Fool-Proof Way Of Tenderizing Beef Steaks Naturally, Anyone?

And so this is the black pepper steak that I pan-fried last night.  It was my first time pay-frying beef steaks.  I had done my homework by googling on ways of tenderizing the meat (with salt for half hour) and how long to pan-fry on each side. I even used a timer to time the 2 minutes frying on each side and pounded the steak with the back of my kitchen chopper but… why was my steak still a tad tough?  It was juicy and tasty and there was still a tinge of pink in the middle but the meat just ain’t tender. WHY???!

I covered my non-stick wok with the glass lid with steam hole that comes with it when frying my steak. Could this be the reason why the steak ain’t tender enough? Does covering the wok during cooking cause a higher temperature and I should then shorten the cooking time to only 1.5 minutes on each side of the steak? Did I make a mistake by covering the wok during cooking?

Why can’t the meat be tender and  juicy like those expensive steaks from hotels and restaurants?   Could it be that they use meat tenderizer? But I don’t like adulterating my food with food additives and chemicals.  I read that citrus juice like lemon and orange  and even papaya and pineapple can tenderize the meat but wouldn’t you think that the steak would taste kooky with a tinge of fruittiness in it?

Despite the steak having a  tough texture (not rubbery texture), the kids loved it nonetheless. They commented that it would be nicer if the meat was more tender.

I still have 6 more slices of steaks in the freezer and I ain’t going to fry them until I find a fool-proof way to produce really nice, tender and juicy beef steaks.  Does anyone have their juicy and tender steak secrets to share with me? Pretty please? :)))

 

Sherilyn’s big bowl of rice covered with dishes (and she topped up more four-angle beans and meat later.  She also ate 1 hard-boiled egg but that’s not in the picture).  After dinner, she chowed down a bowl of ice-cream with strawberries.  She eats SO much it shocks me and I wonder where all the calories go to coz she is still so slim!  Jealous!!

 No. of times viewed = 54

Dinner – 15 April 2015 (Exam Week)

I spent the entire afternoon today helping Cass revise for her Math test tomorrow.  Have you ever tried teaching a language that is so foreign to you to another person who is still very shallow in the language? Like blind leading the blind? Dang it, the feeling is indescribable. Very very frustrating and head-banging-on-the-wall kinda feeling.  And you just wished you had studied the language when you were younger.  We relied heavily online on Line Dictionary (previously known as NCiku) to do the translation from Chinese to English – word for word, so that I could explain the test paper (that I downloaded from another school’s website) to her.

Cass’ Math is pretty good, only if it is in English, where she understands and knows how to read the questions fully. She used to score 100% for her Math in pre-school. Currently, Cass only knows how to read 20-30% of the Chinese words in the test papers, so… she stands a 50-50 chance of getting a borderline pass!  Teaching her Chinese is like attending online classes myself.  After her exam, I will send her to Baobei (gotta fork out another RM400+ per month just on Baobei!!)  for intensive lessons on Chinese word recognition.

Despite a very hectic day, I still managed to squeeze out some time to prepare the girls’ favorite food – seafood noodles.

Soupy meehoon with anchovies, giant prawns, squids, pork balls and tofu fishcake.  Flavor enhanced naturally with chopped scallions, pepper and fried garlic oil.

 

 

I like my meehoon with dark sauce, soy sauce, garlic oil and chopped scallions.

There is extra noodles and soup for tomorrow’s lunch, so one chore is done for tomorrow!

Dinner tomorrow will be pan-fried steak – my first time frying steak and I have just done a quick googling on how to tenderize steak naturally. Wish me luck. I wish the steak will turn out juicy and not rubbery.  I will prepare another simple one-pot dish for the 3  fussy ones, juuuuust in case the steak turns out to be a failure, ha!

 

 No. of times viewed = 53

HFM’s Version of Thai-Style Grilled Fish

My love for kafir lime leaves was recently renewed when I bought at small punnet from a supermarket near my place.  As I do not use a lot of it it my dishes, I have more than enough to use these leaves everyday, in most of my dishes.  The unused leaves are now kept in a container in the freezer.

I have never  tried grilling fish using kafir lime leaves. Neither have I googled for recipes of fish using lime leaves. I am just too busy to google for everything.   Most of my dishes are cooked without referring to any recipe or measurements. They are ‘simply whack’ dishes requiring some common sense and most times (9 out of 10), my estimation on how much and what ingredients to use has been unerring, to produce a dish with just the taste that I wanted it to be! :D

My first try with grilling fish with kafir lime leaves was saba fish (mackeral).  I rubbed the fish with turmeric powder, coriander powder, salt, pepper and cut up a handful of lime leaves.  The fish was marinated for about 7 hours.

 

I grilled the fish for 10 minutes on each side at 180C for 1st 10 minutes (fish covered with aluminum foil) and 160C for last 10 minutes (foil unwrapped to expose fish).  I have experimented many times with the timing and finally, I got it right with this timing and method.  This way, the flesh will still be moist.

I threw in some sliced garlic onto the fish in the final 10 minutes. Be careful not to grill sliced garlic too long in the oven as it browns and gets burnt pretty quickly.

 

The outcome was a delightfully aromatic fish (I love everything Thai!) with a hint of Thai flavor. The flesh was moist and not dry. I was sold.  And so this is how kafir lime leaves  earned a spot in my refrigerator!   It is way cheaper than other herbs like basil, thyme and rosemary. And the smell is Thai heavenly!  I should have squeezed in some lime juice and cut up some raw onions too to make it taste more Thai.

Tip: for busy mothers or fathers, you can marinate a big portion of fish, chicken or pork on your rest days with whatever herbs, spices and condiments that you fancy. Store them in individual ziplock bags or plastic bags.  Thaw them in the morning before leaving the house and when you are back in the evening, just crank up the oven or toaster to grill your meat.  You spend less than an hour marinating and organizing your meat once a week and you will have fresh, yummy and hot home-cooked meals everyday!

 

 

 

 No. of times viewed = 81

Rice Cooker Whole Tomato Rice

I hate Mondays!  Mondays = hectic.  Yesterday, Alycia told me this “mummy, if there is one word to describe Mondays, it is HATE!  I wish there was a ‘I Hate Mondays’ shirt that I can buy to wear to describe how I feel!”  LOL!!

Since Sunday, Cass has been telling me how much she hated Mondays too. She hates Mondays as everyone has to listen to boring lectures in the school hall for hours, first thing in the morning…. in Mandarin!  And she tells me that she only comprehends 50% of what’s being said most of the time.

One of the reasons why I hate Mondays is that I have to cook something that is really really easy and fast (and MUST BE TASTY for my 3 fussy eaters!)  as the drama queen has hip hop dance class at 7pm.  I have to start cooking at 4:30pm and pick her up from the enrichment center by 5ish pm. Back home, everyone has to have dinner latest by 6pm.

The only thing fast to whip up on Mondays is a one-pot meal.  Yes, 1-POT.  My favorite words when it comes to cooking for my fussy girls :)

Lately I’ve heard of this amazingly easy dish to cook in a rice cooker that everyone’s been raving about — the whole tomato rice! Actually I have cooked tomato rice twice last year, even before I heard wind of this famous tomato rice.  My own version was tomatoes cooked with rice.   Then the mashed tomatoes and rice were transferred into a wok where other ingredients were added to make fried rice.

Yesterday, my whole tomato rice was cooked in the rice cooker alone and I did not do any stir-frying. No oil splatters. A fuss-free and sweat-free one-pot whole tomato dish, cooked in the rice cooker!

One word describes this one-pot meal – SIMPLICITY at its best!

 

First, wash rice grains and put into rice cooker. Dump in any ingredient that you want into the rice cooker with the whole tomatoes, of course.  I used long beans (a handful), 3 whole ripened tomatoes, sliced shiitake mushrooms, garlic oil, pepper, 2 tablespoons of spaghetti sauce and pink sea salt.  Since my girls are carnivorous, I bought some char siew and roast chicken in the morning. That was dumped into the rice cooker too. Once everything is in, press START and please wait patiently for 30 minutes before the aroma wafts  the air in the house.

 

 

Once the rice is cooked, mash the tomatoes.  It’s kind of therapeutic to see the tomato juice splattering out when you poke the tomatoes :D

Mix everything up well.

 

My little drama queen decorated her plate of tomato rice with seasoned Korean seaweed (a staple in our house!), chopped scallions, fried scallions, cherry tomatoes and black pepper.   Note that since no frying is involved, the taste can be a tad bland. If you have fussy eaters who expect intense flavors, then you can season this dish with flavorful condiments like dried herbs, fresh herbs, scallions, seaweed, pepper, curry powder and anything you fancy.  For  not so healthy condiments, you can squeeze in some mayo, chilli sauce and tomato ketchup.

Note: do not put too much water to cook the rice as the tomatoes produce water too.  You should put lesser water than usual, else the rice will be mushy and sticky.

 

With all the right combo of condiments and ingredients used to cook this one-pot meal, it was very tasty.  It tasted even better the next day, when reheated.     Cass and Sherilyn liked it so much that they asked to bring this to school today.  I’m happiest when my girls like what I cook and ask to bring them to school to eat and ‘show off’ to their friends.  Sherilyn tells me that her friends are envious that she gets to bring home-cooked meals to school for recess almost everyday! :D

 

 

 No. of times viewed = 115

Braised Chicken Drumsticks and Eggs For Lunch Today – 20 January 2015

This pot of yummy braised chicken drumsticks and eggs in soy sauce, organic blackstrap molasses, garlic and star anise is awaiting the girls when they come back from school today…

 

I dished this up for dinner last night and kept 4 drumsticks for lunch today. I boiled 3 eggs just now and added them into the pot of boiling sauce. My girls are looking forward to their lunch, I know!  *YUMS*

And today marks my last day as temporary cook, phew! The mil will be back from New Zealand tonite!  :D

 

 

 No. of times viewed = 348

First Week Of School (12 – 16 January 2015)

I survived the first week of school! And so did Cass (who started Primary 1)!

After 3 days of waiting in the school to guide Cass and to give her moral support, parents were not allowed in the school anymore yesterday. Yesterday was the first time Cass sat on Aunty J’s van, along with her 2 sisters. We have been using Aunty J’s transportation for 4 years and this is our 5th year. I asked Aunty J to pick me up from my place at 12:30pm yesterday to follow her to school to pick up the kids. I wanted to make sure that Cass knew what to do after school dismisses. On arrival, I could not find Cass, albeit school had dismissed. I looked for her everywhere but could not find her. Suddenly, I heard “MUMMY!!!!” with a hard smack on my butt. I turned around and saw Cass… and she was chewing something in her mouth. This rascal had gone to buy JUNK FOOD from the canteen. She must have smuggled some money from her piggy bank to school. She proudly told me that she bought sausage (fark, rubbish!) and even treated her friend, Nicole to the sausage! I had expected this to happen. When Alycia and Sherilyn first started Primary 1, the same thing happened. To a kid, this is independence and new found freedom! I chided Cass for going to the canteen after school had dismissed and told her that in future, she is not allowed to buy food from the canteen after school as Aunty J would be waiting for her at the lobby and would not know where to look for her. I had a fun ride on the van with the kids. There were about 19 kids in the van and they were surprised to see me there haha! By the time we got home, I was feeling woozy from the ride in the cramped van. By the time I finished preparing fruit smoothie for the girls, it was already 3pm and I only had my lunch at 3ish pm.

The past 4 days had been very hectic for me. My cough, flu and sore throat resurfaced as I was  brutally grilled by the scorching hot sun when we had to walk to the car park and into a car that was as hot as an oven!  Then we were stuck in the murderous traffic jam for over half an hour in the car park in my oven hot car.  Now, I have flushed cheeks and a tan on my face and arms. You see, I am just a puteri lilin and not used to doing chauffeuring in the afternoon.  Plus the lack of sleep and anxiety all contributed to a compromised immune system. Today I can finally get back my ME TIME in the morning. We had to eat out twice a day for the past 3 days and finally I could find the time to cook dinner again yesterday. Today, I could cook lunch and dinner again. My kids are so happy! They are sick of eating out too.

This was what I dished up yesterday, something quick, which the girls loved.

Maggie Mee goreng, ala Mamak style. I used organic multi-grain noodles, one head of organic cabbage, 5 free-range chicken eggs, 1 carrot julienned, meat balls and 2 bulbs of garlic.

 

What made the maggie mee goreng tasted like mamak mee is the fish curry powder.  It was my first time trying Baba’s range of curry powder and I must say that it is good and cheap. Plus it is free from MSG and other additives – only consists of spices like coriander seeds, cumin, pepper, turmeric, fennel, fenugreek and other milled roots and seeds.   A small packet only costs 70 sen and I used half a packet. The spiciness is mild and my girls could stomach it.

I used an entire packet of organic multi-grain ramen noodles of 6 pieces.

 

What made me dish up maggie mee goreng was a disappointing order of maggie mee goreng last Saturday when Sherilyn ordered a plate from the Mamak restaurant but it tasted horrendous. I told her that mummy will cook an even better one and so I did!  The girls loved it so much that they brought some to school for recess today.

How was your first week of school? For many, it is a new routine and stressful week but I am sure we all mothers overcame all the difficulties presented to us :)

Glad that the weekend is here again. I so need my beauty sleep! Happy weekend peeps :)

 No. of times viewed = 195

Grilled Crispy Sandwich For Lunch – 7 Jan 2015

Here’s a simple and wholesome lunch for Alycia, Cass and me today…

Grilled crispy sandwich with egg mayo, sweet corn kernel, mashed avocado, butter and cheese.

 

I also lightly toasted some macadamia nuts in the oven (while the sandwich is grilling in the oven.  Killing 2 birds with 1 stone!),  for us to snack on whenever we are hungry.  Our snacks consist mostly of nuts at home.

 

As for desserts, we had Haagen Dazs ice cream… our guilty pleasure for today :D

 

 

What’s for lunch for you today?

 

 

 No. of times viewed = 197

Lovesick Cass

Cass is lovesick ever since her 2 sisters and grandma left for Auckland yesterday morning.  She  was down and broody the whole day and kept asking me whether her che ches have reached NZ.

I made her favorite grilled herbs and turmeric drumsticks for dinner but even when she savored the drumstick, she put one hand on the side of her face and appeared dreamy.

While at the dining table, she kept telling me this: “why does it feel so different without che che and er che?”

I asked her if she is happy that her sisters are not around since there was now no one to fight with her over the iPad, laptop, TV and food but she shook her head and said that she is not happy.  I asked her if she misses her che ches and she said yes, very much.  Oh dear, that really put a lump in my throat!

Cass gave me an A++ for the chicken drumsticks and commented that they tasted even better than KFC, wah!!! :D

The both of us shared this plate of 2 drumsticks, a butter bun, baby tomatoes, avocado and veggies (there was a big plate of veggie though).  Cass is not a rice lover and so am I, so yay, no need to cook rice!!  Yup, we are that small an eater, thus our size.

And I must say that cooking for only 1 child is SOOOOO easy peasy!!    So little to cook, and so little to wash up and clean up!  Even boiling the radish soup was SO easy!

 

 No. of times viewed = 283

Breaded Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs

I have been wanting to try grilling breaded boneless chicken thighs for the longest time and finally tried them last week.  I googled around to get an idea of how to prepare this dish and then adapted the recipes that I found online to my kids’ liking and to the availability of my ingredients. For families with hungry meat-loving children, these Breaded Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs (you can use breasts too) are the answer to your prayers. Quickly bread and bake them in a large batch. Then store them in the refrigerator or freezer for the kids to warm in the micro or pack in their lunch bags.  Perfect for a busy weekday dinner too.

For a first-timer, I would say that I aced in this dish with an A+++!  ;)

INGREDIENTS:
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts.  I like using boneless chicken thighs as the meat is smoother and juicier and not as dry as breasts.  I used 6 boneless chicken thighs.
3 eggs, beaten
Multi-purpose flour. The only flour that I could find in the kitchen cabinet was my MIL’s cake flour, so yep, I used cake flour :)
Bread crumbs
Parmesan cheese to coat the chicken
Cooking oil.  I used Knife sesame oil + peanut oil.

MARINATE INGREDIENTS:
I pre-marinated the chicken thighs in the morning with my usual spices and seasonings such as soy sauce, pepper, coriander seeds, turmeric powder and garlic steak seasoning.    You can use garlic salt or whatever spices and seasoning you fancy or have in your kitchen.

Grill in oven for about 20-25 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius or until the coating turns golden brown and the meat inside is thoroughly cooked.

METHOD

I pulsed 6 slices of bread in my Blendtec blender.  I used Gardenia wheat and bran bread.

 

Make sure you toast your bread lightly in the oven/toaster, else the bread will stick to the blender and blades. You need dry and toasted bread so that the crumbs are light and easily poured out from the blender.  Make sure not to over-toast your bread or your coating will be dark/burnt later.

 

Below are the raw marinated chicken thighs,  flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs with parmesan cheese.

Dip the chicken first into flour, shaking off any excess. Then dip it into the egg, shaking off any excess. Finally, dip it into the bread crumbs + parmesan cheese.
Lay the breaded chicken on a greased baking sheet (I used a few tablespoons of oil to grease the baking sheet).  Sprinkle some drops of  oil over each chicken piece so that the chicken will be crispy.

 

Fresh from the oven. Oh my…. the aroma of it!! Can send you to food heaven instantly!

 

Using a pair of scissors or knife, cut the chicken thighs into smaller pieces.

The chicken tasted so so so good!  The outside was crispy and inside flesh was very juicy.  My kids commented that it tasted even better than KFC!   As I had  removed the fatty skin of the chicken, my girls and I ate the coating of the chicken without guilt.  Since the coating comprises of flour + bread + egg + cheese, this meal is complete on its own and can fill you up easily.  A piece of chicken is more than enough for your kid. It is an all-in-one delish meal with protein and carbs.

I had a piece of leftover chicken that night and I kept it for lunch the next day.  To reheat the chicken, just wrap it in a piece of aluminum foil and heat it in the oven covered for about 15 minutes.  Then unwrap the aluminum foil and heat for another 5-10 minutes.  The overnight chicken tasted even more like KFC.

This is a very successful recipe and I will definitely try it again and this time, I will use chicken wings and drummets.

 

 

 No. of times viewed = 612

Cheat Pizza With Wendy’s Fried Chicken

Hubs bought a box of Wendy’s fried chicken home on Sunday night. The RM10.99 for 6 pieces fried chicken is an on-going promotion at Wendy’s.  But the girls and I had already eaten our dinner.  So I refrigerated the fried chicken.  The next day, I gave the fried chicken a make-over and dished up a cheat  pizza for Cass…

Baked wrap pizza with Wendy’s fried chicken (de-boned and de-skined), cherry tomatoes, cheese and tomato paste.

 

This is the lazy mommy’s way of tricking a kid that this is pizza ha!  But it is healthier than store-bought pizzas as it is free from deli meat and is low in sodium.  In our household, deli meat is a prohibited food item as is deep fried food. The girls and I only get to eat deli meat once in a purple moon during hotel stays or when we eat out.  Deep fried chicken is allowed occasionally but with the skin (the culprit!) removed.  Yeah, you can rightly call me a health freak mommy! :D

 

Lately, Cass is into writing me sweet appreciation and thank you notes during meal times when she likes the food that I cook.  After wolfing down the pizza, she wrote me this little note…

 

Can you see how high my score is for this pizza? WOW, the pizza must be really yummy!

And I scored an A+++ with 4 stars!

And a ‘very good’ too.

Go to My Kitchen Rules! Again, Cass asked me to take part in My Kitchen Rules TV reality show.  My girls think that their mummy is the best cook in the whole wide world and have even asked me to open a restaurant!  To an outsider, this is the ultimate joke.  I won’t even call myself a good cook.  I only cook for the love of my angels.  But in the eyes of my girls, their mummy’s cooking rocks! :)

 

 

 No. of times viewed = 382