Friday, July 15, 2011

Prawns/Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce

It’s been a little while since I cooked a regular dinner at home since I’ve been mostly spending my time childrearing and my mother in law has been doing most of the cooking (apart from baking). So when my father in law suggested I make dinner, I thought it was probably a good idea since I hadn’t blogged about something savory in a while too. I was also craving a couple of dishes that I grew up with that I hadn’t cooked in a while.

This recipe is from my mom. My in laws commented how they thought it was interesting that there were tomatoes in a black bean dish but this is the way that my mom has always made it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any peppers on hand so I couldn’t include them. The dish seemed to be a hit since both hubby and my father In law commented that they liked it, which is always nice to hear especially since hubby barely ever comments on anything I make.


1 lb. Prawns/Shrimp
1 tbsp. Dried Black Beans
1 Tomato (chopped into small pieces)
1 Onion (chopped into small pieces)
1/2 Green Pepper (or any other colour Pepper – cut in strips)
1 clove Garlic (minced)
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Sesame Oil
1 tsp. Black Pepper
2 tsp. Oil
1 tbsp. Corn Starch
Corn Starch Slurry (1 tbsp. Corn Starch, 1 tbsp. Sugar, 1 tsp. Pepper and 2 tbsp. Water)


In a small bowl, marinate the prawns/shrimp with sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil and black pepper. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour as you prepare everything else (chopping veggies and mixing together corn starch slurry).

Wash the black beans and add a little hot water to allow them to soften. When they are softened, mash them with the back of a spoon, then set aside.

Heat up wok and add 1 tsp. oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion. Stir fry until the onion is slightly softened and browned, then add the tomato and peppers. Once the tomato has softened and the pepper is slightly browned, remove ingredients from wok.

Remove prawns/shrimp from the refrigerator and coat with cornstarch.

Heat up wok again and add 1 tsp. oil and garlic. Stir fry until slightly browned, then add prawns/shrimp. Allow to cook for a minute before adding the cornstarch slurry and black beans. Add a little bit of water if it appears not to have enough sauce.

When the prawns/shrimp are cooked, return the vegetables to the wok and stir fry until all combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Remove from wok and serve!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Banana Cake in 5-Cup Rice Cooker

I was intrigued when my mother in law told me that the salesperson at the store she usually buys cookware gave her a little recipe handout for our Panasonic rice cooker. It wasn’t long before I put a quick cake together to try this method of baking. I think the major benefit of baking with a rice cooker is the cake will definitely be moist since there’s the whole steaming aspect of it. This also means that not much fat needs to be put into the recipe which is great. I actually felt pretty good about giving baby a little of this cake even! The only disadvantage would be that the top of the cake usually doesn’t have the golden colour that is so pretty on cakes baked in the oven. However, this is remedied easily since the cake is flipped over onto a plate/platter anyways, and the parts touching the pot are the golden brown colour.


3/4 cup Flour
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
3 Eggs
3 tbsp. Oil
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 1/4 Cup Bananas (mashed)
3 tbsp. Milk
1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar


Separate egg yolks (into a large bowl) from egg whites (into a small bowl), setting the egg whites aside.

In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

Beat egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar together at high speed. Add oil and continue to beat.

Add in mashed bananas and milk.

Lower speed of the electric mixer and add in the flour mixture slowly until combined.

Beat egg whites, gradually adding the cream of tartar and 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.

Slowly fold egg whites into the flour mixture. Do not over-mix.

Brush a thin layer of oil evenly onto the rice cooker inner pot, then pour in the batter.

Choose the cake menu option on the rice cooker and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove inner pot and allow to cool slightly before turning over to remove from the pot.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lemon Yogurt Cupcakes

Prior to going back to work, I found myself baking regularly which was quite weird since I never thought of myself as much of a baker. I guess I really liked the idea of having something baking when I had visitors or bringing baked goods to a get together. In any event, I have to say that I got more of the hang of it in the recent past and am enjoying baking at this point. I did however have quite an epic baking fiasco when I was making baby’s birthday cake. I am happy to report that it ended well though and everyone was quite impressed with the finished product. I will have to see when I have a little time to blog about baby’s tiger cake since it was quite a production.

In terms of these cupcakes, these are definitely something you can make in a time crunch. I have been loving baking with yogurt and buttermilk in general since I find that the results are usually very moist and everything I’ve been baking with which includes either ingredient has been turning out almost perfect.

(makes approximately 12 cupcakes)


1 1/2 cups Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup Greek Yogurt
1 cup Sugar
3 Eggs
2 tsp. Lemon Zest
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/3 cup Lemon Juice


Preheat the oven to 350F. Line the cupcake pan with cupcake liners or grease pan.

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla extract, oil and lemon juice.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients, whisking until combined. (If you like, you can also add fruit at this point)

Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons, scoop batter into cupcake liners or greased pan.

Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes until pale golden. Allow to cool, then enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Strawberry Summer Cake

Since today is the first day of summer, I thought it would only be fitting to blog about a strawberry summer cake that I made a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, now that I am back at work, I think that baking will be put on the back burner. I have however been surprised by how much I have been baking recently so I still have a few other recipes that I plan to share in the near future.

I thought this cake was super easy to make and was a great way to make use of some strawberries. The whole family seemed to enjoy it, particularly with a scoop of ice cream!

from Smitten Kitchen

6 tbsp. unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp. Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 cup Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 lb. Strawberries (hulled and halved)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch pan.

In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt together.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes.

Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined.

Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sprinkles Cupcakes' Strawberry Cupcakes

Recently, I had a bunch of strawberries laying around so I found myself searching for recipes involving strawberries (note: more to come!). One recipe that seemed to leap out at me as soon as I googled "strawberry cupcakes" was a recipe from Sprinkles Cupcakes. I am now really curious to try the cupcakes from this place and it will definitely be on the list of places to go if I ever head to one of the cities that they are located in. The owner has made appearances on several tv shows. She had demonstrated this particular recipe on Oprah, which is probably why it popped out at me.

I decided to make mini cupcakes since I was bringing them to a party so I reduced the time in the oven. I didn't even really get to taste one for myself but everyone who had one told me they were good! I had a feeling they were good though from just having a taste of the batter!


2/3 cup fresh or frozen whole Strawberries (thawed if frozen)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose Flour (sifted)
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. coarse Salt
1/4 cup whole Milk (room temperature)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1 cup Sugar
1 large Egg (room temperature)
2 large Egg Whites (room temperature)

1/2 cup whole Strawberries
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted Butter (firm and slightly cold)
Pinch coarse Salt
3 1/2 cups Confectioners' Sugar (sifted)
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract


Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin or 24-cup mini muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Place strawberries in a small food processor and process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree. Add a few more strawberries if necessary, or save any extra puree for frosting.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla and strawberry puree.

Cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes for regular size cupcakes, and 15 to 18 minutes for mini cupcakes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed.

Beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar, beating until well combined.

Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a tip of your choice or simply using an offset spatula, pipe/spread frosting on each cupcake. Add any other decor of your choice (I decided to use little pieces of strawberries). Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spanakopita Triangles

As my parental leave is quickly coming to an end, I have been definitely finding it hard to find the time to blog. This is not to say that I have not been fact, I have had several theme nights and random baking occasions that I've been meaning to blog about. I will have to definitely make it a point to start catching up on this.

I had hosted a greek night several weeks back now, and I've been meaning to blog about several dishes from this night. This is one of the recipes that I attempted. I did however blend in some mozzarella as I knew a few of my friends (and hubby) are a little weary about strong cheeses. This is definitely a personal choice and you could definitely opt to use all feta if you like.

adapted from Smitten Kitchen


1 tbsp. Butter
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 bunch Spinach (stems removed)
1/2 Onion (minced)
1 cup Feta (crumbled)
1 cup Mozzarella (grated)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Phyllo Triangles:
approximately 10 (17- by 12-inch) Phyllo sheets
1/2 cup Butter (melted)

In a pan, melt butter over moderate heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until browned.

Add spinach, stirring, until wilted and tender. Remove from heat and cool.

Squeeze out as much liquid as possible, then coarsely chop or cut with scissors.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in feta, mozzarella and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Take one phyllo sheet and brush with some butter. Top with another phyllo sheet and brush with more butter. Cut buttered phyllo stack vertically, using your own judgement as to how big you would like your triangles to be.

Put a heaping teaspoon of filling near one corner of a strip on end nearest you, then fold corner of phyllo over to enclose filling and form a triangle. Continue folding strip, maintaining the triangle shape. Put triangle, seam side down, on a large baking sheet and brush top with butter. Repeat until all the filling has been used up.

Bake triangles in middle of oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool slightly before serving.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lemon Cranberry Scones

About a week ago, I had a couple of friends and their babies come over for a playdate. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try out this recipe for scones. I had never actually made scones before so I was a little worried they wouldn't turn out. Thankfully, they were a perfect pale golden when the oven timer went off that morning. There is definitely nothing like the smell of freshly baked scones (or bread in general)!

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 tbsp. freshly grated Lemon Zest (approximately 2 lemons)
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tbsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
3/4 stick (6 tbsp.) cold unsalted Butter (cut into bits)
1 1/4 cups Dried Cranberries
1 large Egg
1 large Egg Yolk
1 cup Cream


Preheat oven to 400°F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add dried cranberries to the flour mixture.

In another small bowl, beat egg and yolk, then stir in cream. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

On a well-floured surface and with floured hands, pat dough down until it is approximately 1" thick. With a 2-inch round cutter or a rim of a glass dipped in flour, cut out as many rounds as possible, rerolling scraps as necessary.

Arrange rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven for 15 to 20 minutes until pale golden.