Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Making Nastar (Pineapple Tarts)

My Mom first introduced home-made Pineapple Tarts/Nastar to my siblings and me when I was in my Junior High School. Back then, it took her two days to create her home-made Pineapple Tarts. The first day was used to cook the fresh pineapple jam, which literally took hours to produce. The second day was to create the cookie dough, shape and bake the pineapple tarts.

Back then, Mom made us shape the Pineapple Tarts in cute tiny baskets that took forever to do. She even had to ask my brother who was still in Primary School 1 or 2 to stop doing whatever he was doing (maybe watching cartoon on our tube TV or playing games) and help the ladies shape the pineapple tarts. I remember I kept complaining why so much efforts were put into making these cookies... She told me, that was the price that we needed to pay to enjoy our damn good home-made Pineapple Tarts that we couldn't stop popping into our mouths. She's right.

For the past few years, I have been baking my own Pineapple Tarts for CNY. For this year, I use different recipe for my Pineapple Tarts and the new recipe turned out fine and nice, not too crumbly/fragile yet still has the melt-in-the-mouth effect.

Old-school Pineapple Tarts.

Pineapple Tarts (Nastar)

Ingredients:

200gr Butter, at room temperature
50gr Icing Sugar
3 Egg Yolks
50gr Milk Powder
300gr Flour (plus 1-2 tbs if needed)
1 Egg Yolk plus a spoon of liquid milk, for egg wash
500gr Pineapple Jam, rolled into small balls

Methods:
  1. Cream butter and icing sugar using electric mixer until pale. Add the egg yolks one by one and mix well.
  2. Using a spatula, fold in the milk powder and flour until well incorporated.
  3. Roll the dough into small balls. Flatten a piece of the dough ball and place the pineapple jam filling in the middle. Bring the edges of the dough together and press/roll lightly to seal. Repeat this process until all the dough is finished.
  4. Apply egg wash on the pineapple tarts before baking them.
  5. Bake the pineapple tarts in a preheated oven at 160 degree Celcius for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Once done, remove the tarts from the trays. Cool them completely before storing in plastic containers

Last week, I accidentally bought too much Pineapple Jam from the baking shop as I was in hurry... After I reached home, I realized I actually purchased 1 kg of Pineapple Jam and 1 kg of jam like this is really a lot. So yeah, I still have about 500gr of Pineapple Jam leftover waiting to be transformed into Pineapple Tarts. The sequel of Pineapple Tarts baking is TBC because yesterday's session in shaping these pineapple tarts was quite traumatizing to my back.

Making Strawberry Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

I am suddenly on a CNY cookies baking roll this year (but didn't bake a single cookie for last Christmas!)... I have been baking three different types of cookies for three days in a row now. I even had to rope in my husband's help in rolling the cookies dough because rolling or shaping cookies is quite a tedious job and takes a lot of time.

One of my favorite cookies to bake this year is the Strawberry Cheese Thumbprint Cookies by Tintin Rayner, which at one point of time had taken over my Instagram feed because so many home-bakers remade her recipe and posted their creations in Instagram. The #kiasu in me just had to join the wave in making Thumbprint Cookies.

Here's the recipe that I slightly modified. The first time I tested the recipe, my cookies were kind of melted when I placed them in the hot oven, resulting a slightly bigger cookies which didn't look so good. For the second attempt, I added a bit more flour to the cookie dough so the cookies would be in a better and firm shape after baking. I suppose each egg yolk has different size hence calls for a slightly different flour use. The key is not to put too much flour into the dough either; else your cookies might crack when you roll them into small balls.

Best Thumbprint Cookies.

Strawberry Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

150gr Butter, at room temperature
100gr Icing sugar
1 Egg yolk
A dash of vanilla powder, optional
225gr Flour (plus 1-2 tbs if needed)
20gr Corn flour
20gr Milk powder
1/2 sdt Baking powder
75gr Grated cheddar cheese
2-3tbs Jam/ Peanut Butter/ Nutella, placed in a piping bag for filling
1 Egg white, for coating

Step-by-step in making Thumbprint Cookies.

Methods:
  1. Beat butter and icing sugar using electric mixer until pale. Add the egg yolk, mix well.
  2. Fold in the flour, corn flour, vanilla powder, baking powder and milk powder into the mixture until well incorporated.
  3. Roll the dough into small balls. 
  4. Take one small ball and dip it into the egg white. Coat it with grated cheese.
  5. Place the dough ball in a tray that is already covered by baking sheet. Press the middle of the cookie ball with a finger to create an indentation. Repeat step 4 and 5.
  6. Fill the indentation of each cookie with jam or any filling desired.
  7. Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 150-160 degree Celcius for 30-40 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown.

PB and Jam Thumbprint Cookies.

For my second attempt in making these cookies, I filled half of my thumbprint cookies with Peanut Butter (which my husband loves) and didn't coat the Peanut Butter cookies with any cheese. They tasted as good as the strawberry jam ones. For me, Strawberry and Cheese are truly match-made in heaven! They taste so delicious when eaten together.

Last but not least, I don't know if you have the habit of reading the health benefits of super food that you eat but I do. I love reading the health benefits of fruits or veggies that I eat for my own knowledge. In case you are wondering the history and health benefits of strawberries, have a read about it here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mothering and Diapering Baby #3

Happy New Year!

2016 went by so fast and my tiny baby #3 is going to be 8 months old next week. I cannot believe I have to start thinking and planning for my velcro baby's 1st birthday celebration soon. It feels like it was just few months ago I brought home a newborn baby to my house.

Here are some bits of my journey in mothering baby #3 so far.

BREASTFEEDING

I still fully breastfeed Brennan on demand. I direct latch him and don't express my breast milk so I have zero breast milk stock in my freezer. My initial plan was to breastfeed him for the first 6 months. Turned out, this little fella doesn't fancy formula milk and refuses drinking from bottle (he only bites the bottle teat without drinking any milk from it) hence he only drinks my breast milk and some water (in sippy cup) after his porridge meals.

Actually being able to exclusively breastfeed a baby is awesome. However, to be honest, I have been thinking about weaning my son from breastfeeding for personal reasons for some time now.

Who's there?

Truth be told, weaning a child from breastfeeding is proven to be not an easy task especially if he is not ready for the change and my milk supply is still sufficient (not over abundant but enough). I introduced Brennan to bottle every now and then but most of the time, my attempts were never successful. There was one night when I suffered from bacterial infection and got so sick to be able to lift my finger let alone to wake up and breastfeed my son. I asked my husband to feed him with formula milk but Brennan totally hated this gesture and kept crying for hours until he fell asleep, exhausted from crying, with empty stomach. The aftermath of this episode was blocked ducts, lumpy and painful rock swollen boobs for few days - these are surely the part I loathe the most in breastfeeding.

With that, for the moment, I will continue breastfeeding my son as usual until both of us are ready to break our breastfeeding relationship. Speaking of weaning, I might feel truly liberated when I could finally wean my son one day but at the same time, I guess I will also be terribly sad and miss our nursing sessions too. How ah?

Y U NO STTN?

I have been very sleep deprived since late May last year and yet to make up for my lost sleeps until this very date. Seriously, prolonged sleep deprivation like this goes beyond a tired body and it is absolutely jarring.

When I was pregnant with Baby #3, every time I read new mothers' creating online sleep log, ranting about their little peanuts' sleep patterns at night, I laughed at them and assumed they simply didn't know how to sleep train their babies. What goes around comes around. Look at me know. Eight months in and my baby is giving me the exact same treatment except that I am too tired to do his sleep diary in writing. I could easily produce a dissertation if I were to do that. Waking up multiple times at night to breastfeed Brennan is actually one of the reasons why I want to stop breastfeeding.

Zzz... I don't want to sleep like a baby at night. I just want to sleep like my husband and quit being a walking zombie during the day.

MILESTONES

At almost 8 months old, little Brennan has accomplished the following milestones:

First flight to Indonesia

Right after I bought our flight tickets in early December last year, I morphed into a stress ball for weeks. I could not help feeling nervous about my cry baby's virgin flight. Would he cry inconsolably in the plane? Would he demand his parents to walk him around the plane for the whole 2.5 hours' flight? What if he develops ear pains in the airplane? Etc, etc.

THANK GOD, my fears didn't materialize. Brennan slept most of the time during the flight. I nursed him during take-off and landing to avoid any discomforts resulting from the air pressure changes and it worked. Nonetheless, before we landed to the airport in Surabaya, Brennan did cry loudly and miserably for about 20 minutes because the turbulence was quiet horrible then, even my heart was thumping violently.

Staying in a hotel for the first time

When we arrived to Indonesia for Christmas, we didn't go straight to my hometown because I worried Brennan would get too tired from the long trip. We stayed in a hotel in Surabaya for a couple of nights before heading to my parents' house.

One happy owl and mommy panda.

It was Brennan's first time staying at a hotel. I booked the hotel online and requested a crib in my booking form. To my horror, the hotel provided no crib because they just don't have any baby crib for guests! Tell me, why did the website even advertise baby cribs in the first place? Alas, we had to order an extra bed to fit the four of us. I could not sleep well in the hotel that time because I was too fearful Brennan might roll over and fall down from the bed when he's sleeping. Luckily, he didn't fall.

Looking fabulous in the morning even after a sleepless night.

Visiting Grandparents' house for the first time

Naomi cried for the two days when she first arrived to my parents' house back in 2013. She could not get used to the new place and found everyone was stranger in my parents' house. Brennan did just fine.

Little elf wearing a cute hat knitted by Grandma.

It's just that during our two-week' holiday in Indonesia, nobody could carry him for a long time except me, my husband and my Dad. Brennan cried every time my Mom, aunts or sister carried him so my Mom could not help me much in taking care of Brennan when we were there.

Studio portraits

Taking studio pictures back in my hometown is so much cheaper than taking the pictures here so I took the opportunity to preserve Brennan's babyhood on properly done studio photos. Oh my! Little man was totally rocking the studio!

Little sailor and his huge bear.

Unlike Naomi, Brennan was so much friendlier and (again, surprisingly) not afraid of strangers (read: the photographer) during the photo shoots. In fact, Naomi was throwing tantrums during the photo shoots so we didn't get any nice studio pictures with her this time around.

Anybody wants to hire me to be a baby model?

Two teeth

After months of drooling and gnawing, we finally spotted Brennan's very first tooth cut through his lower gum when we were in Indonesia in December. Then about a week later, another tooth came out too. Nowadays, when he feels like being playful, he'd bite me during breastfeeding. I then scream out of pain, and he cries because I scare him.

I bite.

Dropping and throwing

I am bound to clean my children's mess, all the time. Already it's hard to make Naomi tidy up her toys after she plays with them, these days Brennan finds it thrilling to drop and throw toys for me to pick up. This man has now surely got so much better control over his hands and fingers. And me.

Cruising

Brennan was able to stand up while holding onto something when he was slightly over 6 months old. Now he can shuffle along while holding on to furniture -- one of the last steps of his journey to walking independently. Where did my little baby go?

So short yet so cute.

Crawling

Brennan was a pro at commando crawling quiet early... and now he can crawl properly so fast, especially if he sees and wants to grab his sister's toys. Have I mentioned that these two can fight over toys now? The big sister is so stingy; she would not share her toys or let her brother touch her toys. The little brother is so persistent and curious, he often wants to play and gnaw on his sister's toys instead of his own baby toys. Of late, my husband and I often have to separate our children from fighting over toys.

When they are not fighting.

DIAPERING MY BABY

You see, my son is one very active baby and his physical developments actually progress rather fast for his age. It's not easy to make Brennan stay still during diaper changes (even after I give him a toy to distract him). He rolls over, crawls here and there and sometimes decides to sit down when I try to put on a diaper on him. Therefore for practicality, these few months I prefer to make him wear diapers pants day and night.

Recently, I was introduced to CHIAUS Baby Diapers, a high quality and affordable baby diapers.

Say hello to Chiaus Baby Diapers.

The first time I held Chiaus diapers on my hand, I could not wait to try them on to my son. The diapers are so cottony soft and look super comfortable for my son who is born with sensitive skin.

So happy and excited for his new diapers.

When I noticed that Chiaus diapers are relatively thinner compared to other brands, I must admit I got a bit apprehensive about the diapers' thinness at first. However, after trying the diapers on my son, my doubt was cleared. Although Chiaus diapers are thin, they are very absorbent and leak proof. The diapers are apparently designed thin with soft breathable top-sheet to promote extra comforts and prevent diaper rash on baby so they are definitely a good choice for day and night uses.

Brennan is so prone of experiencing diaper rash despite me slathering nappy cream on his diaper area very often. One trick to reduce his chance of getting diaper rash outbreaks is to let him wear thinner diapers, such as Chiaus diapers, and change his diapers frequently especially after he poops.

Brennan wearing Chiaus Diaper Pants.

Chiaus diaper pants feature very soft and stretchy waist band so they fits babies comfortably. The pants are easy to wear and easy to tear too. Moreover, as the diaper pants are not thick, they allow active baby like mine to move about or crawls freely without any restrictions or discomforts.

Make way! Active baby is coming.

Just like the diaper pants, Chiaus tape diapers are quite thin as well; yet they have excellent absorbency and strong re-attachable tapes. The leak control guards gently and nicely fits the structure the baby's legs to prevent leaks. I changed my son to Chiaus tape diaper last night around 10pm because he did a poo-nami just before bed time. When I checked him in the morning, his diaper was still okay - full but no leaking!

Dry and happy after morning bath.

Chiaus diapers are clinically approved hypoallergenic so Mommies, go try Chiaus diapers for your babies! You can find more info about Chiaus Diapers on their official website. LIKE their Facebook page so you are always in the loop on their latest promotions, products and useful baby care tips.

-- GIVEAWAY --

Chiaus Baby Diaper Malaysia is pleased to giveaway small packs of their tape diapers to my three (3) blog readers with Malaysia address. Check out my blog's Facebook and Instagram accounts to find out how you can win these diaper packs for your baby!

Small packs of Chiaus diapers to give away.
Image source: Chiaus Baby Diaper Malaysia.

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by Chiaus Baby Diaper Malaysia. All product experience is genuine and featured photos are mine unless otherwise stated.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Making Cotton Cake

Back in October, I made a very yummy, light and moist cake that my husband complimented "like a cake from a bakery", namely Cotton Cake. The cake tasted more on the eggy and milky side and not too buttery.

I planned to share the recipe about 1-2 days after I baked that cake but I dragged and dragged and dragged in writing the recipe here until now... almost 4 months later.

Admittedly, I was and am quite busy lately because running a house while taking care of a demanding toddler and a baby single-handedly really take most of my time day and night - hence the silence in my blog. I no longer have the luxury to sit quietly in front of my laptop to do some writing. Also, I am still VERY MUCH sleep deprived by the way. Not to mention, my new venture, which I will explain in more detailed manner some other time, occupies most of my free time these days. Oh ya, then Heo Joon Jae came into the picture. Alas, amidst my busy days in general, somehow I still have to make time to check how Heo Joon Jae is doing twice a week. Now you know how I set my priorities.

Anyway, here's the recipe of Cotton Cake that will surely win your family's hearts and tummies. Note that all the ingredients used in this recipe are in room temperature.

Cake is as soft as cotton.

Cotton Cake

Ingredients:

3 Egg yolks
30gr Beaten egg
35gr Butter
50gr Cake flour, sieved
50gr Condensed milk
3 Egg whites
40gr Fine sugar

Methods:

  1. Line a 6" or 7" round cake tin with a parchment paper on the base.
  2. Mix egg yolks with the beaten egg using a whisk. Set aside.
  3. Heat butter on a low heat until small bubbles appear. Pour flour into the hot melted butter and fold with a spatula. Add in the condensed milk into the mixture and fold until well combined.
  4. Add the butter and flour mixture onto the beaten eggs. Mix well using a whisk until the batter is smooth.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until frothy using a electric mixer. Add in sugar in three batches. Beat the egg whites until it reaches stiff-peak consistency with high-speed electric mixer then reduce the speed to low towards the end of the mixing process.
  6. Take about 1/3 of the meringue and fold it into the egg yolk batter.
  7. Pour the yolk batter back to the remaining meringue and fold until incorporated.
  8. Pour the batter into the cake tin and lightly tap the cake tin few times to remove bubbles before baking.
  9. Bake the cake in a hot water bath (Bain-Marie method) in a preheated oven at 170 degree Celcius with only the upper heating coil at the lower rack of the oven for 40 minutes.
  10. After 40 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 150 degree Celcius on both upper and lower heating for another 20-30 minutes or until the cake is done. If the top of the cake browns too fast, you may want to cover it with an aluminium foil.
  11. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool. While the cake is still warm, run a spatula along the edge of the cake to remove it from the pan. Let the cake cool on a wire rack before serving.

Original recipe is from here.

Finally, the small venture that I am busy with of late is currently running a CNY giveaway. Please do support by taking part at the giveaway on Facebook and/or Instagram, okay! Thank you!