starting over


Zucchini Fritters

After making the zucchini muffins, I still had a bunch of shredded up zucchini left over. And since it was close to dinner time, I immediately turned them into fritters. Toddler still didn’t like them. Guess she’s not a zuke fan. Sigh.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions (green and white parts)

What to do:

  1. Salt the shredded zuchhini in a colander and let sit for 10 minutes to drain out as much liquid as you can. After 10 minutes, squeeze the zucchini shreds to help press out excess liquid. I also balled it all and rolled it into some paper towels to really dry them out.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the drained zucchini, flour, egg, scallions, and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. It will end up having the consistency of a gummy paste.
  3. In a large pan, add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and turn on to high heat. Once the oil is ready (I use the chopstick test), drop batter in by the tablespoon and flatten out. I fit 3 in at a time. Cook on one side for 3 minutes, and then flip to cook the other side for another 3. Remove once it has the nice crispy look you’re going for.


  • The chopstick test: to see if your oil is hot enough, take a wooden chopstick and dip the tip into the oil. If it starts bubbling around the chopstick, the oil is ready

Zucchini Bread Muffins

Baked this today after finding some zucchinis in my fridge that were looking a little lonely! Was hoping that it would be a good way for the little one to get some extra veggies, but she just ate the top and then picked out the chocolate chips. Toddlers. Note that this isn’t the healthiest of recipes – I would probably swap half the oil for apple sauce the next time I make these.

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini (about one medium sized zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line or grease your muffin tins
  2. Sift together dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla extract.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ones until you have a wet batter
  5. Add in the grated zucchinis and chocolate chips and stir until encorporated
  6. Fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way.

This recipe should yield 24 muffins. You could also put them into loaf pans to bake two medium loaves.

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

I’ve been on a baking craze lately, looking for healthy-ish options that I can feed my little while also using up some of the food that’s ready to eat. This is an easy recipe I found that helps us use up some of our ripe bananas (because goodness knows I don’t want to be this person). The end texture is chewy but still delicious, and my 2 year old really liked them, so it’s a win in my books!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 3/4 cups quick oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line up a cookie tray.
  2. Mash up the bananas.
  3. Mix in the oats and stir.
  4. Mix in the chocolate chips and vanilla extract and stir.
  5. Drop them by the tablespoon onto a prepared cookie tray. You can shape them into cookies with the spoon since they don’t spread at all.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes.

This makes about 16 cookies.sns

Kidney Bean Soup

I made this soup today with some white and red kidney beans I found in the pantry. It’s extremely hearty, so it’ll take a while to finish it I think, but it goes great with the guacamole we have in our freezer!

What you need:

  • 1 lb (2 cups) dried kidney beans or 3 14-oz cans
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (optional)
  • 1 14-oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oreganob
  • 4 cups liquid (water, or stock)
  • Salt and pepper

What to do:
If you’re using dried beans, soak them overnight in water (3 cups of water for each cup of dried beans). Rinse the beans out before use until the water runs pretty clear. Boil the beans for about one and a half hours in a medium-sized pot with enough water to cover the beans by about 1.5″. When they’re tender, you can turn down the fire and drain out the beans again. You don’t need to keep the bean water.
Next, sweat out the onions in a medium soup-pot with some olive oil. try not to caramelize them, just get them nice and soft. Add in the garlic and all the spices to coat the onions, and once it’s evenly mixed, drop in the beans, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Ensure everything is evenly coated, and then add in the liquid (I used beef stock here). Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Bust out the immersion blender, and blend up that delicious mix until smooth.
Serve with some guacamole on top!

Adapted from macheesmo.

Lentil Soup

While clearing out the pantry, I found a bag of lentils and immediately had a craving for lentil soup. Scouring the internet for a decent recipe, I came across this one from BBC Good Food that I adapted to remove a few items which I didn’t have on hand. I’d say the original recipe is really good as well if you wanted to give it a try!

What you need:

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 140g split red lentils
  • 1L hot vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)

What to do:
In a medium soup pot, add everything except the chilli flakes to the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until lentils have softened. Blend up with an immersion blender to get a nice smooth texture. Toss in the chili flakes to your spiciness level and serve! So simple!


  • You can use any bouillon you like, I only had beef on me.
  • I used ground cumin as opposed to seeds, so about 1 tsp

Adapted from BBC Good Food.

Thai Tomato Coconut Soup

I had a huge craving for this today – and I almost went and bought a pre-made version instead just so I could eat it immediately. But common sense took over and I ended up picking up the ingredients I needed to make it. And it turned out just as good in flavour, but not as smooth since I don’t own an awesome blender.

What you need

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can coconut milk

What to do
In a medium-sized soup pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. When warm, add in lemongrass, ginger and curry paste and mix for 1 minute until soft. Add in onions and sweat until soft. Add in tomatoes and chicken broth, and simmer until vegetables are extremely soft (about 5 minutes). Depending on how thick you like your soup, you can cook off some of the water, or you can blend it right away. Add in the coconut milk once the soup has been pureed.

adapted from allrecipes.com

Summer Salad! Now with more bacon!

What you need:

  • 8 strips of delicious delicious bacon
  • 1 avocado
  • corn (2 fresh cobs or 1 can)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp lemon juice


  • 1/2c edamame
  • 1/2c quinoa
  • 1/2c red peppers

What to do:

If using fresh corn, cook up that first (either boil it for 8 minutes or cook on a BBQ/in the oven), and then cut the kernels off. Fry up that bacon in a pan until crispy. I like my bacon really crispy, so I leave it in until it’s it’s got a pretty solid crunch. When ready, take out the bacon and crumble into small pieces. Remove all but 1-2 tsp of oil out of the pan, and then drop in the corn. Add in the lemon juice, and some salt & pepper to taste if you want. Once it’s all warm, turn off the heat.

Pit the avocado and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Drop that in with the bacon, and then add in the corn and any other ingredients you’d like. Gently toss (try not to break down the avocado), and serve. Mmmm bacon.

Asia Trip 2011: Day 5 – Halong Bay and the Overnight Train

I didn’t wake up for the sunrise at 5am, but finally dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 for a tai chi session on the deck. It ended up being just the Indonesia couple, Jeff and Kathy, and myself. We had a lot of fun, and we could see in the distance that several other boats were conducting morning stretches as well with their passengers. Breakfast was at 7:30am sharp, and everyone gathered for the usual eggs and toast. But shortly after that, we all had to pack and empty our rooms by 9am. We said our quick good byes to a lot of the passengers as they were going off to the town for an overnight sleep as part of the 3 day – 2 night tour. Jeff and Kathy, as well as two other couples stayed behind and we basically sat around on the deck for almost an hour with nothing to do since the guides left with the other passengers on the small boat to drop them off. It was a bit confusing, since everyone was gone and we were left on the almost-deserted boat with no schedule as to what was going to happen next.

We took some silly photos (of course there had to be a Titanic shot, how could there not?) and Jeff and Kathy took a short video for their trip, and we lay in the sun until finally we saw our guide boat in the distance. After they got back and settled in, we had a spring roll making session. It was a bit of a cheat, since all the vegetables were cut up for us already (which is the hardest part), and all we had to do was roll them up, but it was still fun. They ended up being in our lunch menu, so I’m glad we put some effort into them! The boat slowly made its way back to the bay and when we docked, we ate our midday meal amongst a gazillion other junk boats in the polluted harbour with exhaust fumes rolling in from the window. The plumbing water was either turned off by then or something, because the communal toilet stopped flushing and the water stopped running. I guess it was alright, since it also ran out of toilet paper. We stood around for another half an hour until we were shuffled to the smaller boat and brought to shore.

After a bit of confusion, we finally made our way to a bus that we shared with another group of tourists coming back from their Halong Bay tour. As we were getting dropped off in the city, we arranged with Jeff & Kathy to meet up at the train station in hopes of bunking together for the overnighter to Hue. A and I ran some quick errands in the city – I went and bought myself several banh mi to last the train ride and ordered one last bun cha while we gathered our info for the next leg of our trip.

Confusion: when you purchase train tickets through your hotel, you are given a postcard-like piece of paper with a picture of Hanoi on it, and a little slip of paper stapled to it saying you need to redeem it at the station for your train ticket. People who don’t pay attention immediately think this is their train ticket, and then get really confused when they try to board. People who do pay attention arrive at the station at the designated time on the paper, only to be equally confused when no one there speaks English and no one knows what this paper is. Imagine our panic when we tried to get someone to look at our receipt, only to be sent in different directions each time. Even more strange, once the train arrived and all the locals started boarding, it became apparent that only the tourists were left standing in the station wondering what to do with this paper.

Half an hour later, a girl rolls in with a stack of tickets and starts reading confirmation numbers out. We traded our receipt in for a ticket, and found out that all the tourists are bunking in the same carriage, which is comforting to know. Jeff and Kathy asked their roommates very sweetly to swap with us so we could hang out together for the night, and they were so kind to agree.

The train car held about 6 cabins, each cabin holding 4 beds. There were also extra small cabins at either end of our car (about a third of the size of ours at the most) that crammed in three local riders. I felt as though the quality of the bedding and the cleanliness of our cabins, though still nowhere close to our comfort levels, were probably at the tops in comparison to every local resident riding the train. We ate our dinners and slowly settled into our beds for the night.

The train ride was fairly uneventful except for two incidents. One, the train pulled into a small town in the middle of the night and came to a stop for a half hour. The braking movement jolted me awake, and in my sleepy state, I decided to try and use the washrooms. Apparently, trains lock their bathrooms automatically when they stop in the station. I suspect it’s to ensure no one sneaks into the bathrooms to ride the train (or more specifically, no one sneaks into the tourist car to use our bathrooms?). So I flagged down a conductor and explained I needed to use the washroom. After making it pretty clear I couldn’t wait much longer, he took me to a different car (rammed to the brim with locals) and let me use the washrooms there. Which were pretty gross in comparison to our tourist one. Preeeetty gross.

The second incident happened somewhere in the middle of the night while we were moving across the countryside. I woke to a frantic but quiet scream as Kathy said she felt something crawling across her arm in the bed. We turned on all the lights but couldn’t find anything. She ended up staying with Jeff in his bed for the rest of the night as I had a restless sleep worrying about unknown critters myself. A slept through it entirely. :P

We arrived in Hue the next morning and sadly said good bye to Jeff & Kathy as they continued on their journey to Da Nang. A and scrambled off the train and trekked our way to the hotel (a lot further than I had thought when I booked it). Hello Hue!!

Currywurst Sauce

I’ve craved this for over a year after returning home from a month-long Germany trip. I tried simply adding curry powder to ketchup (a terrible idea that I don’t recommend), and I paid some painful prices for currywurst at the annual German Christmas Market so I could have a little taste.

Finally, I decided to google it, and lo and behold, the recipe is actually really simple. And it’s so delicious. Thank you internet!

What you’ll need
1 onion, minced
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp paprika
2 cups canned and peeled tomatoes, crushed
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

What to do
Heat a tbsp of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in the onions and cook until tender (10 minutes). Add in the curry powder and paprika and mix well. add in the tomatoes (with juices), and then the sugar and vinegar. Let simmer for another 20 as it reduces. Serve with some sausages and store up the rest.

Recipe taken from Saveur.

It helps if you can purée the onions before-hand – it helps make the sauce a lot smoother and spreads the powders through more evenly.
I didn’t have red wine vinegar, so I used rice wine vinegar, which worked just as well.

Cream of mushroom soup

What you need:
1 lb of mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk (or soy milk)
4 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of flour
salt and pepper to taste

What to do:
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in medium-sized pot and sweat garlic and onions. Add in mushrooms and broth until softened, about 10 minutes. Purée vegetables with hand blender until slightly chunky (or more, if you like creamier). Allow the vegetables to simmer to reduce.

In a separate pot, melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter on low heat and whisk in flour to create a roux. Add in milk slowly to create the cream base, ensuring there are no lumps. Add in mushroom purée and reduce until desired thickness is achieved. Add salt and pepper as needed.

adapted from allrecipes.com