Colourful Quinoa Salad, Awards and GIVEAWAY!!

As promised, a blog post! Yippeee! :D

At first my plans for this post was to write about a lovely little gem of a cafe that I found last weekend however, after being inspired by Wade‘s quinoa salad in MasterChef’s homecooking challenge an episode or so ago, I thought I would try using quinoa for the first time… the results were amazing!

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is the seed of a Central American grass but looks like a grain (a bit like burghul or cracked wheat).  

you can find it in the health food section of Coles :)

Some of you would have already seen some of the process on Instagram but here is what I ended up putting together.  It’s very easy and very yummy!

Colourful Quinoa Salad

Adapted from SBS Food

Serves 2

The actual cooking time is minimal but the preparation is a bit time-consuming…

Ingredients

  • 250 g quinoa
  • 1 litre of water
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 cup green, red and yellow capsicum, finely chopped
  • ½ purple onion, finely diced
  • 2  cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 cup roasted pistachios, chopped
  • 1 bunch coriander chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Bring the water to the boil and add quinoa. Cook at a rolling boil for about 5 minutes, drain and rinse the quinoa under cold water. Drain again and allow to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a fry pan.  Once the pan is heated, fry onion for a minute, then add garlic.
  3. Toss around for a bit before adding in the capsicum.  Stir fry until onions are transparent.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the quinoa, heat through.
  5. Before serving, toss through the pistachios and coriander and season to taste.
I had mine for lunch with strips of smoked chicken… YUMMO!

SERIOUSLY AMAZING!  I had nearly eaten half of it before I realised that I’d forgotten to sprinkle the pistachios on it (I decided to keep them separately rather than stirfry it in as the original recipe had it since I had to keep it in the fridge until lunch hour) but it was still good.  When I did pour out the pistachios it added that crunch element to the dish :).  I think this will be my go-to salad now hehe.

OK next on the agenda is AWARDS!!

A while back Miss Choc Chip Uru surprised me with three awards and then another one a bit later for good measure!  Thanks so much for the encouragement CCU :).  I love writing just for the love of it but it’s quite special when someone else acknowledges that they’ve enjoyed what you’ve had to say or show (in photos I mean) so I hope I can pass that onto a few others that I’ve admired from afar :).

I think just for the sake of space and time (plus don’t want to bore you with random facts about myself), I will just take part and pass on the…

So, instructions for this award:

  • Link back to the blogger who nominated you.
  • Paste the award image on your blog, anywhere.
  • Tell them 7 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other blogs you like for this award.
  • Post a comment on each of your nominees’ blogs telling them about the nomination.

Alrightey, I’d like to put my nominations first :).  In no particular order, some of my recent favourite bloggers are:

  1. Vien @ We Dare Food
  2. Daisy @ Nevertoosweet
  3. Lianne @ Food Made With Love
  4. Julie @ I dream in chocolate
  5. Kelly @ Kelly Siew Cooks
  6. Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake
  7. Steph @ i am a food blog
  8. Soph (hehe) @ Edible Posts
  9. Catherine @ Petit Miamx
  10. Jan @ Peach Water
  11. Michelle @ Niche
  12. Cara @ Gourmet Chick
  13. Yasmeen @ Wandering Spice
  14. Winnie @ Eat. Play. Shop.
  15. leaf @ The Indolent Cook

Yes, I have chosen all female bloggers because I guess a ‘lovely’ blog award might be more appreciated by them than the guys I suspect ;).  Thanks for inspiring me, ladies!

Next, 7 facts that I didn’t give you last time:

  1. I’m reading The Hunger Games at the moment.
  2. The first Korean drama series that I watched was Princess Hours. *blushes*
  3. I hate having long fingernails – comes from my pianist background and the awful clicking sound when you play the ivory keys with unclipped fingernails.
  4. I confess I like eating out rather than cooking in – someone else does the washing and cleaning up :P.
  5. The song on replay at the moment is Addison Road – Sticking with you.
  6. Love citric anything.
  7. This blog has turned 1 years old!!

Well to be precise, it’s exactly the 1st year + 1 month anniversary!! :D

This humble little blog began last winter in the midst of exam preparation as a form of procrastination which has, with your support, grown and evolved itself into a primarily food and photography blog :).  To celebrate this little milestone, I wanted to show my appreciate for my readers/friends by giving away a prize that comes from my heritage.

I love peanuts, I love durian and I love coconut so when they come together in little rectangle of candy… *happy sigh*.  As you can see from the packaging, this box of sweets doesn’t come around here.  I ask my Dad to purchase it from Vietnam when he was there recently so it’s flown a fair distance to get here :).

To enter this giveaway:

  1. Open to Australian citizens or residents only.
  2. Leave a comment below (1 entry).
  3. Click ‘Like’ on the blog’s new Facebook page (+1 entry).
  4. Follow me (@ames4eva) on Twitter (+1 entry).
  5. Mention this giveaway on Twitter (+1 entry per mention: please also add @ames4eva to the tweet so I can make note of it).

Now I understand that durian doesn’t fit everyone’s palettes so I understand if some may not be so keen to enter this giveaway, however I do hope that you’ll still support the blog by clicking ‘Like’ on the new Facebook page :).

I’ve never done a giveaway before so we’ll see how it goes… Entries closes 14th July 2012, 5pm and the winner will be notified by email and on this blog in the days following.

OK, that’s it from me for now!  Happy weekend everyone :).

♥ Ames

Green Eggs and Ham: Reinvented

I was feeling a bit under the weather this past weekend due to lack of sleep and the cold weather so my mum being my mum put together a little something she picked up from her work colleagues that would make any egg-crazy girl happy… and she let me take photos too :).

Green Eggs and Ham: Reinvented

I googled Green Eggs and Ham and most have spinach or pesto but nothing with avocado hence ‘reinvented’…

Ingredients

  • 9 eggs
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • mayonnaise (as much you want really)
  • salt and pepper
  • toasted bread
  • shaved honey leg ham

Recipe

  1. Boil the eggs til hard-boiled.  Let them cool, run under cold water to loosen the egg-shell from the egg.
  2. Mash the eggs in a large bowl.
  3. Mix in the mayonnaise.
  4. Cut avocados up and mash in with egg mixture.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Spread generously over toasted bread.  Top with ham and munch!
Step 2
Step 4
Voila! There was another larger container as well...
Green eggs...
... and ham!

Not the greatest looking dish but it sure was yummy!  Loved the creamy mixture and so simple too!  Perfect to eat while revisiting the old Dr. Suess classic ;).

Hope you are enjoying the week so far and staying warm!

Q: What’s a simple and yummy dish that you’ve made lately?

♥ Ames

Easy Zucchini and Rice Slice

This has got to be the quickest turnaround of ‘event’ to ‘post’ – I made this for us to munch on as Mum and I spent the day preparing a dish for our special Australia Day dinner tonight (recipe to follow soon!).

Easy Zucchini and Rice Slice

Taken from Coles Summer Magazine 2012, page 49 :)

Serve 4

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs
  • 250g pkt microwave long grain white rice
  • 3/4 grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 zucchini, trimmed and grated
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 3 spring onions, chopped

Method

  • Preheat oven to 190°C or 170°C fan.  Line a 20cm square pan with baking paper.
  • Lightly whisk eggs in a large bowl.  Add rice, cheese, zucchini, peas and spring onions.  Mix to combine.
    • ADDITION:  A friend gave this a go recently and recommended that you add a bit of salt for more flavour.

  • Pour into prepared pan, smooth top with a spatula.
  • Bake for 30-35 mins or until set.  Enjoy!

Ta-da! Easy, right?

It was delicious and the family loved it :).  The zucchini keeps it moist and the cheese adds a bit of saltiness.

The recipe suggested to pack some grape tomatoes and a few slices for lunch…I think I’m going to bring some tomorrow!

♥ Ames

Fettuccine with creamy salmon and dill sauce

Spring calls for a bit of ‘spring cleaning’ so we’ve been doing a lot of sorting, rearranging, throwing out the old and making room for the new :).  As part of this seasonal ritual, I decided to clean up the Pictures folder on my Mac as well! :D

During the decision-making process of what to keep or not to keep, I stumbled upon the photos for this yummy little dish we made a while back:

Fettuccine with creamy salmon and dill sauce

Taken from an old Women’s Weekly recipe book, ‘Fast Fish’

It is seriously the easiest recipe ever (and somewhat healthy IMO)!  Said to be on the table in 20 minutes (if you are efficient with your prep time).

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 375g fettuccine
  • 1/2 cups (120g) light sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 415g can red salmon, drained
  • 1 small red onion (100g), sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • Coriander

Method

  1. Cook pasta in large saucepan of boiling water, uncovered, until tender; drain
  2. Meanwhile, combine sour cream and juice in a small bowl.  Break salmon into chunks.
  3. Toss hot pasta with sour cream mixture, salmon, onion, dill and capers until combined.
  4. Serve topped with lemon rind and a bit of coriander.
  5. Voilà!

Enjoy!

♥ Ames

Happy Belated Moon Festival!

It has been a busy 10 days since I’ve posted here… every time I’ve opened the window to blog, something has come up or I know in my heart of hearts something else should have priority at that point in time (i.e. readings haha) BUT, surely one may indulge on the eve of a mid-semester break?

One major event that’s happened recently was the Moon Festival Celebration that was held at my church over the weekend! ‘Twas the first time we’d ever done anything of this sort at the church so it was great to have a good turnout and positive feedback from all the students and newcomers that joined us :).  I’d say we made and ate over 100 dumplings and made and distributed 30+ mooncakes haha

I got the chance to witness the trial-run mooncake making demo the day before the event and also jotted down the recipe that was constantly asked for afterwards so here’s something to try for next year’s Moon Festival ;).

(I’ve started taking photos in RAW which have yet to be edited so the following snaps are from my iPhone and hence I apologise in advance for the bad quality)

Snow Pastry Moon Cake

Continue reading “Happy Belated Moon Festival!”

a lesson from my dad

When we celebrated my dad’s birthday last year…

He told me stories of his childhood and the kind of life he lived when he first came to Australia.  I let him muse about how fast time flies.  He recounted the days when he used to live near Bondi Beach before moving to Melbourne, working long hours at different jobs in various restaurants, in the fish markets, in car factories… And he taught me an old Chinese phrase of how in life, we’ll all encounter ‘the sweet, the sour, the bitter and the spicy’…  (it sounds much better in Cantonese hehe)

I said my life seems so easy compared to all his experiences but he said there’s no need to compare because I have or will have my own ‘sweet, sour, bitter and spicy’ moments…

The sweet: moments that bring a smile to your face and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside
The sour: moments that make you screw up your face in disbelieve at what has just happened
The bitter: moments that leave you feeling depressed or moments you’d rather not face up to
The spicy: moments that make you sweat or cry uncontrollably
I guess my life has been peppered with a bit of each kind of flavour recently.  And that’s ok.  That’s life.  It’s making me stronger.  It’s like that saying: whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.
– posted June 23, 2010

It’s hard to put into words what my dad means to me.  His encouragement, his love, his wisdom, his integrity, his generosity, his faith and prayers have all shaped the person I am today.  Love you, Dad!

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Of course Father’s Day wouldn’t be the same without some good food hehehe… we had a lovely spread at church which left me quite bloated but I thought I’d share the recipe that was my mum’s pride and joy today (mainly because it was so easy to make and pretty to look at).

Butter Biscuits

(originally ‘burnt butter biscuits’ but I don’t think she burnt the butter)

Makes about 70 of the size above

Ingredients

  • 125 grams of butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • vanilla essence (up to you how much you use)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups of self-raising flour
  • glazed cherries (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to moderate heat (180°C)
  2. Heat butter in saucepan until melted (or light brown if you want to burn it slightly), add sugar and beat.
  3. Beat egg in a separate bowl and then add gradually to the butter sugar mixture.
  4. Add sifted flour, mix well.
  5. Roll into small balls, flatten and press a glazed cherry on each
  6. Bake for 15 mins or until golden brown.
  7. Eat and be merry!

♥ Ames

on the theme of green…

We celebrated a milestone-of-a-birthday for my cousin, Al this past weekend which gave me an excuse to get my creativity shoes on…

Al recently made the decision to go vegetarian (vegan actually) for environmental and ethical reasons, so I decided to add a recipe or two that would fit with his newfound lifestyle (however, given that he got a ‘library’ of vegan cookbooks, my little offering felt a bit tacky… oh well, it’s the thought that counts right?).

I also decided to try my hand at a vegan recipe I adapted from Wayfarying Chocolate:

Sunflower Coconut Honey Truffles 

Makes approximately 25 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter (interchangeable with any nut butter)
  • 90ml raw honey
  • 2 tb ground golden flaxseed*
  • lots of cocoa powder, for rolling
  • 1/2c water, optional, as needed

*If you had a proper look at the photo above, I used brown flaxseed (linseed) instead of golden flaxseed and it was the whole seed instead of grounded…  1) golden flaxseed is not generally stocked in your local supermarket or health food store (the shop assistant said we could have it ordered in if we really wanted it- I bought ingredients the day before!), 2) I misread the initial instructions and used 1 CUP of flaxseed and 3) I thought I could personally ground the flaxseed myself…

That was way too optimistic of me lols.  Halfway through, I just gave up and put the whole seeds in only for my mum to come home and tell me (after I’d finished making them) that I could have put them in the food processor and had them all ground in seconds -_-“.  Anyway, on with the recipe!

Continue reading “on the theme of green…”

Green, Green, Green Chicken Curry!

I never wanted to be one of those bloggers who abandons their blog for a week without notice but with the start of a new uni semester, real life just got the better of me :P.   Apologies for the absence, there are many-a-post in draft form but I was so happy with the dish I recently cooked for my family, I’ve skipped ahead to share this recipe :).

Thai green curry chicken (aka Green x3 chicken curry!)

adapted from recipe found in Super Food Ideas, May 2008 (pg 56)

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 600g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
  • (Green 1) 2 small zucchini, thickly sliced (I misread and sliced them thinly >.<)
  • (Green 2) 500g broccoli, trimmed, cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup of green curry paste (add more depending on preferred spice level)
  • 400ml can light coconut cream
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves (I substituted it with ~ 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
  • (Green 3) 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • steamed rice, to serve
Method
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over high heat.  Add chicken – cook, stirring for 5 to 7 minutes or until browned.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-high.  Add zucchini and broccoli.  Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until zucchini starts to soften.  Add curry paste – cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  3. Add coconut cream, sugar, fish sauce, lime leaves (or lemon juice) – bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer for 5 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken.
  4. Add peas, simmer for 2 minutes or until heated through.  Serve with steamed rice.

Voila!  I added an extra teaspoon of the green curry paste and it was perfect for our palettes :).  Parents said we never need to order green curry again because this tasted better than the restaurants… I was stoked!  Happy cooking!

♥ Ames

“I lost my tooth!”

I think I’ve spent the last 4 Queen’s Birthdays at home – studying.  So with all my exams behind me, I saw the light of day for first time this past Aussie public holiday :).  Our family friends invited us over for lunch so I opted to make a salad to go with the BBQ that was fired up :).

Avocado and apple salad

(variation of the one I found in Super Food Ideas Christmas Special edition- Dec ’09/Jan ’10 hehe)

Serves 4 – since there were a few other dishes, I didn’t increase the portions

  • 1 iceberg lettuce, leaves separated
  • 1 red oak lettuce, leaves separated
  • 2 small avocados, peeled, sliced
  • 1 large red delicious apple, cored, quartered, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Dressing
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice  (kinda added heaps more later on)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • salt and pepper
1. Arrange lettuce on a platter. Top with avocado, apple, onion and pine nuts.
2. Make dressing – Whisk lemon juice, oil and chives together in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle dressing over salad.
3. Serve :).

Other savoury dishes:

Some sweet things:

Yep, I finally got into some proper Lightroom editing ;).

The title:

I love little kids.  At times I feel like I’ve had some of my own since I teach them on a regular basis and am surrounded by either my cousins’ babies or the ones at church.  One of the girls at the Queen’s Birthday Feast had a wobbly tooth and my dad did the honours, giving the last little wiggle to produce her toothless grin in the left hand corner of the photo below :).

♥ Ames