The Old Spaghetti House – Pesto Pasta

Pesto Pasta

Against my better judgment, my husband and I went back to Robinsons Manila’s The Old Spaghetti House. Ever since the last time we went there, I promised myself I would never subject myself again to that kind of horrible customer service. But I was craving for pesto pasta. So I went ahead and told my husband that I’d like some pesto pasta from TOSH while we were in the mall.

Let me summarize the experience this way… The sauce tasted rancid, the serving was really small, and the bread was boring. The service did improve, though. I like the TOSH at Robinsons Pioneer better.

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Tofu and Eggplant stir-fry

tofu and eggplant stir-fry

This is what we’re having for lunch today. One of my favorite vegetables, eggplant. As always, quick and simple to prepare.

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 square of tofu, cut into strips
2 small pcs of eggplant, cut into smaller pieces
garlic
onion
soy sauce & brown sugar (you can also use barbecue sauce)

INSTRUCTIONS
Fry the tofu in oil until it’s brown. Sautee the garlic and onion with the tofu until the onion is translucent and the onion is also golden brown. Set aside. Fry the eggplant until light brown. Mix soy sauce and brown sugar in water (or use barbecue sauce if you want it a bit sweeter, just read the ingredients, most have MSG in it). Pour a small amount of your sauce into the eggplants, mix in the tofu and garlic. Stir for 1-2 minutes and turn off the heat.

HEALTH FACTS
Eggplant is a nutrient dense food containing dietary fiber, manganese, potassium, vitamin b6, folate, niacin, copper and thiamine, as well as other phytonutrients. It’s very low in calories so it’s good for people who want to lose weight. Its skin contains a phytonutrient called nasunin which is a potent antioxidant and helps protect the lipids in our cells responsible for keeping out free radicals. Nasunin also helps in chelating iron in our blood. Too much iron is not good for the body, and may result to excessive free radical production which leads to heart disease and cancer. When nasunin chelates iron, it also lessens the production of free radicals, protects blood cholesterol, and prevents preoxidation of cells that can lead to cancer.

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Garlic Spinach Pesto Pasta

pesto pasta

My husband bought a jar of Garlic and Spinach artichoke from Bravo last night and tonight I made some for myself for dinner. I just prepared the pasta, mixed 3 spoonfuls of the pesto sauce, and voila! Also, I toasted some bread and put Spinach and Artichoke spread on top of it. Divine.

Pesto is actually quite easy to make, I’ve made some for myself several times. All you do is put basil leaves and olive oil in a blender (or chop them up like what I do), add garlic and nuts and that’s it! I used to put pan-fried chicken strips on top of my pesto pasta, but it’s just as great without them. I wanted to try Bravo’s sauces because there are times when my husband and I need a quick meal and I can’t always be available to cook. I used angelhair pasta (spaghettini #1) above, which is also my favorite kind of pasta but it’s not popular with my brothers because it looks a bit like bihon. Haha. It’s really quick-cooking, though. So if you’re in a hurry, this is one of the best things to prepare for lunch or dinner. Also, since pesto sauce doesn’t require cooking, the heat won’t kill the enzymes of the garlic and basil too quickly.

HEALTH FACTS
Did you know that basil is not just a great pasta garnish and/or ingredient? The oils that its leaves contain has antibacterial properties, especially specific bacteria that can be resistant to antibiotics. Also, it has properties that protect your cells from oxygen-based damage. Basil’s natural oils can also protect your cells from free-radicals. Basil also contains beta carotene, vitamin a, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamin c. There’s really a lot more, you can read up about basil here.

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Dessert: Ginataang Halo-halo

Ginataang halo-halo

Another favorite Pinoy merienda, ginataang halo-halo. All-vegan and can be enjoyed hot or cold, any time of the day. Let me share with you how it’s done:

INGREDIENTS:
Galapong
1 cup sago
4 pcs saba banana
1 pc sweet potato (depends on you if you want more)
4 pcs ripe jackfruit (langka)
3 cups water
2 1/2 cups pure coconut milk
1/4 cup brown sugar

INSTRUCTIONS
Shape the galapong into small circles and set aside. Peel and chop up the saba banana and the sweet potato. Chop up the jackfruit into thin strips. Pour the water, coconut milk, and sugar into a pot. After a few minutes, put in the sweet potato, after 1-2 minutes, pour in the galapong balls. Once the sweet potato is almost done, put in the rest of the ingredients. Stir constantly. Turn off the heat and serve hot or set aside to cool down and then put in the fridge.

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Dessert: Palitaw

Palitaw

Palitaw, or in some provinces “Dila-dila”, is one of my favorite snacks. Morning, after meals, or afternoons, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not always readily available where I live, though, because it spoils easily when it’s out of the fridge too long. Today I decided that I will have my palitaw, no matter what. So I went to Sta. Ana market and bought the ingredients. I watched a video of how to make palitaw waaaaay back when I was a kid, while watching Batibot. It looked pretty simple and guess what? It is very simple. Let me share with you how:

INGREDIENTS:
1 bag of Galapong
sesame seeds
sugar
niyog

INSTRUCTIONS:
Fill up a pot with water and boil. When the water is already on a rolling boil, scoop up a spoonful of galapong, shape it into a ball and then flatten it so that it becomes shaped like a tongue. Make 4-5 pieces and drop them one by one in the boiling water. When the palitaw surfaces, use a slotted spoon to fish them out of the pot. Roll the newly-cooked palitaw on niyog and set aside. Repeat these steps until all the tongue-shaped galapong is cooked. Roast the sesame seeds (without oil) on a pan. When it’s already brown, set aside in a container. Remember to let the seeds cool down first before mixing the sugar in because (like what happened to my first batch), the seeds will melt the sugar and you’ll have to redo it. Sprinkle a bit of our sesame-sugar mixture on top of your palitaw. That’s it! Pretty simple, huh?

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Vegan Lumpiang Ubod

This is one of my favorites because of the strong peanut and garlic flavor in it. It’s quite easy to prepare, the ingredients are cheap, and it’s also very healthy. Mind you, I don’t usually measure my ingredients so I’ll just give an approximate here, it’s really up to you whether you want less or more of something. Some people don’t like their lumpiang ubod to be too garlicky, some do.

INGREDIENTS
1 kilo ubod (I’m not sure what it’s called in english)
green beans, cut into thin diagonal pieces
1 1/2 square of tofu, crumbled
minced garlic
chopped onions
potatoes cut into thin strips
chopped peanuts (with the skin removed)
salt and pepper
Lumpia wrappers

You can also add julienned carrots and small pieces of button mushrooms (I like mine with them) if you want.

For the garlic sauce:
Brown Sugar
Soy Sauce
Cornstarch
Water
Minced Garlic

INSTRUCTIONS
Saute the minced garlic and onions over low fire. Add the peanuts when the onion begin to look a bit transparent. Add the ubod and other vegetables, stir very well. Add the crumbled tofu. Add pepper and salt to taste. Once the ubod looks soft and the potatoes are cooked, turn off the heat and put in a bowl.

Vegan Lumpiang Ubod

Prepare the garlic sauce while you let the ubod cool down before you wrap them in lumpia wrapper. To cook the sauce, mix soy sauce, sugar, garlic and cornstarch with water. Put in a pot and cook over low head, stirring occasionally. You can wrap your lumpia while the sauce is cooking. Once your sauce has the right thickness, turn off the heat and leave the pot covered.

Vegan Lumpiang Ubod

I don’t really know how to wrap lumpia in a way that will make all of them look alike. If it’s your first time to wrap, it’s okay if you don’t get it right away. Just put a spoonful and a half of your ubod near the top of the wrapper, roll the top part down, fold the sides, then roll the whole thing all the way down to get something that looks like this:

Vegan Lumpiang Ubod

You can seal the wrapper using water, it’ll hold. You can eat your lumpia like this, with sauce on top, or you can fry it and make vinegar with garlic, onion, and pepper.

lumpiang ubod

HEALTH FACTS
Did you know that garlic is a good antioxidant, which means that it can help protect your body from free radicals that can cause cancer. It can also help you regulate high cholesterol levels.

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Brown rice is healthy

stir-fried veggies and brown rice

We finally had the time to go to the grocery yesterday and buy a kilo of brown rice. The taste and texture is different from the white rice we’re used to, but before you rule this kind of rice out of your menu because of the color (and the fact that it takes longer to cook and the water measurement is sometimes hard to estimate), there are many articles where you’ll read that red/brown rice is better for your health than white rice.

Brown and white rice come from the same rice plant, but is unpolished (whole grain) and therefore has most of the nutrients intact.

Brown rice is rich in Manganese which helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates, aiding in the synthesis of fatty acids and producing cholesterol which also helps the body produce sex hormones. Manganese is also a component of superoxide dismutase, which protects our bodies from damage brought by free radicals.

Brown rice is also rich in fiber and selenium, which helps in lowering the risk of colon cancer. To find out more about the health benefits of eating brown rice, visit this website.

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