Friday, 1 June 2018

TherMe: Pasta with Home-made Tomato Sauce

Adapted from the Tomato Sauce recipe in 'Thermomix The Basic Cook Book'

I've cooked the original tomato sauce as a base for pizzas numerous times & its delish! Was making another batch so decided to prep extra for our pasta dinner.

Ingredients (serves 1 toddler + 2 adults):

150g onions, halved
1 clove of garlic
60g of organic extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1kg of fresh cherry tomatoes
1 1/4 tsp of organic raw sugar
1/2 tsp of pink Himalayan salt
1 1/4 tsp of dried basil
250g of minced pork
50g of frozen organic peas
150g of desired pasta (pre-cooked), cooked to al-dente then rinse lightly with room temp water

Directions:

1. Add in onions, garlic & EVOO into Thermomix mixing bowl then chop 5s / S5 followed by sauté 7mins / 120°C / S1.

2. Add tomatoes, sugar, salt & basil then chop 15s / S5.

3. Cook 30mins / 100°C / S2. Keep half for future usage (base for pizzas, vegs etc).

4. Pour in minced pork, peas & pasta then cook 3mins / 100°C / Reverse / S1.

For non-Thermomix readers, you can still tweak the prepaprtions by either chopping the ingredients manually or using a normal blender. Follow the steps but simmer over low heat in a wok or pot on the stove. Stir occasionally & when sauce has thickened, stir more frequently to prevent it from getting burnt.


It's been awhile since I cooked tomato-based pasta for BB so he kinda finished his portion in record time..lolz! A keeper for sure <3 

Before having my TherMe, I used to prep the pasta sauce in my Avent Steamer & Blender. Due to size constraints, I'm unable to do larger quantities. Furthermore, this definitely tastes more fragrant due to the sautéing of ingredients as compared to just plain steaming.

TherMe: Kid-friendly Char Siew (Non-Baked Version)

This recipe was highly recommended by one of my cooking chums but I adapted it to be more kid-friendly for my boy.

Ingredients:

650g of pork belly
1 tbsp of homemade peanut butter
3 cloves of garlic
5 tbsps of brown sugar
3/4 tbsp of Simply Natural organic blk bean sauce (thick)
2 tbsps of light soy sauce
2 tsps of dark soy sauce
1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
150g water (Note: can increase to 200g cos sauce abit thick)

Directions:

1. Marinate pork with all seasonings, except water, & place it in chiller for at least 4hrs.

2. Add pork & water into Thermomix mixing bowl then cook for 45mins / 120°C / Reverse / Spoon Speed.

3. Slice to desired thickness, pour gravy over & serve warm.


For non-Thermomix readers, you can still follow the steps & simmer on low heat in a pot over the stove but u'll need to stir occasionally & when sauce has thickened, stir more frequently to prevent it from getting burnt.

As this is a non-baked version, you don't see the charred parts normally found on char siew which I feel makes it healthier actually. However, the meat is tender, flavourful & u can taste the fragrant of the roasted peanuts. It may not taste like its commercially-sold counterparts but both my parents enjoyed it tremendously & it definitely deserves the thumbs up given by my boy d(^.^)b

Best part of this is all that I need to do is put the marinated meat in, set the time, temperature & stirring speed & Thermomix will do its magic! No more watching of fire, stirring constantly to prevent burnts etc & I'm free to do anything while it's been cooked ~.<

Monday, 11 December 2017

TherMe: Healthier Wholemeal Butter Cake

Adapted from Butter Cake recipe in 'Perfection with Thermomix in 7 Days'

The "blur sotong" me thought I still had an unopened pack of butter but when I checked the fridge, I realised I was wrong. As I was already all set to bake, I decided to still go ahead. I managed to do some Googling & DIY-ed my own self-raising flour too ~.<

Ingredients:

125g butter, softened (leave it at room temperature for 30mins) & cut into cubes
120g organic wholemeal flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp pink salt
3 kampong eggs
80g organic raw sugar
25ml of fresh milk
1/4 pure vanilla extract double 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Lightly grease & line a round tin with baking paper then set aside.

2. Mix flour, baking powder & salt together evenly.

3. Insert butterfly whisk followed by butter & sugar into mixing bowl. Beat for 1.5min / S3.5.


4. Mix 40s / S3.5, adding vanilla extract, and one egg at a time & fresh milk thru the hole in the mixing bowl's lid onto the rotating blades to beat the mixture into a smooth batter.

5. Add flour mixture, mix 30s / S3.5 then transfer cake mixture into prepared cake tin. 


6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170°C for 20mins or until a cake tester skewer or toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the centre of the cake.


7. Allow to cool in cake tin for 10mins b4 transferring to a serving plate & cool completely. Cut & serve.


For non-Thermomix readers, you can still follow the steps & pictures to beat ur batter in a normal mixer but you may need to allow for additional preparation time accordingly.

This is my first bake using Thermomix & am loving it <3 It's so convenient with the in-built weighing scale & the batter only took less than 3mins to beat!!! Despite tweaking the original recipe, am glad it turned out successful, tasting as gd as it looks ^.^

Monday, 12 June 2017

Cognitive Whizz's 'A Science Escapade'

School holidays are a whole lot fun for school-going kids but a BIG 'headache' for their parents as we have to squeeze our brain juices to plan lotsa fun or educational activities for them. How about a program which kills 2 birds with 1 stone? 

BB was one of the lucky few who received a sponsorship to 'A Science Escapade', organised by Cognitive Whizz at Brainfit Studio, Novena. It is a holiday program for kids between 4 to 7 years old which helps to nurture inquisitive minds & expose your child to Physical & Chemistry Science as they embark on an exciting journey through The Land of Fairy Tale Emergencies. What captivates me most is the integration of Science concepts in fairy tales <3 Through story-telling, role playing & experiments, kids will have tremendous fun interacting with their peers to unravel the mysteries of Science behind fairy tales!


The 4-day program is as follows:

Day 1 -> Accelerate Hansel & Gretel's escape through air, water & land
              - Appreciate Newton's laws of motion & effects of friction around us.
              - Understand energy conversion during propulsion.
              - Apply Physical Science concepts for the escape.

Day 2 -> Help Frog Prince float the heavy golden ball
              - Correlate densities with different types of balls & food items.
              - Be amazed by positive buoyancy as well as learn how heavy objects can float.
              - Apply concept of density in real life & how it benefits us.

Day 3 -> Revive Sleeping Beauty from her sleep
              - Understand why we yawn.
              - How to release trapped oxygen to her.
              - Appreciate the uses & significance of oxygen in our daily lives.

Day 4 -> Explore Aladdin's magic lamp for more surprises
              - Be a percussionist or wood-wind musician anytime.
              - Are your eyes tricking you? Be fascinated by optical illusions!
              - Discover the Science behind magic tricks relating to sound & light.

At the end of each session, there's actually a debrief for parents which I find it to be extremely useful. Upon finding out more about what the kids have learnt, we could actually help to revise & reinforce the Science concepts at home. Furthermore, teacher Denise even goes the extra mile to send us a text msg with an extremely detailed summary daily.

    Teacher Denise doing the parents' debrief on the 1st day.

    BB's creation to help Hansel & Greta escape from the wicked witch!

This is actually a non-parent accompanied program but I was a prilvieged few to be allowed to sit in. Here's some insights into what actually goes on in the classroom on the 2nd day. To be honest, I was totally blown away! The 3 hours program is packed full with not a dull moment at all.

The class commenced with a recap of yesterday's lesson which serves as a good revision. Kids were then introduced to 4 new vocabulary namely Embarrased, Discontented, Puzzled & Thrilled. After teacher Denise's explanation, all of them were given a chance to apply one of the words to the feelings they were experiencing that morning. BB said he was discontented as he didn't have breadfast that morning which left Mummy feeling puzzled as he definitely had his at home >_<


Next, story-time was on! All the kiddos crowded around & listened intently as Teacher Denise read The Frog Prince out loud to them. The kids love her animated narration <3


With reference to the golden ball in the story, physical balls of various shapes & sizes were introducted. The kids were then assigned to their respective groups according to their ages with an assistant teacher allocated to each table. Here on, they took turns to touch & have a feel of all the balls before completing the fun activities in their customised workbooks. Stickers were distributed to them & they were supposed to make a guess as to whether they'll float or sink in water. 


Upon completing this, the children were given turns to participate in the experiments whereby the actual results were demonstrated in the centre of the class. Well, seeing is always believing ;)


From the results revealed, the Science concept of density is borned. Different materials like aluminimum, blu tack, bubble-wrap, iron & various food etc were used in more experiments to reinfore the concept. 



To end off the lesson, kids were asked to role-play & behave like the objects with differing densities.


Through inquiry-based learning, hands-on experiments & multi-sensorial experiences, key benefits of the program are:

1. Grasp Science concepts to facilitate better appreciation of the environment.

2. Hone Science skills like hypothesizing, observing, evaluating data & drawing conclusions from experiments.

3. Develop critical thinking & problems solving skills by designing experiments & applying Science concepts in real life.

4. Develop systematic thought process by devising experiments step-by-step.

5. Build confidence & communication skills through sociodramatic play & active discussion with peers.

The entire program is organised, well-planned & worth every cent of it!! The teachers were very patient yet firm when dealing with the LOs. Special thanks to Teacher Denise & Teacher Venus for being so accomodating to my super active toddler which kept testing the boundaries & refusing to listen to instructions given..tqvm once again!!!



Disclaimer: Financial compensation was not received for this post. The classes are kindly sponsored by Cognitive Whizz but opinions expressd here are solely BB's & mine ^.~

Friday, 9 June 2017

BB's New Fave - Buttered Garlic Prawns Pasta

Like most kids his age, BB is not a big fan of garlic. On the other hand, eating garlic actually brings with it lots of health benefits like improving immunity. Having chance upon some very fresh organic garlic at Cold Storage, I couldn't resist the temptation to buy a pack home. Therefore, the next challenge is how to finish them before they spoil. Aglio olio has always been one of my all-time fave style of pasta & knowing C's love for prawns, I used it to my advantage >.~

Ingredients (serves 1 toddler + 1 adult):

10-12 prawns, with shells removed & deveined
4 cloves of organic garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp of unsalted butter
1/8 tsp of dried oregano
150g of Alce Nero organic mixed fusili, cooked & drained
50ml of cooked pasta water
100g of organic frozen peas
A dash of dried parsley (for garnishing)
Freshly grounded black pepper (optional)

Directions:

1. Use a deep pot or pan to cook pasta to al dente according to instructions on pack. Drain, keeping about 50ml of pasta water. Run pasta under cool water to stop it from continuing cooking with the residual heat then drain & set aside.

2. Dry the pot or pan with a kitchen towel & heat it up gently with the butter. Once it has melted & starting to bubble, add in garlic & stir fry slightly till fragrant.

3. Pour prawns in, add oregano & fry till cooked. Remove prawns & set aside.

4. Add in cooked pasta to the remaining buttered garlic as well as the peas & pasta water & mix evenly so that all the pasta is coated with the emulsion. Cook till peas are done then serve immediately with prawns, garnished with some dried parley & black pepper.


BB was very reluctant to try when he heard the word 'garlic'. However, being strongly enticed by the prawns, he decided to give it a try. Verdict? He completed the entire bowl of pasta in record time of 10 mins & even asked for more. Since then, he has been asking almost weekly for his GARLIC prawns. Mummy won this round..lolz!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Kidz Academy 2017

Ever since BB went SmartKids Asia & enjoyed himself tremendously earlier this year, he had been asking to revisit it every now & then which I've had to repeatedly explain to him that it's an yearly event so he gotta wait for the next one. Thus, I know he'll be thrilled when I tell him we've received a media invite to The Kidz Academy which is also organised by Sphere Exhibits Pte Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH). 


The Kidz Academy is back this June school holidays from 9th to 11th June 2017 at Suntec Singapore Halls 404 to 406 with a local twist! There'll be many new additions showcasing Singapore's rich history which I believe will enable the LOs to learn in a fun way through play ;>


The Kidz Academy Storyland, a segment featuring live theatrical acts, will showcase performances based on Singapore's urban legends - The Legend of Bukit Merah, The Legend of Badang & history of Sang Nila Utama. Also on board is National Library Board as the Official Storyland Partner, presenting another Singaporean folklore.

The event will also feature back-to-school games, activities & food from the 60s to 90s with the objective of introducing children to a non-digital era that we've grown up in. I'm actually really looking forward to these..hee!

Partnering with Youth Leader Singapore, the event will debut TKA Care Challenge: a collaborative effort between ten local primary schools to raise funds for The Straits Times Pocket Money Fund. The students will be creating special knick-knacks made from mostly environmentally-friendly materials to be sold at the respective schools & during the three-day event.

Another fundraising effort will witness the organisers working with The Salvation Army Singapore to raise funds for its local causes through The Kidz Academy Book Cart, which will make its rounds to schools, offices & the event venue to sell second-hand children books from local & international authors at a fixed price of $2.90 each.

Visitors at The Kidz Academy can also look forward to the following activities:

1. Watch Robocar Poli Live Onstage Daily
The Kidz Academy will bring forth characters from Robocar Poli featuring Poli & Amber for 3 days of performances at 1pm & 7pm daily.

2. Daily Stage Activities
A comprehensive set of stage segments from various exhibitors encompassing education, the art, sports & more.

3. Daily Lucky Draws with prizes worth more than $14,000
Visitors will be entitled to 1 chance in the lucky draw with every receipt of purchase. Happening twice daily at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, a total of more than $14,000 worth of prizes that include a 2D1N stay in a One-Bedroom Villa at Amara Santuary Resort Sentosa worth $4,100 as the grand prize!

4. Goodie Bag Giveaway (Worth up to $50)
With a total of 1,500 goodie bags to be given away, registrants are to redeem the Goodie Bags at the event from 10am onwards. Be the 1st 200 participants to queue at the door to get one.

5. The Kidz Academy Play Pass
The Play Pass is an interactive activity for children of all ages. Participants are to complete activities from different pit stops held at various booths at the event. Completion of the Fun Passport entitles one to a game of Tikam-Tikam with exclusive prizes up for grabs.

6. The Young Singapura Girl Contest
Introducing a new stage segment, the contest aims to crown the most creative display of the young Singapore girl in their best ethnic wear. Open to children from ages 5 to 12. The top participants will walk away with prizes which include Universal Studios Singapore Admission Tickets & retail vouchers.

7. The Kidz Academy Village
In collaboration with partners such as Loacker, the Kidz Academy Village offers complimentary refreshments for children of all ages at varied timeslots throughout the day. Limited quantities will be available each day.

8. The Finals of Speak Up! Kids Public Speaking Competition
Happening on 9th & 11th June, the finals of the 2nd public speaking competition - a joint collaboration between The Kidz Academy & Speech Academy Asia will showcase 24 teams from 3 different age groups & various primary schools.

9. Safe Cycle Programme
A dedicated zone that impacts basic skills training & road circuit stimulation to educate kids on safe cycling, children will be certified as a safe cyclist at the end of the programme. Registration is available here.

10. Free-to-play Inflatable Zone
3 inflatable attractions will be available across 3 days within an allocated space of more than 200sqm. The inflatable zone will include attractions such as Ninja Run, Discovery Box & Ultimate Rebound - the only of its kind in Singapore.

For more information on the latest updates & event highlights, visit http://www.thekidzacademy.com.sg/ or http://www.facebook.com/thekidzacademy.



About Sphere Exhibits Pte Ltd

A wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), Sphere Exhibits, which stands for "SPH Events, Roadshows and Exhibitions", aims to be the leading events company catering to a diverse mix of trade and consumer clientele.

Backed by a committed and experienced team of professionals and SPH's comprehensive range of media platforms, Sphere Exhibits’ shows, events and exhibitions centre on unique concepts that attract local audiences and regional participants. Among Sphere Exhibits' events are The IT Show, COMEX, Licence2Play, Asian Masters, Gourmet Japan and Kidz Academy.

Leveraging on its expertise in event conceptualisation, planning and execution, Sphere Exhibits delivers memorable and quality events that meet the objectives of its clientele and partners.

About Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

Incorporated in 1984, main board-listed Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) is Asia’s leading media organisation, engaging minds and enriching lives across multiple languages and platforms, ranging from print, digital, radio and out-of-home media.

SPH owns award-winning newspapers, magazines and best-selling books in both print and digital editions, as well as online classified businesses in the region. In addition, SPH has two English radio stations and one Chinese radio station, an out-of-home digital advertising unit, a regional events and conferences arm, and runs a chain of modern retail convenience stores. SPH also has a 20 per cent stake in MediaCorp TV Holdings Pte Ltd, which operates free-to-air channels 5, 8 and U, and a 40 per cent stake in MediaCorp Press Limited, which publishes the free newspaper, Today.

SPH REIT comprises Paragon, a premier upscale retail mall and medical suite/office property in Orchard Road and The Clementi Mall, a mid-market suburban mall. SPH's latest retail development is The Seletar Mall located in Sengkang. 
For more information, please visit www.sph.com.sg

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

The Little Executive

'What trial lessons are Caelon attending?' Daddy-O asked numerous times but I couldn't give him a definte answer each time & simply asked him to take a look at the link that I had sent him. Actually, I wasn't very sure either..hee ;)

The classes conducted at The Little Executive (TLE)  are not exactly the main stream types like "right-brain" training, brain development or languages classes. As BB went in for his first class, we had to sit in for "ours" too. Not exactly a class per-se but it was definitely an eye-opener for us. We were introduced to a summarised journey of what C was experiencing down the corridor...

Looks may be deceiving for what lies within an unassuming exterior is an academy that is dedicated towards a "Learning Revolution". Built on 3 Pillars of a "Growth Mindset", "Learning DNA", and "Executive Function Skills", kids are encouraged to embark on a journey of self-discovery, achieved nevertheless through doing what they enjoy most - play.


This is where the hallmark TLE Approach is best exemplified:

Using a variety of methods and techniques that have been either cleverly woven into activities and games, kids learn how to learn through play. For example, reciting the colours / numbers off a chart to the beat of a metronome seems pretty straightforward, right? However, the difficulty level is raised when you're required to replace a certain colour / number with your name. Another name can be added to further up the challenge. We each had a go at it & it really isn't as easy as u think it is ;p This game actually trains kids in their working memory, develop their focus as well as how to block out distractions like the beating of the metronome.


While most learning centres would typically focus on the end result through rote learning, either proudly adding on to their ranks of "academic overachievers" or contributing to a significant improvement of grades, TLE has found that interestingly, IQ alone is not a sufficient predictor of success in life later on. The Growth Mindset is of utmost importance too!

As a SAHM, I've the privilege of spending more time with my boy. One thing I've noticed is his lack of perseverance. He tends to give up easily & will start whining or throw tantrums whenever he meets minor setbacks in the course of playing or learning. Naturally, I'll always encourage him to think out of the box to try to solve the problem while guiding him along. He has shown some improvements in this aspect but he still needs constant reminders. Thus, with the right attitude, I believe he'll definitely achieve more.

At the end of the first lesson, the teacher actually sat us down to explain to us the 'result' of the Executive Assessment. When we were being shown the skill sets earlier on, we already knew which areas BB are weak in. The assessment was spot on! Attention span, the ability to contol his impulses by self-monitoring & his social-emotional areas all need to be worked on. Even previous feedbacks from his nursery teachers revealed the exact same weaknesses.

    Bobo bear is given to every kid to teach them about responsibility as they're supposed to bring it
    along for every lesson ;)

    The learning objective for every week is also handwritten by every Little Executive for their 
    commitment.

The following analogy was also shared with us by Ms Michelle Choy, Co-founder: 

Having more taps to fill up a basin with leaks, does little to retain the water - it would simply flow out of the basin. However, plugging the leaks would result in the basin being filled faster, even with just one tap. Hence, knowledge is like water, having many sources is good, but it is also important to ensure that there are no leaks that will allow the knowledge to flow out. 

This is exactly where TLE come into the picture. Once the weaker executive function skills can be strengthen by nurturing both brain-based skills and cognitive processes, we strongly believe BB would be better positioned to not just excel academically, but beyond the classroom as well. With that belief, we actually signed him up after the 3 trial lessons. The Revolution is well underway!



Disclaimer: Financial compensation was not received for this post. The trial lessons are kindly sponsored by TLE but opinions expressd here are BB's & mine ^.~