Apr 1, 2016

[Recipe] Prawn Noodles Soup

The craving for this bowl of prawn noodle soup came suddenly one day; I missed my late dad's prawn noodles soup, he's best at making this! We often teased him that his bowl of prawn noodles would easily fetch $15 a bowl, as it was always packed with loads of good stuff (huge prawns, loads of pork ribs and vegetables), and the broth was simply too good that it's beyond description!

Alas, I never did make it a point to jot down the recipe when my dad was still around, nevertheless, with a tip given by a friend, I managed to make myself a nice pot of prawn & pork ribs broth that was as close as I can get to my dad's recipe.

Preparing the ingredients wasn't that difficult all it took was time and patience. The most important thing of the prawn noodles soup was the broth, so give it a bit of time and "love" you'll yield yourself a wonderful pot of broth.

800gms prawns (legs and feelers trimmed; keep the shell in tact)
500gms prime pork ribs
500gms pork bones
chicken bones of 1 chicken
1 medium size chinese turnip (cut into large chunks)*
1 head of garlic (cut into half length wise; put into a soup pouch)
photo credit link

50gms fried shallots
2tbsp rock sugar
2tbsp fish sauce
1tsp of dark soya sauce (for the colour)
salt to taste
a bunch of kang kong (aka water spinach)
100gms bean sprouts
2 fish cakes (sliced)
Fresh Egg Noodles (yellow mee)
Vermicelli (bee hoon)

Photo credit link

*note: this is how the secret ingredient looks like :)

Method of preparation
  1. boil a pot of water; when water is boiled blanch the pork ribs & pork bones for 5minutes; set it aside once done.
  2. in a separate pot (use the pot which you'd boil the broth in), boil 3 litres of water; once water is boiled cook the prawns in the water, this will take about 2-3mins; set the prawns aside to cool down.
  3. once the prawns have cooled remove the head and shell (do not discard the shells and heads)
  4. place garlic, chicken bones, pork ribs, pork bones, prawn shells/heads, turnip, fried shallots and all seasoning (rock sugar, fish sauce, dark soya sauce) into the soup pot and bring mixture to a boil then simmer for 2-3hours.
  5. skim the top layer of the soup and discard the scum 
  6. once broth is ready add salt to taste then drain the soup into a separate pot through a sieve; discard turnip, pork bones and chicken bones.
  7. boil water to blanch the noodles and vermicelli in a separate pot; use the same pot of water to blanch the bean sprouts, kang kong and fish cake
  8. serve by topping the pork ribs, prawns, fish cake and vegetables followed by the broth
  9. if you like, you may garnish the noodles with fried shallots and red cut chilli (or chilli powder)  


Mar 30, 2016

With Heart & Sew

I have been a craftoholic all throughout the years. During my childhood years, I remember sitting in front of the telly faithfully (daily) eagerly waiting to watch the craft segment of the children's programmes on TV (psst I even watched the children's programmes in malay language; not that I understood at all but I would most definitely watch the craft segment without fail). I am just naturally drawn to art and crafts without explanation.
Over the years, I've tried my hands on various types of craft work (eg. teddy bear sewing, scrapbook, decoupage, card making, knit, crochet, cross stitching, hama-beading, handmade costume accessories etc), my THE MOST favourite of all craft work would be sewing. I might have been influenced by my mom who was a tailor before she retired. I would sit nearby her and watch her tailoring and I was also a benefactor of her tailoring, I used to grow up donning new dresses all the time (I was really blessed).

While I don't fancy sewing clothes as much, I do love to sew little knick knacks as gifts initially. It has then developed into a passion to sew not just for others but to pass on the knowledge I know about sewing to others.
Personally, sewing is not only very therapeutic, it's also a great way to help me hone patience and perseverance (which is usually lacking in me). It's not only a lifeskill but it has gave me great fulfilment as I witness each project being completed in my hands.

During the recent school term break, I had an opportunity to share my love for sewing with a great and fun bunch of little 8 to 9 year-old girls who enthusiastically participated in the sewing of a sock bunny. It's easy and can be done within a few hours - most importantly it's fun and the completed craft makes a great companion for the kids to keep.

I am planning to run the class again during the coming June 2016 school holidays. If you and your friends would like to let your child join the class, it will commence with a minimum of 4 pax. All materials will be provided. You may contact me at Lilhandmades at gmail dot com to enquire for more information and details. Would be happy to hear from you soon!

Dec 3, 2015

[Craft] Christmas Cards

Christmas, one of my favourite seasons of the year. When I was a student (even when I started working), before internet or even digital age took over our lives, I love sending and receiving Christmas cards. These days, it's so hard to even receive a hand written snail mail from friends or relatives. Old-fashion me still enjoy reading snail mail vs emails *smile*
Simple Handmade Christmas Card
So for the season this year, I have decided to encourage my children to make and write Christmas cards to their friends. I know for sure, my children would love to receive Christmas cards or even snail mails from friends, it's always a delight!

Here's what we need, simple materials and quick way to put it together.
Materials for the Craft

Materials Required:
Patterned Paper
Coloured Paper
A pair of scissors
Glue Stick
Christmas Themed Templates (here's where you can find them
Stickers or other embellishments (optional)

The adults could trace the template onto the back of the patterned paper
Tracing the template
One sheet of patterned paper could yield 4 pieces of the decorative shapes
Plain A4 coloured paper folded into a A5 size
This is how it should looks like when the coloured paper is folded
Engage the help of the little ones to get the cards completed
Add a personal message for friends
Oooh the cards are so colourful even when it's so simply made!
It's really beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas now! Have fun making your own greeting cards!

May 26, 2015

5 Other Ways of Using the Oven Besides Baking

It wasn't till I was in secondary school that I had a chance to bake something out of an oven even then opportunities to operate an oven was rare. We didn't have an oven at home during my younger years, naturally I wouldn't have imagined the oven is such a wonderful kitchen appliance.

Fast forward to recent years, I'm now an owner of a counter-top oven and a toaster oven. Both work wonderfully well and are the appliances I've used more often than even my rice cooker!
Photo Credit Link
I love that preparing meals with an oven could save me loads of trouble - it's one of the easiest kind of cooking I've ever done! Best of all, the end result of this simple cooking method is healthy and flavourful food. What's more, it saves me the trouble of standing before the stove stirring/frying or keeping a lookout at the heat. The best part of it all is I save loads of time and water from washing! Here's how I ensure that I minimize washing as much as possible when using the oven to prepare food.

I am listing the 5 main ways I've used my oven/toaster oven since I started preparing regular meals for my family.

I love grilled chicken winglets and using the oven for grilling can't be any easier. When preparing grilled chicken winglets, remember to dry the chicken winglets with kitchen paper towels thoroughly. Marinate the meat well and all you need to do is just prep the baking tray and pop the meat into the oven. It'll save more time if you use a toaster oven because a toaster oven takes a shorter time to heat up.
Grilled Chicken Wings (click link for recipe)

Preparing stews or casseroles the oven makes the best of these one pot meals! An all-in-one meal always saves the day when you need time to focus on other matters at home while the oven does the cooking.
Boeuf Bourguigunon (click link for recipe)
I always find steaming with a pot of boiling water troublesome because I need to wash so many items after the food is cooked. When I discovered that the oven can be used to steam meat or fish too, Oh! I didn't look back at the days of using the pot of boiling water to prepare steamed food anymore!!! Besides, I need only to rinse my baking tray after the entire process and wrap up & discard the parchment paper and aluminium foil after the food is served. You can imagine the glee on my face!
Steamed Chicken (click link for recipe)
Teochew Style Steamed Fish
In view of developing a healthier eating habit I try to make chicken katsu (deep fried Japanese chicken cutlet) and potato wedges by "frying" them in the oven. I wasn't disappointed by the end result!
Oven Baked Potato Wedges
Oven Baked Chicken Katsu
My children love anything with pasta sauce and in order to interest their palate I try to vary the different uses of pasta sauce. So lately, we have been having these for lunch. One pot meals never fails! *grin*
Baked Pasta
Ratatouille in Meat Sauce 
Cottage Pie (click link for recipe)
I am sure there are many other ways of using the oven besides just baking. The above 5 ways of usage are my favourite ways to prepare meals for my family. I hope you've found the sharing useful.

May 8, 2015

Versatile Vegetable Soup Base

I love soups and I used to think only meat can offer the best flavour for making soups. Well, I was in for a surprise!

With the use of a variety of vegetables we CAN make tasty and flavourful, not withstanding extremely nutritious soups too!

Here's a soup base recipe that I've used for quite a number of my meatless meals. The kids and hubby love it and so do I. What's more, the colours of the ingredients have already won me over, I simply love colourful food!

Vegetable Soup Base (A)
Ingredients required - 1 large Carrot cut into chunks, 3 stalks of Celery cut into 3 parts each, 5 Shitake Dried Mushrooms (there's no need to rehydrate them beforehand), 1 Sweet Corn, 1 large Onion cut into half, 5 cloves of Garlic. Boil all the ingredients in a pot of water sufficient to cover all the ingredients. Once water start boiling simmer for an hour, add salt to taste. Discard all ingredients after sieving the soup into a separate pot.

Vegetable Soup Base (B)
Ingredients required - 1 large Carrot cut into chunks, 2 stalks of Celery cut into 3 parts each, 5 Shitake Dried Mushrooms (likewise not required to rehydrate them), 1 Sweet Corn, 1 large Onion cut into half, 3 medium size Potatoes cut into chunks, 3 medium size Tomatoes cut into wedges. Boil all the ingredients in a pot of water sufficient to cover all the ingredients. Once water start boiling simmer for an hour, add salt to taste. Discard all ingredients after sieving the soup into a separate pot.

With this soup base I've made the following as meals
What I did with this soup meal was I boiled the chickpeas separately for about an hour till it was tender. I boiled all the rest of the ingredients in the soup base I made till they are cooked through, except for the Chickpeas and Kailan (green leafy vegetable), I added those just a minute before the heat was turned out.

This meatless Miso Soba Noodle meal was easy peasy. I boiled the soba till it's cooked in just plain boiling water. I cooked the tofu, mushrooms and green vegetables (in this case was Kailan) in the ready soup base. I added miso after all the cooking was done. Assemble the ingredients together and top the noodles with chopped spring onions, sesame seeds and Japanese hot pepper powder. 
This was even easier, other than the Chickpeas being boiled separately, the rest of the ingredients were taken out from the soup base.

The soup base can also be used for other meals/dishes that requires soup stock. Try it some time! Let's journey through a healthy eating lifestyle!

May 5, 2015

Meatless Meal Plans

I shared a little about why I decided to have an overhaul of my diet plans in my other blog. I am convinced that it was no coincidence neither was it by chance that I felt deeply within me that a drastic change in my dieting habits was necessary.

With that, I am following the principles laid down in the book, "What the Bible Says About Healthy Living", I've worked out a weeknight dinner meal plan for the entire month of May. I do not believe in a complete vegetarian diet would be the key to healthy living but I am making a deliberate effort to be mindful of the ingredients I choose to cook with. While I have set out to a meatless diet for weeknight dinners, on the weekends we will consume meat mainly chicken and fish and occasionally beef. It will be based on the following principles -

  • Eat only substances God created for food. Avoid what is not designed for food.
  • As much as possible, eat foods as they were created - before they are changed or converted into something humans think might be better
  • Avoid food addictions. Don't let any food or drink become your god.

As for what in specific I choose to and choose not to eat, you might want to read in detail from this link.

Here's our weeknight dinner meal plan for the month of May.

I took about a day to carefully select the recipes and work into the meal plan ensuring that it's something my family would find palatable yet adhere to going meatless. Some of the recipes can be found on the internet (which I will leave a link to them) while others were picked out from some of the recipe books I have in my own collection. Most of which would be adapted or adjusted according to with as little processed ingredients/seasoning as possible.

Here's our grocery haul for this week (mainly ingredients for our weeknight dinners). The overall total was kept within a budget of $50. I must say, going meatless helped with keeping our budget low.
Our dinners this week
Long Bean Omelette (can't go wrong with this dish, it's the family's favourite)
Nonya Vegetable Stew (packed with loads of vegetables; I have switched to mushroom sauce instead of oyster sauce in the recipe)


Fried Bee Hoon (one of my favourite one-pot meal!)

Vegetarian Tofu (simple but tasty)

Broccoli & Cauliflower Stir-fry (easy peasy dish done just by frying it with minced garlic)

Meatless Fried Rice (Fill us well and satisfied!)

Stir Fry Chinese Mustard Green and Stir Fry Bean Sprouts with Miso Tofu Soup
(I've made a slight tweak to Friday's meal, as I've some ingredients left over which was meant for my lunch meals of the week. Not wanting to keep them over the week, decided to just use them up).

We've survived five evenings of fully meatless dinners and I must say it was tempting to want to swap one of the dishes to a meat dish *hah* but I reminded myself just keep to it and we can do it! 

I've also made it a point not to consume anymore food after 8pm, yes, not even fruits or a healthy snack. I (just me alone) fasted from 8pm all the way till the next day 12noon and within this period I just drank water. This fast kept me alert and I was able to accomplish a lot more things within the day before the kids were home from school, it was amazing! I've also noticed that I have lost a few cm all around my body!!! Oooh I am so loving my new diet and I know I can get use to it! 

Here's another inspiring story by a fellow blogger friend who's embarked on the healthy eating and healthy living journey for the past few months. Read her story and pick up a new tip or two, she's got loads of wonderful information to share!

Feb 2, 2015

[Recipe] Fried Bee Hoon - Meatless

I used to always think in everything that I cook I MUST add meat unless it's stir-fry vegetables or a pure vegetable dish.

For as long as I've been cooking meals for my family, I've never once fried bee hoon without meat. I didn't think fried bee hoon would be tasty without any meat, so I was a little apprehensive at how this meal might taste.

I wasn't disappointed! With a wide variety of colours in the fried bee hoon, it was already very appetising even without eating!

To prepare this meal, it was SO simple. I love loads of colours in my meal because I know it is first very appetising, secondly, since we are not having any meat within the meal, I need to find substitutes for the protein that we will be lacking from. Thirdly, with a wide variety of different vegetables, we will have a vast amount of different nutrients drawn from them. So even without meat in our meal this evening, we were still able to have loads of good stuff packed within it.

Recipe for 4 pax
Dried rice vermicelli (bee hoon) (rehydrate it by soaking in water till soft)
1 Carrot (julienned)
1/2 Zucchini (julienned)
100gms Bean Sprouts (roots plucked)
6 Shitake Mushrooms (thinly sliced)
2 Eggs (beaten and fried as an omelette then shredded)
1 Red chilli (seeded, julienned) - you may replace it with red bell pepper
4 Cloves garlic (minced)
2 Onions (thinly sliced)
1" long ginger (skinned and flattened)
3tbsp light soya sauce
1tbsp dark soya sauce
1/2 cup Water
Salt & Pepper to taste

1) Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a wok then saute the aromatics (ginger, garlic & onion) for a minute
2) Add all the vegetables except bean sprouts, stir-fry the vegetables for 2 minutes then add 1tsp of salt. When the vegetables are almost cooked down, add in the bean sprouts and stir fry for another minute.
3) Pour in the water followed by the rice vermicelli, add the seasoning (light and dark soya sauce)
4) Toss the vermicelli to even out the seasoning till it's well combined.
5) Taste to test if the seasoning is sufficient otherwise add a tsp more of light soya sauce if you prefer.
6) Turn out the heat and combine the shredded omelette into the mixture and serve with spring onions/red cut chilli (optional).

Jan 12, 2015

[Recipe] Vegetarian Tofu

This dish caught my attention as I was conscientiously trying to lift out all recipes that are mainly vegetarian/vegan/vegetable based from the cookbooks I have in my home library.

It's simple and I was able to adapt it by changing the vegetables that I fancy. The main thing that brought the dish together was the sauce. So this was a hit with my family that they asked for "repeat order" (ie. to have this in our next dinner meal in the near future).

With very simple ingredients everything can be pull off within minutes!

2 Pieces of Firm Tofu, sliced into approx 1cm thickness; then pat them completely dry
Pan-fry them till they form a crispy exterior - approx 5mins each side. Once done, set it aside.

Ingredients that I've used as the vegetable topping. Originally the recipe calls for baby corn, black fungus and mushrooms. Well I love my food colourful so these were the ones I've used - 1/2 pack of Sweet Snap Peas, Yellow Bell Pepper (thinly sliced into strips, Red Chilli (seeded & cut into thin strips), 1/2 Carrot (julienned), 2 Fresh Shitake Mushrooms (thinly sliced).

I cannot do without any aromatics in my dish, so garlic and onions are the usual aromatics I'll have in my cooking.

I've done away with the use of oyster sauce and even commercially made mushroom sauce. Have changed to the use of Natural Black Bean Sauce instead. Tasted just as good!

Recipe for the sauce:
1Tbsp Black Bean Sauce
2 Tbsp Light Soya Sauce
1tsp Sugar
1/2 Cup water
1-2tsp Corn Flour
*Note: Combine all the ingredients for the sauce together

1) Pan fry the firm tofu slices till crispy on the outside and set it aside.
2) Heat oil and saute onions and garlic till fragrant
3) Add in all the vegetables and stir-fry till cooked
4) Add in the sauce and cook till the sauce thickens; turn out the heat
5) Serve by plating the tofu at the bottom of the plate and pour the vegetables with sauce over the tofu.