Quick Simple Meal #3: Mac & Cheese (+vege)

You’d probably notice that in my quick simple meals (for my kids), one of the key ingredients is always cheese!

My kids are what you’d call “banana” – Chinese, but more angmoh (Caucasian) as they prefer Western food over Chinese, speaks mostly English at home and in school. They usually prefer sandwiches, pasta, pizza and anything cheese over rice with dishes.

So, this is another one of their favourite: macaroni and cheese. However, rather than just making the usual plain mac & cheese, I’d usually sneak in some vegetables into their meal.

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Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

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My kids’ fav – Mac & cheese

1 cup of macaroni (approx) – cooked per instructions on packaging
1 tbsp of olive oil
A clove of garlic – finely chopped
A small onion – finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup of warm milk
1/2 cup of chicken stock
A bunch of broccoli/ cauliflower florets
Carrots – finely julienne
3-4 tbsp of cooking cream
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
A dash of Italian herbs *optional
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup of mozzarella or pizza toppings cheese
4-5 tbsp of Japanese breadcrumbs/ panko
Chicken stock cube (knorr/ maggi) *optional

Method:

1. Add approximately 1 tsp of oil to the pan and saute the garlic till fragrant. Then add in the onion and stir till soften.
2. Once the onion is soft, add in the butter. As the butter melted, add in the flour and stir it well. Then slowly pour in the warm milk and keep stirring. The mixture may turn a little lumpy, but it’s ok. Just keep stirring till the flour is cooked.
3. Then pour in the chicken stock and stir till the mixture turns creamy. If it’s too thick, you may add more stock or water.
4. Once you have a nice creamy consistency, add in the vegetable and simmer for a few mins before adding in the cooked macaroni. Simmer for another 1-2 mins. If the sauce thicken, add some water.
5. Season it with salt and pepper (and Italian herbs if you like), and and just before you removed it from the heat, add the cream and cheddar cheese
6. Scoop it out into a baking dish (I used two individual 5″ ceramic pie plate) and top it with the breadcrumbs and mozzarella cheese.
7. Bake for 10-12 mins or till the cheese is browned.
8. Serve warm.

Quick Simple Meal #2: Cheese Baked Rice

Sorry … this was supposed to be posted back in 2014, after the quiche recipe. But one thing led to another and I delayed in posting this. Thus, looks like this will become my first post for 2015. Happy New Year to all (to all reading my blog). Hopefully I’ll be updating this blog more frequently than I did last year. So, here’s another quick meal which I would like to share with you.

Another one of my kids’ (and hubby too!) favourites. However, instead of calling it Baked Rice, they have always called it “sticky rice”.

It is another one of a quick simple meals which I like to prepare for the kids. However, this recipe is a “cheat way” of making baked rice. The right way of it is doing a bechamel sauce (the white sauce) and adding chicken stock before adding the rice and other ingredients.

My cheat way of making the baked rice is using Campbell Cream of Chicken. I use a lot of Campbell soup for my quick meals, although I’m trying to cut down on this as much as I can especially when making meals for my girls.

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Cheese Baked Rice

 

Anyway, here’s my simplified version of Baked Rice (The portion below is just nice for 2 kids size meals)

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Baked Rice @ “Sticky Rice”

Ingredients:

1 clove of garlic – finely chopped
1 small onion – finely chopped
1/2 cup of mixed frozen vege or carrots & broccoli florets (or any vege the kids like – cauliflower, asparagus, corns)
3-4 tbsp of Cream of Chicken
1/2 cup of fresh milk or cooking cream
1/2 cup of meat – either chicken/roast chicken, ham, sausages or even luncheon meat
1/4 cup of water – optional
1 1/2 bowl (or more) of rice (cooked)
1-2 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 cup (or more) of mozzarella or pizza toppings cheese
Salt & pepper to taste
a dash of Italian herbs (optional)

Method:

1. Add oil into the saucepan, and saute the garlic till fragrant, then add in the onion.
2. Once the onion is soft, you can add in the mixed vege. If you are using fresh vege, I’d suggest you add the carrots first, and leave the broccoli to the last.
3. Next add the protein (whatever that you’re using). Give it a stir.
4. Turn down the heat (low-medium heat) and then add the cream soup. Dilute it with a bit of water, then add in the rice. Mix it well.
5. Pour in the milk or cooking cream and let it simmer for a few minutes. There should be some sauce in the pan, and if you find it too thick, you may either add some water or milk. Season it with salt & pepper. (Note: the cream soup is usually quite salty, then watch out when you add salt to the rice). Alternatively, you may also add another tbsp of cream soup if you like. It all depend on your own taste.
6. Once you have a creamy consistency, you may add some shredded cheddar cheese at this point if you like the cheesy taste in the rice. Otherwise, scoop it up into a baking dish (I usually used two 5″ ceramic pie plate, and topped it with the cheese.
7. Then bake at 160C for 10-12 mins (depending on your oven) on the top heat, or until the cheese has melted and brown.
8. Served it warm

Quick Simple Meal #1: Quiche (Bacon, Ham, Mushroom & Spinach Quiche)

My kids love anything cheese. Cooked them anything with cheese, they’d gladly finish their meal without much of a complain. As I work during the day, I’d try my best to make them dinner, but weekdays dinner would usually be a quick simple yet delicious meal.

Today as I was cracking my head on what to cook for them, I remembered that I have a “ball” of short crust pastry sitting in the freezer for a few weeks now, and when I rummaged through my fridge, I found all the ingredients needed to make a small quiche. So tonight’s dinner – Quiche.

A whole plate of yummy Quiche

A whole plate of yummy Quiche

 

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Yummylicious Quiche

Ingredients

(just nice for 3-4 person)

Fillings for quiche:
4-5 slices of ham (I used honey baked ham)
5-6 strips of bacon
1 onion – chopped
16-20 fresh white button mushrooms – sliced
A bunch of baby spinach
4 eggs
4 tbsp of cooking cream (or substitute with whipping cream)
4 tbsp of fresh milk
1 cup of cheese (I used grated cheddar cheese)
salt and pepper (to taste)

For the short crust pastry:
125 gm of all purpose flour
60 gm of butter (soften & cubed)
1/2 – 1 tsp of sugar (optional – but I like the pastry with a slight tinge of sweetness)
A pinch of salt
ice water

Method:

Pastry:
1. Put the flour, salt and sugar is a bowl and then add the softened butter
2. Use your fingertips to rub in the butter into the flour until you see a breadcrumbs texture. It’s ok to have some small lumps, but just ensure there’s no big lumps of butter. Don’t overwork the mixture.
3. Drizzle in the iced/ cold water into the mixture and work it gently into a dough. Do not knead it. (You just need to bind the dough together and not knead it like a bread dough).
4. Best to cling wrap and chill it for 15-30 mins. (Sometimes when I’m press for time, I’ll just skip this step)

Fillings:
1. Chop the onions, bacon and ham into small bite size. Set aside
2. Slice the button mushrooms
3. Heat up a pan, then add in the bacon and fry till its crispy. Set it aside. In the same pan, add in the ham and the chopped onions and fry till the onions soften. You may add some oil or butter at this point if there’s not much lard from the bacon.
4. Then add the mushroom and stir it till soften and lastly add in the spinach. Give it a quick stir and ladle everything out. Set it aside to cool

5. In a bowl, crack the eggs. Add in the cream and milk and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Mix it well and set aside.
6. Remove the pastry from the fridge and divide it up to two portions. Rolled dough out in a lightly floured surface into a very thin pastry (probably as thick as a 50c coin).
6. Roll it up in the rolling pin and put it over your pie plates. (I used two 6″ pie plates)
7. You can choose to blind bake the pastry for approximately 8-10 mins. (I like to do this to get a crunchier pastry crust)
8. Remove it from the oven and add the cooked fillings & bacon. Slowly pour in the egg mixture till it’s 3/4 full. Then top it up with the cheese. Pour more egg mixture in till it almost reach the brim of the pie crust/ plate.
9. Bake it for approx 25-30 mins at 160C or until the egg mixture is firm or the quiche is golden brown.

Note: I baked it top & bottom heat for approximately 10 mins till the top turned golden brown and crusty and then switched it to just the bottom heat and baked it until the egg mixture firmed up. Alternatively you can just choose to cover the top with aluminium foil if it gets too brown to ensure it doesn’t burn.

You can add or remove some of the ingredients in the filling to your own preference but I find this is a good way to “camouflage” and get my kids to eat more vege.

This is definitely one of the simple dish to make and can be enjoyed by the whole family. Can be served on it’s own or with a side salad.

 

Quiche

Quiche