Thursday, May 29, 2008

Some stuff I have been up to the past week...

I haven't posted in a while...a combination of being busy, lazy and a little under the weather has put me off the computer. I have been cooking and snapping pictures but just not posting them online. I'm a little tired now,  so I will let the pictures do the talking:

Easy vegetable soup made after a meeting ended pretty late at about 10 p.m. So, I just used a can of vegetable soup and added spinach (from the lasagna), baby corn and carrots to it for added nutrition. Toasted some bread with herbs and ate it for dinner.

This Western food idea came about because I bought an avocado for the 1st time in my life and it was seating in the fridge for about a week. Fearing that it would rot, I decided to make guacamole out of it. By the way, neither have I eaten an avocado or guacamole before. However, after peeling the skin, I realised that the avocado was very unripe. Not at all soft. So, without much choice I went ahead and did the guacamole and decided to use it as a salad and make some western food. I used 'mock chicken nuggets' and toasted some bread and made some vegetable side dish. The guacamole was quite tasty but I didn't like the avocado taste.. a little eggy (maybe because it was unripe). The 'nuggets' were disgusting.. tasted a lot like MSG and the bread and vege were nice. Except for mock mutton nothing else seems to come close to the real thing!
Something else that I cooked over the week, was a vegetable kuay teow. I decided to keep it pale by only using light soy sauce. Quite tasty.

For an added vitamin C boost, I made a kiwi-orange juice. Pretty delicious.

And a couple of days ago, I made a meal of rice and vegetables. Here's a close up of the dishes:

Tumeric Okra (Ladies Finger)

Marinated Tofu with Snow Peas and Carrots

Potato Curry (Lack of inspiration)

Recipe for Marinated Tofu with Vegetables (for Melissa) (original recipe adapted from here

This recipe is an estimation, please adjust it according to taste. any vegetables can be used.

2 pieces of firm tofu (or more)
Enough dark soya sauce  to marinade the tofu
1 tablespoon of vegetarian oyster sauce (or to taste)
2 stalks of celery
10 snowpeas, vines removed
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 a thumb size of ginger, minced
1 stalk of spring onion, chopped
Some oil
Pepper to taste


1) Cube the tofu into preferred size. Marinade it in dark soya sauce + water for an hour or more. Turning it around occasionally to ensure even marination. 
2) In a wok, heat some oil and lightly fry the tofu until a crust is formed. Remove and let it sit on some kitchen towels. (This is optional. If you prefer a lower fat version, do not fry it.) Note: Frying marinated tofu can be annoying because it tends to stick.
3) Remove excess oil and in the same wok, saute onions until soft. Add chopped garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant.
4) Add vegetables, pepper, soya sauce and oyster sauce to taste (I used the left over marinated soy sauce. But if you prefer something lighter coloured, use light soy sauce) 
5) Once the vegetables have cooked to your liking, add the tofu and stir fry it for a minute.
6) Stir in some spring onions and use the rest as a garnish (Try not to leave this out, it adds a nice flavour to it)
7) Eat!

Friday, May 23, 2008

My first Vegetarian Lasagna and.... another noodle dish

I have always loved lasagna even though I have never eaten any at a restaurant. I've always made my own since my uni days and I guess my hubby is the main culprit for it. Since he does not take beef, finding non-beef lasagna was extremely difficult. So I used to make it for him using minced mutton. But what a chore it was, I made the whole thing from scratch - from the sauce to browning the meat. And added to that, the cost of doing lasagna was so expensive ( it is still cheaper than buying it out, but at about $20-$25 for a pan when we can just make noodles or rice, that's expensive) So, I rarely made it, the last being a good five to six years ago or so. 

However, I had some yummy spinach seating at home and I know that a delicious vegetarian lasagna can be made from it. I also had some tomato puree seating around, from doing the vegetarian pizza, so I decided that it would be a good opportunity to use it up. So, I conjured up some sauce with carrots, mushrooms and bell peppers. I wanted to use the spinach... but I realised I had one last yellowing broccoli left. So, I sliced it up nicely and added to the sauce. After some assembling, I finally baked the lasagna and (shamefully) hubby and I demolished the whole pan between us! It was good, but I think there is still room for improvement...

So with the left over spinach, I decided to make noodles with it. I used a ginger and garlic base to make the noodles and all the while I kept thinking of chicken rice. The ginger added such a wonderful flavour to the noodles and reminded me of the fragrant chicken rice which is made with ginger. When I was a non-vegetarian, that one of my fav dishes, so now I have to find a way to recreate it!

Recipe for Vegetarian Lasagna (See notes)

1 bottle of spaghetti sauce 
1 carrot diced
1 can of mushrooms, sliced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 onion, diced
2-3 garlic, chopped
1 small head of broccoli, sliced
some dried oregano to taste
some dried basil to taste
some salt to taste
some pepper to taste
some olive oil
1/4 tsp of brown sugar (optional)
Enough Mozzarella cheese to top surface and for layers (about 150g)
Instant lasagna sheets (1 box)


1) In a pot saute diced onions in olive oil. Once brown, add the garlic and brown. Add tomatoes and cook until reduced to puree.
2) Add the vegetables (except broccoli) and saute for a couple of minutes until cooked and soft. Add the spaghetti sauce into the pan. Dilute with a little water if you are using instant sheets. If not don't add water. 
3) Add the broccoli last and add seasoning to taste. You might not have to use much depending on the flavouring already present in the sauce. 
4) Add a layer of sauce on 9'' by 11'' baking dish. Top it with the instant sheets. Top with another layer of sauce and add some mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of instant sheets. Continue until the sheets are used up.
5) Pour remaining sauce on top and layer generously with Mozzarella cheese. 
6) Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake at about 190 degree Celsius for 1/2 hour and remove aluminum foil and bake for another 20 to 30 mins. 

1) This is my 1st attempt at vegetarian lasagna. It was okie but is not the best. Please use this as a base recipe and modify from here.
2) I  also added mashed firm tofu to mimick egg but I found that it did not taste as well. If you can consume eggs, I suggest adding a mixture of ricotta cheese and egg as as added layer.
3) I used tomato puree instead of spaghetti sauce because that's what I had at home. However, tomato puree has a slightly bitter aftertaste that needs a lot of flavoring to mask it and also needs to seat for about 1/2 hr after cooking to absorb the flavors. So go with the spaghetti sauce. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Another Rice Meal for Lunch

I loved the steamed kailan I had yesterday and I wanted to eat it again. The best way to eat it would be with some rice, so I decided to make some rice with it. To kill two birds in one stone, I made some tofu sambal with lots of gravy so that dinner can be something simple like prata or bread with sambal. I also experimented with some enoki mushrooms that I had at home, stir frying them with some curry leaves and tumeric. Turned out quite nice except that it ended up a little watery. I should have used some corn flour to thicken it. 

Asparagus with baby corn

Curried Enoki with silken tofu

Steamed Kailan with Garlic-Oyster Sauce

Tofu-Potato Sambal


Vegetarian Hokkien Mee

Yesterday's lunch. A mixture of bee hoon and yellow noodles. Very yummy with crispy broccoli and carrots! Dinner was a simple dish of steamed kailan with an instant Thai basil and garlic paste with a drop of oyster sauce. 

Monday, May 19, 2008

Our meal on Saturday....

Lunch was fried kuay Teow... I washed the kuay teow before putting it into the wok so it ended up clumping together. Tasted good but a little mushed up because of the lack of oil. But, I wouldn't want it any other way. This is why I suppose when I order kuay teow outside, it comes soaked in oil! 

I really enjoyed dinner though. I just love rice with plenty of side dishes. It is just so fantastic to eat. This is what I cooked:

Black Pepper Broccoli and Carrot Stir-Fry (Made the mistake of using dark instead of light soy sauce)

French Beans and Tomato Stir-Fry

Fried Tempeh (unfortunately a little burnt)

Soy Sauce Mock Mutton (very tasty and tangy)

Recipe for Soy Sauce Mock Mutton (based on estimation)

About 200g mock mutton
1 onion, chopped
2-3 garlics, peeled and chopped
1 lemongrass, chopped
4-5 dried chilli cut into smaller pieces
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 star anise
2-3 cardamon
1 tsp of chilli powder (or more for spiciness)
2-3 tbsp of tomato puree
2-3 tbsp dark soy sauce (to taste)
1 cup of water or more (depending on how much gravy is required)
Some oil for saute

1. Heat the oil and fry the cinnamon stick, cardomon, star anise, lemongrass, dried chiili and onion. Once the onions are softened and golden, add the garlic.
2. Make the chilli powder into a paste by adding some water. Add to the pan and cook for about 2-3 mins. 
3. Add the tomato puree, water and the dark soy sauce. 
4. Add the mock mutton and cook until flavours are well absorbed and the 'meat' is done. 

1. If more water is added, adjust by adding more tomato puree and soy sauce. (The dish should be tangy with a faint cinnamon smell) 
2. If more spiciness is required, increase the amount of chilli powder.
3. I suppose fresh tomatoes can be substituted for tomato puree.

Friday's Gluttony and Redemption

One of the things that I strive to achieve is to cook something different everyday. I don't want a vegetarian diet to limit us and to ensure that we don't get bored, I think it is important to add variety to our food. So on Friday, I decided to make pizza. I love pizza partly because I enjoy Italian food and also because I think pizzas are just assembly whatever ingredients you have and there is so little preparation to it. Of course, I'm a purist in the sense that I make my own pizza crust and there is such a joy in the aroma of the baking bread. I've been using this recipe for years and love it. To make the pizza more nutritious, I fried some tempeh and added as one of the topping. Lovely! I also make the pizza sauce simple by using some tomato puree and add some herbs to it (mainly basil, oregano and pepper)

So, after eating up the whole tray of pizza, which hubby thought was enough for lunch and dinner, I was quite regretful for my actions. Also, I was so stuffed that I was not even hungry at night. So, I decided to make a fruit salad for dinner and it was really healthy. Just cut some fruits and eat. Of course, for fancier taste, I suppose some dressing can be included but I always just like to eat fruits as they are. I had a kiwi, plum, orange, apple and grapes. Super yummy and nutritious!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Noodles and More noodles...

Just our meal two days ago... 

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cheater Sesame Rice and other stories....

After last night's meal, I needed to avenge it with some real proper yummy food... So, I decided to make some rice and side dishes... Horror of horrors! I realised I only had about half a cup of rice left... How is it going to feed me and hubby.. both hungry eaters... add to that, I'm out of potatoes too! So, I decided to increase calorie count by adding some toasted sesame seeds and diced cashew nuts (that were seating in the freezer... left over from my baking) to it. Initially, I was thinking of cooking the rice and then stir frying it in some sesame oil and toss it with some of the seeds and nuts.. but I was running behind time and out of sheer convenience.. I just toasted all the seeds and nuts and dumped it into the hot cooked rice and mixed it all up... It turned out pretty good with a nice texture and bursts of sesame when you munch it!

I did a quick vegetable stir fry of cabbage and carrots in oyster and light soy sauce. It was simple and tasty. No complaints with that. I also made sure that I didn't overcook the vegetables. I like the crunchiness of the carrots. I also kinda accidentally added some silken tofu to it. I was not meaning to but I had half a box of silken tofu left after yesterday's lunch and I didn't want it to hang around and rot in the fridge. So, I dumped it in and was kicking myself mentally for doing that... when I realised it turned out like egg... pretty cool! The texture is like scrambled eggs and works with the dish!

The highlight would definitely be the mock mutton curry which hubby was very delighted with! I was deciding between black pepper mutton and mutton curry and hubby requested for the latter. So, I was halfway through making it when I realised I didn't have milk at home to help thicken the dish. Traditionally coconut milk is used.. but my mum uses evaporated milk. Since I had neither.... I was thinking how to salvage the situation when I remembered how my mum sometimes adds ground nuts (like almond, candlenuts or cashew nuts) to help thicken the curry! Great.. I quickly ground some cashew nuts with water and added to the dish.. instant success! It became thick and rich.. yum! (Edited - After popular request, I've decided to add the recipe.. but it is all based on estimation)

Recipe for Mock Mutton Curry

About 300g mock mutton 
About one or two potatoes (cut into desired size)
two tomatoes (diced - or you can use about 2 tbsp of tomato puree)
1 onion (sliced)
2 chillies (sliced)
2 tsp of garlic paste
2 tsp of ginger paste
a stick of cinnamon 
2 star anise 
1 tsp of cumin
2 tbsp of meat curry powder (I use baba's)
2 tsp to 1 tbsp chilli powder (I also use baba's)
1/4 tsp of  tumeric powder (optional)
3 to 4 tbsp of milk (coconut milk/ground cashewnuts/almonds/candlenuts can be substituted)
2 cups or more water depending on how much gravy you want
Salt to taste
Some oil for sautéing 


1. Saute the cinnamon, stir anise and cumin in the oil. Once fragrant, add onion and chilli. Saute until golden and soft. Add the garlic and ginger paste.
2. In a bowl, mix the powders with a little water to make a paste.
3. Add the tomatoes and spice paste into the pan and continue to cook it until the tomatoes have disintegrated and the paste is cooked.
4. Add the potatoes and water and cook until the potatoes are nearly done.
5. Add the mock meat and cook until done.
6. Adjust with salt and add the milk to decide on the level of richness you want.

I think vegetarian cooking is so wonderful and quick and the clean up is so much more faster than traditional cooking! Of course, most of the time, the ingredients are much much cheaper too!

Mock me... I finally cooked mock meat!

Yipes... Like the title says... I have given in to mock meat to make the transition more palatable.... Well... last night we had our RC meeting and it finished super late... at 10.30 p.m. I had to come back and start dinner after that... so we decided on a pizza prata.. I used to make a non-vegetarian version of it with hotdog and roll it up in an instant prata and you bake it.. it comes out really crispy like hotdog croissant... I took out my first and only can of mock chicken.. and chopped it up and added some canned mushrooms to the prata and baked it... It was alrite... nothing outstanding, partly because I dislike the artery clogging prata and I also didn't like the fact that there was not much vegetables on it.. I wished I had some bell peppers to go with it.  I suppose we all have one of those instant nights... If anyone wants to use it for a quick fix.. this is the recipe.

Easy Peasy Pizza Prata

Some mock meat (I used a can of mock chicken.. but i think ham would be great)
One tomato sliced
One can of mushroom - sliced
Some tomato puree/paste (I didn't have it... so I used chilli sauce)
Some oregano and pepper to taste
Some bell peppers diced (didn't have this)
Any other vegetables - like olive, marinated tofu etc
Cheese - Mozzarella or anything you like
Some frozen instant pratas (I used six.. three for me and three for hubby)


1) Preheat the oven to about 220 degree Celsius. Bake prata in the oven until it is fluffy but not cooked completely (about 10 mins). 
2) In the meantime, chop up all the vegetables and mix the oregano and pepper with the tomato puree
3) Once, the prata has fluffed up, remove from oven and spread a layer of the tomato puree mixture on it. Top with desired vegetables and mock meat and sprinkle some cheese over it. 
4) Return to oven and continue to bake until the cheese has melted and the vegetables have started to wilt. (about another 10 to 15 mins)
5) In the meantime, take out your skipping rope and skip 300 times, pop in for a quick shower and enjoy the food!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Finally... Cooking for Two....

Even though hubby and I have decided to become vegetarian, we still ate a lot at my mum's place for the sheer convenience of it... Of course, being an omni it was not easy for her to cater to us and there were times when we had to cook simply at home with whatever scraps of vegetable I had. 
Finally, last Saturday, we went to Giant and I loaded up on lots and lots of vegetables so that I can cook at home without worrying about not having enough ingredients. It helped that Mum and Dad left for holidays yesterday and will only be back in another 5 weeks time.
So yesterday, hubby and I had to go down to shenton way area and we had lunch in Komalas... We finally ate a vege burger, and we were quite happy after that...having satisfied our burger craving. 
For dinner, I decided to make Cashew Rice with potatoes and a marinated tofu stir fry. It was really delicious and both of us polished off the food! I used pre-washed baby potatoes for the Cashew Rice and did not peel the skin. We got to have extra fibre and it still tasted delicious. To increase the calorie content I also used some frozen mixed vegetables. Ever since we turned vegetarian, we have been getting hungry really really fast, so I'm now toying with calorie-dense food - like nuts, potatoes, to help us out a little.
 The marinated tofu with vegetables was also exceptionally good. I got the recipe from here. I made some modifications based on what I had at home but I did marinate the tofu for over an hour in dark soy sauce and them I lightly fried it in oil. (Not particularly easy to do because the soy sauce will caramelise). I also substituted the vegetables for carrots, green leafy vege and cabbage. I topped it off with spring onions which I think added a real nice taste and kick to it! Yum....
Today for lunch I decided to make some soupy noodles since we have not had anything soupy for some time. I made a vegetable noodle soup. There's no name for it... Just a bunch of vegetables and some silken tofu in noodles. One thing I am proud of was the number of vegetables that went into this dish - I used tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, green leafy vege, enoki mushrooms, onions and tofu. 
Again to increase the calorie count, I made some mashed potato patties with some frozen mixed vegetables, pepper and cumin. I also did not remove the skin because I was using pre-washed baby potatoes, (it will be a pain to remove the skin) but it tasted great! Hubby polished everything off... I managed to get two pieces before it vanished. 

Of course, one of the thing that I am worried about is that right now, I'm mostly doing tutoring and have a lot of time at home... but once I start working full time again, I wonder if I will have the time to produce my own food... I've never been a fan of eating out and sadly a lot of vege food uses mock meat and oily vegetables.. which I think is abuse to the body... Well, only time will tell how things play out! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pretty Vegan Cuppies... and more noodles...

I finally made vanilla cupcakes with real vanilla beans... and errmm... I don't get what the excitement is all about actually.... for one... I don't quite like the real vanilla bean smell.. it smells kinda intoxicating and gives me a headache! And in terms of the flavour in the cake... I couldn't smell it at all! So, I really don't know if I'm doing it all wrong or what the hoohaa is all about... The ones above were frosted with non-diary whipping cream... not vegan at all... (I have the recipe for vegan buttercream but have been procrastinating.. in case it fails)
So finally today, I decided to bake a batch of choc cupcakes and do some cookies n cream frosting... The texture of the frosting is good but I found it a little sweet for my liking... G thinks it me... but I think the flavour should stand out more than the sweetness... hrmm.. needs a little tweaking... I also feel that my piping skills need a lot of work to reach the more commercial standards... now... it looks rather amateurish. However, the real icing on the cake for me was when I gave some of these cuppies to my tuition kid. His mum was puzzled and wondered why I bought them some cupcakes.. I told her I made them myself and she was very surprised because she said they looked really nice! Yeah!

Lately, my posts have been quite vegan oriented.... G and I are now moving towards vegetarianism. I think for me it is really for ethical reasons... I don't want to support industries that farm animals in poor and abusive conditions just so that we can consume them. I also feel that I have little control over what goes into my meat, i.e., all the hormones, antibodies and crap that they feed animals... So, we are going vege-friendly.... So, I made some vegetarian beehon last night.... very yummy and super easy... no more pesky waiting for meat to cook... heck... if these dishes are undercooked.. you get more nutrition!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A productive week... if I can say so myself...

The last I blogged was about FHA, and I'm still reeling in happiness every time I look at the pictures... 

This week was spent trying to perfect the chocolate cupcakes and after awhile... they all started to taste the same... so i decided to embark on some vanilla cupcakes instead... I manage to try two different recipes... the second one was definitely much better so I guess that will be tweaked a little...  Of course, the only problem I have with the vanilla cupcakes is that I'm currently using disgusting vanilla essence. I should be using vanilla extract but it contains alcohol which I can't consume... So, I'm planning to buy some priced vanilla beans to try 'em again tomorrow. 

To take a break from all the cuppie making, I decided to make bread... However, I did not have
bread flour, so had to really on all purpose flour... the first bread I made, the orange bread turned out quite good... albeit a little moist... of cos it was completely my fault because I did not follow the recipe exactly... Hubby grumbled cos' he dislikes orange flavoured anything... but he manage to demolish half the bread in one seating... I had to stop him in time to take some pics before it was gone!

Today, i made some vegan cinnamon buns... This turned out very nice... even though to me it did not have the same kind of richness as normal cinnamon buns.. i think one reason could be that i did not glaze the buns... and also it did not have the buttery taste that 'normal' sticky buns have. But, I'm still proud of it!
On another high note, our chilli plants which had been blooming fruitlessly were spotted today with two tiny chillies. The chilli plants had been flowering beautifully for some time now but did not produce any fruits. This had let to hubby grumbling about how useless the plants have been.. Well, finally, today he spotted two small greeny bits on the plants and we excited enough to snap a couple of pics! You can see how cute they are. I can't wait for them to grow out... Fresh chilli has a very yummy smell and taste. :)