Electric Lunchbox #8: Nilaga (Filipino Pork Soup)

This is a simple all in one meal regularly served in the Philippines with a side of rice. It’s kind of resembles the French pot au feu and my husband said in South America they call this kind of soup Sopa de Viernes.

Typically made with pork, beef and beef shanks also go perfectly with the veggies! (The one with the big beef bones and marrow is a special version in the Philippines called “Bulalo”). If you have plantains, add some with the potatoes. I remember we add them to this soup too and I love how it adds a little sweetness to this dish.

This recipe has an option of adding dessert (Filipino Flan!) on the upper tier if you use an itaki jumbo!

*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.*

Place the following in the bottom bowl being mindful to leave at least an inch space between the ingredients and the top of the bowl since the little bowl will be placed on top.

A handful of pork, diced

1 small potato, peeled and diced

1 small carrot, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons diced onions

2 leaves cabbage, cut into squares or shredded

3 Green beans, cut into 1 inch long pieces

2 tablespoons kernels or a couple of canned baby corn

Water to cover

1 – 2 teaspoon pork bouillon (adjust to taste)

1 teaspoon fish sauce

Dash of ground pepper

Top bowl:

2 cups rice, rinsed and drained

2 cups water

If you have the Itaki Jumbo you can make dessert – Filipino Leche Flan – at the same time in the top second tier! Then you have a full Filipino meal!

3 cups water in base (about 1 hour 6 minutes).

Follow me for more recipes for the Itaki!

See Itaki’s offerings here! https://www.itakico.com/theresa

Electric Lunchbox #3: Filipino Chicken Soup

*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.*

Chicken Sopas, literally Chicken soup, is a Filipino version of the familiar food we serve to someone who is feeling under the weather. Or just when the weather is chilly. I think almost every country has a variation of this comforting soup, but this version has evaporated milk mixed in to make it richer and even more nutritious. If you want just a regular Chicken Noodle soup, you can definitely omit the evaporated milk. I encourage you to try it with the milk at least once though. It might just permanently change the way you make this soup!

Equally delicious!

In the big bottom bowl, add:

1-2 cups ditalini or elbow pasta (I like pasta so I used 2 cups!)

Diced carrots

Diced onions

Diced celery

3 Green beans cut into 1/4 inch lengths

Cabbage

Shredded boiled chicken

A pinch of ground black pepper

Chicken broth to cover (leave 1 inch space from the level of the water to the top of the bowl)

2 cups water in the base

In the top bowl, place:

1-2 eggs

When the lunchbox shuts off (about 50 minutes), add the 2 cups evaporated milk to the soup and stir. This is what makes it the Filipino version. If you like, you can leave the milk out.

Peel eggs and slice in half. Place on top of soup. Serve hot!

Note that the ingredients I used here were what I had on hand at the moment. You can also add hotdogs, green peas, ham, sausages, chicken…liver…anything you like!

Follow me for more recipes for the Itaki!

See Itaki’s offerings here! https://www.itakico.com/theresa

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!

Follow me for more recipes for the Itaki!

See Itaki’s offerings here! https://www.itakico.com/theresa

Electric Lunchbox

I kept seeing the ad for this electric lunchbox on Facebook and other social media sites and it honestly piqued my interest.

I really do not need this lunchbox as I cannot use it at work, but can you see how cute it is? I couldn’t resist buying it (and a shabuki and the jumbo! 🤗). Since it came from overseas, it took a full month to get here. The first shipment got lost so i ordered again through their affiliate, wowzone.

Everything that came in the Itaki Pro box.

The box for Itaki Pro included the following:

A base – where you put water to steam your food.

A cover – to keep the steam/heat in.

2 stainless steel bowls that nest. Smaller one goes on top of the bigger bowl.

A plastic lid for the bowls. You do NOT use this when steaming.

Measuring cup/egg piercer

A small measuring cup – 40 ml. This cup also has an egg piercer at the bottom. It is used to carefully pierce the wide end of an egg prior to steaming. This makes the eggs easier to peel and I heard that it reduces the eggy smell too.

Egg holder with a handle – can cook 5 eggs at a time. *The handle can be used to carefully lift the little metal bowl off of the bottom bowl! Make sure it isn’t too heavy as the handle is made of plastic.*

Recipes and instructions included

A little recipe guide and an instruction leaflet. The recipe book is also available by email in pdf format, just ask! 😊

A pretty cloth carry bag.

And the plug.

So what does this thing do? It can either cook your meal from scratch or just reheat your food using steam. It comes with a tiny measuring cup that holds 40 ml. One little cup of water in the base unit of MY itaki creates steam for about 25 minutes. (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.) I use 2-3 cups when cooking a full meal with raw meats specially if the bottom bowl is full. After the water has boiled off, the lunchbox automatically shuts off, convenient right? Hands free and fool proof! What’s not to love?

*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. See photo above.*

The little stainless top bowl usually makes rice for me. I find that 2 little cups of rice, rinsed well, plus 2 little cups of water always yields perfect rice with at least 2 itaki cups water in the base. I had tried it with long grain, Japanese short/medium grain, and basmati rice. 2:2 works wonderfully for all of these. I have yet to try brown rice but will sometime.

I have been so excited waiting for this to arrive that I opened it right away and washed everything. As soon as it was clean, I checked what ingredients I have on hand to put it to the test. I feel like a kid with a new toy!

For my trial recipe I made a beef and radish soup in the bottom bowl and some rice in the top bowl.

Yum!

2 itaki cups rice, rinsed

2 itaki cups water for rice

A handful of thinly sliced beef

4 inch daikon radish, peeled and cubed

Dash of garlic powder

Minced onion

Green onions

1 1/2-2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1/2 tablespoon Korean red pepper paste (adjust to taste)

1/2 teaspoon Korean chili flakes

Water to cover

2 itaki cups water for base

Place rice in the small top bowl and rinse a few times until water is clear. Drain. Place 2 cups of water in the bowl and set aside.

In the bigger bottom bowl, place beef, radish, garlic powder, onion, green onions, soy sauce, fish sauce, red pepper paste, chili flakes, and just enough water to cover. *adjust spices to your taste.*

Add 2 cups of water in the base of the lunchbox. Gently place the big bowl in then place the small rice bowl on top. Cover, secure the clips, plug the cord, and press the button to start.

Try not to open the lunchbox until the light goes off. 2 cups of water in the base will take about 50 minutes.

When the light goes off, carefully open the clips and lift the handles. Holding the handles, turn the cover AWAY from you as the steam can burn you. You don’t want that to happen as you want to enjoy your hot meal, right? Now use a fork to gently lift the rice bowl from the lunchbox using the holes on the edges of the bowl. Fluff the rice a little. Carefully lift the hot soup out of the base and enjoy!

Rice is fully cooked and really good!
Meat is done.

The beef is thinly sliced and perfectly cooked just like the rice. It took about an hour more or less but I am quite impressed as it was really good. Spicy hot and hot. The rice tames it just a little.

Can’t wait till I get more groceries and time to play with this but as of now I can truly see how useful this will be if you’re cooking for one, are traveling, in a dorm, or just want to try out a dish so you’re not stuck with a lot if you didn’t like it. Definitely worth the price and time spent waiting(about a month)!

Follow me for more recipes for the Itaki!

See Itaki’s offerings here! https://www.itakico.com/theresa

Udon Noodles with Gyoza

Since it has been cold and rainy all week (and for one more week!) in Southern California, I prepared something quick with ingredients I have on hand. We are all supposed to hunker down and try to avoid going out as much as we can to try to slow the spread of the Corona virus. I work in healthcare, so no option to work from home for me. 😞

If you’ve been following the news, grocery shelves are empty almost everywhere as people are stocking up for the worst case scenario. I believe this kind of panic is unnecessary and causes additional, unneeded stress.

On that note, I have always kept my pantry stocked as I try not to go shopping all the time. It makes me truly happy every time I can prepare a dish without needing an additional trip to the store for an ingredient or two as I do work full time.

This recipe is put together using what I have and it’s tastes really good! Hot and filling! Feel free to add anything you want or have in hand.

Enjoy and everyone please stay safe!

1 pack udon noodles frozen or fresh

Ingredients needed per serving:

1 cup boiling water

1 tsp dashi stock powder

1 tsp light soy sauce

1 tsp mirin

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp sugar

Toppings:

  • Frozen gyoza
  • Kamaboko, sliced
  • Steamed vegetables (brocolli, carrots, cabbage…)
  • 1 stalk spring onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp bonito flakes (katsuoboshi)
  • 1 pinch chilli flakes (shichimi togarashi)

Cook udon noodles according to packet directions. 

Place the gyoza in a preheated, lightly oiled skillet and cook until bottoms are golden. Add 1/4 cup water to skillet and immediately cover to completely cook the gyoza. 

Place dashi, soy sauce, mirin, salt and sugar into a bowl and stir. Pour boiling water in and mix well. 

Place cooked udon noodles in the bowl. 

Top with gyoza, kamaboko, steamed vegetables, sliced spring onion, bonito. Sprinkle with chili flakes.

Serve hot.

Kale Sausage soup

Happy New Year! Cheers to a happy, healthy, good food filled new year everyone!

After all the feasting that started in November, I must say, I am ready to eat healthier! 😉

Isn’t it that we all have “eat healthier” resolutions at the beginning of the year? I’m not sure about you, but I usually stick to it up until maybe February, when chocolates call my name from every store I go to.

I like to believe that healthy is being able to eat anything in moderation, exercising in as much as is sanely possible, laughing a lot, and being with your loved ones. Singing, relaxing, having pets, and helping others (specially those who cannot pay/help you back) are good for you too!

I try to move as much as I can, walking all over, taking the stairs when possible. Since I love to cook and bake, I really have to up my exercise though. I used to trail run 2-4 times a week for 4-5 miles each time but my knee is having issues lately. However, finding knee friendly exercises are what I will be working on this year.

On the food side, let’s start with a Kale Soup…okay Kale and Sausage Soup! I promise you this is delicious, satisfying, and healthy. You won’t feel deprived at all! Okay, well maybe if necessary, leave the thick sliced, sourdough bread slathered with butter out. 🤔

Pinto beans, garlic, and bouillon powder was MIA!
  • 1 pound linguiça sausage, cut across into 1/4-1/8-inch thick slices
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 10oz bag of chopped kale
  • 6 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

PREPARATION

  1. Place the sausage in a large pot over medium-low heat and cook until it begins to render its fat, about 6-10 minutes. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, potatoes, and carrots and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the kale and beans. Cook, stirring until mixed, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in the chicken broth, vinegar, and bouillon powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 40-45 minutes. Season with pepper. Divide among 6 bowls and serve.

Kale Sausage Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A light and healthy but filling dinner, specially when served with crusty bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound linguiça or uncured Spanish chorizo, cut across into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 10oz bag of chopped kale
  • 6 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place the sausage in a large pot over medium-low heat and cook until it begins to render its fat, about 6-10 minutes. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, potatoes, and carrots and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the kale and beans. Cook, stirring until mixed, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in the chicken broth, vinegar, and bouillon powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 40-45 minutes. Season with pepper. Divide among 6 bowls and serve.