Thursday, November 30, 2006

Homemade Meat Sauce

Our usual pasta sauce is minced beef cooked in a bottle of Prego's. Lazy, eh?

I have some minced beef left over from making beef burritos yesterday and decided to make meat sauce but this time, from scratch.

It's not an elaborate recipe.... I looked up online at various recipes, picked out the common ingredients and omitted what I do not like to eat, like celery. And below is my version :

300gms of minced beef (I used lean beef version)
1 yellow onion - chop half finely, the other, more coarse
4 tomatoes - pureed (I used a grater, skins excluded)
1 carrot (about 4 inches) - grated finely
1 red pepper - chopped
1 green pepper - chopped
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine
dried basil
dried oregano
1 bay leaf
freshly cracked black pepper
salt (optional)

1. Heat up the olive oil in a saucepan and fry onions till translucent.
2. Maintain medium heat. Stir in carrot, peppers and tomato paste. Let it come to a boil and then stir in beef.
3. When beef is cooked through, pour in (this is the BEST part!!) red wine. Stir well.
4. Add in tomato puree and season with basil, oregano and the bay leaf.
5. Let simmer over low heat for about half hour, stirring occasionally. Sauce will thicken.
6. Season with black pepper and salt, if required.
7. Remember to discard bay leaf after cooking.
The pasta sauce is yummily, naturally sweet from the beef and veggies... Delicious! I had loads of fun tasting the sauce every now and then while it was simmering away, between sips of the red wine... Hic!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

La Gang....

Friends from uni days : Heng Peng, Yen Nee, CY Heng, me, Su Yin, Soo Fong, Pui Yee & baby Le Le, Jen, CC and her darling daughter.

Buds for nearly a decade....

Heng Peng, Pui Yee and baby Le Le came home from Beijing for a short visit recently. Some members of the Mass Comm. gang in KL met up at Bakerzin, Bangsar one fine (for a short while, at least before it bombed) Saturday afternoon.

Was fun to catch up - most are married with kids but still as crazy a bunch as ever! We hardly meet but when we do, it's the same camaraderie.

It really was great to see everyone and even greater to see them expanding in one way or another..... (good ways, LOL!)

Jen has a great slide on this outing ESPECIALLY the kids! Simply adorable!

Beef Burritos

Lots of veggies................Plus cooked minced beef........Plus tortillas..... Equals BURRITOS!!! Made this for tonight's dinner....

I actually haven't looked up on the recipe for beef burritos but what the heck...

Slice a yellow onion, a pepper and 2 tomatoes....

Cook up about 300gms of minced weight-watchers' beef with 2 golf ball-sized yellow onions (diced), 1/2 tbsp of olive oil, 2 tbsp of garlic teriyaki sauce (no taco seasoning in da house), dash of paprika and chilli flakes.

Wrap some beef, some raw onion, pepper and tomato slices in a tortilla. Voila! A hearty meal with protein, carbs, low in fat and lotsa veggies! Add Monterey Jack cheese or any cheese if you like.

Yield : 8 small burritos (but this doesn't mean you have to eat all 8 of them at one go!)

Tortillas are great to keep in the freezer for days when you are lazy... you can wrap cooked minced or sliced beef or chicken with CHEESE!! It is that versatile. Pass the salsa please.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Banana Walnut Cupcakes

1 cup wholemeal wheat flour
2/3 cup white sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas (5 to 6 inches long) - mashed and mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare 12 muffin cups.

2. Combine the sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and soda and oil.

3. With an electric mixer beat eggs into mixture one at a time.

4. Stir in the bananas and the walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.

5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 to 25mins or test with a toothpick. Toothpick should come out clean.

Do note that the more ripe the bananas are, the sweeter they are. Watch the sugar quantity!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Beefy Dog Biscuits

Claudia, my dog stays at home alone most of the time... I do feel guilty about that and so, give her an occasional treat of airdried chicken imported from Japan. It is a "better" treat than those dog biscuits etc... Even then, I am not too happy to give her any commercial treats.

I am a healthy eater and this applies to those I feed, my dog included. I am firm believer that pets should not be fed commercial treats as they contain a lot of cheap junk for ingredients like unwanted parts of animals, sodium, preservatives, colourings and goodness knows what else.

So, I did a bit of homework to look for dog treats recipes.. and voila! Allrecipes have them! But most of the recipes contain stuffs which I do not want to feed my dog with like beef bouillon (msg), salt, shortening, peanut butter...

So, I came up with my own easy recipe and poopy tested it just now... she loves it!!

Ingredients :

300gms minced beef
1 cup grated carrot
2 eggs
2 cups wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes (for fresher breath)

Method :
1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
2. Mix beef, carrot, egg and parsley till well blended.
3. Add in flour. Knead well. Dough will be pliable and just a bit sticky.
4. Take a handful of dough and flatten on lightly floured surface till approx 1/4 inch thick.
5. Cut to desired shapes. Repeat till all the dough is used up.
6. Bake for 20 mins.
7. Cool and keep refrigerated.

Makes 60 biscuits.

I used organic-grade flour, no bleach and no genetic engineering) - And the damage? 7X more expensive than all-purpose flour.Yup, my dog eats better than I do, most times.

As with all treats, keep feeding treats to pets to a minimum.

Ahhh.... C'est Un Bon Weekend!

Weekends are God-sent. I love cleaning and clearing clutters, meeting friends and family, spend time for my hobbies like eating, cooking, baking and such on Saturdays and Sundays...

My this weekend started early - dinner with colleagues at Spring Valley (Midvalley Megamall) followed drinks at Elsa and Beth's place on Friday night.

Dinner was great at Spring Valley, a Chinese restaurant. Let me try to remember what I had.... Been too reliant on photos these days and when I don't take them, I can't remember well....

Ok, we had Sharksfin soup, Peking duck skin wrapped in Chinese Pancakes with Spring onions and cucumbers, Stirfried duck meat, Garoupa fish in 2-style - Fried straight and also, with mango and mayonnaise and coated with batter and fried, Butter prawns, Longlife noodles and Fungus and red dates soup for dessert.

On Saturday, B & I went out on a date - we had a great dinner at the quite-new Tony Roma's @ Sunway Pyramid. We make Saturdays eat-whatever-we-want kinda day... in short, binge-day...So, we went all out for bad food... LOL!

We shared an appetiser platter with Spinach Dip with Tortilla Chips and Sour Cream and Salsa, Red Hot (not that hot, trust me) Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing and their signature Onion Loaf with BBQ Dipping Sauce.
And we had 3 pieces (Full Rack) of Boneless Beef Ribs... Sorry, no famous Baby Back Pork Ribs here... Must be HALAL...
I find the Spinach Dip kind "oily".. like over-microwaved cheese..but yummy nonetheless... As for Onion Loaf, I cannot understand why it's so popular.. maybe it's just me not favouring it... I love the Blue Cheese Dressing but wings are just so-so.. Wings at Earl's in Canada are way much better.

I have had Tony Roma's Baby Back Ribs in Singapore before and I would say I like both the beef and pork version equally... Such tender beef morsels... See the pic?
We had it with sides of baked potato (with sour cream, bacon bits, chives and cheese)and a coleslaw. They have 4 sauces to choose from : Original, Blue Ridge Smokies, Carolina Honeys and Red Hots. You will be spoilt for choice.. Actually, no cos they same quite the same to both of us.
After being stuffed (portions are huge!) with appies and mains, we have no more room for their dessert. So, we left and took a walk at the mall to kill time before our movie started... We went to watch James Bond, Casino Royale. A must-see! I like the actions! I won't mind watching it again.... There is something about the cool-ness of James Bond which I like... Thanks Ian Fleming for creating this character!

B & I used to hang out at Starbucks in the past to talk shop... And the funny thing is both of us are neither coffee nor tea drinkers... We decided to pop by Starbucks after the movie.. He had his usual chocolate frappucino and I had my milk with vanilla.

And we came home satisfied with the feast of the eyes and belly... with the time spent together.

Today, I went to see my momma... she cooked porridge for me as usual... And in return, I gave her the usual kiss on the cheek.. Greatest mom, ever!

And I came home, relax, went out with B to Cold Storage to get groceries and started baking... See the next 2 posts for more....

C'est un bon weekend!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dinner of Salmon with Bell Peppers and Nutella Cupcakes

We are trying to eat healthier stuffs... cut down on bad fats and carbs.

I just read in the book "Body for Life" that fruits are considered carbs. Yes, these innocent healthy fruits are loaded with sugars which are basically carbohydrates. The good side is that they are not refined sugars but still, it is a form of carbohydrate. Hence, if you take a banana, an orange or a mango for example, it's best to reduce other forms of carbs like rice, pasta or potatoes.

So, I made salmon with bell peppers and mango and avocado salad (have to use up the last mango and last avocado before they are too ripe) for dinner tonight. No rice, no pasta, no potato, no bread....

Ingredients :
2 pieces of salmon
1 small bell pepper (best is red but I only have green, so green pepper it is)
2 cloves garlic (chopped finely)
2 tsp olive oil
salt to taste

Method :
1. Heat oven to 250 deg C.
2. Rub salt and 1/3 of the chopped garlic all over salmon. Place on baking dish greased with 1 tsp of the olive oil.
3. Grill pepper until burnt. Place in a plastic bag to allow skin to loosen. Remove skin and seeds. Chop coarsely.
4. Mix chopped pepper, remaining 2/3 of garlic and 1 tsp of olive oil. Add a teeny weeny pinch of salt if desired. After all, the fish are already seasoned with salt.
5. Spread pepper/garlic/oil mixture on top of salmon evenly.
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Anyway, so much talk about cutting down bad fats and sugars.... and I gave in to temptation and made 12 Nutella Cupcakes - This blogger makes me want to bake and bake with her baking.

Baking the cupcakes was a last-minute decision but trust me, this has been on my mind since the weekend. I didn't have any liners at home - so, I improvised by using squares of aluminium foil. Not so beautiful but tastes great!

As usual, I like to deviate a bit (I know, using aluminium foil instead of proper liners is already a great deviation). Instead of swirling Nutella with a toothpick, I covered the Nutella with more cake mixture cos didn't want to waste the extra. Thus, the Nutella in my cupcakes are pretty much hidden and it won't do justice if I call them Nutella Frosted Cupcakes.

I had one cake after dinner shared with B. B was dying to have more but can't as he has just started his no-sweets diet. The rest will be distributed to friends as I enjoy baking but have no sweet tooth.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mango and Avocado Salad

Since I had this at Shannon and Oscar's, I have been hooked. Of course, my recipe is not 100% the same as I did not get it fom Shannon.. Just improvise as I usually do... You can always change the ratio - I love mangoes, so the mangoes will always be big in volume. And if you are eating alone and not entertaining, or everybody else does not mind the pungent goodness, just load up on the onions and garlic.

1 just-ripe sweet mango (too ripe and it gets mushy)
1 just-ripe avocado (ditto)
1 red onion the size of a golf ball(love those Aussie ones)
2 handfuls of mixed salad leaves

1 clove garlic (chopped finely)
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
a touch of Dijon mustard (what is happening to Maille Dijon? Can't find a single jar at the supermarket shelves)
1/2 teaspoon sugar (omit if mango is very sweet)
a pinch of salt
black pepper

a. Cut mango, avocado and onion into cubes. Mix into salad leaves.
b. Mix garlic, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and sugar well.
c. Pour onto the mango-avocado-onion-leaves and toss just before serving.
Top with freshly ground black pepper.

It really is an easy and refreshing salad... Goes really well with BBQ chicken. Enjoy!

Rain, rain, GO AWAY!

I don't mind rain - in moderation.. But when it happens every day at 3pm onwards.. and literally bombs with thunder and lightning, it ain't so pretty...

My clothes won't dry properly and I have to wash and re-wash and re-wash unless I am a housewife/domestic goddess or work-at-home person who can bring all the clothes in when the lightning strikes and before thunder.

And oh, the traffic jam (though it's not really the rain's fault tho - just shitty planning with road construction in Malaysia - the major highways are usually flooded) is enough to rob me of whatever sanity that remains.

I hate dampness... I love dry, bright sunshiny days!

This evening, we had power trip twice due to lightning. But it turned out pretty romantic for Barry and I - and poopster.... We lit candles (some in lovely Royal Copenhagen tealight holders) and had a glass of wine each.. we first gave a toast to romance.. yup, we are cheesy sometimes... and we talked and talked..

It really is nice.. no distraction from TV, books and such, we were able to have some moments of focus to just talk deep... And then we opened the sliding door to the patio and we sat there (yes, 3 of us again as the dog likes a tri-party conversation) feeling the cool breeze and watching the lightning in the sky.

It was a beautiful evening... and for this, I don't mind a few lightning and thunder every now and then...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Back from Canada, Onward to Singapore and Back to Kuala Lumpur

I had to take the 8.05am flight on Monday to Singapore for work even though having just returned from Canada the day before.....No jetlag though tired....

For lunch on the first day, we went to Pete's Place at Grand Hyatt... I had Lobster Spaghetti... wasn't in the mood for pizza nor pasta but clearly I was the only one craving something Asian.

Again, we went to Newton Circus for dinner... can't complain though.. love the mutton satay, oyster omelette, grilled stingray and pepper crab.

I was at my happiest with lunch on Tuesday at Kam Boat Restaurant, Shaw Centre. It was truly a great welcome...oh! the dim sum parcels, the lovely roast pork and roast duck, the soothing hot soup with sharksfin dumpling and the mango pudding... No pictures at all while in Singapore... I was very, very tired. So tired that I skipped dinner on Tuesday after returning from Singapore.

Colleagues from Singapore came to KL office on Wednesday and Thursday.... so, no chance for some peace and quiet again....

I took Irene and Elaine to Little Penang Kafe at Midvalley Megamall for lunch on Wednesday... oh, I realised I do miss local food!!!

Pie Tee (Top Hats)

We also ordered fishball soup, char koay teow and Hokkien mee... all washed down with either sugar cane or coconut drink... Truly refreshing....

As Sow Mun was leaving us, I took three of them to Telawi Street Bistro. It's western but this western, I can tolerate.... My choice of starter to share - Seared Foie Gras with Grilled Chicken Salad
Everybody's choice of starter to share - Starters Tapas - Escargot Vol-au-vent, Scallops with Asparagus, Grilled Portabello Mushroom with Duck and Carpaccio with Sundried Tomatoes
Elaine's choice for mains - Duck Leg Confit
Sow Mun's choice for mains - Halibut with Pasta
My choice for Irene's mains - Seabass with really Crispy Skin... Great aroma!!
My choice for mains - Grilled Field Vegetables - Like a veggie burger (portabello mushrooms, zucchini, onion, poivrons, eggplant) with cheese cracker and salad leaves served with a ring of basil pesto
My choice of dessert for all to share - Strawberries with Reduced Balsamic Vinegar and a dusting of sugar and freshly ground black pepper (yes, pepper). Isn't it lovely to look at?

And the verdict? Both starters were great. So is the dessert choice. As for mains, the seabass was awesome! with the crispy skin.. and my grilled field veggies was light yet filling...

Lunch on Thursday was Thai with 25 staff of a customer of mine to introduce to Irene.... tomyam was appetising... so was the mango salad, green curry chicken, siakap fish Thai style, golden mushroom and vegetables and spicy calamari. I had char koay teow again on Thursday for dinner.

By Friday I was craving for simple foods. So, I had chicken porridge with tons of ginger and a tuna salad for lunch followed by Lok Lok (Fatman's Steamboat) with Barry at USJ Taipan (quail's eggs, century eggs, cockles, clams and liver were my choices - please do not squirm. There are other worse stuffs that people eat.

And today, my momma made me fried salted fish and stirfried pea sprouts to go with plain porridge for brunch. Then, I joined Prawit, Yap and Ian from Thai, KL and Singapore office respectively for banana leaf rice at Sri Nirwana Maju, Bangsar followed by a chocolate mint shake at Bakerzin.

AND, I started cooking again today. I went to Village Grocer's at Bangsar to get stuffs after Bakerzin. A simple mango & avocado salad and grilled salmon steak with pasta.

It's not too bad a week after all!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Canada.... Dinner at Port Moody/Da Boys et Famille

We spent the last two days of our Canadian stay with friends. One night with Gary and Catherine in Port Moody and the final night with the boys and some members of their family before we took the too-long-for-my-comfort flight home to Kuala Lumpur, my home sweet home...

I did miss my bed at home... and my family and friend... AND my dog, of course!

We had had real blast with the boys over dinner at Cactus Club on our last night in Vancouver. Food was great there.

Da Boys et Famille
My Dinner, Hawaiian Tuna Poke - I don't know why it's named so hilariously... it's basically diced mangoes (I like!!), ahi tuna etc in some kind of dressing placed in friend wonton wrappers. Picture a bit blurry... hands must be shaking from the hunger. LOL.
B's choice of spicy wings with blue cheese dip
Mel's chicken tortilla with corn chips and guacamole

Earlier in the afternoon, we went shopping at Richmond Centre with Al and his son, Jayden. A bright kid!

Jayden - such a great actor
Cutie this one...

The night before, we had dinner at Jameson's, Port Moody with Gary and Catherine. After dinner, we went to check out their new pad... but ended up watching the boys (Oscar, Gary and B) playing Xbox 360 and watching Ali G. and Borat.

My choice for dinner at Jameson's. - Seared Ahi Tuna with Risotto - Big portion!

Am glad to be back to eating "normal-sized" meals... have been wondering when I will be needing new clothes all the time when I was in Canada....

Friday, November 03, 2006

Canada.... Homemade Breakfast

I got lucky again today... Mel took the day off to be with us (more like to be with B - they are playing Halo as I am typing this)...
Me, Mel & B having breakfast

We had toasts, hash, turkey bacon and scrambled eggs with tomatoes and feta cheese - B said to Mel that he has to marry him now.... LOL!

I Miss My Puppy.....

We have been missing Claudia aka L'il Licky aka Boo aka Poopy etc etc....

Here are pictures taken when I dropped her off at mom's :

Oh, that angelic face!!! I miss her following me all around, miss feeding her, miss carrying her, miss her sitting on my lap, miss her snuggling close to me... just missing her so badly.... 1 more week before I get to see her....

Canada..... Dinner at Oscar and Shannon's

After lunch with Oscar, Chris and Clarence Casillan, we went for further city tour of Vancouver before going to Port Moody where Oscar and Shannon are staying.

Their home is really cosy. Shannon and Oscar cooked up a storm for us... literally! Read on..................

Oscar's artwork....

My dinner - BBQ Chicken, Avocado and Mango Salad and Potato with Parmesan Cheese - I really dig the salad!! Refreshing with a zing to it.... White wine vinegar, olive oil and sugar... with red onions, peas (I think) and salad leaves....
Why is Oscar pouting?
Ah-ha!!! 2 pieces of blackened chicken..... too engrossed with our visit (ah-hahaHahaha!), the last 2 pieces were forgotten thus, charred as you can see in this picture....
B scraping the grill... or pretending to....
We were actually fooling around....
Dessert.. Strawberry Tarts
Dessert..Pecan Tarts

Best meal during this trip to Canada.... healthy and delicious! I miss homecooked meals!!!

Canada.... Vancouver City Tour

Oscar took B & I for a city tour - more for my benefit than anything cos it was my very first visit. B lived in Vancouver for quite many years before coming to Malaysia.

We dropped by his sister's home to take a look at her home in Port Moody en route to Grouse Mountain. We caught his niece, Madison tip-toeing to reach the candies on the kitchen counter from the night before. Such a doll she is!
Me, B, Oscar and his niece Madison
Road to Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain - we didn't go up via gondola as it was CAD30/adult - the day was hazy. Thus, not worth it. So, we decided to go further to Cypress Lookout Point where it is FREE.

B & I at the Cypress Provincial Park sign B & I - Cypress Lookout Point - the yellowy band behind is smog/pollution from the city's motor vehicles

Oscar and I at Cypress Lookout Point - I love this pic cos of my new sunglasses. They are so kool!
Stanley Park
The Totem Poles at Stanley Park
Stanley Park
View of city skyline from Stanley Park
City Skyline and Marina - view from Stanley Park
Lion's Gate Bridge

Lion's Gate Bridge - view from Stanley Park's Prospect Point
Burrard Street Bridge to get in and out of Kitsilano
Homes in Kitsilano

City Skyline - View from Kitsilano
Heading Downtown Vancouver
Lunch at Tan Po Po - All You Can Eat Sushi - very nice wild sockeye salmon sashimi - B, Oscar, Clarence, Chris
Chris, with full belly of sushi, sashimi, teriyaki, kariaage, gyoza, miso soup...
Designer Cupcakes - CAD1.50 each after a day old - we opted for bubble tea from next door instead
Banana Leaf Indian restaurants are quite popular in Vancouver...

To be continued.............................