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Compared to what we have from where I come from (the Philippines), everything in America is super-sized, or is geared to being one. And I mean, everything! That includes houses, cars, buildings, clothes, furniture, grocery items, fast food items and all things you can think of. I believe this is one of the results of a free enterprise. Competition is tough, that’s why every company there is has to fight tooth and nail to get their market. And how? Well, by catering to one of human nature’s weakness -greed – and sending messages that inculcate within us “the bigger, the better” mentality.

But I have to say though, in fairness, that this mentality is NOT unique to America. It’s happening all over the world, wherever free enterprise thrives. But you know what, in other places such as the Philippines, their concept of “BIG” is definitely not the same as what’s considered as such here.

Just to give you an example …. say for instance, clothes…. Here in the US, I buy my shirts usually medium (if I want it to fit well) or large (a little loose). But in the Philippines, my size is an XL (on a good day) or XXL (that’s really a bad day)! Whew! Can you understand the frustration I have when shopping there? ( That’s why I maintain that America got it right with clothing sizes… Lol!)

Relatively, food portions / servings in America are also huge. That’s why eating in a restaurant is always an experience to me..everytime. I never stopped being amazed at the portions the customer gets! It’s humongous! I’m telling you, one serving they give you here can already feed two Filipinos, at least. I am not kidding.

So when Mr. J came to the Philippines, it was also the reverse experience for him. The servings are much smaller back in my homeland, comparable almost to a kiddie portion here. Imagine my hubby’s surprise when we ate at a local pizza place in Cebu (the city where I come from) …. we ordered a large pizza, and what came was the size of a round 8″ plate. He looked at the pizza and at me in confusion and said, “that’s it? This is personal size!” Yep, that’s the size of the large pizza in the Philippines. One gets a much smaller small portion there, commensurate to the Filipino’s tiny frames, maybe?

Why am I talking about this? Well, because the dish I have for you today is actually something meant for a smaller portion – it was originally an appetizer in a popular restaurant. This dish was without the pasta; just the saucy shrimps and scallops served with bread so we can dip it, and soak up all that wonderful goodness in a bite. I like it so much that I decided to experiment to try to re-create it, and turn it into a main course by adding pasta.
So, here it is. I am also sending this dish out as my entry to Presto Pasta Nights being hosted by Gay of A Scientist In the Kitchen.

Shrimp & Scallop Mediterranean Pasta

4 oz linguine or thin-style spaghetti
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
15 kalamata olives, half peices
4 tbsp sundried tomatoes (in olive),julienne
1/2 lb shrimps, small or medium
1/2 lb scallops
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
3 tbsp (or more) feta cheese, crumbles
2 tbsp chopped parsely or torn basil, for garnish
Salt & pepper to taste

1. In a pot bring water to boil. Add pasta and cook till al dente.
2. In the meantime,heat butter and olive oil in a saute pan. Add garlic and green onions. Saute until the aroma fills the air.
3. Add kalamata olives and sundried tomatoes – cook for 30 seconds.
4. Add shrimp and scallops, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until firm. Do not overcook. Remove shellfish from pan but keep warm.
5. Add chicken broth, white wine and bring to a simmer. Reduce until half the amount.
6. Return shellfish to pan. Add the pasta. Mix well.
7. Add the lemon juice, feta cheese and parsley.
8. Remove from heat. Serve garnished with torn basil and more feta cheese, if preferred.

NOTE: The measurements I have given you for the spices are all in estimates, as I was eyeballing everything. Pls. feel free to reduce or increase the amounts, according to your preference.


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What’s for lunch? This is a question that Mr. J and I ask ourselves everyday. And do we have as options? McDonalds. Wendy’s. Taco Bell. Burger King. KFC. Pizza Hut …. and countless other fastfoods. These are what confronts us as we contemplate on what to eat for lunch at work everyday.

I have nothing against fast foods. They are convenient and delicious! But the fact remains, they do you no good, especially when eaten on a daily basis. I’m sure you are aware of this, so I don’t have to elaborate on the reasons why. Suffice it to say that if you indulge on fastfood often enough, your buttons will have to eventually explode while your wallet implodes! Hah! (I was alluding to your physique expanding sideways and your wallet being empty, get me?). Not a pretty picture, huh?

This is exactly the reason why we cook a lot at home. The same reason why I made this dish today especially for Mr. J. I wanted to give my dear hubby a good but healthier alternative to his lunch. This pasta, coupled with a piece of fruit for dessert is definitely a much better option.

Bow Tie Pasta With Roasted Chicken Salad
Adapted from: Cooking Light

3 cups uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta), about 8 oz.
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp stone-ground mustard
2 tbsps sugar
1-1/4 tsps salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tsp rice vinegar
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 2 pcs)*
1-1/2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
1 cup celery, thin cut diagonally
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
3 tbsps fresh chives, chopped
2 tbsps fresh parsely, chopped

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Omit salt and fat. Cool.
2. Combine orange juice and the next 7 ingredients (thru vinegar) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk to combine.
3. Add cooled pasta, chicken, grapes, celery, red onion, walnuts, chives and parsley. Toss gently to combine.

*NOTE: For an even quicker preparation, use rotisserie chicken from the deli like i did. I made it the night before and threw in the dressing in the morning before hubby leaves for work. This is an excellent way to use left-over chicken from dinner.

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Singapore Style Noodles

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Well, it seems like I’ve been giving you a tour in Far East with my Asian-themed dinners recently. Believe me, this wasn’t planned at all. It just happened. What can I say, I’m originally from the Philippines, therefore, I’m Asian by race.

Growing up in the Philippines has naturally exposed me to the varied kinds of Asian noodles, mostly Chinese. One of the earliest settlers in the Philippines are the Chinese, and so you will notice that there’s a huge population of Chinese-Filipinos in our country. Consequently, Chinese cooking has made a huge impact in our cuisine. I would say that the food and spices are among the best legacies of the early Chinese settlers in my homeland.

Anyway, this time I am doing the Singapore Mai Fun or the Singapore rice noodles. (I’ve been to Singapore three times, and I believe this is one of the cleaner, if not the cleanest country in the whole wide world). This noodle is unique, in that it calls for curry powder. If you love curry like I do, then this is for you.

This dish is pretty healthy too.Traditionally, this is done with skinny rice noodles, but I have the flat/wider kind in my pantry so I used that instead. But if you want to try this recipe, I suggest you use the skinny ones. That way, your dish would look more like the traditional one.
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Singapore Mai Fun
1 (6 oz) package skinny rice noodle ( I used the flat/thicker one as I said above)
1/2 cup chicken broth*
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce*
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Cooking spray
1 tbsp peanut oil*, divided
1 large egg*, lightly beaten
1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast thinly sliced
1-1/5 lbs med shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup snow peas
1 cup green onions, sliced into 1-inch
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1. Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Omit salt and oil. Drain.
2. Combine broth, soy sauce, sugar and salt; stir until sugar dissolves.
3. Heat a large non-stick skillet (or Wok, if you have) over medium high heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 tsp oil. Add egg; stir fry 30 seconds or until soft scrambled, stirring constantly. Remove from pan.
4. Wipe clean the skillet. Heat the remaining 2 tsps oil in pan over medium high heat. Add bell pepper strips, snow peas, garlic and crushed red bell pepper. Stir fry for 15 seconds.
5. Add chicken and stir fry for 2 minutes, or until done.
6. Add curry and shrimp; stir fry for another 2- minutes.
7. Stir in noodles, broth mixture and egg. Cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with green onions and serve.

*NOTES: You may certainly use fat-free, less sodium chicken broth if you prefer. Reversely, you can use regular soy sauce instead of the low-sodium, but I suggest that you omit adding the salt. As for the egg, I used egg-beaters (egg substitute) in mine and it worked out well.

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Easy Peas-y Casserole

I like eating Orzo pasta, as I can trick my mind into thinking that I’m having rice. We, Filipinos, are big rice eaters , so we are susceptible to any Jedi-mind trick about rice. Hehhehe..But unlike rice, pasta settles a little heavier in the stomach, so you can’t really eat so much of it,especially when drowned with rich meaty or cheesy sauce. But, not this particular dish though. This recipe requires cheese, yes, but not a lot of heavy cream in it.

This dish is versatile too. You can prepare this either as a side dish, or as a complete meal.

Baked Orzo with Peas & Cheese
Casserole
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound orzo pasta
1-1/2 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease the baking dish
1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper (optional)
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup Marsala wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces shredded fontina cheese (about 1 cup)
4 ounces diced fresh mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Topping
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tbsp butter


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
2. Cook orzo with the chicken broth. Cook until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Pour the orzo and the broth into the baking dish. Set aside.
3. Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to saute until the mushrooms are beginning to turn golden around the edges, about 7 minutes.
4. Add the Marsala. Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan and cook until wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the mushroom mixture to the orzo in the large bowl. Add the cream, fontina, mozzarella, peas, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
6. Combine the bread crumbs, parmesan

and dried thyme. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top of the pasta. Dot with butter. Bake uncovered until golden, about 25 minutes. 

If you want to make this a complete meal, then you can add the chicken (turkey or shrimp would be good too) in the pasta mix. To make this a vegetarian dish, then you can probably add beans to it, like chick peas or red beans?

As for me, I opted to make it a complete meal – I added shredded cooked chicken breasts. Also, since Fontina is a bit pricier, I got a pre-shredded 6-cheese italian mix which already included Fontina (as well as Romano, Asiago, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Provolone) in it. I have fresh mozzarella in the fridge, so I used them for this dish. The fresh mozzarella added the gooey, sticky factor to this pasta.

This dish is even better eaten the next day.

 

 

 

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One of the advantages of growing up in a tropical island like the Philippines is having access to fresh seafood. I grew up eating fresh seafood. And I mean just-caught-that-day-kinda-fresh, so fresh some were still squiggling and jumping out from the containers! None of those previously frozen stuff…uh,oh.

Tonight’s dinner was pasta with fish. Not from the can but fresh fish. Fortunately, I didn’t have to clean the fish like I learned back in the Philippines, as I already got my fish filleted. I never had pasta with fish before, apart from having tuna casserole (which uses canned tuna), so it doesn’t count for me. And I’m glad I tried this. This is definitely a keeper.

Penne With Swordfish And Eggplant
1 pound penne pasta
1/3 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (plus more to taste)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley plus 1/3 cup
4 Japanese eggplants, ends trimmed, thinly sliced lengthwise, then cut into squares
1 pound swordfish steaks skin removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups halved teardrop or cherry tomatoes (red, yellow or a blend)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook pasta until al dente (firm to the bite), about 8-10 minutes. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, place a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 1/3 cup olive oil, garlic, red chili flakes, and 1/4 cup parsley. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the pan and set aside.
3. Season the swordfish cubes with salt and pepper.
4. Using the same pan, over medium-high heat, add the 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil and cook the swordfish until opaque, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the tomatoes, eggplant, cooked pasta, the remaining 1/3 cup parsley and stir. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
This recipe was adapted from Giada De Laurentiis‘. I rarely follow a recipe to a T as I make my food according to how I prefer them. So for my version, I sauteed onion with my garlic. Also, I used whole grain Penne for my pasta. I used Japanese eggplant as they are not bitter like those large ones, though I’m sure you can still use the bigger varieties. I’d suggest washing them with salt and water first to get the bitterness out of them. I got my Japanese eggplant from the Asian market, as my local grocery store did not have them.

Also, it isn’t suggested in the recipe, but I seasoned the eggplants with salt and pepper when I sauteed them, so the eggplant themselves will have flavor. When I sauteed the fish, I added chopped rosemary and thyme as well. I know that these herbs work well with swordfish.

As you can see, I didn’t have the yellow teardrop tomato but I imagine that the pasta would have looked even more attractive with the yellow tomatoes in it.

I just love parmesan so I grated a bit of the cheese on top when I served the pasta. Italians don’t recommend adding cheese to seafood, and I don’t know why. But then again, I’m not Italian so I will do it the way I love it.

The colors of this pasta are wonderful. And it definitely tastes as good as it looks- no, not fishy at all. Just fabulous!

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One of the advantages of growing up in a tropical island like the Philippines is having access to fresh seafood. I grew up eating fresh seafood. And I mean just-caught-that-day-kinda-fresh, so fresh some were still squiggling and jumping out from the containers! None of those previously frozen stuff…uh,oh.

Tonight’s dinner was pasta with fish. Not from the can but fresh fish. Fortunately, I didn’t have to clean the fish like I learned back in the Philippines, as I already got my fish filleted. I never had pasta with fish before, apart from having tuna casserole (which uses canned tuna), so it doesn’t count for me. And I’m glad I tried this. This is definitely a keeper.

Penne With Swordfish And Eggplant
1 pound penne pasta
1/3 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (plus more to taste)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley plus 1/3 cup
4 Japanese eggplants, ends trimmed, thinly sliced lengthwise, then cut into squares
1 pound swordfish steaks skin removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups halved teardrop or cherry tomatoes (red, yellow or a blend)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook pasta until al dente (firm to the bite), about 8-10 minutes. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, place a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 1/3 cup olive oil, garlic, red chili flakes, and 1/4 cup parsley. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the pan and set aside.
3. Season the swordfish cubes with salt and pepper.
4. Using the same pan, over medium-high heat, add the 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil and cook the swordfish until opaque, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the tomatoes, eggplant, cooked pasta, the remaining 1/3 cup parsley and stir. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
This recipe was adapted from Giada De Laurentiis‘. I rarely follow a recipe to a T as I make my food according to how I prefer them. So for my version, I sauteed onion with my garlic. Also, I used whole grain Penne for my pasta. I used Japanese eggplant as they are not bitter like those large ones, though I’m sure you can also use the bigger varieties. I’d suggest washing them with salt and water first to get the bitterness out of them. I got my Japanese eggplant from the Asian market, as my local grocery store did not have them.

Also, it isn’t suggested in the recipe, but I seasoned the eggplants with salt and pepper when I sauteed them, so the eggplant themselves will have flavor. When I sauteed the fish, I added chopped rosemary and thyme as well. I know that these herbs work well with swordfish.

As you can see, I didn’t have the yellow teardrop tomato but I imagine that the pasta would have looked even more attractive with the yellow tomatoes in it.

I just love parmesan so I grated a bit of the cheese on top when I served the pasta. Italians don’t recommend adding cheese to seafood, and I don’t know why. But then again, I’m not Italian so I will do it the way I love it.

The colors of this pasta are wonderful. And it definitely tastes as good as it looks- no, not fishy at all. Just fabulous!

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