Italian Sausage Kale and Pasta Soup

We are experiencing a slow start to winter this year or perhaps my little bun in the oven has been keeping me warm. Once the cold wind kicked in though, there was no turning back. It was cold and chilly. Rugs, boots, electric blankets and comfort food makes it debut.

When I made this soup, my family has not arrived from Singapore yet. It’s something I believe my mum would enjoy, but probably not my grandmother or dad who would prefer a traditional chinese meal. A friend asked me, but won’t your family become sick of eating chinese all the time? Surely variety from other cuisines are welcomed? Ask an Italian if he/she will ever be sick of having pasta, and you will probably receive a strange look. It’s the same for most traditional families, a bowl of rice will never go down badly. Growing up, rice represents money. A hard working family who has a stable income will be able to provide a stable meal on the table which will consists of soup, meat, vegetables and rice.

Being exposed to a different culture and way of life in my late teens has opened my eyes to what a meal can be like. A simple soup like this fills up, heartwarming and easy. I love the use of italian sausages- with the skin removed, and meat browned to provide a dept in flavour. The kale added texture and of course- a much needed boost of vitamins and nutrients. I had some organic shell pasta on hand and placed a handful of it in there. The result was a clear but fulfilling broth.

I chose to embrace both sides. The days that we have variety, but also the traditional side. My immediate family is now with us, and I feel a sense of warmth. After all, I have not lived with them for a long period of time since I was a teenager. My kitchen has a familiar vinegar smell- one associated with confinement food. My cantonese has miraculously improved as my TV played countless TVB (Hong Kong) drama shows that my mum brought over.

It could be a while since I could make such dishes, but it’s ok. I made sure I made plenty of it while I am on leave. Now, it’s chinese all the way at home for the next few months. I will be taking lessons while I can!

We are waiting for our little bundle. Yes, he is taking his time to arrive but I am sure the wait is worth it.

Italian Sausage Kale and Pasta Soup (serves 4)
3 Italian sausage- skin removed.
1 red onion
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 bunch of kale washed and trimmed
Around 100 grams of pasta shells
2 tsp of chill flakes
pepper
2 litres of chicken stock
around 250 ml of water

Brown chopped onion and garlic. Add in sausage meat and cook throughly with pepper and chill flakes. Pour in stock and water and simmer. When it starts boiling, add pasta. After 3-4 minutes, blanched kale in it. Taste and season accordingly. Serve hot!

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Slice

When I’m standing in front of a counter of a cafe, trying to decide if I want a cake, slice, tart or cookie, my choices are often down to either a slice or a tart. For some odd reason, they seem to look more appealing. I glance at the pastry, and the filling and conclude that anything with different texture will make my money more worth it than a cake with a single flavour.

There is also something about a slice that makes it ok to have a small piece. Nothing says that about a cake. You just have to have a large slice right? Well, that’s the deceiving factor of a slice- we usually have more than just a small bite.

I came across this peanut butter and jelly slice and know I just have to make it. Not many people can resist that combination- myself included. I did not grow up with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches though- being in an Asian household, sandwiches are more often made out of Kaya (coconut jam) or pork floss (dehydrated pork) with butter- kinda like a fairy bread except it’s more savoury than sweet.  In fact, at one point, I was puzzled by why jam is called “jelly”- before I realised they meant the same thing in the context of a peanut butter and jam sandwich.

I was invited to a housewarming party and packed these little babies in a box with a  ribbon as part of our gift to the new home owner. It was sticky, warm and sweet- just what we need on a cold winter night.

Peanut Butter and Jam Slice (Source from Taste.com)
100 grams butter melted
1/3 brown sugar
1 cup of plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of strawberry jam
a tin of condensed milk (I used 97% fat free)
1/3 cup peanut butter with no sugar and salt
3/4 cup toasted peanuts

Preheat Oven to 180C and line a slice pan.

Make base- mix butter, brown sugar, plain flour and baking powder together. Press mixture into tin and bake for around 15 minutes till brown. Cool

Topping- mix condense milk, peanut butter and toasted peanuts together.

Spread strawberry jam/jelly on to the base. Then top it with the condense milk/peanut butter mixture. Return to oven and bake for further 30 mins. Slice, lick fingers and serve.

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5 Spice Honey Drumettes

The quiet anticipation of awaiting the arrival of bub is so precious. I’m feeling increasingly uncomfortable and heavy. I can understand why the body gets to the stage where it is not practical or comfortable to hold a baby in any longer. However, I am also sitting in the moment where bub and I share that special space that only a mother and child can have.

It’s also a time where hubby and I reflect that life will probably never be the same again as a couple versus with a baby. We anticipate that regardless of how difficult it is, no one can fully prepared us for what will follow. Sleepless nights, dealing with bodily fluids, never having that flexibility that we are used to, costs, focused change.. oh what else have I missed? everything probably!

I have always spoken how marriage is a bond and this baby will bond us even more together. It will be a test for sure.

Getting increasingly tired means dinner preparation is slowing down too. Free range chicken drumettes were on sale at our local supermarket recently and we bought 3 kg of it! Lucky we have a big freezer now for bulk buys like this. I decided to marinate it the way my grandmother used to do it for me when I headed out for bbqs with friends as a teenager and stuck it in the oven to bake. The result was a no fuss but delicious quick dinner.

5 Spice Honey Drumettes (for 2-3 people)
10 little chicken drumettes
2 tsp of 5 spice powder
1 tsp of honey
1 tsp of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
white pepper

Marinate chicken with all ingredients overnight or for 2 hours. Pre heat oven to 180C and bake chicken for 40 minutes or so.

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Banana Vanilla Pancakes with Berry Compote

Do you like the new look of my little space here? It has been 4 years since I changed the look of this blog. Given there will be some new beginnings, I thought it was a good time for some changes. It certainly reflect my inner self. Less cluttered, clearer and generally older! If you are into social media, follow me on Facebook or even instigram- I would love to hear from you. I will probably posts photos of our life journeys and bakes/cooks that may or may not make it here.

I am approaching the last weeks of pregnancy now. Bub is due anytime. I took parental leave early, partially because due to the nature of my work, it was recommended that I am home early. It’s a funny feeling being at home after working for a few years. The hubby commented that standards of dinners has improved, and he has less housework to worry about. I could wander around the shops in the day and take my time browsing at shelves. The house is more organised and cleaner, with clothes actually hanging where it is supposed to be at rather than in piles in baskets on the floor in our room. I’m catching up with a few friends during the day, and could enjoy the winter sunshine when we get it.

It’s a total different lifestyle.

Do I prefer it? or do I miss work? To be honest, it’s abit of both. I think I’m feeling the “honeymoon” of being at home and enjoying some peace, quiet and “me/us” time before baby arrives. I get to do things that I want to do with less stress. I miss the challenge of work and my colleagues. Work to me is not just a pay check. It will be interesting next year, when I have to decide when or if I do want to return to work.

After having a tricky few months to this pregnancy, I’m actually enjoying the 2nd half of 2nd trimester and of course, now the 3rd trimester. While I feel huge, it’s an amazing miraculous sensation feeling bub kick and respond to stimuli. I can’t wait to see baby, but at the same time, feeling protective of him in the womb. I’m nervous about labour, but excited that our new life will begin. I’m also looking forward to all the great confinement food that my grandmother is an expert about.

Given that I have been sharing my favourite breakfasts with you, here is another one. It is adapted from one of my favourite bloggers PaleoOMG– she comes up with the most amazing clean recipes. If you are looking for a delicious pancake recipe that won’t make you feel that you have an unhealthy morning- this is for you. Something to welcome the weekend!

Banana Vanilla Pancakes with Berry Compote (serves 2-around 4 smallish size pancakes)
1.5 banana (Just because I have that half a banana left over and want to use it up!)
1 egg
1.5 tablespoon of coconut flour
1 tsp of vanilla paste
1 tsp of vanilla extract
pinch of baking soda
1 tsp of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Berry compote- 1 cup of berries, 1 tsp of raw honey

Blitz everything except berries and honey in a food processor. Heat pan with some coconut oil. Spoon a tablespoon of mixture and spread it out on pan. Cook till you see bubbles on the top and flip it. Repeat for rest of the batter.

In a saucepan, heat berries (I used frozen) with some honey. Stack pancakes and spoon berries on top. Tuck in.

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Zucchini Corn Cheesy Egg Muffins

I’m really sure that the past 6 months flew by just like that. I can’t believe we are in July already- this is our big month when we will get to see our little one soon.

It also means I feel huge! I feel blessed that I have not experienced much backache or pains for that matter this pregnancy- just lots of throwing up, feeling sick, heartburn and exhaustion. You may recall that I posted before (here and here) regarding my journey from being unhealthy and obese to being healthy. Well, my normal exercise regime has gone out of the window and of course, I’m eating more carbs than I ever did before. I have become rounder and rounder.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still active! I am proud to say I engaged in boxing exercises till I was 7 months pregnant, continued to do Konga and managed to squeeze in plenty of walks, hydrotherapy and yoga. I’m now in my last stretch and still continue to gym and walk. I did what I could and even so, I gained more than what I would like to be.

I have a great doctor, who informed me that as I am active and healthy, weight gain is not a bad thing- it is a good thing that baby is growing well. That’s my consolation that it is not about me- it is about bub after all.

There are times, when I do feel a little down, and a fear that I would be the same obese/unhealthy teenager that I was. Fear is illogical though, and deep down I know that the knowledge I gained over the years will help after bub is born. And perhaps my body will never be the same again but I can give myself permission to feel down at times, and then remember that it has gone through the journey of life. The body is truly amazing.

I do try to make healthy breakfast options. Now that it is winter, I liked warm cooked breakfasts even more. I came up with these eggy muffin cups one evening. It’s really whisked baked eggs with great vegetable and cheesy goodness. I love mine with a hint of chill. I usually make them the night before, and just warm it up for breakfast or for an afternoon snack.

Hope you will like it as much as I do. 🙂

Zucchini Corn Cheesy Egg Muffins (makes around 10)
5 eggs
1/2 zucchini grated
1/4 cup of frozen cup kernels
1/2 cup of grated cheese
salt and pepper
1 chili padi or chill flakes

Preheat Oven to 180C. Fill muffin tray with liners. Whisk all ingredients together and spoon into muffin liners. Bake for around 20-25 minutes. Serve warm!

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