Watermelon Salad with Mint

IMG_4945A good friend of ours, who we think has a secret watermelon farm somewhere, has been gifting us with these humongous, beautifully red and sinfully sweet orbs once a week for the past three weeks. As much as I love watermenlons and think that summers are just not complete without them, with just the three of us who really eat watermelon in the house, it has been a chore to get them down (to say the least).

So I’ve frozen bags of them for slushies and our neighbors have been mighty pleased with us for sharing our good fortune. They don’t realize they’ve been doing us a favor!

Anyway, I have been trying to switch up ways to serve watermelon as even the two girls who usually help me polish them off are getting watermelon over load. So last night, I made a watermelon salad to go with the pizza that my daughter made.

I was going to make the salad with balsamic vinegar but when I went to go make the dressing, I found out we were out! So, improvise it is… again.

Surprisingly, even my husband liked watermelon served this way!

Watermelon Salad with Mint
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • Watermelon, seeded and cubed (amount is up to you)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Mint Leaves, shredded
  • 3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • Dash of Cayenne Pepper
  1. Seed and cut up watermelon and place in a bowl.
  2. Stack the mint leaves, roll them then cut them into thin strips. Place them in the bowl with the watermelon.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients for the dressing and mix well.
  4. Pour over the watermelon and mint and mix or toss gently.



I didn’t put an amount for the watermelon because it just depends on how many people you intend to feed and how much watermelon you have on hand. I used probaby about 8-10 cups of watermelon for the four of us. We had leftovers which I brought for lunch the next day, and the watermelon sitting in the dressing was still delicious! And the dressing, diluted with the sweet watermelon juice was so good, I drank the juice left in the bowl!



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Review: The Hummingbird, Durham

The Hummingbird Bakery and Restaurant is one of my daughter’s favorite places to go for lunch and she has been bugging me to go with her. Even offering to pay! Well the kicker was when she said they have great cupcakes. So I said ok.

Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera so I couldn’t take photos of what we had (NC Fish Tacos)  but we did take some cupcakes home. I forgot which flavors these are now, but my daughter’s favorite is their hummingbird cupcake.

This might have been the hummingbird, but I’m not sure.

The food, as expected, was quite good. After all, this is bakery/restaurant is owned by the same chef running Watt’s Grocery just down the street, Amy Tornquist. I’m not sure if she is also doing the cooking and baking at Hummingbird, but whoever their pastry chef is, he or she is doing a great job providing good quality baked goods in this neighborhood.

I love the rich butter frostings that are not cloyingly sweet as some desserts around here tend to be. The cakes are also good, but I prefer my cakes more fluffy and moist. These were a bit on the dense side for me, but still not to dense to be unpleasant. I have to note though that their cupcakes are usually kept cold because of the butter frosting. But if you take them home and let them sit at room temp for a while but not so long that the butter starts to melt, the cake part gets better tasting and more moist. They were good overall though and probably one of the best cupcakes that can be had around here.

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July26 005

Gold Pork and Chicken Adobo

My daughter loved this. She said, it was almost like an optical illusion for food.

When planning what to cook for dinner, I fully intended to make my usual pork and chicken adobo with potatoes. But then, something happened along the way…

In the middle of assembling the adobo, I spied the can of coconut milk in the cupboard. We love anything with coconut milk! And I have seen adobo recipes online where they add coconut milk. So I thought, we’ll give it a try. Then when I was pulling out some bay leaves from the spice cabinet, there was that jar of turmeric just begging for attention. So what the heck, I just read about the health benefits of turmeric, I pulled it out too.

The family knew from the aroma wafting through the house that adobo was in the works. So they were a bit surprised when they opened the pot and saw this…

Gold Chicken and Pork Adobo

My daughter said, “I thought you were making adobo?” I said, “I did!” She looked skeptical. Then she tasted it…. she said, “that is weird! I was expecting to taste curry based on the looks of it, but it tastes like adobo! It’s an optical illusion; my taste buds are confused!”

But she and the rest of the family all agreed that it was actually pretty darn good!

The Golden Adobo
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Filipino
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5-6
This is a variation of the usual pork and chicken adobo.
  • 1 head of Garlic, mashed and peeled
  • 2 Onions, sliced
  • 10 disks (round slices) of fresh Ginger
  • ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 14oz can of Coconut Milk
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoons ground Turmeric
  • 5 Bay Leaves
  • 2 lbs. Pork Belly, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 6 of each Chicken Legs and Thighs
  • 3-4 Yucon Gold Potatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup of cherry or grape Tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup of Scallions or Green Onions, chopped
  1. Since we're using pork and chicken and they require different cooking times, start by giving the pork a head start. Place the pieces of pork into the pot and add 3 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil.
  2. Let the pork cook while you're preparing the rest of the ingredients (about 30 minutes) or until most of the water has evaporated.
  3. Once the water in the pot is almost evaporated and the pork is starting to sizzle, add half of the ginger, garlic, onions and bay leaves.
  4. On top of that, layer the chicken pieces and add the rest of the onions, garlic and ginger on top.
  5. Pour in the soy sauce and vinegar. Then the coconut milk. Pour 1 cup of water in the empty coconut milk can to rinse out the remaining bits and pour that water into the pot as well.
  6. Add the black pepper and turmeric and cover. Let it come to a boil and turn the heat down to medium low heat and let it braise for an hour or until the chicken is tender.
  7. Add the potatoes and cook for another 15 minutes until cooked through.
  8. Add the tomatoes when everything is cooked and just before serving. You don't want to cook the tomatoes, just warm them up for a minute or two.
  9. Sprinkle with scallions before serving.



– the addition of tomatoes and scallions is optional. I just happened to have some really sweet grape tomatoes from the garden and it paired perfectly with this dish, adding a very pleasant sweetness to contrast the acidity in the adobo.

– traditional adobo dishes were actually cooked to be on the dry side. Some people even go as far as frying the meat after braising in the sauce. However, since some people in my family love to drown their rice in adobo sauce and will resort to pouting when there isn’t enough sauce to go around, I have taken to making my adobo dishes on the soupy side. If you prefer a less soupy dish, I suggest omitting the water and cutting the soy sauce down to 3/4 cup then let the remaining sauce to cook down by letting it boil uncovered for a few minutes towards the end of your cooking time.


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Kangkong (On Choy) Adobo Style

Adobong Kangkong

This was our vegetable of choice when we grilled tilapia and squid. It was the perfect pairing!

I hadn’t realized that my girls don’t remember ever having this vegetable since I don’t buy it often. It’s also not always available in the market and when it is, it is always on the expensive side. The two-pound bundle that I bought cost a little over $5.

This is called water spinach, labeled as on choy at the Asian market, and in the Philippines, it is called kangkong. I would normally prepare this like I would the sweet potato (kamote) leaves salad but I thought stirfried in adobo seasoning would be better suited since I also wanted to use most of the stems from the kangkong. If I’m going to pay that much for it, I better use most of it and not just the green leaves!

In case you’re wondering how this green looks like:

water spinach/kangkong/on choy

Get your ingredients ready: garlic, ginger and peppers; soy sauce and vinegar in the other bowl, and the trimmed and washed vegetable in the colander.



Kangkong (On Choy) Adobo Style
Recipe type: Side Dish, Vegetable
Cuisine: Filipino
This vegetable adobo is made slightly spicy with the addition of red pepper flakes.
  • 2 Tablespoons Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Ginger, minced
  • ⅛ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 5 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Oil
  • 2 lbs of Water Spinach, trimmed and cut into 2 inch length
  1. Heat the oil in a wok or suitable cooking pot.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and stirfry for about a minute until it is fragrant.
  3. Add the water spinach and stir for a minute or two until it starts wilting.
  4. Add the soy sauce and red wine vinegar, stir briefly, and cover the pan.
  5. Let it steam in the soy-vinegar sauce until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Don't let it dry out though. This will take about 3-5 minutes.




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Grilled Stuffed Squid

 My daughter Asi and I were on a seafood kick last weekend but we were tired of shrimps which is what we normally get. We decided to grill some tilapia and squid for a change. When my dad had grilled squid for us in the past, he always used the smaller, more tender variety. The Asian market where we bought seafood had fresh squid, but they were much bigger than what I’m used to. But, they were fresh, not frozen so I thought we’d give them a try anyway. I also decided to stuff them as I had seen on other blogs.

Most of the stuffed squid recipes I saw stuffed theirs with raw tomatoes and onions; I was a bit skeptical about that since the thought of not thoroughly cooked stuffing was not what I had in mind. Since squid takes a very short time to cook without overcooking, I decided to sautee the stuffing first. Included in the stuffing are chopped up innards of the squid (except for the ink sack and stomach) and tentacles.

 I sauteed the garlic, onions, tomatoes and cilantro stems first just until they were wilted, seasoned it then added the chopped squid bits during the last minute of cooking so as not to overcook them. BTW, the cilantro stems added a great flavor layer to this dish and I just happened to throw them in at the last minute just because I was going to discard them anyway after I had chopped the cilantro leaves for salsa.

 After cooking the stuffing ingredients, let it cool before stuffing into the squid body. Seal the ends with tooth pick to hold in the stuffing while it’s cooking. You wouldn’t want your stuffing falling into the fire.

 This was the first time I made grilled stuffed squid, and I think it turned out rather well. Again, the buzzword here is DON’T OVER COOK it. It only takes a minute of fairly high heat to cook the squid so it doesn’t get tough. Even my husband who isn’t a big squid fan (that’s why I only cooked two) said that these were surprisingly not as chewy as he thought they would be.

Grilled Stuffed Squid (Inihaw na Pusit)
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Filipino
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
Large squid are stuffed and grilled to perfection.
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup minced Cilantro Stems
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon Oil
  • 2 Large Squids, cleaned
  1. In a skillet, heat one tablespoon of oil and add garlic and onions. Cook for a minute and add the tomatoes. Cook for a few more minutes until the onions are translucent and the tomatoes have started to render some juice.
  2. Add the chopped squid parts. Stir. Season with red pepper flakes and salt. Cook only until the squid is barely cooked, as soon as they turn white.
  3. Cool before stuffing into the squid body. Seal ends of the squid with toothpick so the stuffing does not fall out during grilling.
  4. Grill only until it's just done. Don't overcook.


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Grilled Whole Tilapia

There’s really no recipe for this. After all, nothing could be simpler than to merely slap a piece of meat over a hot coals until it’s cooked.

We have been grilling a lot lately, taking advantage of the warmer weather that is not yet too blisteringly hot to be outside over a hot fire. We’ve been having a cooler than usual summer so far and it’s been perfect for cooking out. The husband has been in meat heaven since Father’s Day when we started the grilling extravaganza.

The girls and I though, were getting tired of meat and needed a change. So when we went to the Asian market over the weekend, we decided to get some seafood to cook on the grill. Tilapia is great for grilling because the flesh is not so delicate that it will fall apart and the skin is perfect for keeping the fish together and not have it stick to the grill. Another reason why you’d want to grill your fish whole, especially tilapia with its sturdy skin is that even if you accidentally char the outside, the skin will prevent the flesh of the fish from getting over cooked and dried out.

This tilapia was cleaned and de-scaled but left whole. I simply salted the fish inside and out and inside its cavity, I stuffed in sliced lemons, one green onion cut into the right length and a few sprigs of cilantro. Grill over charcoals for about 8 minutes on each side and it’s ready! My daughter and I like to eat grilled fish with freshly sliced tomatoes simply sprinkled with salt.

P.S. if you’re into fish tacos and don’t like frying, this would also be ideal for tacos!


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Chicken Chilaquiles

Some days, I feel like Pinterest determines what we’re going to eat. Do you have days like that? I love using Pinterest for keeping up with recipes that I would like to try. I used to have to print out recipes that interest me and I would end up with piles of paper in my kitchen of recipes that need to be filed or never to be seen again. Pinterest is a much better system. When I need inspiration, I just look at my Pinterest boards and I always find something that kick starts our meals.

That is how I found the recipe for these Chicken Chilaquiles. I had some chicken leg quarters that I didn’t know what to do with and I was tired of fried chicken, curry and adobo which are the usual favorites in our house. I wanted something new, but I also wanted something simple and easy. You know me. I should have named this blog the lazy cook 🙂

Anyway, this turned out quite well even though I got some skeptical looks from the family when I started crushing corn tortillas and told them it’s for dinner.

But, just like in any dish, the proof is in the eatin’ right? Well this pan got eaten up rather quickly with requests to add this recipe to our usual line up.

Chicken Chilaquiles
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-5
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained well
  • 1 cup canned hominy, drained
  • ¼ cup sliced pickled jalapeños
  • 6 cups lightly crushed thick corn tortilla chips (6 ounces)
  • 4 whole chicken legs (about 12 ounces each)
  • Chopped cilantro and sour cream, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. On a work surface, mash the garlic cloves to a paste with a pinch of salt. Transfer the garlic paste to a small bowl and stir in the ground cumin, chile powder and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  2. In a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish, toss the drained diced tomatoes with the hominy, jalapeños, half of the spice paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Gently mix in the crushed tortilla chips.
  3. On a work surface, cut halfway through the joint between the thigh and drumstick on the underside of each chicken leg. Score the top of each leg 3 or 4 times, cutting to the bone. Rub the remaining spice paste over and into the chicken and arrange skin side up in the baking dish. Roast in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
  4. Leave the chicken in the oven and turn on the broiler. Broil for about 3 minutes, just until the chicken skin is golden and crispy. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and return the baking dish to the oven. Broil for about 3 minutes, until the tortilla chips are lightly browned. Return the chicken to the baking dish, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with sour cream.



  • Instead of using a work surface to smash the garlic and spices, I used my mortar which I think did a better and neater job of keeping the paste together. Also, I love garlic, so I ended up adding 4 cloves instead of just two. Like I always say, adjust recipes to fit your taste. Use recipes only as a reference. That’s how I do it 🙂
  • The last instruction on browning, I only did the first step of broiling the chicken until they are nicely browned. I didn’t bother with crisping up the tortilla chips. I kind of like them softened like a corn tortilla. But if you like the crunch, please don’t omit that last step.
  • In addition to cilantro and sour cream, my daughters also added sliced avocados, making it even more yummy!
  • To round out the meal, we served this with pan roasted cauliflowers which I could have probably cooked and roasted in the same pan, making this a one pot meal. Next time, I’ll remember to do that.


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parmesan bake

Baked Chicken and Yellow Squash with Parmesan

This recipe is based on the parmesan chicken recipe from Simply Recipes and it has become a favorite especially with my youngest daughter who just loves yellow squash! The chicken, the carnivore dad also deemed passable for the regular menu. Me, I like it because it’s so darn easy to cook that it easily qualifies for my weekday one hour meals list. This plate definitely should have some greens on it for nutritional balance’s sake, but I kind of like the yellow color scheme on this plate, don’t you?

The baked parmesan chicken and squash were served along with baby lima beans and rice pilaf.

The thing to remember here is to first batter your yellow squash before the chicken in order to avoid cross contamination.

After you’ve battered both the yellow squash and chicken, you can bake them in the oven together for pretty much the same amount of time and you’ll have dinner on the table in no time!

Title: Parmesan Chicken Recipe by Simply Recipes

Description: This is a delicious and quick meal from Elise at Simply Recipes


  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup or 1/4 pound), melted
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or 2/3 cup if you are using a Microplane zester)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • A large pinch of Italian seasoning (herb mix)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs of skinless, boneless, chicken meat, cut into pieces no larger than 2×2 inches


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels.
  2. In a bowl, combine the minced garlic with the melted butter. In another bowl mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, salt, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Dip chicken pieces into garlic butter, then into crumb mixture to coat.
  3. Place coated chicken pieces on to a 9×13 baking dish. Try to leave a little room between each piece. Drizzle with remaining garlic butter and bake uncovered 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Note that the chicken will get much more browned on the bottom side than on the top.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Rating:  ????? 1 review(s)

Copyright © .
Recipe by Simply Recipes.


The only change I made from Elise’s recipe is that I didn’t cut the thighs into pieces but rather left them whole. I extended the cooking time to 20 minutes instead of 15 just to be on the safe side and it worked out perfectly.

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