Sesame Basil Noodles and Mondays

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.

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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.

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.

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

Lazy Woman’s Chocolate Chip Cookies AKA Blondies

Tower of delicious-ness
Tower of delicious-ness

I know y’all, it’s Salad Mondays, I promised you a nutritious recipe of salad goodness that would inspire you to take on the world and your week.

But ALAS. It’s not to be because although I have a salad to present to you… it looks like this:

2015-01-31 14.26.22

In case you actually want to know what this is, it’s leftover chopped romaine, baked salmon with a simple lemon-garlic-oil dressing. Actually its crazy tasty. Just not very photogenic.

This past weekend I went to a barbecue and of course I had to take something because I have a food blog. If I didn’t take anything that would make me A) lose credibility and B) an asshole.

But I really didn’t want to take a potato salad, which is basically the easiest thing you can make for a group, and I didn’t want to make brownies because I recently have had some bad luck baking brownies. They’ve just been underdone and potentially salmonella causing.

What I really wanted was chocolate chip cookies.

What I really didn’t want was to spend my Saturday watching my oven.

Then I had a brainwave. Ages ago, when I was attempting to win host-of-the-year with my bruschetta bar themed brunch, I made this crazy easy batch of blondies for dessert. They took 5 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to bake and my guests kept raving about them like no other. I, on the other hand, was on the fence about them. They seemed so normal.

BUT they had chocolate chips and were easy so I thought – why not?

This time I decided to kick it up a notch. I started with browned butter and added some crystallized ginger for some kick (I’m totally lying, I have a bag of leftover crystallized ginger that I bought, like, 3 months ago that I can’t finish).

It turned out so amazing and so soft that they were demolished at the barbecue.

The next morning I woke up wanting more and made a whole new batch, sans ginger and with coffee stirred into the batter.

My body protested these bad decisions but my mouth did not. Coz DAYAMN.

1/2 cup / 113 grams butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet or bittersweet is fine)

Add-ins (optional):
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped + 1/4 tsp ground ginger OR 1/2 Tbsp ground coffee

Preheat the oven to 175C/350F.

Generously butter an 8 by 8 square baking tin.

Cut the butter into even pieces and melt in a small saucepan over a medium fire. I suggest you whisk it so that it melts evenly.

Do this until the butter is light brown and smells nutty. This didn’t actually happen with me, but this is what the internet told me would happen. Mine just got very dark yellow and smelled quite good and coz I was scared of burning it, I stopped.

Wait for butter to cool till warm. Beat in the sugar until smooth.

Beat in the egg and vanilla. At this point, if using coffee, this is when you stir it in.

Stir in the flour and salt.

Stir in the chocolate chips and, if using crystallized ginger, this is when you stir it in.

Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. I personally prefer 25 because otherwise I find the middle is a tad runny.

It’s SO good guys. I’m like swooning just writing this.

*Adapted from smitten kitchen.

Ginger version
Ginger version

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.

Green Things Sandwich

Whole shebang
Whole shebang
Looks like Salad Monday has became Sandwich Monday.

Ok so I saw this sandwich on Shutterbean and had some version of a meltdown because it looked SO amazing that I knew I had to have it.

But I have to tell you, this recipe, calls for goat cheese.

I don’t know if you know this but goat cheese is freaking expensive.

Like a tiny amount cost me SGD13.

I don’t know about you but SGD13 is a lot of money.

I mean I could buy like a salad in a mall for that money.

Or watch one movie on the weekend.

Ok. Clearly living in Singapore is not exactly a value-for-money type situation.

Serves 1 hungry girl

Cilantro Hummus
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup cilantro, stems removed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste

Other things
2 pieces of bread
2 Tbsps of Cilantro Hummus
1/2 avocado, sliced
dollop of goat cheese – up to personal preference
handful of mixed salad

Cilantro Hummus
Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor.

Seriously. It’s that easy.

Assembling the sandwich
Toast the bread to your level of toastiness.

Spread one side of bread with the Cilantro Hummus.

Top with the sliced avocado.

Top that with the goat cheese.

Top that, carefully, with the mixed salad.

Top with the second half of bread.

Bite, enjoy, savor.

It’s a fancy sammich.

*Disclaimer: I ate this with a boiled egg because let’s face it. Ain’t nobody got time to be vegan.
** Adapted from Shutterbean.