Monday, June 21, 2010

Birthday Dirt Cake !!

As you all know, Ethan celebrated his 6 year old birthday the past Saturday. Today, he is going to celebrate his birthday at his daycare with all his little friends. He requested an Oreo cookie cake and since he already had his Oreo cookie ice cream cake on his actual birthday, I am not going to buy one more. Instead, I found this super cute recipe for a birthday dirt cake made of Oreo cookies. Even better, something homemade and something really cute to enjoy. This birthday dirt cake requires no baking at all and was assembled within 30 minutes. Super easy and fool proof. So if you are looking for a simple and yet cute kids birthday idea, here is one for you !!!!

Birthday Dirt Cake, adjusted & adapted by Dianasaur Dishes

1 box Oreo Cookies
2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small package instant Oreo pudding
2 cups milk
Gummy worms
Fresh herbs or flowers

Step 1:
Place the cookies in a food processor and grind until finely crumbled and looking like dirt.

Step 2:
In a mixer bowl, whip the heavy cream with sugar and vanilla until thick. Remove to another bowl and chill while you make the pudding. Use the same mixer bowl and whisk again to whisk the milk and pudding. Chill for 5 minutes.

Step 3:
Fold the cream into the pudding gently.

Step 4:
Assemble the cake: Put a layer of cookie mixture in the bottom of the flower pot or beach bucket, add the cream mixture, and then another layer of cookie crumbs. Repeat the same with your remaining flower pot or beach bucket.

Step 5:
Chill for a few hours. Decorate with gummy worms, herbs and/or flowers and serve with a shovel if you decide to use beach buckets.

Enjoy !

Friday, June 18, 2010

Rainbow Jello Cake

Today is Ethan's Birthday celebration at his Kindergarten glass, I made a beautiful Rainbow Jello Cake, however, when transporting it into my husband's car, we managed to completely brake it !! What a disaster ... you should have seen my face, tears were running down my cheeks as I have slaved 9 hours in total for this. Ethan still insisted of bringing it to his class, even though I refused as I would never let anything BUT a perfect homemade item leave my house. But what can I do ???? I had nothing else prepared and another one would take another 9 hours to make. At least I was able to take a beautiful picture before the big disaster ......

Rainbow Jello Cake, adapted by Rachel Perlow
8-3/4 c Boiling Water
7 pkg flavored Gelatin, 1 each of the 6 different colors of the rainbow, plus one extra, either red or purple*
1-1/4 c Vanilla Yogurt (smooth and creamy works best), or sour cream, or cool whip

Line up your boxes of gelatin in rainbow order, next to 5 large cups, and one quart sized bowl. Put each flavor of gelatin in its own bowl or cup, use the larger one for the double batch. Stir 1.25 cups boiling water into each flavor at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved (do one at a time, to make sure each is completely dissolved), use 2.5 cups for the double batch.

Lightly spray a 10 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray, wipe out excess with a paper towel. Beginning with your first color, either red or purple, whichever you DID NOT buy two packages of (I start with purple), pour 3/4 cup of the dissolved gelatin into the bundt pan. Refrigerate about 15-20 minutes or until set but not firm (gelatin should feel tacky and stick to finger when touched).

Meanwhile, stir 2 Tbsp. of the yogurt into the 1/2 cup of dissolved gelatin remaining in the cup, use a small whisk or fork to get out all the lumps. Leave the rest of the flavors at room temperature, lightly covered with plastic wrap.

Spoon the creamy gelatin over the set, but still tacky gelatin in pan. Refrigerate about 40-45 minutes or until gelatin is set but not firm (gelatin should stick to finger when touched).

Repeat this with each remaining gelatin flavor. If the gelatin waiting to be used sets at room temperature, fill a bowl the cup will fit into with hot water and stir to loosen it up again. Refrigerate gelatin as directed to create a total of 12 alternating clear and creamy gelatin layers. See tips below.

Refrigerate overnight until firm. Unmold & Enjoy !!!!


When making all the gelatin at once, instead of using bowls, the gelatin can be made in large, individual, plastic cups (facilitates cleanup). Mark each cup with its flavor and line the cups up in the order they are going into the mold. Put each color of gelatin in its own cup. This saves having to reboil water every 1/2 hour. Leave the gelatin waiting to be layered on the counter, at room temperature, lightly covered with plastic wrap.

Mold type and size: This is a versatile recipe, and special molds aren’t needed, but a bundt cake pan makes a beautiful mold. To calculate the mold's volume, fill it with water to measure it. Plan on 1-2/3 cup of gelatin per box. For a 10-cup mold, seven boxes of gelatin work well. If you are using a smaller mold, use less of each flavor, fewer colors, or make a second "sampler" serving. Even for a large mold, making a small sampler in a clear glass will hit the spot after taking 3 hours to make this and not being able to have any until the next day.

Order: For a nice look the colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet) are most commonly used, but variations can be beautiful. For example, school colors for a school banquet or bake sale, or colors appropriate to a holiday, i.e. red and green at Christmas.

Setting: To set properly, the gelatin must be cold and not warm when it is put in the mold. It is also important that the layers are tacky to the touch and not solidly firm, as each successive layer is added. Otherwise the layers may not stick to each other. To prevent the layers from cracking as each layer is added, pour the gelatin over a spoon to break the fall, close down to the set gelatin. Each time the mold is put into the refrigerator to set, give it a quarter turn. This will keep the layers even. It takes less time for each progressive layer to set.

Unmolding: For best results, unmold just before serving. Fill a larger container or clean sink with warm water, not too hot (otherwise it will melt). Rub a few drops of water onto the serving plate, this will facilitate adjusting the mold after unmolding, if necessary. Either use a plate with a large lip and just a little bit bigger than the diameter of the mold, or use a larger platter, at least 2-3 inches larger than the mold, because it will spread when unmolded and cut. Dip the mold almost to the edge into the warm water for just a few seconds. Wipe off with a towel and check the edges to see if they are loose, if not, repeat the dip for just a few seconds. Invert serving plate on top and flip quickly. Having a spotter brings peace of mind!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homemade Swedish Meatballs with German Egg-Noodles

Who does not love the Swedish Meatballs at IKEA ??? We all do, don't we ? I have found an awesome and simple recipe by Rachal Ray, so now we can all make this dish at home from scratch. I am not a big fan of buying frozen meat products, I can't trust it these days anymore. Who knows what they have put in, right ? Today, I decided to tackle this recipe and I must say, it tastes delicious !!! I was really surprised on how easy it is. Really !!! As you all know, I am busy in the kitchen these few days preparing for Ethan's birthday party treats, that just means for me as little effort as possible for Dinner meals - this whole meal just took me 30 minutes !!!!

Homemade Swedish Meatballs with German Egg-Noodles, adapted by Rachal Ray

1 3/4 pounds ground sirloin
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 small onion chopped
A healthy grating of Nutmeg, nothing beats freshly grated Nutmeg
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley (3 handfuls) chopped
Freshly ground Black Pepper
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
2 cups Beef Stock
1 TBSP Red Currant or Grape Jelly
1 cup Sour Cream
1/2 lb. wide egg noodles
2 TBSP Butter
8 cornichons or 6 baby gherkins(sweet pickles) for garnish

Place ground sirloin in a large mixing bowl and punch a well into the center. Fill the well with the egg, bread crumbs, onion, nutmeg, half of the chopped parsley, and a little salt and pepper. Mix up the meatball ingredients until well combined, yet not over mixed. Divide the mix into 4 equal parts. Roll each part into 6 balls, (I actually like smaller meatballs so I made 8 for each part). Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with the EVOO. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes, giving the pan a good shake now and then. Add the stock, jelly, and heavy cream or sour cream. Bring it up to a bubble, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

Place a large pot of water on to boil. Add the noodles and season the water with salt. Cook until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the egg noodles and shake dry. Put the noodles back in the hot pot and add the remaining chopped parsley and the butter and season with salt and pepper. Stir until butter has melted. Top the noodles with the meatballs, their sauce and the pickles.

Enjoy !!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mini Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

Ethan has an outdoor picnic at a local park tomorrow with his Kindergarten class. Every student needs to bring a snack to share with his friends. Something small and cute. I figured that most parent would give their child something sweet, so I decided to make some mini pepperoni pizza puffs. It is so easy to make and extremely tasty. No fancy machine required. I will be so busy the next few days, as Ethan's turning 6 on Saturday. I need to prepare so many birthday goodie bags and treats, it's not even funny. Add another picnic snack, that just throws me off my daily routine.

Mini Pepperoni Pizza Puffs, adapted by Noble Pig

3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 cup milk (I used homo milk)
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
4 oz. pepperoni, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup pizza sauce (homemade or store-bought)
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely diced.

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 375o. Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and oregano; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.

Step 2:
Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Step 3:
Warm the pizza sauce, then stir in 1 tablespoon basil. Sprinkle the puffs with the remaining 1 tablespoon basil. Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce for dipping.

Enjoy !!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chinese Prawn Cakes With Long Beans (豆角蝦餅)

What happened to our month of June ? It's supposed to be nice and warm !! June is also the month, I started working out. It's true, I have been working out every day. I am slowly starting to see some sort of result and it feels good. 3 - 4 times a week, I would do a 30 minute fat burning program on an elliptical machine, followed by 30 swimming in a heated outdoor pool. The other days of the week, I would do some well needed stretching exercise on a ballet bar. This is what I have been busy with ... other than my daily mommy + wife duties. Honestly, it feels very good. I sleep much earlier and so much better too.

Today, I have tried a new recipe. Fooling around with some fresh prawns. My boys love eating

prawns, so I decided to pamper them all with some Chinese Prawn Cakes ... hope you will enjoy it as much as they do !!!

Chinese Prawn Cakes With Long Beans (豆角蝦餅), adapted by So Sze Wong (苏施黄)

1.5 lbs Fresh Prawns
6 pieces Chinese Long beans
Black Sesame Oil
Oil for frying.

Step 1:
Shell and Devin prawns.

Step 2:
Use the back of a cleaver, slap down on the prawns to flatten and chop to mince.

Step 3:
Place minced prawns in a large deep bowl. Add salt, sugar, pepper and sesame oil to season. Stir well with chopsticks until a little pasty. Set aside for 20 minutes to marinate.

Step 4:
Dice the long beans.

Step 5:
Scoop marinated prawns with palm of hand and throw it vigorously back into the bowl. 'Slam' the minced prawns a few times until the minced prawns become pasty and gluey.

Step 6:
Mix diced long beans with minced prawns. Shape into small patties.

Step 7:
Fry patties until golden brown. If time allows, fry the patties over strong fire again just before serving.

Enjoy !!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stir-Fried Rice Noodle with Beef (乾炒牛河)

One of my boys most favourite dishes is this traditional stir-fried rice noodles with beef. I rarely make it, as I find it very greasy - even though I use as little oil as possible. What can I do ? My three boys are bugging me like crazy about it. I finally gave in and made it for them. As hard as I try, I can't quite do it like my dad. His is a killer .... so good. *Sigh*, it's been a while since my dad made it for me too. Sometimes, I wish, we could live in the same country as there is way too many dishes I miss. This has to just do it for now.

Stir-Fried Rice Noodle with Beef (乾炒牛河)

500 gm flat rice noodles (河粉)
150 gm beef
1/2 onion, shredded
120 gm bean sprouts, trimmed
shredded ginger, to taste
1 stalk spring onion, chopped

2 1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon water
black sesame oil, to taste

2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce, or to taste
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon Sugar

Step 1:
Rinse beef and wrap dry with kitchen papers. Thinly slide across the grain. Mix with marinade for 15 minutes. Set aside.

Step 2:
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Place beef on a single layer and fry both sides, until they are 70% cooked. (Note: Don’t need to stir the beef. The yummy meat juice inside will leak if the heat is down otherwise. This frying method helps the surface of your beef to be cooked quickly and seal the juice inside.) Set aside.

Step 3:
Heat more oil in pan. Add onion and stir fry until truculent and fragrant. Be sure not to burn them. Add ginger and bean sprouts. When the bean sprouts are softened, push the onion and bean sprouts to the sides of pan if it’s big enough, or dish them up if your pan is too small. Increase heat to high. Toss in flat noodles and stir fry until it’s really heated up. Add seasoning. Taste it as everyone has a different taste bud. Add more light soy sauce if needed, bit by bit at a time. If you find the colour of flat noodles is not dark enough, you can add more dark soy sauce if you like. Mind you that if too much dark soy sauce is added, your noodles will taste bitter.

Step 4:
Toss back the beef, onion and bean sprouts, combine all ingredients. Add spring onion and mix. Serve hot.

Enjoy !!