Creamy Chicken Macaroni Soup for Dinner

Albeit a hot, humid weather, my family and I were craving for chicken sopas. The epicure in me took this craving as a challenge and opportunity to cook creamy macaroni chicken soup or sopas for the very first time. o______o

I can imagine I’m as good as Rachel Ray, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m still a very amateur cook. 😐 Thus I borrowed a  chicken sopas recipe I found in Pinoy Recipe. (Chicken sopas is a Filipino comfort food)

Ingredients:

  • 500 g chicken breast
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 white onions (minced) I used red onions; it still tastes good!
  • 1 large bell pepper (seeded and sliced into strips)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 carrots (sliced into thin strips)
  • 350 g macaroni noodles
  • 2 cups evaporated milk
  • 1 medium cabbage (roughly shredded)
  • 2 Tbsp margarine
  • fish sauce / patis
  • rock salt
  • chopped spring onions (didn’t use this!)
Procedure:
  1. Boil the chicken in 4 cups water. Save the broth to be used later. 
  2. Shred the Chicken meat with your fingers. Set aside.
  3. Saute garlic and onion in oil over medium heat.
  4. Add the bell pepper and cook until aromatic.
  5. Stir in the shredded chicken.
  6. Season lightly with ground black pepper.
  7. Add the carrots, a quick sauté then the macaroni. Give it a stir to get the fat all around the pasta.
  8. Pour in the chicken broth and 5 cups water. Simmer.
  9. Pour in the milk, stirring gently.
  10. Add the cabbage. From this point, the macaroni and the cabbage will cook at about the same time.
  11. Add the margarine.
  12. Season with patis or salt.
Voila! According to my family plus our kasambahay (house helper), my dish was a success! I would like to thank our kasambahay, Ate Anne, for helping me transfer the ingredients from one casserole to another, stir the sopas, and come up with just the right and pleasing taste for the buds. 🙂 I am so thankful and happy for the success of this dish! 😀 I wish you could taste it, but with your wide and extensive imagination, you could probably “taste the sopas in your dreams.” 😀
Unfortunately I did not take photos of us sipping and enjoying our bowls of sopas, but take my word for it when I said that we all enjoyed our meal. 🙂 I don’t mean to brag, but I am confident that I will excel in this skill and passion of mine, that is, cooking. 🙂 If you have any favorite recipes that you want me to try, please tell me! Send the file to talamjenny@gmail.com or send me the link via a comment. I’ll never stop cooking and learning how to improve in doing so. 😀
Until the next cook-off! 🙂

I Left My Heart (and Stomach) in Balay Indang

Two days ago my family and I, along with my paternal grandmother and aunt, visited a unique and beautiful house in Indang, Cavite. Just 90 minutes from Manila (although it took us 2 and a half hours to get there), Balay Indang (“House of Indang”) or The Red Ginger Farm is a Filipino/Asian-inspired,  bed-and-breakfast destination.

went immediately to the dining area to eat. FOOD is the best welcomer ever, if I must say 🙂

baked Parmesan fish is love! 🙂 I ate gobs of it. It was that good!

twas my first time to see and touch records. 🙂

I love surprises. Balay Indang gave me this the moment I stepped inside her wooden gate. As you saw in the photos, the interior was decorated contrarily: Christian places all over and Buddhist statues inside the living room. However, that to me was no surprise compared to what awaited us at the dining table. Since we left our own balay early, my family and I (except for the golden ladies :D) had no time for breakfast. Thankfully, a Balay rule accommodated our physical needs: upon arrival (which should be reserved, by the way; they don’t accept walk-ins), breakfast/lunch/dinner is served immediately. Although your right in choosing what to eat is deprived of you inside their home, the amiable staff have already prepared delicious meals that would pull your heartstrings. The best part about it is all ulam (viands) are refillable, so in effect, meals are eat-all-you-can! 🙂 The Balay Indang menu varies everyday so that each visit would be unique on its own. As I mentioned earlier in a caption, I fell in love with the baked Parmesan fish! What seemed to be the “crust” of the cheese tasted like the fish’s belly (or maybe it really was the fish’s belly) and it just made my jaw drop in awe. The salad (not pictured) was simple yet tasty because of the nuts and finely grated Parmesan cheese. The dalandan-orange drink was also very refreshing and natural for it was made out of real dalandan and orange, squeezed and mixed to perfection by the staff.

After lunch we toured the rooms. Each room, named after a Bible character, was designed to accommodate 4-6 people and was spacious enough to move around and play board games (I can imagine my brothers and I playing Monopoly Deal and Pictionary). We did not check-in (boo) so we just went to the Pavillion and relaxed our afternoon away (for me that meant a siesta). =)) Come 3 PM merienda (afternoon snack)  was served. Our perpetually hungry family ate mini buko pies and bread topped with pesto, cream and shrimp. 😀 More memorable photos were shot and snapped before we said our goodbyes and wished the place success (we weren’t the only customers, by the way).

Balay Indang (The Red Ginger Farm and Garden)

88 Mahabang Kahoy Cerca

0917-8374261 or 0917-8665825

PLDT number: 775-6886

She’s The Best

Next to God, Jean Jarlego-Talam is the person who has greatly impacted my life for the better. (I know I should be mentioning Dad but it’s Mom’s Day today so for now, his name shall be mentioned less :))

The best people in my life are not those who always gave me gifts and made me feel good; they lead me to what is really good even if it drove them nuts. That’s exactly what my Mom does every.single.day. In case I haven’t mentioned, getting to know me is hazardous to your health. Over the 17 years that she has taken care of me (yes, I have aged once again today, but more on that later), however, she has grown immune. 😀 Since she’s perfectly human and thus perfectly imperfect, she drove me crazy too. 🙂

I received the most number of spankings from her–6 to be exact. I was around 10 or 11 at that time. I misplaced the “expensive” sharpener in school, the one where you inserted the pencil inside the “claw” then rotated the handle to sharpen it.

I had 6 charges to my name: 3 accounts of lying, 1 of disobedience and 2 other “sins” whose names escaped my brain. Thus, I received quite a heavy and painful belt beating. Afterwards, my Mom and I hugged and kissed each other like never before. I moved past the tampo (emotional tantrum) stage so I never harbored ill feelings against her. In fact, I thank her for that experience. I find it hard to lie (sometimes I still give in, though) and admit that I did something wrong even if it costs me another heavy beating. I have also grown to love mechanical pencils so that I won’t have to sharpen and lose anything “expensive.” There has been a rebirth of interest in wooden pencils, though, for the past few weeks because we forgot about Mr. Pricey Sharpener. 😀

God used Mom to bring me to life physically and to teach me how to live not only physically but also spiritually. What I love most about her is the fact that she will never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up on me. Ever. 🙂

Mom, I love you. Thank you for being you. I praise our Heavenly Father for placing me under your care. Forgive me for my past, present and future disappointments, but by God’s grace, I shall strive to please you and make you proud until the end of our lives. 😀 You (and Dad) inspire me. I couldn’t imagine being with another mom.

PS: I’m sure Josh and James feel the same way. The just don’t have a blog they can use to broadcast their feelings. 😀

you can always hide behind me 😀

Brotherly Love

“Jenny, keep an eye on your brothers. Take care of them, okay? Don’t leave them….I trust you….Alagaan mo mga kapatid mo.’Wag mo silang pababayaan….”

For weeks  Mom kept repeating to me until the day she and Dad left for Australia two weeks ago. Being the responsible, oldest daughter that I was (no pride intended–that’s what they called me),  I took these words to heart, thinking I would never break them even if it cost me my happiness. Last Sunday I was tested to see if I passed or failed the Brothers’ Keepers Test. Whatever comes out of it is a matter of life and death because two precious souls are at stake.

The “test” (at the time that it happened it was simply an incident) began the moment the 10 A.M. worship service concluded. About a thousand people made their way out of the 5th floor auditorium and headed in different directions: the parking lot, Megamall, Podium, St. Francis food court, restrooms and Sunday school to pick up their children. I belonged in the last category except I wasn’t picking up my children but my brothers. My cousin, Rej, accompanied me to the 3rd floor. For some reason we separated, she heading to the elementary rooms where my youngest brother, James, and our family friend, Arman, were, while I headed to the intermediate  rooms where my 12-year old brother, Josh, was. I went to the Grade 6 room only to find it dark and empty, so I immediately went outside Sunday school. Upon exiting, I found Ate Rej, James and Arman, but not Joshua. Whatever happened to that absent-minded guy? It took us 2 minutes to finally locate him and because I was in a hurry to eat (it was lunchtime already!) I forgot where he went and where we found him. That was only the first of his escapades.

Right after locating Joshua, we met up with the Evaristo family, other relatives of ours. Together–me, Miko and Rej–mounted and dismounted escalators and made our way outside St. Francis Square. I distinctly remember Joshua, again absent-minded, trailing behind us. Making sure of this, I conversed with my cousins (Miko and Rej), laughing and teasing each other like we used to. James and Arman were held by our cousin Kuya Renjay so I relaxed. I was taking care of my brothers without sacrificing my happiness and comfort. Or so I thought.

Three minutes have passed since we entered the doors of Megamall when we reached Pizza Hut Bistro located in the 3rd floor. Kuya Renjay, the younger kids and other relatives arrived earlier to save two tables and order the food. My cousins and I talked some more, then I checked on James, Arman and Kurt (the younger brother of Miko, about James’ age). I asked James where his kuya Josh was, but he shook his head and said, “he’s just around.” I looked around but found no sight of Josh. I did not worry…not yet anyway. Maybe he’s in a store somewhere. Oh there, in Blue Magic. My cousins Rej and Miko went right to locate Josh while I walked left towards Blue Magic. The store replete with stuffed toys and “love” items probably did not attract my brother (like me) so I left it immediately. After three minutes, Yaya Aida, the helper of our aunt Jayjay, called me and asked if we have found Josh. News spreads fast nowadays, doesn’t it? Calmly, I said we haven’t, but assured her we will. Or was it myself that I assured? Either way, we just wanted to locate my brother.

The rest of the brood that were not part of the search-and-rescue team rested on the chairs, waiting for the ordered food. I instructed James to stay with our other aunt, Tita Judith, while I go look for our brother. Where could he be? The last time I saw him was in National Bookstore. I dashed to the ground floor.

As I brisk-walked to NBS, I couldn’t help but worry and imagine the bad things that could have met my brother. Episodes in CSI and Law and Order of 50-year old pedophiles abducting and taking advantage of young boys flashed in my head. Oh Lord, please, no. Not Josh. Not when our parents are thousands of miles away from us, enjoying and having fun. Oh God, no. Please, help me find Josh. Make our paths cross. At the same time, I told myself: This is all your fault. I should have paid attention to him. I should have watched him. I’m such a bad sister.

Immediately I entered National Bookstore upon arrival and searched for a boy in a blue and green striped Gap shirt, denim shorts and red-and-black basketball shoes. No match found. I stopped beside the Teens shelves and contemplated at his present location. He was trained well; he should have stayed here and waited for us to find him. Oh Lord, please keep my brother safe. Please–

*insert CSI: New York theme song* It was my phone. An unregistered number appeared, but I assumed it was my cousin Rejoice. For once, my presupposition was true.

“Hello Jenny? We found Joshua na. “

Whew. I breathed a sigh of relief and thanksgiving. The episodes quickly faded. “Where did you find him?”

“In National Bookstore. We’re in Pizza Hut already.”

He was trained, after all. “Oh…haha, I see. Andito ako ngayon. Sige, aakyat na ako.” (I’m here now. Alright, I’ll go up now.)

We ended our conversation and I went out of the bookstore–thankful, relieved and almost teary-eyed. I hated these incidents, but it is in these adrenaline-pumping moments where I see how good God is and how much attention I gave or have not given my brothers. As I walked to the third floor, I resolved in my heart not to scold my brother. I’ve had enough sermons and worries for the day. (Besides, it was Tita Jayjay who did the scolding. Haha!)

While my parents were away, I kept asking God what His purpose/s is/are for not allowing me, Josh and James to visit Australia with our parents. I guess I had to learn a lot of lessons–lessons I would learn only apart from my parents, to see how their 16-year training will be translated into proper application. Over all, I believe God wanted to teach me the value of brotherly love–literally. 🙂 After that incident, I never took my eyes off my brothers except when they bathed and in the evening when we slept. My momentary lack of attention to Josh did not mean that I didn’t love him, but that I chose to focus on myself. My comfort, my happiness, my time. After all, I took care of them very well when we were in our Tita Amy’s house. But that’s the thing about love: it’s inexcusable.  Love suffers long. Come to think of it, I was not going to “suffer” for watching over my brothers! Thankfully, God never kept His eyes off Joshua. 🙂

You may be the bunso (youngest child) in your family, the middle child (like Josh) or the panganay (eldest) like me. If you have a sibling (siblings), choose to love them. Trust me, I’m not that loving now towards my brothers, but I can tell you that by the grace of God, I have changed for the better. I was more patient than I was a year ago or two years ago. Love ought to be practiced faithfully today. Now is the time. You may say, “Well, my siblings don’t care if I exist. We’re on our own now.” The truth is, they do. They desire as much affection and love as you do. Oldest children, our younger siblings look up to us. On the outside, they may be rebellious, disobedient, naughty and stubborn, but really, all they’re looking for is an ate or kuya (older sister or brother) who would love them no matter what. Family members look only for love outside the family when they can’t find it inside the family. Be the first one to initiate the love. 

Here are pictures of me with Joshua and James. I love ’em!

proudly wearing his medal on him! forgot which award it was, though. Haha!  🙂

smartest boy. evarr. 😀

with our cousin Rej. Our missing footwear is a sign of respecting holy ground. Seriously. :)))

CUTEST!!!! 🙂 :>