Recipe: Stir-fry chicken, broccoli and rice

healthy, stir-fry, chicken, rice, broccoli

This is one of my favourite all-time meals to make for a weekday dinner. It’s a balanced meal that has got everything – veggies, protein and grains, and it’s so darn tasty and easy to make! And the addition of spring onions and sesame seeds adds just that touch of ker-pow to finish off the meal.

I always laugh when I think that broccoli, chicken and rice is supposedly a bodybuilder’s staple diet. It’s my staple diet too! I could eat this almost every night. But it’s not just for bodybuilders, it’s for everyone! It’s just a nice, homely, comforting kind of meal, in my opinion. I always have an especial hankering for this meal after the holidays if we’ve been eating out (and probably drinking a little bit too much). It’s a great home cooked meal to enjoy and get our digestion back in order!

What’s some of your favourite home recipes? Let me know!

healthy, stir-fry, chicken, rice, broccoli

Stir-fry chicken, broccoli and rice (serves two)

Ingredients:

  • Two heads of broccoli, washed and chopped up in florets
  • Four chicken thighs, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Four to five spring onions, trimmed and sliced
  • Two garlic cloves, minced
  • Soy sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • One cup of rice
  • Two teaspoons of white sesame seeds

Directions:

Combine one-third of a cup of soy sauce and several dashes of oyster sauce in a bowl. Add chicken thigh pieces and mix well before covering with saran wrap. Leave in fridge to marinade for half an hour to a few hours.

Rinse rice and cook according to directions. While the rice is cooking, heat a little oil in a large frying pan. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the broccoli florets and stir-fry for about five minutes on medium heat. Add a dash of soy sauce and oyster sauce to taste and combine well with broccoli. Let cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally, until florets are tender. Remove from pan to plate and wrap with foil to keep warm.

Add a little more oil to the pan. Once oil is warmed up, add chicken thigh pieces. Stir-fry until chicken pieces are thoroughly cooked through and remove from pan.

Divide rice,broccoli and chicken onto two plates. Garnish with spring onions and sesame seeds. Serve and enjoy!

Shu Uemura Ultimate Remedy Hair and Shampoo

Shu Uemura, shampoo, conditioner, extreme remedy

My hairdresser introduced me to this Shu Uemura Ultimate Remedy Extreme Restoration shampoo and conditioner at my last visit to the salon. Actually, at my second last visit.

To be honest, I just thought they were trying to drum up business because I read somewhere that where hairdressers really make the dollah dollah bills is by pushing sponsored hair products onto their customers. But a) I love my hairdresser, my hair has never looked so good until I discovered them and b) I think they know their target audience anyway because I always buy whatever they tell me to because they’re always right.

Hence – Shu Uemura!

I was doubtful anyway because at about $48 a bottle, this shampoo and conditioner set is pretty expensive and, yes, I really did think they were just trying to drum up more business. I was also worried it might be too strong for every day use as I wash my hair every day but the girl assured me it wouldn’t be. She was also pretty confident that this is what I needed for my hair since it tends to get pretty greasy and flat if I don’t wash it everyday. Yes, I do wash my hair everyday and, yes, I know that isn’t good for hair and if you start washing your hair only on alternate days, your hair might get super oily at first to overcompensate but after a week or so it’s suppose to regain equilibrium and stop being so greasy. And, yes, I did try that but to no avail. By the end of the first day of not washing, I’m already running to the shower with shampoo in hand. Having greasy, flat hair makes me feel so uncomfortable, it drives me crazy. And I feel like everyone’s just staring at my greasy hair and wondering why I’m such a slob and not washing it.

It’s especially hard when I’m on vacation and don’t want to spend a huge amount of time washing and blowdrying my hair every day (especially if we’ve gotten a cute tiny little apartment to live in, but oh no there is a miasma of freshly washed hair fog permeating the apartment and adjoining bathroom because I’ve just washed my hair and it’s super humid, urgh). But it’s either that or greasy hair in every holiday picture.

But. I’ve learned to live with it. And usually I’m fine with it. My super turbo, ionic hairdryer is my secret weapon. And, heck, I almost always work out every day and end up with a sweaty ponytail hair (yuck) so I usually have to wash my hair anyway, whether it gets greasy or not.

But. Then. I was introduced to Shu Uemura. And the girl at the salon is feeding me all these other tidbits, like how it’d give my hair lots of body and make it look really shiny and gorgeous, and even though it’s pretty expensive, I only have to use a very small amount each time I wash my hair so it would last me ages. And I was tempted. I really was. But then I said (timidly, not firmly at all), no, it looks great but it’s kind of pricey and maybe I’ll just get it on my next visit to the salon, and I felt proud of myself for not being a total sales pushover like I usually am and saving money instead of spending it on unnecessary luxury beauty items. And to give the hairdresser credit, they were totally chilled with it. They didn’t try to super push the products on me.

That was on my second last trip to the salon.

And then! On my last trip to the salon (to get my hair looking pretty for Christmas and New Year’s), I decided, ‘what the heck, let’s give this a try.’ Plus, to be honest, I have no qualms about spending heaps of money on my hair if I think the product/hair salon is good. I blame this all on a childhood history of my mother forcing me go to the really crappy budget hair salon in our neighbourhood where the woman gave me terrible haircuts that I had to pick out of an 80s-era hairstyles brochure. Guys, this was the 90s, not the 80s. All the other girls at school were getting their hair done fabulously at the latest, chicest, most expensive hair salons in town. But, no, mum made me go to the neighbourhood budget salon. And look where that got me. Thank goodness there was no Facebook back then so there’s no record of all my crappy pictures of my crappy hair on the Internet.

Shu Uemura, shampoo, conditioner, extreme remedy

So nowadays I just walk into my (absolutely fab) hairdresser and hand them my credit card. And try not to look at my bank statement later. (The last time I told my boss how much I paid for my hairdresser visit, he was shocked. He only spends $30 on a haircut. That shocked me.)

But I digress. I finally decided to try the Shu Uemura Ultimate Remedy Extreme Restoration shampoo and conditioner. I paid up, gulping as I did so, but deciding to ignore all bills as it’s Christmas and I’ve been doing some serious damage anyway. I take the chic little paper bag with my shampoo and conditioner and when I get home, I chuck it to one side and I forgot all about it.

And then I didn’t use it for the next few weeks because our hot water system broke and all I cared about was getting in and out of the shower as quickly as possible. And also washing my hair as quickly as I could because I still had to wash my hair. 

Then our hot water system got fixed. But still I remained lazy and procrastinated about actually taking the shampoo and conditioner out of the paper bag it came in and placing it in the shower. Yup. That’s how good I am at procrastination. Hence my get.shit.done motto of 2015.

Finally, I get around to getting.shit.done. Last week, I removed the shampoo and conditioner from the paper bag and place it in the shower. Later that day, I take a shower and washed and conditioned my hair with Shu Umemura. (I know, I’m so good at getting.shit.done).

First reaction: it smells really nice. Like I’ve just been to the hair salon. (obviously, because this is the same product they use on me when I’m at the salon). Plus, how pretty all these green bottles?

Second reaction: One day later. It’s okay, but I don’t think it’s nothing to shout about. I’m not noticing anything too fabulous.

Third reaction: Three or four washes later. I’m starting to notice that my hair doesn’t feel greasy at all, even at the end of the second day which is when I’m usually thinking, ‘Okay, grease alert! Time for a wash!’

One week later: Due to extenuating circumstances, I had to go without washing my hair for a day. Twice. (I know, I was shocked too). But my hair didn’t look or feel oily or greasy at all. In fact, all I did was spray some dry shampoo at the roots, massage it in and brush my hair, and it looked fine. In fact, it looked just like everyone promises your hair would with dry shampoo, only in the past whenever I used dry shampoo it never looked that way and I usually just end up running into the shower to quickly wash my hair anyway. I never thought dry shampoo actually worked for me on a ‘no hair wash day’, but now it does!

Verdict? It’s only been a little over a week and I didn’t really believed it, but my hairdresser was right. Whatever Shu Uemura puts in this, it’s fabulous. My hair barely looks or feels oily and what’s more, it’s even got some great body in it. It’s not flat at all.  And it shines. I feel just like one of those girls in a shampoo ad with bouncy shiny hair!

And I’m starting to feel a lot more confident about going on holidays with a busy itinerary that doesn’t leave much time for washing and drying long hair. I’m probably still going to wash my hair most days but if I never feel the need to leave it be for a day? I’ll still be walking out the door, confident my hair looks great.

A Reason for Being: Chapter Twelve

Point of Negation, A reason for being, death to stock photos

Chapter Twelve

 

She had been picking grapes all morning, and was hot and sweaty, arms and legs scratched and stained with dirt and grape juice. She stood for a moment to stretch and ease her sore back, and that was when she saw him walking up the hillside.

Meredith froze. She could not move, she could not even run. Horror rooted her feet to the soil. She could not take her eyes off him, she could not take her eyes off his face.

It was like a nightmare. Here was everything good in the world around them. There was the warmth of the Andalucían sun, and the relief of a cool breeze fanning her hot cheeks and ruffling his hair. There was the scent of dusty, sun-baked earth and ripe grapes in her nostrils, the rugged, sprawling beauty of the countryside and the blue sky that seemed to go on forever. And there was Tyler, his face mutilated beyond recognition. READ MORE

Recipe: Baked Eggs in Peppers

eggs, baked, capsicum, peppers, harissa, brunch, breakfast

Happy Tuesday!

I’ve been meaning to make these for a while – baked eggs in peppers/capsicums! These always look so cute and they involve two of my favourite foods – eggs and capsicums! Plus, they’re guaranteed to make everyone go ‘oooooh’ while you smile and think on how easy it was to make them.

I always love a good egg breakfast, be it soft boiled eggs with toast, an omelette or shakshuka. However, I don’t have ramekins or a cast iron pan so I can’t make shakshuka. I can, however, make baked eggs in capsicums!

eggs, baked, capsicum, peppers, harissa, brunch, breakfast

For this recipe, I used two capsicums sliced into halves (top and bottom) and used the bottom halves. I tried deseeding the top halves but ended up with a neat little hole at the bottom when I was done which prevented me from using it as an egg cup! But you can always slice up the top halves and have them on the side or as a little snack later on!

I also wanted to add chilli flakes to my eggs, but my capsicum cups were a lee-tle too small and my eggs were overflowing over the top of the cups so I decided to omit the flakes. But definitely add them if you can as I think they would add a great blast of flavour!

Baked Eggs in Capsicum 3

Some recipes I found online suggested placing the sliced capsicum halves in a microwave with a small bowl of water for about five minutes. I microwaved mine for about two and a half minutes but at the end of it, I don’t think I’d do it again as the capsicums were slightly overcooked and weren’t holding their shape as well towards the end. I’d probably recommend only microwaving if your capsicums are on the larger side.

Another ingredient I omitted this time around was harissa. I think it would go great with the tomato, cheese and paprika mixture but I didn’t have any in my kitchen. If you do have harissa paste, though, feel free to add in a couple of teaspoons! It’s all about making do with what you have to hand.

eggs, baked, capsicum, peppers, harissa, brunch, breakfast

Baked Eggs in Capsicum/Peppers:

  • Two capsicums, sliced in halves and deseeded (use the bottom halves)
  • Two eggs
  • Four cherry or grape tomatoes
  • A handful of grated parmesan or mozzarella
  • Two teaspoons of harissa paste
  • Paprika
  • Pepper
  • Chili flakes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 150 Celsius/302 Fahrenheit. While oven is heating up, line a tray with aluminium foil and spritz with cooking spray. Chop tomatoes up small and mix in a bowl with cheese and harissa paste. Season with paprika to taste.

Place capsicum cups on the tray, leaning against each other or the side of the tray to balance if they’re not quite sitting up right. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the tomato mixture to each cup.

Crack an egg into each capsicum cup while taking your utmost care not to break the lovely yolk! If the yolk breaks though, don’t worry, it’ll taste just as good! Finally, sprinkle over with chill flakes.

Slide your trap into the oven and let cook for about 10-20 minutes or until eggs are set. I recommend leaving in the oven for the first 10 minutes, then continuing to check every five minutes until eggs are done. Mine took about 20 minutes or so.

Remove from oven and arrange on serving plate. Season with a little freshly cracked black pepper and enjoy!

Monday Motivation: Wouldn’t It Be A Great Thing

positivity, body image, good features,, monday, motivation

Week in Training (January 19th to 25th)

Monday Frittata 2

Happy Sunday! I hope you’re having a lovely weekend!

The frittata above is what I ate for breakfast on Monday as I planned out my workouts for the week in my beautiful Lorna Jane journal. Apologies for the badly lit picture as I took it in a hurry – I was hungry and could not wait to eat! :)

Workout-wise, this week was a good week. I managed to get in six workouts, leaving Sunday as a day of rest. That made me feel really good and I was able to tuck into this lovely late lunch on Saturday at the Raffles Hotel without feeling the least bit guilty.

raffles, lunch, oysters, seafood, prawns, octopus, Perth, tapas

We had beers, oysters, garlic prawns and octopus, and my friend asked me to be a witness at her wedding! I am so excited and feel so blessed that she thought of me and wanted me to be a part of such an important event in her life. Plus, I can’t wait to start planning her hen’s night!

Right now, I am typing this while watching Nick Kyrgios play Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open on TV. It’s been such an exciting game and now it’s down to who wins the final set! Go, Nick!

I am really getting into my tennis this year!

I am also getting into my yoga and stretching this year! This week I took my first yoga class of 2015. It’s also probably only my second or third yoga class ever as I usually just take a Body Balance class, which is a mix of yoga, Pilates and tai chi.

Right away when I walked in, I was impressed. As the class is offered at my local gym, for some reason I didn’t expect it to be a proper yoga class. But there was incense! And yoga straps and yoga blocks! I was a little apprehensive as I wasn’t sure what we were supposed to do with them but I’ve kind of figured that they’re there to be used for when you haven’t quite reached the flexibility required with certain poses.

Our instructor was really lovely and she seemed quite knowledgeable. She talked to us a lot about each pose and what we should be doing with our bodies and that reminded me of something the yoga instructor down at Bunker Bay told us, that a really good, experienced yoga instructor would spend a lot of time talking you through the poses and explaining things. Plus, all right, this is probably just impressive for a yoga rookie, but I was fairly impressed by how she reeled off the proper Indian names for each pose. No ‘triangle pose’ for her – instead, we say trikonasana!

She also had a fun suggestion for the class, that we would cycle through each of the four elements over the next four weeks. So for this class, we would focus on the earth element. I was a little disappointed though as, due to my shift work, I wouldn’t be able to attend some of the classes. But hopefully I’ll be able to get to more yoga classes in the future! The poses were a lot harder than I anticipated and I can’t wait to take on this challenge, get a lot more flexible and improve my core. :)

The weather this week has been a lot cooler and I was able to get in some decent runs. Right now, I’m really enjoying this combination right now of outdoor runs and indoor gym classes. I feel it’s a really good mix of weights, cardio and stretching!

Happy long weekend to my Australian readers and I hope everyone else is having a great Sunday and an equally great start to the week!

January 19th to 25th:

  • Monday: 7.5km run
  • Tuesday: Yoga
  • Wednesday: 3km run
  • Thursday: 5km run
  • Friday: Body Pump
  • Saturday: Body Combat
  • Sunday: Rest Day

Literary Jottings

perth writers festival

This happened a month ago but I only found out about it this week. Neil Gaiman recites Lewis Carroll’s The Jabberwocky in a wintry forest.

Also, in response to the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks, Gaiman and artist Chris Riddell release their credo on the freedom of ideas. Also, click here for Salman Rushdie’s response on religion and the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

In the wake of these attacks, though, it’s easy once again to blame Islam for everything villainous in the world. Saladdin Ahmed offers a refreshing take on Muslim and Western views in his wonderful short story Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joywhich is based loosely on Edmund Spenser’s allegorical poem The Faerie Queene. 

The Perth Writer’s Festival is back! I’ve already booked myself in for two workshops and look forward to seeing authors like Elizabeth Gilbert, Hilary Mantel, Kate Forsyth and Joe Abercrombie.

Is the newspaper comic strip dying? Lindsay Foyle ponders the slow death of the beloved comic strip in newspapers in the New Matilda.

Remember being scared stiff by Tim Curry’s Pennywise the Clown in the TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s It? Well, prepare yourself for goosebumps once more as True Detective director Cary Fukunaga signs on to film the movie adaptation of ItBathrooms are going to be a dangerous place again.

Now that I’ve hit 30, it’s quite comforting to see this infographic poster charting the age of famous authors when they first published their breakthrough books. If you’re no Zadie Smith or Bret Easton Ellis and like me, you’re despairing at the thought of ever catching up, you might breath a sigh of relief at this. Authors, there’s still time!

And finally, loving this article on Refinery29 on how Asian actors are finally breaking through the Hollywood sidekick stereotype. I’ve never heard of Selfie before, but I’m definitely planning to get my hands on this series.

Reading List

reading list, cloud atlas, the lies of locke lamora, margaret atwood, stone mattress,, the book of strange new things, Station Eleven

You’d think that the world would be tired of post-apocalyptic premises after so many zombie movies, but two new talked-about books published in late 2014 have offered a fresh new spin on the genre. Michael Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things turns out to be less about the alien world most of the book is set in and more about a born-again Christian and preacher struggling with his faith and the gradual breaking down of his marriage. The book drew me in with its slow hypnotic pace, though at times the characters made me want to throw a brick at them rather than empathise with them. Meantime, two months on after reading Emily St John Mandel’s utterly poignant and beautiful Station Eleven, the book still touches a chord deep within me with its tale of various characters, each one searching for something – something – amid the loneliness and heartache of their lives (for a more in-depth review of the book, head to this space).

The Lies of Locke Lamora and Cloud Atlas are two older books which have been on my To Be Read list for some time. Locke Lamora is a name that just rolls off the tongue and the buzz this book has been creating ever since it hit bookshelves has intrigued me up to the point where I’ve finally bitten the bullet and bought the Kindle version. It’s a tale of thieves (both gallant and merciless), magic and alchemy, lots of lies (the book definitely lives up to its name) and a beautiful Venice-esque setting. Plus, there are any number of strong female characters who hold their own in this book, something I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of in the fantasy genre. The book doesn’t quite have me reaching for my credit card to buy up the rest of the series in a heartbeat the way Jacqueline Carey’s medieval fantasy Kushiel series did (that woman is a veritable sorceress with words) but I might be shelling out some cash soon for the rest of the Gentleman Bastard series, if only so I may dive further into Scott Lynche’s eerily beautiful and complex world outside the City of Camorr and also to find out just what the mysterious female con artist Sabetha is truly like.

As for Cloud Atlas, I’ve not seen the movie yet, though the trailer was what first led me to this book. I had a feeling I’d understand the movie, with its six interconnecting story lines, better if I read the book first and if anything, I’m more eager than ever to watch the film. David Mitchell is a genius in the way he’s able to apply a wholly unique and genuinely believable voice to each of his six story lines – from the 18th century puritanical tone of The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing to the careless, incorrigible letters of the charming but dishonest musician Robert Frobisher to the slangy, ungrammatical voice of the suspicious Sloosha in Sloosha’s Crossin’, Mitchell delivers up a composition as superb as his character Frobisher’s Sextet, without one false or jarring note to mar the piece as a whole.

Finally, to be read: Margaret Atwood‘s latest, a compilation of nine short stories in Stone MattressI’ve always enjoyed Atwood’s full-length novels, especially the MaddAddam trilogy, and can’t wait to dive into this new book of hers, which promises to be filled with her usual acerbic wit and startling observations about humanity, the future and the world that we live in.

A Reason for Being: Chapter Eleven

Point of Negation, A reason for being, death to stock photos

Chapter Eleven

 

Home was not an option for Meredith.

She knew that even as she boarded the flight out of Honduras that would take her home, back to Berninski. She knew it the moment she came back, back to the streets and the places she’d known since she was a child.

Guilt, shame, and self-loathing swirled through her, cutting at her from the inside, inciting sharp twinges of the Wildness. Sleep was an impossibility, to say nothing of peace. She tossed and turned, often jerking awake, remembrances flooding through her before she opened her eyes. Tyler. The look on his face when the psychic pronounced her a Wild One. His body, lying in a pool of blood. The psychic’s hesitation when Meredith asked if he would be all right. She began to eschew sleep, spending most of her nights prowling the house, prowling the streets.

One morning, perhaps some two weeks after she’d come home, she woke up from yet another restless night and knew at once that something was wrong. Leaping out of bed, she hurtled through the house, the Wildness bursting out of her just as she reached the back door, blowing the screen door off its hinges. She leapt into the pool at the back of the house just in time to quench the explosion.

She stayed underwater for a long time and when she surfaced, she was shivering violently – and not just from the temperature of the water.

Her uncle’s property backed onto three other yards, separated only by tall, thin sheets of aluminium fencing. She could hear children squealing and laughing, playing only metres from where she treaded water.

Meredith left town within the next hour. READ MORE

Recipe: Bruschetta

Bruschetta, toast, bread, tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, balsamic vinegar

Bruschetta for brunch, anyone?

I love this simple little meal, either for breakfast or as a snack. It’s so quick and easy, and the flavours just burst in your mouth!

Bruschetta, toast, bread, tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, balsamic vinegar

I’m falling back in love with bread again. To be honest, I never really fell out of love with it. Bread is one of the best things in the world, in my opinion. But for a while, I kind of *tried* to stay away from it because, well, everyone was staying away from it. Bread was the dreaded carb-loaded temptress sitting pretty in quaint woven baskets at restaurant tables, served with creamy, golden pats of butter and, god forbid, sea salt. No one worth their thigh gap would be caught eating bread. As Blair Waldorf said to Serena van der Woodsen in Gossip Girl, “You haven’t eaten bread since middle school!” (although, to be honest, she had been spotted eating bread in the last episode. See? Even the gorgeous Serena can’t say no to bread.)

Bruschetta, toast, bread, tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, balsamic vinegar

But to be honest? Thigh gaps are so passé. And so is not eating bread. Bread is awesome! Bread is fine as long as we’re not gorging ourselves on entire loaves of it a day (something I was totally guilty of back in my carefree skinny-metabolism teenage days). Wholewheat bread is healthy and yummy, especially when spread with creamy fresh avocado or a couple of carefully poached eggs runny with golden yolk. Or, as we have here, wholewheat bread served with scrumptious fresh tomatoes on the top and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. All hail bread, the queen of grains!

Bruschetta, toast, bread, tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, balsamic vinegar

Easy-Peasy Bruschetta (Serves one)

Ingredients:

  • Two slices of wholewheat bread
  • Four to six cherry, grape or roma tomatoes
  • Fresh parsley
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Pepper

Directions:

Toast your bread. Wash and slice the tomatoes up into very small pieces and arrange on top of your toast. Garnish with fresh parsley. Drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy guilt-free on a lazy Saturday morning with a cup of tea and your favourite magazine!