Love, as I know it.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

"Whatever is past is gone...
The best is always yet to come."


I don't feel any different now as I did a year ago...
or maybe even a few years ago.

Perhaps I've been through more in all my years of living than many people have in their entire lifetime, but I've never let any of these incidences mar my thoughts or feelings about life and living. I may have felt a thousand knifes stab the very core of my being... cried enough tears to make me feel as though there aren't any more tears to see me through the rest of my life, and I may have questions that I never had the answers to; but they've not made me jaded and tired of life.

On the contrary.

They've made me realize that I, too, deserve to be happy. I cannot go on living my life simply to make others happy, neither should I continue ignoring what may be right in front of me simply because I was too afraid to face the consequences.

I've also learned that change need not necessarily be bad. Sometimes change is needed so that our lives can progress. I now know that we may have to make certain sacrifices so as to make room for more positive in our lives, and that love need not necessarily have to hurt in order for it to be real.

Valentine's Day 2015 went past this year the way it had for me like it had been since I understood its 'significance'. Without flowers, or gifts, or having to be together with the other half just simply because 'it's Valentine's Day'. I worked, and he entertained the boy. I'm thankful for him, and I'm thankful for my small family. It warms my heart to see so many couples enjoying the day, and it made me smile to see even those who have kids - bring them out to celebrate love.

On Saturday the 14th of February 2015, as the boys dropped me off at work, I finally understood contentment and love. It's never about having someone to constantly assure you that you are loved. It's not about gifts, or words that say how much you mean to them. It's about understanding, and sacrifice. The little one knows that Mummy has to work, and even though he hugged me tight and kissed me too many times before he 'hung out with Daddy', I am secure in the knowledge that he is cared for, and he understands. The husband never questions me why. He knows how much I love what I do, and he gives me freedom to be me. 

For me, that's love.

I'm home now, after work, at 2:56 in the morning, and both boys are asleep, I sit here typing this, secure in the knowledge that I am loved.

Most of all, everytime I walk in the door, after a long day's work, I'm always content.
I always, always, feel like 'I've come home'.

Happy Valentine's Day.

...and these boys are why I smile each day.

Quick and Easy Soy Sauce Chicken
and Scotch™ Titanium Kitchen Scissors Giveaway!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

As a working Mum, food preparation on days when I leave work early enough to cook dinner has to be quick and simple. I'm always on the lookout for kitchen gadgets which can help me shorten the time it takes to prepare a meal, and a good pair of scissors beats trying to chop through meat and bones when I have 3 hungry tummies to fill in 30 minutes or less.

I think my kitchen scissors are the most overused item in my kitchen.

I use them for practically everything, from food preparations to opening packets, and cutting crusts off the kid's sandwiches. I have 3 different kitchen scissors which I have used far too much, and just in case you're wondering (why THREE?!) - I'm rather pedantic about using separate pairs for handling meat, vegetables, and inedibles. The husband thinks that there's nothing a good scrub with dishwashing liquid won't fix, but somehow I feel much better if my meat scissors are used simply for that purpose: handling meats.

When the kind folks at 3M contacted me to do a review of their brand new additions to the Scotch™ scissors family, I must admit the 'auntie' in me really looked forward to trying out the Titanium Kitchen Scissors and Portable Food Scissors!


Ok - let's test this out.

I like that the blades are detachable for easy cleaning, and may also be used as a knife. It's also purple with dark, matte metal blades. Classy.


Its ergonomically designed handles ensure that the grip is never compromised, and I absolutely love how it fits my hand nicely.


The Scotch™ Titanium Kitchen Scissors' blades are treated using 3M's special Titanium coating to ensure maximum durability, and give it 4x the strength of stainless steel.

Ok. Specifics aside...

Titanium? Seriously? Isn't that the material used in aero-engineering? When I asked the husband about it, he grabbed the pack off me, and looked rather skeptical. 

"Let me try."

and so, he did.


We decided to test the scissors out by attempting to cut through a medium sized chicken to get chicken parts. I usually buy ready cut parts from the supermarket for convenience, but I much prefer to buy a whole chicken so that I can control the size of each cut part, depending on the type of dish made.

If this pair of scissors really does what it claims to be able to, it would really be a very handy and helpful addition to my kitchen! Imagine the time I would save, and with no chopping required, there will also be less of a mess!



It cuts through soft bone.
Fluidly, in a single stroke. 
No more battling with joints and using cleavers, only to end up with jagged parts and unevenly shaped pieces.

From whole chicken to individual parts in less than 2 minutes, and he's never had a stint as a chicken rice seller prior to this.

Impressive.


Now you too can have this pair of amazing scissors - all by taking part in a giveaway at the end of this post. I have not one but THREE sets just for three lucky readers!

So I have these beautiful chicken parts for the purpose of testing out the scissors, and decided to do a quick and easy soy sauce chicken for dinner.

This dish is my personal favourite because not only is it tasty, I can prepare the ingredients in less than 10 minutes (5 now, with those scissors!) in the morning, put everything in the slow cooker just before I leave the house to go to work, and have dinner ready to eat when we come home in the evening! Caden loves soy sauce chicken, and that's already reason enough for me to cook this whenever he wants.



Soy Sauce Chicken

Prep time: 10 min
Slow Cooker Cooking Time: 3 - 4 hours on high, or 8 - 10 hours on low.
Regular Cooking Time: Half an hour, braised and covered in a pot.

Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into parts (or choice cuts)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, lightly bruised
  • 1 cinnamon stick (4 cm)
  • 2 star anise (or more, based on preference)
  • 1 cup light soya sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee)
  • 1/2 cup dark soya sauce (not sweet sauce!)
  • 1/4 cup of rock sugar, to taste.
  • 4 cups water
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 tbs of olive oil or canola oil
  • 4 slices of ginger (optional)



Method

1. Lightly sauté cinnamon stick, garlic and star anise in a tablespoonful of oil until it is fragrant. This step is optional, but I prefer to do this so that there will not be a 'raw' aftertaste of the spices in the resulting dish. Add in the soy sauce, water, rock sugar, salt and pepper. Stir until sugar has dissolved, and adjust soy sauce measurement to taste. 

With all cooked dishes, there are no exact measurements to follow. Recipes should be used as a guideline, and flavourings added according to your own personal preference.

Many people use ginger in soy braised dishes. Caden doesn't really like it, so I choose to omit it altogether.


2. Place chicken parts in a slow cooker. I love my slow cooker, by the way - my last year's Christmas gift from my dear Domestic Goddess friend! Thanks, D!


3. Pour in the braising liquid till it covers the chicken completely.


4. Slow cook for 4 hours on high, or 8 - 10 hours on low. Alternatively, you can braise in a pot on direct heat for about half an hour. At the fifteen minute mark, make sure to turn the chicken parts so that they cook evenly.

5. Serve hot, with either rice or noodles.


It's that quick, and simple!

Talking about scissors, those of us with young kids would know how useful a good pair of scissors is for mealtimes. I've never understood why parents choose to use an extra large pair of scissors to cut their children's food into bite sized pieces - I find them not only cumbersome, but very dangerous as well as these do not usually come equipped with a safety cover. The scissors I use to cut Caden's food is equipped with a safety cover, but I've always wondered how to thoroughly clean the insides of it so as to ensure the scissors are kept sterile.

And this is really the answer to it.




Twist the scissors clockwise (while still in the cover) to open it. Where has it been for the first 4 years of motherhood? This is actually pretty nifty! It fits well in my hands too, and I didn't find myself trying to awkwardly adjust my fingers while I was cutting even the smallest bits.

I like that the scissors also comes equipped with a safety lock, which keeps it secure from little prying hands.


And of course, the husband had to try this out, too. So he gets to cut the chicken for Caden's dinner!



We both loved it.

The Scotch™ Titanium Kitchen Scissors retails at $22.90 (w/GST) and the Scotch™ Portable Food Scissors at $13.90 (w/GST). Available at these stores islandwide.

FairPrice Supermarket | FairPrice Xtra Hypermarket | FairPrice Finest Supermarket
Sheng Siong Supermarket | Home-Fix DIY Stores | Cold Storage | Giant | Popular |
Selffix DIY | OG Albert Court | OG Orchard | OG People’s Park | Isetan | Meidi-Ya


***


The very nice people from Scotch want YOU to experience these for yourself, so here's a chance for 3 readers to win a set of Titanium AND Portable scissors*!

To take part, simply complete the Rafflecopter below. This giveaway is only open to those residing in Singapore.

*Terms and conditions apply.




*Contest ends on Thursday, 19 February 2014, at 2359hrs. A set of Scotch™ Titanium Kitchen Scissors and Scotch™ Portable Food Scissors will be sent to 3 individual winners. Winners will be selected via Rafflecopter, and notified via email. They have 48 hours to respond to the notification email. Should there be no response, the winning entry will be rendered null and void, and another winner will be chosen.

Disclaimer: This post was made possible by 3M Scotch. All opinions are my own.

MummyMoo

Chicken Curry Puff
(The definitive cheater's recipe to fool 'em all!)

Thursday, 5 February 2015

I love Curry Puffs. Chinese versions, Malay ones, and the triangle brightly orange ones sold at the ubiquitous 'mamak' stalls. These days, however, it's pretty hard to get decently good curry puffs, since many of these are now machine made, and lack the crispy, thin and flaky skins of the traditionally made ones. I count the curry puffs sold at Bedok South market (now they've moved to Geylang side, at a hawker centre in Sims lane - and aren't as good as they used to be!), Tip Top Curry Puffs (at Ang Mo Kio) and A1 Curry Puffs as some of my personal favourites. None of those from the (in)famous chain for me, please. The thick crusts and flavour-less filling just gives me very bad gas and indigestion.

Last night, while I was clearing out my freezer drawers to make space for my butter blocks, I realised that I had some frozen puff pastry which was fast approaching its expiry date. I had 4 pieces left in the pack, and since I had just purchased some chicken fillet, I decided to do a quick and easy chicken curry puff for breakfast today. I didn't have any specific concise recipe which I followed when I made these, I estimated the quantity required, and they turned out surprisingly good!



Chicken Curry Puffs

Prep time: 30 min
Bake time: 25 - 30 min
Yields: 14 puffs

Ingredients
  • 250g chicken fillet, diced.
  • 2 medium potatoes, approximately 250g, diced.
  • 1 medium onion, diced.
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons meat curry powder (or 3tbs if not using chilli powder)
  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder (optional)
  • ¾ tsp salt 
  • pinch of sugar
  • 4 boiled eggs, cut into quarters.
  • 1 egg (for eggwash)
Method

1. Preheat oven to 200deg C. Do NOT thaw or remove puff pastry from the freezer until the very last minute.

2. Prepare ingredients. I prefer to use Baba's brand curry and chilli powder.




3. Fry the potatoes till soft, about 5 - 7 minutes, depending on the size of your cut. Drain on paper towels. 

4. Mix the curry and chilli powder with water to form a paste, and saute in oil till fragrant, This is to ensure that the curry powder is well cooked and does not leave a lingering 'raw' aftertaste, which happens when you choose to fry all the ingredients first and then add the paste in.


5. Saute the onions and add in the chicken fillet, mixing thoroughly until the ingredients are well coated.

Test chicken for doneness and set aside to cool completely. It's very important that the filling is allowed to cool because if there is even a slight hint of warmth in the mix, it will render the puff pastry soggy and damp, not to mention it will make them very difficult to work with.


6. Take a slice of pastry out of the freezer and lay out on a pastry mat. Leave the rest in the fridge until they are ready to be used. I prefer to use Pampas pastry because they flake nicely and bake well.


7. Cut each slice into 4 equal parts, and place some filling, along with a piece of hard boiled egg on one side of each part. 


8. Brush each side with egg wash and fold over to seal. Crimp the sides with a fork, and cut a 'steam vent' atop each puff.


9. Bake at 200 deg C for 25 - 30 min, or until golden brown.



That wasn't so hard, was it? Quick, tasty and easy... what's not to love?

***

- GIVEAWAY!! -

To celebrate the coming of spring and the Lunar Year of the Ram, here's a chance to win US$160 Paypal cash!

16 fabulous cooking bloggers have come together to bring you the chance to win an ang pow*!

To take part, simply complete the Rafflecopter below. Open to overseas entrants.



This Giveaway is brought to you by:

Alvin from Chef and Sommelier
Ann from Anncoo Journal
Cheryl from Baking Tai Tai
Jasline from Foodie Baker
May from Mayck-law
Regina from Mummymoo
Sharon from Delishar
Susanne and Phay Shing from Lovingcreations4u
Veronica from Peng's Kitchen
Victoria from Victoria Bakes


*Terms and conditions apply.

One prize of US$160 will be sent to the winner via Paypal. An email will be sent to the winner to notify him/her of the win. If the organiser (Diana) does not receive a reply within 48 hours, another winner will be selected. Please note if the winner does not have a valid and working Paypal account, another winner will be selected.


GOOD LUCK!!

Chocolate White Chocolate Cupcakes
and a US$160 GIVEAWAY!

Monday, 2 February 2015

I was lazing about in bed after the boys left this morning, enjoying the 'me' time before I have to get ready for work later on in the afternoon. I had the TV on, and was channel surfing without really looking for anything in particular to watch.

Then I saw Anna Olson baking. As always, she makes everything seem so effortless, and I watched, transfixed, as she mixed, folded and whipped basic ingredients into the prettiest cupcakes. Since it has been a pretty long time since I baked (and posted a recipe here!) I decided to bake my favourite Chocolate White Chocolate Cupcakes.


These cupcakes are moist, chocolatey, and not overly sweet. They perfectly balance out the sweetness of the frosting, so don't be afraid to pipe as much frosting as you like. I promise you that they aren't cloyingly sweet as most cupcakes tend to be, perhaps because the frosting doesn't rely on purely icing sugar to stabilise it.

Go on, try it. It's simple, tasty and decadent, yet it doesn't 'sit' heavily in the stomach as most creamy cupcakes tend to do. I don't really have a sweet tooth, but I love these babies. The white chocolate actually enhances the richness of the dark chocolate, and since it's only used in the frosting, the 'milky' taste does not overpower everything else as white chocolate often does.

Chocolate White Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction
Prep time: 20 min
Bake time: 18 - 20 min
Yields:  12 cupcakes

Ingredients

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes:
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 60g semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (42g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup (94g) all-purpose flour, levelled
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50g) caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk (very necessary, no substitutions!)*
White Chocolate Swirl Frosting
  • 170g white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 60g dark chocolate, melted and cooled (optional)*
  • 225g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups (240g) icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
*If you do not have store bought buttermilk, you can make your own.

1 cup minus 1 tablespoon of Milk
1 Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
Let it sit for about 5 minutes, and bake away!

If you'd like the two-tone swirl effect like I did, mix half the frosting batter with the melted dark chocolate. Instructions on how to pipe the frosting is here.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C | 350 deg F. Line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper liners.

2. In a glass bowl, melt the butter and chocolate. I used a microwave instead of a bain marie, because it saves me a lot of time! Just be sure to microwave in 30 sec increments so that the chocolate would not burn.


3. Stir until smooth, and set aside to cool. You should get a beaultiful, glossy mixture.


4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour,cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together until thoroughly combined.


5. Whisk the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla together until smooth.

6. Add the cooled melted butter/chocolate mixture.


 7. Add half the cocoa powder/flour mixter and half of the buttermilk. Alternate the addition, and mix until well combined.


8. You should get a thick, pudding-like batter.


 9. Fill each liner 3/4 full with batter, and bake at 180 deg C for 18 - 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of each cupcake comes out clean.


10. These babies are good on their own, but what's a cupcake without frosting?!


11. To make the fosting, beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Switch to low and slowly add in the icing sugar. Stir in the cooled white chocolate into the butter mixture and beat on medium speed till light and creamy. Add the cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat for 1 minute until combined.

I separated the frosting and added chocolate to half of it to create the duo tone swirl effect.



Lovely, aren't they? We can never have enough of chocolate. In whatever form!


***

- GIVEAWAY!! -

To celebrate the coming of spring and the Lunar Year of the Ram, here's a chance to win US$160 Paypal cash!

16 fabulous cooking bloggers have come together to bring you the chance to win an ang pow*!

To take part, simply complete the Rafflecopter below. Open to overseas entrants.



This Giveaway is brought to you by:

Alvin from Chef and Sommelier
Ann from Anncoo Journal
Cheryl from Baking Tai Tai
Jasline from Foodie Baker
May from Mayck-law
Regina from Mummymoo
Sharon from Delishar
Susanne and Phay Shing from Lovingcreations4u
Veronica from Peng's Kitchen
Victoria from Victoria Bakes


*Terms and conditions apply.

One prize of US$160 will be sent to the winner via Paypal. An email will be sent to the winner to notify him/her of the win. If the organiser (Diana) does not receive a reply within 48 hours, another winner will be selected. Please note if the winner does not have a valid and working Paypal account, another winner will be selected.


GOOD LUCK!!







 

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