Portuguese Milk Tarts (Queijadas de Leite)

Beautiful to look at and a perfect bite sized dessert, Queijadas de Leite, will be your next favorite dessert!

They’re light, just sweet enough, creamy inside, and crunchy on the outside. I can’t stop at 1…or 5!

Lucky for me these are truly easy to make and I’m pretty sure you have all the ingredients needed in your pantry and refrigerator. Easy and delicious! My perfect combination!

Makes 24 muffin sized tarts

2 cups sugar

1 cup flour

4 eggs

1/2 cup melted butter

3 3/4 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat oven 400F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tray generously.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and flour. Make a well in the middle and add eggs, butter, and milk.

3. Whisk until blended and no dry chunks remain.

4. Fill prepared muffin pans with about 1/3 cup of the mixture (about 3/4 full). Bake 30-35 minutes until tops are golden brown.

5. In the meantime, mix together 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 3 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl.

6. Remove from pans and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

7. Cool completely. Enjoy!

Japanese Potato Salad

Try this Japanese Potato salad as a side for your Holiday meals!

Do you like potato salad? I know I LOVE starchy potato salad in all it’s variations!

This is a very tasty, Japanese style potato salad recipe. The potatoes are steamed to a point that it is soft enough that you can mash them, but you don’t, so you have some smooth mashed potatoes (from mixing) and chunks at the same time. Add in some ham, chopped boiled eggs, sliced cucumbers, and sliced carrots and this is nothing like your average potato salad! 😋

Serve it as a side to your main meals like any other potato salad. I sometimes grab a bowl of this straight from the fridge and eat it while watching TV, or reading. Or try it as a sandwich filling between two super soft and milky Japanese style pullman bread – yum!

Ingredients:

3-4 potatoes, peeled, cubed, and steamed until soft

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

1/2 cup carrot, thinly sliced

¼ cup sliced onions

1 – 2 cups chopped ham

2 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped 

1/2 – 1 cup Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise

1 tsp white vinegar 

1 tsp hot mustard 

1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt

Paprika, to serve

Procedure:

1. Steam the cubed potatoes until fork tender. Set aside to cool.

2. Thinly slice the cucumbers, onions, and carrots. I use a mandolin or a food processor to do this. I used Persian Cucumbers in this recipe as they are thin skinned and small enough that I just wash and slice them. Makes life easy!

3. Place sliced vegetables in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss gently and set aside for a few minutes until it weeps. Then grab a handful of veggies, squeeze tightly and place in another bowl. Repeat with the remaining salted vegetables.

4. Chop ham into bite sized pieces. They look nice when the sizes are identical, but if not, that’s okay too! It’ll still be delicious!

5. Now grab a big bowl, and mix everything together. Mix well, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

6. Refrigerate until cold. Sprinkle with paprika just before serving. Serve and enjoy!

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Electric Lunchbox #58: Pumpkin Flan

Flan!

Another recipe for flan? You bet!

This time it’s pumpkin flavored …because, well…PUmPkIN! 🎃 It’s kind of the fall season here in Southern California, according to the calendar, despite what the upper 100+ temperature is trying to tell you – and fall equals pumpkin to a lot of us!

This recipe makes a thick flan enough to serve 4-6 people.

Let me tell you what though, canned pumpkin has been hard to find recently, at least where I live. I had to go to 4 stores to find a can and they now cost me $4 each (they are usually about $1-$2 each). If there is a shortage of pumpkin, I just want to make sure I get this recipe right before I ran out!

Flan de calabaza is a staple in latin countries. You should try this recipe at least once and see how you like it! I know I love flan and that goes for every variation of it! The bonus dose of vitamins from the pumpkin might just convince you to keep making this! 😊

My husband isn’t a fan of the caramel layer so I minimized the amount to just enough to coat the flan. Feel free to double the amounts of the sugar and water to get more caramel yumminess with your flan.

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Caramel:

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon water

Flan:

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice (or 1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and a dash of cloves)

1/2 cup condensed milk

1/2 cup evaporated milk

2 eggs

2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Procedure:

1. Mix together caramel ingredients in the big bowl of the ELB. Heat over low heat until caramelized, swirling constantly to avoid burning. It’ll take about 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Place all the flan ingredients in a blender and blend thoroughly. Make sure the cream cheese is dissolved in the mixture.

3. Pour flan mixture over caramel and cover with foil.

4. Set on the ELB base and pour 3 ELB cups of water to the base.

5. Cover and let steam until it shuts off, about 1 hour.

6. Carefully open the ELB and check the flan. It should look set, not jiggly.

7. Cool completely on a wire rack and refrigerate until cold, overnight if possible as it gives the flan a chance to really set and the flavors to meld.

8. Run a knife along the sides of the bowl to release the flan. Invert onto a serving dish.

9. Serve cold. Enjoy!

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Dash Everyday Egg Cooker

“An egg cooker? Who needs an egg cooker when everyone has a pot at home that will do the same thing?”

I used to think this way when I pass by the cute, colorful egg cookers at the big box stores. Not out loud, just in my head. I mean, I have a lot of kitchen stuff and mostly, they are unitaskers. However, if they do their one job well, I’m sold – hello Zojirushi rice cooker! 😊

Eggs though, I mean how hard is it to cook eggs? That is until you try to make soft poached eggs for breakfast, or the perfect soft boiled eggs for ramen.

Hard boiled is easy – I put eggs in a saucepan, add water, bring to a boil then turn off the heat. I let it sit for a bit (maybe 5-7 minutes) then place the eggs in cold water.

You do have to be there and pay attention though, otherwise you end up with rubbery whites and gray lined yolks. Not exactly what I picture as perfect.

It’s so cute and it’s pink! My Dash 12 egg capacity cooker.

I purchased a 12 egg capacity egg cooker ⬆️ a few months ago, because I like the idea that I can cook less in the bigger capacity cooker if I want to, but can cook an entire dozen if I have to. It also makes up to 7 poached egg/mini omelets. Dash also make a smaller, cuter (7 egg capacity) cooker but that can only make 2 poached egg/mini omelets – a problem since there are 3 of us at home.

I used the big cooker a few times but never really got the hang of making less than a dozen eggs cook perfectly. I even added notes to the measuring cup corresponding to the recommended amount of water for less eggs in the booklet. It cooks 12 eggs perfectly but for less eggs, it’s a hit or miss for me. Sometimes the yolk is too runny, or too set.

So….I bought the smaller, 7 egg cooker to simplify everything. One measure for soft, one for medium, one for hard boiled plus an option for 2 omelet/poached eggs. No more guesstimating the amount for less than a dozen eggs like I did with the other cooker. I tend to cook 7 eggs on the stove top anyway as they fit perfectly in my little saucepan. It’s a win win!

Dash 7 egg capacity cooker.

Instructions are the same as the big one – poke eggs on the rounded end with the piercer, set on the egg holders, measure water according to preference and pour into the base, cover and steam away. This small unit shuts down AND plays a nice melody when done. The big one has a startling buzzer sound – probably good when we are half asleep when preparing breakfast, but not pleasant at all. Bonus points for the little red cooker! I recorded both sounds below if you want to hear it.

Dash 7 egg cooker
Dash 12 egg cooker

When the music/buzzer starts playing, it’s time to remove the eggs and place them in cold water. After a few minutes, tap all over to crack the shell, gently roll the egg between your palm and the counter and peel. It usually comes off in 2 – 3 big pieces, or a couple of long peels. Easy!

Perfect boiled egg!

I like my boiled eggs somewhere between soft boiled and hard boiled and it’s easy and fool proof to achieve it with this machine. You can even walk away and do something else! Just come back when the music starts playing.

This is just right for me!

All in all, I think this is $15 well spent as I am so busy in the mornings preparing coffee for me and my husband, a milk drink for my son, sandwich/pancakes/waffles/etc. to eat, and chopping fruits for our breakfast. Set it and forget it till it tells me the eggs are ready is so worth it. And no icky gray yolks! My only issue is that it only makes 2 little poached eggs/omelets…but I think I can live with that since I will be holding on to the 12 egg capacity cooker! 😊

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Giniling (Ground Meat With Potatoes, Carrots, And Green Peas)

This is one of those recipes that every family in the Philippines has a unique version of. This particular one is my own version put together with memories of eating it in Bataan as a kid in our aunt’s home, the bakery that used it to stuff pandesal (bread buns) with, and all other places I’ve had it, including the different variations our cooks had when making it over the years at our own home.

I put everything I remember it had together with the quail eggs, if I have it on hand. Otherwise I usually add hard boiled chicken eggs.

This version has tomato sauce instead of a pound of fresh tomatoes as it is easier to make it this way year round.

If I have it, I also add diced bell peppers. Adding both green and red bell peppers also add to the many color of this dish.

Feel free to add more or less of a particular ingredient, remove one that you do not like, and make it your own.

1 pound ground beef (or pork)

1/2 cup to 1 cup water

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 onion, chopped

1 can (8oz) tomato sauce

1/4 cup soysauce

1 large potato, peeled and cubed

1 large carrot, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup green peas

1/2 cup corn

1 tablespoon beef bouillon powder

2 cups water

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Canned quail eggs or boiled eggs, optional

1. Place ground beef in a saucepan or wok with a 1/2 cup to 1 cup water and set over medium high heat. Let it boil the water off and brown the meat.

2. Move the meat to one side of the pan and add the oil. Let it heat up a little then add the garlic. Stir until fragrant then add the onions. Saute until wilted and lightly browned.

3. Add the tomato sauce, soy sauce, potatoes, carrots, raisins, green peas, corn, bouillon powder, water, fish sauce, and pepper. Mix everything together, cover and simmer over medium low heat until potatoes and carrots are done, around 20 minutes.

4. If using boiled eggs, add it now and simmer for another 5 minutes to heat it up. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

5. Serve over hot cooked rice. Enjoy!

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Electric Lunchbox #27: Coffee Flan

I love flans! If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll realize that I have a few recipes for flan already. But this flan is mildly coffee flavored so I just had to share it in case you’re like me and love coffee too! 😊

This is what happens when you don’t chill the flan enough before unmolding! 😂

As you can see from the photo, I wasn’t patient enough to wait for it to cool much before unmolding and so my photo was a disaster. It still tasted great but looked not very appetizing. I wanted to show that oops moment often happens while developing and testing recipes!

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*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny Itaki cup, unless specified.*

Caramel:

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon water

A couple of drops of lime juice

Flan:

2 eggs

1 1/3 cups milk

2 teaspoons instant coffee

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons sugar

Place all caramel ingredients in the bottom bowl of the Itaki Pro (or medium bowl of the Itaki Jumbo). Heat over low flame until it caramelizes. Set on a heat safe surface and let cool.

Meanwhile, mix flan ingredients in a small bowl and beat to combine and melt the sugar. Pour over the caramelized sugar and cover with foil.

Place 2 Itaki cups if water in the base, place the flan in and cover. Steam until it shuts off, about 40 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and chill in the refrigerator until cold. Run a knife along the edge and place a plate on top of the bowl. Invert the bowl onto the plate carefully to release the flan.

You can serve this over shaved ice and drizzle top with espresso.

Electric Lunchbox #13: Gyudon (Sweet Soy Beef Rice Bowl)

*Please note that the word “cup” in any of my electric lunchbox recipe refers to the little itaki cup included with the lunchbox. It holds 40ml.*

Gyundon (beef bowl), is a one dish beef, onion, egg, and rice meal that is similar to what Yoshinoya serves. It is a very popular food in Japan and I like to make it as it comes together rather quickly. Preparing it in the electric lunchbox is a plus as it is essentially set it and forget it until it shuts off! And just like that it’s time to eat!

A handful of shaved beef (I used 2 cups ground beef as that is all I have)

1 teaspoon apple, grated

2 tablespoons diced onion

Pinch salt

2 T soysauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons sake

1 cup water

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 cups rice

2 cups water

3 cups water in the base

Mitsuba or celery leaves, to serve

Place beef, apple, onion, salt, soy sauce, sugar, sake, and water in the big bottom bowl. Mix and pour beaten egg on top. Do not mix at this point. Place bowl in Itaki base.

Wash and drain rice and place in the smaller top bowl. Add 2 cups water. Place bowl on top of bigger bottom bowl.

Add 3 cups water in the base. Cover with lid and steam until it shuts off, about 50 minutes.

Open lid, carefully remove rice bowl and set on a heat proof surface. Stir the beef and egg mixture and serve with rice. Enjoy!

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Electric Lunchbox #2: Tips

I didn’t realize that a lot of people have this Electric Lunchbox. It was an impulse purchase for me because it was so cute! I mean, just look at it! 😍

One thing I know is that it took a little trial and error for me to be comfortable using it. The instructions included were a little vague. But I like challenges, so I dove right in!

Little experiments followed…(something I like to do as I am a scientist by profession) until eggs, soups, curry, and white rice were cooked just the way I like it. Records were kept, timers were used, and after all that, I just had to share it with others so that my findings won’t be in vain. 😊

Here are a few things I learned after tinkering with this lunchbox for a few weeks. Hoping to help others gain confidence in trying their own recipes in it.

1. *Please note that the word “cup” in my electric lunchbox recipes mostly refer to the little itaki cup included with the lunchbox. It holds 40ml.* This cup also has a handy egg piercer right on the bottom of it. Careful – as it is a bit sharp.

**I recently changed this to “uses regular cups, unless stated” since I’ve been making more than just main dishes in it.

2. Have a “prep day”. Set aside an few minutes or so to cut up meats and veggies and bag them individually in little portions. This would be easier done right after purchasing groceries. They can then be stored in the freezer for longer storage or in the refrigerator if you’d use them up soon. Frozen food can be moved to the refrigerator to defrost the night before you need it.

3. White rice always cooks perfectly when I use an equal amount of water in the rice bowl (usually 2:2) and at least 2 cups water in the base. Make sure to rinse the rice and drain before adding the measured water. You don’t have to drain every last drop, it’s quite forgiving.

4. Simmer sauces. There is an abundance of simmer sauces available in the grocery stores right now and most that I had tried were good. Just place your meat, tofu, and/or veggies in the bowl, top with a generous pour of the simmer sauce and you’re good to go! Salsa verde with chicken is great too!

5. Curry pastes and coconut milk. My favorite combo! Top any meat, tofu, and vegetables with a couple of spoonfuls of curry paste and 2-3 little cups coconut milk (basmati rice in top bowl!) and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal! Thai Kitchen brand tastes great!

6. Japanese Curry Mixes. These were the ones I experimented with in the beginning as I am very familiar with it. So easy! Add cut up chicken, pork, or beef in the big bowl. Then diced potatoes, carrots, and onions, one square(cube) of curry mix, 2 little cups of water. Place 2 little cups rice with 2 little cups water in the small bowl. Add 2 little cups water to the base, place big and small bowl in base. Cover and steam until it shuts off. Stir curry and serve over rice. Yummy!!

7. Barbecue sauce. Easy to make barbecue chicken when you have this on hand! Just add diced chicken breasts in the bowl and a good squeeze of barbecue sauce.

8. Boiled Eggs: I get the perfect hard boiled eggs by piercing the wide end of 5 eggs with the egg piercer (it’s on the bottom of the measuring cup), placing it in the egg holder, pierced side up and onto the base without the stainless bowls. Add 1 little cup water to the base, cover, and let it steam until it shuts off. It will take about 25 minutes. Place eggs in cold water right after cooking.

Hard boiled egg
Soft boiled egg

9. Soft boiled Eggs: Take 5 eggs and pierce the wide end. Place in the egg holder and onto the base without the stainless bowls. Add 25 ml water to the base, cover, and let it steam until it shuts off. Place eggs in cold water right after cooking. This will take about 15-16 minutes. If you want the yolks runnier, use less water which equates to less cooking time.

So easy to peel!

10. To peel boiled eggs easily: Tap eggs on the counter multiple times then gently roll between your palm and the counter, exerting gentle pressure. It will peel off like the photo above.

11. Scrambled Eggs: Spray the bowl with cooking spray to make sure egg doesn’t stick. Lining with parchment works too! Cover bowl with foil. 1 little cup water in the base will be enough to cook 2 scrambled eggs in the small bowl.

12. Omelets: place diced mushrooms, bell peppers, chopped ham, turkey, cheese, spinach – whatever you use in your omelet – in the bowl that was sprayed with cooking spray. Beat 2 eggs and season with salt and pepper. Pour over everything in the bowl. Cover bowl with foil. 1-2 little cups of water in the bowl will cook the omelet, depending on how much filling was added.

13. DO NOT use the plastic lid for the stainless bowls WHILE steaming. They are perfect for storing your prepped bowls in the fridge, or for transporting the bowls to your workplace but they must be removed before turning the lunchbox on. Also, you can order extra bowls from the website if you need them to prepare meals in advance.

14. To cook small pasta (macaroni, ditalini, small penne, etc.) in soups, add 1-2 little cups pasta and pour in whatever liquid you are using, leaving about an inch between the liquid level and top of the bowl. 2 cups water in the base would be enough to cook the pasta.

15. 1 little cup (40ml) water in the base creates steam that lasts about 25 minutes in MY Itaki Pro. 2 cups is enough to cook rice, and 2-3 cups is enough to cook main dishes with raw meat (cut into small pieces) with rice in the small bowl. So far, I never had to use more than 3 cups except for one instance I’ll explain next. * Please note that I was informed that it varies from 15-25 minutes for others so please check yours out so you can estimate a baseline time per cup and go from there. I will time my cooking and add times to the recipe so you can adjust the amount of water you use in your base.*

16. Try not to open the Electric Lunchbox while it is steaming. I did it once and it took a lot longer to cook the food and I had to add another cup of water.

17. Use a scrubbing pad to remove deposits from the steamer. I had also used Magic Eraser with the same results. I will likely try vinegar soon and update this post.

*So I did try vinegar and here is the best way I found: after your food is cooked and while the steaming element is still HOT, add a little vinegar to it. Let sit for a few seconds and brush with a toothbrush until all the deposits/stains are removed. Rinse thoroughly. It will look brand new! Do not leave the vinegar too long as it may pit the metal.

18. Make sure to empty the base of residual water and let dry before storing. You do not want mold or bacteria growing in there. I just rinse and wipe them and place the base and cover upside down to dry on the counter.

I will add to this list as I find more useful tips. In the meantime, I will be trying to find time to cook in it more and share the recipes with you. Keep safe everyone!

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