(Improvised?) Chili Con Carne Recipe

There’s half a kilo of ground beef in the fridge.

There’s canned pink beans sitting on the counter.

I have no tomato paste and cumin.

I have nothing else in the pantry (unless I go out and purchase something).

The answer is simple — I will improvise a chili con carne recipe.

I have been cooking chili con carne for several years now and this has been a staple with rice, nachos and taco shells. Everyone who tastes it loves the damn thing that one of the Team Leaders in my past life asked for my recipe.

Today I deviate from my original recipe, the recipe that has put my cousin to shame (and I tell you, she does a decent chili con carne too) as I rummage our counter and our fridge for a good substitute for tomato paste and cumin.

Was the result spectacular?

Hell it was!

Chili con carne rice topping garnished with red chili, green chili and shards of cheddar cheese.


  1. Ground beef
  2. Pink beans (maybe you can substitute pork and beans? For this recipe I used this)
  3. Garlic (whole and chopped finely)
  4. Palm oil
  5. Salt
  6. Pepper
  7. Sugar
  8. Star anise
  9. Bay leaf
  10. Ground oregano
  11. Cayenne pepper
  12. Ketchup
  13. Curry powder
  14. Butter

Yeah, you are correct, substituting tomato paste and cumin are ketchup and curry powder oh thank goodness I still have them at home!

The ketchup I used was UFC banana ketchup. Yup, banana ketchup! If you are a reader from overseas, this kind of ketchup is popular here in the Philippines maybe because it is less pricey than tomato ketchup? Or maybe it’s also because we Filipinos have been accustomed to the tang of banana ketchup versus the sharpness of tomato ketchup.

As for the curry powder, I tweaked this one a bit. With the store bought curry powder as base I added paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, pepper and sugar. Tossed everything together and kept in a plastic container.


  1. Saute garlic in hot pan with palm oil.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook thoroughly.
  3. Add the spices: star anise, bay leaf, ground oregano, curry powder, cayenne pepper. Mix and let it simmer for some two to three minutes.
  4. Add the ketchup, mix. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. For extra kick, add more cayenne pepper.
  5. Now here is the fun part. I saw that gorgeous looking butter in the fridge and thought hmmm why not give my chili con carne a nice sheen to it? And so I did! Add two table spoons of butter.
  6. Serve hot with rice or nachos.



The Day I Went to Vietnam Heaven

One of my favorite cooking shows is Masterchef Australia. Of course I love Australia (and the male inhabitants of this land for someone has represented them very, very well let us not get started on it since this is a food blog) and I love how amazing their produce are (the Masterchef pantry is just to die for season after season after season).

Arguably, one of the “most cooked” cuisine on the TV series is Vietnamese which is, of course, one of the well-known Asian cuisines in the world.

Ha! So off I go to search for an easy to make Vietnamese dish.

Vietnam is a neighbor located our west. It was France’s crowning glory in the far east not to mention Cambodia and Laos. With that said, just imagine how pretty Vietnamese food looks and tastes? Just imagine the exotic and authentic taste of the east meeting the culinary flamboyance of the west — bam!

I have never been to Vietnam yet but thanks to technology, I was able to take myself maybe in one of the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh with my plate of noodle salad.

VIETNAMESE VERMICELLI SALAD — Don’t you just love how the color pops like that?

I actually forgot where I got this recipe from but let me work from memory and give you the ingredients and procedure.


  1. Vermicelli noodle
  2. Chicken breast (or thigh)
  3. Chinese cabbage
  4. Peanuts
  5. Bean sprouts
  6. Leek
  7. Dressing: fish sauce, sesame oil, red chili, sugar, lime juice (mix everything, balance to taste then set aside).


  1. Cook the Vermicelli noodle according to package direction then set aside.
  2. Season the boneless chicken part. For this recipe I used chicken breast but you may absolutely use chicken thigh which has more flavor. Season the meat with salt and pepper and fry. Set to room temperature then shred.
  3. Bring the bean sprouts to a good boil.
  4. Cut the Chinese cabbage and leek to small parts.
  5. Assemble: noodle, chicken, bean sprouts, cabbage, leek, dressing, peanuts.

So fresh, so pleasing to the eyes and so good. Easy peasy dish! Enjoy!

~Photo taken using my now missing Olympus point and shoot digital camera.


This has been my recipe since 2011. In fact, the photos I used were taken on August 14th 2011, almost five freaking years ago (the latest photos I took from Christmas of 2015 were deleted nonchalantly by yours truly, thinking I sent them on GMail for proper filing but nein, no sign whatsoever that I did forward those damn photos).

This is a fool proof recipe as approved by my:

  1. Former colleagues at a global hotel chain.
  2. Former colleagues at an American healthcare provider.
  3. Family (with an uncle who does not eat potato salad unless it is that freaking good).

Also, this is shameless tagging. Best potato salad ever. Endearing, music to my ears, triumph to my taste buds. Hell yes, it’s true. A colleague even told me it’s good it’s orgasmic.


  1. Potatoes* – peeled, cut into cubes.
  2. Bacon – lots of bacon.
  3. Real Mayonnaise
  4. Shallot
  5. Salt, pepper, sugar
  6. Cheese – sliced (into cubes) or grated, your call. Hint hint: I dig the cubes.
  7. Lemon juice + lemon rind
  8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil – for the final drizzle of spectacle
  9. Spring onion (garnish)


  1. Bring the potato to a boil, make sure it is soft enough to be eaten but resistant enough to endure the mixing (of ingredients).
  2. Cut the bacon into small bits (maybe an inch will do) and fry it until crisp. Spare some of the oil used to fry the bacon.
  3. In a large bowl mix everything in: potato, bacon, some of the bacon oil, shallot, cheese and of course, mayonnaise (be perfectly generous).
  4. Adjust the taste by adding salt, pepper, sugar and of course, lemon juice for acidity (lemon rind for an extra something too). Oh, by the way, do not forget to drizzle EVOO!
  5. Once adjusted to your liking you are ready to garnish it with spring onion and lemon rind (green and yellow awww!).
  6. Chill. Serve cold.
Full of life, full of goodness
Dig in! You will never regret it.

Simple ingredients. Simple processes. Not so simple result (and I kid you not). Even a grade 10 student can nail this. It’s straightforward yummy.

*for color, you may add a few slices of beetroot.

~Photo taken using my now missing Olympus point and shoot digital camera.