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Week 33 of 52: Cayenne Pepper Beef

We had a slight problem with our fridge for most of the week. Actually it’s been going on for most of the month, but it was the worst this week. The fridge part seems to be getting too cold that it occasionally freezes some of the things in it like the water in pitchers, the eggs (which I had to discard), some of the yogurt, and others. Once or twice my veggies froze as well. It’s been annoying, but for a while it was manageable. This past week, however, has been totally discouraging, and I had a bit of problem thinking of something new to do. I needed to get rid of some of the stuff before it goes bad by the weird freezing cycles.

There was a small pack of sliced beef in the freezer and I thought I’d try making something out of that with the remaining veggies I had. I was also craving for something spicy, and I immediately reached for my cayenne pepper shaker. I was thinking to try some sort of stir fry or sauteed beef. Here’s what I did.

Cayenne Pepper Beef

Serves 1



  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs oyster sauce
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • cayenne pepper, about a dash or more according to tolerance
  • about a half cup of beef strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, cut into strips
  • 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • oil
1. Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour over the beef strips. Toss until fully coated and submerged. Marinade for about 10-15 minutes. Fish out the beef and set aside the remaining marinade.
2. Heat some oil in a frying pan or sauce pan. Put in the garlic and cook until a bit brown. Toss in the onion strips and cook until translucent.
3. Put in the marinaded beef. Cook in high heat until all sides of the strips are seared, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the carrots and stir fry in medium heat for about 8-10 minutes. Add a bit of vegetable stock whenever the pan gets dry.
5. Season with salt, pepper, and more cayenne pepper.

McCormick Cayenne Pepper c/o

It’s actually a pretty straightforward and easy process. With the preparation and cooking, it took about 25 minutes to complete. I put it all in a bento along with some freshly cooked rice, and I tasted the dish come lunch on that day. For good measure, I ran it in medium high microwave for a minute before eating. It was every bit of spicy that I was looking for. I can clearly taste the marinade on the beef, and the carrots added some texture and color. The beef turned out to be not that lean, and exuded some oil when I ate it at lunch time. It wasn’t that much of a big deal, but it would definitely taste better if I used not so fatty meat. The onions wilted considerably, and curled into almost unrecognizable balls among the beef. I’m thinking I could delay putting in the onions with the carrots next time, instead of sauteing it before the beef. To be honest, I was also a bit afraid that I didn’t cook the beef long enough, but it was cooked just fine when I tasted it. It seems 10 minutes in medium flame would do for thin strips.
It was a very interesting and informative experiment. I found that it’s not that hard to cook with non-ground beef (I had previously been cooking almost exclusively chicken), and an important process in cooking is the marinading. There’s a lot of scope for variations there, and I’m excited to find out what else I can come up with in marinade and stir frying.

Posted by on August 25, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011


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Week 29 of 52: Chorizo Carbonara

I was watching the Asian Food Channel, and the Japanese show Dosanko Cooking was on. I love this show because the host, Mrs. Hoshizawa, seems almost the Japanese equivalent of Julia Child. She’s very amiable and looks like she really loves what she’s doing. She teaches three simple recipes in her show, and that day one of them was carbonara. It seemed pretty simple when she was doing it, and it inspired me to try my own version. Her carbonara featured bacon as the flavoring agent, but as I didn’t have any I used chorizo instead.

Chorizo Carbonara

Serves 1-2

  • ~200 g spaghetti noodles
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 chorizo sausage, chopped into 1cm cubes
  • ~1/4 cup grated cheese (I used monterey jack)
  • 2 tsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup fresh whole milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 egg yolks

1. Cook the spaghetti noodles in some water with a bit of salt, about 5-8 minutes. Set the whole pan aside (the spaghetti and the soaking water).

2. Add the flour to the grated cheese, and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a wide pan. Saute the garlic until limp and translucent. Add the chopped chorizo and cook for about 5 minutes.

4. Add the milk. Mix thoroughly and simmer for about 2 minutes.

5. Add the cheese-flour mixture. The cheese should melt shortly and the flour should help thicken the sauce.

6. Fish out the spaghetti noodles from the other pot and add it to the sauce. Mix thoroughly to coat the noodles evenly. If the sauce turns out a bit dry, add a tablespoon or two of the spaghetti soaking liquid.

7. Season with salt and pepper, then turn off the heat.

8. While the noodles are still hot, quickly add the yolk/s and vigorously mix to cook it in the residual heat. Serve immediately.

The whole process turned out faster than I expected. You can of course use bacon as Mrs. Hoshizawa originally intended, in which case you might need to use less salt at the end. You can probably use different pasta shapes as well. Mrs. Hoshizawa also had some toppings (parsley if I remember correctly), so you might want to try doing that as well. It performed very well as a baon (although don’t try to use it past 4 days or something).

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Posted by on July 28, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011


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Instant ramen level up: Chinese style noodles

As I have mentioned a lot here, I am a huge fan of pasta in general, and instant ramen in specific. I’ve been reading a lot about how to upgrade instant ramen past the poor-student-fare stage. I’ve decided to try going with my instincts this time, and see if I can come up with some Chinese style stir-fry noodles with instant ramen.

Chinese style stir-fry instant ramen

Serves 2 (or 1 very hungry person)

2 packets instant ramen, any flavor

2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small or medium onion, chopped

1 cup grated carrots

4 stalks baby corn

(optional) 1/2 to 1 cup dried mushrooms, reconstituted in water (save soaking water), slice thinly into inch-long strips

1 tbs soy sauce

2 tbs oyster sauce

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil for frying

1. Boil the baby corn in enough water to just cover. Keep in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain, slice diagonally, and set aside.

2. Cook the ramen noodles (and any dried vegetable packets) and set aside. Do not use the flavorings.

3. In a wok or frying pan, saute the garlic and onions in the oil until limp.

4. Add the carrots, baby corn, and the optional mushrooms. Saute for about a minute.

5. Pour in about half a cup of the mushroom soaking liquid, or half a cup of water if mushrooms weren’t used. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and liquid almost gone.

6. Add the cooked ramen noodles and the soy sauce and oyster sauce. Toss until everything is fully coated in sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

It came out tasting like many chinese style noodle dishes I’ve had before. I like the fact that there are so many variations I can do on this recipe, and that it’s chock-full of veggie goodness. The only disadvantage here is the increased time of preparation, but I think the increased nutrition might be worth it. What do you think?

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Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Week 18 of 52: Chicken Paprika

I have been trying to find alternatives to Shake-n-Bake, as I’ve done here. It hasn’t been very successful so far, and I haven’t had the chance to try some variations on that recipe I did before. Lucky for me, there was a likely candidate in a cookbook I borrowed from my in-laws: The Recipes I Love by Norma Olizon Chikiamco.

The basic idea of her Chicken Paprika is similar to Shake-n-Bake: coat chicken pieces in a powder mix then bake in the oven until done. The main difference that I found very interesting is using a baking dish lined with melted butter as opposed to using a cookie sheet.

Chicken paprika - Fresh out of the oven

The powder mix is just flour, salt, and ground paprika. Her recipe called for using a bowl to coat the chicken, but I think this will work pretty well if we put the powder mix into a plastic bag and coating the chicken through shaking.

I used chicken drumsticks, and brought it as baon. It tasted great! I may have found a great substitute for Shake-n-Bake, although this did not come out crunchy. Think of KFC classic chicken, and it would not be far from the texture that came out of this chicken paprika. As for the taste, I can stand a bit more paprika for extra kick, but this tasted well enough for a non-spicy dish. I’m thinking of substituting some of the flour with panko breadcrumbs to add crunchiness to the chicken.



Posted by on May 11, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011


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Week 17 of 52: Basic Mac and Cheese

Last week I had a craving for mac and cheese. From my forays into the vaults of the internet, I discovered that it was actually pretty simple to make mac and cheese. It’s basically just cheese melted into heated cream, seasoned with salt and pepper. I decided to give it a try, using a brick of all-purpose cream and about a cup of shredded cheddar cheese. It came out pretty good, and there was a lot of the cheese sauce to make a lot of mac and cheese servings.

Here’s one that my daughter ate for lunch that day. It’s mixed with twirly macaroni, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Here’s what I had. It’s some vegetable pasta in bowtie shape, topped again with Parmesan cheese.

It also performs well as a baon, as long as the cheese sauce is packed separate from the noodles. It makes a great meal!

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Posted by on May 3, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011


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The Philippine term sopas refers to a soupy dish that usually has chicken or pork components, as well as some sort of macaroni or short pasta. When I was a kid, I’m usually served sopas whenever I’m sick.  It -is- some sort of chicken soup, and in general I am very fond of soup.

I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for sometime now, but it always seems to slip my mind. And it’s not because I’ve not been making this. Quite the opposite, in fact! This recipe is very versatile, easy to make, and relatively quick, and it makes a perfect baon too!

Just a bit of introduction: I got this recipe from my friend and coworker Seth, who has developed this over the years by trying out different variations and component brands. Now perfected, it became her trademark dish and is always in demand among her friends. I got permission to share it on my blog so you can try it out too.

Seth’s Sopas

serves 3-4

  • 1 cup ground chicken (or any ground meat), or chopped hotdogs, or corned beef, or any combination thereof
  • 1-1.5 cups uncooked macaroni
  • 1 470-ml can (large) evaporated milk, preferrably Angel’s brand
  • 1 large white onion, diced finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 pcs bouillon cubes, preferrably pork
  • 1 medium carrot, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cabbage (optional)
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

This batch has: (big plate) onions, carrots, potatoes, enoki mushrooms; (small plate) chicken hotdogs, garlic, sliced chicken thigh fillet

1. Saute garlic in a little oil until golden brown. Immediately add the onions. Saute until onions are a little limp.

2. Add the meat, uncooked macaroni, and any optional vegetables. Melt one bouillon cube in the oil, and toss to coat everything with the melted cube.

3. Add the chicken broth if using, otherwise just add enough water to cover everything. Bring to boil and simmer until the macaroni and meat are cooked and the liquid is mostly evaporated.

4. Slowly pour in the evaporated milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and turn off heat.

Here I used homemade vegetable stock and a pack of cute colorful vegetable bowtie pasta.

Recipe notes:

– The original recipe actually called for boiling chicken parts until the flesh is soft enough to pull off the bones. The chicken flesh is shredded before being added to the pot, and the water used to boil becomes the broth to be used in the sopas. I almost never did this except the first time I tried the recipe because it uses up so much time. I find that pre-ground supermarket chicken is a good substitute, and I use any broth I have on hand.

– Leftover sopas keeps well in the fridge for around a week. I haven’t tried freezing this.

– I usually cook up a batch on my rest day, pack in 1 serving-sized containers, and throw them all in the fridge. I just grab a container for baon for the day (I usually have separate containers for rice or side dishes). It’s great as baon food, especially if there’s microwave at work.

– There is a lot of room for variety here. As you can see, I threw in some enoki mushrooms I had lurking in the fridge and it was a great addition! You can add almost any vegetables, a combination of diced/ground meat, fresh or reconstituted dried mushrooms, probably even tofu (I haven’t tried this). You can even go as minimal as you want! I once tried a pure-veggie sopas, and it was still as satisfying.

– Why Angel’s brand? I have been told to use that, and it does taste better than if I use other brands. Perhaps it’s sweeter? Try it and find out for yourself!

I managed to eat three small bowlfuls of this batch of sopas I made.


Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Week 11 of 52: Stewed chicken and carrots

Another dish from the Just Bento Cookbook: stewed chicken and carrots. It actually has a copy online here, so you can go check out the original recipe. I made some adjustments because of some things which aren’t available.

Basic tsukune, modified

  • 600 grams ground chicken
  • 1 finely grated medium carrrot
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg minus a bit of egg white
  • 3-4 tbs cornstarch

I just dumped everything into a bowl and mixed them all up until they resemble a very smooth but slightly wet paste. I didn’t have any ginger on hand (the original recipe calls for about half a tablespoon of it) so I simply omitted it.  I don’t know what was wrong with my ground chicken, but it does look like it’s too wet to hold solid when dropped into the broth. Anyway, once I had the chicken mixture ready, I mixed up the broth.


  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tbs sake
  • 2 tbs mirin
  • 2 1/2 tbs dark soy sauce
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced into small pieces

I just put the broth ingredients into a large sauce pan, brought it to a boil, and dropped teaspoonfuls of the chicken mixture into the hot broth. I was expecting it to all fall apart once it hit the liquid, but to my surprise it stuck together. I left it to boil for around 15 minutes, and turned off the heat.

Frankly, I was expecting the worst mostly because I messed around with the measurement of the ingredients, and it’s the first time I’m making this dish! I was aghast at myself. I plowed forward nevertheless, and adjusted the broth ingredients as well to compensate for the increased amount of chicken mixture. Anyway this is how it looked like when done.

Surprisingly, it tasted wonderful! Looks aside, I think it tasted exactly how it should taste. It was nice when I had it for lunch today, and it goes remarkably well with some of the kamameshi rice. It freezes well too, along with a bit of the broth. Since it was quite easy and quick to make, it will be one of my freezer stash mainstays.


Posted by on March 18, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011


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