Mother to five, parent in progress and occasional kitchenista cookerella

Category: Budget Recipes Page 2 of 4

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk is a classic and simple dish with an atypical formula. Milk, cinnamon and chicken, make cosy bedfellows. It is a spectacularly easy and exceptionally convenient dish – the braising liquid is none other than your regular carton of milk along with copious amount of butter, aromatics and herbs, the requisites of every good dish.

Here’s the basic process:
Brown some chicken in olive oil or butter.
Pour in some milk, two lemons’ worth of zest, a cinnamon stick, and fresh sage leaves. Scatter in a handful of garlic cloves in their jackets.
Bake for 90 minutes.
Pull apart and eat.

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk

Avocado Spaghetti- The New Instant Noodles

If everyone on this planet was empowered to make good Avocado Spaghetti, no one would be cooking Instant Noodles because, this would be it- THE Instant Noodle of this century.

No more guilty-msg-laden seasoning nor air-dried vegetables when you can have luscious, creamy oozles of vitamin-packed goodness with every bite.

The Power source is none other than the Avocado which has been hailed the world’s most Perfect food containing 20 essential ingredients- many nutritionists claim it contains EVERYTHING a person needs to survive. This dish contains instant returns if you enjoy it often enough – – promising a healthy heart, a brilliant brain , eagle eyes and long life.

Plus, and I have to stress this- this is sooooooooo easy to make because the ONLY thing you need to cook is the noodles. 1 ripe avocado yields 2 serves. Chop some fresh tomatoes, slice up the avocados, mash, grate in some garlic, salt and pepper to make the “sauce”. Infuse with pasta al dente.

Avocado Spaghetti- The New Instant Noodles

Avocado Spaghetti

Instant gratification at its best. With the avocado pasta, instant noodles could not be more passe.

Avocado Spaghetti Recipe

Makes 6 to 8 servings (adapted fr

12 ounces spaghetti

2 ripe avocados–halved, pitted and peeled

1 garlic clove, smashed

1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped

1-2 tomatoes, roughly chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup chopped parsley, for garnish


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, 6 to 8 minutes.

2. While the pasta cooks, make the sauce: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the avocados, garlic, scallions, lemon juice and olive oil until smooth. Mix in the chopped tomatoes.

3. When the pasta is tender, reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the reserved water to the avocado mixture and process until smooth.

4. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper! 🙂

From Pigs to Ponies ?

Some time back, we celebrated our baby turning 3. Following her epic Peppa Pig cake of the previous year where all of us messed with fondant to make her favourite pink animal, she’s since moved on (due to sisterly influence) to horses. Her lovely purple pony friend was bought for her as a present by all of her siblings (generous eldest (with most savings) contributed 70% with the remainder shared between brother and second sister)…incidental lesson on using their savings to bless those they love.
As with family tradition, mummy contributes by making a hopefully memorable cake. Nothing fancy, but decided on a marble-swirl Sky coloured strawberry yoghurt cheesecake. Turned out a lovely pastelly-blue and cream with looked like a decent backdrop for ponies to fly!

True to budget mum style, I relish the opportunities that the kids have to create their own cake and be involved some way in the process. It brings great delight to parent and child and binds our shared memories of the experience tighter. Thus, the little one was thrilled at littering the cake with rainbow sprinkles across the “magic” skyscape and the cute marshmallow “clouds” were lined up around the borders. This pastel wonderland was enough to make this 3 and 30+ year old very happy for the day!:)

Beef Rib Stew with Tortillini

You know you’ve grown an inch or so as a cook when you make a dish pretty much instinctively without referring to a recipe, and basically just trusting your senses of sight, smell and taste in working out the best flavour forward. So a few weeks earlier, I posted about a red wine beef stew. Then, I was scrawling back and forth my phone trying to internalize the “mechanism” of making the dish. This time round, I made a couple of refinements which I feel enhanced the flavour of the beef stew by leaps. Also, I didn’t need a recipe (so pls pardon if I don’t have precise measurements; I will share the general gist of making the dish)

The extra step (I thought)that made the difference, is roasting the beef ribs BEFORE the cooking process. It really added an intense depth and flavour to the dish. The ribs will be ready to pull apart from the bone and it will also rid the meat of impurities. Dump the bones in a separate pot to make beef broth while the meat goes in to braise in red wine.

This is not a fast and quick dish. In fact, the key ingredient is patience as you need to wait for each element to cook its time. However, the good thing is it can be done in parts. I roasted the beef bone first and then did the braising and soup stock for about 1.5 hours, went out shopping for 3 hours, came back reheated the pot and added the root veggies, mushrooms for another hour or so. Though required a little effort, it was well worth the wait as the flavours worked together like magic. I thought I’d get to keep some but there are no leftovers. I haven’t come down to making my own tortellini (ring-shaped pasta typically stuffed with meat/cheese) yet, but some fresh ones stuffed with veal on the supermarket shelves and figured they might be a good accompaniment 🙂

What you need:
1.5kg beef ribs (any combi of meat and bones)
4 cloves garlic
1 yellow onion
4 bay leaves
some herbs (rosemary/thyme)
1 can chopped tomato
root veggies of choice
Fresh mushrooms
double cream (optional)
corn starch
sour cream (optional)

Here’s how:
1. Wash the beef ribs (I like some meat with bone coz they give me a flavourful stock), pat dry. Lay on roasting pan, a drizzle of olive oil, salt,pepper, sprinkling of herbs. Roast at 180degrees, for 45 minutes or till browned, turning once in between. (Meanwhile, go hang your laundry:)).

2. Remove from oven. When ribs are cool, pull out meat and set aside. Place bones in a stock pot, fill to cover bones, add residual liquid from roast in and boil on medium high for about 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, in another pot, prepare 4 cloves garlic smashed and 1 big yellow onions sliced. Fry with olive oil till slightly onions are soft, add beef meat and fry for another 5 min. Add 2 cups of red wine (add more or less depending on preference) to braise the beef till tender (about 1 hour). The wine broth will reduce so check regularly to see that it doesn’t dry up. Add more red wine if too dry.

3. When flavour has set into the beef, add your root veggies (parsnips, potatoes, carrots, celery etc), and mushrooms (I used portabellos), 4 bay leaves, together with beef broth (from the bones) and let the flavours cook out (another 30-40 minutes). Towards the end, add a can of chopped tomatoes for tang. I added a 1-2 tablespoon of cream, and 2 tablespoon of corn starch solution to thicken. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Serve over fresh tortellini, pasta or rice, with a dollop of sour cream.

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

If there’s anything that spells “comfort” to my kids, it is probably cheese. Not just any kind of cheese, but mac and cheese. In fact, to say my kids love mac & cheese, would be an understatement. They love the browned cheese goo that tops it off, and everyone has their eyes on it like little pirates breaking into a fresh pot of gooey gold.They looooove the creamy, gooey, oozy, sticky cheesy sauce which hangs on its coattails when pulled out of the warm, mushy, mash of macaroni.

For mommy me, it spells “comfort” to know that there’s a fantastic vegetable that blends in superbly and unobtrusively into the macaroni mesh. The cauliflower’s nuttiness and moistness actually enhances the creamy texture significantly. Incorporating a veggie that so effortlessly camouflages itself with its tubular counterparts, is invigorating to say the least. The kids get their cheese and carbs (aka filled stomachs) and I sneak in my cauliflowers- the perfect accomplice to this criminally good dish!


2 cups macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 cups milk
3 cups grated medium cheddar cheese
3 cups of cauliflower

1. Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking, and return to the pan you boiled it in. Set aside.

2. Steam your cauli florets, with a little olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper till just soft.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Over medium heat, melt the butter.Add the flour, salt, dry mustard, pepper. Stir constantly over medium heat for about three minutes.Stir in the milk.

4. Keeping on medium heat, whisk constantly for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese, stirring until melted. Lay the macaroni, combined with the steamed cauliflower. Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and toss gently until all noodles are covered.

5. Bake for about 25-30 minutes.


Herb Crumbed Fish with Butter Rice

Earlier this week, I made the all-in-a-rice-cooker butter rice dish and experimented with an all-in-the oven herb-crumbed fish. Here’s how the “duo” looked together on our lunch plates. Definitely a delicious repeat dish! In case you missed them, just check back on my recent posts with visuals or just read off text here. Have a lovely weekend! 🙂

Herb-crumbed fish
1. Season fish fillets with 1/4 tsp of salt. In a bowl, whisk:
-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 3tbsp of lemon juice (& grate zest in), 1/2 cup white wine, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 5 cloves smashed garlic. Coat fillets with dressing & arrange them skin-side down.
2. In another bowl, prepare any 2 tablespoons (chopped fine) of fresh or dried herbs you have in your pantry: parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, mint etc should do the trick!
-1/2 teaspoon of salt.
– 3 tablespoons of ev olive oil.
– 1/2 to 2/3 cup bread crumbs(depends on fillet size)
– dash of pepper
Toss well, until the bread crumbs are moist.
3. “Dress up” your fish by laying the crumbs on top. Bake at 190C for 15-20min till crumbs brown!

Butter Rice:
1. Pix left: Melt 40g butter in a pan. Throw in 2 tbsp( about 5 cloves) of chopped/minced garlic. Fry till fragrant.
2. Pix top right: Prepare
2.5 cup rice grain in rice cooker washed and add equal cup water. Grate 1/2 to 3/4 carrot in. Throw in 2-3 tbsp, 2 teaspoon cinnamon powder (or cinnamon stick, & 1 teaspoon of tumeric powder for the gorgeous yellow colour. Add in butter n garlic. Give it a swirl n mix well.
3. Cook in rice cooker.

Soup Leek No Other

A dear friend alerted me to the fact that Gordon Ramsey has in fact a home cooking channel. At first I thought that strange. It’s hard to shake off his onscreen persona in Hell’s Kitchen as a kind of lean-mean-nasty-machine and on his home cooking series, he actually appears, well, affably nice. You see him in action at home, with his kids (he’s got 4) looking every part a relaxed and doting dad who cooks (bonus points) darn well (superbonus points). No wonder he’s got 15 Michelin stars to his name. So off I went to watch him in “Home’s Kitchen” and saw him work his magic on this charming soup, perfectly warm for a blustery day.

His recipe is titled “smokey-bacon-sweetcorn-and potato soup”, which I think doesn’t quite do justice to the star of this creamy broth which apart from the corn, HAS to be the leek. The kids have not been real hot fans of leek primarily because of its chewy texture but they’re since converted as the leek is melted down soft in the smokey bacon and sweet corn broth. And as you know, any recipe that gets my kids to eat leek without saying “eek” is a winner.

Make some:


Curry in a Hurry

Just caught an episode of the latest season of Masterchef and tonight was Chinese cooking night, with guest judge Kylie Kwong, a Chinese chef maestro, whom I used to watch occasionally on cable tv. The dish of reckoning that each contestant had to come up with was,… you guessed it, none other than our traditional Chinese staple – fried rice. It was entertaining watching the various permutations of fried rice with the weirdest combination coming from a Malaysian-Chinese contestant (irony) who delivered a “two kinds of pork” fried rice (pork belly with prosciutto) with ensuing disapproving looks from the judges. To them, belly fat and Italian ham did not make a happy marriage.

Guts vs glory aside, there’s truly a fine line between taking risks (that might lead to failure) in cooking and pushing the boundaries towards creativity. The decisions you make about what you cook, really does reflect who you are as a person. Are you a heck-it and whack-it kinda of person or do you try to keep close to the authenticity of the original. I think I fall somewhere in between. A case in point, is this green curry I dished out the other day; threw in some leftover pumpkin and mint to give it a ‘twist’… worked pretty well for me but not sure if it would have worked on every palette 🙂. In any case, my head is not on the Masterchef chopping board. No guts to get there, so no glory. What about you, care to share what kind of cook you’d rather be?;)


Giant Berry Pancake Escape

Giant Berry Pancake

Giant Berry Pancake

I have been dreaming about desserts since I got here and kicking myself that I left most of my baking ware back home. But when I stumbled upon this exciting mid-afternoon dessert, that is still making my heart flutter as I type, I was sold. It’s this Giant Berry Pancake.

In fact, this recipe had me at the word “Giant”–also equivalent to “upsized”, also equivalent to “good for feeding hungry children”. I am not really a strawberry person nor a pancake lover, but I HEART this pancake. Basic pantry ingredients and pancake batter all in one pan. No need for flipping, one oven delish. A stack of pancakes in the city would easily cost us $12 but this homemade delight that will send you straight to pancake “heaven”? Priceless.

Giant berry pancake

Slicing the berries

So here’s what we did to make the Giant Pancake happen. Little E was bored post-lunch and before she could start on her typical “Mom, I am hungry..” autopilot semi-whine right about 3pm, I executed the perfect plan.

“I am making a pancake and you can help me! How about you help me slice some strawberries?” “Yippee…!” she exclaims with relish and does a happy dance chanting “I am cutting strawberries, I am cutting strawberries (sung to “ne-ne-ni-poo-poo”). “Cut it into half, then cut it in half again.”….while she’s at it, I take the chance to throw in a few liners introducing her to the concept of halves and quarters. Here’s the berry happy girl (also a Strawberry Shortcake fan) doing her fair share for a piece of the pie.

Giant Berry Pancake

Folding the whites in and dropping in the berries

R gets home and jumps at the word “Pancake”. Immediately, he can’t contain his excitement. “I want Giant Berry Pancake!”. “Well, then you’ll have to help me, ” I say wryly. Swiftly, he throws his bag down, washes his hands and gets started. Both he and his sister start to jostle for the best position next to Mama.

Next, comes a round of musical chairs, where they start fighting over who gets the stepping stool to see better. Finally, they settle on a truce. E steps and watches her brother while he has a go at mixing the yolks and sugar and folding in the whites. When it’s done, they both dig their hands in the bowl of chopped strawberries and plop them into the goopy batter.

Giant Berry Pancake

Giant Berry Pancake Escape!

Finally, the plate of homemade awesomeness that we have all been waiting to enjoy has arrived on a plate accessorized with fresh strawberries and served with Vanilla ice cream. Really. Good. SHARE this page to save it on your timeline!

Okay No-Kay Okonomiyaki

I’m linguistically challenged and this pancake gave me a few doses of that reality.

Hur hur…. Oki…No, Oko as in Yoko Ono, yaki as in “yucky” is me scrambling at feeble word association only to be shut down by my kids who decided to take it up a notch…

“Mom, say this: “garbledegook”, “Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious”!,
another countered.
I could do that…I thought, rolling my lips to begin but not before proceeding to roll my eyes at their attempted mum-bashing efforts.

“Wait mum, try this…”Yakiniku, Makizushi, Takoyaki and Furikake. All at once.”

There. Slayed in an instant.
So anyone care to enlighten me: what’s the Japanese word for “surrender”?

Back to business. Here’s how you make (ahem) Japanese Savoury Pancake. Perfect for when you have nothing much on the fridge (some straggly cabbage/carrots/a crabstick/bacon bits or two).…/okonomiyaki-japanese-sa…

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