Friday, January 29, 2016

Barbecue Chicken Siopao

Ever since my mother affectionately called my daughter “siopao face” for her adorably pinchable puffy cheeks, I’ve been reminiscing about visits to the Philippines and the delicious stuffed buns that inspired the nickname. Siopao (pronounced show-pow) literally means “steamed buns” and is popular Filipino snack with Chinese origins, frequently sold by sidewalk vendors in the Philippines. It can be eaten on-the-go without need of utensils, and there are many varieties based on the filling - beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, egg. The dough is yeast-y, almost sweet, and so delicious fresh from the steamer.


My mother and I made a batch of these recently, and by the time the last ones were finished steaming, almost half of them were already gone! Rather than make dough from scratch, we took a shortcut by using Pillsbury biscuits. We already had some shredded barbecue chicken on hand, so it wasn’t too long before we were munching on these delicious steamed buns!

Ingredients: (makes 16 buns)
1 can (8-count) Pillsbury Grands Flaky Layers Original Biscuits (we used reduced fat)
~1 cup barbecue chicken, shredded (see note at the end)

Peel the biscuits in half (there will be a natural separation point), then flatten them out into discs about 4in in diameter (keep the center a little thicker than the edges).


Place about 1 TBSP of barbecue chicken in the center of each disc, then bring up the sides and pinch together at the top, giving a little twist to seal the dough.

 filling steps.jpg

Cut small ~2 inch squares of wax or parchment paper and place each bun on its own square. This will help keep the siopao from sticking to the steamer when cooking. Place buns in a steamer with at least 1 inch of space between them (they will almost double in size) and steam in batches, 10 minutes at a time, until all the buns are done.


Remove from heat, and peel off wax paper as soon as possible (it is a little easier to remove when the buns are warm). Let cool for 5-10 minutes (if you can wait that long!), then dig in!



*To make barbecue chicken: see directions here for cooking chicken breast, then shred and toss with your favorite barbecue sauce and a dash of garlic in a pan over medium heat, letting the meat simmer for 5-10 minutes.   

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Delicious steamy barbecue chicken buns!

Posted by The Cooks of Cake and Kindness on Friday, January 29, 2016

Monday, January 25, 2016

Spinach and Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes

Green foods are generally healthy, and broccoli and spinach are excellent examples of that. They’re a great way to sneak in extra protein, fibre and other essential nutrients into our favorite foods. Not to mention they can really elevate the taste of something as simple as baked potato. This low fat healthy version of baked potato involves pre-cooking the potato, scooping part of it out, mixing it with the delicious green veggies and stuffing the mixture back into the potato before baking it.


1 large potato (I used a Russet potato)
½ cup cooked broccoli florets (steamed or boiled)
¼ - ½ cup spinach leaves
1 clove of garlic
2 Tbsp low fat cottage cheese (or greek yogurt or mayonnaise)
Salt & black pepper to taste
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Leaving the skin on, cook the potato until almost completely cooked. This can be done by boiling the potato, or wrapping in foil and baking it in the oven.

Slice the potato down the middle lengthwise. Start scooping out the potato using a melon baller or small spoon, leaving about ¼ - ½ inch at the edges. Add the scooped potato, cooked broccoli florets, spinach, cottage cheese, garlic, salt and pepper to a food processor and pulse until everything is mixed, but still chunky.

Spoon the mixture into the potato halves, top with parmesan cheese, and bake covered in a preheated oven at 400 F for 15 minutes. I used an inverted baking pan to cover, but you could also use aluminum foil. Take off the cover and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is browned. Serve warm as is or top it with some salsa and sour cream or cottage cheese.



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Spinach and broccoli stuffed potato - healthy, delicious and easy to make!

Posted by The Cooks of Cake and Kindness on Monday, January 25, 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Asian-style Noodle Bowl


I love steaming hot aromatic and delicious Asian broth bowls. However typically they come with a heavy dose of sodium. Not wanting to give up on a favorite and an otherwise healthy meal, I decided to take matters in my own hand and spend some time assembling all the ingredients for a delicious and low sodium Asian bowl. Turns out it wasn’t all that time consuming, and I was slurping my wonderful Asian meal in just about a half hour.


Noodles: 1 packet brown rice noodles (or your favorite kind) - cooked

Garlic Mushrooms: Saute 6-8 oz mixed variety of mushrooms with 1 clove of garlic (minced). You don’t necessarily need to use any oil. I started by heating up the mushrooms and garlic with a pinch of salt in a covered non-stick pan. Let the mushrooms sweat for a minute, stir and continue to cook the same way for about 5 minutes. Use a little bit of orange juice or rice wine vinegar to deglaze the pan if required.


Broccoli with Cashews: Saute 1 cup of chopped broccoli with 6-8 roughly chopped cashews and a pinch of salt. I cooked this similar to the mushrooms without any oil and using vinegar to deglaze the pan.


Tofu: Cut 7 oz extra firm tofu into 1” slices. Squeeze out the liquid using paper towels and cut into cubes. Make a marinade with ¼ cup hot water, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp honey, 2-3 tsp peanut butter. Soak the tofu in marinade and microwave on high for 6-8 minutes. With a nonstick pan on medium-high heat, cook the tofu in a single layer until browned on one side. Flip and cook the opposite side until browned.

Asian bowl.jpg

Chopped carrots

Chopped green onions

2 Boiled eggs: Hard boil the eggs and cut them in half.

Lemon wedges

Broth: Heat 1.5-2 cups of low sodium vegetable broth (preferably homemade) over high heat. Add a thinly sliced clove of garlic, ½ tsp of grated ginger, 1-2 tsp soy sauce, 1-2 tsp rice wine vinegar, ¼ tsp crushed red pepper, salt to taste. Let the broth come to a boil and take it off the heat.

Assembly: Divide all the fixings into 2-4 bowls. Squeeze lemon juice on top. Add ⅓ - ¾ cup of hot broth to each bowl, and enjoy your flavorful steaming Asian bowl!




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A healthy noodle bowl with a refreshingly aromatic Asian broth - easy to assemble with the fixings of your choice!

Posted by The Cooks of Cake and Kindness on Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016

Buttermilk Whole Wheat French Toast

Holidays are perfect times to indulge in the delicious foods you usually avoid, whether for dietary reasons or lack-of-time reasons. Waking up on a lazy morning this past holiday season, I had a craving for a more decadent breakfast than my usual granola or oatmeal, but I didn’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time on it. I spied a loaf of bread sitting on the counter and was struck with inspiration - French toast! Eggs, milk, bread, and a frying pan are the basic things needed for this delicious breakfast treat. This recipe uses buttermilk for a little extra kick of flavor.


Ingredients: (makes 4-5 slices)
1 cup buttermilk (I made some using 1 cup 2% milk + 1 TBSP lemon juice)
4 large eggs (I used 1 cup EggBeaters)
2 TBSP maple syrup (honey could work if you don’t have syrup)
optional: cinnamon, nutmeg
4-5 slices whole wheat bread (thick is best, but normal sandwich bread is good as well, as long as it is a little firm)

In a bowl large enough to fit a slice of bread, beat the eggs well. Add the buttermilk and mix well. Stir in maple syrup. For an optional dash of extra flavor, season the batter with cinnamon and nutmeg.

dredge and fry.jpg

Heat a little oil in a pan on medium heat. Dredge a slice of bread in the egg mixture, making sure it is soaked through. Fry the bread slices for about 5 minutes on each side, until they have browned and the edges are a little crispy.


Drizzle (or drown) with maple syrup and enjoy!

~ Karla

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Indulge in a breakfast favorite with buttermilk french toast!

Posted by The Cooks of Cake and Kindness on Friday, January 15, 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

Dill Scones

Rainy weekend mornings call for a steaming cup of tea and delicious flaky pastry! Often I find myself reaching out for some cookies, a muffin, or a delicious chocolate chip scone. However savory options can be just as delightful - especially savory scones with a melt-in-your-mouth flaky texture. This time I was using beautiful fresh dill to flavor the scones, so I decided to keep them cheese free and let the herb take center stage, however, cheddar or havarti cheese could be added to complement the dill.

Base ingredients: Click here for list of base ingredients.

Add ins:
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
Salt to taste
1-2 tsp ground black pepper
⅓ cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Follow the same steps as the spinach feta scones recipe using the add-ins mentioned above to prepare the dough. Bake at 425 F for ~15 minutes until golden brown.



Other scone recipes you might enjoy:

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Dill-icious scones - a quick and easy savory snack!

Posted by The Cooks of Cake and Kindness on Monday, January 11, 2016

Friday, January 8, 2016


Going home for the holidays and spending time in my childhood home is always a treat, and brings back so many great memories of preparing delicious holiday meals with my mother. This past holiday season, my mom had planned for a couple Filipino treats, one of which is a stew called “menudo.” This is one of those dishes that has many regional variations, but share the same base ingredients. The traditional dish calls for pork and pork liver, but we used chicken instead. Also, an ingredient called “annatto” is used for additional flavor and aroma (and touch of color), but it can be hard to find outside specialty stores, so we omitted it. The sweet onions and garlic were wonderfully aromatic as they cooked, and the stew was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, reminding me of many other childhood Filipino favorites.


Ingredients: (4-6 servings)
~1lb chicken breast, cut into ~1 inch cubes
~½ lb chicken liver, sliced
15oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
2 medium potatoes (~6 redskins), cubed (similar size as chicken chunks)
2 medium sweet onions, sliced thin
3 medium tomatoes (about Roma sized, or 1-2 slicer tomatoes), sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
½ - 1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
soy sauce
ground annatto or annatto juice (optional)
salt to taste

In a large pot, saute onions, garlic, and tomato. Add the chicken and let it cook for a few minutes, stirring for even heating. Season with soy sauce, cover and let it simmer for about 2 minutes.


Add water (enough for a stew consistency, not so much for a soup) and bell pepper. (If you happen to find annatto, add it after the bell pepper.) Cook for about 30 minutes, until the meat is almost tender.


Add the potatoes and garbanzo beans and cook another 10-20 minutes. When the potatoes can be easily pierced, but aren’t falling apart, add the liver and cook another 5-10 minutes. Add salt to taste.


Serve on a bed of rice and enjoy!



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Menudo - comfort food, Filipino style.
Posted by The Cooks of Cake and Kindness on Friday, January 8, 2016

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lemon Pepper Tofu

In addition to beans, nuts, and leafy greens, tofu is an excellent protein supplement to salads and sandwiches for vegetarians.  My favorite way to eat tofu is to squeeze out as much liquid as possible, rehydrate the tofu with a marinade, then cook it until firm and slightly crispy. Typically I use soy sauce and/or vinegar based marinades, but I wanted to try a different flavor this time. I decided to use just two simple ingredients and make lemon pepper tofu. I’m not a huge fan of extreme lemony flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious this turned out! While there is a noticeable citrus flavor, it isn’t overpowering, and one can always add more lemon juice on top for extra tanginess.


7 oz extra firm tofu
~2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
2-4 Tbsp water
Ground black pepper to taste (I used about ¾ Tbsp)
Salt to taste

Prepare marinade by mixing all ingredients in a microwave safe container.

Slice the tofu into ¼” thick slices. Using paper towels, gently squeeze out moisture from the tofu. Add the slices to the marinade and ensure that all the tofu is coated by the marinade. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes.


I used the microwave and stovetop method for this one, however it can all be done in the oven if you prefer.

Microwave the tofu with the marinade for ~8 minutes on high until most of the liquid is soaked/evaporated but not completely dried.

In a nonstick pan over medium high heat, arrange the tofu slices in a single layer. Cook one one side until browned, then flip gently and cook on the other side. Use a couple drops of olive oil or a dab of butter if required (I generally don’t use any, but that requires wiping the pan off between batches of tofu).

Squeeze more lemon juice over the top and serve with some delicious basil pesto or spinach walnut pesto sauce.

Lemon pepper tofu is a delicious way to add protein to your salads, sandwiches, wraps or pasta.


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Lemon Pepper Tofu - healthy and delicious vegetarian protein!

Posted by The Cooks of Cake and Kindness on Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Here's to a great 2015, and an even better 2016!

Happy New Year, readers! We started this blog a few years ago on a lazy Saturday afternoon while we were still in grad school. It was slow for a while, but this past year we decided to get more serious about it and devote more time to blogging. We’re proud to say that we had a whopping 700% more posts than any of the previous years! Now that might be a shockingly high number, but we only managed to get up to 10 posts out every year in the past, so 80+ posts is a huge improvement. As we move into the new year, we’d like to recap a few favorites from 2015. We wish you a happy new year, and hope you’ll continue to come back and read our blog!

~Karla and Gayatri

Breakfast Recipes