18 months of great time

Hello

Let’s see…. it’s been one year and 6 months since I made my last appearance here! I’m really sorry for always missing in action (for a long time). 😛

Well, life has just too many beautiful distractions and temptations, hasn’t it? Anyway, I hope I’m coming back, for good this time, hehe.

Hello

So first of all, a quick update on what I had done in the past 18 months.

1. Writing as a freelance as usual.

2. Did lots of home cooking as usual.

3. Started to take part in 10 km runs.

4. Took up a 3-month part-time pastry course and several cake decoration classes.

5. Bought my first KitchenAid Heavy Duty Stand Mixer!!

6. As a consequence of No.4 and No.5, I could finally make my own fondant decorated red velvet cake during Christmas time, and a Doraemon-faced butter cream cake for my nieces’ birthday. 😉 Of course, I had also tried various recipes of cookies and cupcakes and baked items.

7. And, finally, the highlight of 2013 – a holiday in Athens and Santorini!

Looking at the list above, you bet I will have a lot to share in the time to come, be it recipes that I learned from my pastry class, or photos taken during my holidays. Not forgetting to mention that I will be heading for a holiday in two weeks’ time (destination to be revealed later ;)). Even more photos and travel tips to share after I return!

So, while I hope that you will stay put to follow my updates, I hope that MY butt will stay put and not wander away from this blog again. 😛

Sinful indulgence with creamy tomato pasta sauce

I don’t like to go through the hassle of cooking when I’m eating alone, because I think it’s a waste of time cooking for myself, eating on my own, and cleaning up every thing myself.

Occasionally, however, I will think the otherwise and whip up something special for a lonely diner, that’s me, if I have a new recipe to try out, hehe.

Recently bought a recipe book and was fascinated by how simple it is to prepare some of the common Western dishes and desserts usually seen in restaurants’ menu. After examining almost all the recipes in the book, I realised that the simple secret key ingredient in all those wonderful foods is…. cream! 😛

So, experimenting with cream in my dishes for the first time (it’s true!), I made myself bow tie pasta in sinful creamy tomato sauce for my one-person dinner. I have had pasta in creamy sauce many times in delis and cafes, but never knew how simple it is to prepare the same at home.

Here’s how to make the yummy cream tomato sauce to go with any type of your favourite pasta. The measurements given here is just an estimation, should be able to serve 2-3 persons. Please adjust accordingly to the number of servings you need or as per your appetite!

Ingredients:
3 slices of bacon, cut into strips
10-15 cherry tomatoes 10 (or more as you like), cut into halves or quarters
Half a onion, diced (or less if you don’t like)
1-2 carrots, diced
(You may include diced celery if you like)
Some chopped garlic
Tomato paste, 1 small can
Milk 1 cup
Cream for cooking 2 cups
Salt and ground black pepper
Some water
Pasta, the type and amount as you wish

Method:
1. Stir fry bacon and cherry tomatoes until the tomato skin peeled off. Put aside.
2. Saute chopped garlic in a bit of oil, add diced onion and carrot and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
3. Add canned tomato paste into veggie, stir fry for another 2-3 minutes. If it gets too thick and difficult to stir fry, add a bit of water.
4. Add milk and cream into the mixture. Cook for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add the cooked bacon and tomato into the sauce, and let the sauce cook for a while.
6. Cook your pasta al dente. Pour some sauce over the pasta when it’s time to serve. Garnish with cherry tomato or herbs. :)

Enjoy!

Quick and easy pizza recipe with ham and broccoli

Stopped working since April and resumed the life of a housewife. Although I had been cooking about three times per week, but the dishes I attempted were just ordinary simple daily dishes to fill up my husband’s stomach. 😛

The real interest to cook and try something new only started again recently. Last week, I had made a roast herb chicken breast with carrot and corn. Yesterday, I made this quick, short-cut pizza.

Ingredients:

  • pastry sheet as the base
  • ham (sliced)
  • broccoli florets cut to smaller pieces
  • green capsicum (diced)
  • tomato (diced)
  • HP brown sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

(I’m not giving any measurement here, as I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s all up to you whatever and however much you want to put. :) )

Method:

  • Apply a thin layer of HP brown sauce on the pastry sheet.
  • Place the ham slices, broccoli, tomato and capsicum on the sheet.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper onto your beautiful pizza arrangement . Then add the cheese topping.
  • Bake in the oven at 180-190 degree Celsius for about 20 minutes. Do adjust accordingly to the type of base and toppings you are using.

I call this a ‘short-cut’ as in I did not make my own pizza dough, but instead used a all-purpose whole wheat pastry sheet as the base. However, I find that things labeled as ‘all-purpose’ are usually not that nice. 😉

The pastry I managed to buy from the supermarket (which I figured is not the best place to look for Western recipes ingredients) is not thick, so I expected the base to be thin and crisp when out of the oven when baked according to the instructions on the packaging, i.e. to bake for 8-10 minutes at 180 degree Celsius.

However, the pastry was not evenly dried up despite baking for about 20 minutes (more than what the instruction stated). In fact, certain parts of the pastry was still soggy. For this,  I blamed the instructions on the packaging. Well, it didn’t tell me to check my oven manual so that I would use the right setting to bake a pizza!

Lesson learnt –  I should always refer back to the oven manual to confirm the settings and the position to place the tray before baking.

The toppings were okay though, as I was quite generous with the ham. It would have been even better if I were also more generous in the cheese topping. 😛

Well, consider it a healthy pizza then. Overall, I was happy with my first attempt in making a ‘modified’ version of pizza. A satisfying dinner nevertheless. <3

And, for the portion that we were not able to finish, it became our breakfast this morning, after adding a poached egg on top. Yummy!