Monday, February 24, 2014

Easy Healthy Mac 'N Cheese #15MinuteSuppers

While we were doing our weekend grocery shopping, we walked past the pasta section and Little Captain saw the elbow pasta. He immediately remind me that it has been a while since I last cooked Mac 'n Cheese, so Mac 'n Cheese it is for lunch today!

Since I planned to bring them to playground for some ball games, I decided to make a quick and easy version by having all ingredient cooked in a pot (except for the sausages), but I would never cut short on nutrition so mixed veggies are must.

I love the color combination...

Little Captain and Princess C had a small bowl each.

While I love mind with chili flakes... Simply Satisfying!

The ingredients... Except the elbow pasta and green peas that are not in pic.

Preparation Time: 5 min
Cooking Time: 10 min
Serving for: 2-3 little ones

1 cup elbow macaroni

1/4 cup carrot cubes
1 cup broccoli cut into small chunks
1/4 cup frozen peas, defrost to room temperature 
2 sausages, cut into round slices
Some fresh or dried rosemary 
Salt & pepper to taste

For Cheese Sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
2 table spoons of butter
1 table spoon of flour
1 cup of fresh milk

The Making:

 Cook the macaroni, cut vegetables and peas in a pot of boiling water with a pinch of salt for about 8-10 minutes. Drain the excess water and run the pasta under running tap water for a few seconds.

2. While pasta is boiling, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and cook the sausage for about 5 minutes or till golden.

3. In another pot, melt the butter and add the flour on medium heat, stir constantly until the flour dissolved then add the cheese, milk and rosemary leaves. Bring it to a boil until the cheese sauce thicken.

4. Add the macaroni and vegetables into the cheese sauce, seasoned with a dash of salt and pepper. Mix well and turn off the heat.

5. When serving, drops the sausages on top. Sprinkle with more shredded cheese if you like it real cheesy.

The making in 5 simple steps.

I let little captain helped to setup the table as I cooked (his usual chore), I must said he is getting really good at it. Apart from having the cutlery placed correctly, he even prepared the sachet of chili flakes and orange juice for me and daddy, he knew i looooove spicy food, how very thoughful of him! *feeling pretty proud*

A Gentle Note...
As usual, I would remind you that if this is the first time introducing cheese to your little one, always watch out for allergy reaction such as swollen, rashes or itchiness. Besides if you are serving to toddler do use the salt sparingly as their daily sodium requirements are way lower than adults.

Need some guidance on how to select the right cheese for your little ones? Read my previous post on cheese for little ones and also the post on salt / sodium intake.

If you like more cheese recipe, check out here.

Happy cooking!

15 Minute Suppers

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Swiss Rolls with Fresh Jam (or Pink Chocolate!)

Valentine's Day was just over, we had a little gift exchange (unplanned but somehow we bough each other a surprise) but other than that no special celebration, just a family reunion dinner since it coincide with last day of the Chinese New Year, Chap Goh Meh, 元宵节.

The next morning, since it's a relaxing Saturday, I thought of baking something to make up for the day. Hence, this strawberry chocolate Swiss rolls and some mini heart shape cupcakes.

Since I've got some extra cake mix, just baked these mini cupcakes with tiny pink hearts (shaped the melted chocolate using a toothpick)

Pretty strawberry chocolate, ready to spread.

Preparing Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 15 minutes
Serving Size: 1 loaf

Ingredient A:
5 medium eggs
80gm confectionary sugar (this has been reduced from original 100gm)
60gm corn flour
A dash of salt

Ingredient B:
Unsweetened Strawberry jam with chocolate chips
80gm melted strawberry chocolate 

Note: melted chocolate is not the most ideal replacement but when you are out of ingredients you just have to make do with the best possible choice.. Somehow these fresh pink color really stands out.

1. Line a baking tray with baking sheet, brush a thin layer of melted butter or cooking oil over the baking sheet. Preheat oven to 160°c.

2. Sift all ingredient A into a mixer bowl, add the eggs one by one and mix on high speed for about 10 minutes, or until it became fluffy and risen.

3. Using a spatula, spread out the cake mixture evenly onto the baking tray. Lightly tap on the table top lightly to ensure no bubbles in the mixture. 

4. Bake the cake mixture in middle section of the oven for 15 minutes.

5. Place the cake upside down and tear off the baking sheet from the cake while its still warm, spread a layer of strawberry jam follow with some chocolate chips. Starting from one edge, slowly roll the cake into a roll. (I replaced with strawberry chocolate melt since I ran out of the jam)

5. You may slice it up and eat it immediately (like us!) or wrap it in a cling foam and chill for 1 hour before serving (ideal if using jam or whipped cream). 

Just a Note..
Most recipes call for whipped cream, but I prefer using unsweetened jam which is more natural and less sweet. This chocolate version is unplanned for and just once in a blue moon sweet treat. 

Happy belated Valentine's day to you and your loved one.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Happy Meals for Happy Tods 开心早餐

I love making simple breakies for my little ones on weekends, where I don't have to rush to work and they have off day from the preschool too. I tried to use healthy simple ingredients where possible and so far, these happy meals never fails to bring a joyous morning to us. :)

After my baby girl passed 18 months old, she get enjoy the pretty meal with her brother too.

This is a spin off from the previous post on Real Happy Meals which had expanded more than a dozen collections. Hope they bring some inspirations to you too :)

The Yellow Vroom Vroom Car
A multi color fruit platters to give the extra vitamin booster to my little boy. Banana, purple & green grapes and orange, all natural & under 5 minutes!

Hello Butterflies
A simple fruit platters to cheer up my little girl. Raisins, purple & green grapes and orange, all natural & under 5 minutes!

Hello Kittens!
The little happy kittens, made of fresh apple and dried apricot. Perfect to start a happy weekend!

Happy Chic Chic Family
Just pears, raisins and organic square cereal. Enough to cheer up my crying little girl.

Little Butterflies, again
Butterflies of guava and organic prunes. Took only 2 minutes to prepare.. Little ones love all sort of fruits but today I choose guava instead as my little captain suffered diarrhea recently and guava is said to be effective in reducing symptom of diarrhea.

Little Butterflies
Pear-ly butterflies and apricot flower for a beautiful Sunday.. excellent source of fiber and vitamin to kick start the day. Coupled with a big cup of fresh milk, just perfect!

Sail Away
Come sail with me on my potato chips under the mashmallow stars. The food art by my little Captain :)

Happy Snowmen
One apple, few dried blueberries and some puff puff stars, and Ta-da, the happy snowmen are born!

Five Little Ducks
Using banana, dried apricot & blueberries, small marshmallows and some star shape cereal, little one and I  created this happy meal together. The siblings were happily singing away before they ate their breakfast. :)

Under The Sea
Let's have an apple crab and Oreo sea monsters for breakfast, shall we? :)

Little House on the Sunny Hill
One bread wonder.. Wholemeal sandwich bread, apricot sun, marshmallow clouds, pear hills & some nuts and raisins. 

Spot the Odd One!
Triangular fish swimming about the deep sea corals, can you spot which of them is the odd one out?

Fish are made up of cheese sandwich with prune tails; whole meal Cherios as eyes and bubbles; fresh celery as corals.

In the Dinosaur Land I received some really cute Dino cookie cutters as Xmas gift last year, it was sold by the National History Museum of London. I have not made cookies for a while but I can certainly make some Dino french toast of my little ones. :)

Simpler version for my baby girl. Prunes, banana, cheddar cheese and French toast (hidden beneath the cheese)

The real dinosaur land for my little captain, with a giant coconut tree and a cheesy sun :)

Both of them happily chewed away their breakfast, only few slices of prunes left, I guess they must be really full!

Under The Sea
Little sea creatures.. We have happy crabs (homemade cheese nuggets), giant fish (apple) and a school of rectangular sea creatures (French toast), served with a dish of pumpkin purée as the dipping sauce.

My little boy said: "mommy this is not a fish, there is no fins!". Well he is technically correct :P

Here's the recipe for making the little nuggets.

Crazy Hair Bubu day
Little round face Bubu (cheesy French toast) has crazy curly hair made of scrambled eggs. He wears a green tie (green apples) and loves to hug.

Happy Meal time is a good story telling time :)

Watch Out for the Ambulance!
little ambulance made of French toast and banana is roaming around town, watch out for that coconut tree!!

Simple light breakfast for my little handsome, baby girl got a little "coconut tree" for breakfast too :)

Fruity Rainbow
Start the day with a colorful rainbow made of fresh prunes, apples, banana and raisins. This colorful serving is going to spice up your little ones' morning. :)

A Walk In The Park
Beautiful autumn tree and tulip flowers makes of grapes and green apples; tiny butterflies and sun makes of cherios. Simple breakfast filled with love and balanced nutrient. There's a glass of fresh milk not in sight. :)

Music for the Soul
What about some tiny music notes and keyboards for breakfast? My duo absolutely love this happy meal made of wholemeal sandwich, cherios and raisins.

This is my personal favorite to-date!

Little Strawberries Trees
A garden of strawberries trees and tiny butterflies. Served with Greek yoghurt as dip. Simple, healthy breakfast to kick start the day!

Sweet & Cheesy Ladybirds 
Pretty ladybird made of strawberries and dried blueberries, served on cheddar cheese slice over butter cookies.

That's all for now peeps, more to come!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Crispy Pumpkin Seeds & Almond Flakes Cookies {CNY Special!} 南瓜花籽杏仁脆脆饼

It's CNY! Time to have some healthy snack that is not so high in sugar so can munch on without much guilt. 

I had been really busy spring cleaning, sewing after work and on weekend that I can hardly find time to bake any CNY cookies apart from the almond biscottis which almost finished up by now, I decided to do last minute baking on the CNY eve, just stole 30 minutes from the spring cleaning and finished up this last minute baking.

This is a super simple yet addictive snack you won't want to miss, besides, I can guarantee any kiddos would love this snack. :)

I made 2 flavored - Crispy Pumpkin Seed Cookies and Crispy Almond Flakes Cookies, either one they tasted great!

On the next weekend, I spared 20+ minutes and made these yummies again, this time using Lotus seeds, left over from my snow skin mooncakes.

This glass jar I bought from IKEA is perfect to keep them air tight. Anyway the cookies were all grabbed up by that very evening they were baked. :)

Preparation time: 10 min 
Baking Time: 10-12min
Serving for: 1 baking tray (about 30 6cm x 3cm size cookies)

烘烤时间: 10-12分钟

2 Large Egg White / 3 Mediun Egg White 两粒蛋白(大型) / 三粒(中型)
50gm all-purpose flour 50克普通面粉
60g castor sugar 60克白糖
30g butter, melted 30克融化牛油
80g Pumpkin seed / Sunflower Seed / Almond Flakes  80克南瓜种籽/太阳花籽/杏仁片

This is exactly enough for 1 baking tray, if you want to yield more just double the ingredient accordingly.

The Making:

1. Preheat oven to 170°c / 350°F, place a non stick baking sheet over the baking tray. Brush a thin layer of melted butter onto the baking sheet.

2. Whisk egg white in a mixer on high speed until stiff (or really fast if on hand mixer). Add sugar and continue whisking it till well mix .

3. Sieve the flour and butter into the egg mixture, fold in the flour slowly using a spatula (do not over mix)

4. Drop in the pumpkin seeds / almond flakes, mix roughly.

5. Scope the mixture onto the baking tray and spread it as thin as possible using a spatula, drop more seeds if you wish to ensure generous coverage. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it turns golden brown. The longer you bake the crispier it becomes.

6. Remove from oven and let cool on a wiring rack. Tear the baking sheet, break up the cookies carefully and you're done!

Now, keep them in airtight jar before your kids can get their hands onto the cookies, quick!

The ready cookie sheet, i felt like sinking my teeth right into it..

Look how thin it is. The thinner the better (I mean, for this cookie ;)

Useful Tips!
To ensure you can remove the baking sheet easily, spread a thin layer of melted butter or cooking oil over the sheet before pouring the mixture, you can tear off the baking sheet easily.

Alright, it's time to wash up and get ready for the reunion dinner now.. 

I would like to take this chance to wish you and your family a very Happy Chinese New Year & may you be showered wig abundance of good luck and joy!