Ragu Bolognese

My lovely lunch :)
My lovely lunch ūüôā

This takes super long to make.

Really it’s almost unreasonable.

But it’s worth it. So you know.

So plan ahead, and don’t think, oh yeah I’ll just whip this up for dinner!

BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO.

Look at all this WORK.

Ok actually it takes about three hours to prepare but it’s crazy simple.

You just need some time and you will have a rich, spicy, decadent meat sauce that can last you for days. Or you know, a week if only one person it eating it.

2 Tbsps olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
500 g ground beef
3 Johnsonville pork sausages, casings removed, crumbled
1 packet of back bacon
1 cup dry red wine (Syrah or Shiraz is recommended)
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
4 Tbsps tomato paste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup milk
1 packet pasta of your choice, I used fusilli

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat.

Add onions, celery, and carrots. Sauté until soft, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add beef, pork and bacon. Sauté and break up the bits until brown for about 15 minutes.

Add wine and boil one minute.

Add 2 cups chicken stock and tomato paste; stir to blend.

Reduce heat to very low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, about 1 1/2 hours.

Season with pepper.

Bring milk to a simmer in a separate saucepan. Gradually add to the sauce, stirring.

Cover sauce with lid slightly ajar and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until milk is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Add remaining chicken stock at this time.

Cook pasta according to the instructions on the packet.

Top pasta with ragu.

Yum Yum.

*You can make this two days ahead and then when you want to eat it just rewarm it. You can also freeze it in individual portions. You can do a dance with it. Really it’s up to you.
**Adapted from Bon Appetit.

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Easy protein + veg stir-fry

Image

I spend an inordinate amount of time cooking for me.

Myself.

Moi.

Lil’ ol’ me.

This is a consequence of choosing to leave my very comfortable childhood home in Malaysia and settling down in Singapore because the job opportunities were better – HOWDAREME?!

But seriously, having come from a home where my mom made amazing food for a family meant that I only knew how to cook FOR A FAMILY.

Over time I’ve learned how to cook in batches, eat a lot of salads, freeze portions, etc.

Sometimes though you just want to make enough for the night and not have a bunch of stuff leftover that you have to heat up because microwaves are evil/you’re picky like that. I’m not picky like that but apparently OTHER people are.

This stir-fry is perfect for those nights when you want something warm, filling and spicy/flavorful/Asian yum.

Stuffhowever much you want of any ingredient
Brown rice, precooked
Celery, cut into matchsticks
Carrots, cut into matchsticks
Red pepper, cut into long thin strips
Onion, sliced
Oil
Protein accompaniment, tofu/chicken – precooked and cut into cubes

Sauce
1 knob of ginger, pounded
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 Tbsps oyster sauce
1 tsp garlic chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Heat oil in a non-stick pan large enough for all your stuff over a medium to low flame.

Put the celery, carrots, red pepper and onions in the pan and fry for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While you’re doing this, prep the sauce by mixing all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl except the cornstarch and water.

Mix the cornstarch and water separately in another bowl till the cornstarch dissolves.

Add the cornstarch + water mixture to the other sauce ingredients and stir till combined.

Pour over the stir-fried veggies. Stir until a bit thicker about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add the pre-cooked rice and protein accompaniment.

Increase the flame to medium and stir for 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and EAT!

*The sauce recipe is for a very reasonable amount of stuff meant for one person only. Adjust if serving a crowd.

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

It’s cupcake time at DiniBlini and you know what that means – it’s birthday time.

This time it was the birthday of my longtime friend and apartment mate – Melissa.

I have known Melissa since I lived with her sister, my good friend Priscilla, while we were all doing our undergrad at McGill.

All those years ago, I really only knew her as my friend’s sister, that girl who really liked watching The Hills.

She would come over once a week, without fail, to watch the show that marked the beginning of MTV’s transformation into a reality TV black hole.

I really didn’t know much about her except that she was reserved, wore really big sunglasses and suffered from a bad case of resting bitch face.

Fast forward to now, some eight years later, and I live with her halfway across the world.

All the things I thought defined her are still true (she still suffers from chronic resting bitch face, has quite big sunglasses, enjoys her alone time) but I also now know she is kind, considerate and has a wicked sense of humor.

I’m so happy that she is now my good friend and I wanted to make something she would enjoy for her birthday.

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

Cue this mess (and it really was A MESS) of cookies and cream cheese.

Melissa’s favorite ice-cream was cookies and cream.

Unfortunately, it really isn’t mine.

SIGH.

But I made these cupcakes anyway. And surprise, surprise.

They was good.

Cake bit
24 Oreos, you will halve them – see recipe for exact method
16 Oreos, chopped into small pieces (almost bits or pebble size)
12 Oreos, chopped into halves, for garnish (optional)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 egg whites
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting
8 Tbsp butter
8 oz. cream cheese (1 Philadelphia pkg)
2 Tbsp sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar

Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 175C/350F degrees.

Line two muffin tins with 24 paper muffin cups.

Using a knife split the first 24 Oreos in half. Leave the cream filling attached to one side. Place those halves, with the cream filling side up, at the bottom of each muffin cup. Set aside.

Place the cream-less halves into a Ziploc bag. Seal tightly and bash with a rolling pin until a fine powder. I used a peanut butter jar. You will sprinkle this “cookie dust” on the cupcakes at the very end.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In another larger bowl, mix together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. If you’re using a mixer it will take you 3 to 4 minutes. If you’re using your hands you better just resign yourself to pain.

Add in egg whites, one at a time, mixing after each addition to combine.

Measure 3/4 cup milk another bowl. Add sour cream and vanilla to milk and whisk to combine. It will be a bit lumpy initially.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix.

Add milk mixture to butter mixture. Mix.

Mix in 16 chopped Oreos.

Divide batter among prepared muffins cups (pouring it on top of the Oreo halves), filling each cup about 2/3 full.

Bake in preheated oven about 24 to 26 minutes until the toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean(ish).

You may take them out of the pan after resting 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Frost with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting.

Sprinkle with cookie dust!

Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting
Mix the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. If you’re doing this by hand, it won’t become fluffy if using a mixer it should take a minute.

Stir in sour cream and vanilla.

Add in powdered sugar and mix until smooth, light and fluffy. Again by hand, just do it till it’s not lumpy. With a mixer, it will take 3 minutes.

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

Look at that MASTERPIECE.

*Adapted from Cooking Classy.
**Photography by Hoi Yee (paper_shins).

Pistola

Pork Belly Burrito Bowl with added Guacamole and a Mango Margarita
Pork Belly Burrito Bowl with added Guacamole and a Mango Margarita

What: Casual Mexican with a strong Asian influence.

Pros: YUMMY, convenient (at the Club St/Ann Siang Hill intersection) and hip.

Cons: Kinda expensive (tacos/burritos/bowls start at SGD12, SGD2 for extra condiments, SGD15 for margaritas) and the decor = shambolic.

Verdict: GO! It’s yummyyy and they have exciting HOT SAUCES.

Details:
93 Club Street, Singapore 069461
6438 2185

Chicken Salad with Almond Butter Dressing

Chicken Salad with Almond Butter Dressing

I had a fork speared with a mouthful of this salad (half a juicy grape, crunchy romaine, moist chicken and tangy feta tossed in Almond Butter dressing) halfway to my lips last Friday at work – when my spunky colleague Tasha peered over her bowl of noodles from the canteen and asked me:

“Are you eating that to lose weight?”

Hmm. Pause. Think about it. Weird but the answer is:

“No I’m not. I kinda just…”

“Eat like that. She eats like that normally-lahhh,” another colleague, Reza, chimed in.

And it’s true.

I think maybe there was a time when healthy food eating was dictated by my desire to be thinner or to have better skin or something.

But then a conscious effort to eat healthily turned into a habit.

And the habit turned into genuine love.

I LOVE eating my salads. I LOVE that they’re fresh and crunchy and full of flavor. I LOVE that they make me feel both virtuous and like I’m winning at life.

I LOVE that eating them makes me feel light and energized. And I LOVE that after making salad eating something I do, almost everyday, I do indeed have better skin/a better body/a clearer mind.

Clear colon = clear mind?

MAYBE.

Too much information?

DEFINITELY.

So let’s get going!

This salad is so good because all the components tie it together. Unlike the way the blog Pinch of Yum describes it (recipe slightly adapted from there), I do not in fact think the dressing is that great by itself. BUT with all the ingredients in it – it’s like magic. The almond butter dressing is hearty and brings together the veg/fruit/protein/nut combo beautifully.

Chicken Salad with Almond Butter Dressing

Make it and thank me.

Protein Accompaniment
Boneless chicken breasts/thighs, as much as you want
olive oil
2 Tbsps freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 tsp salt

Almond Butter Dressing
3 Tbsps almond butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsps freshly squeezed orange juice
3 Tbsps water
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 Tbsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne powder
ground black pepper

Salad
red grapes, halved, as much as you want
Romaine lettuce, chopped, as much as you want
feta cheese, crumbled, as much as you want
almonds, chopped or crushed, as much as you want
precooked pasta, as much as you want

Protein Accompaniment
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.

Toss the chicken with a bit of olive oil, the orange juice and salt.

Lay it on the grill bit and bake for 20 to 30 minutes – flipping once halfway through.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Chop into bite sized chunks.

Almond Butter Dressing
Put all the dressing ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Store in a glass jar in the fridge until needed.

Salad

Fix a bowl (it needs to be big enough to handle the tossing) with all the salad ingredients and protein accompaniment.

Dollop with a tbsp or two or the dressing.

Toss carefully to coat evenly.

Serve.

Chicken Salad with Almond Butter Dressing

So pretty. Like a painting. ūüėõ

Taco Salad

Taco Salad

This past two weeks I felt like I was being stalked by Cinco de Mayo.

Every single Instagram account and food blog/website was all – MARGARITAS! You should make this awesome GUACAMOLE! Why don’t you eat TACOS!

Ohhh the Tacos.

Steak TACOS. Fish TACOS. Deconstructed TACOS.

But I knew I shouldn’t do it, you know? Tacos are so carb heavy with corn tortillas and fatty with dripping meat – IWANTITIWANTITNOW.

Sigh.

Yeah I couldn’t hold out. But I figured I would compromise. TACO salad? Yeah sure of course – this is totally healthy.

Taco Salad

Honestly, I’m sorry about the quality of these pictures but believe you me – if you had this in front of you, you wouldn’t be too concerned about trying to make it look pretty. You would be concerned about exactly what amount of each ingredient would render the perfect bite. And it’s alllll up to you because the beauty of salads is the customization baby. And the dressing pulls it alllll together. And in this salad there are two dressing: spicy cumin and rich sour cream. Mmmm.

It’s Friday y’all – just go with it.

Cumin dressing
3 Tbsps apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsps ketchup
6-10 dashes Tabasco
2 tsps ground cumin
2 tsps freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsps granulated sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Sour cream dressing
1 cup sour cream
1 big green chili, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice

Salad
Romaine salad leaves, as much as you want
Black Beans, canned, as much as you want
Corn kernels, as much as you want
Avocado, diced, as much as you want
Tomatoes, diced, as much as you want
Red/yellow pepper, diced, as much as you want
Red onion, sliced and pre-soaked in lime juice (to make less pungent)
Tortilla chips, as much as you want
Protein accompaniment*
Cheddar cheese, grated, as much as you want (for topping)

Cumin dressing
Put all the ingredients in a glass bottle except the oil. Top with tight lid. Shake vigorously.

Open cover and add oil. Top with tight lid. Shake vigorously again.

Refrigerate until needed.

Sour cream dressing
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until combined.

Refrigerate until needed.

Salad
Fix yourself a bowl of salad with a selection or all of the ingredients listed above in whatever quantity you want.

Drizzle with the cumin dressing and sour cream dressing and toss!

Crack extra black pepper over for added zing.

Try not to eat too fast.

*The protein accompaniment you choose is all up to you. You can stir-fry shrimp, grill chicken or pan-fry steak. I had all three options over this past week and they were amazing. Click on the links if you need recipes.
**Adapted from Chow.

Internet-ing: FOOD BLOGS

When I read food blogs I feel the way little kids do when they meet a cool grown-up.

I want my blog to be just like this blog when it grows up!

Thing is, I read a lot of food blogs so I have a feeling my blog is a little confused about its future.

Some blogs standout because of their witty writing, some with the best recipes I’ve ever made, some with stunning photography and the rare few with all of the above.

And the personality of each blog? Wildly different.

Still, since my blog is in its infancy it may be wise to draw inspiration from all these varied wildly talented people.

SO I give you the best food blogs on the Internet (according to me).

Chocolate Blackberry Pudding

The Sugar Hit –¬†All-Rounder
1) Lip-smacking in your face photos with none of that overdone faded effect (both pictures in this post are from The Sugar Hit)
2) Funny and very relatable. Bonus: the recipes aren’t overly descriptive (aka the blog assumes you have some common sense).
3) Flavor combos that have you slack-jawed and drooling at the screen – like chocolate and raspberry muffins and apple fritters and salted caramel.
4) I can’t comment on the recipes because I’ve never made one! (SORRY SARAH – FYI Sarah is the author and we’re totes best friends now because she replied to my email, ok?) Shall I start with the Salted Caramel & Macadamia Pull-Apart Bread???

Joy the Baker – Famous
1) There’s a reason why this blog is famous. The recipes are something special. The Cranberry Orange & Pecan Coffee Cake? Best cake I’ve made in my life to date.
2) Bewarned the recipes are elaborate – but they are detailed and the blog features useful tips.

Cooking Classy – Reliable
1) Cook anything from this blog and I guarantee it will be amazing. The Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting were not only the first cupcakes I made in my life, they were better than ANY cupcakes I’ve eaten ever.
2) The savory dishes are simple and good, like the Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad that kickstarted a salad binge in my house.
3) Really regular posts = key in this short attention span world.

Lady and Pups – Asian Fusion and Kick-Ass Personality
1) Recipes that make you sit up and go WOAH – like this gem: The New York Halal Drunk Food
2) That photography – THAT PHOTOGRAPHY
3) The tagline – An Angry Food Blog – which hints at the deliciously acerbic prose

The Kitchn/Bon Appetit/Food52 – ResourceFULL
Not exactly blogs more like Internet food bibles Рthey have HUGE recipe databases, useful advice like how to pack a better lunch and are a great place to hangout for any foodie.

Salted Caramel & Macadamia Pull Apart Bread