Friday, March 29, 2013

Boys Will Be Boys

No Doubt about that. Boys will always be boys. Everything is about robots, destruction, and dush-dush.

Every single toy is a possibility to make a robot. Or pretend to be Ironman.

Even the clothes pegs make a robot.

Or if you have an existing robot, it ends up being decapitated.

You share a ride with your brother.

And sometimes the ride shares you.

Even though you have the exact same duplicate pairs of slippers, you still prefer wearing your brother's smaller/larger sized one.

Meet Mr. Optimus Prime, he loses bits and pieces on a daily basis.

 This is how you block out mom's nagging.

 Every vehicle can turn into a ride.

A stylo ride at that.

I remember seeing Barbie doll riding her pink car with her other pretty comrades. But here duplicates of spiderman figures ride the yellow Ferrari, otherwise known as Bumblebee by the kids.

Colouring with crayons is fun. But after a while the crayons start fighting with each other. True story.

This is Ironman. Can you see how? Its got a pair of hands, a white head and the helmet cover thingy that comes from behind. And this Ironman can be dismantled and put back together. What else can a boy ask for? 

And this is how you show your love to your brother. Be willing to perform any kinds of stunts possible. To ensure all this is done under supervision, I cannot take my eyes off them even for a micro second else other unimaginable stunts will take place.

 Boys will always be boys. And I have two of them. Unlimited mischief and cutesy antiques. Praying hard that I can keep up with them!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Chicken Pie Recipe

I am not so much into making crust for pie on my own yet. Since I was relying on the frozen puff pastry, I just opted to make a no crust chicken pie, with the puff pastry topping, something like a chicken pot pie.

Initially I set out to make 2 pies, chicken and vegetable separately, each in a 25x15cm baking dish. But the amount of chicken I prepared turned out to be quite a lot. So I mixed some of the vegetables into the chicken pie filling and made both pies with chicken and vegetable filling. You could reduce or increase the amount of vegetables as you like. You could even make it solely with vegetables only.

While preparing the chicken for this pie, I learnt an important tip to cook the chicken cubes as soft as tofu. I had asked around with mummies on the FB group, and finally put it to use, and see its effect with my own eyes, or rather taste buds.

Since I did not have any chicken stock for the pie filling, I cooked the chicken cubes in some amount of water, which will also double up as stock for the filling later.

The recipe makes for one pie in a 25x15cm baking dish:

You Need:

1 piece of chicken breast, cubed
some diced celery
some diced red pepper
cauliflower and broccoli florets
some spring onion cut into long pieces
some diced shiitake mushrooms
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
1 tbsp corn flour
100ml or 1/2 cup milk
100ml or 1/2 cup water
2tsp butter
Some oil
Some worcestershire sauce
Puff pastry rolled out enough to cover the baking dish
Some beaten egg for egg wash
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Marinate the chicken cubes in garlic and ginger paste, mixed with some corn flour for 30 to 60mins.
2) Once marination done, sautee the marinated chicken with 1 tsp butter. I used my HCP. Add the water and let it simmer cook for 10-15mins. Strain the chicken cubes from the stock and set both aside.

3)  Using the same or different pan, heat some oil. Add the remaining butter and sautee the onion. As it browns, add in all the vegetables (except spring onion) to sautee. Season with salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce. Add in the stock and let it simmer for about 5 to 10 mins.
4) Add in the cooked chicken and milk. Let it cook at low heat till it thickens. Once done let it cool while you roll the puff pastry.
5) Pour the filling into the baking dish and sprinkle the spring onion. Then cover with the puff pastry, pressing the sides to seal on the rim of the baking dish. Poke some holes on the top of pastry with a fork. Brush with some egg wash.

6) Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20-30 mins, or till the pastry turns golden brown.

So my pie topping is a little shoddy, but now I will take note to roll it out a bit larger because as it cooks it shrinks a little bit. You can also crimp the sides using a fork or your fingers for more crunch. I did crimp it too, but apparently not good enough!

As for the chicken cubes, no doubt it turned out awesomely soft to the bite, just like tofu!

Happy trying!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Baking Sweet Baking Savoury

We had a little gathering at our place for my sister in law's birthday, and as a money-can't-buy gift I baked, and baked and baked. Yeah so I baked two things, one sweet and one savoury.

Remember the house elves? Yes, my two superhero boys who never fail to surprise me with new antiques everyday. They were busy helping me beat the batter, turn the bowl for me, and even washing the dishes. The most important and favourite task of all, is cleaning the whisk (yet again), which used to be my duty but now I have graciously passed it on to my eldest son.

It is such a tough job. I kid you not. Because once the whisk is clean, you gotta lick and clean your fingers next.

Once the cake is in the oven, they are rewarded with vitagen drinks for their cooperation for keeping the level of mischief at a low level (I am just being realistic, because you can never achieve zero mischief)

I bet the cake batter washes down very well with the cultured drinks.

For now I shall keep you salivating with the pictures only, and shall share the recipes soonest possible (in kiddy household terms, it might take forever, hence your patience is greatly appreciated).

I present to you walnut coffee cake with chocolate cream cheese topping.

I changed the recipe a little bit as it asked for cream sherry and walnut liquer. If I had those items in the house I would be celebrating over a happy hour instead of baking.

The savoury bake is chicken pot pie, with lots of vegetables. The below picture is the filling and cooked view of the top pastry. Sorry about the shoddy work, I need more practice.

Both the bakes got good raves from everyone. Another feather on my SAHM hat!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cooking For The Non Eater (Recipes)

In our household we have two good eaters (not including myself) and a NON eater. 

From the time Sanju started his solids, I never had headache over feeding him because he pretty much ate everything I prepared and fed him. As he grew older he became adventurous with his food like his father, and continued enjoying whatever comes on his plate (or spoon, cos he is spoon fed after all).

Then came Jeev. He has been very different from Sanju in many ways, and one of it is indeed eating. He is a smaller, slow and picky eater. He is very temperamental, and his preference changes from time to time. One day he likes something, next day he will reject it completely.

The past one week has been the first time that he rejected everything. I tried feeding from rice dishes, soup, pasta, noodles to capati. There were also moments when he happily did eat his capati, soup or pasta, but the next feeding he would reject it. 

Over the weekend he was somewhat different, enjoying the outings and eating at restaurants with us. Somehow it was so mind boggling to see him behave differently at home and outside.

Seeing the fussiness over food again this week, I let him have some finger foods such as nuggets and buns, and he was fine in munching on them over his own sweet time. Picky, and slow. So I gotta gear down and cater to his preference. Because I am his personal (non certified) chef after all.

Do not feel pity over this poor boy. He was hiding his face from the food as if I tortured him for fun. 


So I was a mom on a mission. 

First thing I tried egg fritatta muffins. The method is very simple, mix 4 eggs with half cup of milk, add grated carrots, some salt and pepper. Beat together, and slowly pour them into the muffin tins. Sprinkle each with cheddar cheese and parsley. Verdict: No go with Jeev, but other (great) eaters loved it.

Next I saw him munching on plain tortilla bread, and thought why not glorify it. So I toasted the tortilla bread in my HCP, spread some pasta sauce and sprinkle some cheddar cheese. Fold and let it stick.Verdict: A HIT (Jumping of joy!)

After that I thought why not upgrade the tortilla bread to homemade capati as it is rich with its own wholemeal goodness. Same thing as the previous tortilla bites, but this time I also spread some egg on it. Verdict: A HIT, although my capatis turned out a bit hard, gotta work on that.

So these have the little efforts in trying to get the non eater to eat something at least. From the observations, it can be concluded that he loves to self feed on bite sized food. Hence finger foods it is. Also I don't chase him for meal times anymore. I ask and let him eat as he pleases. Next in the list will be finger foods involving meat and fish. But I am hoping that this is just a temporary condition because its gonna be hard cooking a separate dish everytime for just Jeev. A happy kid is a happy mom is a happy kid!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Life's Simple Messages

This is not unlike those heartwarming forward emails or as in these days, facebook shared stories. Only thing, this is a personal experience.

We all know life with kids is not a bed of flowers. But as the saying goes, it is indeed a bed of roses. Before you beg to differ, let me add, realistically, it is indeed the roses that comes along with the thorns along its' stalk.

Life with kids tests us in many ways. Our patience, our creativity or even our mental strength, at many levels, ways, times and situations more than one.

On Saturday afternoon, after our hearty lunch we headed to Amcorp Mall as hubby had a brief meeting and we also planned to visit the BookXcess for some books for us. But things don't always go as we plan. Ideally I would have wanted to handle the kids on my own at the store while hubby gets the meeting done. But realistically, the boys refused to let go of their father's side.

So we attended to the meeting with kids in tow. I am frantically trying to keep the kids entertained, from giving them ice cream, buying small toys, to letting them play with our phones. Meeting had to be cut short, and the kids insisted to visit the toy store yet again to buy an item that they already have at home. Redundant duplicate entry, as they say in DB management.

I totally lost my mood because it felt like we had totally no control over the kids. However in the end, once they had their duplicate items, they were happily walking about at the book store. Hubby insisted I take my time to browse and get the books I wanted. Reluctantly, I adhered, trying to cheer myself up because at least the kids started behaving.

Once we are done, we start heading out. My mood is somewhat the same, hoping to be in the car so the kids will sleep and we get our moment of silence.

Suddenly we spotted a lady, holding a stick and wearing glasses. She was visually impaired, and standing on the pavement right beside the road. As we got nearer, we noticed that she was holding some packets. Hubby asked her for the price of the packets, which turned out to be sachets of herbal cocoa drinks, and immediately he purchased a few from her, and got her to keep the change. To which she quickly thanked us and said 'God Bless You'. 

Those three words means so much. We felt so glad that those words fall upon us in the presence of the kids. Such blessing from genuine and pure hearted individuals are the ones that matter the most. She was so polite and happy in explaining to us about the herbal drink. And I give her my utmost respect and admiration for braving in the hot weather to sell her product to us regular persons.

As we walked back to the car, we felt so good and my mood changed for the better. Here we are having a good life, and we forget to stop and smell the flower. We forget to appreciate. We forget to look into the brighter side of things. Or at least I did forget. The moral of the story: The kids are not easy to handle. But the kids are our world. Enough said.

The sachets came with a pamphlet. The chocoholic in the house is gonna have some party! And if you happen to be in Amcorp Mall, do spot her and support her cause.

Tuna Heart Buns

Recently hubby and I celebrated two of our wedding anniversaries. Don't be alarmed, we have 2 wedding anniversary dates because we had two different ceremonies for each our family sides. And the first wedding anniversary date actually coincides with the most coveted lover's celebration worldwide which means hubby has no reason to even slightly forget the anniversary date!

When you have two (hyperactive) kids, even a simple peaceful dinner at home spells celebration, and that is exactly what we did and still do. Hubby got these super huge grilled burgers from the new Burger Bakar Abang Burn outlet in Klang. And due to gastronomical emergencies, I did not manage to snap any pictures of the wonderful(ly savage) moments in savouring the juicy burger. However, it was so filling and rich to the taste that I swear I do not want to be in 5 meter proximity with the huge burgers. 

And then I did something special, and baked these cute hearty buns with tuna filling. It suited the occasion, and also the St. Valentine's day well. 

The lazy me is too lazy to type out the recipe, but I will give you the source of my inspiration, and success (smug look)... here is Happy Home Baking

Such simple money-can't-buy gifts are perfect for two reasons. Number 1: I am a SAHM and do not have any income. Number 2: Hubby is the best appreciator of food with an insatiable hunger for something new. I love to cook/bake, and he loves to eat. Match made in heaven, and in the kitchen.

We gobbled it down hot from the oven, while watching Vishwaroopam which I downloaded online. Oh yeah, I make my own bread and download my own movies even before it hits Malaysian cinema. SAHM rocks! Ok I admit nothing super but if you have the local censorship boards holding up screening a high profile movie by an even higher profile personality, piracy is bound to happen, and a good quality copy at that!

And then on came the second anniversary date, and so we being the loving doting clingy parents to Sanju and Jeev got them busy with their grandparents, aunties and uncles and took a quick getaway for some food. This is the view right after the last burp of satisfaction. We had scallops, mussels and oysters. Can you tell? And it was just the two of us, I swear. Only our capacity exceeds. True story!

Till the next burp, happy celebrating anything that you are or going to celebrate!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Easy Dhal Recipe

I often get queries from mummies who want to learn to make dhal. And I have reminded myself over and over again to blog and share the recipe out here, but somehow it never worked out, well because I have not been blogging much lately.

I love eating dhal myself, and the kids have a love hate relationship with it. One day they like it, another day not at all. It is probably my fault because at times my dhal just turns out too spicy for the kids' liking. Over time I tweaked and removed those spicy items and now make a more calmed down version of my dhal.

There are many versions to the dhal recipe, it varies from different household and also their state of origin in India. This recipe is something that I learnt from my mom, full credits to her *sending virtual credit over the air* because predictably she does not have a website that I can link to.

I usually use the Malawi dhal, which is the most expensive in the market. For other similar looking lentils the recipe will work just as well, only the cooking time would vary.

Cooking dhal requires 2 processes. The first is to cook the lentils. Boiling in a normal pot will take up to 1 hour, but with the pressure cooker it can be done in just 20 minutes. The second process is to temper the dhal, meaning doing some spice sautee to get the aroma and mixing it into the dhal. Recipe as follows:

Ingredients A:
1 cup of Malawi dhal
1 brinjal, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 onion, chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp fish curry powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 green chilli, chopped (omit to reduce the heat)
4 cups of water

Ingredients B:
1 tsp of mixed spices (mustard, fennel and fenugreek seeds)
1 tsp of cumin seeds
some asafoetida 
2-3 pieces of dried red chilli (omit to reduce the heat)

1 tsp concentrated tamarind paste
1 tblsp ghee
some chopped coriander leaves

1) Mix ingredient A and cook in a pot for 1 hour, or till the lentils are soft. If cooking in a pressure cooker, cook for 20 minutes or 3 whistles.
2) In a separate dish, heat the ghee in a pan, once hot add ingredient B. The spices will start to pop and release aroma. Once brown, turn off the heat and pour into the cooked dhal, and stir. If you feel the dhal needs to be softer, you can continue to boil for 10-20 minutes more.
3) Once done, sprinkle coriander leaves onto the dhal and stir.

You can also add other vegetables such as white radish, potatoes, cauliflower and beans into the dhal. This is a great way of getting all vegetable goodness into just one dish.

I grew up eating dhal and it goes the best with capati and stir fried vegetables. And since I prefer making one dish meals, as I have two little adorable (read monkey) kids to tend to, it is difficult for me to make capatis and vegetable dish after making dhal. But whenever I do, I eat it with some raw onion and Indian acar, dinner feels just like home and brings back so many wonderful memories.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Easy Bread Pudding for Kids

We love Gardenia's butterscotch bread and I have always wondered how would it taste in a bread pudding. Lately Jeev has been giving me a hard time eating his food, and instead he wants plain bread or bread with milk. This gave me a chance to try bread pudding for his snack.

This is a mini version with only 3 pieces of bread, as below:

3 pieces of bread
1 egg (room temperature)
1 cup / 250 ml full cream milk (room temperature)
1/4 tsp baking powder (can be omitted if you want)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cream cheese
Some butter

1) Spread butter evenly over the pieces of bread. Break the bread into smaller pieces and arrange on the baking dish.
2) Beat the egg, milk, baking powder, vanilla essence, sugar and cream cheese together.
3) Once mixed well, pour over the bread and make sure it covers all the bread. Press the bread down if necessary. Set aside for the batter to soak while you heat the oven to 180C.
4) Bake for 20-30 minutes till it turns golden brown.

Given the rich butterscotch taste I wanted to add no sugar but due to the cream cheese I put some brown sugar else it would turn out salty. 

The final result, I think I should have whisked the cream cheese in more because the bits of cheese are still on the bread and did not please the kids either. Otherwise I think heating up the cream cheese before beating can yield a better result too. For creamier version you can use heavy whipping cream instead, and also add another egg for each cup of milk.

Happy trying!

Cinnamon Rolls

I do not remember when exactly I developed my love for cinnamon rolls. In fact for a large part of my life I never knew the usage of cinnamon can be for sweet dishes as well.

I used to drool over the recipe on the website, and being not confident in kneading and using yeast, I wondered if I could try it without yeast. After reading up more on yeast, it then occurred to me the vital role of yeast in rising the dough. 

When I got my oven in the new house, I was determined to get my hands dirty (literally) baking buns, cinnamon in particular. And I have been baking ever since.

I baked once for Diwali, as you have read here, and it turned out beautifully delicious. Then being so confident I made it again for Christmas for my friend's birthday. but the yeast dudes cheated me and did not rise, so much for second time confidence. And in between I tried few other buns, and suddenly last week it occurred to me to try the cinnamon buns again.

I was cautious to treat my yeasts better this time. And kept fingers, toes and kitchen utensils crossed, and what do you know?! Here it is:

Recipe, recipe, yes I hear you... My favourite baking blog's recipe for Mini Cinnamon Bites. Follow the exact recipe as it is, and you can always omit the icing on top because the buns are already sweet and moist, unless you want a sugar shock for yourself.

Healthy Snacking Day

It was a rare day. Abnormally rare day. Unusually abnormally rare day. Ok I think you got my point there.

Since I was not cooking I baked and grilled something. My usually weekday bakes are usually breads or muffins that do not count any calories or fat in the worry of running off the scale. But I was itching to try something new, yet again. 

So this time I was baking a bread, a carrot and walnut bread which I got from the dailydelicious site. By the way, this site has been my bible, my best friend and my know-all ever since I started baking various buns. As I did not have any rye flour, I just omitted it, and added a little vanilla essence for the aroma and some milk because the batter was too dry. The final product was rather like a cake, but very less oily and almost non sweet cake, yet flavourful with the carrot and walnut.

Next was my task to cook some corn on the cob, for which I relied on my trusted Happy Call Pan to get the nice grilling effect. I might have cheated here a bit because I sauteed 3 cloves of minced garlic with butter before adding in the corn and half cup of water. Cook with pan closed, once water is almost evaporated, keep turning the corns till you get desired char grilled effect. And oh, you can dab the corns with more butter as you do this. Yummm *Paula Deen style* get your butter one!

 And here is my little kitchen helper helping me to clean the batter off the whisk. Yes, YUMM again.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Descesdants of Dinosaurs

Ever since Sanju saw Jurassic Park he gets excited at the mention of 'dinosaurs'. He even started crawling and acting like one. Well, actually more like a bipolar disordered dinosaur that alternates between cute purring cat and a wild dinosaur. So we gotta act in awe and then scared to our guts.

Our porch washing routine is usually very adventurous especially with the water, foam and all that dirt play. Oh yea those are all the things that boys are made of.

They usually chase after their porch pet, a fly or two.

It gets most interesting if we find creepy crawlies, like spiders, millipedes or the dinosaur babies! The permanent residents of our porch are indeed the little lizards, and I made it more exciting by introducing them as the baby dinosaurs. Needless to say kids were amused for a while seeing the wet lizard stuck near the wall, unable to escape the wet surrounding. And gosh I was getting goosebumps everywhere. But hey, the kids enjoyed watching, erkk!

Crawlies or no, the kids have enough fun to give following pictorial tutorial, and you can sing along with the tune of 'Here we go around the mulberry bush':

1) This is the way we wash our hair

2) This is the way we bathe ourselves

3) This is the way we wash the sky

 4) This is the way we wash our sibling


They get a warm bath right after this tiring activity, hoping to keep cold at bay. I recall childhood was the time when we were so curious with water and always got excited seeing streams or pools of water. I hope I am doing well in creating sweet childhood memories for them.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Kids Eat Free

We love seeing these words whenever we eat out. It does not matter if the T&C requires us to buy certain main dish or spend above XX to be eligible for this. Because any free food is good food. 

Perhaps it is the only good thing about lugging the active kids out to a nice diner. Not only the kids would appreciate it but we adults also can top up with it once we are done gobbling up our own dishes.

After what felt like ages we finally visited Bubba Gump over the weekend and this time we brought our whole gang. The kids had burger and pasta.

The first thing I did was to check for the chocolate thing on the menu and my heart almost dropped when I did not see it there. The waiter brought some life into me when he assured us that it is still served though it is not in the new menu. The other person who would have freaked out worse than me, my hubby of course, actually was oblivious to this as he was busy on the phone talking about his phone. Complicated story, yes, I know.

Turns out Sanju is an expert in eating his burger.

Someone did his artwork on the menu. So if next time you see us being on the wanted list at the Sunway outlet, you know why.  And to protect our identities I am not telling who.

And hey, look who we met at Sunway Pyramid. This was a new addition at the superhero shop. The kids refused to budge, and once they do decide to walk on they find the DC Comic store. We spend loads of sweet talk to get the kids from buying everything in the store, even the display mannequins, or rather man-e-quins because they are all male superheroes.


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