Monday, November 29, 2010

Banana Butter Cupcakes

I have 2 speckled bananas sitting on my kitchen top. Each time my boys walk pass them, they say .... yew, yucky!

Yes, I need to bake a banana cake. I found the recipe from Pusiva's Culinary Studio. I like that the cake uses the common baking ingredients found in our pantry. It's a no fuss cake, with no fanciful ingredients, but yet yield a fluffy cake! Instead of baking the cake in a loaf pan, I bake them into cupcakes, as it will be neater for my boys to bring to school as snacks.

The recipe calls for 2/3 cups of mashed bananas. I used 1.5 bananas. What do I do with the remaining 1/2 a banana? Well, I sliced it thinly, and top my cupcakes with them! Hmm, the next time I bake these cupcakes, I will try to use 2 bananas. I don't think the extra bananas will affect the texture of the cupcakes too drastically. Feel free to double the amount in the recipe, as it yields only 10 cupcakes.

1 cup Plain Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt

1/3 cup Butter (approximately 75g)
1/3 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Mashed Bananas
1 Egg

  • Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  • Greased and lined a loaf pan.
  • Alternatively, line the muffin trays with muffin liners.
  • Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  • Beat Butter and Sugar till light and fluffy.
  • Add egg and beat well.
  • Stir in mashed bananas.
  • Fold in flour mixture.
  • Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  • If using muffin tray, fill the muffin liners to 2/3 full. Top the batter with a slice of banana.
  • If using a loaf pan, bake at 18oC/350F for aout 40 minutes or till a wooden pick inserted comes out clean.
  • If using muffin trays, bake at 180C/350F for 10-15 minutes, till a wooden pick inserted comes out clean, and the top is a nice golden brown.
  • Let cool completely on a rack before serving.

The cupcakes were very moist and fluffy.
Both boys liked the cupcakes, and the little one asked for a second helping! He's a growing boy, and a greedy one too =)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jam-filled Muffins

I was in a hurry to bake some snacks for afternoon tea. Muffins, so that I don't have to use my mixer. I googled for "jam-filled muffins", and came to Crepes of Wrath. The photograph of the muffins sitting next to some strawberries looked so appealing that I knew I had to make some right away!

These muffins are really simple to make. Just mix the wet and dry ingredients together. The preparation and the baking took me just a little over 30 minutes. The best part of the recipe? Only 1/4 cup of butter is used! That is about 60g! Jam and Yogurt are items that can be found most of the time in my fridge. However, I replace lemon zest with orange zest, since I have a big bag of oranges sitting in my kitchen.

1/2 cup Sugar
Zest of 1 small lemon (I use 1 small orange)
1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
21/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
2/3 cup Fat-free Vanilla Yogurt
1/4 cup Unsalted Butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 tbsp Milk
1 Egg (lightly beaten)
1/4 cup Jam (Any flavor .. I use Raspberry Jelly Jam)

Topping: 2 tbsp Sugar + 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon (I omit this)

  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Line muffin tray with muffin liners.
  • If not using liners, spray lightly with PAM.
  • In a mixing bowl, using a spoon or a spatula, stir the zest into the sugar till the sugar turn a pale yellow.
  • Combine the zesty lemon sugar with flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt.
  • Mix well the dry ingredients.
  • In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients ... Yogurt, melted butter, milk and egg, stirring well with a whisk.
  • Gradually add flour mixture to the yogurt mixture till just combined.
  • Do not overmix. You do not want tough and dry muffins.
  • Spoon 1 tablespoon of the batter into each muffin liner.
  • Top with 1 teaspoon of jam.
  • Top the jam with another 1 tablespoon of batter.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon sugar topping over the batter.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean, and the top is golden and set.
  • Cool in the muffin tray on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove muffins from tray and continue to cool them on a rack.

You can eat it slightly warm, or when it is completely cool.
Either way, they are yummy!

I omitted the sugar and cinnamon topping. The muffins have a distinct taste of orange and cinnamon flavor in them. The jam pairs well with the soft texture of the muffin. and the crunchy muffin top adds delight to the first bite.

When it's time for our afternoon snack ....
Darling son YW asked for a second helping.
Darling son KW said "I love these".
Hubby dear gave the thumbs up.

So I guessed these muffins passed the test =)
They are going to be regulars for the boys' after-school snack!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Darling son YW brought home from school this painting.
It's a turkey. And along with it came a little message ......

We don't celebrate Thanksgiving Day, even though we had been living in the woods for the past two years. However, we do take a moment to think about, together with the kids, what we are thankful for.

Last year, darling son YW came home from school with a list of things he was thankful for ... Family, Friends, Books, Reading, Apples (as he went apple picking with his classmates), Lego.

This year, he gave me this little notebook.

"Where did you get the notebook?".
"It's my prize from class.".

Wow. I am truly touched. He is giving his prize to me.
That is his way of saying "Thank You".

As a wife and mother, I am thankful for the time I have with my family.
I am thankful for a loving husband, who is always there for me.
I am thankful for the opportunity to stay home, watching my boys grow, and witnessing each milestone they achieve.

As a daughter, I am thankful that we are always in our parents' thought.
I am thankful that my mom is taking things positively, with a good spirit, even though she is diagnosed with breast cancer.
I am thankful that my dad is with her, giving her the support she needs.

What are you thankful for, on this Thanksgiving Day?
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Has it been 10 years already?

Hubby dear posted this on his facebook page this morning ......
" I celebrate my wife's wise decision ten years ago".
And so, I celebrate with him today, for saying "I do" ten years ago =D

No elaborate celebration.
Just a simple lunch at Sushi Muramoto.
I am off lunch duty today!

In the afternoon on the way to pick the boys up from school, one mom commented "It was really nice of your husband to walk the boys to school every morning!". Indeed, having him walk the boys to school makes life in the morning less stressful for me. I don't have to be in such a hurry to cook, pack and clean up after the morning battle with the lunchboxes and breakfast mess. The boys love having him to walk them to school too.

He was right. It was a wise decision I made ten years ago =)
Thank you, dear, for embarking on this journey with me ......

Monday, November 22, 2010

Miso Chicken and Penne

When you think of miso paste, you think of miso soup.
But with a big box of miso paste sitting in your fridge, you are going to take quite a while before you use up the box of miso paste. How about using miso paste in your cooking as well?

Packed school lunch for my two darlings today .... Fried chicken pieces in miso paste, miso-flavored penne, and some blanched broccoli. It is a fairly easy to prepare lunch box, especially when you prepare the ingredients the day before =)

A piece of chicken thigh fillet was cut into bite sized cubes the day before, and marinated in some shaoxing wine and cornflour. The wholegrain penne was cooked the day before, let cool and sprinkled with some olive oil before storing in the fridge. All you need to do in the morning is ......

  • Microwave the box of precooked penne, about 2 minutes.
  • Microwave some broccoli.
  • Drain and set aside.
  • Heat up a frying pan.
  • Add some olive oil.
  • Add the chicken pieces and fry till cooked.
  • Turn off heat.
  • In a small bowl, add a little water to 1 tablespoon or less of miso paste.
  • Add the diluted miso paste to the cooked chicken pieces.
  • Add penne and mix well.
  • Add some water if you find it too salty.
  • Add the blanched broccoli and mix well.
  • Pack into the lunchbox.

Remember not to add the miso paste while the heat is on. Adding blanched broccoli helps to even out the saltiness of the miso paste. But if you find that you have added too much of the miso paste, add some water to dilute the mixture. Alternatively, you can start off by adding just a teaspoon, and gradually add the paste till you find it acceptable. It all depends on your taste and how much penne you are adding to the cooked meat.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stir Fried Garlic Broccoli

This is one simple dish.

I am sure many moms cook this every now and then.
Why is there a need to post the recipe then?
Well, if I do fall sick, my dear hubby will have to do the cooking!
I am sure he has no problem dishing up this vegetable meal, but I think he will take comfort in having some recipe to refer to, so that he doesn't need to bother me while I rest in bed, that is if I do fall sick. And I will also have the full assurance that the kids will not go hungry or have to wait very long before they get to eat their meal =)

  • A head of broccoli, cut into small florets.
  • Wash and set aside.
  • Mince some garlic and set aside.
  • Heat up a large frying pan.
  • When hot, add some olive oil.
  • Add the minced garlic.
  • Fry till fragrant, but not browned.
  • Add the florets of broccoli.
  • Mix well with the garlic.
  • Add some chicken broth.
  • Cover and cook till broccoli soften, but still with a crunch.
  • Cover and cook longer if you like them soft.
  • Season with a little sea salt if necessary.

I can just eat this with plain rice and nothing else!
And I had to fight with darling son KW over the last few pieces of broccoli last night, LOL.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Prawn Noodles

This prawn-noodle dish is not your typical prawn noodles. I cooked this light noodle meal for hubby dear, who just recovered from his fever, but still suffering from body aches and having a runny nose.

A simple, light noodle meal, in miso soup.

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add the prawns, shell or no shell.
  • Remove the prawns from the pot when cooked.
  • Immerse the prawns in a bowl of icy water (to stop the cooking).
  • Remove the shells when the prawns cooled. Set aside.
  • Cook the noodles (I use angle's hair) according to instructions on packet.
  • Prepare the bowl of miso soup using miso paste.
  • Add some baby spinach into the warm bowl of miso soup.
  • The spinach will be softened by the soup.
  • In the bowl of miso soup with spinach, add the cooked noodles.
  • Top the bowl of noodles with the prawns.
  • Sprinkle some dried parsley on top of the prawns.
  • Serve warm.

So my dear hubby, should I fall sick and you are not sure what to cook for me, or how to cook, read this post and your problem will be solved =)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ikan Bilis Porridge

Still on the "porridge wagon", since the man is still not feeling too good.

Using chicken broth, soak the rice (short grain) and the anchovies (Ikan Bilis) for a couple of hours if you can. Cook the porridge over low heat. Add some slices of fish when the porridge is almost cooked. Blanch some spinach in a pot of slightly salted water. Rinse the blanched spinach over cold water. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Cut using a pair of scissors, into very tiny pieces. Add into the pot of cooked porridge.

A simple meal to warm the stomach when you are hungry and not feeling too well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chicken Stock Porridge

I had been cooking light meals for hubby dear for the last few days. It was not very fun to be eating noodles for all your meals when you fall sick. I am no "厨神", so eventually, I end up cooking porridge for him!

To make the porridge less "boring", I used chicken stock instead of water to cook the porridge. He doesn't like his porridge to be very sticky and mushy. He likes it with a considerable amount of liquid .. just like the Hokkien porridge. So I added some water to the chicken stock, cooking the porridge with more liquid. The rice was soaked in the chicken stock and water mixture for almost 4 hours before cooking. I sliced up a fillet of tilapia, and marinated it with some shaoxing wine. When the porridge was almost cooked, I added the pieces of tilapia into the porridge. I sprinkled some parsley leaves on top of the bowl of porridge before serving.

The porridge has the flavor of chicken stock, but not oily and overly salty. He was happy with his dinner, and asked for porridge as lunch the next day. It had been quite hectic in the kitchen, having to prepare his meal and the kids' meals separately. But it was worth the effort and time =)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Love Is Where Home Is ....

Fill a House with Love, and it becomes a HOME.

A house is a house.

It can be an empty house.

It can be a house filled with elegant furniture,
or it can be a house with minimum furniture.

Without the people in the house,
without the love they put in, it's just a house.

And you need to put in not just love,
but time in the house, to call it a HOME.

So here's to Ah Zhu, who is getting married in December .... who got a house and turning it into a home ..... our heartiest congratulations to you and Darren on tying the knot!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Childhood Cookies

Food brings back lots of childhood memory ... for instance, when I see fried rice, I will think of my mom's special fried rice, with her special chilli sauce. When I am sick, I will think of her beehoon soup.

I was at the supermarket doing my weekly grocery shopping when hubby dear saw this tin of butter cookies! It had been ages since I last ate them! I love them as a kid! This cookie was a luxury item back then ... a special treat. I don't get to eat it very often, but when I do, I can finish the tin by myself! Of course, we had to buy a tin home. And hubby dear said "All four of us will be fighting to eat these butter cookies!".

I wonder what will be my boys' "childhood" food when they are grown up.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Miso Soup Noodles

The men in the house are fans of Miso Soup. Give them a bowl any time, and they will clean the bowl for you. Miso Soup is good in Winter, when you long for something to warm your stomach.

It is also what I call "Food for the Ill".

Hubby dear came down with a high fever last night, and had no appetite.
I had to cook something light and not oily. Something that he will eat, something that is not porridge. He is not a huge fan of porridge. However, it is not practical to be cooking something for him, and something else for the kids and me. The meal on the table that night had to be something that is fit for both adults and kids, sick or not sick.

Since the kids like noodles, and the men love miso soup, I decided then to marry the two! Instead of egg noodles, I used Angle's Hair.

  • Cook the noodles as per the instructions on the box.
  • Prepare a pot of water, and warm it.
  • Turn off heat and add some miso paste.
  • Add the cubed tofu.
  • Blanch or microwave the broccoli florets.

Put everything in a bowl .... and you get your bowl of Miso Soup Noodles!
I baked some tilapia to complete the meal.

All bowls were emptied at the end of dinner. I was really glad hubby dear ate something, rather than go to bed with an empty stomach =)

Alternatively, you can add some fried minced meat to your bowl of miso noodles. Just fry the minced meat using a little olive oil. When the meat browned, add some sea salt. Done! Too bland for you? Use chicken broth instead of miso soup. I like the free-range chicken brothfrom Costco ... a subtle taste of chicken broth, and not too salty. Of course, the best is still ... homemade chicken broth =)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

8 Birthday Cupcakes

Darling son is 8 years old! Oh, how time flies! It seemed like yesterday that I carried a 2.7kg newborn in my arms ... has it really been 8 years?

As usual, he requested for a chocolate and cream cheese cake. I was not in an adventurous mood to try out new recipes. Hence, I used the recipe for Marble Cream Cheese Cake. Instead of a large cake, I baked cupcakes! I had a total of 12 cupcakes. 8 of these cupcakes would be used for the birthday, and the other 4, for food tasting, and snacks before the birthday song singing.

The birthday boy was a little disappointed that he had only 8 small cupcakes as his birthday cake. He is used to having one big cake. And he asked "Mama, there is no frosting on my cake?". Oops. I was so busy this week, that I tried to take a few short cuts.

He was back to his cheerful self after taking a bite into the cupcake, and after receiving his presents. Sorry to disappoint you, son. I promise you that you will have frosting on your next birthday cake ... and a big cake too!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"My Backyard" Bento

Since the weather had been good, I had been diligently working on my "Lunch Art" for the last few mornings! Apart from the lovely weather, the fact that the boys bring back an empty lunch box each time I work on my "Lunch Art" motivates me to continue with my "work" =)

However, I'm limited to green, brown, black and white. One likes tomatoes and carrots, while the other doesn't. Both like broccoli, and both like having rice for lunch. Sandwiches are out, as they will be hungry before school ends.

Since Old Man Winter will be arriving any time soon, I decided to do a "Autumn Garden" lunch. I filled the lunch box with Spinach and Ground Meat Fried Rice ... it resembled my backyard, covered with fallen brown oak leaves. The empty space around the fried rice was filled with broccoli florets and tomatoes. No harm in eating more vegetables! Hopefully, the addition of smiley cheese stars and chocolate mushrooms made the lunch more appealing!

And yes, both boys came home with an empty lunch box!
I'm one happy mom!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bento Day!

I am very thankful for the lovely weather we have been having this autumn. Plenty of sunshine, blue sky, and cool! For the last two years, we had been getting quite a lot of the cloudy sky, rain, and not forgetting the chilly gusty winds. The ground was already covered with snow in October last year, but this year, the snow had yet to arrive.

The lovely weather is definitely having an effect on me, as I have been preparing bentos for the boys using the Lock&Lock box instead of the "Pour everything in" thermal box =) The boys are happier too, as they bring home an empty box whenever it's Bento Day!

The deboned chicken thigh fillet was put into the oven to bake while I went about preparing breakfast for the boys. It was fairly easy to assemble the lunch box .... Scoop rice into the flower rice mold, unmold into the lunch box and sprinkle some furikake on top. Cut the baked chicken thigh into stripes and place them into a paper holder, and into the box. Arrange the blanched broccoli and some cherry/grape tomatoes around the rice. Done!

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