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: Roasted Walnut Balls

I have to admit a guilty pleasure—buying second hand cookbooks online. They’re just such beauties. I recently ordered Looneyspoons and The Vegetarian Epicure. The Epicure, a 1970s cookbook by Anna Thomas, was exactly as I remembered it from my mum’s collection—a bit tattered around the edges, smoothed corners from plenty of use, yellowing pages, and a spine which seems to crack every time you open it but somehow all the pages are still intact. Even better, whoever had owned it before me had taped in various other useful recipes (“90 minute beer bread,” “Zucchini breakfast cake,” “German mustard”) and there are even a few notes in margins (including “yum yum” over the recipe for Cheese & Scallion Quiche). I love books with character like this. I feel like I’m peeking into someone else’s warm kitchen every time I open this book.

This recipe is just one of many delicious ones I plan on sharing from The Vegetarian Epicure. My mum has both the first and the second volumes, and I grew up peering with interest at the beautifully type-set pages (Optima in all its glory! can you tell I’m a typophile at heart?) and whimsical drawings. Anna Thomas wrote the first volume while in university, and it was snapped up by Vintage Press straight away. (I’m so jealous; why didn’t I think of writing a cookbook while in university?) She wrote volume two while in grad school. I absolutely love how she describes learning to cook, as it was “In self defense! I needed to eat, and who could afford to go out?” Oh Anna, I hear you loud and clear! I recommend taking a look at her website which has a sampling of other recipes and excerpts from her other (also vegetarian) cookbooks. I’ve included the Amazon link at the bottom of this post so you can get your very own copy!

These roasted walnut balls are (surprise, surprise) nutty, smooth, and entirely satisfying. They are vegetarian and delicious, and even being a meat eater, I crave these on occasion instead of meatballs! These go great as a vegetarian option for a holiday meal, or really any other time you feel like something a bit different.

Read more »

Posted: August 17th, 2010 under Baking, Cook Books, Easy, Joni's Blog, Mains, Moderate, Recipes - 4 Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,