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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Weekend Meal Prep YOUCANDO

Prepping for prep
Prepping for prep

Every weekend I set aside about two to three hours, to plan how I’m going to take over the world.

No seriously, because the only way that I can take over the world is if I eat well-balanced, nutritious food that will then give me enough energy to take over the world. Right?

But more seriously this is my post about meal prepping on weekends. I got into meal prepping for two simple reasons 1) Shutterbean and 2) IHAVENOTIME.

Let me explain.

1) Shutterbean is this fantastic blog written by Tracy who cooks these wonderfully healthy and varied meals not just for her blog, but also for her family (her husband and son). And she achieves this by being organized and prepping the ingredients and pre-cooking certain items on the weekend. Check out her awe/jealousy-inspiring meal prep grams here, here and here.

2) IHAVENOTIME. I know, I have a choice in life, I can stop saying I’m so busy and sit down and smell the roses… but guess what? I don’t want to do that. I want to run and go to yoga and hang out with my friends and go to work and read and do my laundry and read a book and get 8 hours of sleep AND eat somewhat healthily. SO. That means being a little organized and getting some stuff prepped over the weekend.

I don’t prep like Tracy, since I don’t have a family, but what I do is that I have a simple rule. I try not to eat more than one meal out a day, so if I’m eating dinner out I’ll pack a lunch for work, if not I’ll eat the dinner for the week.

I hard-boil 5 eggs for breakfast and make either a muesli or granola every two weeks which I enjoy with greek yogurt. That is my breakfast all week – minus the one day I get my chocolate almond croissant from Tiong Bahru Bakery.

I prep a salad for the week by buying spinach leaves or romaine (they keep fresh for about three days), grill vegetables (usually a combo of carrots, beets, peppers, etc), grill chicken, make a salad dressing (loving this one right now) and cook 1/2 cup of dried quinoa (about 5 meals worth for me). That lasts me for about five meals and mid-week I usually re-do the whole process.

This takes me about 2 to 3 hours, with plenty of time in between to dance around my apartment or do more laundry.

Totally doable right? And I’m not advocating an oat and salad filled existence.

Make whatever the hell you want.

Mel, my apartment mate, preps awesome tofu-veggie pasta salads every weekend.

Another good friend puts together protein and fish and fruit every night for her BYOL.

Just think about eating and living intentionally. Because – it’s kind of awesome.

The TASTIEST Granola Bars

Starting out
Starting out
I really like fake healthy food. Like oatmeal cookies. Granola. Granola in the bar form. Oat bars. Fully loaded oatmeal. I think I’m seeing a trend.

I think I like these treats because they have nuts and oats and dried fruit and all these nutrients but really they’re just full of sugar – and taste like it.

So, when I was scheduled to go on a nature walk to see otters (I didn’t see them) at 7:00am in the morning, I knew one thing would make this exercise infinitely more tolerable.

Crazy tasty and filling granola bars that I could whip out of my tote bag (because I’m eco-friendly like that!) and munch as I surveyed nature. And stuff.

All packed in
All packed in
Browned to perfection
Browned to perfection

When it came time to cut these – they didn’t stick together. They just failed and crumbled.

I had to shove it into foil and mold it into a square shape for my nature walk.

I have to admit, I was skeptical about these babies but one bite and I was swooning. They’re just crazy delicious and the right amount of sweet and chewy. I’m salivating as I write this.

When I got home I found that everyone in my house was also totally into them. And the fact that they were basically only possible to eat with a spoon? Did not phase us one bit.

I urge you to make these, eat them with friends, eat them alone, eat them for tea, eat them for breakfast, eat them with greek yogurt… Just make them. And eat them. What else are you doing this weekend?

A crumbly situation...
A crumbly situation…

Deb’s recipe is very adaptable but this is my ingredient list – be sure to follow her instructions at the link below:

1 2/3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tbsps melted butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp water

*Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

I make ugly food & it TASTES SO GOOD: Vol II

My first ugly food post is actually the most popular post on my blog EVER. It got 105 views which let’s face it is, pretty paltry and in all honesty it only got there because Shutterbean linked to me. THANK GOD FOR HER.

In a bid to replicate my early success in a time of complete creative drought (I find that I’m mostly really concerned about what lipstick color I should buy) that I thought I would copy an old post.

Like always, I’ve been cooking up a storm and it’s been good, but it really hasn’t looked good. AKA I haven’t bothered styling it.

Here’s what I’ve been cooking and enjoying these past two weeks! Bon Appétit!

Bonkers Awesome Mushroom and Onion Shells and Cheese Joy The Baker

The minute I saw this recipe on Joy’s blog I had to make it. However the amount of cheese and butter held me back knowing that really eating this could in no way be classified as healthy or good for you. Still I made it (Sans Gruyere – which I will use next time) and not only was it an awesome dinner, it was an awesome lunch to take into work. Too bad it really looks nothing like the original.

Strawberry and Spinach Salad with Quinoa and Goat CheeseCookie and Kate

I don’t really impulse food shop because I have a set amount of things I eat in a day and at certain times (5 o’clock apple – everyday!).* So when I do buy something out of the ordinary it generally causes a lot of panic and my mind immediately tries to slot it into my routine. This is what happened when I recently bought some cheap strawberries. I don’t have the calorie bandwith or time to eat strawberries but I had to eat dinner, so I made this salad and added some grilled chicken and was good to go! Was it good? Ish.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup – All Recipes

Honestly, All Recipes? I know, how very 2000 of me. But seriously this recipe, which I stumbled across after typing in “sweet potato” and “coconut milk” into Google, was actually AMAZING. Make it and dunk in some udon, veggies and some silken tofu and you’ve got A MEAL my friends.

Big Clusters Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola – Averie Cooks

I make granola from time and time and it’s always vaguely healthy. This time I didn’t want to do healthy – I wanted to do chock full, can’t even pretend this is good for you granola. Because sometimes you want to. Sometimes you want to be bad – and then feel good – and then feel obese. Because really this is what happened when I made this granola. And honestly – check out the photography in the original post and drool because it is oh-so-good.

*If you think this is strange and weird and you are still my friend then you obviously think this is a charming quirk of mine and we need not discuss this further.

Chicken, Bacon, Avocado and Pan-Fried Asparagus Salad

You can't even tell this was taken 3 days after I first made it and was bordering on not tasty.
You can’t even tell this was taken 3 days after I first made it and was bordering on not tasty.

It’s the weekend people and I know what that means for most of you. Heavy ass food, hitting the alcohol a little too hard and staying up wayyy too late to watch all them World Cup matches.

Do yourself a favor and get in a nice healthy salad in there to keep you going.

I promise this one is almost brunch worthy. It’s got bacon in there and avocado. YUM.

Now this salad is good – the bacon and the avocado weigh down the otherwise unremarkable spinach. The dressing is tangy and makes your lips curl.

Make it and trick yourself into feeling virtuous. 😛

Vinaigrette (From Bon Appetit)
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad
bacon, as much as you like
1 Tbsp butter
asparagus, chopped, as much as you like
1/2 lemon, squeezed
spinach, cut, as much as you like
boneless chicken breast/thighs, as much as you like
avocado, cubed, as much as you would like

Vinaigrette
Put all ingredients into a glass bottle with a cover. Shake vigorously.

Salad
Either pan fry or grill or bake your chicken till done. If you can’t do this without a recipe. I can’t help you. Or email me and I will.

Once cool, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Fry the bacon until crispy and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Wait till cool and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Melt the butter in a pan over medium high heat. Add the asparagus saute until golden brown and a little burnt looking. Right before taking it out toss with the lemon juice.

Put together a bowl of salad with the spinach, chicken, bacon, asparagus and avocado.

Drizzle or toss with the vinaigrette.

*Adapted from Pinch of Yum.

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.

Braised Chicken with Olives and Red Wine

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).