Leftover Gochujang Paste Salad

Cooking, Thoughts, Work

Forgive the fuzziness - look at the pearly keeeen wahhh

Forgive the fuzziness – look at the pearly keeeen wahhh

Friends, my blogging has been patchy and I apologize for that. Work has become all-consuming, and funnily enough I’m happy about it.

My Dad, who worked as the head of HR in a very prominent international bank for many years, once told me that he used to tell his staff that if they liked 30% of their job – they were lucky. I like close to 80 to 90% of my job. So I must be very lucky.

It’s not often that you get paid to “sell” or in my case “communicate” a product that you believe in, so very much.

These past few weeks, as things have gotten busier at work, I have found myself getting more tied to my organisation. Each task I had to do, each press release I had to write and each project I had to manage somehow made me more invested in the outcome of how we were being presented in the public. And it’s not because it’s a KPI or goal I have to meet. It’s because I am so proud of the work we are doing.

Science Comms you know? The researchers are passionate geniuses and I’m lucky to be along for the ride.

Ack – just went off on a tangent about work when I’m clearly supposed to be talking about gochujang and food!

So, since I’ve been working hard, it’s left little time for cooking. Or less, anyway.

One weeknight I wanted a fresh healthy salad, but didn’t want my protein to be that regular grilled chicken with garlic and lemon I eat ALLTHEDAMNTIME. I realized I had gochujang in the fridge (leftover from my last bibimbap-making frenzy). Why does that matter you ask? WELL, gochujang is a fabulous marinade for chicken.

So that same night, after a hard day’s work, I slathered two tablespoons of gochujang on one chicken thigh and stuck it in the fridge to marinade while I ran my 5K.

When I came back – I popped it in the oven for 30 mins (flipping it once in the middle) at 200 degrees and it was gorgeous. I served it with cooked quinoa, chopped cucumber, diced red peppers and mixed salad leaves drizzled with this Asian-y salad dressing.

This baby can keep you going strong for all them working hours. Like it did me 🙂

Sesame Basil Noodles and Mondays

Cooking, Thoughts
Coming together now

Coming together now

Mondays, Mondays, Mondays – whether you like it or not, they’re a bit of a work-fail even if you’ve got that to do list in front of you.

It’s difficult to light your ass on fire when all you want to do with said ass is crawl back into bed.

And apart from being generally demotivated, I feel like I’m moving through Jello. Tasks that take me 5 minutes on a Tuesday are taking me 10, today.

Like, for example, it’s just REALLY hard to write an email sometimes, ok?

But what can you do? Mondays are slow starters and we have the rest of the week to kick-ass, including our own.

So when you get home today, instead of crapping out why don’t you make these super tasty pasta noodles masquerading as some quasi-Thai dish?

Individual component

Individual components

I know, nothing can beat real Thai food.

But real Thai food involves skill and more oil than I’m willing to ingest.

SO. This is why, I recommend making healthy western food with an Asian inspired dressing. It keeps the Asian in you happy AND it keeps your body happy.

Like look at this baby – it’s fettuccine, sauteed bean sprouts + carrots + mushrooms, grilled chicken, basil + spring onions tossed with a tahini-ginger dressing that was crazy good. Oh – and topped with peanuts and sesame seeds.

At the end of the eating it, I felt light and energized and satiated.

I think when your body feels good, even directly after a meal, that’s a pretty good sign.

*Recipe from Half Baked Harvest.

Super Simple Roast Chicken and Spaghettini Aglio Olio

Entertaining

Chicken done right!

Chicken done right!

This past weekend and week – I two dinner parties (with my attendees help) and they both went really well. The first was a Taco Salad Bar with my girlfriends. Just prepped the ingredients and let each girl fix their own bowl.

The second was a lovely dinner in with Alex and Avi – my best bros. The challenge? Pulling this off on weeknight.

The reason for this not-so-convenient timing was that Alex was due to fly back to Kabul and we all wanted to spend some quality time together.

What could I whip up that was:
A) yummy
B) boys would eat it
C) easy + fast

And remember – boys had to eat it, so I couldn’t just like, serve them a salad.

Then I suddenly remembered Hoi serving me the best roast chicken I’ve had in my life for Christmas.

Whipped out my phone and texted – “Hoiii can you send me the recipe for your roast chicken that you made for Christmas???”

“Sure.”

And then I had it.

What about carbs?

I had some conveniently gifted spaghettini which would make this dish… FREE… if I used it. Hmmm…

A short Google search later led me to a efficient use of ALLTHEINGREDIENTS I already had in my pantry. Good thing parmesan was optional coz I don’t eat cheese/I’m cheap.

But what about greens?

The boys might not want them but my digestive system did. Too much info? WHATEVER.

I decided some chopped romaine and a simple lemon dressing would perk up the menu.

I was back home by 6:45pm, after buying groceries, prepped the chicken, popped it in the oven.

Alex came over and started on his apple crumble flambe.

Avi mixed them some Cuba Libres while I made the salad dressing.

Once Alex was done – I quickly prepped the spaghettini and Avi chopped the salad.

My (not-so) pretty plate

My (not-so) pretty plate

Dinner was served by 8:30pm. Not bad I would say.

The crumble baked while we ate. Alex then insisted we needed San Pedros to go with it. That is basically vanilla ice-cream and rum. Blended.

The food was humble, delicious and very satisfying. And totes doable on a weekend.

Also, I have literally never seen Avi that much – in my life.

It was a fantastic night that had us all laughing and me thinking about how crazy it was that these two friends of mine, who I met separately at very different parts in my life (high school vs masters), click so well. I mean the dudes both watch Hannibal, drink too much alcohol and can’t stand it when women use silence as show of anger.

Go figure.

Apple crumble flambeeeee

Apple crumble flambeeeee

Food links:
Roast Chicken
Spaghettini Aglio Olio
Lemon Vinaigrette
Cuba Libre

Apple Crumble Flamble – Ask Alex – coz it’s a family recipe!

Happy Friday everyone!

Spinach Salad with ALL THE ROASTED VEGGIES

Recipes
The original spinach salad + all the veggies

The original spinach salad + all the veggies

I have fallen back in love.

With eating salad!

I don’t know what happened but after I stopped trying to make eating salad a chore and devoted a bit more TLC to the process – I’ve started loving it. I’m literally just super excited to go home and eat dinner right now.

I put on some music.

Slipped into something comfortable.

Roasted some vegetables ahead of time.

Ok I didn’t do any of the above – but I did roast the vegetables.

And I was wearing my trademark too-ugly-to-be-seen-by-the-world-ever “home clothes.” You don’t want to know.

But I mean seriously – look, look, LOOK AT THIS

Veggies ready to be roasted - ALL the colors

Veggies ready to be grilled – ALL the colors

That happened yesterday afternoon. I roasted these beautiful babies and then I made some quinoa and the chicken and I just patted myself on the back.

Because that is the best Sunday my friends.

It seriously is.

My dinner prep for the week #winning

My dinner prep for the week #winning

Lemon and Red Wine Vinegar Kick-ASS Dressing – adapted from Martha Stewart
1 minced garlic pod

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp brown sugar
pinch of salt
a few twists of freshly ground black pepper
few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 Tbsps red-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
5 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil

Salad – you can decide the amounts you want, the chicken should work for about 2 servings
Baby Spinach
Broccoli / Pumpkin / Red Peppers / Carrots / Red Beets > any and all of these would be GREAT – also roast these the night before or earlier, just earlier, you need like 40 minutes
2 – 4 Tbsps Olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Grilled Chicken Thigh
1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked quinoa

First, preheat the oven to 175C/350C.

Cut whatever veggies you intend to roast into similar sized pieces.

Place on a tray and toss with olive oil, you decide the amount!

Season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking/browning/whatever.

Measure all the dressing ingredients into an old jam/mustard/whatever jar, as long as it’s glass. Shake vigorously.

Toss salad ingredients with the dressing.

It’s so good guys and the salad dressing = BEST.

My dinner tonight - yummm

My dinner tonight – yummm

No-Inspiration Salad with Honey Dijon Dressing

Recipes
Doesn't look too bad eh?

Doesn’t look too bad eh?

Recently I have been feeling extremely uninspired by all the food I’ve been eating.

That’s really weird for me.

I’m that person who plans my meals two days ahead of time. I literally hum and do a chair dance when I’m eating something I like.

But these days I’ve just been feeling like – whatever man, I’ll eat it for energy but who cares what IT is.

I don’t know what’s happened.

I’m sleeping well and I’m not crying randomly – so it can’t be depression.

Maybe I just want my mom’s cooking?

I really don’t know.

So last week when I had to make my Monday dinner I was all BLAH, I don’t want to eat this salad I’ve already planned, BLAH, everything SUCKS! BLAH, I HATE MY LIFE, BLAH!!!!

So then I basically chopped up all the vegetables I had left and a stray baked chicken thigh. Added some leftover quinoa. And had a pretty decent salad.

What’s a girl gotta do to stay discontent around here??

Serves 1 hungry girl

Salad
Handful of mixed salad leaves
9 cherry tomatoes, half
1/2 Japanese cucumber, chopped
1/2 avocado, cubed
1 grilled chicken thigh, cubed
handful of roasted almonds
1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Honey Dijon Dressing (Recipe courtesy Alton Brown) – this is for two servings
2.5 Tbsps honey
1.5 Tbsps Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Serve as a dressing or a dip.

Toss salad ingredients with the dressing.

Enjoy. BLAH.

Last Resort Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing

Recipes

This was a salad that was borne out of desperation.

Last-resort salad in it's full glory

Last-resort salad in it’s full glory

Picture this.

It’s Thursday night and it’s 8:00pm I am ready to make my dinner. I had already gone to the grocery store two hours before and I got my salad leaves and MAH chicken.

I had gone for a run and I’m now showered and ready to EAT.

I should have the chicken ready by 8:30pm. I slit open the clear wrap on the chicken packet.

*Sniff*

*Sniff* *Sniff*

What the hell is that smell?

No it’s nothing. No, nevermind, it’s fine, I mean uncooked meat sometimes smells interesting. Right? Right.

Hmm.

Facetime beep boop boop sounds.

“Mom, MOM, can I eat chicken if its smells a little weird? Like just a bit?”

“Like how weird?”

“Like, just a bit. Nevermind I’m sure it’s ok.”

“Dini, just throw it away. Do you have eggs?”

“No Mom, it’s fine, really.”

Looks at chicken – takes a big sniff.

Facetime beep boop boop sounds.

“Mom I think I won’t eat it.”

“Good idea.”

BAHHHH. That was 10 minutes lost and me 10 minutes hangrier.

WHATDOIDONOW?

The only thing there is to do. Boil eggs and fry bacon.

Find some lemon and make a dressing.

Lemon Dijon Dressing - oso goodddd

Lemon Dijon Dressing – oso goodddd

Chop up all the vegetables I have.

Pre-dressed salad

Pre-dressed salad

Oh wait. This is yum.

Dammit. I was ready to be irritated allnightlong.

Serves 1 hungry girl

Protein
2 free-range eggs
3 strips of streaky bacon

Dressing
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
dash of salt
sprinkle of pepper

Salad
½ cup cooked quinoa
handful of mixed salad leaves
1 Japanese cucumber, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
9 baby tomatoes, halved

Protein
Preheat water in electric kettle or stove for eggs.

Once boiled pour over eggs and boil on stove with lid on for one minute.

Remove from fire and let sit for 10 ten minutes. Pour out hot water and submerge eggs in tap water.

Fry the bacon until brown and crispy in a saucepan over medium heat.

Remove from fire place the bacon on paper towels to get rid of excess oil/fat. Crumble once cool.

Dressing

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl.

Salad

Put the salad ingredients and protein in a bowl.

Toss evenly with the dressing.

Eat. And congratulate yourself for being resourceful.

No-Brainer Salad With Lemon Chicken

Recipes

Hi friends,

I am firmly back in reality, after a weekend of rest, recuperation and frenzied Christmas shopping.

So just in time for the end of the day, my Salad Monday post today is also a bit of a #saddesklunch.

So sad. But so good.

So sad. But so good.

See its lying a bit forlorn in front of my keyboard, ready for me to absently shove down my throat while I feverishly surf fashion blogs.

Could I have made that any sadder? Yes, yes I could have.

But as you can see, this is not a sad salad. This was yummy and filled with nutritious things.

The other nice thing about this salad was that I made it without even really thinking. I just wanted something quick and simple and I wanted to use cheap and easy to find vegetables. Make it the next time you need a no-brainer meal.

It is guaranteed to satisfy.

Serves 2

Protein
1 chicken thigh
Rind and juice of ½ a lemon
½ tsp dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced/crushed
1 Tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt

Dressing
4 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced/crushed
¼ tsp ground black pepper
Pinch of salt

Salad
½ cup cooked quinoa
1 packet of baby spinach, washed and dried
2 Japanese cucumbers, chopped
2 red or yellow peppers, diced
22 baby tomatoes, halved, this is only because I am sometimes super OCD and occasionally have to eat things in prime numbers – don’t ask

Protein

Marinate the chicken thigh with the rind of the juice of the lemon, dried thyme, minced garlic, 1 Tbsp olive oil and pinch of salt.

Ideally let it sit in the fridge for an hour to a whole day.

When ready to eat, bake in the oven at 175C/350F for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping once in the middle.

Check if done by cutting the meat in half, it should not be pink.

Cut into cubes.

Dressing

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl.

Salad

Divide the salad ingredients and chopped chicken into two bowls.

Drizzle evenly with the vinaigrette.

Toss!

Eat!

Chicken Salad with Almond Butter Dressing

Recipes

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. 😛

Braised Chicken with Olives and Red Wine

Cooking

2014-05-01 19.59.08

So, this recipe is for anyone who is A) lazy/aka smart and B) makes their wine choices based on what’s on sale at Cold Storage.

A) Lazy/aka smart because it’s minimal effort for a rich and fancy(ish) meal.

B) Well this takes more time to explain. You know who you are, you’re that person every Friday who hits up the wine section at the grocery store and you’re all “Oh yes, I’m going to get a nice bottle of vino for the night.”

Please imagine this voice with a conspicuous British accent. (Optional: Hint of original Asian accent from wherever you’re REALLY from)

“Oh look the cheapest merlot here is 13.90 – well that can’t be good! It’s just so CHEAP. Oh wait here’s englishsoundingname estate wine discounted from 21.45 to 15.90. Well that’s an AMAZING value. I must buy it and drink it and laugh at my ingenuity at making prudent life choices.”

Then you get home and open the wine bottle. You smell that intense wine-y smell and you try and lie to yourself that it’s not that bad. Then it hits your tongue and you know you can’t have more. Because you’re just not drunk enough. You will never be drunk enough.

But then there’s this: You’re just too cheap to throw it away.

This is when this recipe comes in. Use up that crappy crappy wine you cheap-o. And it might almost make your bad decision seem like a good one.

2 Tbsps olive oil
2 boneless chicken thighs
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 tsp Herbs de Provence dried herbs mix (rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc, etc)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup red wine (preferably shiraz but really anything should do)
4 sundried tomatoes in oil
1 can (160 gm) of tomato puree
1/4 cup sliced black olives

In non-stick pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame.

Place the chicken into the pan, browning them for about 4 minutes on one side.

Turn the chicken over, and move the pieces to one side of the skillet. On the other side of the skillet, sautee the onion and Herbs de Provence for about five minutes, until the onions are softened and a little bit browned. Add the garlic and sautee for 1 minute.

Add the wine, tomato puree, olives and sun-dried tomatoes to the pan.

Stir everything around, increase heat until it boils/simmers.

Turn the heat down to low and cover. Let simmer for an hour. It’s really that easy.

Serve over rice/pasta/some form of carb.

*Adapted from Opera Girl Cooks.
**Photography by Hoi Yee (paper_shins).

Chicken Tikka! (Kind of)

Cooking

chicken tikka
My Mom refers to this as her chicken tandoori recipe – I made it for friends during a recent boardgame night and it was deemed chicken tikka.

Whatever it actually is is irrelevant because it’s yummy, tastes like home (well my home at least) and is fairly easy to make. So easy that I make it practically every week and eat it for two nights in a row. What can I say, it’s easy to scale down for smaller portions and I’m unimaginative like that.

You want to be like me too and do this. Don’t lie.

2 chicken thighs (boneless and cut)/ 10 chicken wings (cut into two – wing and drummet separated)
2 Tbsps ginger-garlic paste
1 1/2 Tbsps chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin/jeera powder
1/2 Tbsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsps salt
1/2 cup lime juice
4 Tbsps yogurt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Clean the chicken and place in a bowl. Mix all ingredients in with the chicken until evenly distributed.

Place in a container and let it marinate for 3 hours/overnight in the refrigerator.

When you’re ready to cook it, prep by taking the grill bit out of your oven, you can cover it with foil and slit it so that the marinade juices can run through and your chicken doesn’t DROWN in it’s juices and become a soggy mess.

I suggest you put some foil on the tray at the bottom of the oven so that your oven doesn’t become a masala mess.

After that preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Put the chicken on the grill in the oven for 30 minutes, after 30 minutes flip it and bake for another 10.

Serve!

*You should check if it’s done by cutting into it. I’m not really clear on baking times to be honest.
** This is a Diniblini’s Mom’s TM Recipe 🙂