, 1 cup of sugar (more if it's still too tart) and more water. Mix well. Taste first then add lemon slices for garnish. Let it cool down in the refrigerator and pour it on ice-filled glasses. So refreshing and taste way better than the powdered mixes!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Asian Court

We've never tried going to a proper dimsum house and I wish we had tried it sooner. Nevertheless, it was quite an experience so better late than never!

Asian Court is the only dimsum house we encountered nearest the Baltimore area. It is actually located in Ellicott City but it's not that hard to get there via I-695 exit16. We went there with my Mom and 2 of our friends who are sisters, Ate Ebyang and Ate Cel.
As soon as we were seated, a waitress asked for our drinks and we all decided to have jasmine tea. Several dimsum carts were moving around the restaurant each carrying delectable goodies. I began making a mental note of what I would like to have as soon as our dimsum card arrives. The dimsum card is used by the dimsum lady to mark the items you get from the cart.

We had the following:
(top to bottom, left to right) pork and shrimp siomai, pork spare ribs, braised chicken feet ,egg tarts, hakaw and savory rice in lotus leaves

Not included in the photos because they were just too yummy it was gone before we even had the chance to take pictures were: fried taro puffs, shrimp dumpling and kuchay dumpling

Everything was quite delicious and filling. It did not break the bank either because we only spent roughly $13 for each individual. It was indeed an exceptionally enjoyable Sunday brunch.

I can't wait to try other dishes on our next Asian Court visit!

Asian Court
Address: 9180 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City,MD 21042

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Sunday is eat out day for me and Bem. It became some sort of an unwritten tradition that we eat out after hearing the mass.

Last Sunday, we were joined by a friend who was hubby's former highschool student, Carla.

We heard our afternoon mass at the Immaculate Conception Parish then decided to eat at Friendly's along the way.

We never ate at Friendly's before. We usually go to IHOP (International House of Pancakes)because it reminded us very much of Pancake House. We don't know what to expect from Friendly's so we were excited.

There was a line but we managed to get in without much waiting time. The waiter was prompt but then it took some time before the food came out.

My husband got the chicken strips in barbecue bourbon sauce with french fries. Apparently, any order of chicken strip meals comes with a free happy ending sundae. It was funny because my husband thought he heard "never ending" and not "happy ending" and was excited because he was thinking all the while that the sundae was refillable. haha better luck next time, Bem.

Carla had the fish and chips with tartar sauce and I had the sirloin steak tips which I ordered with mashed potatoes on the side and garden vegetables. Well, Carla's order came out okay but mine was weird because instead of vegetables, I have french fries. I was just too hungry to complain so I didn't send it back. In the end, I didn't finish the fries nor the sirloin steak because they were a little on the tough side.

The best part of the meal for me was the endless chat with Bem and Carla plus the sundae that was so yummy, we finished it before hubby could even take a picture. It was, indeed, a "happy ending" sundae!

Note to self: The next time we go to Friendly's, we will focus on dessert and this time no sharing. haha!

Friendly's Restaurant
1414 York Road
Lutherville, MD 21093

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

seaweed, calamari and sushi!!!!

Last Saturday, I asked my husband to surprise me with something. I think he's a psychic because he got me what I'm craving for!!!!

He got us a seaweed and calamari salad both dusted with sesame seeds, pepper flakes and seasoned very nicely. The calamari was cooked just right, not at all rubbery.

And he also got us a wonderful smoked salmon california roll with lots of roe!!!!! yummy!

This totally made my day!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bem's Baked Linguine

I heart bem - that's what I placed on top of my baked linguine. I wanted to show my husband (whom I call "Bem" or "Bebem") how much I love and appreciate him all through the years by making this dinner a wee bit more personalized.

He was pleasantly suprised....;)

The baked linguine is composed of three layers: the cooked linguine at the bottom, the cheesy sausage spaghetti sauce in the middle and the white sauce on top. I used a combination of black and green pimiento stuffed olives for the letters.

For this baked linguine, I used:

half a box of linguine (cooked according to the directions in the box)

Cheesy Sausage Spaghetti Sauce:
1 bottle of Bertolli Mushroom and Garlic pasta sauce
half a pack of baby bella mushrooms (chopped)
3/4 of a Jimmy Dean's Sausage (in a roll)
4 left over american cheese squares (cut to small pieces)
1 whole white onion (chopped)
6 garlic cloves (crushed)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small beef bouillon cube
a sprinkling of pepper flakes
1 tbsp of sugar

White Sauce:
1/4 cup Gold Medal all purpose flour
half tub of Philadelphia cooking cream
3 Tbsp of Richfood unsalted butter
1 cup of milk (I used Smart Balance Low Fat milk)

Cheesy Sausage Spaghetti Sauce
1. Heat oil in a pan. Saute onions, then add the garlic and the beef bouillon. (Do not allow the garlic to brown)
2. Add the sausage. Stir it as it browns to prevent sausage from sticking to each other. (8- 10) minutes
3. Incorporate mushrooms into the browning sausage.
4. After 2 minutes, add the sauce to the sausage and mushroom mixture. Season according to taste. Add the sugar and pepper flakes. Let it simmer.
5. Add the leftover cheese and allow it to melt and become incorporated with the sauce.
6. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes then set aside.

White sauce:
1. In a small saucepan, melt butter.
2. Using a wire whisk, add the flour and stir continuously to prevent clumps.
3. Add milk. Then let it simmer for 2 minutes but not boil.
4. Add the cream. Then stir until it thickens. Set aside.

Assemble the pasta dish: pasta first, then sauce and white sauce on top. Sprinkle parmesan cheese, mozzarela or quickmelt cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. Enjoy!!!!!

Next time, I might add parsley on my pasta sauce and include a cottage cheese layer. Let's see how that will turn out! ;)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

bites of Georgetown Cupcake

We went to the Philippine Embassy last Monday to renew our passports. It was a very good day and since we are already in DC, we decided to visit the Georgetown cupcake flagship store. Well, instead of going to that store, we ended up going to their branch at Bethesda row.

A little background about Georgetown Cupcake:

It's a specialty cupcake store founded by two sisters, Katherine and Sophie, who gave up their corporate jobs for the love of baking. Their cupcakes was a huge hit and they garnered more admirers when they had their own shown in TLC called DC Cupcakes. DC Cupcakes was a good exposure for their store since it featured a lot of their gorgeous cupcake projects.

The store in Bethesda was smaller than the flagship store but what we are thankful for was the absence of a very long line of cupcake buyers. That doesn't mean though that it was not popular in this area. As a matter of fact, the store was packed with customers when we entered but at least it didn't extend up to the sidewalk just like in DC.

We ordered a dozen cupcakes ($29) and we had 2 of each of the following flavors:

1. Cherry Blossom - Classic madagascar bourbon vanilla cupcake baked with fresh cherries and covered with a vanilla cream cheese frosting and pink fondant flower

2. Toffee Crunch - Toffee cupcake with a toffee-infused vanilla frosting topped with crushed heath bar

3. Honey Banana - fresh banana cupcake topped with a vanilla cream cheese frosting and yellow fondant flower

4. Hummingbird - Georgetown cupcake's version of a southern classic - fresh pineapple, banana and pecan cupcake topped with a vanilla cream cheese frosting, chopped pecans and blue hummingbird fondant

5. Susan G. Komen signature cupcake - Classic madagascar bourbon vanilla cupcake with a vanilla buttercream frosting and a pink Susan G. Komen ribbon logo fondant decor.

6. Cinnamon - Cinnamon cupcake topped with a cinnamon buttercream frosting and gold heart fondant

We love their cupcakes and we'll surely try more of their other cupcake flavors!

Check them out:
address: 4834 bethesda ave. bethesda,md 20814 (bethesda row)
3301 m street nw washington dc 20007 (flagship store)