An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

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


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Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Black Pepper Beef

This is the Chinese-style black pepper sauce I’m most familiar with. Growing up in Singapore, I’ve had this kind of sauce doused over spaghetti (SO GOOD), pork chops and even a burger patty. The recipe I’m sharing is a super easy version of it and can be modified in so many ways – add sliced mushrooms and green bell peppers if you want more than just onions in it – they work so well too! At the same time, you don’t have to use Gardein Beefless Tips like I did here. You can use any veggie meat or even extra firm tofu cut into cubes (be sure to press down down and pat dry so you can get rid of the excess water for a firmer product).

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Vegetarian Black Pepper Beef

Serves 2-4. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking Time: 15 – 20 minutes.

2 teaspoons ground black pepper (freshly cracked makes a difference)

1 packet GARDEIN Beefless Tips

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (or dry sherry)

2 teaspoons starch

¼ cup water

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, cut into 1/2″ squares

IMG_9211Method:

  1. Heat a wok or cast iron skillet over medium high heat until hot.
  2. Add the oil, and then immediately add the onions, and continue stir-frying until slightly translucent (about 3-4 minutes).
  3. Add the the beefless tips and let it brown (about 6-7 minutes).
  4. While waiting for the beefless tips to brown, mix up all the sauce ingredients in a bowl (including water). Blend and stir mixture.
  5. Pour black pepper sauce mixture over browned beefless tips.
  6. Serve hot.

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The day I made this, I served it with a ring of steamed broccoli (you can also toss the broccoli in while stir-frying the beefless tips). Also, we had brown rice and ABC soup! YUM…


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Meatless Monday: Kuah Satay Linguine

IMG_5939I’ve been having the weirdest PB&J cravings lately and I’m not even a fan of peanut butter. Dare I say, I don’t even like Reese’s Pieces? For some reason, it goes really well with the Oatmeal Walnut loaf that I baked (using THIS RECIPE). After eating it 4 days in a row, I had a craving for satay gravy (or kuah satay). I loved satay and when I ate meat, my favourite were chicken and lamb satay. I’d eat lots of raw onions (YES), cucumber chunks and ketupat while dunking the barbecued meat skewers generously in the peanut gravy. Oddly enough, my inspiration for this dish is not the Satay Beehoon commonly found in Singapore but pad thai (hence the use of linguine).

Peanuts are a wonderful protein source for vegetarians. I’m very concerned about the protein levels in our meals because T is a big guy and he mentioned several times that he doesn’t think he’s eating enough protein required for his height/weight. Peanuts and peanut butter are great in lieu of meat, and in this recipe, I use both.

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KUAH SATAY LINGUINE

Serves 2. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cook Time: 15 minutes.

Pasta (enough for 2)

3 tablespoons lime/lemon juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 cup hot water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup crushed peanuts

2 tablespoons crushed red pepper

Handful of spring onions (for garnish)

Method:

1. Cook pasta as directed.

2. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except crushed peanuts and spring onions. Whisk.

3. Pour the peanut sauce over cooked and drain pasts. Mix to coat noodles.

4. Serve with crushed peanuts over noodles and garnish with spring onions.

HOW EASY WAS THAT??

The best part is that this dish tastes delicious cold too. Keep the extra sauce separately in the fridge and pour over the cold noodles to re-coat them the next day. Also, add more crushed red pepper if you like it spicier!

Want to use this sauce for your satay skewers? Just add another tablespoon of peanut butter (and switch to chunky peanut butter if you want), and throw in the crushed peanuts to mix. It’s that simple!

I served this yesterday for lunch with boiled edamame soya bean pods and BeyondMeat Chicken-Free Strips which I grilled with some Panda Express Mandarin Sauce.

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Meatless Monday: Chinese-style Steamed Egg Custard

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This recipe is not vegan-friendly but so good for other non-meat eaters in general because it’s so easy, so nutritious (eggs basically contain everything required for some cells to turn into a chick) and easy to digest! There are also so many variants of it!

Growing up I used to love this with some marinated minced pork and salted veggies at the bottom. You can add anything or nothing (just eggs and water) to this dish BUT the key thing is to get it silken smooth like a block of tofu! The secret lies in getting rid of air bubbles before steaming and steaming it at a low heat so it doesn’t bubble up. Because when it does, the end result will be a honeycomb-like texture.

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Chinese-Style Steamed Egg Custard

Serves 2. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 15-20minutes.

3 Large Eggs (retain the larger half of a broken shell)

2 tablespoons Soy Sauce

2 tablespoons Sesame Oil

1/2 cup Spring onions (for garnish)

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Method:

1. Break 3 eggs into a bowl.

2. Using 1 of the broken egg shells as a measuring cup, put in 1.5 x worth of water into the eggs. If there are 3 eggs, you fill the 1/2 broken egg shell 9 times.

3. Prepare the steaming vessel and bring the water to a boil. (I used a wok with a rack and filled up the water to a level where it wouldn’t touch my bowl during steaming.)

4. Add sesame oil and soy sauce into the beaten egg. Stir thoroughly.

5. Using a sieve, pour the egg mixture into the bowl you’ll be using for steaming. The sieve makes the mixture smoother and prevents the little bubbles from forming, thus ruining the silken smooth texture of the final product.

6. Lower the heat. (I use a low heat – setting 2 or 3). Put the bowl with the egg mixture into the steaming vessel.

7. Cover and steam for 15 to 20 minutes.

8. Upon serving, garnish with chopped spring onions!

T and I had this for lunch with the GARDEIN Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips, a Sesame oil and Ginger Stirfry (which I will share the recipe of soon), and steamed brown Jasmine rice.

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Meatless Monday: Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake

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I made this for Sunday brunch yesterday. The day before, T and I went for a 2-hr long hike at Mount Charleston after I did a 1-hr Hot Yoga class, so I thought I could reward myself and eat something indulgent. This is indulgent for me because of the cheese and pasta – I’m diabetic and I’ve been trying to cut down on the carbohydrates. I got up at 10am and made this in a jiffy!

This is so easy anyone can do it! I swear, even as a meat-eater, you won’t feel like a rabbit eating this! Also 1 cup of Silk Soy Milk has 8g of Protein and each of the LightLife Jumbo franks have 13g of Protein – something that I’m always asked as a vegetarian is “where do you get your protein from?” This is where and how!

As you can see from the picture below, I used Barilla’s Whole Grain Rotini because compared to white carbs (breads and pasta) it’s better in helping diabetics steady their blood sugar, and the switch has been welcomed in our home as it satisfies just the same. These are of course optional, but I just thought it’d be good to clarify why I chose to use these products. (Not endorsed…)

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Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake

Serves 2 – 4. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20-30 minutes.

1 tbsp Olive Oil

3 Jumbo Soy Franks (or 2-3 cups of sausages of your choice)

1 tbsp minced garlic

2-3 cups water (for boiling pasta)

2 cups of dry pasta

1 3/4 – 2 cups shredded Mozzarella

2 cups Soy milk (or any kind of milk of your choice)

1/2 cup chopped green onions (for garnish)

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Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degF
  2. Boil pasta for 6-8 minutes until partially cooked (the cooking process continues in the oven)
  3. Chop up franks and fry them up in olive oil and minced garlic. Then set aside.
  4. Add 1 cup of cheese to the bottom of a greased baking pan. (I used a 5″x9″ that was perfect for the amount I cooked so experiment with your own cooking vessels if necessary)
  5. Add 1/2 of the partially cooked pasta on top of the cheese.
  6. Layer the franks & garlic over the pasta (save a few pieces for topping the bake at the end)
  7. Spread the rest of the pasta evenly over everything.
  8. Pour milk evenly over everything in the baking pan.
  9. Top off with the remaining 1 cup of cheese and “decorate” with some franks.
  10. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. (This depends on your oven.)
  11. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before garnishing with chopped green onions.

 


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Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Mushroom Dumplings

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These are Chinese-style dumplings. In my books, they are both wantans (or wontons) and jiaozi. I had a craving for Chinese dumplings in soup and because I now live in Las Vegas, it’s not like I can just go across the street to buy them for S$3 with a belly-warming clear broth. You might have heard this from me before but I’ll say it again, hot soup on a cold day is like a much-needed hug from within… so so comforting!

So anyway, I did the best I could with what I had and T thinks they’re not different from the ones he’s eaten at P. F. Chang’s. Most cooks would probably find that insulting seeing that it’s bastardised Chinese food – but not me. I’m not a cook, you see. I’m a vegetarian trying to make meatless home-cooked meals that are budget-friendly and require almost no effort at all. And if it satisfies my cravings and feeds my husband, I’m happy to share the recipe. 

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Vegetarian Mushroom Dumplings

Serves 2 to 4. Yields about 25 dumplings. Prep Time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes.

1 1/2 cups mushrooms (I used a tin of straw mushrooms)

1/2 cup water chestnuts 

1 large onion 

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon vegetarian oyster sauce (Mushroom sauce)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon corn starch

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder 

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 egg (used as a wash to seal edges)

Wonton wrappers 

Method:

1. Dice and sautee onions in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil till they are soft and reduced. (Sauteeing them releases their natural sweetness)

2. Mince mushrooms and water chestnuts. 

3. Mix and stir all the ingredients – sauteed onions, minced mushooms, minced water chestnuts, pepper, ginger powder, salt, cornstarch, sesame oil and vegetarian oyster sauce.

4. Prepare wonton wrappers by putting them between moistened kitchen towels to prevent them from drying out.

5. Put a teaspoon of the filling into a wonton wrapper and seal the edges with egg. I dipped my pinkie finger in the egg white and painted the diagonal edges so that it folds up into a triangle parcel. You can stop here or pull the opposite ends of the bottom together and seal again with egg white. Pinch all edges tightly! 

6. Prepare a pot of boiling water while you’re making the dumplings.

7. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water. Once they float, you know they’re done!

I served them very simply with mee sua cooked in a broth of vegetable stock (2 1/2 cups water and 1/2 vegetable stock cube) with egg drop and some julienned lettuce (raw). 

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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: Dhal Nat for Curry

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I like what I did with the name of this recipe and my friend Natalie Giacchi who gave me the original recipe thinks it’s dodgy. But since she countered that statement with some “hahahas” I take it to mean that it’s okay with her.

Dhal or Dal is the Hindi name for lentils. Lentils is a great source of very affordable protein. In the same vein as the Chickpea Curry from 2 weeks ago, a vegetarian can only eat that many eggs and tofu for protein before getting sick of it. Also, T loves Indian food.

After researching recipes, experimenting and talking to my Indian friends (hello Shridar Mani), I’ve come to the conclusion that cumin and onions are the key ingredients and you must remember to fry your spices before you add fluids.

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Dhal Nat for Curry

Serves 4 – 6. Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 1 hour

1 cup lentils

4 cups water

2 medium sized potatoes (diced)

1 medium sized carrot (chopped up)

1/2 large onion (sliced)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

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Method:

1. Boil chopped up carrots and potatoes until slightly soft. (About 15 – 20 minutes)

2. In a pan or skillet, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil then fry up onions and garlic. (I just use the enamel pot that I’ll be cooking the curry in.)

3.  Add all the spices into the hot oil and turn the heat up. Once everything is mixed and nicely browned, turn heat down to medium.

4. Add boiled potatoes and carrots into the oil and stir.

5. Add pre-soaked lentils (prepare the lentils according to your package) and 4 cups of water to cover the mixture and turn the heat up high.

6. Continue stirring curry and once it comes to a boil, keep it boiling for 5 minutes before turning it down to medium heat.

8. Simmer on medium for 30 to 45 minutes until lentils are mushy.

Yum!

This recipe makes for a rather mild curry and if you want more heat, you can add chili powder or more cumin – which is the spice that you normally smell when you eat curry. Also, if you refer a more diluted curry, add a cup more water.