Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mad Gourmet’s Ginisang Upo (Sauteed Bottle Gourd)

I am craving for one of my Mom’s recipes again. This time, it’s Ginasang Upo. Ginisa in Tagalog means “to sauté”. Upo is Bottle Gourd. I am now finding this vegetable in farmer’s markets but very rarely in the grocery stores. So, when I find one, I grab it. 

Sauteed Bottle Gourd or Upo on the pan

If you are not that familiar with upo, I found a really great picture of it (on the vine). You can find out more about it in (It's the site where I got this picture from).

Upo or Bottle gourd on the vine
I think upo was my favorite vegetable when I was growing up. I really get excited when I saw it in my Mom's basket after a trip to Farmers Market. It has a very mellow flavor and easy on a young palate (ahem). I think what I like about this dish the most was upo combined with meat, so I could enjoy rice and veggie, then rice and meat. Repeat.

Although I had an idea on how to do this, I still searched the internet for a starter. The recipes were fairly similar, but I used the recipe on Panlasang Pinoy as a starter and “Maddified” it.

Most of the recipes that I found used tomatoes. Although that is the way I was taught how to sauté, I do not remember my Mom’s recipe using tomatoes. Also, most of the recipes that I found use ground pork, while I remember my Mom had slices of meat.

This dish would not be Maddified if did not use kale in it. I really did not intend to do that (really), but I had some left and thought I would use it to boost the nutritional value. Besides, one can never have enough veggies.

Also, a touch of fish sauce will give you that distinct taste and scent reminiscent of this dish. After I added that, I was immediately transported to Mom’s kitchen.

Try it and let me know what you think.

GInisang Upo (Sauteed Bottle Gourd) with Pork and Kale


  • 2 cups of sliced upo (about 1 medium sized or two small ones)
  • 1/4 lb sliced pork, seasoned with salt and pepper.
  • 1-2 Tablespoon of minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup of sliced onions
  • 1 cup of curly kale, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fish oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the pan and pour the cooking oil
  2. Put the pork and cook about a minute or two per side.
  3. Add the garlic and onions and saute.
  4. Add the upo, cover the pan, and simmer for 6 minutes.
  5. Add the fish sauce.
  6. Add the kale and cook until wilted.
  7. Serve hot with either rice or quinoa. Enjoy!


Love, love, love this recipe. It reminds me of Mom’s with a touch of me. It really reminds me of meals with my family when I was (a lot) younger.

A note on the fish sauce: Fish sauce is quite salty so you should watch the salt that you use for seasoning if you do use it. I'd say use just enough to season the pork and a bit to draw the moisture out of the garlic and onions. If you don't have fish sauce (or don't appreciate the smell/taste/thought of it), you can skip it... It just won't taste "authentic". Remember, use salt and fish sauce sparingly if you are watching our sodium intake.

Also, if you cannot find upo, you can substitute chayote squash. Chayote has a similar consistency to upo, but the flavor is different. 

Another Maddification of this recipe is serving it with something other than white (or brown) rice. My grain bank did not have rice at the time so I served it with quinoa. Although quinoa added to the protein and fiber content of the dish, it did change the flavor a bit. If you want the traditional flavor, serve it with rice. That’s also a gluten-free option.

Maddification…. I like that.

P.S. Another recipe that I use upo is on my Corn-Chayote Tacos. I substitute Upo for chayote and produces a completely different taste. BTW, that taco recipe is one of my favorites for Meatless Monday.

P.P.S. If you're curious about THE Farmers Market in the Philippines, I found an excellent blog post in Market Manila. It's not like the farmers markets in the US, but more like a wet market typical of the Philippines.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mad About Minis: Mad Gourmet's Single-serve "Key" Lime Pie

Blogger’s Note: I wanted to publish this last week, but I was not happy with the consistency of that recipe, so I am giving it another try. Unfortunately, my work schedule has been really hectic (aaaargh!)… but I finally had a chance for a redo.

Thank God for weekends! So, here goes…

Key Lime PieIt’s summer now so I am trying to avoid using my oven. We have a pretty cozy (read: small) place, so turning the oven on really warms the house up. I still would love to make desserts so I am constantly looking for inspiration for no- (or very little-) bake desserts.

So, I started thinking…My husband’s favorite dessert is Key Lime Pie. He fell in love with it after spending a weekend in the Florida Keys, and loved it since. I thought that would be a great dessert for the summer, maybe a mini and a healthier version... since we’ve been watching our figures.

Although I have only had it a few times, I have a good idea of what it should taste like and the consistency, but I needed a recipe to start with.

For the filling, I researched a couple of options, including how to make the full-versioned one. I found out that traditionally, key lime pie uses condensed milk (Really?). However, I really did not want to use condensed milk since my husband cannot tolerate milk, and it is so sweet. Through my search, I found this “Healthy Single-serve Key Lime Pie Yogurt” recipe in I think this would work since my husband can surprisingly tolerate yogurt, and it contains those probiotics, right? 

I also wanted to use real key limes. I occasionally see it in our grocery store, but no luck this time. I just used regular limes and this worked just fine.

However, it did not have a crust, so I had to figure something out. I simply used the crust from my single-serve cheesecake. I mean… why complicate it, right? There are plenty of opportunities for complication.

For a finished look, I followed the suggestion from the recipe and added food coloring as well. I initially used just the green, but it looked too green. So, I’ve been combining the yellow and the blue (maybe more yellow) to get the green that I wanted.

Here’s the final result of my experiments… Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Mad Gourmet’s “Key” Lime Yogurt Pie
Based on the Healthy Single-serve Key Lime Pie Yogurt recipe from and inspired by a couple of others


Stuff at the bottom (Crust)
  • 4 crumbled vanilla wafers
  • 1 1/2 tsp of butter (or coconut oil), melted
  • 1/2 tsp of brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Stuff that goes in the pie (Filling)

  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (preferably not Greek yogurt and low-fat)
  • 1 1/2 tsp lime juice (about half a medium-size lime)
  • Drop or two of vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Food coloring (2 drops yellow, 1 part blue - optional)


Making the crust
  1. Crumble the wafers (I just use a ziploc bag to crumble to save on washing).
  2. Combine with butter, the remaining sugar, and salt (I even mix this in the bag). 
  3. Firmly press the crumb mixture into the ramekin.
  4. Bake for about 1 min to set the crust. Let cool.

Making the filling
  1. Mix all the ingredients together well.
  2. If using food coloring, add it add this point.
  3. Pour on top of the crust.
  4. Chill for at least an hour. Serve with whipped cream or coconut chips.


My husband loves this recipe. He said it is pretty close to key lime pie and is quite delicious.

Bite of Key Lime Pie

The recipe calls for "regular" yogurt, not Greek. If you only have Greek Yogurt, it will result in a denser pie and you’ll need to use double the sugar. The texture is actually closer to a cheesecake. It is still delicious though.

Reminds me of a (revised) line from a movie: "There are two types of yogurt in the world: the Greeks and everyone who wish that they was Greek." 

Hmmm… that cheesecake consistency...Gives me an idea. Uh oh.