The Newbie Cook
- 19,442 forkfuls since 16.Oct.10
Making everything for the first time
When I was a kid, I thought that “adding more color to your diet” meant buying a bag of skittles or m&m’s. Now I know that this is what it really means:
Ginataang kalabasa is a Filipino dish that has always been a favorite since childhood. There are different variations — my mom made it with yardlong beans and shrimp. For this recipe, I’m using 96% extra lean ground beef. Hubby is not a fan of lean ground beef because he said it lacked flavor. He likes the regular everyday 80% lean. Personally, the fat content scares me and I’m tired of draining the beef while cooking. With extra lean, I don’t have to drain it.
Since this dish is very flavorful, I don’t think my husband would be complaining about blandness.
There is one must-have ingredient in this dish: the glorious bagoong alamang. My mom’s province, Pangasinan, is famous for having some of the best tasting alamang on earth. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to that goodness so I resorted to second best: jarred bagoong. There are no close Asian stores with this so I bought it online from Amazon. The jarred version isn’t as pungent either, which is a good thing since I live with an American husband who was completely traumatized with the smell of danggit.
(Ugh, super dry skin. That’s what happens when I wash my hands every single step while cooking.)
Filipinos also love coconut milk aka gata in Tagalog. We have tons of food that start with “ginataang,” which means that whatever it is has been stewed in coconut milk. Like our lovely Jersey butternut squash.
Luckily for me, my husband likes Filipino food so I don’t have to argue about having variety in our daily menu.
I served this with white rice and sautéed spinach and garlic. See recipe after the jump.
This was inspired by Subway’s flatizza. Besides, someone has to use the pita bread that we have sitting in the fridge after I got over my fish taco phase.
My husband loves this dish. He asks me to make it often and I’m happy to oblige because it’s (1) easy, (2) quick, and (3) quite healthy even with the cheese. I do try to cut down on the cheese by putting much less on “my half” of the pizza. This has almost all of my favorite vegetables, which makes me very happy. 🙂
You can modify this recipe according to your preference — change the vegetables or add some meats like ham, pepperoni or crispy bacon bits.
I do need to mention the pizza stone. I bought this for baking bread but I also noticed that this pita pizza is a lot crispier and better if I use the stone over a regular pan. But the stone is not a must have, a regular pan is fine.
Yes, I’m back. Again. So what happened? Relocating, wedding, honeymoons (yes that’s more than one), and adjusting to married life. We’re still working on the last one and I have a feeling we will continue to do so for the next 100 years.
Thankfully, living with Dad got me used to cooking for two people. Some cook for an army and are often stuck with copious amounts of leftovers. In my (not so humble) opinion, leftovers are okay only for one additional meal. No one wants to eat the same leftovers three or four times in a row.
This is a simple meal that is rich in both protein and vegetables so one can have a healthy serving of each plus a touch of dairy and good carbs.
My dear husband thinks that the eggs and veggies in the pan look like a face or titties. I agreed with the first and violently reacted to the second. Seriously. Titties. Men.
Do you know what my favorite side dish is? No, it’s not mashed potatoes. Actually, I don’t really like mashed potatoes though I’d eat it if it was served. Just like okra.
Now where were we?
Just like the title suggests, my favorite side dish is spinach in garlic. This is a very simple, 4-ingredient side dish that my mother taught me years ago. Mashed potatoes pale under the might of the tasty spinach!
This side dish is originally made with kangkong, but here in KSA, kangkong costs 10 SR a bunch while spinach costs 1 SR. And I’m a smart shopper. Plus I figured emulating Popeye’s eating habits couldn’t hurt.
Just like me, mom prefers to slice the bunch of leaves into long, thin strips. But unlike me, she likes to smash the garlic until there is nothing left but garlic juice. Me, I like the texture. So I just chop my bulbs.
This dish is another one I cooked for the girls yesterday. I made this with Chris in mind because he’s half Italian. And it turns out that he has never even had risotto because his grandparents are from Sicily. He had to explain the differences of food from Northern, Central and Southern Italy and risotto is a northern Italy thing.
Hmph. At least the rice was good.
I wanted to add a lot of vegetables and chose butternut squash and spinach. Because squash goes well with rice and it was spinach that I happened to pick up in the grocery store yesterday. This way, everyone will get their daily veggie serving whether they want to or not, mwahahaha.
Risotto should be a tasty stand-alone dish but since Filipinos eat their rice along with another dish, usually meat, I intentionally made it more bland and slightly less creamy to complement the taste of the honey glazed chicken (which is another story).
I love the resulting texture and colors of the veggies in the rice. But I would puree the squash if I would serve this to children or adults like my brother (who will skip veggies if he could).