Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cooking for a 2yo on a vacation

It has been a daily habit for me to cook for Phin Zhe, even when we dine out or on a vacation trip. Few months back, we brought him along for our 14 days Aussie trip. It was a night flight to Aussie so I brought 2 homemade buns for backup. Return flight was a bit tricky as it was a morning flight. I need to prepapre 3 meals for him. He had breakfast at Melbourne airport, lunch on the plane and dinner at LCCT airport. However, we survived the long haul flights and the 2 weeks in Aussie. With some proper planning, I was able to prepare food for Phin Zhe and yet had an enjoyable trip. Let's see some of the meals we had.

Breakfast #1: Oat porridge

rolled oats and steel cut oats porridge with Elgaar farm organic milk, bananas and raisin

Oat porridge is a relatively simple breakfast to prepare. It is not easy to find organic steel oats in Penang. So I bought one pack once I landed in Hobart, Tasmania. I love to mix rolled oats and steel oats together. For me, fresh milk, bananas and raisin are must. I did add in walnut and other nuts for adult version.

Breakfast #2: Bread/Toast with spread/fillings

organic toast with baby spinach, mushroom and scrambled egg

organic toast with avacado spread and scambled egg

Another quick breakkie. It did not take up much time to mash an avacado, scrambled some eggs and stir fry some mushroom. Topped with wonderfully creamy Barambah organics yogurt, this healthy toast has made a smile on big boss and little boss.

Breakfast #3: Pancake

avacado, banana and egg

When I had a little bit more time, I made the simplest pancake. For the batter, I mashed the bananas and avacado first, then slowly added egg until it reached the right consistency. Served with blueberries and warm milk.

Dinner #1: Bolognese Spaghetti

beef bolognese spaghetti, blanched asparagus and orange juice

my boy enjoying his dinner

Dinner #2: Japanese Ramen in broth

On the night we checked into Cradle Mountain National Park's Cabin, big boss requested something warm for tummy. So I cooked this Japanese Ramen in broth. White potatoes, carrot, onion, shredded chicken and scallop have made the soup very sweet and tasty. In fact, I had to cook a second bowl for each of us.

Dinner #3: Rice with asian dishes

Some of the day, we reached our accomodation early, I cooked some dishes to eat with rice. First thing I did was to set the rice cooker and boil the soup. Then I will proceed to take a rest, have some fun time exploring the place and take a shower. When dinner time came, I just place one of the dish to oven and cook another plate of veggies.

baked pork cutlets, stir fry mixed veggies, toufu and seeweed in miso soup, rice with scallops

baked fish(two types), zhuccini toufu mushroom corn soup and stir fry green leafy

Dinner #4: Steak

angus beef and rosemary lamb cutlet

serve with potatoes, purple carrot and green bean

steak with pasta

 angus beef with tomato fettucine, stir fry green leafy and mushroom

Dinner #5: Seafood porridge

seafood porridge with prawns, scallops, salmon and chicken

Phin Zhe kept asking for more

Dinner #6: Seafood risotto

This trip I brought a rice cooker with me. Whenever I checked into a room that does not have enough kitchen equipments to cook, I cooked one pot dish. This dish used exactly the same ingredients as seafood porridge. It was a hit! We love the Jasmine rice texture which was a bit sticky.

On the go #1 Rice with Asian dishes

one of the airport meal(steamed fish, asparagus and carrot)

 On the go #2 Risotto

purple risotto(purple carrot, salmon, mushroom etc)

I did not manage to capture every single meals. But I hope this is enough to give you some ideas on preparing toddler food when you are travelling.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Crustless vegetarian quiche(with egg and dairy)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Today is Christmas and I did not cook any fancy dishes tonight. Thanks to my dear friend, Mun Ching who passed us her club house excess card. We went there at 5pm with my freshly baked crustless vegetarian quiche. Phin Zhe had a good time there, burnt all his calories and he ate a lot of the quiche, ended up papa and mama didn't have enough food and have to munch snacks at night. Next round must cook more food. :p

6 eggs
110g shredded cheddar
1 zhuccini(cut into bite size)
150g broccoli(cut into bite size)
150g cauliflower(cut into bite size)
1 medium onion(cut into bite size)
4 gloves garlic(minced)
some cherry tomatoes
1tbsp grape seed oil

1. Heat wok with oil.
2. Stir fry garlic until fragrant.
3. Add in all veggies except cherry tomatoes.
Stir fry until slightly soften. Don't overcook.
4. Season with some black pepper.
5. Oil a 8" tart pan.
6. Spread the veggies in the pan.
7. Mix the egg with half the cheese.
8. Pour the egg mixture into the pan.
9. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
10. Decorate with cherry tomatoes.
11. Bake in a preheated oven at 180'c for 35 minutes.

It is meatless, but then it is so delicious. Today we only had meat during lunch. Yeah, less meat is good. :)

Apple pancake and beet root pancake

apple pancake

beet root pancake 

Phin Zhe loves pancake. So I have tried to make all sort of pancakes, banana pancake, pandan pancake, avacado pancake, sweet potatoes pancake, pumpkin pancake....everything you can think of and you can't think of, I put them in pancake. I have posted easy pancake recipes that does not require flour and baking powder. But this time I am going to share my normal pancake recipe that uses flour and baking powder.

130g or 1 cup flour
1tsp aluminium free baking powder
1-2 tbsp brown sugar
1 egg
puree of your choice(1 apple blended into juice or 1 beet root blended into juice)
extra water

1. Mix flour and baking powder together. Sift twice.
2. Beat egg and brown sugar until sugar dissolved.
3. Add in puree and mix well.
4. Add in flour and mix well. Add more water if require. Do not overmix.
The batter should not be too thick or too diluted. Try to scoop a spoon and let it flow back to the bowl. It should be slow but smooth.
5. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes.
6. Heat pan with a little bit of oil.
6. Scoop 2 tbsp of batter into the pan, use the back of the spoon to spread it out. 7. Fry both sides and continue with second piece of pancake.
8. Continue until the batter finish. In between, add some oil to the pan if needed.
9. I like to serve my pancake with manuka honey. :)

1. I added 1tsp cinammon to my apple pancake. But it is optional.
2. After I pan fry Phin Zhe's beet root pancake, I added 1tsp cocoa powder and turned our's to red velvet pancake.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Molasses Oatmeal Cookies

The idea of this recipe comes from Barbara's Smackimals cookies. I bought one pack and found that it is too sweet so I decided to make my own. I like this recipe because oats and molasses are good. All my cookies recipes use minimum sugar, so if you find that store bought cookies are too sweet to your liking, you should try making your own cookies. Making cookies is fast and easy!

120g oats(I used rolled oats, instant oats is fine too)
120g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
70g molasses sugar
1 cup/220g oil(I used grapeseed oil)

1. Put all ingredients in food processor and pulse until well mix. If you do not have a food processor, then just knead with hands.
2. Take out the mixture, knead into a dough. If too dry add a bit of oil, if too sticky add a bit of flour.
3. Keep in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
4. Roll out and shape with cookies cutters.
5. Bake in preheated oven at 150'c for about 10minutes.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas cookies

christmas cookies 

project 1: christmas tree felt activity 

It is really different with a toddler around. If you enjoy learning together with them, everything in life can be interesting and fun. :-) So this Christmas, I decided to have 3 projects at home. Since I made the first felt activity for Phin Zhe, I just loved it and bought more felt with different colors. It is so convinient because felt can stick to another piece of felt easily. The first project has to be a felt activity. I sticked an empty Christmas tree and passed Phin Zhe other shapes. "Can you hang the Christmas decoration on the branches?" He did it happily. And now everytime when I need a 10 minutes break, I will remove all the decorations and ask him to do it again.

project 2: real Christmas decoration

We have been talking about getting a Christmas tree since we moved in 5 years ago. Now we have a better reason to get it.

project 3: Christmas cookies 

Phin Zhe has involved in every steps of making the cookies. It took longer time compare to if I were to make it alone and it was a little bit messy. But I felt so happy when I saw Phin Zhe smiled to the gingerbread men cookies and shouted,"I made gingerbread men cookies!"

I only managed to make 10 packs because the rest was not nicely moulded. But nevermind, Phin Zhe will finish them.

125g melted butter
60g brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp ginger juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
300g unbleached flour

1. Mix flour, cinnamon and baking soda. Set aside.
2. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy.
3. Add in egg yolk and beat until creamy.
4. Stir in flour mixture and ginger juice. Mix well.
5. Put the dough on pastry mat or flat surface and knead until smooth.
6. Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
7. Roll out and cut with cookies cutters.
8. Bake in preheated oven at 140'c for 10 minutes.
Do note that different cookies thickness will need different timing.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2 years old meal plan

I received requests to post Phin Zhe's menu on this blog. Now at 2 years old, this is his standard menu on weekdays. On weekends, I will be trying out new menu.

Phin Zhe's menu from Monday to Friday

Before breakfast
breast milk(direct latch)

Breakfast and Morning break
On weekday morning, we will have 15 minutes breakfast together. It will be one or two mains with one beverage. Then I will pack some for his morning break in daycare.

Bread(plain white loaf or cranberries white loaf or raisin wholemeal loaf or black sesame flaxseed loaf) with or without spread(avacado banana spread, black sesame spread, tahini spread, fruit spread) or
Bun(purple sweet potatoes bun or  green onion bun or hotcross bun or dinner rolls) or
Steamed Cakes(Purple sweet potatoes steamed cupcakes or millet raisin steamed cupcakes or pandan coconut steamed cupcakes or rice cooker version banana steamed cake)
Muffins/Cupcakes(orange sponge cupcakes or carrot muffins) or
Mantou(purple sweet potatoes mantou or  molasses wheat mantou or pumpkin mantou or flaxseed and ghee mantou) or
Oatmeal(similar version here) or
Pancake(I noticed that I have only blogged about banana pancake, but actually I have tried apple pancake, pandan pancake, beetroot pancake, sweet potatoes pancake, cheese pancake and many more combination)
Cooked breakfast (cheezy/mushroom scrambled egg, boiled potatoes in rosemary infused olive oil and cucumber/cherry tomatoes, similar version here)

Chinese sweet soup(Red Bean with lotus seeds and lily bulbs, Green Bean with sweet potatoes, barley with bean curd sheet, white fungus with red dates) or
Western soup(Potatoes Mushroom Soup and Pumpkin Carrot Soup) or
Chrysanthemum licorice root drink or
Honey Lemon drink or
Milk(Soy milk, oat milk, nuts milk) or
5 grains/10 grains drink

Nanny will cook porridge with the ingredients I provide. It is normally 1 meat(chicken or pork or fish) and 2 veggies and 1 misc(tofu or mushroom or egg or black fungus).

Before afternoon nap
4oz breast milk

Tea Break
Fruit(Apple/Kiwi/Avacado/Banana etc)
4oz breast milk
Cookies(optional) cheddar cheese cookies or italian cookies or oatmeal molasses cookies
Left over bread/bun/cakes from morning(optional)

Rice with Chinese dishes or
Pasta(Tomato Sauce, Pesto Sauce, Aglio) or
One pot ramen

Before sleep
breast milk(direct latch)

Busy Mom Kitchen Gadget #1: Panasonic Bread Maker BMS105-T

Panasonic BMS105-T, dimension 30.4cm(W)x24.1cm(L)x34.5cm(H)

At first, I was very skeptical about using bread maker to make bread. When I was searching for bread recipes early last year, I bumped into a few Taiwanese bloggers who have invested in Panasonic bread maker and able to make good bread out of it. Having visited Taiwan for a few times, I knew that Taiwan is very popular for their breads and buns, so I trusted their reviews. On the other hand, I am tempted by the bread maker preset timer where I can get fresh loaf every morning. In the end, I got myself the latest model, BMS105-T.
Highlights of BMS105-T:
1. separated compartments for yeast and nuts/dried fruit
This is very important as the yeast and nuts/dried fruit should be added at correct timing. Many bread makers in the market do not have these compartments or either they have only one compartment.
2. Controlled temperature for yeast proving/bread rising
After the kneading is done, the bread maker will provide a optimum temperature for the yeast. Therefore everytime the bread will turn out the same size regardless of the weather/temperature.
3. up to 12 hours preset timer
I use this function very often. I just need to place all the ingredients, preset the completion time and I will have a fresh loaf for breakfast.
4. thickness of the crust
There are 3 selection for the crust, which are light, medium or dark. I found that many bread makers produce a slightly thicker crust. So it is good to be able to select the crust thickness I like.
5. 30 programmes
Honestly I have not experienced all the programmes. But this bread maker really can make a lot of things besides bread, which I will explain later in this post.

Here is a summary of the bread functions:
1. Bread loaf(fully auto)
2. Steamed bread(semi auto, will need to move the dough to steam bowl)
3. Breads and Buns(semi auto, will need to shape the dough, put in filling or toppings and bake in oven)
4. Cake(fully auto, do note that the texture is more like muffins as there is not beating involved) 
5. Dough kneading(it can do all kind of dough kneading, example pizza, noodles, udon, mantou, chinese pao etc)
6. Fruit jam(fully auto)
7. Chocolate truffle(semi auto, need to shape it with mold)
8. Muaci(semi auto, need to shape and coat with peanut powder)
9. Read bean paste(fully auto)
10. Home made yeast(fully auto)
11. Home made yogurt(fully auto, using the yeast function)
12. Fish Ball(semi auto, using the bread dough function, still need to shape and cook)
13. Meat floss(semi auto, using bread dough function) Yes! Meat floss for Chinese New Year! :)

Function #1 to #10 are provided in the user manual. From #11 onwards, these functions are tested by either me or other bloggers. I hope to see more wild ideas that this wonderful machine can do. :)

Shark's fin melon and dried longan sweet soup

Yesterday when I saw shark's fin melon in organic shop for the very first time, I put it in my recycle bag without hesistation. Shark's fin melon tonifies Qi and blood, expels cold, harmonises the blood, induces bowel movements and has many other wonderful benefits.
It is very easy to boil shark's fin melon sweet soup. Just cut the shark's fin melon to smaller pieces, remove seeds and boil in water. After about 30 minutes, take out the shark's fin melon, use a fork to mash it, it will turn into shreds easily. The shreds look like the real shark's fin, that is where it gets its name. Put the melon shreds back to the pot, add in dried longan and slow cook for another 15 minutes. Add sugar to taste and it is done.
I packed the sweet soup into few thermos for everyone to bring to office/school. Then I filled two ceramic stew pot and kept them in fridge. Phin Zhe's daddy will love this after his badminton tonight. :)