Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Easy Weekday Lunch

Here's another easy weekday lunch we had yesterday...just a couple of straight forward, ham & cheese club sandwiches.

I finally got a chance to use this set of bento boxes which I got from Daiso several months ago...and it was actually upon my boy's request that I served him his lunch in a bento box. He told me he has seen kids bought lunch boxes to school, and he would like to pack a box to school too!

I added a hard boil egg and some strawberries to complete the meal. I guess I could regard this as a wholesome meal, as other than the ham, the other ingredients such as cheese, tomatoes and romaine lettuce were considered healthy & nutritious to a growing up kid. Maybe next time I should use wholemeal bread instead of plain bread?

This set was prepared for my elder boy when he came home. As he didn't like hard-boil eggs, I made a sunny-side up for him. You would have noticed that the photos we not very well taken as both kids only gave me a couple of mins to point & shoot!

This is the set I made for myself :)

I had the fried egg sandwiched between the bread...very simple and yet delicious...paired with a nice cup of coffee, I felt like I was having lunch (more like breakfast?!) in a cafe ;)

The good point about this kind of 'put-together' meals, is that, the kids are always eager to get involved...they get to decide on what comes first and the amount of ingredients that goes in there. The only problem with sandwiches is that my younger boy will 'dismantle' the layers while eating...a horrible sight which I rather don't mention ;p

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

No frills meals

Since the start of the school year, one of the new 'challenges' I have to face is preparing lunch for my kids. My younger son has to take his meal by 11am so that he will be ready by the time the school bus comes over to pick him up. On the other hand, my elder boy will not be home before 1.30pm. So lunch not only has to be simple and easy to prepare, but also be able to keep well or at least when I reheat it for my elder boy, the taste or texture will not be compromised too much.

One of the lunch meals that I prepared last week was these Maki Sushi Sandwiches. I have been keeping this recipe which I took from a magazine for months. I am glad that I finally tried it. It was really a very simple meal to put together. There wasn't any cooking involved...I only need to cook the rice! The rest of the work involved layering the rice with pork floss, seaweed and canned tuna. The combo was surprisingly tasty! Even my elder boy finds it delicious as he doesn't quite like tuna. There was no issue with my younger boy too as he loves rice balls! The good thing about these rice sandwiches is that I don't have to reheat it before serving :)

I cooked this easy Seafood Marinara pasta for dinner on one of the weekday nights. It was my second attempt...the only difference is, this time round I managed to get some clams from the market. I used ready-made pasta sauce as I doubt I am capable to make the sauce from scratch! I didn't follow any recipe...the meal was put together simply by stir frying some prawns, squids and clams with some minced garlics, before adding the sauce. This is another no frills, almost fool-proof dinner dish...simple and yet delicious.

Maki Sushi Sandwiches

(serves 3)

1.5 cups rice & 1.5 cups water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 sheets of seaweed
1 can of tuna spread
some pork floss
some rice seasoning (furukake) for topping.


  1. Add rice vinegar to cooked rice and mix well.
  2. Spread half of the rice onto a serving dish and press down firmly. Shape to form a square shape the size of the seaweed.
  3. Spread pork floss over the rice and layer with a sheet of seaweed. Repeat with tuna spread on the next layer, and pork floss for the third layer. Spread remaining portion of rice and press down firmly.
  4. Sprinkle rice seasoning on top of the rice. Cut into pieces and serve.

  5. (recipe source: adapted from Simply Her magazine)

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Back to Routine

After an exciting and fun-filled school holidays, now that the kids are back to school, things are back to normal. My 2 boys and I are trying to adapt to the new set of routines. Although they are now in the same school, they are attending different sessions. They don't get to see each other until dinner time. They have been complaining that they didn't get a chance to play together much. Poor me, I have to double up as their playmates during their individual free time. Which means I have little time to pursue my own interest :( On the other hand, I do like this kind of "1 to 1" arrangement as I can devote my full attention on just one child at a time.

In between my free time, I tried getting back to my usual baking session. It took me two attempts to come up with this alien-looking loaf of bread which I have named as the Nutella Twist bread:

On my first attempt, I set my bread machine to the dough setting to do the kneading and proofing. I got the machine to knead for another 20mins after the standard kneading cycle had completed, since the dough didn't pass the pane test. So after the machine has stopped, even thought the dough has doubled in size, it became very sticky after I tried knocking it down. Anyway, I went ahead to add the filling as I wanted to give it a try. Alas, it didn't work out as what I expected, and looking at the disastrous mess I have made, I decided to throw away the dough :'(

The following day, I set off to make this same bread again. This time, I tried kneading by hand...it was 6.45am in the morning when I started preparing the ingredients. My little one woke up early and offered his help...but he got bored halfway and went off to play on his own! By the time I finished kneading, it was almost 7.30am.

When the dough doubled in size an hour later, I started shaping it. I rolled the dough to a huge rectangle, as big as I could get. Then cut into half, lengthwise, and spread Nutella over the two doughs before rolling each dough lengthwise, swiss-roll style. The two longish rolls were then twisted together. While I was doing the twisting, my younger boy came over and asked me whether I was making ramen?! The twisted dough was then placed in a lightly greased round cake pan and left to proof.

It's apparent that I didn't make enough twist and turns, as a result, the curls and swirls look horrendous! I didn't achieve the nice crown effect at all and the end result was an ugly loaf of bread, lolz!

I have adapted the same milk loaf recipe to make it easier to measure out the ingredients. Fortunately, the adjustment didn't seems to affect the texture of the bread. The bread was as soft and light despite its not too pleasing exterior.


25g caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
250g bread flour
1 teaspoon Instant yeast
120ml fresh milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
30g butter (unsalted)

  1. Place caster sugar, salt, bread flour and yeast into a mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients with hand. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Pour the lightly beaten egg and milk into the well. Mix the ingredients to form a soft dough. Add some bread flour if the mixture is too wet.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for about 5 mins until the dough becomes smooth and non-sticky. Knead and mix in the butter into the dough.
  3. Continue to knead dough for another 15mins (or longer) until it becomes smooth, elastic and no longer sticks to hand and work surface.
  4. Smooth the dough into a round ball. Let it rise in room temperature in a mixing bowl, covered with cling wrap. Let dough rise for 60mins or until it double in bulk.
  5. Remove dough and punch out the gas. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a huge rectangle. Cut the dough into half, lengthwise, and spread Nutella over each piece of dough, leaving a border of about 1cm along the edges.
  6. Roll each dough lengthwise, swiss-roll style, pinch the dough to seal the seam tightly. Place the two rolls together and twist them together. Loop the rope in a lightly greased 20cm (8in) round pan and press the ends together to seal.
  7. Cover with cling wrap and let the dough proof for the second time for about 45~60 mins.
  8. Bake at pre-heated oven at 180 ~ 190 deg C for 30 to 35mins.
  9. Unmould the bread immediately when removed from the oven. Let cool completely before slicing.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

A Fresh Start

Since this is my first post for the year, here's wishing you a berry fruitful year ahead!

As anticipated, it has been a very busy week for me as it was the beginning of the school year. I spent the first day of school running up and down just to make sure my younger boy was able to settle down in his new school. I was relieved that he was able to buy his own food at the canteen (which was my greatest worry!) on the very first day, and I will not forget the moment when he beamed broadly at me as he proudly showed me a packet drink which he bought from the vending machine. Yes, he thoroughly enjoyed the full autonomy during the first 3 days of school. With very useful tips from his brother, he knew which stall to get the 'best' fishballs, and on which day, there will be fried chicken wings available!! We enjoyed listening to his encounters in school over dinner. We were totally amused when he recounted how he volunteered to go up the stage to answer some questions from the principal on the second day. Judging from the stories he told us, I am certain that he has already adjusted to the new environment.

The new school year holds a very significant meaning to me. It's the day when I sent off my kids to the nursery, the kindergarten and now to the primary school. It is also the day when I first met my husband more than two decades ago...and we had also chosen the start of the school year to tie the knot. For the past decade (it sounds sooo long!), we hardly celebrate the occasion...for some years, we were so busy that we totally forget about it. As in the past, we didn't get a chance to celebrate this special day this year, as my husband was away...anyway, I baked a cake just so that we can have it for breakfast ;)

I managed to get a very fresh punnet of strawberries from the neighbouring fruit stall the other day. Naturally I opted to make a simple sponge cake, filled with strawberries and non-dairy whipping cream.

If you are a regular visitor, you would have known that I am not equipped with the skills to decorate a cake with decent looking piped rosettes. To avoid any embarrassment, I just decorate the cake with strawberry slices.

The only thing I am satisfied with the decorated cake is that I have managed to frost the sides quite evenly this time round :)

I used the same sponge cake recipe as the Santa Claus cake. The sponge layer is as soft and moist as my first attempt, other than the slightly tangy strawberries, the cake was really yummy!