Recipe: Creamy Pumpkin Cauliflower Soup

I’M ALIVE, PEOPLE. And today, I have another long-overdue recipe to share with you!

After the first few days of Chinese New Year, I’ve been cooking a whole lot more because I’ve inevitably gained weight from the influx of rubbish junk food I’d been gorging on (pineapple tarts, bak kwa, etc etc). I couldn’t wait to get back to real, wholesome food. I love my Chinese New Year snacks, but lawd, they’re unhealthy.

I realized that I don’t have the time to tediously shoot step-by-step cooking tutorial pictures (they are a lot more trouble than they look) which is the number one thing that throws me off actually getting around to documenting my cooking… Whenever I’m in the kitchen, I’m always in a rush because I’m either 1) very hungry or 2) cooking for anticipating guests, so taking over an hour to record a purposefully-visually-appealing recipe is out of the question on most days! So, I decided to just do away with in-process pictures for easier recipes, and show you the final product that you can expect. This way, it’s a lot more manageable for me.. you guys can also expect more frequent posts!  I promise the recipes will still be easy to follow.

One of my favorite things to whip up in the kitchen to impress my friends would definitely be a good bowl of hearty soup. It seems straightforward enough, but impressive when you nail it. You wouldn’t BELIEVE how difficult it is to get a good bowl of soup outside. Most Western restaurants in Singapore either serve diluted, tasteless, blah tasting flavored water they call SOUP, or overly-starchy soups that taste like Campbell’s. It’s ridiculous.

Because soup has to be one of the best things to cook at home, for many reasons! It’s cheap, fuss free and extremely forgiving towards amateur cooks. It warms your tummy and soul, it’s great food for the sick (and the healthy!) and well, there’s really no good reason why you shouldn’t make soup at home. Here’s my own rendition of an absolutely delicious Pumpkin Cauliflower Soup for you to try! You will need a blender for this.

Ingredients (4 servings):

  •  4 strips of bacon
  •  500g pumpkin, de-gutted
  •  150g cauliflower, roughly chopped
  •  600ml full cream milk
  •  1 cube chicken stock 
  •  1 medium white onion, diced
  •  3 cloves garlic, minced
  •  salt & pepper to taste
  •  sprig of thyme & paprika for garnishing (optional)


Directions:

  1. Boil cauliflower & pumpkin in a large pot until very soft to the touch, then remove skin from pumpkin and cut into 2cm chunks, set aside together with cauliflower.
  2. While your vegetables are boiling, fry the bacon in a non-stick pan until brown and crisp around the edges. You won’t need any oil for this. Cut the bacon with kitchen scissors into small pieces.
  3. Pour out 95% of excess oil from frying the bacon, reserving the last 5% to sautee onions and garlic for 5 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Add boiled cauliflower & pumpkin to the pan, and stir for another 3 minutes.
  5. Pour in the milk and add chicken stock. Let this mixture gently simmer until chicken stock is fully dissolved.
  6. Using an electric blender, blend the chunky soup mixture on high until completely smooth, around 10 seconds.
  7. Return the soup to the pan, and check if consistency is to your liking. If too thick, add more milk to thin it out. If too thin, let it simmer for a few more minutes until the texture seems just right. Add salt/pepper to taste. Note that texture of soup will thicken as it cools.
  8. Serve immediately, garnish with sprig of thyme for that hint of freshness, sprinkle with paprika & more black pepper. I also like to drizzle mine with a little bit of milk and olive oil. Top off with bacon pieces.

An effortlessly creamy Pumpkin Cauliflower Soup that’s not overly rich, but hearty enough to keep your tummy satisfied.

It’s so smooth that people always assume it takes a long time to do, or that I use real cream in it.. neither of which is true! It’s light enough for lunch, and great as a side dish for dinner. I love the natural sweetness it has from the pumpkin – it goes so well together with the little bites of savory bacon pieces. The perfect blend of sweet & savory liquid food. This soup is always a huge hit at my dinner parties and I’ve honestly never met anyone that didn’t love it or finish their whole bowl, even people who don’t normally eat pumpkin! For the super health conscious, I guess you could skip the bacon and substitute with croutons or something… but where’s the fun in that? ;)

Happy soup making! This is one recipe for the family because it makes a big pot, great for sharing.

xoxo,
Jess

xoxo,
Jess

I cooked my way through Christmas 2013.

Golly.

I’m having Christmas withdrawal symptoms. I miss hearing soothing & cherry Christmas carols everywhere I go, I’m DEFINITELY going to miss the fairy lights and wonderful decorations… and most of all, I will miss the copious amount of justified FEASTING!!!

This year, Christmas came and went just like that.

I remember thinking, “Oh, it’s going to be Christmas soon.” And now here we are, 5 days after Christmas, which has well and truly gone. Is this seriously going to be how life works from now on? That the older you get, the faster time flies? If only Christmas could be a whole week long. I know technically there are 12 days of Christmas but nobody really seems to care from the 26th of December onward.

I cooked a lot this Christmas. In fact, I cooked for and hosted three different groups of friends and family throughout the week. It was A LOT of action in the kitchen. I realized that most pictures I took were of me and the food I made!



Here’s an example of one.

I love seeing men in the kitchen.

French onion soup and creamy chicken / bacon / mushroom spaghetti…. washed down with Somersby!!!!

And this was another party.

Yina was 3 whole hours early for the party, so she took a lot of Behind The Scenes pictures while I was prepping the food for everyone! That’s me cutting up apples and other delicious ingredients for my holiday salad. It had grapes, apples, oranges, pistachios, blueberries, onions, cherry tomatoes and greens, topped it all off with an apple cider vinegar dressing.

Mushroom soup in the making!

 I love making soups, they’re so fuss free. For mushroom soup, I just sautee mushrooms with onions, add stock and milk / cream then turn on my blender. It has never failed me and tastes about a thousand times better than any canned stuff!

We made a new Canadian friend, Clifford, and he stayed over at our new place for a night before he had to fly off! We put his muscly arms to good use, he was BBQing away for a good whole hour! All this whole enthusiastically donning a Santa hat. What a guy.

Chicken satay is my favorite type : )

After 3-4 hours of cooking and prepping, my hungry guests arrived… And as any of my house guests would tell you, the highlight to visiting my place would be the FOOD. I absolutely love cooking, especially for people who appreciate it – and these people always do!!!

Shepherd’s pie, chicken wings (thanks Nich for marinating them and bringing them over!!), deviled eggs, holiday salad, chorizo pasta, mushroom soup, BBQ-ed satay / bacon and peanut butter nutella fudge cake.

Did I cook all of this? Hell yes I did! : D

Of course, with much needed help from my DFW & friends. It’s a lot of work, but seeing the look on people’s faces as they eat your food and sing high praises is well worth it. I’m a show off like that.

Sam & I before feasting…. You know what I hate???

 Cooking perfectly hot food then having it turn cold while I take picture. But how do I NOT take pictures of the food and before eating?! /blogger pains/

Da boys and my messy house background (which will be seen in a lot of today’s pics)

Had quite a bit of alcohol this Christmas… *hic* And so did this cheeky monkey!

Say cheeeeeeeeeeze everybodeh!

What it looks like at our dining table.
Every. Single. Time. #noshame #itsourjob #actuallywearejustobsessed

If you try to take a bite out of the food before all photos are taken, you would be EXECUTED.

I absolutely ♥ these wonderful people.

Thank you for all the boisterous laughter and joy you brought to my new home!!!!!!!

You people never fail to make my heart lighter, no matter what sort of rough time I’m going through, I always forget my troubles and worries when I’m with you. It was such a fun and cosy little home party and I couldn’t think of any other way I would rather spend X’mas. After eating, we all sat in my living room and started caroling together…. Which was really strange but awesome. We took a hilarious video of us singing All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey (sooo many re-takes before we finally settled on one!) but it’s with Melissa at the moment!

THEY GOT ME A SURPRISE PRESENT TOO!!!!!!!

As I mentioned earlier, Yina arrived at house super early that day, much to my surprise, and she came with this huuuuuge box in tow. I was like “WHAT you got me a present?!!?!?” and she just smiled / smirk with raised eyebrows in typical Yina fashion…. LOL. Then she told me it was a combined gift from everyone and I was like awwwww.

I was so excited to open it because presents are extra special when you were totally NOT expecting one! For birthdays, you know you’re gonna get cool stuff, but for this X’mas dinner I told people they could brink drinks or otherwise come empty handed since I wasn’t planning to get any of them gifts either (just hosting the party and making food) but they got me a KICK ASS state of the art type of expensive microwave oven because I told Yina that mine was ruined, that very same afternoon. I was extremely upset when it happened,  it was damaged during a quarrel by accident, and I just ranted to Yina about my problems as usual… I never expected this thoughtful girl to rally everyone so last minute, and go out to Best Denki to buy it, carrying this massive thing to my house all by herself literally hours after I told her my microwave oven needed replacing.

Such an angel  ♥ ♥ ♥ :’) Thank you so much you crazy ass lovely people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Well as it turns out, my microwave oven DIDN’T need replacing in the end (just needs a new part to be bought in order to fix it) and since the one they got me was pricey and brand new, I didn’t want to waste their money by having two microwave ovens in the house…. (my house is too small for that)

Thus, I exchanged and topped up the microwave oven for a new camera instead!

I felt pretty hesitant and bad about it at first, for thinking of exchanging a present, but my friends were so kind and encouraging about it, insisting that I get something I actually need and no matter what they’re still happy to have contributed to a gift for me. I was OVER THE MOON when I laid my hands on my new camera – it’s a camera I’ve been lusting over for quite some time now.

Used my first little blue box & gorgeous Christmas pressie (*squeals* ♥_♥ rose gold with diamonds!!!!) as a model for some test shots, and it took awhile to get a hang of the new cam… but once I did, I couldn’t stop clicking away!!!

Definitely my favorite tree ornament of all time.

More food I made – this time for X’mas Eve dinner with the family!

This is bruschetta with cherry tomatoes, garlic spread & portobello before it goes into the oven.

Calamari rings

And my brilliant spur-of-the-moment invention – salted egg crab linguine with shrimps & sundried tomatoes.

It had curry leaves and chilli and salted egg like the traditional recipe, then I turned it into a creamy sauce with some thickened cream and olive oil. How’s that for fusion food?! Turned out pretty freakin’ awesome if I do say so myself!!!!! If I had a restaurant I would so sell this. And I would not be surprised if some months or years from now, I see restaurants / cafes start producing this dish! It’s a food phenomenon waiting to happen. : P

I had so many people talking about the pie from the previous party that I had to make another batch after that! I cooked a total of X4 the amount you see in the picture above for each party and gave away trays of homemade pies as Christmas gifts as well.

My cute little potted Christmas plant from Ikea. Sitting on a table (and chairs) also from Ikea. What happens when a 21 year old girl goes furniture shopping for her new house? She gets Ikea furniture for everything. Lol. Some day I will be able to afford designer furniture. But today, I’m happy being able to afford my own rent. Life has gotten a lot tougher these few years.

This one I didn’t make, my mom bought : P

Even though my gran is deeply religiously Buddhist, I still wanted her to come for Christmas dinner because I believe this holiday is meant for everyone of all religions, races, ages and beliefs to come together and appreciate their loved ones.

 I got her a gold necklace, and her reaction was just adorable!

She tried to slip it on via the top of her head but obviously it was too small for that, hahaha!

My aunt curiously looking on as I put on the necklace for my grandma… I hope she likes it and will think of me whenever she wears / sees it! She’s the only grandparent I actually ever got to know and spend time with, so I make sure she knows that she’s special whenever I can.

It’s become some sort of tradition to get my mom something from Chanel for Christmas. And the look on her face is always the same. : ‘)

That’s all my cake decorating supplies at the back!


Other random pics of Christmassy affairs…

My Christmas Day was spent looking at baby bunnies early in the afternoon (I’m getting a new one. AAAGGHHH THE FLUFF OVERLOAD WAIT TILL YOU SEE HER PICTURES) and then heading over to Marina Bay Sands for dinner and a stayover!

We may not have snow, we may not have real Christmas trees… we didn’t even have Turkey, or a mistletoe. But that’s okay. I had my loved ones to spend this holiday with. That’s more than any present Santa could bring me.

Happy New Year to all of you.. sending my love!!

xoxo,
Jess

xoxo,
Jess

Mio TV Wacky Food Creation

Love eating good food and watching TV? Congratulations, you’re just like every other Singaporean!!!

Singtel mio TV has been around in Singaporean households for 5 years now, and they’ve finally reached four hundred THOUSAND subscribers. 400k is a whopping number of viewers for a small island like ours! To give their thanks and show their appreciation, Singtel mio TV is bringing you this awesome competition where they bring you closer to all the action you see on your TV set!

My Wacky Food Creation Competition

What do I win? ♥ mio TV is offering a lucky subscriber a pair of tickets to dine with Michelin Star Chef Alvin Leung in Hong Kong. 3D2N return tickets and accommodation included!!!

How do I participate? ♥ Whip up a CRAZY, wacky, out of this world food creation.. take a picture of it, and describe your mad meal! Share it on Twitter, Facebook and other social media, then get all your friends to vote for you! The more votes you get, the higher your chances of winning.

How do I win? ♥ The top 5 most bizarre food art will be shortlisted and invited to a showdown, with the Judges’ top pick winning a pair of tickets to dine with Alvin Leung in Hong Kong.

That’s all there is to it. Straightforward, and tons of fun.

Visit this link for more information on contest mechanics and check out other participants’ entries! I think this competition calls my name!!!!  I am always in the kitchen so this is like second nature. But hey, you don’t have to a Master Chef to whip up fun and creative dish, let me show you just how you can come up with a unique and impressive Wacky Food Creation with some everyday cheap household items such as bread, cheese, seaweed, sausages & ham! This took me approximately an hour to do.

Here’s my submission for mio TV’s Wacky Food Creation, with instructional visuals… hopefully it will inspire you hopefuls out there to submit your own entries!!!



Let’s start off with these items. Toasted white bread, a large crispy seaweed sheet, sliced cheddar cheese and some green leaves! The brand of these items don’t matter, as long it looks similar to the colors it’s fine.

Next… I got some chicken sausages, fried them up and chopped them into halved pieces like so!

You’ll see which character it’s used for later ;D

I thought the toasts looked kinda plain so I buttered them, then sprinkled garlic/onion and paprika powder to give it some life and color. Paprika and some sprinkling of parsley flakes always does WONDERS for presentation!

Cutting out simple character shapes with ham, cheese, seaweed and a pair of scissors! Mummy always told me not to play with my food, but I think I can make an exception this time. ;) Mum, if I get to go to Hong Kong because of mio TV’s Wacky Food Creation contest, I’d bring you!!!

Check out the jiggly shape I’m cutting out!! *hint hint*

Can you see where this is going yet?

.
.
.
.
.
.
.

PSYDUCK!!! *Psyduck hurt itself in confusion*

Whaaaaaaat? Did I really just make epic pokemon characters out of some sliced cheese and bread like a boss?

Yes, I did. Is there a limit to my expansive talents?

….No. :P

I WANNA BE THE VERRRYYY BEST. That no one ever was!!!

To catch them is my real test, to eat them is my cause… JENG JENG JENG.

They say breakfast is the most important meal of your day. So why not make a breakfast the kids (and adults like myself lol) would LOVE to eat?! I promise they’ll wake up earlier every morning just to see which pokemon character you make next!!!! I know I would if my mum made me these when I was younger! My Saturday mornings used to spent watching pokemon at 10am on TV.

Jiiiiglypuff~ JigleEeeeeeeeePAHHFFF was made out of ham and seaweed! The red part of the mouth was tomato ketchup squeezed out of a piping bag.

I literally could not stop singing the Jigglypuff song in my head the whole time I was making these. I must be annoying to live with.

When I was researching which Pokemon I could re-create into food, I couldn’t get over how genius it would be to make Diglett out of a chicken sausage!!!! I mean he LOOKS like a sausage to begin with! :’D The green part is just some dark green vegetable.

YUMMY DIGLETT. 

Pikachu cut from cheese, the eyes from shortening… I choose you!!!!!!!! 

…………….
………….
……….
…….
…..

..
.

…Oops!!! Sorry Pika, you were too delicious! :(Mmmm mmm!

The most cutest breakfast ever, washed down with orange juice, which happens to be my favoritest drink in the whole wide world. Now that’s a great start to my day!!! And really, it wasn’t all that difficult to do. Messy? Yeah.. a little. But difficult? No, no really, just slightly tedious!

But was it worth it, considering this Wacky Food Creation entry could win me an expenses paid trip to Hong Kong to dine with a Michelin Star Chef, Alvin Leung?

HELLL YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What kind of Wacky Food Creation can you crazy people come up with to impress the judges of this mio TV competition? Get those creative juices flowing & your thinking cap on! It can be any type of food you want.. pasta, rice, anything you can cook and make it look as crazy or unique as possible.

Submit your own entry at this link, contest ends 22nd May so best to head to your nearest supermarket soon!

Have fun, and remember, you’re never too old to love Pokemon!

xoxo,
Jess

xoxo,
Jess
Previous Posts12345