‘Pulo Cuisine’ A Twist on Tacos

the 5 o’clock rush was pleasantly surprised and honoured to be chosen to participate in the Pulo Recipe Challenge.

The challenge is to develop a recipe using the products from Pulo Cuisine.

the 5 o’clock rush was given sample products to review for this post. The package arrived with 2 cooking sauces and 3 marinades.

Pulo, which means ISLAND, is an authentic collection of sauces and marinades inspired by the 7000 islands of the Philippines – the original fusion cuisine where East (Asia) meets West (Spanish)


Pulo Philippine Cuisine  

The Malay, Chinese, Spanish and Indian cultures are the culinary influences of the Philippines, using the Samal Island ‘Pulo Cuisine Pineapple Tamarind Marinade’ I developed a meal of tacos with an asian twist.


Pulo Cuisine Selection of Products

Pulo Cuisine Selection of Products

Samal Island Pineapple Tamarind Marinade balances sweet and sour aromas with a refreshing fruity flavour.


An idyllic oasis of hidden coves and beaches, Samal Island boasts a tradition of stout and hearty dishes featuring a wide range of fruit and meat.

Pineapples, one of Mindanao’s key crops, are a feature of the region’s cuisine.

Pineapple Tamarind Marinated Chicken Tacos with Grilled Pineapple

Pineapple Tamarind Marinated Chicken Tacos with Grilled Pineapple

Continue to Recipe

Pesto 101

Pesto 101

It is summer. The fruit and vegetable crops are coming into the season in our gardens and farmers markets. This past weekend at the trailer in a torrential rain storm with limited TV choices, I watched a cooking show where the chef blanched the basil before making her pesto. Intrigued, I called on my Mom and Dad’s abundant basil crop to try it myself.

This potent sauce is versatile—on pasta, in an omelet, and paired with chicken—and because I can freeze it, I can make pesto when basil is at its best and then continue to enjoy it through the fall. Bonus!

Pesto 101

Yields 2-250 ml Mason Jars
Whole Wheat Flatbread Pizza with BBQ Chicken, Brie and Pesto Sauce

Whole Wheat Flatbread Pizza with BBQ Chicken, Brie and Pesto Sauce

Mise En Place

  • 1+ cups extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, blanched, peeled, sliced*
  • Large bunch Genovese basil, approx. 3 cups, picked and blanched
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
  • 4 tsp. blanching water**

Bring heavily salted water to boil in a saucepan.***

Prepare a bowl of ice water ready.

Reduce heat to low and simmer; place the garlic cloves in the simmering water. *I don’t enjoy the after taste or ‘garlic breath’ from a pungent garlic flavour in any sauce, poaching the garlic helps to reduce this.

Also add the leaves and smaller stems of the Genovese basil in the water. Do not overload the pot, if necessary blanch in 2 stages.

The basil will turn bright green and it really only needs a few seconds (about 15 secs) in the simmering water. Remove the blanched basil and immediately place in bowl of ice water. Drain immediately, squeeze out excess water.

Once the garlic has softened, remove from the simmering water, peel and slice.

Reserve approx. ¼ cup of the blanching liquid.

What I discovered from a quick blanch before blending softens the basil, and this helps it emulsify more easily to produce a smoother yet full-bodied sauce. Another great reason to blanch purely cosmetic a brighter green color that holds for several days. 

Making the Pesto:

A traditional pesto is about the ingredients that go into it. Use the best quality ingredients you can find and afford.

Basil, pine nuts, cheese, and extra virgin olive oil.

The manner in which these ingredients are combined tends to differ from chef to chef. As its name implies, pesto, it comes from the Italian verb pestare, which means to crush or mash that is why it is traditionally made using a-mortar and pestle.

I’ve never attempted to make pesto with that much elbow grease or time, although some swear that pounding gives you the best flavour.

I prefer to use a blender. I think the blender’s tapered shape help the ingredients get puréed more evenly as they are drawn into the blade. You’ll have to help the puréeing along by periodically stopping the motor and moving the ingredients around with a spatula or a spoon.You don’t want to just let the blender run and heat up the components of the sauce.

Another preferred method is using a food processor. I think the ingredients tend to bounce around and fly onto the sides of the bowl, resulting in an inconsistent texture.

Whatever method use choose, the result will be a great sauce.

  1. Start by pulverizing the garlic and pine nuts together.
  2. Remove excess water from blanched basil leaves.
  3. Then add the basil and pulsed it until finely minced.
  4. Add the 4 tsp. of reserved blanching liquid.
  5. When well blended, add grated cheese, salt, and pepper and whirl until just blended.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  7. Add as much extra virgin olive oil in a thin stream, stirring it in until desired consistency is achieved. Make sure to stir the olive oil in at the end, since blending olive oil at high speeds can give it bitter flavours.

Pesto can brighten your menu in many ways:
• Swirl a dollop into a potato, tomato, or white bean soup.
• Add a tablespoon to a simple vinaigrette for drizzling on grilled vegetables.
• Spread some on pizza dough as a base, in place of or in addition to tomato sauce. See dinner pic below.

Whole Wheat Flatbread Pizza with BBQ Chicken, Brie and Pesto Sauce

Whole Wheat Flatbread Pizza with BBQ Chicken, Brie and Pesto Sauce

Take advantage of this peak season for basil—you’ll get the best quality at the best price—by preparing several batches of pesto.

Refrigerate it in an airtight container, you plan to use it within a week.

Tip: Pour the pesto into ice-cube trays, freeze, and then put the cubes in a freezer bag for storage for up to three months. You can also freeze small amounts of pesto in little plastic snack bags (and then stack those in a bigger freezer bag) for when you want enough for just one portion of pasta or for a dollop in a soup or stew. If you flatten the pesto in the bag, the thin amount can be quickly defrosted by soaking the bag in tepid water.

**There was soooo much flavour in the blanching liquid and the consistency wasn’t what I was hoping for, so I decided to add it to my final sauce. You can definitely eliminate this step.

***Whenever I’m seasoning cooking water for blanching or cooking pasta, I use a ‘heavy’ hand with how much kosher salt I add. The water should have ‘the taste of the sea’. It imparts a lot of flavour.

More the 5 o’clock rush dinner dishes in the future will definitely incorporate my pesto 😀

Smoker Pork with Homemade Pineapple, Apple BBQ Sauce

Over any given weekend during the summer when the weather is beautiful, we will be BBQing or in this case smoking a variety of meats.

My DH has been experimenting with smoking meats since we began our early camping adventures. He started with a Cabela’s Premium Stainless Steel 7-in-1 Cooker/Smoker : Cabela’s. which worked well but the constant ‘feeding’ the coals and controlling the temperature can be tedious. And when you enjoying the day with a few cocktails, who wants soooo much work.

This Christmas, I gave my DH Bradley Digital 4-Rack Electric Smoker | Canadian Tire. It is such a step up and far more predictable and easier to control your ingredients. The machine feeds the ‘wood pucks’ and digitally controls the temperature.

He smoked a pork butt (shoulder), a spatchcock chicken* and I threw in the cob of corn and baking potatoes in the smoker as an experiment.

Smoker Pork with Homemade Pineapple, Apple BBQ Sauce


Homemade Pineapple, Apple BBQ Sauce

Mise En Place

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • Canola oil
  • 1-540 ml can of pineapple chunks
  • 1 red pepper, seeded, roasted and peeled
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped
  • zest of lime or lime
  • ¼ cup of ketchup
  • ½ cup chunky chili sauce
  • ½ cup Garden Fresh medium salsa**
  • ½ tsp. sriracha
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp. of cornstarch
  • 1-2 tbsp. of water
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Place enough canola oil to coat the bottom of a sauce pan. Saute chopped onions until it becomes fragrant, then add the finely grated garlic. Saute for 1-2 min. do not burn the garlic. Strain the juice from the canned pineapple chunks and reduce.

Add remaining ingredients except for the cornstarch, water and fresh rosemary. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium-low, simmering for 10-15 minutes until the apples are softened and flavours come together.

Using a potato masher, mash the chunks from the pineapple/apples in the bbq sauce until it is desired consistency. If you like a smoother consistency, use an immersion blender. 

To thicken the sauce, mix equal parts cornstarch and water. Slowly add to the sauce and stir.

Serve with pulled pork, chicken or fish.

*Spatchcock is when poultry that has been prepared for roasting or grilling by removing the backbone, and sometimes includes removing the sternum of the bird and flattening it out more fully before cooking. This preparation may also be known as butterflying the bird. 

**Using ingredients from my fridge or ‘bottom of the jar’ is something I tend to add to my recipes. This Garden Fresh Medium Salsa was something that I purchased at a discount for a previous dinner and didn’t want to go to waste.

FYI Although there was all this meat being smoked, we didn’t eat this in one sitting. 😉 The chicken leftovers were removed from the bone, chopped and froze and came in really handy for lunch wraps at the trailer.

The Pulled Pork sandwiches were consumed the following day and the BBQ sauce came together very quickly for dinner that night.

The ‘smoked’ corn was……SMOKY, an interesting colour and really well different. I removed the kernels from the cob and froze to be used in a future dish or maybe even a recipe.

Always check out my Instagram @the5oclockrush  to see my daily dinners photos.

Buffalo Chicken and Loaded Potato Bake

I do love trying “buffalo” food in all forms.

Buffalo wing wraps, mac and cheese, pizza, nachos, poutine and of course wings right from the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY.

So armed with package of chicken breasts in the fridge, I was looking for inspiration. My DD was requesting another dinner where we could have Baked Potatoes with a selection of toppings. I immediately thought of another bar menu item…potato skins. I found an inspiration recipe that contained both.

Of course I tweaked it. 😉

When I think of Buffalo wings, carrot and celery sticks with a creamy blue cheese dip are always included and in my opinion you can’t do anything buffalo without some blue cheese! I added the celery and carrot components, next for the ‘potato skins’ aspect of cheeses, bacon and tomato garnish were added to the finished recipe.

Served with a blue cheese and sour cream sauce it was delicious. And spicy like Buffalo should be!

So if you love all the great flavor of Buffalo wing sauce and potato skins, here is a recipe for Buffalo Chicken and Loaded Potato Bake that contains both. Hope you will try the recipe and enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken and Loaded Potato Bake

Serves 4-6  approx. 45-50 min.
Adapted from Loaded Potato And Buffalo Chicken Casserole Recipe – Food.com
Buffalo Chicken and Loaded Potato Bake

Buffalo Chicken and Loaded Potato Bake

Mise En Place

  • 1 package of boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 7 medium potatoes, skin-on, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut on the bias
  • 2 stalks of celery, cleaned and diced
  • ¼ of red onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp. Red Hot sauce, depending on spice tolerance 😉
  • 2 tbsp. agave syrup


  • 1 cup marble cheese, grated
  • 1 cup mozzarella, grated
  • 1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 5 strips of Ready Cook bacon, cooked and cut into pieces*
  • 1 tomato, concasse**


  • 1/3 cup 1% sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ tsp. sriracha
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 500F.

In a large bowl mix together the olive oil, hot sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and agave syrup.

Add the potatoes and stir to coat.

Add the potatoes to a greased baking dish.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the potatoes into the baking dish, leave behind any extra olive oil/hot sauce mix.

Add the diced chicken, red onions and celery to this hot sauce/spice mix and stir to coat all the chicken. Marinate the chicken as the potatoes bake.

Roast the potatoes for 15 minutes at 500F, then stir and add the carrots, cooked for additional 8 min then reduce the oven to 400F. Stir the potatoes and carrots then add to the top, the marinated chicken, onions and celery. Cook for additional 5 minutes.

In a large bowl mix all the topping ingredients together. Add the cheese topping to the chicken and potatoes.

Bake 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the topping is melted and bubbly delicious. Add the tomato concasse and the Ready Cook Bacon pieces.

Buffalo Chicken and Loaded Potato Bake

Buffalo Chicken and Loaded Potato Bake

Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl, drizzle over the Buffalo Chicken Bake and serve on the side.

Buffalo Chicken and Loaded Potato Bake

Buffalo Chicken and Loaded Potato Bake


* The recipe could be adapted and the potatoes could be replaced with sweet potatoes. Scrub the outer skin of sweet potatoes, cubed and follow the directions above. Reduce the cooking time for the sweet potatoes.

** The Ready Cook Bacon is a convenience product that I always have in my pantry. I used scissors to quickly cut up the bacon strips.

*** Concasse, from the French concasser, “to crush or grind”, is a cooking term meaning to rough chop any ingredient, usually vegetables. This term is particularly applied to tomatoes, where tomato concasse is a tomato that has been peeled, seeded (seeds and skins removed), and chopped to specified dimensions. I usually skip the peeled part but definitely remove the seeds as then tend to bitter.


Quick and Easy Elbow Pasta with Lentils

This pasta dish was a go to from my childhood. I remember my Mom and my Nanie making this for dinner or snack in a pinch.

I like it because it can be adapted for what you have in your pantry and/or fridge.

Quick and Easy Elbow Pasta with Lentils

Serves 4-6  approx. 15-20 min.
Quick and Easy Elbow Pasta with Lentils

Quick and Easy Elbow Pasta with Lentils

Mise En Place

  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup of white wine, I used the Riesling that was left on my counter 😉 *
  • 540 ml can of lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1-450 g bag of elbow(no.26) pasta, cooked

    Mise En Place for Quick and Easy Elbow Pasta with Lentils

    Mise En Place for Quick and Easy Elbow Pasta with Lentils

  • 2 cups of reserved pasta water
  • 4 tbsp fresh salsa, used Garden Fresh
  • 2 cups of our favourite jar of sauce, PC Marinara is mine **
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • fresh dill, chopped
  • parmesan or romano cheese, grated for garnish
  • salt, pepper,and red pepper flakes to taste

Cook elbow pasta in heavily salted water according to package directions. Before straining pasta, reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid.***

Using a low to medium heat olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add the finely grated garlic until it becomes fragrant. Don’t overcook or burn the garlic will become bitter. Add the white wine and cook until the alcohol has evaporated approx. 1-2 minutes.

Add the can of lentils, salsa and marinara sauce. Simmer until heated through. Add the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce to your desired consistency.

Add the fresh chopped basil and fresh chopped dill. Check the flavour and season appropriately with salt and pepper.

Add the cook pasta to the finished lentil and marinara sauce and tossed.

Garnish with grated parmesan or romano cheese and red pepper flakes, if for some added kick.

Serve with a fresh side salad.

Quick and Easy Elbow Pasta with Lentils

Quick and Easy Elbow Pasta with Lentils

** A homemade pasta sauce is always a better option but in a pinch find a sauce at the supermarket that has only real ingredients. My go to sauce is PC Marinara.

*** Tip: Sometimes is your final sauce for pasta not up to par?  Why add plain old tap water too thin or adjust your sauce when you are going to dump this goodness down the drain?  I always reserve at least 1 cup of the starchy, salty flavourful cooking liquid before straining the pasta.