Category Archives: Food

The category formerly known as “Food and Diet.” I finally caved and realized I hadn’t been on my diet for a month now. Instead, I’ve gone on the “good food” diet.

An Impromptu Cooking Lesson: Young Coconut Drink

Last weekend while at my parents house, my dad showed me some young coconut they purchased from the 99 Ranch store in Plano the other day. He decided to open a few to show me how to prepare a drink they used to make since I admitted I’d purchased one a long time ago but couldn’t figure out how to get it open, wasting it. And of course since I already had my camera with me, I decided to photograph them as they worked and told stories.

Mom said when they were younger, they couldn’t boil noodles at night for pancit because the Japanese would see the light of their cooking fires, so they would shred coconut and use that as their noodles instead.

Dad said he used to chew on the coconut fibers because it was kinda sweet (Mom cringed and said she never did that!)

Coconut water is all the rage these days with celebrity doctors like Dr. Oz praising it for its health benefits. And although it may be healthy, it can also be expensive to buy in the bottled form.

However, if you’ve got a big cleaver and don’t mind a workout, buying young coconut in its original form can be much better for you (no preservatives or additives).

Young coconut for coconut water.

This is what young coconut looks like when you buy it from the grocery or the asian store. It’s usually this weird looking shape, pointed at the top, and wrapped in plastic wrap.

Continue reading An Impromptu Cooking Lesson: Young Coconut Drink

CLOSED: Once Upon a Family Keepsake Recipe Album and Recipe Box Giveaway

Friday night, I called my mom to tell her I was going to be taking a photo of her for my blog, she said, “Oh good! I just got my haircut today!”

“Oh really? Did Daddy cut it?” I asked. For years my dad cut my mom’s hair. It was a functional haircut, but not always fancy.

“No, I fired him when I retired,” she said. “I pay a professional to cut my hair now.” (I bet you can’t guess where my sense of humor came from)

Say hi to my mom and dad, Shirley and Sonny. Initially this post was going to be my mom and how she taught me how to cook, but my dad was home and didn’t want to be left out so we included him too 🙂

Plus he actually did teach me a few things about cooking, like what not to do in the kitchen, such as reheat stuff on the stove on high.

Not to completely discredit dad’s culinary skills because he IS great on the grill and can smoke a mean brisket, but that’s a future blog post 🙂

Mom did teach me a lot about cooking growing up. Her food has always been the envy of others and not just the dishes she makes, but her method. Everyone is always surprised at how she can cook a grand family meal in her cramped galley kitchen at a moment’s notice. At her parties, there was always fresh food on the table the entire evening.

For a long time, I’ve been meaning to gather our family recipes for a album and that’s where today’s sponsor, Once Upon a Family, comes in. After writing this blog post, I realized how valuable these few hours I spent with them were, and I encourage you to do the same with your loved ones.

Once Upon a Family creates products that help you maintain family traditions, and create new ones. For a limited time, Once Upon a Family will be offering their recipe organizer for $25 and will also include a recipe box (inset picture above) for FREE (offer ends March 5, 2012). I’ll be giving one set (an album AND a recipe box) to 1 lucky winner. Check the end of this post to find out how you can win one!

Today, we’ll be showing you a recipe called pancit. Pancit is a Filipino noodle dish that my mom always prepared at least once a week when we were kids, sometimes even more frequently. It’s an easy, flavorful dish that feeds a large family on a budget and reheats beautifully in the microwave. And one thing to keep in mind about pancit is that every family has their own recipe, this just happens to be our family’s recipe.

Continue reading CLOSED: Once Upon a Family Keepsake Recipe Album and Recipe Box Giveaway

Behold! The Wedge Salad!


I’ve been obsessed with wedge salads lately, for no particular reason other than the fact that I’m bored with my usual salads (and it’s so dang easy). It’s rare that I actually get to use natural light to take food photos but this particular day I happened to be at home for lunch so I did an impromptu shoot in front of my office window.

Oh, and the blue cheese dressing? Homemade. And uh-maaa-zing.

Continue reading Behold! The Wedge Salad!

Tom Kha Gai Soup (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

Tom Kha Gai Soup

I haven’t been in the kitchen like this in a while, but it’s nice to be back. With my healthy lifestyle, I’ve mostly been eating very simple, basic foods who’s calories can be accounted for pretty easily in my LoseIt app.

Today I was feeling particularly nostalgic for a soup I discovered a few years ago when I went to my first Thai restaurant: Tom Kha Gai, a rich, savory soup with coconut milk, tamarind soup base, and chicken. I’ve made this soup in the past, but it’s been a long time so I decided to recreate it, this time documenting the recipe. There’s an alternate version of this soup called Tom Yum Gai (same  flavors, no coconut milk), but I love the pairing of rich coconut milk with the sour tamarind soup base and haven’t been able to stray.

Tom Kha Gai

For the Broth

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz. can of coconut milk (regular, but you can use light)
  • 1 stalk lemon grass (the dried stuff doesn’t compare, but use it if you have to)
  • 1 inch piece of galangal root (use ginger if you can’t find it)
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar (or light brown sugar if you can’t find it)
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1 bunch cilantro stalks

Soup Components

  • 1 – 2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 can straw mushrooms
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind soup base, or more depending on how sour you like it (also known as Sinigang to Filipinos)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Cilantro
  • Lime

First, make the soup. Peel and slice the galangal or ginger. Wash the cilantro stalks (the stalks have a lot of flavor and will hold up better on a high simmer). In a medium sauce pan over medium high heat, add all the broth ingredients (chicken broth, coconut milk, lemon grass, galangal or ginger, palm sugar, chili garlic sauce, cilantro stalks). Bring to a high simmer for at least 15 minutes. Strain broth and return to medium high heat.

Add the soup components (chicken breasts, straw mushrooms, tomato, tamarind soup base, and fish sauce). For this amount of soup, I only used 1/2 packet of the tamarind soup base, but if you like your soup sour, you may want to add more. Simmer on medium high heat for 30 minutes.

When ready to serve, chop a handful of cilantro and add to soup. Serve with lime wedges.

Perfect Rainy Day Tomato Basil Soup

This has been one of those weekends that I love: cold, rainy, cozy. I don’t know if I could stand to live in this weather for longer than a week, but it’s nice to have it for a weekend.

This afternoon, I wanted a lunch that wasn’t so filling so I opted for tomato basil soup. This recipe is supposed to be based on La Madeleine’s famous version (and honestly, I think it comes very close) so consume it with caution because it has cream and butter in it. Serve it with a few garlic croutons and a salad for a more filling meal.

Tomato Basil Soup

4 cups crushed canned tomatoes or 4 cups diced tomatoes
4 cups of chicken stock or vegetable stock
12 – 15 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup cream
1/2 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes and chicken stock in a large sauce pan and simmer on medium for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add basil leaves and puree in a blender in small batches until smooth. If you use a hand blender, you should be able to do this right on the stove.

Continue to simmer. Add cream and butter and simmer until incorporated. Serve with garlic croutons.