Peanut Butter Soba Salad with Chicken

All DA goodness
All DA goodness
It seems like everyone I meet is on the salad bandwagon.

What did you make for dinner Preetha?

Oh I threw together a selection of greens, smoked mackerel and topped it with chili flakes.

Random person I just met – what did you have for dinner last night?

Oh I pan-fried some salmon and had it with a salad leaves and pumpkin leaves with a cranberry dressing.

The hell?

When did we all turn into this health conscious zombies?

To be honest I think I’m just saying this because I’m not the special one anymore.

I mean last year, I was feeling like this smug asshole, who was all – I’m clearly the one who has her life figured out because I eat quinoa and protein and healthy oils and #eatsocleansodamnclean.

Then I visited Preetha in the UK and realized, girlfriend has been doing the same all day errday, and doesn’t make a big deal out of it.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, everybody is basically eating healthy. We should all be patting ourselves on the back. And if you don’t here’s my bid to convince you to do so.

Naked salad! Oh no!
Naked salad! Oh no!

The issue with eating healthy or not eating healthy, it seems, is that people perceive that it takes a decent amount of effort.

And that is true, buying your dinner is an infinitely easier exercise than figuring out what you want to cook, shopping for the ingredients, cutting/cleaning/preparing the components and then eating. I mean where does one get the time? I’ll tell you when, it’s that time you’re spending watching another show you don’t need to watch, having a drink you don’t need to have or just following everysingleGODDAMNLINKONFACEBOOKYOUCANSEE.

Excuse me while I get off my high horse. The thing is, when you make food that is good for you and that tastes good, you automatically feel, well, good. This is evidenced by the crazy amount of energy I have, the fact that my skin is clearer when I eat like this (adult-acne sufferers rejoice!) and that I can push harder at work and exercise.

So a week ago, I made this Peanut Butter Soba Salad with Chicken and ate it for dinners. I ate it for lunches when I knew I would be eating out.

Maybe I even got a little sick of it. But it tasted good, was healthier than other stuff I could eat and I prepped it on the weekend so it took minimal time on weekdays.

Think about it, food is your fuel – don’t you want to upgrade to premium?

Next week I promise to explain HOW I prep the food.

Goodness Bowl and Changes on the Blog

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
I am no food blogger. I make food, I eat food, I enjoy food… but to say I am a food blogger is a bit… inaccurate.

That seems pretty rich coming from a person who uses the hashtag #ihaveafoodblog.

The thing is, I recently became friends with a colleague, Pei Zhen. Now, she’s a true chef and creator of food things. We were in the middle of our science comms jobs and then we started talking about food and man – when she started talking about food it was like you couldn’t stop her! She churns inventive ice-creams, packs fresh lunches for herself and her husband and has her own version of french onion soup (WTF?).

This made me think about my approach to food and the whole point of this blog.

I originally started this blog because I cook at home a lot – but the thing is, I hated cooking. So in order to change that I figured if I had a blog and celebrated what I cooked, that would change.

It did in fact, change. I love cooking now and it’s a respite from my life and my very busy mind when I do cook. However, I don’t try new things. I either cook recipes that I find online or that my Mom has taught me. I like following the path people have laid down when it comes to food – because they know what they are doing and I’m a busy person. Experimenting? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So, I’ve decided my food making posts are going to feature pictures, a story behind why I made that dish and a link to the original recipe, when there is one. Ala Cupcakes and Cashmere. Not that I’m anywhere near her popularity as a blogger. It just seems more genuine.

Also, recently, I’ve been doing more posts about my life, like this one about having an existential crisis, and the number of views those posts get are wayyy more than my food posts.

It makes more sense to explore and expand this part of the blog.

As much as I’d love to be a lifestyle blogger, I don’t have the budget for the clothes/food/travel (I think it’s called SWAG?).

Also, I love sharing what I think and how I deal. With all this 21st century bullshit that is currently making our lives so hard.

So in this installation of cooking and food, I came across this gorgeous bowl of goodness and I knew I had to have it. I actually did make it in time for Salad Monday, but the thing is, this isn’t a salad. It’s a bowl.

Everything is cooked. The quinoa comes alive with tumeric, fresh ginger and coconut oil. The carrots, beets and red onions are roasted with olive oil. The kale is mushrooms are sauteed with mirin and a splash of soy sauce. And finally the protein – chicken is baked with ginger and garlic and salt and pepper. It all comes together with an earthy sauce of miso, tahini and lemon juice. The original recipe features avocado and and no meat. But that’s all up to you.

Home-made Muesli

HELLO!

My brekkie!
My brekkie!
I really tried to come up with something good after a long hiatus from Salad Mondays. I still eat salads, like everyday, but they’re the same damn salad. This salad to be specific.

So yesterday I decided to try something different.

Ok, I’m lying, it was basically that same salad with a tahini based dressing.

Salad nooooooooooo
Salad nooooooooooo
Looks ok, doesn’t it?

It was gross. Not super gross, but heavy gross, and unworthy of being touted as a Salad Monday salad.

SO – this was going to be a post I saved for a Friday or a Saturday to inspire some weekend projects but instead, since it turned out so beautifully and made me so happy this morning, I decided to share this little bit of success/heaven.

Every morning I eat some oat based breakfast. It’s usually overnight oats or granola or muesli. After months of the first two, I caved and bought a bag of Marks and Spencer’s “Four Berry Muesli”. Very delicious. Also, very expensive at about SGD15 a bag. It was also close to expiration.

So every morning, as I shoveled this very expensive and slightly stale cereal down my throat (with greek yogurt, obs), I realized I should try making it because a) I had most of the ingredients in my house and b) whatever I made should be cheaper.

This is what I came up with and seriously – it tastes fresh and nutty and is WAY better than any store bought muesli I have ever had, is easier to make than granola and is probably healthier – coz no added sugar!

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped almonds, toasted/roasted (with no added salt)
1 Tbsp chia seeds
2/3 cup raisins
2/3 cups dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 175C/350C.

Spread oats onto a baking sheet until its 1/4 inch deep (ish). Toast for ten minutes, stirring once in the middle.

Remove from oven and cool in a separate tray/ big plates.

At this point you can toast the almonds if you need to. Ten minutes should do it.

Once cool, evenly scatter the almonds, chia seeds, raisins and dried cranberries over the oats.

Carefully scoop into an air-tight container.

And done!
And done!
Serve with milk or yogurt. Drink black coffee. Revel in your brilliance.

*Adapted from Leite’s Culinaria.

Super Simple Roast Chicken and Spaghettini Aglio Olio

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

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

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.

Paik’s Bibimbap

Paik's Bibimbap-Beef Bulgogi Bibimbap (S$8.50)
Paik’s Beef Bulgogi Bibimbap – SGD8.50

What: Fast Korean Food.

Pros: It’s fast and relatively healthy, offers bibimbap and tteokbokki and other Korean dishes at a reasonable price.

Cons: It’s really, not that good. I mean I make a better bibimbap. But I did live in Korea for four years.

Verdict: Don’t go. Find another Korean restaurant to satisfy that kimchi craving you’ve got goin’ on.

Details:
Vivocity
#02-125,
1 Harbourfront Walk
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 9.30pm