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: Vegetarian Chinese Dumplings in Soup

IMG_6873This is my vegetarian tofu version of Shui Jiao, the larger cousin of the more common Wanton (aka wan tan or won ton). These Chinese dumplings are traditionally served in a light clear broth and that’s what I did here. Other than swopping out minced pork and prawns for tofu, nothing’s changed. T and I had it both boiled in hot soup as well as deep fried – we love them equally much!

Vegetarian Chinese Dumplings in Soup

Serves 2-4 (makes about 15) Prep Time: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: 15 minutes.

1 block of extra firm tofu (pressed dry)

5 water chestnuts

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 cup cilantro

1 egg

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons corn starch

1 cube of vegetable stock for broth

5 cups of water

15 – 20 Wanton wrappers (Pre-made in a packet)

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Method:

1. Chop up the water chestnuts and tofu into mince. Then add it to a medium mixing bowl.

2. Add garlic, cilantro, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, pepper and only 1 tablespoon of corn starch.

3. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl thoroughly to make the filling.

4. Mix 1 tablespoon of corn starch and 2 tablespoons of water to form the sealing agent for the dumpling skins.

5. Bring water and the vegetable stock to boil while you fill the Wanton wrappers (if you use a premix liquid stock, then there’s no need for water).

6. Take 1 generous teaspoon of the filling and put it in the centre of the dry Wanton wrappers.

6. To seal, dab a pinkie finger in the starch mixture and trace the border of the wrapper. Fold and press firmly.

7. Drop the completed dumplings into the boiling water. Put in a few at a time to prevent crowding. I use a medium sized pot so I put in about 3 to 5 each time.

8. When the dumplings start to float, they are about done. Let them cook for a little while longer before removing them. I usually dish them out into the serving bowls.

9. Once all the dumplings are cooked, you can pour the boiling broth over the dumplings in their serving bowl and garnish to serve. Some people use clear boiling water and keep the soup broth separate but I don’t think it is necessary.

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That’s it! Enjoy your hot Chinese Dumplings aka Shui Jiao.

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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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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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