An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

A Life Lived in Wasted Fashion


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Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Mushroom Dumplings

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These are Chinese-style dumplings. In my books, they are both wantans (or wontons) and jiaozi. I had a craving for Chinese dumplings in soup and because I now live in Las Vegas, it’s not like I can just go across the street to buy them for S$3 with a belly-warming clear broth. You might have heard this from me before but I’ll say it again, hot soup on a cold day is like a much-needed hug from within… so so comforting!

So anyway, I did the best I could with what I had and T thinks they’re not different from the ones he’s eaten at P. F. Chang’s. Most cooks would probably find that insulting seeing that it’s bastardised Chinese food – but not me. I’m not a cook, you see. I’m a vegetarian trying to make meatless home-cooked meals that are budget-friendly and require almost no effort at all. And if it satisfies my cravings and feeds my husband, I’m happy to share the recipe. 

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Vegetarian Mushroom Dumplings

Serves 2 to 4. Yields about 25 dumplings. Prep Time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes.

1 1/2 cups mushrooms (I used a tin of straw mushrooms)

1/2 cup water chestnuts 

1 large onion 

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon vegetarian oyster sauce (Mushroom sauce)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon corn starch

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder 

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 egg (used as a wash to seal edges)

Wonton wrappers 

Method:

1. Dice and sautee onions in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil till they are soft and reduced. (Sauteeing them releases their natural sweetness)

2. Mince mushrooms and water chestnuts. 

3. Mix and stir all the ingredients – sauteed onions, minced mushooms, minced water chestnuts, pepper, ginger powder, salt, cornstarch, sesame oil and vegetarian oyster sauce.

4. Prepare wonton wrappers by putting them between moistened kitchen towels to prevent them from drying out.

5. Put a teaspoon of the filling into a wonton wrapper and seal the edges with egg. I dipped my pinkie finger in the egg white and painted the diagonal edges so that it folds up into a triangle parcel. You can stop here or pull the opposite ends of the bottom together and seal again with egg white. Pinch all edges tightly! 

6. Prepare a pot of boiling water while you’re making the dumplings.

7. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water. Once they float, you know they’re done!

I served them very simply with mee sua cooked in a broth of vegetable stock (2 1/2 cups water and 1/2 vegetable stock cube) with egg drop and some julienned lettuce (raw). 

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Meatless Monday: Veggie Burger

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Here’s something I made from scratch – burger patties and the burger buns! If I can do it, so can you. The burger buns recipe is actually French Bread Rolls to Die For found on allrecipes.com. I will continue experimenting with the bread but the patties are good on their own, so if you have no bread, just eat them alone anyway.

The recipe below is for 6 burger patties and is an original.

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Veggie Burger

Serves 6. Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes.

2 cups water

1/2 cup dried lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup diced canned tomatoes (I used Fire Roasted but you can use any kind)

2 cups beans (I used chickpeas but you can use pinto or anything else)

1 cup corn kernels

1 cup shredded cheddar (I used Cheddar Jack)

1 cup breadcrumbs (I used Panko because it’s so crunchy)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground tumeric (Optional)

2 large eggs (beaten)

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Method:

1. Boil lentils in water for about 15 to 20 minutes until tender. Drain and mash.

2. In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients (tomatoes, beans, lentils, corn, cheese, spices, egg, breadcrumbs except olive oil) and mix till thoroughly combined. Best to use hands and feel free to squish everything. Quite fun! LALAALA…

3. Divide the mixture into 6 patties.

4. Fry the patties in olive oil over medium-high heat. Try not to crowd the pan. Cook 3 – 5 minutes on each side until brown.

5. Serve on its own or in a burger bun!

YUM! I popped the 2 leftover patties into a toaster oven for lunch the next day and it was soooo good with extra spicy sambal!

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Royal India Bistro (Las Vegas)

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Our weekend eating buddy May Leng suggested this place at the Rio several months ago but it took us till 10th February to actually make our way there. May Leng’s boss recommended this place and we were only too happy to take it on because it gave us some place new to explore and we absolutely love Indian food!

When we arrived, it was eerily quiet and rather odd for not having dinner time crowd. Perhaps the overtly wannabe opulence turned people off at the entrance but most likely, I reckon it might be the price. Of the different Indian restaurants we’ve been to in Las Vegas, this was definitely the most expensive. We ended up paying more than US$30 per person though I thought the food was really good!

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We had an all Vegetarian dinner (though not the set) even though our friend May Leng isn’t vegetarian. She’s very accommodating that way (but then again, Indian vegetarian is so flavourful). We ordered the vegetable samosa, paneer pakora (my favourite dish of the night), aloo tiki, bhindi masala and shahi paneer. The dishes however didn’t come with any rice or breads unlike other places, so we also ordered naans and basmati rice.

I think the decor of this place is too weird and fancy, even though it’s in a hotel. I’m not sure what they’re trying to do – maybe an Indian fine dining ambience with prices to boot?

T and I really liked the food. Unfortunately, we don’t see ourselves returning very often. Luckily though, I just found a Groupon for it! YAY!!!  We paid US$20 for US$40 worth of food but knowing us, we’ll end up paying another $15-20 more (which is still okay, right?) Besides, the service was pretty good (*koffkoff* it was virtually empty). We had a knowledgable waitress who knew how to explain and recommend dishes to us.

Recommended? Yes… if you don’t mind paying about 30-40% more.

ROYAL INDIA BISTRO

3700 East Flamingo,

Las Vegas, NV 89103

(702) 777-2277
 


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Friends visiting from LA

In the last few weeks, we’ve had 2 sets of friends who travelled 4 hours from Los Angeles, California to visit us. I love having guests in our house. Firstly because it’s too quiet here. Secondly because I get to see my Singaporean friends (and their families). And lastly, I get to go out and do different things with different people!

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Noel and Stella came with their 3-year old Kate and Kate’s nainai (aka Noel’s mum) 3 weeks ago;  Gill came last weekend with her husband Kevan, their 3-year old Conrad and their newest baby Allegra (who’s 2 months old). Despite the fact that they both had 3-year olds (who incidentally were born in the same year, just 3 days apart), I ended up doing quite different things and I loved it!

With the Yeos, we

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With the Petersons, we

  • had Chinese takeout from Jacky Chan Chinese Food
  • went to the Grand Opening of the new Goodwill Store & Donation Center on Rainbow (a post for another day)
  • ate at the Circus Circus buffet and also Island Malaysian Cuisine (yet another post I want to do)
  • watched circus acts and played many many games at Circus Circus (I won the Unicorn from Despicable Me 2 and Kevan pulled out 3 Smurfs from the claw machines for his son)
  • flew a giant pink flamingo kite (bought the day before at Goodwill) and went down slides (not me) at Exploration Peak Park

I love that some of my favourite people to hang out with don’t live too far away from me (even though they’ve been trying to get T and I to move to LA). And… Las Vegas isn’t all Sin City and party town vibes – it’s actually not too bad and can be quite family-friendly right? Also, we couldn’t have been able to afford all these extra bedrooms if we lived in super expensive California… So that’s another perk right, friends? Come visit!!

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