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

beefstew
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.

Ingredients:
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)

Directions:
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.

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. πŸ™‚
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. πŸ™‚

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.

Note:
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.

RECIPES:
1. GENERAL WELL-BEING JUICE
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.

2. ENERGY JUICE
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.

bloody apple crumble

I find apple crumble is a quick-fix dessert especially when the nights are long and you’re longing for comfort food! Brownies and crumbles are two hot desserts in my home and I’ve grown quite a knack for making it after dinner. Well not every day lah! Nanti semua kena diabetes pulak kan? πŸ™‚
My daughter grant the crumble its nickname because it does look pretty bloody, right?

tempting huh? now let's begin!


Ingredients:

Whoops, baby wasn’t supposed to be included. We don’t eat babies at my house – that was definitely an error, ladies and gentlemen! (But baby remains as sous chef!)

the ACTUAL ingredients! he he


(for the crumble)
2 cups of plain flour
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
5 tablespoon of oats
2 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of salt
120g of butter (cold)

(for the filling)
2-3 granny smith apples (peeled, cut and diced)
1 cup of canned cherries
1 tablespoon of apple cider
4 tablespoon of brown sugar
2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Method:

yes, that's the Head Chef!


Preheat the oven at 180 C for 15 mins.
1. Prepare the filling ; cut, peel and dice the apples.

2. Drain and mix with brown sugar, apple cider and cinnamon.
3. Cook under low heat for 5 mins until it looks caramelised with the sugar and cider.
While the apples are being cooked, we can continue with the crumble.
4. Pour flour, sugar, oats, cinnamon and nutmeg plus salt in a large bowl.
5. Mix it well (if you want to you can sieve it). Cut the butter into cubes and add into the batter.
6. Using your fingers, pinch the flour mix with butter into a nice crumbly texture.

7. Grease your baking pan with butter.
8. Pour in the cooked apple into the baking pan and spread it evenly, followed by the cherries and crumble.

it should look like this ya, tuan tuan and puan puan! πŸ™‚


9. Bake at 180 C for 25 minutes.

alamak, I forgot to wear my glove -tolong jangan tiru chef macam ni ya! Dangerous...


assistant yang sangaaat sebok, but sangaaat menghiburkan! Dont worry abt the oven- it's tempered glass.


10. When done, leave to cool for at least 30 mins. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

my apple cherry crumble with vanilla ice cream!

Ok folks, if you’re a sweet tooth then this is a super treat! Try lah πŸ™‚

burritos for sahur

photo taken from travel germany tourism.com

photo taken from travel germany tourism.com


I wanted to add some zinggg to my first sahur of the year so I’ve decided to make some burritos. (FYI burritos is a classic Tex-Mexican dish – it’s like a kebab wrap). The idea excited my daughter Fatin to wake up for sahur because it’s different from the usual bread or rice that we used to have. I made it a point to wake my whole family for sahur at 5 am so we can appreciate the beauty of fasting and they will start with good nutrition to last the whole day. I got wheat tortillas wrap from Cold Storage yesterday and proceed to make the meat sauce – which is entirely my own concoction – no offense to the original Mexican burritos yeah? LOL

Qahina’s Malaysian-style burritos

6 pieces El Paso Wheat Tortilla Bread
a packet of mince meat
baked beans
1 red onion (big) chopped and diced
1 tomato (sliced)
lettuce
grated cheese
salt and ajinomoto to taste
the following all blender:
onions (5)
garlic (2)
dried chilli (7)
ginger (1 1/2 cm)

Manual:
Saute the blender’ed items in heated oil in a wok until pecah minyak. Then add the minced meat, fry till cooked and add beans (according to your liking). Add salt and ajinomoto to taste. This will be the meat sauce.
Warm up the tortillas (this you can do in microwave for about a minute). Spread some mayo, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, meat sauce and finish with grated cheese. Wrap and roll the tortillas like above photo. Serve 5-6. Simple, kan?
Do you have other ideas for a simple and healthy sahur? Do share with me…:)

masak lemak udang Qahina style

My friend Ashley requested for this recipe after I blab about it on facebook.. ha ha…masak lemak is my favourite dish. I’m not a ‘Nogheri’ person but whenever I see masak lemak I go weak in the knees – especially masak lemak daging salai. I couldn’t find daging salai so I make do with udang kertas; fresh from the market. So Ashley, the quantity of ingredients here are subject to taste. If you want a mild spicy taste- just grind 10-15 cili padi only ok- here we go..good luck. πŸ™‚

vital ingredients and final produce!

vital ingredients and final produce!

Masak lemak udang kertas with belimbing buloh

Ingredients:
1/2 kg Udang kertas (galah also can)
25 cili padi (grind)
1.5 turmeric (grind)
half a handful of udang kering (grind)
4 onions and 2 garlic (grind)
7 pieces of belimbing buloh (you can find this in market at Malay stalls)
2 kunyit leaves (finely chopped)
1 cup pati santan (cream of coconut milk)
4 cups santan perah (coconut milk)
5 biji limau kasturi (squeeze the juice)
Ajinomoto, salt and a bit of sugar to dillute the spicy taste

Manual
Heat the pot under low fire. Pour the santan perah, add all grinded ingredients and stir slowly till mix well. Do this for about 3-5 minutes and don’t allow ‘pecah minyak’ all the way. Add the turmeric leaves and pati santan and stir well, then add the belimbing buloh. Normally I will stir and let the gravy simmer for a few more minutes so that the cili padi is fully cooked. Next, add the lime juice, salt, aji and sugar to taste. Stir and finally add the udang. You will know the gravy and udang is cooked based on the colour of the pink udang but don’t leave it too long. Serve to four.

I cooked this today coupled with sambal telur burung puyuh – another fav. Good luck…I don’t guarantee that it’s great but whenever I eat this, sure tambah 2 kali nasi..he he. πŸ™‚

modified masak asam pedas my style

All of a sudden I had a major craving for asam pedas. I’ve never done asam pedas myself – everytime I want to eat asam pedas I’ll go to my mom’s place – she makes great asam pedas – finger licking good style! πŸ™‚ Since I don’t want to trouble Mom and my tastebud is longing for asam masam taste, this morning I went to market to get ikan pari (stingray?), some bunga kantan and daun kesum. I asked Mom, how she did it – she gave me a rough sketch through the phone. Well, to fit hubby’s mamak taste – I add more onions and a spoon of fish curry paste -and this is how it turns out:

photo courtesy of haniliza. Mine? tak sempat snap - dahh licinsss! :)

photo courtesy of hanieliza. Mine? tak sempat snap - dahh licinsss! πŸ™‚


My recipe (my mom’s actually- modified sikit)
a teaspoon of jintan putih, jintan manis, biji sawi and crushed black pepper, and a teaspoon of fish curry paste
8 cloves onion
3 cloves garlic
(blendered)
10 fresh red chillies
2 cm fresh turemeric
a tiny bit of belacan
(blendered)
2 cups of air asam jawa
1 stalk serai (crushed)
1 stalk bunga kantan (sliced)
daun kesum
kacang bendi
tomatoes
ikan pari

Manual:

Saute the ingredients according to the above hierarchy, making sure the blendered items are thoroughly cooked. Then add the asam jawa juice, leave it to boil with serai, bunga kantan and daun kesum. Finally add bendi, tomatoes then fish. Ikan pari takes a while to cook so leave it to boil and mix well with the gravy. Serve to four.