Friday, February 26, 2010

Domino's, finally.

After seeing a total of 3 blogs postings on this, I couldn't wait to try it out myself.

Camemberu did a very detailed post on it. Do check out her blog. I agree with her regarding the packaging. It's really compact and goes down the chute ever-so-easily.

We had two versions of the Hawaiian Paradise, one in the Classic Hand Tossed crust and the other in Crunchy Thin crust. My hubby and girl are very boring. We only ever order that topping.

I didn't find the Crunchy Thin crust all that great. It almost tasted like a biscuit base. Both hubby and I preferred the Hand Tossed version.

The breadstix were nice, soft & chewy. However, I found the garlic powder a bit salty.

These hot & spicy wings weren't to my liking at all. They fit the bill where spiciness is concerned, but I found them too sour. What is it that they used? Lemon juice? I'm definitely not getting these again.

Pineapple upside down cake

This cake has been on my to-do list for a very very long time. I just never felt the urge or rather, there was never a real push factor. Glimpsing a tin of pineapple rings as I walked past a shelf in NTUC, I decided to seize the moment and pick it up.

The tin sat on the kitchen countertop for 3 whole days. In the meanwhile, I had to psych myself to get it done.

I finally did it today! Yippee! But since I don't like maraschino cherries, I used some strawberries to fill in the gaps. As you can see, the red didn't turn out that well.

I used Nigella's recipe which you can find here. The cake is nice, although it doesn't rise all that much. It wasn't too sweet, and was really easy to make. Removing it from the cake tin was also a breeze.

This cake holds a very special place in my heart. During my Secondary school days, a friend and I joined a baking contest organised by my school and we won the second price with our pineapple upside down cake. :D However, I have no idea where that recipe has gone. What a pity.

CP's Menchi Cheese Katsu

Have I told you that I am a great supporter and lover of CP products? Everything that they come up with are winners! Their latest appetiser offering is Menchi Cheese Katsu. It's yummy goodness and perfect for bentos. I love their Torpedo prawns & whole shrimp wantons. They do them so well. Their shrimp products are a little costly but you are paying for quality. Do check your favourite supermarket freezers for them!

I'm bacccckkkk...

Have taken a longer break than intended from blogging. With the Chinese New Year ending, and my throat near recovery, I feel more in the mood to 'work' in the kitchen. Well, I have been cooking etc, but it's repetitive stuff so there was no need to blog.

During my 'break', I made the above bento for dear princess for her Saturday lunch after ballet class. As you can see, there were a few CNY goodies within. Bak Kwa, kueh baulu, pineapple tarts, all her favourite goodies. There was also blessed mandarin oranges from CNY mass on the 1st day of CNY. Those oranges were very sweet.

I was in the mood to prepare a bento today for her lunch. I made skewers of fruits and vegetables, all the things she likes. The weather is really hot these days and the skewers and cool food is really great for a day of hot sunshine. Little Mousey is made with Menchi Cheese Katsu, a new CP appetiser. More of that in another post. Mousey's ears are made from pomme noisettes (little potato balls).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Happy Tiger Year to All


We begin the Year of the Tiger with a hastily-assembled bento. I was awoken by the princess at 6am. She had gotten out of bed at 5.45am, and being the excited child that she is, the first thing she did before waking me was to pack her school bag as she intends to take her trolley bag to school on Wednesday. I mean that is like 3 days away! Surely she needn't pack it soooo early?!

Well, she asked for food and I thought since I haven't prepared a tiger bento for her, I would do one today. It was really a rush and I think I did it within 15mins as most of the things I used were ready stuff like pineapple tarts, marshmallow, strawberries etc. Mr Tiger needed more work. He had bak kwa within his head and his face is made from sliced cheese and I used nori for decoration. He doesn't look that nice but it was a real effort fighting off sleep to make a bento. Hope she was happy with it. Well, I'm sure she was, as she polished everything off in double quick time. I also added a heart-shaped nutella bread, heart-shaped pineapple tart, heart-shaped chocolate to tie in with Valentine's Day. I managed to squeeze in a piece of M&Ms peanut butter cup which I had made 2 days ago. Marshmallow caterpillar was given to her by her grandpa last night. Cutie guy, the caterpillar I mean. It had cute legs. Hehe. And that's how I presented her hong bao to her as well, all in the little basket. :)

Before I end off to start my New Year, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day! Have a wonderful day, and don't eat too much cookies! Hehe.

His special day

It's dear hubby's birthday today and what a better way to celebrate it than have the entire world of Chinese people having a grand party for you! It's reunion night. So I thought it'd be great to make him a cake. I didn't want to do anything too elaborate so I had to rack my brains to come up with something simple to do yet something he likes. My initial plan was to do this. However, it sounded like a lot of work so I shelved it yet again. I browsed the web for a brownie recipe as I am not exactly pleased with the ones I have tried before. I needed a ganache as well and I found them both here. Where better to find them than at a site maintained by the people who make chocolate, right? ;) The result is that I would omit the chocolate chips required in the recipe as it made the brownie too sweet. The brownie base itself is good on its own. I have copied the recipe and saved it here in case it should go missing from the site one day.

Ingredients -

  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted and divided
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips(I would omit)
  • CHOCOLATE GANACHE(recipe follows)
  • Fresh strawberries(optional)


1. Heat oven to 350°F (176 deg C). Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Stir together cocoa and baking soda in large bowl; stir in 1/3 cup butter. Add boiling water, stir until mixture thickens. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining 1/3 cup butter, stir until smooth. Add flour, vanilla and salt; blend completely. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan.

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

4. Prepare CHOCOLATE GANACHE. Pour over brownies. Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes. Cut into 3-inch squares; cut squares diagonally in half to form a triangle shape. Garnish with fresh strawberry, if desired. Makes 12 brownies.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE: Place 2 cups (12-oz. package) HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and 1 cup whipping cream in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave an additional 30 seconds or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Makes about 2 cups ganache.

Note - I found that it took more than an hour for ganache to harden. I had used parchment paper to line the tin and when I tried to remove it, the brownie broke into 2 right in the middle. Thankfully and skilfully, I patched it back by spreading the ganache over to cover the crack.

I used tiny hearts to decorate the words and this was done stealthily while hubby was in the bedroom. A real race against time but I did it! The result is beautiful. He never suspected a thing. He only saw the brownie undecorated and asked about it. I just said it was dessert for tonight. ;P

The little hearts decorating it were 'donated' by the princess who had been given these packets of Cinnamoroll cereal which provided the perfect shape. So it was actually a birthday cum Valentine's Day cake. ;) We served it with melted chocolate (ran out of vanilla) ice-cream (melted on the way there) and a piece of strawberry each. Strawberries were very fresh, I got them at NTUC and went back for more as they were really good. They were selling them at $2.85 per punnet.

I have indeed been blessed with a wonderful hubby, one who has no vices (except if you consider spending too much time in front of the pc). He likes the occasional beer though. He is touched by the little things that you do for him, such as a surprise cake, and birthday presents (which he doesn't expect). :P He is 'popular' (not sure if it's for the wrong reason) with everyone and is always the 'go to' guy where electronics or computer-related stuff are involved and the minute his face appears anywhere, it's like oh, tech support guy is here. He gets along very well with his father-in-law and they talk about nothing but soccer, Apple (the company not the fruit), F1, computers, etc etc. In fact, I think my father talks to him more than he does to me. *googly eyes*

I wish that as he grows a year older today, that he starts to mellow down and have more patience. That is one thing about him that irks me - impatience. I also wish that he will spend more time with us, his family, rather than face some lifeless screen most of the time.

Lastly, I wish that he will get his dream come true soon, in the form of a bicycle whose shipment has been delayed time and again. Hope that he gets it in the next few weeks. I know that he has been waiting impatiently but there's nothing we can do about it. :(

Cheers to good health, darling, and all the best in everything you do, as well as in your career.

We love you.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

M&M's Peanut Butter Cookies

This cookie was on the list at Christmas but I never got round to making it. I have always loved the combination of peanut butter with chocolate. It all started with Reese's peanut butter cups. I looked around for Reese's cups but unfortunately they were nowhere to be found. Luckily smart me remembered M&M's peanut butter chocolates. They will be a great replacement for the cups. This recipe is dedicated to my sis who loves these chocolates after I introduced them to her.

Ingredients -

2/3 cup peanut butter (creamy)
1 cup sugar (can cut down to 1/2 or 3/4 cup)
1 cup brown sugar (can cut down to 1/2 or 3/4 cup)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups chopped peanut butter cups (about 6 1.6ozs packages)

Method -

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter & sugars till light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter bits.

2. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 175deg C for 10-12mins or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for 2mins before removing to wire racks.

These were lovely and very colourful.

I would like to wish my Chinese readers a very Happy & Prosperous Lunar New Year, and for the rest, a Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Steamed Fish

This has been in my 'drafts' folder for a week now, so time to clear it. I love steamed ngoh hee tail. I can't find the English name for it. Anyone can confirm that it is known as threadfin or ikan kurau? I'm bad with fish names other than cod and salmon which I know the names of as well as what they look like. The rest are a blur. Hahah. Ok, I know pomfret, selar, and that's about it.

This simple seasoning is something I came up with. It's a nice balance of sweet and salty.

Ingredients -

Your choice of fish
few slices of ginger
one clove of garlic, sliced
a tbsp of fried garlic in oil (optional) - I spied this in the supermarket and decided to try it. Was nice.

Seasoning - again as with most of my seasoning recipes, this is an estimation.

1 dsp crushed salted soya beans
2 tsp sugar
sesame oil
3 tbsp water
Mix this up and pour over fish which has been placed in a steam-proof plate. Remember that it cannot be done on a flat plate as more fish juice will flow out during steaming. Use a plate with sides that turn up as I have done.

Method -

1. This is how I normally steam my food. Demonstration purpose only. Remember to put in water. Let water come to a boil in wok before placing fish on steaming stand.

2. Once water boils, put fish in and steam for approximately 10-20mins depending on size of fish. Mine took 20mins as it was a big tail. Can't tell you the exact weight but it was in an estimated 400-500gm range.

3. I added the fried garlic bits over the fish prior to removing it from steamer. You can also garnish with some spring onions, etc. I like mine plain.

4. The fish is ready when you stick a chopstick in and the flesh falls apart easily. Keep an eye on steamed fish at all times and check after the first 10mins to ensure that you do not over steam it.

Chinese Meatloaf ;P

I attempted this dish once, but it didn't turn out that pretty. I have since learned that to steam beautiful eggs and meat patties, you really need to have patience. A gentle simmer is all it takes. A big fiery flame is going to destroy it.

My grandma used to cook this dish for us. However, for my version, I added minced carrots, more to add some colour to the dish. It also lends a bit of crunch.

Ingredients -

250g minced pork
1/4 sick of carrot (minced)
1 egg, beaten
1/2tsp cooking oil
preserved chye sim (preserved lettuce), minced (I used approx 15 small pieces)

Seasoning for mince -

light soya sauce
sesame oil
white pepper
corn flour
a dash of 5 spice powder (you may omit)

In all Chinese cooking, seasonings for meat predominantly feature light soya sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, sometimes oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine, dark sauce as well as corn flour. You can't go wrong with this combo.

Method -

Assemble all the ingredients and steam for 20mins or till cooked. Serve hot with porridge or rice.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Morning time

Good morning all, before I begin, I would like to inform you that I have updated my lor mai gai post with the recipe. Do check it out and give it a try.

This morning began on a high note... literally. When the bus pulled up to our block, I saw these few girls in the school bus 'playing' or so I assumed. And was going 'tsk tsk' no seat belt on, not in their seats. These same girls usually are asleep or resting in there. When the bus door opened, I heard shrieks. Guess who the culprit was? A tiny roach probably less than 2cm. Curious me went aboard the bus as we hadn't yet known what was the cause of their screaming. I suspected it was a roach and was asking what it was but everyone was busy screaming and finally one girl said yes. Bus driver had to get off his seat to catch this tiny thing, but so funny it was as after that, no one wanted to sit in the 1st 2 rows. One girl was telling them not to scream and the older girls sitting at the back of the bus weren't even bothered or interested. I think they were just probably annoyed by these screaming monsters who were disrupting their sleep. So there begins a whole exciting day for some. :)

I hope to hear from the teacher today and fingers crossed they find the bag. I still can't figure out who would want to steal a lunch bag, it being bulky and all. My guess is that it is a prank or misplaced. Oh well, let's see what the teacher says.

I am really enjoying this morning session school more than I thought I would. I find that I have more time to do things. Getting her out of the way in the mornings has afforded me more time to spend on cleaning the home, getting meals ready, etc. When she was in the afternoon session, I woke up later in the morning, then I had to get ready her bento, get her ready for school etc and by the time she left for school, I was too tired to do anything else. If I went out, then I would be too tired to cook dinner after.

I love waking up early now, in the peace and quiet of the morning, start my washing load, prepare breakfast and do whatever I need to do. I even feel like mopping the house more often. I try to vacuum the floor in the evening and mop it in the morning, sometimes before the girl is awake. There's a feeling of liberation and a sense of accomplishment to complete my tasks before most people are awake. On most days, I start my slow cooker right after I prepare the food for school, and leave the soup to cook on its own. Very happy that I am now on a routine which hasn't yet turned monotonous.

Not sure if my body has adjusted, but waking up at 5.30am has been ok for me so far. I cooked more rice last evening for our dinner and left a portion so I could steam it to put into her bento. Upon waking, (for example this morning) I always start with steaming food. I need to get it done and cooled down before packing it into her box. I next plopped the seaweed chicken into the oven before putting a pot of water to the boil for the sausages. Next is to get the washing machine going. I love the whirring of the machine in the stillness of the morning.

I have also been blogging more these days. It's helped by a couple of factors, namely, a few blogger friends have come back to blogging (you know who you are. :P); there's some traffic on my blog as I have been visited by some people I have not 'met' before. I know there are many more silent ones who just want to remain that way. Thanks all, for stopping by. I have more time and things to blog about, and seeing these few friends update their blogs so frequently has motivated me and spurred me on. It's boring when you are the only one blogging, so keep up your blog posts, and so will I. ;)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Missing lunch :(((((

Sigh... I am just so upset now.

I don't know where to begin.

Remember this?

The thermal flask and lunch box as well as the bag have gone missing.

She didn't even get to eat the food in the flask.

I was in the mrt on my way to meet friends at Bishan for lunch today when I got a call from the girl. I thought she just wanted to say hi and hear my voice as she sometimes does that during recess. Unfortunately she brought bad news. She told me that her lunch box was missing, she didn't say the entire bag. However, she said that she had money to buy lunch from the canteen. So that was good. She mumbled something about having left her bag in class and when she next went back, it was gone. "Bye" and click... line cut off. So this mummy was left hanging onto her last words.

I immediately called the school office to ask if anyone had come in with a lunch bag that they had found. The clerk checked and said that they didn't have it. I told her to give me a call if they did, and left my contact number with her.

She just got home and I have been told the story. Apparently she had left her lunch bag in class when she went for her Chinese class in another classroom. When she returned, her lunch bag was missing. As they then had to proceed to the school hall, she left it at that and came back a second time later on at 1pm, to look for it again. It was nowhere to be found.

I know my child better and I know that she is a very responsible girl. Unless she had made a mistake and had left the bag somewhere else, there is no way that bag could have walked itself out of the classroom.

I just hope the teacher will get back to me asap and find out what happened, or better still, found that bag.

CNY Bake - Pineapple Tarts

It's that long-awaited time of year again with lots of blogs ablaze with cookies of all sorts. My biscuit of choice is pineapple tarts. Even if I do not bake anything else this year, the least I have to do is tarts. Why? Simple! I love them to bits! Especially soft, melt in the mouth ones. The crispy ones don't get me so excited, but I will still eat them. Just not so much of a shiok factor. I made three versions of it on Monday. You know, it's not easy to get myself started on baking another lot, for the sole reason that it is a lot of tedious work, especially when I have to do it all by myself. Baking cookies for CNY is fun when many people come together, or even 2 or 3 people, and it makes the process shorter.

First up is nestar tarts. These look so pretty but were very time consuming. I made 15 of them before throwing in the towel. I first piped them out into long strips, then placed rolled up pineapple jam on them before rolling the pastry over that. Leave the dough too long and it dries up and makes it difficult to roll, and they will fall apart.

Waiting to go in the oven.

The second lot of tarts I made resembled Mandarin oranges. I achieved that effect by putting cloves into the top of them.

Didn't bother taking out the dslr for this shot as it was already late at night. These below are cheese pineapple tarts. I did them like the ones above but instead of clove, I scattered cheddar over the top.

What is your favourite type of tart?


My latest yummiest 'you got to try it' addictive chocolatey biscuits ever! I love these to bits. They have just the right amount of melted chocolate, and are very crunchy, and they leave behind an almost Milo-ish taste even though they are Ovaltine biscuits. Trust me on this one... go get a pack today! I found these gems on the shelves of NTUC Finest at Marine Parade Central. I'm not even sure if this is an authentic Ovaltine product as I've grown so used to the previous type of plain Ovaltine biscuits, which come individually packed in a packet of 5pcs, which we all grew up on. I still love those, which reminds me I should go get a packet of those soon. :D

A full days' meals...

...well, almost, except dinner is missing. I have been waking up at 5.30am yesterday and today. It gave me ample time to prepare breakfast, snacks, as well as lunch for today. I also managed each day to start my slow cooker around this time, so come evening, we will have tasty soups. I made a beef stew last evening, and served that with rice. I must remind myself to blog about that the next time I cook it.

Of course I did some 'homework' prior. I boiled some pasta last evening and stored them in the fridge so all I had to do this morning was to quickly boil them in a pot of hot water before seasoning them with salt, some Italian herbs and added some sausages before placing them in this thermal flask which is so so handy for me. This will be for her lunch at 1pm. It's good that she will have warm food at least. Breakfast was a pandan mantou, snack was a slice of cheese sandwich with strawberries, cherries & blueberries. The snack is for her ride home in the school bus. I love these pretzel biscuits as they taste more healthy than the normal biscuit version.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lor Mai Gai

This is my first time making this dish. Prior to this, I didn't realize that it was so easy to do. This came about during a conversation at the bff's house. Her cousin was in town last week and they were planning to make some. So this missy wrote down all the ingredients and method on how to make this delicious dim sum dish. The good thing about making it at home is that you can control the amount of oil that goes into your cooking. As I was busy making tarts yesterday, I thought today would be a perfect day to do this, thus I soaked some rice in the late afternoon yesterday, and by 10pm, I was able to season the rice. I left it till this morning before I steamed them and took some along on my breakfast date with the swimming mums. Unfortunately, it being my first time, I wasn't sure on how much water to use, if any at all, thus I didn't put in enough water. It resulted in a pretty dry dish as can be seen by photo, the sides are not moist enough. The mums thought the meat was well-seasoned so that was the saving grace. Upon my return home, I added water to the remainder rice and fried them again. This time the dish turned out much better. It was missing something. I suspect it's a lovely fragrant five spice powder as the one I bought from NTUC wasn't fragrant at all. I am definitely going to make this dish again sometime soon.

Ingredients - (I will try to give exact measurements wherever I can)

3 cups glutinous rice
5 deboned chicken thighs, cut into small bite-sized pieces
garlic minced
shallots (I didn't add it this time)
dried mushrooms (soaked till soft and sliced thin)

Seasoning for chicken - (this was all done by estimation)

light soya sauce
oyster sauce
sesame oil
white pepper
5 spice powder approx 1tsp
a drop of dark soya sauce
I seasoned the above overnight

Seasoning for rice - (basically the same seasoning ingredients as the chicken)

light soya sauce
white pepper
Chinese wine (I used hua tiao but found it a bit too strong)
5 spice powder approx 1tbsp
a drop of dark soya sauce
Also seasoned overnight

Method -

1. Wash then soak the glutinous rice in water for minumum 4hrs. (I started this at 5.30pm)

2. Meanwhile, season chicken and leave in fridge overnight.

3. 4hrs later (9.30pm), rinse out and drain rice. Season with the ingredients mentioned above and leave it overnight. I did mine at 10pm and steamed it at 8am.

4. In the morning, fry shallots, garlic & mushroom strips till fragrant. Add rice and then water. I don't have the exact measurement of water I used as it was my first time making this dish, thus it was a trial and error thing. I suggest that if you are not sure, just add water gradually, starting with a half cup full first. Do not steam the entire portion but rather leave the rest of the rice and test waters with one portion of lor mai gai before going ahead and steaming everything.

5. Into individual portions, place some chicken pieces on the bottom of each bowl. (You may like to make one big portion but smaller portions are better for storing but be warned, they might all disappear within the day :P). Top up with rice right to the top of bowl if you like as the rice will not expand.

6. Steam for approx 20-30 and test the rice to see if it cooked before removing from steamer.

I can't wait to try it out again soon as it was pretty successful the first time. Do let me know if you try making this and how yours turned out. Happy cooking!

Tutti Frutti Tuesdays

"Tutti Frutti Tuesdays' have begun. Last year, I heard of this programme started by the school but the Primary 1s were not involved in it. I think it's a good move to get the kids to eat healthier. For every Tuesday, beginning yesterday, the girls are supposed to bring one item of fruit to school and have it for their recess. They have the option to purchase it from the drinks' stall in the canteen.

It's a day dedicated to the Princess for her love of fruits. :)

I packed a slice of Nutella bread for her breakfast; some strawberries; and a ham & cheese sandwich for recess. She has class duties this week thus she has to stay back in class for 10 mins each day during recess time to clean and tidy up the room together with 4 or 5 of her classmates. Hence, she said that if she brought food to school, she won't have to waste precious time waiting in line at the canteen.