Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chicken Rice and Oyster Sauce Bak Choy in Garlic Oil

The kids had to attend Chinese lessons this afternoon, and hence, it was a good time for me to drop by the Asian Mart. I saw this packet of Bak Choy (小白菜) and thought it would be the perfect vegetable to go with our dinner this evening ... Chicken Rice.

I would usually blanch the Bak Choy and pour some sesame oil and oyster sauce over them. But thanks to NoobCook, I decided to use a different sauce ... Garlic Oil and Oyster Sauce Bak Choy!

Garlic Oil

  • Heat up 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan.
  • Finely chopped 8 cloves of garlic.
  • Fry the chopped garlic till light brown.
  • Remove the pan from the heat immediately when the garlic starts to turn a light brown. The garlic will continue to cook in the hot oil. Take care not to burn the garlic.

Oyster Sauce Mixture

  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of hot water
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Garlic Oil

Pour the garlic oil over the blanched Bak Choy, followed by the Oyster Sauce Mixture. Mix well and serve. I cut the stalks of Bak Choy into halves, as it is easier for the kids to eat. I like my vegetables to be crunchy, but the kids find it difficult to chew. Hence I blanched the vegetables longer to soften them. It still tastes great with this sauce! Most importantly, the kids love it and it goes well with my dinner ... Chicken Rice!

Oh, how I miss the Chicken Rice back home. I have been relying on the packets of Chicken Rice premix, and sadly, I am down to my second last pack! Chicken Rice is definitely on my "To Eat" list when we return home for visit this June!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fried Noodles

It's the weekend, and for a change, I decided to have fried noodles for dinner. It was one good way for me to use up the leftover pork from cooking soup, and broccoli was all I had in the fridge!

The leftover pork turned pork floss was pan fried after lunch. All I needed to do for dinner was to cook the noodles in boiling water, then fry them!

  • Finely chopped some garlic and shallots.
  • Wash some broccoli florets and microwave them.
  • Do not microwave the broccoli florets for too long. They should be crunchy to the bite and not soggy.
  • Prepare a heated pan and pour two tablespoons of vegetable oil in.
  • Add the chopped shallots and fry till fragrant.
  • Add the chopped garlic and fry till fragrant.
  • Be careful not to burnt the shallots and garlic.
  • Add the cooked noodles, and fry for a couple of seconds.
  • Add some chicken broth, and stir well.
  • Do not add too much broth, or your fried noodles will turn soggy.
  • Add the pork floss and broccoli. Mix well.
  • Turn off the heat.
  • Season with salt if necessary.
  • Serve warm.

A plate of fried noodles, plus a bowl of warm miso soup.
How does that sound to you?
Good enough to keep us warm on cold winter nights =)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sesame Oyster Sauce Spinach

Darling son KW is picky about the kind of vegetables he eats. He loves broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and 小白菜. Beans, peas, tomatoes and capsicums are out. No way he will eat them. He fell in love with romaine lettuce while we were on holiday last summer. Phew! Another vegetable to add to his "LIKE" list. Carrots? He will eat it if they are cut into very thin strips and mixed in fried rice ... too tedious for him to pick the finely cut strips of carrots out!

Hence, my hands are tied when it comes to cooking vegetables for the boys. It must be a dish which everyone will enjoy. Spinach is one common dish, and a regular on our dinning table =)

I usually buy baby spinach packed in a bag. They are easier to store, and last longer than a bundle of spinach. I blanch the spinach in hot water, drizzle a tablespoonful of sesame oil, followed by a tablespoonful of Shitake Flavored Vegetarian Oyster Sauce.

Let's hope he will be strong like Popeye, since he always asks for a second helping when it comes to eating spinach!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


While Old Man Winter was busy partying away to welcome the new year, we were happy to be enjoying our two weeks of "January Thaw". Temperatures were at highs of 2 degree Celsius, and low was only at 3 to 4 below zero degree Celsius. It was pleasant enough to bring the kids out for sledding and playing outdoors.

This week however, Old Man Winter remembered he had a job to do, and he did it with such great enthusiasm! Temperatures took a dive and plunged to 14 below zero degree Celsius this weekend! The wind blowing against the face was biting, and I had to cover my face with a scarf before heading out! With the sudden change in temperature, most of us ended our day with runny or stuffy noses. It was really comforting to have a bowl of warm soup for dinner, to end the bitterly cold day!

I ran out of pork ribs, and had only two chicken leg quarters ... it's the part where the drumstick is joined to the thigh. Decided to cook Chinese Chicken Soup (using chinese herbs), and the recipe from NoobCook seemed easy enough for me to handle.

淮山 11g
北芪 6g
党参 15g
枸纪子 23g
玉竹 23g
Water 1.5 litres
2 Chicken Quarters, skin removed
Salt to taste (Optional)

  • Blanched the chicken quarters in boiling hot water.
  • Remove and rinse in cold water.
  • Set aside.
  • Put all the ingredients into a stock pot.
  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Lower heat and simmer for 1-2 hours.
  • Add salt to taste when the soup is ready.

I like the taste of this mild herbal soup. The next time I cook it, I will probably add a couple of red dates, along with the rest of the ingredients. Hmm .... lovely soup on a cold winter night....

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chocolate Chip Muffins

My boys love chocolate, and they will eat anything with chocolate in it!

As I was flipping through my baking books, trying to decide on what to bake for snacks for the kids to bring to school, my attention was drawn to a nice photograph of some Chocolate Chip Muffins. I stared at the photograph for quite some time, and suddenly realised that I had not made these muffins for my boys since we entered the woods! Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Cake, Chocolate-Frosting, but not Chocolate Chip Muffins.

Adapted from "Williams-Sonoma : Muffins"

1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, Melted
3/4 cup Buttermilk
2 Large Eggs
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
2 cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
2 cups Semisweet (plain) Chocolate Chips (I use mini morsels)

  • Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
  • Grease 12 standard muffin cups with butter/cooking spray, or line with paper liners.
  • Whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla till smooth.
  • In another bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk mixture.
  • Beat until smooth and well mixed, 1-2 minutes.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips just until evenly distributed.
  • Do not overmix.
  • Spoon batter into each muffin cup, filling it level with the rim of the cup.
  • Bake till golden, dry and springy to the touch, 20-25 minutes.
  • A toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin should come out clean.
  • Let cool for 5 minutes on a colling rack.
  • Unmold the muffins and let cool completely.
  • Serve them at room temperature.

These muffins were very soft to the bite!

The boys gave the thumbs up and asked for more as their "after dinner dessert". I had been on an emotional roller-coaster ride for the past few days, with my spirits hitting the bottom of the emotional well and getting stuck there ... the aroma of the muffins baking in the oven, the sweet crispy bite into the muffin helped lift my otherwise low spirits =)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quick Fix Burger

Darling sons had early dismissal at 11.30am today. Lunch would be at home and had to be a quick fix meal. Hubby dear and I need to attend darling son KW's play, "Stone Soup", in his classroom in the morning. He played one of the soldiers who cooked the stone soup. Maybe I should ask him to cook "stone soup" for our next meal =p

Since I had only half an hour to prepare lunch, I settled on having a Quick Fix Burger. Simple ingredients ... cheese, lettuce, omelette, and bacon.

Bacon is definitely not an healthy ingredient for daily consumption, but a once-in-a-long-while-luxury item. You can bake the bacon while frying the eggs, or fry the bacon in a heated pan without adding any oil. I tried to pile as much lettuce as I could, onto the sandwich thins, and added a slice of cheese. The lettuce was mixed with a little mayo plus honey before putting onto the sandwich thins.

And remember to add a glass of milk to the meal ... we were stuffed by the end of lunch!

The Stone Soup

When winter winds blow, nothing tastes better than a bowl of hot soup. Hence, January has been named "National Soup Month" in the woods.

To celebrate "National Soup Month", each student from Mrs W's class brought home a "Soup Book" ... soup recipes contributed by parents of students in darling son KW's class. The class had a "Soup Day". Each child was designated to bring an item to contribute to their "Soup Lunch". I think it's very exciting and interesting for kids to learn about soups, and soups amongst different cultures.

To end their mini-unit on Soups, the class put up three plays at the end of the week. All three plays involved soups ... Tiger Soup, Stone Soup, and Soup for the King.

Darling son KW played a solider in "Stone Soup". Using stone to cook soup? Yes! It taught the villagers the value of "Sharing". Darling son KW had been telling me he felt "pretty nervous" at the thought of having to perform, and especially so since we would be attending the play. He was no longer nervous the day before the play. They already had three performances! Their teacher invited one class from each level (K/1, 2/3 and 4/5) to go to their classroom to watch the play!

This morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see the entire classroom filled with parents! I think parents of all the students in that class came to support their child!

The kids were great! We had so much fun watching them perform!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Spinach and Ground Meat Fried Rice

"Meat, vegetables, and rice, all in a single bite!"

Yes, this is the opening line for this dish, in the book "Bento Love" and I totally agree! The boiled spinach can prepared ahead. No marinating is required for the meat. Leftover rice from the previous day can be used.

Not a spinach lover? You can still give this dish a try, as even though plenty of spinach is used, the taste is not too empowering. Instead, the browned ground meat and fried garlic give this dish its fragrance. The taste of the fried rice can be adjusted to your taste. More soy sauce and salt if you prefer a saltier dish, or less if you like.

The ingredients listed below serves 2 adults and 2 kids, slightly different from that listed in the book.

4 servings of rice for 2 adults and 2 kids
1 bunch of spinach
200g Ground Meat (I prefer Ground Turkey)
1 tbsp Minced Garlic
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 tbsp Butter
Dash of pepper and salt

  • If rice is still warm, spread in a shallow dish, or freezer, to cool.
  • Blanch spinach in boiling salted water.
  • Rinse under cold water.
  • Drain and squeeze out excess water well.
  • Chop finely. I use a pair of scissors to cut up the spinach.
  • Heat up a frying pan.
  • Add oil to the well heated pan.
  • Add butter.
  • Saute garlic until fragrant and add meat.
  • Stir-fry over medium heat.
  • When the meat is browned, add rice. Mix well.
  • Add spinach, stir-fry well, breaking up any clumps.
  • Season with soy sauce. Adjust according to your taste.
  • Season with salt and pepper.

In fact, I forgot to add salt when blanching the spinach. The spinach was prepared in the morning, to be used in the evening. Half an hour before dinner, I started frying the meat. After mixing the meat and spinach with rice, I seasoned the dish with soy sauce first. I tasted it, and then added the salt. Add the seasoning gradually, adjusting according to your taste. The dash of pepper was a nice touch to the fried rice .... the boys didn't complain about the fried rice being "spicy"! They finished their bowl of fried rice, accompanied by a bowl of miso soup!

This new dish is going to be a regular on my table!
Popeye will be proud of me!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fishcake Sushi

Learning is fun in the woods!

Darling son YW who is in Kindergarten, is learning about moon phases, day and night on earth, and planets in the solar system. A school field trip to the Planetarium completes the topic.

The field trip to the Planetarium took place this morning. Since the kids would be back in school after their school lunch hour, they were asked to bring a cold lunch and drink. They would be having their lunch after the trip, in their respective classroom, instead of the school's lunchroom. To make it easier for him to finish his lunch quickly, I prepare a sushi lunch for him and gave him a piece of brownie as a sweet treat! Indeed a cold lunch, for both darling sons, without the thermal jar.

We bought fishcake from the Korean Mart near our apartment. It didn't taste like the ones back home, but we missed the food back home so much, anything close worked! The kids gave the thumbs up the first time I cooked it! We were so happy to find fishcake that we started talking about what we would eat when we go back home for holiday in August ... Curry, Laksa, Char Siew Pau, Char Kay Teow, Chicken Rice .... even the kids had their own food list!

Got a little carried away when I think about home food ... back to the sushi.
It was fairly easy to prepare the sushi. All I needed to do was to :

  • Cut the fishcake into strips.
  • Fry the strips of fishcake in a pan with a little butter.
  • Blanch the broccoli and cut them into very small pieces.
  • Add some rice vinegar to the warm rice.
  • Add the tiny pieces of broccoli into the rice.
  • Mix well and let cool.
  • Place a sheet of nori onto the sushi rolling mat, shiny side down.
  • Spread the rice and broccoli mixture on the nori sheet, covering 2/3 of the sheet.
  • Place two strips of fishcake in the centre. Roll and cut.

Due to the lack of time, I couldn't make sushi for hubby dear ... I'm so sorry ... Instead, I cut the strips of fishcake into even smaller pieces. Packed them into one of the boxes in his thermal jar. Sprinkled his box of rice with some furikake. Boxed the blanched broccoli into another container. Lastly, a bowl (yes, a soup bowl) of warm Ovaltine!

A hot lunch for him, to keep him warm on a cold winter day =)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

叉烧 .. Char Siew!

I was at the Asian Mart when I spotted this bottle of familiar sauce staring at me ... Lee Kum Kee's Char Siew Sauce! Char Siew! How I miss the Char Siew Rice back home! You are guessing right ... the bottle of sauce went home with me =)

There are many kinds of pork being sold at the supermarket. I am no expert in identifying the various parts of the pork. My mom will tell me 五花肉 is the best part of the pork. I have absolutely no idea what 五花肉 is, and what to look for when I'm at the supermarket! What I did was to try buying the different parts ... Country Style Pork Ribs, Shoulder Steak, etc. I use them for brewing soups, and if darling son KW likes the texture of the pork, it means that the pork is very tender. So far, our favorite cut of pork is Country Style Pork Ribs. And I use this cut of pork to make Char Siew!

1.2 lbs Country Style Pork Ribs
2-3 tbsp Char Siew Sauce

  • Clean and dry the pork ribs.
  • In a Ziploc bag, mix the pork ribs with the Char Siew Sauce.
  • Leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.
  • Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Remove the pork ribs from the bag and place them in the baking tray.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Cover the baking tray with Aluminium Foil and bake till the pork ribs are cooked through.
  • Remove the Aluminium Foil and brush some honey on the pork ribs.
  • Broil till the ribs, turning them occasionally, till they turned a little crispy.
  • Remove and slice.
  • Serve with a bowl of warm rice.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pork Floss?

Pork, pork and more pork!
What do you do with the pork used in brewing soups?

Whenever I have a pot of soup for dinner, I will try to cook less meat for that meal. Each of us will try to eat a little of the pork from the soup, except darling son YW. No, he is not a fan of pork. Even when he was just a little fellow in my womb. I felt nauseated whenever I ate pork, or just smelling it, be it cooked or raw. The only pork dish he eats is ... Bak Gwa!

Hence, there is always a little pork left sitting in the pot of soup. Sigh!
It doesn't taste good when eaten the next day, as there is no more soup left.
It is a waste to throw it away!

This is what I do with the leftover pork.
Fry it such that it resembles pork floss!

  • Shred the pieces of pork.
  • Add five-spice powder, sugar, soy sauce. Mix well.
  • Since the meat is already cooked, you can take a piece and taste.
  • Adjust the seasoning according to your taste.
  • Heat up a frying pan. No oil is needed.
  • Pan fry till the shredded pork turned golden brown and dry.

Ok, I should not call it pork floss, as it looks far from the original. But it does go very well with steaming hot rice, and a side of blanched vegetables like cauliflower or broccoli. Sometimes, I will eat it with bread ... butter the bread and scoop a big spoonful of fried pork onto the bread, fold and eat! Yum!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


淮山, 又名,淮山药。
Scientific Name : Dioscorea Opposita.
Commonly known as Chinese Yam.

This is one ingredient commonly found in soups.
What is so good about this ingredient?
According to this website, it is suppose to help lower blood sugar and blood pressure, aid in digestion and anti-aging.

Usually, the dried form of this ingredient is used when brewing soups. However, I couldn't find any at the Asian Mart near our place. The boss of the Asian Mart showed me this fresh chinese yam. I had seen many soup recipes using fresh chinese yam, and I thought, why not give it a try? As mentioned in many food blogs, the inside of the yam is slimy, and the liquid sticks to the hand like very watery glue. The skin of the yam has to be removed, and remember not to slice the yam too thinly. They kind of "disintegrate" into the soup, turning the soup "cloudy" when sliced too thinly.

I'm madly in love with soups, and chanced upon The Soup Queen.
I love that the soup uses only three simple ingredients ... 淮山药, Red Dates, and Pork Spareribs.

淮山药 Length of about 20-25 cm
Red Dates 18 (Mine are really small, so put less if yours are big)
Pork Spareribs 1.2 lbs
Water 1.2 - 1.5 litres

  • Wash and blanch the pork spareribs.
  • Rinse the blanched spareribs in cold water.
  • Put all ingredients into a pot.
  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Lower heat and simmer for about 2 hours.

The soup is "clear" with a subtle tinge of sweetness .... 非常的清甜!Darling son KW loved it so much that he had two bowls! Mmmm ....
Seems like I will need to cook this soup more often =)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stick Figure Family

Fun, fun and more fun!

Stick Figure Family at

I found this interesting website and created my own family portrait!

Friday, January 8, 2010

What's for Snacks?

As Student of the Week, darling son YW is required to provide snacks for the class, from Tuesday to Friday. So, what's for snacks?

I baked a batch of Crunchy Oatmeal Cookies with M&Ms.
Mrs M said "The cookies are a hit with the kids!".
I'm happy to hear that. These cookies are really addictive! I saved some batter and mixed it with peanut butter chips ... Mmmmm .... No, these peanut butter chips cookies are not meant for the kids. No peanuts in class, allergy or not.

Having to do some grocery shopping, I had no time for other bakes. We settled for rice crackers, 雪饼, for Wednesday. The kids liked it too. These are my kids' favorite snacks too!

Yogurt Cake, an easy cake to bake. The top is crispy, and the cake is not overly sweet. I love it that it uses Olive Oil in place of butter. I feel less guilty eating it!

Last day of the week ... no time and energy to bake more ... Triangular Vegetable Crackers, it will be! We found these at the Asian Mart.
Our kids love it, and we hope the kids in the class like it too!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Student of the Week!

Darling son YW had been waiting for this day since Day 1 of school. Every day, he would come home and asked "When am I going to be the Student of the Week, Mama?". I told him to be patient. "After Christmas, at the start of the new year" I would told him each time he asked.

When darling son KW was the Student of the Week, he introduced the planets in the Solar System to his friends. A year had passed and he had since moved on to Grade 2. Since his class then consist of students in Grade 1 and Kindergarten, some of his friends, currently in Grade 1, are now classmates with darling son YW, who is in Kindergarten.

As Student of the Week, what did YW introduce to the class?
Well, we thought that since not many people know much about Singapore, why not take the opportunity to tell them more? Thanks, Jean, for the book you sent us last year! It came in handy. Lovely photographs in the book. We brought the book along and did a "Show and Tell". It helped that there was this huge globe in the classroom. We easily located Singapore, as well as America, and was able to show how far away we were from home ... and by the way, we are not part of China =p

"We have Summer all year round in Singapore."
"It means that ... there's no school ... the whole year!?"

I'm sure all the kids back in Singapore will be very happy ... to have summer vacation .. for the whole year!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tau You Bak!

Say it in Hokkien ... 豆油肉!
Translated, it means ... Soy Sauce Pork!

What is so special about this dish, since it involves only soy sauce, pork and some other simple ingredients?

Each of us has a special dish in our heart ... a dish that reminds us of our mother, and our childhood. This is "The Dish" for hubby dear.
My mother-in-law used to make this dish very often for the family, when hubby dear was still a kid.

On this New Year's Day morning, while the meat stewed in the pot, the aroma from the kitchen brought warmth and sweet memories of his childhood, of the love a mother puts in cooking a dish for the family ....

Recipe from Lily's Blog.

1 lb Belly or shoulder pork
10 cloves Garlic, with skin on
1 Star Anise
1 tsp Crushed Peppercorns.
1.5 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
3 cups Water

  • Wash the pork and cut into 1 inch pieces.
  • Blanch the pork in boiling water.
  • Rinse with cold water, set aside.
  • Combine star anise, crushed peppercorns, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and water. Bring to a boil.
  • Add in pork and let the pork simmer in the sauce for 10 minutes before adding the garlic cloves.
  • Continue to simmer until the meat is tender and the sauce is thickened.
  • Continue to simmer if you want the sauce to be thicker.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Turn off heat and add the hard boiled eggs (shells removed) to the pot.
  • This dish is best eaten the next day, to allow the flavors to develop.

Hubby dear cooked this dish in the morning, and we had this for dinner on New Year's Day evening. Eat your bowl of hot steaming rice, served with a generous spoonful of sauce from the dish ..... Mmmmmm .....

.. traveling thru' the time tunnel, back to Mom's little kitchen ..

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