Category Archives: Homecooked Happiness

mrspcuyugan

Halloweekend 2016

Hey guys, how is everybody? Did you all have fun over the long Halloween weekend? We definitely did.

Our family is big on Halloween, and I’m happy that this year we were able to do a little bit of Halloweening at home. Finally! The main festivities still happened at my parents’ place, since Halloween in Alabang is awesome, but I really made sure we had a few fun activities at our house, too.

The kiddo was on mid-year school break, so it was the perfect time for us to get crafty, and work in the kitchen together. Honestly, I really made an effort to think of gadget-free activities that would keep him occupied just to be sure that he would take a break from playing on his iPad.

My rule is, no iPad on school days (including weekends) but during school breaks I will allow him to play video games all he wants. My mom did it this way when I was a kid, and it worked for us. But then it was easier at our house because I had siblings to play with on gadget-free days. So now with Little MrC, his dad and I have to keep him entertained. I think I did okay.

Our first Halloween sembreak activity was to make super cute, really easy, popsicle stick crafts, which we used as decor at home.

For this, we just searched for pegs on Pinterest, and started working from there. I’ve also started looking for Christmas craft ideas. I feel like I should encourage my kid to do more of these projects with me because they don’t do that many hands-on projects anymore at school. Most of their projects are now done on the iPad. It’s kinda sad, but looking at it from a different perspective, I find his Garage Band and iMovie skills impressive naman. So I guess it’s not all that bad.

Anyway.

One thing they have been doing a lot more of in school is cooking. The Home Economics curriculum has improved so much since I was a student. A lot of the lessons are more practical now. So, now that I know that he can work a little in the kitchen, I figured it was time to get the kiddo to make a meal with me.

I know, I know, I know, some kids his age are already capable of making simple meals on their own. But you have to remember that I also just recently learned how to cook. Being able to share the task, and teach him while I’m at it, is a huge deal for me. Baby steps lang.

From the start, Little MrC was excited about preparing our Halloween-themed meal. My plan was to take care of all the ingredient prep and actual cooking, and I let him do the decorating. 

We made baked mozzarella-stuffed “eyeball” meatballs in bloody marinara sauce, mummy potato skin pizzas, and spotty rice pilaf. The mummies were much nicer before I baked them. I think I should have chosen a less-melty type of cheese for this. Still, everything was super yummy, and 100% made with love.

Halloween day, like I said, was spent at my mom’s place. We went around the village, got lots of candy, and then had an early dinner with the family. My cousin joined us, along with her new baby, and that was a real treat. The baby was dressed as the cutest scuba diver I ever did see.

For the first time ever, I took charge of the boys’ costumes this year, and I have to say I’m super proud of the outcome. Don’t my stick men look awesome? Ako naman, walang costume, because I decided to be the designated driver this time. It’s always been MrC driving us around, and I thought it would be nice to (finally) give him a break.

Also for the first time, we had a Halloween-themed buffet at my mom’s. The lovely people from White Box sent us a dessert bar decor box sampler, and we were super excited to use it. Kaya lang we had no desserts to display lol. So instead of cupcakes and sweet treats, we had pasta trays and baked ribs in our spread. I think it ended up looking awesome anyway.

mrspcuyugan
Waahhh I wish I had a nicer photo of our setup! We were in such a rush that I wasn’t able to take a good one.

 

So that was Halloween weekend for us. Can’t wait til next year. For now, it’s time for us to shift to Christmas mode! So exciting!!!

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Oh, one last pahabol. Just a bit of info on White Box.

White Box aims is to provide their clients with a simple and convenient way to put together fun, stylish celebrations. They create, curate and customize party decorations and essentials according to their customers’ distinct needs and preferences, all packed in a box and sent to their venues or houses.

If you love the DIY look but have no time to work on things from scratch, White Box can definitely help you. They also offer full event styling as an option, along with the use of their custom products. Winner!

If you wanna know more, follow White Box on Instagram. They will also be at The Travelling Trunk this November, where they will be debuting their Christmas boxes. 

 

mrspcuyugan

Cookbook of the Month: Paleo Italian Cooking

One day, I was sitting on my sofa, and I noticed just how many cookbooks I’ve accumulated over the years. Confession: I hardly ever use them for cooking. I browse through them every once in a while, but I usually search the internet when I need a recipe because that’s just easier to do.

Thing is, I went through something recently that helped convince me that less is really more. So I am slowly but surely, and as aggressively as I can be (given that I’m really a hoarder at heart,) purging. Yes, it’s true. And yes, I will really see this purge through until the end. (Really, MrC, really. I know you are super skeptical about this.)

 

New cookbooks, yay!!! Thank you, @tuttlepublishing, for making my day! #tuttlepublishing #cookbooks

A photo posted by MrsC | Patricia Cuyugan (@mrspcuyugan) on

So now my attention is focused on my cookbooks. Honestly, I don’t know which ones I should keep, and which can go. I don’t think that I’ll be able to decide until I actually try a few recipes from each of them, though, because that’s the only way that I can pick objectively. Right? It’s a slow process, but I really feel like I need to do it. 

And so, from now on I’ll be featuring a cookbook of the month right here on the blog. Along with the review, I plan on including a recipe from the book; One that I made at home and absolutely loved. If I don’t end up liking what I tried from the book, then obviously there’s no room for it in my blog or on my book shelf. Period.

This month’s cookbook is Paleo Italian Cooking by Cindy Barbieri, which was given to me by the lovely people over at Tuttle Publishing. I was excited about this cookbook from day one because I’ve been worried that going gluten-free would mean saying goodbye to Italian food. This cookbook brought hope to my kitchen and my tummy. And I’m super happy to share that it did not disappoint.

mrspcuyugan
Gluten-free Italian recipes? Yes, please!

 

I’ve read the entire book from cover to cover. Yes, all the forewords, introductions, ingredients, procedures, tips, footnotes, and photo captions. I love that the author shares little bits and pieces about her life all over the book, and how each recipe represents a memory, a loved one, the author’s home, and her personality. I kinda feel like I know her already.

The book is divided into helpful chapters, making it super easy to find the recipes that you want. There are chapters for sauces and condiments, brunch (which is awesome!), meat, seafood, pasta, and a lot more. Yes guys, there are pasta recipes in this paleo/gluten-free cookbook. Told you we have a winner here.

One of my favorite sections is the one about keeping your Italian kitchen paleo. It’s taken a lot of research, and a whole lot of stopping to read at grocery aisles for me to transform my pantry into a functioning gluten-free one. So the fact that this cookbook explains the basics of the paleo lifestyle, and what you need to have in order to cook for that diet, is a huge help to me.

mrspcuyugan
Tip: Always, always, always read a recipe from start to finish before you start cooking. Trust me.

 

And now, the most important part, the recipes. The ingredients and procedures in each recipe are clearly stated and easy to understand. The author shares personal tips in there, too, which for me is always a good thing. Plus, the photos look amazing, which of course is important when you’re talking about food. Everything is fresh, healthy, colorful, and super exciting.

I recently tried the recipe for Tuscan Turkey Burgers written in this book, only, I used chicken instead of turkey because ground turkey is hard to come by here. This dish was so good that MrC had it for dinner, then lunch the next day, and then lunch again the day after that. Mm-hmm. Husbandry-approved! The kiddo wasn’t too fond of it, though, most likely because of the spinach. But he ate it all up anyway. Thank goodness he isn’t a picky eater.

mrspcuyugan
Ta-da! Tuscan Chicken Burgers. Only three left on the plate coz we ate the other three already.

 

So, yes, Paleo Italian Cooking stays. I can’t wait to try the other recipes listed in this cookbook. And I’m also excited to start experimenting with the other cookbooks in my collection. Stay tuned, guys! 

 

Tuscan Chicken Burgers [Gluten-Free!]
Serves 6
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 500g Ground chicken
  2. 1 Egg
  3. 1 tsp Sea salt, divided
  4. 1 tsp Ground black pepper, divided
  5. 1 tbsp Olive oil
  6. 1/4 cup Red bell pepper, diced
  7. 1/4 cup Yellow onion, diced
  8. 5 cloves Garlic, minced
  9. 1 cup Fresh baby spinach, chopped
  10. 6 leaves Basil, chopped
  11. 1 tsp Fresh thyme
  12. 1/4 tsp Dried red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. Place ground chicken in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and break the egg into it. Blend well with a spoon. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Place a skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Once hot, add the red bell pepper and onion. Season with remaining salt and pepper.
  3. Saute, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, spinach, basil, thyme and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute more, then remove from heat.
  4. Once the vegetables are cool, add them to the bowl of chicken.
  5. Use your hands to mix all ingredients well. Form the mixture into 6 burgers.
  6. Cook on a grill or pan over medium heat, about 6 minutes per side, flipping once, until cooked through.
Notes
  1. The fresh herbs really make a difference in this recipe, so if you have them use them. Otherwise, 1/2 teaspoon each of dried basil and thyme would work, too.
  2. The chicken mixture can be a bit sticky, so use wet hands when forming into patties.
  3. The original recipe says to divide the chicken mixture into 4 burgers, but I found them to be too big, which is why I split them into 6 instead.
  4. I served this with a super easy honey-mustard dipping sauce, which is just 1 part yellow mustard mixed with 1.5 parts good raw honey. Enjoy!
Adapted from Paleo Italian Cooking
Adapted from Paleo Italian Cooking
At Home With MrsC http://www.mrspcuyugan.com/

 

P.S. I’m writing this post in October, but setting the publish date to September 30 because I was supposed to write about this in September but my life has been insane. Just thought I’d come clean about that. Lol! 🙂

Puto recipe

Recipe: Brown Sugar Puto

Oh, what a month September has been for me! After a near-empty August calendar, this month has been overflowing with writing tasks, events, meetings, and errands, and we’re not done yet! It’s been crazy, but I’m not complaining.

 

The star of today’s show, the McLaren Honda F1 car. #pims2016

A photo posted by MrsC | Patricia Cuyugan (@mrspcuyugan) on


 

It’s months like this when my little book of easy-to-make, tried-and-tested, make-and-freeze recipes comes in handy. My little kitchen and I have been doing well so far. No one has gone hungry (yet!), despite the fact that I had to be at events for seven straight days last week. 

 

Last day tomorrow! ?? #pims2016

A photo posted by MrsC | Patricia Cuyugan (@mrspcuyugan) on


 

Slow clap. Ok. Moving on.

My homemade puto has quickly become one of my go-to, weekly staples since our household turned (mostly) gluten-free. It’s super easy to make, takes no time at all, and only requires four ingredients, all of which I always, always have in my pantry – Water, brown sugar, rice flour, and baking powder.

Puto recipe
Rice flour has become a pantry staple in our house ever since we shifted to gluten-free eating. I also make sure to always have cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca starch and some kind of gluten-free flour blend on hand.

 

A quick note on baking powder in gluten-free cooking – Not all BPs are GF. Some brands may contain wheat starch. When in doubt, make your own. It’s super easy. Just sift together two parts cream of tartar + 1 part baking soda + 1 part cornstarch. Done.


 

I found this recipe in a Good Housekeeping Fast & Easy cookbook that my mom bought several years ago. Of all the rice flour-based puto recipes I’ve tried, this one has been the best so far. The original calls for muscovado sugar, which I don’t usually have at home, but brown and even white sugar work well, too. I imagine it would be awesome with coco sugar as well. 

Puto recipe
The puto batter is gonna be super runny, so don’t panic. And don’t be tempted to add any more flour in there either.

 

One thing I’ve learned about puto-making is that size matters. I usually get better, fluffier puto when I make them small. I do have mini molds, but I prefer to just use silicone muffin cups for my puto. Then, I fill them up to 1/3 full only. Half-full is already too much. Yes, it makes a difference.

Puto recipe
Remember: Less is more! This puto cooks more evenly the smaller you make them.

 

You also want to make sure that no moisture drips from the lid of your steamer into your puto molds. If you’re using a bamboo steamer, then you’ve got no problem. But I use a regular pot with a regular glass lid, so I make sure to wrap that lid with a kitchen towel to absorb moisture. It works like a charm.

Puto recipe
My steamer looks like it’s wearing a turban. And yes, most of my kitchen things are colorful and cute.

 

I hope to eventually learn how to make gluten-free bread, but for now, this puto serves as our bread substitute at home on days when cravings hit. Though, truth be told, our need for bread has decreased a lot since we made the switch.

This whole gluten-free thing hasn’t been half as difficult as I thought it would be. And yes, the results are amazeballs. No more itchy rashes for the kid. No more swollen feet for me. We’ve all been sleeping better. We’re all less sluggish, and less moody, too.

Of course, I’m not 100% certain that all this is due to the absence of gluten in our lives. But hey, it seems to work, so right now I’m all for it.

 

Brown Sugar Puto
Yields 12
A gluten-free, dairy-free, kid-approved, light and fluffy rice cake made with brown sugar.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup water
  2. 3/4 cup brown sugar
  3. 1 cup rice flour
  4. 2 tsp baking powder
  5. Butter, oil, or cooking spray for greasing puto molds
Instructions
  1. Prepare your steamer. Grease puto molds, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar into the water. Sift rice flour and baking powder into the water mixture, and mix until well-blended.
  3. Pour mixture into the prepared puto molds, and place into the steamer.
  4. Steam until a toothpick inserted into the center of the puto comes out clean, about 5-7 minutes for mini puto or 8-10 minutes for larger molds.
  5. Remove from steamer and allow to cool.
  6. Serve with butter, sugar and niyog toppings if desired.
Notes
  1. If using regular-sized silicone muffin cups as molds, only fill these to 1/3 full.
Adapted from Good Housekeeping Fast & Easy Cookbook
Adapted from Good Housekeeping Fast & Easy Cookbook
At Home With MrsC http://www.mrspcuyugan.com/
Puto recipe
One final note: DO NOT be tempted to open the lid and take a peek at your puto before the minimum cooking time is done. If you do, you won’t get this nice crack on top.

 

I love eating these with slices of salty cheese on the side. How do you guys like your puto

Weekly menu plan

Meal Planning On An Uneventful Monday

A few weeks ago, during a conversation with a random friend, I said that most of my days are now quiet and uneventful. For some reason, said friend thought of this as something negative. I, on the other hand, find that quiet and uneventful is a good thing.

Sure, I sometimes feel like I have nothing to write about because my life could be perceived as boring, but that’s just the way it is for me.

I love those days when I can just stay at home, run my errands, watch my TV shows, and not have a lot of things to do or places to go to. I’ve always been a homebody, and now that I actually have a home to hang out in, there’s really no place else that I would rather be. 

Anyway…

Today is one of those “at home days” because classes were called off. It’s been generally uneventful, thankfully. Told you, I like uneventful. I welcome rest, especially on days like today. We’re coming out of a weekend that was pretty full by my standards, you see. We had a dinner party on Saturday, then Lunch in Tagaytay on Sunday followed by some family time before heading home. Yes, full weekend na yan for me.

 

Today started with French toast for breakfast, and yes, they were gluten free. Then the kid and I have been studying for his exams, which start tomorrow. We ordered fried chicken and fries for lunch because nothing makes study day better quite like junk food can. Right now, we’re taking a break, and I thought it would be a good time to plan our household’s meals for the week.

Truth: I seem to be in a meal planning funk where nothing seems exciting or appealing. I asked the boys last night to let me know what they’d like to eat, and of course their suggestions were all old favorites. Comfort food. So that’s what this week’s menu will be centered on.

Weekly menu plan
Meal plan for August 15-21

 

I have yet to post any gluten free recipes because I’m still not super duper, 100% happy with my experiments. Hopefully I’ll be able to soon, though. Also, about the spaghetti-style baked rice, it’s this amazing dish I stumbled upon online where you use rice instead of noodles in what would ordinarily be a pasta bake. Hope it turns out good, the way my Mexican rice from a few weeks back did.

 

Mexican rice casserole. #100homecookedmeals #theglutenfreeproject #itswhatsfordinner

A photo posted by MrsC | Patricia Cuyugan (@mrspcuyugan) on

 

Well that’s all for today, folks! What’s cooking in your kitchen this week?