Happy Valentine’s Day!!

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Marks and Spencer's deal

I was in Marks and Spencer and saw their valentine’s deal – dine in for two for Β£20. I thought that was a great deal so I checked it out during my lunchtime. I did speak to my hubby as to what his plans are for us but with a 14 months old toddler, a romantic dinner doesn’t seem too appealing and plus I don’t want to disturb other couples! Plus, I always find that restaurants on that particular day, the meals are really expensive! I would prefer to have dinner at home.

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Our valentine's dinner!!!

I was so amazed about what I got as it seems too good to be true! In this deal, you get a starter, main, side, dessert, bottlenof cava and chocolates…all for Β£20!! When I was getting my foods, I had to double check with the sales assistant that I was doing it correctly as there were alot of stuff included!!!

I was so pleased as dinner is sorted for valentine’s!!! All I need to do is to heat them up! Yum! I can’t wait! Wishing everybody a happy valentine’s day!!!

Coq au vin

Sunday's Dinner - Coq au vin! :)

Sunday’s Dinner – Coq au vin! πŸ™‚

What a miserable Sunday with all the rain!! At a time like this, I don’t fancy going out or doing anything but just staying at home and having a nice satisfying hot stew or casserole for dinner! So, I am going to attempt to make the ‘Coq au vin’ for our Sunday dinner. I looked this up on Wikipedia and it means “rooster with wine”, it is a French braise of chicken cooked with wine (red), lardons, mushrooms and garlic. I saw Ina Garten cook this recipe on TV last year, she makes it looks so easy and simple to follow. On the programme, she makes it fit into a 30 minutes slot, in reality, this took me nearly 2 hours from start to finish to cook this dish!!!

The actual ‘cooking’ is not too complicated but I think it is one of those dishes where you need time to prepare everything ie cutting the mushrooms, carrots, onions, garlic etc. Once cooked, I boiled some baby potatoes, asparagus and heated Aunt Bessie’sΒ  dumplings in the oven as it needs to soak up the sauce! It was a great combination and coq au vin was really flavoursome! I normally don’t really like having wine in my food as sometimes, I find the taste too strong! With this dish, there were some hints of the red wine that you can taste but not stong as the flavour is dominated by the chicken. It was really delicious as the chicken was nice and tender and the baby onions were really sweet. I will be making this again as my hubby really enjoyed the coq au vin! πŸ™‚

For Ina’s recipe of the Coq au vin, click here. I was using the book’s recipe and I did make some slight adjustments to her original recipe especially when it came to the quantities of the ingredients! Such as:

  • I used half a bottle of red wine
  • I didn’t use cognac or brandy as i don’t have any and I didn’t want to buy a bottle for the sake of this recipe!
  • Instead of cutting diagonally for the carrots, I just brought a bag of sliced up carrots! Saves time!
  • I used chestnut mushrooms instead of ‘porcini’ as I couldn’t find them in Tescos but I have read that you can use button mushrooms as well.
  • I probably used just less than 1 pint of chicken stock
  • I can never find frozen baby onions in the supermarkets, I think this is popular to have in America but not in the UK! However, I did find baby ones (not frozen) to use instead.
  • 325 degrees F is Gas Mark 1. All purpose flour is plain flour.
Frying the onions

Frying the onions

Browning the chicken pieces

Browning the chicken pieces

Frying the carrots, onions and garlic

Frying the carrots, onions and garlic

Adding the chicken and bacon back in

Adding the chicken and bacon back in

Adding the tyme, wine and chicken stock. Bring to boil and put in the oven for 40 mins at GM1

Adding the tyme, wine and chicken stock. Bring to boil and put in the oven for 40 mins at GM1

Plain flour and butter paste

Plain flour and butter paste

Adding the baby onions and plain flour & butter paste

Adding the baby onions and plain flour & butter paste

Frying the mushrooms in butter

Frying the mushrooms in butter

Simmering

Simmer for 15 minutes and then ready to eat

Family Feast in Filipino Style!

Family Feast in Filipino style!! :)

Family Feast in Filipino style!! πŸ™‚

Last night, I went to my in-laws for ‘Mother’s Day’ dinner and my mum joined us too so it was a big gathering of 12 of us!!! My mother in law cooked a lovely dinner with a lot of food, I think it is in true ‘Filipino style’ – best to have more than less!!! πŸ™‚ We had roast pork, potatoes, fried chicken, yorkshire puds, onion rings, noodles and rice!Β  And for desserts, we had the chocolate swirl cake and profiteroles that we brought along with us, cheesecake & strawberries and some fruits. My niece (9 years) and nephew (6 years) made some yummy cookies – chocolate chip and hazelnut & white chocolate for their grandma!!! πŸ™‚ We were so stuffed by the end of the night! It was a really nice evening to have a good old catch up with everyone and having a few giggles & jokes around the table!! πŸ™‚

Cookies made by neice and nephew! :)

Cookies made by niece and nephew! πŸ™‚

Saturday’s Night in!

Pre - Bake Chicken and Chorizo

Pre – Bake Chicken and Chorizo

My friend, April is coming round to our house to stay over this weekend and I wanted to make an easy dinner where I don’t need to spend much time in the kitchen. I immediately thought of Nigella’s spanish chicken with chorizo and potatoes tray bake as you can put everything onto the one tray and just cook it in the oven! I like to marinate my chicken pieces at least over night so that is flavoured before using the actual receipe. Nigella’s receipe can be found hereΒ http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/spanish-chicken-with-chorizo-and-potatoes-5160. It is quick to prepare and you don’t need to buy any special ingredients for this, most you should have already at home. This is a nice tray bake for sharing with friends and I served this with a mixture of green vegetables.

I served the blueberry coulis on the side but you can drizzle this on the top!

I served the blueberry coulis on the side but you can drizzle this on the top!

I feel that if you have got friends coming round for dinner, you have got to have a nice dessert! πŸ™‚ I did ask April before if she prefers chilled desserts or cakes and she preferred something chilled. When Christine published her post about making mini blueberry cheesecakes, I thought this was perfect to make as they looked so dainty!!! The only snag was that I don’t have a mini cheesecake pan but she said that you can use a muffin tin with cupcake cases which is what I did! With the receipe, you had to take the filling out of the Oreo biscuits, I removed the cream by using a palette knife to scrape it off and it took 5 minutes for the whole packet. I was slightly anxious as to how it would taste because it was my first time baking them and I have no idea how it was going to turn out. With cooking, you can always fix your dish by tasting as you go along but with baking, it is completely different. You just hope that it will taste nice and that it is not going to be bland or for the cake to be still raw when you cut it!! My cheesecake was delicious! April said they were ‘amazing’ so I was really pleased!! πŸ™‚ There were really quite morish and addictive to eat! I have got such a sweet tooth that I helped myself to another half and gave the other half to my hubby! πŸ™‚ If you don’t like blueberries, you can always substitute for another fruit like strawberries or raspberries.

Here is the linkΒ http://en.christinesrecipes.com/2013/01/mini-blueberry-cheesecakes.html#more to make Christine’s Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes

Oreos in the food processor

Oreos in the food processor

Oreos pressed in the cupcake cases using a back of a spoon

Oreos pressed in the cupcake cases using a back of a spoon

i used an ice cream scoop for each of the fillings

i used an ice cream scoop for each of the fillings

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Baked

Baked

 

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!! :)

Happy Valentine’s Day!!! πŸ™‚

Wishing everybody a Happy Valentine’s Day! I follow Ina Garten’s blog and she mentioned that there’s something so generous and satisfying to cook dinner for someone you love and Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity...I totally agree with her!!! In the past, we would usually book a restaurant for Valentine’s Day for dinner which is nice but it is all very commercial and you find that the menu choices are pretty limited and over-charged!! Also, the tables are placed quite close together so it is always tricky to have a nice chat. Now, we are just taking in turns to cook Valentine’s dinner at home, I do prefer this because you are not mixed with other people and it is nice to get food cooked with love!!! May sound cheesy but I think the food taste nicer as you know that someone has put that extra effort in thinking about what to cook and of course executing it. When I bake my cakes, it always nice to get compliments and it just makes me happy! πŸ™‚

Lemon Sole, Potatoes and Veg

Lemon Sole, Potatoes and Veg

This year, it is my hubby’s turn and he has cooked me a lemon dover sole & shrimps with vegetables and potatoes. Originally, he wanted to cook me a monk fish in red wine sauce which is pretty different because fish is normally cooked with white sauce. But, unfortunately, Waitrose sold out and he had to change his menu!! Bless! As he was worried that the fish looked a bit light… I offered to make a starter with parma ham and melon with rockets, something easy to put together without minimum effort! My dinner was yummy! πŸ™‚

Parma Ham, Melon & Rockets

Parma Ham, Melon & Rockets

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I will be making dessert and I spotted in Jo Wheatley’s book – Valentine’s chocolate shortbread hearts. I baked the biscuits in the morning and assembled everything after dinner and it was delicious!! So simple to make and quick although I think I still need to practice my piping skills as it looks slightly messy! πŸ™‚

As I have taken the day off today, I thought I would leave my team at work some lovely Valentine treats courtesy of Ina’s White Chocolate Bark receipe! πŸ™‚ So simple to make and ……

White Chocolate Bark Receipe:

  • 350g white chocolate chopped up
  • 30g pistachio or Walnuts or any nuts you like
  • 30g dried apricots – diced
  • 30g dried cranberries – diced
  1. Melt 300g white chocolate in the microwave on high power for 30 seconds and keep going with 30 seconds until the chocolate has just melted. Add the remaining 50g of the chocolate into the bowl and keep stirring until all has melted. The mixture should be smooth and glossy.
  2. Meanwhile switch on the oven to GM4 (350 degree) and toast the nuts for 8 – 10 minutes. Dice your dried fruits.
  3. Line a tray 8 x 10 inch and draw with a pencil. Then flip the baking parchment over but make sure you can still see the outline. Pour the chocolate in the middle and then use a spoon to push it out to the edge.
  4. Sprinkle the nuts and dried fruits and leave to set. I left mine overnight to set.
  5. Cut into 16 pieces and put 2 pieces together back to back and wrap in a cellophane gift bag and tie a nice cute ribbon.
Melting the white chocolate in the microwave

Melting the white chocolate in the microwave

Pour the choc in the middle

Pour the choc in the middle

Use a spoon to spread the chocolate to the edge

Use a spoon to spread the chocolate to the edge

Add your toppings and leave to set

Add your toppings and leave to set

White Choc Bark gift- wrapped!

White Choc Bark gift- wrapped!

HOPE YOU ALL HAVE A LOVELY VALENTINE’S DAY! πŸ™‚

Chinese New Year – Snake Year 2013!

I would like to wish all my family and friends a Happy Chinese New Year – Gong Hay Fat Choi!!! Hope this year brings you all happiness, love, good health and prosperity! πŸ™‚ Today, I have invited my mum over for dinner and we are just going to have a nice family cooked meal at home!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

This morning I made some Lemon Almond Cookies and Coconut Pudding as I saw the receipes from Christine’s Blog http://en.christinesrecipes.com/, she is from Hong Kong but lives in Australia. I love following her as they are so easy to follow and has great photos aswell! Also, I have never really been into Chinese cooking, even though I am Chinese so she has been quite an inspiration to me!! When I was younger, I didn’t take much notice of my parents cooking and only began to be interested when I moved out!! Now, when my mum cooks, I always ask her questions and try to gain her knowledge in Chinese cooking!! I will be taking some of the delightful treats to work tomorrow so that they can try some! πŸ™‚

Family CNY Dinner!

Family CNY Dinner!

Tonight’s dinner, I made lamb chops with some green veg and my mum made steamed sea bass! I don’t normally steam my food in cooking so it was great to see how she did it and plus I never really cooked a whole fish (head & tail) at home, usually we would buy the fillets! She steamed the fish with garlic and spring onions and poured some hot oil and soya sauce! Fish has a very special place in the Chinese New Year menu as it symbolises abundance so with the head and tail, this brings a good beginning and end to the New Year!

Hope you all had a lovely meal with your family! πŸ™‚

Lemon Almond Cookies – you can find the receipe here – http://en.christinesrecipes.com/2013/01/lemon-almond-cookies-chinese-new-year.html. Although my slices are not as tiny as it was quite difficult to cut 0.5cm for each one!

Cookie

Rolled and wrapped in cling film

Rolled and wrapped in cling film

Before

Before

Cooling

Cooling

Coconut Pudding – you can find the receipe here – http://en.christinesrecipes.com/2009/01/chinese-new-year-coconut-pudding.html#.URge9nJWySo Note: Raw Sugar – I used demerara sugar.

Mixture

Mixture

Before

Before

After

After

 

Sunday Dinner

Frying the lamb chops with the marinade

Frying the lamb chops with the marinade

I brought some lamb chops a couple of weeks ago as I was going to use Rachel Allen’s lamb chops with parsley and mint sauce but then I saw Nigella on TV and she was making lamb chops with chilli and black olives which looks more interesting to cook! So, for tonight’s dinner, I made this and it was delicious!!! It was pretty quick to make and towards the end, instead of using another pan to fry my vegetables (sugar snaps, asparagus, mushrooms) , I added them in the same dish. I served them with some roast potatoes! Here’s the link for Nigella’s receipe –Β http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/lamb-cutlets-with-chilli-and-black-olives-3

I think on a Sunday, it is nice to have a proper home cooked dinner, nothing beats it! πŸ™‚

Lamb Chops with Greens!

Lamb Chops with Greens!