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I have launched a series of blog posts called Featured Mommypreneurs in collaboration with mommypreneurs (i.e. mommies entrepreneurs). Let me know if you're interested to join me to feature your products / services. :)

 

 

2014: The year he grows :)


Last year, 2013, was the year we became three.

This year, 2014, is the year he grows.

This post is supposed to be the obligatory last post of the year and I really don't know what to write because it's really all about the baby who is now a toddler. Haha.

Well, to be honest, all I have done were and still is:


#2 - Be a home cook / home baker when time allows.

Cooking and baking were a major part of my life in 2014. I joined a few cooking/baking blog hops and met a lot of great home cooks and home bakers from all over the world. To name a few: Joyce, Zoe, Diana, Karen, Lena, Deb.

I guess that's all. Hah!

Some more photos of my cutie pie.




2015, here we come!

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Chocolate Hazelnut Bread (baked in bread maker)

Here's my latest loaf of homemade bread baked in my Cornell Bread Master bread maker.


Chocolate Hazelnut Bread


It has been a while since I baked bread. I have a packet of ground hazelnut in my pantry. There's also a packet of high quality cocoa powder. I guess they will make quite a nice combo.

 
Recipe adapted from here.


Ingredients:
(Makes a 2lb bread) 

3/4 cup fresh milk
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup molasses sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk powder
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup hazelnut meal (ground hazelnut powder)
2 cups bread flour
1 cup wholemeal bread flour
2 & 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast


How to:

1. By following the bread maker's manual, I have listed the ingredients' sequence correctly - in terms of which ingredient goes into the bread maker first - in the list above.

2. Close the lid, select the "basic" setting, loaf size (2lb), crust type (light), and press start.

3. Once the baking cycle is done, remove the bread pan from the machine to cool down.

Note: Please add the ingredients into the bread pan by following your bread maker's manual.


Fresh from the bread maker.

Ready to be sliced.

Sliced and ready to be packed.

If you're interested, here are some reference links:

1. How I retain the bread loaf's freshness and softness. 

2. Personal tips about using Cornell Bread Master bread maker (at the end of the post).

3. My homemade bread recipes archive. 

4. Functions available on Cornell Bread Master bread maker.


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Teething and amber necklaces


Baltic Amber teething necklaces for baby/toddler

My baby started teething when he was 6 months old. Currently, he's teething SIX teeth at the same time since he turns 14 months! He's 16.5 months old now. His six new teeth are two top molars, two top incisors, and two bottom molars. Goodness!

His four new teeth on top!
Didn't manage to snap a photo of his two new bottom teeth.

I bought his first amber necklace for him when he was 6 months old, which he's still wearing until today. When I saw he has started teething molars, I bought another amber necklace for him.

Guess what? After wearing two amber necklaces, I realize that he doesn't drool and he isn't cranky/fussy at all. He bites on his teething toys quite a lot but he doesn't drool all over the place. He still breastfeeds like a champ and eats his solids as if nothing is happening.

Natural and unpolished Baltic Amber teething necklaces are well-known for their relieving abilities and calming characteristics. However, teething discomfort varies from child to child. Some children may still experience quite a fair bit of discomfort although they are wearing the necklaces. Also, there are claims that teething necklaces are a hoax.

Whatever it is, as long as my toddler is not experiencing adverse effects and I see that he's doing well while wearing the necklaces, I believe they work.


Baltic Amber accessories for adults

Baltic Amber is said to be helpful to adults for general healing purposes. I'm wearing a necklace and an anklet.



Find out more information from Natural Baby Essentials.

Note: This is NOT a sponsored post.


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Our Christmas 2014 Roundup


Are you still enjoying your Christmas holidays? Yes, we are!

Here's a roundup of our little celebration. :)


First, our Christmas eve dinner menu:



No roast chicken or turkey. But we had roast goose the next day at a relative's place (Christmas dinner).


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Move on to our little one's Christmas presents.

Magnetic doodling tablet

Sing-along Nursery Rhymes Books

Hot Wheels Track Set

LEGO Duplo Box Set

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This is my new Nordic Ware cooling rack, a Christmas present from hubby. I believe he means I can bake more cakes and breads! :P



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I love apple ciders and couldn't resist buying Strongbow's new Apple Ciders - Gold, Honey, and Elderflower. 4 bottles for RM35.99 from Cold Storage. Perfect for after-dinner drinks. Yay!



Now I think I should resume cooking and baking! :D


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Cranberries Milky Jellies


Cranberries Milky Jellies

I made these earlier for our Christmas eve dinner too. They were easy, quick, and almost hassle-free to make, except when your 16mo toddler kept on coming over to the kitchen and requested for full, undivided attention. Hahaha!


Ingredients:
(Makes 24 jellies, depending on the size of your jelly molds)

10g (1/2 packet) agar-agar strips
2 cups water
1/4 cup molasses sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup organic dried cranberries


How to:

1. Soak agar-agar strips in a bowl of cold water for about 20 minutes to soften. Drain.

2. Scatter dried cranberries into jelly molds. The amount per mold is up to your preference. Set aside.

3. Pour 2 cups of water in a pot. Bring to boil, then add agar-agar strips and molasses sugar. Cook until all strips and sugar dissolve. Lower heat and add evaporated milk. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Don't boil. Set aside to cool slightly for 10 minutes.

4. Scoop the mixture into jelly molds and leave to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours before turning out to serve. Best if you can chill them overnight before serving.


I always use molasses sugar in my baking and cooking.

Close-up shot of the jellies.

Another close-up shot.

I love the intricate design of the jelly molds.

So pretty!

12 pretty jellies! Which one do you like?



I'm linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 organized by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.


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Giada's Hearty Meatball Stew


Giada's Hearty Meatball Stew

I love unplanned coincidences. Good ones, especially. It's the week of Christmas. For Christmas eve dinner with hubby's immediate family and my sister, I've made plans to cook Giada's meatball stew. I've watched how she cooks it on her show on the Food Network channel, Giada At Home.

At the same time, over here at I Heart Cooking Clubs, it's Pot Luck week and we can choose to cook anything from these chefs: Diana Henry, Nigella Lawson, Mark Bittman, Giada de Laurentiis, Jamie Oliver, Tessa Kiros, Rick Bayless, Madjur Jaffrey, Yotam Ottolenghi, Donna Hay, and Nigel Slater.

So, that's it! Without second thoughts, I cook Giada's Hearty Meatball Stew!


Recipe adapted from here. 

Ingredients:
(Serves 6)

Note: My modifications in orange. 

Meatballs: 

1 slice white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces (I used 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs plus 1/4 cup fresh homemade breadcrumbs)
8 ounces 20-percent-fat ground beef (I used 250g)
2 sweet mild Italian sausages (I used 3 Italian chicken frankfurters, finely chopped)
1 egg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used finely chopped celery)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Stew:

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I used rice bran oil)
1 small onion, sliced (I used 1 medium yellow onion)
1 large (medium) red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch strips
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 pound large white mushrooms, quartered (I used 1 cup fresh button mushrooms)
One 8 to 10-ounce russet potato, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/3-inch slices (I used 4 small potatoes)
4 ounces green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch-long pieces (I used 1 cup celery, coarsely chopped)
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained (I used fresh cherry tomatoes, cut into halves)
1 cup winter melon, cut into strips
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
1 & 1/2 cups chicken broth
(I used beef broth made from beef stock cubes)


How to: 

For the meatballs:

1. Place the breadcrumbs and 3 tablespoons water into a medium bowl. Mash to a paste with a spatula. Add beef, frankfurters, egg, celery, salt and pepper.

2. Blend the mixture thoroughly with your hands or a flexible spatula. Form the mixture into 10 to 16 meatballs (I make 24). Set aside.

For the stew:

1. Sprinkle the meatballs with flour and turn to coat with flour. Heat a non-stick deep frying pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons of rice bran oil oil. Drop the meatballs into the skillet, spaced apart. Cook until the bottoms are set and brown.

2. Turn each meatball onto an uncooked side and repeat several times until they are browned all over. Transfer the meatballs to a large plate.

3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the same frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, peppers, potatoes, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes, winter melon, red pepper flakes, and broth.

4. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add meatballs. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until the potatoes are tender and the meatballs are cooked through, about 20-30 minutes.


Meatballs, ready to be cooked.

These meatballs are irresistible!

The vegetables.




I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) for this week's theme, December Pot Luck!



I'm also linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 organized by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.


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Happy Holidays and Happy New Year 2015!


We wish you a blessed Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year 2015!

Let 2014 ends with fond memories and 2015 begins with many more new adventures, blessings, and even fonder memories!

Have a blast everyone!


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Rachael Ray's Mulled Cran-Cider


Rachael Ray's Mulled Cran-Cider

Do you have a favorite celebrity chef? I do! I have a few favorites; Rachael Ray is one of them. She's one of the hottest chefs on the Food Network channel. Every time I'm back for short holiday breaks at my hubby's hometown, one of my moments of indulgence is watching the Food Network channel on Astro the entire day. Haha!

About a week ago, I was watching Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals. She made Mulled Cran-Cider. I did a quick search, found her recipe online, and I made it too!

Actually, I'm just curious to find out how does a mulled beverage taste like. :D


Recipe from here.

Ingredients:
(Serves 2)

Note: I've halved the recipe.

1 cup all-natural cranberry juice 
2 cups apple cider (or unsweetened apple juice) 
1/2 cup whole fresh cranberries
1 (1/2-inch) ginger root, peeled
A long curl orange peel
1 whole clove
1 cinnamon stick 
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (optional)


How to:

Combine both juices, cranberries, ginger, orange peel studded with cloves, cinnamon, and cider in a medium saucepan over low heat. Bring to a low simmer and steep the mixture for about 15 minutes. Discard the orange peel and clove. Pour into mugs to serve.


Tips from Rachael Ray:

To make it easy to discard those tiny cloves, pierce them like studs on an orange peel before using. You can easily fish out the orange peel curl and discard both in one go.


The ingredients.

Fresh cranberries from Presto, Citta Mall.

Simmering has started.

Final verdict? I love the combination of flavors from the spices, juices, and cranberries. Fresh cranberries are actually very tart to taste. But they are surprisingly nice to munch after they are cooked and burst. The apple cider vinegar adds a little tanginess that makes you go for second, third or more helpings!

Hubby suggests to make this beverage again on Christmas eve for our family dinner. Yay! :)



I'm linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 organized by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.


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Diana Henry's Best Banana Cake


Diana Henry's Best Banana Cake

Desserts with bananas make me go bonkers, especially those with nuts. Bananas and nuts - they are like yin and yang - the perfect match. :)

I'm bringing this banana cake to IHCC's Party Pleasers. Who can resist biting into a slice of nutty, fragrant banana cake? I can't! I'm so in love with this recipe by Diana Henry. The addition of chopped nuts provide such lovely crunch and texture to the cake. This recipe is definitely a keeper.


Recipe from here.

Ingredients: 
(Serves 10) 

115g butter, room temperature 
175g soft light brown sugar (I used 100g molasses sugar or dark muscovado sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 very ripe bananas
3 tablespoon sour cream (I used full fat plain yogurt)
100g plain flour
100g wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g almonds, toasted and chopped (I used hazelnuts)
3 tablespoons mixed seeds (I used mixed organic golden and brown flaxseeds)


How to:

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease and line a 23 x 13 cm (9 x 5 x 3-inch) loaf tin with baking sheet. Set aside.

2. Beat butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until fluffy. Mix in vanilla extract and, with the machine running at medium speed, beat in the eggs a little at a time.

Tip: The mixture will look curdled but don’t worry – it will come together when you add the flour. 

3. Mash the bananas (getting rid of as many lumps as possible) and stir into the butter and egg mixture, followed by plain yogurt. Using a large metal spoon, fold in the flours with baking powder, chopped nuts, and seeds. Reserve some nuts and seeds for sprinkling.

Tip: Be careful not to over stir the mixture.

4. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf tin and scatter the rest of the nuts and seeds over the top. Bake for an hour.

Tip: A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean if the cake is cooked.

5. Leave the cake in the tin to cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife between the sides of the cake and the tin to loosen. Turn it out onto a wire rack. Peel off the paper, put the cake the right side up and leave to cool completely.

Tip: This cake is a good keeper – wrapped in foil, it will be good for four days.


Oops, I forgot to line my glass loaf tray with baking paper.

Look at those crumbs and hazelnut topping.

Moist, fragrant, nutty. Delicious!

One slice is never enough! :)


I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) for this week's theme, Party Pleasers!



I'm also linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 organized by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.


12

Cheddar & Herbs Biscotti


Cheddar & Herbs Biscotti

Savory biscotti. Anyone? I baked these biscotti because I joined Bake-Along #72!

I told Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids) that my first experience of eating biscotti about four years ago wasn't a nice one. I was quite taken aback at how hard it was and I wasn't fond of hard biscuits. I've never eaten anymore biscotti until today.

Gosh, I actually baked some hard (with some crunches) but not crispy biscotti. They taste somewhat more like scones. Oh well, I guess it was the way and amount of time I spent kneading the dough that caused the hardness. The old adage says,  "The more you knead, the tougher the bread will be." This is the reason I fear working with dough with my bare hands. As a rookie, I need more practice.

Anyway, in the spirit of Christmas, I shall bite into ONE piece of my not-so-successful biscotti. :P


Recipe adapted from here.

Ingredients:
(Serves 16)

2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons rice bran oil



How to:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. Mix in the eggs, milk, and oil until the dough is well combined. Dough should be dry but workable. If the dough is too wet, add a little flour one tablespoon at a time.

3. Divide the dough evenly into 2 mounds. Place the mounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper 4 inches apart from each other. Shape the mounds into 8 by 4 inch logs.

4. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow the biscotti logs to cool for 5 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise into 3/4-inch diagonal slices.

5. Arrange the biscotti cut side down on its side. Bake for 10 minutes and turn the biscotti over on the other cut side. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Allow the biscotti to cool before serving.

Mix all the dry ingredients together.

Sliced into diagonal slices after the first bake.

After the second bake.



I'm linking this post to the event, Bake-Along #72: Theme - Biscotti organized by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours, Lena from Frozen Wings, and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.



I'm also linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 organized by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.


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