My favorite snack at the moment!

Favorite snack
365 branch multi-seed flatbread crackers with brillat savarin and chopped olive tapenade.

Omg, I love these! I buy everything at Whole Foods and put everything together whenever I need a little snack (usually when watching tv). Every bite is packed with tons of flavor and it incorporates one of my favorite cheeses. The brillat savarin is soft and spreadable so this snack is super easy to assemble. Noms!

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What I ate for Thanksgiving 2013!

Turkey

I went back to the Puget Sound to spend time with my family over Thanksgiving. It was great to see everyone, even my dad who usually doesn’t leave the house very often in his old age. My oldest sister and her family were having their own Thanksgiving in Tacoma so I wasn’t able to see them, but there were so many others I was glad and fortunate to spend time with this holiday. Everyone else (which included 5 of my siblings and too many nieces and nephews) met up at the second oldest siblings house in our hometown. We and an amazing time catching up, telling stories, playing games, and generally teasing each other and having a good laugh. There was TOO much food, but here are some of the pics I was able to snap before I literally drank myself to sleep, LOL!

Pancit
Pancit.

Acorn squash with stuffing
Acorn squash with stuffing.

Mashed sweet potatoes
Mashed sweet potatoes topped with maple-glazed nuts.

Lumpia
Fresh fried lumpia.

Roasted duck and lechon
Roasted duck and lechon (roasted pork).

Crab foo yung
Crab foo yung.

Turon
Turon (dessert lumpia with banana and jackfruit).

And WAY too much wine!!!

English countryside wedding in Suffolk!

Suffolk wedding food

The “Skelly” wedding was absolutely beautiful! My “adopted” English family is full of ridiculously kind, funny, and wonderful people and I was thrilled to be able to join in their celebration. They held the ceremony and dinner in the couple’s backyard. They had purchased the property a few years prior and had built the luscious garden from scratch. They’d also undertaken the enormous task of restoring their house to its original detailing which included wattle and daub construction. And all this by themselves!

The ceremony was probably the best I’ve ever witnessed. It was small and intimate (I’m used to large, formal Catholic weddings in huges churches with hundreds of people). The wedding was beautifully officiated and everything just seemed SO genuine and heartfelt. I think I cried 5 different times, lol!

Suffolk wedding food
The wedding food was delicious! The majority of the dishes were actually prepared by family and friends. The wedding couple had tasked some individuals to bring certain dishes. Wow, I would not have guessed that the food was homemade! Everything tasted amazing and were beautifully presented. They also had little labels with the dish and the cook’s names in front of each serving plate. It was super cute!

Skelly wedding
So I learned something new. Apparently, the English call large tents marquees. It took me a couple seconds to figure out what they were talking about, lol!

Wedding bar
They converted one of the shed to a little bar. Cute!

Wedding bar
Inside the shed bar.

Wedding kid zone
They also created a play ares for the kids.

Suffolk wedding
Family and friends gather before the ceremony commences.

Paleo recipe: Bacon chocolate chip cookies

Bacon chocolate chip cookies
Version with bacon, roughly chopped fruit/nut/chocolate mix, and topped with a dollop of hazelnut chocolate spread.

Mmm, I love these cookies! The original recipe is from Make it Paleo by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason. I’ve made the recipe several times and really love the cookie dough batter. I’ve subsequently played with the add-ins and have decided that the cookie pictured above is my favorite so far!

Original Recipe:

Ingredients
5 slices nitrate-free bacon
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 cups blanched almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil, unrefined
1.5 cups 72% dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to bake at 350’F.
2. In a medium size mixing bowl, toss bacon in 1/4 cup maple syrup.
3. Lay bacon on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
4. Bake for 20 minutes.
5. Remove bacon from oven, and allow to cool.
6. Crumble candied bacon for cookie batter.
7. Heat oven to 375’F.
8. In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine dry ingredients.
9. In small mixing bowl beat eggs, 1/2 cup maple syrup, and vanilla extract with a hand mixer.
10. Pour wet ingredients into dry and beat with hand mixer until combined.
11. Add melted coconut oil into batter, and continue to blend until combined.
12. Stir in chocolate chips and candied bacon.
13. Drop balls of dough on parchment-lined baking sheet, about a tablespoon in size.
14. Bake cookies for 15 minutes at 375’F.
15. Let cool and serve.

My Notes: I’ve never done Steps 2-6. I think that candied bacon is too much for these cookies especially since there’s already maple syrup in the batter. If I do include bacon, I just chop up a few strips and fry them until most of the fat has been rendered out. I love these cookies, but it’s good to reduce the fat content where you can!

Baking these cookies for only 15 minutes keeps the cookies soft and moist. I’ve also baked them longer and they turned out crispier and flakier (if that floats your boat). I think the ingredient that I keep adding every time are chopped dried plums (prunes). They really make the cookie!

Bacon chocolate chip cookies
Crispier version with bacon, chocolate chips, chopped dried plums, and almond slivers.

Frida Kahlo sidewalk stencil
Frida Kahlo sidewalk stencil, The Mission.

Potluck with friends!

Potluck tablescape

I love it when my friends throw potlucks at their homes! It’s a great time to catch up with everyone and enjoy wonderful food. I’m a little bit competitive so I always like to bring something that everyone will enjoy. It can be simple or complicated, but it should make a statement either way. My friends’ tablescape certainly did. It was really pretty with the assorted flowers, fruits, vegetables, and candles.

Mimosa with raspberry

And what’s a get-together without some refreshments! 🙂 You can never go wrong with a nice mimosa to start.

The ultimate sliders potluck!

The ultimate slider

Bam, this slider rocked!

For our last potluck at work, a co-worker and I decided that we would team up and bring sliders. He would be in charge of the meat and buns, and I would bring all the toppings. What resulted was the best, juiciest, most flavorful sliders EVER, lol! He ended up grilling the beef patties and toasting the buns on a George Foreman grill in the office, and I skillfully laid out all the toppings. I like to think that a stampede ensued to grab all the available sliders! 🙂

Slider toppings
Colby jack cheese, avocado, tomatoes, and a spicy smoked paprika aioli (I tweaked a recipe I found on Epicurious).

Slider toppings
Romaine hearts and spicy capicola chips (I slowed dried the capicola slices in the oven).

Here are a couple pics of other items brought in.

Assorted Turkish sweets
Assorted Turkish sweets.

Kielbasa bites

A typical family gathering!

Whenever I’m back visiting Seattle, my large family scattered throughout the Puget Sound usually finds a day when we can all get together and catch up. These parties are fun because I get to see all my brothers and sister, nieces and nephews, and any random relative who has been invited. Here are some pics of some the food that I snapped throughout the day.

Smoked chicken wings
Smoked chicken wings. One of my brothers has really gotten big on smoking things so he made these amazing chicken wings for the party. They were super tender and juicy and had a great smokey flavor!

Frying lumpia
Frying lumpia. No Filipino gathering is complete without these delicious babies! We fry so many of them throughout the day that we have to do it on the back patio so the house doesn’t smell like oil all day.

Freshly fried lumpia
Freshly fried lumpia. These are SO good straight from the fryer. My sisters always let me steal a few before they even make it to the table. Noms!

BBQ'ing steak and corn on the cob
BBQ’ing steack and corn on the cob. Our family gatherings never have a food theme. We just make anything and everything we feel like eating. Heck yeah!

Beef tostada and grilled short ribs
Beef tostada and grilled short ribs. See what I mean? Our stomachs know no culinary border. You certainly have to be prepared to eat all day during these parties.

Jello - a kaleidoscope of colors
Jello – a kaleidoscope of colors. These look labor-intensive to make especially considering the amount of colors they used. Regardless, they were yummy!

Pancit
Pancit. This isn’t a very good pic because this was the last of the stuff. I kept forgetting to take pics earlier cause I was too busy stuffing my face, lol!

Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Tacoma Narrows Bridge “Galloping Gertie”. I’ve always thought this bridge was really beautiful. I cross it every time I drive back home.