Thursday, 6 November 2008

Brenda's Non-drip Sloppy Joes

Ever since Noel came back from his trips to the beautiful Telunas Beach with a school group for Service Learning at a Malay fishing village, he's been bugging me to make Sloppy Joes. So finally, I googled for Sloppy Joe recipes, and made some for him.

I surprised not only him, but myself as well. Sloppy Joes are so much easier to make than hamburgers and are just as tasty. Also, having modified the method to utilise my excellent fuel saving thermal pot, I can cook this meal with relative ease long before the meal begins. =)

Although I read that Sloppy Joes keep well in the freezer, the amount I made is just enough for my meat-loving family. Keep? Nothing is left for the next meal! But if you do want to prepare this long in advance, the general advise is to put the meat in muffin trays and freeze it. Then remove the frozen meat from the muffin tray and keep it in a ziploc bag in the freezer.


500g lean ground beef
50g chopped onion
40g chopped capsicum
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp yellow mustard
3/4 cup ketchup
3 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp oats, mixed with 1/4 cup hot water (if using thermal pot) OR
1 tbsp oats, mixed with 1/2 cup hot water (if NOT using thermal pot)
A dash of dried oregano (optional)
ground black pepper to taste

1. In a large frying pan (or wok) over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion, and capsicum; drain off liquids. (The liquids can be saved and frozen as beef stock for stew etc.)

2. With Thermal Pot:
Transfer the beef mix to the thermal pot and add the garlic, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, oats mix, oregano and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles for about 2 minutes, then transfer to the thermal pot’s outer sleeve to cook for at least another 30min for the flavours to mingle. (You could make this hours in advance and have piping hot Sloppy Joes for a picnic! =))

2. Without A Thermal Pot:
Add into the frying pan, the garlic, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, oats mix, oregano and pepper to taste. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Serve the Sloppy Joe on a soft hamburger bun; it’s up to you how dressy you want the burger to be - a slice of cheese? Onion rings? Tomato slices? It’s all up to you. =) However, make sure that when cutting the burger in half, to cut it slightly concave so that the bun holds the meat better. As it is, this Sloppy Joe recipe holds itself quite well because of the oats, but a well-cut bun helps too.


Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

At last! The anti-baking/cooking spell is broken. The day after my one month confinement, I got a baking itch and baked a chocolate brownie; simple and satisfying. Then it was a lot of other bakes and food that followed. The only problem was that I didn't have the time to upload the pics/recipe, what with breastfeeding Ezra, homeschooling Ethan and being the all-round BFF to Edna. =) Busy, busy days... but like a brownie, rich and satisfying! *wink*

Inspired by a Cedele Lemon Meringue, I tried looking for a Lemon Meringue recipe, but was sidetracked by a most intriguing dessert I found on - a Lemon Meringue Cheesecake. Besides, looking at the recipe, I realised how simple this Meringue? Cheesecake? is to make.

Unlike a Meringue pie, I did not need to bother with a pie crust. Further, I didn't need to deal with cooking the lemon curd. For like a chilled cheesecake, this recipe only required a sweet biscuit base and using the electric mixer to mix the cheesecake ingredients to chill, and then on with the Meringue top. =)

Or so I thought...

True to form, the cheesecake part was a piece of pie. *wink*

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

120g Marie Biscuits (crushed in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin. I set Edna to this task and she pounded with gusto!)
115g Butter, melted
500g Cream Cheese (That's 2 block PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese), softened to room temperature
1 can Condensed Milk
1/2 cup Lemon juice

1. Mix the biscuit crumbs with the butter well, and then press the mixture into a 26 cm (or thereabouts) springform pan which is lined with baking paper. Use a flat bottom glass to press in the bottom of the pan, and the back of a spoon to press the crumbs to the sides of the pan. Chill in the fridge if you do not intend to use it yet, or freezer if you intend to use it soon.**
2. In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it's smooth, then add the condensed milk and lemon juice. Continue beating until the mixture is well mixed.
3. Pour the cream cheese mix into the prepared biscuit crust. Chill until the mix is firm, which takes about 3 hours, or overnight.

As for the Meringue top, I deviated from the recipe.

You see, I expected the Meringue top to be a bit flaky/crunchy like Cedele's, which is why my first attempt looked like this:
Certainly, I was a bit disappointed that the Meringue wasn't like Cedele's crispy one, but then I realised that Cedele's meringue is probably done in a Meringue cookie style, characterised by more sugar, low oven temperature and longer baking time - not what this recipe required.

To cut a long story short, what happened is that through doing research on why my Meringue was soft, I discovered The Perfect Meringue! Just imagine a lighter than marshmallow meringue that is so light it disappears on your tongue... mmm....

The Perfect Meringue Topping

1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1/4 cup Water
4 Egg Whites (it's much easier to separate eggs and whites when they just come out of the fridge. For making meringue, you'll need to allow the whites to get to room temperature. Cold egg whites don't fluff out as well.)
1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/2 cup Caster Sugar

1. In a small saucepan, whisk the cornstarch and water together. Keep whisking while cooking it over medium heat until the mixture thickens. Be careful because this will occur very quickly; in about a minute. Once thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat and continue whisking until it's smooth. Then cool completely before use. Remove lumps if there are any.

2. Place room temperature egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl of a stand mixer. On high speed, whip until foamy/bubbly.

3. Reduce speed to medium and whip, while slowly sprinkling in the 1/2 cup of sugar. Return to high speed and whip until whites form a ribbon that folds back on itself when beater is raised, about 1-2 minutes (Pre-soft peaks).

4. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and beat on high speed until shiny, soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.

5. Then, spread on top of the chilled cheesecake. Save some to pipe around the edges of the pan, or use a table knife to form spikes. Finally, bake in an oven at 180 degree Celcius until the peaks brown and caramelise, about 15 minutes.

6. Remove from the oven and cool before putting it back in the fridge to chill. Cut and serve.

A Close Up

**If you look at the pictures carefully, you'd notice that in the first attempt, I used a springform pan, but in the second attempt, I used an oven-proof glass pie dish. Looks-wise, using the pie dish is prettier, but it's certainly not easy to cut out a slice. In fact, each time I wanted a slice, I needed to microwave the dish for 10 sec to loosen the biscuit crust from the glass. The springform pan was a breeze to cut, but there'll be about an inch of white where the meringue cannot brown. Of course, to "disguise" this white band, you could always press the biscuit crumbs to the top of the springform pan.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Rum & Raisin Chocolate Cheesecake

I made these yummies for a Masak-Masak challenge. The challenge was to cook/bake/create something that includes the following ingredients: cream cheese, chocolate and a fruit.

I found the following recipe after a quick google and modified it slightly. I love the idea of these cheesecakes because they are in individual portions, and the recipe only requires a 250g block of cream cheese. Most cheesecake recipes require 2 blocks of cream cheese to put into a springform pan. As I'm still in a baking doldrum, I'm rather lazy to dust out the springform for baking. *g*

Rum & Raisin Chocolate Cheesecake

Making the Rum and Raisin:
  1. Soak 95g (1/2 cup) of raisins in 80ml (or 1/3 cup) rum in a covered bowl for at least 6 hours or overnight. I soaked the raisins for a few days because after I began the recipe, I got lazy to continue it. *g*
  2. To use, separate the raisins from the liquid. Keep the liquid for the cheesecake.
Ingredients for the cheesecake:
  • Cooking spray, to grease muffin tin
  • 200g plain chocolate biscuits
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) light corn syrup/golden syrup
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp powdered gelatine
  • liquid from Rum & Raisin
  • 200ml carton whipping cream
  • 250g Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 80g (1/2 cup) icing sugar mixture, sifted
  • 150g 70% dark chocolate, melted in microwave
  • raisins from Rum & Raisin


  1. Spray lightly, twelve 80ml (1/3 cup) muffin pans to grease. These are the usual sized cupcake pans you'd use for making cupcakes. The recipe calls for lining the bases and sides with non-stick baking paper, but being lazy, I just lined it with cupcake liners.
  2. Use a food processor and process the chocolate biscuits until they are fine. In a bowl, add corn syrup and butter to the biscuits. Stir until well combined. I weighed the mix and then divided the mix equally into 12 portions. Each portion is put into the cupcake liners and pressed down with the base of a small glass. Place the muffin pan in the fridge until required.
  3. Put the liquid from the rum & raisin in a small bowl and heat it in a microwave for 30-45 seconds on high. Add the gelatine and stir with a fork until it dissolves. If the gelatine doesn't dissolve, send it back to the microwave for another 10 seconds and stir again until most of the gelatine dissolves. Set it aside for 5 minutes to cool to room temperature.
  4. In a mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon to beat the cream cheese and sifted icing sugar until smooth. Add the cooled rum mixture, melted chocolate and raisins to the cream cheese mixture and beat until well combined.
  5. Use an electric beater to whisk the cream in a bowl until soft peaks form.
  6. Then, using a large metal spoon, gently fold in the whipped cream into the chocolate cream cheese mixture until they are all combined.
  7. Spoon the filling evenly among the muffin pans. Gently tap the pans on the bench and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 4 hours or until set.
  8. Use a skewer to loosen the cheesecakes from the muffin pan. You can either leave the cupcake liner on or not, depending on your preference.
The original recipe calls for extra 50g of melted chocolate to drizzle on the cheesecake, but I've simplified it with just a maraschino cherry on the cheesecake for a cheerful look. And this is the result!

Happy Father's Day, Noel!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Rainbow Cookie

I teach Sunday School and sometimes, baked goods play a role in my lessons. Since I was archiving some of my lessons on the Sunday School blog, I thought to share these recipes here too. :)

This one is very simple to make, since there really isn't a need to make multiple cookies - just a huge one or two would do. ;)

I got this recipe from here.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • Food coloring-with red, blue and yellow you can make all the other colors.
1. Mix sugar, butter, egg and vanilla. Add flour and mix well.
2. Divide dough into six balls.
3. Add a different food coloring to each ball.
4. Roll each ball in a snake shape onto a floured surface. (I put the dough into a cookie press and formed a long line with it. The dough is very soft because of the butter, so if you're rolling, put it in the fridge to harden first before doing so.)
5. Arch snake shape and press onto cookie sheet.
6. Add other snake shapes until the rainbow is formed. Red on the outermost, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo (bluish-purple), and Violet (reddish-purple).
7. Bake at 180 deg Celsius for about 8-15 minutes.



1. Use the cookie in a lesson on God's Promise. (It goes great with Hillsong's Kids' "Rainbow" as an object lesson.)
2. "Taste and see that the Lord is Good!" Ps 34:8
3. Use the cookie in a lesson on sharing (since the cookie has to be broken into pieces to share.)