Monthly Archives: March 2011

Hello fellow bloggers

A BIG FAT shout out to all you wonderful bloggers out there who left such sweet comments to my last post! Thank you so much for your uplifting and encouraging words. Each and every single one of them made me smile so much, by the end of the day I had a permanent ache in my cheeks!

Oh, and a BIG high-five to all of you other burpers out there! Glad I’m not the only one. Sure it may not be great social etiquette, but if I’m gonna be gassy, I’d rather it be out my mouth than out my ass, if you know what I mean. And for the others who just absolutely cannot burp, I am sorry. My condolences. I know how much you want to burp. But we can’t have it all.

I think it’s really becoming a habit. I always have a “Mix-it-up” bowl one day, then a soufflé-omelet the other. They are two very different dishes: the “Mix-it-up” bowl is fast and simple, while the soufflé-omelet is a tad bit more labor-intensive. But both are so incredibly good and perfect for using up leftovers, so I can’t help gravitating towards these two same basic concepts for my lunches.

Thus, following my Miso Pilaf the day before, of course I had to have another variation of my soufflé-omelet the next day. I had several things in the fridge I needed to clear up: cheddar cheese, beans, roasted winter squash, mango, pineapple, tomato. I decided to combine them all together to make some kind of Tropical/Mexican filling for the omelet. These are the ingredients that went into it:

Trop-Mex Filling

1 clove garlic
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1/2 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup green bell peppers, chopped
1/3 cup black beans
1/3 cup roasted winter squash, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
few spoonfuls of tomato sauce
some chopped mango
some chopped pineapple
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
spritz of juice from 1/2 small lime

First I sautéed the garlic and onion until fragrant and soft, then tossed in the tomato and bell peppers. As the tomato started to release its juices, I threw in the beans, winter squash, and cumin and stir-fried them for awhile. I dribbled in some tomato sauce as the mixture started looking kinda dry. Then I transferred the mixture into a bowl and stirred in the mango and pineapple and cilantro. Lastly, a squeeze of lime juice and ta-da~!

Lovely Trop-Mex filling, all ready to be stuffed into an omelet! The winter squash lost its shape in the heat and became some sort of paste that bound all the items together, which worked out perfect for me. I think this would also be really great as a dip.

I made the soufflé-omelet as usual, plopped in the filling, and added about 1/4 cup cheddar cheese. Mmm! What is an omelet without cheese? I can’t believe I used to only purchase fat-free processed cheese! *Shudder*

I think I have finally perfected the art of making a soufflé-omelet. The secret is to cook this over a really low temperature, covered so the bottom does not burn before the top can set. A broiler would work just as well, but I don’t have one, nor do I have an oven-proof skillet.

This was an awesome combination of flavors. I loved the sweet bursts of juices from the mango and pineapple with the smokiness of the cumin-flavored beans and winter squash. The cilantro and lime juice added the last final touch to really make all the flavors pop.

You want a hunk of that, don’t ya?

Come on, what’s stopping you? Grab a fork!

This was incredibly tasty, but I have to admit it paled in comparison to what I had for lunch today! As you know I eat out with family every Saturday, but this time an amusing little sister decided to join our weekly lunch date…Her treat! I remembered what she once told me: “I have quite a lot of money, but I don’t know where to use it! I live with my parents so I don’t have to pay for rent, living expenses, or groceries, so I’ve got quite a lot saved up! I feel kind of guilty having so much money though…” Well, never fear! I took it as my deed of charity of the day to help her spend some of that money 😉

We went to this place specializing in crepes called Out of the Pan. It was sort of an outdoor-indoor cafe, meaning the restaurant was right smack in open space in the middle of the shopping mall with no walls. Here’s a snapshot of how it looks like:

There’s a fountain next to it that sends refreshing bursts of water shooting up. The kitchen is also open for everyone to watch the cooks prepare their meals. Very cool.

My mouth started watering as I perused the menu:

There were so many tasty choices, my head was spinning! After lots of deep, serious consideration, I finally decided to order the Norwegian Salmon, which is described as: “Smoked Salmon with creamy pistachio cheese & Plantation chutney.” I ordered it wrapped in a whole wheat crepe, and it came out like this:

She ordered the Peking Duck wrapped in sun-dried tomato crepe:

“Roasted Duck with sambal olek, lychees, and sweet dark sauce.”

She ordered the Beef and Bell Peppers, also wrapped with sun-dried tomato crepe:

I’m not sure exactly what went in this, but it was basically marinated and roasted beef and bell peppers, with some kind of yogurt sauce.

She ordered Korean Pulled Pork BBQ in sun-dried tomato crepe:

”Pulled pork grilled in spicy Korean BBQ marinade and kimchi.”

I can’t believe this is the first time I tried crepes. They were so freaking delicious, I had to control myself from moaning with each bite. We all shared our dishes, but I still thought mine was the best. I love cheese, I love salmon, and I love pistachios, so what was there not to love about this?

The smoked salmon tasted fresh, and it was perfect with the creamy, slightly sweet yet tangy pistachio cheese.

We also ordered a side dish of potato salad, but I was too absorbed with my main dish:

I was stuffed after finishing this whole plate, but in a good, satisfying way. I love crepes in that they are so refreshing and light, yet so comfortably filling.

I wonder if I can find any good creperies in America? I’m sure there are many, I just have never heard of one yet. Any recommendations? Damn, if I just had the money, I would frequent this place so often I’d be chummies with all the staff here. But then, I probably can recreate this dish at home pretty easily. Hmmm…..

Q & A time again!

I’m sad, people! I only received one question this time…*Tear. But that’s okay, because I’m gonna make this into a weekly thing, so you can ask questions anytime! Here’s the solo reader-question of the day:

“When/why did you start doing mix it up bowls? How did you come up with the idea? Do you remember your first bowl? If so, what was it?”

My answer:

Great question, Lexi! I’m so glad you asked.

Like most of my other creations, I first thought up of “Mix-it-up” bowls starting from an ingredient I wanted to try: pearled barley. As most of you know I’m trying to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself with new ingredients, especially grains, which I have always avoided because of my fear of carbs.

Anyway, I used it as an interesting substitute for pasta in my Barley alla Carbonara, and after that I had tons of leftover barley! I had no idea how to use pearled barley in a dish, having never had tried it before except in soups. But I thought it was sort of like a plumped-up, chewier version of rice, so I began thinking of how I might use rice in my cooking. The result was my first ever “Mix-it-up” bowl, Beans-and-squash Barley Pilaf with Coconut.

It was so fast and easy and delicious, and I could see this as a solution to using up leftovers, perfect for one-person meals, and also great for busy cooks! I wanted to share this with others in a way so that they did not need to refer to a rigid recipe and can adjust it to their own personal taste, so I broke it down into simple components, making it open for all sorts of creative variations!

Of course, I became my own biggest fan and have been coming up with many different versions of this dish. I actually wrote out a whole list of ideas I want to try, and am ticking each one of as I go! So far, I have not had any disappointments. They were all fabulous in their own way!

I did make a few personal changes to my basic “Mix-it-up” bowl recipe, though. I liked the combination of barley, beans, and winter squash so much that they became my base component instead of just barley. But the sky’s the limit here, so you can use any of your favorite grain.

Enough with self-advertising. I would be so happy if you guys tried it out for yourself, and share your creation with me! I am always open to new ideas and suggestions. If I make it to 50 different variations of this “Mix-it-up” bowl, I’m gonna have to call for a celebration, so please help me make it happen!

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And now, my dear blogger-friends, I’m gonna leave you with this totally unrelated question of the day: What is your favorite TV show (excluding reality TV)?

Mine is: Gilmore Girls, woo-hoo!! Gotta love those mother-daugther fast and witty glibs and banters. But Gossip Girl, Ugly Betty, Lost, Heroes, and Grey’s Anatomy come a close second.

It’s the weekends, guys! Have a great relaxing, delicious weekend! And thanks once again for you lovely comments! You guys ROCK my SOCKS!

The Philosophy of Burbing

What’s with all this “burping” mania? Why burp? How disgusting/funny/interesting/cool!

There is actually a very valid reason why I choose to use the word “burp.” As embarrassing as this is to confess, I am a huge burper. There. I’ve said it out loud. I burp louder and longer than any big, fat, beer-guzzling, ESPN-watching couch potato out there. I am known far and wide for my burping skills. In fact, when I left Singapore for America, my friends compiled a nice little farewell album for me, in which they all left a sweet message, and every single one of those messages included the sentence, “I will miss your burps!”

Yeah. Not my intelligence, my wittiness, or my absolute fabulosity, but my burps. I’m not exactly thrilled to be identified by my burps, but I’ve come to embrace it.

That said, I don’t burp out of my own will. Why would I ever want to be stuck with an image of social inappropriateness? They just slip out on their own. I blame my genes. Everyone on my dad’s side are burping champions. Seriously. My grandpa’s burping skills put my own to shame.

I remember the one time when I was about 12 and I was visiting Korea, and I was staying at my grandparents’ house. Before I go on, I’ll let you know that I have never been very close to my grandparents, as we lived half the continent away and could only visit once every two years at the most.

One morning, My grandma cooked a big pot of Korean miso soup for breakfast. That put a scowl in my face, because I hated miso soup. Actually, I hated any Asian food, but miso soup was just one of my least favorites, especially the stinky Korean kind. So I sat there picking at my rice and barely touching my bowl of miso soup.

But meanwhile, my grandpa was guzzling it down like it was a bowl of golden nectar from the gods. He slurped up each spoonful noisily, going “AHHH!” and “Mmmm!!” with every mouthful. The sight of him enjoying this simple bowl of miso soup so much made me suddenly crave for the same experience. What the hell is so great about miso? All of a sudden, I, too, wanted to enjoy my miso soup, so I decided to give it another chance.

I picked up my spoon and gave it a cautious taste. And you know what? It tasted magnificent. I don’t know if it was because of my grandpa’s influence or my grandma’s amazing cooking, but I finished every last drop of that miso soup, albeit with less moans of ecstasy than my grandpa.

And at the end of it, we both burped out loud in unison. My grandma shook her head in disgust, muttering, “Like grandfather, like granddaughter.” But my grandpa and I shared a secret smile, and at that moment I suddenly felt myself sharing a close kinship and bond with him.

Here’s the sad part of the story, though. My grandpa just passed away last year due to stomach cancer. Because at that time I was still severely underweight, I was unable to attend his funeral. I regret it so much and it weighs heavy in my heart that he died without seeing me fully recovered. Up until his very last breath, he worried for my health even while he himself was at his own death bed.

But I take comfort in the thought that he is now up there in heaven, rooting me on as I fight my way through recovery. Grandpa, this lunch today is in memory of you:

Miso Pilaf

The base: 1 cup cooked pearl barley

The mix-ins: 1/4 cup black beans, 1/2 cup chopped roasted winter squash, sliced crabmeat (imitation)

The dressing: miso paste mixed with water

The toppings: sprinkle of furikake (dehydrated seaweed and fish and sesame seeds) and a sunny-side egg

This is just another variation of my “Mix-it-up” bowl again, starting out by sautéing onions and garlic first, then dumping in the base and mix-ins, then the dressing, and finally ladling the mixture into a bowl with the toppings.

I have to say, no miso was ever as good as that bowl I had with my grandpa. I soon returned back to avoiding miso soups, but no longer harbored the same distaste I had for it before then.

This bowl of miso pilaf was warm, comforting, and satisfying. I kept the water to the bare minimum so that the broth was thicker and more gravy-like than normal liquidy miso soup.

It was simple, much less fancy than my other “Mix-it-up” bowl creations, but still very, very good. Highly recommended for any cold nights, or if in need of some major comforting.

Some awesome news today!

1. A friend tried out my “Mix-it-up” bowl! Hers was a Greek-Italian fusion, and these were her mix-ins: 1 cup cooked barley, splash of EVOO, 1/4 cup feta, Sicilian lentil pasta sauce, and kalamata olives. Gosh, that sounds so yummy! This is Kiki’s response to her “Mix-it-up” bowl creation: “Not attractive, but yumskies.” I beg to differ, Kiki, but yours looked amazing! Check out her blog for the delicious-looking picture!

2. And now, a huge standing ovation is in order for

JIAYING of Brownbread girl! She managed to identify

every single fruit in my header-banner! The correct answer was: kiwi, pear, dragonfruit, orange, and grapefruit! I’m pretty impressed, I must say! Great job, Jiaying!

3. I really liked the Q&A section last time, so I’m opening up to any more questions today! I might even make that every Thursday’s question of the day.

So, before you leave, guys, remember to ask me any questions you want! I promise to answer them!

Buai buai, and until next time!

P.S. Carrots and Cake is having a PURE BAR GIVEAWAY! I’ve always been a great fan of her blog, but now she’s given me all the more reason to love it even more! Go check out her blog for details!