An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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Meatless Monday: Veggie Burger

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Here’s something I made from scratch – burger patties and the burger buns! If I can do it, so can you. The burger buns recipe is actually French Bread Rolls to Die For found on allrecipes.com. I will continue experimenting with the bread but the patties are good on their own, so if you have no bread, just eat them alone anyway.

The recipe below is for 6 burger patties and is an original.

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Veggie Burger

Serves 6. Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes.

2 cups water

1/2 cup dried lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup diced canned tomatoes (I used Fire Roasted but you can use any kind)

2 cups beans (I used chickpeas but you can use pinto or anything else)

1 cup corn kernels

1 cup shredded cheddar (I used Cheddar Jack)

1 cup breadcrumbs (I used Panko because it’s so crunchy)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground tumeric (Optional)

2 large eggs (beaten)

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Method:

1. Boil lentils in water for about 15 to 20 minutes until tender. Drain and mash.

2. In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients (tomatoes, beans, lentils, corn, cheese, spices, egg, breadcrumbs except olive oil) and mix till thoroughly combined. Best to use hands and feel free to squish everything. Quite fun! LALAALA…

3. Divide the mixture into 6 patties.

4. Fry the patties in olive oil over medium-high heat. Try not to crowd the pan. Cook 3 – 5 minutes on each side until brown.

5. Serve on its own or in a burger bun!

YUM! I popped the 2 leftover patties into a toaster oven for lunch the next day and it was soooo good with extra spicy sambal!

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Meatless Monday: Chickpea Curry

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So I was hankering for some old fashion Singaporean street snacks in a paper cone just the other day… Growing up in Singapore, the Kachang Puteh man was a staple on street corners, even game arcades and most often at the cinema. If you were to ask me, it’d be very difficult to pick between having some tasty kachang puteh and some buttery popcorn – as a child of multi-cultural Singapore, I’d say I want both and all at once if possible. My favourite kachang puteh variety would be the steamed chickpeas (followed by the peanuts a close second) and this brings us to the perfect segue (or so I say), to today’s recipe – the chickpea curry.

T shared the original recipe with me and asked if I could make it. Chickpeas are great for vegetarians because they are high in protein, allowing us to take a break from eggs and tofu. I tinkered with it a little and what I’m sharing below is what we had for dinner. This curry I made has a little kick but is not too spicy. I’ll definitely be making it again soon!

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Chickpea Curry

Serves 2 to 4. Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes

2 medium potatoes (peeled and cubed)

1 cup cauliflower florets (about 1/2 a small head cut up)

1/2 cup carrots peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion (diced)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons (meat) curry powder

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5oz)

1 1/2 cup coconut milk

1 can chickpea (rinsed and drained)

2 tablespoons butter (Optional)

Method:

1. Put peeled and cubed potatoes and chopped carrots in a covered pot of water and bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Add cauliflower florets to the pot and turn down the heat for 5 minutes.

2. In a pot or pan, heat cooking oil. Brown the onions and garlic.

3. Add curry powder, garam masala, cumin, salt and ground ginger to the oil and stir for about 1 min.

4. Add diced tomatoes, coconut milk, butter and chickpeas into the browned spices. Stir over medium high heat.

5. Add potatoes, carrots and cauliflower last.

6. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat.

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Mmmm… super yum! Served with steamed basmati rice and some crispy papadum! Protein, fiber and carbs all rolled in one meal!

ps. I bought 5 tins of Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) for 88c each! HOW CHEAP IS THAT?!??!?! Can’t wait to cook this again… YUM!

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Meatless Monday: Banana Cream Pie

20140127-103129.jpgThis is not my recipe but it’s definitely meatless! And hey, vegetarians love sweets too! I’m sharing this recipe because it’s delicious and this is what I served up for my first Vegas Christmas at home just about a month ago! T and I first made this together during our “mini-moon”. It was delicious and it was surprisingly easy to make.

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The Banana Cream Pie recipe came from Lynn Cole’s Facebook post –> HERE and I’ve used a store-bought Graham Pie Crust for both times I made it.

Banana Cream Pie

1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
3 cups whole milk
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 bananas

Directions:

  1. If using graham crust, brush with egg white and bake at 350 for 6 minutes or until golden.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the milk.
  3. In a glass bowl, combine the sugar, flour and salt; gradually stir in the hot milk. stirring constantly, cook until thickened.
  4. In a small bowl, have the 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten, ready; stir a small amount of the hot mixture into beaten yolks; when thoroughly combined, stir yolks into hot mixture.
  5. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  6. Remove from heat and blend in the butter and vanilla.
  7. Let sit 10 minutes.
  8. When ready to pour, slice bananas and scatter in pie shell; pour warm mixture over bananas.
  9. Let cool.
  10. Top with sweetened whipped cream and toasted coconut.
  11. Refrigerate 4 hours before serving.

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I skipped the bit with the toasted coconut (because I don’t like coconut) but it still tastes great! 


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Meatless Monday: Braised Tofu & Eggs

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Hello! I hope some of you have tried my recipes! Please tell me if you do and if you have ways of improving them.

This is a modified recipe that I used a long time ago to make braised pork belly in Soy Sauce (Tau Yew Bak). I no longer eat pork but still crave that slightly caramelly taste of this sauce. Today’s recipe is essentially Vegetarian Tau Yew Bak or Tau Yew Bak no Bak. Heehee… *Tau Yew is soy sauce. Bak refers to flesh or meat (in this instance, pork).

This braising method is easy and fuss free. I’m using dark soy sauce because it produces a darker sauce though milder in taste (less salty) compared to light soy. But otherwise it’s about the same as regular soy sauce. If you don’t have dark soy, regular soy will do too. Add a total of 5 tablespoons of light soy instead. It’ll be equally salty but lighter in colour.

What I like about this modified recipe is that, it’s fast and easy to make, yet still satisfies my craving. I love braise sauces over plain steamed rice – my kind of comfort food.IMG_2531

Braised Tofu & Eggs (Vegetarian Tau Yew Bak)

Serves 2 -4. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes.

3 cups water

4 hard boiled eggs

4 garlic cloves (smashed with the back of a knife to release flavour)

4 tbsp dark soy sauce

3 tbsp light soy sauce

3 tbsp brown sugar

Salt & pepper to taste

1/2 block of tofu (cut into small rectangular pieces)

1 stick of cinnamon

2 star anise

3 cloves

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Method:

1. Heat up a pot with 3 cups of water and bring to boil then lower heat.

2. Add tofu, garlic, soy sauces, brown sugar, soy sauce, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. Then stir  gently to mix everything.

3. Bring to a boil then add peeled hard boiled eggs.

4. Lower the heat to medium and braise for 15 minutes.

5. Turn the heat to lowest for another 25 – 30 minutes.

6. Serve with steamed rice.

And there you have it – vegetarian tau yew bak aka braised tofu and eggs!


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Meatless Monday: Pinterest Finds

Oh wow! It’s the last Monday of the year. Such an exciting 2013 it has been for me. Several years ago, I had a list called 35 by 35 – some outrageous or challenging things I wanted to do by the time I turned 35. I scrapped that list sometime last year and decided to yahoo it. I only managed to complete 1/3 of the list yet I’ve done more than I had set out to do. The essence of the list was to keep myself on my tippy toes, get healthier as well as break out of my comfort zone. Baby steps like exercising in a mixed gym, to running a public race (yes, I was embarrassed about sweating in public and being the last person), to eating healthier. Turning vegetarian was a surprise because I just wanted to consume less meat. Long story short, I’m still avoiding foods with faces and there are many things I enjoy eating. Other than the recipes inspired by family and friends, I’ve also gone on Pinterest for guidance on how to expand my meatless repertoire. So many delicious things to eat! Nibbly things, rich bakes, roasted noms… YUM!

Here are some of my favourites of these pins in the Very Vegetarian board:

  1. Honey Parmesan Roasted Brussel Sprouts
  2. Easy Egg Muffins
  3. How to Make a Rice Ball
  4. Mozzarella Stick Recipe
  5. Gnocchi Gratin with Gorgonzola Dolce
  6. Gabrielle’s Winter Tomato and Corn Soup

Happy holidays! Enjoy eating! And see you in 2014!


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Meatless Monday: Creamy Carrot & Potato Soup

IMG_1632Most families I know have their own version of the ABC Soup (essentially carrot and potato in a clear broth that is so easy it’s like ABC). I usually cook mine with hearty chunks of carrots, potato, tomato and onions – sometimes, corn on a cob too. This is a variant that I came up with that is a cross between a creamy pumpkin soup and the ABC soup. (I even served it with my very first loaf of homemade bread on the day I made this!)

Is this fusion? Who cares! It’s vegetarian, it’s my original recipe and it’s so yummy! I think so anyway.

Creamy Carrot & Potato Soup

Serves 2 – 4. Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic

4 small potatoes

1 medium-sized carrot

1/2 medium onion chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 tablespoon meat curry powder

1/2 cube of vegetable stock

1 teaspoon rosemary (optional)

1/2 cup milk (I used evaporated milk)

3 cups water

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Method:

1. Cut carrot and 3 potatoes into smallish chunks. (The remaining potato chopped up and saved for later.)

2. Heat vegetable oil in a medium-sized pot to brown the garlic, followed by onions.

3. Add carrots and potatoes into the pot.

4. Pour water, meat curry powder, rosemary and vegetable stock cube  into the pot.

5. Turn to medium heat and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes and carrots turn somewhat soft. Don’t forget to stir constantly.

6. Puree mixture in a food processor or stick an immersion blender into pot. Then return pureed soup back into pot (if you’re using a food processor).

7. Add salt, milk and the remaining potato chunks, then simmer for another 10 minutes (stir constantly). If the soup is too thin, add a little more milk or some heavy cream or, boil it down to preferable viscosity.

8. Serve hot with ground black pepper to taste!

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The floating bits of potato give the soup some bite. I do love a chunky soup like the New England Clam Chowder but since this soup is supposed to be CREAMY, it shall remain largely such.

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Meatless Monday: Cauliflower Mash

20131031-151802.jpgMashed potatoes are great. T and I love potato almost everything – he more than I do. This recipe came about because I was trying to cook something that would keep for a while, is easy to make and lower in carbohydrates (we eat a lot of potato, rice and pasta as vegetarians and T doesn’t like vegetables in general).

This recipe is just a little healthier using cauliflower than potatoes because it is a tad lower in carbohydrates. This doesn’t mean you should eat heaps of it because it still has stuff like butter, milk and cheese in it. I like that you can make a huge batch, then serve it as a side dish over several days and it doesn’t lose flavour or go bad. Also, I got to use my new favourite kitchen appliance – the Cuisinart Immersion Hand Blender.

20131031-152019.jpgCauliflower Mash

Serves 4 to 6. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes.

1 medium head of Cauliflower

1 cup milk

1 cup shredded cheddar (you can use any cheese you like)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon butter

1 tablespoon dried basil

Method:

1. Chop up the cauliflower into florets and drop it into a pot of boiling water. Boil till the florets are soft enough to be pierced by a fork.

2. Pour out all the water and mix all the ingredients (except basil) in the same pot.

3. Use an immersion blender or a food processor to blend everything together.

4. Sprinkle dried basil as a garnish upon serving.

TAH DAH!! If you want to, you can make this recipe lower in fat by using skim milk or low fat cheese.


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Meatless Monday: Easy Baked Eggs

20131031-151333.jpgI was looking at ways to up T’s protein intake and I do try to vary it from soy-based products (soy meats or tofu). There’s definitely something to be said about eggs being high in cholesterol and that people are advised not to eat more than 2 egg yolks a week. However, bearing in mind that vegetarians do not eat a lot of foods that are high in cholesterol – generally meats and seafood, we are sorta in the clear – especially since T and I watch out for trans fats and avoid things like vegetable shortening or margarine.

In this recipe, you’ll see that I made 6 baked eggs in muffin cups (the cupcake baking tray), of which there are only 5 egg yolks because I had egg whites leftover from making a delicious Banana Cream Pie the day before. I ended up serving T two eggs with yolks and 1 baked egg that’s all whites for lunch. I saved the remainder in the refrigerator for another time! Convenience is great!20131031-151512.jpg

Easy Baked Eggs

Serves 1 to 6. Prep Time: 3 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes

6 eggs

Pinch of curry powder

1 tablespoon of diced tomatoes

Pinch of Black Pepper

Pinch of Paprika

Pinch of Garlic Powder

1/2 tablespoon of cooking oil (or cooking spray to grease the pan)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350degF.

2. Grease each cup. (I used a silicon brush and some Canola oil.)

3. Break eggs into muffin pan cups  (use as many or as little as you want).

4. In each little cup, vary your toppings for flavour.

4. Pop the pan into the oven for 15 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and pop each egg out once they’ve cooled.

TAH DAH!

Easy peasy! Just remember that you shouldn’t have too many yolks a week if you’re watching your cholesterol intake but you should still have them because the nutritional value of eggs largely lie in the yolks!


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Meatless Monday: Quick Quick Quiche

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Again, I tried to be “witty” with the title but it really is a super easy quiche that can be made quickly, especially if you do it without the crust. I’ve researched several recipes and this is my final product. It is yum and easy!!! Another one of those things I’d make if I were a busy mum. This is good refrigerated for up to 24 hours, so you can prep this in advance, then pop it into the oven to warm about 45 minutes before serving (or microwave if you’re lazy).

The quiche recipe first, followed by the super easy crust (because some people want to go low carb or make it even quicker without a crust). I swear, it tastes just as great without the crust but T insisted on a crust and I had to learn to make one quickly. It works and I’ll continue working with it (and improving it along the way).

IMG_0836IMG_0887Quick Quick Quiche (Spinach & mushroom)

Serves 4 to 6. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 1 hour.

3 cups frozen spinach

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup sliced mushroom (I used fresh button mushrooms but you can get the tinned ones too)

1 tablespoon cooking oil

4 oz cream cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon black pepper

5 eggs beaten

1 cup milk

1/2 tablespoon paprika

Method:

1. Heat up 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to cook the spinach, mushroom and onions. Put aside to cool.

2. If you’re using a crust, scoop cream cheese onto the bottom of the pie crust, then top with the cooked spinach, mushrooms and onions. (If not, mix in pinched dollops of the cream cheese after you pour in the egg custard in step 4).

3. Beat eggs, mix in shredded cheese, milk, salt, black pepper and paprika in a bowl.

4. Pour custard mixture into the crust or pie pan. Then cover the pan with aluminium foil.

5. Bake in a preheated oven at 400f for 30 minutes then remove the aluminium foil and bake again for another 10 – 15 minutes. This is to prevent the top from becoming too brown. Also, I put a tray at the bottom of the pan, just in case it spilled over. It actually made it a lot easier for me to carry the glass pan in and out of the oven.

6. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Simplest Cheesy Pie Crust

Prep time: 35 minutes (including 30 minutes refrigerating) Cook time: 10 minutes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons butter, cut int small pieces

1/4 cup shredded cheddar

2 tablespoons cold water (I used tap)

Method:

1. Mix flour and chopped butter by rubbing them until crumbly. I used my hands to mush mush mush!

2. Pour in grated cheddar and sprinkle water over mixture. Stir slowly with fork until a ball forms.

3. Refrigerate dough in plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes (I made mine in the morning and left it till late afternoon)

4. Preheat oven to 375f.

5. Roll out dough and spread over pie pan (I have just 1 rectangle Pyrex pan that I use for EVERYTHING because I’m not fancy). Using my fingers, I pressed the dough into the pan’s bottom and sides after I lightly grease it with cooking oil using a silicon brush. I reckon it’s rustic!

6. Poke holes at the bottom of the pastry with a fork before popping into oven.

7. Bake crust for 10 minutes before filling with quiche custard (I spread cream cheese before pouring the mixture).

TAH DAH!

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I served this for dinner with a batch of Marie Callendar’s cheese biscuits when T’s Dad and Step Mom came to stay with us for the wedding weekend. It was warm, home cooked and happy food. There was more than enough for the 4 of us!

As you can tell, my cooking is not exactly sophisticated or trained but it certainly isn’t instant or frozen foods all the time. It’s the same as my fashion philosophy. I make the best of what I have and have fun with it. I’m not a fashion lookbook and neither am I the “perfect” size to be talking about fashion. I’m not your grandmother and I’m never going to be a trained chef. But who cares? If I can do it, so can you!


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Meatless Monday: Cabbage & Potatoes Stir Fry

IMG_0558This is one of my favourite things to order at the Economy Rice stalls back in Singapore (otherwise known as point-point rice because you point at the side dishes you want to add to your plain steamed rice). This cabbage and potatoes stir-fry comes in different variations, most I’ve eaten have dried shrimp for flavouring and some have glass noodles for added texture. No matter how you do it, cabbage and potatoes are all you need. It’s also great that cabbage is really cheap (much cheaper than cauliflower and broccoli which T loves).

I’m sharing this recipe because T mentioned that he only liked cabbage “so-so” but he thought that I “managed to make cabbage really tasty”. To him, cabbage is usually a filler, something you add in food when you want to fill space and tummies without spending too much money. That made me happy because this dish is so good with plain steamed rice that I can eat a lot a lot a lot of it. Also, it makes good leftovers – just pop your leftover cabbage/potato stir-fry and steamed rice into a box, store it in the fridge together, and when you zap it in the microwave again, the flavours would have all mixed in. Mmmmm… I do love a good gravy over plain rice!

Cabbage & Potatoes Stir Fry

Serves 4. Prep Time: 3 mins. Cooking time: 15 mins.

1 large potato

8 cups of chopped cabbage (raw chopped up volume)

2 tablespoons of minced garlic

3 tablespoons of cooking oil

1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetarian oyster sauce (mushroom flavoured)

1 cup water

1/2 tablespoon corn starch

Method:

1. Pull out 5-6 cabbage leaves, roll them up to look like a burrito, then slice them vertically and then horizontally. Repeat until you have the desired amount of cabbage (2 cups worth of chopped cabbage leaves = 1 regular serving after cooking).

2. Scrub the potato and rinse before cutting them up into short, stubby french-fry looking strips. (Don’t make them too thick or it’ll take too long to cook)

3. Heat up cooking oil and put in the potato strips. Fry the potato on high heat for about 5 minutes till it starts changing colour (a little translucent).

4. Turn down to medium heat. Add all the minced garlic into the pan and continue stir-frying/tossing until slightly golden brown.

5. Add all the chopped cabbage into your pan (my 11-inch Jamie Oliver by T-fal stir-fry pan can just about hold everything and is filled to the brim.)

6. Carefully stir the cabbage, potato and garlic. (I use the fold and mix method.)

7. Once the contents of the pan is well mixed, add the vegetarian oyster sauce and stir-fry again. Turn up to high heat.

8. Mix 1/2 tablespoon corn starch with 1 cup water, then add to the vegetables. Stir-fry and mix again. The cabbage should have softened and be half its former volume by now.

9. Take a lid (doesn’t have to be a matching lid), cover the pan and let the veggies steam. Turn down the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes. Lift the lid every 30 seconds to stir.

10. Remove from heat and serve with steaming hot plain rice.

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Tah dah! Cheap, easy and fast!!!