Chocolate ‘Chia’mporado


Growing up in the Philippines, I lived on champorado.  My mom made it a lot mostly because it was sweet, filling, cheap and good.  Champorado is a sweet chocolate rice porridge, which Mom usually made from a boxed mix.


It’s even better when she tops it with tuyo, a salty dried fish.  What.  Don’t judge–Filipinos made that sweet-savory thing before it was a thing.  Tuyo is like bacon–just as crunchy and salty–except it’s fish and smells really bad when you cook it indoors.

I wanted a different take on my favorite childhood merienda and decided that I would make a healthy version with chia seeds.  Chia seeds when soaked in liquid become pudding-like in texture, kind of like a rice pudding.  It’s so easy to make and chances are, you’ll have most of the ingredients on hand.

And the bonus is, it makes a really great pun.

Chocolate Chiamporado


3/4 cup soy milk or almond milk (avoid non-dairy milk to keep low fat)
1/4 cup chia seeds
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1t vanilla extract
4-5 T maple syrup
1/2 t grated orange zest
3T orange juice
*1 packet of Splenda (optional)


Whisk all ingredients together and refrigerate overnight. Seeds gel when they come in contact with liquid so you’ll wake up to a creamy pudding with a slightly nutty texture. Top with a sprinkle of grated orange zest, slivered almonds and chocolate chips.

*I happened to have Splenda on hand so I added a packet.  Feel free to omit and instead adjust the amount of maple syrup to your desired sweetness.



Ooh (Dutch) Baby, Baby


A Dutch baby is way better than a real baby. It smells just as good, it’s just as soft and sweet and it really is cute coming out of the oven. Plus it takes way less work, energy and money. It will never criticize your cooking when that baby grows up to be a 7-year old boy and grades it as C+ (the vegetables lower the grade) and compares it to Grandma’s A+ rated Spam, eggs and rice (the processed, canned luncheon meat raises the grade).

Like a real baby, the Dutch Baby is also a miracle in itself for impatient, non-bakers like myself. You take 4 ingredients that you should already have in your pantry: flour, eggs, milk, sugar–and if you don’t, you are not yet a fully evolved adult and probably only have Ikea furniture and a hot plate in your dorm room. Then you mix all the ingredients together and stick everything in a 425 degree over, 20 minutes later you’ve got yourself a Dutch baby.

I suppose the proper way to end this post is to identify one last comparison that once and for all pronounces the real baby superior to the Dutch Baby, because after all, I am a mom.


Dutch Baby recipe, adapted from NYT Cooking:

* 3 eggs
* ½ cup flour
* ½ cup milk
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
* 4-5 tablespoons butter
* Syrup, preserves, confectioners’ sugar or cinnamon sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Combine eggs, flour, milk, sugar and nutmeg in a blender jar and blend until smooth. Batter may also be mixed by hand.
3. Place butter in a heavy 10-inch cast iron pan, preferably one with a non-stick surface like Le Creuset. As soon as the butter has melted (watch it so it does not burn) add the batter to the pan, return pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the pancake is puffed and golden. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake five minutes longer.
4. Remove pancake from oven, cut into wedges and serve at once topped with syrup, preserves, confectioners’ sugar or cinnamon sugar.


Friends with Benedicts


Whenever I go to a new brunch place, my go to menu favorite is either corned beef hash or smoked salmon eggs Benedict.  Why?  Because I have a serious addiction to salty food.  And because I’m hypertensive and not supposed to indulge in salty food I enjoy them that much more.  Salt is the apple to my Eve.

The best smoked salmon eggs Benedict I’ve ever had is in Sacramento, Fox & Goose.  The hollandaise was creamy, thick and…well, cheesy.  Hollandaise is not made with cheese–lots and lots of butter but no cheese.  I haven’t recreated it at home yet but it was a perfectly executed hollandaise, so I licked that little sauce cup clean.  My other fave spot for eggs Benedict is in San Francisco’s SOMA district, Butler & the Chef Bistro with their creamy, rich hollandaise sauce served by a French Asian waitress, so charming and adorable I wanted to go all Pepe le Pew on her every time she came by.  Their variation is to use a crusty baguette as the vehicle for the creamy sauce, poached eggs and smoked salmon which was a great balance of textures.

Allow me to deconstruct the eggs Benedict:

Poached egg

The egg portion of eggs Benedict is hard for most to make because of the poached eggs.  Getting it to the right softness and achieving that perfectly round shape without shards of poached egg hanging off to the side were my Everest.  I tried for years with using vinegar and timers and I got maybe one or two good poached eggs out of 8.  So I wised up and consulted food geek Alton Brown for this awesome pro tip that never occurred to me because I never took Physics in high school, plus I cut class a lot.  The keys to perfectly poached eggs are:

  • Creating a whirlpool bath in which they  leisurely poach
  • Drop some white vinegar in there to minimize frayed edges
  • Don’t drop the egg in the whirlpool bath; use a custard cup and gently slide it out
  • After a minute, turn off the heat and leave it alone to poach for five minutes; don’t peek!

Hollandaise sauce

This is the other task I dread about eggs Benedict.  I tried it once and it didn’t go well.  Let’s just say the clean up from the blender accident and the resulting buttery counters and cabinet door surfaces drove me to hollandaise made from those sauce packets.  Thankfully, I’ve found an alternative.

Bread and protein choices

Customize and get creative with your Benedict right here.  I’ve seen protein choices ranging from the sublime (smoked salmon) to the ridiculous (kalua pork).  For your  bread, I recommend a crusty  variety like a baguette or ciabatta.  I’d stay away from soggy breads that can’t hold up to all that saucy, eggy, meaty goodness like white bread or rolls cut in half.  Traditional eggs Benedict is made with muffins but meh, you can do better.


  • *Trader Joe’s hollandaise sauce found in the egg section
  • Toasted sourdough baguette or ciabatta bread
  • Poached egg
  • Protein of your choice (smoked salmon, Canadian bacon, ham, etc)
    Capers and Italian parsley for garnish

*This is by far my favorite TJs find.  You know how some TJs items are just offered seasonally?  I got paranoid about that one day and decided to stock up and bought 10 tubs and froze them.  Thaw a tub the night before you feel like a Benedict binge and either heat said tub in the microwave or gently simmer in a small pot of boiling water.  Although, don’t put the plastic tub directly on the pot or melting might ensue.  Instead do it double boiler style with the tub in a bowl placed over but not touching the boiling water in the pot.


Poach your eggs using aforementioned tips. Reheat your TJs hollandaise while your poached eggs are resting in their whirlpool bath. Finally, toast your bread and assemble with your chosen protein, topped with your poached egg and drizzled with your hollandaise. Garnish with capers and parsley.

The hollandaise will separate into buttery globs after the microwave but don’t panic and just pour out to a bowl and stir to return to its creamy state.

Your kitchen might look like this


But in the end, it will be worth it


He’s Such a Crepe


So…well…umm there are no excuses.  I’ve missed this blog.  There have been times when my cursor hovered over my favorites toolbar and I came close to clicking on it but the discomfort of seeing my last post from almost five months ago was too much to bear.  So I’ve kept my distance.  No, that is not a metaphor for how I deal with issues; not always, anyway.  But like a homing pigeon, I will always have an instinct to come back home to keeping it eel.

OK.  Enough therapy.

A couple of weeks ago during Easter week-end, I epitomized the adage ‘those who can’t do, teach.’  I had this awesome idea of hosting a cooking class and making crepes, inspired by our recent cooking class at Sur La Table.


Greek pistachio cigars


The planning was fun and here are some tips to get you started:

  • Plan a menu fitting for the occasion you’re hosting.  Easter brunch may call for a variety of crepes; a dinner party is more suited for 3 courses of appetizer, main with side dish and dessert.
  • Assign courses and ingredients so you are not saddled with the responsibility and cost of trying to take care of everything.  For someone who has a hard time asking for help I’ve learned over the years that guests are most satisfied when they contribute something–their time, effort or a dish–to the meal.  It gives the party a sense of community that you don’t otherwise get when you do everything yourself.  No one’s trying to be Joan of Arc here and you’ll wind up looking just as haggard as her if not more.
  • If you don’t have a big stove, invest in these single hot plates  so your students have ample room to maneuver on their own personal stove.
  • Have snacks available for guests to nosh on.  Depending on your students’ cooking chops and how many cooking disasters you’ll have to struggle through, you may not eat for hours.  No judgments here just being realistic.

Our crepe making party was actually a success.  But–and here’s a big but–just because you know how to make something and cook it well does not mean you can teach others how to do it.  Por ejemplo, when your student asks, “How do I know when my crepe is done?”  The answer should never be “I don’t know, I usually just use the force.”  People who don’t cook need clarity, step-by-step instructions, actual answers that don’t invoke Star Wars references or tea leaves or magic.  What really helps is a printed copy of recipes that your students can follow along on their own and your role as a teacher is to guide, answer and course correct, say, when there is an unmanageable open flame that has risen to distressing heights.  Our clean up crew–actually, clean up Pru–wound up taking over and the students turned out technically perfect crepes.  Whatever.

Lastly, invite people who you actually like, people who love you and people you know won’t get mad or dissolve the relationship when they get yelled at or ridiculed, “You call that a crepe?  It’s as thick as a manhole!”  or “How much is one table spoon in your world?  In the end, when you partake of your creations together, you’ll remember why you invited these people in the first place.  And why you love cooking.



The Shalissa: Crepes with nutella, strawberries, bananas and almonds


The MissyMark: Cheese blintzes with blueberry sauce


The JayGo: Savory crepes with chicken, feta, pesto and provolone

Exercise and Greek Yogurt (that isn’t 8$ a bowl)


March has been a month of epiphanies about exercise and yogurt.

First, I used to have the wrong idea about exercise. It used to be all about vanity. The lat pull downs were to keep my arm fat from swaying in the wind. I once joked that I can put babies and small children to sleep if I just swung them from the fat folds of my arms. Actually, that isn’t really so much of a joke as it is an observation. Long stretches on the elliptical that rendered me a panting asthmatic were to keep the belly fat in check–belly fat that if I hunched over just right made my torso look like the rice terraces of Bali, with its layers and layers of billowing belly richness.

Here we are, in my 40s and I’ve had a paradigm shift on exercise. Now, it’s 11 miles of sweating and thighs burning and handling the stationary bike and elliptical as if we were settling a decades old score. I’ve stopped weighing myself but my clothes feel better. Yes, my arm fat still sways long after I’ve waved goodbye. But my legs feel stronger and my posture straighter.

I’m walking away a winner.

My 2nd epiphany is about the Jougert Bar in Burlingame. The Jougert Bar had the nerve to charge me 8$ for something called The Black Diamond which is a concoction of Greek yogurt, blackberries, mint, dark chocolate, agave syrup and sea salt. I was decidedly underwhelmed. Though it was healthy and refreshing, this little bowl of yogurt with some fruit and stuff on top of it did not merit the price tag, though in the midst of Burlingame Avenue, I suppose it was apropos.

So in homage to my March epiphanies about health and wellness–both physical and financial–here’s my own ‘keeping my finances in the black diamond’.

A recipe hardly seems necessary so I won’t bother. But I do prefer Fage yogurt because it’s creamy and tangy without being too tart. Top it with your favorite fruits, and while sea salt seems weird to add to yogurt, it gives it a savory depth that’s unexpected yet refreshing to the palate. Fresh mint, agave syrup and dark chocolate round out this healthy dessert that doubles as a protein rich breakfast.


New Year, New You


I don’t really make new year’s resolutions. Well, not anymore. Sure, it used to be the standard ‘lose weight,’ ‘read more,’ ‘volunteer more.’ But there’s too much pressure in living up to these promises that I’m sure to fail by the end of the month. And as hyper self-critical as I can be–which is a resolution all by itself–I resolve to not make any this year.

But it is a time for new beginnings. So today, I was motivated to do 1/2 hour on the elliptical while watching Friends which is now on Netflix–yay! And I followed it with a matcha green tea smoothie made in my Ninja (Sorry R, couldn’t stomach the $500 price tag on the Vitamix).

On another note, I heard this thing on NPR last year on the key to setting realistic goals and resolutions: start with something simple and attainable like “I will exercise for 5 minutes today.” That’s it. Don’t get ambitious. Start with something so amazingly modest, you’ll kick yourself for not meeting the goal. That way, if you do more than 5 minutes, you’ll applaud yourself and if you just do 5 minutes then you will have met your goal. The idea, of course, is to incrementally increase your goal to 10 minutes, 15, 20, etc. My goal today was to make it through one episode of Friends, which without commercials is 23 minutes. I did that plus another 7. Day 1 of New Year, New You was a hit! Don’t worry, I won’t keep calling it that. Just today.

Super Easy Matcha Green Tea Smoothie

1 T matcha green tea powder, TJ’s version is fine
1 banana
2 T Greek Yogurt
1 c ice
1/2 c almond milk, soy or regular will do

Blend and enjoy!


Pumpkin Spice Latte


Fall is quite possibly my favorite season of all.  I’d like to be able to say it’s the crisp autumn air, the sun setting earlier in the evening, and amber colored leaves that line the streets on a windblown day. But it’s really all about the food.

Well, maybe it’s not all about the food…


Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, 2010

The boys and I usually make an annual pilgrimage to one of our favorite fall destinations:


Apple Hill, Sacramento


Ardenwood Farms, Fremont

Fall food really is the best though.  Apple crisps, pumpkin pies, guinness braised shortribs in the crockpot to ward off chilly nights are what draw me to this season. But because California is in the midst of a drought this year and summer is really just beginning, the only way I realized that fall is now upon us was the first Facebook post on the arrival of the much anticipated Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. I know, I know that sounds a little sad…FB telling me it’s fall.  But FB also told me that there was no pumpkin, and nary a pumpkin pie spice in Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Starbucks listed their ingredients as ‘fall flavors’ among which are cinnamon, caramel ‘food color’ and high fructose corn syrup.  It also costs about as much as a school lunch with way more sugar and roughly the same amount of calories.   With the aid of Pinterest, I decided to make my own with some modifications.


Pumpkin Pie Spice Syrup
1//2 c  canned pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2-4 T maple syrup
2-4 T agave nectar

1/2 c milk


To make the syrup, combine pumpkin puree, pumpkn pie spice, maple syrup and agave nectar in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Add water to thin the mixture.  The amount of maple syrup and agave nectar can be adjusted to your preference–2T of each for me was not sweet enough so I added more.  Set aside.

Froth milk by shaking it in a tightly sealed mason jar or tupperware for 2 minutes then microwave for 20-30 seconds or until heated through.

Spoon 2 tsp of the pumpkin pie spice syrup nto your coffee and mix until dissolved.  Pour frothy milk on top and sprinkle pumpkin pie spice over the foam top.



Tuscan Egg Crepe


I went to my elementary school reunion this past week-end.  I saw old friends and classmates, many of whom I hadn’t seen in almost 30 years.  It was a great time and I said a bunch of inappropriate things only made possible by the ingestion of copious amounts of my go-to drink, the dirty martini.  “How dirty?” someone asked.  I of course said, “Stripper dirty.” I may have even said something worse.  Oyvey.  Apologies to all in attendance.

Anywhoo, a less than flattering picture of me was taken which showed layers and billowing folds of belly fat.  I will not post it here because, well, you’re probably eating and I don’t want to trouble your digestion with the actual image.  Just picture it in your mind’s eye and trust that it is as unattractive as it sounds.

The Tuscan Egg Crepe is all kinds of delicious and low carb, specifically created by me this morning in response to that horrifying picture.  Crepes are traditionally made with flour, eggs, melted butter and sugar or omit the sugar if a savory crepe is what you’re after.  My version has no flour, no butter and is actually quite simple to make.


Non-stick cooking spray

4 large eggs
2 tablespoon water


Beat egg and water with a fork until well mixed and uniform in consistency.

Heat a small skillet or crepe pan over medium heat until hot.

Spray pan lightly with Pam.

Return the pan to the heat for about 5 seconds then ladle into the pan about 2 tablespoons (or enough to create a thin coating on the pan) of egg mixture. Rotate the pan to evenly distribute the egg mixture. Cook about 2 minutes or until the edges come away from the pan slightly and the bottom is browned. Carefully flip over onto your spatula and then onto the pan to brown the other side.  If your pan is hot enough, it shouldn’t take more than 15 seconds to set.

IMG_0186 IMG_0188IMG_0189

That last picture is what happens when you don’t spread the batter out quickly enough.  Remember that these crepes are paper thin and take mere seconds to set so don’t wait too long to tilt the pan and spread the layer out enough so that it covers the bottom.

These really are pretty easy and fast to make and because they have no flour, it is gloriously gluten and carb free.


The filling is inspired by one of my favorite creperies, Crepevine.  It is based on their Tuscan crepe, full of delicious ingredients like chicken, tomatoes, spinach and sliced almonds–savory, healthy, filling and great texture.


1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
1 cup cubed rotisserie chicken, shortcup pro tip: Use Costco chicken and combine dark and white meat for good flavor
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup cheddar or provolone cheese
salt and pepper to taste


Combine first 5 ingredients and saute over lightly oiled pan.  You can add a little water, just enough to moisten your mixture.  You can substitute sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil for the fresh tomatoes.  I opted for 1 cup of the baby san marzanos grown in my backyard for a leaner mixture and without all that oil.  Mix in the cheeses and add salt and pepper to taste.  I chose to add the feta last because I like to bite into a salty feta cheese bit instead of having it completely melted into the mixture.

IMG_0196See the bits of feta still recognizable in this mixture


IMG_0200 IMG_0202 IMG_0203

It’s best to wrap these when your filling is cold because it’s firm and holds its shape together easier. 


Low Carb Tuscan Egg Crepe–bring on that next reunion.

Panera Baked Egg Souffle


The boys and I have a tradition of going out to breakfast on week-end mornings. I used to be able to sleep way into the morning and leisurely rise from bed around 930-10AM.  Since J was born, my body clock now dictates a wake up time of 6AM, 6:15 if I’m really living it up.  Pru will tell you there are times when I sleep with one eye open–that’s how radically different my sleep patterns are now, post JJ.  Today, we decided to opt for one of our favorite breakfast places Panera and partake of their spinach and bacon breakfast souffle.  What I like most about it is the light and flaky crust housing an eggy, savory mixture of spinach and bacon.  It’s salty and fatty and decadently perfect.  So imagine my horror and sheer disappointment when I stood in line for 20 minutes at the Fremont Panera only to get to the front and be told, “No soufflés for half an hour.”  It’s 10am  and you don’t have soufflés?!?!  That’s like a bartender saying “We’re out of beer!” in the middle of happy hour.

Undaunted, I decided to recreate my own Panera Baked Egg Souffle which I could have at any moment of the day if I wanted, even at the unheard of time of 10AM.

Sausage and Egg Baked Souffle

Recipe adapted from Todd Wilbur’s Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2


4 links Italian sausage-mild or spicy depending on your preference, cooked and crumbled
2 teaspoons minced onion
5 eggs
1 cup of frozen spinach, thawed
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup shredded cheese, whatever you prefer–I used white cheddar
1 tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
1 sheet of puff pastry dough*
melted butter
¼ cup shredded Asiago cheese



  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Beat 4 eggs. Mix in milk, cheeses and salt. Stir in spinach, onion and cooked sausage.
  • Microwave egg mixture for 30 seconds on high, and then stir.  This is a critical step, so don’t skip.  Repeat 4 to 5 more times or until you have a very runny scrambled egg mixture. This process will tighten up the eggs enough so that the puff pastry won’t sink into the eggs when it’s folded over.
  • Brush melted butter inside four 4-inch baking dishes or ramekins. Line each ramekin with the puff pastry, then spoon equal amounts of egg mixture into each ramekin. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of asiago cheese on top of the egg mixture in each ramekin, and then gently fold the puff pastry over the mixture.
  • Beat the last egg in a small bowl, then brush beaten egg over the top of the puff pastry in each ramekin, then sprinkle with more Asiago cheese.Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until dough is brown. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the soufflés from each ramekin and serve hot.

*Original recipe called for Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough but I found after making both versions, that puff pastry closely resembled the texture and flavor of Panera’s.




Rosemary’s (Dutch) Baby


The Dutch Baby is my Acchiles’ Heel.  I used to be able to make these puffy, beautiful clouds of breakfast goodness but recently they’ve begun to resemble rusty flat manholes.

IMG_1336This looks like the a volcano crater

IMG_1238This defies explanation

At least I got to enjoy some time with my son who enjoys my little experiments with his favorite breakfast

IMG_1328Admittedly, not the best parenting decision posing him in front of an open flame


But every now and again, magic happens and things work out.

perfect dutch babyI’ll have to re-experiment and try this again as this was taken a few months ago and I don’t remember how I got it to be this puffy and awesome.  It might have something to do with heating the pan before pouring the batter into it and putting the pan in the oven.  Serve this with powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.

These guys may have figure it out because they always do, but strangely, theirs is as ugly as mine.