We are one month into the circuit breaker and it's fair to say, it's easy to fall into a routine of takeaways. Sure, the meals from your nearby restaurant may be delicious, but it can also make a dent in your wallet in the long run.
How about trying to whip up a few meals, all on your own? With so much free time at home, there's no better opportunity to pick up cooking! And with Mother's Day coming, you could even impress your mum.
You don't even need to head out of your house to purchase anything! Odds are, your mum would have gotten these ingredients previously. Otherwise, you can always make the purchase via an online grocer.
1. Potato Salad
This dish is perfect for those who want to have a hassle-free treat in the afternoon. Just mix the ingredients together and you are set!
Sometimes you may find internal black discolouration (bruising) when you cut the potato. This is due to the potatoes being placed too tightly against one another. In this case, cut away the bruised areas and use the remaining parts for the salad. Make sure to remove new sprouts growing from the 'eyes' of the potatoes too if you find them.
Sour cream (40ml)
Salt (1 teaspoon)
Pepper (1 teaspoon)
1. Boil and peel the potato before cutting them into quarters and putting them in a bowl
2. Add in sour cream and mayonnaise
3. Season with salt and pepper
4. Mix well, add green onions and serve them chilled
2. Penne Mac and Cheese
Who says you can't use Penne for Mac and Cheese? Switch it up with your favourite pasta choice - the pasta police aren't going to catch you.
One tip to know when making Mac and Cheese is to choose a pasta that has grooves and ridges so that the melted cheese saturates every nook and cranny of the pasta. Smooth-surface pasta such as spaghetti doesn't hold the cheese and milk very well.
If you don't have cheddar cheese, experiment with some of your Kraft cheese slices – it's probably somewhere in your refrigerator!
Penne pasta (80g)
Evaporated milk (60ml)
Butter (1 teaspoon)
Cheddar cheese (125g)
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degree Celsius
2. Boil the penne and place it in a bowl
3. Pour in evaporated milk and melted butter
4. Add in Cheddar cheese and mix well
5. Place the bowl into the oven and bake for 10 minutes
6. Mix well and serve with green onions
3. Lemon Pepper Salmon
One thing to remember whenever you prepare a dish that has fish as one of its ingredients is to ensure its freshness. You can check this either by looking at the best before date on the packaging or if it doesn't come with one, conduct some inspection of your own. The salmon's flesh should appear bright pink or orange, firm to the touch and give off a mild scent.
If you find that your fillet has turned into a dull colour, gives off a very fishy smell and has a milky film on top of the fish, throw it away. You want to eat salmon, not Salmonella!
Lemon Pepper Salmon can be replaced by other types of fish fillet. Use whatever you have at home and you will be surprised by the results!
Salmon fillet (225g)
Lemon - lemon zest (2 teaspoons)
Lemon juice (2 teaspoons)
Salt (1/4 teaspoon)
Pepper (¼ teaspoon)
Butter (1 teaspoon)
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degree Celsius
2. Put the salmon fillet in a baking pan lined with aluminium foil
3. Sprinkle freshly grated lemon zest onto the fillet
4. Season with salt and pepper
5. Add in melted butter and lemon juice
6. Bake for 15 minutes or until the flesh flakes off with a fork
4. Vegetable Fried Rice
Initially, I thought the vegetable fried rice was going to be the hardest in terms of cooking for a person with non-existent cooking skills like me. However, it turned out to be an accomplishable feat and guess what, my mother approved it!
The secret to a good plate of fried rice is to use cooked rice left overnight in the fridge. This way, the moisture will be removed and the grains will be firmer. If you use freshly cooked rice with a lot of moisture, the fried rice will end up mushy and soft.
Moreover, short grain rice such as Japanese pearl rice is not an ideal choice for making this dish. They tend to turn out softer and stick together after cooking, as compared to medium to long grain choices like jasmine rice.
Cooked rice (1 bowl, chilled overnight)
Olive oil (1 tablespoon)
Garlic (2 cloves, chopped)
Assorted vegetable mix - carrots, peas and corns (100g)
Sesame oil (1/2 tablespoon)
Soya sauce (1 tablespoon)
Black pepper (1/4 teaspoon)
Salt (1/4 teaspoon)
1. Grease the skillet with olive oil
2. Add in chopped garlic and sauté them
3. Pour the assorted vegetable mix and sesame oil in and sauté them
4. Add the rice into the skillet
5. Season with soya sauce, black pepper and salt
6. Mix and stir the fried rice. Serve when done
5. Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut butter cookies are the ultimate sweet treat for you and your family, especially if you have young children at home. However, tone down on the sugar level if you do not want to see mummy dearest frowning at you!
Peanut butter cookies have a soft texture in nature. If you like softer cookies, bake the dough for about 10 to 12 minutes instead of 15. Don't be too worried if the cookies are too soft when you take them out from the oven. They will firm up a little once cooled.
Peanut butter (240g)
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius
2. Add in sugar and an egg into a bowl of peanut butter
3. Mix the ingredients together
4. Roll the dough into small balls and place them in a baking pan lined with baking paper
5. Flatten the dough balls with a fork
6. Put them into the oven and bake for 15 minutes
Honestly, after trying out these recipes (with a few scalds here and there, unfortunately), I truly have a better appreciation for my mum who was cooking every day when I was in school. I have no idea how she managed to plan meals for four weeks ahead, or is able to slice a cucumber so thin. I didn't even know you were supposed to peel off the garlic skin before chopping them up until my mum lovingly pointed it out to me.
Now that we are in circuit breaker, it is a good time for us to do something for our family, especially our beloved mothers who are really our unsung heroes in life. Plan ahead and cook something nice for her this Mother's Day – it's one way you can thank her for being there for you all the time!
However, if the food really turns out bad (uh oh), a delivery isn't that bad a backup plan as well…
BANNER AND TEASER PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/CRYSTAL CHAN