Food from the Philippines


Nothing gets me in touch with my roots faster than a bowl of steaming lugaw. In fact, nothing makes me happier when I’m having a bad day. Today, June 12th, is the Philippine National Independence Day and I want to pay homage to some of my all time favorite dishes from home.

Before the food, a little background on this day. For more than three centuries, Spain occupied the Philippines after Ferdinand Magellan landed on the shores of Philippines. The occupation wakened different sentiments in the natives. Some benefited as second class citizens in the Spanish-ruled cities and towns, some were angered by the conquest. It was a long, gruel yet rich history. In the end, the Filipinos started a revolution that won us the freedom we now enjoy (that is, after the subsequent Japanese then American occupation but that’s another story).

And that history continues to live today in the Filipino language, culture, religions, and of course, food.

Processed with Moldiv

One of my favorite flavors to this day is ube – purple yam. That’s the unusually purple stuff there. It’s similar in texture and taste as the taro but a bit sweeter. While I’ve never actually eaten a raw purple yam, I’ve eaten loads of ube ice cream, cake, and anything ube-flavored.

Lugaw is a rice congee cooked with ginger and usually topped with crushed popped pork rinds. My mom always makes this when someone is sick because it’s easy on the stomach and the ginger is soothing to a sore throat. When I’m sick, this is the only food that comforts me.

Dilis is essentially dried anchovies. They’re salty, crunchy and, to the untrained nose, they smell awful when cooked. I like it though. It’s the perfect accompaniment to any rich dish.

Ah, and finally, the pork menudo. The Filipino-style pork menudo is a rich concoction of pork belly, tomato sauce, carrots, potatoes and sometimes liver. I don’t eat liver but the dish has more depth when this is added. Now this, I think, I can cook better than my mom.

Today, as a Filipino, I celebrate our culture of hardwork, communitu and family. Happy Independence Day!

For Filipino recipes, check out my go-to site: Panlasang Pinoy.


An Avocado Breakfast Toast Recipe

Avocado Breakfast Toast | Make Little Joys

The best thing about the weekends is the luxury of time. Sunday mornings are best for indulgent breakfast spreads with warm bread and fresh eggs. There will be none of that iced coffee and instant oatmeal in my cubicle in front a computer.

This time, it will be a creamy avocado toast with bright sun-dried tomatoes cradling a deliciously shiny egg. Just sneak in a slice or two of bacon, and I’ll be golden.

What you need:

  • Bread
  • Avocado
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Egg
  • Salt and pepper

Slice the bread and top with avocado, sliced or spread depending on its ripeness. Add thinly sliced sun roasted tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and bake in the oven at 300 for around 10 minutes. Top the baked toast with a fried egg.

Maybe I’ll still have that iced coffee, now.

Avocado Breakfast Toast | Make Little Joys

Lazy and Savory Chorizo and Chickpea Recipe

Chorizo and Chickpea Recipe|Make Little Joys Chorizo and Chickpea Recipe|Make Little Joys

This dish is for those nights when you’d rather order takeout but want something a little more substantial than a Big Mac. Maybe even something with a little kick to it. Inspired by Aslan’s dinner on essiebuttonvlogs (he’s a pro at video editing!), this dish is filling, savory and pretty quick to put together.

What you’ll need:

  • Can of chickpeas
  • half a log of chorizo
  • eggs
  • garlic (as much as you want)
  • tomato sauce
  • chicken broth
  • whatever vegetables you have lying around


The first thing to do is saute the garlic and chickpeas in a deep pan just until the garlic is fragrant. Next, put in about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Add about 1/3 cup of water. Stir and let it reduce until the chickpeas are just coated with the sauce.

In another pan, cook the chorizo until (as my BF so astutely describes) “it looks like dog food”. Add in eggs. I wanted a more subtle chorizo flavor so I added 2 eggs. Stir until it looks like scrambled eggs/chorizo.

Once all of that’s ready, serve the chickpeas and top it off with the chorizo. It may not look sexy but, trust me, it is so good!

May 2014 Favorites

May 2014 Favorites / May 2014 Favorites /

May flew by! It was quite enjoyable nonetheless and we’re finally grilling out on the deck more (a favorite activity, for sure). Here are my favorites for this month:

  1. Dainty Necklaces – These feminine and delicate necklaces are the perfect accessories for the airy tops I like to wear in spring. My mom bought these from her trip to Atlantic City recently. Both necklaces were made by local artists which make them extra special. I love the minimalist style!
  2. BB Seaweed Fresh Face Mask ($6.95) – This was definitely a good choice for my first Lush purchase. I leave it on for a whole episode of Vampire Diaries and, when I rinse it off, my face is instantly softer and smoother. It feels really cooling on application, too, since it is supposed to be left in the fridge. My only gripe about this is the 3-week shelf life.
  3. Josie Maran Argan Infinity Lip and Cheek Creamy Oil in Everlasting Honey ($18) -Finally, a lip and cheek product that actually works well on both! This was an impulse buy for me but it’s well worth the money. On the cheeks, it looks like a natural, “just got out of the gym” flush. There is a dewiness left on the skin that acts as a healthy highlight. On the lips, it starts off glossy and sets into a tinted lip balm look and feel. Highly recommended for dry skin.
  4. Revlon Nail Enamel in Flirt ($3.97) – Long before Pantone announced Radiant Orchid as the color of the year, I have swooned over this nail polish color – very reminiscent of the popular shade. It’s just the right mix of lavender and pink and isn’t quite as intense as Radiant Orchid. This formula goes on opaque after two coats and stays on for a few days with a top coat. It’s the perfect spring nail polish!
  5. Laura Mercier Sheer Lip Colour in Baby Lips ($23) – My mom also gave this to me because it didn’t work for her but it worked wonders for me! This color is the perfect “my lips but better” shade and it’s comfortable to wear.

Which  Lush mask should I try next?

A Budget App for the Newbie

Budget View

This post originally appeared in my former blog, Make Little Joys.

Budgeting was a challenge when I first started. It was painful realizing that, for the first time in my life, I won’t be able to enjoy my whole paycheck on leisurely things like makeup, Michaels shopping sprees, and food. Bills and savings were looming over my paycheck like an impending storm waiting to rain on my parade.

But, alas, I must budget if I want to survive so I did. It was easy enough to set aside money for savings and specific amounts for certain expenses like grocery and the car insurance. What’s hard was keeping track of all of it.

The Budget Envelopes app (free trial and $2.99 on iTunes) helped with that. It’s a user-friendly app that allows me to visualize my budget. After entering the set amount for each expense category, it lets me itemize my expenses for that specific category and show me in a simple bar graph how much I have left. It became so easy to tell myself to chill out while shopping for groceries when I’m looking at a mostly red graph.

It also lets me set a budget cycle for repeating expenses like my train ticket and the electricity bills which takes even more work out of budgeting every month.

The other features come in handy, too, like the Income tab which allows users to keep track of money coming in. The Budget Envelopes app uses that information to compose reports that show how money is used over time. In the Reports tab, it offers different report options like Expense vs. Income Graphs, Day/Week/Month/Year Reports and even Expense Reports per category. This feature makes it so much easier to observe spending habits!

Reports View

This Budget Envelopes app was a crucial tool for me when I first started having financial responsibilities. It helps me make better short term and long term choices when it comes to spending without doing anything more complicated than typing in what I bought. And for someone as forgetful as I am, it’s nice to always have an answer to, “Where did all my money go?