Dec 11, 2013

For the Love of Holiday Cheers

It's the season for cozy parties, hot mugs of chocolate and nostalgic songs around the beautifully adorned trees in our homes. With the modern trends taking over our traditional solemn Christmas celebrations, we have taken the celebrations to the next level with lively music, ravenous parties and of course, booze. While many health buffs often turn their noses up with social drinking, I have reasons to believe that drinking wine and a bit of liquor can be good for us, if taken in generous moderation.

The stress that our career-driven lives have brought us can be nerve-wrecking, and sometimes a glass or two of that sparkling champagne or a tequila shot can help calm our nerves. The calming effect of alcohol sometimes makes for a good flow of conversations, a handful of smiles, and a good dose of laughter that fills the room. More than that, most wines guarantee a nice amount of antioxidants as well. I'm pretty sure there are lots more reasons and benefits to drinking, but those are good enough for me.

We used to buy wines and liquor from the mall, as well as from cellars around the metro, but I found that if we buy wine online from a trusted seller, we get better deals without compromising on taste and quality. It's all about the company background, so do your research on the best deals around your area and find one that works for you.

Nov 26, 2013

Juice Up Your Life With Zest-O Slice

Since childhood, I've always been familiar with the triangular, shiny packs of fruit juice that we would sip during recess. Zest-O has been around for years, and is a well established household name to date. But with all the new and trendy drinks promising healthier alternatives to the sodas and flavored water, the company has come up with their newest products, Zest-O Slice.

With four flavors to give you a refreshing drink, Zest-O Slice kept its two best-selling flavors, Dalandan and Orange, and mixed it up with another two mix of Mango Burst and Grapple. Grapple is a mix of grape and apple flavors, which is delightful and has a crisp taste. Mango Burst is my choice, as the mango and strawberry flavor blends well and is absolutely perfect when ice cold. As an added bonus, the 355-mL bottle is packed with vitamins A, C, E, and zincto help boost your immune system.

What's even better is that drinking Zest-O juice drinks won't make you feel so much of a little kiddie anymore, as the new, reinvented Zest-O Slice has a new look that keeps up with your modern lifestyle.

To learn more about Zest-O Slice, You may check out their Facebook page here:

Nov 24, 2013

RC Cola's Cool Comeback

There's something about the past that has always appealed to many people, which is probably why throwback photos are dominating social media sites during Thursdays. But aside from those photos, one brand that was distinct during my childhood just came back to the mainstream market. Alongside Pepsi and Coca-Cola, RC lined the shelves of the sari-sari stores in our neighborhood.

While other sodas have their own distinct flavors, RC has its own, in a less fizzy and less sugary way, which is good for those who wish to cut back on their sugar intake but just can't resist an ice cold cola like the one pictured above. Serve it with lots of ice, preferably made with cola as well so as not to dilute the taste. I like how it's not too sweet and doesn't make me feel too fizzed up after, but if you're a fan of the fizz this may come short for you. 

What's even better for all you soda lovers out there is that they made it even more affordable. From what I remember, it's the most affordable soda available back then, without cutting back on taste. I haven't seen it for years, though, and now that they're back, it looks like they are here to stay so might as well get your RC Cola fix soon. :)

A little bit about the company here:

To learn more about the product, visit them here:

Oct 14, 2013

Protein Packed Meatless Veggie Burgers

I've always loved burgers - be it grilled, pan fried, or broiled over live charcoals on a warm sunny afternoon. It must have been the juicy, round pieces of meat smothered with sauce and stacked with veggies and bread that always drew me in, and I couldn't imagine eating burgers made without meat, that is until I've discovered veggie burgers. These are patties made with a mix of finely chopped vegetables, protein-rich grains, fiber, and generously flavoured with spices and herbs, all blended into satisfying your burger cravings without the guilt.

While they have been around for years, they haven't become mainstream until the past few years. They've been popular with vegetarians for a long time, but just recently getting the limelight as the search for healthier alternatives for processed food takes on new heights. For people who want to lose the bloated feeling from eating too much meat (we all do eat too much, actually), and those who wish to go on a diet but can't seem to give up food, this might just work for you.

Vegetable burgers also have a lot more nutrients than their beef and pork counterparts, and they're lower in calories. And contrary to popular belief, these meatless patties are packed with protein and B-vitamins, not to mention good cholesterol. The fact that these patties are made from vegetables and beans that expand int he stomach mean that they are a lot easier to digest and a smaller amount of food can make a person feel just as full as almost twice the amount of beef.

So the next time you come a cross a meatless veggie burger, go and have a bite. You might just get addicted like us. ;) We make them sometimes, and I'd love to share the recipe with you soon.

Oct 11, 2013

Squash Ukoy / Okoy with Pork Chicharon

I've cooked okoy before using grated sqaush and batter, but seeing the wonderfully crisp and almost charred okoy at the streets made with julienned squash made me want to cook some at home for a sunny afternoon snack. There's also a bag of chicharon (pork cracklings) with meat on them, one which I try my best to avoid but then again this time I failed.

The squash was cut into 1/4-inch thick strips, and though I'm pretty sure that they should be around 1/8 of an inch or so, the warm sunny day gives me that lazy vibe. The batter was made with strong shrimp stock, and the result was extremely delicious and perfect with that spicy garlic-vinegar dip.

Ukoy / Okoy Kalabasa (Squash Fritters) Recipe

  • 2 cups butternut squash, julienned
  • 1/2 cup chicharon / pork cracklings with meat on, cracked into pieces
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup shrimp stock
  • 1 egg white, beaten until frothy
  • 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
Cooking Directions
  1. In a bowl, mix the egg white, fish sauce, pepper, garlic powder, and the baking powder.
  2. In another bowl, mix the cornstarch, flour, and shrimp stock. Add this mixture to the egg mixture.
  3. Add the squash and mix well.
  4. Heat some oil in a shallow pan. Spoon about a quarter cup of the batter into the oil and top with the pork cracklings.
  5. Flip and fry each side until crisp.
  6. Serve piping hot with you choice of a vinegar dip.

Oct 7, 2013

Asian Steamed Fish

What's real nice about steaming food is that there will be less mess, prep time is cut and if you have an electric steamer like me, just set the timer and you're good to go. That, and of course there's less fat than the usual fried fish.

Maya-maya steaks were laid on ginger leaves from our garden, then seasoned according to my taste. With a wonderful aroma and an infusion of flavors that melt with the creamy flesh, this dish is bound to hit the spot on lazy nights.

Asian Steamed Fish

  • 2 pcs fish steaks
  • A handful yellow ginger leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame seed oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp calamansi juice (or any mild citrus juice)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • dash ground pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
Cooking Directions
  1. Lay the ginger leaves on the bottom of a steamer-proof container.
  2. Place the fish steaks on top, leaving space between each fish.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the sesame oil, soy sauce, citrus juice, salt, pepper, and onion powder.
  4. Pour the mixture over the fish.sprinkle the ginger and garlic on top of each fish.
  5. Cover the container tightly with foil and steam depending on your steamer's directions. (Mine took 30 minutes)
  6. Serve with hot white rice.
Oct 3, 2013

Shrimp and Prawn Stock

Shrimp and prawn heads are usually discarded during food preparation where they are shelled prior to cooking, but it's a shame as the best flavor of these shellfish lie mostly on these parts. One way to make the most out of this flavor is by making basic shrimp stock to be used on soups, broths, and batter (for okoy) among others.

As a kid, my mom taught me to take shrimp stock from the heads by smashing them with a mortar and pestle and let them steep for a few hours in salted warm water. Alternatively you can just process them in the blender or food processor and let them steep. Once the water turns a dark orange color (no artificial colorants there!) you can strain the shells and debris, and freeze the stock for up to two weeks.

Normally I'd use three cups of shrimp heads to one cup of water, but you can do your own experiments and find what works for you. ;)

Sep 23, 2013

Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp Furai

What's nice in the last quarter of every year is that the cold winds and rain often get families together and bring warm, soul-comforting food on the table. From steamy soups to freshly made hot chocolate smothered with cream and marshmallows, every bit of it makes you want to stay right at home and indulge.

My dad's serving hot crab and corn soup for dinner and takeout grilled tuna belly from Bulacan, so I decided to make some spicy lemon garlic shrimp fry for a nice seafood dinner. The large shrimps were bought fresh and alive from the fisherman's wharf yesterday before dawn, when the boats have just arrived. Large tubs teeming with fish, crabs with their pincers tied, and oysters and clams as big as my hand fill the scene.

This dish is an upgrade from your average shrimp tempura, where the shelled shrimps are marinated in lemon juice, garlic, and cayenne powder prior to dredging in the panko crust. The result is flavorful and juicy shrimp fritters that's great on its own or with some herbed ranch dip.

Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp (Ebi Furai) Recipe

  • 500 grams large shrimp
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsbp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups panko
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • vegetable oil (for deep frying)
Cooking Directions
  1. Wash, peel and take the heads off the shrimp, but leave the tail on.
  2. Slit each on the back and take out the vein.
  3. Combine lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper.
  4. Add the shelled shrimps and marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.
  5. Place the flour in a bowl. Beat the egg white and place in another bowl.
  6. On a third bowl place the panko.
  7. Hold each shrimp by the tail and dredge in flour, then dip in the egg white and roll generously in panko, pressing the crumbs into the shrimp while doing so.
  8. Heat vegetable oil in a deep pan and fry the shrimp in batches of 5 to 6 for no more than 1 minute.
  9. Drain well and serve hot.
Sep 19, 2013

How Green is Your Cup of Coffee?

People nowadays are constantly trying to battle it out with time itself, and with so much ambition and so little time as they say, what would better fuel such determined souls than a steaming cup of coffee?

Make that a cup of organic coffee backed by 212 years of expertise in coffee production as well as a drive to increase environmental awareness and help provide work for small communities to thrive, and I'm sure you'd be even more enthusiastic to sip your sleepiness away. What caught my attention is how Puro Fairtrade Coffee has assisted small farmers in sharing the fruits of their lifelong passion, their trade secrets passed down through generations after generations.

As I opened the bag of Puro Organic ground coffee, the aroma was so strong and distinct that my brother eagerly asked if he could have a cup as well, whilst saying how fragrant the coffee was that it filled the room (no kidding). It is a lot milder than the instant ones we usually have, and black coffee lovers may need serious adjustment. I absolutely love how it deviates from the very bitter and strong coffee I used to have, with hints of citrus and a fruity note that blends well with the mild bitterness it provides. From their blends, this one's my favorite.

For those who likes a bit more kick to their cuppa joe but is not a fan of full dark roast, the Puro Noble blend may be perfect for you. Just the right amount of body to fully wake your senses but still with a bit of floral notes enough to soothe your nerves.

Puro Fuerte, on the other hand, is perfect for those who are constantly looking for an intense caffeine kick and needs to be fully energized quickly. It is robust in flavor, with hints of nutty spice and a hearty, full-bodied roast to get you up and running. 

The Puro brand under the Miko company assures that their coffee beans are picked, washed, and sun-dried by hand, and that further roasting and packing is done using 100% solar energy. No artificial fertilizers and chemicals were used, and they support their environmental claims fully. They have a rainforest reserve wherein critically endangered plant and animal species thrive, and the company also wishes to communicate the threat to rainforest and the need to preserve it through a wonderfully sweet short film here.

To learn more about the company and how they aim to make an impact to preserving our environment, you may visit the Puro Coffee Website.

Should you wish to connect with other environmentally friendly coffee lovers out there and get a chance to receive a pack of their goodies like the one pictured above, join their Facebook page here.

So how green is your cup of coffee today?