Saturday, April 18, 2015

Cherry Tomato Rice with Homemade Chicken Stock

Cherry Tomato Rice with Homemade Chicken Stock

(Serves 2 meals)

Enoki mushroom, chopped
White oyster mushroom, chopped
Celery, chopped
Young leek, cut into round slices
Carrot, chopped
Cherry tomatoes
White rice + Brown rice + Millet, soaked overnight in room temperature
Homemade chicken stock (recipe below)

I drain the soaked rice in the morning. Then, I combine rice and all other ingredients in my electric lunch box and steam-cook for about 50 minutes. For the chicken stock, I use enough to cover the ingredients. See below.

Arrange the tomatoes on top.

How to make homemade chicken stock

(Makes 40oz or almost 1.2L)

4 meaty skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
4L water
1 large onion, quartered
2 cups celery, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon cardamom pods
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
12 whole cloves
4 bay leaves

Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot and boil gently for 2 hours. Strain the stock through a colander to separate the ingredients from the stock. Allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the surface fat and pour into containers and freeze. I use my expired Bumblebee milk storage bottles to freeze the chicken stock. :)

Stir everything with a spoon, add a drizzle of virgin coconut oil, and pack in a good thermal food jar to bring to the babysitter for my 20mo boy's lunch. :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tarragon, Chicken & Ham Pasties (Donna Hay)

Donna Hay's Tarragon, Chicken & Ham Pasties

It's time for IHCC's monthly Mystery Box Madness Challenge again! Time flies!

Modus operandi is the same: we can choose a dish from one of IHCC's twelve chefs. This time round, the chosen dish must contain at least three of these mystery ingredients: scallops, tarragon, sour cream, walnuts, capers, asparagus, white beans, Gruyere, yeast, and rice.

Tough! Tough! Tough! I tried a few combinations and couldn't seem to get a recipe that wouldn't challenge my culinary skills. LOL. Initially, I wanted to make an asparagus risotto, but apart from asparagus and rice, I couldn't seem to find the third ingredient, whatever it was.

In the end, God is good. I stumbled upon Donna's Hay's Tarragon, Chicken & Ham Pasties with these three mystery ingredients: tarragon, sour cream, Gruyere.
*be right back, doing cartwheels*

So..... tada!!!

Yummy, freshly baked pasties!

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay's website.

(Makes 8)

1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup thinly sliced ham
1 cup grated Gruyere*
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup tarragon leaves**
2 sheets store-bought shortcrust pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten

*Gruyere is VERY expensive in Malaysia. A 200g block of Gruyere costs RM49++, equivalent to USD13. Okay, it doesn't sound that bad in USD, but it's gourmet standard to me. Haha.

**I find that tarragon is an acquired taste. O_O

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

2. Place chicken, ham, Gruyere, sour cream, and tarragon leaves in a bowl and mix well to combine.

3. Cut each pastry sheet into 4 squares. Place 1/4 cup of the mixture into the center of each square and brush the edges with egg. Gather the corners into the center and press together to seal the edges.

4. Place pasties on prepared baking tray and brush with egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Baked until golden!

Ready to be "pried" open!

Packed with ham and chicken...

...and hidden tarragon.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) for this week's theme, Mystery Box Madness: April 2015!


Previous Mystery Box Madness recipes:

March 2015: Boeuf Bourguignon (Mark Bittman)

February 2015: Round and Round Pasta (Giada De Laurentiis)

January 2015: Blueberry Buttermilk Cake (Tessa Kiros)

December 2014: Curried Lentil Soup with Potatoes (Mark Bittman) 

November 2014: Date, Apricot, Chia Seeds Tea Bread (adapted from Diana Henry)


This post is also linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up (April 2015 Event: Chicken) organized by Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids), Doreen (My Little Favourite DIY) and hosted by Diana (Domestic Goddess Wannabe).

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Monthly recap @ 19 months

In a blink of an eye, he turns 20 months today! Gosh! He still has 16 teeth. The last four molars are nowhere to be seen yet. Waiting.....

Now, let's recap his journey when he was 19 months. :)

Wearing his infant safety belt on my lap.

One memorable achievement was that we brought him with us to our 6D5N Taiwan trip in March.

In case you missed, here are the links:

Day time.
Night time.

Quaint apartments in Caotun, Nantou.

Monthly recap @ 19 months

From babycenter.com:

When you're out and about, your toddler may run away from you as fast as he can, squealing in delight as you rush to catch up. Most children this age are oblivious to danger, so you'll need to be extra watchful of cars, bicycles, and dogs when outside.

Note to self: Including those darn escalators. Need to be watchful all the time, no excuses, really.

I couldn't believe my eyes. He adores mascots!

Toddlers are natural-born helpers. So why not get yours to help around the house with chores? It's a great way to teach your child responsibility and instill good habits for the future. You may find that him help makes chores more fun – or you may find yourself dismayed by how long it takes to get anything done. To avoid frustration, save important tasks for times when your toddler is asleep or away. When he's around, let him help with small chores like putting his plastic cup and bowl into the dishwasher, or tossing wet clothes into the dryer.

Note to self: Yes, he LOVES helping around. So, I will ask him to keep his toys after playing, putting his milk bottle into the sink. Believe it or not, he loves the vacuum cleaner.

He sayang the mascot.

Even the most cooperative, cheerful, and outgoing young toddler will whine, cling, and cry sometimes. These behaviors are your child's way of saying "Help! All systems overloaded!" Your 19-month-old is learning new things and refining skills at a dizzying rate. Frustration is inevitable and manifests itself in different ways, depending on the child. Accept these signals for what they are: a cry for attention and TLC.

If it's feasible, respond and let your child know you can tell he's upset. Acknowledge his feelings but don't make too big a deal out of these short-lived emotional storms. If he's crying and clinging, a few hugs and then simple distraction might work. If he's whining, you might explain, "I can't understand you when you whine. Can you show me what you want?"

Note to self: Yeah, I can't stand all sorts of whining. My zen-ness will become zero. I'll do my best to quiet him down. I'll distract him by making funny sounds or singing his familiar nursery rhymes loudly. He will stop whining and join in. If he asks for nen-nen, I'll ask him, "Which nen-nen you want?" If he points at me, I'll straight away breastfeed him. If he points at his bottle, I'll make a bottle of milk for him.

Reading his big book of trucks.

Monkey see monkey do. :P

Now that your toddler can sit still for longer periods of time, reading together is more fun than ever. Asking your child to point to objects on a page is a good way to find out how much he understands, even if he can't say the words yet. A vocabulary of anywhere between ten and 50 words is normal for this stage of development.

Words & phrases that my little one can say so far:

Calling people: Ma-ma, pa-pa, mah-mah (means grandma), gan-pa (means grandpa), yi-yi (means his auntie, my younger sister), boy (means himself)

Singing nursery rhymes: baa baa (when we sing 'baa-baa-black-sheep'),
boo (when we say 'pee-ka...'), bot (when we sing 'row-row-row-your-boat' and 'ro-ro-ro-bot'), back (when we sing 'the-driver-on-the-bus-says-move-on-back' and 'bring-back-my-bonnie-to-me')

Meal time: mam-mam, nen-nen, ter-ter (means water), boon (means spoon), fog (means fork), bo (means bowl), hot (when he touches hot food)

Shower time: bom-bom (means shower time), uk-uk (means poop), gi-gi (means teeth), kok-kok (means the little cedok in the bathroom)

Play time: bao-bao (means he wants to be carried/hugged), bo (means ball), book, boon (means balloon), bike (for both bicycle and motorbike), boooz (means bus), dog (when he points at a dog's picture or plays with his Duplo dog), duck (when he points at a duck's picture or plays with his rubber ducks), akk-akk (means quack or duck), jeep (when he plays with his toy jeep)

Sleep time: du-du (means sleep), door (means close the door), dark (means the room is dark)

Others: bug (when he points at insect bite marks on his hand and leg), there, dirty, no more, one more, neck, back, bag, hi, bye-bye, uh-oh, ang-bo (means angpow), key, ditch (I think he's trying to say the word this), bom (when he knocks his head on the edge of the cupboard), booot (when he imitates the sound of his fart)

He can say so many words!!!!!

Singing row-row-row-your-boat while playing with a boat.

You're no doubt getting plenty of unsolicited advice on disciplining your child from relatives, friends, and even strangers. It's understandable if you're confused: Is occasional spanking ever okay? Do time-outs work at this age? How many rules can your child handle? Whatever approach you adopt, child behavior experts say that consistency coupled with unconditional love is the key to raising a confident, well-behaved child.

His play area. I love the giraffe toys rack!

Monday, April 13, 2015

8 Easy Breakfast Ideas (great for working moms!)

Tips to prepare easy breakfasts

#1 - Prep fruits, berries & vegetables in advance

Wash raw fruits and vegetables in salt and water or white vinegar and water after you buy them. Store them in food-grade zip-lock bag / containers. Best kept in the fridge.

Note: I only do so to those that I'll eat with their skin on. 

What have I bought: Blueberries, cherry tomatoes, apples, plums, oranges, pear, kiwis, local bananas (i.e. emas, berangan, and rastali), Japanese cucumbers, salad cucumbers, celery, broccoli, carrot, peas, leek

A comb of bananas can last up to 4 days in the kitchen. If you can't finish them before they turn too ripe, try freezing them. Bananas are great eaten frozen too.

#2 - Pump up your protein!

Make a point to always have a tub of yogurt in your fridge. My favorite is Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is high in protein. Depending on the size of the tub, I'll always try to finish it within 4-5 days to avoid spoilage and wastage. 

I also always have cheese, fresh milk, and cream cheese in my fridge. About cheese, block cheeses are the best. Don't eat processed cheese slices. About fresh milk, fresh milk is definitely better than low-fat milk because low-fat products are high in sugar. Cream cheese adds flavor, even when it's as little as a tablespoon.

Eggs are a great protein source too. Make sure you don't run out of eggs in your kitchen. Buy eggs with NO growth hormones and NO antibiotics such as these:

The possibilities of breakfast with eggs are endless - hard-boiled, soft-boiled, omelet, frittata, scrambled eggs, egg muffins/cups. Just add in a medley of our favorite vegetables.

#3 - Don't forget dried berries, nuts & seeds

Dried cranberries and dried apricots will come in handy too. Same goes to your favorite nuts and seeds. Great to have them ready in your kitchen. I store up ready-to-eat seaweeds too.

#4 - Choose healthy carbs

For bread, I always buy multi-grain bread. If I don't have time to bake them, I will buy a loaf from premium bakeries. A loaf usually lasts only 3-4 days in room temperature before it turns stale. I don't eat factory-made bread loaves.

Organic rolled oats are awesome too. They are less processed than instant and quick-cook oats. So, I prefer rolled oats in terms of nutrition and value for money.

Here are 8 Easy Breakfast Ideas (great for working moms!)

All you need: Greek yogurt, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, dried cranberries, dried apricots

All you need: Greek yogurt, kiwi, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, bakery-bought multi-grain bread, Japanese cucumber

All you need: Rolled oats, fresh milk, cheese, Japanese cucumber, pisang emas, honey tomato

To cook the oatmeal, just boil rolled oats in some water until soft. Off the heat. Add in some grated cheese and stir to melt. Then, stir in some fresh milk before eating.

All you need: Bakery-bought multi-grain bread, egg, salad cucumbers, honey tomatoes, kiwi

Soft-boiled egg can be substituted with hard-boiled egg too. Just need to boil it over the stove. Done under 8 minutes.

All you need: Rolled oats, egg, seaweed, cherry tomatoes, celery, pisang emas, blueberries

Celery sticks can be washed just before you want to eat them. If you don't like raw celery, just steam it for about 5-8 minutes.

To cook the oatmeal, just boil rolled oats in some water until soft. Add an egg and seaweed and stir until cooked. I don't add salt.

All you need: Bakery-bought multi-grain bread, cheese, broccoli, celery, honey tomatoes, plum

All you need: Thawed frozen peas, sliced leek, egg, pisang emas, salad cucumber, blueberries, pisang emas

To make the scrambled egg, stir fry leek and peas in olive oil. Add lightly beaten eggs and some milk. Stir until cooked.

All you need: Broccoli stem, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, multigrain bread, egg, fish sticks

I steam the broccoli stem and baby carrots for about 10 minutes. The fish sticks are actually raw keropok lekor from Terengganu. They are healthier to eat steamed rather than fried in oil.

To make the baked bread in egg, I break old bread into chunks and soak them in egg, fresh milk, and a pinch of dried herbs for two hours before baking in the oven @ 180degC for 50 minutes.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Chickpea Ragout (Jacques Pépin)

Chickpea Ragout (Jacques Pépin)

This week, IHCC says bonjour to Chef Jacques Pépin! With over six decades of cooking classic French recipes, American favorites, and tempting dishes from all over the world, Chef Jacques Pépin has over twenty cookbooks and countless recipes, tips and cooking techniques, as well as a wide body of online recipes.

To say bonjour to him, I cook his Chickpea Ragout for lunch today and serve it with organic kelp noodles. My 20mo toddler enjoys eating it until he's too and starts throwing chickpeas as if he's playing with marbles. Hahaha!

Recipe by Jacques Pépin from Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way

(Serves 2) 

2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 cup diced (1/2-inch) onion
1/2 cup chopped scallions (I used leek, cut into round slices)
2 cups diced (1-inch) tomato
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup chicken stock, homemade (I used 2 cups)

2 green chilies, seeds removed, cut into thin slices

How to:

1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over high heat and add onion and leek. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes to soften the vegetables, then add the remaining ingredients.

2. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook gently for 15 minutes.

3. Remove the lid and boil for a few minutes longer to reduce the liquid.

This dish is amazingly delicious! The green chilies are not hot at all and they add a nice crunch to the dish. The chickpeas are soft but they don't turn into a gooey mush. The leeks and onions are soft and delicious. The tomatoes give this dish such a lovely, appealing reddish-orange hue. I don't add salt and pepper because my toddler is eating this dish with me.

A nice note from Chef Jacques Pépin about this this: "A versatile dish, this is good as an accompaniment to fish, poultry, and meat, and it can also be served as a first course or, with a couple of fried eggs, as a light main course. It's great poured over pasta, and with the addition of a sausage such as kielbasa, it makes a whole meal. You can also substitute canned red or white beans for the chickpeas."

I can't wait to cook more of Chef Jacques Pépin's fabulous recipe! I have so much to learn from him. :)

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) for this week's theme, Bonjour Jacques Pépin!


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