The Red Kitchen

Wow! December! Only 10 days to see whether the Mayans knew what they were talking about or not. But then again, Marty McFly visited the year 2015. So I don’t know Mayan guys.  I guess we’ll see. Meanwhile, I thought I’d stop by and say Hello to everyone. How was everyone’s Thanksgiving? I can still talk about thanksgiving, right? After all, it’s only been what? Two weeks? Ok, but I thought it is still apropos to share the many things I have been very blessed to receive- the many miracles happening in my family’s lives, joy, healthy body, sound mind, strong spirit. And recently, I just added lunch lady/delivery girl extraordinaire to my extensive resume. Yes, I opened The Red Kitchen.

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If you know me well or if not, just take a look around my blog and you’ll see how much I love cooking. I love the momentary departure from the real world the kitchen gives me. You know, when I’m cooking- whisking my worries away and… ok..not really good with euphemisms but you get the point. And recently, I have decided (with divine intervention) to extend my kitchen to other food lovers out there and I couldn’t be more ecstatic how well they received it. Thank God. You couldn’t imagine the emotions I was going through that day I delivered the food to my friend’s company. The anticipation and second guessing and everything in between. After all, I have never received unbiased opinion about my culinary abilities. The feedbacks I get from anyone not related to me by affinity? Also questionable because they get their food for free. So back to that week I delivered food, a few minutes later from dropping off the goods, I received a text from my friend (my inside guy/divine connection/marketing executive). I remember tearing up. “Ate (big sister), this is really good, everybody liked it.” It was the herbed chicken on citrus infused rice with roasted carrots and a bowl of grapefruit-arugula salad with homemade dressing. I felt like the happiest person right at that moment. If anyone had seen me while I was driving that afternoon, they might think I needed psychiatric attention or at least some zanax. Anyway, it wasn’t a tall order. Initially, only 6 people ordered from her office. But You can’t buy chicken for only 6 people. So I made the entire inventory and it came up to 9 plates. All sold out with excellent reviews. I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that people are willing to pay for my food. I’m not raking in huge amounts of money. At least not yet. But I never thought it’s possible. (I even got tips).

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I don’t think I have ever been so passionate about something. I thought it was photography but that was just a phase. I still love it. But when I cook, it’s different. Everything else turns into a blur. I pour all my heart out (and then some)when I prepare food. I am so thankful to finally find something I care about so much. It took a while. And I am thankful that I came around. I am also grateful for guidance. I don’t think it would’ve turned out the awesome way it did if not for God. You see, when you constantly seek divine will, God will show it to you. I guess that’s another post altogether. But it’s perfect. And yes, it’s been 3 weeks since the first order I received but I am still as excited as I was that day I received that text. Am I expecting more? Yes! And I am also thankful that I am confident I can expect more. Just last week, my order from that same place increased to 12 and have expanded my market when I decided to walk in to a car shop and sell 3 extra plates. It was pulled pork on sweet potatoes. Everyone loved it. One lady even said that she doesn’t need to be asked if she was ordering or not. If I’m cooking, she’s an automatic count. Wow! Whenever my friend comes home from work, she tells me h0w her co-workers loved the food and they notice all the love I put in- how I pack the food, etc.

Well, to quote a friend who quoted some cliche that day I told him about this gig, “when you love what you do, you don’t have to work a day in your life!” And he couldn’t be any more spot on.

And to end this, let me leave you with some pictures of my grateful family during Tahnksgiving. God bless, everyone! Let’s all expect great things from our great God.

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Late Post: Being Audrey Hepburn

I recently planned a small birthday party for a friend. Remember the one I made the breakfast pizza for? Lovely? Yep. She said she wanted to do something different for her birthday. Her eyes lit up when I told her why not an girl’s movie night? An outdoor movie night? It ended up not being outdoor but it was still a movie night indeed. And what’s more girly than watching a classic like Breakfast at Tiffany’s?  And on the invite we said everyone should be in their best Audrey Hepburn look. Everyone came in like a Holly Golightly reincarnate in spite of their inhibitions the morning of.

Anyway, Lovely had fun. We even had to miss out on the games because the girls spent most of the time taking pictures. By the time they were done we only had time to watch the movie. I was happy by how the party turned out.

Since it was a movie night, we decided to serve popcorn, movie theater candies and hotdogs. But I made a note to myself that next time I plan a party where Filipinos are invited, serve actual food even though the invite says 7:30pm. Because they are going to expect to be fed. Nobody complained but I guess they were just surprised that there wasn’t any real food.

I made the labels on Photoshop and asked Lovely to print them out at her office. Ssh…. I used my mom’s decanters and vases as decorations. I also used gift papers lying around the house for the penant garland and the peanut cones. Lovely recovered that tiered cake tower from a company party the night before. It worked well with the hotdogs.

This is my favorite part, the cupcake table. The boyfriend bought the cupcake tower last minute because she decided to have cupcakes at the last minute. See that light blue bag? Lovely almost didn’t notice it. Also from the boyfriend. It wasn’t a ring though. They’re not there yet. 😉 Cupcakes also courtesy of the boyfriend from Mr. Cupcakes.

My little Audrey. 🙂

Here she is, the birthday girl.

All in all, it was a fun night. I had fun. Everyone was impressed with the decorations and was excited about this idea. I was happy how it all turned out.

A Birthday & a Breakfast Pizza

Today is a friend’s birthday and since she’s staying here with us, Aurora bean and I decided to let her in on a longstanding birthday tradition of being woken up with a really bad “Happy Birthday” song and a candle-lit breakfast cupcake. It was well received. Better than all two of Unakin’s birthdays I have done it  where I have been slapped in the face and I had to practically prop her up just so she could blow her candles. Anyway, we made someone really happy today. And I love it.

 

Lovely (birthdayer) asked what she can bring for breakfast to share with coworkers. She originally thought of pancakes. Pancakes don’t really travel well so I suggested why not a breakfast pizza? “breakfast Pizza?” So she apparently never have heard of it so she decided to go for it. A little wary about the eggs on top but it was “ahhhhhmazing” according to her. I think I left out an “h” somewhere but you get the point. And the truth is, I haven’t actually tried a breakfast pizza yet. I tried to play it cool and hoped that it turns out ok. I wasn’t even able to taste the pizza because I didn’t want to ruin it.

The Birthday Breakfast Pizza (or Breakfast Birthday Pizza…whatevs)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough
  • 3 tbs. traditional spaghetti sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2  cup red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup italian sausage
  • 3 large eggs or 4-6 medium eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup chives, chopped
  • S&P to taste
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

Here’s how:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Prepare pizza dough according to package instructions.
  3. Spread tomato sauce evenly. Layer about half of the required amount of shredded mozzarella evenly.
  4. Evenly distribute bell pepper and onions leaving some for final topping, same with the sausage.
  5. Carefully place eggs on top. S&P to taste but this is optional.
  6. Add remaining mozzarella cheese except on eggs. Add remaining bell peppers, onions and sausage.
  7. Sprinkle parmesan evenly and drizzle pizza with olive oil. Place in the oven and cook for another 15-20 minutes. (You can start lowering the heat when the crust begins to brown and the eggs aren’t cooked yet)

So there, easy peasy. You can go crazy with the toppings and choice of cheese. You can use spinach and asiago cheese. Bacon and mushrooms. Your options are endless. I just had to try to stay mainstream because I wasn’t sure how they would take it. You know, a pizza with an egg on top. But it was a hit and everyone loved it.

Anyway, I’m happy to help make someone’s day special in my own little way. Happy birthday, Lovely!

 

Getting Fit and a Little DIY

Hello everyone! I hope you guys had an amazing summer. But for those who wasted this beautiful summer away, don’t fret because it seems like there’s still a lot of summer going on in this uncharacteristic September weather. Anywho, your eyes are not mistaken. I actually said getting fit. Recently, I decided to up and go and step out of the door and start running fast walking, again like I did some years ago. My goal is to finish a 5k running straight. I must say I am getting there. I started with a walk-run-walk program progressively increasing the distance and minutes I run until I am comfortable painfully comfortable enough to cover the whole distance running. I am on my 2nd week and so far I am doing ok. It’s also pretty hard finding the time to do this being a single mom and right now, my program is dependent on the availability of a baby sitter. It’s a good thing that we have a friend staying with us that’s why I’m able to step out for at least 45 minutes to ru..I mean fast walk and then run some.

Also, since everyone has been posting and pinning DIY stuff on the interweb, i don’t want to feel left out. So I want to grab this opportunity to post my own. I didn’t bother making my own video because there are a plethora of them on youTube just like this one.

And here’s my finished product.

And this… behold, my Freddy Kreuger workout shirt

I even made one for my Unakin with her Beatles shirt and she loved it. I love it! How come I never thought of buying myself a Beatles shirt?

And from the day I started, I already lost some pounds. It’s probably just water weight, at least for now. But it’s just even more motivating when you see the results in numbers. I hope soon it will reflect on dress size as well.

Of course, getting fit also means eating healthy. Operative phrase: Eating healthy. A lot of people think they have to starve themselves to lose weight. If all you care about are numbers as opposed to changing a lifestyle, I guess you ahve to rethink your priorities. I guess this is where I’m having such a hard time. I grew up eating carbs. Not that carbs are bad but Filipinos eat a ridiculous amount of it. Think rice for breakfast. Yeah, fried! Fried rice and fried fish! So it’s kind of hard for me to control my carb consumption. Ok, maybe I’ll give brown rice another chance.

What? Oh don’t worry, this wouldn’t keep me away from the kitchen. I will still post recipes most especially that it’s the Holiday season again. I just need to find healthier alternatives apart from greek yogurt.

Tonight, I’m scheduled to step outside and run but my friend is out. So on times like this is when I’m most thankful to youTube because I found these videos that everyone can do at home. You might want to play some music in the background to make it more fun because the videos don’t play songs.

Until here…. hey, to those of you who have suggestions on how I can healthily lose weight and be fit, feel free to comment or just a simple WTG (way to go…I know, I’m lame) will do. 🙂

PS. here’s my playlist that keeps me going. I like finishing the workout with Mr. Brightside or Under Pressure.

Come Out & Smell the Lilacs

Every May, Rochester celebrates the Lilac Festival. I am not sure when the festival first started but I know it’s been around for a while. Some Lilac junkie (John Dunbar) planted and started a collection some decades ago and now, Highland Park boasts hundreds of kinds of Lilac bushes on that hill alongside Highland Ave. Just imagine when all those plants bloom at the same time. And they do! You can smell the Lilacs from a mile away and I’m not even exaggerating. I never really paid attention to their names but each plant is labeled for anyone who wants to go past the aesthetics and the scent. Martha Stewart came and featured the festival about 3 years ago on her show and got a Lilac named after her. That might be the only kind I know.

It always amazes me how the festival is always well orchestrated with the lilacs blooming. I think they consult horticulturists regarding this, I don’t know. But I guess it’s always been kind of predictable except this year, when Spring came in earlier than expected. The Lilac buds came out earlier than expected and the flowers are starting to wilt by the time the festival kicked off. But there was still enough for everyone to see.

This is my favorite festival here in Rochester. But the Lilacs only come second in my agenda. What gets me really excited is the food. Of course, it doesn’t help when your job is across the street from where all the action is.

Also, this year is our last Lilac Festival. At least for a long while. So this year, I went all touristy, even woke up early to see the parade.

Anwyay, here are photos. I’m tired of blabbering. I’m sure you’re tired of it, too. There will be a sequel to this. I didn’t complete the pictures. So tomorrow, during my lunch break, I will run across the street to take more pictures. I need a picture of and with the Kettle Corn Man. Yeah, he’s a legend around here. And there’s a reason for it.

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The Veterans of Vietnam opened the parade. I always get teary-eyed over standing ovations and that was what happened that’s why there’s no pictures of the brave men who fought for our freedom. I would just like to clarify that I don’t believe in war but these men had already gone and done what they were called to do when they were boys so I applaud them. you should see the stream of people getting up as they pass by. It was truly a poignant moment. Back to the pictures…

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First damage of the day, $5 sno cone. Whatever happened to the paper cones? But this is really convenient, though. She still managed to spill it. Don’t ask how.

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Eat healthy, America! (after the Lilac Festival!)

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Side shows. The stiltman does facepainting with his co-hippie girlfriend. And this duo right above is pretty awesome. They were so into their craft, it was intense as you can see in the other guys ukulele-ing. I wasn’t able to ask their band’s name or if they have available stuff online. But their performance deserves a dollar in their guitar case, though.

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Of course, our trip wouldn’t be complete without a walk through the whole park even though we’re here almost every week when the weather permits. I guess to her, it feels different walking in the park during the festival. But I must admit, there’s an air of excitement when I see all the people around us. It’s just happiness all over the place.

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This is one of my favorite fair foods, the funnel cake. None of the fancy schmancy stuff like how they do it in Six Flags. This is just honest to goodness, straight up, oily, trans-fatty funnel cake! Nancy’s Fried Dough makes the best! They have at least 3 stands throughout the whole park. Only look for Nancy’s, there are other ones but they are not good. bleh! The lady who took my order said.”One funnel cake Aunt Nans!” I asked quietly, “Aunt Nans? as in Nancy? She’s Nancy of Nancy’s?” and the lady said “Yes! the one and only!” Wow! I was just too shy to ask her to take her picture when I caught her during her break. She was icing her leg. Aww…God bless her and her fried doughs!

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Only fresh lemons and limes for Nancy’s lemonades and limeades!

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Always happy to serve you

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We watched a couple of kids’ shows. They’re free. So why not. Aurora had fun most especially when Gary the Happy Pirate brought the giant beach balls out. She had a blast. It got a little crazy midsong, though and I had to get up and keep track of her. A couple moms lost their kids, only for a second, though. Whew!

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While Una watched her shows, i kecked my shoes off so my feet can breathe while I slurp on some strawberry smoothie.

it was fun! I was exhausted but I had a great time. I sad that this is our last. I really love this festival. Anyway, just in case you happen to drop by festival time, may I give you some tips on how to enjoy the trip to the fullest

  1. Check the weather and dress appropriately and comfortably. Sneakers or crocs works best for both kids and grown ups. Bring extra clothes for the tots.
  2. Don’t forget sunscreen.
  3. Bring water with you. Water bottles at the festival cost $2.00 a bottle. It also helps if you can bring small, light snacks like granola bars or cheerios for the kids.
  4. Bring cash and small bills. There are ATM stations but they charge $3.00 per transaction on top of what your bank charges you when withdrawing from a different machine/institution.
  5. Avoid lugging purses or bags that require you to hold them to stay secure. A book bag or a bag with a strap that you can sling on your shoulder is ideal. You would want both your hands free most especially when you have a kid in a busy place like this. Also, make sure they are roomy! Place your valuables in your jean pockets.
  6. Make sure to bring disinfectant wipes, Purelle and if you can avail those small, travel-size Lysol. Or maybe it’s just me. But I don’t trust those porta potties. And kids (girls most especially) don’t know how to “hover” yet. So there’s going to be some contact, it’s always nice to have some disinfectant with you.
  7. Make sure you teach your kids your phone number and address. Upon arriving at the festival, review the rules (you know, stranger danger, etc. ) And show them people in uniform like policemen.
  8. Plan to arrive early most especially on weekends so you can find a parking spot that’s near the event.
  9. Keep the plastic containers that come with fries and smoothies. It always costs less for refills. Half the price! Hello! just make sure you bring a plastic bag with you where you can store them so they don’t mess up your purse or bag.
  10. Have fun!