Tuesday 21 January 2014

Be Still Before the LORD

To some people, Mac and Cheese is one of the comfort food they're after, for nothing beats a generous helping of creamy, oozy cheese. 

Some people swear by mac and cheese boxes, but made from scratch is much better. Ingredients are mostly pantry essentials.

The recipe is from Miss Tan Hsueh Yun, a food editor  with The Straits Times/Sunday Times. 
This is a straightforward recipe with versatility. In the recipe, two types of cheese are used, sharp cheddar and gruyere, a bechamel sauce and Ritz crackers topping. Gruyere is used for its creamy and nutty taste, while sharp cheddar is more  flavorful  and tangy. Bechamel sauce gives the dish a creamy and silky base. Ritz crackers provides a buttery and crunchy topping. Together, they made a very delicious and indulgent dish. Mac and cheese can be served as main or sides.

Mac and Cheese
Serves 4 as main course, 6 as a side dish

2 tbsp salt
250g elbow macaroni 
100g ritz crackers
150g sharp or mature cheddar cheese
150g gruyere cheese
500ml milk
50g salted butter
50g plain flour
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Chopped chives,scallions or flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional) 


  • Preheat oven to 180C
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the salt and then the dried macaroni. Set the timer for 2 minutes before the recommended cooking time. For example, if the recommended cooking stated on the package is 11 minutes, set the timer for 9 minutes.

  • Place the crackers in a resealable plastic bag, seal the bag. Using a rolling pin or the bottom of a sturdy glass, bash the crackers as finely or coarsely as you like. Pour the crumbs into a bowl and set aside.
  • Grate the cheeses using a coarse grater or a food processor fitted with a grating or shredding disk. Set aside in a bowl.

  • If the pasta is ready, drain in a colander.
  • Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it is hot but not boiling. Turn off the heat.

  • Place a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt the butter in the pot and then add the flour. Whisk the flour and butter together until it becomes a paste. 

  • Slowly add in the hot milk, whisking thoroughly until it becomes a smooth sauce.

  • Add the cheese and continue whisking until the cheese melts. If the mixture becomes too thick, thin it out with extra hot milk, 1 tbsp at a time. Turn off the heat.

  • Taste the cheese sauce and add salt if needed, and pepper to taste. Pour the drained pasta into the sauce and mix both well using a metal spoon.

  • Spoon the pasta into a medium oven-proof baking dish. Sprinkle the cracker crumbs over the pasta. Place in the oven and bake 20-30 minutes or until the crumbs are brown.
  • Let pasta rest for 10 minutes, sprinkle chopped chives, scallions or flat leaf parsley if using. Serve.

Note: If using panko or fresh breadcrumbs, drizzle some melted butter over the dish after sprinkling the crumbs over, so they turn a lovely golden brown. Cooking the bechamel sauce over medium-low heat ensures that the flour is cooked thoroughly so the raw taste of it does not mar the bechamel. Aside from salt and pepper, other seasonings can include freshly grated nutmeg or dried mustard powder.

To turn this dish into a one dish meal, add chopped ham or leftover roast chicken and some spinach leaves to the pasta. Other additions can include sundried tomatoes, juicy corn kernesl, sauteed mushrooms and even bacon.

This post is linked to Little Thumbs Up CHEESE hosted by Alice, ILove.ICook.IBake, organised by Zoe, Bake for Happy Kids, and Doreen,My little favourite DIY

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:7

Friday 17 January 2014

You Will Receive Power

I have baked flourless chocolate cakes in the past but never have them in cupcakes. These are supposed to be Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes with White Chocolate Mint Cream. Unfortunately, I have over whipped the cream and thus unable to frost them. So here I am presenting these chocolate babies bare in all its glory.

They are chocolate cakes in perfection. Light and airy but also so chocolatey rich and moist. I will be baking them again real soon, in cupcake size of course, with or without the mint frosting. Here is the cake recipe first

Chocolate Soufflé Cupcake
Makes 12


170g bittersweet chocolate. Callebaut 70%
85g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp expresso or instant coffee powder
4 eggs, separated, 55g each
95g castor sugar, divided
1/4 tsp salt
1tsp vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Line muffin pan with cupcake cases.
  • In a bowl over a pot of simmering water, melt chocolate, coffee powder and  butter.  Stir until smooth. Set aside.
  • In a clean bowl, whisk egg white with half of the sugar. Whisk until stiff peak.
  • Beat egg yolk with remaining sugar until pale and thick. Add the vanilla extract and chocolate mixture.
  • Fold in egg white in 3 additions.  
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes,
  • When done, cool in the pan where the cupcakes will immediately start to fall.
  • Frost when cake is cooled or dust with icing sugar.

But You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

We need power from the Spirit of God when witnessing to unbelievers. This is a promise from Jesus that  we will not be left empty handed when sharing the truth of Christ's love and sacrifice for sinners.This power from the Spirit of God will open the eyes of the blind, and the hearts of unbelievers. 

It is the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in us and enables us to understand His Word and experience Him in a fuller way, so that we can have a more intimate relationship with Him, hearing His voice, and knowing His will.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed

Sometimes I wonder if the food I replicated from celebrity chefs and blogger friends taste like what they cooked. I like to wonder if I get the texture right which is equally important as looks and taste. I try not to substitute ingredients or omit seasonings. When friends ask for a recipe which I have cooked and not tasted, I always ask that they try my cooking first and then replicate. But I have to remind myself, cooking is about creativity. If you can recreate a recipe using your own style and it tastes good, it doesn't really matter. But are we doing these chefs the discredit?

After cooking and trying this Gordon Ramsay's dish, I just couldn't help to have that thought again. Are my Gnocchi like Gordon's? I couldn't help wondering because I was surprised by the taste and texture of this Potato and Ricotta Gnocchi. Never mind the looks( supposed to be handmade and look rustic), but they taste heavenly. I am surprised for I have not made my own pastas or dumplings before. Are Gnocchi pastas or dumplings?' Many are confused.

Gnocchi in Italian means dumplings, and according to Wikipedia are pastas made from various ingredients like semolina,wheat flour,egg,potatoes, cheese.  In short, they can simply made from flour, potato and eggs. Gordon Ramsay added ricotta into the mixture to make it light and fluffy. This is exactly what my gnocchi texture taste like. Light and fluffy with a crisp, not doughy at all!  I am delighted by my first attempt.

Gordon Ramsay makes this gnocchi the star of the dish, and together with a light buttery sauce it is simply magnifico!.  If you're making this dish, I wish you do not leave or substitute any ingredients. Every ingredients and seasonings made the taste so authentically Italian.

Potato and Ricotta Gnocchi
Gordon Ramsay Home Cooking


2 large floury potatoes
50g ricotta cheese
90g plain flour(more)
1 free-range, beaten
1 thyme sprig, leaves only
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

For the sauce

olive oil, for frying
freshly ground black pepper
peas, fresh or frozen
1 thyme sprig, leaves only
zest of 1 lemon


  • Preheat the oven to 200C. Bake the potatoes in their skins for 1-1 1/4 hours until tender the whole way through.  Remove the flesh from the skins (ideally while still warm) and mash until smooth - a potato ricer works best here.( I used leftover from my baked potato skin. You can boil potato whole to save time) Mix in the ricotta, a pinch of salt and white pepper and the flour.

  • Make a well in the middle, add the beaten egg and begin to combine the mixture with floured hands. Work in the thyme leaves and continue until smooth dough has formed. Be careful not to overwork it or the dough will end up too dense and won't expand when it goes into the water.

  • Cut the dough in half and shape each piece into a long cigar shape about 1/5cm thick. Using the back of a floured table knife, cut each length of dough into 2 cm pieces to make 'pillows' or individual gnocchi. Gently press each one in the center using your floured finger. The dent will hold more sauce and allow the gnocchi to take on more flavours.

  • Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the gnocchi, tilting the pan from side to side briefly to stop them sticking together, then simmer for about 1-2 minutes until they stat to float.

  • Drain the gnocchi and leave them to steam dry for 1-2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, start to make the sauce. Heat a frying pan over a medium high heat and add a little olive oil. Add the gnocchi to the hot pan with a pinch of salt and black pepper and saute for 1-2 minutes on each side until nicely coloured.
  • Add the peas to the pan with a knob of butter and the thyme leaves. Toss to heat through, then add the lemon zest. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Linking this post to Little Thumbs Up 'CHEESE' hosted by Alice from Ilove.Icook.Ibake, organised by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen from My little Favourite DIY


Awana stands for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed and comes from the Bible verse 2 Timothy 2:15.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

The Awana clubs teach the gospel of Christ to children from kindergarten to primary school. Children are group according to their age groups; CUBBIES for preschoolers, SPARKS for lower primary and T&T(Truth & Training) for upper primary.

Throughout the program, children are rewarded for memorising Bible verses and completing their workbook. They also learn through games and crafts. The older children are also introduced to life application of the gospel. This is a club that reaches out to the unchurched too, making it an excellent place for parents to send their children to learn Christian values while participating in a club.

The clubs meet every Saturday during school term and this is a ministry of the church and follows the Awana approved curriculum worldwide. There are uniforms for the children, Coloured T-shirts for Sparks and T&T, vests for the cubbies, which they all can display their awards earned.

Friday 10 January 2014

Go, Eat Your Food With Gladness

I have been watching Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course every night and learning his cooking style and cooking tips. I chose to cook this dish, Mini Pork Sliders because he made it so simple and mouth watering. I like his creative way of mixing cooked bacon and onions into the meat patties. He also made a quick barbecue sauce which is very delicious and is a good standby for sandwiches.

These mini sliders are great for parties. They have a smoky flavour from the bacon and paprika along with a sweet and sour homemade barbecue sauce. I cooked these mini sliders for lunch, and also Mozzarella Sticks and Potato Skins as starters. 

Mini Pork Sliders with Barbecue Sauce
Gordon Ramsay Ultimate Cookery Course
makes 6 patties

4 rashers of skinless smoked back bacon, finely chopped'
Olive oil, for frying
1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped (local shallot)
1 tsp smoked paprika
500g minced pork

For the barbecue sauce
Olive oil, for frying
1 small onion, peeled and finely diced'

2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
6 tbsp tomato ketchup

To serve
mini burger buns/bread rolls
baby gem lettuce leaves, shredded
slices of smoked cheddar cheese
slices of tomato


  • First make the barbecue sauce. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic with some seasoning and the sugar, and fry for 5 minutes until softened.
  • Add the paprika and stir to combine. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the onion is caramelising, then add the vinegar and let it cook out for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the worcestershire sauce and tomato ketchup, mix well and continue to cook for about 8 minutes until the sauce has reduced to a dropping consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • While the barbecue sauce is reducing, start preparing the burger mince. Fry the bacon in an oiled pan for about 5 minutes until almost cooked through. 
  • Add the shallot and continue to cook for 5 minutes until the shallot is tender and the bacon crisp.
  • Sprinkle in the smoked paprika and mix well. Continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat, draining off any excess fat on kitchen paper.
  • Season the minced pork and mix well with the cooked shallots and bacon. Shape into balls the size of golf balls and flatten into patties.
  • Heat a large,heavy-based frying pan with a little oil. Season the patties and cook them for 1-2 minutes on each, basting with the juices until cooked through and coloured. Turn off the heat and leave them to rest in the pan. Top each patty with a slice of cheese allowing it to melt slightly.
  • Assemble your sliders in mini buns, layered with the barbecue sauce,lettuce and slices of tomato. Any remaining barbecue sauce will keep in the fridge very well. Serve immediately.

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Ecclesiastes 9:7

Thursday 9 January 2014

Keep Your Father's Command

Mozzarella Sticks,Potato Skins, and Sliders are so American restaurant food chain. They are also my children's favourites. They are popularly served as starters or party finger foods.

Both the mozzarella sticks and potato skins are easy to prepare. I usually do not refer to any specific recipes when making them. However, for this post and for the benefit of those who have not made them before, I shall refer to Ree Drummond's Pioneer Woman Cooks

Mozzarella Sticks

These are usually serve with a Marinara sauce or Ranch dressing dip. Like Pioneer woman, I also prefer to use panko because they are so light and crisp. 

Mozzarella Sticks
Adapted from Pioneer woman cooks 


16 pieces, String cheese, removed from wrappers(mozzarella block)
1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 whole eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
Canola oil, for frying
Marinara sauce, for dipping
2 cups Panko bread crumbs


  • Slice string cheese pieces in half, for a total of 32 pieces
  • Place flour in a small bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk.
  • In another separate bowl, combine panko bread crumbs with parsley flakes.
  • One by one, roll mozzarella sticks in flour, then dunk in egg/milk mixture, then place in panko crumbs. 
  • Use your hand to sweep crumbs all over the mozzarella stick.
  • Repeat until  all mozzarella sticks are coated.
  • Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add mozzarella sticks 8 at a time. Watch closely and turn over to evenly brown, cooking less than 2 minutes. 
  • Do not allow cheese to bubble and leak.
  • Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Serve immediately with warm marinara sauce.

Potato Skins

Potato skins are classics appetizer of the early 80s. Everyone loves potato skins and there is always never enough to go round. 

Potato Skins
Pioneer Woman Cooks, Ree Drummond


8 sliced thick cut bacon 
8 russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
Canola oil
Kosher salt
1 and half cup sharp cheddar cheese 
1 cup sour cream 
4 green onions, sliced 


  • Preheat the oven to 400F
  • Fry the bacon and leave aside
  • Wash the potatoes and rib the skin liberally with canola oil. Place on a baking pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the potatoes are fork tender. ( I parboil the potato first to cut short baking time).
  • Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise. With a cookie scoop or spoon, scrape out the inner flesh of the potatoes, leaving a small margin of potato in the skins,
  • Brush both sides of the potato skins with canola oil. Salt both sides liberally.
  • Place the skins cut side down on the pan and return to the oven.
  • Bake for 7 minutes, then flip the skins to the other side.
  • Bake for 7 minutes more or until the skins are crispy.
  • Grate the cheddar and chop the bacon into bits.
  • Sprinkle cheese into each potato skin and then sprinkle with bacon and return to the oven just until the cheese melts.
  • Just before serving, spoon 1 tablespoon of sour cream on each skin and sprinkle with sliced green onions.

A good cook never let anything to waste. Can you guess what I made with the potato flesh?

I shall post the Mini Sliders recipe in the next post. The recipe is adapted from Gordon Ramsey Ultimate Cookery.

This post is linked to Little Thumbs Up 'Cheese' hosted by Alice from I love.I cook. I bake. This is organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen, My little favourite DIY.

This is also linked to Joyce, Kitchen flavours' 'CookYour Books' event.

Proverbs 6:20-23
My son, keep your father's command and do not forsake your mother's teaching. Bind them always on your heart;fasten them around your neck.  When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light,and correction and instruction are the way to life.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

You Will Be My Witnesses

Cheese straws, one of the best party nibbles to have are easy to make. Crisp and savory, they are ideal for  drinks, soups and salads.

                     These are baked at 18 minutes.

Cheese straws are popular snack of the Southern United States. Originally made in biscuit form, they now come in all shapes and sizes. They are traditionally made using a cookie press with a star nozzle, and dough made with flour,butter,salt,cheddar and cayenne. There are also cheese straws made from puff pastry and with other type of cheeses and herbs.

This is a traditional recipe adapted from the Lee Brothers' Southern Cookbook.

Cheese Straws


1 1/2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (56)
3/4 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (moderately hot cayenne pepper)
1 tablespoon half and half (milk)


  • Preheat oven to 350F(180C).

  • In a food processor, combine the cheese,butter,flour,salt and red pepper(cayenne) in five 5-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the half and half(milk) and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds (mixed in Kitchenaid)
  • On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8 by 10 inch rectangle that is 1/8 inch thick. With a sharp knife ( or a pizza or pastry wheel;both worked great),cut the dough into thin 8 inch strips, each 1/4 to 1/3 inch wide (dipping the knife in flour after every few inches ensures a clean cut)(didn't follow measurement)

  • Gently transfer the strips to an ungreased cookie sheet (parchment), leaving at least 1/4 inch between them. The dough may sag or may break occasionally in the transfer, but don't be concerned - just do your best. The straws can be any length, from 2 to 10 inches.(various length and thickness in two batches)
  • Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12-15 minutes (18mins 1st batch and 20 mins 2nd batch), or until the ends are barely browned.
  • Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool. Serve at room temperature. 
Note: Cheese straws will keep in the refrigerator, in a sealed container for two days. They will not last an hour at a party! For a crisper bite, bake at 20 minutes.

   These are baked at 20 minutes

This post is linked to Little Thumbs Up 'Cheese' hosted by Alice of I love.I cook.I bake, organised by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen from My favourite DIY

What Have I Learnt Today?

Last Sunday was the first week of Sunday School term. The lessons for the first term will be on the Book of Acts. The book of Acts gives an eyewitness account of the birth and growth of the early church. Acts records the apostles being Christ's witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the rest of the world.
The book also records the gift  of the Holy Spirit who empowers,teaches and serves as our guide.. There were many miracles being performed during this time by the disciples.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8
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