Let Me Introduce you to LuLyiLau (Lucia, Lyila, Lauren)

In the PascuaFam household, you'd be surprised at the terms of endearment we have for each other. The Expat Mommy and Expat Daddy calls each other Labs, our eldest we call our Big Ate, the "favorite middle child" we call Small Ate (oh this is supposed to be a secret, because the Big Ate is the "favorite eldest child" --- they just have to be my favorite!), and the little girl we call our Baby Oyen. Now, the girls call the Expat Mommy "Mei-mei" and the Expat Daddy "Dada". The granddad is "TatayLo", the grandma is "Iya", the uncle is "koko", the aunt is "Adey" also my niece who grew up with me  they call "Ampon", meaning adopted in English. 
Fondly and collectively, I call the girls LulyiLau.

There simply are things only the Expat Daddy can do!

Just two days before the Expat Daddy and the 2 elder girls travel to Qatar, I and the Expat Daddy are still cramming to finalize everything to close shop in the Philippines. It is just so hard with me being here in Qatar while he is there in the Philippines doing everything alone (well, of course there is still our very dependable yaya) but mostly everything is just up to him. What made matters really very complicated is that in the 2 weeks that he flew back to Manila, we have to finally decide on what we will do with our home.

Beef and Veggie Burger Patties

As we were getting ready for our 3yo to go to school, more than anything I was so excited to prepare by Kitchen Cow inspired bento snack box for my preschooler. I had even spent almost 2 hours grocery shopping compared to the less than half an hour we spent going through her school supplies requirement, our shopping trip I have posted earlier. Since it is just a 3--hour class for her in the morning, I have thought of some snacks which would be filling enough to last her until 10am. I could not explain but all of our girls had taken after me that we do not like taking breakfast early in the morning, so the little girl's first meal would be the one in her snack box. Enough reason for me to make sure that she has healthy options everyday. 
On her first day, I have prepared for her vegetable pasta and on the second day oriental noodles. The little girls has a bad case of allergy for chicken, fish and eggs so those ingredients are eliminated from her menu. For tomorrow, I plan to make her a variation of meatball-rice meal and a mini burger, so it would depend upon her if she'd like bread or rice. On the side, I also put a few pieces of grapes, and some other healthy sidings. I'll post all of these by end of the week, that would be my preschooler bento box account, so check back in on Friday :).
The burger patty recipe is a basic recipe which you can make which can also be made as meatballs if you like. Make them into balls and you've got some meatballs, or flat them out for your burger patties! For the little girl, to make it a healthy fare, I have added vegetables and herbs and have coated the meat with bread crumbs before frying so the oil will not splatter and the balls/ patties do absorb too much oil and that it doesn't turn soggy while inside the snack box. Of course all we moms know that food needs to be appetizing to the eyes first before the little ones try them out :). 

School Opening at Asian Integrated School - A Review

Today is the first day of school, the opening for Asian Integrated School was delayed for 2 weeks. From the time we have enrolled and while waiting for this day, we have been receiving updates from the school administration regarding the developments. I do appreciate those updates, however I was a quite disappointed that parents have been encouraged to e-mail them for clarifications, suggestions and comments, but when I did, nobody replied to me. I have also spoken with a couple of other parents and they have the same "concern", that they did not receive any replies for any of their clarifications. At this time I would call it "concern" and not complaint, I understand this is a brand new school and they would need a little consideration and understanding. I just hope they address our concerns immediately before it all elevates to complaints.

Lauren's Nursery Chronicles Part 1 - Shopping

"This Mine! This Mine"

The little girl's quite disappointed. We missed our Saturday "Good Morning McDo!" for the second week in a row. Well, it's her fault. The night before I told her we'd be shopping for school and she really got so excite --- to the point of hysteria (if that's possible for a 3yo, hehe!). She couldn't sleep and stayed so late that today, both of us woke up at 11:30 am :(. Too late for her Saturday breakfast and playtime at McDonalds. What really surprises me about our little Oyen is that she can tell when it's a Saturday! She doesn't even ask to go to McDonalds any other day, but come Saturday, just like clockwork, the moment she wakes up, she'd go straight to her cabinet to choose her clothes for her Mc Donalds trip! I am truly amazed!
So today, we had lunch early and went to the Landmark afterwards. I had taken that new D Ring Road highway and entered through Marks and Spencers parking lot entry. Found parking very near the Friday's entrance! Yaay! just a few steps away from the entrance and no need even to cross. I mean, at 1PM, under the Doha summer sun, you'd understand what I mean! Upon entry I was in for a very pleasant surprise! BHS is on a further reduction sale! I know it's sale season, but I wasn't able to go out much this month since both my mom and the Expat Daddy are in the Philippines, my mom for a vacation and the hubby to collect the 2 elder girls. I really thought the sales are all finished. But hey, I'm not complaining at all! I didn't even thought of checking out BHS when I was thinking of getting things for the little girl. The prices are really so tempting! Good thing it isn't salary time yet or else I would have splurged! I still couldn't believe that I was able to get school shoes for QR55 ($15) and sneakers for her PE for QR30 ($8). See, I'm a shopaholic irony, I love to shop, specially for my girls but I am embarrassed whenever I buy something expensive. The things I brag about are my biggest bargain finds! LOL! Like that $8 shoes, ha! If you know me you'd surely hear me talking animatedly how good the pair of shoes is  and how cheap it was! I really feel so good about it! I didn't expect to spend just QR85 for two pair of shoes, I've set my budget to around QR200, and that is to buy from Toys R Us. Lady Bird carry cheap line of clothes and shoes, compared to other brands. So, no need to pass by Toys R Us on our way home, thank goodness! Or else I would need to set another QR100 for a toy the little girl will not part with. 
From the very limited choices at the Carrefoure shelves (except the shoes from BHS)

Then after we finished with the shoes, we went to Carrefoure for the school supplies. That's where we got disappointed. There was just nothing we can get. This is really not a good time to shop for school supplies here in Qatar, since it's summer season for all the other schools. They have just finished the school year and bookstores and department stores have not yet stocked their shelves of school supplies, and when I mean no stock I mean no Crayola! How can any preschooler go to school without Crayola do you think?! So just settled with another brand I'm not familiar with, I just hope it's not candle wax quality which you could not even see the color anymore. So there, not much luck in the supplies area...
Oyen's Bento Box Menu for the week: veggie pasta w/ white sauce, oriental pasta with roast veggies, mini burgers (with s meaning 2);  corned beef hash rice topping; salisbury burger rice topping with gravy... all served with strawberry yogurt, grapes and cheese and apple juice :)

Now it's on to The Expat Mommy's favorite part, the lunch boxes! I have had an inspiration from one of the blogs I follow Kitchen Cow who shares her bento ideas, I love how she prepares her daily lunch box to work  bento-style and I think the little ones will them too, with all those different little servings of food and the lovely design and presentation. Surely the kids will look forward to their lunch boxes everyday! And with that I hope I'd be able to chronicle my girls' daily lunch boxes which I hope would be useful to all you other Expat Moms out there :)
Oh and by the way, the little girl is now  fast asleep, the first time ever she slept before 10PM! 

The Road that Leads to AIS (Asian Integrated School)

I still can't believe the little girl is now 3 and ready to go to school. Well, if I would really be honest, I don't feel that she is. But she turned 3 last June 12 so technically, by Philippine schools' standards, she is of school age. She'll be attending Nursery at the Asian Integrated School in Messilah Area, Doha. It is the new Philippine School for pre-school to elementary which had just opened this year. I was really so glad and excited for my girls to join this school. Well, not really high expectations but I am hopeful that this would be the right one for my girls. It had been a very long decision process for us before I finally registered to this school. Yes, both the Expat Daddy and even my mom are involved in the deliberation, but in the end, when it comes to the girls' education, it is really my decision. The Expat Daddy wouldn't even dare decide on this matter! Hahaha!

Yellow Chicken Adobo

Just after breakfast today, I saw half chicken, mostly the breast part thawing on the kitchen counter. It is too early for lunch, but I've been meaning to try making this yellow adobo dish for a few days now so I decided to try it on the chicken. Actually, my intention was to make this with pork... I might be trying it again once the supply for meat is replenished :). 
You'll see in the pic that it somewhat looks like a curry dish, but truly this has the distinct Adobo flavor and as much a Pinoy dish as any other adobo variety. The only twist in the dish is its color and the aroma of turmeric powder. Instead of the traditional soy sauce, I just used salt and powdered turmeric to give its yellow color.

What about you, what twist do you give your Adobo?

Crispy Pata (Deep Fried Pork Leg)

Ok, this is such a big risk for me, I would be letting you in on a mind-blowing secret of mine ----- I've got a freezer filled with pork, from head to foot! LOL! For those of you who had just stumbled upon this blog and might be wondering why having pork in the ref is such a big deal for me, well that's just because this Expat Mommy lives in that part of the Middle East where pork is still banned (well that's Qatar :)). However, fortunately for us, the airport officers checking the luggage are not that strict for families bringing in pork. Although there is still a chance that it could be confiscated, well... we're still not passing up the opportunity every time we travel out of the country to bring back some pork. We are such meat-lovers that it's really worth taking our chances :)

Mei-mei, so now I have a passport, then what?!

In just another 11 days, it would be exactly 3 years since the Expat Daddy and 2 girls relocated to back to the Philippines so that the Expat Daddy could wait out the 2-year working visa ban that had been imposed on him since he resigned from his old job. Of course those of you fellow expats here in Qatar would know by now that it is not easy to change employers here as your working visas are sponsored by your employer and it is their prerogative to give you a release paper to transfer to another employer or not. Unfortunately for us, the Expat Daddy had not been lucky enough to get his release papers after several successful attempts of landing a better job... so when he had eventually got fed up and decided to resign, we do not have a choice but to pack our bags and move back to the Philippines. Well, all was not lost for us though, the company I was working for worked out my working visa so I could come back to the country. So anyway, to cut the long story short, we made a very hard decision to live separately for a while. The Expat Daddy in the Philippines with the elder girls, while I stay behind with the youngest who is just about 2 weeks old by then (but this is one sob story altogether, so maybe next time :)).

A Night of Good Food and Ghost Stories at Little Sailor Seafood Restaurant

My very good friend Nora and I received a dinner invitation from our lawyer friend Mr. Yahya which of course we had a happily obliged and looked forward to. Actually it was the second invitation for me, the first time was with the Expat Daddy and it had been a private joke among us why the first time Nora was not invited! LOL! 
As our host is a very busy man, specially in the evenings, it was a late dinner for us at 9pm. Personally, I don't mind, my only concern was since it would be so late I was afraid I'd be tempted to eat before the appointed time which was what happened the first time with the Expat Daddy, it was a last minute invitation he called at around 8 just after we had dinner! But it was a long delayed arrangement so we were embarrassed to decline. So since we usually serve our dinners at home at about 7pm, I hoped I could stop myself from eating! I know what to look forward to and it was good! But, you guessed it right! No success at all! But in all fairness to me, I just had maybe 3 spoons of rice and just a couple of bites of the Sweet and Sour fish that the nanny had cooked, just to satisfy my hunger. And I've read somewhere that that actually is a diet tip before eating out! Eat something before you leave the house so you won't eat to much during a party or get together, haha! So... I am actually on a diet! LOL! 

Single Serving: A notch over McDo Breakfast --- Caramelized Mushrooms and Onions with Roast Tomato Omelette Served with Buttered Toast and Cucumber Sticks

Oh wow! That was quite a long title! Guess I got carried away in trying to capture the beauty of this dish. When I posted my two versions of Tapsilog (Tapa-Sinangag-Itlog) earlier as Version 1 and Version 2, I thought about starting the Single Serving Series and I really got a kick! Seems the heavens above opened up and all the inspirations have been showered upon me to write more Single Serving dishes. I mean, I do not have access to any scientific surveys but my educated guess is that about 70% of expats here are either bachelors  and ladies who are not necessarily "single" in a technical sense but with families left back home in their home countries. So that's when the Single Serving Series was born. I hope I'd be able to help you fellow expats in preparing your own home-cooked meals which of course would be very delicious and economical compared to eating out. Well, a single order of a breakfast value meal in McDonalds average about $3++, in Dairy Queen $6++, and in Johnny Rockets $9++, and that's discounting either the petrol or the taxi fare to go to and from your choice of fastfood! 
This dish actually cost an average of about $1++ depending on your choice of filling for your omelette. This morning I have prepared it with mushrooms, onions, cheese and tomato. But would you believe, this is really just the first time I have prepared an omelette myself, actually, I really don't think we have ever served this for breakfast. Well, our family is a traditional Pinoy breakfast lover, so more often than not, our breakfast would consist of rice and some fried viand and scrambled eggs. I also don't eat mushrooms! Simple as that, I just don't! I remember when our eldest was just a toddler, mushroom is her most favorite food and I used to prepare mushroom dishes for her. I was actually surprised that she had the taste for mushroom because I rarely include it in our family recipes, I usually omit the mushroom part, hehe! But maybe she got it from our food trips, and even if I don't eat them, I encouraged her with her love for mushrooms. I made mushroom dishes for her, mostly pasta with a sauce which includes mushrooms, just for her!

Beef and Ampalaya with Oyster Sauce

If this was the Expat Daddy cooking, then this would be Beef Broccoli in Oyster Sauce. See, Beef Broccoli is one of the 4 signature dishes of the Expat Daddy, the others are his Sweet and Spicy Adobo which I have already posted here, the Sweet and Sour (Hamour, Maya-maya or squid) which he had cooked a couple of weeks back but I was not able to watch and note the exact measurement of ingredients so I couldn't post it yet. I'll have to wait until he cooks it again, and then of course his clan-famous barbeque (pork and chicken) which is a bestseller whenever and wherever he serves it! :)

Single Serving: Tapsilog V.2 (Tapa a la Beef Jerky)

This is a series I have thought of starting up for all those single expats here in Qatar. For those who would be cooking for one. I noticed that most of my posts are for family fare and those single expats would not really have the energy or the appetite to prepare for just 1, unless you'd be catering to some friends at home. So all you single ladies and gents out there, no need to order fast food or open a bowl of instant noodles or canned tuna, this are very easy recipes which you could keep in the ref to cook single serving once in a while.
This is home cooked meal for you to remember your moms or wives by. I hope this helps! You could also let me know what you crave for, or what you normally look for as a single serving fare, and I'll try help you with the recipes if I can :)

Tomato and Cucumber Salsa

This is a siding I have prepared to go with my tapsilog which I had for tonight's dinner. The nanny and the little girl went on a short supermarket run so I had been left alone in the house. The nanny did not prepare dinner before they left so I decided to sample on of my two versions of tapa which I had prepared earlier. They are actually meant for tomorrow's breakfast that's also one reason why the nanny could not delay her supermarket run ---- we ran out of egg, so my tapsilog breakfast would not be complete tomorrow morning, and don't want that! :)

Single Serving: Tapsilog with Tomato and Cucumber Salsa (Tapa V.1)

Now that half of the household is on vacation to the Philippines, both I and the nanny do not really feel like cooking. These days, we just make do with very simple dishes of fried fish paired with a simple vegetable dish, well more often than not we really just make do with just fried fish or chicken. In the evenings, lately we're into either noodles or soup. It really is just no fun cooking for people who are not in the mood to eat. We are a family  who is used to eating together so cooking for just 2 or 3 persons is just no fun at all!

Hoisin Chicken

The last dish I whipped for Lauren's 3rd Birthday dinner. We have started cooking right after lunch but we knew that since June 12 is a work night, our guests would be arriving in batches right after they get off from work. Our first guests arrived at 5:30, they were my husband colleagues coming directly from their job-site. My sister in law and some of her friends arrived at around 7:30 and the next batch we expect to arrive are my cousins who gets off from work at 9pm so expected to arrive around 10-ish. So you see, the food had been reheated a couple of times already before the last batch are expected to arrive, and I just can't bear to serve them a menu of reheated food so I asked the maid to leave one whole chicken thawed on the kitchen counter and I'll prepare it right before they arrive.

Simply Baked Mac (Baked Macaroni)

Baked Mac had always been our alternative to spaghetti and one of our all-time favorite snack. This post is still part of Lauren's 3rd Birthday dinner menu series. The cousins so love the "Al Nasser" baked mac that it is starting to become a staple in our family gatherings. Actually, this is just a basic recipe and no special ingredient except from the love the cook puts in in all her dishes :)

Pork Humba

When I first started this blog, the idea is to be able to contribute a little to the Pinay Expat moms in Qatar. Pinoy Expat families are growing in population here in the Middle East, Qatar specifically as evident in the growing population in now 3 Philippine Schools in the country.
Now, what I attempt to do is to assist Pinay moms like me to be able to serve pinoy food to their families even when we are so far away from home. One thing I notice here in Qatar is that the Filipino restaurants are very commercial and that the food they serve does not really meat my expectations when it comes to traditional Pinoy recipes. Of course I understand that the industry is circumstances driven and most of the authentic ingredients are not readily available in the market. Also, I'm not sure if the cooks in these restaurants are actually Pinoy themselves, because most of the foods does not actually taste as what they claim to be! I have even tried one Adobo dish that does not in any way resemble an adobo! A chicken tinola which is actually sauteed chicken with cabbage and green beans, so how's that for a tinola?!

Steamed Whole Fish in Ginger and Oyster Sauce

This is a very simple dish but takes a bit longer time to cook, depending on the size of the fish. This was part of the menu for our Lauren's birthday dinner. The initial plan really was to grill the fish, but given that it is the peak of summer, so outside grilling was out of the question. The hubby wants to grill it in the oven aka bake the fish but I had vetoed his decision. 

Roast Chicken with Cheesy Cream Sauce and Vegetables

It's been a long time since my last post, and to be honest during the entire time I had not really done any cooking! Really, the Doha Summer this year had really gotten into me. I've been so down with this heat that I can barely move a muscle. I've spent most of the time on the net just browsing random things, can't stay too long in the kitchen and can't even go out to the supermarket to do some foodstuff shopping. It's been weeks, I know!