Z for zucchini for #AtoZChallenge: zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe

Zucchini, also known as courgette / 夏南瓜, is a summer squash. A funny poem about zucchini and summer entitled Attack of the Squash People by Marge Piercy goes:

“And thus the people every year

in the valley of humid July

did sacrifice themselves to the long green phallic god

and eat and eat and eat.

They’re coming, they’re on us,

the long striped gourds,

the silky babies, the hairy adolescents,

the lumpy vast adults like the trunks of green elephants.

Recite fifty zucchini recipes!

Zucchini tempura; creamed soup;

sauté with olive oil and cumin,

tomatoes, onion; frittata;

casserole of lamb; baked topped with cheese;

marinated; stuffed; stewed;

driven through the heart like a stake.

Get rid of old friends:

they too have gardens and full trunks.

Look for newcomers:

befriend them in the post office,

unload on them and run.

Stop tourists in the street.

Take truckloads to Boston.

Give to your Red Cross.

Beg on the highway:

please take my zucchini,

I have a crippled mother at home with heartburn.

Sneak out before dawn to drop them in other people’s gardens,

in baby buggies at church doors.

Shot, smuggling zucchini into mailboxes, a federal offense.

With a suave reptilian glitter

you bask among your raspy fronds sudden and huge as alligators.

You give and give too much, like summer days limp with heat,

thunderstorms bursting their bags on our heads,

as we salt and freeze and pickle for the too little to come.”

Zucchini contains useful amounts of folate / folic acid (24 μg/100 g), potassium (280 mg/100 g) and vitamin A (384 IU [115 μg]/100 g).

While looking for star anise (for sea cucumber recipe) at Bishan NTUC Fairprice Finest, I came across yellow zucchini – products of Malaysia. Since it has been produced regionally, I asked myself, “why not try a new dish with zucchini?”

zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe by ServicefromHeart

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 30 Wed, I lovingly present a recipe of zucchini bok choy stir-fry.

zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe by ServicefromHeart

Dear loves it, he describes zucchini as being slightly similar to aubergine / eggplant.

Servings: 2

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 7 minutes or until crispy tender


♥ 1 zucchini (夏南瓜), washed & julienned

♥ 2 bok choy (小白菜), washed & cut

♥ 5 cherry tomatoes (樱桃番茄)

♥ 1 tbsp olive oil (橄榄油)

♥ 1 tbsp peanut butter (花生酱)

♥ 1 knob ginger (), minced

♥ 5 cloves garlic (蒜头), minced

♥ 1 tsp dried shrimp (虾米), minced

♥ 1 tsp DOM Bénédictine (法国廊酒)

♥ pepper (胡椒粉) to taste


1. Wash & cut zucchini & bok choy.

2. Sautee ginger, garlic, dried shrimp with heated olive oil until fragrant.

3. Add zucchini, peanut butter, DOM, pepper.

4. Add bok choy & stir-fry until cooked.

5. Garnish with cherry tomatoes.

zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe by ServicefromHeart


♥ If you buy green color zucchini, Choose bright green color one with a max length of 25-30 cm. Larger ones may be bitter.

♥ May I also suggest an easy recipe of zucchini soup with meatballs?

zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe by ServicefromHeart

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.
With love,


Y for yogurt for #AtoZChallenge: classic yogurt salad recipe

Friends and people in Turkey, Greek, Eastern Europe, India have commonly enjoyed classic yogurt salad. I have to acknowledge Rani, an Indian stall, for inspiring me to include the classic salad as a frequent dish item in our family meals, starting in late 2013. Baby Ren’s Daddy loves it a lot.

classic yogurt salad recipe by ServicefromHeart

Hard-working students, ambitious career professionals, and multi-tasking mothers love how very fast and easy this recipe is to prepare.

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 29 Tue, I lovingly present a recipe of classic yogurt salad by ServicefromHeart.

Servings: 2

Preparation time: < 5 minutes


♥ 1 Japanese cucumber

♥ 1 red onion

♥ 5 tbsp low-fat plain / Greek yogurt

♥ 1/2 tsp black pepper

♥ 1 tbsp fresh cilantro (coriander), finely chopped

Other optional ingredients:

♥ carrot

♥ tomatoes

♥ blueberry

♥ sesame seeds

… over 100 salad ingredients!


1. Peel the Japanese cucumber, onion and chop into bite-size chunks.

2. Mix with yogurt and pepper.

3. Garnish with cilantro.

4. Serve immediately or put into the fridge before serving. It will taste better!

classic yogurt salad recipe by ServicefromHeart

♥ For variations, substitute cilantro with 1-2 tbsp fresh parsley or 1 tbsp fresh dill (莳萝) or 1 tsp fresh mint (薄荷).
♥ If you have more time, after chopping cucumber, put into freezer for up to 30 minutes or until just starting to freeze for crunchier cucumber.

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes, especially for salad!

With love,

X for XO for #AtoZChallenge: easy XO fried rice recipe

XO stands for eXtra Old for cognac – a variety of brandy liquor – that has been stored for a minimum of 6 years (from 2016 onward, a minimum of 10 years).

Cognac, named after the town Cognac in France, must be twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in Limousin or Tronçais oak barrels.

Since brandy has been used for:

♥ cake & pie toppings

♥ steak sauces

♥ soups such as onion soup

♥ Christmas pudding

♥ XO fish head bee hoon (thick noodle) in Singapore

May I recommend using XO cognac for simple home-cooked dishes like fried rice?

XO fried rice by ServicefromHeart
Since I was using leftover rice for baby Ren – which I purposely cooked softer, my fried rice was slightly soggy.

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 28 Mon, I lovingly present a recipe of XO fried rice by ServicefromHeart.

XO fried rice by ServicefromHeart
Colorful rice grains of mixed white, red, brown rice

Serving: 1

Preparation & cook time: < 15 minutes


♥ 1 bowl pre-cooked rice, dried & chilled

♥ 2 tbsp olive oil

♥ 1 tbsp sesame oil

♥ 2 cloves garlic, minced

♥ 1 slice ginger, minced

♥ 1 tsp anchovies powder

♥ 1 tsp dark soy sauce (kecap manis)

pepper, to taste

♥ 1 tbsp spring onions, chopped

♥ 2 tbsp XO cognac

♥ 1 egg

♥ 4 scallops (optional)

♥ 1 carrot, diced (optional)

♥ 1 stalk celery, sliced (optional)

♥ 1 tbsp peas (optional)


1. Heat oil using high heat to stir fry garlic and ginger until fragrant.

2. Sauté vegetables (carrots, celery, peas)

3. Add scallops. After a side is cooked, turn them over.

4. Add rice, pepper, anchovies powder, dark soy sauce. Stir to mix well.

5. Coat with sesame oil and XO for a shiny look. 6. Stir thoroughly.

7. Garnish with spring onions.


1. Use cold and dry cooked rice. You want to use firm rice grains because they are easier to separate while stir-frying them. This choice is important to prevent your fried rice turning out soggy or mushy. To remove moisture, you can either (A) air freshly-cooked rice and then refrigerate the rice for a minimum of two hours or (B) use leftover rice from the night before.

2. Use medium to long grain rice such as medium grain of jasmine rice. Choose the sturdy grains that don’t clump together when fried. Avoid short grain sushi rice or glutinous rice, which is softer and tends to stick together.

3. To acquire the smoky, slight burnt flavor, use high heat: a blazing hot pan / wok if possible. Add sufficient amount of oil to prevent your fried rice ingredients from sticking to the surface of pan. While the heat to stir fry our home-cooked version of fried rice may not be as hot as restaurants’ ones, we can pre-heat our pan with a lid before adding ingredients.

4. To ensure thorough mixing of flavors and aroma, cook 1 to 2 servings at a time.

5. To have a crunchy texture, include vegetables like celery or long beans as ingredients.

6. For a stronger taste, you can pre-infuse your oil with ginger and garlic overnight.

7. To prevent the fried rice from turning out mushy or soggy, I prefer to separately cook the egg into a sunny side up or an omelette that can be thinly stripped to garnish on top of the fried rice.

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,

W for wolfberry for #AtoZChallenge: easy spinach soup with wolfberries recipe

Wolfberry is also known as goji berry (枸杞), desert thorn, or matrimony vine. When my eyes feel tired from staring too much into laptop, I remember Mom’s advice to have some wolfberries. They are versatile ingredients for tonic soups, porridge or congee, or herbal tea.

Wolfberries go well with a variety of dishes, simple ones include spinach soup.

In Southeast Asia, we often have spinach soup cooked with 3 different kinds of eggs: normal egg, salty egg, century egg. Home-cooked version of thin and clear spinach soup can be egg-free and simpler.

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 26 Sat, I lovingly present a recipe of easy spinach soup with wolfberries by ServicefromHeart.
easy spinach soup with wolfberries recipe by ServicefromHeart

Serving: 2 as a side dish
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes

♥ 1 packet spinach: sharp spinach (苋菜) or round spinach (菠菜)
♥ 1 tbsp anchovies / ikan bilis / ikan teri, rinsed
♥ 1 tbsp wolfberries
♥ 1 honey date (optional)
♥ 3 sticks imitation crab meat

1. Bring water to boil with anchovies and honey date to acquire salty and sweet tastes, respectively.
2. Before boiling, add wolfberies and imitation crab meat.
3. Meanwhile, wash thoroughly spinach.
4. After boiled, add spinach. Stir. Be careful not to overcook.
easy spinach soup with wolfberries recipe by ServicefromHeart

♥ It is best to consume this meal immediately. Mom warned not to eat
left-over spinach dishes. Why? Spinach is rich in nitrate(which is
reduced to nitrite) and Fe2+ (oxidation of Fe2+ results in Fe3+).
♥ Rinsing and soaking wolfberries are also important to remove pesticides and fungicides.

Other recipes that I love:
♥ Nirmala Ganesh’s spinach soup at Lil Spice & Lil Stir
♥ Wiffy’s Chinese spinach in superior broth at Noob Cook

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,

V for vegetables for #AtoZChallenge: homemade vegetable & fruit soak for washing

Do you grow your own fruits & vegetables? If yes, I am really envious of you. For many of us who rely on commercially produced fruits & vegetables, there are concerns of pesticide residues found on the skins of many fruits & vegetables.

homemade vegetable & fruit soak for washing by ServicefromHeart

The Dirty Dozen chart put out by the EWG (US-based Environmental Working Group) lists the fruits and vegetables most impacted by chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Image is a courtesy of Cybele Masterman @ Blah Blah Magazine


While the soft skins of fruits are edible and contain nutrients, I often peel them away.

In the past, I just used water to clean our fruits & vegetables before consuming. Now, I try to wash more thoroughly using homemade wash, thanks to vinegar & salt.

In brief, wash – peel – wash – cut into bite chunks – eat.
homemade vegetable & fruit soak for washing by ServicefromHeart

Colorful vegetables and fruits always make us happy!

homemade vegetable & fruit soak for washing by ServicefromHeart



Vinegar is typically 4-18% acetic acid by mass. Table vinegar tends to be more diluted (4% to 8% acetic acid).

PRO of vinegar:

♥ have antibacterial and anti mold properties.

♥ The acetic acid in vinegar can effectively kill mycobacteria, even highly drug-resistant strains (PMID: 24570366)

♥ remove clogs from drains. Agnes has used vinegar to remove stains from toilet bowl.

Please be careful:

Acetic acid is a strong eye, skin, and mucous membrane irritant. Concentrated acetic acid is corrosive, please use dilution with water.



homemade vegetable & fruit soak for washing by ServicefromHeart

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 25 Fri, I lovingly present a recipe to make homemade vegetable fruit soak:

♥ 200 ml white vinegar (白醋)
♥ 800 ml filtered water (过滤水)


1. Add water to a large stainless steel pot with a lid. The lid helps to minimize the irritant nature of vinegar.

2. Add white vinegar following a ratio of 1:4 for vinegar:water. Stir to mix.

3. If the vegetables or fruits float, swirl them around.

4. Soak duration varies. For green vegetables & lettuces, 5 minutes. For delicate fruits (e.g. strawberries, blueberries), 5-10 minutes. For others (e.g. broccoli, bell peppers), do not soak for more than 30 minutes to minimize the loss of nutrients.

5. Gently scrub & rinse well. Use a colander if possible.

6. Air dry for a while before storing them in the fridge. Wet vegetables will not last long, alternatively use clean kitchen cloth towels to wipe.

Other tips that I love:

♥ DIY Fruit and Vegetable Wash by Mary Younkin @ Barefeet in the Kitchen

♥ DIY Homemade Vegetable Wash/ Preserver by Kearna @ Fabulessly Frugal

homemade fruit vegetable spray by ServicefromHeart

♥ Do not soak mushrooms because they absorb water. Use a brush & invert the cap to remove dust & dirts under running water.

homemade vegetable & fruit soak for washing by ServicefromHeart

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,

U for udang for #AtoZChallenge: udang tim DOM (steamed DOM prawns)

Hello seafood lovers! Spending my early years in Indonesia – an archipelago with 18,307 islands*, I grew up loving seafood greatly. We had them fresh and relatively inexpensive as compared to landlocked regions.

* according to a 2002 survey by National Institute of Aeronautics and Space of Indonesia (LAPAN).

Udang is an Indonesian name for prawn. Initially, I wanted to prepare wasabi prawn but changed my mind as its recipe requires deep frying. Our little kitchen has no separation from our living room, so I agree not to deep-fry anything, as it will cause the couch and living room floor turning oily.

Quoting Plato, “necessity is the mother of invention,” I am motivated to think of ways to prepare delicious prawn dish without deep frying.

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 24 Thu, I lovingly present a recipe of udang tim DOM / 法国廊酒蒸 / steamed DOM prawns.

steamed DOM prawns by ServicefromHeart


DOM Bénédictine (法国廊酒) is a Made-in-France medicinal herbal liqueur beverage (1) developed in 1510 in a Benedictine monastery in Abbey of Fécamp, Normandy, France, and later (2) rediscovered by Alexandre Le Grand in 1863. 

DOM stands for “Deo Optimo Maximo” (“To God, most good, most great”) and is a commonly used abbreviation at the beginning of documents of the Benedictine Order. Aspiring like the highly dedicated manual & intellectual work of the Benedictine monks for God, we sincerely hope to produce delicious and nutritious meals with optimum and maximum love for our loved ones.

While the exact recipe of this 40%-alcohol liqueur is a closely guarded secret hitherto, we know that it is distilled in antique hammered copper pot stills and aged in oak barrels for four months.

Nowadays, the ingredients include 27 ingredients. The list includes herbs and spices such as angelica, hyssop, juniper, myrrh, saffron, aloe, arnica & cinnamon.

When I just delivered baby Ren, I was given several bottles of DOM. The generations of our parents and grandparents believe that luxurious DOM helps mothers to recover from childbirth, especially during confinement. Thank you for such a gift with over 500 years of tradition!


Servings: 2

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes or until prawns are cooked


♥ 6 large prawns (known as shrimps in US)

♥ 3 cloves garlic (蒜头), minced OR 1 small knob ginger (), sliced

♥ 1 tbsp sesame oil (麻油)

♥ 1 tsp DOM Bénédictine (法国廊酒)

♥ 1 tsp salt ()

Below are optional:

♥ 1 tsp wolfberries / Goji berries (枸杞子), washed & soaked

♥ 1 tsp light soy sauce (kecap asin)

♥ 1 tsp coriander / cilantro (胡荽叶) / parsley (香菜), finely chopped


1. Trim the head and tail end of the prawns using a pair of scissors.

2. Devein both back & under sides using a tooth pick.

3. Soak deveined prawns in salted water (to enhance the texture) for 10 minutes, drain & rinse.

4. Place ginger / garlic at the bottom of bowl, prawns on top of ginger.

5. Sprinkle DOM and sesame oil on top of prawns.

6. Steam at high heat until prawns cooked & turn orange (check once in a while to prevent overcooking). Cover bowl with aluminum foil.

steamed DOM prawns by ServicefromHeart

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,

T for tomato for #AtoZChallenge: chopped tomato salad recipe by ServicefromHeart

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 23 Wed, I prepare an easy chopped tomato salad recipe. Hope you enjoy it!

Tomato is rich in lycopene, a powerful natural antioxidant, which is good for our health. Tomato consumption is potentially beneficial to reduce cardiovascular risk associated with type 2 diabetes.

Servings: 2
Preparation time: < 5 minutes

♥ 6 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
♥ 2 scallions, cut into rings
♥ 2 tbsp sesame oil
♥ 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
♥ 1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Mix vinegar, sesame oil, black pepper in a bowl.
2. Chop tomatoes and scallions. Mix with the dressing.

This simple and light healthy salad recipe is inspired by the recipe of chopped tomato salad with scallions from the book 500 salads by Susannah Blake (page 68). Thank you!

♥ Try also variations by substituting scallions (daun bawang) with basil leaves (daun kemanggi).
♥ Serve this salad with garlic bread or a bowl of hot soup.
♥ Always use ripe tomatoes to avoid any potential plant toxicity. Normally, I discard the green leaves.

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipe.

With love,