frozen dinner to the rescue!

I don’t always have time to cook, especially when work finishes at 5pm and traffic going home would hold me back about an hour or so (this is Kuala Lumpur traffic mind you!) so it sounds handy and sensible to have frozen food waiting at home to be pop into the microwave. After all, Mr Husband prefers frozen dinner than dining out on weekdays having to compete with traffic, rude waiters, bad weather, queing while paying bills, yadayada…

 Therefore, Sunday has become my marketing day plus ‘cook-a-storm’ day! I have become quite a master at whipping out 3-4 dishes in 2 hours (if you’d like to know, Malay cooking is the most tedious, messy and long winded of ALL recipes!). Being a stickler for nutrition – I made my own frozen meals! bahhh… allow me to emulate the perfect working mother? hehhe
I made these today:
frozen1Beef curry, butter chicken and sardine in chilli paste.
Making my own frozen meals is really a bargain, after I did the math. The above just costs RM45 for 5 dinners, well, veggie not included but I assume I would spend less than RM150 if I cook in than dine out for the whole week. Plus, I choose my own preferred ingredients and cooking method. One thing I noticed is that meat seems to take well to being frozen rather than fish and veggie. My fish and veggie dishes would then require to be cooked and eaten instantly.
Here’s some tips on how to store your frozen food:
1. The containers you use to store your meals in should be both microwave- and freezer-safe. Both glass and plastic may work well, if they meet these standards (all glass and plastic containers are different). Another option is large freezer bags. Certain foods will freeze well in a bag, and can then be defrosted in the refrigerator, placed in a microwave-safe container, and then reheated.
2. Before portioning out cooked food into containers, allow it to cool completely first and always leave extra room at the top of to allow for expansion of the food during freezing.
3. Make sure food is wrapped well and/or covered with air-tight lids to prevent air from getting in.
4. Foods with high moisture content (such as soups) tend to freeze better than drier foods.
5. Don’t turn your food into a mystery science project. Use a permanent marker to label each dish with a name and a date. For maximum quality and flavor, use each meal within a couple of weeks.
6. Just like in a store, rotate your stock so that the newest meals are in the back and the oldest are in the front for easy access.
7. Vegetables should be slightly undercooked to prevent them from becoming mushy when you reheat them.
8. Be careful about bacterial contamination. Completely cool hot food before freezing it to prevent the growth of bacteria. Bacteria can grow when the outside of food freezes while the inside remains warm.
9. If you’re not sure a meal will freeze well, cook and freeze only a small portion the first time. If the quality is okay, then go ahead and freeze more in the future.
10. As a general rule, fruit and vegetables will stay freezer-fresh for around eight months, fish and shellfish for up to six months, and meat and poultry for three. Trust your instincts and throw out anything from the freezer that smells or tastes “off.”
11. Don’t re-freeze defrosted foods because the taste and texture will decline and you could be risking bacterial contamination.

Well folks, have fun trying your own frozen meals and stay healthy!


my comfort food for a cold night

Last night I made beef stew for dinner. I got home late and it was a wet and cold night from the heavy rain the whole evening, which is perfect for a hot comforting meal like this. This is my version of beef stew, super easy and yummy (well, I think so!). Some friends asked for the recipe and I decided to share here. Enjoy!

Qahina’s beef stew.

500g beef tenderloin, cubed
3 tablespoons olive oil
Blender (10 shallots, 5 garlic and 2 cm ginger into paste)
2 red onions, cut into four
2 white boiling potatoes, cut into four
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots, diced big sized
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 red tomatoes, cut into four
5 cups water
2 teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon garam masala (Indian spice mix)
basil oregano
1/4 cup cornstarch (rough amount, to thicken)

1. Shake up salt, pepper and beef in a plastic bag and leave to marinate for 30 mins.
2. Brown beef with olive oil. Keep the oil together with beef to be poured into pot.
3. Saute the paste, add garam masala and black pepper, then add the browned beef plus its oil.
4. Add onions, potatoes, tomatoes, celery and carrots into crock pot.
5. Stir everything well and wait for 3 mins.
6. Add water and simmer on low for 1 hour.
7. Turn off crock pot then add in cornstarch that has been mixed in a bit of cold water in another bowl.
8. Stir constantly while boil for one more minute before serve.
9. Serve with bread or rice.

Is Chicken Giving You UTIs?

I read this on Washington Post just now and thought of sharing. Read on…

You’ve long blamed your sex life for those painful urinary tract infections, but you also might need to blame your chicken.

It turns out, eating E. coli-contaminated chicken can cause UTIs, according to a study published this week in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

In the study, scientists tested 320 samples of beef, pork, and chicken for the nasty strain of E. coli bacteria that’s usually responsible for UTIs (from transfer from the anal region to the urethra). They discovered that the E. coli strains from chicken are genetically similar to those that cause human UTIs. Uh oh.

Reduce Your Risk
The study’s researchers blame improper food handling for food-borne UTIs, so you can minimize your chances of developing an E. coli infection by following these food-safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
• Wash your hands. Clean your hands thoroughly (at least 25 seconds!) after using the bathroom and before food preparation.
• Cook meats thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer to ensure chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees
•Prevent cross contamination. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they come in contact with raw meat.

Other ways to prevent UTIs:
•Avoid douching or using feminine hygiene sprays
•Clean your delicate areas frequently, especially before and after sex
•Urinate before and after sex
•Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom

an evening in Bagan Lalang

My family and I had a wonderful time at the beach yesterday. It was Thaipusam celebration break and all roads to Kuala Lumpur (Batu Caves mainly) was choked with cars, so we decided to drive outskirt and have seafood dinner at Bagan Lalang. Now Bagan Lalang is not great for swimming but the white sandy beach is still nice for a stroll and a picnic. Lil’ Aisyah and I made a sandcastle and we had ice creams. 🙂 Enjoy the photos!

sunset at Bagan Lalang

Then we had dinner at Senandung Malam Seafood restaurant. The seafood is so-so but the price is very cheap. Costs us RM100 for 5 people, quite a bargain kan? 🙂

steamed garoupa with assam

buttered prawns - my favourite!

bamboo clams in chilli sauce - this is a must try.

curing oneself through Nature

Still on the subject of health, I would like to share with you a video I happened to chance upon when I was researching on cholesterol etc. Happens that Mr Husband is suffering from high cholesterol (we found it out last October) and I’m trying to make sure the food at home is as healthy as possible.

His theories are not new – but it’s often when we’re sick then we’ll look for abovesaid cures. While I don’t completely agree all cancers can be spontaneously cured as suggested, prevention through diet changes and consuming as per recommended is common sense. What blows my mind was when Dr Coldwell mentioned the fact about salt. I quickly throw away my table salt and replace it with natural sea salt and Himalayan rock salt.

(image taken from antidotehealthstore ) priced around RM7-10 a pack

(image taken from antidotehealthstore) priced range from RM3-5 per pack

Of course it’s a tad expensive than the regular salt but these were made through tedious evaporation process hence its worth. Imagine all these while you’ve been consuming processed glass and sand in your regular table salt? Of course your arteries get bruised all the time! So yeah, that was a phenomenal news to me. 🙂
Do observe what Dr Coldwell has said in this video. At the end of the day, prevention is better than cure, as I’m learning now.

drink your veggies!

Apart from trying hard to be financially-savvy for 2012, I also wish to be healthy and fit. Just before my 34th birthday last December, I met a wonderful lady teacher while I was invigilating the SPM exams and she talked at great length how raw food diet has changed her life. While I’m very much aware of the benefits of phytonutrients, I wasn’t sure how it can be easily integrated into my lifestyle. She introduced me to Dr Thomas Wu’s book and as it was only published in Mandarin, took the trouble to translate the recipes to English. I’m truly indebted to her because I know not many would do this, especially for me. Like who am I to her right, just an accidental colleague for 11 days invigilating exams together! She’s one of those who doesn’t choose who to be kind to, and maybe it’s just God’s way to enlighten me to a better diet and lifestyle through this woman. Nonetheless, I am now practising what I’ve learnt – drink your veggies and fruits! It’s quite tough to seek out accurate servings etc, but Dr Thomas Wu’s recipes really help matches the right fruits and vege for certain benefits. I drink the recommended juice 3 days a week especially on weekdays before I go to work and at dinner. I vary the concoctions so it won’t taste boring. It’s been a month and I will tell you there’s been a significant change in my energy level and eyesight. My vision is very much clearer, thanks to all the carrots and blueberries. And I have less skin breakout – maybe there’s more oxygen in my blood compared to before. I was told if I continue this diet for more than 3 months my blood circulation will be much better. It all makes sense you know. If I’m dilligent enough I won’t need supplements because I’m feeding myself with nature’s superfood. 🙂
By the way, I’m not completely dependant on Dr Wu’s anticancer smoothies. While he’s good, I believe noone’s complete in their approach so I also read other Raw Food Diet practioner. Please do not jump to conclusion that I have turned all vegetarian! Sad to claim, I still love meat in my diet. It’s just that now I’m drinking my veggies I’m less of a carnivor! I still enjoy my steak and chicken cordon bleu once in a while. 🙂

Here I would like to share bits and pieces of what I’ve learnt. If it’s any use, especially if you believe in phytonutrients to make you better, do try.

The juices are meant to be consumed daily so you can alternate the recipes from the following. These are for one person’s consumption but if you’re making for two or three you can double the amount. Make sure that you buy organic vege and fruits but if you can’t get some, then wash and peel everything throroughly to get rid of pesticide or chemicals on the skin. If you can’t get all the items stated in the recipe, just blend whatever you have (I did!). Also check your blender machine. The best is the 2/3 horsepower VitaMix range but a normal 300-800 Watt blender will do, but you need to process longer so everything will be pureed and smooth. The ingredients mentioned to be added after blend must be followed as instructed to ensure the nutrients not compromised (meaning dont dump them all and blend together.) Juice is best served fresh and you can keep them in the fridge but not longer than a day.

1 tomato
1 carrot
1/2 beetroot
3 asparagus
1/2 celery
3 stalks of spinach/ 1/2 purple cabbage
2 stalks of coriander leaves
2 stalks of parsley
3 slices of ginger
a bit of rosemary/lemongrass
a bit of basil leaves
1 kiwi fruit
10 grapes (with seed)
1/2 cup of blueberries
1/2 cup of dried seaweed (kombu)
1/2 teaspoon of powdered turmeric/ 3 slices of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of powdered cumin
1 teaspoon of flaxseed
2 teaspoon of black sesame
5 blackpepper seed
2 cups of water

*Chop and blend all the above together. After blend add 1 teaspoon of organic lecithin powder.

1 tomato
1/2 carrot
1/2 beetroot
1/2 celery
1/2 cup of corn
3 stalks of coriander leaves
3 slices of ginger
1 kiwi fruit
2 slices of pineapple
1/2 teaspoon of powdered turmeric/ 3 thin slices of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of powdered cumin
1 tablespoon of flaxseed
1 1/2 tablespoon of black sesame
5 black pepper seed

*Chop and blend all the above together. After blend add 1 teaspoon of organic lecithin powder and 2 teaspoon of bee pollen.

My mommy’s butter cake

Hello, my name is lil’ Aisyah and I’m going to show you how to make a simple butter cake. Papa has been telling Mommy he was craving for a nice moist butter cake and tonight I was helping out Mommy by posing about cute in Mommy’s headscarf and staring at the oven while Mommy used something funny looking called the mixer and started making it. Here’s how. First you need to check whether you have all the following:
280g butter
500g premixed butter cake
6 eggs
50g milk
15ml glycerin

Mommy tweaked the manual provided in the premixed to add more moist to the cake, but you’re free to follow whichever. Then you do as directed in the manual which is easy peasy! One tip that is very important is that you must cream the butter first before you add the eggs!

*By this time Mommy was telling me that she wished for a Kenwood Mixer – the one she’s been eyeing at Harvey’s Norman!* shhhh… now you know what she wants for her birthday! hehhe
Right after that Mommy greased up the baking tin with butter and poured the batter in. This is the part where we all anticipated until I almost fell asleep!

the whole house smells so yummy!

Well, since I’m sleepy, Mommy tucked me to bed first and promised me a gorgeous butter cake for breakfast!

in my dreams!

Alright folks, see you next time in lil’ Aisyah and Mommy’s adventure! 🙂