Monday, January 28, 2013

Eggplant Lasagna

Hello everyone! It's been more than a week since my last post and I've been dying to share my latest works (both in the kitchen and crochet)! Well, since I can't feature both here, let me deviate from Olive and Yummy Foodie Mags for a while and share one of my re-make dishes from my favorite kitchen buddy, Del Monte Kitchenomics, which I also featured in two posts last year (Stories from the Cupboard 1: My Kitchenmates  and Stories from the Cupboard 2: Vegetable Pastel). 

Cheesy Eggplant Layers by Del Monte Kitchenomics is a lasagna-inspired dish.
Here are the ingredients:

4 medium eggplants
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs (which I combined with Crushed Graham)
1 pouch (250 g) Del Monte Sweet Style Spaghetti Sauce (but for my own version, I just used Del Monte Tomato Sauce)
1 cup grated cheese (I made a combination of Queso, Magnolia Quickmelt and Mozarella)
1 medium green bell pepper, diced

The original recipe calls for the eggplants to be cut lengthwise into 4 slices, mixed with egg and coated with bread crumbs and fried. However, I skipped the frying part so this is what I did.

  1. Grill eggplants. Remove skin and flatten using a fork. Mix with egg and coat with bread crumbs combined with Crushed Graham. Set aside. 
       2. Add 1 tbsp sugar, 1/8 tsp. pepper and 2/3 tsp iodized salt to Del Monte Sauce.
        3. Arrange half of flattened grilled eggplant on a baking dish. Pour half of sauce over eggplant and      top with half of bell peppers and cheese.
        4. Repeat layering procedure using remaining ingredients. 
        5. Bake at 350 degrees F (180C) for 25 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. 
Hmmm... I just love its cheesy taste! My husband said I serve such amazing dishes! :) :) :) What could be a better compliment?


Preparing for a Rummage Sale sponsored by our church two Saturdays ago caused our whole family to search for books, clothes, CDs, kitchenwares, etc. from the bookshelves, closet and wherever. Doing so brought to my attention a recipe book given to me as a birthday gift by my youngest daughter, Ana Cristina, a few years back. It's a Del Monte Kitchenomics Cookbook Volume III issue in celebration of their 20 years of creative cooking. Page 64 of the cookbook features Samosas, a dish my husband and I ordered when we went out for a family dinner at Banana Leaf last Christmas season. I mention this in my post entitled, New Year Greetings from my Family to Yours.

My Del Monte Kitchenomics Cookbook
In my excitement to try it, I immediately bookmarked the recipe and prepared the following ingredients:

8 pc large square lumpia wrappers, each piece cut lengthwise into 4

1 pc medium onion, chopped
350 gms ground pork (but I substituted chicken)
1 pc medium carrot, cut into small cubes
1 pc small singkamas, cut into small cubes
1/4 tsp curry powder (I love the smell of cumin so I also added a pinch)
2 stalks green onions, chopped
1 pouch Del Monte hot and spicy pizza sauce (I just used Tomato Sauce because my husband doesn't like hot dishes)

1. Filling: Saute onion and chicken. Cook for 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp iodized fine salt, carrot, singkamas, curry powder and cumin. Cook for 8 minutes with constant stirring.                                                  

2. Add Del Monte Pizza Sauce and green onions. 
  3. Cook for 2 minutes. Wrap every 1/2 tbsp of  mixture   in lumpia wrapper and fold to form triangles. 
 4. Fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
  Well, this was another hit as my husband said "Purrr-fect!"

 Linking to   The Best Blog Recipes
                     The Busy Bee's Blog Hop

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rose Garden

 “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

Happy Saturday, everyone! Woke up this morning to accomplish my first goal, that is, to accompany my husband for his regular blood examination. On our way to and from the laboratory, while my husband was driving, I was able to crochet 3 rosebuds--- yellow, orange and blue. Wow, I missed doing that for several weeks now, after the Christmas holidays! The truth is, I still owe a few friends the crocheted give aways intended for them. The back-to-work load in the office has been piling up faster than I could catch them, so I badly need a breather at home. That's precisely the reason why I've been posting only about food for several weeks now.

Now, rose garden here we go... my new batch of roses in different colors... inspired by the rose buds from Fiber Flux Luggage Blossoms which I featured in my post entitled, Rosebuds as Identifiers. In making the roses, I used the pattern from Free Craft Project .

I just added a lime green tail so that each rose bud can be tied in any bag. Just like these...

Aren't you falling in love with the roses? Why don't you start making your own garden too? It would make a nice gift for Valentine's day, don't you think so??!  :)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Leek, Mushroom and Spinach Souffle Omelette

In my December 31 post, I mentioned that this will be a part of the repertoire of dishes I will prepare for the New Year's Eve. Honestly, I was attracted to the sight of the dish while browsing over Olive Magazine for the first time. 

Leek - Mushroom - Spinach Souffle Omelette from Olive Magazine

Here's the recipe...

2 handfuls of spinach
olive oil
1 small, sliced leek
1 handful, chopped button mushrooms
2 eggs, separated
1 tbsp parmesan, finely grated

  1. Put the spinach in a sieve and pour over boiling water. Cool and squeeze out moisture.
  2. Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan, add a slice of butter, the leek and mushrooms and cook until soft. Remove and set aside.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks with 1 tbsp of water in a bowl and season. Whisk the whites until they form soft peaks and fold them into the egg yolks, keeping in as much air as possible.
  4. Add more butter to the pan, then add the eggs. Cook for 1 minute or until the base is set, then put the mushroom mix, spinach, and cheese on half the omelette. 

     5. Flip the bare half over. Cook for a few minutes then serve. 

Fresh from the skillet
Ready to eat
So what do we have here? A very simple and easy yet healthy veggie dish which Billy, my husband, greatly welcomed when served with Pesto Spanish Sardines Pasta and Fish Curry for his lunch.

Pesto Spanish Sardines Pasta

Dory Fish Curry
Wanna try any of these dishes now?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Candle and A Crown: Gardenchef's Liebster Blog Award

Last December 14, Garden Chef's Needle and Pen was awarded a Liebster Blog Award by Elisabeth of Elizy Art in her post entitled, "Elizy Art: Liebster Blog." Elizy Art features handmade crafts and arts .... from the heart. Elisabeth posts about her creations and things of crafty nature, including crochet, her passion! Elisabeth obtained her liebster blog award from Anna of Hindustanka's Sunny Indian Days.

Exciting, yes, as this is the first Liebster Blog nomination Garden Chef has ever received so far since it started November last year! :) Yehey, Garden Chef is 1 year old! :) 

A newbie in the blogger world, this site is just taking off, exploring bloggerdom, getting the joy of sharing ideas, crochet crafts and food experiments. Thank you, Elisabeth, for your act of love... as you said, this is bloggers' way of spreading some love. 

Well, the Liebster Blog Award is not without its own rules. Here they are: 
  1. Answer the 11 questions posed by the person who nominated you
  2. Give 11 facts about yourself
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers for the award
  4. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer
  5. Tell them you have tagged them and pay it forward
Now, here we go...
First, I'm going to answer the 11 questions posed by Elisabeth, who nominated me:
  1. What has been the happiest day of your life so far?  Difficult question... hmmm ... the happiest day of my life, so far, was when I passed the entrance exams to the University. 
  2. What do you like most about blogging? Being able to share my thoughts, ideas and interests in writing, and getting connected with many others to learn from them are what I like most about blogging. 
  3. If you could spend a day living in ‘someone else’s shoes’, who would you chose? I haven't really wished living in someone else's shoes, but since I need to answer the question, given a day to live in someone else's shoes, I would choose to be in the shoes of Flora, one of the Dancing Princesses. 
  4. Sweet or savoury?  Savoury 
  5. Where would your ideal trip be to? Vienna, Austria 
  6. What is your favourite season? Summer (We have only two choices in the Philippines-- summer and rainy seasons) 
  7. What did you want to do for a living when you were little? I wanted to be a journalist (and a nun, too) when I was still a child.  
  8. What is your favourite song? Terminal 
  9. Would you like to live abroad? I really don't know... as of now, my answer is NO. 
  10. What are the three words that best describe you? Well, according to my husband, I'm poetic, culinary  and obsessive-compulsive :) 
  11. What is your favourite thing to do in your free time?Lately, blogging about my crochet works and creating new dishes.
Second, here are 11 facts about me.
  1. I'm the only child of my parents.
  2. I have a collection of Classics Illustrated Comic Books which my own kids also read.
  3. I am a nurse who loves to cook for my family.
  4. Somewhere My Love, the first local movie I watched, starred Susan Roces and Fernando Poe, Jr..
  5. When I was a kid, my pet cat used to sleep at the foot of my bed.
  6. I believe that I was made whole by Jesus Christ who died at the Cross of Calvary to save me from sin.
  7. My first crochet work was a sofa cover.
  8. Moshi, our family pet dog, is 9 years old.
  9. Writing is another love of my life.
  10. I watch TV after going home from work but usually fall asleep while watching.
  11. I go along well with friends who have good sense of humor.
Third, I nominate 11 bloggers for the liebster award. Here they are:
  1. Sara of She Cooks, She Crafts, She Runs as the name of her blogsite states blogs about cooking, crafting and working out. 
  2. Tammy of  Home is Where the Heart is: Life's Simple Pleasures  blogs about the simple pleasures she enjoys in life such as crafts (crochet, knitting), travel, her family and gardening.
  3. Vikki Wallis of Wallisfarm's Daily Walk, a new blogger who features about frugal living, DIY products, Scriptures, farm life, crafts and gardening.
  4. Tracy of Delightfully Free blogs about her cookbook “Delightfully Free" featuring food ideas free of refined sugar and inspired by a restricted diet prescribed for a cause.
  5. Michelle of Stitches is a wife and mother who blogs about her knitted and crochet works.
  6. Weaver Birdie of I Love Handmade! blogs about her creative crochet works at Weaver Birdie's Journal.
  7. Creative Ashley, who prefers to be called Skunk, in her blog, The Legendary Skunk, showcases her creativity which she dreams would bring her to open her own craft store someday.
  8. Tania of Little Things Blogged blogs about a compilation of all the things she loves, obsessed with and that inspires her.
  9. Rajeswari of Diaper Mum blogs about how she maintains her sanity by crocheting and cooking although she also indulges in some stray knitting, quilting and general crafting.
  10. Brooke Espinoza of Rivers of Water whose blog seeks to encourage and equip Christian women to fully trust in God and His Word that they will not be shaken when their faith is tested by trials.
  11. Aya of Codename Aya who blogs about beauty, make-up, skin care and (on one occasion so far) food because she was my inspiration in starting my own blog.
Fourth, I now post 11 questions for my nominees to answer. This reminds me of some questions in my slum book! :)
  1. If you were a Miss Universe finalist and one of the judges asks the question, "What is the greatest challenge in your life?" what will be your answer?
  2. What was your favorite subject in grade school?
  3. Favorite quotation?
  4. If you have a husband or boyfriend, your theme song? Otherwise, your favorite song.
  5. How did you become a blogger?
  6. Have you ever written a poem or lyrics of a song? Could you write a stanza or two?
  7. Your favorite craft website and why?
  8. Your fairy godmother gave you a crown that you should pass on to a person you admire most. Who would that person be?
  9. Given funds for a new wardrobe, what design or style would you collect? (e.g., executive, casual, sporty, formal, etc.)
  10. Name an award you received in high school 
  11. If you have enough savings to build a house, where would you prefer to build it --- in the city, along the beach, in the valley, top of the hill, mountain top, lake shore, etc.?
I thank Elizabeth again for nominating me. It took me some time writing this blog and I hope I got to follow all the rules. Now, it's your turn!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Featured in 26 Random Acts of Kindness

Garden Chef was featured in 26 Random Acts of Kindness - Blogger Style  by 4 You With Love last month! Sorry if this came late. I prepared this last month but the holiday activities prevented me from finishing the post :(

4 You With Love blogged about the tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary last month.  A gunman was able to take 26 lives in that one horrific act and so  she challenged herself to do 26 random acts of kindness in her December 21, 2012 post. She did this by going through the posts that have linked up at Link Party With a Cause and selected 26 blogs with fewer than 200 GFC followers (or Facebook if GFC was not listed).  Then, gave these bloggers the gift of following them.  So that's how Gardenchef's Retro Neck Band came to be featured in her blog (click here to view other featured blogs). 

Here's the Retro Neck Band featured in 26 Random Acts of Kindness - Blogger Style by 4 You With Love.
My Retro Neck Band

The original Retro Neck Band by Ann Linderhjelm

It was indeed a blessing to have participated in the link up of Link Party With a Cause because for every link in the party, the blog sponsors donated $1.00 to the bereaved families of Sandy Hook. There were 840 blogs linked up in the party. I was just so glad for having joined. It was great opportunity to share blessings to those in grief! May links for this cause be blessed all the more this coming year!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Spanish Sardines Pasta Turned Pesto

Happy new year to all! In my blog entitled, One Yummy and Healthy Idea a Week: A Year-Ender Resolution I made mention of three foodie magazines introduced to me by my younger daughter, Ana Cristina. One of these is the Yummy Magazine featuring easy meals and simple dishes for mothers who have no time to cook. 
Photo from Yummy Magazine
The whole magazine features pages full of "yummy ideas" including meal planning tips and tricks! I ended my post with an assurance that I will give you an idea of the meals I will be trying in my upcoming posts.Well, that's exactly what I will be doing right now and in the coming days! So keep coming and watching out to get experiential insights on these dishes :)  Ready for now?

Let me start with Yummy's Olive Oil and Spanish Sardine Pasta recipe. 
Yummy Magazine October 2012 issue page 18
2 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps reserved oil from bottled sardines
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup diced tomato
1 cup flaked Spanish sardines
5 cups cooked capellini pasta
salt and pepper to taste
8 sardine fillets for garnish

  1. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and oil from sardines. 
  2. Saute garlic until fragrant.
  3. Add diced tomatoes and toss quickly.
  4. Add flaked sardines and cook for a minute.
  5. Toss in cooked capellini pasta.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. 
  7. Place two sardine fillets on top to garnish.
Serves 4. Yummy says the trick to this light and healthy dish is using the oil from the sardines bottle itself. And so I did! This can also be tried with either a tomato-based, or hot and spicy, or any of your favorite variety of sardines.

One Saturday morning, I had a taste of Pesto Spanish Sardines Pasta which Billy, my hubby and I ordered for breakfast at The Freedom of Espresso Coffee located at the Ground Floor of Pearl Drive Commercial Center, Fairview Avenue, corner Pearl Street in Quezon City. I liked the taste of sardines and pesto together that I told myself I'm gonna make one at home. Discovering the Olive Oil and Spanish Sardine Pasta recipe from the Yummy Magazine gave me a very strong affirmation to try the dish for the first time only that I gave my version an added flavor of pesto as  Ayana Grace, my eldest daughter, and I are both fond of pesto dishes. 

Oh, wait, aside from adding the pesto sauce, the few other modifications I made to Yummy's original recipe consisted of using ordinary instead of capellini (angel hair) pasta, and adding pitted black olives and sliced button mushrooms. The final twist was the garnish using a few fresh basil leaves on the serving dish. 

Tada! Here's my Pesto Spanish Sardines Pasta which my family enjoyed for New Year's Eve!
Thanks to Yummy for its very simple and easy-to-make recipes. I'm sure your own family would love this either as an afternoon snack or meal. It would be a perfect partner to garlic bread or any buttered toast. Why don't you try it now? Then share in the comment box below what type of sardines you used or if you made your sardines pasta with or without pesto sauce?

And oh, please come and visit this site next week for more YUMMY ideas especially that Ana Cristina has brought home another issue of the magazine! 

Till next post! Have a YUMMY treat to your loved ones and friends throughout the year!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2-N-1: Fish-Veggie Side Dish to Tuna Quesadilla

Happy New Year to one and all! How was your New Year's Eve celebration last night?

Here's a healthy easy-to-prepare dish for a mom with a very hectic schedule this new year 2013. I made this last Sunday when I was so in a hurry to finish my household chores before running to attend the last Sunday Service for 2012 in our church. I just call it Fish-Veggie Mix. It can pass for a short order in a Fast Food Chain.


1 tsp butter
1 tsp garlic
1 pc onion sliced
1/2 cup tuna chunks
1 tbsp oyster sauce
pinch of salt and ground pepper
1 medium carrot sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
5 thin slices of zucchini 1/4 cup red and green bell pepper sliced
1 tbsp leeks

  1. In a skillet, saute garlic and onion using butter. 
  2. Add tuna chunks. Season with oyster sauce, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until tuna chunks are almost cooked. 
  3. Add carrots and broccoli. After one minute, add bell pepper and zucchini. Simmer for another minute. 
  4. Sprinkle leeks on top and serve as toppings to a cup of rice.
Canned tuna chunks or flakes may be used but for this recipe, I used fresh tuna. And instead of serving this as toppings to rice, it became a perfect side dish to Ayana Grace's masterpiece, the Tuna Quesadilla.
Place filling on one half of the tortilla before folding over the other half
 One piece of tortilla can serve four. 
So the three quesadilla pieces can last the whole day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for a family of four. Isn't that nice?

Using the Smoked Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla recipe of Divas Can Cook, Ayana used tuna as filling because my husband, who has been on a fish diet since he recovered from a mild stroke, is enjoying his holiday break at home. This dish is fast becoming our family's fave.
See? Just a piece of Tuna Quesadilla with Fish-Veggie as side dish and a cup of soup
made a simple but healthy meal which my husband enjoyed!
More yummy and healthy meals in the coming posts! Sorry, my thoughts run faster than my fingers on my laptop :(

Happy 2013 once again! Ready for tomorrow's first-2013-day-at-work?