Hambone with lentil and vegetables soup

One of our favorite must-have dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas is honey baked spiral ham. For the past few years, I would just tossed the hambone away. It was only recently that I found on Pinterest that the bone can be used to make a simple bone stock. So, this year I saved them and with the bone stock, I made this delicious ham lentil and vegetable soup. This hearty soup tasted so good with my homemade baguette and even my picky eater son gave a two thumbs up! πŸ™‚

(Note: To make the bone stock, just place the hambone in a large stockpot and add enough water to cover the bone and bring to a boil. Skimming off the scum and fats from the soup and reduce the heat and simmer for about 30mins to an hour.)

Hambone with Lentil and Vegetable soup

2 cups dried lentils
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
1 large onion – chopped
a handful of garlic cloves, minced
3 cups diced cooked ham
A few good dashes of herbs (I used thyme and oregano)
2 bay leaf
1 can of stewed tomato
Hambone broth
ground black pepper – to taste

1. Heat oil in large stockpot and add garlic, onion until onion is translucent.
2. Add chopped vegetables and the cooked ham.
3. Add hambone broth, stewed tomato and stir in herbs, bay leaf, lentils and black peppers to taste.
4. Bring to a boil and then simmer the soup for about 45mins – 1hr or until the lentils are tender.

Briyani Rice with Beef & Potato curry recipe


Recently DH & I started using Trello to keep track of our busy life. One of the many items, which is listed in my weekly-to-do-Trello board, is to make a weekly meal plan. When DH saw this action item, he quickly updated MY list with a list of food HE loves. Haha… that glutton. Anyway, without any surprise, Briyani rice is on this list. Since I haven’t cook this for a long time, I decided to be good to him and
cook this with Beef & potato curry (Southeast Asian style) for dinner tonight.

This easy spice rice recipe is adapted from the Joy of Cooking series. I modified a little according to my family’s taste bud.

Briyani Rice Recipe:
3 cups rice (i used Jasmine, though Basmati is recommended)
Water per rice cooker recommendation

1″ cinnamon stick
4 cloves
4 cardamoms
1 tsp tumeric powder
A few cloves of garlic (optional, according to your preference)
A TSP of fried shallots
1 cup cashew nuts (optional)
pinch of salt (according to your preference)

* I omitted the raisins because my family doesn’t really like them in cooked rice.

~ Heat up 2-3 tbsp butter in a pan, stir fry cinnamon stick, cloves & cardamon & garlic until fragrant.
~ Add in rice and stir fry until the rice is coated evenly in spices & butter.
~ Add in water & TSP of fried shallots and cook for a min before putting it into rice cooker to finish up the cooking process.
Once the rice is done, you may sprinkle more fried garlic and shallots and cashew nuts before serving.

Beef & Potato Curry recipe

2lbs of beef chunks, cut into cube size

2 onions – diced finely
1″ ginger – peeled & grated
2TSP – minced garlic

3 lemongrass
1 star anise
4 cloves
handful of curry leaves
4TSP – curry powder (or more if u like)
1TSP – chilli (more if you like it spicy)

2 potatoes – cut into 1″ cube size

1 can of Coconut milk
salt – to taste

1. Fry curry leaves, lemongrass, star anise and cloves in heated pot (with oil) until fragrant.
2. Add curry and chilli powder and stir fry until the color changed to dark shade.
3. Add onions, ginger & minced garlic until onions turn translucent.
4. Add meat and stir fry until the spices are well coated on the meat.
5. Add coconut milk to the meat in high heat for a few mins and reduce to simmer when curry sauce boils. Add potatoes, and continue simmer. If the coconut milk is not enough to coat the meat & potatoes, you may add some water at this point.
6. Continue cooking until meat becomes tender and curry sauce thickens.
7. Add salt to taste when curry is done.

Bak Chor Mee (Mince Meat Noodles)

Bak Chor Mee (Mince Pork Noodles)

I have cooked Bak Chor Mee many times before, but the noodle sauce from the recipes that I used earlier weren’t authentic enough, until I stumbled upon this recipe. Because I was already pretty happy with my version of stewed mushroom sauce and fried ground meat, so I merely followed its noodle sauce recipe. This noodle sauce tasted really authentic, I give it a 10/10.

Anyway, if you are looking for a good bak chor mee recipe, I would recommend you to try this recipe first.

I’m documenting my own ingredients list here for my future reference. If you feel like you want to try mine, please be warned though… the vast majority of my cooking is ‘seat of the pants’. So, use at your own risk. Heheeee….

Sauce for noodles:
1/2 tablespoon chilli oil (optional)
1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tablespoon black vinegar
A splash of fish sauce
Fried shallots

Stewed Mushroom :
6-8 Chinese mushrooms
1~2 Cups Chicken stock
1 TSP oyster sauce
1 TSP dark soy sauce (for color)
1 TSP soy sauce (may add more according to taste)

Fried Bak Chor/Mince meat :
minced garlic (fried till crispy and golden brown)
1lb ground pork
1 TSP oyster sauce
dark soy sauce (according to taste)
dash of ground pepper

Bento #41: Apple Galette

Overdue post… :p Made this bento last October, and only get to post this up today. LOL.


Lunch box: Ham and lettuce wrap with strawberries.
Snack box: Apple Galette and raspberries.

Made the apple galette when it was apple season. I was craving for the Apple Galette, that my friend D made from scratch, using the test kitchen’s recipe. Of course, being the lazy SAHM, I cheated and made a simpler and fuss free one with store bought puff pastry. To be honest, unless you love homemade and like to experience making things from scratch, I would say… skip the work, just use the store bought pastry! There is really just a slight difference in taste and texture. πŸ˜‰


Here’s the recipe…


1 pkg of store bought puff pastry (make 6pcs)

Apple filling and Glaze:

Apples (2-3 medium size) – slice thinly, about 0.5cm thickness.

2Tsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ pieces

1/4 cup sugar (may be reduced according to your preference)

2Tsp apricot preserves

1Tsp water


1. Unroll the puff pastry on a floured parchment paper and dust withΒ  more flour. If you like, you can roll one full sheet into a rough rectangle about 12×5″ long or do what i did, cut the dough where the folds are and make them into individual sized galette. πŸ˜‰

2. Roll the sides of the dough up to about 1-2cm and pinch the sides to create some kind of border. Then, gently prick the dough with a fork several times to prevent puffing.

3. Now, it’s time to assemble the fillings.

Arrange the apple slices, starting in one corner, shingle the diced apples to form an even row across the bottom the dough, overlapping each slice by one-half. Continue to layer the apples in rows, overlapping each row by half. Dot the apples with butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar. Bake until bottom of the tart is deep golden brown and the apples have caramelized, 45 to 60mins at 375F.

4. To glaze the galette

While the galette is baking, combine the apricot preserves and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium power till the mixture begins to bubble, about 1min. Pass through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any large apricot pieces. Brush the baked galette with the glaze and cool on a wire rack for 15mins. Transfer to a cutting board and cut them into individual portion, serve.

Banana Oatmeal crumble muffins

I didn’t want to waste the 3 overly ripen bananas, so I used them to bake some banana oatmeal crumble muffins last Friday.


The recipe that I’m using is originally from Allrecipe.com and I baked mine into muffins instead of a cake. I also made some slight modifications to the recipe since I don’t like my baked goods to taste too sweet and I like to have more wholesome stuff in them. πŸ˜‰

What I like about this recipe is that it is very easy to follow, the muffins are very flavorful and moist with a nice crunchy topping. If you are having it the next day and like the topping to be crunchy like me, all you need is to pop the muffin into the toast box for a few mins. πŸ™‚


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (*original: 2/3C)
2 eggs
3 mashed bananas (*original: 1C)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup rolled oats (*original: 3/4C)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts (*original: 2T)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. Stir together flour, 1 1/3 cups oats, salt, and baking soda.
2. In a large bowl, cream 1/2 cup butter with 1/3 cup brown sugar. Beat in the eggs, then the bananas and vanilla. Beat the flour mixture into the banana mixture. Turn the batter into baking cups.
3. Mix 1 cup oats, 1/3 cup brown sugar, melted butter, walnuts, and cinnamon together until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.
4. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it tests done. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Bento #21: Carrot cake

Bento #21: Carrot cake

Either my hubby is seriously deprived of the carrot cake (Chai tao kway or 菜倴粿, and not this sweet Western carrot cake) or he is a easily contented person. According to him, this simple carrot cake bento is one of the best lunch I’ve made for him. LOL. Hmm… or is he implying that the food i normally made for him… sucks? πŸ™„

Fried Carrot Cake

For the past few years, I have always used radish (daikon) to make my carrot cake. Since I was in experimental mood, I replaced the radish with shredded carrots this time. Comparing with the daikon cake, I don’t find there is much difference in taste except that the steamed cake made with carrots is slightly sweeter and the texture is a little firmer than the daikon cake.

Anyway, here’s the carrot cake recipe that I have been using.
This recipe can also be used for steamed yam cake or steamed pumpkin cake. Just replaced the carrots/radish with cubed yam or pumpkin.

Ingredients :-
Group A : 1200ml water
350g rice flour
20g tapioca flour

Group B : 2tsp minced garlic
50g (or 2 sticks) Chinese sausage, finely chopped.
50g dried shrimps, soaked and finely chopped
150g carrots -peeled and shedded

Seasoning : salt, soya sauce, pepper, chicken stock granules (optional) to taste – make it slightly more salty than u normally like becos the mixture in A has no seasoning.

Steps :
1. Grease the baking tin and prepare a pot of boiling water for steaming.
2. Combine Ingredients A and mix well.
3. Heat 1 Tsp oil in wok and stir fry dried shrimps until fragrant, then add minced chinese sausage and garlic and stir fry until fragrant.
4. Add shredded radish (or diced yam) and seasoning. Stir fry briefly.
5. Add Ingredient A and stir constantly until you feel that the mixture is thickening (or glue-like).
6. Pour mixture into baking tin and steam over high heat fopr about 40mins.
7. Remove and let cool.

There are many ways of eating the carrot cake. For this bento, I just fried the carrot cake with chopped preserved radish, minced garlic, eggs, and Chinese fish sauce. I hope to try the black version, called the char kway one day. If I’m successful, I will share with you the recipe. πŸ™‚

simple chocolate rice puff treats

We had some individual packed Kellog’s rice krispies that noone wants to eat. So, instead of throwing them away, which would be such a waste of food, I transformed them into a simple chocolate rice puffs treat that both kids would enjoy eating.

chocolate rice puff treats

Rice puff/krispies
Chocolate (melted)
Sugar Sprinkles (optional)

1. Melt some milk chocolates.
2. Pour chocolate over the rice puffs and give a good stir until the rice puffs are coated with chocolate.
3. Scoop a tablespoonful of chocolate rice puffs onto a paper cup.
4. Finally, decorate the rice puff treats with colorful sugar if you like.
As the chocolate harden pretty fast, you can enjoy the treats almost immediately. πŸ™‚

That’s all!

This treat is so easy to make that even my preschooler can make it. So, if you have some rice puffs that you can’t wait to get rid, try this simple recipe!

Peach Tarts/Shortcake for CNY

Many years ago, because we couldn’t get any fresh pineapple or canned pineapple in UK, my ex-uni friend, WP, made a very different variation of the usual Chinese New Year pineapple tarts with canned peach. I remember the peach tarts though tasted different, it was rather good. I had always wanted to try baking it again, but laziness always got the better of me. πŸ˜› So, in a way, I am thankful that I was hit by the baking craze. (Yes, it’s now over!!) Else, I wouldn’t have the chance to reminisce about the old good times and enjoy the taste of these wonderfully aromatic, sweet peach tarts once again.

Peach tarts (modified from Pineapple tarts)

For the tart pastry, I made some slight modifications to the pastry recipe that I used in my earlier Nyonya Pineapple tarts post. The original pastry is still too dry for me to handle, so I used 2 whole eggs +1 egg yolk, instead of using just the yolks. I also added the 15g of custard powder that the original recipe called for. As it turns out, that little custard powder will help to add some yellow hue to enhance the color of the tart pastry.

As for the peach jam. I am making it the same way I did for the pineapple jam. I must say that making the peach jam was a very “painful” experience for me. Not only were my arms ached like crazy, I also risked having my face and uncovered hands disfigured. The peach puree (oops… accidentally pureed it too much!) just kept splattering all over the stove and myself even at low heat! The only way to really to reduce the amount of splattering is by continuous stirring!!

So, my dear friends, if you have the chance to try my lovely peach tarts, please slow down and savor every single bite. Because I know, I will probably not be attempting it anymore, unless I got hit by another baking craze! πŸ˜›

Peach tarts vs Pineapple tarts... The brighter ones are peach. They look distinctively nicer than the pineapple tarts. :)

Peach tarts vs Pineapple tarts... The brighter ones are peach. They look distinctively nicer than the pineapple tarts. πŸ™‚

Here’s the recipe:

Peach Jam:

2 cans of Peach (20oz/can)
1/2 C of sugar (or to taste)
Pinch of cinnamon powder
Cornstarch mixture (to thicken)

Pastry Ingredients:
45g milk powder
65g corn flour
15g custard flour
275g plain flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp caster sugar
250g cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1tsp vanilla extract
some milk (to be added if pastry is too crumbly or not pliable)

1 egg – egg wash

1. Drain the peach slices and then roughly chop/blend the canned peach.
2. Use high heat to cook the peach and sugar. Turn down the heat to low and stir constantly until most liquid has evaporated, and the filling turned golden. Taste, and add more sugar when needed. Add in the cornstarch (corn flour) to thicken the filling. Let it cool in the fridge.

3. Make the dough. See instruction in my previous Nyonya Pineapple Tarts post.
4. Roll out the pastry to about 1/4in thick. Use pineapple tarts mould to cut out the tarts.
5. Spoon a heap tsp of the jam and place in the center of the cut pastry. Repeat until all the tart pastry and jam are used.
6. Egg wash the tarts before putting it into a preheated oven @ 350F.
7. Bake the tarts for 20-25 minutes or until light brown.
8. Remove from the baking pan immediately when done and let cool completely on cookie rack. Store in air tight container for 1 week.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Nyonya pineapple tarts

Personal friends would know that I’m not into baking, so this year I really surprised myself by my enthusiasm to bake for the Lunar New Year! In the past, I have always baked the regular flower mold kind of pineapple tarts, this year I wanted to try challenge myself and make something different. I went for the enclosed, golden pillow a.k.a Nyonya style. πŸ™‚

I must say, golden pillow style is really not easy to make, or at least for a novice baker like me. Along the way, I had met with some challenges like pastry too crumbly and not pliable enough to wrap the fillings and mold them into the golden pillows, color of the pineapple filling was too dark etc.

Lovely tarts in the oven

Lovely tarts in the oven

But thankfully, three (Yes! THREE!!) different recipes and many harassing SOS phone calls to my expert baker friends later (Thanks, LilyAnette & Denise!), I finally succeeded in making my first Nonya style pineapple tarts! *Beaming with pride :)*

nyonya pineapple tarts

Ain’t they lovely? I must say I think the texture and taste is perfect too! πŸ˜‰

Anyway, here’s the recipe that I used…

Pineapple filling ingredients:
2 large cans (20oz or 570g per can) of crushed pineapple
220g sugar (more if you like it to be sweeter)
1 cinnamon stick (I used 1-2 tsp of cinnamon powder and it makes the filling too dark :()
1 whole star anise
3-5 cloves
Optional : cornstarch mixture

1. Put all the ingredients in a sauce pan or pot pan and heat on high heat until boiling.
2. Turn the heat down to low or medium heat, stir constantly and let it continue to cook until all liquid has almost evaporated.
3. When the filling turns golden brown, it is done. If you want it to thicken even more, you can always add cornstarch mixture and let it absorb into the filling. I usually just omit this step.

Here’s the pastry recipe that I modified and adapted from Pinkcocoa Tabetai. (Once again… Thanks for sharing this link with me, Denise!)

Pastry Ingredients:
45g milk powder
65g corn flour
15g custard flour
275g plain flour

1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp caster sugar
250g cold unsalted butter, cubed
3 egg yolks
1tsp vanilla extract
some iced water (to be added if pastry is too crumbly or not pliable)
Some cloves for decorating the tarts

1. Sift the first 4 ingredients together.
2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add yolk one at a time and beat well.
3. Fold in flour mixture and combine to form a smooth pastry dough. Divide into 3 portions and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.

4. Finally, assemble the tarts.
As suggested by Pinkcocoa, I also used a rough estimated ratio of 1 part Jam to 3 parts pastry.
Roll the jam into tiny balls. Take a pastry dough and flatten to about 4mm thick. (If dough is not pliable enough, add a little ice water and knead until it is pliable.) Place jam in the center and wrap the dough up so that the jam is totally enclosed. Roll into ball shaped and placed on a baking tray at 3cm interval. Repeat with remaining portions of pastry and jam.

5. Preheat the oven to 325F.
6. Brush tarts with egg wash to glaze and stick a clove into it.
7. Place the tarts in oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
6. When done, cool on rack before storing in airtight container.

If you are in mood to make some variation, how about making some rabbit shape Nyonya Pineapple tarts like I did since 2011 is the year of Rabbit? πŸ˜‰

nyonya pineapple tarts (Rabbit shape)


Homemade BBQ Pork Jerky (Bak Kwa/肉干)

One of the “must have” Chinese New Year treats for my family is Bak Kwa 肉干. Last year I came across and tested Tazz’s Pork Jerky recipe. Even though my hubby said that it was good, I felt something was lacking to the taste. So, this year, I decided to tweak the recipe a little bit and WOOHOO! I think I got a keeper recipe! πŸ™‚

Bak Kwa recipe 8

1 lb. Ground Pork
1.5 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp cooking wine
1/2 cup sugar
a few good dashes of 5 spice powder (est. about 1/3tsp)
1/2 Tbsp cooking oil

Honey mixture for glazing (I mix 3Tbsp of honey with 1Tbsp of water)

1. Put all ingredients (except honey mixture) in a big bowl and start mixing them with a pair of chopsticks. Blend and stir the mixture in one direction until the meat becomes gluey.
Bak Kwa recipe 1

2. Put some gluey meat on parchment paper and cover with a big cling wrap.
Bak Kwa recipe 2

Roll to about 3-5mm, your preference.

Bak Kwa recipe 4

3. Put the parchment paper with ground meat on a baking tray and bake at 200F for 20mins or until the meat is solid to touch. (Just lift up one corner, if it feels like a rubber mat, it is done.)

Bak Kwa recipe 5

4. Remove the meat and cut into size or shape of your preference, then place them in a new piece of parchment paper/aluminum foil.

bak kwa 6

5. Brush the meat with some honey mixture before broiling/grilling at 450F. Make sure you keep a close watch on the bak kwa because they brown and burn easily.
6. Flip over when the meat turns golden brown, and repeat #5.

7. Once done, let it cool and Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Here’s my ηˆ±εΏƒθ‚‰εΉ², 金钱肉干, ιšζ„θ‚‰εΉ²…

Bak Kwa recipe 7

They are YUM-O! πŸ˜‰