Quinoa

I’d always been curious about quinoa ever since I saw it in one of those British shows where these people try to come up with the next big thing in food. One woman prepared quinoa salad and although she didn’t win the contest, the word itself intrigued me. Was it pronounced “kweeNOwah” or “keeNOwah”? Apparently it’s “KEENwah”. A few months ago, I bought a Paleo diet book because the Coach wanted to try to go Paleo as much as possible. I flipped through it a few times and cooked meals using some of the recipes in it. So I bought a big bag of quinoa at S&R, thinking it was Paleo, but it turns out that quinoa is NOT Paleo at all because it’s a grain and therefore starch.

It’s been a while since I cooked a meal at home. Most of the time, the Coach comes home from work late and I have dinner at my parents’ house otherwise I’ll end up passing out from hunger. But after a week or so of sitting at the dinner table with my husband while he eats, I thought it would be nice to cook and eat together. I wondered what to cook and remembered the bag of quinoa sitting untouched in my pantry. So I decided to cook salmon and quinoa.

Looking online, I found a lot of recipes for salmon, but not many for quinoa. I didn’t need to look too hard though because I found both in the Food Network website. I got Bobby Flay’s recipe for Pan Roasted Salmon Steaks with Sherry Vinegar-Honey Glaze and Spicy Tomato Relish and Parsleyed Potatoes and Giada de Laurentiis recipe for Herbed Quinoa.

Pan Roasted Salmon Steaks with Sherry Vinegar-Honey Glaze

(Adapted from Bobby Flay’s recipe, although I omitted the tomato relish and potatoes)

  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/8 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoons chile powder (I’m not sure what kind of chile powder I used – we only have the generic kind in Manila)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 salmon steaks, 6 or 7 ounces each

In a small saucepan over high heat, reduce the vinegar to 1/8 cup. In a mixing bowl, combine the vinegar reduction with the mustard, honey and chile powder and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Heat the tablespoon of oil in a medium saute pan until almost smoking. Brush the salmon on both sides with the glaze. Place in the pan and cook until lightly golden brown. Place in the oven and continue cooking for 5 to 6 minutes for medium doneness. Remove from the oven brush again with the glaze.

Herbed Quinoa

(Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe)

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3/4 cups quinoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil

Pour the quinoa into a sieve and run under cold water until the water runs clear. It’s a good thing I researched on quinoa before cooking because if you skip this step, you end up with a really bitter dish. In a medium saucepan, add the chicken stock, quinoa and basil. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice (I used bottled calamansi juice, which worked fine)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Pour the dressing over the quinoa and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

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The verdict? I loooove quinoa. It’s nutty, slightly bitter and had a bit of a bite to it. There’s still a lot of raw quinoa left and there are many dishes I’d like to make using it. The salmon was really good too. It was hot (but bearable) and sweet. These are two dishes that I’ll definitely make again!

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First Birthday

Little B is a year old! How time flies. It seems like not too long ago that I was getting up from the hospital bed and painfully walking over to the NICU to visit my new baby. She finally came home with us 11 days after she was born. Back then Little B was so fragile and helpless. A far cry from the independent, energetic, talkative but incoherent, curious and sweet baby she’s turned into in just a year.

And so, to celebrate a year of love, immense joy and poopy diapers, we threw her a small party. There weren’t any other children, because they had prior engagements, but our closest friends and family came.

I made a tutu and stenciled a onesie for her to wear. She toddled around, holding up one finger whenever asked how old she was.

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I’m One!

I DIY-ed the decorations, with the help of some Etsy purchases.

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We practiced blowing out a candle the day before the party, to no avail. And of course a few days later she started blowing on her own.

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She had her first taste of icing, which she loved. I dipped her finger into the icing and put it in her mouth. She didn’t need much encouragement after that!

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I suppose it was more for me and the Coach than it was for her, because we ended the party way past Little B’s bedtime!

Party Clothes

Little B’s first birthday came and went, but before that I had a birthday party to plan for.  Pinterest put all these party ideas in my head but I only got to use a few of them.

I had planned on a milk and cookies theme, but decided on a pink party instead.  I always said my little girl would never wear  one of those cutesy tutus, but that’s exactly what I made for her to wear for her party. As I said, I saw it on Pinterest and thought it would be fantastic if I could make one for Little B. I could just imagine her toddling around wearing her fluffy skirt. What to wear aside from the tutu though? I stenciled a onesie as well. Tissue paper pom poms? Check. Banners and buntings? Done. But in this post, I’ll focus on the outfit I made for her.

I looked up how to make tutus and found one site that made it seem so simple – Treasures for Tots. Next step was to buy the materials I needed to make the skirt. Unfortunately, in Manila, tulle doesn’t come in 6-inch width rolls so I estimated I needed maybe 3 yards each of 60-inch width tulle. Turns out, I ended up using only half the amount. I chose pink, fuchsia and lilac (with glitter). I also bought 18 inches of white ribbon to attach the tulle strips to.

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I alternated 3 strips of fuchsia, 3 strips of pink and 3 strips of lilac. After loads of cutting and knotting (with country music playing on my laptop – for some reason that’s what I felt like listening to that afternoon), this is what I had.

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Pretty, isn’t it? It looks better worn though. For the full how-to, visit Treasure for Tots.

Next up, the onesie. I made the design using Photoshop then I printed it out on sticker paper. Every blog I looked at said to use freezer paper but again, in Manila we don’t have that. But thanks to a post I saw online, I found out I could substitute sticker paper instead. After printing it, I cut out the design with something like an X-acto knife .

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I removed the paper backing and carefully placed the stencil onto a plain white sleeveless onesie. Then I used fabric paint to paint the design.

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It took a bit of work and a lot of waiting but here’s how it turned out:

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The lettering didn’t turn out so good. The sticker paper didn’t adhere well to the already-painted portion, so there was a bit of color bleeding that happened. But, I keep telling myself, not too bad for a first-timer.

Next post: the party!

Traveling with Baby

Note: This post is long overdue!

Back in March, Cebu Pacific held a seat sale so Coach and I booked tickets to Singapore for August. Our intention was to take the train from there to Kuala Lumpur, to Penang, on to Bangkok, take the bus to Siem Reap then Ho Chi Minh City, then do it all again in reverse to get back to Singapore. We weren’t planning on bringing Little B along. But honestly, when I was booking the tickets, I wasn’t thinking about her too much. I was worrying about being able to still get cheap tickets! Fast forward to June. Coach and I decided we’d take her with us, after much deliberation on my part.

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Notre Dame Cathedral in HCMC

I wanted to bring her and I didn’t want to bring her, for several reasons. But I’m glad we did. Everyone kept asking us why we wanted to bring her along. We’d have such a hard time, they said. We won’t be able to enjoy, they said. She proved them wrong because Little B turned out to be a fantastic traveler. She was no trouble at all! She didn’t cry on the planes, didn’t cry on the trains. Granted, there were places we couldn’t go (Patpong anyone?) and things we couldn’t do (I couldn’t go into the Cuchi Tunnels carrying her!) but we found other activities nonetheless.

I carried her in my baby carrier when we couldn’t be bothered to bring the stroller around with us. She often napped while we were on the go, most likely lulled into sleep by my walking or the movements of the stroller. She ate everything we ate – even the street food. My mom specifically warned us about it before we left, but obviously we didn’t listen. Little B seemed to be enjoying the food anyway!

Eating carrot cake in Penang

Eating carrot cake in Penang

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In Bangkok

Dinner at the Ben Thanh Market, HCMC

Dinner at the Ben Thanh Market, HCMC

One thing though – the people in the cities we visited LOVE babies. Everyone was playing with her (especially on the trains!) and trying to engage her in some way. Several times people would try to carry her but she wouldn’t have any of it, and let them know via a shriek or a cry.

We skipped Siem Reap due to the HFMD outbreak (she ended up getting it anyway, but that’s another story) and flew from Bangkok to Ho Chi MInh City, and from HCMC flew to KL. We finally had a play date with her cousins in Singapore. She took her first steps in Bangkok. For that alone, it was worth it.