Playing Catch Up

Hi everyone! Happy Tuesday~

I am so sorry about the blogging absence! There is a very good reason for it, I promise. Just take a look at the last couple of days:

Friday: Packed 1 month’s worth of clothing, snacks, and work materials into a beast of a suitcase, made a big pot of vegan chili, opened a bottle of red wine, and watched season 1 of The OC with Tats (not that he likes the show or anything…) It’s our last weekend together before I am gone for a month so I wanted to make this an extra cozy and special weekend, just the two of us :)

Saturday: Last Saturday in town so I decided to “live it up” by doing all the things I love and take a break from cooking all the time! I worked out with Tats, had vegan ramen (very gross, actually) from Ippudo for brunch, and had dinner at ABC Cocina (decent vegan options). At ABC Cocina, we ordered the shaved brussels sprouts salad with marcona almonds, mushroom and kale tacos, guacamole, and roasted ruby red grapefruit salsa. YUM!!! The food was absolutely amazing, but the service was very much lacking. When we asked our waiter what he recommended off the menu, he replied “Food”. Gee, thanks guy.

Anyhow, we didn’t let a mean server ruin our night. Afterwards we went to Blue Smoke to watch a live jazz band, the Houston Person band, and it was awesome. We stayed for two consecutive shows and I had two dirty martinis :P

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This vegan ramen from Ippudo was actually offensively bad. First of all, it was served in a witch’s cauldron. Second, it contained under-cooked red rice, taro balls that were frozen in the middle, a sickeningly sweet vegan broth made from who knows what, about 10 noodles, and a random handful of goji berries. And it was $18 a bowl!! Someone call the nasty food police!

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These vegetable buns from Ippudo were not bad at least, but they weren’t great either. They are made of deep fried mushrooms and eggplant with a sweet and sour sauce. $10? No, sir. Ippudo, what happened to you? You used to be so… good…

Sunday: I slashed my mobile plan by 2/3 by switching from AT&T to T-Mobile (more on how to do this later, this is a great idea for anyone on AT&T!). Then I had brunch with my sister and Tats at Bareburger in the Lower East Side, shopped at the Eyes Lip Face concept store ($3 for makeup!) and worked out at P57.

FYI – Bareburger is a fantastic, affordable place for a healthy and filling meal that will satisfy all kinds of eaters. Tats and my sister, who are both carnivores, had meat burgers while I had a black bean burger, and everyone was very happy with their selection. In addition to our burgers we also got fries and onion rings to share. It was around $17/ person, tax and tip all in! And they have locations all over NYC.

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Now THIS was a good burger! It’s a vegan black bean burger with cilantro, tomatoes, vegan cheese, lettuce, red onion and portobello mushroom. It was DELICIOUS! I highly recommend this place.

Monday – Tuesday: Commuting to Long Island for work! And I am sharing my screen with many other people so it’s near impossible to do a lunch-time post. I’m also working about 12 hours a day trying to wrap everything up before my business trip, during which I’ll be in training all day and won’t have time for daily business.

As you can see, these past couple days have been jam packed, and I really haven’t had the time to sit down and write a meaningful post! Even this one, as I’m writing it, is rushed because I have a 4 pm deadline.

But, I just wanted to say hello and let you know that I’m still putzing around, just very busy. I should get a break after this Wednesday, when I will be back on my regular schedule and no longer commuting to Long Island. Then, I will be able to share recipes and more pictures from the week in detail :)

Anyhow, how have you guys been doing?

Love,
Ting

Soy Radish, Watercress and Kale Salad

Happy hump day everyone!

I wanted to do a lunchtime post but things kept coming up at work. Let’s just say “programming” is not my strong suit. *Shiver*

Finally I can take a breather and share a recipe for a salad I made on Sunday evening to pack for this week’s lunches. I usually eat my go-to kale salad for lunch but this time I decided to switch it up since I’ve literally been eating it for almost 3 weeks straight now. Plus I had leftover watercress (from making my lightened tahini vegtable soup) and some beautiful red radishes.

I also switched up the dressing a bit and included soy sauce! I know it sounds a little random to toss in considering my other ingredients include olive oil and lemon juice, but it added a great smokiness and lots of umami flavor.

Here’s the recipe! 

Soy Radish, Watercress and Kale Salad

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by Ting Ba

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Keywords: raw appetizer entree salad side sugar-free vegan vegetarian low-carb nut-free gluten-free radish hemp hearts watercress soy sauce

Ingredients (Serves 4)

    For the Dressing

    • 2 tbs olive oil
    • 1 1/2 tbs soy sauce
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon

    For the Salad

    • 1 bundle kale, stems removed and shredded
    • 2 large handfuls watercress
    • 6-7 red radishes, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
    • 3/4 cup mushrooms, diced
    • 3 tbs hemp hearts
    • 1-2 pinches salt

    Instructions

    For the Dressing

    Combine dressing ingredients and whisk till emulsified. Alternatively you can use a food processor.

    For the Salad

    In a large bowl, pour dressing over shredded kale, massage dressing into kale and set aside while chopping other ingredients.

    Add the remaining salad ingredients to shredded kale and toss well to combine.

    Allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving for flavors to develop. Taste again and adjust for seasoning.

    Cooking Notes

    Start with just one pinch of salt. After resting for an hour in the fridge, re-taste to determine if another pinch or so is needed.

    Use gluten-free soy sauce if necessary.

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    FYI – this mason jar of mine holds two cups, which I always jam-pack to the brim and then literally force the cap down. I usually eat around 12pm and a salad of this size keeps me full till about 3pm or so when I snack on an apple and almonds.

    Even in the dead of winter (can you BELIEVE it’s snowing again today???) I eat salads for lunch everyday. Before whenever it got cold I used to crave hot chocolate, hot chocolate and more chocolate :P Not that I don’t crave it anymore… but I also crave big veggie salads! Progress!

    Okay I gotta run. Stay tuned for a post about my upcoming month-long business trip to Switzerland and my healthy eating strategies!

    Love,
    Ting

    Lightened Tahini Vegetable Soup

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    Good morning everyone! Happy Tuesday!

    So over this past weekend, the weather was wonderful. That picture above is of our apartment basking in the sunlight! It was still chilly and windy outside, but the sun was out and the skies were clear blue. After a good workout on Saturday morning, I stopped byWesterly Market and bought some provisions to make a soup that reflected the weather and my high spirits.

    I didn’t have a recipe in mind at all, I just had a general sense of what I wanted to eat: a light soup featuring fresh vegetables with a hint of creaminess. I shopped around for ingredients until an idea started to form, then quickly went home and got to work because I was starving.

    After 30 minutes or so of chopping ingredients and cooking, the soup was done and the result was a flavorful, light yet creamy vegetable soup that is sure to be part of my repertoire.

                  Lightened Tahini Vegetable Soup

    recipe_image

    by Ting Ba

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    Keywords: blender saute entree soup/stew gluten-free nut-free soy-free sugar-free vegan vegetarian low-carb watercress scallions tahini mushrooms spring

    Ingredients (Serves 4)

    • 2 tbs olive oil
    • 1 small red onion, quartered
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped into uniform, bite-sized pieces
    • 3 scallion stalks, chopped into 1 inch pieces
    • 1 cup white button mushrooms, quartered
    • 4 cups vegetable stock
    • 2 tbs tahini
    • 1 handful of watercress
    • Salt & pepper

    Instructions

    For the creamy soup base

    Combine tahini and 1 cup of vegetable broth in a blender and blend till smooth and creamy. Make sure tahini is dissolved and there is no separation.

    For the vegetable soup

    Heat oil in a dutch oven or medium-sized stockpot over medium heat till shimmering. Add onions and cook till softened and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook and stir another 2 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt.

    To the dutch oven, add carrots and stir for 2 minutes, add scallions and stir for 2 minutes, and finally add mushrooms and stir till they have released their liquids, about 3-4 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt.

    Pour creamy soup base and remaining 3 cups of vegetable stock into dutch oven, bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 20 minutes. Make sure to check halfway in between to stir and adjust for seasoning.

    After 20 minutes, throw in handful of watercress and simmer for another 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Serve immediately with a piece of crusty bread and your favorite glass of white wine.

    Cooking Notes

    Feel free to substitute the vegetables for whatever is in season. I highly recommend throwing in a handful of watercress towards the end, it not only lends a earthy flavor but watercress is so very good for you!

    If you want a creamier soup base, add more tahini. This is meant to be a lighter soup, but if you want, you can add up to a 1/4 cup.

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    Key ingredients. Feel free to substitute these vegetables for whatever is in season!

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    Key ingredients. Feel free to substitute these vegetables for whatever is in season!

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    Add vegetable stock and creamy soup base.

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    Boil then bring to a simmer for 20 minutes. Finally add watercress and simmer for another 5 minutes.

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    The watercress will become bright green and wilted.

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    This was the perfect lunch for the first “spring” like day we’ve had in almost 6 months!

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    You can add noodles, vermicelli or tofu cubes if you crave something heavier.

    Note that I did not blend my tahini with 1 cup vegetable stock in a blender, I mixed it by hand because my blender was in the dishwasher – DOH! Homer Simpson moment. Definitely do not mix by hand and expect it to fully dissolve. The taste will still be great, but it won’t look quite as pretty ;)

    I’m on a real spring bender right now. I’m switching out my wardrobe and putting away the heavy grey sweaters for brighter colored cardigans. And yes, I do realize that the forecast says it will snow tomorrow. LOL. I swear, one weekend of blue skies is all it takes for me to get excited! Sigh… did I tell you I’m originally from California??

    Have a great Tuesday everyone! See you later today :) I have yet another salad recipe to share!

    Love,
    Ting