Supporter of Good Return

Chicken & vegetable adobo


My first experience with chicken adobo was on a flight back to Sydney from the Philippines. It wasn’t great.

But after visiting the Philippines in January 2013, I’ve been intrigued to track down more recipes to broaden my tastebud horizons. When we were there it seemed like every meal was fried chicken, rice, rice, noodles, and more rice. And fried chicken. That’s because most of the places we were visiting were in rural areas with no restaurants to speak of — that didn’t serve only fried chicken and rice or noodles, anyway!

Chicken adobo caught my attention “for real” when I was perusing Appetite for China and came across this excellent adobo recipe. I’ve been hooked since. So hooked that I haven’t even made the coconut version, and I love coconut.

This is my own adaptation of chicken adobo, using the basic sauce from Appetite for China and adding in a good portion of vegetables. Eggplant seems to be a go-to in Filipino cooking, but I know they would also use any good veggies that were fresh and at hand, so do get creative if you desire.

The best part about this dish is its amazing sweet and sour fragrance as it cooks — but do keep the lid on to keep those juices from evaporating!

Read more »

Posted: September 12th, 2014 under Easy, Joni's Blog, Mains - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Quick Croque-Monsieurs


Croque-monsieurs are a fantastic quick recipe to have up your sleeve. I used to eat them for lunch from the local bakery, but more recently, they were a treat when we hosted a family brunch. Plus, you can make a thwack of them at the same time… and you get to sound very dignified every time you call these a “croque-monsieur” instead of a “cheese and ham toastie.”

Follow these instructions loosely and you’ll have something delicious no matter what variations your tastebuds demand.

Pro tip: Make this into a croque-madame by adding a fried egg!

Read more »

Posted: August 17th, 2014 under Breakfast, Easy, Recipes, Sides - No Comments. Tags: , ,

Laksa, Delicious Laksa


When I get sick, I don’t crave chicken soup. I crave one of two things — tomato soup from a can with grilled cheese and dill pickles (hat tip to Kate and our dining hall days — I also crave this when perfectly healthy), or spicy beef ramen noodles (hat tip to football player roommates who once bought a 48 box of these from Costco for the house). Unfortunately for me, my favourite spicy beef ramen noodles are no longer accessible to me, for two reasons. One, my fave brand was Safeway’s own, which doesn’t seem to exist anywhere near me in Australia. Two, I refuse to buy a one-use styrofoam cup just to enjoy guilty pleasure empty calories.

What does all of this have to do with laksa, you may ask? It seems that in my quasi-invalid state today, I craved what is arguably the grown up version of these two comfort foods. Laksa, that spicy, creamy, savoury, tart, sweet, and overall delectable goodness. I’m a convert.

Just fyi, my invalid state today was caused by surgery on my ear — cosmetic, as I had a big keloid scar lump there from an old piercing. It was my first time ever going under in complete anaesthetic, which on the whole wasn’t so bad. Other than nerves in the morning, I’d say the whole experience (so far) has been about as pleasant as getting a cavity filled. So, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this if you’re sick in the gastro way — a really hot laksa could sure do wonders for a head cold though!

Another disclaimer. I think I’ve had laksa only a handful of times in my life, and two of those were my own homemade version. As a gal who grew up in small Canadian town with no Asian food other than Westernised Chinese and Japanese, I’m no connoisseur or particular whiz at Asian dishes (yet). But frankly, so long as it’s delicious, who really cares, right? Enjoy this with a nice cold beer any time of ear. Er, year.

Read more »

Posted: November 5th, 2013 under Easy, Joni's Blog, Mains, Recipes - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blueberry Banana Oat Muffins

blueberry banana muffins

Every now and then a recipe comes along and you say to yourself: “This is it. I’ve found it.”

And that’s what these muffins are! I’ve made many a muffin in my time and there’s a difficult balance to find between taste, health, moistness, and of course flavour. Some muffins are just too healthy. Some are a cupcake by another name. To me, a good muffin is one that sits pleasantly in the middle of the scale, with a great flavour to boot.

The next time you have blueberries in your fridge/freezer just begging to be baked into something, pull up this recipe and enjoy!

Read more »

Posted: June 22nd, 2013 under Baking, Breakfast, Easy, Joni's Blog - 1 Comment. Tags: , , , ,

Random Post: DIY Ricotta Cheese

ricotta cheese

Homemade cheese—not something I’d heard much about, nor had a concept of how to do, until I decided to attempt this ricotta recipe. Some conversation with Luke’s family, inspired by reflections on our trip to the Hunter Valley a few weeks ago, brought up the mention that making cheese at home is pretty easy. Softer cheeses, such as ricotta or feta, don’t need to be aged like hard cheeses such as cheddar or gouda, so you can easily make them at home without needing any special equipments or carefully cultured moulds. Easy as it might be though, I was a bit concerned about the ingredients that’re required for cheesemaking, such as rennet. Traditionally, rennet is from the lining of a calf’s stomach, and it contains the enzymes necessary to digest milk. Some European cheeses are still made with animal rennet from tradition, but in North America & Australia, about 90% of cheeses are made with rennet produced by genetically modified bacterial or fungal cultures and the quantity has been rising since the 90’s.

Long story short though, I finally found a recipe at a fellow Sydney food blog, Citrus and Candy, which used lemon juice instead of rennet (GMO or natural). As I have a tonne of lemons to use up at the moment (another result of our Hunter Valley trip, which you’ll hear more about later) this seemed a match made in heaven. I have to say that the success of this recipe has me wanting to make more kinds of cheeses and get experimental—I’m eyeing up some feta recipes next (which require only a week of aging), and pondering the possibilities of garlic, herb, fruit, etc. flavoured cheeses.

Ricotta cheese is also a new found love of mine. I hadn’t had it much until Luke’s nutritionist recommended he eat it on toast with honey for breakfast. If you’ve never had fresh ricotta on toast with honey—do it now. It’s one of the best and easiest breakfast treats I’ve ever had (plus, high in calcium and protein). However, ricotta that you often get packaged in supermarkets (Canadian and Australian) is pretty much crap. It’s runny and curdy and gives ricotta a bad name. True ricotta is fairly dry and crumbly, a bit like goat’s cheese or a very light cream cheese. Fortunately, ricotta seems to be such an easy cheese to make that any deli should have something good—but why buy it when you can make it yourself? I figure that the cumulative price of ricotta is about the same, or cheaper, if you make it yourself at home. Plus, you have control over all of the ingredients, so you can fully take advantage of all your local/organic dairy. Enjoy!

Read more »

Posted: June 20th, 2010 under Basics, Easy, Joni's Blog, Recipes - 9 Comments. Tags: , ,