At work a couple of weeks ago, two of my friends and I were reminiscing about Spam. Verna is Hawaiian-Filipino and Kaileigh is Mexican-Filipino. Besides having Filipino blood in common, we all share a love of Spam. Anyway, Kaileigh was telling us about this really easy dish she makes called Chili con Spam and she shared her recipe with us.
Fast forward to today. School is officially over and 3 of my kids came home this morning. I decided to fix a late breakfast to feed everyone…. bacon, eggs, hash browns…. and then I thought it would be a perfect time to try the Chili con Spam recipe. I searched everywhere but couldn’t remember where I saved it! I decided to google it, but only ONE recipe for Chili con Spam came up. It was a recipe submitted by a lady in Guam named Jane Certeza who apparently took 2nd Place for it at The Great Spam Cook-Off Island Style. I looked at it but it had way more ingredients than I remembered Kaileigh’s recipe having so it couldn’t be the same one.
I decided to text Kaileigh and ask her for her recipe again which she promptly sent off to me. Ah…. that was the one I remembered! Super easy with just 4 ingredients. But then another obstacle came along. Kaileigh’s recipe called for yellow wax chilies which I didn’t have. Great. I didn’t want to drive all the way down the hill just for chilies and none of the kids did either. So with wails of, “But I just drove hours to get here, Mama. You want me to drive some more?!?” ringing in my ears, I turned back to the Guamanian recipe which I happened to have all the ingredients for in my pantry.
Guess I’ll have to save Kaileigh’s Chili con Spam for next time. Sigh……. By the way, the Guamanian Chili con Spam was a hit. Everyone loved it and it quickly disappeared.
CHILI CON SPAM
1 can (12 oz.) spam, cubed
1 small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (15 oz.) stewed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. cumin (I only used 1 Tbsp.)
dash of black pepper
1½ tsp. sugar
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
In skillet, fry spam until light brown on all sides.
Add onions and garlic; sauté until onions are softened.
Stir in stewed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and sugar.
Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add tomato sauce and kidney beans.
Simmer over low heat for an additional 10 minutes or so.
I keep trying to create gluten free recipes for my daughter, Spunky. It’s not always easy though. Especially with baked goods. You usually have to use 2 or 3 different non-wheat flours, and add specialty ingredients like xanthan gum, guar gum, gelatin, or agar-agar. And some things just don’t turn out right when you try to convert them using commercial gluten free flours.
That’s why I was so happy to discover Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour at my local grocery store. My sour cream coffee cake turned out great with it! It really took the guesswork out of converting an old family favorite into a gluten free recipe. I decided to research and learned that there are other brands of cup-for-cup flour replacements out there like King Arthur Flour’s Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour, or Cup4Cup Gluten Free Multipurpose Flour, but since Bob’s Red Mill is what my local grocery store carries, that’s what I used for this recipe. I’ll have to experiment and test the other brands someday. If you have a favorite cup-for-cup gluten free replacement flour, feel free to try it out with this recipe and then let me know how it turned out.
GLUTEN FREE SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch tube pan or angel food cake pan.
Mix streusel ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
With an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Beat in flour mixture alternately with sour cream.
Spread half the batter in the pan, then sprinkle half the streusel over it. Top with the rest of the batter, and finish with the remaining streusel.
Bake for 30-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool cake in pan for 10-15 minutes, then loosen from sides of pan with a knife.
Remove cake from pan and place topping side up on a serving plate.
You can substitute buttermilk or yogurt in place of the sour cream in this recipe.
This cake can be made in a 9×13-inch rectangular baking pan. If you prefer to use a 9×13-inch pan, I would just pour all the batter into the pan and then sprinkle all the streusel on top. It’s a pain to make the layers, though it can certainly be done. Just bear in mind that you’ll have to spread the batter really thinly if you want layers.
Wedge Salad is a typical salad served at classic American steak houses as a starter to your meal. It’s traditionally served with crumbled blue cheese and blue cheese dressing, but blue cheese isn’t one of my kids’ favorite cheeses. I love wedge salad, though, so here’s a version I make for them without any blue cheese in it. If you find you’re really missing the blue cheese flavor, go ahead and sprinkle some crumbled blue cheese on your salad. It’s all good!
(Makes 4 servings)
1 small head iceberg lettuce
6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 slices sturdy white bread, crusts removed
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
garlic salt, to taste (optional)
1 small tomato, chopped
1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced
chives, minced (for garnish)
Cut the lettuce into 4 wedges and place them in the refrigerator to keep cold until ready to use.
Fry the bacon until crisp, then transfer to paper towels to drain.
Dice the white bread into small cubes, a little less than a half-inch big.
Melt butter or margarine in a skillet and fry bread cubes, stirring often, until golden and crispy.
Season bread cubes with garlic salt to taste, if desired.
Assemble the salad by placing one wedge of lettuce on each of 4 salad plates.
Pour some dressing over each wedge.
Top with a little tomato, onion, bacon, and croutons.
Garnish with minced chives, if desired.
BACON BUTTERMILK DRESSING
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
Place all ingredients into bowl of a food processor and process until combined.
Chill until ready to serve.
NOTE: Dressing can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept chilled in the fridge.
Maja Blanca is a traditional Filipino dessert. It’s kindof like a coconut pudding studded with kernels of corn. It sounds strange to think of coconut and corn together, but believe me this dessert is sooo good, you’ll find yourself coming back for seconds and thirds. I think Maja Blanca is traditionally topped with latik which is basically coconut milk curds. To make latik, you bring some coconut milk to a simmer and keep simmering till the oil separates from the milk solids which eventually start to fry in the oil and and turn into little brown curds. It’s a lot of work. My shredded coconut topping is way easier.
When you shop for the canned milks for this recipe, you’ll need to buy:
4 cans (13.5 oz. each) coconut milk
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
From the 4 cans of coconut milk, you’ll be able to get 5 cups for the 1st Mixture, but you won’t have enough left over to make 2 cups for the 2nd Mixture. Never fear. What you’re going to do is pour the last of the coconut milk into your 2-cup measure and then add enough of the liquid drained from the whole kernel corn to make 2 cups.
Same thing with the evaporated milk. You won’t have enough in the can to make 2 cups but it’s not worth opening a whole ‘nother can when you’re just a little bit short, so pour the evaporated milk into your measuring cup and then add enough corn liquid drained from the whole kernel corn to make the 2 cups that you’ll need for the 1st Mixture. If you run out of corn liquid, go ahead and use water. It’ll be fine.
5 cups coconut milk
2 cups evaporated milk
2 cups sugar
1 can (14¾ oz.) cream-style corn
1 can (15.25 oz.) whole kernel corn, drain and reserve the liquid
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups cornstarch
Grease a rectangular pyrex glass baking dish or metal baking pan with butter or margarine.
Mix all the ingredients of the 1st Mixture together in a large pot.
In a bowl, mix together the ingredients of the 2nd Mixture using a wire whisk until smooth.
Bring 1st Mixture to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally.
When boiling, pour the 2nd Mixture into the pot, scraping it all in with a rubber spatula, and continue to cook, stirring constantly until thick. The mixture will thicken really fast so this step is best done by two people. One person to stir the pot while the other person pours the 2nd Mixture into it.
Quickly pour maja into prepared baking pan.
Toasted Sweet Coconut Topping:
1 cup fresh grated coconut
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
Melt butter in a frying pan.
Add grated coconut and sugar and toast, stirring constantly until golden brown. Watch carefully because the coconut burns fast!
Sprinkle toasted sweet coconut over maja blanca.
NOTE: If you can’t get fresh grated coconut, you can substitute unsweetened dessicated coconut. If you can’t get unsweetened dessicated coconut, you can use sweetened dessicated coconut but cut the 1/2 cup sugar down to 2 tablespoons.
This is a big recipe so it’s great for potlucks or family gatherings. It makes enough to fill a 9×13 rectagular baking dish with enough left over to fill an 8-inch round pie plate. If you have a dish bigger than 9×13, use it.
Growing up, my Mom always made us Picadillo, but it was a soup. It had ground beef and potatoes swimming in a tasty broth and it was absolutely delicious. So the first time I went to a Cuban restaurant and saw Picadillo on the menu, I was very surprised to learn that their version was not a soup at all! It was completely different, but equally delicious. Served with white rice, black beans, tostones (fried plaintains) and mojo (garlic sauce), it was different and to die for. I asked a couple of my Cuban friends at work what spices go into Picadillo and was surprised to learn that both of them put cumin and cinnamon in it! Well, cumin wasn’t surprising, but I only ever use cinnamon in sweet stuff like pies and desserts. So… here’s my attempt to recreate the Picadillo I had at the Cuban restaurant. I think it turned out pretty darn good!
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 tsp. salt (add more or less, to your taste)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut in cubes
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 small can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 cup pimento stuffed olives, sliced
2/3 cup raisins
Heat olive oil in a large, heavy pan set over medium high heat.
Saute onions and garlic for about 2 minutes, then add ground beef.
Season with salt and pepper, and cook until beef is browned through.
Stir in green bell pepper, diced tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, vinegar, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, and bay leaf.
Lower heat and let simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in olives and raisins and let simmer for another 8-10 minutes more.
This is another dish that’s going on my Christmas Breakfast table this year. It’s a play on one I saw from the Food Network Kitchens a couple of years ago. It’s different because it’s made with tater tots instead of the usual hash browns. I use canned corned beef which is more readily available year round from my local grocery store. If you prefer to use fresh corned beef, by all means go for it! Just chop 1½ pounds fresh corned beef into ½-inch cubes and use it in place of the canned corned beef in this recipe.
CORNED BEEF TATER TOT CASSEROLE
1 bag (32 ozs.) frozen tater tots
1 small yellow onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
2 cans (12 ozs. each) corned beef
8 large eggs
1½ cups whole milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray.
Set aside about 2 cups of the tater tots to use for topping.
Arrange remaining tater tots in single layer on bottom of prepared baking dish.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the tater tots or spray lightly with cooking spray.
Bake about 25 minutes or until tater tots are golden brown. Set aside to cool.
In large skillet set over medium-high heat, sauté onions, red and green peppers.
Add corned beef and cook, breaking up corned beef with the back of a spoon and stirring together well. Allow to cool.
Whisk eggs together in a bowl, then whisk in milk, mustard, salt and pepper.
Spread corned beef mixture over cheese.
Pour egg mixture over everything. If making ahead, cover the casserole at this point and refrigerate overnight.
To cook, remove casserole from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before baking.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Scatter reserved 2 cups tater tots over casserole.
Top with shredded cheese.
Bake until egg mixture is set and top is golden brown, 55 – 60 minutes.
This is a great casserole to serve for breakfast on a weekend morning. I’m making it for Christmas breakfast this year actually. It’s easy to do and better still, you can make it a day in advance. I like to serve this casserole with a bowl of salsa on the side. Yum!
BREAKFAST CORN CASSEROLE
3 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped
4 ozs. chopped fresh kale
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves (can substitute dried)
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 cans whole kernel corn, drained
2 cans cream-style corn
1 lb. ham, diced
½ cup sour cream
1 box cornbread mix (like Krusteaz or Marie Callenders)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 pyrex glass baking dish.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.
Add onions, kale, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until kale is soft and onions are translucent.
Add corn, ham, and sour cream, and cook until hot and bubbly.
Pour corn mixture into prepared baking dish; set aside. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate overnight at this point.
Next day, remove casserole from refrigerator at least half an hour before baking.
Prepare the cornbread batter according to directions on the back of the package.
Stir 1 cup cheese into cornbread batter.
Pour cornbread batter over corn mixture in baking dish.
Top with remaining 1 cup cheese.
Bake for 35 minutes or until corn is bubbling and corn bread topping is done.
Every year, when Thanksgiving would roll around, I would try a new stuffing recipe to serve with our turkey. I tried making chestnut stuffing, cornbread stuffing, caramelized onion stuffing, ciabatta stuffing, cranberry nut stuffing, sundried tomato stuffing, you name it. The kids never liked any of them! Then came the year when I finally gave up and said, “I’m not making stuffing this year.” Strangely enough, everyone went up in arms when they heard that. So at the last minute, I sent Old Goat to the grocery to buy some Stove Top “instant” stuffing. Well wouldn’t you know it, for the first time in years, there wasn’t a lick of leftover stuffing in the bowl!
Well I’m nothing if not a quick learner. Stove Top was the key! Since then, I’ve made Stove Top stuffing every year. I just doctor it up with a few ingredients to make it fancier and no one ever guesses that the stuffing wasn’t made from scratch. The empty bowl each Thanksgiving is a testament to how yummy this stuffing is. And my big smile is the testament to how easy it was to actually make.
The amount of stuffing you make depends on how many people you’re having over for dinner. I usually make 6 boxes for our family shindig, but we have a large family. I’ll post the ingredients for one box of stuffing and you can just multiply it as you need to.
EASY SAUSAGE APPLE STUFFING
1 box (6 oz.) Stove Top stuffing
½ lb. bulk sausage
¼ medium onion, diced
½ stalk celery, sliced
½ – 1 apple, peeled and cut in cubes
Prepare stuffing according to package directions in a large pot.
In a skillet, brown sausage with onion and celery.
Stir in the apple and continue to cook until apple is beginning to soften but isn’t mushy. You can use a half to a whole apple, depending on how much you want.
Drain and discard any grease rendered by the sausage.
Pour sausage mixture into the pot with the prepared stuffing.
Mango Lassi is a popular drink in India where the climate is frequently sweltering. The yogurt-based drink makes a great treat on a hot day and is perfect for cooling down those spicy Indian curries. My understanding is that traditional lassi is actually a savory drink, made by blending plain yogurt with water, salt, and spices like cumin or mint. I’ve only ever had sweet lassi which is made by blending yogurt with sugar, fruit, and sometimes rosewater. My favorite is mango lassi, though you could use other fruit if you like.
Mango Lassi is so refreshing and addictive. It’s also very easy to make. The hardest part is getting your hands on some good mangoes like the ones from the Philippines. They’re thin-skinned and juicy and very sweet, unlike the fibrous ones that come from South America. Alphonso mangoes are a good choice and can be found more easily in the U.S., especially in Asian food stores.
2 cups mango puree (3 to 5 mangoes, depending on how big they are)
It’s cherry season and the cherries are out in full force. I see them everywhere – at the farmer’s market, in the grocery stores, on street vendor’s tables – and they’re absolutely delicious! So dark and sweet and juicy.
I picked up a sackful from the store yesterday and decided to make them into a fresh cherry cobbler. I love fruit cobblers, don’t you? Especially when they’re just out of the oven and served warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on the side. Yum! As an added bonus, they make the house smell so good while they’re baking, too!
If you have a cherry pitter, use it. It sure makes the work of pitting each cherry a lot easier. I used to be the Room Mom for my kids’ kindergarten classes and one year, as a thank you gift, the children gave me a pretty white basket filled with fresh cherries. Tied to the basket’s handle with a red-and-white checkered ribbon was a silver cherry pitter. I still have that same cherry pitter to this day. It’s proven to be a mighty useful contraption over the years.
FRESH CHERRY COBBLER
4 cups fresh cherries
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 can evaporated milk (or 2 cups fresh milk)
1 cup butter, melted
¼ cup demerara sugar (or plain white sugar), optional
Wash, stem, and remove the pits from the cherries. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9×13 pyrex glass baking dish.
Using a wire whisk, whisk the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
Empty the can of evaporated milk into a measuring cup and add enough water or fresh milk to make it amount to 2 cups.
Add the milk and melted butter into the flour mixture and whisk together well. Batter will be thin.
Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
Scatter the cherries over the top of the batter, distributing them evenly so you get a cherry in every bite.
Sprinkle the top with the ¼ cup demerara sugar, if using.
Bake for about 50 minutes or until top turns light brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
NOTE: You can make this cobbler with blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches or any other fruit you like.
This recipe can easily be halved and baked in a 9-inch square pan for a smaller cobbler.