Friday, June 20, 2014

One Pot Chicken Curry Rice Pilaf

A clogged kitchen sink was waiting for us when we got back to the Netherlands exactly a month ago. I had to painfully endure two long weeks of doing the dishes in the smaller bathroom sink. The hubby had put off calling the plumber for as long as possible until it became clear to him that he was never going to get that drain fixed by himself. Who knew house calls to a plumber would cost so much?! After one hour of clearing and vacuuming the most vile thing ever from the drain lines, I was more than grateful to have our kitchen sink back. But I will never be able to erase the memory of that funky smelling black goop fermenting inside the drain pipes. I also learned that plumbers don't clean up the mess they leave behind. Best day ever having to scrub the goop-stained kitchen cabinets under the sink and the floor with bleach. Since that day, we've been using a double drain-net strainer in the kitchen sink.

Put me in a kitchen and I'd gladly cook up something for you. Cooking is what I love to do. Cleaning up afterwards, not so much.  Let's face it. NO ONE likes to clean up unless you're a clean freak OCD.  Doing the dishes might be slightly tolerable on days when I'm not feeling lazy. But there's nothing I hate more than cleaning a dirty kitchen sink and a drain-net strainer with all the food scraps stuck to it. It's enough to make your skin crawl after washing a towering pile of dirty plates, bowls and pans. 

That's what I love about ONE POT MEALS.  

ONE pot. ONE pan. 

It's all you need. Toss everything together into one pan and 20 minutes later, you've got a NO-FUSS, LESS-MESS, delicious meal waiting for you. And LESS dishes to wash. It can't get any better than that.

serves 2-3

1 large chicken breast fillet, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups rice, uncooked
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped 
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup raisins 
3 cups vegetable broth (or 1.5 bouillon cube dissolved in 3 cups water)
2 handfuls spinach

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Cook and brown the chicken for 5-6 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Saute the garlic and onions. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the curry powder, garam masala and turmeric. Stir for one minute

Add the bell peppers and tomatoes. Cook for another minute. Add the rice, chicken and raisins. Pour in the chicken broth. Stir everything together. Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat. Cover the rice and cook on very low heat until the liquid has evaporated and the top of the rice mixture looks dry. 

Then turn off the heat and set aside covered for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, ruffle the rice gently with a fork and fold in the spinach. Put it back on low heat for 5 minutes until the spinach has wilted and serve.

NOTE: Best to use a non-stick or ceramic coated pan for this dish.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

7UP Chicken Adobo

FIFA World Cup in Brazil has started last week and there's nothing else worth watching on TV or online as far as the hubby is concerned. For a month! What's up with men and sports really! I'm no soccer fan but I have to admit last Friday night's game with the Netherlands vs. Spain was INCREDIBLE! The Dutch team killed the Spanish team by an unbelievable margin 5-1, quite a stunning and humiliating loss considering they are the best in the world after winning 2 European championships & the World Cup in 2010, ironically also against the Netherlands in the finals. But losing one game doesn't say anything. Spain also lost to Switzerland in the group stage 4 years ago and later went on to win the tournament. Anyway, if the Dutch team keeps on playing at this level, then the Netherlands might have a very good shot going all the way to the finals again this year. I really hope so! 

And oh my gawd, what an amazing header by Robin van Persie aka The Flying Dutchman when he scored with just a minute to go before halftime! And that is how you make an EPIC goal, folks! Hands down the Best Goal of the World Cup 2014!
      Video credits to James Hamilton

Goodbye Planking! Heeellooo Persieing! Even fans have jumped on the bandwagon with their best "Persieing" moves and check out these hilarious memes. It's OK to eat grass once in a while.

Now I can't wait for the game on Wednesday. Better stand fast, Australia. The Orange Wave is coming!


Enough about the World Cup. Let's get down to some serious business.

Tender fall-of-the bone chicken glazed over in a delicious thick zingy sauce that's finger licking good- kind of business.

the kind like THIS.
But wait. This isn't your ordinary Filipino Chicken Adobo. 

It has a secret ingredient.

Yep, that's right. I HAD to go there. 

And guess what? 

Regular Chicken Adobo... never again. I've been fully converted.
recipe adapted from My Fresha-licious 

530g chicken thighs or drumsticks, skinless 

1 tbsp oil
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp whole peppercorns
3 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
3/4 cup water
1 cup 7Up
1 tbsp brown sugar

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
ground pepper
pinch of cayene pepper
2 bay leaves

Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Pour over the chicken in a glass container. Massage the meat for about a minute. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 30-40 minutes.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan over medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Add to the pan and brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan. Set aside. Reserve the marinade sauce.

Add 2 tsp of sesame oil to the same pan. Saute the garlic, 3 bay leaves and whole peppercorns for about a minute. Add the reserved marinade, water, sugar and 7UP.  Stir gently to mix the flavors together. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat slightly. Add the chicken back to the pan. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the sauce is mostly reduced and thickened. Like so.
Then serve with rice. Best pair ever!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Spaghetti with Bacon & Peas


Today is officially lazy day. 

6:00am    Woke up to make a couple of sandwiches for the hubby to take with as he gets ready for work
6:30am     Went back to bed to get more zzzzz just for a couple of hours
8:30am      Zzzz...couple of hours went by...
12:30am    Zzzzzzz....six hours later....

1:30 pm....
Woke up, lazily turned on the bed to get the ipad, checked the time and was basically horrified to see it was already past lunch time. I can't believe I slept so long. Dragged my heavy legs to the bathroom to shower. Then to the kitchen to make a cup of hot coffee & a peanut butter sandwich.

The rest of the day was just as lazy as I felt when I woke up. I tried to get some studying done but gave up after half an hour. I just wasn't in the mood today. 

I also wasn't in the mood to spend a lot of time in the kitchen nor make something complicated.  

That's why this FIVE-ingredient pasta is exactly what I need, perfect for those lazy days.  

It's simple.  
It's easy. 
It's ready in 20 minutes. 
Plus it has bacon, people. Bacon! Who doesn't like bacon?!

makes 2 generous servings

220 g spaghetti
130g bacon or pancetta, diced
1 1/3 cup frozen green peas
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Bring a pan of salted water with a small splash of oil to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta. Reserve about 1 cup of the liquid.

Saute the bacon over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent. Stir in the garlic and peas. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the pasta. Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time to moisten and coat the pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the pasta gently to mix everything. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional).

NOTE: You can also cook the bacon until it's golden and crisp. Remove it from the pan, cook the onions, garlic and peas in the bacon grease. Then add it back together with the pasta. 

Lucky we went to the Jumbo after dinner to buy some snacks. They were giving out FREE Appeltaarts! Sweet!

Lekker Appeltaart!

Monday, June 9, 2014

IKEA for the perfect home

The hubby and I spent the afternoon wandering inside this HUGE Scandinavian warehouse for modern furniture & home accessories. I certainly wouldn't mind getting lost the whole day in IKEA. I LOVE IT! The place has THREE floors with a foodcourt at the top level and a sort of supermarket for Swedish products. IKEA is very popular in Europe and is possibly the world's largest furniture company. The showrooms are so beautifully designed you'll end up buying something before leaving the place (or the whole showroom if you can afford it!).

Who wouldn't want to own cozy living room like this ? 

or a kitchen and dining room like these?  

Stylish and efficient small spaces 
You can get the whole showroom for hefty price tags ranging from 3,000 - 6,000 euros or even more.

Different styles for different tastes

Don't you just adore this lovely little bedroom in pastel colors? 

And of course no trip to IKEA would be complete without tasting a BIG serving of those juicy Swedish meatballs in thick gravy sauce! LEKKER!

Paired with crisp patat (fries)

And this amazing chocolate almond tart to finish off the late lunch.

Till next time, IKEA!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken

Hubby and I are big fans of Asian dishes. 

He has been raving about my dad's Sweet & Sour Chicken ever since he had that very first taste 2 years ago. It became his favorite dish ever. I could never get dad's recipe right whatever I do and trust me, I tried many times with instructions from him and failed so eventually I went to Pinterest for a little help. My dad cooks from the heart and he's not one to follow recipes and measurements like I do. I finally got around to making it for the hubby after much begging for a week. Soooo glad that I did because this turned out to be one of the best versions of Sweet and Sour Chicken I've ever come across, all thanks to this genius blogger, Mel

It does take time (you bake it for 1 hour!!!) and effort to make but believe me, it's totally worth it. 

And don't get me started on THAT SAUCE. Good gracious, THAT SAUCE will make you lick your plate and fork CLEAN. It's SO SO good.

Gorgeous chunks of chicken coated
 in the most deliciously messy, sticky. sweet, tangy sauce

Here's the link to the ORIGINAL RECIPE with the following changes I made below: 
2-3 servings

For the sauce: 
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar (for extra tang)
5 tbsp of ketchup 
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 large clove of garlic, grated
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp of cornstarch (used flour since it was what I had on hand)

Stir all ingredients together for the sauce for the chicken. I also made extra sauce for the mixed vegetables (1/4 the original amount). I wanted the vegetables with a bit of crunch so I didn't bake them together with the chicken but stir fried them separately with the extra sauce.

For the mixed vegetables:
half of 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
half of each red, green and yellow bell peppers, cut into chunks
1 - 1 1/2 cup of pineapple chunks, drained

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat. Stir fry the vegetables for about 2 minutes. Then add the pineapple. Add the extra sweet sour sauce and cook for another minute or two until the sauce thickens. Then serve the baked chicken with the vegetables and rice.

For the battered chicken:
I had 1 large fillet and a half, roughly about 300-350 grams I think, cut into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Instead of the cornstarch, I used flour since that was what I had on hand (Can someone/anyone please tell me where I can buy cornstarch in the Netherlands?! My husband stares at me blankly when I say cornstarch or cornflour). I also seasoned the flour with salt and pepper. Coat the chicken first in the flour, then dip it in the egg, then back in the flour. I gave them a quick fry just to get a crisp outer layer before putting them in the dish and pouring the sauce over the nuggets to bake. Halfway through the baking time, I gave them a quick stir, turning the nuggets over to coat them in that beautiful sauce.

FYI: The hubby still thinks that nothing beats my dad's Sweet & Sour Chicken. He told me this after he shamelessly finished 3/4 of the whole dish. He said he was "starving"! And he licked his plate clean. For real.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Beef Broccoli + Black Forest, Germany and Colmar, France

Here's what our weekly dinner menu looks like

Monday: Chicken Mushroom Soup with Shell Pasta
Wednesday: Breaded Chicken Fillet with Buttered Vegetables
Thursday: Chicken and Spinach in Curry Sauce
Friday: Sweet and Sour Chicken
Saturday and Sunday: (Yes, I do get a break from cooking and smelling like onions.)

And repeat all chicken menu for another week. and the week after that. and two weeks after that.

You get the picture.

We eat so much chicken in our house that I won't be surprised if we start growing feathers soon. I love chicken. I do but I am sort of getting sick of eating it. Pork is out of the question since the hubby doesn't like it. 

I find the beef expensive in the Netherlands so for me, it feels sort of a luxury or a treat when it's on the table. I decided to grab a pack of lean beef at the supermarket because we seriously need a break from Mr. Kip. Really. For 3.70 euros (xPhp60), you can get 322g of a nice cut of lean beef (Magere Runderlappen) here.

And what better way to do with that beautiful beef than to make


Tender slices of beef + crisp broccoli + yummy thick glaze packed with flavor

It is so CRAZY DELICIOUS you will be licking your plate clean.

And your hubby will tell you over and over how lucky he is to have you in his life. 


recipe adapted from Simply Recipes and Rainy Day Gal
serves 2-3 

320 g beef, sliced into thin strips   (I used magere rundlerlappen-lean beef.)
2 cups, broccoli, cut into smaller pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp flour
pinch of black pepper
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp mirin (rice wine)
1/2 tbsp water
1 tbsp oil

Stir-fry sauce:
2 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp mirin
2 1/2 tsp sambal oelek
2 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp ketchup

Combine the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Pour the marinade over the beef and using your clean hands, toss the beef in the marinade until well coated. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. 

Whisk the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce in another bowl. Set aside.

Heat about 1/2 inch of water in a pan. Add the broccoli. Cover and steam for about 2 minutes until tender but still crisp. Drain and set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan over medium heat. Spread the beef in a single layer on the pan. Cook for 1 minute. Turn the beef slices over and cook for another minute until no longer pink. Add the garlic to the pan. Saute for 1 minute. Add broccoli back to the pan. Stir fry together for about 30 seconds. Pour the sauce to the pan. Stir and cook for another minute until the sauce thickens.

Serve with rice.

We also got back a few days ago from weeklong bus trip to  

Schwarzwald (Black Forest), Germany 
(where the famous Black Forest Cake originated from)


Colmar, France 
dubbed "The Little Venice of France" (below).

  I will be posting more photos from this trip soon!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thai Basil Chicken

It's only been a month since I've been away from home but I'm sorta missing my favorite foods already.

Okay.  That's a big fat lie.

I miss it terribly.

Foods that make me dreamy eyed when I think about them then my mouth starts to water like crazy, my stomach starts to make strange noises even when I'm not hungry.

Take this Binagoongang Baboy ni Kaka for instance.

Whoa, shockingly wonderful flavors in just one dish! Juicy pork belly chunks swimming in sweet, spicy, salty shrimp paste...God help me.

My dear fatty pork, you and I are going to have a BIG reunion when I get back. I know the hubby doesn't fancy you but I haven't forgotten all about you. We have unfinished business to do, you and I.

And what about this?  After all, Thai food has always had a special spot in my heart. 

Basil Chicken (or Gai Pad Krapow) -from Mae Krua Thai Restaurant-
For such a simple and rustic dish, it is incredibly satisfying. And your kitchen will smell so goood from all that cooked basil!

Dilemma, Dilemma

Since I'm 1,000,000,000 miles away from MESA or  Krua Thai....  

Moving on! 

What do you do when your favorite restaurants are too far out of reach? 


For a recipe that could perhaps be the closest thing you can get to the real thing, especially when you find yourself in another continent.

Then you get your lazy butt over to the kitchen to start cooking.

serves 2-3

2 large chicken breasts, cut into smaller pieces
1 onion, sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
3-4 dried chilies, minced/crushed(more if you like it really SPICY)
2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed

2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp ketcap manis  (thick Indonesian slightly sweet soy sauce)
2-3 tsp sugar
2-3 tsp cornstarch ( I used flour. )
pinch of black pepper

Prepare your ingredients. 
Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl. Set aside.

Saute the garlic with the crushed chili in olive oil for a minute or two on medium heat until it smells fragant.

Then add the onion and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the chicken to the hot pan and stir fry until it is almost done, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the bell peppers. Stir fry for 1 minute. 
Pour in the sauce. Stir and mix well. Cook for another minute or until the sauce thickens up a bit.

Add in the basil leaves. Mix well. Cook for 30 seconds until they start to wilt and become fragant.

Remove from the heat and serve with hot rice.

And just like that, you have a delicious, speedy and restaurant-worthy Thai dinner at home.