Thursday, November 25, 2010

Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies with Baby O

Recently, I bought Hershey’s Cocoa Powder and Hershey's Chocolate Chips to bake Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Brownie. Attached to the products is a mini Hershey’s recipe book with all sorts of chocolate goodies. So I decided to try the chocolate chip cookies recipe with Baby O as our little activity today.

Baking is such a great activity with toddlers. It is one of the activities that stimulates all senses! The child is able to see all the action and ingredients and tools, hear the clanging and noises spoons knocking on bowls, touch the different textures of the butter or cookie dough, smell the aroma of the cookies baking in the oven and finally taste it! Yum yum! On top of that, baking also develops language. During the activity, words like big, small, round, brown, crumbs, mix, fast, slow, and uh oh! (very often) can be related to relevantly. Have I mentioned that it is also therapeutic for the parent?

For parents who would like to conduct this baking business with their young ones, I recommend you to:

1. use a simple recipe with not too many ingredients - it will be a handful minding a toddler and trying to get everything together. You wouldn’t want yourself of your toddler getting frustrated so keep complicated recipes for yourself another time. Chocolate chip cookies is a good start.

2. bake something that the little one can enjoy later too - after all, he/ she did help out. It is only fair for him/ her to enjoy the fruit of his/ her labour! So go for something light or reduce the amount of sugar or omit the salt and use unsalted butter. You might even want to substitute chocolate chips with raisins.

3. expect mess, maybe loads of them - use a clear space and prep toddler with apron/ bibs/ clothes you don’t mind staining.

4. keep the communication going - this might be one of the most important step for the activity. Explain the steps while measuring, mixing, etc. Tell him/ her how the scale or oven or mixer works. Show him/ her how you crack an egg.

5. use a low surface - we prepared our cookie dough on an IKEA Lack side table which is at the right height for Baby O to participate and see all that is going on. If you don’t have a suitable low table, another suggestion is to prop your child on his/ her highchair while you prepare on a surface next to him/ her.

6. clean up together - don’t expect your toddler to wash the mixing bowls but you can always wipe the surfaces, put things away and wash your hands together to instill the responsibility.

7. take it easy - you’re not going to make a living out of this so just enjoy the process (and the cookies) together!

Note: Baby O is 19 months old at the time of this post. You can also start baking with babies. That's right! Sling them on you or put them on their high chair and dictate all the steps that you are going through to promote language development. It's never too early!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Killer Clothes and Fine Cuisine

MY MY MY! A friend introduced me to Luxirare recently and I am now hooked! Her food posts are absolutely surreal! So far I have only managed to check out her food archive. The Bento Box post blew my mind away! I was speechless gaping at all the details and beautiful pictures. Then there's the Crisp post. Get hooked with me!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Another easy lunch (or even dinner) to prepare for Baby O and me! Managed to whip it out in less than half an hour! And mainly with whatever I managed to gather from my fridge. Who says wholesome nutritious meals are difficult to prepare???

Again no salt required. I can taste the natural sweetness from the onion and carrot as well as the chicken meat together with the zing of the tomato and the aroma of the freshly cracked black pepper. Mm mmm...

If I had any, I would have buttered up some wholemeal bread or even spread it with cream cheese and toasted it for some croutons!

Anyway, this is what I did:

1. Dice:
    2 small chicken breasts
    1 medium carrot
    1 medium tomato
    3 baby corn

2. Finely chop 1 clove of garlic.

3. Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan. Fry onions till fragrant. Add chicken and garlic. Fry till brown.

4. Add carrots and stir. Add baby corn and tomato. Cover with about 500ml water. Do not add too much so soup remains flavourful. Boil for about 10-15 minutes.

5. Add about a fistful of frozen peas and boil for another 3-5 minutes.

6. Serve with a crack of black pepper.

The verdict: ‘More! Chi-ken!’

Note: If you are not comfortable giving your little one bits, you can always blend the soup up to the right consistency. I can imagine it to be every bit as tasty!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Baby Pork Burger with Cheesy Surprise

So pleased with the success of this no salt added pork burger that I can’t wait to share it with those looking for a fast and easy but nutritious meal to prepare for your little toddler and the family! Took me just about 30 minutes (with defrosted minced pork) to get this on the table. This is what I did:

Yields: 4 baby pork burgers

1. Cut up a slice of wholemeal bread into four pieces and toast in the oven.

2. In a medium bowl, grate 1/4 carrot. Add 1/2 chopped tomato, 1 chopped romaine lettuce leaf, 1 chopped mushroom, a dash of dried oregano, 1 small egg, crushed crumbs of toast, 200g minced pork.

3. Lightly saute 1/2 chopped onion in a tablespoon olive oil and add into bowl. Leave the grill pan on low heat.

4. Mix everything together with your clean hands. Divide them into four balls (or two if you want bigger patties).

5. Make a well in the middle of the patty and place one of the 4 cubes of cheddar cheese in it. Cover the cheese with the patty around it and pat into shape.

6. Gently place the patties on a low-medium heat grill. I have a phobia of uncooked homemade burgers. I found out the trick is to cook each side for 5 minutes on low-medium heat, turn them over for another 5 minutes, and repeat the procedure again. This also leaves a pretty criss-cross grill mark on your patties!

7. Cut open one patty to double check that it is cooked right through. If it is still pink in the middle, place it back on the grill. Otherwise, they are ready to be served! With yummy cheese waiting to ooze out!

Serve with toasted buns or on its own with a slice of lettuce or a spread of mustard... whatever you wish! No salt needed as it is already full of flavours on its own just like that!

These ingredients were found in my fridge and can be readily substituted with absolutely anything! For example, you can use minced chicken instead or pork, broccoli instead of lettuce, fresh basil instead of dried oregano, white instead of wholemeal bread and so on!! Told ya it was easy!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

MOMMade: Five Little Freckled Frogs

We have designated Tuesdays our craft day. This Tuesday, we worked on an idea that has been stored in the back of my mind for some time now. So off to gather some scraps and have some fun with Baby O:

empty card board boxes
kitchen towel roll
colour markers/ crayons/ pencils
craft knife

1. Sketch five little frogs (about 3 inches high) on a piece of card board. Don’t forget to add little freckles and a little tab at the bottom of your frogs to insert onto the speckled log later. Colour them in and cut them out. Alternatively, if you don't mind my frogs, you can print them out, paste them on a card board and cut them out.

2. Cut open the kitchen towel roll from top to bottom. Fold back about an inch of the roll from the opening to allow the log to stand on its own. Colour the top of the roll in as the speckled log. Colour the folded part of the log as water.

3. Mark on the speckled log where you want your freckled frogs to be and make a slit the size of your tabs with a craft knife.

4. Insert tabs of freckled frogs into slits on speckled log. Ta daa!

5. Remove freckled frogs one by one while singing:


Five Little Freckled Frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were Four green freckled frogs. Glug! Glug!

Four Little Freckled Frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were Three green freckled frogs. Glug! Glug!

Little Freckled Frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were Two green freckled frogs. Glug! Glug!

Little Freckled Frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were One green freckled frog. Glug! Glug!

Little Freckled Frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
He jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were no green freckled frogs. Glug! Glug!

Note: There are many versions of the lyrics but they all sound the same like this:

Caution: Don't forget to supervise the curious little ones and use all sharp tools from a safe distance.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pasta Play

One of the mommies at church had a container of colourful fusilli for her little son to sort in the creche during service one of those Sundays. What an excellent idea! While grocery shopping, I headed to the pasta aisle and bought a pack of multi-coloured pasta in different shapes as a modified version to the one I have seen. A pack of 375g costs only RM4+. I also added in some of our wholewheat fusilli at home and voila! we have a new activity! Brilliant when used together with another container of any kind with compartments - a pill box, chocolate or cookie box, ice cubes, empty egg carton. I had no idea how occupied a little toddler can be with a handful of pasta shapes!

Type of activities:
Sort by colours and shapes
Cooking - Pretend play

Eye-hand coordination
Motor skills
Language development

Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Brownies

I have been eyeing this recipe for the longest time and finally got to satisfy my craving this afternoon! A uni-flatmate used to bake a similar cream cheese brownie those days and I have always wished she had baked more or more often. Recently, the taste of this cream cheese brownie just surfaced in my mind and I managed to get this recipe from Martha Stewart’s site (♥ it!) which I hope will not disappoint. Lo and behold, this easy to make cream cheese brownie was a slice of my heaven on earth!

Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Brownies is a must try! I made a few adjustments to it though mainly reducing the amount of sugar. I was glad that I did. Otherwise, I would have been eating chocolate sugar! Anyway, this is what I did:

Note 1: As most of my ingredients are stored in the fridge, I took out the 4 eggs, measured 145g [SCS unsalted] butter and 115g cream cheese to get them to room temperature before moving onto other steps.

Note 2:Since this is my first attempt, I started by preparing the baking pan (recommended 9-inch square) by brushing it with butter and lining the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Leave more paper overhanging on the sides so it is easier to lift the brownies out later. Set it aside. Then I preheated the oven to 180C instead of usually doing it first knowing that I will be taking more time to get everything ready.

Note 3:If you need help to convert the units, is a pretty good place to go to.

1.     Boil some water in a saucepan and switch of the heat. Place 115g unsalted butter and 227g semisweet or bittersweet (chopped) chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl and set over the saucepan to allow butter and chocolate to melt (2-3 minutes). Remove butter & chocolate bowl from pan. Add 1 cup sugar; mix to combine. Add 3 eggs, and mix to combine. Set aside.

2.        In a small bowl, whisk 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside.

3.        Prepare cream-cheese mixture: Whisk 115g cream cheese with 30g room-temperature butter. Whisk in 1/8 cup sugar, 1 egg, and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.

4.        Add flour and cocoa mixture (step 2) into melted chocolate (step 1). Mix just until moistened (do not overmix).

5.        Alternately spoon chocolate batter and cream-cheese mixture into pan. Swirl mixture (if necessary) with a skewer stick to marble.

6.        Bake for 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Using paper overhang, lift brownies out of pan; transfer to a rack to cool completely (still on paper). --> Don’t get this part of the instructions. Who can wait that long?! Anyway, I couldn’t and rewarded myself after removing it out from the pan!

7.     Perfect served warm on its own or with a glass of milk or a scoop of Haagen Daaz strawberry ice-cream (or Belgium chocolate if you don’t mind being overdosed. Ooh la la!)

8.        To store, cut completely cooled brownies with a dampened serrated knife into squares on a cutting board before storing in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days.

Note: This is not the original Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Brownies recipe. It you would like the original Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Brownies recipe, click here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cheesy Pasta Bake

Takes only minutes to prepare especially on days like today when I absolutely don’t feel like cooking but I can’t leave my Baby O starving. This Cheesy Pasta Bake is such a random thing which is the best part of it! You can add or take out whatever ingredient you like.

This is what I did:

Boil a handful of pasta shapes according to instructions on pack.

While pasta is boiling, grate a handful of carrots into a baking bowl.

Chop a tiny clove of garlic finely and place into bowl. (Will omit next time as Baby O didn’t like the raw taste of it.)

Add half a teaspoon of mustard and crack some black pepper into bowl.

Score the bottom of a small tomato and place into boiling pasta.

Pour a handful of frozen garden peas into boiling pasta.

Roughly chop two baby corn and place into boiling water.

Switch heat off and remove tomato. Rinse with tap water and peel skin off before chopping roughly and add into bowl.

Drain pasta, peas and corn and mix all ingredients together in bowl.

Grate as much or as little cheddar cheese on top before baking in an oven toaster (or a preheated oven) for about 5 minutes and we have a little bowl of Cheesy Pasta Bake packed with red, orange, yellow, and green goodies topped up with calcium!

Other alternative ingredients: tuna/ salmon flakes, lightly sauteed onions, broccoli, cauliflower... basically whatever you can think of or available in your larder. You can also cook a tablespoon of flour in about a teaspoon of butter in a pan and then add a small cup of milk and bring to boil together with the grated cheese before baking it the proper way.

Lunch sorted.

This Mama would really like to know: Do you have any other lazy-day meal suggestions to share?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

10 Habits of Happy Moms

Was logging onto my Yahoo Mail when this article's title just seemed to cry out for my attention.If you want to remain a Happy Mom, then read this. Take note of no. 2, a common mistake for me sometimes and no. 3 makes me laugh!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This Mama ♥ Quintessentially Yours

My little cousin, all grown up and embarking successfully in a career she is passionate about.. and blogging about it too! Check out some of her cool stuffs at

This Mama's Chocolate List

It’s the rainy season and it has been forecasted to rain lots here in Penang. The perfect time for a cup of hot chocolate! I mentioned before somewhere in this blog that I discovered recently that I actually like chocolate more than I know. Let’s see, there’s:

This Mama's mini chocolate cupcakes
hot chocolate
moist chocolate cake
Haagen-Daaz Belgium chocolate ice-cream
Cote D’Or dark chocolate
Pocky Almond chocolate coated biscuit sticks
Lotte chocolate filled biscuits
chocolate eclairs

Hmm... not that bad.. doesn’t look like I live on chocolate yet!

Mama, please...

Baby O has been signing 'Please' and 'Thank You' all these while.

Recently, she has been 'demanding' for things - (biscuit) ket, ket, keT, KET!!! That happens when you don't respond to her quick enough. So I have been 'instilling' some manners into her asking her to ask for things properly - Mama, more biscuit, please. She started signing 'please' but because she is able to speak quite a number of words now, I encouraged her to say the word instead. After a few reminders, she will actually say 'Mama, pease.' by herself. And when you acknowledge it - do you want more biscuits?, she will give you a nod together with an oh-so-sweet smile that melts you and makes you drop everything immediately to get her what she wants (caution: the second part of this sentence is exaggerated.). Well, she is finally able to express so much more now including pain which is such a relief especially at times when we don't know why she is crying! It is so cool to watch her string her words together now and be able to 'chat' with her! :-)
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