Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to blog, happy birthday to blog, happy birthday to bloogggggggggg, HAPPY Birthday to BLoG!

and me 😉

Thank you so much for participating in my little blog giveaway. It’s really nice to have met friends around the world who encourage and continue to read my adventures in the kitchen, life and marriage. It’s my little way of saying Thank You for leaving me your kind comments and readership.

Congratulations to goodbag#1 winner- Janine. What a great blog she runs. Thank you for leaving me a message so I can find your blog!

To my goodiebag#2 winner- Little Corner of Mine! I rubbed my hands in glee when I saw your name pulled out of my very sophisticated lucky draw method. Thanks for all the inspiration and kind words!!

So how did I celebrate my birthday? Technically, it is still my birthday! It didn’t start off at a very good note- but like life, things happen. I served at creche in church in the morning, so I was surrounded by the naughtiest and the cutest kids in church. They lined up to get oreos from me. How cute! One cannot have a bad day after that.

I did however, managed to try the Queen of Hearts Morning tea at KOKO Black yesterday. They serve St Ali’s coffee in PERTH!

and I have to have one more photo of hubby and I…

So here’s to more blog posts to come!!

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Roasted Chicken with Herb and Lemon Stuffing

 I’m not sure if I can hold my head up high as I write this. I could feel my cheeks slightly flushed with embarrassment. It’s true. I have never attempted roasting a chicken since I started cooking years ago. It’s one of those tasks that seems huge and too much work to me. I think I used to assume that anything that takes more than 30 minutes to cook must be hard.

I started reading up on how to roast a chicken and was surprised to learn that it’s really… all in my head. The preparation work may take a tad longer than what I am used to, but having a fresh roasted chook in our humble kitchen is pretty amazing. More like a sense of achievement (ha ha, yes i know, simple things amazes me). The crisp skin, moist meat and addictive stuffing.. argh.. why haven’t I discover this little secret before?

But you will not laugh at me… will you?

Roasted Chicken with Herb and Lemon Stuffing (serves around 5-6)
1.6kg of organic free range chicken
2 tablespoon of olive oil
sprinkle of salt

Stuffing
3 cups of a day old multigrain breadcrumbs
a tablespoon of margarine
2 tablespoon of mixed herbs
1 tsp of lemon zest
1 tablespoon of garlic
half an onion sautéed

wash and pat chicken dry. Trim any fat that you can see. Preheat oven at 200C.

Combine stuffing together. Spoon stuffing into chicken cavity. Tie legs together. Brush or using your hands, oiled chicken. Sprinkle generous amount of salt on chicken. Roast it for 1 hr till golden brown. Serve with crisp potatoes and veges.

UPDATE: Don’t forget the blog giveaway!!! It ends TOMORROW (28th of Oct)!

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Banana Bread

I wonder who is the genius who invented banana bread? It’s like great excuse for us to have cake for breakfast!!!! While I am aware that banana bread is healthier- with no butter usually and made with milk and oil, it tastes awesome toasted as well. Genius I say!

I’m excited when I see bananas for sure at a slightly more decent price. Yup. Excited over simple bananas. Well, it was selling for AU$15 a kg and some places even at $18/kg at its peak. For the past few months, bananas are a TREAT.

Due to good weather, bananas are finally more affordable, going at around $6/kg for the past few weeks. It was nice, just being able to afford a bunch of bananas rather than just 1 or 2.

Now, you would think that we would be generous and share this bake with our friends-like we usually do. Hubby turned around and said, let’s savour this one for ourselves..it’s not a big loaf plus we haven’t had any for ages! Well said I think.. it fridged really well too- just require a handy toaster to heat it up again for an awesome treat.

Banana Bread -Donna Hay
1 2/3 cup of plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup of castor sugar
1/3 cup of brown Sugar
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of vanilla extract

2 eggs
1/2 cup of oil
5 mashed bananas (I was greedy)

Preheat Oven 160C

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl or jar, whisk and combine all liquid ingredients. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet one. Folod till well combined. Spoon into lined bread loaf tin. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon- make swirls if you like with a fork. Bake for 40-45 mins.

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Classic Meat Loaf with Glaze

There is something special about meat loaf. I feel that it is really under rated these days. People tend to associate meat loaf with it being boring food.

My first memory of meat loaf was when I watched American TV. You know, the scene when the mother says “it’s dinner time! We are having meat loaf” and the kids making faces. Perhaps, growing up in Singapore, I have been so blessed with having traditional Chinese food, that I just thought that those poor American kids having to suffer through dinner!

So without tasting or knowing exactly what that was, I concluded that meat loaf must be tasteless and boring.

Not till I started experimenting with mince meat that I realised how interesting meat loaves are. First up, they are EASY! super duper easy. And then, it’s really no fuss! Exactly how I like my food to be. And budget friendly. Very budget friendly when one was a student, and the other just started working. Oh talk about memories.

More recently, I came across Matt Preston’s version of meat loaf. Now, a chef talking about meat loaf? I need to sit up and read up. He included in oats in his version in place of breadcrumbs. “Low GI idea, I like it already” I thought. The glazing idea will keep the loaf moist as well.

I substituted some glaze ingredients from what I have in the fridge and it turned out terrific as well.

Classic Meat Loaf with Glaze

600 grams of lean beef mince
1 onion chopped finely
1 tablespoon of garlic minced
1 cup of rolled oats
1 large egg
1 cup of soy milk

Glaze
1/2 cup of tomato sauce/ketchup.
2 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of mustard- I used spicy seeded but Dijon is the best)
Salt

Preheat oven to 180 C.

Combine mince, onion and garlic. Fold in oats. Then add egg and milk. Just combine, don’t over stir it. I pressed mine in a lined loaf tin but you could do it on baking tray form into a loaf shape. Roast for 30 minutes first.

Meantime, put glaze ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer for a few minutes till combined and looks syrupy. Pour 2/3s of the glaze on meatloaf after 30 minutes. Return back to the oven for another 30 minutes.

Re glaze when meatloaf is done. Rest for 5 minutes and serve with a sprinkle of salt.

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Slow Cooked Lamb Shank Soup

Spring is here!!!

But it hasn’t stopped me from making soups.

I know. It’s slightly weird. But that’s how we describe Perth’s weather too. It’s weird. Like last Sunday, we had a hail storm at 6am in the morning. I mean, that really doesn’t describe spring is it?

So I think I can get away with my soup fascination.

Having found some really fresh lamb shanks and I thought, why not make it a slow cooked lamb shank soup. It’s hearty and a one pot dish altogether. Slow cooked, it’s really full of flavour and better even on the next day or two.

And so I reveal why i love soups so much- it’s usually healthy, it’s one pot which means less work..and it can continue to cook while I’m in the gym. OR i can make a quick soups which will be dinner on the table in 30 minutes.

Gotta love soups!

Although I do have a few salad ideas now that the weather is warming up!

Slow Cooked Lamb Shank Soup
1 lamb shank- trimmed
200 grams of lean bacon diced

1 red onion diced
2 carrots diced
1 small bunch of celery diced
1 green and red capsicum diced
1 small sweet potato diced
4 little chili padi diced

1 ltre of beef stock
1 cup of water
250 grams of mixed lentils/soup pack lentils

Wash and soak lentils overnight or the whole day. Drain.

Saute onion and chili. Brown lamb shank. Remove from pot. Saute bacon till brown. Add in all lentils. Stir till it is warm through. Add stock and boil for 20 minutes. Add in all veges and lamb shank. Simmer and cook for 3 hours till meat is tender and soup is rich and thick. Simmer for another 10 minutes with more water if needed. Lamb meat should be tender and easily fall from the bone. Slice lamb meat, remove bone and return to pot. Serve hot with some Parmesan cheese.

Remember to enter for my giveaway! 😉

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3 Eggs DOM Pork Stir Fry

They say that ideas appear at the most unexpected time. If you see that I have been relatively quiet lately, that was because we travelled back to Singapore and KL to spend some time with our families. Since we arrived back on a Sunday evening, I had to rummage the pantry, freezer and fridge for some tucker till I do my proper grocery shopping!

We bought some fresh eggs so that was one ingredient. I found a century egg and a duck salted egg in my pantry . I knew I had some pork in the freezer. Using those ingredients, some soy and DOM for its sweetness and taste, it became a dish.

I had some fresh spring onions on hand because that was what my local market had (not alot of variety! but it could do!). To my surprised, they added a bite of freshness to the dish.

Oh hindsight, it actually looked like the dark version of stir fry carrot cake! ;p

So ideas that occur the most unexpected time can be terrific too. What fantastic dishes have you created when you were short of time/ingredients?

3 Eggs DOM Pork Stir Fry
200 grams of pork fillet sliced
2 chicken eggs
1 salted duck egg diced
1 century egg diced
2 tablespoon of light soy sauce
1/4 cup of DOM or dry sherry
1 tsp of sesame oil
1 tsp of garlic

3-4 stalks of spring onion chopped

Fry garlic till fragrant. Add pork and cook till nearly brown. Add the salted duck and century egg. Toss throughly. Add soy, sesame and DOM. When it starts to boil, add chicken eggs. Fry everything together for another few more minutes and serve with chopped spring onions, rice and veges.

Don’t forget my blog giveaway!

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Happy Birthday Blog!

Happy belated birthday, blog (it was supposed to be in September..)!!

A little blink of an eye and this blog is seven years old. Yes, you read it right. I have never celebrated the “birth” of this blog-simply because it has been a constant in my life for the past 7 years. So much so that, I forgot when I started it.

I recall that I started writing after a bad break up. It was suffocating. I had to write a Honours thesis and found my thoughts drifting to painful memories. So I wrote all my feelings into this space, to free up my emotions for the write up of my thesis. It was therapeutic. Then I started baking in the wee hours of the morning to relieve stress. And started writing about it.

And it got addictive.

In all these years, this blog has seen me post about my food adventures and life. Later, I completed my doctoral thesis and blogged about it. I found love again, got married and there it was-with many people around the world celebrated with us.

So I thought for this year, I really should say thank you blog. For its existence and for people who followed bits and pieces of my journey.

October is also my birthday month. Therefore, I have prepared two goodie bags for you to celebrate this special month. This will be a lucky draw for two lucky readers from wherever you are in the world.

goodie bag #1
weekend cooking is often more fun. Relaxation produces better food I say! So I thought someone could benefit from this + a set of chopsticks, lunch bag and a little note holder.

goodie bag #2
You can’t get much Aussie than having lamb! I appreciate this meat more since cooking in Australia. Here, I have also included in a wine carrier, pasta measurer and a small note holder.

If you would like a gift to celebrate October, leave a comment here. Oh, and like my Facebook page. I have decided to share more details about our kitchen and food in Perth on this page. After you liked it, leave another comment which will give you an additional ticket to the draw. And if you share this post on your blog, leave me another comment to give you another entry.

This giveaway will end on the 28th of October. I will announce the winners on the 30th of Oct.

huge thank you to everyone for your support! 😉 here’s to many more years to come!

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Chewy Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies

 I’m itching to bake some cookies. For a long time now, I have not come across a cookie recipe that makes me want to make it. I need the “please please please make me” kind of photos and recipe that catches my eye.

Till I read Dwiana’s blog. The first recipe I spotted was chewy oatmeal! Ah, I love my oatmeal cookies, especially with a mug of hot chocolate or coffee. Usually I make mine with olive oil but thought I could give this butter version a good as well.

Making cookies are often not as easy as what it seems. They can be temperamental. More so than baking cakes I think. But there is a sort of satisfaction one can have that it is not easily found cooking or baking other dishes.

One mistake I made with these- is that I should have pressed them down to a flatter disc. I think this would have resulted in a slightly nicer looking cookie. Nevertheless, it did deliver what it says it would. It’s chewy with a lovely texture. I love the hint of cinnamon that goes with it.

Chewy Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes around 40 cookies)
1 cup of butter
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup of plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp of cinnamon
3 cups of rolled oats
1 cup of chocolate chip

Preheat Oven 180C

Beat butter and both sugars till well combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix till combined.

Fold in flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Then add oats and chocolate. Spoon teaspoons onto prepared baking tray. Press the dough slightly to flatten. Bake for around 10-15 minutes (Dwiana’s require 10 minutes), cool complete.

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Spicy Bean Paste Tofu and Pork Mince/ A version of Mapo Tofu

A simple humble jar of Soya Bean Paste (Tau Cheo) seats in my fridge. Before chatting with my girlfriend from KL/Singapore, I would have never guessed there are so many ways of using this sauce. Together, I have used this paste to create at least 4 dinners (which means 4 lunches too!).

Most people would have heard of Mapo Tofu. This is pretty much it except I did not add any sichuan chili to it or black beans to it. It’s just as simple and quick to cook though and I certainly enjoyed the slight saltiness/nutty taste to it.

I’m pretty amazed by how versatile this sauce is. I wished I would have discovered it earlier! Still, it’s never too late than ever is it??

Spicy Bean Paste Tofu and Pork Mince/ A version of Mapo Tofu
500 grams of soft tofu
250 grams of pork mince
2 chili padi chopped
1 red onion diced
1 generous tablespoon of garlic
3 tablespoon of tao cheo sauce
1 tablespoon of dark soya sauce
pepper
1/4 cup of water if needed

Saute onion, garlic and chili. Cook pork mince. When it is done, add tofu and bean sauce. Cook and simmer for around 10 minutes, adding water if needed. Season with dark soya sauce and pepper. Serve with rice and vegetables.

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