Pattern animal sushi

Yes, I’m still into bento and sushi making. There are so many photos in my food photo archive right now, that are just waiting for me to blog them out one by one. Anyway, I decided to pick one from the pool to blog today and this photo immediately caught my eyes. πŸ™‚

animal pattern sushi

Months ago, my friend, LilyAnette and I decided to try our hands on pattern sushi together. We chose an animal pattern that we thought would be “easy” to create for our first practice. Of course, looks can be deceiving. It is really not easy at all! Our animal pattern sushi turned out to look VERY different from the animal that we intended to create. Can you guess the animal pattern that we originally wanted to make?

Actually, I had shared this picture with my friends on my personal facebook account. We all had a good laugh! There were so many responses and none actually got it right.

Here are some of my friends’ guesses:
Tree, penguins, chick, duck, rat, cookie monster,lizard, Armadillo, frog and kiwi fruit!!
LOL!!

So, do you know what we were trying to create yet?
Answer after the jump! πŸ˜‰

Click on [Read more →]

simple chicken noodle

The Nor’easter snowstorm today has already brought us at least 16″ of snowfall and it is still not showing any sign of dying down yet. On a blistery cold winter day like today, all I wanted to do is to snuggle into a warm throw blanket, have some warm and hearty comfort food and vegetate in front of the telly or do some reading in peace. But of course, snowed in at home with two active kids, to have some uninterrupted, quiet “me” time is just my wishful thinking. πŸ˜›

Since I can’t have some quiet “me” time, I must have some food to comfort my soul! LOL. One of our favorite comfort food is chicken noodle soup, which is very simple and easy to cook. Especially if you have leftover rotisserie chicken. πŸ™‚

Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients
3 cups of shredded chicken (u can use any parts u like)
2 whole carrots, Diced
2-4 stalks celery, Diced
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
Β½-1 teaspoons turmeric powder
A few good dashes of thymes
Egg or dried noodles ( I use Chinese style dried noodles)

Whenever I have leftover rotisserie chicken, I would use the chicken bones to make a simple broth. I would just separate the flesh and bones of the chicken, and cook the bones in high heat until boil. Then, simmer it for about 30-45mins. I find the stock made from the rotisserie chicken bones, make the soup extra flavorful compared to the ready-to-use store bought chicken stock. Really! Try this the next time when you have leftover rotisserie chicken.

While the soup is working in the pot, prepare the vegetables and shred the chicken meat. Once the broth is done, remove the bones using slotted spoon. Add in the diced carrots and celery. Flavor the soup with salt, pepper, tumeric powder and thymes. Let the soup simmer for another 10mins so that the flavors come together.

Finally, crank up the heat and add noodles (I cut/break them into 1″ length) into the soup. When the noodles are done, add shredded chicken and bring to a boil and then simmer for another 5 more mins.
That’s it. Pretty easy, isn’t it? πŸ˜‰

Oh… and if you like thicker broth, just add cornstarch thickening mixture at the last step. πŸ™‚

Halloween cupcakes

The girl was invited to a Halloween party yesterday and since she is allergic to nuts and I do not want to inconvience others, I decided to just bake some nuts free cupcakes (using cake mix!) for her to bring to the party.

Halloween cupcakes

I created these cupcakes using the standard 4-pastel color (baby blue, green, yellow and pink) fondant from Wilton. The grey and orange fondant, were created by mixing the black & orange Wilton foodwriter ink in the blue & yellow fondant respectively.

This is my 2nd time making the fondant cupcakes, they turn out pretty cute, may i say so myself. LOL! I had so much fun making them thtat I think I may want to try making 3D figurine cupcakes some day. So stay tune! πŸ™‚

Picnic Bento #3 : Pattern sushi

While trying to “declutter” my computer a few days ago, I discovered many bento pictures that I have not blogged before. Since the girl is now doing her own Chinese reading and I have to stay around in case she needs help, I thought I might just pick one of the photo and start blogging about it.

Last summer, we went to Wasserman Park in Merrimack, New Hampshire with our dear friends, H family. It was a really relaxing and fun picnic gathering as you can see from the following collage. πŸ™‚

Picnic with J

For our picnic lunch, I packed some Ham & Egg 4-seas sushi, oranges, lettuce, blueberries, extra ham and omelette, cucumber slices and whole wheat bread (not shown).

picnic

Initially, this was supposed to be just a simple ham & egg sandwich bento. But I “switched gear” last minute when I chanced upon the 4-seas sushi on some blog (cannot remember which blog already… oops!) and saw how easy it was to make. I don’t have to tell you how my first pattern sushi attempt went, you can see from the picture yourself. πŸ˜‰ Because of this pattern sushi, I also managed to “fish” out lots of compliments on my FB when I shared the picture with my friends. LOL! Very morale boosting!

Total time to prepare this bento : 1hr 45mins.
(This was my first pattern sushi attempt, so it took longer time to prepare. πŸ™‚ )

jack-o-lanterns, seeds, steamed pumpkin cake

Part of our Halloween tradition is to carve jack-o-lanterns on the eve of Halloween. This year we decided on Thomas the tank engine and a funny pumpkin face patterns and I found these patterns on this site (link). I usually draw the patterns with free hand because I find it a hassle to push pin on the paper pattern. But if you are not comfortable with free hand drawing, you can certainly print the pattern out and trace it on your pumpkin.

Besides the jack-o-lantern craving activity, we also look forward to having a tasty and healthy snack to enjoy after we complete the jack-o-lanterns! We would salvage the seeds and toast them. If you haven’t tried freshly roasted pumpkin seeds before, you should really try it soon! πŸ™‚

Since the seeds are naturally flavored and we like our seeds to be unsalted, I didn’t bother to wash them with water and just roast them at low temperature (350F) for 15-20 mins (stir occasionally) until they turn golden brown. As both my children prefer to eat the seeds with shells on, so I have to take extra care (i.e. eyes on the oven) to make sure they are roasted properly. When it is done properly, the seeds with shells can be wonderfully crunchy and easy to eat.

If you like salted version, here’s what you can do…

Put the seeds in salted water (about a half tablespoon of salt for every cup of water) and bring it to a boil.
Let simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and drain.
Finally, spread them evenly on the baking sheet and roast them in the oven at 350F for 15-20mins until golden brown.

steamed pumpkin cake

This year I decided to salvage also the pumpkin cutouts. (Well, we should always think the 3R – Recycle, Reuse, Reduce!! ;)) My mother-in-law ever mentioned to me before that we can use pumpkin to make into Chinese-style pumpkin cake so I thought why don’t I try it out this year. And to my pleasant surprise, the steam pumpkin cake tastes really good. It is sweet and savory at the same time.

Here’s the recipe:

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

B : 50g (or 2 sticks) Chinese sausage, finely chopped.
50g dried shrimps, soaked and finely chopped
2 cups of pumpkin dices

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 A ingredients and mix well.
3. Heat 1 Tsp oil in wok and stir fry dried shrimps until fragrant, then add minced chinese sausage and stir fry until fragrant.
4. Add diced pumpkins 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 for about 40mins.
7. Remove and let cool.

Baked bacon wrapped asparagus

Initially I wanted to make this for the wonderful Easter potluck party we had two weeks ago. However, I was feeling so relaxed, because my DH helped to make a delicious lasagna dish *yum yum*, that I totally forgotten to prepare this for our guests. *Oops* 😳 Anyway, this dish is really simple and easy to cook. Not only it looks good, it tastes good too. You should give it a try if you love asparagus. πŸ™‚

Ingredients
Asparagus spears, trimmed 4 to 5 inches long tips
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
a few dashes of black pepper
bacon

Direction:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Lightly coat asparagus spears in extra-virgin olive oil. Season the asparagus with black pepper. Use a slice of bacon to wrap a few asparagus spears bundle and secure the spears together. Since I love crispy bacon, I wrap a bacon to two asparagus spears. πŸ™‚ Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Place the asparagus bundles on the pan and bake for 20-25mins or until the bacon are crispy.

(Original recipe adapted from Rachel Ray)

sweet buns

sweet buns

It was quite a busy week, but I couldn’t resist trying some new recipes. This time I baked some sweet buns!! I have seen this recipe from KookyCulinary for a while already, but I just didn’t have the time and energy to try it until recently. I’m so glad that I pick this recipe (there are really a lot of sweet buns recipes online!!) because it is so simple and tastes good. The bread texture is really soft, just like those sweet buns that we can get from the bakery in Singapore. I had baked and shared some sweet buns with my friends over the weekend, and they love them too! πŸ™‚

Ingredients:
250 gm bread flour
50 gm castor sugar
1 Β½ tsp instant yeast
1 egg yolk
40 gm butter
65 gm water
65 gm milk
Β½ tsp salt

Method:
1. Put ingredients into bread machine according to the specification of your breadmaker.
2. Start the DOUGH ONLY cycle.
3. Shape your dough according to your preference, with or without fillings.
4. Let the dough proof until double size.
5. Bake at 375deg C for about 15mins or until golden brown.

Check out also this blog entry of KookyCulinary to learn how to shape the dough into dinner rolls.

kueh bangkit

I think I caught the cooking and baking bug! I have been cooking/baking something new every other few days. On the eve of CNY and after the children were asleep, I suddenly had the urge to bake some Kueh Bangkit and so I started searching online for an easy and perfect recipe and I found it on Lily’s Wai Sek Hong blog.
I did a little modification from Lily’s recipe since I don’t have all the ingredients.

Ingredients used:
225g tapioca flour
30g melted butter
65g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
75-90ml coconut milk
a pinch of salt

For instructions, please refer to Lily’s recipe.

The cookies were really yummy and I love how they just melt in the mouth. Niklas and DH had been snacking on them until I didn’t have much to share with my friends. So, I hope to find some time to bake this again. πŸ™‚

(Added : 2/4/16 – Instructions from Lily’s blog for easy reference……..

Method:

1. Line a large pyrex bowl with greaseproof paper, microwave the flour and pandan leaves on high 1 min at a time for 5 times, stirring every minute.

2. Set aside, cool completely before using.

3. Cream margarine with sugar and yolk till sugar dissolves.

4. Add in 75ml coconut milk and mix well.

5. Add flour to mix till a non-sticky dough is formed. If dough is too dry, add more coconut milk but add 1 tsp at a time, otherwise, dough may be too sticky. Leave dough to rest covered with a damp cloth.

6. Take a quarter of the dough and roll dough on a floured table to 3/8 inch(this thickness is necessary to obtain a nice size cookie)and use cookie cutters to cut into shapes. Using a pincher to pinch desired designs. Alternatively wooden moulds can also be used and that omits rolling the dough.

7. Baked on lined tray in preheated oven at 300 f convection for 15 mins. Cookie should not brown.

8. Remove to cool completely before storing .

simple Pineapple Tarts recipe

pineapple tarts recipe

Fillings:
2 cans of 20 oz crushed pineapple
100g sugar (if you like it to be sweeter, then add more)

Pastry:
450g all purpose general flour
2.5 sticks of butter (about 250g)
100g sugar
1 egg

1 egg for brushing

Method:
1. Drain the crushed pineapples and transfer into a pot and cook in medium-low. Stir constantly.
2. Add sugar when almost all liquid has evaporated and cook until filling is thick and sticky. Set aside filling.
3. Put butter, sugar and egg in mixer and beat until sugar is just dissolved.
4. Add flour and mix until dough holds together.
5. Place the dough between two parchment paper and roll the dough into 0.5mm thickness. Put in the refrigerator to chill for 15-30mins as it is easier to work with a cold dough (not as sticky).
6. Preheat oven to 375F.
7. Press out dough with pineapple tart cutter.
8. Put mound of pineapple filling in the center.
9. Brush the tart dough with egg.
10. Bake the tarts for 15-20mins until the egg glaze looks golden brown.

simple chinese bun recipe

Here’s the basic dough recipe for the Chinese buns.

I used my bread machine to knead the dough, u can certainly do it manually.

1 Cup water
1 Tsp sesame oil
2 Tsp sugar
3 Cups bread flour
1 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp dry yeast

At the end of the cycle, let dough rest for about 5mins and proceed to make it into chinese buns.

As for the fillings, here’s what I used in mine, u can choose to make your own version.
Ground pork meat, celery (dice it finely), carrots (shred), a small bunch of vermicelli (optional. But if use, soaked the noodles and cut into 5-10mm length.), salt and pepper according to your preference.