Friday, January 30, 2015

Recipe: Pesto Pasta with Oven-Roasted Chicken

I've said it before and I'll say it again - it's amazing having a herb garden at home. Furthermore, my kids love eating herbs, be it raw (straight from the plant) or used in our cooking.

One of our favorite herbs from the garden is sweet basil, which we love making pesto with. Don't worry though if you do not own a basil plant, you can always get a pack of basil at the supermarket for under RM2 and make this.


Pesto Pasta with Oven-Roasted Chicken


Making pesto is super simple, especially if you are using a food processor. Just place everything in there and blitz until you get a paste. To make our dinner more substantial, we served our pesto pasta with oven-roasted chicken. You can also use a grill pan to cook it, though using the oven would be less messy. We use chicken breast as it's leaner and healthier, but equally delicious!




Pesto pasta is one of my kid's favorite pasta so they were delighted to see this at the dinner time. Loved the marinade for the chicken, making the chicken really tasty and tender. This recipe is a keeper, one I would be making over and over again! :)

Funny pasta-eating faces!



Pesto pasta with oven-roasted chicken
Recipe by Baby Sumo
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 4


Ingredients
2 quantity homemade pesto (recipe here)
300-350g dried spaghetti
Salt and freshly ground pepper

To garnish
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
A handful walnuts
Basil leaves, roughly torn
Extra virgin olive oil

For the chicken
1 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tbsp cooking oil

For the marinade
1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste
1 large pinch of salt
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1 tsp whole cumin seeds, roughly ground
1/2 tsp smoked paprika


1. First, clean the chicken breast and then cut each piece into half lengthwise and crosswise. This will cut down cooking time. Place marinade ingredients in a bowl, and mix well, then rub all over the chicken breasts and leave to marinade for at least 2 hours in the fridge.

2. To make the pesto: please refer to recipe here. You can place all ingredients in a food processor to save time. Once the pesto is ready, set aside in the fridge with a covering of olive oil.



My kids always have fun making pesto at home!


3. For the chicken:
To cook in oven: Preheat oven to 200°C (roast mode). Line the baking tray with foil, and brush lightly with oil. Then place marinated chicken on the tray in a single layer. Roast in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until cooked through. Season chicken with more salt, if necessary.

To cook on hob: Alternatively, heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a large grill pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, place chicken down, and turn heat down to medium heat. Cook the chicken breasts just until golden brown and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes each side. Season chicken with more salt, if necessary.



4. To prepare the pasta: Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water over medium high heat until al dente, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking, about 8-10 minutes. Drain the spaghetti and place in a large bowl. Then add the pesto and toss to coat. Add some olive oil (about 1 tbsp) if it seems a little dry.

5. To serve: Using a two-pronged carving fork, swirl some of the pasta around the fork. Slide the pasta off the fork and mound it in the center of a plate. Repeat for each serving.  Cut each chicken breast on a slight diagonal into 6-8 thin slices. Arrange the chicken slices alongside the spaghetti.

6. Garnish with the cherry tomatoes, shaved Parmesan cheese,  walnuts and torn basil leaves.


(Note: We do like our pasta with lots of pesto, however if you're having this for the first time, try with 1 quantity pesto and gradually add more to your liking).






*I am submitting this to LTU: Noodles/Pasta hosted by Anne of My Bare Cupboard.


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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™: For Savvy Students

I am one of those parents who likes scrutinizing labels on food products to see exactly what my kids would be consuming. It is important to me that my kids get the right nutrients so that they can grow up well.

An important nutrient that every growing child should have in their diet is DHA. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that makes up the brain main structure and is essential for growth and functional development of the brain in children.




Recently, I was introduced to JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™, which originates from California, USA. It is a specially formulated chocolate drink with high DHA content and carefully balanced 12 vitamins and 10 minerals, specifically vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, vitamin D, magnesium and iodine - all the requisite nutrients for a child to grow up smart, strong and successful. The DHA content in JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ is one of the highest in the Malaysian market - amazing!

Other than being high in DHA, vitamins and minerals, JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ is also free from trans fatty acid as well as being high in dietary fibre , protein, calcium, iron, and zinc.





Here are several reasons why I think JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ is a fantastic, nutritious drink for my children (and perhaps yours too).

Q stands for Quotients and a child needs complete nourishment to enhance her Q's - IQ (Intelligence Quotient), EQ (Emotional Quotient), CQ (Creativity Quotient), FQ (Fitness Quotient), CcQ (Concentration Quotient) and more. You need to nourish your child's Q's first before your child can achieve those straight A's. JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ can help stimulate the development of your child's Q's. (read more about Qs)


By providing our children with the right nutrients, they are able to do well in their studies. :)



JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ is fortified with iodine, which optimizes thyroid gland functions which in turn helps improve a child's mental growth and intellectual prowess. This is important for me, as I would love for my daughter to be confident, proactive and interactive in school. This way, she will be able to strive for academic excellence.


Going to school, as happy and confident children.




JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ is high in DHA (28mg per 28g serving). DHA, as mentioned previously, is the building block of a healthy mind and body and a crucial nourishment to trigger original thoughts and imaginative plays. This will help our child engage in creative play, thinking "out of the box" and come up with many ingenious ideas. 

Both my kids are pretty creative, as they always create their own games using household products and we enjoy making crafts together using toilet rolls or paper plates. It would be great if JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ can help them further advance their creative potential.


Making snowmen out of toilet rolls at Christmas time



JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ contains magnesium, which will be able to help my daughter improve her attention and concentration in school, and promotes healthy sleep after a long day of school and activities. This is especially important since my daughter spends a long day in school and needs to recharge to face another busy day.

It also contains vitamin B1, B2 and B3 which is crucial for the release of energy from carbohydrate, which children need for cognitive and physical activities. My daughter loves cycling, yoga, badminton and swimming so JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ will be able to provide adequate nourishment to replace the nutrients lost during exercise. JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ is also high in vitamin D and seaweed calcium which enhance the absorption of calcium and promote bone growth in children.




Each box comes with 15 sachets (28g each) of wholesome, nutritious chocolate milk powder and is priced at RM39.90. Simply mix 1 sachet with 180ml warm water and stir until dissolved, and it is ready to drink. We love the rich, smooth chocolate taste of JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ - so delicious, my daughter finished the whole glass in 2 minutes!


Having a glass of JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ after her badminton lesson



JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ is suitable for children and teenagers aged 6 to 18, as well as young adults from 19 to 22 years old. And yes - moms and dads can drink it too, afterall our bodies never outgrow the need for DHA, vitamins and minerals. However, please note that this product is not suitable for infants or for those with lactose intolerance.


Mummy can enjoy it with the kids too :)


JoyAmaze™ Inspired!™ is available at leading pharmacies and Chinese medical halls or you can also purchase it online at Rakuten. Do visit their website, Facebook (JoyAmazeOfficial), or Instagram (@joyamaze) for more info.


*This is a sponsored post.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Exclusive Valentine's Dinner @ Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar

This Valentine's, Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar is opening up their Executive Lounge for the first time to love birds to celebrate the occasion with a romantic meal.

Dubbed "Love is in the Air", couples are literally whisked up to the 26th Floor to be dazzled with the city skyline while enjoying a specially crafted 4-course menu. The Executive Lounge is normally only accessible to executive guests of the hotel. This Valentine's dinner package is limited to only 35 tables at RM250 nett per person.  If booked before 7th February 2015, guests will receive the Early Love Bird offer of 15% off total bill.


A romantic, relaxed setting which oversees the city skyline




The chefs preparing this meal will be from the hotel's La Cucina Mediterranean Restaurant, where I had two great meals in 2014. Guests will have a choice of 3 dishes to choose from for every course, which are made using the freshest ingredients sourced locally and from overseas. To start, guests will also be served a glass of champagne each and be presented with a complimentary gift (cute XO shakers).



Cheers! Bubbles to keep a girl happy ;)


For appetizer, guests can choose to have either foie gras terrine, salmon and barramundi carpaccio, or Caprese salad. I had the foie gras terrine, and I really enjoyed it. The terrine was smooth and paired well with the apple celery timbale and aged balsamic reduction. Loved the romantic touches throughout the meal i.e. heart-shapes appearing in dishes. My date had the salmon and barramundi carpaccio, which was light and fresh.




Next course is the soup, where you can choose from cauliflower, crab bisque or tomato gazpacho. I totally love the cauliflower soup with scallop ceviche (now you know why I love it, right?). The soup was rich but not cloying and the scallop ceviche added a nice texture contrast. The crab bisque will be perfect for those who love stronger flavours.






For main course, the choices are Black Angus beef tenderloin, caramelised crispy roasted duck breast, or pan seared white cod fish. Surprisingly, even as a meat lover, my vote for best mains would go to the perfectly cooked cod fish - a generous chunk of beautiful, fresh fish with crispy skin. It is served with lobster oil and spinach risotto. The beef tenderloin was served with a cute heart-shaped polenta, though for me personally I would prefer to have mashed potatoes or mashed pumpkin with it as I am not a fan of polenta.





To end the meal on a sweet note, guests have the choice of raspberry mousse, triple chocolate pleasure, or chocolate tart and vanilla creme brulee. For me, the raspberry mousse was the perfect sweet ending as it was tart and delicious, and the heart-shaped chocolate totally won my heart. The triple chocolate pleasure was also good - enjoyed the smooth, creamy texture.




My 4 choices for the perfect, romantic meal :)


Thanks to Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar for spoiling us with this romantic meal.



This "Love is in the Air" promotion is available on Valentine's Day 14th February 2015, and is priced at RM250 nett. Book early before 7th Feb, to enjoy 15% off. Advantage Plus members are also entitled to 15% discount. For booking or inquiries, call 03-2298 1857 or email H7972@accor.com.





Location: Executive Lounge, Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar, No 1 Jalan Pantai Jaya, Tower 3, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tel: 03-2298 1857

GPS Coordinates: 3.115850, 101.6632

Website: http://www.pullmanhotels.com/gb/hotel-7962-pullman-kuala-lumpur-bangsar-/index.shtml


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Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Deli, MiCasa All Suite Hotel, KL

We used to dine quite regularly at The Deli in the past, especially when we had errands to run in KL city. Last week, I had to go to the hospital for a follow-up check-up and I remembered this place, so we dropped by for a quick lunch.

There has been some change since we last visited: a lot more tables, much busier, more items on their menu and they even provide complimentary Wifi now. The prices have only been increased slightly. 




What seemed to be really popular here were the sandwiches/burgers, pastas as well as the braised Wagyu with pasta. So many people seem to have ordered the latter. Oh and they serve most of their food in Staub cookware (since they share same kitchen as Cilantro). How posh!

The Deli Menu



We stuck to our favorites, the duck leg confit (RM18) as well as fish and chips (RM21). We were extremely satisfied with our order- the duck leg confit was very tender with crispy skin. The fish and chips was also perfectly executed - the fish was moist with crispy skin and the chips were really good.



We also had the strawberry meringue (RM11), sadly a little too hard for my liking this time. We had great difficulty cutting into it with our spoons. The last time we had it, it tasted really great.


Verdict: Food still tastes great as ever, except for the slight disappointment with the dessert. Not too pleased though that they no longer offer complimentary parking for their customers since January this year, hence we had to fork out RM7 for parking.



Opening times: 11am to 7pm. Closed on Sundays.

Price: Total bill RM53.

Location: The Deli, Micasa All Suite Hotel, 368B, Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tel: 03-2179 8082 ext. 7082

GPS Coordinates: 3.162273, 101.719548




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Friday, January 23, 2015

Recipe: Avocado Salad with Anchovy & Egg

Avocados, love 'em or hate 'em? I definitely am on the LOVE side. I could eat them everyday. So much so, that I decided to try my luck and plant an avocado tree so that I can have endless supply of avocados. So far it's around 80cm tall but I heard it takes about 10 years before it fruits, so wish me luck! ;)

A friend saw me posting lots of photos of avocado salads and said to me "what avocados should I buy cos all the ones I had in the past weren't really nice." Over here, you can get South African, New Zealand, or Australian Hass, and in my experience, the Australian Hass are consistently good. After that piece of advice, I got a Facebook message from my friend thanking me for the tip. Definitely my pleasure.. yet another avocado lover is born!

So here's another avocado salad from my kitchen. Hubby bought me a jar of anchovy fillets in olive oil when we were doing our Christmas shopping (in case I needed it someday) so I decided to add it into my avocado salad. The salad consists of 1 ripe avocado, cherry tomatoes, some butterhead lettuce leaves, boiled egg and anchovy fillets (best to mash it up and spread it around the salad as it's quite salty if you try eating a whole fillet on its own).


Avocado salad with anchovy & egg

I do love how the saltiness of the anchovies complimented the rest of the salad. And this definitely bodes well with meeting my weight loss target for 2015.





Avocado Salad with Anchovy & Egg
Recipe by Baby Sumo
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes (for egg)
Serves 1 or 2 as side salad


Ingredients
1 ripe avocado
1/4 lemon or 1 calamansi lime
3-4 cherry tomatoes, halved
4-5 butterhead lettuce leaves, halved
1 boiled egg, quartered
2-3 anchovy fillets in olive oil, light mashed
1 tsp olive oil from anchovy fillet jar (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper


For the dressing
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
Salt


1.  To pit the avocado, first you need to find the stalk and remove it. Hold it horizontally, with a knife through the centre until you hit the seed then move the knife in a circular motion until you go all the away around. Twist the avocado halves in opposite direction and it will come apart easily into 2 halves. Sink the knife into the avocado seed and remove. Peel off skin. Squeeze lemon juice (or calamansi lime juice) all over to avoid discoloration. Chop the avocado into bite-sized chunks. Season with salt.

2. In a bowl, place olive oil and balsamic vinegar and whisk well. Season dressing with salt.

3. Arrange lettuce, avocado and tomatoes in bowl, then drizzle over dressing. Top with boiled egg and anchovies. Drizzle over the olive oil from anchovy fillet, if using. Ground some black pepper and serve.








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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Recipe: Chinese Black Bean Soup 烏豆湯

Growing up as a child, at dinner time, we often had rice, vegetables, meat, egg and soup. I love drinking Chinese soups - they're warming, comforting as well as nourishing.

One of my favorite Chinese soups is this black bean soup 烏豆湯. You can easily get black bean in supermarkets but we always get ours from Eu Yan Sang (RM9 for 300g). My mum always pre-soaks the beans for 1 hour before cooking, hence I followed her instructions when I cook with black beans too. You do lose some of the colour from pre-soaking the beans, but in a way, this turned out to be a good thing as my kids prefer brown-coloured soup rather than black.



When I make soup, I usually use either chicken carcass (which you can get easily and cheaply from the wet market) or chicken breast (the soup will be less oily, hence more healthy). With chicken carcass, you will need to skim off the scum and excess oil. I also like adding some dried oysters and dried scallops, as well as onions as they make the soup taste super sweet and delicious! Everyone should try making Chinese soups - it's so easy, it's all a matter of dumping the ingredients into a pot, bring it to the boil and then once it's boiling, lower to simmer and cook for 2-3 hours. I certainly love having a bowl of soup with my dinner :)


My happy, healthy kids!






Chinese Black Bean Soup 烏豆湯
Recipe by Baby Sumo
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 2-3 hours
Serves 4-6


Ingredients
2l water
3 chicken carcasses, chopped into rough chunks
200g black bean 黑豆
3 dried oysters
A large handful dried scallops
3 large onions, quartered
1/8 tsp salt


1. Place black beans in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large pot, place water, black beans, dried oysters, dried scallops, onions and chicken carcass. Bring to the boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, lower to low heat and simmer for 2-3 hours. Skim off any excess oil or scum using a ladle. Season with salt, to taste.

3. Serve, as part of your meal.

Note: You can use 1.5 chicken breast in lieu of the chicken carcass. If you prefer the soup to be a darker shade, then do not presoak the black beans. Just rinse and add into Step 2.







Do check out the recipe for Chinese ABC soup with sweetcorn  here.


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Monday, January 19, 2015

Hanare Weekend Buffet + Plan B Roasters, Intermark KL

The Unc was back for a short break, and as always, one of the things he was craving for was Japanese food. And where better to satisfy our craving than at the best Japanese buffet in town (in my books) - at Hanare Japanese Restaurant at Intermark Mall, KL.

The buffet is available every weekend from 12 noon to 2.30pm and is priced at RM148++ per person.


Chef Akira-san at the sushi counter

Here's a short summary of what's different / same compared to our last visits. You can read these posts herehere and here which documents our previous visits.

What's different: 
1. In the past, the buffet was available only on Sundays, but now it is available on both Saturday and Sundays. Reservations are recommended since it can get pretty busy.
2. More variety - lots more sushi, appetizers, dessert options.
3. Sashimi is not sliced to order, except for chutoro. In the past, you will need to place your order and wait for the chef to slice and plate it up. No more long waiting time - they are laid out nicely and you can help yourself to as much as you like! The sashimi at the counter is constantly replenished by the sushi chef.
4. Speaking of chutoro (tuna belly), it is no longer free flow and each person is limited to 3 pieces only. You will be given a token to redeem your chutoro at the sushi counter. I admit, I was a little upset at first but the really fresh (unlimited) salmon and hamachi sashimi made up for it.:)


What's the same:
1. The price - still RM148++ with free flow green tea.
2. The same great quality of food. The sashimi are super fresh and thickly cut and we love the Wagyu beef, king prawn and scallop from the teppanyaki counter too.
3. Good service - green tea refilled and plates cleared efficiently.


Chutoro.... sadly, it's limited to 3 pieces per person now

Oysters


Lots of sushi, makis 

Unagi

Shishamo
 Had lots and lots of sashimi... :)


Teppanyaki... Wagyu, scallops and prawns are our favorites!


They replenish this pretty often... and everytime they do, it disappears in 2 mins! :D I "may" have been responsible for some of the disappearing acts. Excellent marbling.



Wagyu teppanyaki..... so so good! Buttery-goodness!


A few desserts on offer too, my fav being the green tea ice cream.


After lunch, we stopped by at Plan B Roasters by BIG for some coffee. Affogato and double espresso.


Verdict: Totally enjoyed the buffet at Hanare. Great quality and good service.


The Hanare Japanese buffet is available every weekend from 12pm to 2.30pm. Priced at RM148++ for adults.

Price: Total bill RM515.05 for 3 pax.

Location: Hanare Authentic Japanese Cuisine, Lot G06, Ground Floor, The Intermark, 182 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 03-2164 2133 / 03-2164 2633

 *******************


Opening times: Mon - Sat 8am - 8pm. Closed on Sundays.

Location: Plan B Roasters by BIG, Lot G-03 Ground Floor, The Intermark, 348 Jalan Tun Razak, KL

Tel: 03 2161 2368

GPS Coordinates: 3.161620, 101.719670

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