Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dreamy Violet Jelly Mooncake 紫色浪漫啫喱月饼

It's almost time for Mid Autume festival. Whether or not you are celebrating this festive day - it's a day where family reunited and there are various folktales that evolve around it; it has become a season for everyone to enjoy mooncakes. Traditional style, snow skin, lotus, bean paste, mixed nuts, tiramisu, chocolate, fruity, charcoal, jelly... There are abundant of varieties to choose from!

I'm not exactly a mooncake lover, but I would like for my kiddos to continue the tradition and know the reason behind the celebration. So I made mooncakes to celebrate with them every year, and this time round, I came up with these beautiful dreamy violet color jelly mooncakes. They absolutely loved it! 💜

Aren't they beautiful?

The color is absolutely gorgeous and it's as natural as can be, without any artificial coloring.

Thanks to my blue or flowers, or commonly known as "Bunga Telang", 兰花. 

Daily harvest from my single plant.

The Making:
• 1 packet jelly powder 
• 180g of white sugar
• 1L of plain water
• 8-12 petals of blue pea flowers 
• 1 lemon wedge (optional)

1. Mix 1L of water with 1 packet of jelly powder (agar-agar) and 180g of white sugar (reduced from original 250g), and bring to boil. 

2. Add in 8 petals of blue pea flowers. Stir occasionally until the jelly powder is fully dissolved.

Now, if you like it blue, just scope the liquid into the jelly mould directly.

However, if you like it violet like mine, just add a few drops of lemon juice. A small slice of lemon be sufficient.

3. Scoop the liquid into jelly mould, let cool to room temperature before moving them into the refrigerator. I added a few flower petals into each of the mould for decoration. Simply adore the dreamy feel they present.

Enjoy & have a wonderful Mid-Autume Frstival... 中秋节快乐!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Honey Orange Roast Ribs 蜜汁烤排骨

Althought I'm not a big fan of BBQ food, I have always like barbecue ribs; juicy, aromatic pork ribs... I could never resist. As I was craving for it badly last night (and I've no idea why), I decided to make some roast ribs for lunch, plus some drumsticks which are the kiddos' absolute favorite.

So we had double roast for lunch today - honey garlic roast drumsticks and orange honey roast pork ribs, served with a big plate of mixed fruit salad.

My juicy rib... nom-nom

Paired with tangy fruit salad, less guilt.. ;-)

Serving size: for 2-4 person
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Roasting time: 45 minutes

• 1/2 dozen pork ribs, cleaned

For Marinate
• a pinch of salt  
• a dash of pepper 
• a pinch of brown sugar 
• 2 tablespoon of premium soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon Shao Xin wine
• 1/4 Orange, squeezed.

• a tablespoon of honey for brushing
• extra basil leaves for garnishing

The Making:

1. Rub the ribs with salt and pepper, add in the rest of the marinate and mix well. Keep refrigerated for at least 30 minutes, turn the ribs occasionally to make sure they absorb the marinate thoroughly.

2. Preheat oven to 180°c, roast the ribs in a non-stick tray for 25 minutes.

3. Remove ribs from oven, turn to the other side and brush generously with honey, then pour the orange juice all over the ribs.
4. Continue roasting for another 15-20 minutes until the ribs turn golden brown. Your kitchen will be filled with such irresistible aroma by now. 

That's it, your juicy roast ribs are done. When serving, don't forget to pour the remaining gravy in the tray over the ribs, they are absolutely delicious. 


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Homemade Fishball and Fish Paste Rolls 手工鱼丸+鱼滑腐竹卷

This is one dish that I have attempted few times but without much success - it always turned out too soft or soggy, and once the texture was like taufu. >.<

Finally, I got it right after a very important tip that my mom in law shared with me... and this time, my fish balls turned out really nice! Chewy and fresh, absolutely no addictive and all natural. 


尝试了几次自己打鱼滑不成功后(不是太软就是像豆腐一样太散),总于下定决心请教了家婆(因为看到那菜市的胶鱼实在是太新鲜了!),得知自己原来一直以来忽略了一个好重要的步骤… 这次终于幸不辱命,鱼丸鱼滑腐竹卷成功完成,还很好吃呢!

The fish paste beancurd rolls was a big hit with the kids, I should have made more instead of just 3 slices..

Serving size: 20 fish balls & 3 rolls
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

• 2 medium size markarel fish about 400gm each 中型马鲛鱼两只共800克
• 1-2 teaspoon salt (adjust accordingly) 盐一至二茶匙(依照喜好调整)
• 1 tablespoon corn flour 黍粉一大匙
• 1 rice bowl ice water + 1 teaspoon salt* 冷水一碗,加一茶匙盐
• 3 raw beancurd sheets 生腐竹三片
• 3/4 tablespoon bean paste (I used Fairy brand, 仙女牌豆酱3/4大匙)

Important 要诀...
* ice water and corn flour are actually the key ingredients for a firm texture. Make sure you add few ice into the water. 秘诀来咯…那就是一定要用冷水和黍粉!这两个食材是不用添加物也可让鱼滑有弹性的关键。

The Making:

1. Clean the fish, rub salt all over the flesh. 拭干鱼肉,用手心把盐均匀抹上。

2. Scrap the flesh off the bone using a metal spoon (from tail to head direction). Collect the flesh in a big bowl, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and pepper to season. 用不锈钢汤匙,把鱼肉从尾到头刮下。鱼若是新鲜的话应该可以很轻易的刮下。把鱼肉集合在一个大碗里,加入盐和胡椒粉调味。

3. Mix a bowl of ice water (normal rice bowl size), dilute a teaspoon of salt in there. Keep adding scope of ice water over the fish paste and mixing in clock-wise direction until it is all well mixed and turns into paste form. Add the corn flour gradually, it helps to give a firmer texture to the fish paste. 在一个小饭碗里置入冰水(或加冰块),和一匙的蜀粉混合后。用汤匙把鱼肉往同一方向搅拌一边徐徐倒入冷水。直到鱼肉起胶,成粘稠状后即可以了。

4. Cover the fish paste with a cling film, keep them refrigerated for about 30 minutes. 把鱼滑用保鲜纸盖着,放在冰箱里冷却约三十分种左右。

5. Prepare a pot of anchovies fish stock, once the soup is boiling, add the fish paste (shape them individually  with a metal spoon) and let boil for about 3 minutes, or until the fish balls float in the soup (which indicates they are cooked). Scope them out and serve hot. 烧热一锅将鱼仔汤,水滚后加入鱼丸,煮约三分钟或看到鱼丸浮在水面即可。

For Fish Paste Beancurd Rolls 鱼滑腐竹卷

6. Lay out the beancurd sheet flat, scope fish paste and spread the rest out evenly over the sheet. 把腐竹片放平,用汤匙把鱼肉平铺在腐竹片上。鱼肉要薄要厚由的你咯,我就爱我的鱼肉满满的,一口咬下去超有满足感!

7. Using your fingers, carefully roll the sheet into a long cylindrical shape. 用手指把腐竹片卷成筒状。

8. Heat up 1 table spoon of cooking oil in a pan, cook the roll for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Add a cup of water and 3/4 tablespoon of bean paste (this is quite salty, do not over use!). Close the cover and let it simmer for about 3 minutes. If the sauce gets too thick or salty, add a bit more water. 在平底锅中烧热一大匙的油,把腐竹卷双面煎约三分钟(或呈金黄色)。加入3/4汤匙的豆酱和一碗水,盖上锅盖慢火煮约三分钟即可。如果酱汁太浓或太咸的话,可加入一点水调稀。

That's it, your fish paste beancurd rolls is done! Just cut it into thick slices and serve with noodles or rice, either way the kiddos love them. Enjoy.. ;-)

Tips to know 小叮咛...
When selecting fish, you may request the fishmonger to debone to safe some time.
If you can't find markerel fish, can go for white fish too. Do mention to the fish monger the fish is for making fish paste so he/she can suggest the correct fist. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lunchboxes for the Pre-Schooler, Part 2

Entering second month of my lunchbox making for the kiddo, some how have new inspirations this round and created more varieties. I am going simpler and making more meals that can pre-make, such as origini (rice balls) and sandwiches, and still healthy none-the-less.

You may refer to the previous post for more idea & tricks to prepare quick and healthy lunchbox ;) Lunch box under 30 minutes - for the busy moms

Rice, Onigiri & Congee

Sandwiches, Burgers & Nuggets

On the lighter side, some simple bites.

My little boy really loves the mommy-made bento, I guess his happy face and healthy growth are the key motivations for me. 

Hope you get some inspirations from this post too, please do feel free to share with me and the rest of the readers your bento ideas too! ;-)


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lunch Box under 30 minutes, Busy Mom's Survival Guide..

As E entered primary school, he spends long hour in school everyday from 7am to after 3pm (that's a good 8 hours!). After observing and trying out at what the school's cafeteria offers (not the healthiest kind of food choice, unfortunately), I decided to make him healthy lunchboxes so he will be fueled with good food and better nutrition to meet the daily challenges.

Here are the lunchboxes I've been packing for the little siblings for the past weeks. UpdatedYou may check out lunchbox idea here!


Noodles, Pasta & Rices

Being a working mom who reaches home after 8pm daily, making fresh food daily is really quite a challenge (I've no helper at home neither). So I have constantly explored methods or tricks that work for me and make this sustainable in the long run. 

I'm sharing the tricks and tips that allowed me to have those meals prepared within 15-30 minutes. As much as possible I use real food over processed food (one reason why I hardly used sausages or luncheon meat in my cooking), less salt, less sugar and no MSG used.

Note: the lunchbox I prepared are nothing fancy and pretty like most Japanese bento, don't set high expectation :) My priority is to be practical, delicious, nutrition, and must take no more than 30 min! After all E has all grown up now that he doesn't need his "happy meal" to lure him into eating anymore. Lol.

Here's my survival guide.

1. Pre-prepare the meat in single serving size

I clean and cut the chicken / meat to cube or slices or minced (when they are fresh from market), keep them into individual pack of 1 serving size each & freeze them in the chiller. The night before cooking, I'll move one packet to refrigerator section, by the next morning I just have to marinate them and use them for cooking right away. They are ideal to be used for making nuggets, making meatball, stir fry or making soup.

2. Multitask. Maximize usage of your utensil

When I boil the meatballs / fish balls and vegetables in the wok, I use the heat to steam the white rice that was cooked the previous night. This makes it super fast, and I will just close the lid and get myself changed, the food is ready when I'm done. ;) 

3. Prepare all ingredients the night before
After the kids had gone to bed, I'll then wash and cut the veggies, soak to soften the noodles / spaghetti the night before then store them in air tight containers in the fridge. This drastically shorten the cooking time the next morning - generally only takes me 15 min.

These were the BPA container I used to store baby food when they were little, how convenient. :)

4. Sandwich is the fastest when you have absolutely no time.
I have prepared a variety of sandwiches for the duo - Eggs, ham, tuna, cucumber, cheese, grilled chicken breast (leftover), all these can be ready in like 5 minutes. Coupled them with some healthy sides and you have quite a complete and awesome meal!

Some of the sandwiches I've made for the kiddos...

5. Prepare healthy snacks that can be added to lunchbox. 
Cereal bars, mixed nuts, crackers, cookies & fruits that can be served whole (grapes, blueberries, strawberries, banana, cherry tomatoes). All these add some variety of colors & nutrition to the lunchbox.

Somehow my duo have pretty good appetite so having extra snacks allow them to fill the tummies instantly, conveniently instead of eating junks. ;-)

6. Use an Insulated Bag to store all food in one bag, nothing goes missing!
The food container, drink packets, foldable fork & spoon are all kept in the same bag, and the insulated functions allow the food to keep warm and stay spill proof at the same time. You can easily find them from Daiso for RM5.30, or just get one from the departmental stores.

This also takes the weight away from E's already heavy school bag...

Some of the insulated bags I used. Fuel  is one of my favorite brands, especially the foldable forks and spoons, been using them for 5 years and counting. 

7. Use a good flask to keep the food fresh & warm
I have tried putting fried noodles directly into the container and it turned sour by afternoon (effort wasted!), tried some plastic flask too and only keep warm for about an hour or so. Finally I dug out the Thermos  food flask which I used to store baby porridge when they were little. Still good as new!

I rinse the Thermos with hot water before using, then keep the soup / rice / fried noodle/porridge in there, it can keep warm up to noon time (6-8hours) without problem.

* reminder: must train little ones to handle hot liquid with flask with care.

8. Keep small containers for titbits
I used normal BPA free lunchboxes that comes with standard 1 or 2 compartment, so having some small containers allow the flexibility of having the cut fruits, veggie or snacks arranged neatly instead of having everything mixed up. Best of all, these are things I can prepare the night before.

Most of these items are available from Daiso, except the Fuel foldable fork & spoon which we bought during our trip in Australia. You can find this brand in most major departmental stores nowadays. Those silicon cupcake holders are meant for baking but well, find them ideal for storage too.


9. Last but not least, plan the weekend grocery list.
I do my grocery shopping once a week, this ensure I have supplies for cooking variety for the kiddos throughout the week and any leftovers are used up for weekends cooking. What I usually have on the list...

Note: I have free supply of fresh herbs from my garden, so I can just toss in some fresh herbs when cooking for natural flavoring.

That's all folks...

Hope this helps all the busy moms or dads or grannies or caretakers out there. There's no secret really, but just need pre-planning and determination to provide the kiddos good food. 

However, on days I'm busy or tired I would take a day off from cooking and inform E to purchase food at the school cafeteria. I think it's important to stay flexible and don't be so hard on ourselves. :-)

Thanks for reading. Do feel free to send your questions or suggestions, I shall attempt my best to respond. If you like this post and think it would be useful for your friends, colleagues, family or simply anyone you know, feel free to share it, like my Facebook page   and shout about it ok? ;-)

Many have concerns if the food can stay warm for such long hours without turning bad, I too had the same concern. So what I've practiced is that for all the new recipe I attempted, I'll cook extra and bring to office in a separate flask, so I know if the food taste and smell alright or not.