Sunday, February 26, 2006

After 2 days of rest....

I didn't have to cook dinner on Thursday and Friday night. OCT had dinner with the new recruit students in a posh restaurant on Thursday night, and we went shopping on Friday night after his work, so no cooking was required. It's good to be off the cooking duty sometime, especially when I have run out of creativity.

I baked a batch of Double Chocolate Chips cookies from MS Holiday Cookies magazine on Wednesday night, and packed some for OCT to bring to lab the next day. These are dark-colour cookies, which look crispy from the exterior, but very chewy texture in the center. A bit bitter because of the Dutch processed cocoa powder I used.

Later, I asked OCT what his colleagues thought of the cookies, but he said they didn't say anything....

"so do you think the cookies are good?" I asked him

"I think they are ok....but not excellent."

Ok, so I must remember people have their own preference....But I like the cookies nevertheless :)

Saturday night, after coming back from OCT's lab I cooked spaghetti with Vodka cream again. But I added some Smoked sausages and mixed veggies in addition to prawns to make the meal more scrumptious.(I hope). It was a fast meal solution. We managed to have our dinner ready in 45 minutes, including thawing the mixed veggie and prawns.

OCT commented that the sauce wasn't "as tasty as last time". I explained to him that it was because I added water to the sauce, and didn't add any salt this time. "This is for your own good, you know?" Really, I wasn't finding an excuse for myself. We should try to eat more sensibly and healthy at this age. Then I assured him that i will make sure the dishes are "tasty" when we have guests in the house.

"You mean I will get unhealthy meal when Adeline comes over for dinner?" OCT asked.

"Of course not. What I meant was I will not skip the condiments when we have guests"

Later that night, I tried another new recipe after dinner. (Not very sensible because we were actually very full at that time) But I had the urge to bake, so I proceeded to curb my urge while OCT happily left me alone to play his computer game.

I baked a Cajun Quiche in a Rice Crust using the leftover rice and smoked sausage. It was an unusual quiche as it used rice as crust. The process of breaking eggs, measuring rices, chopping up ingredients and mixing them up was real fun for me. OCT took some photos of me prepping the quiche.

Present to you another new recipe I tried this week: Cajun Quiche in a Rice Crust

Hmm, I tried but failed to capture the texture of the quiche with my 3.2 MP digital camera. But it was somewhat like the one featured in the magazine on the background... OCT said it tasted like chinese fried rice, but with more eggs. Of course, because this was a quiche.

Cajun Quiche in a Rice Crust

2 cups cooked long-grain white rice, cooled
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
Cooking spray
1/4 cup (1 ounce) reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup prechopped onion
1/2 cup prechopped celery
1/2 cup prechopped red bell pepper
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
3 ounces andouille sausage or kielbasa, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
4 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375°.
To prepare crust, combine rice, garlic powder, onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 egg. Spread mixture into the bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle bottom of crust evenly with 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese.

To prepare filling, heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and the next 4 ingredients (through sausage); sauté 5 minutes. Spoon mixture evenly into prepared rice crust. Combine the remaining eggs, sour cream, salt, and hot pepper sauce; stir with a whisk until well blended. Pour egg mixture over sausage mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until the center is set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 wedge)

Note: You can use 2 eggs and 2 eggs white insteads of 4 eggs,and add more hot pepper sauce if you fancy something REALLY spicy.This is a good base recipe, which you can basically mix and match with other ingredients, such as mushrooms.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Another Chinese dinner

I spent a painstaking 1.5 hour the night before yesterday to skin and remove fat from the chicken thighs we bought last week. There were so MUCH fat hidden beneath the thigh muscle... And I know, even after the 1.5 hour of effort, not all the fat has been eliminated. I decided to bake them on the following day, hopefully the fat would melt on its own in the high temperature.

I tried another new marinate combination: curry powder, sugar, salt and white pepper. Ok, maybe this is nothing new to you people out there, but this is my first time to add more than 3 tablespoons of curry powder to my marinate. I have very sensitive taste bud, and hence can not take too spicy food. So, the chicken thighs were marinated overnight in the fridge while I dragged my body to bed. For that night's bed talk, I asked OCT why he chose to buy chicken thighs during our last grocery shopping trip. (FYI, he is the BUYER, while I am the cook in this family. For he claims to have "an eye" for fresher meats and veggie, and more aware of what is "value for money"......who cares, I find myself happier in the junk food aisles, haha)
Here goes the conversation:

"Why did you buy chicken thighs?"
"You asked me to buy chicken thighs ma~" He defended himself.
"Where got? (na li you- mandarin)"
"yes~ you said you need it for one recipe...."
"really? but how come the chicken thighs we bought last time was not so fat?"
"Emm....maybe this chicken was fat?"
"No! there are many thighs, and they are all fat!"
"Maybe all the chicken that we bought were from the same fat family?"
"......hahaha, very funny."
"oh, i know, last time we bought chicken leg quarters, not chicken thighs..."
"Oh....ya, you are right."I paused for a second. "Next time you shouldn't buy chicken thighs anymore"
"You were the one who asked me to buy ma~"

Anyway, we were delighted that the oven baked curried chicken thighs came out nicely and yummy yesterday. They were a bit too dry having baked at 400F oven for one hour. Other than that, we find ourselves enjoyed the not spicy and not oily at all chicken thighs.

I paired this with stirfry leeks with ribbon-carrots, which was very simple. (Just add white wine and salt + pepper to taste)This is somewhat of a warm salad, and stirfry brinjals with spicy soy bean paste. It tasted like yu xiang qie zi 魚香茄子- spicy mince meat with brinjals.

OCT has a very yummy lunch box to bring to lab today...
(For some reasons, he likes to arrange his food in very presentable manner, unlike his wife who doesn't care the slightest about presentation). This applies to my grooming philosophy, if you know me. Come to think of it, doesn't it also apply to the philosophy OCT and I adhere, when comes to looking for a life partner?! Hmm...Good call, OCT!!


Shrimp Fra Diavolo

This is another recipe from Everyday Italian. Another tomato based dish. After so many tomato based dishes last week, I suddenly feel sick of this lycopene rich antioxidant fruit. I think I am going to shy away from them for a while.

This is a simple enough dish, but mine turned out a tad too sour. If you are like me, who is not a big fan of tomato, you could use less tomatoes than the recipe called for. or add some sugar. We ate the dish with rice, which was unwise.... I think tomato + pasta remains the unbeatable combination.

Here goes the recipe:

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons
1 medium onion, sliced
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
3 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves


Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate; set aside. Add the onion to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, garlic, and oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute so the flavors meld together. Stir in the parsley and basil. Season with more salt, to taste, and serve.

4 serving


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Working out

Thanks to my friend Gerrie, for burning me a few work-out VCDs, I have a good 50 minutes exercise today!

Oh, I feel soooo good after the work out. But i wonder how long I can keep up with this healthy regime.. :) I definitely feel more energetic after the workout, and also more alert. Maybe more oxygen has been delivered to my brain????hahaha... I don't know. I just feel happier now.


Monday, February 20, 2006

What a neighbour!

Something really pissed me off happened 10 minutes ago. I decided to put in down in writing, as I don't know whom can I vent my anger in this case.

The phone rang, and I picked it up. It's the intercomm outside our apartment building.
"Could you open the door please?" came the Voice of a stranger.
"Who is this?" I asked
"Could you open the door please?" the stranger pressed impatiently.
"Who is this?" I demanded. A moment of silent fell.
" This is XXX from room XYZ" the stranger answered quite impolitely.
For one second I wanted to tell her I don't know her and have no obligation to open the door for a stranger, or tell her I don't know how to operate it from my apartment or I don't work for the apartment office.
But I simply said "OK", feeling a bit angry of myself, for not being able to stand firm and said no to this rude girl.

What make her think that I have to help her, who is a total stranger to me, with absolutely questionable identity. I have opened the door for postman/ FedEx guy who sounded 100 times more polite than this rude girl. I am happy to help. A little politeness is all I ask. She didn't even say "Thank you" to me. I should have let her stand in the -10C windy night for as long as she managed to find her key or until Batman comes to her rescue.

I can only get this mean in my imaginary world, not really in real life. I suddenly remembered yesterday's summon about loving one another....Opps...I must learn to love this rude neighbour.



I am stuck with inexplainable boredom today. I feel listless and don't seem to be interested in anything at all. After some mind-boggling internet surfing, I don't know what to do again.

I read the book about Mrs Fields founder - Debbi Fields for awhile, imagining myself being in her shoes and watched Rick Bayless cooking show at 1p.m. I go back to my internet surfing while munching the egg-avo sandwich. What a boring day!!! And cold too! Maybe I should bake something, i tell myself. But what? I am so bored! I need some help...I shall go and get my pocky now.

After one packet of pocky, I feel so much better. I can't stress enough on the crucial role of chocolate on a depressed day like today.... I don't even have mood to cook dinner tonight!

Of course I cooked dinner... but only simple dishes like brinjals, cabbages and frozen dumplings. The brinjal dish was too sweet, while the cabbage was too bland. The frozen dumplings on the other hand, tasted best with little help from cayenne pepper sauce....

This is defintely not my day.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Baking and daydreaming.....

I baked half a batch of oatmeal raisin cookie bars and almond chocolate biscottis over the weekend. After much baking last week, I decided not to overbake again this week.

These are repeated recipes, which shows how much I enjoy them. Normally, I will try to conquer a recipe and move on to try something new. Afterall, if i were going to open my cafe one day, I will need substantial varieties to offer my customers. I start to daydreaming how I will run my cafe. What pastries i will sell, and even how I will motivate my staff. Mind you I already know what to name the cafe. Not that I have the modal, nor I am competent in my baking yet, I just like to daydream about it.

Recently, I read a book written by the founder of Mrs Fields' Cookies, Mrs Debbi Fields. Mrs Fields started the company while she was 20 years old, with the help of her husband. Apparently, he was a very bright economist/financial futurist. She mentioned in her book that she was never a bright student in school, and didn't care to attend a college after her high school. She was pretty, I must add. And I think she has all the qualities of being a successful model. But she chosed to be a baker. According to the book, she baked very delicious chewy chocolate cookies. (Which by now, EVERYBODY knows) Though friends enjoyed her cookies very much, everyone told her that her idea of opening a chocolate chips cookies shop would not work. Frustrated, she went ahead nevertheless, with the support of her loving husband. They were rejected by bankers, whom at that time thought her idea somewhat naive and not feasible. As the story goes, they finally got a loan from Bank of America and of course the business started to boom. And continue to remain success and lucrative (I think) to this day.

Reading this type of book somehow motivates me. And reminds me that if I put my mind to something I really want, I can achieve great things one day. Well, I am not really asking for GREAT things in life... just a humble little cafe, which ambience is inviting, and pastries are delicious, located in a convenient location. The kind of place you have in mind for a relax weekend breakfast or afternoon tea with your girlfriends. This, is my dream.


Friday's Dinner

I think i cooked too much for dinner yesterday. We had roasted herb potatoes, as our main carbo. I know this has been the second time we have it this week, but how am i going to finish 10lb of "value for money" yukon potatoes if we don't eat them often enough?

I baked salmon in foil again, a recipe from Everyday Italian, and delighted to obtain the same tasty result like the first time. The veggie was lettuces with Italian dressing & OCT's fav croutons. All these should suffice for a balanced meal. But I proceed to experiment with a "plug from the air" recipe nevertheless. It's stirfry tomyam tuna macaroni. This may sound weird, but it turned out quite tasty despite of its bland apperance. I must really put in some effort to "beautify" my food in the future....It pissed me off when I have to post some ugly food pics on my blog, and persuade people that they are indeed tasty. Even I don't find it convincing, looking at the pictures sometime...

This is the recipe for salmon baked in foil. The method is more of steaming than baking. According to the cookbook, it should work well on other types of fish, chicken and veggie too.

Salmon baked in foil

4 (5 ounces each) salmon fillets
2 teaspoons olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained
2 chopped shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme


1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2.Sprinkle salmon with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper.
3.Stir the tomatoes, shallots, 2 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.
4.Place a salmon fillet, oiled side down, atop a sheet of foil. Wrap the ends of the foil to form a spiral shape.
5.Spoon the tomato mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the fish and tomato mixture, covering completely; seal the packets closed.
6.Place the foil packet on a heavy large baking sheet. Repeat until all of the salmon have been individually wrapped in foil and placed on the baking sheet.
7.Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the foil packets to plates and serve.

Note: Use a fork to open the foil, as the steam inside the foil packet can get very hot right out from the oven. And it is so much fun to open up the packet on your plate, just like open up a present!


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Simple Bolognese

Ok, this is a simple recipe. And I know you must be thinking: who need a Bolognese recipe! The thing is, I devote this whole week to try the recipes in Giada Le Laurentis Everyday Italian Cookbook. And this is one of the recipes that people on the net raved about, so I must give it a try and see how it compares to my own Bolognese recipe.

Simple Bolognese

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 pound ground chuck beef
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chiffonade
8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano


In a 6 quart pot, add extra-virgin olive oil. When almost smoking, add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onions become very soft, about 8 minutes. Add the celery and carrot and saute for 5 minutes. Raise heat to high and add the ground beef. Saute, stirring frequently and breaking up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil and cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1/2 hour. Finish bolognese with Pecorino Romano. Check for seasoning.
Serve hot.

Serves 4 very hungry adults.

Note: I think this is a simple basic Bolognese recipe. I still prefer my own version, with which prior marination is required. (Add also includes red wine and brown sugar) However, I like the idea of adding carrots and minced celery to make the sauce more hearty in this recipe.

So much tomato based meals this week, I should cook something tomatoless next week.... Something not Italian...


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Shrimp Egg FooYoung

I saw this recipe from Foodnetwork and decided that it should make a nice dish. It was a very hearty dish indeed, packed with the goodness of veggie and protein (from eggs and shrimp). We ate this along with the leftover Chicken Cacciatore from yesterday's dinner. Shrimp Egg Fooyoung somehow reminded me of another japanese dish- okonomiyaki. This is like the Chinese Version of that, minus the yam flour. According to the recipe, the Shrimp Egg Young should come out in one piece,like a pancake, but I haven't master the skill of flipping such a big omele yet, so it comes out like normal stirfry veggie with eggs.... As long as it tastes nice, i can live with the horrible presentation.

Shrimp Egg FooYoung

4 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
2 cups shredded cabbage
6 eggs (I used 5 eggs, 6 eggs were insane for just the two of us)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup sliced bamboo shoots
1/2 cup cooked small salad shrimp, or large dice medium cooked shrimp
2 tablespoons green onion tops, sliced, for garnish (more to add to the egg mixture)


Place 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large pan and cook onions and cabbage over- medium high heat just until tender.
Remove from heat, drain excess liquid, and reserve.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl and mix in soy sauce, spices, drained cabbage mixture, and bamboo shoots. (I added a handful of chopped green onions)
Using a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and heat.
Ladle about 4 ounces of the cabbage mixture into the hot pan, as you would for pancakes, and sprinkle the small shrimp evenly on top of each.
Cook for about 3 minutes, or until edges start to brown and when jiggled, it slides in the pan.
Flip and cook another 2 to 3 minutes until cooked through. Garnish with scallions.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

So what if it's Valentine's Day

It is just another day, or at least to me it is. I decided that we should not do anything fancy on this day. Afterall, we never really celebrated V days together in the past 7 years because of OCT's oversea study. Though we are together this year, I decided we should not give this day any special attention than any other day.

We had Chicken Cacciatore with roasted herb-potatoes, and brocolli for dinner tonight. Chicken Cacciatore is an Italian dish, which means chicken cooked in the "hunter's style". Seriously, I have no idea of how a hunter cooks. But the recipe seems easy enough to follow, and the name sounds cool. Not to mention, I have lots of chicken thighs to get rid of!

Chicken Cacciatore


4 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves


Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.
In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame.
Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side.
If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches.
Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano.
Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce.
Bring the sauce to a simmer.
Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.
Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter.
If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.
Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.

4 Servings

Though it's just another day, I believe a little gift exchange wouldn't hurt....

From Man to Hong: Heart-shaped egg sandwich, idea courtesy of leeyy.

From Hong to Man: Starbucks card. (so that I don't have to pay when I indulge in my cafe mocha + other goodies when I visit Starbucks alone next time!)


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Citrus Glazed Chicken Thigh

I was really frustrated about the limited choices of vegetables we have over here. Tonight, when I asked OCT what vege he would like for dinner, he said brocolli.. And I was thinking, oh, not again!!!

After rummaging the contents of fridge, I decided to cook celery + mushroom for a change, and used the leftover egg white to cook tomato omelet. The main dish of the night was citrus glazed chicken thigh. A recipe I had set my mind to try awhile ago.

I must said that it lived up to it's name, as the citrus taste was very prominent. I preferred the plain old salt+ sugar marinade combination over this new recipe. But if you are in the mood for something sweet & tangy, you can give this a try. I must add that the chicken thighs were smooth and juicy nonetheless.

Citrus Glazed Chicken Thighs

1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
2 teaspoons bottled ground fresh ginger (such as Spice World)
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
12 (2-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt


Place first 7 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag.
Add chicken; seal bag, and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.
Remove chicken, reserving marinade.
Preheat broiler.
Place chicken on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray;
broil 8 minutes on each side or until done.
While chicken cooks, place reserved marinade, flour, and salt in a small saucepan, stirring with a whisk until blended.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat, and cook for 1 minute or until thickened.
Serve sauce with chicken.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 thighs and 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce)


Friday, February 10, 2006

Banana Split Cheesecake

Yesterday, OCT accidentally deleted all his work in his computer. That included all the photo records of his mice, which was important to him.Luckily the techical support staff managed to recover it for him.

Out of immerse gratitude, he offered to bake something for him. And added that his wife is a good cook.He even told him that my specialty was cheesecake...Of course I am glad that he appreciates my cooking, but I warned him not to brag anymore in the future. (Because I am REALLY NOT that good!) Sometime OCT's enthusiasm and appraisal in front of our friends really put me in a very awkward position. I mean, my stuff are obviously edible, but it's not VERY GOOD, as he always trumpets.

My relentless effort to educate him to be more modest and humble doesn't seem to yield....So, he offered the guy Cheesecake. He called me and passed the decree.
"I asked what would the guy like. But he said no need." OCT said
"Oh, so?" I asked.
"I asked if he likes cheesecake, and said you are good at baking cheesecake!"
"Then what he said?" I asked anxiously, and had a foreboding.
"He said ok!" OCT announced airily.
"You should have asked me first! We can make him scones. I still have A LOT of unbake dough in the freezer, you know? Or make biscottis that can last longer...."
" how? I told him already. But never mind, we can still give him scones"

Of course, we made cheesecake eventually. But what cheesecake? I asked OCT. He wanted Banana Cheesecake. (Because we have some bananas, he reasoned) I did a quick check on the recipes from a few websites that I used regularly, and decided on the recipe below. As OCT happily brought a piece to his lab this morning, I cut a generous piece for myself as brunch. It was nice and light, with a hint of sour cream, and the mashed banana goes well with cream cheese, not overly sweet, but definitely refreshing.

Banana Split Cheesecake


Crust: (I used store-bought crust to save time, and looked more professional than my self made crust)
1 cup packaged chocolate cookie crumbs (such as Oreo)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine, meltedCooking spray

Filling: ( I halved all the ingredients here)
3 (8-ounce) blocks fat-free cream cheese, softened ( used 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) carton low-fat sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar (used slightly less sugar)
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana ( abt 3 Del Monte's if you are making a full recipe, or more)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Toppings: (Skipped, altogether. I preferred not to add extra toppings)
1/3 cup canned crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1/3 cup strawberry sundae syrup
1/3 cup chocolate syrup
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
16 maraschino cherries, drained


1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. To prepare crust, combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl; toss with a fork until moist. Press into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray.

To prepare filling:

3.Beat cheeses and sour cream at high speed of a mixer until smooth.
4. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar, banana, flour, and vanilla; beat well.
5. Add eggs, 1 at a time; beat well after each addition.
6. Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan; bake at 325° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until almost set. (It should take slightly less than an hour to bake, mine was done in 40 mins)
7. Cheesecake is done when the center barely moves when pan is touched. (Switch off the oven when the side is firm, not the center. Add leave the cake in oven. This prevents cracking)
8. Remove cheesecake from oven; run a knife around outside edge.
9. Cool cheesecake to room temperature.
10.Cover and chill for at least 8 hours.
11. Top each serving with 1 teaspoon pineapple, 1 teaspoon strawberry syrup, 1 teaspoon chocolate syrup, 3/4 teaspoon pecans, and 1 cherry. (This is really optional, the cheesecake is tasty enough without topping)

Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 wedge with toppings)


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Dinner updates

I guessed I haven't tried much new recipes after last week's gathering. For my own record purpose, let me briefly jot down what we had for dinner this week.

I have cooked spinach & feta pasta (again), with cheesedogs on Monday night. (I knew the cheesedogs were unhealthy...but i kind of like cheesedogs....). Ok, I must admit that I was lazy to cook on Monday night. So I resorted to what was the simplest. Both OCT and I disagreed with Feta Cheese. So bye bye Feta, I think I wouldn't have you in my grocery basket anytime soon.

Tuesday, we invited Ade over for dinner. I tried the meatloaf recipe that had received rave reviews from other cooks. I thought it was nice, despite the fact that it wasn't firm, as the picture of the recipe showed. You know, sometime you followed the instructions to a T, and got the taste exactly as it was described, but it just looked quite different from what was featured in the magazine. Well, since we didn't see Ade as an outsider, or guest, so I guessed that's ok. (I hope) We paired that with stirfry cabbage, tofu with mushroom and plain rice. Quite a weird combination, as meatloaf didn't exactly fit in a Chinese dinner. But this was just the kind of thing I liked to do. "Rojak" meal, i called it. It's not exactly western or chinese.

Wednesday night, we had Spaghetti with Vodka sauce, sauteed spinach with garlic, carrot with balsamic vinaigrette and the leftover meatloaf. As usual OCT protested the distinct smell of alcohol, but admitted that he couldn't detect the slightest taste of alcohol in his spaghetti.

Left:Spaghetti with Vodka Sauce Right: scones as my lunch

I must include the meatloaf recipe here, because i really like it and I hope you will try it too!

Meatloaf 101
4 slices white bread, torn into pieces
1 3/4 pounds ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into eighths
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg
3/4 cup ketchup
4 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400°. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse bread until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a medium bowl; add ground beef and ground pork. ( I only used ground beef)
2. Place onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and parsley in food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Add to beef mixture; combine using your hands. Add egg, 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 teaspoons dry mustard, salt, and pepper; combine thoroughly, using your hands. Place in an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pan. (I cut everything down, painstakingly with a knife. How I wished I have a food processor!!! Oh, and I used a 9" aluminium disposable loaf pan)
3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup ketchup and 2 teaspoons dry mustard, and the brown sugar; stir until smooth. (I used normal yellow mustard)
4. Brush mixture over top of the meat loaf. Place the pan on a baking sheet to catch drippings, and transfer to oven. Bake until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reaches 160°, about 1 1/2 hours. (If the top of the meat loaf gets too dark, cover with foil and continue baking.) Let meat loaf stand 15 minutes before slicing. ( I second guessed the doneness because I don't have a meat thermometer!)

Serves 8-10 people (No kidding!It was really filling)


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Chinese New Year II

Last Friday's Chinese New Year dinner went on well. I managed to put together some dishes that I could cook confidently on a daily basis (such as brocolli, eggplants and tofu). I also tried the beef stew with bak kut teh packet again with extra prawn this time. OCT thought this should turned out to be like the big prawn noodle he had back in Singapore.

I personally like this beef stew with prawn dish very much. We had the leftover as dinner the next day. It was really fun to have our friends here last Friday, and made up for the Chinese New Year dinner BP hosted at her place, in which we unfortunately missed.

Speaking of last Saturday, it was really disastrous.We went shopping in the afternoon and missed the return shuttle by five minutes. Since it was still early (4:50p.m) we decided to walk around in the mall while waiting for the next shuttle that was supposed to come in 25 mins time. The shuttle was late because of rain, and we reached the Hilltop campus at around 6:30. We needed to take another shuttle to go home. We waited, and waited frustratedly in the rain for another 45 mins before the shuttle turned up. By the time we reached home, it was already after 8:30p.m! Both of us were exhausted and hungry, so we decided to have instant noodles and dumplings as our first Chinese New Year Eve dinner as a family...

Back in Malaysia, my mum used to cook A LOT during Chinese New Year to entertain. There are relatives on the first day of CNY, church friends on the second day and her women fellowship friends on the third day. It has been the culture. As my mum put it - Festivals are time to share your joy and love with others. I couldn't agree more. If there's one thing that my parents has imparted to me, it would be to share.

These are some photos taken during the dinner and our young friend Jon played lion, with his little brother Ben as sidekick- our entertainment after the dinner!


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Baking on Thursday

Last Thursday was Groundhog day. I asked OCT what was that supposed to mean. He told me that it meant a bad day, when you would not have any luck in whatever you do. Not convinced, I did a search on internet to look for the answer myself. And this was what i found:

"In traditional weather lore, if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day and fails to see its shadow because the weather is cloudy, winter will soon end. If the groundhog sees its shadow because the weather is bright and clear, it will be frightened and run back into its hole, and the winter will continue for six more weeks."

Ok, so Groundhog day doesn't mean an unlucky day. Then why did I overbake the muffins that OCT supposed to bring to his lab breakfast? And my Mocha Cheesecake turned out to be ugly dark brown? OCT insisted that Groundhog Day was not my day, and I shouldn't continue to bake the pineapple tarts.

I ignored him and proceeded with my pineapple tarts nevertheless. And here's how they turned out:

Thank God! They turned out fine!


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Chinese New Year Dinner

To make up for the new year reunion dinner we missed last Saturday, OCT and I decided to invite a few close friends over for dinner tomorrow night. OCT was very excited about it and started to discuss about what to cook for tomorrow night.

" We can cook Singapore style prawn noodle soup, sweet & sour prawn, soya sauce chicken, all of which are my specialties!" He suggested enthusiastically.
"Huh? But I have tried none of it! Are you absolutely sure they are delicious?" I answered unbelievably.
"OF COURSE!!!" OCT said confidently.
"But you have to work leave the cooking to me" I demanded.
"So what are you going to cook?"He asked. At this point, he walked to the kitchen and opened our fridge to see what we have, I joined him. Hoping that this would give me some inspirations. But nothing came.....

We have chicken breast, prawn, half a packet of beef stew, 2 pieces of pork chops, dumplings, 4 tubs of Edy's ice creams, 1 tub of Ben & Jerry, pie doughs, pizza in the freezer. And mostly vegetables and dairy products in the fridge. Again, we ran out of eggs.

"Can we cook western? or fusion?" I suggested.
I can't remember what he said. In gist, he thought we should cook chinese food.

All that's in my mind at that point was unfortunately, which cheesecake should I bake; and what side dishes to make...Desperate, we resorted to the Chinese cookbook he collected over the years here. OCT went on to do his "research" and methodically go through the ingredients required for the dishes that he eyed on. As usual, I was skeptical about chinese cookbook. I had heard too many bad things about chinese chef who didn't share their recipes in its entirety. They will leave out certain procedure and let you figured your way out. Of course, there are some good people out there who share unselfishly. But I rarely followed these recipes.

"How about cooking chicken cordon bleu? You said it's nice right?" I ventured.
"It's too bland" OCT answered.
"Lasagna? spaghetti?" I asked hopefully.
"Your lasagna is too sweet and spaghetti is not a good idea"
I gulped. Defeated.

Oh no! So what am I going to cook?

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