Dad’s Steak Rub

Dad’s Steak Rub

The secret ingredient to Dad’s super-delicious steaks is maple syrup.


Prep: 15 mins    Cook:  15 mins     Total: 30 mins     Servings: 4      Yield: 4 servings






Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat the grill for high heat.

  • Place the steaks in a bowl, and drizzle on both sides with maple syrup. Rub with garlic, seasoned salt, and pepper.

  • Lightly oil the grill grate. Place steaks on the grill, and cook 7 minutes per side, or to desired doneness.


Nutrition Facts

 500 calories; protein 65.9g; carbohydrates 15.7g; fat 17.6g; cholesterol 131.7mg; sodium 825mg. 


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Chicken Barbecue

Chicken Barbecue

Barbecued chicken is a variation of Pinoy Pork Barbecue simply because the marinade and procedure are almost the same. However, both has it’s distinct flavor that everyone loves.  Others may call it grilled chicken as it is done indoors under a grill while barbecuing is done outdoors on a barbecue. Whatever it is the process is  just the same cooking it  hot in charcoal or electric grill as I do, since we don’t have any place from the building for charcoal grilling. Nonetheless, my electric grill if just fine for easy grilling of chicken as it has an easy adjustment if you want it cooked low and slow or hot and fast, but for chicken meat it needs both to achieve a fantastic result …well done  from the inside and a bit crispy on the outside.

Just like pork barbecue, chicken barbecue  is fairly simple to make, but it does take a little bit of time to marinate. Please note that the longer you let it marinate the better the taste. If you wish to prepare this dish, marinate it in the evening so as on the next day the chicken is all ready for grilling.

Chicken on the Grill


  • 6 pcs. chicken , cleaned
  • 1/2 cup of Mama Sita’s barbecue marinade
  • 1 whole garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 1 medium size lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Maggi magic sarap
  • 1 pinch MSG (optional)

Instructions for Cooking

  1. Make the marinade by combining the garlic, mama sita’s marinade, juice of 1 lemon, msg., maggi magic sarap, and ground black pepper in a bowl. Stir to mix.
  2. Put the chicken leg quarters inside a large freezer bag, and then pour-in the marinade.
  3. Shake the bag gently to coat the chicken with marinade then remove the air inside the bag. Seal the bag then refrigerate overnight.
  4. Remove the chicken from the bag and transfer the remaining marinade to a bowl and put a little oil  for basting.
  5. Put on the chicken into bamboo or metal skewers for easy turning.
  6. Heat-up your grill and start grilling the chicken under medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes per side or until the chicken is completely cooked. Do not forget to baste the chicken with the remaining marinade mixture.
    Note: Chicken takes a long time to cook. Grilling it in high heat will cause the outer part of the chicken to cook earlier leaving the inside raw.
  7. Remove from the grill and transfer to a serving plate.
  8. Serve with steamed rice.
  9. Share and enjoy!


Baste the chicken with the remaining marinade to further enhance the flavor while grilling. Basting the meat will also help to keep it moist through the entire cooking process.

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Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish

Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish


Maqluba is a Levantine dish popular in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine.  The name literally means “upside down” because the meat, vegetables, and rice are stacked in a handleless pot to cook, then flipped over and placed on a large tray for serving.

These days Maqluba is described as a one pot dish, which I suppose it could be; assuming you don’t count the pot you stew the meat in, and the pan you fry the veggies in.  Not to mention the bowl you soak the rice in, and if you’re adding vermicelli and pine nuts the pan you brown the pasta and nuts in.

Maqluba is very similar to Paella which is also a one pot dish composed of meat or seafood, veggies, and rice.  Considering that many parts of Spain was under Moorish rule for a total of about 800 years it would be fair to say that Paella is the Spanish version of Maqluba or vice versa.

It is honestly the only Arabic dish I can claim to have mastered.  After years of making Maqluba I’ve finally gotten it right every single time.  It’s really not that difficult to make, it’s just tedious due to all the steps in the recipe and the time it takes to make it.  If you count the time it takes to soak the rice this dish takes all day to make, at the very least about 3  hours.  But it is truly worth the time and effort.

Maqluba is typically made with stewed meat, either lamb, beef, or chicken; fried vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower, or eggplant; and rice.  All the ingredients are stacked in that order into a large deep pot preferably without handles.  Of course you can omit the meat and make a vegetarian dish.

There are “enhancements” you can add to make the dish fancier.  Some folks like to mix vermicelli and even garbanzo beans in the rice before cooking, then sprinkle it with pine nuts before serving.  And of course in our family I slip tomato wedges between the meat before cooking, and some of us like to top the cooked dish with corn kernels and plain yogurt.  In short I suppose each family has it’s own version on how to cook and eat Maqluba.  But one thing is certain, it’s delicious!

Here’s how we make it at our house, but first here’s a quick tip.  When making Maqluba use a deeper pot with no handles (a maqluba pot is the best, but hard to find in the US, you may find one at a middle eastern grocery store) and a lid, or a pot with removable handles or handles that aren’t too close to the pot lip.  This will make flipping it over easier as handles can block the tray you flip it on to from laying flat on top of the pot.  The pot has to be deep enough to layer the ingredients and still have enough space for the rice to expand as it cooks.



4-5 Cups Long Grain Rice

1 Tbs. Turmeric Powder

1/8 Cup Olive Oil

8-10 pieces of meat (lamb, beef, or bone in chicken thighs)

1 Large Onion, cut in chunks

1 Tbs. Garlic, crushed

1 Tbs. + 1 Tsp. Ground Cumin

1 Tsp. + 1 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Box Stock (beef or chicken depending on the meat you use)

1 Large Cauliflower, cut into chunks

1 Large Eggplant, cut into rounds

3 Potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds

Oil for frying

Cooking spray

2 Tomatoes cut in wedges

6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled

Vermicelli (Optional)

1 Can Garbanzo Beans, drained (Optional)

1/2 Cup Pine Nuts (Optional)

Butter (Optional)

1 Can Corn Kernels (Optional)

1 Cup Fresh Plain Greek Yogurt (Optional)


Place rice in a big bowl and cover with water.

Add Turmeric to water and stir until it is evenly distributed and water turns yellow.  Set aside for at least 2 hours. Check periodically as the rice will absorb the water.  If all the water is absorbed add more and stir.

Heat olive oil in a stock pot.

Saute onions in hot oil until it starts to turn translucent.

Add crushed garlic and cook another minute, stir to keep from burning.

Add meat, 1 Tbs. Cumin, 1 Tsp. Nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Cook until meat starts to brown.

Add stock and then add water to completely cover the meat.

Let simmer until meat is tender and fully cooked.  About 2 hours.  Set aside when done.

Meanwhile place about 1″ oil in frying pan.

Fry your veggies until cooked and drain on paper towels.  Set aside.

If using Vermicelli and/or Pine Nuts:  Melt about 1 tbs. butter in a small frying pan.  Add vermicelli and cook until it starts to turn brown, stir constantly to keep from burning.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Repeat this procedure with Pine Nuts.

When ready to stack meat in the pot:

Spray bottom and sides of pot with cooking spray.

Drain rice then stir in vermicelli noodles and/or garbanzo beans if using.

Starting with the meat, remove meat from pot it was cooked it, reserve the broth do not discard.

Arrange meat at the bottom of the pot.

Slip garlic cloves and tomato wedges between the meat.

Sprinkle meat with 1 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. nutmeg.

Arrange veggies on top of meat.

Pour rice mixture over the veggies and smooth out to make the top flat.

Gently pour reserved broth over the rice.  Fill until the broth just covers the rice, if you don’t have enough broth add water.

Cover with lid and simmer over medium heat until rice is cooked.  Check every 10 minutes or so to make sure the liquid has not all evaporated before the rice is cooked.  If you need to add more liquid, either broth or water.  This takes about 30 minutes.

If the rice is cooked and you still have liquid remove lid and raise the heat for about 5 minutes so that the rest of the liquid evaporates.  Be careful not to burn the bottom.  Or you can carefully drain extra liquid before flipping.

When rice is cooked and there is no more liquid remove pot from lid.  Let rest about 5 minutes.

Flip over onto a large tray.

Garnish with cooked Pine Nuts on the meat if desired.

Serve with bowls of corn kernels and plain yogurt.



Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish
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Cashew Chicken

Cashew Chicken

Looking for something quick, easy, and delicious for dinner?  Well nothing’s easier than a stir fry.  Try this Cashew Chicken.  It takes a bit more time than your average stir fry, but it’s so worth it!  Served over a bed of steamed rice or noodles it’s simply delicious.

This was a family favorite which I haven’t made if a very long time.   I don’t know why it was forgotten, but I recently re-discovered this delicious dish and will definitely be making it more often.

This time I used fresh asparagus simply because I had a big bunch of it in the fridge, but it can be made with broccoli, green beans, or any type of fresh veggies you have on hand.  I fry the chicken and cashews separately before adding them to the stir fry, that’s the extra step the recipe requires.  It gives the chicken a bit of crunch which goes great with the crunch from the cashews, baby corn, and water chestnuts, you can find canned baby corn and water chestnuts at any Asian market.   I also don’t over cook the fresh veggies, I like to keep them green and crisp.

Here’s the recipe!  Again it goes great with noodles or steamed rice!

Cashew Chicken


4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, cut into bite size cubes

3/4 Cup Corn Starch

1 Tbs. Garlic Powder

1 Tsp. Salt

1/2 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Cup Whole Cashews

Oil for frying

1/4 Cup Sesame Oil

1 Large Onion Sliced

1 Tbs. Fresh Garlic Minced

1 Can Baby Corn, drained and cut each ear in half

1 Can Sliced Water Chestnuts

1 Cup Fresh Asparagus, cut into 2″ pieces (you can use any type of green veggie you have on hand)

1/2 Cup Soy Sauce

1/4 Cup Oyster Sauce

1 Tsp. Cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 Cup of water


Heat about 1″ oil in a frying pan.

Combine cornstarch, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish.

Dredge chicken cubes in cornstarch mixture and drop into hot oil.

Fry chicken until done and all sides are browned.

Drain on paper towel and set aside.

Heat about 1 Tbs. oil in a small frying pan and saute cashews until golden brown.

Keep stirring cashews while cooking so they don’t burn.

Place cashews in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat sesame oil in a wok or large skillet.

Cook onions in wok until slices start to soften and become translucent.

Add garlic and cook another minute.

Add asparagus and cook until they are bright green.

Add baby corn and water chestnuts and cook another minute or two.

Add soy and oyster sauces and stir until combined.

Stir in dissolved cornstarch and stir until sauce starts to thicken.

Add in fried chicken and stir to cover in sauce.

Sprinkle cashews over top and slightly stir.

Serve right away.



Cashew Chicken
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Cashew Chicken
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1 Cup Fresh Asparagus, cut into 2″ pieces (you can use any type of green veggie you have on hand)
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Homemade Falafels

Homemade Falafels

Falafels are traditional Middle Eastern deep fried patties or balls made from chickpeas, fava beans, or both.  They’re usually found stuffed in Pita bread or rolled in a flatbread along with fresh and pickled veggies and topped with a tahini sauce, that’s a Falafel Sandwich.  They are also eaten with fried eggs, hummus, babaganouj, and pickles for breakfast or served as mezzes and snacks.

My first encounter with falafels was at a kiosk in New York city where I grew up.  Buying a falafel sandwich from this kiosk was a treat when we spent the day at the near by park.  Then my family moved to Hawaii in the mid-70’s where there were no kiosks selling “ethnic” foods and so I didn’t have falafels again until I married my husband who is of Palestinian decent.  Imagine his surprise when I told him I actually knew what falafels were!

As newlyweds in Hawaii we had to figure out how to make falafels at home; as I new bride I had no clue!  Remember back in the 80’s there was no google, no pinterest, no instagram, or any kind of internet that would find a recipe in seconds.  I had to rely on cookbooks from the library, not really helpful.

Then we found a box of falafel mix at a local health food store.  Just add water and fry.  It wasn’t the best, but we made do.  I started experimenting with the boxed mix and found that adding finely chopped fresh parsley improved the taste.  Started adding more spices and pretty soon I figured I may as well by pass the mix and make it from scratch.   That didn’t go so well until I managed to buy a food processor, now I was in business!

As I was exploring the makings for falafel from scratch we started traveling all over the world.  Of course travel opens up your life to different places, foods, and cultures and our travels in the Middle East definitely helped my falafel making.  We loved the falafel sandwiches at Mr. Falfala in Cairo and the ones found on the streets of Diera in Dubai.  But nothing beats the fresh falafels served at Hashem’s and Abu Jbarra in Jordan!  On our last trip to Dubai this year we discovered that Abu Jbarra opened a place by the Dubai Mall, we ate brunch there almost everyday!

Anyway those trips to Egypt, Dubai, and Jordan whetted my desire to make falafels at home that would be close to the ones served in the places we loved.  I say close because I doubt I’ll ever figure out the exact match to Hashem’s falafels served in this little alley in downtown Amman.

I make large batches of falafels so that I have enough to freeze for future use.  Raw falafel paste freezes beautifully!  This way I don’t have to haul out the food processor every time I want to fry falafels and I always have some handy when  I have a yen for a falafel sandwich.

I’ve found that using fresh ingredients makes the difference between decent falafels and amazing ones!  So I use fresh cilantro, parsley, and dill as my primary seasonings; they will turn your mixture green, but the greener the falafel is the better it tastes in my opinion.  I also use dry chickpeas never canned.

It takes a bit of planning to make really great falafels, but believe me it’s so worth the effort!

Fresh Falafel


8 oz. Dried Chickpeas (1/2 a bag)

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

1 Large bunch of Fresh Cilantro, rinsed and dried on paper towel

1 Large Bunch of Fresh American Parsley, rinsed and dried on paper towel

1 Small Bunch of Fresh Dill, rinsed and dried on paper towel

2 Tbs. Fresh Garlic, minced

1 Tbs. Cumin Powder

1 Tbs. Ground Coriander

1 Tbs. Sea Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

Oil for frying

Pita or Flat Bread

Optional Condiments: Fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, pickled beets, tahini sauce, thousand island dressing, or what ever you want to add in the sandwich


Pour dried chickpeas into a bowl and mix in baking soda.

Cover with water and soak overnight.

Rinse chickpeas in cool water and drain in a colander.

In a food processor load in this order:

Cilantro leaves and stems (you don’t have to use all the stems but do use the leaves), Parsley, Dill (prepare and use Parsley and Dill the same way as Cilantro).

Drained chickpeas and garlic

Dried spices (cumin, coriander, salt, pepper)

Turn on processor and grind until it is a paste

If freezing place paste into freezer safe containers and freeze.  Thaw before cooking.

If using immediately:

Heat about 2″ of oil in a small pot.

Add baking soda to falafel paste and combine well.

Test that oil is hot enough by dropping a small amount of falafel paste in; if oil starts bubbling around the paste your oil is ready for frying.

Form paste into small 1″ balls or patties and drop into hot oil.

Fry until all sides are brown, cooked falafel will float.

Drain on paper towels and serve as a sandwich filling or by itself for breakfast or as mezzes.

Homemade Falafels
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