Whole Wheat, Chia Seeds and Lemon Zest Pancake

“He who goes to bed hungry dreams of pancake”…(say’s me) so I made this whole wheat chia seeds pancake with lemon zest this morning, surprisingly good. make yours now, happy pancake making day.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes Recipe:

servings- enough for four.  about 24 small pancakes

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups almond milk

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons chia seeds

maple syrup for serving

In a small bowl combine granulated sugar and lemon zest.  Rub together with your fingers until sugar is fragrant.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in the lemon sugar.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl (or you can use a large liquid measuring cup), whisk together almond milk, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and coconut oil.  Pour the wet ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients.  Add the chia seeds and stir to combine.  If a few lumps remain, that’s no problem.  Let the batter rest for 10 minutes while the griddle heats.

Place a griddle, or a nonstick saute pan over medium heat.  Add a bit of oil to the pan.  A teaspoon of fat will do for a nonstick saute pan, a bit more fat may be necessary for a griddle.  Dollop batter onto hot pan.  For small pancakes, I use about 2 tablespoons for each pancake.  For larger pancakes, I use about 1/4 cup of batter.  Cook until golden brown on the bottom and and bubbling on top.  Flip once and cook until golden brown on each side.

Place cooked pancakes on an oven-proof plate and place in a warm (about 150 degrees F) oven until all pancakes are cooked and ready to serve. Drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy with your favorite fruits.


Vegan Banana Bread with Carob Chips

After testing couple of recipes  for Vegan Banana Bread,  this is so far the best tasting vegan banana bread recipe ever. I’m not kidding, it is super moist and flavorful without any animal fat and dairy in it.

I love the flavor of ground ginger in this bread and the warm spice makes it smell so good. Bake it to believe!

Vegan Banana Bread with Carob Chips

makes one 9×5-inch loaf

medium very ripe bananas – 3

1/4 cup coconut oil – or canola or vegetable oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup carob chips- or you can substitute dark chocolate chips

granulated sugar for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas well. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract, and whisk briskly to incorporate.

Sift in the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Use a wooden spoon to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined.  Fold in the carob chips.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and sprinkle with extra sugar if you’d like.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean, or with just a few crumbs.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before transferring out of a pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Banana bread will last, wrapped at room temperature, for up to 5 days… but it’s super delicious eaten within a few days.

Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

Lemon Thumbprint Cookies  (adapted from Glorious Treats)

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar (plus a little extra for dusting the finished cookies)

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup prepared lemon curd ( I made my own curd)


Beat butter in a large bowl until smooth.  Add sugars and continue mixing.  Add egg, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla.  Mix until fully incorporated.  Add baking powder, and then flour (slowly, while mixing).   Stop mixing as soon as the flour is fully incorporated.  Cover dough and chill in the refrigerator about 1 hour.

Place lemon curd into a small ziplock bag, and cut off one corner of the bag.

When the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350*F.  Roll small balls of dough and place on a silpat lined, or parchment lined baking sheet.  Flatten balls of dough slightly with the palm of your hand.  Use your thumb to create a crater in the center of the dough.  Fill crater with about 1 teaspoon of lemon curd.

Bake cookies about 15 minutes, or until cookie edges are just turning golden brown.  Remove from oven, cool slightly, then move to a wire cooling rack to cool fully.  Dust cookies with powdered sugar.

Lemon Curd Recipe:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (usually requires 1-2 lemons)

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1/3 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

3 Tablespoons butter (I use unsalted)


Combine all ingredients in the top of a double boiler (or in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water).  Heat, while stirring (almost) constantly with a whisk, until mixture thickens.  It is done when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat, cover and refrigerate until cool.  Store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

(Note- I found that when I dusted the cookies with powdered sugar, the sugar fully covered the lemon filling.  I wanted the filling to show up a bit, so I dipped one finger into a small bowl of water, then just slightly moistened the lemon filling.  Then, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and the sugar will only be visible just the cookie portion.)

Recipe yields about 3 dozen cookies

Plantains with Caribbean Black Beans (Vegan)

Caribbean cooking is influenced by the climate; tropical fruits, sugarcane and spices grow there in abundance. In this Caribbean-inspired menu, fried plantains and black beans come together.

The mangoes and sweet potatoes add some bright inspiration. There’s spice from pepper and smoke from cumin.  Bayleaf, garlic and onions add such a nice aroma, these combination should be in everything. Overall… it’s a health win.  It’s Vegan and so delicious.


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 ripe plantains, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 cubanelle pepper or poblano
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1 mango peeled and cubed
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • salt, pper to taste
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 tsp ground cumin


  1. Heat a a large skillet and add coconut oil. Add plantain and fry on both sides until golden brown and crispy. Arrange on a plate and set aside.

  2. Saute onions, garlic in coconut oil and add the sweet potatoes, when potatoes are almost tender and a little crispy, add mangoes and black beans, salt, pepper and all the spices. Combine well and cook for about 10 minutes. When done, pile on top of the plantains. Enjoy!

Shitake & Tofu Lettuce Cups

Couple of days ago, my husband and I went to True Food Kitchen restaurant in Scottsdale. Great food, certified organic ingredients, none of their dish is fried but a bit pricey. I ordered their Shitake & Tofu Lettuce cups and was pretty satisfied with the combination of ingredients. This actually inspired me to make my own recipe for this truly wonderful healthy dish/appetizer.

I’d love for you to make this dish for a special someone.  It’s comfort food that should be shared with someone with love, it’s messy, it’s cute, it’s romantic.

Here’s my version.


6 butter lettuce leaves or iceberg lettuce
1 cup tofu, diced
4 tbsp. Shiitake mushroom, diced
1 tbsp. scallions, diced
4 tbsp jicama, diced
1 tbsp. cashew, roasted & salted
1⁄2 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp. wok aromatics, like ginger and lemongrass

Special Sauce: save some for garnish

1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tbsp. miso paste
1 tbsp. palm sugar or cane sugar
1⁄4 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
1-2 tsp garlic red chili paste
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar


1 tbsp. carrots, chiffonade
1 tbsp. scallions, chiffonade

1⁄4 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp. pickling vinegar


1.  Heat oil in wok and add tofu, mushrooms, and aromatics. Cook until lightly caramelized.

2.Deglaze with special sauce, cook until done. Add scallions, jicama, cashews, and sesame seeds, cook for 30 seconds.

3.Portion into lettuce cups with a plating spoon. Garnish with carrot, scallions, and sesame seeds tossed in vinegar the n top with more special sauce.

Ensaimada (Filipino Style Brioche)

Growing up in the Philippines, ensaimada has been a part of our family merienda and even breakfast tradition. My favorite part of having this delicious pastry is the trip to the local  panaderia (bakery), I love going to the bakery..the smell, the array of baked goods and pastries display on the glass shelves are simply divine.

The Filipino ensaimada traces its origins to the ensaimada, a traditional yeast bun from Majorca, Spain, made with pork lard and just a hint of sugar on top. It began to appear in local panaderias during the Spanish period when Filipino and Chinese bakers began to make bread via the government’s Royal Bakeshop in Intramuros. Old-timers remember the ensaimada as a flat concoction, not the puffed up muffin-like versions of today. The traditional ensaimada was merely dusted with powdered or granulated sugar, just like the Majorcan version.

The Filipino ensaimada comes in so many dough variations and toppings, I’ve had ensaymada with cheddar cheese, salted egg, a dollop of whipped butter, quezo de bola, macapuno, ube, to name a few, But it’s the traditional ensaimada brushed with butter and sprinkled with sugar that I have always loved. When I think of ensaimadas, I think of cool December mornings and warming up to hot chocolate or luya (ginger tea) and ensaimadas for breakfast. I think of lazy afternoon siestas and waking up to the smell of freshly baked rolls for merienda. I miss the panaderias in the Philippines.

This made me think of baking ensaimada, yes..the sweet memories attached to this pastry made me want to eat one today, at this minute. So, I made one, oh not just one I made 12. I did it, oh the aroma… I’m in heaven!

Ensaimada Recipe
Recipe adapted from Enriqueta David-Perez’s Recipes of the Philippines, makes 12 rolls

1 packet instant dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water with a temperature between 100 and 110 degrees F
6 tablespoons sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature, plus more melted butter for brushing the rolls
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup evaporated milk
canola oil for greasing a large bowl, baking sheet, and brioche molds

Dissolve yeast in warm water with a temperature anywhere between 100 and 110 degrees F. To proof yeast, add one tablespoon sugar and let stand for 10 minutes. If the mixture doubles in volume then yeast is active. It is very important to make sure that yeast is active. Water that is too hot kills the yeast so make sure that the water temperature is around 100 to 110 degrees F.

Sift flour and salt together twice. Add about 1/2 cup of flour to yeast and set aside.

Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Turn the speed to medium-low, add yolks, one at a time, beating well.  Add flour alternately with milk, mixing until well incorporated.  Add yeast mixture, beating well.

Replace the paddle with a kneading hook and knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Alternatively, knead the dough by hand on a clean surface dusted with flour until smooth and elastic. Let the dough rest in a bowl greased lightly with canola oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until double in size, about one to two hours.

Punch the dough and divide into twelve small, equal portions. Roll out each piece to a thin sheet, brush with melted butter, and roll sheet like you would a jelly roll. Coil this into a spiral-shaped bun. Either place the coiled dough flat on greased baking sheets or in greased fluted brioche molds. Set aside to rise until double in size, about an hour. When the dough is almost done, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake until the crust turns golden brown. Brush with melted butter and dust with sugar.

Green Papaya with Lemongrass in Coconut Milk

I grew up in the Philippines surrounded with lots and lots of coconut. We own acres of coconut tree plantation. Our family business is in the coconut industry. I remember helping my mom cracking coconuts with a bolo knife, grating the meat with a kudkuran [kood-koo-rahn], and squeezing out the milk with our own hands.   The process is laborious but immensely rewarding.  Extracting coconut milk by hand may seem like an extravagant use of time but it’s the kind of extravagance I earnestly wish I could afford. Coconut milk in cans were never an option.

Coconut milk or “gata” is a very versatile ingredient in Filipino cooking. Practically anything from fish and shellfish to chicken, pork, and vegetables and even dessert can be cooked in coconut milk.

Green Papaya in coconut milk is one of my family’s favorite dish, the addition of lemongrass is my Mom’s secret to make it even more exotically fragrant. I wish I can make this dish with fresh coconut cream, freshly squeezed grated coconut has that fragrant aroma that canned version doesn’t have,  I just don’t have the right tool and availability of fresh coconut to make this happen here in the US.

here is the recipe:

Green Papaya with Lemongrass in Coconut Milk 

1 small size papaya, peeled, sliced thinly into 1/2 inch, 2 cloves garlic
1 can coconut cream – I use Chakaoh brand
1 large tomato cut in chunks
1/2 stalk of lemongrass ( pound the stalk to release flavor)
smoked fish or “tinapa” flaked (optional)
A few Thai chilies (optional) and  small onion sliced


set aside 1/4 cup coconut cream (use the very first layer)
Combine, coconut cream, tomato, onions, garlic, lemongrass and bring to a boil

After 5 minutes, add smoked fish and chili peppers.
Cook for another 10 minutes until the papaya is tender, season with salt.
Add the reserve coconut milk and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Serve with rice.

Kimchi- one of my favorite Korean Side Dish

My weekend project: MAKE KOREAN SIDE DISHES
My passion and love for Korean food started when I went to Seoul, Korea couple of years ago. Last Sunday, I made few of my favorite side dishes, like cabbage kimchi, daikon kimchi, bean sprouts salad, grilled mackerel, veggie dumplings…I think I made my husband’s belly very full that day.

Traditional KIMCHI recipe (adapted from Maangchi)


  • 2 large size napa cabbage (about 8 pounds: 3.6 kg)
  • 1 ½ cup of Kosher salt
  •  ½ cup  Mochiko (sweet rice flour) ¼ cup sugar, water
  • 4 cups of hot pepper powder /Kimchi pepper powder (do not use pepper flakes)
  • 1 cup fish sauce (optional- skip this if you’re vegan)
  • 1 medium sized onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup of  fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs minced ginger
  • 7 stalks of green onions, chopped diagnolly
  • 2 cups Buchu or Nira in Japanese (Asian Chives), chopped


  1. Cut the cabbages in half, and then slit each half through the core, but not through the rest of the leaves.
  2. Soak each piece in cold water and sprinkle salt over the each leaf , and then set it aside for 2 hours.
    *tip: the stems should get more salt than the leaves
  3. 2 hours later, turn the pieces of cabbage over so they get salted evenly.
  4. Another 2 hours later, you will see the cabbage look softer than before, and it should have shrunk.
    *the total salting process will take 4 hours
  5. Rinse the salted cabbage with cold water 3 times.

Making Kimchi paste:

Make porridge

  1. Put ½ cup of sweet rice flour and 3 cups of water into a skillet and mix them up. Then cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
  2. When you see some bubbles, pour 1/4 cup of sugar into the porridge and stir one more minute. Then cool it down.
  3. Place the cold porridge into a big bowl. Now you will add all your ingredients one by one.
  4. Add  fish sauce, hot pepper powder, crushed garlic, ginger, and onion
    *tip: it’s much easier to use a food processor.
  5. Add green onions and Asian chives
  6. Mix all ingredients well.
  7. Spread the kimchi paste onto each leaf of the cabbage, and make a good shape out of the leaves by slightly pressing with both hands. Use gloves to protect you hands from the peppers. Store Kimchi into an air- tight sealed plastic container or glass jar.

Hummus bi Tahini (Homemade)

I’m so thrilled to finally find a perfect recipe for hummus. “Hummus”, Arabic word that refers to chickpea and the hummus spread that we’re familiar with (which consists of mashed chickpeas and sesame paste) is actually called “hummus bi tahini”. You can buy hummus just about anywhere these days, but most of it contains citric acid sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate to preserve freshness.
So, nothing compares to the taste of hummus when it’s freshly made. And it’s really easy to make — just follow this recipe;

Hummus bi Tahini (Yield:  About 2 1/2 c)

1 c dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) (or 2 1/2 c canned, rinsed, and drained)- I prefer boiling my own beans, the taste is better and salt content is minimal.

1/3 c tahini (sesame paste) – I use an organic tahini from nuts.com or you can buy it at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

1/4 c olive oil

2 Tb lemon juice

1 tsp cumin

1-2 cloves fresh garlic- better than garlic powder

3/4 tsp salt (use less if using canned chickpeas)

3 Tb water, or more as needed (added in 1 Tb increments)

Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water.  After soaking overnight, bring the chickpeas up to a boil and simmer them for about an hour (or until they’re easy to mash); drain the chickpeas. In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas 10 times (1 second per pulse).  At this point, the chickpeas will still be a little lumpy.  Add all remaining ingredients except the water to the food processor and process until smooth.  Add water one tablespoon at a time with the food processor on, until you achieve your desired consistency.

Hummus Toppings:  When serving it as a dip (with pita or veggies), I usually top my hummus (for visual effect and a little more flavor) with a drizzle of olive oil.  After that, you can really go crazy with the toppings.  Here are some of my favorites:  paprika, green olives, minced parsley or toasted pine nuts.

Flavored Hummus:  I typically use this recipe as a base for any flavor hummus you can think of.  Other fun flavors to play with are roasted garlic, roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomato, feta and black olive, avocado and cilantro or anything else you think would be good.

Empanada (Vegetarian Version)

Some things I make for the love of others like cupcakes, but other things I make because I’m a selfish hungry girl, like these Empanadas. Oh my God! These empanadas I made because I’m a selfish girl who loves loves loves empanadas.

Empanadas are popular party food or merienda in the Philippines. (Empanada traces their origins to Galicia and Portugal. This dish was carried to Latin America and Philippines by Spanish colonizers) so much about history, I should move on…

I’ve been craving Empanada since I moved here in the US, I did find it in Asian and Latin stores but the filling is either chicken, beef or chorizo. This morning, I woke up at 5:00 AM tip-toed out of my bedroom so I won’t wake up my sleeping hubby. I am making these puppies and I will not fail.

1/2 cup vegetable shortening I used Earth Balance butter
2 pounds onions, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons chopped  red peppers
3 tablespoons raisins

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chardonnay wine
1 tablespoon vegetable stock
4 ounces portobello mushrooms, chopped
4 ounces carrots, diced
4 ounces green zucchini, diced
4 ounces yellow squash, diced
4 ounces broccoli, diced

4 ounces spinach or kale

1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons favorites seasoning such as cajun- I used indian curry
Salt and pepper
12 Empanada dough disks
2 large egg yolks, beaten


In a large pot, over medium heat, melt the vegetable shortening. Add the onions, shallots, and garlic and cook until they are soft but not browned.

Lower the heat and add the  tomato paste, chopped mixed green and red peppers, parsley, wine, stock, and mushrooms.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the carrots, zucchini, squash, and broccoli and cook until the vegetables are al dente. Add the mixed vegetables and  and heat through. Drain the vegetables and put them into an ice bath. When cool, drain well.

Put the vegetables back into the pot. Mix in the red pepper flakes, paprika, oregano, seasoning, raisins and salt and pepper, to taste. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Place 1/4 cup vegetable mixture on the middle of each empanada dough disk. Avoid reaching the edges with the filling because oiliness will prevent good sealing. Slightly wet the edges, fold in half, and stick edges together. The shape should resemble a half-moon. Seal by pinching the edge between your thumb and index finger to make a curl about 5 or 6 times. Other sealing procedures like pinching without curling or using a fork to seal will not prevent the juices from leaking.

Place the finished empanadas on the cookie sheet and brush them with the egg yolk. Cook until they are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.


2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 large egg

1/3 cup ice water

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar


:Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.) Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.

I shared these empanadas with my hubby…he loved it (I guess I’m not that selfish, not at all)