Paneer lasagna, quick and easy

Here’s a little twist for our paneer lovers, use it in your favourite lasagna.

If you have kids, lasagna has to be something that you would have made or bought to satiate your kids love for this cheesy dish. Seriously, who doesn’t love a good slice of cheesy goodness? (except for those suffering from lactose intolerance)

Let’s dive straight into the recipe and ingredients required to make this.

Ingredients

  • 250gm paneer (crumbled)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 250gm Portobello mushroom, chopped
  • 250gm spinach, blanched and chopped
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • Large jar of pasta sauce*
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 15-20 lasagna sheets
  • 1 TBS dried oregano/parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The prepping:

For my quick and easy version, I’ll suggest you use a jar of store bought pasta sauce. However I do have an option for those who just loathe the idea of store bought pasta sauce. There’s a good and reliable recipe which I’ve shared that would be just right to replace the jar of sauce.

I love to soak my no pre-cook lasagna sheets. This will ensure it doesn’t dry up when baking. So put lasagna sheets in a large bowl and let it soak for 15 minutes in room temperature water.

Start by sauteing onions, garlic and mushrooms. Keep aside to cool. Blanch spinach in boiling water. Squeeze out excess water from spinach and chop it fine.

To crumble the paneer, the easiest option; blitz in food processor, or crumble using hands (you poor souls without food processor, ha!)

The assembling:

  • In a large bowl, mix paneer with sauteed vegetables, spinach and egg. Add yogurt and dried herb to the mix and combine well.
  • Grease a large casserole dish and start by spreading some pasta sauce at the bottom of the dish
  • Layer 5 lasagna sheets on this sauce.
  • Then cover these sheets with vegetables mixture. Be sure to spread it well.
  • Sprinkle some cheese on the vegetables mixture and finish that off by spreading pasta sauce (from jar), making sure all cheese is covered. This is your first layer completed.
  • Repeat this layering form for another couple more times ending with layer of pasta sauce.
  • Finally cover it with a tin foil and bake it in a preheated oven of 175’C for about 40 minutes to an hour.
  • Remove the tin foil for the last 5-10 minutes to achieve a golden melted cheese effect.

The taste test:

My food reviewer ate her piece off the lasagna dish. I’d like to deduce she did so because  it was too good to waste any time transferring it  to a plate and she wouldn’t have to worry sharing it.

For more recipes, check out Anyone Can Cook

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Breakfast made to order

Breakfast has to be the best meal of the day for me. It’s something I must start my day with. Even if it means at 11am.

Today I decided to treat myself by letting someone else make me breakfast.

There’s this little pie & coffee cafe, Deliprompt, that recently opened up in a new and not so busy neighbourhood. It’s quite strategically located a walking distance from the Putra Heights LRT station.

It’s not too close to the LRT, which promises ample parking space for the residents and isn’t that far away from the LRT which allows for travellers to break their journey for a cup of freshly brewed coffee before heading to the office.

Freshly brewed coffee is the reason for my visit. What started off as me just grabbing-on-the-go RM2 freshly brewed coffee, turned into me dinning-in for their cloud on the egg breakfast.

I’ve been quite intrigued to make this cloudy eggy thingy for the longest time, since I saw it on a YouTube video. So I had to try it and see what the fuss was all about that the video had more than a million views.

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However, what the cafe presented to me wasn’t as cloudy as I thought it to be but the taste wasn’t a let down. It was still soft and fluffy despite not having any depth to it. If there was one thing I could do to fix this dish, it definitely will be to  reduce the salt; but then again, my salt intake is rather small compared to many. So I give them the benefits of the doubt. And another thing, they would do so much better if they were to use a proper bread instead of the mainstream loaf bought from local mini-mart. (You know which loaf I’m referring to)

The coffee was good. It was smooth and aromatic that you won’t need to add any cream or sugar to it. That gets an A 🌟

The cafe itself is quite unique. It has a couple of self made tables. It’s not fancy but it screams up cycling which is absolutely special in it’s own way. If you decide to sit down on one of these tables, make sure you are the type who sees the glass as half full. It’s not sturdy but does it’s job.

IMG_20170707_100356But, it won’t my choice if I dine in with my kids. They’re a bunch of energetic young people who cannot sit still. For that I’d choose the sturdier tables.

This place is open from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm. Serves breakfast all day and all types of speciality coffees at affordable price. Their menu is Western (Italian) and are running, a buy-one-free-one offer at this point of time.

For recipes, check out Anyone Can Cook

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Easy Japanese brown curry

A small gyudon curry house opened up close to my neighbourhood. The food served became the talk of town and every weekend, it would have long queue. This intrigued me. So one fine weekday, I decided to treat my girls to lunch after school.

We picked their popular dish which was chicken curry on Japanese sticky rice and some okras. It was delicious! The chicken was swimming in a mildly sweet thick sauce, which they refer to as curry. My girls loved the curry.

As much as we would love to return for another bowl, it’s simply not worth it because the price you pay for one bowl is two times more than the cost of making it yourself.

So when I saw the ingredients needed for this dish at a Japanese fair, I just had to try it out.
It’s so simple and quick to whip up this brown curry. Less than half hour, my family had a hearty and satisfying meal.

To make this, you’ll need everything you see in the picture below and enough water to submerge all ingredients (about 1 1/2 cups to 2cups). You cannot make it without the curry cubes. There are many variations, pick any, as they all do the job in ensuring a rich and flavourful curry.

Start by roughly chopping up the vegetables. Make it larger than bite size pieces.

Then start with oil in a heavy bottomed deep pan. Heat the oil and add chopped onions. Saute until they’re translucent. Now add in the vegetables and cook for a couple of minutes, slightly browning these vegetables. Add enough water to cover all ingredients in pan, cover and bring it to a boil, over medium heat.

Once vegetables have softened a little, switch off the heat and throw in the curry cubes. Keep stirring until the cubes have completely dissolved and you’re left with a luscious looking brown curry.

Bring back the heat to a low simmer and let the curry simmer for about ten minutes. You will notice the curry will start to thicken.

Serve with freshly cooked short grain Japanese rice, some pickles and steamed okras.

My kids loved it. The next day, they had the leftover with some spaghetti. It didn’t as good as on white rice but it was still good.

Do check out my short video on how to cook this dish on my Instagram and Facebook page.

Update 7/7/17 : I made this once more and tweaked my recipe a little and it turned out better. I added a tablespoon of soya sauce and garam masala (or you can use any curry powder), 1 teaspoon of cumin powder and corriander powder. This gave it a hint of heat which cut through the sweetness of this curry. Kids loved this version better. I also added another potato to it.

For more recipes, check out Anyone Can Cook

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When everyone’s doing it

“Why not?!” I demanded. ” Pfft! F.Y.I They’re doing it.” I huffed as I stormed away. I have never questioned the coaches decision but not today. Today I just erupted. Victory was ours but he was too adamant and loyal to his values and wasn’t letting me change that.

I’ve been on my feet since 7am, drenched and parched under the laser like rays of the noon sun and running around ferrying water bottles. It didn’t help, my 5-year-old who resembled almost like a baked chicken refused to get out of the sun and sit under some shade. It didn’t help, me kicking myself for forgetting to bring along an umbrella and my eldest refusing to drink water because she has an issue with sharing her water bottle.

“Fine! Don’t hydrate yourself!”

Slowly the guilt crept in as I watched her play, skillfully defending her post but looking exhausted and thirsty. Next thing I knew, I was on my feet, running towards my car for a fresh water bottle, cursing along the way.

“Here’s your bottle and this time learn to say no if anyone wants a sip from your bottle because this is the last fresh bottle”

Then I grabbed a bottle from the team’s pool cooler bag and forced my overage toddler. She looked up, her skin almost ripe like a tomato.

“Fuck!” I forgot the umbrella again. “Fuck!” my daughter echoed. “Noooooo, I said duck! because a ball was heading your way darling” my quick response to kill the swearing.

Clearly it wasn’t my day.

20 May, 2017. We arrived early at Wisma FAM, Kelana Jaya. We were the first and a light drizzle early in the morning promised a beautiful day for tournament. The grass had a fine layer of diamond like water droplets, a nice tent with some neatly stacked up plastic chairs for mom’s like to me to rest our heavy bottoms on, was a welcoming sight. I was impressed “Nothing could go wrong” I voiced my thoughts delightfully.

I jinxed it because a lot went wrong.

The organising team came fashionably late. Much later than most of the teams participating for the AFC – FAM Grassroot Football Day. Then they forced all players to change into their AFC jerseys which was handed out for free (one plus point) but this was an issue for the girls because the bloody toilet was on the opposite end from where we were and it had a long queue and they had just done that when I made them change into their Supergirls’ jersey just half hour ago. The look on their face said it all, when I broke the news about them needing to change again.

Later to my dismay, I find out they didn’t have a schedule for the girls. “What?! What you mean you don’t have it? This is a tournament”

It was already 10am and the girls still had not played their first match. Luckily the boys match had started so they girls kept themselves entertained by watching these matches and having their mini discussion about each player on the pitch.

Finally, after an hour and the fact many other team managers, were getting uneasy with the wait, the organisers moved the girls to a turf field with small goal post.

I know, I seriously jinxed it because the only plus point, the well-kept natural grass field, was only meant for under 12 boys. The girls were hoping to get to repeat their experience on real grass like at JSSL International Tournament.

“Nevermind girls, we play on” the coach said encouragingly.

There’s always a silver lining. Smaller field meant they won’t get tired fast and smaller goal post meant, they didn’t really need a keeper, so everyone played, full on.

Both the Supergirls team played well, winning all their matches and securing a spot in the semi-finals. Once again, the defense team was relentless at making sure the ball was always in their possession and striping away the opponent’s chances to score a goal.

All was well until the break to decide which teams made it to the Semis. We weren’t told how long we had to wait for the results which by the way was bloody long. We didn’t want to risk ruining our chances at the Semis, so we didn’t allow the girls to eat because from experience, we have learned, these girls tend to slack off and behave like a well fed python after a meal. They morph from a Speedy Gonzales to a tortoise. Crushing any slither of hope for victory.

Not satisfied, I stomped back to my husband. “Look at that team. They brought players from other team. And here’s another with a couple of “import” players. These coaches came with one aim, to win this tournament at any cause. At least we are placing our own players on the field. So why aren’t you getting all the seasoned players into one team and the new ones in another? This way we can  be sure at least one team will make it the finals?”

“Just trust me” these three words was all he said and shut the door to my Grab Car.

“Was that your coach?” asked my Grab Car driver. Not in the mood for a chat, I simply lamented “yes” hoping that cue in my voice would stop him from further chat but today simply wasn’t my day.

“Sorry mam, that was my girlfriend calling, checking on me because today is only my sixth day as a Grab car driver and she has trust issues. She’s afraid of leng lui o (pretty girl oh) passengers.”

“Seriously?” I said laughing out loud. Thanks to him my mood changed and this infected my daughter and changed her sad pout into a smile because she was unhappy to leave her sisters and head over to her ballet class.

An hour in the comfortable and cool lounge at her ballet class made way for me to calm down. I even managed to sneak in a power nap and this helped clear my head. It made room for my sensible self to return and I recollected the reasons why my girls joined an all male dominated sport.

When I reunited with my husband and daughters over our overdue lunch at 3pm, and after gobbling up some fast food, he decides to tell me why he sent two teams instead of one strong team to play in the tournament.

“We decided to play balanced teams, mixing seniors and new players. This was done consciously to develop the newer players, that they learn from their senior players. Putting all our energy and efforts into the seniors alone will leave us only with one team. Supergirls is not about winning, it’s more than that. It’s about giving opportunity, even if it means, we might lose” he explained his earlier three words.

He shared with me pictures of what happened when I wasn’t there and from these pictures I can see, he made the right choice. These girls didn’t care they didn’t win the champion trophy. They were happy with their third and forth placing. My girls couldn’t stop talking about the fun they had playing against their own teammates for the 3rd spot.

“Can’t wait for our next tournament ma!” my daughter cheered gleefully

That’s what really matters. What say you?

IMG-20170520-WA0005
Both teams lost at the semis and now play each other for 3rd. Look on the Ref was priceless
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Supergirls chilling out with the opponents who beat them at the Semis. Some of them are ex-Supergirls. This is what Supergirls are all about
My tweens were very amused with their medal. Check it out …‘Footballs Day’ doesn’t seem right

 

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To a better and stronger Supergirls

After 6 wins and 1 draw, it all came down to one single opponent, Anza from Singapore, to decide which team goes through to the finals at the JSSL International Football Tournament.

Anza had been the champion for Team A and we knew we had an upheaval battle waiting for us after defeating Proveda from phillipine 2-0 which moved us up to meet Anza.

Day 3 had been the hottest and most challenging day in this tournament. Playing on turf grass at 1pm, in the hot unforgiving sun was pretty exhausting.

After their first match, against Proveda, the girls only had half hour to catch their breath and medicate injuries sustained before meeting Anza. They were hastily rushed off to pitch 1 for their next match.

Minutes after the whistle went off, Rania scored a goal, giving us the lead and the confidence we needed because it was an extremely nerve wracking to be pitted against last year’s JSSL champs.

If I thought the Tai Tam Tigers from Hong Kong were big players, Anza were twice of that. These girls were very experienced and mentally strong because the first nil advantage didn’t dampen their spirit even a wee bit. It only made them stronger and more fierce in their game.

This 1-0 lead was short lived after an equalizer goal from the opposing team and one immediately after that was scored. Just as day turns into night, casting a blanket of darkness, it was clearly visible, Supergirls had lost hope.

The fatigue which they hid well up to this point suddenly began to show. Their game got a lot slower and focused all their energy at ensuring no more goals were scored by Anza. 3-1 was the score and that marked the end of Supergirls journey in this tournament.

It was quite heartbreaking to see these girls unable to move to finals after playing so well over the past three days. It was time to let these girls digest their journey at their own pace. But some are already talking about what should be done for next year’s tournament.

There is hope. There’s always hope.

To a better and stronger Supergirls.

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Come what may

That was the mindset we went with to JSSL International​ football tournament in Singapore: A tournament with over 200 teams from across Asia, 3000 players and at 10 different venues.

Being pitted against teams with more experience, as some of these teams have been in this international tournament since its inception, in 2013, was a little nerve wracking for me but not to the Supergirls. All these girls wanted was to play and were looking forward to get on the pitch for some challenge.

It was time to see the fruitation of all the hard work and dedication put in by the players, team managers, coaches and parents. Time to let these girls put into practice what they have been training all these ardeous months.

It’s​ amazing how much these girls have matured in their game. For the past two days we have witnessed a proper footballing team. Each Supergirl played with gusto and knew how to handle her position. Most of them were determined and were focused. They had a lot more stamina too and played 22 minutes straight which is alot longer than what they are used to.

Even the coaches seemed more relaxed compared to previous tournaments​. There was very little coaching whilst the girls were playing because the girls perfectly executed the coaches’ strategies. Kudos to coaches and team director for their time spent strategising.

Day 1 had been quite good. The weather was perfect; cloudy with a chance of rain but it stayed dry. Our first match took almost an hour because the lightening sirens went off twice and we were forced to evacuate the field. The girls didn’t mind this small break as it gave them some rest time and a chance for the coaches to regroup and re-strategise.

Supergirls’ first opponent, JSSL Stoney from Singapore​, was a good ice breaker into the tournament and we won 1-0. The girls struggled to get  their rythm especially with the interruption from the weather but Rania managed to squeeze in a  side goal giving us the victory in the last couple of minutes.

The second match, against LFA also from Singapore, saw a brilliant goal by Rania at the early stages  of the game and was finished off by a  wonderful tap-in by Sabrina.

Day 2 was a little tougher. The sun was like ripe bright orange ball in the sky, shining ever so brightly. Our first game was against Tim Tam Tigers from Hong Kong. It was an extremely tough encounter. Our opponents were all equally larger than any of our players except Asheesh.

But with some smart planning and tactics from our coaches, we managed to hold our ground and not allow a single goal to pierce through. Tim Tam had already built a good reputation for themselves by leaving their opponents with 5 nil defeat. Brave defending got us a well deserved draw.

Next match was against Davao City Philippines. Both teams has a friendly cheer and chats before getting on to the pitch as opponents. Davao’s team JC was familiar with Supergirls’ as they met at Barcelona Soccer Camp through the Kem Bola programme.

We saw another a win towards the end of the match when Adriana scored a goal moments after entering as a substitute with a great pass from Rania.

By the time we got to our last match against JSSL Elite 2, many girls were already exhausted and having made it through to quarter finals, by being second in the table, the coaches decided to shake things up. With only Asheesh, Yasmin and Rania from the previous game. The game was won by a long range looping shot from Kanchen that was enough to beat the team.

The girls were clearly tired but are equally excited for tomorrow.

 

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Crispy fried chicken

McDonald’s spicy fried chicken has hit our shores like a tsunami. Everyone seems to be entranced by the advertisement. Many have flocked to the nearest McDonald’s to get a but of this cleverly and appetizing advertising. We aren’t spared either.

My tween who had decided she was giving up chicken and other meat since the beginning of the year, crumbled. She asked if it was ok for the maybe think about giving up meat when she’s a little older.

One fine day, we decided to give this chicken a go. Kids were excited that they were about to know what’s all the fuss about. Their influence, their favourite radio station that kept talking about this spicy chicken for the longest time.

What ought to be a drama free, usual visit to McDonald’s turned​ out to be a horrible experience.

One, the queue to the ordering counter was horribly wrong. We had to wait a good 20 minutes before placing an order.

Then, they ran out of this chicken; due to overwhelming demand. So I had to settle for a burger, which wasn’t why we were here but the thought of dragging there hungry kids elsewhere was too daunting.

Giving up wasn’t an option. So we returned again, this time on a weekday. Luckily the queue wasn’t long and we managed to get, the last two pieces. So the three of them had to share two tiny pieces of chicken.

“Ergh! The things I do”

Fed up with McDonald’s inefficiency, I decided to make my version of this hard to get chicken.

Fried chicken. I can’t recall when was the last time o ever made anything deep fried. It has always been baked, grilled or airfried.

But a promise is a promise. So we resersched the internet. Got the kids involved in deciding which type of fried chicken they wanted and headed out to the store to get all the necessary ingredients.

You might want to stay for the results because it was damn good. Unhealthy but simply delicious. So good that my kids beggd me to make it every other day. Which they know isn’t possible because that’s one way ticket to coronary artery blockage.

To make my two variety chicken:

Good reliable and trustworthy chicken supplier who can supply a whole chicken.

1 cup Buttermilk (I used buttermilk substitute; 1 cup milk & 2 tbs lemon juice. Mix and let it curdle)

1 cups plain yogurt

Season the chicken with  A LOT of salt and pepper. Divide the chicken into two portion (or not). Brine one portion in n buttermilk and the other in yogurt in your refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Costing. That’s the magic in achieving a crisp and crunchy chicken.

Pour 3-4 cups of plain flour into a big paper bag. Throw in 1 tbs each of garlic powder, onion powder, ginger powder, paprika and cayenne pepper. Give is a good shake.

To coat the chicken you’ll need two large eggs, beaten not stirred. First you shake off as much yogurt and buttermilk off the chicken or give it a quick rinse and patient down to dry it. Then throw these into the paper bag. Do the samba with it. Then remove one piece at a time, shaking off all the flour from it and dip it into the egg. Make sure it is well coated. Then throw back all egg coated chicken back into the paper bag and give it a good shake.

“Shake it off, shake it off, ah ah ah”

Deep fry these ready beasts into a deep pan of hot vegetable oil.

Here’s the know how: this is meant for those who aren’t certain how to properly fry a chicken. How to achieve a crisp on the outside and juicy without being bloody in the inside. Trust me, it’s a big put off to see runny red bloody liquid in a fried chicken.

To test it the oil is hot enough, throw in a tiny piece of coated flour into the oil. If this flour floats up and is sizzling, your oil is ready.

Carefully and gently put in the chicken. Imagine you’re walking on a tight rope and need to be focused as you lower the pieces of chicken into the hot oil. Any misconcetration will land you with oil splater burn and this burn as @#$%.

Don’t overcrowd your pan and let is cook, undisturbed for about 10 minutes or the skin turns golden brown. Then turn, again breathe in and breathe out gently as you do this and let it cook for another 10 minutes on medium low flame.

Drain excess oil and place your fried chicken on some tissues. I like to poke and check the thickets part of the chicken to ensure there’s no blood. If there is, you will need to let it fry for a couple minutes more but this second frying, usually ends up drying the chicken. So get it right the first time!

To see video on this piece of meat sizzling, go to my Instagram page. Don’t be shy, go ahead and stalk my page 😉

For more recipes, check Anyone Can Cook

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Life isn’t a journey

I often troll the blogsphere once I’ve successfully put my full of life children to bed. Just reading whatever’s trending, getting some ideas and inspiration, or simply stalking my favorite writers and their latest work.
I stumbled upon a visual tableau by David Lindbergh on  Alan Watts’s words, titled Why Your Life is not a Journey.

I believed life is a journey but always struggled with the ‘to where’ part. It has kept me riled up for decades, searching for my kismet. Has had me believing that I have yet to reach my destination. That it is somewhere I will soon arrive if I navigate properly. But the problem with this equation is that I don’t know my destination. So I’m just traveling along.

Alan Watts says life isn’t a journey and all of sudden I feel like I had it all wrong. 

Life isn’t a journey sounds so right so fast.

Because life is about the now and enjoying this very moment. Life is like your favorite song, the one you dance or sing to. How each chord stirs your emotions while it is playing. With a song, you don’t wait for it’s end to relish the joy it brings. 

So life is a song. Your favorite song. Life is how you moved to that song. Life is how you let that song influence you. It’s how the song made you feel. It’s the now and not the end. Because when the song ends, you will stop moving and feeling. You might feel exhilarated or high from all that dancing and singing but that feeling will fade away like the notes of the music. Then you’re left feeling nothing because there is no more music.

I believe now, life isn’t a journey like a traveller waiting to arrive at his destination. Life is music that must be danced to and sang. Life is the music of a composer.

More than just about football

Tactical planning before the game

Every year something new springs up. Makes life interesting and we look forward to these opportunities and challenges.

The Supergirls has had their ups and downs but with the grace of the almighty, we are still going strong.

More girls have joined us, more parents are beginning to realize girls football isn’t such a bad thing. The commitment and dedication of these parents is commendable.

A lot has happened in the first quarter of 2017. The girls have grown a little stronger, bonded a little better and gained a lot confidence, both on and off pitch. And these have translated into many aspects of their life.

They are doing well with school and other activities. They are braver to try new sports and have been chosen to lead many of their sports teams.

They have even dipped their hands in some acting. Our girls did so well at the audition for Kasut Bola Pink, a Malay movie that the director created a new scene to fit the whole team. The lead actress even donned on our Supergirls Jersey. How cool is that?

We were even invited for the premier screening of this movie. It was great joy watching these girls faces when they saw themselves on the big screen. The bonus was reading their names appear in the credit listing and their beloved teams name. They were truly proud.

See, I told you a lot has happened.

To end the first quarter, the Supergirls had a sparring match with Superdads. It was a lovely match day. Watching girls playing against their fathers, brothers and some moms too. Amazingly these girls won win a score of 12-3.

I, who have never played striker scored a perfect equalizer goal the first half of the match but it was all downhill after 20 minutes. Superdads’ stamina was no match to Supergirls. These girls were like Energizer Bunnies. They simply never grew tired.

Looking forward to more exciting challenges in the next quarter. Stay with us.

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