Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bento Days #3 - Chewy Chewy Fried Udon with Teriyaki Chicken

So I did my first fried noodles for the last bento, so I was thinking "Frying udon should be sup-sup-water (or easy peasy)."  Next morning I woke up at 5am (15mins earlier than my usual time) and started to prepare every thing.

I gathered the ingredients from my fridge. I only did the marination that morning, about 20mins, but the chicken is full of teriyaki flavour.  This time I used 2 eggs instead of one because the last time I realized it was too little for 3 of us.

Today I am going to share a very handy gadget that I love. See the plate of nicely shredded carrots?  I did not spent minutes cutting the carrots into thin slice, instead I used the super duper cool vegetable slicer.  Took me about a minute to shred half a carrot and yields about half a bowl of shredded carrot.

I can't remember where did I buy mine but I think you can find them in those bigger supermarkts like NTUC Finest or Giant. It does not cost a lot, probably about $2+ if my goldfish memory serves me right, it could not be too expensive otherwise I would not have bought them. You can find something slimilar in Daiso too.

The Cooking Instructions
So anyway, I started off with boiling the udon for about hmm... not sure how long, 10mins?  I turned off the fire when I see that the udon are semi opaque.  While I poured away the water and draining the udon I added some oil into the wok, after that's heat up I added the 2 eggs (beaten) into it to make a nice omelette, dish out and set aside to cool off before I cut them into stripes.  Next I threw in the marinated chicken and shredded carrots to stir fry till almost cooked.  I did not add in any more oil because its already quite oily from frying the eggs.  After that I added in the drained udon, added a little bit more teriyaki sauce for flavouring, stir fry and mix every thing up.  Lastly the eggs are added and toss to mix with the udon.

A half filled lunch box for DinoBoy to enjoy during his recess time.  However he came home and said he couldn't finish it during recess as it was too much so he left some to eat it during lunch break, but it is NOT enough so he had to buy food to eat.  *opps*  Sorry son, let's hope this do not happen again.

DinoPapa said that the udon is a little bit hard, I should boil it long to make it soft. Well I didn't because I was afraid the udon will turn too soft or become soggy after I fried them, next time I shall boil them longer and see if the overall texture will be better or not.

Do you like udon as much as us?  Try this simple recipe and start bringing your own lunch to work~

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A 2015 New Year Resolution of some sort

I NEVER have the habit of making new year's resolution because I know I will not be able to keep on track and half way through I will probably forget what they are (ya see how ambitions I am, I have MANY resolutions).  However, when Rachel, the Dai Ga Je or Big Sister of SMB initiated a blog train "15 Things I will do differently in 2015" I thought "Why not?" and jumped on it.

I thought it would be an easy-peasy job, snap of a finger and 15 things would pop up. Boy~ I was so so wrong, I was stuck like forever with 8 things and I must admit that there were a couple of times I wanted to just do 5 things (we have an option to do either 5 or 15 things) but I decided to stick to my guns and so after scratching my head and pulling my hair for the past 2-3 days I present to you. in random order, the 15 things that I will or hope to achieve before the end of 2015.

#1 Blog Lesser
When I got back into blogging in 2012 I worked very hard to bring the stats of my blog from near zero to a level where it's being noticed by the general public and brands.  Then in 2013/2014 a series of things happened in the family and I went into hiatus not once but TWICE!  My stats suffered tremendously and I only managed to slowly bring it back on track recently.

With the boy in Primary 3 this year, I would think that there will be more things for us to tackle so I am bracing myself to handle these new school work with him together.  This probably means lesser opportunity to sit down to blog as and when I feel like, I could burn some mid night oil but this old Mama can't keep her eyes open after 10pm so that is not an option.

Being a responsible blogger, I get very stressed up if I am not able to churn out posts for many days, this decision will mean lesser chance for me to beat myself up for not doing the job well.  So yeah, blog lesser, perhaps 2-3 posts per week on an average would be just nice.  However, that does not mean that I will any-o-how write a post, contrary to that the content will be better, more informative, specific and more apt to the direction of this blog and beneficial to my faithful readers.

#2 Read More
I have neglected my books for a long time (they are screaming "Read Me! Read ME!" whenever I step into the study room), its time I pick them up again, hopefully I will be back doing book reviews and recommend some great books for both parents and children.

#3 Cook/Bake More
I have 72 pins in my Pinterest board "DinoMama's Kitchen" since I started to seriously cook back in August 2012.  I have moved from a not-so-confident home cook Mum who relied on cookbooks and scoured the website for recipes for our weekend meals to some one who can simply whip up a simple dish based on memory (and you people knows I am famous for having Goldfish Memory right?) and boldly cooks based on agar-agar or estimation on the seasoning, I still scour the website for inspirations though because there are simply too many recipes that I want to try my hands on!

We've started our to bring bento to school and work earlier this month, you can see them here, I hope to continue doing it for as long as possible, not only it will save on lunch money, it is also healther too.  Home cooked meals are Zee Best!

I also wanted to try my hands on making those mouth watering kueys and snacks that I've seen others posted on facebook.  Things like chwee kueys, chee cheong fan, kuey lapis, oneh-oneh etc.

#4 Crochet More
Definitely MORE of these!  Currently I am blessed to receive many orders that will take me some time to complete all of them.  However, crochet has been my passion since I was a little girl, there are so many items that I have been wanting to do but did not have the chance then, so I'd like to start striking them off my "Crochet Project List" slowly this year.

#5 Play More
We've been slacking in our board games and outdoor activities since late last year because this Mama has no energy or mood to do that.  DinoBoy has been complaining that we have not been playing badminton for so long!  Time to play harder!  So... Who want go catch some BayMax Frisbee with us on weekends har? Come! PM me NAO~

#6 Visit the Library More
We have occasionally visited the public library after our dinner for the past years, I am thinking more trips to the public library especially when I  have a child who is a book worm with an appetite as humongous as a dinosaurs, the neighbourhood public library is the best place to "feed" him.

Despite the kids running, screaming, laughing, squealing in the children's section, it is actually a great place to wind down after a tiring day at work and in school.  Sounds weird?  Not so, you just have to learn how to block out these noise.  I find it calming to do my crochet at a corner in the library without distractions and I can usually finish quite a fair bit of work as compare to when I do it at home.  DinoBoy love to grab a pile of books and hide in the "hole" (if he is able to get one) and lost himself in which ever adventure he picks up.  We never leave the library empty handed, there are always some books that we wanted to borrow and read them later.

#7 Family Gatherings More
Once a week dinner at my house was a norm where the siblings gather to catch up on things with each other and the cousins play together and made a mess in DinoBoy's room.  After Mum passed away and we got caught on with our busy schedules, we haven't been meeting up often enough.  I'll have to bring this family gatherings routine back before we become stranger to each other!

#8 Friends Over More
We used to open our house and have friend over for weekend gatherings accompanied by some food and wine.  We have stopped doing that a few years back, I miss those days where we just sit around the house, relaxing, chatting, munching on food while the kids play among themselves.  Time to send out some invitations.  Potluck at my place anyone?  I'm thinking Roast Pork Belly, so what say you?  

#9 Travel for Holidays More
We have been making trips back to Penang to visit our relatives for the pass years, I am hoping to travel to other parts of the world.  I want to let DinoBoy have an eye-opening travel experience on the sight, sound and culture of other countries.

#10 Save More
So that I can go for the above right?  I have been putting aside a certain fixed amount for savings and feeding my Moo-Moo Bank with the spare $1 or 50 cents coins but I think there is a better & smarter way to save MORE.  I have not think about it yet, if you have nay idea, please share with me.

#11 Grocery Saving More
This is one of the challenge I am facing currently.  How to save on groceries?  For now, when ever I need to cook I will just pop by the supermarket to grab the necessary ingredients.  I know the supermarkets have some kind of sale on certain days, such as Buy 2 at cheaper price or special price for certain items.  I have to find out when these dates are, do up my meal plans and head off to the supermarkets to do my grocery shopping.  This would probably save some money and waste lesser groceries (I cringe when I thought of the vegetable I bought, forgotten about them while they got lost in it and eventually rot in the fridge.)

#12 Gift More
This has been on my mind for a couple of years.  I have always wanted to give back to the community but never got around to do it.  I don't have much cash nor the luxury of having time on my hand so donating monetary or volunteering is out of the question.  I would however like to gift back in the form of my crochet crafts, perhaps a baby cap for babies, beanie for cancer patients, something along the line.  I'll have to explore on the options later.

#13 Be More Positive
For years, I have been dwelling on the bad stuffs that happened to me, it was manifesting me.  I started to think positive late last year but I think I need to work on that MORE this year.


#14 Love Myself More
To hell with people who says I'm fierce, snobbish, stick-in-the-mud, Tiger Mum (RAWWRRRR!!!) and all those negative name labeling, because It's not your job to like me...it's MINE! ~Byron Katie


#15 Stick to my Resolution
Ok, so I cheated on this but this is the first time I am making some kind of resolution and I want to make sure I follow through.  Good enough reason?

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Next on the "15 Things I will Do Differently in 2015" Blog Train is Evelyn.

Evespiration was born out of the little life in Evelyn some 5 years ago. The little one's precarious birth turned out to be one of the greatest miracles in her life. A mother of 2 active boys; Evelyn blogs on her motherhood journey and how her young ones peppered her otherwise-mundane-life with WWF fights, hard-helmet knocks and stubborn tug-of-wars. She juggled all these while trying to maintain sanity and enjoy a good cup of coffee at the same time. Read on as she shares the reality journey in her life.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Savouring Gu Ma Jia 姑妈家 5th Anniversary New Dishes and Chinese New Year Dishes

Recently we were invited to Gu Ma Jia to savour their dishes; 5th Anniversary new dishes and the Chinese New Year dishes.  There were so many lip smacking dishes that we were stuffed full at the end of the food tasting.

The dishes for the 5th Anniversary & Chinese New Year selection are all so delectable that I am sure they will be a hit with every one.  Let me highlight 3 dishes; in no particular order of preference, that I think you must absolutely try them (it was a really tough decision as individual dishes has their own unique taste).

XO Prawn Noodles SGD36
A classic Cantonese dish, Gu Ma chooses only the freshest prawns cooked in special homemade superior XO sauce with noodles. Impressive and indulgent indeed, this dish leaves you with a lingering flavour from the XO complimented by the sweetness of the prawn meat.  Do note that this dish is spicy.

Herbal Chicken (Part of the Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner Menu)
The DinoFamily love soup, especially nourishing nutritious home cooked herbal soup.  The herbal chicken soup did not disappoint us.  The soup is rich with a "just right" taste of the herbs, the chicken is soft that the meat falling off the bones easily.

Ubin Lala Bee Hoon SGD18
This dish is a hit with DinoBoy & myself because both of us love lala or white clams.  The dish looks simple with no fancy condiment but the flavour is full of sweetness from the fresh lala, the rice vermicelli was cooked till so soft that it resembles and tastes like mee sua.

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Gu Ma Jia is a small and cozy place, you will have a chance to meet up and perhaps have a little chat with Gu Ma or 姑妈 because she is always around the restaurant, sometimes helping to serve, sometimes chatting with regular customers.  If you have no plans for the weekend why not give Gu Ma Jia a try?  

Gu Ma Jia (姑妈家)
45 Tai Thong Crescent
Sennett Estate
Singapore 347866
Telephone : 6285 2023
Opens Daily: 11am to 10pm

Current Promotion at Gu Ma Jia (姑妈家)

As we rubbed our tum-tum after the sumptuous meal at Gu Ma Jia, we thought we just gotta share these great food with our readers, so we are lucky to have Gu Ma Jia sponsoring us x5 SGD10 dining cash vouchers to 5 of our lucky readers!


Prize : x5 Gu Ma Jia SGD10 dining cash voucher, all terms & conditions applied
Contest Ends : 28 January 2015 @ 2359hrs
Open : Singapore Only
How to Enter : Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below
Terms and conditions of Gu Ma Jia Cash Voucher are as follow:
- Strictly one redemption per receipt and for dine-in only
- Not valid for other promotional services, offer, discount and not exchangeable for cash.
- Original voucher must be presented upon ordering
- Only applicable for dinner, from 6pm onwards
- Available daily (exclude eve of public holiday and public holiday)
Terms and conditions of giveaway are as follow:
- To avoid being disqualified without prior notice for the giveaway, please read carefully the following and fulfill ALL the requirements stated;
- Winners will be picked randomly by Rafflecopter widget.
- Winners will have 3 days to respond by replying to our notification email otherwise, a new winner will be picked.
- Only one winner per household.
- This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer : We are in no way affiliated to the staffs and management of  Gu Ma Jia. We were invited by AT Marketing Consultancy for food tasting at Gu Ma Jia for the purpose of this post. No other form of compensation was received. All opinions are 100% ours and based on our dining experience with Gu Ma Jia.  The DinoFamily reserves the copyright of all the photos in this post.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Bento Days #2 - Chow Mien~ it means Fried Noodles lah!

Ok, so from my first bento of the easy-peasy Onigiri, I jumped a few stage higher and challenged myself with chow mien.  What is chow mien you ask?  Well, its nothing fanciful or unique, it's simply fried noodles in Chinese (lol).

This was an impromptu decision to do chow mien because.... well, frankly I have no idea why I decided to do it especially when I have never, NEVER fired any rice or noodles before in my entire life!  What was I thinking??!!!  I am still wondering too hahaha!  Anyway, since I've decided on that I just have to go ahead and make it with Success as the ONLY option.

I thought we still have some instant dried noodles left such as this but I found out that morning there is only one block left; seems like chow mien is doomed to be a failure from the start eh?  Not giving up, I rummaged the drawer and found a packet of maggie noodles (Thank God!) and cooked both of them together, thus the different colored noodles.

And while the noodles are boiling, I prepare some chicken midwings as I wanted to make baked chicken wings, you can see the recipe here.  I threw it into my airfryer and let it bake while I steam the purple cabbage and fry the egg follow by the ham.  

I threw in the drained noodles into the wok to fry at high heat, add in the sauces and stir like mad to make sure all the noodles are coated with the sauce.  Next I threw in the ingredients, toss the noodle to mix it up and serve it together with the chicken mid-wings.

BTW, here is the "concoction" of the seasoning;
* 2 teaspoon soy sauce
* 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
* ½ teaspoon sesame oil
* ¼ teaspoon salt
* ¼ teaspoon salt sugar
* ½ tablespoon Shaoxing wine (optional)

Ta-da~ my maiden chow mien aka fried noodles, 1st bowl to DinoPapa to taste and "grade" it.  The verdict... PASS!  Though he said it will taste better if I added XO sauce to the noodles.  I forgot we have that in the kitchen cabinet.

Other than his Tyrrell Katz London Snack Boxes DinoBoy do not have nice nice pretty pretty cute cute lunch box (hint hint... we are open to receiving some kawaii useful lunch box hehehe~).  So today's bento is packed in a squarish Lock & Lock lookalike box that was a free gift from some where.  Lucky for me I bought some paper cups for bento couple of years ago so I can put the chicken mid-wings in it so the skin won't turn soggy when he eats it couple of hours later.

When I fetched him at the end of the day, I was chatting with his Student Care Teacher and she said during lunch break DinoBoy made noise "My Mummy arh! Put SOOOOO much purple cabbage!". So my son is not a fan of cabbage let a lone a suspicious looking purple cabbage.  

And I am so happy that he did not throw the noodles away when he couldn't finished it during recess, instead he kept it to eat again during lunch break.  Well done son!  You've done Mummy & Daddy proud by not wasting food.  

Note : I have instructed him to smell & taste the food to see if it has turned bad before he digs in, if he is unsure he can ask the teacher to check for him.  Therefore there are slim chance that he will get food poisoning by eating food that has gone bad.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bento Days #1 - Onigiri of course!

After our discussions about the value of money earlier this month I asked DinoBoy if he would like to start bringing food to school for recess.  He thought (and I mean really think... like making-big-decision kinda thinking) for a minute, said "Ee-yup, okay!" and immediately added "may~be... not every day lah, maybe some of the days only."  Do you feel the high and sudden low of feelings I am experiencing in that 10 seconds?

Since this will be the FIRST TIME I am making bento and will be preparing them in the morning I wanted something that is easy to prepare.  I scoured online and zero in to onigiri as it looks easy enough to prepare within an hour plus we have some sushi rice in the cupboard.  I told DinoBoy about it and he's very excited, saying that he wanted to help with the making of onigiri.  We went to the supermarket to hunt for things to make it, grabbed 2 packets of sushi rice seasoning and a can of mayo tuna.

The next morning I work up 15mins earlier, after I washed up I put the rice to cook and sat down to enjoy my morning 3-in-1 coffee while crocheting my current project.  30mins later our new rice cooker gave out a nice cute melody to let me know that the rice is done.  I let it sits for 5 mins before fluffing the rice and bring the pot out to let the rice cool off a little bit.  Woke the little fella up, get him to wash up while I prepare a piece of cling wrap, seaweed, scissors, some spoons, plate, lunch boxes and opened the can of mayo tuna.  He chose the chicken rice seasoning and I mixed that into the rice,the amount is according to your liking/preference.

Ok so here's how you do it...
1. put an ample amount of sushi rice onto the cling wrap
2. wrap it up
3. gather the sides together and twist it tight so that you bring all the rice together
4. shape your sushi rice in any shape you like

To put the filling, simply indent a hole with your thumb, put in the filling, close up hole with the rice (or you can add in more rice) and viola~ you are done!

I still have to perfect my skill in this because the mayo tuna spill out after I tried pressing the rice together to make them stick and shape it.  

You can see who is having a greater fun here right?  He started off with only a strip of seaweed then he got all creative.  In the photo above he cut the ears, eyes & whiskers for the mouse and start decorating it.  He made panda (the top onigiri) and Mr Big Beard with a pipe (the bottom onigiri) for me.  After that, he got tired and "any-o-how" decorate the rest of the rice balls.  

At 6.50am the onigri are packed in the respective lunch boxes, about one and a half hour from the minute I put the rice to cook.  It's an easy and relaxing preparation process with a 30 mins of waiting time while the rice cooks, plus I have a little help to cut the seaweed and decorate the rice balls.  I'm thinking we will be doing more of this in near future.

He came home with an empty lunch box, according to him (and verified by his best friend) he finished all 6 onigiri during recess time!  Too hungry or too delicious to stop?  In any way, I am glad that our first bento is a success and he's loving it.

My 2 palm sized onigiri may not look a lot to fill a stomach but surprisingly they did!  I wasn't stuffed full but just full, comfortably full and I did not feel any hunger till after 5pm, by then dinner is another hour away.  No wonder those Japanese ladies are so slim and pretty!

Hope I have inspired you enough with this post to try your hands in making onigiri for your child to bring to school or to your office as lunch. Saves money and its more nutritious too!  Till my next bento post, have fun are making the onigiri~

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Raising Money Wise Kids

Couple of weeks ago I read Mama Sue's post on embarking her journey to teach Dumpling about money management and I thought it will also be a great thing to start with DinoBoy too. 

As with most parents, we have been buying most of the things that DinoBoy asked for since he was a toddler, many a times we bought things on impulse just because "oh they look cute on DinoBoy!" or "I think he will like this toy a lot."  So to DinoBoy, he thinks that if he likes it, he can simply just ask for it, even though we have a "Not Buying Just Browsing rule before we enters a shop, he will still try his luck.  We may not buy it on the spot but we will surely buy for him in the next couple of weeks.  Sometimes we tell him "If you behave yourself in school I'll buy it for you." this usually makes him forget about that toy a few days later (lucky for us!)

Since early last year I have been turning down DinoBoy's requests to buy a few new toys and books or even a visit to his favourite restaurant because we are on tight budget.  Even though he fully understands our current situation he can't help but show his disappointment, he is afterall a 8 year old boy.  

Mama Sue's post is a great reminder that it's time that I take a step further to teach him more about money matters.  I got the book Mama Sue mentioned in her post; Smart Money Smart Kids but haven't got the time to start reading it.  I didn't want to wait till I finished reading the book, which most like will be a few months down the road, to start DinoBoy on this journey so I searched for a kids version in our local library and found How to Make a Budget by Ryan Randolph which explains the whole budgeting, finances and money thing in a term where young children can understand easily.

In this book Ryan explained the following major points in simple clear words that are easy for the young minds to understand;

Budget - "keeping track of the money coming in and the money going out.  A budget helps us decide how and when income is spent."  
Income - "can come from gifts, jobs or an allowance"
Expenses - " things you buy.  These can be things you need or things you want, like candy or clothes."

He also explains about "long term goal" (such as retirement fund), "short term goal" (such as that bicycle you want) and "rainy days" savings.

After reading the book together and discussing or clarifying some points that DinoBoy has, we sat down to do some serious work to analyzed the amount he spent during recess and lunch break.  He gets a daily allowance of $5, the school stall sells food in 3 different portion @ $1 (S), $1.50 (M) and $2 (L), some days he takes M portion, some days when he is really famish he takes x2 L portion, these are excluding the drinks he will be buying.  Since the amount he spent on food cannot be reduced I suggested that he avoid buying drinks, instead he could drink the water in his water bottle.  His current favourite drinks are packet of milo @ 80 cents and banana juice @ $1.50 (not sure if its fresh juice or those packet kind), by not buying them he would have save $2.30.  After being scolded by me a zillion times for buying useless things from the bookshop he dare not do it now so such "extra" expenses are rare now.

 On certain days where he uses tokens from student care centre to buy lunch he saves about $2. *Updated on 08 Jan 2015 I found out that the student care centre gives them token daily to exchange it for lunch. Initially I thought it was only Mondays and Tuesdays as I only see the tokens on these 2 days. Silly me I know!  Anyway DinoBoy told me that he will sometimes buy extra portion during lunch too.  Therefore, taking into consideration the above, we reckon his daily savings could be around a dollar.

We proceed to think how much should go into each of the "funds".  Since Ryan suggests "Think of your savings as "paying yourself first", so we decided that half of the amount should go into Savings, 2/3 of the remaining should go into "Spending" and 1/3 into "Giving".  This portioning thingy also trains him in division, subtraction and fraction too. 

I explained to DinoBoy that money in "Saving" cannot be touched, it is sort of a "long term goal" funds and will be deposited into his bank account at the end of the year for his future education funds.  And if he has something he wants to buy; that toy or book or even a trip to his favourite restaurant he could use the money from "Spending" and he has to save up more if the amount is not enough.  As for "Giving", we will decide at the end of the year which charitable organisation we will want to donate the amount to.  He was all hyped up about the new savings plans and with an excited heart he took 3 piggybanks and labelled them accordingly.  These piggybanks are currently sitting on a shelf in clear view and he could deposit his coins when he packs his bag nightly.

Perhaps tonight I should suggest to him that he brings bento to school to eat during his recess, this not only means more savings for him but most importantly he will eat healthier food prepared by me. Let's see if he accepts this idea or not *smile*

For now, this is my plan to make him more aware of the meaning and value of money, I may fine tune it after I finished reading Smart Money Smart Kids. So, will you join me & Mama Sue in this journey to raise money wise kids?