Beef Stew ala Mechado


I spent a lot of time cooking lunch today. I started by sauteing red onions and tomatoes in a deep pan for stewing. I then added beef cut in stew size cubes and sauted the beef until light in color. I covered the pan for about 5 minutes to let the beef sweat. Afterwards, I added some whole black peppers, water and a beef boullion cube while stirring the mix to a boil. I covered the pan and simmered in low flame for 30 minutes. The whole intention was to slow cook the beef to make it tender so that it would be easy to cut a piece with just a fork.
 
When the beef was really soft, I added potatoes, carrots and half a small can of tomato sauce. I let the stew boil in high flame and simmered down to low flame again for around 5 – 7 minutes. I then added yellow bell peppers and simmered for another minute. Lastly, I poured in the remaining half of the tomato sauce and simmered for another minute. The stew naturally thickened after a few more stirring and then I was done.
 
It was perfect served with plain steamed rice.
 
I cooked far too many for a meal so, tonight, I plan to heat the leftover stew and add in additional flavors with some Mrs. Dash salt-free seasoning, basil and parmesan cheese. A richer flavor everytime. Mmmmm…
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Atlantic City


After resting from the craziest holiday I’ve ever enjoyed, we went to Atlantic City. And guess what we did there… More shopping! There are better stores and deals in Atlantic City. We walked the Boardwalk a bit then went to Taj Mahal to try out a few slot machines. I lost $5.10. I felt so bad about it. I think it would’ve been more fun with an arcade video game like Street Fighter or something. But it was an experience. Perhaps we’ll go back there to play more slot machines anyway.
 
An hour before midnight, it was time to go home. I was assigned to drive but gave up halfway because I was super sleepy that my eyes were teary wanting to snooze at 65 mph. I swapped with Anthony and I slept through the rest of the trip. When we reached home, as usual for this weekend, I was asleep as soon as I hit the bed.

My First Thanksgiving


It was crazy!
 
We woke up early in the morning to go to NY for the Thanksgiving Parade. There were great floats, balloons and some celebrities. I have to agree it’s a must experience. We stationed ourselves at Central Park. I got a good spot and took lots of pictures. I’ll post some of the good ones later.
 
Then we watched Beowulf at IMAX in the afternoon.
 
Come dinner, we had a Thanksgiving dinner party (Pinoy style) at 77. We played Bingo with big prizes at stake. There was a portable DVD player, a digital camera, an iTouch and a 26" LCD TV. Unfortunately, I didn’t win a single one of them… not even a box of Godiva chocolates for the consolation prizes.
 
Come midnight, we went to Woodburry for the Thanksgiving sale. I have never seen so many people shopping like there’s no tomorrow… at past midnight. And to think that the weather was really cold: 20 degrees F and winds to bear! We shopped there until 5:30am, drove back to Rockaway for breakfast and went straight to the Rockaway Mall for more shopping. We were awake for more than 30 hours already by noon.
 
We finally decided to go home, have lunch and bath. It was a tiring but fun experience. I was asleep as soon as I hit the bed.

Chicken Fries with a Twist


I enjoyed my dinner today. I cooked it.
 
I had a boneless chicken breast which I cut into pieces of around 1 to 1.5 inch thick. I rubbed them in garlic powder (out of laziness to chop some garlic). I then marinated them for 10-15 minutes in lemon pepper marinade.
 
On a non-stick frying pan, I heated canola-olive oil and butter. I then placed the chicken cuts and poured the excess marinade in to fry covered for 5 minutes on each side. Lightly browned on each side, I removed the chicken from the pan and I placed them on a plate. The pan is left with no trace of butter or excess marinade. All that remains is the cooking oil. I guess that means all of the marinade’s flavor are in the fried chicken fillets now.
 
I removed some of the oil and retained around a tablespoon on the pan which I put on the flame again. I put in chopped tomatoes and sauted for a minute. I added two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon of brown sugar sauteing in medium to high heat for around 2 minutes or so. I then added some basil and hot chili crushed peppers then covered the pan in low heat for a couple more minutes.
 
When I was done, I poured the chili balsamic tomato sauce over the fried chicken fillets. I sprinkled some basil and parsely here and… voila! A tasty sweet, tangy and spicy treat I enjoyed with plain steamed rice. Yummy!

Morning Surprise!


Guess what we woke up to this morning… It’s not officially winter yet here in NJ. But it’s already snowing! They weather guy on TV called it a late autumn snow. We have around a couple of inches of snow outside. We went out and took pictures. Fun in the cold. 🙂

Missions


We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.
— Lynn Hall, Where Have All the Tigers Gone?, 1989

I just find this quote full of wisdom and I’d like to share it with you. When I first read it, I just thought about growing old and felt like looking forward to it. (Thanks, Joy, for sharing). But it also brought me to thinking about my accomplishments and what I’ve done so far in this world. I guess there’s more to it than just being concious of your age.

It also reminds me of Dennis Black whom I met at the airport in Manila while waiting in line for our check-in time. Dennis is a pastor based in California who visits the Philippines as a missionary to the tribes in and around Bontoc in Central Luzon.

Dennis told me about Bontoc and the tribes there. He told me about Rudy who cares so much as to keep in touch with him in behalf of the tribes and the towns. It was really kind of him to show me some pictures of his visit to Bontoc in his digital camera. He told me about his mission and what he’s accomplished. I could see, hear and feel his passion. It was great having met him. We parted on checking-in for the flight and missed saying "bon voyage" or "pleased to meet you" or "good-bye" to each other.

If you can read this Dennis, I just want you to know I feel honored having met and talked to you. I pray for you and wish you all the best. God bless…

Visited the Highpoint State Park, NJ


It was a good day today to go to a park despite the low temperature. There was clear sky so we head off to Highpoint State Park, NJ as planned almost a week before. The trip was smooth setting a good mood to basically enjoy the park’s sceneries and to take great pictures.
 
The park has a beach which faces a lake draped with a beautiful row of trees in autumn colors. We could see a monument at the highest peak of the park so we went up there and spent some time taking pictures. The peak has a perfect overlooking view of the Garden State. I took lots of pictures while enjoying the pre-winter sights: trees of green, yellow, orange and red leaves around (not something you’d see back home in the Philippines). Wonderful! It was like seeing the entire of New Jersey in its final beauty before all the leaves have fallen for winter.
 
The wind at the monument was chilling and freezing. We took more pictures here and there and relaxed a bit at a picnic table talking about anything. We drove home happy and satisfied with the experience.
 
It’s a good day indeed.

Cold Rain Inspired Dinner


It rained the whole day today in NJ. Heading home, the rain stopped but the air was chilly cold. I needed to do something different. So, back home, I challenged myself to spend some time to cook my dinner.
 
I had a boneless breast fillet rubbed all over with garlic powder. I placed it in a bowl and poured some lemon pepper marinade. I cut the chicken lengthwise, like when you’re slicing bread, but not all the way as to separate it in halves. I then stuffed a thin slice of Swiss cheese, chopped red bell peppers and chopped tomatoes in my breast fillet. It looked like a sandwich with the breast fillet acting as the "bread".
 
I love basil! So I sprinkled some basil all over the chicken and set aside for a few minutes.
 
At medium to high heat, I heated butter and canola oil in a grill pan and fried the chicken covered for 3 – 5 minutes on each side. Afterwards, I pre-heated the toaster oven set for broiling and put the chicken in for like 20 – 25 minutes.
 
While the chicken was broiling in the toaster oven, I mixed the remaining marinade, chopped bell peppers and chopped tomatoes together creating a chunky marinade mix. Using the same grill pan where I fried the chicken, I poured in the chunky marinade mix which I cooked in low heat, scraping and stirring in the flavor still stuck on the grill pan. I cooked the chunky marinade mix just enough to sort of "clean" the grill pan. I wanted the sauce to turn a bit thick but I was careful not to overcook the red bell peppers and tomatoes because I wanted the resulting sauce to remain chunky. Afterwards, I removed the chunky sauce from heat and waited for the chicken to be done.
 
When the chicken was done broiling, I plated the chicken and finally poured the chunky sauce all over it. It looked, smelled and tasted so good! It was a delicious treat I enjoyed with a cup of very hot steamed rice to which I mixed about 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of chopped parsely. I let the rice’s heat naturally "cook" the olive oil and parsely together. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!

Wow!


I can’t believe I’m actually blogging again. I just couldn’t find the time to keep it up the past days, weeks or months.  I am happy to be back in NJ. Unfortunately, it’s winter again. But that’s ok. I’ll be spending Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year here. I’ll be missing Flor’s and Bryan’s birthday back home though. Sigh…
 
I want to do some shopping but more so I want to visit some new places. I want to see DC and the Old Towne Alexandria. I was told it’s a beautiful place to see during the holidays. Of course, I brought my camera with me! That is, if I get the chance.
 
I have a busy schedule ahead of me. I just hope, I’d still find the time to keep blogging…