Friday, June 26, 2015

Creamy paprika chicken and chickpea casserole

Can you see those little fingers there? J can't wait to have a bite at it.  

Off late, I have not been trying out any new recipes at all! Our lunch has been quite monotonous, so last night I blog-hopped a little to find inspiration for something different. I came across a fellow blogger mommy friend, Joyce who shared recipes for a very delicious looking chickpea ragout and chilli con carne. I have always loved chilli con carne, but I don't have any red kidney beans in stock, and I felt chilli con carne would tastes better off with minced beef and that's something I don't usually have in my freezer neither. Perhaps I can make the chickpea ragout. 

While cooking mine this morning, I felt that something is missing in terms of its flavor, so I added in ground cumin and ground paprika, and I served it with yummy yummy sour cream. When having it, I felt this dish is a cross between a ragout and a chilli con carne! Nonetheless, it turns out to be super yummy, much nicer beyond my expectation! Even little J (my little 31mo) loves it. He finishes everything on the plate. I thought he would like the crispy potato wedges, but he wasn't too keen this round. Instead, he loves the chicken and the casserole. This is definitely a 'must try' recipe, if you ask me. 

Oh, and I shouldn't forget to mention, it isn't hard to make. I think it took me around 45min from preparation (cutting the veg etc). I even had enough time to bake some banana and cinnamon cupcakes this morning, after preparing this casserole dish. 

Recipe (serves 2, one adult, one toddler, with some leftover that can be served with pasta for the toddler) 
  • 2 chicken drumsticks 
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely minced 
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin 
  • 1/4 tsp ground paprika 
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup chicken stock 
  • 3-4 tbsp cooked chickpeas* (Check method of cooking below) 
  • 4 tomato, skin peeled and chopped into cubes 
  • 1/2 onion, chopped into cubes 
  • 3 fresh brown mushrooms, chopped into cubes 
  • 1/2 carrot, peeled and sliced 
  • Sour cream, about 2-3 tbsp, to serve (the more sour cream added, the more creamy it gets)
  • Seasoning eg salt and pepper 
*To cook the chickpeas (the non pressure cooker way)
First, soak the chickpeas for around 6 hours in normal temperature water. Boil in hot water for about an hour or more, or until the chickpeas turn soft. 

  1. Season the chicken drumsticks with salt, minced garlic, pepper and a little oyster sauce. 
  2. Heat up about 2tbsp of grapeseed oil (or any cooking oil) in a frying pan. Brown drumsticks (about 5min). Remove from pan and place into an oven-proof casserole dish. 
  3. Using the same heated pan, gently fry minced garlic, chopped onion until fragrant. Stir in carrot, tomato and mushrooms. Cover with lid and leave to brown for about 2-5min. 
  4. Add in chicken stock. Season with ground cumin, ground paprika, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 15min. 
  5. Preheat oven to 180degC. 
  6. Pour the veg and sauce into the oven-proof casserole dish. 
  7. Bake in oven for about 20min or until the drumsticks are thoroughly cooked. 
  8. Serve with sour cream, pasta or rice, or potato dishes. 

With much delight, I am linking this post to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Bake for Happy Kids and My Little Favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from the Domestic Goddess Wannabe

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My toddler is not going to write at 3 (Numeral felt cards by ibabiesclub)

Earlier on this year, I was asked, 

'How old is J?'. 

'He's turning 3 this year', I answered. 

She asked again, 'Why aren't you sending him to a nursery? So he can learns to write and read.' 

Now, that's exactly the reason why I wasn't sending him to a nursery, I did not want him to write yet, at the tender age of 3!! Or 2 ish to be exact.

I myself only started going to school when I was 6, and that was probably the time I started learning to write. I remembered I knew how to spell 'Elephant' and I thought I was the smartest girl in class. At that time, no one told me I wasn't. 

Few weeks later, I met a friend with a son at about J's age. I casually asked, 'How's little K doing in nursery?'. She answered, 'He's good. He loves it there. But the teacher told me he hates writing!'. She continued to say, 'The teachers let him bring home some homework, and they are mainly tracing and writing sheets'. 

Exactly! How can a three year old loves writing when he is not developmentally or physically ready as yet? I am not too sure about this, but personally I am not going to force J to write before the age of 3. At the early stage, he won't be using the right force and strength from his fingers or even hands to write, majority of the force may be from the shoulder or the arm and it can be physically strenuous to the little one. 

At this stage at home, J is still doing mostly things that work on his fine and gross motor skills that would strengthen his little fingers and improve his dexterity, like scissor cutting, glue and pasting, water-painting (he is not keen on coloring with color pencils nor crayons, but he loves painting with water colors), play dough, scooping beans, jigsaw puzzles etc. Most importantly, these are 'FUN' to him! He barge me for these 'fun stuffs' everyday. My hubby is also quite stern that he does not want the boy to remembers his childhood being bogged with 'writing' and 'tracing' torture, because both of us grew up in 'kampung' with lots of outdoor fun stuffs, playing with dried leaves, muds, frogs in the drain and making cicak (lizard) ditch their tails. 

I strongly believe that he will come to a 'writing explosion' phase when he will yearns to write and trace. I later on met a Glenn Doman advocate dad who told me the same thing, 'Your 3 year old can read, but he doesn't need to write as yet, 'cos writing is an expression that will come much later on'. At the moment, he expresses himself through colors. 

Painting with sponge rollers

Painting with wheels

Fixing 3D animal puzzles 

*************************Few months later ******************************************

I am suspecting the 'writing explosion' phase is coming. But I am not rushing yet. I am just following his lead most of the times He has been gripping his pen and asking me to hold his hand to trace. He has drawn a few circles and semi circles quite orderly. At this point of time, I know exactly what he needs. He needs his tactile numerals and letters to play with (they are the very fundamental part of any Montessori curriculum that provides them with the sensory foundation, preparing them for writing).  See here to understand better. 

Each time he uses his fingers to trace the number or letter shape, a 'muscular memory' is developed and reinforced. This will translate to confidence during later attempts to write, as the hand and mind are both familiar with the movements required to form the numerals or the letters. 

I am very fortunate cos a mommy friend of mine from Johor had developed these for her daughter and they are also made available for sale! You see, that's the best thing about making new friends who are moms, especially when the kids are about the same age. I am sure we wouldn't have crossed path if it wasn't because of our little ones, we knew each other when the little ones was ready to embark on the 'eating solid' phase. 

This is what I do when I presented these 'Numeral Felt Cards' to little J. 

  1. Place the numeral felt cards in order. If your little one is new to numerals, then introduce 3 numerals on each day. 
  2. Sound out the numeral. 
  3. Demonstrate to him the way it is written. 
  4. Place the little cuties (cute lady bugs, owls and pegs are provided as part of the set) on the round slots and count out loudly. 
  5. Then proceed with the next numeral. 

J traces the number 3. 

J counts. 

The set also comes with counting cards for the little ones, allowing them to work until 10. It comes together with the wooden pegs (not marked with numbers). I have used my own wooden pegs (as seen here in these photos) which I have previously marked with numbers for reinforcing number recognition. Again, playing with the wooden pegs is another activity that practices on the fine motor movements. This comes in especially handy when the little ones had been introduced to numerals using the felt cards and this would be an activity to reinforce the concept of counting and quantity. 

To know more about these goodies for your little curious toddlers, hop over to YJ's online blogshop here. There are also other busy bag items available for sale. There's another one that J owns and he absolutely loves it! It's the wooden blocks, somehow he calls them colorful lego. I will blog and share about that in another post. Give her facebook page a like. YJ and her partner (who's also a mom) are constantly sharing ideas on games and activities for their little cutie pies. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pumpkin and cashew pesto

Here's a superb creamy pasta sauce for your toddler if you're out of idea for his meals. I love making my own pasta sauces for my little J because this way, I can control the amount of seasoning that's added in, and I know exactly what's inside the sauce. The usual ones that I make are the bolognese and the creamy mushroom sauce. The pasta sauces I make are usually very simple cos I don't have too much time in the morning to prepare them, and other than these I also needed to make another dish for his breakfast. This morning, for an example, I made this delicious pumpkin and cashew pesto for his pasta lunch and I have also made a nice soft and fluffy pandan kikaku (hei pan) for his breakfast and late afternoon treat.  

I usually make extra portion of these pasta sauces, so that I can use them again for another pasta dish later on in the week. These pasta sauces are also okay to be kept frozen and are usually consumed within a week or two. 

For this creamy pumpkin and cashew pesto sauce, I have added in lots of garlic for seasoning purpose and also for a boost to his immune. Here's the recipe: 

  • 3-4 tbsp raw organic cashew nuts, dry dried in a frying pan until they turn golden brown. Leave aside. 
  • 2tbsp cooking oil, I used organic grapeseed oil 
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, finely minced 
  • Seasoning eg herbs and salt 
  • 200g pumpkin, cut into little cubes 
  • 2 tomato, skin peeled and cut into little cubes 
  • 1/2 cup of water 
  1. Heat the oil in a cooking pan. 
  2. Stir in garlic, fry until fragrant but not too brown, stir in cubed pumpkin and tomato. Cover with lid to simmer for a few minutes. 
  3. Pour in water to simmer for another few minutes. Season accordingly. 
  4. Cool down and blend with toasted cashew nuts until it reaches a creamy consistency. Serve with pasta. 
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