Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chocolate Banana Cake





















Two ripened bananas, left untouched for the last couple of days, had been calling out to me. I had been ignoring them. There were cakes and cookies baked for the long Christmas weekend. Since the bakes didn't last us very long, it's time for me to acknowledge the presence of these bananas! Tired of baking the usual Banana Loaf, Banana Muffins, I googled and found a recipe combining two of my favorite ingredients ... Banana and Chocolate!

The Chocolate Banana Cake recipe is adopted from JoyofBAKING.com.
The cake posted on the website looked so moist and yummy! I couldn't wait! I had to bake immediately, after looking at the photo and recipe!
I halved the recipe given.


Chocolate Banana Cake

200g Granulated Sugar
122g All Purpose Flour
38g Cocoa Powder
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Large Egg
1/2 cup Mashed Banana (About 1.5 Medium Bananas)
1/2 cup Warm Water
1/4 cup Milk
1/4 cup Canola Oil (I use Olive Oil)
3/4 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract


  • Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
  • Spray and grease a 8" square pan.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  • Stir till just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and baked for 35-40 minutes, till a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let cool on a wire rack.
  • When completely cooled, frost with ganache.


Chocolate Ganache Frosting

4 oz Bittersweet or Semi-sweet Chocolate, cut into small pieces
90 ml Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 tbsp Unsalted Butter


  • Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof or stainless steel bowl.
  • Heat the cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Bring just to a boil.
  • Pour the boiling cream over the bowl of chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
  • Stir until smooth.
  • When the ganache has completely cooled, beat until soft and fluffy.
  • Spread frosting on the cake.

























I left the cake in the fridge for about half an hour, to allow the frosting to set. The cake was moist and not overly sweet even with the chocolate frosting. It remained moist even when we left in overnight in the fridge.

This cake is definitely a keeper! Hubby dear who is not a fan of cakes, chocolate cakes especially, helped himself to two servings of the cake =)

Definitely a good looking birthday cake when decorated with fruits! Darling son always asks for chocolate cake for his birthday ... I know what to bake for his birthday next year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

White Chocolate and Cream Cheese!





















I love using cream cheese as my cake frosting and I love baking chocolate cakes! But how often do you bake a cake that uses white chocolate?

There were many boxes of cream cheese sitting in my fridge. They were picked up during the christmas sale. Sitting in the fridge, good neighbour to the boxes of cream cheese, was the bar of leftover white chocolate, which I bought for Santa's beard. Bake a cake using cream cheese and white chocolate? Not common. I tried my luck on google search and found the perfect recipe from BakingBites!


White Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/3 cup Butter, soften
3/4 cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
4 oz White Chocolate
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup + 1 tbsp Milk (I use 1 cup)

  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • Line muffin pans with 18 cup liners.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Melt the white chocolate in a microwave. Stir till smooth.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar till light.
  • Beat in eggs one at a time.
  • Beat in melted white chocolate and vanilla extract.
  • Working in two or three additions, alternate adding flour mixture and milk, and ending with a final addition of the flour mixture.
  • Mix until just incorporated.
  • Divide batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups.
  • Bake at 325F for 20-30 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted at the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let cool on a wire rack.


White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
1/4 cup Butter, Soften
1 oz White Chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 tsp Milk or cream
2-3 cups Confectioners' Sugar (I use only 3 tbsp)

  • In a large bowl, cream butter, cream cheese and melted chocolate.
  • Beat in milk and vanilla extract.
  • Gradually add confectioners' sugar until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.














The cakes tasted so good, I almost forgot to take photographs of them! I was too busy sinking my teeth into the cakes! Although white chocolate was used in the cake, the cake was not overly sweet. It was soft, and the combination of cream cheese and white chocolate was just perfect! The kids loved it so much, they had two cupcakes at one go! I packed a box of mini trees for my neighbour's kids ... Hope they like it as much as we do!

A merry white christmas, with little white trees =)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Comfort Food





















Rainy days, cloudy days, days when I'm sick .... I yearn for a bowl of porridge! And this is what I would normally cook =)

1/4 cup Short Grain Rice
2 soup spoonful of Dried Scallops
Enough water for cooking porridge

  • Soak the rice and scallops in water for at least 1 hour.
  • Cook the porridge till done.
  • Serve warm.

You can add some blanched broccoli into the porridge for a more wholesome meal.

This is one simple, sweet, warm meal to lift my spirits!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Santa Claus, Ho Ho Ho!





















Dear Santa,

Christmas is just four days away.
Will you be coming to my house?
But we do not have a chimney.
How are you getting in?
The door is locked, and so are all the windows.
The only way you can get in is .... from the toilet bowl??
Hope to have you visit us ... I don't mean seeing you in the toilet bowl =)

Love, KW

=====================


December, Christmas, and Santa Claus!

I was reading the book "Jigsaw Jones Mystery : The Case of the Santa Claus Mystery" to my boys the other night. That was when I asked them how Santa Claus could enter our house ... and we concluded that the only way into our house is through the toilet bowl! Gross? Well, what do you expect when you have two boys? We had a good laugh over our answer though!

At the same time, I tried to explain to the boys, that Christmas is not just about receiving presents. We are not Christians. My interpretation of modern day Christmas ... Family bonding, being thankful of what we have, and the spirit of giving. And that kind of answered their question of "Why are these people holding bells in the shopping malls, with a tin in front of them?" whenever we see volunteers from the Salvation Army at shopping malls.

Since we had a friend coming over for dinner tonight, I took the opportunity to bake a cake, and decorated the cake as Santa Claus! He has finally made an appearance in our house ... ok, not through the toilet bowl.

I baked a carrot cake, and borrowed the idea from Happy Homebaking.
The carrot cake was not too sweet. It was not too dry when I took it out from the fridge. I wanted to use strawberries for Santa's hat, but the strawberries at the supermarket didn't look too fresh. Instead, I opted for red sugar sprinkles. The white chocolate beard was really difficult to curl! You see big and long curls in Happy Homebaker's Santa's beard ... mine are really short! It was a tough job shaving the chocolate. Hugs and *kisses* to hubby dear for helping me prepare Santa's beard!

Despite the not-so-nice appearance of Santa (on second thought, it didn't quite look like him), we all enjoyed the cake! Darling son KW even asked for a second slice! He is the one who said "No carrot cake for me!" when I told him I'm baking a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fuss-Free Meal






























My Sunday lunch with the kids ...

Hubby dear had to sit for his exam in the morning. Strange to have an exam on a Sunday morning, isn't it? Oh well ...

That left me and the kids eating at home.
It was kind of difficult to cook for just the kids and myself. Since I had a bag of russet potatoes sitting in a corner of my kitchen, I thought I would prepare a simple lunch ... Baked Russet Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese, Salad with Honey Sauce, and little smokies (sausages).












It had been a long time since I last baked these potatoes!
This time round, I omitted the dried herbs.
I didn't follow the recipe exactly either.

I peeled and cut the potatoes into wedges. Drizzled enough olive oil/vegetable oil, not too much, into the big mixing bowl to coat the potato wedges in it. Poured some grated parmesan cheese to coat the potato wedges. Transferred the wedges into a tray lined with parchment paper. Baked at 450F for about 35 minutes, or till the wedges are cooked and browned.

It's definitely healthier than eating fries at the fast-food joint!
Complete the meal with a bowl of salad, a few mini sausages, and a glass of fruit juice!

Mmmmm .... the kids didn't eat many of the sausages (phew!). If I could, I wouldn't cook the sausages for them ... too bad I ran out of Potstickers! I'm glad they asked for extra serving of the salad! Between the three of us, we finished off a bag of Romaine Lettuce!

Pasta with Minced Chicken and Mushrooms





















200g Minced Chicken/Pork/Turkey
1 tsp Grated Ginger
1 tbsp Minced Garlic
1 - 2 tbsp Vegetarian Shitake Mushroom Flavored Sauce
1/2 - 1 cup Water
5 pcs Dried Mushrooms
2 tsp Sugar
1-2 tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Corn Flour
3 tbsp Water

  • Reconstitute the dried mushrooms in water.
  • Squeezed out the water from the mushrooms when they have softened.
  • Diced the mushrooms.
  • Marinate the diced mushrooms with 2 tsp sugar and 1 tbsp Soy Sauce. You may add more sugar and soy sauce if you have use more mushrooms, or if you prefer a stronger flavor.
  • Marinate for 15 minutes or more.
  • Heat up a frying pan. Add 2 tsp of oil into the heated pan.
  • Fry the mushrooms. Remove and set aside.
  • Add 1 tbsp of oil into the heated pan.
  • Fry the ginger and garlic till fragrant.
  • Add the minced meat and fry till cooked.
  • Add the oyster sauce and water. Mix well.
  • You can add more oyster and water if you have more pasta. It's ok for the sauce to be a little more saltier than what you normally want, as the sauce will mix with the pasta, and the taste will be diluted.
  • Mix the 1 tbsp corn flour and 3 tbsp water to form the cornstarch mixture.
  • Pour in the cornstarch mixture to thicken the meat sauce. You need not use all the cornstarch mixture. Thicken the sauce to your desired consistency.
  • Pour the meat and thicken sauce over the pasta.
  • Serve warm, and with a side of broccoli.

No more store-bought pasta sauce!
Or good when you run out of store-bought pasta sauce =)


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Reading


Here comes Fantastic Mr Fox!
Yes, another book to add to the kids' collection of books by Roald Dahl.















We received a few book order forms from the school two weeks ago. The books were offered at a very reasonable price, and made good reading materials for the holiday. A great addition to what we already have ... The Magic School Bus Science Readers, The Magic Tree House (Story and Research Guide), Christmas Stories, etc.





























In fact, darling son liked the books so much, he started reading "Christmas Animal Tales" in school when he received the books. He was so engrossed in his reading that he wanted to continue reading while walking back home from school! Of course it was not possible, especially when the paths and roads were so heavily covered with ice and snow. Well, he continued reading when he got home, and by bedtime he was exhausted.

With the two-week Christmas break, he can read all he wants, and not have to worry about getting up early to go to school! We are happy to see the boys read the books on their own. We are equally happy to read to them before bedtime. Through reading, we get to impart some science general knowledge to them, like teaching them about tsunami, twisters, and weather changes.

I am happy with the purchase, and I enjoy reading the books as much as the boys!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Last Day of School for 2009!


Hooray! It's the last day of school!
Mom is cheering too! Why?





















It's easy to understand why the boys are cheering when it's the last day of school. It's Christmas, and they are getting a two-week break from school. School resumes the first week of January 2010. But why is Mom cheering, especially when the peacefully quiet house will soon be in chaos for the next two weeks? Mom does not need to get up early to cook the boys' lunch ... Mom can take a break from packing lunch for the boys, that's why!

Two happy faces, two happy boys.
See you next year, my thermal lunch boxes!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Golden Triangle?











Yes, golden triangle ... Fried Wanton!

It's very crispy (deep fried), and the mushrooms inside the wanton add flavor and give a chewy texture to the meat portion. However, I really dislike deep frying ... the amount of oil used, the oily stove and floor, and the oily smell in the house when the frying is done. It's winter now, and the temperature outside had gone down to below zero degree Celsius. I can't open the windows to air the apartment =(

But I just couldn't resist cooking this dish! Especially after a trip to the Asian Mart. They were calling out to me to bring them home ....










0.6 lb Ground Chicken
8 pcs Dried Chinese Mushrooms
1 Carrot, peeled and diced

Seasoning for Mushroom : 1 tbsp Soy Sauce + 2 tsp Sugar
Seasoning for Chicken
: 1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
Wanton Skin, available at most Asian Marts.

  • Marinate the ground chicken with seasoning.
  • Reconstitute the dried mushrooms in warm water till soften.
  • Squeeze the water out from the mushrooms.
  • Diced the mushrooms.
  • Marinate the mushrooms with seasoning.
  • Mix the ground chicken, diced carrots and seasoned mushrooms in a big bowl.
  • Scoop a tablespoon of meat mixture and put in the centre of the wanton skin.
  • Apply some water to the edges of the wanton skin.
  • Fold into a triangle.
  • Deep fry in a pan of heated vegetable oil.
  • Remove and drain on a paper towel.
  • Keep warm in preheated oven till ready to serve.

To compensate for the oily mess, I take comfort in the fact that darling sons eat their carrots without any complaints ... the carrots were well hidden inside the wanton! A good way to include vegetables which the boys don't like, and get them to eat the vegetables!

I will try baking them the next round .. the wantons will probably be as crunchy, but appearance wise, not as nice as when I deep fry them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Honey Walnut Shrimps




















This is one dish we like to order when we eat out at chinese restaurants.
It is expensive to eat out, and it's expensive to order this dish every time we eat out. But the man and the boys love this dish! They like the sauce on the shrimps, and the crunchiness of the fried shrimps. Even darling son KW, who is not a fan of seafood, gives his thumbs up for this dish. I never know that it is so easy to prepare this dish, till I do a search on the internet for the recipe! It's really an easy and simple dish to prepare!

I know the texture of the shrimps taste better when I dip the shrimps in egg whites followed by flour. However, I am not very keen to use 3-4 eggs, just to get the egg whites! I know I can use the egg yolks for my cookie dough, but I'm not in the mood to bake any cookies this week. Hence I settled for this recipe, using flour and water instead of flour and egg whites. When I have collected enough egg whites from baking cookies, I will definitely cook this dish again. I will probably try another recipe from Rasa Malaysia, using egg whites for the shrimps, and preparing the walnuts in another way!


To prepare the candied walnuts

1 cup Walnuts
1 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp Sugar

  • Heat up the butter in a pan.
  • Add walnuts when butter has melted.
  • Stir and coat the walnuts with butter.
  • Fry the walnuts on medium heat.
  • Add sugar and mix well with the walnuts.
  • Spread walnuts on baking tray to cool.

To prepare the Shrimps

1 cup Corn Flour
1 cup Water
1 lb Shrimps, deveined and peeled
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt

  • Add sugar and salt to corn flour.
  • Add water and mix well.
  • Dip shrimps into batter.
  • Heat up a pan of oil.
  • Deep fried the battered shrimps till golden brown.
  • Remove and drain on a kitchen towel.
  • Arrange on a plate and let cool.


To prepare the Sauce

3 tbsp Mayonnaise
1 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Condensed Milk (I omit this)
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice

  • Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl.
  • Pour over the shrimps.
  • Add the candied walnuts.

I don't have any condensed milk, so I omit it when preparing the sauce.
To my surprise, the sauce didn't turn out too bad! Even if I do have the condensed milk, I will probably reduce the amount, as I find the sweetness of the sauce without the condensed milk just right. I guess the condensed milk not only add a tinge of sweetness to the sauce, it helps to thicken the sauce as well. On second thought, I would like to replace honey with maple syrup the next time I cook this dish. I wonder how the sauce would turn out.

Do you know that you can also use the sauce (without the condensed milk) as a salad sauce?

A couple of days after cooking this dish, I bought a packet of "Lettuce Trio" while grocery shopping. I don't usually buy packets of salads, as the boys prefer vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, and spinach. I was thinking of the kind of sauce to go with this salad, when I remembered the sauce from the dish Honey Walnut Shrimp. Why not give it a try? It's better than buying a bottle of salad sauce, and not able to finish it. I'm so glad I use the sauce! With the sauce on the salad, the boys actually asked for MORE vegetables! Hahaha! I'm really happy to see them eat their greens!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Crunchy Oatmeal Cookies





























The kids love these cookies!

They are crunchy, and you can use whatever you have in your pantry ... chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, M&Ms, or even nuts! I love using Bob's Red Mill 5 Grain Rolled Cereal. Bob's Red Mill 5 Grain Rolled Cereal is made from rolled whole wheat, rye, oats, flaxseed, barley and triticale. It adds a lot more flavor and crunch to the cookies than when using ordinary rolled oats.

1/2 cup Butter, Room Temperature
1/8 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 3/4 cup Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips

  • Preheat oven to 350F /180C.
  • Cream butter till soft.
  • Add sugars and cream till fluffy.
  • Add egg and vanilla essence. Mix well.
  • Stir flour, baking powder, baking soda and ground cinnamon gradually into butter mixture till combined.
  • Stir in oats. Mix well.
  • Add in the chocolate chips.
  • Using an ice-cream scoop or spoon, scoop a tablespoon of batter onto the baking tray (lined with parchment paper).
  • Bake at 350F/180C for 15 minutes or till golden brown.

Instead of bringing store-bought cookies to school as snacks, darling son KW can bring these cookies to school tomorrow! Hubby dear can munch on them at night, when he's tired of studying. It's definitely healthier than eating ... Instant Noodles =P

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cheese Brownies























I needed to make some afternoon school snacks for the kids. However, I was running short of time, and didn't want to spend too much time on gathering the ingredients for the bake. So I settled on a pack of premix instead .. Betty Crocker's Brownie Mix. It never failed to bring on a smile when the boys have it as their after school snack. I felt that the usual brownies needed a "make over", so I decided to use up the pack of cream cheese I had in the fridge, and turned them into Cheese Brownies!























It was easy preparing the Brownie mix. All I needed to do was add an egg, more water to get cake-like brownies, and some oil. As for the cream cheese, all I needed was to cream 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla with an 8oz packet of cream cheese, along with an egg yolk and 1/3 cup of sugar. Spread the cream cheese on top of the brownie batter. Use a knife or toothpick to swirl through the mixture. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 30 minutes.

The box of cheese brownies didn't last long ... just enough for an afterschool snack for the boys, and breakfast the next morning =)

Friday, December 11, 2009

玉米滋补汤


Translation : Nourishing Sweet Corn Soup.



















Yes, another winter day for soup!
I just love the taste and smell of corn in this soup.
And I love that everyone in the house like this soup!
Such great sense of satisfaction in cooking when everyone stamp their approval! I'm motivated to try more dishes!

















Recipe from Fenying's blog :

4 pcs Sweet Corn
2 Carrots
15 - 30g Wolfberries
30g Yu Zhu
1.5 litres Water
1.2 lbs Porkribs

Wash and soak wolfberries and Yu Zhu in 1.5 litres of water for 30 minutes.
Add sweet corn, carrots and porkribs.
Bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer for another 2 hours.

You can add some salt to taste if necessary. I prefer not to add anything, but to enjoy the natural flavors from the ingredients. This soup is neither too heaty nor cooling. It helps in increasing appetite too. This soup is definitely a keeper.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Erh ... Where is the path to school?


We woke up to a beautiful morning! A clear blue sky with plenty of sunshine, and lots of snow! Don't you think the snow look like little white flowers on the trees?


















Lovely it might be, it was really chilly!
The real feel temperature was at least 20 degree Celsius below zero!
Not only do we need our beanies, gloves, jackets, and snowboots, we also need to wear a scarf! Not around our neck, but to cover our face! All I could see was the eyes of my boys! Needless to say, we were late for school!

The boys had a great day yesterday, since school was closed due to the winter storm. They had fun playing in the snow yesterday. They had fun climbing up the snow piles, left behind by the snow plough when clearing the carpark. They had fun shoveling snow, and they had fun sledding. But for residents in other areas in WI, it was not so fun with power outages. It was not fun for staff who had to work at least 20 hours, clearing snow on the roads. Read the news about the blizzard at Channel300.


















Finding our way to school was a problem this morning!
The paths were covered by at least 10 inches of snow.
It was a challenge trudging the snow covered paths. Layers of ice formed on roads. I slipped as I walked down the slope. We ended up walking on roads, whenever we could, although we had been telling the boys they should use the path when walking to school. It was easier to walk on the roads, as the trucks came and cleared the roads early in the morning. As we near the school, all we saw was a sea of snow, covering the school field, and the paths.

The reflection from the snow was blinding!
I must remember to bring sunglasses for the boys when I pick them up later. Winter Wonderland will soon turn into Winter Waterland, if it continues to be bright and sunny for the rest of the week. The lovely snow will melt and things get really messy then.

Snow or no snow, messy or no mess ... Give me a sunny day with clear blue sky any time of the year, and I'm happy!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dangerous Blizzard Strikes!




















Imagine this ..... Trudging through 12 inches of snow to get to school, braving the wicked howling wind, which is blowing at you at a speed of 40-50 mph! No way! Yes, school is closed today due to the blizzard. Even dear hubby's lessons are cancelled.

A very powerful snowstorm made its way through the woods, Tuesday night into Wednesday.... and we were dumped 12 inches of snow. I felt like I was still in a dream when I drew the curtains this morning ..... I'm in Winter Wonderland!
















The real-feel temperature this morning was at 12 degree Celsius below zero, with a wind speed of 35 mph! The snow is expected to taper off through Wednesday, but the howling wind will severely blow and drift the snow covering the ground, resulting in whiteouts. We were advised to stay home today.
















Our neighbour's plants ... and our sleds, covered with snow ...















The evergreen tree, heavily covered in snow .... a thick layer of snow formed on the roof ... I'm not walking under it!























I wonder if there is school tomorrow ....

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monkey's Favourite Cake






















It had been snowing non-stop since morning. The snow will go on for the next 24 hours, and 12 inches of snow is predicted for tomorrow. School may be closed, we are not sure. Will have to wait till tomorrow morning to find out.

Updates from Accuweather read " Dangerous Blizzard to strike Midwest". The wind chill temperature outside in the afternoon was at 9 degree Celsius below zero. On such cold, snowy days, I love the aroma of soup simmering on the stove, or bakes from the oven! So today, the kids will be having the Monkey's Favourite Cake for their after-school snacks!

Adapted from Cook's Library, Cooking for Kids

125g Butter or Margarine
125g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
125g Self Raising Flour, sifted
2 Bananas, mashed
Icing sugar, for dusting

Filling
50g Ground Almonds
50g Icing Sugar, sifted
1 Small Banana, mashed
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice


  • Line and grease two 18cm (7 inch) sandwich tins.
  • Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time.
  • Add a tablespoon of flour with the second egg.
  • Fold in the remaining flour with the mashed bananas.
  • Divide the mixture between the prepared tins.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 350F (180C), for 25 minutes, or till the cakes spring back when lightly pressed.
  • Turn out the cakes on to a wire rack to cool.
  • To make the filling, mix the ground almonds with the icing sugar.
  • Add the banana and lemon juice.
  • Mix to a smooth paste.
  • Sandwich cakes together with the filling and dust with icing sugar.

The kids loved the taste of bananas in the cake and filling!
The cake was not too dense, and was very moist.
I grind some sliced almonds using my coffee beans grinder. I was a little too enthusiastic in my grinding, and some ground almonds "clamped" together at the end of the grinding. Only then I remembered that over-grinding will allow the oil from the almonds to help turn the almonds into almond paste. Had to discard some portion of the "clamped together" ground almond in the end. I omitted the icing sugar, as I find the sweetness of the cake with the filling just right for my taste buds. Instead of using two sandwich tins, I used a round baking tin, and halved the cake horizontally.

This cake is definitely a keeper!
There's only half a cake left in the box for tomorrow ...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Yu Zhu Chicken Soup



















Another snowy day, another day for drinking soup =)

Simple ingredients used in this soup. The soup is light, with a tinge of sweetness from Yu Zhu and Red Dates. The sweet aroma of the herbs boiling in water filled the house, while the snow fell outside the house ....



















Recipe adapted from Fenying's Blog

4 pcs Chicken Thighs (Without skin)
15 pcs Red Dates
2 tbsp Wolfberries (Guoqi)
25-30g Yuzhu
1 pc Ginger (Remove Skin)
1.5 litres Water

  • Wash and clean chicken thighs.
  • Blanch the chicken thighs in boiling water.
  • Remove and rinse in cold water.
  • Put all the ingredients, except chicken thighs, into a pot.
  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Lower the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Add chicken thighs and simmer at medium heat for another 30 minutes.
  • Serve warm.

The soup is a little oily, even though I remove the skin from the chicken thighs. I guess I will just let it cool, let the oil solidify, then remove it. Can't wait for dinner to drink the soup!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

吃 在 口 里, 甜 在 心 里


有 客 到! 是 谁?
可 爱 老 公 也!
欢 迎, 欢 迎!

谢 谢 你 为 我 煮 粥 。。 我 吃 在 口 里, 甜 在 心 里 。。













前阵子感冒了。白天还好,没什么大碍。
一到了晚上就咳得厉害,好像就快把喉咙也咳出来似地拼命咳。虽然我像患了哮喘病似地拼命咳嗽,幸好不是猪瘟找上门来,谢天谢地。

太太(即此部落格的“女神厨”—piggymummy ^_^)于是煮了一锅又一锅的止咳汤啦,润肺汤啦,川贝水啦,等之类的药材汤给我喝。我心里暗想:“这下子可好啦,天天有好汤喝。咳久一点也没关系。呵呵⋯⋯”结果我足足咳了一个月,也喝尽了一个月的好汤。但太太也失眠了一整个月。因为太太不仅关心我的健康,半夜枕边不停的咳声和鼾声成交响乐,想必她也没好觉睡。

病好了,我这个做丈夫的折磨了这个好老婆这么久总不能没有表示。说肉麻点儿,太太的体贴和温柔倒真的让我好感动。我想,乘感恩节的长周末为她做点儿饭菜,让她休息一两天。那天我炒了个蛋炒饭和做了道ABC汤。(我想,汤名叫ABC,应该简单不过。)孩子和太太当晚给的口碑出乎我预料之中的好,也让我有信心尝试下厨。

于是,因为太太喜欢吃广东粥而 在 “woods" 好难找到好粥,我便尝试煮道“红豆花生养血粥”给她了。

虽然自己的厨艺不算怎样,但是我肯定会有更多下厨的尝试。因为简单的幸福就在太太吃着粥时露出的微笑。


食谱是从
粉樱的部落格学的:

红豆花生养血粥

(我稍微做了更改)

材料1


红豆 : 50-100g
花生 : 50g

红枣 : 10枚

材料2

米 : 150g (洗净)



材料3

冰糖 : 适量



1) 将材料1洗净, 加水浸泡1-4小时后,
用大火煮沸后, 转小火煮约半至一小时


2) 加入材料2慢火续煮至米烂豆熟时, 加入红糖或片糖
调味, 即可食用。



* 功能补气养血, 安神补脑。一般人多能食用, 如学生、脑力工作者、年老记忆力减退、妇女月经量少、睡眠不安、 失眠梦多、容易疲倦等。


* 常食用能强身健体, 增强脑力如体质较燥热者,红枣及桂圆的分量则减少


栗子玉蜀黍花生汤




















Chestnut, Peanut and Sweet Corn Soup!
Wow, what a long name for a soup!

Since it's winter now, cooking soups which are nourishing, usually using chinese herbs, would be beneficial for everyone in the family. Soups for improving blood circulation, for improving vision, improving complexion, for moisturizing the lungs, and many more! I'm not very familiar with many chinese herbs. The ones I have and use are the very mild type, like bitter and sweet almonds, red dates, dried figs, chestnuts, and Yu Zhu. These herbs are mild, and add sweetness to whatever soup that you are cooking.

I was really happy when I found this website. It provides recipes of many nourishing soups. The recipes were provided by a lady who specialises in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Hence, the type of medicinal benefits are also stated along with the recipe! Since I had some of the ingredients at hand, I decided I would try out the Chestnut, Peanut and Sweet Corn Soup!












Chestnut, Peanut and Sweet Corn Soup

2/3 cup, 100g Chestnuts
2/3 cup, 100g Peanuts
1.5 litres Water (I used 1.2 litres)

3 Sweet Corn (I used 2)
1 Carrots (I used 2)
10 pcs Chinese Mushrooms (I had only 7)
2 slices Ginger
1.2 lbs Porkribs


  • Wash the chestnuts and peanuts.
  • Pour water into a soup pot. Add chestnuts and peanuts.
  • Bring the water to a boil, and lower heat.
  • Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove pot from heat.
  • Allow the chestnuts and peanuts to soak for 2 hours or more.

While soaking the chestnuts and peanuts ....

  • Peel the carrots and cut into chunks.
  • Cut the sweet corns into chunks.
  • Soak the chinese mushrooms in water to soften.
  • Slice into smaller pieces.
  • Wash and clean the porkribs.
  • Blanch in boiling water.
  • Rinse the blanched porkribs in cold water.
  • Add the carrots, corn, chinese mushrooms, ginger slices and porkribs into the pot with the chestnuts and peanuts.
  • Cover the pan and bring the pot of water to a boil.
  • Lower heat and let it simmer for 2 hours.
  • Serve the soup warm.

The house smelled of mushrooms as the soup was simmering away ... it reminded me of Chinese New Year, when my mother would braised Chinese Mushrooms in her slow-cooker.

有补肾益氣的作用, 常食用能增强体质, 养颜润肤

This soup is supposed to be good for our complexion (I need it!) and helps improve the body's composition. Neither too "heaty" nor "cooling". Suitable for the young, not so young, and the old. I would definitely cook it again, since everyone at home enjoyed the soup!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Love for Soups





















Old Man Winter has finally arrived.

The ground was covered with a thin layer of snow this morning. Temperature, with the chill factor, was at 10 degrees Celsius below zero. The welcomed warmth for the past few weeks was replaced by layering, snow shoes, snow pants, beanies and mittens.

I rekindled my love for soup two weeks ago. Since I was learning to cook them, the thought of cooking up a pot of Apple Soup immediately warmed me up! These days, soups have been showing their presence at the dinning table ..... So far, we have had Apple Soup with Porkribs, Peanut Soup, ABC Soup, Chicken Soup (using ready-packed ingredients) and Bak Kuet Teh. Tonight, we will be having Apple Soup ... again ... but with a different recipe =)

The Apple and Porkribs Soup which I cooked last week required some chinese herbs, like sweet and bitter almonds, dried figs and Yuzhu (Rhizoma Polygonati Odorati). It can be frustrating when the supply of chinese herbs run low when you intend to use them in cooking and you realize that you have no time to go out to get it. While surfing the internet last night, I finally found a substitute recipe from NoobCook. I made some changes to the amount of ingredients used though ...

Apple Soup

1.2 lb Pork Spareribs
1.2 litres Water
4 Gala Apples, Peeled and cut into chunks
10 Red Dates
1 Yellow Onions, Peeled and cut into chunks

  • Remove fats from the pork spareribs.
  • Wash and blanch the spareribs in boiling water.
  • Rinse the blanched spareribs in cold water.
  • Fill a pot with 1.2 litres of water.
  • Add the apples and onion chunks into the pot.
  • Add the red dates into the pot.
  • Add the pork spareribs.
  • Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil.
  • Lower heat and let simmer for another 2 hours.
  • Serve the soup warm.

Yummy Sweet Soup! The yellow onion added sweetness to the soup, while the apples added a refreshing taste to it. This is a indeed a good substitute recipe!

Now I know what soup I will be cooking frequently in Fall next year. A good way to use up the many extra apples we get from apple picking!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sweet and Sour Prawns




















What do you do when you have leftover celery, carrots, fresh button mushrooms, a handful of prawns, and a little canned canned crushed pineapples? Put them together and you get .... Sweet and Sour Prawns!

Sweet and Sour Prawns

10 Raw White Shrimps, deveined and shell removed.
1 stick Celery, diced
1 stick Carrot, peeled and diced
Some Fresh Button Mushroom, sliced
3 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
1 tbsp Sugar
2 tbsp Canned Crushed Pineapple with Juice

  • Heat up a pan.
  • Add 1 tbsp of butter.
  • When butter has melted, add the mushrooms.
  • Add the diced celery and carrots.
  • Add a little water, and a dash of sea salt.
  • Cover and cook till vegetables are softened.
  • Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add 1 tbsp of butter to heated pan.
  • Add the prawns and fry till cooked.
  • Mix the solution of sugar and tomato ketchup with a little water.
  • Add the mixture to the pan of cooked prawns.
  • Add the cooked vegetables.
  • Add 2 tbsp of canned crushed pineapples, and a little of the juice.
  • Stir well and serve warm.

There you go! A one dish meal ... meat and vegetables together. Serve with a bowl of fluffy warm rice ... and some soup, on a cold winter afternoon!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bak Kuet Teh!





















My lunch today, while the kids and hubby dear were at school ... A bowl of steaming hot rice, with Broccoli, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds, and a bowl of warm Bak Kuet Teh!




















It's funny how we take things for granted.
When we were back home, there were many stalls at the hawker centres selling Bak Kuet Teh. You eat rice and drink the soup, and eat the meat that goes into boiling the soup. Sometimes, they even serve the meal with a small pot of tea! We had never ordered this soup while we eat out. But when you far away from home, you yearn for food back home, even if it means food you normally don't eat while back home.

















I cooked the Bak Kuet Teh using a ready-to-use spice mix which I brought along with us when we went into the woods. It was very easy to cook. Since I already had the spareribs cleaned and fats removed, all I needed to do was to boil the water, put in the spareribs and spice bag, and let the stove do the rest of the work! The garlic cloves were added towards the end ... half an hour later, and it took another 15 minutes before I get to have a bowl of steaming hot Bak Kuet Teh! Heavenly!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ribs with Sweet Sauce





















I was in an adventurous mood today, and since it was the day for grocery shopping, I decided I would do a new dish tonight .... Ribs with Sweet Sauce!

Ok, the sparerib pieces I bought didn't have much bones on them. But lots of fats. I spent quite some time removing the fats, and was wondering if it was alright for me to use them for the intended dish. Well, when you are feeling adventurous, you are most willingly to give everything a try! So I followed the instructions and deep-fried the pork pieces till they browned. Then I did the sauce. I realised after frying the pork pieces, that I did not have a lot of meat for the sauce prepared! There was enough meat for the family dinner, but adjustments had to be made to the sauce. As rock sugar caramelized when subject to heat, I ended up with a coat of slightly sweet and sticky sauce on the pork pieces. It was delicious! If I had used caster sugar instead of rock sugar, I don't think I will get the same sauce =)

600g Spareribs
6 tbsp Black Vinegar (Maybe can substitute with Worcestershire sauce)
1 tbsp Rice Wine (I used Shaoxing Wine)
1 tbsp Dark Soy Suace
5 tbsp Rock Sugar

  • Wash the spareribs and dry them.
  • Heat up a pan of oil and deep fry the spareribs till golden brown.
  • Drain and set aside.
  • Heat the seasoning in a pan till the rock sugar melts.
  • Stir occasionally.
  • Add the deep fried spareribs.
  • Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, or till the gravy is almost dry.

This dish was a welcomed change from the usual chicken dishes. Darling son YW is not a fan of pork ... was that why I felt like vomiting whenever I eat pork when I was pregnant with him? He was able to chew the small pieces, but found the bigger pieces too tough. I guess I had to go with the ribs, not just meat pieces, for this dish ... Will try to get them for this dish when I cook it the next time! As for black vinegar .. I don't really like buying a bottle of black vinegar just for one dish! Luckily it was a small bottle. I will have to look for more dishes that use black vinegar as a seasoning. I would like to try Worcestershire sauce to replace black vinegar the next time .. if it works, then all I need is a bottle of Worcestershire sauce, since I use this sauce more than I use black vinegar.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Peanut Soup with Spareribs





















Winter has finally arrived!
There is still no snow, but the temperature has started to go below zero degrees Celsius at night. It's nice to stay indoors, especially so when you have a bowl of steaming soup for dinner.

Peanut Soup with Spareribs

1/2 cup Small dried scallops (Can reduce to 1/4 cup)
2 cups Peanuts (Can reduce to 1-1.5 cups)
1.2 lbs Spareribs
1.4 litres Water

  • Remove excess fats from the spareribs and clean them.
  • Blanch the spareribs in a pot of boiling water.
  • Remove the spareribs and rinse them under cold water.
  • Set aside for use later.
  • Fill a big pot with 1.4 litres of water.
  • Rinse the dried scallops and leave them in the pot of water to soak.
  • Rinse the peanuts and put them into the pot.
  • Put the blanched spareribs into the pot.
  • Bring the pot of water to a boil.
  • Lower the heat and let it simmer.
  • Cook for about 2 hours, or more if you like the peanuts to be softer.

The peanuts were crunchy, but not hard. The meat was tender and sweet, and darling KW loved eating the shredded pieces (I shredded the huge pieces after the soup was done) of pork soaked in the soup.

I think I put a little too much dried scallops, as the soup was really sweet! The next time I cook it, I will try with just 1/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup of dried scallops. Hope it doesn't affect the sweetness of the soup. I could have added more water into the pot with that 1/2 cup of scallops, but my pot was really small! Any more water and the water would boil over ... while boiling soup, the most important thing to note is that do not attempt to add more water while the soup is cooking. It will affect the taste of the soup, and dilute the sweetness. If you want more water, do it before you start cooking. As for the dried scallops, I read from some food blogs that they use dried cuttlefish (can be found in most Asian Grocery stores) instead of scallops. But since I had some scallops at hand, I need not purchase any cuttlefish. The fact is, I don't reallly like the taste and smell of it =p Well, I guess I will give it a try when I finish my supply of dried scallops.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Panko Shrimps with Sweet and Sour Sauce





















I had a big of prawns sitting in the freezer, waiting to opened.
Darling son KW doesn't really like prawns, but hubby dear and darling son YW love it! In order for darling son KW to eat the prawns, I decided to "dress them up"! He gave me the "thumbs up" during dinner =)

Deep Fried Panko Shrimps

20 pcs Raw White Shrimp
1 cup Corn Flour or All Purpose Flour
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1 cup Panko (Add some grated Parmesan Cheese if you like)

  • Deveined and remove tail of shrimps.
  • Wash and dry the shrimps.
  • Coat the shrimp with flour.
  • Dip the flour-coated shrimp in egg.
  • Lastly, dip the shrimp in Panko or breadcrumbs.
  • Heat up a pan of oil.
  • Deep fry the coated shrimps till golden brown.
  • Keep the deep fried shrimps warm in a slightly heated oven.


Sweet and sour sauce is usually the dipping sauce for prawns.




















I had no idea how to go about making the sauce actually. Since I was in a mood to experiment with the ingredients, I just mixed whatever I think would taste good! I was very glad the sauce turned out well. The taste of the sauce was right ... sweet and sour indeed, and very appetisting!

I was a little too generous with the amount of ingredients used, and ended with a big bowl of sauce. It worried me a little that I might have too much leftover. Having noodles with the sauce for dinner would be a good way to finish the bowl of sauce, but I had already cooked rice. The boys and the man liked the sauce so much, they polished off their rice and the sauce! Phew!

Sweet and Sour Sauce

5 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
2 tbsp Sugar
1 Carrot, Peeled and Cubed
1/2 can Crushed Pineapple with Juice
1/2 can Canned Mushrooms
1/2 Yellow Onion
1 tbsp Corn Flour
2-3 tbsp Water

  • Heat up a pan.
  • Add 1 tbsp of oil and fry the diced onion till fragrant.
  • Add the canned mushrooms and carrots.
  • Add a little water, cover and cook till carrots are soft.
  • Mix the tomato ketchup and sugar.
  • Pour into the pan of mushrooms, carrots and onion.
  • Add the crushed pineapple and a little of the juice.
  • Add the cornflour mixture slowly to thicken the sauce.
  • Adjust the amount of cornflour mixture used, depending on the desired consistency of the sauce.

My kitchen, my laboratory! Yeah!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

ABC Soup





















I love soup and I love this ABC Soup!
I don't know why it's called ABC soup.
Maybe because the ingredients used are simple, and cooking it is as easy as ABC? Or is it because it's full of Vitamins A, B and C?!

Hubby dear cooked this (after researching on the internet on how to cook it) on Saturday evening, since it was a long Thanksgiving weekend. The elder boy loved it so much, he had three bowls of soup for that evening! We omitted some ingredients which are normally used, like potato. I think the next time we cook it, we can add a ear or two of corn into the soup ... YUM!








Ingredients

1.5 lb Pork Spareribs
1 Large Yellow Onion
1 Large Tomato (You can add more if you like)
4 sticks Celery, Diced
4 sticks Carrots, Diced
2 ears Corn, halved (Optional)
2 Potatoes, Peeled and Cubed (We omitted this)
1.3 litres Water

  • Remove any traces of fats from the spareribs.
  • Blanch the spareribs in boiling water for a couple of minutes.
  • Rinse the spareribs in cold water.
  • Prepare a big pot and fill it with water.
  • Put all the ingredients into the pot.
  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Lower the heat, and let it simmer.
  • Cook the soup for 2 hours.
  • Remove the thin layer of oil, if any, with a spoon.

This soup is very sweet, and not too oily, as hubby dear did a good job in removing most of the fats on the spareribs.

Thank you dear, for the delicious soup ... I really miss drinking it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rainbow Fried Rice

















Don't you think the fried rice is very colourful?
There's the green from broccoli, red from chinese sausages, black from chinese mushrooms, yellow from egg, and orange from carrots. And there's a whole lot of vegetables in the rice! I call this dish ... Rainbow Fried Rice!

Hubby dear wanted to cook dinner, since it's a long Thanksgiving weekend. I got get some rest too, since he would be cooking. However, he had only a vague idea of what to put in for the fried rice, so I helped in preparing the ingredients. As it was his first time frying chinese sausages, he was not too sure when he should add the rice. So the rice and sausages were added into the pan the same time. I tried to put the rice aside while frying the sausages. Chinese sausages have a high percentage of fats in them, so when frying, no oil is needed. There will be some oil left the pan, after the sausages are fried. The rice can be fried in this little sausage oil then.








Ingredients

2 Chinese Sausages, diced
12-14 Dried Chinese Mushrooms, reconstitue in water and sliced
1 Carrot, peeled and cut into thin sticks
1 Small Yellow Onion, diced
2 cups Cooked Rice
1 tbsp Oyster
1 tbsp Oil
2 Eggs
1.5 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Sugar


  • Cook rice, and let cool. Alternatively, you can cook extra rice the day before, and keep in the fridge. The rice has to be cold before frying.
  • Reconstitue the dried chinese mushrooms in water. Squeezed the water out from the mushrooms, and sliced.
  • Marinate the sliced mushrooms in : 1 tbsp Soy Sauce + 1 tbsp Sugar.
  • Set aside for at least 15 minutes.
  • Add 1 tbsp of oil into a heated pan.
  • Add onions. Fry the onions till and fragrant.
  • Add seasoned sliced mushrooms. Fry for a while.
  • Add carrots and broccoli.
  • Add some water, cover the pan.
  • Let cook till the carrots and broccoli have softened.
  • Alternatively, microwave the vegetables first before adding them.
  • The vegetable stir fry should not be too watery. Add some oyster sauce to taste if you like it more salty. We are ok with nothing added, as the mushrooms gave the mix some taste.
  • In another heated pan, fry the chinese sausages. No oil is needed for frying.
  • When the sausages are done, remove, and set aside.
  • Add rice into the heated pan. There should be some oil from frying the sausages.
  • Loosen up the rice, and add 1 tbsp of oyster sauce. Mix well.
  • Add eggs, and mix well with the rice.
  • Add the cooked sausages and mix well.
  • Add the cooked vegetables. Scoop the vegetables from its pan and drain, if the pan of vegetables is more watery than what you desired.
  • Stir well and serve warm.

There's lots of vegetables in this dish. You can add whatever vegetables you have in hand. The seasoned mushrooms and the chinese sausages add a nice sweet chewy touch to the pan of fried rice.

As a side dish, I oven-baked some chicken wings. The nice thing about baking wings is that you can flavor the wings with whatever you have in the pantry or fridge. Some alternatives to marinating the wings:

a) Lemon Juice, and add a dash of Italian herbs to cornflour.
b) Lemon Juice, and add a dash of grated Parmesan Cheese to cornflour.
b) Shaoxing Wine and a dash of salt
c) Shaoxing Wine and some grated ginger
d) Salt
e) Soy Sauce
f) Oyster Sauce

  • Coat the marinated wings in corn flour. Shake off excess flour.
  • Arrange wings on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake at 425F for 20 minutes.
  • Turn the wings over and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Switch to Broil function and broil for another few minutes to get a crispy skin.
  • Keep warm in the oven till ready to serve.

I'm glad I omitted the butter this time. The wings were crispy, and there was no oil in the tray when I took the wings out. It was a very simple, but tasty dinner on Thanksgiving Day! The kids gave their Papa ... Two thumbs UP for the Rainbow Fried Rice ... YUMMY .. they said! The next dish by hubby dear? ABC Soup, he said ... I'm looking forward that!

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