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Grab-N-Go Oat Muffins

Breakfast muffins, Anytime Muffins, Oat Muffins, Banana Oat Choc Chip Muffins- I really could not decide what to call these. This recipe is something that was born out of necessity and given their role in my life, I decided I would call them my Grab-N-Go Oat Muffins.

5 years ago I started work as house officer in Sabah (Malaysian state which is part of the island of Borneo). My hours were pretty intense as we had a tagging period where we worked from 6am – 10pm daily for 14 days with 2 days off. Then my post tagging normal working days were 6am – 6pm, or nights which were from 6pm – 12pm the following day with 1 day off a week.

However like everyone else, I remember coming in as early as 4am or staying till 9pm in certain rotations cause there was heaps of work to do and we were as always short handed. And for some reason everything needed to be done STAT – which could vary from meaning ASAP or done last week depending on who your boss was.

Blueberries 🤗🤗

Basically I was stressed, perpetually tired and as much as I enjoy cooking, hardly ever did. To make matters worse, I am one of those people who when sufficiently stressed and preoccupied just forgets to eat/has no appetite. Even if I did remember it would be a quick grab and walk of whatever vending machine coffee (yummy, but full of sugar and terrible for you) or biscuits/chocolate from the convenience store. (I think I just wanted the sugar rush)

Needless to say my diet was terrible and I eventually started getting headaches, feeling lightheaded … basically I was not taking very good care of myself and I felt it.

It was then I started experimenting with quick grab and go snacks which would keep me going throughout the day. Even better if I could prep a weeks worth on my one day off quickly (You can freeze them for a month!). One of my go to’s then and now Dan’s favourite breakfast is my banana oat choc chip muffins.

Perfect for an on the go breakfast, quick snack with a cup of tea (hyggetime) or a spoonful of greek yoghurt (Dan’s favourite!) – they became my go to as an intern.

And while they really aren’t anything extraordinary. Not only did throwing it together help take my mind off the days work, but taking one/two along to work every morning allowed me to snack on the go and at times reminded me to take that little break during the day. To sit down or take that extra five minutes sat in the car before punching in to just breathe for a second.

And as silly as it sounds, I think that is why I find them so comforting till this day.

Ingredients
300 grams Oats
2 bananas
75 grams Linwoods flax, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and goji berries
(You can substitute this with ordinary sunflower seeds as well – just as yummy but cut down the milk to 100ml)
150ml of milk
2 eggs
50 grams Dark Chocolate chips (Milk/Dark/White take your pic)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
60 Frozen blueberries (you can use raspberries/mixed berries too – have tried them all, just as yummy)

Steps
1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees celcius.
2. Combine the all the ingredients except the berries
3. Add the chocolate chips
4. Scoop into muffin tin, filling it about 3/4 of the way.
5. Add berries to muffins ( I add them on top at the very end because I feel when it is mixed through they tend to get a little soggy! No soggy bottoms remember?)
6. Bake for 15 minutes (until golden brown)
7. Let it cool and consume!

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Chinese New Year Lanterns

To be completely honest, I sort of have a love-hate relationship with Chinese New Year. Mostly because my birthday hovers around the festival period. So if it was Chinese New Year on my birthday (changes every year according to the new moon in Spring) most of my friends would be busy attending reunion dinners or visiting family during this time – hence not being able to attend my birthday party.

Aside from that, I have very fond memories of Chinese New Year . From visiting my best friend and her family during the festive season, receiving ang paos (red packets with money), watching the fireworks, tossing the yee sang, performing as well as watching the lion dance to having the yummiest tom yum soup steamboat made my best friends mum.

Lanterns hanging in Penang

Given that I was having my niece and nephews over and Chinese New Year was just around the corner, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to take a walk down memory lane and make these Chinese paper lanterns with them. I remember making them in school as a child, so I figured they would enjoy it too and that I could teach them a little bit about how we celebrate Chinese New Year back home.

While the boys were excited to watch lion dance videos, my niece was keen to get a move on with making her lanterns. Needless to say they were occupied for a couple of hours and got very into personalising their lanterns – deviating slightly from the design at times.

While I did have another slightly more complicated lantern design, this proved to be the easiest one for the kids to manage by themselves (Ages 5 – 10years) hence me making this video.

All you need is
– Scissors
– A4 paper – you can mix and match different colours
– Ruler
– Pencil
– Stapler
– Glue/Double sided tape (honestly, I regret not having any cause it works just as well with half the mess!)

We certainly had a very hyggelig time making the lanterns and decorating them. Do let me know if you give them a try and if your little ones (even just you) enjoy them!

Also, for those of you celebrating – Xin Nian Kuai Le & Gong Xi Fa Cai
(Happy Chinese New Year & Hope you have a prosperous New Year!)

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Hygge time

These last couple of weeks have not been the easiest for some reason. Is this the January winter blues I keep hearing about?

Honestly, I have just been feeling a little overwhelmed, partly because all my applications are incredibly time consuming and trying to get information about anything is like eliciting blood from stone. Meaning a lot of time is wasted, I don’t hit my plans for the day therefore getting disappointed and frustrated, so I proceed to sulk and distract myself by binge watching shows. Which does not help anything really!

To top it all off like most of you, I have come down with this bug that has been on and off since before Christmas. And everytime I think I am in the clear, it just comes back in full force. (Thankfully that’s done with now).

Basically I have been in a little bit of a rut/feeling a bit low, but am getting back to it again.

I am sure everyone feels this way sometimes, some more so than others of course.

And when it happens to me, I feel I finally have that ‘get on with it’ moment after a few days when I do something as simple as having a chat with my mum, catching up with an old friend who I haven’t spoken to in ages or just disconnecting from everything and having a bath (my now favourite brother-in-law got me an entire box of bath bombs for Christmas!).

I often find that taking a step back from everything and giving my mind a time out to focus, helps me deal because I realise I am incredibly fortunate. And doing ‘hyggeligt’ things always brings that out.

And to me, that’s what hygge is about – focusing on the little things in life and appreciating them. It can be something really simple or extraordinary, it really is just about how it makes you feel.

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Kid Friendly Rice Paper Wraps

Who does not like a good wrap?

After the over indulgence during Christmas and New Years, I really felt like we needed something that feels a little healthier. Which makes these Rice Paper Wraps perfect – light, simple and packed full of vegetables, what’s not to love.

This recipe – though not strictly authentic, is my take on a favourite which I cannot wait to go home and get my hands on – Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Truth be told, the sauce is what brings the entire dish together and is therefore incredibly important. I personally like them dipped in a mixture of soy sauce with garlic and chillies, while Dan prefers the Vietnamese sauce which has a little bit of everything – being both sweet, salty, sour with a little bit of a kick.

However, given that I had the three musketeers over for the day (my niece and nephews) and they have never tried rice paper wraps before, I thought I would keep it simple and not be too adventurous and resorted to using more familiar ingredients.

While we did have a really “hyggeligt” time learning how to make the wraps and the kids enjoyed rolling their own. 2 out of 3 found the rice paper wrap itself to be a funny consistency, which is not very surprising since it’s the first time they have ever had it.

So, here is a slightly more kid friendly version to try – at the very least if your kids find the consistency of the wrap a little weird (2 out 3 on my end) they will at the very least happily consume what is in it.

If not, at least they will be amused by the way the paper “disappears” when it is immersed in water.

Kid Friendly Rice Paper Wraps

Ingredients

  1. Rice paper (Can be bought in most Asian supermarkets)
  2. 1/2 Cucumber
  3. 1 Carrot
  4. Basil leaves
  5. 4 Chicken Fillets
  6. 8 Rice paper wraps (22cm)
  7. 4 Iceberg lettuce

Method

  1. Pan fry the chicken fillets till cooked. Shred the chicken once cooled.
  2. Julienne (Cut into long thin strips) the carrot, cucumber and lettuce.
    • (You can blanch the carrots if you like/serve them raw)
  3. Take your rice paper and soak in room temp/luke warm water till clear and soft
  4. Start with the lettuce and roll tight, once secure add the cucumbers, carrots and roll again.
  5. Then add the chicken strips and roll, before adding the basil (herbs) and rolling once more.
Little video for you guys!

Sauce – Vietnamese Sauce

1 Clove minced garlic
2 Teaspoons fish oil
1 Tablespoon chilli sauce (sweet chilli)
1 Lime squeezed
1 Tablespoon Plum or Hoisin Sauce
1 Tablespoon Peanut butter (I omitted this in view of Dan’s peanut allergy)

Combine and set aside

Sauce – Garlic Soy Sauce
1. 4 Tablespoons of light soy sauce
2. 3 cloves of garlic – minced
3. 1 birds eye chilli – sliced

Combine and set aside.

Additional Notes

I usually use a mixture of basil, mint and coriander leaves chopped up finely. They really add a lot of flavour and make this roll very refreshing. I personally like adding spring onions to the mix as well.

If you want to make it a little more authentic.

Add Vermicelli. For about 8 rolls – I would use 150grams. Just soak in warm water until the noodles are soft and set aside to be used in the rolls.

Also the original calls for prawns (12 if you want 8 rolls) boiled and butterflied as well as pork belly slices which you can fry/boil.

To be honest, you can put pretty much whatever you want in these wraps. I will add more recipe ideas once I have made them. In the meantime enjoy and experiment. Drop me a line if you have some interesting ideas!

hygge, jul, recipes

Gløgg – Mulled Wine

Christmas in a predominantly Muslim country is different. While everyone has pretty much bought into the spirit of Christmas – the exchanging of gifts, the food and the general all round good cheer, things like mulled wine does not really make the list. That probably also is partly due to the fact that in 30 odd degree weather – the last thing you want to do is a warm cup of spiced wine.

Aside from my mother teasing my father for the way he pronounced Gløgg (to be fair the ø is impossible). My early memories of Gløgg is when the Scandinavian Society held their Annual Children’s Christmas party – not that it was being served to children of course. I just remember how our kitchen and the venue was filled with the aroma of spices and wine, as my mother and a couple of other ladies made a ridiculous amount to satisfy some thirsty Scandinavians.

Since then I have only ever had it in Ireland at a Christmas market and at my grandfathers.

For our little Christmas get together with Dan’s friends, we kind of decided to make Gløgg at the last minute – ie we did not really have all the ingredients.

So we improvised and made our own quick version of it, which I think turned out quite well – if I say so myself.

Ingredients

1 bottle of red wine
50 ml Akvavit (you can use Vodka as a substitute)
50ml Dark Rum
75grams of caster sugar
3 Cinnamon Sticks
8 Cloves
9 Cardamom pods
1 Star Anise
1 Orange
2 Handfuls of Raisins
100gm Sliced Almonds

Steps

1. Heat up wine, sugar and spices over low heat – do not bring to boil
2. Once the sugar dissolves add the Orange – usually they say use peels, but we sliced up the orange and put it in, which made for very tasty orange slices
3. Add the shot of Rum and Akvavit once wine is warm
4. Add raisins and sliced almonds
5. Let it sit for an hour, and warm up before serving

The thing about Gløgg is you can pretty much make it to your liking – for mine I dropped the amount of sugar used by half and even then I found it quite sweet. Though truth be told, ours really packed a punch so serve in little glasses and pre-warn whoever is drinking it!

Other things I would like to try would be adding some Orange Juice to it, soaking the raisins and spices in port the day before or even just soaking the raisins in blackcurrant rum or akvavit – which is what my grandfather does.

How do you make your mulled wine/Gløgg? If you try this recipe, do drop me a line and let me know what you think of it.

recipes, Uncategorized

One-Pot Spicy Prawn Pasta

After a long weekend of get-togethers – hosting an early Christmas party on Friday, niece and nephews over for Christmas movie/game night/sleepover on Saturday and finally Christmas drinks and nibbles at the in laws on Sunday. The last thing I want to do is cook a big meal.

I feel like I have spent an undue amount of time in the kitchen the last few days prepping, that I have hit my quota for the week.

Coupled with the stress of wanting to sort out work applications I need comfort food.

Which brings me to my favourite One- Pot Spicy Prawn Pasta.

I remember a variation of this dish being made by my mother (who also worked full time) growing up. This recipe has held me in good stead whenever I felt like I had too much street food and wanted something home cooked during my long sometimes 12 – 16 hour days as an intern to post 36 hour shift medical officer.

Taking only a couple of minutes with hardly any prep. This dish was a healthy alternative to fast food, and comforting despite it’s simplicity.

Ingredients

  1. 150grams of Fettucine (at least 2 portions)
  2. Lemon juice – 1 whole lemon
  3. 5 cloves of garlic – diced
  4. 250 grams of spinach (you can use frozen spinach too)
  5. 50 grams of Parmesan cheese (you can add more if you like)
  6. Prawns 150grams – I used precooked prawns
  7. Mushrooms – Button/Cremini/Porcini (NOTE – Porcini will give you a bit more flavour of course)
  8. 2 Birds eye chillies sliced – I do not remove the seeds cause I like the additional kick
  9. Olive oil
  10. Salt and pepper to taste

Steps

  1. Boil the pasta – remember to use plenty of salt
  2. Fry the garlic in olive oil together with the chillies
  3. Add the mushrooms
  4. Once browned add the spinach and lemon juice
  5. Once spinach has wilted add the prawns
  6. Toss in al dente pasta
  7. Add the parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste
  8. Stir and serve

You can also look at the video below for the steps!

Enjoy the video!

This dish is so simple and tasty being creamy without being too heavy with a little added kick for good measure. It makes a great quick meal for a weeknight dinner or after one of those days!

Enjoy!

hygge, jul

Mince Pies

Mince pies

I had never had a mince pie until I met Dan.

Truth be told, I was one of those people who took the mince bit literally and thought it meant they contain mince meat.

Even though I was initially teased for this, I have learnt now that I was not too far off cause the early versions did have meat! They were mutton pies and used to be a main course. Now they have been shrunk down to a sweet fruity treat.

So even though this fruit pie is filled with dried fruit, spices and sometimes a little bit of booze, making them indulgent enough. I do prefer to heat mine up and have it with a little bit of vanilla ice cream on the side.

How do you like your mince pies?

And did you also think they contained mince meat?