I love the convenience of bottled simmer sauces that are becoming available at the grocery stores. They are truly life savers for when you come home late from work and need something on the dinner table real quick. The trick is finding out which ones you like, which means trying out a few brands.
I’ve always been lucky with almost anything I get at Trader Joe’s. They’re reasonably priced and always delicious, but sometimes you get hooked but you can never get it again. I had some favorite cheeses and sauces that was not available anymore when I came back for more. Sad.
So if I see something I want to try, I usually buy a couple to start with. They do have expiration dates so I cannot really get a dozen or so as we will get tired of it if I cook it too often. 😊
So…this is my most recent find!
I’ll cook this with some cut up chicken, garlic, onions, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, and a couple of bell peppers from the garden.
You can definitely eyeball the amounts and adjust anything to your taste.
Have you heard of, or even maybe TRIED, Natto (fermented soybeans)?
When you see it in Japanese or other Asian grocery stores, they come in a package of 3 little white, styrofoam boxes. It is usually served with rice in Japanese meals, most often breakfast. You stir it well to make it super stringy and slimy, add the tiny mustard and soy sauce packets that come with it, and pour everyting over hot rice. Then, you dig in!
It is for sure an acquired taste, even for those who grew up eating Japanese food. You either love it or loathe it. However, with all the fermented food craze lately, I read that it is added to everything, and I even saw it used to top a pizza! Now that is something I have to try! 😋
So, in this post, I will show you how to make this super healthy, fermented food at home. In case you are like me and my mom, who happen to love natto, you can have an unlimited supply if you make it.
You will need an incubator that can keep a constant temperature of 100C. You can use an oven, a proofing box for bread making, or an Excalibur Dehydrator.
A few years ago, I purchased a Japanese Yogurt maker specifically because you can adjust the temperature, unlike the ones available here in the US. The brand is Tanika and it is really a handy little appliance that I always use to make my homemade natto. Of course, I also have an oven, an Excalibur dehydrator, and a Brod and Taylor Folding Bread Proofer, but I do not like warming up that much space for a little jar of natto. So this little yogurt maker is just perfect for me. Labels on the appliance and the manual are in Japanese but I recently saw some on Amazon that are made for the US market with English labels.
Just like yogurt, you need to buy a package first to be able to get the bacteria you need to make natto, then if you make it regularly, you just get a little from the prepared batch to make more. This is the easiest way to get started. Of course, you could also buy some natto spores to start the Bacillus Subtilis culture. Mitoku is the brand I use. It’s from Japan and makes really tasty natto. It comes with a tiny measuring spoon so you get a lot of natto even though the culture bottle is tiny.
1. Rinse 1 1/2 cups of soybeans in water and soak in at least 5 cups of water overnight at room temperature.
*the soybeans will more than double its size, see photo below, so make sure you use a lot of water when soaking the beans.*
2. Rinse and strain soybeans and place in a metal footed strainer basket (or a colander over a trivet).
3. Pour 1 1/2 cups water in the pressure cooker liner.
4. Place the strainer with soybeans in the pressure cooker and pressure cook for 45 minutes.
5. Let pressure drop for 10 minutes, then release pressure, placing a kitchen towel over the vent to help dissipate the steam.
6. In the meantime, prepare your yogurt maker.
7. Place 1/4 cup of water in the Tanika Yogurt Maker’s inner container, place the spoon inside and cover with the clear cover.
8. Position the spoon so that the handle sticks out of the cut out in the cover.
9. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds to sterilize. Dump out the water.
10. If using the natto spores, mix 2 teaspoons boiled and cooled water with 1 tiny spoonful (included in the spores box) of the culture. Mix well and set aside.
11. Take one soybean and squeeze it between two fingers, it should be soft enough that it will crush easily.
12. Transfer half of the hot soybeans in the prepared yogurt container.
13. A. *If using spores, pour the half of the diluted culture over the hot soybeans.
13. B. If using ready made natto, add a spoonful of it onto the hot soybeans. Stir with the sterilized spoon.
14. A. *Add the rest of the soybeans to the yogurt container and then the rest of the diluted culture, if using spores. Mix well.
14. B. *If using pre made natto, add a spoonful more to the soybeans, then mix throughly.
15. Make sure to mix well, but be careful not to crush the beans.
16. Set the container into the yogurt maker, cover with a clean towel and place the blue cover over, slightly ajar to allow air in.
17. Set the fermentation temperature to 45C and the timer to 24 hours.
18. Carefully remove the blue cover and check the beans after 24 hours.
19. They should have a white, fuzzy growth around most of the beans.
20. Cover with the clear cover then the blue screw, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating.
21. Take a big spoonful of the natto and place on a serving dish. Cover and return the rest to the refrigerator. Using a spoon or chopsticks, thoroughly mix the natto until stringy and slimy. I was told to stir vigorously 100 times! Add a little soy sauce and hot mustard, serve over hot plain rice. Enjoy!
This is one of my mom’s most favorite desserts. Similar to the Hawaiian Haupia, it is made with coconut milk and cornstarch, but with the addition of corn. It is not baked, just cooked over medium heat until thick, then poured into a generously greased pan or bowl. Perfect for when you need something sweet and coconutty real quick!
In the Philippines, the addition of corn is a must. The browned coconut bits is a delicious complement, taste and texture wise, however, if you won’t have time to make the “latik”, some toasted desiccated coconut is an acceptable substitute. You can, of course, skip this all together too, like I do most of the time.
Today I’ll be making a delicious fish sandwich spread. As you might know, I make our bread at least once a week and of course, I want the best sandwich fillings to go with it.
My very favorite will always be butter and orange marmalade, but tuna salad, and BLT are close contenders.
We do have the usual Turkey and/or Ham with cheese and mayo quite often too.
My mom was taking about how she eats some canned mackerel more often now as it is very good fo your health, so imagine how excited I was when I found these at Trader Joe’s.
I was going to mix it up like my tuna salad but figured out I can make a more tasty spread using cream cheese. It makes a thicker spread that you can thin out using some mayonnaise. I hope you’ll like it!
Here is a quick and easy version of a staple Chinese restaurant take out!
Once in a while I’d crave Chinese food really bad. Most good restaurants are not close to where I live so it’ll be about a 20-30 mile drive to get to one and I’m too lazy to drive out to hunt them down. So I made this using an older cookbook I saw at the library a while back.
The cooking process takes no time at all so make sure to prep everything in the beginning (chop, dice, mince…)and have it all ready to go.
We have been trying to use sugar substitutes to reduce my husband’s sugar intake lately.
As you can imagine, I am up to the challenge to create sugar-free sweets as he loves baked goods almost as much as I do.
Chocolate chip cookies are a favorite in my home (as with most homes, I would guess!) so this is the first recipe I tried making. We went to the grocery store and I found our that Hershey’s made sugar free chocolate chips! Hurray! And on the back of the package, there is a recipe for sugar-free chocolate chip cookies that I decided to try, with some modifications.
Most of the sugar-free sweets I had before are dry, and compared to my regular cookies this is a little on the dry size. But my husband loves it so I’m sharing it here in case you’re looking for sugar free chocolate chip cookies recipe as it made delicious cookies.
1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sucralose granulated sugar substitute
1/3 cup sucralose brown sugar blend, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla paste, or extract
2 large eggs
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour(I used sprouted spelt this time)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar-free chocolate chips (I used Hershey’s brand)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Beat butter , sugars and vanilla in the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
3. Add eggs and beat well.
4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
5. Stir in chocolate chips.
6. Stir in walnuts, if using.
7. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough onto 2 large ungreased cookie sheets.
8. Bake 10 minutes at 375F until edges are lightly browned.
9. Cool for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
10. Enjoy! This recipe makes 4 dozens so feel free to share!
Meatloaf in the ELB…it might not look as amazing as oven baked ones, but convenience wise, it can’t be beat.
You just mix everything in a bowl, shape into a patty or 3, fit them in the ELB bowl, steam, and tada! A wonderful meal.
If you want to prep this the night before (like if you need it for next day’s lunch), you can follow the directions up until it’s covered with foil then refrigerate it until needed. Place in the ELB when ready and steam until done. I like to use a thermometer to make sure the meat is cooked through.
1/3 cup Ritz cracker crumbs (or plain bread crumbs)
1/4 cup plain yogurt (or milk)
2 tablespoons chopped onions
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used celery salt)
Ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1. In a bowl, combine ground pork,
3. Ritz cracker crumbs,
5. Chopped onions,
6. Celery salt,
7. Ground black pepper,
8. And Italian seasoning.
9. Mix well to incorporate everything together.
10. Since there are 3 of us in my home, I divided the mixture into 3 roughly equal sized portions. I shaped them into individual logs, and squeezed them into the medium ELB bowl. It would definitely work in the big ELB bowl too. Set this aside for now.
11. In a small bowl, combine ketchup,
12. Worcestershire sauce,
13. And brown sugar.
14. Mix well to combine.
15. Use this sauce to coat the tops of the meatballs.
16. Cover the bowl with a piece of foil. Set the bowl on the ELB base. Add 3 ELB cups of water to the base. Cover and let steam until it shuts off, about an hour.
17. Carefully open the ELB and check the meat for doneness. I use a thermometer to make sure. 😊