Know Your Ingredient – Nutmeg

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Description

This is a brown-colored hard seed from the nutmeg tree that gives a spicy sweet taste. This originates from Indonesia but can also be found in the Caribbean (Grenada).

Nutrients and Health Benefits

Nutmeg has anti-oxidant, health promoting and disease preventing properties. It’s a good source of minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. It has also B-complex vitamins and vitamin C, and folic acid, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin A.

Medical Use

In traditional medicine, it is used as anti-depressant, anti-fungal, aphrodisiac and carminative agent. It also aids digestion and prevents constipation.

Culinary Use

Nutmeg is a popular spice. It can be used in preparing many dishes and recipes. It can be used in making cakes and pastries, and can also be added in making smoothies. Nutmeg is considered a natural flavoring in baked goods, syrups, sweets and beverages.

Fried Rice Last Night!

Hubby came home yesterday afternoon and had a cross between a late afternoon snack and early dinner, then said he probably won’t eat much for dinner because he was full.

With enough leftover boiled jasmine in the cooker, I decided to simply cook fried rice for dinner. One of my ways of recycling food that’s still too good to toss in the bin.

While I didn’t take notes during the preparing and cooking process, I will just do my best to recall how I made it. And since I didn’t really do exact measurements of the amounts of the ingredients I mixed in the dish, feel free to have more or less of the ingredients, depending on how you like it.

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LAST NIGHT’S FRIED RICE

Cooking oil
2 eggs, well beaten
A handful of chicken fillet
50g butter
3 cups cold cooked rice
1 brown onion, sliced
1 piece carrot, chopped to small bits
1 small can of corn kernels, rinsed and drained
A handful of frozen green peas
2 tablespoons fried garlic (we already have fried garlic, so I used that)
A handful of cooked prawns, shelled and each sliced into 2 or 3 parts
Soy sauce to taste
Tomato sauce to taste
Tabasco sauce (optional)
Salt to taste
Ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Heat oil on pan. Beat eggs in a bowl and season with salt. Fry well beaten egg in the pan until cooked. Take out of the pan, slice to small strips and set aside.

Slice chicken fillet into small parts. Fry in pan until thoroughly cooked. Roughly break up cooked chicken into smaller bits using a wooden spoon. Add butter and onions. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add carrots and corn. Stir fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add cold rice. Break up rice and mix well with the other ingredients in the pan. Add soy sauce, tomato sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and ground cayenne pepper to taste. (You can skip the Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper, if you don’t like it spicy.) Mix everything well and cook over medium heat.  Continue to stir every now and then for about 10 minutes.

Add sliced cooked prawns, frozen green peas, and fried garlic. Combine well with the rest of the dish. Cook over low heat for another 5-10 minutes, stirring every now and then so the bottom part doesn’t get burnt.  Serve warm.

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Oh, by the way, hubby ended up eating dinner after this. In fact, he had to stop himself from eating much of this so he could still have enough fried rice to pack for lunch at work today. Lol!

Know Your Ingredient – Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

Description
Lemon Balm is a herbal plant that belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae. Its leaves are heart-shaped and deeply veined characterized by a mild lemon scent. It grows up to 150 cm tall. It produces white flowers during summer, which attracts the bees. The flavor of this herbal plant comes from its contents like citronellal, geranial, linalyl acetate and caryophyllene.

Nutrients
Lemon Balm contains phenolic compounds, rosmarinic, protocatechuic acids, caffeic, and flavonoids.

Health Benefits/ Medical Use
This herbal plant has been known to cure cold sores, stomach upset, sleep disorders, and even Alzheimer’s disease. It is also used to cure colic to breastfed babies. It also helps in maintaining a normal blood pressure. The leaves are known to have antiviral and antibacterial properties. It’s a good treatment for flu, insomnia, indigestion, depression, and Herpes virus. It also acts a memory booster.

Culinary Use
Lemon Balm has a delicate lemon flavor and has been widely used in making dishes. It is a good garnish to fruit salads and drinks.

Know Your Ingredient – Chives

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General Description
These herbs are the smallest members of the onion family. They have flavor similar to onion and a distinctive smell and taste. They are commonly used in plural form (chives) because they grow as clumps and not individually.

Nutrients and Health Benefits
Chives contain low calories and are rich in fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. They comprise more vitamin A than any other allium family member veges. Folates can also be found in fresh chives. In addition to that, its leaves have B-complex vitamins and other essential minerals like copper, iron, zinc, manganese and calcium.

Medical Use
Chives can be used to treat flatulence, stomach upset, clogged nose, and also helps prevent bad breath. These herbs also lower down cholesterol level in our body and since they’re high in Vitamin C, they boost our immune system preventing influenza. They also lower the blood pressure if combined with a low salt diet.

Culinary Use
Fresh chopped chives (leaves) are added to mint, parsley, shallot, and cucumber and tomato salad to have a great taste. In China and Japan, garlic chives are used to add flavor to dumplings, stews and soups. While in Europe, they are used as a garnish especially in baked or mashed potatoes.

Know Your Ingredient – Stevia

stevia

Description

Stevia is a green leafy plant native to South America. It is unique among food ingredients because it’s most valued for what it doesn’t have. It has no calories. Its leaves produce sweet components, known as steviol glycosides, which are up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, and can be extracted from the leaves of the Stevia plant to sweeten food without adding calories. Unlike other sugar substitutes, Stevia is derived from a plant. It is part of the Asteraceae family, related to the daisy and ragweed.

Nutrients

Stevia is ironically healthy because it contains zero sugar, zero calories, and zero other macronutrients. However, it is sweeter than sugar up to 300 times.

Health Benefits and Medical Use

Stevia has a component named stevioside which lowers the blood pressure. Hence, it is found out that by taking Stevia, the risk of hypertension is reduced as well as its potential complications like heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. Aside from that, Stevia has been studied in diabetic patients with impressive results. It is known to prevent type 2 Diabetes.

Stevia has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, diuretic and immunomodulatory effects in animals. But of course, not all that works in rats works in humans, too.

Culinary Use

Stevia is a well known sugar substitute. It is used by many to serve healthy and, at the same time, tasty food.

Ward Conference Cakes

We had a successful ward conference last Sunday, with so much people in attendance!  Because we were expecting a lot of visitors from the stake, we thought we’d bring a lot more food than usual for the ward luncheon after the meetings. Hubby prepared his meat dishes, plus rice.  I made a couple of cakes for dessert, which I thought I’d share with you today.

ward con carrot cake

Above is a couple of layers of carrot cake, with cream cheese icing, orange gelatin, and fresh fruits on top.  When it came to slicing this cake, having it in 2 layers didn’t seem to be a good idea. It was a heavy cake, so the slices kept on wobbling and falling over. Of course, I used my carrot cake recipe, which can be found HERE.  Hubby was wondering why my carrot cakes are much more delicious compared to the store-bought one we had sometime ago (which was too sweet and dry). I told him, the secret to having a delicious moist carrot cake is not to over cook it. When it’s cooked, take it out of the oven right away!

ward con strawberry cake

This one is a strawberry cake, with buttercream icing, an ugly purple drip icing, and all the lollies and bickies in the house. I was not very happy with the shade of the purplish drip. I should’ve had it in a different colour. Thankfully, the layering inside looked perfect when it was sliced – such a beautiful shade of pink! Too bad I was busy slicing it for those who were excited to taste it, so I wasn’t able to take a photo of the sliced cake.  I’ll have to blog the recipe next time, so you guys can try it too.

Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca pudding is one dessert you can serve at a Chinese themed event. It’s actually called by many names. I think some call it Tapioca Pearls With Coconut Milk, and the most interesting name (which I think is how most Chinese folks call it), the Frog Egg Dessert.
A guest in one of our dinners before was this guy from Taiwan. Yup, he speaks and reads Chinese, but he also knows English. Anyway, when I served this tapioca dessert at that dinner, I asked him (for confirmation), “Is this a Chinese dessert?” He said, “Yes, it is” and commented further that they call it as Frog Egg Dessert.
Unfortunately, one of our female guests didn’t quite get what he had said, and she thought that the dessert was made of real eggs of real frogs….and refused to have any!  Oh dear, we had a good laugh at that, and so we had to help her understand that it’s just a name, because its appearance closely resemble frogs’ eggs, but that those round little things are actually tapioca pearls. She was quite relieved, and finally agreed to have some. 🙂
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 And so, here’s the basic recipe for this delicious dish:
TAPIOCA PUDDING
2/3 cup of small uncooked tapioca pearls
Water
1 cup whole milk
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup sugar
Note: Start preparing this recipe hours before you need it. You can chill it in the fridge while waiting for your guests.
In a pan, heat about 3 cups of water. Dissolve sugar in it before bringing it to a boil. As soon as it boils, lower the heat and add in the whole milk. Mix well.
Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk. (Do not boil the coconut milk, as it would turn the mixture rather oily). Let the mixture cool in room temperature, then place in the fridge to chill.
Meanwhile (or about a couple of hours later), soak the tapioca pearls in water for at least 30 minutes. The tapioca pearls will be absorbing the water and expand and turn into soft, bright white pearls. Drain.  Place in a pot with some water and bring to a boil. Remember to constantly stir the tapioca pearls in the water, so they cook more evenly and so they don’t stick together in huge masses.
When the tapioca pearls have all turned clear, remove from heat.  Drain and add the tapioca pearls into the coconut milk mixture. You may continue to chill them in the fridge, or you can serve them right away in smaller bowls or cups, with a bit of sliced fruits on top.

Know Your Ingredient – Cardamom

cardamom

Description

Cardamom is native to the evergreen rain forest of southern Indian Kerala state and grown in only a few tropical countries. The spice features three-sided pods with a thin, yet tough papery outer cover. Inside, tiny, deep-brown to black, aromatic seeds are arranged in vertical rows with each grain unsheathed again inside a very thin membrane. There are two types of cardamom pods: the green cardamom pod and the black cardamom pod. Generally, the plant can grow up to four meters in length.

Nutrients 

Cardamom is a good source of potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It is also an excellent source of iron and manganese. In addition to that, it is rich in many vital vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health. It as well contains many essential volatile oils that include pinene, sabinene, myrcene, phellandrene, limonene, 1, 8-cineole, terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene, linalool, linalyl acetate, terpinen-4-oil, a-terpineol, a-terpineol acetate, citronellol, nerol, geraniol, methyl eugenol, and trans-nerolidol.

Health Benefits/ Medical Use

Cardamom has antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and tonic properties. It also helps control heart rate and blood pressure. It is a good source of manganese which is a very powerful free-radical scavenger. It helps in red blood cell formation and cellular metabolism.

Culinary Use

Cardamom is being used as flavoring agent in both soups, foods, and revitalizing drinks. Many sweet dishes in Asian countries use cardamom.

Basic Polvorón Recipe

Polvoron 1

Polvorón is a Spanish shortbread made mainly from flour, sugar, milk, and nuts. Lard or butter is used to help hold the powder mixture together. It may be baked or chilled. The name of this treat came from the Spanish word polvo, which means powder.

Because the flour is first toasted before it is mixed with the rest of the ingredients, the entire crumbly powder mixture is a perfect beach sand look-alike.  If you have little buckets of various sizes, using Option 1 below (chilled, not baked), you can create a “sandcastle”, a splendid feature at your next beach or mermaid themed party.  You can also use a round or oblong cookie cutter or molder to mold them into little cookies, then wrap each with coloured tissue paper or cello.

Polvoron 3

Basic Polvorón Recipe

Ingredients:
4 cups plain flour
2 cups powdered milk
1 1/2 cups raw sugar
1 1/8 cups softened butter

Toast flour on a pan over medium heat, stirring often to make sure it doesn’t get burnt, until the colour of the flour turns into light brown. Let it cool before transferring into a mixing bowl. Add powdered milk and sugar and mix well, using a wire whisk.

Add butter and, using your clean hands, combine the mixture thoroughly. Let cool for about 10 minutes, so the butter solidifies a bit.

Option 1:

To mold and wrap polvorón, have several pieces of tissue paper or cello ready, cut into 6″ x 6″ squares. On a square, place your cookie cutter in the very center. Spoon the mixture into the cookie cutter, then push the mixture in with your fingers or back of the spoon to compact it. Add more powder mixture into the cookie cutter until it reaches your desired thickness when compacted. The polvorón should be compacted enough so it doesn’t collapse when you carefully remove the cookie cutter. After removing the cookie cutter, carefully wrap the polvorón by securing the ends. Chill before serving. (This option works best for a beach sand-imitation dish at your beach themed party.)

Polvoron 2

Option 2:

Use the same technique in compacting them into round or oblong pieces using the cookie cutter or mold, but instead of wrapping each individually, place them on baking sheets (lined with paper) and bake them at 180ºC/350ºF for approximately 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. (Sprinkle icing sugar on top and this option is perfect for serving them at Christmas.)

Mermaid Jello Salad

This recipe has been adapted from an old sweetened fruit salad recipe. While the original recipe required slices of various types of fruits, this recipe omitted that and, instead, used only gelatin cubes in colours associated with the mermaid party theme. As well as shredded young coconut, you may also add cooked tapioca pearls (the larger sized ones, almost similar in size to the gelatin cubes) to this sweet salad to balance its sweetness, and for that additional “mermaid” appeal.

Mermaid Jello

Ingredients:
1 packet green gelatin powder (any flavour)
1 packet blue gelatin powder (any flavour)
1 packet purple gelatin powder (any flavour)
Boiling water
Cold water
Thick cream
Condensed milk
Shredded young coconut (optional)

In separate bowls, prepare the gelatin (separately, by colour) according to packet instructions, using the boiling water, then cold water. (For firmer gelatin, slightly reduce the amount of water to be added to each bowl of gelatin powder.) Chill gelatin until completely set.

Slice gelatin into small cubes. Place all the gelatin cubes in a large bowl. Add cream and shredded young coconut (optional). Add condensed milk, until desired sweetness is achieved. Mix well. Scoop into small bowls to serve.

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Love the mermaid themed label card used in the photo? Get it HERE.