Spaghetti Sauce with Hidden Ingredients

Life has been a little crazy in my home of late (which accounts for the reticence). The latest being Little Missy down with some viral infection for one whole week… sigh. But that’s parenthood for you. Normal days are a luxury! Oh how I crave for mundane routine days.

Oookay, that’s enough ranting for now. Today I’m going to share with you a recipe. Believe it or not, a reader actually sent me an email telling me how she liked my recipes. Incredible! Who’d knew that one day I would be sharing recipes? Once upon a time I would never have quite imagined myself cooking this much in the first place! Ahhhh well… as I’ve said so before, I am mommyfied.

Anyhoo, her email spurred me on to share this recipe with you. It’s a yummy spaghetti sauce (bolognese style) that looks just like minced meat in tomato sauce but actually has loads of veggies in them. Ah hahaha (evil laugh)… mommy tricked ya my boy!

I used to cook spaghetti sauce my daddy’s style. Minced meat, chopped garlic, chopped onions, 1 can of campbell’s tomato soup, 1 can of tomato paste and some sugar if it is too sour. Yup, quick, easy and instant. This in itself is a yummy sauce. But dear ol Hubby-jr, my six year old, disliked it. Simply because he could see the bits of cooked chopped onions. Didn’t help that one time I added chopped capsicum into the sauce.

But I loved this recipe. For one it is so easy to make (and store in the freezer if there’s extra). Two, all of us (except my son) love it.

So one fine day, I thought to myself, what if I just blend the onions instead. He wouldn’t see it and so he wouldn’t know. AND since I’m going to blend onions why not blend carrots as well and add that in. That would up the nutrition factor and the carrots would totally be hidden in the tomato based sauce.

And that’s what I did. Amazingly, the sauce tasted better! It somehow gave it an added punch. I didn’t even have to add any sugar, the blended carrots’ and onions’ natural sweetness was sufficient. Best of all it was a hit with my kids. They loved it. My son ate his dinner in record time and these days he gets excited whenever he smells that I’m making spaghetti for dinner.

Wait, this is not the end. There’s more. Very recently I decided to up the veggie factor one more notch. I added celery too, blended of course. It still tasted yummy and it was still a hit with my kids. Woo Hoo.

So here’s the recipe for the yummy spaghetti sauce with hidden goodness.

  • Minced meat (beef or chicken or pork or a mixture. 300g or however much you like)
  • 1 packet of McCormick Italian-Style Spaghetti Sauce Mix (can be found at Cold Storage)
  • 1 can (6oz) of tomato paste
  • 1 can Campbell tomato soup
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2-3 medium carrots (I like the ones from Australia)
  • 2 or 3 stalks or celery
  • 5 cloves garlic (sliced or chopped)
  • Olive oil (3 tablespoon)

Blend the three vegetables together (add some water, about ¼ cup) as finely as possible. Heat olive oil in pan and add garlic and fry till brown. Then add minced meat and fry till brown. Add blended veggies, tomato soup and tomato paste and stir. When mixture boils, add McCormick spaghetti mix and stir. And that’s it. Cook some pasta or spaghetti and dinner’s ready! If you find the sauce is too thick for your liking just add water.

If  you prefer not to use any instant mixes you may want to check out this Martha Stewart Bolognese Sauce Recipe I chanced upon but have yet to try. If you do, let me know how it is.

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WFMW – Sweet, Non-spicy Curry

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I discovered this Japanese Curry Mix. Uh… well alright its more like my brother in law bought it and cooked it sometime ago (i.e. a few years) and we (hubby and I) liked it. After that I tried cooking it at home but Hubby-jr didn’t take to it and so I kind of shelved the recipe.Then very recently as I was cracking my head for a new quick and easy recipe for chicken I remembered this and decided to give it another go. I prepared and served Hubby-jr another dish just in case the curry turned him off. At the sametime I asked him to try the curry. Guess what? He liked it! Hurray, another super easy yummy dish my family likes.

Seriously, it’s really EASY and YUMMY. The curry is not spicy at all and is a little sweet (it claims to have a touch of apple and honey). It goes very well with steamed rice and if you feel up to it, serve it with sunny side up eggs (one per person). Hmm… yum. And if potatoes and carrots are not enough veggie for your family just toss a salad.

To cook the curry, add chicken, potatoes, onion and carrots to water in a pot and bring it to boil. Then remove from the stove and break the curry mix (they come in chocolate like bar) into pieces and plonk it into the pot. Stir until the curry mix is fully dissolved and place the pot back over the stove. Cook on low heat for about 20 minutes after it boils. That’s it. Easy right? All the instructions can be found at the back of the box, in English.

The thing I love most about this recipe is that I can even cook it using my magical Thermal Cooker. I follow the steps up to dissolving the curry mix. Then after bringing it to boil I immediately put it into the thermal cooker (instead of simmering on low heat for 20 minutes). It worked. The vegetables cooked nicely without disintegrating and the thermal kept it hot until it was time for dinner (I cooked it at 2pm and we had dinner at 7pm).

Yummy and easy to cook Japanese curry works great for my family. For other tips that work go here.

P/S: Yes, thankfully I’m feeling quite normal today despite catching chicken pox. I just have very tiny spots here and there but its crummy that I’m quarantined at home.

WFMW – Easy Chicken Stew

Hi! I’m back after a long break from Works For Me Wednesdays (WFMW).

Today I’m sharing with you a simple Chicken Stew Recipe. I got the basic ingredients off someone (sorry, I can’t remember who) and through trial and error (poor hubby had to endure the first few unsuccessful attempts) I finally figured out the right amount for each ingredient.

Well folks I’m pleased to say the taste of the stew has been consistent the last 3 times I cooked it and even hubby thinks it’s yummy. It’s really easy and I cook it almost every other week.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken thighs (cut into small pieces) – marinate with 1 tbsp oyster sauce, dash of dark soy sauce, dash of pepper for about 20 mins.
  • 2 large potatoes – peel and cut into cubes
  • 2-3 medium carrots – peel and cut into cubes
  • 2 medium onions – peel and quartered
  • 1-2 star anise
  • 1/2 cinammon stick
  • 1 tbs oyster sauce (in addition to 1 tbs used to marinate chicken)
  • 1 tbs dark soy sauce (the thick sort)
  • 2 tbs light soy sauce
  • 1 tbs worchester sauce
  • 1/2 – 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbs cornstarch

I usually cook this using the magic thermal cooker that I raved about sometime ago. What I do is put everything into the inner pot of the cooker and bring it to a boil over the stove for about five minutes. Then I remove the inner pot from the stove and plonk it into the outer magic thermal cooker. The stew’s ready 2-3 hours later!

You could cook it in a slow cooker too but I’m not sure for how long (until the potatoes and carrots are soft). Alternatively you could cook it over the stove at low heat after bringing it to boil, just add about 1/2 cup or so of water.

Easy and yummy. I hope it works for you too. For other WFMW tips head on over to Rocks In My Dryer.

P/S: I finally splurged on the Tiger Magic Thermal Cooker and its worth every single cent I paid for it!

WFMW – No More Fishy Business!

Sometime ago I threw away a whole bag of frozen dory fillets!

Just before the throwing incident, I had patiently defrosted two pieces of the big fillets, lovingly sliced them and after that coat them with eggs and breadcrumbs before deep frying them (hey, I followed a recipe closely!) I had also taken great pains to whip up a Chinese sweet sour sauce just to go with it. BUT… to my horror when I took my first bite, it tasted FISHY! Really FISHY! Being somewhat new to cooking then and it being the first time I cooked Dory fish, I simply leaped to the conclusion that all frozen Dory fish are fishy. So I threw whatever pieces of frozen Dory fillets I had left from the bag I had bought into the bin!!

Then there were other times I threw away fish I had cooked (again because of the fishiness) thinking the fish had gone bad. It’s only recently that I realized what a doofus I am was!

My dear mom (God bless her) pointed out to me that all I needed to do was to rub salt and pepper onto the (thawed) fish and let it sit for about 20 minutes before doing anything else.

I’ve been doing this ever since and let me tell you, there has been no recurrence of me throwing out any fish! I’ve successfully eradicated fishiness from all my fish dishes! It worked for me. I hope it works for you too. Just a point to note, do not skip the step of letting the fish sit for about 20 minutes. It’s critical!

(However this is not necessary if your recipe already involves coating your fish with pepper. Like my simple salmon/cod fish recipe but best to still let fish sit with seasoning for a while first.)

Now head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for more tips.

WFMW – Simple Vegetable Dressing

Today I’m revealing my secret to whipping up a super-duper quick and easy but oh so yummy Asian vegetable dish(es). The secret is… fried shallots and garlic oil! I’d like to call it the wonderful Asian dressing!

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Just chop the garlic finely and cut the shallots into thin slices (diagonally, so they look coin shapes) and fry them in oil (vegetable or peanut) until they are golden brown. You can chop as many as you wish but if you need a guide, start with 10 shallots and 5 cloves of garlic and fry them in about quarter cup of oil. Store it in a covered jar. And always scoop out fried shallots and garlic together with the oil to make yummy vegetable dishes.

Add 1-2 tbsps of wonder oil + 1 tbsp of light soy sauce to any ONE of the following:

  • ladyfingers aka okra (about 15 pieces)
  • brinjal (aubergine, eggplant)

OR 

Add 1-2 tbsps of wonder oil + 1 tbsp of oyster sauce to any ONE of the following:

  • *green leafy vegetables – baby pak choy, chye sim (sorry I don’t know the English translation for these)
  • *brocolli
  • tofu (the white ones meant for steaming)

Blanch all vegetables first and quickly add the dressing while hot. As for the tofu, heat it for a minute or so first in the microwave.

Yup, that’s my secret to lazy cooking. I whip up a large batch of this yummy fried shallots and garlic oil and store it in a jar which can last me up to three weeks (that’s cause I use it almost every other day). Blanch the veggie of the day, scoop some of the wonder stuff, add some light soy sauce or oyster sauce and voila! I’ve a delicious veggie dish!

For other WFMW tips this week click here.

* Cooked this way, these vegetables dishes are called “yau choy” literally meaning oily vegetables in chinese.

P/S: I learnt this secret from my mom.

WFMW – Quick & Easy Salmon/Cod Recipe

What kind of mommy are you? I’m the always-in-chaos type. So when it comes to cooking the more fuss free the better! I try my best to avoid the complicated ones with a thousand and one steps. Anything more than 2 steps is too much for me!

That’s why I love my mother in law’s recipe which I’m sharing with you today. A chinese twist to seasoning salmon or cod fish. It’s really easy and tasty.

Marinate a piece of salmon or cod fish (of about 300 grams) with the following:

  • Oyster Sauce (1 to 2 tbsp)
  • Sesame Oil (1 tsp)
  • Ground Black Pepper (generously)

Then grill or bake the fish in the oven or oven toaster. You can also choose to pan fry it as it is or coat it with corn flour before you do so. I usually bake it in the oven toaster for about 10 minutes.

There you have it, your main or meat dish for the day!

For more of this week’s Works For Me Wednesdays tips click here.

More Links…

Just two more…

Let’s get Wokking! features many home cook food recipes. This incredible mommy really loves to cook and she whips up these creative stuff for her kids. Great site for recipes with yummy looking photos of the end product.

BetterChinese – this is an educational site that helps kids learn Chinese. Great thing about the site is that the instructions are in English! Downside is that it’s free only for 30 days after you sign up. After that it’s ka ching! Thanks Parenting Times for finding this site.

Hope you find them useful. Have a great weekend!

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