Fluffy Cinnamon Cakes

I love cinnamon. There are even lots of great reasons why cinnamon is good for us. Unfortunately, the boys don’t share my enthusiasm for it. The last time I made cinnamon cake, I had the following conversation with G2 –

G2: Mama, what’s that smell?
Me: *thinking he thought it smelled as heavenly as I did, I puffed up my chest and replied* My cinnamon cake! Would you like some?
G2: *shakes his head vigorously* It smelled un-good.


It’s been a while since I’ve tried making anything with cinnamon in it, but I was hankering for it recently and decided I was going to make some even if it meant I had to eat it all by myself. This recipe is even better than the one I made last time. To my surprise, G1 asked to try some and guess what? He loved it!


  • 125 g butter
  • 200g castor sugar
  • 150 g self-raising flour
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 60 ml milk


  • Preheat oven to 180 C. Prepare cake tin.
  • Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Beat on medium until smooth and changed in colour.
  • Spoon into prepared pan.
  • Cupcakes – bake for 25 minutes. 20cm cake pan – bake for 50 minutes.
  • Stand for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and dust with icing sugar when cool.

Fluffy Chocolate Almond Cake

The husband likes his chocolate cake a certain texture and I finally stumbled on the recipe that works. Best of all, the boys love it too!

Fluffy chocolate almond cake

It was supposed to be the usual Chocolate Almond Cake recipe that I normally follow until I realised halfway into the preparation that I didn’t have enough almond meal. Too lazy to head down to the shops to get some more, I decided to wing it. Funny how well things work out when you’re not even trying.


  • 125g dark chocolate, melted
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g self-raising flour
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 60ml milk


  • Preheat oven to 180C. Prepare a round cake pan.
  • Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until the mixture has changed colour.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes or until the knife comes out clean.

Zaru Soba

The hubs has developed a taste for Zaru Soba lately so I decided to try to make it at home. It’s probably about as easy as it gets – cold noodles in dipping sauce. The only sensitive part is making sure the noodles are cooked al dente.

As I’ve discovered from cooking disasters in the past, there are noodle brands and there are noodle brands. The good noodle brands make it easier to cook the noodles to perfection. The regular noodle brands end up being too soggy no matter what I do with them. So once I find a brand that works, we stick to it. Since most of the packaging is covered in Japanese writing, I took a picture for future reference:

Cold Soba


  • Soba noodles
  • Tsuyu dipping sauce
  • Wasabi
  • Shredded seaweed
  • Spring onions, finely chopped


  • Soba noodles vary in cooking time. With this particular brand of noodles, I found 6 minutes to be the optimum cooking time. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add in the noodles and cook for 6 minutes.
  • Drain the noodles and run them under cold water. Soak them in ice water before serving.
  • Ideally, you should serve the noodles in a Zaru Soba tray so you can add ice.
  • You can make your own Tsuyu sauce or you can just buy a bottle of Shirakiku Tsuyu sauce.
  • Pour a serve of Tsuyu sauce into a small bowl and dilute with a bit of water (however much you need to get it to the right level of taste to your preference). Add a bit of wasabi, seaweed and spring onions.

Steamed Mushroom Chicken

This is another East-meets-West modification of a Chinese recipe… The original recipe uses Chinese mushrooms, I used brown mushrooms (which you cannot see in the picture below because they were buried under the chicken). I also used red wine instead of Chinese cooking wine. Lastly, I omitted the fujuk (bean curd puffs) because no one in the family will eat it but me.

Steamed mushroom chicken


  • Main:
    • 5 pieces of chicken thighs
    • 100g brown mushrooms, sliced
    • spring onion
  • Marinade:
    • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp red wine
    • 1 tsp cornflour
    • dash of pepper
    • 2 tbsp water
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Seasoning:
    • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp sesame oil


  • Mix the marinade ingredients together and marinate the chicken thighs for about 15 minutes.
  • Mix the seasoning on a plate and add the mushrooms. Place the chicken pieces on top of the mushrooms.
  • Steam over boiling water for 30 minutes or until cook through.
  • Garnish with spring onions and serve.

Stir Fry Beef with Red Wine

The last time I tried a stir fried beef with red wine, it failed miserably so it was with some trepidation that I experimented with this one. Clearly, I wasn’t particularly hopeful because I didn’t even bother to take a picture (not that there was much to look at). As it turned out, all three boys approved so we will add this to our cookbook.


  • 300g beef, sliced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • Dash of white pepper
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 100ml water


  • In a bowl, mix garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, cornflour, pepper, and water. Set aside.
  • Heat some oil in the wok and stir-fry the beef until cooked.
  • Add in the wine.
  • Add in the mixed sauce and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Serve.


  • I modified our stirfry beef a little by adding some baby spinach and sliced brown button mushrooms right at the end so we have a more complete meal (no need to make a separate veggie dish).

Easy Family Dinners