Sunday, July 29, 2012

Easy Spaghetti Bolognese 意大利肉酱面

Bolognese Spaghetti is probably one of the most well-known and well-received pasta due to it's flavorful taste and full meaty sauce (at least at this part of the world). There are many variety of bolognese sauce but the common ingredients are onions, tomatoes, carrots and of course, the beef. I have made some adjustments to the recipe to simplify the steps and make it child-friendly by skipping the wine.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Preparation Time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 45 min
Serving for: 4 person

Ingredient (A):
400gm wheat drum spaghetti
1 teaspoon of salt

Ingredient (B), For marinating:
500gm minced beef (I only used 350gm, can be replaced with pork or chicken based on personal preference)
6 clove garlics, chopped
1 table spoon of olive oil
2 tea spoons of fresh or dried rosemary leaves
2 table spoons of worcestershire sauce
Dash of Salt & pepper

Ingredient (C), for the Bolognese Sauce:
500gm tomato puree (1 large can)
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
1 cup fresh carrots, finely chopped
Dash of Salt & pepper

For Toppings:
A dash of fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese (I skipped this as I'm out of stock today)

Step-by-Step Guides:
1. Mix all ingredient B together in a big bowl (only use1pm 1/2 portion of garlic). Mix evenly and set aside in fridge while working on the pasta (cover with a cling foam)
2 . Fill a pot with water and cook the spaghetti according to the suggested cooking time on the packaging (should be between 6-8min). Pour in pasta only when water boils, add a dash of salt. Once cooked, drain pasta with cold water and set aside.
3. Heat up 2 spoonful of olive oil in a frying pan, stir fry the remaining 1/2 portion of garlic till it turns light brown, add in onions, carrots, tomatoes and continue to stir fry till the onion turns transparent.
4. Add the marinated minced beef and cook about 5 min until the meat turns brown. Pour in the entire can of tomato puree, add a cup of water, salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce shimmers on medium heat for another 30 minutes until the sauce is thickened.
5. Toss the cooked pasta into the bolognese sauce, stir until the pasta is well mixed with the sauce. Turn off the heat.

To serve, sprinkle some fresh rosemary leaves and shredded Parmesan cheese on the pasta.

Useful Tips!
1. Run the boiled pasta under cold water so it will not be soggy when cook. If you are not cooking the bolognese immediately, add a dash of olive oil to avoid the pasta from sticking together.
2. You may cook the bolognese when you have time and freeze it for later usage.

For my Ethan, the meal arrangement resembles nature: Earth, trees, leaves and the sun :) 

The minced beef, marinating.
Draining the pasta

Friday, July 27, 2012

Creamy Brocolli Bow Tie Pasta 蝴蝶结意粉

I was tempted to cook bow tie pasta for Ethan as it looks like a dish too cute to resist for little ones. Unfortunately most recipes I found are either pasta salad dish that is served cold or with thick cream which are not exactly to my liking. So I decided to try cooking it based on my style and I was glad that it turned out well. Little Ethan liked it. He gave a big "wow" when he took a first look at this pasta and he finished the entire serving without being asked. :)

Fact sharing: bow tie pasta is also known as Farfalle, which means butterflies in Italian. While it may comes in different sizes, the bow-tie shape is unmistakably adorable.

Preparation Time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 30 min
Serving for: 3 small eaters

Ingredient (A):
1 1/2 cup bow tie pasta
1 teaspoon of salt

Ingredient (B):
2 clove garlics, chopped
1 cup broccolis, florets only
1 cup carrots, cut into cubes
1 cup sweet potatoes/pumpkins/bell peppers (contrasting color veggies), cut into cubes
2-4 table spoons of cream cheese, cut into cubes and leave at room temperature (adjust amount according to the level of creaminess you like)
Dash of Salt & pepper
1 table spoon of roasted pine nuts / pumpkin seeds (optional)

Ingredient (C) for pan fried dory fish:
(Skip this if you want a vegetarian version)
100gm dory fish fillet, defrost completely
Dash of Salt and pepper
1 tea spoon fresh or dried basil leaves
1 tea spoon of worcestershire sauce (I used Lea & Perrins)

Step-by-Step Guides:
1. Fill a pot with water and cook the bow tie pasta according to the suggested cooking time on the packaging (should be between 11-13min). Pour in pasta only when water boils, add a dash of salt. Once cooked, drain pasta with cold water and set aside.
2. Heat up 2 spoonful of olive oil in a frying pan, stir fry the garlic till it turns light brown, add in broccolis, carrots, sweet potatoes and 1/2 cup of water. Add dash of salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce and let it shimmers for 5 minutes.
3. Toss in the cooked pasta and cream cheese, add 1/2 cup of water and stir until the pasta and cream cheese mix evenly.
4. Close the lid and let it shimmers for another 5 minutes or until the sauce thickened.

For Pan Fried Dory Fish
5. Pat dry the dory fish fillet to remove any excess water, coat the fillet evenly with all ingredient C.
6. heat up 2 table spoons of olive oil in a non-stick pan and pan fry both side of the fillet for 5 minutes each or until golden brown. Using a spatula, roughly divide the fillet into smaller cubes.
7. Toss the fillets into the pasta and roughly mix before serving. Add a few drops of lemon juice (optional).

To serve, sprinkle some pine nuts or pumpkin seeds on the pasta.

Useful Tips!
1. Run the boiled pasta under cold water so it will not be soggy when cook.
2. On normal days I would recommend adding prawns to this dish which I believe sweetness of the prawns will enhance the overall taste and appearance, however since I am allergic to crustaceans I have to give it a missed.
3. You may replace dory fillets with sausages if you are short of time. No marinating required, just cook the sausages together with the veggies in step #2.
4. If you are cooking for young toddler who doesn't have strong teeth yet, I'll suggest you to cook for a longer time till the Farfalle is really soft, it requires slightly longer cooking time compare to spaghetti or linguini.

The Farfalle Pasta

The ingredients.

This is the cream cheese I usually used for baking and cooking. Most cream cheese have a shelve life of 6 months so would recommend to buy 250gm package if you do not cook nor bake frequent. It is commonly available in most major supermarkets afterall.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pocket of Gold (Cheese Baked Rice) 金宝袋

Ethan likes helping me in the kitchen and I encourage him to assist in handling simple tasks like rolling the dough, beating the eggs, whisking the batter etc. He even has his own miniature rolling pin and apron :) I believe this is first step towards teaching him to understand instructions, better motor control & ultimately, take responsibility in house chores. Besides, it's a good bonding time too.

This is actually a simple fried rice recipe, in order to make it more interesting I thought of using spring roll skin to make a pocket instead, so Ethan can be involved and the presentation shall be pretty nice, like a blossom flower.

The "pockets" turned out well as I imagined them to be and little Ethan loved them, he ate 2 of the pockets all by himself and gave me a star sticker after meal for being a good mommy, followed by a kiss. Haha, now that's instant recognition! :)

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. If you do not have an oven or missing spring roll skins, just serve the fried rice as is.

Preparation Time: 30 min
Cooking Time: 25 min
Serving for: 10 Pockets

For the Fried Rice (A):
1 cup cooked rice
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup sweet potatoes, diced
1/2 cup pumpkin, diced
1/2 cup french beans, diced
1/2 cup red capsicum/bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1/2 cup raisins
Some fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 6" sausage, sliced
Dash of salt & black pepper
3 table spoons of soya sauce
1 tea spoon of sesame oil

For Wrap:
4 pieces of spring roll skin(薄饼皮), cut according to your cupcake holder size
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (my cheese had turned bad so I used cheddar cheese instead)

Step-by-Step Guides:
1. Preheat oven at 180C/200C (gas/fan).
2. In a frying pan, heat up 2 big spoons of olive oil, fries the garlic till it's lightly brown and fragrance. Add in the carrots, pumpkins, beans, capsicums and sweet potatoes. Stir fry for about 3 minutes.
3. Add sliced sausages into the pan, follow by basil leaves. Season with salt and black pepper. Add a dash of ground pepper if you like.
4. Toss in the white rice, add the soya sauce, sesame oil and mix all ingredient and rice evenly. Cook for another 5 minutes then add the raisins. Turn off the heat and set aside.
5. Cut spring roll skin according to the size of your cupcake tray, form the shape of a pocket. Scoop in the fried rice until 3/4 full, add mozzarella cheese and sprinkles cashew nuts on top.
6. Bake the "pocket" or wraps in the preheat oven for 10-15 minutes until crispy.

The wraps taste best when serve hot. You may scope the rice with a spoon or just bite into it directly. Ethan loved the crispy spring roll skin, he scooped all the rice then ate the crispy skin with some ketchup. Nothing is left after lunch :)

Useful Tips!
1. You can replace any veggies above with your preferred choice, however as seen here I used veggies of different colors for balanced nutrients (same veggies I used for making baby's puree food, I just cut extra :)
2. When cooking fried rice, best to use refrigerated rice instead of freshly cook rice so the rice will not be soggy and all stick together.
3. For vegetarian version, just skip the sausages. It tastes nice nonetheless.
4. For prettier result, brush some egg yolks onto the spring roll skin before putting them into oven, I skipped this step, pure laziness.
5. If using wanton skin (云吞皮) or smaller cupcake holder size, this can be perfect bite-size food for party, just serve along side some ketchup or hot sauce.

I love the vibrant colors. Smelled great too.

The ready fried rice

Scooping in the rice is the easy part, let your little one helps.

Nothing gone to waste, the remaining spring roll skins were used for making rice rolls :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Teriyaki Chicken Fillet and Avocado Sandwich 鸡柳牛油果三文治

I had an avocado chicken burger at a popular cafe in town recently and I regretted my choice; the burger was dry and the patty was plain and flaky. Having paid RM24 for that burger, I was disappointed with what I've got. So, on the next day, I bought some fresh chicken fillet and decided to make a tender and juicy chicken burger (well, I made sandwich instead). With same amount I paid for the individual meal, I made enough to feed 4 person!

Ethan loved the sandwich, after 2 big bites he told me "hmmm mommy, this is delicious!". He then finished his sandwich effortlessly by himself. He even ate up the extra fillet on the plate, so did my big guy. Do give this recipe a try as it is really easy. :)

Preparation Time: 35 min
Cooking Time: 15 min
Serving for: 4 sandwiches

8 pieces of chicken fillets, cleaned

Chicken Marinate (A):
4 table spoons of Teriyaki Sauce
1 tea spoon of Chinese Sao Xin wine 花雕绍兴酒 (skip for little one)
1 table spoon Paprika powder (optional, skip for little one)
a dash of of pepper
2 clove of garlic, chopped
Few drops of sesame oil

Sandwich ingredient (B):
1 Wholemeal loaf, cut into 8 thick slices
1 medium size avocado
8-12 leaves of lettuce
4 slice of natural cheddar cheese
1/2 Japanese cucumber, thinly sliced

Step-by-Step Guides:
1. Rub each fillet with a small amount of salt using your hand. Ensure the salt are evenly distributed.
2. Put all ingredient A in a bowl, add the chicken fillets and ensure they are thoroughly coated with the marinate.
3. Cover the marinated chicken fillet with a cling foam (or a plate) leave in fridge for about 30minutes.
4. Heat up 2 table spoons of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, gently lay the chicken fillet one by one, make sure they do not overlap.
5. Cook each side for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Do not over cook as you want the fillet to be juicy and tender when eaten. Set aside the chicken fillets once done.

Assembling the sandwich..
6. Slit a ripe avocado half length wise, remove the core and scope out the flesh using a table spoon. Cut into big slices.
7. Arrange the lettuce, avocado, teriyaki chicken filets, cheese and sliced cucumbers on a bread loaf. Serve with ketchup or your favorite hot sauce.

Variation - Chicken Teriyaki Pocket
When serving for little ones, I would recommend to use round bun and only make an 2/3 opening cut, so the bun functions like a pocket for you to stuff the fillings. It's easier for the little hands to handle and definitely less clean up for mommies later :)

Useful Tips!
1. You can store the cooked chicken fillet for making wraps later. Refer to the wrap recipe for idea on how to make a toast wrap.
2. Remaining avocado can be used to make a cup of avocado smoothies, or mix with milk and feed to young baby.

The ingredients for the marinate.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Creamy Avocado Smoothies 牛油果冰沙

Not an avocado lover? Give this smoothies a try and you may think again. Living in a city where midday temperature can reach as high as 38°c, a cooling smoothies is just nice to combat the heat. With a little deco, this greenish smoothies can be transformed into a really tempting dessert.

Little Ethan was so delighted to see his "green yogurt" (as what he called it), and he said this to me after tasting a big spoonful -- "Mommy, this is so good! It is so nice that you made this for me..".

Needless to say, I'm happy beyond words :)

Hope you & your little one will enjoy this healthy treat too. You may dribble some chocolate chips to give an extra kick :)

Preparation Time: 10 min
Serving for: 4 persons

2 medium ripe avocados
1 1/4 cup fresh milk (you may replace with BM or FM for baby under 1 year old)
4 table spoons honey or agave sweetener (adjust the sweetness according to your liking)*
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
8-10 ice cubes

* Suggest to skip honey if serving for baby under 12m. Please read the footnote at the bottom of this page.

Steps by Steps Guide:
1. Cut the avocados in half lengthwise. Remove the pit and scoop the flesh using a spoon.
2. Mix avocado flesh, honey and lemon juice, blend the mixture until creamy smooth. Add the ice cubes and continue blending.
3. Divide the mixture into 4 cups, decorate with cut fruits or serve as is with a spoon.

Useful Tips!
1. A ripe avocado is really soft and has a dark green / brown color skin. If you bought an avocado that is still hard, store it at normal room temperature for few days until it's soften. Do not refrigerate it.

2. If there is any left over smoothies, put them in a cube tray and freeze it for few hours, you'll get a nice avocado dessert (see the sea shells and heart shapes avocado dessert below). I added some chocolate chips as bonus for Ethan.

A Note on Honey for Young Babies...
A reader asked at what age can she introduce this smoothie to her little one? 
  • For baby from 6m onward, you shall serve avocado with only milk, either BM or FM are fine, no honey nor ice required.
  • Do avoid serving honey to baby under 12m to avoid potential allergy reaction. Besides, when serving honey to baby above 1 year old, do practice the 3-day monitoring rules when introducing new food, where you should watch out for symptom such as rashes, swallen, diarrhea. Seek medical advice immediately if any allergy reaction spotted. 
  • You may skip the ice when serving for young babies. It will be less creamy but still tasty none-the-less.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Easy Dory Fillet Pasta in Tomato Sauce 简易番茄汁鱼片意粉

Frozen Dory fish fillet is one of the regulars in my freezer. It can be kept frozen for about 3 months and defrost quickly within few minutes in a microwave. I often use dory fillet for a quick pasta, pizza or just a pan fried fillet meal.

On the other hand, pasta is a common dish we usually have for family meal or when good friends get-together. I like my pasta with rich tomato sauce instead of cream cheese which is often too creamy to my liking (and I find it fattening too :))

A simple pasta such as this one can be prepared within just 30 minutes, a perfect solution for a quick yet tasty meal.

It is not necessarily to stick to 1 type of pasta. You can substitute the spaghetti with other pasta of your choice such as linguini (flatten spaghetti), fettuccine (flat & wider pasta, some what like Chinese pan-mee) or vermicelli (thin pasta).

Preparation Time: 5 min
Cooking Time: 20 min
Serving for: 4 person

250g Spaghetti / Linguine pasta (1 packet)
1 tablespoon olive oil

For Pasta Sauce (B):
248g canned tomato puree (1 can)
2 cloves of garlic
1 piece frozen dory fish fillet (about 350g), defrost completely
1 palmful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped (you may use dill or dried basil)
Salt and pepper to taste

Step-by-Step Guides:

1. Seasoned the dory fish fillet by rubbing it with salt and half of the basil leaves. Set aside.

2. Cook a pot of water (just enough to cover the pasta), add in the pasta once the water boiled and let it cook according to the time indicated on the packet (usually between 10-13min).

3. Once cooked, drain the excess water using a strainer and add a spoon of olive oil and mix evenly. This is to prevent the pasta from sticking together.

4. Heat up olive oil in a frying pan, stir fry chopped garlic until fragrance. Add the dory fish and stir fry it for about 5 min. Using the spatula, roughly cut the fillet into chunk of 2" x 1" each.

5. Pour in the tomato puree, add salt and black pepper to taste; mix well. Close the lid, set to medium heat and let the sauce shimmer for 5min.

6. Add the cooked pasta into the pan, mix well and add the remaining basil leaves. Cook for about another 5min and your pasta is done!

To serve, sprinkle some fresh basil leaves onto the pasta as final touch. Pasta always taste best when serve hot. Bon appetite!

Useful Tips!

  • I usually keep a kitchen scissor only for cutting food such as meat, fish balls, pasta, vegetables, so it is easier for my little to feed himself. However, as he turned 3 years old I started to let him learn eating spaghetti the proper way, he likes to be treated like a "big boy".
  • If you do not want to use a microwave, just place the fish fillet on non-freezer compartment overnight and thaw it for about an hour before cooking.

Fresh basil leaves in the garden, they look good and come handy too. These little plants needs lots of sun light.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Veggie Patty Sandwich 蔬菜蛋饼三文治

Does your little one likes mushrooms and onions? Not my picky Ethan, he is so insistent of pulling out mushroom and onion if he sees any in his meal. So, sneaking some mushrooms and onion into his burger patty is one of the best methods I can think of.

My trick worked. My little boy happily ate up the veggie patty sandwich without realizing what's in them. Mission accomplished! :)

You can replace the vegetables below with any other options available in your kitchen, do ensure the mixture is not too watery else they will not hold the shape.

Veggie Patty Platter, yummy breakfast time...

Preparation Time: 30min
Cooking Time: 15min
Serving for: 4 person

4 slices of sandwich bread
10-12 salad leaves
Tomato Ketchup (or replace with fresh puree)

For Veggie Patty (A):
4 table spoons chopped Cauliflower / Broccoli
4 table spoons chopped Onion
4 table spoons chopped green beans
2 large portobello mushrooms, chopped
2 gloves garlic, chopped
4 table spoons bread crumb
2 Eggs
1 table spoon all purpose flour
Few fresh basil leaves (optional)
Dash of salt and black pepper

Step-by-Step Guides:
  1. Mix all ingredient A together, roughly blend them. Add salt, black pepper and herbs of your choice to taste.
  2. Heat up a table spoon of olive oil in a frying pan, scoop 2 spoonful of veggie mixture into the pan. Cook eat side for 5 min, becareful when turning so it will retain a nice circle shape.
  3. Serve with salad leaves and tomato ketchup over sandwich breads.

I let my little boy helped to squeez the "Up-side down" Heinz Ketchup onto the patty, he was excited like hero of the day, busy helping everyone to squeeze the ketchup. Let the little ones help up in doing little chores, you'll be surprised how much they enjoy it. :)

Tips when Serving for  Little Ones! 
For younger infants below 2 years old, you may let them  eat the entire patty as-is by hands, or smash up the patty to avoid risk of chocking.

Veggie Patty for the little ones

Frozen Avocado Macha Popsicles 牛油果绿茶冰棒

I have always been rather clueless when it comes to avocado, apart from using it to make salsa, I actually never though of serving it as a dessert until I started preparing baby Claire's puree, where avocado can be served fresh by just adding some milk.

Having read about the many benefits of avocado, I thought perhaps I should try to make something yummy out of it that Ethan too can enjoy it's goodness.. So, here it is, the result of my first attempt of making an avocado popsicle, and I had myself a really pleasant surprise... The avocado mixture is simply heavenly delicious! Cannot believe it? Just try it out for yourself ;)

Wait a minute, just what so good about avocado? Well, according to, it is nature's perfect food that almost contain every nutrient a person needs to survive... It is perfect to be serve as baby's first food as it is good for baby's brain and physical development, besides, low chance of allergic reaction. Good to know isn't it?

Now, enough of facts sharing, let's get started...

Preparation Time: 10 min
Waiting Time: 4 hours
Serving for: 4 Popsicles

1 big or 2 small ripe avocados
3/4 cup fresh milk
3 table spoons honey or agave sweetener (suitable for diabetes)
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon of green tea powder (optional)

Steps by Steps Guide:
1. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Remove the pit and scoop the flesh using a spoon. Squash the avocado flesh using a fork or use a blender if you like your Popscile really smooth.
3. Mix avocado flesh, honey and salt, blend until you get a smooth & creamy texture. Add the lime juice and green tea powder, mix well.
4. Divide the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.

Useful Tips!
1. A ripe avocado is really soft and has a dark green color skin. If you bought an avocado that is still hard, store it at normal room temperature for few days until it's soften. Do not refrigerate it.
2. If you find it difficult to remove the Popsicle stick from the mould, run the mould under the tap water for few seconds before pulling it, or just soak it in a bowl of water for a minute.
2. If you like your Popsicle creamer, substitute fresh milk with equal amount of coconut milk instead.