Thursday, December 26, 2013

Brussel Sprouts & Hams #15MinutesSuppers

Big guy and I had always like brussel sprouts, it's crunchy, sweet, packed with nutrition and is low on calories (which makes it an ideal diet food!); on the other hand, the kiddos are attracted to its cute outlook which is like a mini cabbage. So it's one of a favorite dish on our dining table. Instead of cooking it plain as usual, I decided to spice up a bit by adding some hams and melon seed this time.

And it turned out pretty good...

If you are having a party, serve this as warm salad dish instead. ;)

Best of all, it takes no more than 15 minutes to get it ready on the dinning table!

Preparation Time: 5 min
Cooking Time: 8 min
Serving for: 2-3 pax

• 20 brussel sprouts, wash, remove ends and cut in half
• 60g hams, thinly sliced (add more if you like)
• 1 tablespoon of melon seed / pumpkin seed
• few drops of sesame oil
• a dash of worchester sauce
• salt & pepper

The Making:

1. Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, toss in the hams and stir fry for about 2 minutes till they turn brown.

2. Scoop the hams aside, then place the brussel sprouts in the pan, make sure the flat side touches the pan (add some olive oil if the pan is too dry). Let the sprouts  cook on high heat for about 2 minutes. 

3. Add 2 table spoons of boiled water (cooled to room temperature) into the hot pan. while the water shimmers, add the seasoning, mix well, and toss in the cooked hams and melon seeds, roughly mix.

4. Let it cook for another 2 minutes with the lid on until all water evaporated, then turn off the heat.

That's it, your meal is ready! Serve it with with warm rice and it's one healthy meal, or you may just eat it as-is like a warm salad.

I love cooking the sprouts this way as they retain the lovely green and crunchiness. Addition of hams and melon seeds give a more interesting twist to the taste and texture. If you like your sprouts softer, just extend the cooking time to another 5 minutes or more.

What's your favorite way of cooking the brussel sprouts? :)

15 Minute Suppers
This week we are sharing 15 Minute recipes to get you through your New Year's Eve parties. I think you will love these awesome recipes that are party worthy, but that will keep you hangin' with your guests instead of being a slave in the kitchen! Happy New Year!
Follow 15 Minute Suppers on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
and look for the #15MinuteSuppers hashtag too!
15 Minute Appetizers
BBQ Bacon Meatball Skewers from Around My Family Table
Easy Party Appetizer - Lit'l Sweet BBQ Little Smokies from Just 2 Sisters
Brussel Sprouts & Hams from Food 4 Little Ones
15 Minute Snacking
Ooey Gooey Holiday Chex Mix from Better in Bulk
15 Minute Breakfast
Paleo Banana Pancakes with Meyer Lemon Butter from Confessions of an Overworked Mom
If you are a blogger and you’d like more info, please check out the 15 Minute Suppers website or ask to join the Facebook group to participate on Fridays…we’d love to have you join us.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

15 minutes Yule Log Cake (the short cut way!)

I have always love the Yule Log cake since I first saw it in the hotel's Christmas  display when I was a kid. Kind of like a love at first sight :) And of course, gingerbread house too. They were my childhood dream for Christmas celebration.

Yule log cake is a traditional dessert near  Christmas originated from the European countries. It's basically a sponge cake rolled into Swiss roll with buttercream filling and decorated to look like a wood log (hence the name), and with powdered sugar as snow.
For this year, I decided to make a simple Yule Log cake using the cheat way; I admit I was too lazy to bake now that I have resumed work and this month was a month of Christmas crafting. You may head over to Fun With Little Ones to see what I have been busy crafting at night. :)

Anyway, back to the Yule Log Cake. I took a short cut by using store made marble Swiss roll and the left over royal icing that I made for Christmas cookies deco last week. I kept them sealed in the fridge so still taste good and fresh after a week.

Little one helped to put on the naughty santas and snow.

1 foot long swill roll cake, any flavor if your choice
1/2 cup of royal icing (approximately 120gram). Use store made or wipe up your own with this recipe from Bake at 350.
2 table spoon of icing sugar / Powdered sugar 

The Making:

1. Get ready the cake, fill the  piping gun / piping bag with white royal icing.

2. Squeeze straight rows of the royal icing horizontally across the cake in a slow and steady motion, make sure the cake is fully covered. For the side, use a spatula to help spread the icing evenly.

3. Using a fork, lightly drag lines on top of the royal icing to create wood like texture. Let the log rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes before start decorating. 

4. Decorate the cake with snowman, Santa clause, mistletoes, meringue mushrooms etc, then sprinkle some icing sugar on top with a sieve to create the snow effect.

That's it, you have a nice winter Yule log cake ready for your party! Isn't it simple? ;)

I would recommend to keep it refrigerated for at least an hour before serving, to help the royal icing settles.

After decorating the cake, I used the remaining royal icing to make more Christmas cookies. I did much better this time with the outlining, didn't I?

The freshly baked sugar cookies. Tasted good on its own.

My favorite Christmas trees

The classic gingerbread man

And some colorful stars and hearts.

This shall make a very merry Christmas party for us. 

Fancy to make some Christmas cookies too? Read on more on my earlier post here.

Or the tutorial for the royal icing by Bake at 350 who shared so many recipes and tutorials!

Merry Christmas to you & your family!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Meal {Christmas Edition} Snowman is Here!

We are all in the mood of Christmas, so while having fruits after dinner, I cut the apples into round slices so I can arrange them into these cute little snowmen (just cut apple into half and scope out the core with a spoon. No special tools required).

Little Snowmen playing under the starlight and snowflakes..

Says who that preparing Christmas food is time consuming? This took me only 5 minutes and my duo had fun munching away their apple snowmen. :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Cookies!

Christmas is approaching, and I thought  we can make some nicely decorated cookies this time. So I research for the different varieties of cookie and decorative icing techniques, then got myself started. Of course, my little chef was not left out, how he looked forward to baking the cookies with me! :)

First time making cookie decoration with royal icing and it turned out... alright. Not glazing smooth and beautiful as I hope they would be, definitely far from professionally decorated ones, but for first timer I can accept this outcome. *self comforting*

A gingerbread man, a golden star and a Christmas tree. 3 classic designs for Christmas.

Took me about 1.5 hour to decorate all these little yummies. It was fun, felt as if I was attending art class back in my school time again, only that the coloring material is fully edible. My handsome and I both licked some icing off our fingers, delish!

Here are the 1st batch of decorative cookies we completed. Kept them completely dry out for an hour before storing them in the fridge. A few ugly ones were excluded from the picture, well, my flooding technique went rather disastrous so pardon me with the ugly golden stars..

The base cookies baked the night before, seriously they taste great just eaten as is. Crunchy and buttery. So glad I found this recipe from Bake At 350. Bridget is really talented in cookie decoration and I must say this is the BEST cookie recipe I have tried so far!

These are the cookies decorated with white piping to outline the shape, letting it cool for an hour before we continue with the remaining. They looked quite neat but i wanted something colorful for the holiday feel. Noticed one with broken arm? I have to be more careful next time in handling cookies. *bash*

My little chef was so excited to help up with cookie baking and decorating them. Looking good in his new personal Christmas apron made by mommy, personalised with his name in flying upward manner as he requested.

The batter and the tools I used for baking. Nothing fancy, really. One thing I like about this recipe is that it is really simple and I can cut the dough using the cookie mould without having to pre-chill it. A real time saver.

The homemade royal icing, first time ever attempted and I'm glad it's a success! The color is off white as I added some vanilla essence which tainted it.

I'm going to bring some of these for the Christmas party at my office, and make another fresh batch for later celebration at home. The recipe is enough to make about 40+ medium size cookies and the dough can be chilled for baking later.

Can't wait to give this a try too? Check out the recipe for sugar cookies here. Perfect is my only comment for this recipe. She has the royal icing tutorial too, very informative tips shared.

If you made decorated royal icing cookies too, do share the picture of the cookies you made, will you? *wishful thinking*

Till later, happy holiday!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Simple Moist Chocolate Cake (and decoration tips!)

As promised, this is the recipe I used for baking the birthday cake for my little bunny who turned 2 recently. I know this is 2 weeks late, but it is better late than never, right? *wink*  

Decorated with the rainbow, clouds and figurines depicting my duo, this cake was a hit for all the kids and parents too.

You may read on more about the birthday and the Rainbow theme deco I prepared for the special day here - Little Bunny Turned 2!

Anyway, let's focus on the cake. The recipe was adopted from Joy of Baking using their Simple Chocolate Cake recipe, I made some modifications so it is less sweet to compensate for the sweetness of the fondant icing. 

Preparation time: 15 min

Baking time: 30 min
Serving for: 2 x 9" round cake 


Dry Ingredients
300g granulated white sugar  (reduced from original 400g)
245g all-purpose flour, sifted.
75g unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Van Houtton cocoa powder)  
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients 

2 large eggs (size A)
240 ml warm water 
240 ml fresh milk (full cream or low fat milk alright)
120 ml vegetable / sunflowers oil
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
 2 table spoons of strawberry chocolate chips for mixed flavor

The Making:

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F  and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Brush the bottom and side of the pans with the butter or cooking oil. You may add a layer of baking sheet at the bottom of the pans to ensure easier removal later.  

2. In a large bowl (make sure it's dry), mix all dry ingredient using a spatula .

3. In another large bowl, beat the eggs till fluffy then whisk together with all the remaining wet ingredients. Gradually add the dry mixture into the wet mixture until it's well combined (should be smooth and not lumpy).

4. Evenly divide the batter between the two pans and bake for about 27 - 32 minutes until fully risen. Insert a toothpick or cake tester into the center of the cake, it should come out clean. Otherwise just continue to bake for another 3 - 5 minutes.

5. Remove the pan and let the cake cool completely on the rack before start decorating.

You may noticed both my cakes are of different sizes. Well, I intend to make a 2 layer cake at first but eventually changed my mind and created 2 separate cakes instead. So 1 layer or 2 layers? Depends on number of guests really. The 9" cake was just nice to serve my 20+ guests where 1/3 of them are kids under 5yo.

This cake can be pre-baked and keep in fridge up to 3 days (could be more but may not taste fresh anymore)

Beginner's Tips for Fondant Decoration..

I am not expert in cake decoration with fondant, this is my 3rd attempts in fact. However some tips for beginner like me:
  • Keep the cake  in the fridge for at least 1 hour before starting the decoration.
  • While you may make your own fondant with icing sugar, using ready to roll fondant allows better chance of success. Just buy white fondant and mix the color yourself. 
  • You would need a cake turner and bread knife to cut off the top layer to achieve an even surface. The remaining crumbs can be eaten as-is (yummy!) or used for making cake pops.
  • The decorated cake should be kept in a dry and cool place (air-conditioned room is ideal) to avoid the fondant from melting. 
  • Ideally the fondant decoration shall be done same day or 1 day before serving.
  • If the fondant get too sticky when rolling, just sprinkle some corn starch over it and it shall be fine.
Overall I spent about 4 hours on the cake decoration (span across 2 days) and a main bulk of it was due to the details involved in making the figurines. No wonder a professionally made fondant cakes don't come cheap, a lot of effort & time required!

That's all folks, feel free to share the picture of the cake you make too for exchange of ideas ;) 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Soy Sauce Steamed Pork Ribs 枸杞鼓汁蒸排骨 (双语版)





Soy Sauce Steamed Pork Ribs 枸杞鼓汁蒸排骨

份量: 2-4人分享
一把枸杞 (大约20颗),洗净
糖,少许 (我没加糖)



1. 烧一锅清水,水滚后把排骨放进去烫一烫 (约二十秒),把排骨捞起备用。剩余的水可倒掉。
2. 把腌料均匀混合,倒在烫过的排骨上。让它腌至少一个小时。途中把排骨反过来,好让每一部分都吸收充分的腌酱。
3. 准备蒸锅 ,倒入适量的水。把排骨平放在一个平碟上,撒下洗净的枸杞,水滚后放入排骨蒸45分钟 (如下图)。

Ready to steam

• 我家妈妈通常都省略步骤1以保持鲜味,但我总觉得排骨烹煮后有一阵味道,为了去味和卫生着想,我通常都会把排骨烫一烫。
• 蒸的时候记得要把排骨盖好,不然水蒸气滴了下去味道就打折扣了。
• 煮枸杞前建议用热水浸泡十分钟,以防枸杞有上色

I decided to write this post in mandarin as this is a dish taught by my mom who can't understand English. Her original version is using Tauchu (a traditional bean paste) and chili, which is my dad's favorite. However since I always try to use fresh ingredients and keep the taste simpler (without MSG, and avoid preservative or artificial flavoring where possible), I made modification to the recipe and served this to my duo. They loved it, ate every bits of it. :)

Preparation Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 45 min
Serving for: 2-4 person

1 pork ribs, cut into small cubes.
20 goji berries, soak in warm water for 10 min 
A dash of salt
A dash of pepper
A dash of sugar (I omitted this)
1 teaspoon Shao Xin wine
2 table spoon soya sauce
Few drops of sesame oil

Note: Add a table spoon of oyster sauce and dark soy sauce if you prefer richer taste; I omitted them.

The Making:

1. Boil a pot of water, add in the ribs and let them cook for about 20 seconds; remove immediately and let cool. You may opt to skip this step, but I do this for hygienic reason and to remove the strong smell on the meat.

2. In a separate bowl, mix all marinate ingredient and pour over the ribs. Let it marinate for at least an hour. Make sure you turn the ribs around so they are all soak in the marinate sauce.

3. Prepare the steamer, put sufficient water and let it boil. Before adding in the ribs, sprinkles the goji berries over them and let the ribs cook on medium heat for 45 minutes. Cover it with a plate to avoid the steam to drip onto the ribs.

Your steamed pork ribs is now ready to serve!