Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best 10 Memories of 2017

Well folks, are you gearing up to usher in the New Year 2018? You may already be holidaying at popular destinations or getting ready to meet near and dear ones, pop the champagne, enjoy a hearty feast or make party-fueled New Year Resolutions (only to break them the very next day! 😝). Most of us have a set routine for welcoming the new year. I certainly do and right now I am at my in-laws house in Bangalore, getting ready for a family get-together this evening. I just got done baking a chocolate cake which looks like it could end up being a disaster. Oh well! πŸ˜›

The New Year stands before us like a blank book. It brings with it the hope for a better tomorrow and also a chance to do better than today.  It is a golden opportunity to reinvent our lives and ourselves. I have mulled over the year gone by and I do have certain goals and aspirations for the new year which I plan to fulfill with utmost sincerity. I would like to start this year on the right foot by exercising more, drinking more water, consuming more portions fruit, making smarter food choices, reading more books and (hopefully!) travelling more. I also hope to come up with more fun mother-daughter activities to do with my girls. Only time will tell how I will fare on achieving them but I will be optimistic for now 😊 If you have set goals for yourself, I wish you good luck!

As this year comes to a close, it is a good time to reflect on all the positives and negatives. Maybe you were one of the lucky ones that had a great year but if you had a bad one, then look at it as an opportunity to wipe the proverbial slate clean and start afresh. My prayers for everyone in 2018 is to be able to focus on health and wellness, enjoy quality family time, fulfill career goals, acquire financial stability and achieve personal happiness. And if you can get some adventure and exciting opportunities thrown into the mix, there would be nothing like it!

As we bid adieu to 2017, whatever you feel for your colleagues, friends, family or other near and dear ones – love, admiration, gratitude or respect, let them know so you could put a smile on their face and feel good about it while you are at it!

So, coming back to the crux of this post, here are my top 10 memories of 2017,

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Special: Marie Biscuit Chocolate Log

I'm just in time for the holidays! I really wanted to do one last recipe post this year and so here it is 😊

I'm in India thoroughly enjoying the holidays and hence I was not able to devote a lot of time to this blog post. I chose this recipe because it is from a blog I trust and I've made it before in Singapore. I thought it turned out quite nice with minimum effort and it is one of those recipes that you must have in case of a dessert emergency (which is a real thing by the way!). 

This recipe is as easy as it gets you guys. You have a handful of basic ingredients, no cooking involved and with only a few hours of setting time in the fridge, you have a simple and yummy dessert ready to serve. Kids will like it for sure (mine do!) but since this dessert is eggless and not very sweet, I am assuming it will appeal to everyone. 

I realized that the cocoa powder I use in Singapore is far superior than the one I used in India for this blog post and hence the color and taste of the dessert was much better in my previous executions. Try to get your hands on good brand of unsweetened cocoa powder and you will are good to go. 

That's all from me! Wish you all a Merry Christmas πŸŽ„πŸŽ…  Happy feasting!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Baker's Corner: Oven Roasted Herbed Potatoes

Three cheers for December! I know it is still early you guys but I'm all set to ring in the holiday cheer 😊 The countdown has ended and tomorrow this time, I will be in India amidst loved ones *insert jumping up and down like an excited schoolgirl emoji*

The past few days have been insane - an extra busy work week compounded by packing, sorting, cleaning, shopping, Christmas baking and last minute catch-ups with friends. And in an unexpected turn of events, I had extended family visiting from India as well. In the midst of it all, I was hellbent on binge-watching season 2 & 3 of Narcos on Netflix and finishing this blog post so looking back, it was one heck of a week! I am so ready for a change of scene. As usual, my list of to-do's is longer than the Nile when I am on a trip back home. People to meet, food to eat, restaurants to check out, places to visit and most importantly, stuff to buy 😝 I've been reigning in my spending the past two months so I can let loose my crazy inner shopaholic in India πŸ˜‚ I can't wait! In all probability, I won't be very active on the blog till next year but I'll be posting updates on Instagram so you can catch me there.

It is all about the humble spud today. I have for you a recipe for a side dish that is not only simple and universally loved but also looks appetizing, is hearty and delicious. So much win you guys! Roast potatoes are typically served alongside meat but I make them on certain weekends as part of a western full breakfast comprising of toast, eggs, baked beans, fruit and coffee. 

Potatoes are a huge favourite in my household. We consume more than I would care to admit and in every fathomable form (carbs be damned!). Oven roasted potatoes are not something I use potatoes for that often but of late I have started to. Now, right off the bat, let me tell you that this is a very easy recipe that comes together in about 30 min so I have bypassed the step of parboiling the potatoes which unquestionably results in superior roasted potatoes. Let's just say I'm lazy and I am satisfied with the potatoes this way so I am just going to claim laziness + ignorance = bliss! 

I prefer using the thin-skinned waxy potatoes for this recipe. You don't need to peel them and they roast really well. On the subject of flavour, you can tweak the spices and herbs (dried or fresh) depending on your liking. You can throw in some caramelized onions, toasty pine nuts or add in grated or crumbled cheese (parmesan, cheddar or feta work well). The dish is just that versatile.

Here is another variation of the exact same recipe I make using 3 medium-sized red potatoes cut into cubes. In addition to the ingredients mentioned in the recipe below, I used 1/4 tsp onion powder, 4-5 lightly crushed whole garlic pods with the skins on and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. So yum!

Lightly crisp on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside and bursting with that herbalicious flavour. With Christmas and New Year fast approaching, you will need this in your life so I'll leave you to it folks!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Family Staycation at D'Resort, Singapore

Up until a few years ago, I thought staycations were lame. That is until I actually gave it a chance! Our first staycation in Singapore was a babymoon at Hotel Fort Canning, an iconic luxury heritage boutique hotel nestled in the lush greenery of the historic Fort Canning Park. It came about as a result of a strict travel ban imposed by my doctor during the entire duration of my pregnancy. While it wasn't what I had in mind for a much-needed break before taking on motherhood, I truly enjoyed escaping from work and household chores, getting pampered, ordering room service, catching up on some reading, taking long serene walks and spending quality time with the husband. After a while, I kinda forgot that we were still in Singapore. It ended up being a break that required no planning, involved no hassles or stress, didn't break the bank, was laid-back and comfortable. Not to mention, we lost no time in travelling so it was relaxation mode from the get go! We loved the experience so much that from then on, we decided to make staycations a thing 😊

Fast forward to today - for many people, getting ready to go on a holiday with young children throws up all kinds of stresses such as planning, packing, sorting out what needs to be attended to in one's absence and preparing for worst case scenarios! In all honesty, I do find travelling with my little ones a wee bit stressful primarily on account of of their travel sickness but also because of the planning involved to keep them occupied (and out of trouble!). I find family staycations ideal because by choosing to holiday close to home, you are starting out much more relaxed. It can only get better from there!

For my twins third birthday, we decided to treat them to a staycation at D'Resort located at the entertainment hub of the East - Downtown East. One of Singapore’s first nature inspired resort, D'Resort features an integrated water park experience. The 387-room resort is nestled in the lush greenery of Pasir Ris Park and provides some much needed respite from the hectic city life. 

I originally had my sights set on one of the Rainforest family-themed rooms but they were all booked much in advance. After some thought, I settled for the Beach Cove room. With warm and earthy hues and a minimalist nature-inspired decor, the room was clean and spacious. There were two cozy queen sized beds, coffee making facilities, a microwave, a large fridge (not those typical mini ones), a sink for washing up and a bathroom stocked with fresh towels and toiletries. There was free wifi and the signal was quite strong.

BBQ pits are an available option when booking your accommodation for an additional $35. BBQ isn't really our thing so we passed up on it.  

After a friday morning well spent cutting the birthday cake at school amidst their classmates followed by a visit to the nearby temple, we all took some rest in the afternoon and checked into the resort in the evening. As you can see, the girls took no time in getting comfy πŸ˜€

One of the most attractive features of D'Resort is that the vicinity of the resort houses endless entertainment. A cineplex, bowling alley, a huge childrens indoor playground, a fitness centre and legion of retail shops and F&B outlets. The resort itself also offers activities, such as urban farming, cycling to the gems in the east and kayaking to Singapore’s first floating kelong.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Baker's Corner: Chocolate Drip Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate Glaze

I said I would blog the recipe of my twins third birthday cake, didn't I? Well, here it is!

First things first - I am no cake decorator. I assume you know that right? So, please be kind and don't judge my effort too harshly okay? πŸ˜„ I am just a hobby baker who still has far too many things to learn. Heck, I don't even own a turntable you guys! Enrolling in a cake decorating class has been on my agenda for years and I need to do that without further delay to get my basics right. Next year will be the year!

I'm going to make this post all about this cake and spare you the pain of my frivolous ramblings πŸ˜› This chocolate drip cake was one of my recent kitchen ventures that was a success. The drip cake phenomenon picked up steam a few years ago and I don't know about you, but I have been an ardent fan. I'd been meaning to try it for a long time and the perfect opportunity presented itself at the time of the twins birthday.

This cake has three components - the chocolate cake, the chocolate peanut butter frosting and the chocolate glaze, the recipes of which I tried for the first time on the morning of the girls birthday. I knew I was taking a big risk because I didn't know how everything would turn out, pair together or even if the quantities were right. I earnestly followed the chocolate cake recipe from a blog that I stumbled across but improvised on the frosting and glaze recipe as I went along.

To be honest, this turned out to be the easiest cake I have ever made. The cake itself has oil instead of butter so there is no creaming involved. Just mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, mix the wet ingredients in another, put everything together and you are sorted. The cake turned out tender, fudgy and moist with just the right amount of chocolate flavour. It wasn't all that sweet either so it went very well with the light, fluffy buttercream which was quite sweet and had a mild hint of nuttiness from the peanut butter. I used semi-sweet chocolate for the glaze which further brought the chocolate flavour to the forefront. The chocolate glaze was done in a matter of minutes and creating the drip effect was easier than I thought. The consistency of the glaze was just perfect. After that, it was just a matter of arranging a few chocolates and wafers on the top and I was done! From start to finish, the whole shebang took about 90 minutes. It struck me that I didn't even have to wake up as early as I did that day! But then again, I could have taken my time and done a much better job with smoothing the frosting on the cake for that seamless, uninterrupted finish. I clearly didn't πŸ˜›

Obvious cake flaws aside, will I be making this cake again? Absofreakinlutely!!!

So cake done and packed, I gingerly transported it to the twins preschool and they were delighted to see me and a chocolate cake (which brought them more excitement I'm not sure!). After the birthday girls blew out the candles and cut the cake, they had second helpings and were about to greedily reach for a third but as their mother, I had to put my foot down. Two little monkeys high on sugar is more than I can handle! Anyway, I stashed the leftover cake in the fridge and we polished it off within the next 3 days. Just keeping it at room temperature for 10 minutes was good enough to get it back to its moist yummy self.

I enjoy baking my childrens birthday cake. The happiness on their faces when they see it makes my mommy heart sing. Right now, they are at an age where they can easily forgive any flaws with the cake but as they get older, their expectations are going to get bigger 😰  To that I say - bring it on! Jokes apart, I sincerely hope I can improve as the years go by and I can share with you my labour of love.

Trust me, this is a very easy cake to put together. If you you prefer to stay in your comfort zone  by baking simple cakes and avoiding any kind of frosting or decoration, you can begin your maiden cake decorating journey with this one.

Good luck and be sure to let me know how it turns out!

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Letter To My Daughters On Their Third Birthday

Writing this birthday letter has not been an easy endeavor. Unlike the previous two letters which came about effortlessly as a result of my assiduous note-taking throughout the year, this time, I have slacked off plenty. I still have been sending e-mails to both my girls documenting major events and memorable occasions but my memory keeping skills on a day-to-day basis has suffered. Oddly enough, I haven't put my camera to good use either. I've really had to rack my brain to extract the minute details of the past year. Note to self: Up your game and pronto!  

Anyway, I've been up since the crack of dawn to bake a chocolate drip cake for the girls which I promised them a while ago. They have been talking about their birthday for a few weeks now so I owed it to them to make their day special. I did a dreadful job with the cake last year but I think this year's effort sort of makes up for it πŸ˜›  I may even blog this recipe so check back soon! 

This year we are celebrating the girls birthday at a local water park followed by a visit to the beach because (like most kids) they are fascinated with water. This morning began by a simple cake cutting celebration at school followed by a visit to the temple. And in a while, we will be checking into D'Resort, a nature-inspired resort at Downtown East as part of a staycation. The resort is located adjacent to Wild Wild Wet, Singapore's most popular water park as well as Pasir Ris beach. So we will be spending the next three days doing all the things they like. This is my treat to the girls and I'm waiting to see the delight on their faces!

Since this is a birthday letter that chronicles the experiences of the past year, let me back up a bit. To be honest, I approached the start of this year with trepidation but seeing how it has unfurled, I feel much differently. To me, the terrible two's don't deserve the bad-rep it has earned and if any other parent of a soon-to-be two year old is reading this, I say to you - two year olds can be outwitted so don't fear them! πŸ˜€  On a more serious note, if you can efficiently avoid triggers for undesirable behaviour then you CAN keep the monster at bay! Tantrums are a part of normal child development so know that you are not a bad parent if your toddler creates mayhem. This year brings so much more than that so savour the wonderful moments that undoubtedly mark the terrific two's!

Without further ado, here is the third year birthday letter. Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Brand-new dishes unveiled at Greendot, Singapore!

[Media Invite]

So, if you have been a loyal blog reader, you may remember that I have reviewed Greendot on the blog before. I had been there with a friend and we came back high on all things green! 

Greendot is an asian-fusion vegetarian casual eatery. It was founded in 2011 with the mission to make healthy meat-free meals convenient, accessible and affordable to the masses. By using fresh ingredients and adopting cooking methods that preserve the natural goodness of the ingredients, the restaurant does justice to its healthy eating reputation. Greendot aims to modernize and revolutionize the vegetarian food industry by providing a plant-based, nutritious and convenient alternative to diners when compared to greasy run-of-the-mill fast food.

I recently received an invite to sample the brand-new dishes unveiled by Greendot (available exclusively at the Paya Lebar and VivoCity outlets).

The outlet I visited was the one at Paya Lebar and sits smack in the middle of Paya Lebar Square. The restaurant has an open kitchen concept that overlooks a minimalistic, bright and clean dining area with earthy tones. There are two seating areas, one inside the restaurant and the other located just outside giving diners a full view of the mall.

As with the rest of their menu, the new dishes do not contain any MSG or artificial preservatives. The four main ingredients that take centre stage in these dishes are: lion’s mane mushroom, konnyaku, soya and broccoli. Serving up to three persons, each dish is touted to be colorful, appetizing and wholesome.  

First up, we were served the Osmanthus Jelly Drink. Chilled, sweet and refreshing, this is a drink I enjoyed. 

Next, we were offered some of the regular crowd-pleasers that are served at the restaurant. I heartily dug into the brown rice and the three sides that was served alongside it. My favourites were the Lion Mane Mushroom Rendang and Stir-Fried Spicy Eggplant.



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Recipe of the month: Vegetarian Lo Mein + Giveaway from Market Fresh Singapore

Boy oh boy, do I have something good in store for all you folks in Singapore! 😎 So, in case you have something important going on and are absent-mindedly scrolling through this post, I suggest you push the other stuff for later and give me your undivided attention (I'm being pushy for a reason, trust me πŸ˜› ). What I'm talking about is a fabulous recipe and a chance to win a voucher to buy the ingredients you need to make the above-mentioned fabulous recipe - a double bonus for all you foodies!

To elaborate, I am so excited to be hosting my very first giveaway! I am using my blog's facebook page as the platform to host the giveaway so if you are residing in Singapore and want to participate, follow the simple rules mentioned in the top-most post HERE and stand a chance to win!

This post is a collaboration with MarketFresh.Sg as part of their "Modern Mummies in the Kitchen" campaign. For the uninitiated, MarketFresh is an online wet market with next-day delivery option throughout Singapore. They are a new generation of wet market stall owners, bringing to you Singapore’s fresh & best value wet market groceries online for your convenience and hassle-free shopping.

In order to bring you the freshest ingredients, MarketFresh operates just like a wet market. In three easy steps you can enjoy your choice of fresh produce hand-picked especially for you each morning. First you order and customize from sections including fruits, vegetables, butcher, fishmonger, yong tau foo and dry provisions; second, you pick your delivery time from 4 convenient time slots and third, you receive groceries from express couriers who will deliver your order within hours. They operate before daybreak and take their last orders before noon in-keeping with how a wet market functions. This is to ensure your order gets to you on the same day, fresh as can be 😊

I love the wet markets in Singapore. Every Saturday morning, it is a ritual for me to rise early just so I can hand-pick fresh produce from the wet market located opposite my residence and get home before my kids start to stir. MarketFresh were kind enough to give me the luxury of an extra hour of sleep by doing my job for me! I was given the choice to order groceries of my choosing from the online website and I was pleased to note that I found everything that I usually buy from the nearby wet market and at affordable prices too!

Placing the order was a breeze and this is what I received (and is similar to what my typical weekly market haul looks like). All the groceries were fresh and were delivered within the time slot I had chosen. There was an assortment of fruits, greens, vegetables, freshly grated coconut, fresh egg noodles and coconut milk. I had listed baby carrots in my order but I received a message earlier in the day saying they were unavailable at the market that day and hence I gave instructions to substitute it with something else. The order was correct except for a zucchini which had been mixed up with a bag of Japanese cucumbers. I'm sure MarketFresh would have set it right it for me if I had informed them but I had ordered zucchini purely on a whim so I settled for the crunchy cucumbers (and used them later in the week alongside a bowl full of homemade hummus 😊 ).

Some information about MarketFresh that you should know is,

  • Delivery is fixed at a flat rate of $6. Orders above $30 enjoy free delivery!
  • MarketFresh opens only when the wet market opens therefore they do not operate on Mondays
  • Since the wet market closes at around 1pm, all late afternoon orders are stored under refrigeration until ready for delivery
  • All orders will delivered within a time limit of 3 hours and the order will be packed with sufficient ice packs to keep your groceries cool and fresh

Okay so getting straight to the recipe, I have a local favourite for you - only a vegetarian version. Lo Mein is a Chinese dish made with stir-fried noodles. It often contains some type of meat or seafood, usually beef, chicken, pork, shrimp or wontons but it can also be eaten with just vegetables.

The Vegetarian Lo Mein that I have for you today is salty, savoury, bursting with that delightful 'umami' flavour and showcasing some bright and crisp veggies such as red cabbage, red bell peppers, snow peas and carrots. It is easy to make, delicious and hearty at the same time. What's more is that it is healthier and much better than take-out you guys!

Good Lo Mein needs a combination of dark and light soy sauce, sesame oil and brown sugar. I advise that if you do not use dark soy sauce in this recipe, you will not achieve the desired flavour so please do not skip it. If you have a particular brand of good quality dark and light soy sauce that you love, go ahead and use it. You will be thankful you did!

Coming to the noodles, Chinese egg noodles i.e. wheat flour noodles with egg added is what is typically used for Lo Mein. Fresh egg noodles work best for Lo Mein compared to dry and I was so happy that I could buy 1kg of fresh noodles from MarketFresh. It not only saved cooking time but ended up tasting great in the finished product. If you were wondering why they look short, I personally do not like tugging on kilometer long noodles so I cut them up a bit (is that blasphemous in the culinary world? 😝 ). I understand if you cannot get your hands on fresh noodles. You could use dried Chinese egg noodles or ramen or worst case scenario, spaghetti or linguine. Just cook the noodles according to the package instructions and proceed as normal with the recipe instructions.

You can use this recipe as a clean-out-your-fridge strategy as it can be made with a variety of vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, baby corn, spinach, bok choy, kai lan, chives, mushrooms, snap peas, onions, cabbage, broccoli) and almost any protein you can get your hands on!

Oh, and before I go on to the recipe, did I mention one more bit of good news? For exclusively my readers, MarketFresh is offering a first-time 10% discount! The promo code is MEGHA10

So guys please try this recipe and let me know how it turns out! I'd love to get feedback. Also, be a dear and take part in the giveaway. It would make me even happier!

Happy shopping and happy cooking 😊

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Delightful Edible Bouquet from Floral Garage Singapore

Product Review

Look what arrived in the mail the other day?!

Those are real by the way! I mean, for a girl who likes pretty things and is obsessed with food, an attractive-looking bouquet that can be turned into a scrumptious dish is happiness in a package! πŸ˜„

So, whom do I owe this courtesy to? 

The good folks at Floral Garage who specialize in flowers probably recognized my penchant for cooking and sent me this vibrant and unique Vegetable Bouquet. 

Floral Garage is a 2-year-old local floral and gifts company who operate via their online store: Behind the company is a team of passionate floral hobbyist turned professional florists whose mission is to provide quality and affordable flowers so that the sentiments of love, care, appreciation and gratitude can be beautifully conveyed.

Image Source: Floral Garage Singapore

Floral Garage provides affordable flower bouquets in the hope of encouraging people to willingly appreciate nice gestures and spread goodwill without being deterred by cost. After all, it is not the price of the gift that determines the gift, but the thought, effort input, time spent, and sincerity, are the elements that matter. Don't you agree?

The website has an impressive collection of flowers and gift items ranging from hand bouquets and flower arrangements to gift hampers for numerous occasions, flower stands and even party supplies. 

I'd recommend checking out their signature bouquets: the Freestyle bouquet, the Premium Freestyle and the Vegetable Bouquet (i.e. the one in this post).

Image Source: Floral Garage Singapore

Looks good right?!

So, the Vegetable Bouquet (medium-size) that I received was this one,

Image Source: Floral Garage Singapore


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Recipe of the month: Longan, Ginger and Tender Coconut Juice with Nata de Coco

I have a unique and refreshing drink for you today 😊  I never planned on blogging this recipe but it ended up being a happy accident that I just had to preserve for the future! I haven't followed any recipe for this drink - it entirely came out of my head so if there is a similar recipe out there somewhere in the Universe, let me honestly say that (at this point at least) I am unaware of it!

So, let us talk Longan today. These exotic and translucent little fruits are also called euphoria fruit. It is one of the better-known tropical members of the soapberry family which include lychee and rambutan. Longan fruit can be found growing throughout Southeast Asia and are quite well known in this part of the world. A few years ago when I was in Bangalore (India), I was surprised to see them at the supermarket near my in-laws residence because growing up, I had never seen them and my first tasting was the fruit was only after coming to Singapore way back in 2006. Since then, I have been religiously buying it (mainly) to take back to India because my mother-in-law really likes the fruit 😊

In traditional Chinese medicine, this sweet, juicy and succulent fruit is used as a tonic for the heart, to improve eye function, relieve stress and give the skin a glow. As for standard nutritional qualifications, longan fruit has got that too: iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium can be found in the fruit, as well as vitamins A and C. Recent studies have also identified gallic acid, corilagin and ellagic acid in the fruit, which may bolster the fruit’s reputation as a health-boosting superfruit. It isn't a very good source of antioxidants and isn't considered diabetic-friendly but the overall nutritional profile still sounds pretty good to me!

The scent of this fruit is extremely subtle yet unique. As a food, it may be an acquired taste for you because of the distinct musky aftertaste. But hey, my picky toddlers absolutely love it so I’m guessing if you have never tried it before, it shouldn't be so hard for you to get accustomed to. 

I paired the flavour of longan with fresh ginger and tender coconut water which I felt would go together. Unfortunately, I don't have easy access to tender coconuts here so I had to make use with store-bought tender coconut water. 

I love chewy bits in my drinks so I added Nata de Coco. I however realized that some people may not fancy Nata de Coco because of its texture. You can always use Aloe Vera instead (everyone likes that stuff right?). However, if you are lucky enough to actually get your hands on a tender coconut then use the water for the juice and chop up the soft edible white flesh and use it instead of the Nata de Coco. Nothing could be better I swear!

If you like longan and if it is easily available where you live then you HAVE to try making this juice. It is a tropical delight - sweet, refreshing and something different for a change. It can be made in under 10 minutes too. My husband gave it the thumbs up and I'm sure whoever you make it for will too  πŸ™Œ

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Family Beach Vacation @ Club Med Bintan Island

This post has taken so much longer to complete than I anticipated. I'm going to blame it on blogger and the recurring problems with saving the post and preview failing to load which are absolute rubbish. And don't even get me started on the formatting inconsistencies I had to encounter. Anyone from the blogger camp listening? I'm not even sure if I have successfully rectified all the issues that propped up so forgive me if anything appears wonky. Seriously, the whole ordeal with this post made me feel like tearing my hair out (which I've lost so much of anyway πŸ˜’ ). 

Now that I am done with my petty little rant, let's move on to something more pleasant.

So, we were recently on a family holiday to Club Med at Bintan, Indonesia. My in-laws were in Singapore on a visit and we wanted to spend some quality time together away from the mundaneness of the daily grind. 

Club Med has been diffusing stress since 1950 by adopting an all-inclusive package that includes all the necessary ingredients for a dream vacation. Transportation, transfers, accommodation, delicious meals, beverages and drinks, activities, entertainment and a complete range of personalised services for adults and children. 

Being no stranger to Club Med and having experienced the perks of the all-inclusive package that the French company offers on a previous holiday, we didn't think twice before confirming our booking. The icing on the cake being the Club Med philosophy of being a family and child-friendly resort. 

A 45 minute drive to the Tanah Merah ferry terminal, a 50 minute ferry to Bintan and a 20 minute shuttle bus ride later, we reached our destination. With two toddlers who are notorious for motion sickness, I was almost holding my breath the entire journey! But the gods were kind and the travel turned out to be uneventful....double phew!

As is the Club Med tradition, we were welcomed exuberantly by a group of Gentil Organisateurs (GOs) as we alighted the bus and stepped into the inviting lobby. 

This was a shot I took from the lobby soon after getting off the bus. Looks so alluring doesn't it? A welcome drink and a short briefing later, we were whisked away for a late breakfast. 

This was my first glimpse of the beach. Although it is open to public, it can only be accessed from the resort so it almost does feel like a private beach. Calm, serene and quiet were the three words that came to mind. We were fortunate that it was a gloriously sunny day and water looked clear and a demure shade of blue. 

We settled our growling stomachs at the intimate Terrasse restaurant located at the water's edge. It took considerable effort shooing away the cheeky monkeys who were desperately after our food! After that, we spent some time admiring the lovely views of the South China sea from the restaurant. 

Check-in wasn't till 2pm so exploring the manicured grounds helped kill time.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Baker's Corner: Soft & Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I can't believe it is September already! Time is just whizzing by innit? 

Last month was a mixed bag for me. Good because I had a chance to meet up with two really good friends from college on two separate occasions and bad because both kids took turns catching a nasty bug and it was a harrowing time getting them to bounce back to health. Aside from that, I've been busier than usual lately with my in-laws who are here for a few weeks. We just got back from a fun-filled family holiday and I am in the midst of battling a mild case of post-holiday blues πŸ˜› I am expecting two more visits from extended family members within the next couple of weeks which means that I will have plenty to look forward to 😊

If you have gotten to know me through my blog, you would know that I am more of a savoury rather than a sweet tooth gal. But having said that, I obviously won't say no if someone plonks a dessert in front of me. I do have a 'dessert stomach' and something (mildly) sweet is something I don't mind at the end of a meal. I do enjoy baking but it is mostly for others with only a few nibbles reserved for myself. I hadn't baked anything sweet in a while and considering my kids really love when I bake them a rare special treat, I picked this dessert for my next recipe post. 

I like cookies and when it comes to cookies, I am an all-out fan of the soft and chewy kind. Sure I don't mind a crispy edge but the rest of the cookie HAS to be thick and chewy. If you feel the same way, you have to try The Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on my blog because all modesty aside, it is pretty darn fantastic! A little shameless self-promotion every now and then is okay right? 😝

The recipe I have for you today is for these yummy Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Let me be upfront and say that the only time I eat Oatmeal Raisin Cookies is when I am at Subway πŸ˜€  Not because I love these cookies any less. It is just that I haven't had much opportunity to try them elsewhere. Nevertheless, I do love the giant Oatmeal Raisin cookies at Subway and I have always wanted to try to make them at home. So stoked that I finally got down to it! 

These cookies use simple, easy to find ingredients and are so easy to make. I didn't have to leave my home to buy anything and 40 minutes later, the smell of freshly baked cookies was wafting through my kitchen. Serve it warm with a chilled glass of milk on the side and you will win any popularity contest πŸ˜„  This recipe has butter, sugar and flour so don't kid yourself into thinking it is health food just because of the addition of rolled oats. But as with everything else, homemade baked goods made with good quality ingredients will any day be far better than anything you buy outside. The chewy texture of the oats, the plump raisins, the buttery aroma of the cookies and the added perfume from the spices will make anyone's heart sing (just please don't tell me you don't like raisins or cinnamon or both! πŸ˜‘ ). 

These cookies were family-approved and even my picky toddlers have been demanding one cookie every day so trust me, you don't need any more convincing. Go make! Like, right now!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Recipe of the month: Ricotta, Mushroom and Spinach Ravioli in a Tomato Cream Sauce

This has got to be the most elaborate and photo-heavy savoury recipe post on the blog so far! Phew! πŸ˜…

This has been a long time coming. Finally I can cross it off my culinary bucket list! Italian cuisine is a compendium of crowd-pleasing comfort food and like most of the world, it has enslaved my tastebuds for as long as I can remember. Pasta makes an appearance on our dinner table at least once or sometimes twice a week. If I am dining out, 70% chances are it will be an Italian restaurant. I experiment with different Italian dishes frequently and I don't see that changing any time soon! Recognizing my love affair with pasta, my husband bought me the pasta attachment for my Kitchenaid stand mixer ages ago and it had been sitting in the pantry unopened and gathering dust. Every time would I tell myself to open it and at least glance at the instruction manual but I would end up procrastinating. Not to mention, making fresh pasta at home had always seemed like such a daunting task that my hesitation was compounded by a sense of intimidation.

It so happened that one weekend, me and the husband were watching Master of None on Netflix. Anyone familiar with the series knows that Dev, the main protagonist, is a big foodie and completely obsessed with pasta. The inspiration to finally bring out the pasta attachment came after I watched the episode shot in Modena where he enrolls in a pasta-making course in a quaint little shop under the watchful eye of an Italian nonna. After that, there was no way I could put it off any longer!

Who says watching tv is bad when it motivates you to do something unprecedented and totally cool, right? 😁

Turns out, making pasta from scratch isn't really difficult. It is time consuming, sure, but it really isn't that big a deal. By the way, if you are looking more information on stand mixers and in particular, KitchenAid mixers, check out the 'Additional Information' section at the bottom of the post. Getting back to my pasta-making experience, it brought me to the realization of how different fresh pasta is compared to those mass-produced packets of dried pasta you buy at the grocery store. The silky-smooth texture, the tenderness and the ability for it to be the star of the dish is unparalleled. Not to forget, the cooking time which is drastically reduced. For delicate, creamy, dairy-based sauces, it is THE pasta you should use. So, now, if anyone asks me why I take the "trouble" of going through all that work, I think I need to make them this ravioli dish or else a fettuccine with an alfredo or carbonara to make them understand the difference! 😜

I must also add that making pasta at home is quite addictive. The very first time I tried it, I was hooked! My intention was always to make ravioli which to my sheer luck turned out great on my pasta-making debut. With the scraps of the pasta dough, I decided to make fettuccine and was delighted when the kids relished it like none other! The first time I made them fettuccine in a pumpkin cream-based sauce which they polished off within minutes. After that I whipped up a basil-walnut pesto and that was devoured with equal gusto. Next on my agenda is spaghetti which I am sure the troops will enjoy!

I found a recipe for a ricotta spinach ravioli in a tomato cream sauce on the internet. I followed it and it was appreciated by everyone who tasted it. What I liked most about it was how well balanced the sauce turned out. I am not a fan of intensely tangy tomato sauces because it registers too sharp for my taste buds. On the other hand, overindulgent and creamy sauces tend to be heavy and gluggy at times. This one strikes a perfect balance between the two. I tweaked the original recipe a tiny bit and the result is what you see here. I like my ravioli to be smothered in a fair bit of sauce and so that is how I prepared and plated it. Delicate ravioli stuffed with homemade creamy ricotta, mushrooms and spinach and dunked in this mildly tangy and creamy sauce perfumed with basil is a posh, moreish and hearty dish that is bound to please your family and friends.

I have tried to make this recipe post as simple and easy to understand as possible. I took my time to make this dish, precisely jotting down measurements and taking a gazillion photos in the process. At the end of it, the kitchen was a colossal mess, my hair was in disarray, beads of sweat had started to form on my forehead, I was dusted and streaked in flour and there were bits of dough clinging to my clothes. Yet I was as happy as I could possibly be! Ravioli is a labour of love and so worth it 😊

This happened to be the third time I made fresh pasta within a span of 3 months so I can say that I am reaping the culinary rewards on a pretty regular basis! I hope I have inspired you to do the same if you haven't yet. Be sure to let me know how it goes you guys πŸ™Œ

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Get Your Green On @ Lotus Kitchen, Singapore


So, judging by the type of restaurants I review on the blog, you must realize by now that a brand-new vegetarian restaurant in Singapore's dining scene will make me sit up and take notice. And all the more if it is a non-Indian restaurant! Not to diss my own culinary roots or anything but it is public knowledge that most Indian restaurants have no dearth of vegetarian options. However when you look outside the cuisine, the choices aren't always plentiful. 

Embracing vegetarianism, Lotus Kitchen is a spinoff of the famous Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant which is a leading Chinese vegetarian restaurant based out of Taiwan. Lotus Vegetarian is the brainchild of Ms Lee and boasts of delicious and hearty meat-free dishes prepared by a professional team of chefs. Much like a lotus flower that embodies love, purity and devotion, Lotus Vegetarian aims to uphold these qualities in their conviction. Greendot, another chain of fast-casual vegetarian F&B establishments in Singapore also comes under the same management. I had heard a lot about Lotus Vegetarian but had never been there so when I received a kind invitation for a food tasting at the sister establishment, I was more than happy to oblige! 

Image Courtesy: Lotus Kitchen
The 80-seater Lotus Kitchen brings to Singaporeans over 50 contemporary vegetarian cuisines from made-to-order dim sum to unique handmade noodles and stir-fried dishes. The menu at Lotus Kitchen comprises of signature dishes from its predecessor, as well as new creations by owner Ms Lee who has a penchant for mixing different herbs to create new aromatic blends as well as using homemade sauces and spices to whip up authentic local and Taiwanese vegetarian dishes. All dishes are made with natural premium ingredients known to boost constitution such as lion’s mane mushrooms, agaricus blazei mushroom, tian ma, cordyceps flower, burdock and sugarcane sprouts from Taiwan. 

Located in the bustling heart of Chinatown at Chinatown Point, Lotus Kitchen boasts of a prime and accessible location. Just step outside the Chinatown MRT from the New Bridge Road exit and you will literally fall into the lap of the restaurant!

First impressions: Spacious, bright, inviting and spick and span.

The restaurant showcases a modern minimalist interior design, and its cosy and relaxed ambience makes it an ideal space for foodies to celebrate the delights of the plant kingdom.

I loved this particular nook of the restaurant. It was more private, eye-catching and had a cheery vibe. I was pleased to note that we were dining there. 

Image Courtesy: Lotus Kitchen

As I flipped through the menu, I was impressed by the variety the restaurant has to offer. There is something in there for everyone. Meat-lovers will not be disappointed I'm sure! 

I was privileged to enjoy an elaborate 10-course dinner and here are some of my thoughts on it,