cucumber salad

For someone who loves food, mostly of the sinful variety, I do sometimes do a turn-around and go to the other extreme. By having salad for dinner for example.  Cucumber salad for dinner, to be precise. Especially after I have stuffed my face with cupcakes. And frosting. Cream cheese frosting to be precise.

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But how boring can cucumber get right? So I took some inspiration from ‘spaghetti squash’ (where the squash is made into long strips, like noodles) to prettify the cucumber. Sprinkled with salt and pepper and accompanied by a simple dressing of Greek yogurt lemon juice, a dash of dried Italian herbs, mint, salt and pepper, it made for a rather satisfying, refreshing (and overly healthy) dinner.

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If, unlike me, you’re not abnormal, you would probably have this is as a salad side for a hearty dinner. In my case at least, it tricked my brain into thinking I was balancing all that sugar, butter and cream cheese I had consumed earlier. Most importantly however, it’s pretty so you will want to eat it, and you will enjoy it too knowing that your food looks so good!

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Don’t you agree it’s pretty?! (Ok I think you can stop with the justifications, nobody is going to be convinced.)

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green apple grilled cheese sandwich

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Grilled Cheese!!! It actually deserves three exclamation marks but I limited myself to one in the header picture so that it might look more refined and sophisticated. Although grilled cheese is at its root, comfort food, so sophistication is not priority. Although you do not need to be craving comfort to have a grilled cheese sandwich. You just need to crave cheese. Lots of it. And bread of course.

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I particularly like this sweet version of grilled cheese; I think I have made it – or variations of it – at least three times this year. Slices of tart green apple, a sprinkling of nuts (almonds or walnuts) enveloped with melty cheddar cheese and smashed between two slices of buttered cinnamon-raisin bread – what’s not to love right? Of course you can add whatever else you wish. An indulgent version I made (and devoured) earlier this year included cream cheese spread, lemon curd (homemade, I miss it so much!), figs and dried cranberries, in addition to green apple slices. Needless to say, it’s not non-calorific. But it was crazy awesome delicious and that’s what really matters!

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PS: I used a vegetable peeler to get really thin slices of green apple so that I could squeeze more green apple into my sandwich, I managed to incorporate about 3/4 of a small green apple in total! The more apple, the more balanced our sandwich is right? 🙂

grilled eats and family dinners

A couple of days ago, we had a slightly atypical spread for dinner at home with some of my extended family members. Home-cooked food in Indian-Muslim households generally extend to the common Malay and Indian cuisines, which involve mostly curries (and lots of steamed rice). But we do get bored of the usual menu occasionally, so on Saturday, the menu included grilled fish and shrimp, prepared by my aunt and uncle while my cousin and I prepared vegetables and cheesy tortillas. I had to somehow incorporate vegetables into the menu because I just feel like a meal is incomplete if there isn’t some form of veggie on my plate. Especially when said meal is dinner at home. I’m perfectly alright with an unbalanced meal at restaurants/cafes/coffee shops though. I’m weird that way.

Returning to the main story … where was I? Oh the menu. There was also fried yellow noodles cooked by my mum (crazy spicy but SO GOOD!!) and cheesy fries. Talk about carb overload! No wonder I loved Saturday’s dinner!

My aunt tried two different marinades for the fish. One was slightly North Indian, with Greek yogurt, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, salt and pepper. The other was simpler, with just finely chopped garlic, a dash of chilli powder, salt and pepper, but turned out to be the favourite. I forgot what marinade was used for the shrimp, I just know that the grilled shrimp was awesome. I think shrimps are meant to be grilled. It was perfect.  

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My cousin said the menu was very Middle Eastern. I’m not sure which part of it was Middle Eastern, probably the grilled stuff?

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The veggies were nothing fancy, I just threw sliced red and green bell pepper into a pan slicked with butter and a little ginger-garlic paste, salt and pepper. Oh and some baby corn, which I rescued from the fridge where it had been looking sad and abandoned.

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Now for the best part, the cheesy tortillas! My cousin and I got a little generous with the ghee (clarified butter) when oiling the grill pan so the house was filled with heavenly buttery fragrance while we grilled thirty-two flour tortilla triangles. And topped them with cheese, smokey BBQ cheddar for some and shredded Parmesan for most. I had to caution my family members to eat in moderation when we brought the plate of cooked tortillas to the dining table, coz it was essentially heart attack on a plate (although I guess occasional indulgences don’t hurt so much?)

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Being trigger-happy girls, my cousin and I had to plate our meals and snap photos to our hearts’ content before settling down to actually eating all that delicious food. (I think I burned off some calories by sweeping and mopping the flat after dinner.)

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The best part of Saturday’s dinner though, apart from the sumptuous spread, was the pure fun we had in the kitchen, prepping and cooking. That shared experience was significant in making the evening a truly memorable one, something that we will look back upon in fondness and laughter for many years to come. May we be blessed with many more such warm, hearty and enjoyable gatherings for as long as we are alive. 🙂

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home is where the heart is, and my heart is with my family ❤