Monday, July 8, 2013

Cheese Stuffed Turkey Guacamole Meatballs on Toasted Pandesal


This was a fun & easy lunch to make with the whole fam making use of what's left in our fridge. We even threw in guacamole to help bind it instead of eggs.  My mom and I did quick work of all the prep. While I minced & crushed, mom sautéed the onions/garlic & cooked the sauce.  My 3 1/2 year old even helped me cut up the cheese & learned about "halves". She really loves any chance she gets to use her big girl knife from Ikea.  


• 1 lb. ground turkey
• 1/2 large onion, minced 
• 1 heaping tablespoon of garlic, minced
• 2 celery stalks, minced
• 10-12 crackers, crushed 
• pinch of dried herbs: thyme, sage, rosemary whatever you like
• 4 Mini Baby Bell cheese, cut into 8 wedges
• 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
• 1/4 cup guacamole (used mainly to help bind the meatballs in place of egg vs for flavor. we used the remainder of a store bought batch)
• salt & pepper to taste
• coconut oil (to coat hands while you roll meatballs)


1. Carmelize onions & garlic in a pan, let cool. 
2. Hand Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl. Then mix in the wet ingredients.
3. Using a spoon to help portion out each ball, roll in oiled hands.
4. Push a mini wedge of cheese into the center of the meat ball and pinch closed. Roll around to smoothen ball.
5.  Brown the meatballs in pan of coconut oil (enough to coat pan).
6.  Finish off cooking in the sauce.  

• 1 small can of tomato paste
• 3 medium sized roma tomatoes, chopped
• 1/2 Tablespoon garlic, minced
• pinch of dried herbs: thyme, sage, rosmary
• 2 bay leaves
• salt & pepper to taste (we've been trying to cut out salt from our diet. but we caved & put a couple pinches in. I was surprised that the sauce tasted too salty fir me! I think I'm now more of a no salt girl.) 
• coconut oil to coat bottom of pot


1. Sauté garlic in pan on medium high heat.  
2.  Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low simmer.
3. Add browned meatballs & simmer until meatballs  are cooked through.  About 5 minutes. 

Serve with Parmesan cheese on bread or pasta of your choice. We received two large bags of Pandesal from my in laws on their San Diego Fourth of July weekend.  

The subtle sweetness of the bread complimented the savory sauce & it's warm toasted-ness was a perfect vessel to carry the deliciously moist turkey meatballs and sop up the sauce left on the plate. 

On a side note:  While toasting this pandesal helped, it still makes me want for the warm fresh pandesal from the neighborhood bakery in my hometown Mendez, Cavite.  It comes in a brown paper bag.  The outer part of the bread is browned & a bit crusty.  The inside is light & airy not dense like these ones from a San Diego Filipino bakery.  I have yet to taste a pandesal made in the U.S. like the kind they have in Mendez.  Makes me want to try making some from scratch someday. 

Well, our family will definitely keep this meatball dish as a go to recipe. It's one that can easily be had for dinner and tweaked with different flavors...teriyaki or curry flavors come to mind.

Hope you enjoy this recipe & Have a great week!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Blue Agave + Chipotle "Losilog" with Garlic Cauliflower "Rice"

Here's a semi-homemade pseudo healthy twist on the Filipino favorite sweet breakfast sausage Longanisa with fried garlic rice & a sunny side up egg, better known for it's acronym Losilog = Longanisa + Sinangang + Itlog!


fair warning - I was cooking by sight & taste this morning, so I didn't measure the ingredients!

Tip - If you're cooking with fry pan like me, cook the cauliflower first before the Longanisa. The Longanisa will make the pan super messy & sticky, but if you use a non stick & rinse of the pan while it's still hot - right away, it will be a quick clean up! 

by CACTUSmango


• 1/4 head of Cauliflower (finely chopped)
• 1-2 Tablespoons of minced garlic (also from Costco)
• about 2 Tablespoons Virgin Cold pressed Coconut Oil (from Costco. & that's a guesstimate again, I just squirted directly into pan without measuring!)


1.  Heat coconut oil in medium high heat pan & saute the garlic.  You can cook your garlic lightly or til it's crispy, both ways I like.
2.  Pulse cauliflower in food processor or simply chop it up into rice sized bits. 
3.  Add to pan & toss with garlic oil until al dente. 

by CACTUSmango 


• 4 Johnsonville Maple Sausage (frozen from Costco) 
• 4 tablespoons of Organic Blue Agave Syrup (also from Costco. Qauntity is a guesstimate because I just drizzled a bunch over the sausage in the pan)
• Organic Ground Chipotle powder (add as much as you like)
• Water (just enough to, about half way up the sausage.  Maybe i used 1/2 cup)


1.  Place all ingredients in non-stick pan over medium heat, boil then reduce heat to medium low. Cover & simmer until sausage is almost cooked through.
2.  Uncover & increase to medium heat.   Turn occasionally. Let liquids reduce. Ready to eat when caramelized! 

I'm pleasantly surprised that the Cauliflower "Rice" went well with this.  You can serve this atop rice of your choice with sunny side up or over medium for pregos like me.

After trying this, I could use a lot more heat!  It is 4th of July after all! Add more spice to your liking & Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Smoked Salmon Breakfast Balls for Mini-Picky Eaters

Smoked Salmon, Organic Capers, Cream Cheese and Whole Wheat Bread.  The other day, my little one asked to taste what I was eating. (I had prepared for her a cream cheese & jam sandwhich already)  Of course, I said.  She tried the capers and spit them out.  She tried a tiny piece of salmon and exclaimed, "I like it!"  So, I tore up some more pieces & put it in her snack cup.  She came back later & told me, "All Gone!"  I guess she likes smoked salmon. 

Now this morning, I made her a plate.  She declared, "He needs eyebrows!" and proceeded to add three grapes above the "eyes" made of cream cheese covered bread squares.  Smile made of scissor chopped salmon bits.  (My little one tends to gag on large pieces of meat.) 

But, even with the fun smiley face plate of food...she wouldn't touch the bread & salmon.  She was probably getting full on the grapes...but, I gave her a piece of salmon just to get her interest back.  She gagged it out. 

Still, I figured she just didn't like how she had to come back to the table to eat her food.  My little gal is a snacker by nature.  So, to appeal to her snacky nature, I made grape sized balls using the food left on her plate.  Super simple recipe.

Smoked Salmon Breakfast Balls for Mini-Picky Eaters
1. Just put the smoked salmon bits on the bread and smoosh it flat (you can use a fork, i just used my clean fingers, funner that way),
2. then tear the bread & 
3. roll little pieces into bite sized balls.

I asked her to taste one and she gobbled it up and all the rest of these too.
Gobble & Go!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Baked Cheesy Cauliflower with Proscuitto

I don't normally shop at Fresh & Easy, because it's out of the way...but, they had a buy one get one free deal on Breyers Icecream which I could not pass up, in hopes that they had some mint chocolate chip left. Unfortunately, no more Mint Chocolate Chip, but, I found a bunch of veggies and fruits marked down to half off because they were close to their sell-by-date. I snagged two heads of cauliflower for $1.25 each. I also don't ever buy proscuitto because it's too pricey for my blood. But it too was 50% off. Alot of times, what I cook comes about because that's what we're craving for. Othertimes, your meal comes about with whatever you can find on sale. I realized the proscuitto would probably go well with one of my favorite dishes baked cauliflower & cheese. My dad's is the bomb. I'm hoping this version will be a hit with my S.O. and L.O.

My parents would put the cauliflower florets in the pan raw & pour a creamy mixture over it, then top with shredded mozzarella/sharp cheddar from the bag. Less steps, but, it takes longer to bake. Being hungry while cooking, I par boiled my cauliflower florets and then used the the Fast Bake option on a Convection Microwave Oven...Just to crisp up the top cheesy layer...takes about 10-15 minutes vs. the hour + it'd take to bake raw. I wonder if one of those kitchen blow torches would work...hmmmmm?

(Update Dec 17, 2011 - tonight I followed by brother Gary's lead and used a whole package of bacon.  I topped the dish with crumbled up pieces...mmm!  So good!)

1 stick of butter (optional: if using bacon, reserve the bacon grease, so bad, but can't resist!)
1 onion, chopped fine
2 T finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup of chopped celery (optional)
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup flour
2 cups of whole milk 1
t fresh minced rosmary (optional)
1 t fresh minced basil (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
1-2 heads of cauliflower, bite sized florets
One 4oz package chopped-up proscuitto (my bro requested more, if you can afford it, put 2-3 packages of proscuitto or add BACON or chunks of chicken or sliced up deli meats, whatever you have)
2 cups shredded parmesian cheese
1/4 cup shredded gouda cheese
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
(or Use whatever you have in the fridge or your favorite cheese.  I often grab a bag of shredded cheese Mexican cheese blend.  And without measuring, I grab huge handfuls, mix it in with the white sauce and layer it ontop of the cauliflower once in the dish, for that crusty cheesy top!)
Stuffing (I tried this today, Dec 17, with some leftover stuffing...because of the amount of bacon I put on top, I barely noticed there was any stuffing...will try to do it again with more stuffing on top...)

side notes:*if you're using a regular oven, preheat your oven now before step 1 to 400 degrees. Hold off 'til after step 3, if you're using a microwave convection oven.
*if you're using block cheese, go ahead and shred it up before you start cooking.
*I love my Kitchenaid food processor attachment that came with the Immersion blender. Great for chopping up the onions, garlic and celery.

1.(This is an added step to my parents original recipe. They would simply make the sauce and pour it over uncooked cauliflower florets and bake it for a longer time. I remember waiting hours for this dish to come out of the oven.)  My update on it is to first Parboil cauliflower florets, drain, put into a buttered up baking pan. I used about 1-2 T of butter to grease up the pan edges. I used a 38x25x4 cm pyrex baking dish, so that I could have one layer of cauliflower. This helps it bake faster and also you get a bigger surface area of the yummy cheese crust!  Now, I have a little munchkin, so I snuck her a bunch of plain cauliflower to tide her over until I finished cooking the dish.
2. Melt remaining butter in large pot on medium heat. Add onion, garlic and celery. Stir & Saute until translucent.
3. I like to lower temp to medium low heat, to keep butter from burning. Add a little flour at a time, stirring as you go to make a roux Add Salt & Pepper to taste. I chose not to add too much salt, because the cheese & proscuitto have some saltiness to them already.
4. Go ahead and preheat your microwave convection oven to 400 degrees.
5. Ok, back to the flour...Once flour is incorporated evenly in with the butter, raise the temp up to medium heat, while pouring a little milk at a time, while stirring, making sure to not let the milk burn on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring milk until you have a chowder like consistency. You don't want it to be soupy thin. When you put it in the oven, you want it too be somewhat thick because the liquid in the cauliflower, will mix in with it while baking and thin it out.
6. Ok, now we layer the remaining ingredients on top. First, pour the sauce all over the cauliflower. Use a spatula to wriggle around the cauliflower to get the sauce to get into all those crevices. Then, sprinkle like crazy your cheeses and proscuitto.
7. By now your oven should be preheated. If not, humb & twiddle your thumbs awhile waiting for that *ding* Ok, now place the uncovered dish in the oven and set to 12 minutes.

so, here's the dish ready for the oven.

and 12 minutes later straight from the oven.
Although my S.O. and bro liked it, it's just not their favorite. I have a feeling it's because it's mainly a veggie dish. They'd probably enjoy it more, just as a side dish to a rack of ribs or something that once moo'ed. Well, my little girl liked it and asked for more. It's my favorite too! So I'll have to try making this dish in smaller batches and freezing it for make-ahead meals for my munkin & I. Hope you give this a go and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Heavenly Bakeshop

Hopefully, third time's the charm. Heavenly is now the third Filipino bakery to open in this same spot in the Lee Lee's shopping center.

First impression, clean, lots of product on shelves to choose from, friendly customer service.
I was only able to quickly eye their goodies, before my little one started trying to rearrange their product display, dropping a package of "Palitaw" on the floor. It didn't pop open, but I bought it anyway, since the fall made it's contents all jumbled up. Good thing I have fond memories of this treat from New Years in my Mamalo's house back home. I also ordered one of their Cheese pastries. Curious if it tasted like or better than the previous owners flaky cheese pastry.
I paid with my debit (couldn't do that with the previous bakery) so that's a plus. While paying, I noticed off the back left of the store behind the register, was a refrigerator stacked with ready made take home dishes, like menudo, If i recall correctly. So, next time I'll definitely take one home, but, I didn't this time, because I still had to do my grocery shopping at LeeLee's.

Once home, I tried the Palitaw. It was soft and pleasantly chewy with a non-sweet powdery coating. I think I recall coconut flakes on the ones my dad made for me back home. I'm not sure what the powdery coating is, it's got a subtle flavor of perhaps toasted crushed rice. But, It might not be something everyone would like. If I were to compare it to something, it reminds me of mochi. which i love. I put these in the fridge and they didn't get hard.
I didn't treat the cheese pastry with care as I shopped around that day. When I got home to open the bag, it's top layer was almost all flaked off. So, I'll be ordering this again & eating straight from the case next time. Overall it was light and flaky and not greasy. The cheese filling was also nice, not too sweet. My toddler loved this treat and that it wasn't overly sweet was good for her too. I'd love it if they make another variation with some kind of fruit to contrast the cheese.

I'd like to go back without my little one, so that I can fully experience all that this 1 month new bakery has to offer & take better photos. I'm giving them a middle of the board solid rating of 3 stars, A-OK. I am expecting that on my next visit, Heavenly will be getting more stars.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Orange Ginger Mint Water

Happy Monday!

Here's a simple and refreshing drink great for a day of bbq'ing! This recipe came together quickly because I just threw in ingredients that I had on hand. I would have loved a hit of lemon taste...I didn't have any calamansi nor lemons. I even peeked into over at my neighbors trees...none to be seen. Darn. Next time! I substituted with two fingers of ginger. (anything with an "o" in front means it's organic)

Orange Ginger Mint Water

Half a pitcher of water
1/4 a pitcher of O apple juice
1/4 a pitcher of orange juice
1 orange, sliced thinly with peal left on.
1 O apple, sliced thinly, skin on.
1 bunch of mint sprigs (I was fortunate to be gifted some fresh mint from my bro & sis in laws garden...awesome)
2 fingers of ginger, sliced big.
3-4 Tablespoons of Orange Blossom Local Honey (disolve in a little water first, then stir into pitcher) add as much as you like.

Stir all of these ingredients together in a pitcher and let chill in the fridge a couple hours before your guests arrive.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Paletas Betty - A Cool Spot in Chandler

I have now experienced Paletas Betty three times and each time has been a refreshing pleasure! The first time I tasted Paletas Betty was when my friend Iris treated me for my birthday in the begining of this year. We picked out several flavors and then brought them home to share with the family. We cut up the paletas in cubes, so that we could all sample every flavor! I can't recall all the flavors we tried that evening. I remember loving them all. But, being the spice loving kinda gal that I am, I had to try the mango con chile. It was a zippy treat, that was at the same time sweet/tangy and cold/hot. I'm not going to share next time.

The second visit, I attempted to treat my friend to her first Paletas Betty. But, I didn't recall that they only take cash or check. I wasn't able to get cash from the nearby Irish pubs ATM. (That's another story, that ended in tears, to say the least.) But, Betty being so thoughtful and wanting me to have a happy experience that day, bought a Paleta of my choice to cheer me up. That's not something she does on the regular, I'm sure. But, it certainly locked me into loyal fan status, as if the freshly hand crafted frozen pops aren't enough. The Mexican hot chocolate was delicious, by the way. My friend Ninette was pleasantly surprised by her Arroz con leche...nice & creamy & just the right amount of sweetness.

On our third visit this Sunday, we multiplied into a group of 7 adults and 2 energetic toddlers. Our group tried had Mexican Chocolate, Arroz con Leche, Sandia (Watermelon/mint), Puro Mango, Nuez (creamy roasted pecans), Fresa con Crema (Strawberries/Cream) and Platano (bananas foster/caramel/rum). There was not a popsicle stick left unlicked in our bunch.

Our two rambunctious toddlers amused themselves for a long time with the stickers that come with each pop, as the adults chilled on the mod indoor seating, sipping on complimentary water infused with orange slices and mint. For fun, you can also bring your Paletas Betty sticker with you on your travels and photograph it in interesting places. Email it to them, and if chosen, you can win a free paleta! Lastly, let me just say, these are not ordinary popsicles. You can tell that these are hand crafted with lots of attention and love, with only the best ingredients. They have some heft to them and will be a perfect after meal treat on a warm-scorching hot AZ day.

I'll be keeping my eye out for their "carrito" rolling around the Downtown Chandler Farmer's market every Thursday. You can also hire Paletas Betty for your event and they can even create custom flavors for your event. I only wish they were around back in '05 for our wedding!

*Please note: Paletas Betty currently accepts cash and check only.

p.s. Betty shared her recipe for her mango chile paleta < here >

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