Tabbouleh Quinoa Salad & A Sneak Peek of "lil sweet things"

Blogging is hard, I said it once and I'll say it again.  This is definitely not something easy that I got myself into.  In the beginning, I was just thinking to share my recipes with others especially those who live in HK.  I wanted to show that it is possible to practice an accessible and affordable vegetarian lifestyle in this ultra-densed city.  And then one thing leads to another, I am now developing vegetarian recipes and shooting for some clients on the side.  

Honestly, I'm a little embarrassed to take up such role.  That's because I've never studied photography nor culinary before.  I'm just strolling along with my personal passion and interest.  I am indeed grateful for the wonderful opportunities.  Not everyone is given such privilege to do what he/she loves and be able to get paid a little on the side.  I should embrace every chance I get and learn to improve in every aspect of this whole blogosphere as I go along.  I know it isn't easy but it's got to start somewhere, right?

This past weekend, I helped photograph a dear friend's delicious cookies and cupcakes - lil sweet things.  lil sweet things is a local online cake shop and workshop run by Lillian Leung.  Lillian was one of the co-founders who helped me launched ms food division in the early days.  She was in charge of the dessert part.  Recently, she has started her own online cake shop, catering, and cooking classes.  Her workshop is ideal for people of all ages who love pretty sweets.  I had so much fun shooting her beautiful cakes this past weekend.  I would do it again if I am given more time before the Green Monday's trip.  Oh yeah, I just got appointed to help photograph Green Monday's Milan trip next week.  I'm so excited and nervous at the same time.  I hope my photos would turn out ok.  Fingers crossed.  

So let me share some of my favorite images from last weekend's shoot and follow by this delicious and healthy tabbouleh quinoa salad I made today.  :) 


Those buttery cookies don't just look pretty, they taste superb, too.  

Aren't they pretty?  Red velvet n' cream cheese cupcakes

red velvet & cream cheese cupcakes made by lil sweet things

red velvet & cream cheese cupcakes made by lil sweet things

red velvet & cream cheese cupcakes made by lil sweet things

Little surprises from these piñata cookies, my niece felt in love with them instantly! 

piñata cookies made by lil sweet things 

Today's healthy lunch - tabbouleh quinoa salad 

tabbouleh quinoa salad 

Servings: 2 persons (as a side salad) or 1 person (as a meal) 

Preparation Time: 10 - 15 minutes


1 bowl cooked quinoa

1 bunch fresh parsley

100g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 handful roasted almonds, finely chopped

1 small cucumber, chopped into small bits

1 bowl fresh arugula

For the dressing: 

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 lemon zest and juice

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped


1) Mix the cooked quinoa, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, almonds, and parsley with dressing in a large bowl.  

2) Add arugula and a twist of fresh lemon juice before serving.  

tabbouleh quinoa salad 

tabbouleh quinoa salad 

southern style quinoa salad..

I've always had a thing for Mexican food.  I especially love that tangy and peppery taste lingering in my mouth, hmmmmm.  Plus adding that twist of fresh lime juice to the dish just brings out the freshness of each ingredient completely.  This dish is not wholly Mexican nor Asian but it is a bit of both combined.  I was inspired by this blog called Lush Loves.  Marco and my two green friends had the first try for this new experiment the other night.  They thought it was good (out of their politeness).  As for me, I thought it was a little complicated.  I couldn't figure if it was the miso that was too strong or the lime juice that made the quinoa seemed too light.  An acquired taste is certainly needed to fully understand and appreciate such dish.  And thank GOD, it was two vegetarians that I invited so I presume they would appreciate if it was not for the taste but at least for the nutritious facts.  

Don't get me wrong, it was good.  It's just that I think I'm starting to develop a peculiar taste for food especially my own food.  Not sure if it's got anything to do with the self-expectation subconsciousness to improve my cooking for the better or is this the natural progress of how every food blogger would eventually become?  Well, if you ever try this recipe, you can be the judge and tell me what you think.  :)

This salad is full of southern flavors.  

Servings: 2 persons

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

ooking Time: 20 minutes


1 large eggplant, quartered and crisscrossed on the flesh of each eggplant

1 cooked corn cob, kernels removed

1 large cup cooked quinoa

6-8 roasted almond, crushed

1-2 tbsp sesame seeds

1/2 lime juice

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 bunch spring onion, chopped

1/2 green chili, finely chopped

2 shallots, finely chopped

sesame oil

extra-virgin olive oil

Miso dressing: 

2 tbsp white miso

1-2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp honey

1/2 fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp sesame soil

1 tbsp olive oil


1) Preheat oven at 200ºC.  Brush the miso dressing on each eggplant's crisscrossed surface.  Bake 20 minutes.

2) Mix quinoa and the rest of the ingredients together.  Season and serve with the baked eggplants.  You may add a little more of the leftover miso dressing and mix evenly with your salad if you like.  Garnish with spring onion, cilantro, and a drizzle of sesame and olive oil.  

another quinoa dish for those with complicated palate.  

pure vegan patties with homemade sweet teriyaki sauce

I can't quite grasp what the hell is wrong with me these days.  I hate to say it out loud but I think I am slightly bored and depressed OR maybe I'm simply obsessed with my passion for food making and photography.  I would hope it is the latter because it sounded "better".  But I think it is a combination of "everything" to be honest.   

Since human mind is a rather complex mechanism, I can say I am quite perplexed by the "many things" that's happened to me.  Those unpleasant disputes between business partners and friends did some serious damage on my self-esteem.  Every decision that I've made seems to go wrong and this goes from choosing to believe in something or someone to following the path that I think it should be right for my well-being.  I've reached a point where I REALLY don't give a damn anymore.    

Everyday after my awakening, the very first thing I do is to check my emails and messages.  Then, I go straight to the kitchen and start cooking.  The following would be styling, shooting, and editing.  Yeah, this is pretty much my daily routine.  Cooking food that I like seems to be a huge part of my life these days.  I think it is the only thing that could fulfill my emptiness at this stage.  Personally speaking, I think many people overlooked the amazing things what a humble home cooked meal could do.  It's not just about the taste to some.  Cooking is the cure to our mind, body, and soul.  The entire process if I may say is therapeutic or at least it is to me.  I get an immense joy after making something that turns out good and satisfying.  I assume these feelings could only be shared with people who love food as much as I do.   I also assume that is the only reason why I can't stop cooking.   

Today, I made some vegan patties, rosemary buns, teriyaki sauce, and roasted chips.  I might've spent a little more time in the kitchen but hey, it is Sunday and it is worthwhile.  I think healthy and clean eating's very initial step starts from knowing what's in your food.   

Cindy x

Some Asian flavors to our vegan patties.  I used my homemade sweet teriyaki sauce and it was good for those who like strong flavors.  As for me, I think creme fraiche and yogurt are just as good.  

Servings: 4 patties

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes


For the patties:

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 can chickpea, drained and rinsed with cold water       

a bunch fresh spring onion                                                   

a bunch fresh coriander                                                  

1/2 red onion                                                                        

1/2 red chili *optional                                                             

1-2 garlic cloves                                                                    

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs                                       

extra-virgin olive oil    

For garnishing:

a bunch fresh greens such as arugula and cucumber

For teriyaki sauce: 

  - 1 tbsp all-purpose flour               - 1/2 tsp grated ginger

  - 1/4 cup soy sauce                       - 1/4 tsp ground pepper

  - 3 tbsp cider vinegar                   - 1/3 cup sugar

  - 1/2 clove garlic, minced             - 1/4 cup water

For rosemary bun: 

3 cups bread flour

1 tsp yeast

1 tsp salt 

1 1/4 cups warm water

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil + 2-3 tbsp extra for brushing the dough

Remark: the excess dough can be stored in your freezer for future use.  

Instructions for the patties: 

1) Put everything in a blender except for the panko bread crumbs. 

2) Add the panko breadcrumbs to the mixture and mix well.  

3) Use your hands to form a 3 cm thick sized patties.  

4) Preheat a frying pan with olive oil on medium heat, add the patties and cook each side for about 5 minutes or less.* 

5) Place the cooked patties on a kitchen towel to soak up any excess oil.  Serve them with a bun as a veggie burger or finger food as you like. 

6) Garnish and serve with your favorite sauce.

Instructions for the teriyaki sauce: 

1) Cook all ingredients EXCEPT water on a small frying pan on low heat for 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens.  

2) Add water to dilute and adjust taste.  

Instructions for the rosemary buns: 

1) Preheat oven at 200ºC.  

2) Get a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour and combine with salt and yeast.  Mix well. 

3) Make a well in the center, pour water and oil.  Mix together with a  wooden spoon in a circular motion until the mixture turns to a dough mass.  Add some chopped chopped rosemary herbs.  

4) Spread a half handful of flour on a work surface, start to knead the dough until it turns to a smooth ball. This took around 5-7 minutes.  Spread a little more flour if the surface gets dry up and the dough starts sticking to the surface.  

5) Add a drizzle of oil to the large bowl, put the dough back in and cover the bowl with a plastic wrap or damp kitchen towel.  Place the bowl at a warm place and let the dough rise for about 30-40 minutes.  I left it at my balcony because it is quite warm during the day here in Hong Kong.  

6) After the dough is ready, divide the dough into 8 - 10 small dough.  Fo this recipe, I only used four small doughs.  I stored the rest for future use.  

7) Make a small round ball with each dough and flatten to palm-size, add some flour to prevent sticking to your hands.  

8) Brush a little oil on the baking tray and dough's surface.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  

I also made some rosemary chips to go with these beautiful sliders.  

Preparation Time: less than 5 minutes

ooking Time: 20-25 minutes


4-6 small new potatoes, cut in chip size                                     

1 small sprig fresh rosemary                                                                      

extra-virgin olive oil          

 For the lemon aioli:         

 1/2 garlic clove, minced         

 3-4 tbsp mayonnaise     

 1 tbsp lemon juice + 1 tsp lemon zest                                        


1) Preheat oven at 180-200ºC.                                                                

2) Get a large bowl, coat the potatoes with rosemary and 2-3 tbsp olive oil.  Season.  Transfer the potatoes to a baking tray.  

3) Roast for 20-25 minutes.