SCRUMPTIOUS STIR FRY VEGETABLE VERMICELLI

stir fry vegetable vermicelli

fried vegetarian vermicelli

To prepare this stir fry vegetable vermicelli recipe, you need good vermicelli. I use chili brand for its quality. Some vermicelli gives off an awful after taste of flour but this brand is the perfect one for my noodle dishes. The trick to preparing this dish is to make use it is moist enough. This can be addressed by using vegetable stock. Another is to complement your cooking with that of the microwave to soften your hardy vegetables. This way, you don’t have to cook the vegetables for too long which takes the nutritious value away. 

Ingredients

1/2 packet of vermicelli 

1 large onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 bak choy, chopped

1 broccoli, chopped

4 carrots, sliced

1 packet bean sprouts

2 tbsp oyster sauce 

4 tbsp soy sauce

4 tbsp kicap manis

2 tbsp Hoi Sin sauce

250g vegetable stock

pepper to taste 

some fried shallots for garnish

Method

  1. Pour boiling water over vermicelli in a pot till it softens. 
  2. Drain the vermicelli in a colander and leave aside. 
  3. Heat oil in a skillet. 
  4. Fry onions till caramelized.
  5. Lightly fry garlic. 
  6. Soften broccoli and carrots separately in microwave for 3-4 mins. 
  7. Then add them in the skillet. 
  8. Add oyster sauce and mix thoroughly. 
  9. Add bak choy and then the vermicelli. 
  10. Then add soy, kicap manis  and Hoi Sin sauce. Mix well. 
  11. Pour in vegetable stock to add moisture. Taste and add soy and kicap manis if needed. 
  12. Lastly, add bean sprouts for the crunch. 
  13. Add pepper to taste. 

Serve while it is piping hot. This is a great dish to serve to guests. For protein, you can choose to add fried tofu or even prawns or chicken if you’re a non-vegetarian. 

 

TASTY BROWN TOMATO RICE

brown tomato rice

brown tomato rice

 

This is the first time that I’ve prepared tomato rice using brown rice. I must declare that the brown tomato rice has been a success. It tasted just as delicious and for sure it is healthier than white rice. This rice can be eaten on its own with chicken or fish or with gravy. If you don’t already know, you should use 2 cups water to one cup brown rice ratio.

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice

1 large onion, sliced

4 large tomatoes, diced

1/2 bottle of Provinicial Italian Tomatoes with Grilled Bell Peppers

pepper to taste

Method

  1. Fry sliced onions till caramelized.
  2. Add tomatoes till they soften.
  3. Add Provincial Italian Tomato sauce or any bottled sauce of preference
  4. Add a dash of pepper and mix thoroughly.
  5. Once the brown rice is cooked, pour in the mixture into the rice cooker and mix it thoroughly with the cooked rice.
  6. Serve with side dishes or with gravy.

 

This rice is packed with all the goodness of tomato and is undoubtedly delicious. Serve it with salad, fish or chicken or pour lentil-based gravy or tomato chicken gravy over it.

 

 

HOME MADE CHILI FLAKES

fresh chili from the garden

chili flakes

We have had a bountiful harvest of chili recently and have dried some of them to make into flakes. Yes home made chili flakes. We couldn’t use all of them at one sitting so some had to be stored in the freezer as well. We just love chilies as they add zest to food. They go well with omelette, tomato based pasta, fried rice, pizza, you name it. 

chili plants

The cayenne chilies are suitable for making flakes since they are long and fleshy. They make cutting easy and the amount of flesh they have translate to a sizable volume of flakes. 

 

fresh chili from the garden

dried chili

 

How I Made Chili Flakes

First of all, the chilies were dried in the sun for days till they crisped up and turned maroon. Then, they were dry fried in a pan for 2-3 minutes to release trapped moisture. If some of the chilies get charred, don’t worry as long as they don’t get burned. Charred chilies give off that intoxicating charred flavour, if you know what I mean. 

After that, I removed the chilies from the pan and left them to cool. Once cooled, it was time to snip off the ends into a good sized bottle so they formed into flakes. 

Voila! Home made chili flakes you can get your hands on for that added flavour. You need a good amount of dry chili to fill up a bottle. Try sprinkling the flakes on pasta, pizza and tuna dishes. They taste awesome. 

CREAMY PESTO PASTA WITH AVOCADO

pesto pasta

pesto pasta with avocado

Last Sunday, I decided to prepare pesto pasta. I racked my brains for dinner ideas and came up with pesto pasta with a twist. Simple to prepare, this dish needs quality Shitake mushrooms and fresh spinach leaves.  In my case, I happened to have some rocket leaves in my fridge so those became part of the ingredients. 

I’ve made this dish previously but have omitted some ingredients. In this dish, I have also made sure that the pasta is moist and creamy. Using a cup of pasta water prior to draining the spaghetti is a brilliant idea. It not only adds some moistness to the pasta, but also enhances its flavour. 

Ingredients

1 big onion, sliced

1/2 cup Shitake mushrooms 

1/2 cup fresh button mushrooms

a bunch of asparagus, sliced at an angle

1 cup frozen green peas 

handful of fresh spinach/rockets

1 small bottle of pesto

1 avocado 

handful of lightly fried pinenuts

3/4 packet of spaghetti

1 cup of spaghetti water

pinch of salt

pepper

Method

  1. Add some salt to water in a pot and set to boil. Once bubbles have formed, add spaghetti in and boil till al-dente. Pour some spaghetti water into a cup for use later.   
  2. Add onions and fry till caramelised. Then add asparagus and mushrooms. Let the latter sweat.
  3. Add green peas and mix till cooked. Then, add pine nuts.
  4. Add pepper to taste and blend well. 
  5. Then empty pesto from the bottle into the mixture and then add spaghetti water into the mixture. Mix thoroughly. 
  6. Add in the spinach/rocket leaves and then the spaghetti. Mix well. 
  7. Add more pepper if needed. 
  8. Scoop avocado from its shell and mix them into the pasta. 
  9. Serve and enjoy.

The pesto pasta is creamy and delicious. If you are planning a healthy and satisfying meal, this is the one to consider. 

The green peas and onions add a tinge of sweetness to the pasta. This is truly a scrumptious creation. 

JOIN ME ON A JOURNEY TO LOWER MY CHOLESTEROL LEVEL

lower cholesterol level

lower cholesterol level

 

I’m on a journey to lower my cholesterol level. Flashback to January 2017…..I was shocked to discover I had high cholesterol when I went for my recent check up. My blood test showed my overall cholesterol level was 170, which is considered high. Weighing 58 kg at that time, I was far from overweight and my BMI was 22. So since weight is not an indicator of high cholesterol, I never would have thought I had high cholesterol level. At the clinic, I tried to reflect what I had consumed throughout the whole of the previous year so I could pint point on the food culprits that had spiked up my cholesterol level. Truth be told I relished high fat cheese – in sandwiches, baked dishes and on pizzas. I had my fair share of prawns – perhaps in excess. I was guilty of devouring juicy, tasty Quarter Pounder burgers at McDonald’s whenever I felt like treating myself on Friday afternoons to mark the end of a busy week. High fat in content, the meat is devilishly delicious but at the same time, it is filled with tons of salt that makes it all the more tempting. Pathetic way to end the week, I know, but could I help it when McDonald’s is just a stone’s throw away from the bus stop I was headed for? You’ve done well McDonald’s, at enticing the weak. Well, undeniably all of these added together could have raised my cholesterol level. 

What have I done to lower my cholesterol level? To date, I’ve tried to record what I eat on a daily basis. I’ve made it a point to exercise at least thrice a week on my treadmill for about 20 to 30 minutes to burn 100-150 calories each time I’m on the equipment. I’m more mindful of what I eat. This requires a lot of self-restraint, especially when I’m at the supermarket and am tempted to grab food items on specials that are not on my to-buy list. 

I’ve adopted the following strategies on my journey to lower my cholesterol level:

  1. Refrain from shellfish for a while 

For the moment I’m trying to abstain from shellfish for a few months. Temporary abstinence may be the necessary to adjust cholesterol levels, judging from the fact that shellfish may be the primary culprit. 

2.    Substitute high fat cheese with low fat ones

I used to consume high fat cheddar cheese on a daily basis. These include Coon and Bega slices as well as aged Mainland cheddar cheese blocks. These cheeses would also be included in my cooking especially in bakes and as pizza toppings. I now choose to have Kraft cheddar slices that contain low fat. They may not be as tasty as its high fat alternatives but hey, I feel less guilty in my attempts at lowering my cholesterol level. 

3. Cut down on snacks and fried food

I have not consumed potato chips and fried chicken for two months now. I’m mindful of not buying these either. As an alternative, I munch on nuts namely walnuts, almonds and pistachios that fill me up. I also indulge in dark chocolates once in a while as these are better substitutes for the sugary milk chocolates. I limit myself to a square each time. 

Mindful eating isn’t easy when there is a wide variety of food available at food courts, on streets and in the supermarkets. It all boils down to self-restraint and the desire to achieve a specific goal, in my case, to lower my cholesterol level. Currently, I am taking a nutritionist course which will hopefully help me in making informed food choices. I invite you to join my journey to lower my cholesterol level and lead a healthier lifestyle. I’m more than happy to hear from you if you are on a similar journey. Let’s embark on this together and make a head start to better health. 

SUKIN ROSE HIP OIL – A REVIEW

Sukin Rose Hip Oil
rose hip oil

Sukin Rose Hip Oil

Rose Hip Oil comes from the seeds of a specific variety of rose, Rosa aff. rubiginosa or Rosa moschate. These seeds come from the fruit left behind after a rose has flowered and dropped its petals. Harvested predominately in Chile, the seeds contain vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids that can correct dark spots, hydrate dry and reducing scars and fine lines.

The Rose Hip Oil I’d like to recommend is from the Sukin range. Since applying Sukin Rose Hip Oil on my face, my complexion has improved. It is noticeably more radiant and smoother. Some sun spots have given way to brighter skin.  The oil glides smoothly on my skin and stays till my first face wash in the morning.

I would recommend applying a handful of drops throughout the face in the evening before sleep. Also apply on the sides of your eyes to smoothen fine lines. Gently massage the oil throughout the face till it is absorbed. Don’t disregard the neck area. Containing Vitamin A which has small molecules, the oil is able to penetrate into deeper layers of the skin and improve skin moisture.

Benefits

Rich in fatty acids, Sukin Rose Hip Oil is preservative free. When absorbed into the skin, the fatty acids convert to prostaglandins (PGE), which are involved in cellular membrane and tissue regeneration. It is also rich in anti-oxidants which help prevent dryness. The beta-carotene in the oil restores suppleness and evens skin tone. Since it is a certified organic product, the following is not present:

  • Sodium lauryl sulphate
  • Sodium laureth sulphate
  • Parabens
  • Synthetic fragrances

Sukin Rose Hip Oil (25 ml) is sold at all leading pharmacies at AU$19.99.

NEW YEAR RESOLUTION: ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF JOURNALING

journal

journaling

The New Year has descended upon us again. We tend to desire a change for the better. Hence, we make new resolutions hoping to become slimmer, healthier, more beautiful, wealthier and more organised perhaps through journaling. Shops and news agencies stack organisers, planners and journals to target the planners, organisers and journal enthusiasts who are aware of the benefits of journaling. 

Typo has recently launched a 50% discount sale of selected items. These include weekly planners, journals and stationery. I purchased a handful of journals and weekly planner with the aim of being organised at work as well as continue with journaling which can be therapeutic and reflective.

On that note, I must mention a special journal containing prompts that I stumbled upon at Typo. Entitled ‘Do you ever ask yourself what if?’, each page contains a prompt starting with ‘What if….’. Interesting and creative, the prompts help the writer to reflect deeply and write about things that he or she has never thought of. Examples are ‘What if you could change your personality? What would you change?’, What if you could meet someone who inspires you? Who would it be?’, ‘”What if you could take over a company? What would it be and why?’. There are prompts that require deeper amount of thinking or even some amount of research work than others. On the whole, I feel that this journal is a keepsake and it comes in handy for those who have problems in thinking of what to write.  

Benefits of journal writing

  1. It is cathartic

Journal writing requires you to be in a clear frame of mind. It allows you to pour your thoughts and feelings which can be a healthy outlet for venting your anger, letting your emotions flow and penning your worries. In short, it is a personal therapy session.

  1. It activates your brain

Journaling makes you reflect on past events and consider your thoughts and feelings about it as well as about the people involved. It makes you delve deeper into your psyche and think about things which you may not have considered before.

  1. It helps in personal development  

By penning your thoughts and feelings, you get to understand yourself better. This comes to the fore when you flip through past entries and realise how far you have come or changed.

  1. It improves your writing

Daily journaling helps you improve your writing and the way you express yourself. You sharpen your writing skills and are more aware of word choices as you write.

 

When to write

The best times are in the morning before you start the day when your mind is still fresh and before you retire for the night. The latter is the time when you get to reflect of the days happenings and pen significant thoughts and events that have transpired during the day.

Where to write

Find a quiet place to journal so you can concentrate and organise your thoughts. Pen down what comes to your mind and let your thoughts flow on paper. Use that time frame and mental space to write, write, write.

You’ll be amazed with the ideas that you put down on paper and how much you have achieved or developed within a certain time frame. So if you are still contemplating whether you should start  journaling, do it Now or Never!

SPECIAL THAI PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE – IMPROVED VERSION

thai-pineapple-rice-1

Special Thai Pineapple Fried Rice - Improved Version

I posted a recipe entitled Special Thai Pineapple Fried Rice some time ago.This time I’d like to share the Special Thai Fried Rice – Improved version. Why the improved version? That’s because I’ve added a few ingredients and altered the cooking method to produce an even better tasting dish.

This dish was one of my favourites and I dare say, tastes better than the ones served in the restaurants I’ve dined in. If you’re entertaining, a fun way of serving is to load the rice up in half an empty pineapple. Your guests will appreciate the concept and enjoy the dish even more.

So, last night, I tried am improved version of the same dish, this time adding more Thai flavours to it. The result is phenomenal. The kaffir leaves added an extra kick and a delicate Thai flavour.

The additional ingredients are just kaffir lime leaves, 4-5 red chilies and kecup manis or sweet soy sauce.

So if you refer to this post showing the recipe, you need to blend the following instead of chopping and frying them in the wok:

6 cloves garlic

1 cm ginger,chopped

4-5 red chilies

2 tsp dried shrimp

4 kaffir lime leaves

Add a little water and blend to form a paste. 

After frying the sliced onions till transparent, add the above paste and fry for a a good 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients such as red capsicum, green peas and pineapple chunks. Then, add the rice and blend the ingredients and paste together with the rice. Now, add kecup manis or sweet soy to balance the heat from the red chilies. The rest remains the same. 

The flavour of the fried rice will transport you to Thailand. I got complements about this dish and am so pleased with my creation. The rice is moist in texture and the taste is a mixture of sweet, limey and spicy all rolled into one. 

Special Spanish Potato Omelette

Special Spanish Potato Omelette

Special Spanish Potato Omelette

If you have some potatoes in the pantry and are cracking your head about what to do about them aside from preparing the normal mash potatoes or wedges, try using it for your breakfast preparation. Hmm…what can it be, you may ask. Well, the dish I’d like to share is my Special Spanish Potato Omelette. It can be shared with 3 others and be enjoyed on toast. I gave this recipe a special twist and added some red chilies and Spanish onion for extra flavour. To make the omelette tastier, the diced potato should be lightly fried first and the onions caramelised. 

Ingredients

1 Spanish onion, diced

2 large potatoes, diced

2 large cayenne chilies, sliced

3 eggs, whisked

salt

pepper

oil

Special Spanish Potato Omelette

Method

  1.  Cook diced potatoes in the microwave for 7 minutes. Put some water in a bowl and cover it before cooking. (Check if the potatoes are cooked after 5 minutes and then increase cooking time to a few minutes more, depending on how much potatoes are used.)
  2.  Drain excess water from the bowl once the potatoes are cooked and set aside. 
  3.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a cooking pan under medium heat. 
  4. Add the potatoes and lightly fry them till brown. Set aside.
  5. Heat oil in a small pan. Fry onions and caramelised. 
  6. Add chilies and mix well. 
  7. Throw in the fried potatoes. 
  8. Crack eggs in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk.
  9. Add the whisked eggs to the ingredients in the pan. Swirl the pan to even out the egg. 
  10. Cook one side for two minutes. 
  11. Take a large plate and cover the pan. 
  12. Lift the pan and turn the plate over such that the omelette slides onto the plate. 
  13. Put the pan back over the heat and slide the omelette back onto the pan. 
  14. Cook the other side for another 2 minutes. 
  15. Remove the omelette and enjoy.

The omelette transferring process is tricky. The first time I used a big pan and found it hard to transfer to my big plate as it was a tad smaller than the pan. I used the fool proof method the second time: a small pan and a big plate. This worked out well. A thing to note is excess egg that does not cook off on the surface before transfer. The trick is to slightly tilt the pan to pour the excess egg into a small ramekin. Before you transfer the omelette back into the pan, pour the excess egg onto the pan to cook off. Then slowly slide the omelette over the cooked egg so that they stick together and gradually cook at the same time. The result is amazing and delicious at every bite.  

Special Spanish Potato Omelette

HOW TO MAKE CREAMY, NUTTY PESTO

creamy, nutty pesto

home made pesto

I’ve not craved for pesto in a long time but the sudden urge to make my own pesto was triggered by a humble sandwich I bought on Saturday. Yes! It’s funny how a sandwich can trigger such a yearning that propels me to create my own special creamy, nutty pesto. I wanted to recreate the pesto for the one that drove me to unleash my culinary talent tasted acidic and sweet. 

So off I went to my herb garden to gather some basil. Might as well put it to good use or else they will wither. Being adventurous I added some parsley and coriander to give the pesto an added hint of freshness. Cashews and pine nuts also came into play to add depth of flavour. The result is phenomenal! 

freshly gathered herbs

Ingredients

1 bunch of basil

handful of parsley

handful of coriander

1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano

1/4 cup roasted cashews

1/2 cup roasted pine nuts

1/2 juice of lemon

salt

olive oil

basil

Method

  1. Separate the basil leaves from the stalks and wash them.
  2. Do the same for the parsley and coriander.
  3. Roast pine nuts and cashews. Se aside.
  4. Blend basil leaves, parsley and coriander.
  5. Add some olive oil, lemon juice, cashews and pine nuts and blend them thoroughly till they form a creamy paste.
  6.  Add  shredded Parmigiano Reggiano. And continue to blend.
  7. Add salt to taste.
  8. Mix the paste to ensure that the ingredients blend well in between intervals.
  9. Spoon out the paste into a steralised bottle.
  10. Add olive oil on top to add moisture before closing the lid.

 

pesto in a bottle

 

I made the pesto in batches as my Nutribullet blender cup is small. I added half the basil, parsley and coriander, some Parmigiano Reggiano, some cashews and pine nuts and some live oil and blended till a paste is formed. Then, I added the remainder of the basil, along with what was left of the other herbs, Parmigiano Reggiano  nuts and repeated the process. Some olive oil will need to be added to this paste to add moisture. If the paste is too thick, I suggest adding a bit of water to facilitate the blending process. Finally, when the two batches of ingredients have been thoroughly mixed, add salt followed by lemon juice. Blend again till all ingredients form a well-mixed paste. Keep on tasting the paste after adding additional ingredients such as nuts and lemon juice till you’re satisfied with the flavour. Observe the consistency as well to discern whether you need to add extra water or olive oil. A substitute to water is vegetable stock.

There you have it! Your very own creamy, nutty pesto. Pesto is best used in pasta as well as sandwich spread. Add cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados  and rocket leaves to your sandwich and enjoy. Seriously, pesto adds flavour to a plain sandwich. So instead of butter, think of pesto.

So my verdict….a creamy, nutty home-made pesto you wont ever get anywhere on the supermarket shelves. The freshness of the basil, parsley and coriander leaves a refreshing taste on the palate and the nuts provide depth of flavour. The Parmigiano Reggiano adds cheesy sharpness to the pesto while the lemon juice adds some sexy tang to it.