3-pasta week

3-pasta week

We didn’t plan this. It just happened. This 3-pasta week, I mean. No complaints though. Pasta is quick and easy. Not to mention, more hands make light work. In fact, we cooked 2 pastas at one go. How’s that?

Here’s the story. It was a Tuesday night, a school night. And we were rushing to get to a basketball game. We had to eat dinner before leaving plus I wanted to pack the girls a swankier lunch the next day instead of the same old boring sandwiches. So we ended up cooking 2 pastas – the pesto tilapia over linguine for dinner that night, and the tuna pasta to enjoy between classes at college the next day.

Let me just say, pesto tilapia over linguine is super yummy. Well, now that we’ve successfully recreated the pesto tilapia from scratch, we can pretty much scratch the boxed version we’ve bought once or twice.


The tuna pasta is a longtime favorite of ours. It’s a recipe I created and well, it’s been a while since we ate this. Don’t let its looks fool you. Such innocent-looking fusilli and yet it’s deadly spicy!


The following night, I cooked this mac and cheese while waiting for the girls to get home from class. Apparently they’ve loved the mac and cheese I used to cook for them when they were little. How could I not know this? They’ve been reminiscing about it so I promised to cook it for them, for old times’ sake? LOL


Yes, that’s one heckuva huge pan of mac and cheese, heavily loaded with hidden goodies too! (Sidenote: I wonder how much RO restaurants would charge for a serving of this.) I’m not necessarily a fan of mac and cheese. Yet I couldn’t stop eating this. That kick*ss crunch and the light saltiness coming only from the 2 grated cheeses. Yums.

Okay, so I’m planning next week’s meal menu in my head and making my grocery list. I wonder what I’ll come up with.

Mediterranean food adventure

Mediterranean food adventure

Looks like the food adventures of the new year have begun. This Mediterranean food adventure was totally unplanned. We were parked and walking towards Baja, our favorite Mexican food joint, for lunch when we noticed this newly-opened Mediterranean restaurant straight ahead.

Okay, so you wanna give this place a try? we were asking each other. I don’t think I’ve had Mediterranean food before. Well, okay, I may or may not have had a couple of bites off a shish kebab sandwich once, if that even counts.

We walked up to the restaurant to get a closer look at their posters. Frankly, some of these well-intentioned food posters tell me absolutely nothing about what I’m going to get if I were to order those items. I can venture a guess but I really can’t be sure.

Someone pops out from behind the glass door and cheerfully hands us each a small flyer with a bunch of unfamiliar food names, then promptly disappears (which is kinda nice). Goodness knows how annoying it is to have restaurant staff shouting out welcomes, shoving flyers in your face and chasing after you as you walk away. It just tells you how desperate they are to get you to eat their – bad food?

Anyhow, standing out in the cold trying to decipher the flyer on an empty stomach was the last thing we needed. No matter how many times we read the flyer, none of us got much further than the words shish and pilaf. The rest of the food items might as well have been names of asteroids in another universe light years away.

At some point, the wind started blowing and we decided, okay, that’s it, we’re going in. The big man behind the counter flashed a huge friendly smile and asked if we were new to Mediterranean food. I’m pretty sure he already knew the answer to that. He embarked on explaining everything. Finally it was all making three-dimensional sense.

We only ordered one plate to share, just in case. That’s us, picky eaters who don’t like to waste food. The man was very understanding and handed us a single plate piled high with 2 sticks of chicken shish, rice pilaf, white beans, pita bread, salad, jajik and baklava. It’s all good. Just keep that humus far, far away please LOL!


I know. That’s a lot of carbs. But don’t expect me to say, I’ll eat my carbs now and tomorrow I’ll swim the Pacific from end to end to make up for it. I feel no carb guilt. Seriously where would we be without carbs? How did we even get to adulthood if our parents never fed us carbs eh? Something to think about.

So you’re dying to know, did I like the food? Looking at the deep red tomato-based chicken, I was expecting the flavor to be intense. But it turned out to be pretty mild. We ordered the spicy version too but to a seasoned spicy eater like me, I barely sensed any heat. Maybe it’s been toned down for the American palette. If you know what this Mediterranean chicken is supposed to taste like, please let me know. But yeah, the chicken tasted okay.

As for the jajik, a creamy white dip made with Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic and olive oil, loved it! In fact, we couldn’t get enough of the two big bottles we bought at Costco last year. And of course, we loved the baklava, a Mediterranean dessert made with Phyllo pastry and honey. Absolutely delicious. So sad that we got such a small piece *sobs*.


Right after this meal, we marched straight across to Baja for “Lunch, Part Two, The Conclusion”! Tada, our Grilled Shrimp Salad aka yummiest thing ever, as always! No surprises! We gobbled up every last bean (pinto and black), every last tortilla chip, every last bit of diced tomato and avocado, every last shrimp… ’nuff said!


From the Mediterranean to Mexico, this was one fabulous food outing on a winter’s day. Guess we’re richer from having tried yet another cuisine we’ve never tried before.

Polar bear challenge

Polar bear challenge

You don’t hear me complain about the cold very often. I love winter. I love cold weather. Everyone says winters in Vancouver, Canada are very cold. I spent the winter there two years ago and the daytime temps were in the 40’s (7-10 degrees, for you Celsius people). Yes, it was cold but it was bearable. It rained a lot (hated it!), it even snowed for three days (loved it!).

Guess what? California, being this much farther south, is even colder right now than that winter in Vancouver. Ouch! The days are very sunny but you can’t feel the heat of the sun’s rays against the cold air. It’s around 40+ in the daytime but at night, temps dip down to 20+ (that’s below freezing Celsius). And it’s not your regular kind of cold either. This is the kind of biting cold that sends chills piercing into your very bones! I’m not even kidding!

What’s up with ya, California? Well, it’s not your fault! If only we hadn’t done all this stuff to make Mother Nature so bitter! So okay, instead of complaining, we three polar bears are challenging ourselves by not turning on the main heater. at all. this winter. Nope, not once! Not even at night! Talk about taking environmental friendliness to a whole new level!

To be fair, we’ve got a tiny little portable heater that gives out a piddly bit of heat against the freezing cold. Even then, our thermostat sometimes goes down to 60+ degrees – woohoo! – and we’re wearing 2 layers of clothing + socks inside the house! Yes! We can do this!!

In the mornings, it’s really hard to drag ourselves out of bed. Sometimes it takes 4 alarms going off at different times and the nagging growls of an empty stomach. Real polar bears are lucky they don’t have alarm clocks. That’s why they can sleep right through the winter. Wonder if they’re hungry all the time – like us?

Never mind that. So how do we polar bears keep warm?

For one thing, we’re doing a ton of baking. The oven warms up the house beautifully and fills it with the wonderful aroma of baking. So far, we’ve made a butter pound cake and two carrot cakes and we’ve got an apple pie, a cranberry pie and an orange cake coming up next. This is yesterday’s amazingly moist carrot almond cake. If you’re wondering where the glaze is, there’s none, it’s not my style.


Secondly, we keep our pots busy boiling lots of soup. Our one-pot wonder mu soup is dabomb packed with cabbage, carrots and chicken drumsticks.


And of course, we go all out for spicy food. This tilapia dry curry is our newfound Thai food love.


Definitely not what real polar bears would eat but only because they don’t know any better. The polar bears are making lemon chicken for dinner tonight. Anyone interested?

One, two, three cupcakes

One, two, three cupcakes

I ate one cupcake.

Then another.

Then another.

That’s kind of a big deal for me. I rarely eat cake and even when I do, I hardly ever finish a whole slice on my own. I’m what you might call a cake nibbler.

These were part of the 30+ batch we baked for a holiday party potluck, and to give away to profs and friends. We only managed to fit 15 cupcakes into this box…


… which means we got to keep the rest for ourselves. That’s how I ended up eating 3 cupcakes after dinner one night.

I’m notorious for not icing my cakes, not a fan but since we were giving these away, I was obliged to get up early to top a few with berry icing… which, even I have to admit, was a really nice change from the usual.


So that was one sweet afternoon spent baking. By the time we were done, the whole house was nice and warm, and we had some rare tea time treats to enjoy!

Leave out fall? Nah!

Leave out fall? Nah!

We’ve gone from hot and sunny to wintry cold, straight from summer to winter. Whatever happened to fall? I love fall. There’s a certain romance about the colorful backdrop, the crunch of leaves underfoot and the need to huddle together for warmth. Do you think Mother Nature would be so mean as to leave out fall altogether (heck, was that an ever so subtle pun right there? I do surprise myself sometimes)? Here’s proof she hasn’t forgotten!


I took this picture the other day. The colors of fall are awesome against a completely cloudless sky. You ponder what an amazing job Mother Nature does with her palette, taking her time to paint each and every leaf from the spirited scarlets, to the mellow maroons, to the awe-inspiring auburns, to the unyielding yellows, and all the shades in between. It’s sad these amazing colors won’t last long though before the trees became brown and bare 🙁 .

But the best of fall cuisine and cooking is still here to enjoy. More on that later?

Sounds of the season


It’s game season. Football? Basketball? How does an otherwise clueless un-sports fan like me know? Well, it may surprise you but when I hear the sounds of a marching band practising every other day, I know! I may not be able to tell you the difference between a trumpet and a trombone, or a woofer and a mesa mini rectifier but I sure do know that when the marching bands start practising, it’s game season!

What’s rocking our tastebuds this week

What's rocking our tastebuds this week

Don’t ask me how we ended up with 4 loaves of multigrain bread but we did. Obviously there was no way we were going to get through those in one week! Hey wait, everyone loves garlic bread, right? I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t. So garlic bread it is, yes, the hip homemade version – the quickest way to move those loaves fast!


And for a weeknight dinner, I have a huge slab of salmon. If you know me, you know I go berserk over salmon. So we grilled one-third of the slab for dinner. The kiddy meal sized strips of salmon that restaurants serve are exactly that – for kids! I mean, c’mon, how’s 3 little mouthfuls gonna satiate a grown adult’s appetite?! and no way I’m going to pay the ridiculous price to order more! So homemade grilled salmon it is! You can see I’m going crazy here with this portion for 3 of us.


And for the occasional afternoon snack – tadaaa! This is like the most amazing comfort food when you step in the door from 90 degrees outside. I fell in love with Dreyers during my penny-pinching days in college, couldn’t afford it. Never had slow-churned either. Turns out this is the best thing ever. It’s half the fat, it’s silky smooth, and has a very, very mildly sweet coffee flavor. So-oo gonna grab 2 more tubs this weekend – watch me!!


Okay, so that’s it for a quick round-up of what’s rocking those picky tastebuds. Oh and not forgetting those 2lbs of crazy juicy grapefruits!


Monday morning ramblings


I’m in a rambling mood today, sorta so just ignore me while I ramble away…

So here’s the story about last weekend at the grocery store. A staff was loading up the shelves. He had boxes and a cart along one side of the aisle. I was walking past to get to the other end of the aisle when two bottles of sauce (looked like mayo) fell off his cart, crashed onto the floor and some of it splattered onto my clothes, face and hair. I got a new look instantly. A mayo makeover, if you will…

… and last night, did anyone see the super moon? We got pretty excited about it earlier in the evening but when 7:00pm rolled around, we were getting ready to sit down for dinner, so we figured, forget it, growling tummies get first priority, we can always catch the super moon on live feed later. Well, it wouldn’t be live any more but …

… yeah, so scientists found water on Mars, liquid water that flows on the surface of the planet in spring and summer, a sure sign of life, but then they determined that water to be too cold for anything on Earth to survive in. Agreed, Earthlings may not be able to survive on Mars, but that doesn’t mean no other life forms can. For the most part, humans are so self-centered they think they’re the only ones inhabiting the universe. I’m pretty sure there’s no shortage of aliens checking us out too *waves back*. There IS definitely life on other planets, the Buddha said so 2,600 years ago, and I believe that. Just because we can’t see them in the pictures that space probes beam back doesn’t mean that they don’t exist…

… and in other news, I have just eaten half a grapefruit the size of a personal watermelon, and it was the juiciest thing ever, a far cry from the slightly bigger than an orange-sized ones that I have to squeeze to death for every last drop of juice that it’s worth. I guess it helps to have the world’s orchards in your backyard, eh! I’ve got a 10lb bag of these delicious babies in the fridge, gonna take my time to work through them.

Okay, that’s all the rambling from me today. Have a great one, folks!



It’s raining!! Yup, you heard me! It’s freakin’ raining!! It hasn’t rained in California for ages so you can imagine how it’s been on the agricultural produce that California is famous for – the grapes, apricots, peaches, oranges, almonds, walnuts, … Our back lawn is parched, and our poor car, rarely washed, to conserve water, has been wearing an unfashionable coat of dirt and dust.

The rain is not heavy, just steady but it’ll do. I’m standing at the open window just breathing in that distinctly cool and nostalgic freshness. It takes me back to overcast college days of hoodie-clad me racing down tree-lined paths on my racer bike with the cool breeze whipping the rain lightly onto my face  It always made me feel light-hearted and so happy.

I love the distinct smell of the rain here. It’s so clean you just can’t help being greedy and taking it lungful after lungful of its cooling freshness. It’s certainly not the kind of rain that serves to come down in torrents to wash away the disgusting pong of trash left behind on the streets by the garbage truck, shall we say?

It’s still raining outside. I can hear it. I don’t have the pictures to show you, I’m assuming you know what rain looks like. But trust me, this rain is different, it’s so much more beautiful (for the memories it invokes in me).

The making of the homebody


There was a time when the kids’ hectic school life revolved around weekdays and we looked forward to weekends when we would crawl the malls endlessly in search of good food and good finds. These days, we’re prone to staying home on the weekends except for the occasional trip out to shop for necessities like groceries.

The malls seem to have lost their luster. Somehow the crowds seem different – more rude, more impatient, prices and traffic crazier than before, and language seems to be becoming more of a problem. I seem to be repeating myself more, grading my language more, and having to switch to languages other than English in order to be understood.

Then too, the malls used to be a welcoming refuge from the heat outside. Now it’s more like from the frying pan into the fire. The air-conditioning in the malls is barely there and strange as it may sound, I’m thankful for the flyers they give out (I used to loath them) that I now use to fan myself with. Looks like progress is all around.

This weekend, we’re staying home – again! There’s nowhere to go and nothing to eat, chorus the homebodies.


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