Saturday, 27 April 2013

Moist chocolate cupcake with fresh cream

I made chocolate cupcakes last Thursday, with the help of my 2 1/2 years daughter. Nuha loves everything about baking, and she always be by my side from the beginning right through the end whenever I'm baking. I love seeing her face lights up every time I ask if she wants to make cake, cupcakes or cookies.

Anyway, I made these moist chocolate cupcakes for my mum-in-law's birthday based from the same recipe used for Faiz's birthday cupcakes. I love how moist the cupcakes turned out, and how easy it was to prepare.

I then whip about 300 grams of non-dairy whipping cream (I used rich's gold label whipping cream) to top the cupcakes and sprinkled some colored sugar strands on top.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Chocolate pavlova

Made chocolate pavlova again last weekend, based from the recipe that I recently shared. I've however increased the amount of ingredients by 1/3 and am able to make a pavlova of about 11 inches in size.

This time around, I just used strawberries and grated belgian chocolate to top the whipped cream. Delicious :)

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Yogurt pancakes

I was on the net the other day searching for a yogurt pancake recipe to make for tea time and I stumbled upon this vanilla yogurt pancakes recipe from baked bree. I immediately tried the recipe, but had made several small changes to it and I love the result. The pancakes were light and fluffy, and very delicious. My kids ate most of the pancakes and they loved the pancakes very much.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 small tub of yogurt ( I used Nestle's fat free mix berries yogurt, 135 grams tub)
1 tablespoon of honey

In a bowl, whisk together all purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Heat a lightly oiled non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup of batter and cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles, about 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on the underside. Serve warm.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Freezer meal - beef lasagne

In my opinion, the easiest way to build up on freezer meals' inventory is to double or triple the amount of meals you make and freeze the extra(s). That is what I did when I made lasagne the other day. I doubled the ingredients and made two lasagnes instead of one, one for dinner and another one to freeze.

Here's how I made my beef lasagne:

Onions, minced
Ground beef
Carrots and button mushrooms, sliced
Pasta sauce (I used the one that I made earlier)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Olive oil

Lasagne sheets
Cream or milk
Tomatoes, sliced
Shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)

For the beef sauce, heat the olive oil and saute the onions. Add in ground beef and cook. Next, add in the sliced carrots and button mushrooms (feel free to add any other vegetables in, e.g. capsicum, celery, baby tomatoes etc). Stir for a bit, and add in the pasta sauce. Let simmer until all the vegetables are tender and season well with salt and pepper.

To assemble:

I lined my baking tin with aluminium foil as I want to freeze the lasagne. If you want to cook it straight, then you can skip this step. Next, spread some beef sauce onto the lined baking tin:

Add in a layer of lasagne sheets, I normally will just wet the lasagne sheets with plain water before layering:

Then, layer with more beef sauce and add in the sliced tomatoes. Then, I pour some milk (or cream, depending on what I have in the kitchen):

And sprinkle with shredded cheese:

Then repeat i.e. lasagne sheets, beef sauce, tomatoes and cheese. I normally do about 3 to 4 layers of lasagne sheets for each lasagne.

To freeze, wrap the aluminium foil to cover the top of the uncooked lasagne:

Add more aluminium foil to cover the uncooked lasagne, if needed:

Freeze the lasagne with the baking tin until solid. Once solid, remove the lasagne in aluminium foil and place it inside a freezer/zip lock bag and label. This way, you can use the baking tin for other things:

To bake, let thaw and place in a preheated oven @ 180 degree Celsius for 30 minutes (covered) and another 15 minutes (uncovered). You can also cook from frozen, just bake it for longer. To test whether the lasagne is cook, just insert a fork in the center of the lasagne to test if the lasagne sheets are soft. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Freezer cooking - pasta/tomato sauce

Like I mentioned earlier, I've been doing lots of freezer cooking lately. In fact, I think I am kind of addicted to it. I love how easy it is to just pull out something from the freezer and cook from frozen, especially on days when we were busy with other things, not that cooking is difficult, I love cooking but there are days when I am just to tired to do so. Freezer cooking is very convenient, at least to me, as I am currently in my third trimester of pregnancy. I also plan to have more meals in the freezer before I deliver my number four, so that it won't be a hassle thinking of what to cook or what to eat after I've delivered.

I made about 3 kilograms of pasta sauce last Sunday to use for lasagnes and to make spaghetti bolognese. I freeze about half of them in 400 grams pack, and use the remaining to cook with ground beef to make lasagnes.

Frozen pasta sauce
I love the fact that by making my own sauce, I can hide vegetables in the sauce without my kids knowing. My eldest have started to consume some type of vegetables, but my second and third child refuse most kind of vegetables. I added in carrots, celery, capsicum and mushrooms to the tomato sauce and processes them in a food processor, so that all the vegetables will be well blended with the pasta sauce.

Here's how I made my pasta sauce:

Lots of fresh tomatoes (I used about 2.5 kilograms)
Garlic (about a bulb or so)
Onions (about 2 to 3 big onions)
Capsicum (I used green capsicum because that is what I have at home)
Button mushrooms (about 200 to 250 grams)
Carrots (I used about 4)
Tomato puree ( I used the 430 grams pack)
Oil (to saute the onions and to coat the tomatoes and garlic before roasting)
Bay leaves
Dried thyme (you can use italian seasoning or oregano or rosemary etc)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the tomatoes and peel the garlic. Spread them on a baking tray and coat lightly with oil. Bake in the oven at 180 degree Celsius for about 45 minutes to an hour. Once baked, you can choose to discard the skin and seeds of the tomatoes (I just don't bother and proceed to the next step). Process the roasted tomatoes and garlic in a food processor until fine.

In a big pot, heat the oil and saute the onions. Add in the chopped celery, capsicum, mushrooms and carrots and cook on low heat for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then add in the processed roasted tomatoes and garlic mixture. Let it simmer and add in tomato puree, bay leaves and herbs. Cook on low heat for about an hour until the water had reduced. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Once  cooled, process again in a food processor until fine. At this point, you can choose to use the sauce, refrigerate if you plan to use it in a day or two or freeze them for future use. I used about half to make lasagnes and freeze another half in 400 grams packs (of course this will depend on how much pasta sauce you need per serving). To freeze, pour the right amount to a freezer bag (I used Ikea zip lock plastic bag as I don't have any freezer bag available) and lay flat in freezer to freeze.

*Note: I didn't write in the exact amount of vegetables/ingredients used as you may want to adjust the amount of ingredients based on your preference. You can also add in any other extra ingredients that you deemed appropriate, maybe sweet basil or you can remove some from my ingredients list if you don't like the flavor of certain ingredients. Most recipes will discard the tomato seeds as the seeds makes the sauce a bit bitter, but I proceeded with the seeds in as I am okay with the taste.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Crustless mini mushroom quiche

I made mini mushroom quiche last weekend to bring to my niece's birthday party. It was my first time making quiche and I can't believe how simple it is to make one (especially this one since it is crustless). Recipe adapted from the Kitchn, originally adapted from the Fine Cooking Magazine.

1/4 cup corn flour
2 1/4 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon to 3/4 teaspoon salt
a dash of nutmeg powder
oil, for the mini muffin pan
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
150 grams white button mushrooms, sliced
some baby tomatoes, quartered
grated cheese (I used mozzarella since that is what I have available)

To make the batter, mix corn flour with whole milk. Add in the eggs, salt and nutmeg powder and whisk until smooth.

For the mushroom mixture, heat oil and add in the minced garlic and shallots. Stir until fragrant . Add in the button mushrooms and baby tomatoes and stir until softened.

To prepare the quiche, oil mini muffin pan(s) well. Put grated cheese, followed by the mushroom mixture and pour batter until almost full. Sprinkle some grated cheese on top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 220 degree Celsius for about 15 minutes.

Once cooled, carefully lift each quiche out of the muffin pan (I used off-set spatula to do this).

Based from the the Kitchn's website, these quiche freeze very well. Just reheat on a cookie sheet at 200 degree Celsius oven for about 5 to 10 minutes and serve.

These quiche were delicious and I will make this again in the near future to stock on my freezer meals.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Frozen seafood pizza

I'm currently in the mood to fill the freezer with more freezer meals. Been doing so since mid February this year and been loving the result (i.e. almost ready meals available even on days when I don't feel like cooking). So far, I've successfully frozen mac and cheese, seafood pizza, spring rolls with chicken and mix vegetables, chocolate chips cookie dough, chocolate banana muffin dough and curry puffs.

Will share some of the recipes later, but for now, let me share how I made the pizza and how I freeze them for later.

Pizza dough recipe adapted from here.

250 ml plain water
2 tablespoons honey
300 grams flour
150 grams bread flour
30 grams butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
15 grams sugar
8 grams yeast
Put all the ingredients in the bread maker based on the bread maker instructions. (Mine is in the above order, making sure that the salt is in one corner and the yeast is at the other corner).

Set the bread maker setting to 'dough' and press start.

When the dough cycle has finished, remove the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough accordingly, depending on how many and how big or small you want your pizza to be. 

I divided the dough into 5 since the biggest zip lock bag that I have with me can only accommodate pizza of about 8 inches in diameter.

Roll out the dough into the appropriate size and place it on a lightly floured pizza/baking pan. I used baking pans for the pizza that I want to immediately bake, and cake boards for pizza that I intend to freeze. Let the dough rest for about 10 to 20 minutes to rise.

For the filling, I used:

Pasta sauce
Canned tuna flakes in oil
Crab sticks
Red and green capsicums
Thousand island sauce
Shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar or combination of both)

After the dough has rested, spread pasta sauce over the pizza base. Scatter the tuna flakes, crab-sticks, sliced capsicums and shredded cheese. Then, squirt some thousand island sauce on top.

To freeze the pizza, flash freeze the pizza in your freezer for about an hour or two (there's no need to par-bake the dough or pizza first). Once solid, remove the cake board (or baking pan) and wrap the pizza with plastic wrap. Then, insert it into a zip lock bag and freeze (freezer bag works better, but since I don't have any, I just use the zip lock bag that I bought from Ikea. Don't forget to label your freezer pizza with date prepared and the baking instructions.

To bake, preheat the oven to 200 degree Celcius. Bake the pizza (from frozen) for about 10 to 12 minutes (or longer depending on the size of your pizza).

Enjoy freshly bake pizza whenever you feels like it, yumm!!