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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Fun Food Facts

Happy Halloween!!!!

 taken from

Let the ghouls, ghosts and goblins come out and play. It's been a while since I've done a Fun Food Fact post, so I figured I devote it to this sweet and spoooooooky holiday. For all you trick-or-treaters going out tonight, stay safe out there. Now on with the fun facts.

 One - 
On Halloween, Irish peasants would beg the rich for food. For those that refused, they would play a practical joke. So, in an effort to avoid being tricked, the rich would hand out cookies, candy, and fruit – a practice that morphed into trick-or-treating today.

The number one candy of choice for Halloween is Snickers

There are an estimated 106 million potential treat-or-treat stops (i.e., housing units occupied year-round, per the U.S. Census)

Four - 
Of all the candy sold annually, one quarter of it is sold during Halloween time (September – November 10) making it the sweetest holiday of the year. 

Five - 
The world's record for biggest pumpkin is currently held by a gigantic gourd weighing a whopping 1,385 pounds!

Six - 
More than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced this year. That equates to nearly 9 billion pieces -- enough to circle the moon nearly four times if laid end-to-end.

Seven - 
Each year 2 billion dollars is spent on Halloween candy.

Eight -
The biggest pumpkin pie on record was baked by the New Breman Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio in 2005. After baking for five hours in a special oven, it weighed 2,020 pounds and measured 12 feet, 4 inches wide and 4 inches deep

Nine -
Candy corn was invented in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy and is produced today by the Jelly Belly Candy Company.

Ten -
Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the roman harvest festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Walnut Salad with Miso Vinaigrette

I was in the mood for a salad. Remember a several weeks back when I mention that I had a really awesome walnut salad on the set of The Closer (here)? It's been on my mind ever since. So I made my self my own version of a walnut salad and paired it with a miso vinaigrette.

Yes, miso. It's a soy bean paste, which is the base of one of the most delicious soups that's usually served as a starter at Japanese restaurants. The paste can be found on many major groceries now-a-days, in the fridge section or Asian aisle.

The salad is very simple. Just some fresh arugula, chopped tomato, cucumber, shredded cheese. and we can't forget the star of the salad, walnuts. You can add any other ingredient you want like celery or edamame. I love this vinaigrette, too. I loved it so much I made it again to go with some leftover arugula I had in the fridge. It's that good.

Serve 2-3

Walnut Salad

1 lb Arugula - rinsed and drained
1/2 c walnuts
1 small cucumber - sliced
1 medium ripe tomato -chopped
1 ripe avocado - sliced
1/2 medium onion -chopped
miso vinaigrette (recipe below)

edamame, carrots, cabbage, celery, fruits

Toss the salad ingredients together and drizzle some of the miso vinaigrette over. 

Miso Vinaigrette
2 tsp white miso paste
1 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
juice of half lemon

Combine all ingredients together until smooth.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spinach Dip

I love to get Trader Joe's brand of spinach dip. It's been a while since I've gotten it and I've been craving for some for quite sometime now. It just so happens that I had bought a bundle of fresh spinach from farmer's market, so this gave me the push to try making my own. Have I mentioned that I love spinach dip? I like to snack on it as a sandwich between some slices of toast or with some crackers.

It's a simple recipe. A lot that I have seen use mayo and sour cream. I used some plain yogurt instead of sour cream for mine. The rest of the ingredients are pretty straight forward. Mayo, water chestnuts, some dry herbs and fresh chopped spinach. You can use frozen, too. The key to this is to let it sit. Like you would for coleslaw. It's to help blend all the flavors together and really let marinate the spinach well. You want every sing nook and cranny of the spinach to really be fused with the flavors of the herbs, mayo and yogurt. It's definitely worth the wait. Trust me because the taste is amazing. Serve it on some bread or crackers. Perfect for parties and gatherings.

Makes roughly 4 cups.

Spinach Dip

1 lb fresh spinach or 1 pack frozen (rinsed and squeezed of excess water)
1 c light mayo
1 c plain greek yogurt
1small can water chestnuts (drained well and roughly chopped)
1 dry parsley
1/2 tsp dry oregano
1/2 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients together. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Best if made ahead of time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Honey Walnut Shrimp

I love Chinese food. I used to eat it at least once a week. Go down to Panda Express or a nearby Chinese restaurant and order up some delicious grub. Here's one of my favorite dishes. If it's on the menu you'd find this on my table. Hands down. Honey Walnut Shrimp. I love the slightly crisp shrimp with the creamy sauce along with the crunch of the walnuts. Yum. Tasty stuff. I'd order that with some peking duck with steamed buns.

I've been making this one for years and I'm happy to share it with you all. I covered the shrimp in a tempura like batter seasoned with salt, pepper and my favorite spice, paprika. Generally, the shrimp are deep-fried, but for those who've been following this blog, I try to avoid deep-frying when I can. So pan-frying was the alternative choice.  Fried them up and drained on a paper towel as I made the quick creamy sauce to go with it. I also boiled the walnuts in sugared water to give the little nuts some sweetness. After frying, I tossed the shrimp and walnuts in a creamy sauce. There you have it. No need to order out when you can now make them at home.

I served this with some Pinoy Style Garlic Fried Rice.

Serves 2-4

Honey Walnut Shrimp

1 lb Shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1/2 c walnuts
2 c water
1 c sugar
2/3 c flour
3 egg whites
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper

creamy sauce:
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp light mayo
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp condensed milk

Combine all the ingredients of the sauce in a large bowl and set aside.

Bring the water to a boil in small pot and add the sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add the walnuts and boil for 2 min. Then drain and place onto a parchment paper lines cookie sheet to dry.

In another bowl combine together flour and egg white. Mix until smooth. Season with some salt and pepper and add the paprika.

Heat the oil and pan-fry the shrimp until golden brown. Roughly 60 second per side. Then drain the excess oil on a paper towel and toss into the creamy sauce mixture. Add the dried walnuts and toss well again.

Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nilagang Mani (Boiled Peanuts)

This is a common street food in the Philippines. Really easy to make and delicious to eat. This is one of the snacks I loved to eat as a child. I remember when I was very little probably around 3 or 4 years, my mom and I were riding on a bus from our province in the Philippines heading towards Manila. During one of the stops, I noticed a man carrying a box of little brown bags filled with boiled peanuts. He'd be yelling out "MANI!!!" (pronounced man-i) meaning peanut.  Just imagine the peanut guy at a baseball stadium, but on a crowded street.

I eagerly tugged and begged by mom for some as he walked passed the open window. "Mama...Gusto ko yung mani!" I proclaimed. (Mama, I want peanuts!) My mom flagged the man down with a wave of her hand. "Isa pa nga po," ("One, please.") she slightly yells over the ruckus of the city. The man reaches into his little box and pulls on bag ot fresh boiled peanuts and hands it to my mom. "Magkano?" ("How much?"), she asks. I think it was around $0.10 US for a nice sizable bag at the time. She pays the man through the window as the bus heads off. That bag of boiled peanuts kept me satisfied until we reached our destination.

It's pretty easy to make, but you just need a little time. As the boiling takes a couple of hours. It is worth the wait though. The peanut inside the shell becomes soft. Easy to chew for those with slightly sensitive teeth. It's a great snack to have with a drink.

For 1 lb.

Nilagang Mani (Boiled Peanuts)

1lb raw peanuts in shell

Fill large pot with water and the peanuts. Season the water with salt. Bring the water to a boil. When the water is boiling, low the heat and simmer for 2 hours.

For more that 1 lbs ad,usting timing accordingly.


Monday, October 26, 2009

B.A.T.L. Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

A bacon, avocado, tomato and lettuce. B.A.T.L.  Another way of saying it is a BLT sandwich in a bowl with avocado. I was in the mood for something relatively light. It's been a while since I've made myself a good salad and I didn't want to cook anything heavy either. Besides I love salads especially when they have a good vinaigrette to go into it.

I made a roasted garlic vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, some dry herbs, and a few cloves of roasted garlic that I minced up and mixed all of is together. Crumbled the bacon over the salad like those Bacos bacon bits. Remember those? They tasted like bacon, but I'm sure they were made of something else. I also made some croutons by cutting up some bread, tossing it a tiny bit of olive oil and toasting it in the oven.

A sandwich in a bowl. I like the sound of that. This is great for those watching carbs, too. Though, i'm not one of them.

Serves 2

B.A.T.L. Salad

1 ripe avocado
1 large ripe tomato - diced or 1 lb cherry or grape tomato
1 medium head lettuce (red leaf, romaine, or iceberg)
4 bacon strips
roasted garlic vinaigrette (recipe below)
croutons (optional)
shredded cheese (optional)

In a skillet, cook the bacon strips until it is brown and crisp. Place on a paper towel to remove any excess fat.

Assemble the salad together and crumble the bacon over the top along the croutons. Drizzle the garlic vinaigrette over. Sprinkle a little bit of cheese.

Note: To make homemade croutons, cut a couple slices of bread into squares. Toss it in a little olive oil and toast in a 350˚F preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until lightly brown and toasted.

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

4 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp dry thyme
salt and pepper

Roast the garlic cloves in a 375˚F oven until they are soft and lightly browned.

Let the garlic cool a little bit before handling them.

Combin the balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, olive oil, dry basil and thyme. Mince the garlic and add to the vinagrette. Whisk together and season with a little salt and pepper to taste.

Note: You can also us a blender or food processor.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This week in Production Eats

I've been asked many times how an I able to work, cook, blog and still do other things. Well, sorry to disappoint anyone, but there's no secret or magic power or voodoo that I do. Whoa...that last part rhymed. I feel fortunate in what I do because I'm able to work on-set and from home. On days when I am on-set, I don't cook as the long hours sometimes takes a lot out of me. All other days, I cook and/or bake, while taking care of other business. Give or take. Unless I'm working on a big production that requires my full attention for a certain amount of time, then that would be a whole other thing altogether.  But aside from that, you would find me in the kitchen cooking up something delicious with my little pocket notebook off to the side in case I have a story idea that may come up. The kitchen is my second office, if you haven't guessed yet. Once in a long while, I'll eat out and have a lazy day. It's just very much like a big balancing act. It's a bit of a struggle at times, but I love it. I really do. I say that in the most honest and sincere way that I can. So, there you go. That's the short version.  

With that said, I give you this week's production eats. This week I worked on the comedy The Big Bang Theory. It's a show on CBS on Monday nights. It's interesting as this is the first sitcom I've worked on. It's a live audience taping, so we really didn't shoot anything until probably 8pm. But I was there all day in wardrobe. It was a bit odd, but really fun. My call time was right before lunch so a meal was served. I was partially starving as I barely had a piece of toast that morning.

 The first meal were just some simple carne asada tacos. I piled on the lettuce, tomato, avocado and sour cream into the flour tortillas rather than meat because I knew they be giving us another meal later. Take the veggies now is what I say. I like it. It's been a while since I've had myself some tacos.  It was pretty good. Along with a lovely slices of German chocolate cake. It was either that or carrot cake. There's no choosing with me. Chocolate wins hands down! Boo-yah!!

For lunch (dinner), we had eaten at the Warner Brother Studios Commissary. I ordered myself some fresh fish and chips. Cooked to order. Deep-fried, but oh-so-tender cod. The fries were cooked just right. Not too soggy with a nice crisp to it. They served with a side of tartare sauce.

From the salad bar, I put together some mixed greens with fresh mushroom with a good drizzle honey mustard dressing.  For dessert was a gigantic brownie. How big? It was bigger than the size of my fist. Yeah, it was that big. I saved that, took it home and ate it for breakfast the next day.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

1st Birthday Buffet

Last weekend, I helped celebrate by godson's first birthday. A monumental first. It's weird to think that it's been a year from when I first saw him at his birth. How time flies by so fast. It was a halloween/birthday, so the little babies came dressed for the occasion. As with any party the food  consisted of buffet style servings. It was a mix of Chinese and Filipino food.

On the menu:

Lumpiang Shanghai - Filipino-style eggrolls

Spaghetti with hotdog slices. Yeah that's how we rolls in the Philippines. Forget the meatballs, put the hotdog instead and add ketchup and a little sugar to the sauce with make it a little sweet.

Fried Chicken
Lechon Kawali - Deep-fried pork pieces (That's my favorite!!!)

Beef with Broccoli

Shrimp with sauteed veggies
Orange Chicken

Sweet and Sour Fish

Kare-kare (pronounced ka-re) - this one is a peanut butter based dish with veggies, pork and tripe.

Turon - this is a little similar to my fried plantains except that it's wrapped in an eggroll wrapper with a piece of jack fruit inside then fried with a brown sugar coating. Sooo good.

Must not forget the white rice. You can't go to an Asian party without there being rice. There was also Filipino-Style adobo, but I forgot to take a pic of that one.

Of course, can forget the birthday cakes. I'm not sure what the flavors were bit the first one had a cookie like center to it. It was pretty good. It was a fun food filled day.

Here's a couple of pics from the party.

 A Spongebob bounce house. I haven't been in one of those in years, so it was pretty fun to jump back in and play around. Bring that inner child out from me once again.

The proud mama, and my best friend for nearly 2 decades, with the birthday boy.

So many babies!!! No wonder I was tuckered out by the end of it.

Finally, I just have to share this last one. The little St. Bernard. How adorable is that?!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Veggie Lasagna Egg Rolls

I had a craving for lasagna. But then I saw some eggrolls, I decided that would be what I'll have. But then Mr. Lasagna barged in and said "oh no you don't!" and stomped on my hopes of having a delicious eggroll for dinner. But I was determined to have my way whether Mr. Lasagna liked it or not. So I bargained with Mr. Lasagna and made a clever compromise. I combined the two together and made a hybrid of sorts. A food marriage meant to be.

Mr. Lasagna was happy and I was happy, even Ms. Eggroll was happy. Happy, happy, happy all around. Happy, happy, joy, joy as I do my little Ren and Stimpy dance.

Here's what the compromise consisted of: I sauteed some mushrooms, zucchini and green onions in a tiny bit of soy sauce and then carefully wrapped them up in some egg rolls wrappers with a little of ricotta on top.   Rolled them up like a traditional egg roll and basted them with some egg wash to give the wrappers a nice little crisp. Rather than deep-frying the egg rolls, I baked them instead. While that baked I cooked up a simple tomato sauce/dip to pair this with using some tomato chunks and sauce with a blend of dry herbs. Lasagna with an semi-Asian twist.

Mr. Lasagna was happy, indeed.

Makes 10-12 rolls.

Veggie Lasagna Egg Rolls

2 medium zucchini - chopped
1 lb mushrooms - chopped
2 green onions - chopped
10-12 egg rolls wrappers
ricotta cheese
olive oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 egg - lightly beaten
1 Tbsp water
Shredded cheese (optional)

Tomato sauce
1 12oz can diced tomato
1 6oz tomato sauce
1-2 garlic clove - finely chopped
1 tsp dry basil
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp dry parsley
1 tsp dry thyme

Preheat your oven to 400˚F

Combine the egg and water in a small dish. Set aside.

In a skillet, saute the green onions, zucchini and mushrooms until they are tender and slightly darker in color. Add the soy sauce and season with a little pepper. Remove from heat and let it cool for a couple minutes.

Take an egg roll wrapper and lay it on a flat surface like a diamond in front of you. Scoop some of the zucchini mixture onto the wrapper slightly 1/3  from the corner closest to you. Then top with some ricotta cheese. Gently roll the corner 1 1/2 towards the other corner, then fold in the sides. Baste the top corner with the egg wash and seal the egg roll.

Place in a lightly greased baking sheet. Do the same for each.

Before baking baste each egg rolls with the egg wash. Then bake for 10-12 minutes.

While the egg rolls bake, make the sauce. Saute the garlic for 30 seconds, then add the tomato chunks followed by the tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer on a medium to low heat. Season with a little salt and pepper. Then add the dry herbs.

When the eggs rolls are ready serve on a place a ladle over some of the sauce. Top with some shredded cheese.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homemade Grenadine

Grenadine is most know for it's use in beverages like the Shirley Temple or Roy Rogers. There have been many times when I went to the store to try and find a bottle of the stuff, when there's none to be found. I finally figured that it was time that I made my own. It's pretty easy to make. Just like making simple syrup. All you'll need is fresh pomegranate seeds with water or pomegranate juice mixed with sugar. The syrup will keep for about a month in the fridge. Just keep it in a clean, tight-sealed bottle or container.

The first thing I made with my new batch of grenadine was, of course, a Shirley Temple. Brought back memories of my childhood when I pretended I was drinking alcohol. That was me trying to be "cool" back then.  The only thing missing in my glass was a nice cherry. I knew I forgot to get something when I went shopping at the grocery. Now I have to think of something clever with what I can make with the rest of the grenadine. Don't want to make drinks out of the whole thing. The wheels in my head are turning.

Makes roughly 2 cups

Homemade Grenadine
1 lb pomegranate
1 c water
     (or 2 1/2 c POM juice)
1 1/2c sugar

For using fresh pomegranate follow this section, if using POM juice, see next section:
Remove the seeds from the pomegranate and on medium to low heat bring to a simmer until the juices are released from the seeds. Place the mixture in a blender, food processor for to break the seedlings from the inner seed. You may use a hand blender as well. Strain through a wire mesh strainer or cheese cloth to extract all the liquids and back into the pot.
For using POM juice:
Bring the POM juice to a slight boil, then simmer on medium to low heat to reduce the liquid.

Bring the heat back to medium, add the sugar to the pomegranate mixture. Stir occasionally until dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until slightly thick.

Cool the mixture, then pour into a decorative bottle or container.

Shirley Temple

sprite or 7-up
1-2 Tbsp grenadine
cherry (optional)
splash of vodka (optional)

Pour sprite or 7-up on a glass with ice. Add the grenadine and stir to blend. Top with a cherry.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pan-Seared Salmon with Tapenade

Remember a couple days ago, on the Production Eats post I mentioned something about wanting a second piece of that salmon with olive tapenade from when I worked on the show Bones. We'll here's that second piece. That's how much I wanted it.

I was still craving salmon when I ventured into the farmer's market over the weekend. Luckily, they had some sushi grade fillets over at the Dry Dock Fish booth. For this, I simply pan-seared the salmon in some butter and lemon juice, then placed it into the oven to let the inside cook slightly, but still keeping it slightly rare.

For the tapenade, I made two kinds. I made a simple ordinary black olive version and a sun-dried tomato version. I really liked the sun-dried tomato blended into the tapenade. I wasn't always a fan of olives and tapenade for that matter, but now I love them. So I guess I didn't need to get back in line for that second piece.

I served the salmon with some fresh slices of tomato over a small bed of lettuce. You can serve the tapenade as a appetizer as well on crackers or on crostinis

Serves 2-3

Pan-Seared Salmon with Olive and Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade

2 salmon fillets
3 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper
dry oregano
Juice of half lemon
Black Olive & Sun-Dried Tapenades (recipes below)

Preheat your oven to 375˚F

Season the salmon filets with salt, pepper, and oregano.

Melt the butter in a  oven-safe skillet and add the lemon juice. When the butter has melted. Place the filets. Sear each side for 1-2 minutes per side depending on thickness. Once all sides have been seared, place the skillet in the oven for 5-10 minutes to let the inside of the salmon slightly cook through.

Remove from the oven and serve. Top with some black olive tapenade or sun-dried tomato tapenade.


20 black or kalamata olives (pitted)
1/2 Tbsp capers
Juice of half lemon
1/8 c extra virgin Olive oil

Combine all ingredients in the food process and blend until a paste-like consistency.

Note: to make it into a sun-dried tomato tapenade, add a few sundried tomato that has been preserved in oil. The oil from the tomato will replace the 1/8 c extra virgin olive oil that is called for in the ingredients. Add more, if needed.

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