An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

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


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LYFE Kitchen (Las Vegas)

IMG_6930I first heard about LYFE Kitchen coming to Las Vegas in June and even though it opened this July, we didn’t get to visit it till a few days ago. T and I came here to celebrate my 1st full year living in the US. I’m very happy with my experience even if it wasn’t life changing. I’m glad the purported healthy eating is none too obvious here. T and I went to Cafe Gratitude in Venice Beach (California) a few months ago and we found the food (and ambience) rather contrived – maybe raw foodism just isn’t for us.

IMG_6929Technically this branch isn’t located IN Las Vegas but Henderson, which is a more family-friendly and upscale area just outside. But who cares? It’s about 30 minutes’ drive from where we live and about 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip itself, so if you live in Las Vegas or are visiting, this technicality is negligible.

What I loved about LYFE Kitchen:

1. The bright/airy decor – it wasn’t too crowded even when it was almost full. There is also outside seating.

2. Segregated menus for easy ordering – they have a gluten-friendly, a vegan-friendly, an EVERYTHING and also a wine/beer one.

3. Reasonable pricing – came up to about USD40 for both of us – 2 entrees, 2 starters and 2 drinks.

4. Good portion size – if you’re looking for buffet-style, value-for-money, then this is not the place. What we ordered was just right. I didn’t feel sick after eating everything nor did I go away feeling half-empty. In fact, we even had space for dessert elsewhere about 30 minutes later.

5. They offered 3 types of water on tap at the self-service kiosk where you grab your own cutlery and napkins.

IMG_6931T and I ordered: Vegan Unfried Buffalo Wings, Sweet Potato Fries, Crispy Chick’n Sandwich, Italian Sausage & Mozzarella Ravioli, Cucumber Mint LYFE Water and Hibiscus Beet LYFE Water. ALL 100% good! We polished everything clean and loved it all!

When I asked T if he preferred Veggie Grill or here, he said Veggie Grill only because he liked their fast-food concept. I am still undecided because both are delicious and warrant their own merits. Also both are very similar – down to decor and the way you order (queue at the entrance, order at the cashier, pay and find a table, wait to be served). I agree with T with regards to the more fast food type options at the Veggie Grill but I also like that LYFE Kitchen serves organic and low-calorie choices as well as the fact that we can bring non-vegetarian friends here because they also serve meat!

LYFE Kitchen, highly recommended. Only gripe is their dessert menu and I hope they open more branches in Las Vegas! 4.5/5*

LYFE Kitchen (Las Vegas)
140 S Green Valley Parkway #142
Henderson, NV 89012
Ph: (702) 559-0131


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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: Ginger & Sesame Oil Stirfry

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Prior to this, I’ve done 2 stirfry recipes (methods?) in my other Meatless Monday posts. Both of which required the use of minced garlic. The thing is, not everybody likes the taste of garlic and some people (like staunch Buddhists) don’t consume garlic at all. Here’s another simple Chinese-style stirfry method that I use. It’s basically 3 ingredients and takes less than 15 minutes from start to end – HOW EASY IS THAT?!

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Ginger & Sesame Oil Stirfry

Serves 2. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking Time: 10 minutes.

3 tablespoons Sesame Oil

1/2 cup of sliced ginger

2-3 cups of any kind of chopped veggies of your choice (I just used a frozen pre-packaged mix)

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Method:

1. Peel ginger root, cut into thin slices, then julienne them into matchsticks.

2. Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan or wok.

3. Add the ginger matchsticks into the oil and fry till they turn golden brown.

4. Add the veggies (I don’t even bother defrosting mine) and fry till vegetables are soft.

5. Serve hot!

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That is all! And that was what we had for lunch the other day!


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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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Fat-shionista #518

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I put this on in a hurry 2 days ago when we had the sudden hankering for some noms at the Cheesecake Factory. T’s mum sent us an email to tell us that she was going to spend the birthday gift card we gave her on a low-calorie meal there with Grammy and it put the idea in our heads. So in 20 minutes, I grabbed an outfit and cleaned-up my face!

What I wore on Sunday:

Top: Orange frilly top with blue stars from TOPSHOP

Outerwear: Blue denim jacket from HIGH SIERRA

Accessories: Mint Green and silver multi-strand necklace from ACCESSORIZE

Bottom: Grey knit mini skirt from COTTON ON

Footwear: Black wedge pumps from ZIPIA

T’s step-mum gave me the denim jacket when we visited for Thanksgiving last year. I’d like to think it is from the 80s and has some cred but I don’t know for sure.

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So anyway, the Cheesecake Factory does indeed have low-carb options – EVEN FOR VEGETARIANS! It is called the Skinnylicious menu and despite the fact that I hate amalgamated words like “bootylicious” or “retrolicious”, it is actually quite a good menu. While most items are “skinny”, it is only relative to their main menu. I’d definitely go back and order the same thing I did though. Between the 2 of us, we had a serving of Edamame, a Veggie Burger, Roasted Pear & Blue Cheese Flatbread and the Tiramisu Cheesecake (not diet-friendly but my husband convinces me that it’s a lot lower in calories than a Tiramisu). As you can tell, OMNOMNOMonsters struggle everyday but we always give ourselves breaks for trying. Will we ever be thin? Nope. Not a chance but who cares.


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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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Royal India Bistro (Las Vegas)

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Our weekend eating buddy May Leng suggested this place at the Rio several months ago but it took us till 10th February to actually make our way there. May Leng’s boss recommended this place and we were only too happy to take it on because it gave us some place new to explore and we absolutely love Indian food!

When we arrived, it was eerily quiet and rather odd for not having dinner time crowd. Perhaps the overtly wannabe opulence turned people off at the entrance but most likely, I reckon it might be the price. Of the different Indian restaurants we’ve been to in Las Vegas, this was definitely the most expensive. We ended up paying more than US$30 per person though I thought the food was really good!

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We had an all Vegetarian dinner (though not the set) even though our friend May Leng isn’t vegetarian. She’s very accommodating that way (but then again, Indian vegetarian is so flavourful). We ordered the vegetable samosa, paneer pakora (my favourite dish of the night), aloo tiki, bhindi masala and shahi paneer. The dishes however didn’t come with any rice or breads unlike other places, so we also ordered naans and basmati rice.

I think the decor of this place is too weird and fancy, even though it’s in a hotel. I’m not sure what they’re trying to do – maybe an Indian fine dining ambience with prices to boot?

T and I really liked the food. Unfortunately, we don’t see ourselves returning very often. Luckily though, I just found a Groupon for it! YAY!!!  We paid US$20 for US$40 worth of food but knowing us, we’ll end up paying another $15-20 more (which is still okay, right?) Besides, the service was pretty good (*koffkoff* it was virtually empty). We had a knowledgable waitress who knew how to explain and recommend dishes to us.

Recommended? Yes… if you don’t mind paying about 30-40% more.

ROYAL INDIA BISTRO

3700 East Flamingo,

Las Vegas, NV 89103

(702) 777-2277
 


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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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Mount Everest India’s Cuisine (Las Vegas)

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First off, when we saw the name we thought it should be Nepalese food instead of Indian but I guess both cuisines are very similar so it could work too. Who cares what the name is? This place is a keeper!! YUM! Non-pretentious, yummy and affordable!

The first Indian place T and I went to in Las Vegas is an Indian buffet place called India Masala. I had a crazy craving for spicy food and we happened to drive past. For just under US$40 for both of us, we ate till we were so full and I was excited to know that there was good Indian food here. And ever since, we’ve been on a hunt! Mount Everest is our 2nd and so far, the best (there’s a 3rd which I will talk about in another post soon).

Credit goes to our friend May Leng who said she’s always wanted to visit this place but never did. She suspected it might be good because there were usually Indians outside – an indication of authenticity, if you know what I mean.

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For US$48 (including taxes), we had Paneer Tikka, Malai Kofta, Channa Masala, Garlic Naan, Onion Kulcha, Samosas and a Mango Lassi (just me). The basmati rice came free (I say this because it apparently isn’t always the case.) It was so good that we were talking about it even days after this meal. The portions were pretty decent. T and I ended up doggy-bagging some of it! And guess what? It’s even more delicious the next day!

Authentic Indian cuisine, affordable prices, decent portions and good service – great casual dining experience.

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Highly recommended. Will definitely go back again soon!! 4.5/5*

Mount Everest India’s Cuisine

3641 W Sahara Avenue

Las Vegas, NV 89102

Ph: 702-892-0950


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Meatless Monday: Crusty Curry Puff

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I recall trying to explain what curry puffs (or specifically the Malay epok epok we were eating) were to the members of MUTEMATH less than a year ago. When I said they were savoury Southeast Asian empanadas, Roy Mitchell, their bassist immediately got it. He said they were very similar to what he makes at home. Paul Meany, their lead vocalist though, got a little shock when he bit into one because he was expecting them to be sweet, not savoury. Those ones we ate had a dry curried potato filling AND this is exactly what I am sharing today – Malay-style epok epok. The crispy, blistered crust… oh my gawd! I am salivating as I write this.

I have to qualify and say that the crust recipe is not mine. I’d like to thank my friend Syahan for sharing it with me. I failed once before using her recipe to success! My recipe for the filling however, is mine, and super simple as always with my style.

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Vegetarian Curry Potato Filling for Epok Epok

Makes filling for 24. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes.

1 big onion diced (you should get about 1 1/2 cups worth)

4 big potatoes (you should get about 5 – 6 cups worth after dicing)

1 tin of Carrot & Sweet Peas (Or you can dice 1 1/2 cups worth from scratch)

3 hard boiled eggs (slivered into 24 pieces)

2 tablespoon cooking oil

2 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon sugar

Method:

1. Boil potatoes until they are soft, then peel and dice into as small as you can get them.

2. Fry onions in cooking oil until slightly translucent, add carrots, peas and potatoes into the pan and continue stirring for about 2 minutes.

3. Add curry powder, salt and sugar into the frying pan.

4. Cook till the mixture is slightly mushy. (see the before and after effect in the photo above.

5. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the filling into each flattened dough then add a sliver of egg. Do this 24 times till all your dough is used up. You might have some filling left. Eat it on its own. OMG yum!

See the recipe below for dough and cooking each epok epok.

This is copied directly from Syahan and I didn’t alter a word:

Epok Epok Dough

500 gm plain flour

3 tablespoon butter / margarine

40 ml cooking oil

200 ml warm water

1/2 tsp salt to taste

1. Melt butter / margarine in cooking oil. Till all melt and combined. Set aside to cool slightly only.

2. Add hot oil and melted butter into flour and stir using wooden spoon. Be careful oil mixture can be hot here.

3. Slowly add water bit by bit to knead dough till non sticky consistency and soft dough. Do not have to add all the water if you have reached the consistency.

4. Leave dough to rest for 20minutes.

5. Weigh each dough to 20 gm and shape into balls.

6. When ready, flatten dough will rolling pin (to thickness of your preference. Not too thin nor thick.)

7. Add filling and fold the sides. Or use the back of a fork to close the sides.

8. Deep fry into hot oil.

I have no weighing scale so instead, I used 4 cups of all purpose flour and 3 tablespoons of cooking oil. It worked for me! Also, instead of weighing each dough to 20gm, I spilt them into 24 equal (sorta) balls. How I ended up with 24 was divide the entire ball into 3 equally big ones, then split each big ball into 2 and then the 2 medium balls into 4 each. So, try my method if you don’t have a kitchen scale.

Instead of using a fork to close the package, I folded the circular pastry in half and then tried to crimp it by pinching/folding. Try it either way! As you can see, I’m not very good at it either. But it does the job of sealing the puff and keeping the filling in.

Mmmmm… Sometimes I dip it in sweet Thai chili sauce and it’s such a perfect match!

Do you like epok epok or the Old Chang Kee type of curry puffs?