Super Simple Baked Macaroni Recipe

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For my GT sisters… 😉

BAKED MAC (serves 3-4)

1. Cook 200g (smallest package) of elbow macaroni (I used Del Monte Pasta Italiana) according to instructions on the package – don’t forget to add a little salt and oil to the water; drain then set aside.

2. Saute chopped garlic, onions (the amount depends on your preference) for about 2 minutes or until soft. Add 1 can Century Tuna Light, then saute for an additional 2-3 minutes. If you want a chunkier pasta dish, don’t break the tuna chunks/flakes into small pieces

3. Add 2 packs of Clara Ole 3-Cheese Pasta Sauce. Stir until well-combined.

4. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings according to your preference. I added some sugar, half a chicken cube, and a pinch of ground black pepper to bring the flavors together.
**Another version would be to add cheese spread (Chiz Whiz, Magnolia cheese spread, etc.) directly to the sauce, to thicken it and add more flavor. My sister does this and her baked mac is a hit with both kids and grown ups!

5. When you think you have achieved the taste you want, combine the sauce with the cooked macaroni. Mix well.

6. Transfer the mixture to an oven-proof dish (glass, Pyrex, aluminum). Top generously with grated quick-melt cheese (make sure to pre-heat the oven before placing the pasta inside). Pop it into the oven for about 5-10minutes, or just until you see the browned and bubbling cheese topping.

7. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a while – this would be around 5-10 minutes so the cheese has enough time to cool (very hot cheese can burn your tongue/mouth! you won’t be able to taste anything for days :O ). Serve with garlic bread on the side.

You can always adjust the ingredients according to your taste; I believe the secret to good cooking is knowing what tastes awesome to you (and to those you cook for), rather than following recipes to the letter. Don’t be afraid to have fun while cooking!:)

Chicken Burger Steak with Gravy…with a Scary Movie on the Side

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I didn’t have any idea what I was going to cook for lunch today; after getting up late (yes, again!), I saw the chicken burger patties in the freezer. The patties looked so lonely, I just had to cook them so they can be with their perfect partner – thick gravy with lots of garlic and onions. Yum!!!

The burger and gravy should be enough; however, I wanted to incorporate some veggies into the dish as well so I mixed Baguio beans, giving the whole dish a welcome crunch. The beans also helped minimize the guilt of not being able to prepare vegetable dishes more often (I’m trying my best to do more of those, promise!).

As I was preparing the chicken burger steak, I chanced upon the local horror movie “Ouija” on TV. My husband clearly didn’t want to watch it, as he’s not fond of watching scary movies. But I reasoned that we can watch it without getting too scared, since it was such a sunny day anyway. My powers of persuasion won, and we finished the movie without scaring each other too much:D

In making the gravy, I used the same pan where I fried the chicken burger patties in. I used about 1 tablespoon of butter, then sauteed lots of chopped garlic and onions, scraping the sides of the pan for the bits left from the patties (the burger bits added to the nice color and texture of the gravy). I then added chicken broth, then flour dissolved in water (to thicken the gravy). After a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, I added the beans, and let the whole thing simmer for a while. The gravy was poured on top of the patties (nicely plated a few minutes earlier).

After serving this, we forgot all about the scary movie for a few minutes.
A lazy Sunday at home, spent with the man I love, enjoying the perfect easy-to-prepare-but-still-sumptuous dish for lunch…I couldn’t ask for more =)

 

Breakfast Fare for Dinner

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I suddenly had a craving for tocino(Wikipedia definition: a cured meat product native to the Philippines. It is usually made out of pork and is similar to ham and bacon although beef is also used. It is often reddish in color and has a sweetish taste. Its name is derived from the Spanish word tocino, which is used to describe bacon or cured meat.) earlier today. I decided to prepare one of my favorite breakfast items for dinner – this might be a weird idea to some, but a novel and much-appreciated one by my husband (and by me, of course!)

We still had leftover rice from lunch, so I went all-out and made fried rice too! I made sure there were lots of crunchy garlic bits on top to give the rice an interesting kick and texture (yummm). And what the heck – I threw in a sunny-side up egg with the package as well!

This is what a plate of my tocilog looked like, before two hungry people attacked:

After a few minutes of eating, with only the empty plates in front of us, my husband and I had one thing to say to each other…

“Good morning!” =)

Sobrang Cheesy Talaga! – My Baked Mac =)

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I didn’t have the energy (read: tinatamad ako!) to cook something complicated for dinner earlier tonight, but I also didn’t want to resort to canned or processed food. With my husband’s love for pasta in mind, I decided to prepare the no-brainer but still sinful baked macaroni. To make it healthier, I mixed light canned tuna with the 3-cheese tomato sauce, lots of garlic and onions. (Yeah right, healthy nga, dami naman kakainin!:P)
After topping the macaroni and tomato sauce mixture with LOTS of quick-melt cheese, I popped the pan into the oven for a couple of minutes, and this was the gooey, mouth-watering result:
I loved the toasted cheese part – it lent a nice crunch to the dish (and also kept the dish from being too gooey, though that’s not such a bad thing!). I prepared a couple of slices of garlic bread too – the perfect partner to this simple to prepare dish that’s a meal in itself.
Needless to say, my husband and I almost finished the whole thing 🙂

A Very Pleasant Surprise from the Manila City Hall:)

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All day long yesterday, I was dreading our much-needed trip today to the Manila City Hall; we really needed certified true copies (CTCs) of our marriage contract, so I can start the process of changing my name (and status) on legal documents. I was preparing myself to battle the bureacracy and inefficiency often associated with dealing with government employees (beep-beep! “bato-bato sa langit…!”). I was even prepared to do a little begging and sweet-talking if that would make the local government employees wake up from their (notoriously) catatonic state, and hopefully give us the attention we need.

But darn, I was very impressed with how efficient the Manila City Hall employees were! Upon entering the cavernous building, we were greeted by courteous employees, who politely asked us if we needed assistance. There were no people loitering in the corridors, no bored-looking employees who give you an i-can’t-help-you-that-is-not-my-job line in a monotone. When we got to the cashier to pay for our requests, I expected to see ladies gossiping amongst themselves, not caring if the line in front of them reached all the way to Makati. Another shocker – the cashiers were very efficient, working very quickly even if there were just a few people in line. From filling out the request form to receiving the schedule for picking up our CTCs – the whole thing lasted 15 MINUTES (and that included waiting for 5 minutes for the offices/departments to open after their lunch break, since we got to the City Hall at around 12:55)! I was thinking, was I still in the Philippines?!:P

And best of all – every little window, every office door and every department was open to serve the eager public by 1:00PM SHARP – how’s that for giving Filipino time” a new (and very much appreciated!) meaning?! 🙂

This post has a lot of exclamation points to show how impressed and happily surprised I am with the MCH’s efficiency. I am deeply sorry – ashamed of myself, even – for thinking the worst about their employees’ services even before I set foot in their building.

Maybe there is still hope for this country, after all. I believe we really can do it, one small step at a time…

Kudos to the awesome employees of the Manila City Hall! You guys rock! 😉

Pork Sinigang for A Lazy Sunday Lunch

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I woke up really late today – just before 11AM; not surprising since I nodded off at around 3AM (can’t put down The Romanov Prophecy!). As soon as I got up, the first thing I did was start preparing the food for lunch. Since it was already late, I wanted to cook something that wouldn’t take too much time and effort to prepare, but I also wanted comfort food. After checking what we had in our freezer and vegetable crisper, I decided on pork sinigang.

Pork sinigang brings to mind images of being in the comfort of one’s home, warm and safe, while the rain steadily pours outside. This simple yet very comforting dish makes me want to go back to my childhood, when my sister and I would stay home because of the strong rains (no classes! yey! 😀 ); we can get up later than usual, without the rush associated with a normal school day. Our mom would usually cook something swimming in hot broth – just what we’re all craving for when the days and nights turn cold. I smile at the memory, thinking of how simple life was then – the extent of my dilemmas might well be how I was going to style my hair the next day, or how I can get away with sleeping later than usual that night.

As we grow old(er), life throws bigger and more complicated challenges our way. How we deal with those challenges mould us into who and what we are at present, and who we can be in the future. But I believe there are times that we should go back to the basics, and look at the grownup challenges the way a child does – who knows, a kid’s simplistic approach to problem-solving might just result to surprisingly effective results!

Or we can just turn to a steaming bowl of pork sinigang to make things simpler, and a whole lot better… 😉

Cabin Fever

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It’s been a while since I last wrote something on this blog – as I was signing in to my account, a part of me wanted to say “sorry for neglecting you!”, as if talking to an old friend. And I do consider this little space on the Web my friend, one who’s always there to (virtually) listen to my ramblings. There’s no better time to start writing here again, than now…when I’m experiencing a mild case of cabin fever.

Wikipedia defines cabin fever as “an idiomatic term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in, in a small space, with nothing to do, for an extended period (as in a simple country vacation cottage during a long rain or snow)”. Now, I’m not cooped up in a simple country vacation cottage (sounds quaint, right?;) ), but it has been raining almost non-stop for the better part of a week now. I sometimes have the urge to go out of the house, but I really don’t have a specific place to go to – and there’s really no reason for me to go out. And besides, the bed weather makes me want to just laze around and not move too much. Yet, I still have this restlessness inside me, something that tells me I should be doing something outside the house (exercise, most likely!).

I’m a little surprised I feel this way. About a week ago, my husband and I stayed at my sister’s place for a couple of days; after that, I stayed overnight in the hospital with my Mom for her chemo session (hope it’ll be the last, God willing). I felt really glad when we finally got home, but after a few days i was itching to go out again. I think it’s time to meet up with some of my friends again; this restlessness may be cured by a session of girl-bonding (which I dearly miss, since I started working from home).

Then again, it may just be the cold, dreary weather that’s causing me to feel a certain degree of isolation.

Time to put on my pajamas, the book I’ve been meaning to finish and my bed are calling me…