One Pan Pasta

I first saw this recipe on Facebook. It looks so simple that I know I must try it out!

And so, bookmarked it to try it out one day.

One rainy day, I finally dug out the link and cooked a portion for myself. It was just amazingly unbelievably easy and yummy!!

Pardon the low quality of the photos as I was using my iphone throughout the cooking process. Too lazy to take out a proper camera! 😛

Imagine this: 1) cut ingredients > 2) throw everything into the pan & boil > 3) serve & eat!

It reminds me of Oso and his 3 special steps! (If you know what I am saying; you are a true-blue mummy who watches cartoons!!)

This is a perfect recipe for busy working mummies who wants to whip up a quick dinner or for those days which you don’t feel like eating another pack of instant noodles!

Recipe adapted Martha Steward Living ( Serves 4 )

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces linguine ( I used whatever portion we normally can finish )
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large ( I mixed cherry and regular tomatoes as I didn’t have enough cherry ones )
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (I substituted with some left-over chilli flakes from pizzas delivery as I didn’t have any red-pepper flakes at home!!)
  • 2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish (I substituted with dried herbs such as basil and mixed herbs as I didn’t have any fresh herbs at home)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving (this is very important; I forgotten to add this on my 2nd attempt and it didn’t taste right…)
  • 2 teaspoons of coarse salt or sea salt (don’t omit the salt as it is important for flavouring. But I tried reducing reducing the salt portion slightly; it still worked)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups water (a rough gauge will be just enough to cover all the ingredients; too much water will take a longer time)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (I substituted with mixed pizza cheese because I didn’t had Parmesan then)

Directions

1) Cut all the ingredients required

2) Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, herbs, olive oil, salt, pepper and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated. It took about 12 to 15 mins in my attempt.

3) Season to taste with salt and pepper if required. Serve onto 4 plates, garnish with some fresh or dried herbs. Add additional olive oil if required. Top with Parmesan or any other preferred cheese.

Viola! Your one-pan-pasta is ready to be savor! (Add some fresh basil/herbs to enhance the color; which I didn’t have at home then).

p.s: for the first attempt, I added some frozen clams as I needed to clear them. It tasted good together too! Smile

This is really so much better than bottled sauces. We had always relied on bottled sauces when we are in a rush to whip up pasta. But now there is an equally fast and healthier option!

If you have tried this, please do share with me what your thoughts. Smile

Happy Friday!

A peek into the after hours of a FTWM

I have mixed identities.

Some acquaintances think that I am not working and is a stay-at-home-mum (SAHM) looking after my 2 mischievous boys.

Some ex-colleagues think that I am still in the same industry as them and looked for me to help them out in part-time assignments.

Some present colleagues think that I am a part-timer and don’t actually do serious work.

Some facebook friends think that I worked all weekends and miss family time.

Well… the truth is: they are all correct in some ways!

My true identity: I left a full time job some 5 years back shortly after Xi En was born. Took on a flexible-hours-almost-like-your-own-business type of job and stayed on till now.

This job gave me enough flexibility for some to understand that I am working and yet others; I am not!

In a nut-shell, I see myself as a full-time working mum (FTWM) but with flexible hours and schedules. Having said that, I don’t have “after hours” (!!!) because I am in a sales line which requires me to response at almost any hours (no, my clients don’t think I observe regular sleeping hours).

Make better sense now? Smile

And that’s just the introduction to my post today in support of a fellow mummy blogger’s blog train on “A Peek into the After Work Hours of a FTWM”.


Now that my FTWM’s (another way to term it suitably in my context be “Flexible Time Working Mum”) identity is established; just to give you a peek into my “after-hours” life which can be any time of the day.

Knock, knock, Is it similar at your house?

Some snippets of what my boys are up to daily:

  • My 2 boys are not always disciplined; they enjoy a good tug-of-war brotherhood.
  • They watch TV a few times in a day (TV is a love-hate relationship with me; you just can’t deny it is an engaging nanny; we try our best to limit it though.)
  • They sleep at unearthly hours at night (they like to play “OUTLAST”; we lost to them often. We snored before we hear their snores.)
  • They eat in front of the TV/piano/play corner (except the dining table!);
  • They often refuse to keep their toys after play (or they simply forgotten; we are still working on it.);
  • They draw on the walls/TV/windows/floor (anywhere is more interesting than paper);
  • They do scream and shout to get attention (I have a loud voice to begin with; but they win me in this);
  • They do bouncy jumps on the bed/sofa (the older boy sometimes practise a few WWF moves: jump high; plunge down and land on near his brother);
  • He need to be coerce to eat his meal (I meant Xi En of course; for Eizac – we need to eat in the dark so he won’t come for the nth helping.);

  • They get to sit out at thinking corners;
  • They get spanks on the hands with a cane (yes; we do cane; constructive caning we choose to think so);

By now, you must be thinking I rear 2 monkeys at home or this Mummy is in bad need of some parenting course.

Honestly, I am no supermom. But please tell me that I am not the only one facing such situations back home while we work in the market place?

Alright, it ain’t always that chaotic at home. We have warm, fuzzy and fun moments too!

No, I never regret having 2 boys if you might be thinking. They can be a handful but when they behaved like proper boys, they are a bunch of giggling cute monkeys!

I don’t have proper tips to share; but I have some little tricks which hopefully comes in handy for you too! Smile

1) Machines

I have 2 time-saving machines in the kitchen: the Philips Airfryer and my mum’s highly recommended 3-tier food steamer.

We try to have home-cooked dinners at least 4 to 5 times a week.

The Airfryer is my guilt-free alternative to deep fried food and it actually turns out decent quality. If you are active on Facebook, do check out some groups which share recipes regularly. The food you can churn out is unimaginably endless!

The humble steamer might not exist in most household but holds a unshakable position in my kitchen after the kids arrived. We use it to steam fish for the kids, warm up food for Eizac, whipped up ladyfingers and tofu for a simple lunch etc and this is the best part: steam enough rice for my 6 pax household every dinner. The rice cooker is in cold storage in the storeroom as it takes up too much space in my small kitchen.

2) Humans

This is undeniably the most important help to a FTWM. Mothers, Fathers, Parents-in-Laws, Aunties, Uncles, Neighbours!

I am very blessed to have my mum who agreed to stay with us. Without her, I won’t be working in the corporate jungle at all. She quit her job so I can have mine. Even though she is not always at home (I have a very sociable mum who has a long list of extra-curriculum activities too); it is always helpful to have that extra pair of eyes and hands.

My parents-in-law don’t stay near to us. But thankfully, they are just a phone call away whenever I need to head out to work. They are our back ups whenever we are running thin at home.

Glad to say that the grandchildren like to spend time with grandparents too! Smile

I know of friends without their loved ones around them. It is not easy at all when you don’t have trusted ones to help out with your kids. Our last resort is to hire external help. We resisted that idea when it was just Xi En. But when Eizac came along, we gave in. It is not the best solution but maybe the best interim plan while the kids are still young. The helper does all the housework and most of the cooking; thus leaving child-minding to us which is what we prefer. As much as we dislike the idea of hiring a helper, we recognised that we are happier when we don’t need to dig through piles of laundry to find a missing sock or feign ignorance to the mountains of dirty dishes.

If you are a FTWM and not keen to hire a stay-in helper, there should be alternatives such as a part-time helper, tingkat (catered dinners), nannies, full day childcare. Anything that help to maintain family harmony goes a long way in my opinion.

Last and very much not the least, a supportive spouse is key!! My single friends: Marry the man who is willing to cook, do the dishes, clean the bathrooms, change the bedsheets, fold the clothes, feed the baby, shower the toddler and after doing all the chores he still have the energy to play/read with the children and sing lullabies till they sleep! hahhaahha! We need a Super Daddy huh? I have a closely-matched one at home and I can only say I am glad he doesn’t need to watch nor play soccer with his buddies! (yea! sorry… football-fans…).


As evidenced above, I relied a lot on help (machines or humans) to get the daily nifty gritty matters sorted out. If enlisting help freed up my time for my children and myself/hubby, I will gladly do so.

I enjoy an independent working life but it is not in my dreams to be a supermom because I know I cannot do everything.

I only wish my children will remember that Mummy was around to kiss their boos boos when they fell; Mummy cooked healthy meals for them; Mummy wasn’t too busy to shower and feed them; Mummy was there to read a story book and say a little prayer with them during bedtime. And even that Mummy was there to discipline, teach and punish!

And… of course, remember that Mummy also put in solid work hours so that they can lead a quality life too!

There are some easier and some tougher days. I live by this old Chinese adage :

水来土掩, 兵来将挡 [shuǐ lái tǔ yǎn bīng lái jiàng dǎng]

It simply means this in English: When the water rises, use earth to keep it back; when the soldiers approach, use a general to keep them off.

i.e. my interpretation: DEAL with it when it happens! Open-mouthed smile

Xcuse’ me as I go back to the reality of bringing up my 2 irresistibly-adorable and rambunctious boys (plus earn some loose change for the milk powder!).

Are you a working mummy/daddy too? How do you make it work for your family? Share some tricks with us too! Smile

This is a blog train hosted by Kids R Simple on “A Peek into the After Work Hours of a FTWM. Read about how the other 21 FTWMs handle their kids and household everyday from 1 June to 21 June. The aim is to give other working mums motivation, ideas and support to deal with the everyday demands of juggling work and family while keeping sane. We will be happy to hear your story, tips and even an encouraging word will make our day! Share your thoughts in the comments!

A Peek into the After Work Hours of a FTWM

Coming up tomorrow on the blog train is Jolin:

Jolin is a full-time working mother to two active boys, aged 3 years old and 1 year old. She captures and documents memories of her motherhood and parenting journey on The Js Arena. Her free time after work evolves mostly around her kids – feeding, playing, bonding and sleeping with them. She doesn’t want to miss any of these moments. Join her tomorrow as she shares her tips on how to tackle her two boys when the hubby is not around.

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School’s Out (soon) and holiday is here!

I almost suffocated and collapsed last Dec school holiday.

It was Xi En’s first long school holiday ever since he started going to a kindy which practises school term breaks vs a childcare which operates through the year.

As much as I love my child and will like to spend every minute with him; too much of honey can be cloying too.

June holidays is looming approaching in just a week plus. I decided to make a list to help myself remember that there are still a variety of activities I  can engage my pre-schooler. Not an exhaustive list but hope it will help those in the same boat as me! Most activities are kept at low-cost or better: FREE!

1) National Museum of Singapore (Children’s Season)

The Children’s Season returns this season with a medley of children-centric programmes. This year, the theme is Masak Masak: My Childhood.

As the title implies, it will be a learning opportunity  of our yesteryear for our young ones. I like it that they always come up with interactive exhibits to make it interesting.

Image from: National Museum of Singapore

Key places to explore with free admission and activities:

PLAY@National Museum of Singapore

ArtScience Museum: Free workshop for an Architecture Adventure

Army Museum of Singapore: Free “Basic Military Training” Programme.

Asian Civilisations Museum: Once Upon a Time in Asia: The Story Tree. Interactive Exhibition for Children

Police Heritage Centre: I want to be a Police Officer! Young visitors can put on mini police uniform and have their photographs taken!

Singapore Maritime Gallery: Free admission to explore how Singapore became one of the worlds busiest port in action.

More information here.

2) Singapore Changi Airport

This is one of our favourite haunt. With 3 terminals, vast space to run, free aircon and free playgrounds , what’s there not to like!

A fellow mummy blogger Christy just blogged about The Canopy Playground at Terminal 1! It looks fun and best of all it’s FREE!

This will be one of my top to-go-places!

3) Fly with Superheroes onboard Singapore Cable Car

Singapore Cable Car came out with new thematic cabin with Superheroes such as Superman and Batman. Prices not exactly cheap but there is an early bird promotion if you “fly” by 31st May 2014.

Xi En had been asking for a cable car ride for the longest time but height-phobia Mummy is dragging her legs on this one. Let’s see….

More details here

4) Libraries

We are regular visitors at the neighbourhood libraries. I enjoyed reading since young and felt that we are fortunate to have an established national library network in Singapore. The system and environment had also improved by leaps and bounds over the years. You get to borrow 2X extra no.of books for the June/Dec school holidays too!

There are also FREE storytelling sessions in your friendly neighbourhood libraries and even FREE craft sessions to sign up!

More details here.

If you have an active child like Xi En who cannot stay quiet/still in the library, look for one which has exhibits or greenery such as the one below to lounge and “bounce”! 🙂

5) Parks/Playgrounds Galore

It’s crowded everywhere in the holiday season. So some of the best places to move around with space to run around are P.A.R.K.S

Some of our favourites:

Bishan Park

Pros: It’s Huge! Macs is nearby. Young ones can try catching fishes here! Kampong style!

Cons: Car-Park is not easy to come by during peak hours.

Punggol Park

Pros: Not too crowded. Yummy food at kopitam just across the road. A small lake in the centre brings cool breeze.

Cons: Undulating grounds. Be careful when going down the slopes!

West Coast Park

Pros: Lots of new play structures after the renovation. A Macs nearby for fuel-up and several resting pavilions.

Cons: Not easy to find car-park lots during peak hours.

Gardens by the Bay (Children’s Park)

Pros: New and loads of things to play with! From bridges to slides to water park and sand play. There is something for all ages!

Cons: Because it’s so fun; it’s so crowded! Try to go on weekdays.

Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West

Located along Ang Mo Kio Ave 6 (in front of Courts).

A small playground zone but enough for 1-2 hours of play.

Pros: Macs nearby (again). Sand play and swings!

Cons: Can get pretty warm here as the trees don’t shade the playground enough.

6) Swimming/ Water Play

Xi En had been wary of water since young. He dislike water parks and basically any structures which sprout/rain down buckets of water. Now that he can express himself better, we found out he actually likes water play but not jets of water spraying at him. Our latest foray at the public kids’ swimming pool was a success. He found confidence as the water level was just at his tummy! Step by step, we hope to ease him into actual swimming which had been strongly encouraged by doctors (and well-meaning aunties) to strengthen his lungs.

If you have one who dislike water parks like mine, try gentle introduction at the babies’ pool. Smile Bring buckets, water containers and toys along! And don’t forget your sunnies and sunblock lotion.

7) MRT/Bus Rides

Almost every pre-schooler I know LOVES, ADORES train and bus rides! It is thrilling; it is fast, it is humongous! Yes, it is bigger than Daddy’s small car.

Xi En was in the phase that he memorized the entire MRT map of Singapore. Thereafter, he asked for those which were not constructed yet!

He pored over the maps and was so engrossed over the system. Now he had progressed to maps; all kinds of maps and road signs.

You can get a free local MRT train map (pocket size) from any control stations at any MRT stations in Singapore and give it to your little ones at rest stops. This can keep them quiet for some minutes while you drink that cuppa.

Of course, after memorizing every stations, you need to bring them out for joy rides; MRT and buses alike. For buses, gun for the double-decker ones (if they are on your routes) and sit at the upper deck first (class) seats. To top it up, get the right seats so your pre-schooler can have fun staring at the bus driver’s reflection from the mirror!

8) Home-based activities

We have our “off” days too. Or rainy days; when we don’t feel like heading out. Lazy afternoons at home.

For such days, these are what we do at home:

Cook/Bake
It is always fun for the little fingers and hands to dabble into dough, help with measuring out sugar, use the egg beater and assist in making pizzas, muffins, cupcakes and bread!

I will have stock of simple ingredients at home; ready for one of those bake-out days. And the best part: Xi En will eat what he helped to bake! He always think his “self-baked/cooked” stuff are yummy! haaa!

Now, you don’t need to pay $30 to $50 for them to “learn” to make pizza or muffins. All at the comfort of your home.  The cons: you need to clean up.

Sand play

Magic Sand we called it. Or Kinetic Sand.

One of Xi En’s favourite activity at home; but it can get real sandy! So we restrict playing within a room and before bathing time!

It is not exactly cheap sand at $29.90 for 1KG but it is clean and re-useable!

Board games

Currently, Xi En at the age where he understood instructions and found interest in board/card games. We bought a set of kids’ monopoly and dug out old dominoes games and taught him how to play. He loved it! and he doesn’t need to always win. It is interesting to see how a kid behaves in games. Many teaching opportunities too.

After a too-early introduction to the Ipad and Iphone, we are trying to minimise using the tech-toys as nannies and engage him in more traditional play.

You can purchase the usual board games in major bookstores or toy shops. For more unique games, try checking out a mumpreneur’s online games shop – Myfirstgames.

So, those are stuff we did before and will repeat some of them to go through this long one month holiday again. If you have no plans to travel overseas, hope the above will come in useful in your planning too!

More holiday ideas from very resourceful local mom bloggers:

Gingerbreadmum:

http://www.gingerbreadmum.com/2014/05/30-all-weather-activities-for-kids.html

Ingspiration:

http://ingspirations.com/2014/05/21/school-holidays-activities-exploring-singapore-at-night/

Kids R Simple:

http://kidsrsimple.com/2014/05/18/june-holiday-activities-list-2014/

Happy Holidays! May we “survive”! Smile