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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Breezy Missy Meals: Pan-Fried Lemon Thyme Chicken

Most people we know get kind of surprised to learn that I am also posting food recipes here at Spicy Beautiful and will ask me “When did you learn how to cook?”

I’ve been cooking simple recipes for my family ever since my Mother decided that I’m old (and smart) enough not to burn myself on the stove — cooking sweet fried bananas and salted potato fries for our afternoon snacks. I was 13 then.

I never really brought up my food fancy to anyone until I met my partner, Zane, a natural foodie who encouraged me to develop my cooking skills. She is the first person to tell me that I am, in fact, a good cook and loves every single kitchen creation I made — from steaming rice to cooking her favorite spicy sunny side up egg in the morning. Now, that’s what you call love.

Anyway, we’ve been getting more and more freelance work lately and preparing easy to cook meals has been our saving grace. Given the somewhat busy schedule, we’ve learned to plan our weekly meals to cut down our constant trip to the grocery and save time in the kitchen too. And so, I thought about starting this segment which will document the easy to cook recipes I tend to wing out in the kitchen for busy days like today. Breezy Missy Meals will bring you recipes that you can easily follow by simply putting a couple of ingredients together creating simple, yet delicious meals for you and your family.

For today, I cooked this pan-fried lemon thyme chicken for lunch:

 

Pan-Fried-Lemon-Thyme-Chicken-Breast

 

The combination of lemon and thyme in this recipe is like a marriage made in heaven. Together, they boosted up the flavor of the chicken breast into a whole new refreshing and flavorsome level. You will never think of chicken breast as a boring, bland meat anymore with this recipe.

 

Pan-fried Lemon Thyme Chicken

  • 2 Boneless Chicken Breast
  • 1 large lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • Curly leaf parsley, chopped
  • Iodized Salt & Ground Pepper
  • 100ml Vegetable oil

1. Leave the chicken breasts whole and massage with thyme. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper according to your taste.

2. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.

3. Fry in vegetable oil for 5-6 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

4. Top and garnish with chopped curly leaf parsley.

 

Pan-Fried-Lemon-Thyme-Chicken

 

Sig-Van2

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Parched Throat’s Prayer: Calamansi Lime and Lemon Juice

We were hanging out in our porch sipping coffee early last Saturday morning when we noticed that our little calamansi grove (do 5 trees count as a grove?) is already jam-packed with fruits that some have started to grow yellow. For those not familiar with the calamansi tree, according to Wikipedia it is “calamandarin” in English.

We usually use the fruit while it is still green and hardly allow them to ripen. Typically used in marinades, condiments and as a souring agent in soups, it is our version of the lime but the taste is a little different since the calamansi’s sourness is tempered by a hint of sweetness unlike the lime which has more tart and bite.

 

Fresh-Calamansi-Lime

 

Okay enough with the background lecture. Back to my story. So there we were looking with awe at the abundant fruits of our grove. Add a little chagrin to that since we were never going to use them all up, but then we remembered that that’s what having neighbors are for, right? So we harvested the mature fruits, saved some for our consumption and gave away the rest. We thought up ways on how to use most of them before they dry up inside and we came up with two options: we either had to make a calamansi-ade or use them to get roaring drunk by pairing it with tequila. Which is great by the way, but that is another story. *wink*

I’m not really a fan of calamansi juice, unless I’m coughing my lungs out and have been done in by the flu, but this one was actually pretty good! Van and I bought some lemons a couple of days earlier for her lemon thyme chicken and we added 2 pieces in the juice as an experiment. I figured that they are both of the citrus family so it wouldn’t hurt to mix and match them, though I still kept my fingers crossed. But I worried for nothing. This was by far the best citrus juice or any ade I have tasted! Though the comparison is a bit unfair since this has a double dose of citrus power.

 

Calamansi-Lime-and-Lemon-Juice

 

But don’t take my word for it, try it out yourselves. Here’s the mixture:

 

Calamansi and Lemon Juice (serves 2)

  • 50ml freshly squeezed calamansi juice
  • 50ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 550ml water
  • 4 tablespoon sugar, we used the brown variety since we liked the taste better

1. In a small saucepan, mix 50ml water with the sugar. Simmer for several minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved. Take off from heat and set aside.

2. Pour the freshly squeezed calamansi and lemon juice into a pitcher that is capable of holding up to a liter of liquid. Then pour in the rest of the water with the sugar syrup that was made earlier and stir briskly. If you have a sweeter tooth than us, add more sugar to your preference.

3. Best served with ice and several thin lemon slices for that extra tangy taste in every gulp. Drink up!

 

Sig-Zane2

Thursday, January 26, 2012

From the Fiery Pan: Spicy Tuna Sandwich Spread

It has been a hectic week with all the projects in our plate that I still haven’t made the post about the sandwich spread I made last Friday. And our internet acted up again, which made working SO darn hard! But hey, I’m not here to rant about our crappy connection. :0

 

Spicy-Tuna-Pickles-Sandwich

 

I’ve been dying to tell you all about the uber-easy-to-make and quite filling spicy tuna spread that we had for lunch last week. I was contemplating adding finely minced chilies in the mixture but thought better of it. That would have been going over-the-top-spicy! And it might not have been edible then, so I stuck with my trusty ground red pepper instead (I went pepper berserk and added the whole 3gram pack in!).

 

Spicy-Tuna-Sandwich-Spread

 

The result was a mildly-hot tuna spread that went great with the sweet pickle chips we added. The sweetness of the pickles actually took some of the heat off but the crunchiness more than made up for it. I might go with the red chilies next time. *wink* So for your middle-of-the-week sandwich craving, try this recipe:

 

Spicy Tuna Sandwich Spread

  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely minced
  • 1 can (180grams) Tuna flakes in vegetable oil
  • 1 cup or a 220ml pack mayonnaise
  • Ground red pepper, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 jar (325grams) sweet pickle chips (optional)

1. In a small pan, pour tuna contents and let simmer for 1 minute. Sprinkle some ground red pepper and black pepper for a little zing.

2. Add in the minced onion and simmer for another minute.

3. Remove tuna from pan and place in a medium-sized bowl. Pour in the mayonnaise and mix them all together. Season with salt to your preference.

4. Best served with toasted whole wheat bread and a smattering of sweet pickle chips. Yum!

 

Spicy-Tuna-Sandwich

 

Doesn’t that look scrumptious? You can even see the little dots the red pepper made! LOL

 

Sig-Zane2

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Slow Cooker Sunday: Spicy Bulalo

We’re so into this slow cooker craze that my mind is bursting with recipes to try! Up for today is a slow-cooked version of one of our favorite Sunday dishes for lunch: Bulalo.

 

Slow-Cooked-Bulalo-Beef-and-Vegetable-Soup

 

This authentic Filipino dish is a hearty soup made of tender beef meat or shanks with vegetables and corn. So for a more universal recognition, it can be called a beef and vegetable soup. It differs from the regular soup since it can stand alone in a meal even when paired only with white steamed rice. It is not so much a soup as a main dish. There is nothing more satisfying in a lazy Sunday afternoon than after having your fill of this tasty beef soup and feeling languorous.

We usually cook bulalo in a pressure cooker so that the meat will become tender enough. The downside to cooking it that way is that the meat will sometimes fall apart even before serving. With the slow cooker, the beef retained its form while still being so tender that you can pull the meat off by a fork, effortlessly. I was a little down when I started cooking because we weren’t able to get some of my much-loved bone marrow shanks and had to settle for some beef cubes instead (tough day at the grocery), but one taste of that uber-tender meat made all my discontent evaporate. I was in soup heaven…

Oh and if you’re wondering what I’m doing cooking something not remotely spicy, hold your horses a little. I was just about to get to that. The trick to getting a spicy soup is by cooking a couple of jalapenos together with the beef. After hours of cooking, that will be one heck of a spicy hot soup!

Bulalo

  • 2 pounds beef cubes or beef shanks
  • 1 large-sized onion, chopped
  • 2 cobs of yellow sweet corn, chopped into 3 parts each
  • 2-3 stalks of leeks, chopped
  • 1/2 pound Chinese cabbage
  • 1-2 stalks of celery, chopped (optional)
  • 2 beef cubes dissolved in 800ml or 4 cups of water
  • 10 pieces whole peppercorns
  • 2-5 whole jalepenos
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste

1. Place beef in a large deep pot. Pour in water at the same level as the beef and bring to a boil. After 5 minutes of boiling, take the pot off the heat and throw away the water. Rinse the beef to remove any scum that came out of boiling.

2. Place the beef with the rest of the ingredients inside the slow cooker stoneware pot, except for the Chinese cabbage. Season with salt and ground pepper then cook in high for 8 hours.

3. After 8 hours, adjust seasoning to your preference and add the Chinese cabbage. Cook in low for another 20-30 minutes.

4. Serve with white steamed rice. Best eaten when still hot with a side seasoning of soy sauce, calamansi (lime) and some red bird’s eye chili for that wonderful fiery taste. (I just had to get my spicy fix.)

Enjoy!

 

Sorry for the lack of pictures, the tantalizing aroma was teasing us for hours that after taking one good shot we just had to eat then and there. :)

 

Sig-Zane2

Thursday, January 19, 2012

PURR Day Thursday with ZAVI: Daydreaming of a Wild Chicken Chase

We took a picture of Zavi this morning while he was staring through the screen door to watch some chickens peck their way near our porch. Just look at his face and you can imagine what is going through his mind at that moment. I think his fierce glare is a clear indication that he intensely wants to chase down some chicken ass! LOL

 

DSC00430

 

So, what do you think? Or maybe I’m wrong and he just struck a pose for the camera to look like a dashing alpha male. Crafty li’l Zavi! :)

 

Sig-Zane2

Chronicles of the Feline Foodie: Purina Friskies Hairball Management

Nestle Purina Philippines had a video contest last December which allowed us to showcase our cats and their adorable antics. Luckily, we managed to be one of the winners and they sent us 1 case or 6 packs of 1.5 KG Friskies Ocean Fish Flavor and 1 case or 6 packs of 1.4 KG Friskies Hairball Management. The latter variety piqued our interest since our cats are all longhaired and hairball is one of the cat health issues that we are most concerned about.

 

Purina-Friskies-Hairball-Management

 

Cats are natural self-groomers. They like to keep themselves clean and odor free. As they tidy up themselves, the backwards-facing spines on their tongues catch loose hair and are being ingested. Normally, the swallowed fur will simply pass through the digestive tract and come out along with the feces. In some cases, as with medium to long haired cats and those that greatly shed, the excess hair accumulates in their stomach forming what we call hairballs. Cats will eliminate hairballs by lowering their bodies to the ground while hacking and gagging until they vomit them out accompanied with some liquid and food. It’s not a beautiful sight but it’s actually kind of a good thing since hairballs can result into a life-threatening condition if not eliminated regularly.

Daily brushing from pet owners can help reduce the amount of fur our cats swallow to prevent the hairball problem from recurring. Also, there are a number of cat foods, treats and food supplements intended to aid our pets to pass their excess fur easier than they normally can.

Nestle Purina gave us the perfect opportunity to put their Friskies Hairball Management dry cat food to the test. We gradually changed our cats’ current dry cat food diet to this formula in the course of 7 days (to avoid runs, gas and upset stomach). To date, our cats have been completely accustomed to this diet for the last three weeks.

 

Purina-Friskies-Hairball-Management-Dry-Cat-Food

 

The Friskies Hairball Management dry cat food is true to its promise of helping our cats get rid of their nasty hairballs. We noticed that every other day or every three days tops, our cats would cough up hairballs easier and faster than they usually could. We find that they also enjoy eating it, too. Their noses seem to be always in the way when we are filling their bowls up with it! No signs of them getting bored with their new cat chow as of the moment!

Here’s a picture of Tu’sha enjoying a bowlful of his hard-won kibbles! LOL

 

Cat-Eating-Purina-Friskies-Hairball-Management

 

zane-and-van

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Slow Cooker Sunday: Apple Crumble

It’s been raining pretty much every day this week. The sound of the pouring rain made us stay on our bed and wrap ourselves with a nice, warm comforter. The lazy weather gave us the perfect opportunity to watch the movies we have downloaded for ages and to come up with recipes to match the cold temperature.

Last Sunday, Zane revealed that we have just discovered our slow cooker’s potential to make hearty, rich and tasty dishes. They say that a slow cooker can make just about any recipe you know. Now, we’ll put this notion to the test. Can a slow cooker handle making desserts?

I got the answer to my own question after making a slow cooked version of my favorite apple crumble recipe, especially for rainy days like these. It is usually prepared baked in the oven. At first I was afraid that the slow cooker will make the apples mushy but they were actually cooked to a soft texture. It’s just as good as the oven baked variety. Just take a look at the little piece of heaven on the saucer below – warm and cozy from the slow cooker stoneware. Don’t you just want to melt with it? You’ll be surprised at how incredibly easy and quick this recipe is to make.

 

Slow-Cooker-Apple-Crumble

 

Apple Crumble

  • 6 large cooking apples, cut into chunks (peeled or unpeeled, whatever works for you)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (cut into pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon

 

1. Lightly butter the stoneware pot before placing all the apples at the bottom. Add the lemon juice to minimize oxidation.

2. Combine the all purpose flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, butter, cinnamon, cornstarch, nutmeg and raisins together in a mixing bowl.

3. Stir in the oat raisin topping mixture with the apples.

4. Cook on high for 2 hours.

5. Simply eat it straight from the pot to warm the stomach on these rainy days. Or you may serve with vanilla ice cream on top during the warmer months.

 

Slow-Cooker-Apple-Crumble-Recipe

 

The oat raisin topping on this apple crumble is not exactly “crisp” as you can see since I stirred the mixture together with the apples (as opposed to simply putting them on top). I let them bathe with the caramelized sugar for them to become completely decadent and chewy. Nevertheless, it turned out amazingly luscious!

 

Sig-Van2

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chronicles of the Feline Foodie: Catnip Tea

We all know the effects of catnip to some of our cats. It makes them run around crazily around the room, settle on various silly poses and meow nonstop while rolling on the floor. The chemical compound found in catnip called “nepetalactone” is the one responsible in inducing these harmless physiological reactions.

Little did we know that this main active ingredient of catnip brings a number of health benefits to cats when taken internally as a tea. It has sedative properties that can help you put a cat into a dreamy, sleepy state to alleviate stress and nervousness. Also, it aids in digestion, calms upset stomach and improves bowel movement.

 

"CATNIP TEA"

1. Steep 1-2 teaspoons of dried catnip to a cup of boiling water for 3-5 minutes.

2. Remove all the dried catnip residue using a very fine strainer.

3. Serve lukewarm with your cat's regular water bowl.

 

 

catnip-tea

 

There’s nothing we like better than watching Kuki enjoy a bowlful of catnip tea goodness!

 

zane-and-van

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Slow Cooker Sunday: Spicy Beef Chili

My mom gave us our slow cooker a year or so ago. When we first saw it, we were baffled by this strange rice-cooker-like thingy and we didn’t know what to do with it. So I stuck it inside one of our cupboards and kinda forgot about it. And there it sat for many, many, MANY months… sad, unused and feeling a bit discarded until…

In a rare moment of brilliance, I decided to browse around the internet and the wondrous world of slow cooker opened up for me. Little did we know that this weird kitchen gadget can cook almost any type of food known to man! We missed a LOT by not using it all these time. Now, we mean to remedy that.

 

Slow-Cooked-Beef-Chili

 

So, here goes. First up is the Spicy Beef Chili, Spicy Beautiful style. This is commonly known in the Philippines as Chili con Carne, which means “chili pepper with meat”, and can be found in most American and Mexican restaurants that abound here. This is a great recipe for those people who love eating hot and spicy food, and some with beer on the side (you know what I mean).

With the slow cooker, this aromatic dish filled our home with its spicy, mouthwatering goodness for hours! When it was done (just in time before midnight), the texture of the beans had just the right amount of softness. The dish was a little bit above-average on the spicy side and with a bite of heat at the end, just the way we like it. For a first try in slow cooker dishes, this one was a hit!

We had this for our New Year’s “media noche” and it fit perfectly with the weather since it was raining steadily the whole day. The leftover was still amazing the next day, more so when it was paired with Snyder’s White Corn Tortilla Chips and an ice-cold bottle of beer! Or a couple of bottles. :)

 

Snyder's-Tortilla-Chips

 

 Spicy Beef Chili

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound dried white beans
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium-sized onions, minced
  • 3 jalepenos, halved, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoon ground red pepper, or to taste
  • 1 can (400 grams) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (150 grams) tomato paste
  • 5 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 beef cubes dissolved in 500ml or 3 cups of water
  • 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 bag of tortilla chips (optional)

 

1. To prepare the dried white beans, spread in a tray and remove any debris then rinse thoroughly. Place the beans in a large bowl and soak in at least 3 inches of tap water. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 6-8 hours, or overnight if preferable. Drain soaked white beans and set aside.

2. In a medium nonstick pot, sauté the ground beef until lightly brown. Remove excess oil then add the garlic and cook for a minute or until the garlic are slightly golden. Add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions are transparent.

3. Add the chopped jalapeno peppers, chili powder, thyme, oregano, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper and salt while stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes. For a mildly spicy chili, reduce the amount of jalapenos, black pepper, cayenne pepper and red pepper into half.

4. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste and stir until it boils.

5. Remove from heat and pour mixture into the stoneware pot of the slow cooker. Add the beef stock (beef cubes dissolved in water) and white beans. Mix well, cover and cook in high for 2 hours.

6. After 2 hours, add the chopped celery and stir in 1 cup of the grated cheddar cheese, then cook in low for 4 more hours.

7. Serve in medium-sized bowls, topped with the remaining grated cheddar cheese. You can also garnish with chopped jalapeno and with a serving of tortilla chips on the side, for those daredevil types. Or you can pour on top of rice to be on the safe side.

 

Spicy-Beef-Chili

 

Enjoy! 

 

Sig-Zane2

Saturday, January 7, 2012

SHEER COVER Sophisticate Face Palette: Review and Photos

Product Description:

• Put your best face forward with a fresh take on sophisticated elegance.
• Everything you need to refine your look - from the day to the evening.
• Complete with 4 eye-popping classic eye shadows, 2 luscious lip glosses, a fabulous blush and a generous mirror for all-in-one, on the go convenience.
• Contains: Eyeshadow Duo 1: Sable & White Peach, Eyeshadow Duo 2: Charcoal & Mauve, Lip Gloss Duo: Caramel Ice & Ballerina and 1 x Blush in Coral Ice.
• Eyeshadow size: 5.4g / 0.19oz, Lip Gloss size: 1.5g / 0.05oz, Blush size: 3.3g / 0.11oz. Price: £25.95

 

I don’t have a lot of experience with mineral makeup. I have tried a couple of mineral products but that’s just about it. You can say that jumping on the “mineral band wagon” hasn’t appealed to me so far.

Recently, I had the chance to try Sheer Cover Sophisticate Face Palette. It’s a compact face palette that includes 4 eye shadows, 2 lip glosses, a blush, mini applicators and a built-in mirror.

 

Sheer-Cover-Face-Palette-Sophisticate

 

Sheer-Cover-Face-Palette-Sophisticate-Label

 

Sheer-Cover-Face-Palette-Sophisticate-Mirror

 

I love the neutral color scheme of this palette which makes it perfect for daytime use. You don’t need to pack a lot of eye shadows for the colors to show up since they are super pigmented. They are easy to blend and last for many hours.

 

Sheer-Cover-Face-Palette-Sophisticate-Eye-Shadows

 

I’m not really using the blush because it’s not showing up on my medium skin but that’s not the product’s fault. I bet it will show up for those with fair skin.

 

Sheer-Cover-Face-Palette-Sophisticate-Blush

 

The lip glosses are lovely. They are sheer with a hint of shimmer to them. I just make sure I prep my lips with a balm before I apply them because they are a bit drying.

 

Sheer-Cover-Face-Palette-Sophisticate-Lip-Gloss

 

If you would like to check out Sheer Cover’s mineral makeup line, this all in one palette is a good introduction.

BTW, be sure to check out my review for Sheer Cover’s Extra Length Mascara. It’s a keeper!

 

Sig-Van2

Thursday, January 5, 2012

PURR Day Thursday: Back from Hibernation (with new kittens and a box of goodies)!

It’s been a while since we last updated our blog and we apologize for the long absence. The latter part of 2011 was a whirlwind of familial responsibilities and work-related stuff that we only had time to take a deep breath before plunging right in. Also, we moved to a new house, took care of a new litter of kittens and found them purrific new homes – all sounds great but very VERY exhausting and oh so difficult in time management! We couldn't even squeeze one post to say we’ll be gone for a while… *sniff*

But here’s to a NEW YEAR armed with a firm resolution to be more active with blogging once more! Hope a picture of our 2 new blue kittens will make up for the lost months and make you purr with pleasure at our return.

Meet our new little babies: Princess Skorpi and Zavi Boy-O

The feline gods have been so good to us for 2 consecutive years. We got us some free goodies! In November 2010, we won four boxes of Fancy Feast gourmet cat food from Nestle Purina in one of their frequent yearly contests. And last month, our video entry to Nestle Purina's SuPurr Star promo managed to bag a one-year supply of Friskies cat food! Talk about lucky cats!

WE GOT US SUM KEWL FREEBIEZ! LOL!

Watch the video below and ap-PlAW-ed our little minions' antics! Enjoy! :)






How about you? What have you all been up to lately?




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