Sunday, May 14, 2017

Recipe of the month: Spicy Mushroom Capsicum Fry

It is Mother's Day today. The second sunday of May each year is dedicated to celebrating these selfless souls. On this particular day, moms are acknowledged for their presence in our lives and pampered. Hardly enough is it? It seems more fitting that they deserve a lifetime of appreciation. Oh well....I don't make the rules! Wishing all the mothers out there a very Happy Mother's Day! From one mother to another, know that you are important, special and irreplaceable 💖

This is going to be a short (and spicy) post! Since it is Mother's Day, I am going to share a recipe that I got from my dear mom more than a decade ago. Rewind back to the time when I was a new bride, frazzled at the thought of managing a household by herself. Before embarking on my new journey as a married woman, I got myself a notebook in which I hurriedly jotted down a handful of simple recipes (including that of dal 😝 ). Among those recipes was this one for Spicy Mushroom Capsicum Fry that I nicked from my mom's handwritten recipe book. 

This recipe just needs a handful of ingredients, looks good, tastes good and can be made within 30 mins. Sounds like a winner right? Believe me it is! It has quite a few spice powders in there so it does pack in a punch. Go easy on the chilli powder if you want to tone it down okay? I used to make this dish very often before but over the years it has appeared considerably lesser on my dinner table mainly because of the husband who prefers gravies to dry side dishes. I think this would be a perfect side dish to serve alongside a simple dal/mild curry and cooling raita with any Indian flatbread or rice dish. That way you get a nicely balanced meal. 

If you are old enough to cook for your mom, you know what you need to do! Give here the day off and put a smile on that kind face that has worked a lifetime to make sure you always have one on yours 😊

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Raw Vegan Food with a Modern Twist: The Living Café @ Bukit Timah, Singapore


Before this review, my plans of visiting The Living Café (TLC) had been hanging in the balance for the past 3 years 😄 Unfailingly, something or the other would come up forcing me to cancel my plans or venues would get changed unexpectedly. On one occasion, I even entered the café having scheduled dinner with a friend only to find that it was half an hour away from closing! I had no other option but to head over to another food establishment in the vicinity 😞

So when I had the opportunity to catch up with two old friends over lunch and realized that Bukit Timah was the ideal locality (being sort of equidistant for the three of us), I suggested TLC without a moment's hesitation.

This time, the stars aligned and my plans finally came through! 🙌


The brainchild of master nutritionist Dana Heather, TLC embraces raw vegan food and this is what sets it apart from other cafés. Their chefs are continually creating their own versions of raw and raw-fusion to bring a wide scale of variety to the café. Although not 100% vegan, most of the dishes are vegetarian and vegan-friendly, with many raw options. Chicken, fish and eggs make an appearance in certain starters and entrees though dairy is entirely avoided. To be more specific, TLC does not use red meat, cow dairy, white sugar, preservatives, additives, artificial colorings and includes gluten-free alternatives on the menu. The café takes pride in using specially selected and sourced organic ingredients wherever possible and thoughtfully combines them to achieve optimum flavor for their healthy raw food establishment.

It was a Saturday afternoon and rather late by the time we reached the venue but much to my surprise, the café was bursting at the seams at 2pm. There was only one table vacant all the way at the back so we had to make do with that.

The naturalistic decor of TLC reflects the "green" concept of the café. Spacious and airy, prominent features of the space include mismatched furniture, earthy colors, indoor plants, chalkboards and a lofty ceiling. 



There are two floors - the lower floor consists of the dining area and the upper floor has a retail store selling premium quality food products, health supplements, essential oils and books amidst other things. 



Something that catches one's eye almost instantly is the glass case with their amazing array of raw desserts. While you are waiting for your orders to arrive, you could keep your peepers peeled on the enticing display!
 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Baker's Corner: Summer Tomato, Olive & Caramelized Onion Focaccia


It's the start of the long weekend! Gotta love those 💗 I have plans to catch up with family, colleagues and a close friend, cook (and stuff myself with!) lots of good food, binge watch season 12 of Grey's Anatomy and/or Sherlock with the husband, get started on a new novel and enjoy plenty of cuddles with my girls. That is more than enough to qualify for a fulfilling weekend for me 😊

Moving on, I have a nifty recipe for you to keep you busy this weekend!

It appears as if focaccia is to Italy what baguette is to France. This oven-baked salty and oily Italian bread is a delight to have on hand. Focaccia takes on different guises with aplomb. It can be served as is, alongside pasta, soups or stews, dunked in an array of dips, to make fabulous sandwiches or even as a pizza base.

Basic focaccia dough requires only five ingredients, flour, water, olive oil, salt and yeast. A simple focaccia dough lends itself to so many variations that once you master the dough, your options are endless. You can use a combination of two or more of the following ingredients (among others) to adorn your focaccia: rosemary, thyme, basil, garlic, olives, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions, bell peppers, parmesan and nuts. Focaccia is the perfect canvas for culinary experimentation but getting carried away with too many ingredients would be overkill in my humble opinion.

Pssst.....let me let you in on a secret. I really don't fancy olives much. It is an ingredient that does not enjoy a place in my fridge at any given point of time and whenever I am at a salad bar or sandwich joint, I pointedly request for olives not to be included in my order. Then why have I included it in this recipe, you ask? Well, I made this focaccia bread to take to a friend's house and while choosing the ingredients to adorn the focaccia with, I cast aside my preferences in favour of something that complements focaccia and is generally liked. So gregarious of me, no? 😝



Making focaccia at home does not require any fancy schmancy gadgets, uses inexpensive ingredients, is simple to make and turns out unquestionably impressive. For anyone intimidated by the idea of making your own bread, focaccia is a perfect place to start. And did I mention there is no kneading involved? This one delivers on every single level now, doesn't it?!

Your choice of flour depends very much on what kind of focaccia you’re looking for. Using plain flour, or even finer “tipo 00” flour will give you a softer, more tender crumb; while a mixture of strong bread flour and coarse semolina creates a more robust, chewy texture. In this recipe I have used bread flour alone with great results - a delicate crusty exterior with a soft fluffy interior.

A few things to keep in mind - this dough is really wet and that is how it is supposed to be. Once the specified quantity of flour is added, put the bag of flour back into the pantry pronto so you don't get tempted to add any more!

The secret to the best focaccia bread is great tasting olive oil. Since there is quite a bit used, the bread really takes on the flavor. Also, you have to ensure that you create lots of dimples with your finger tips into your dough and then drizzle enough olive oil into those dimples which will then get absorbed while the focaccia bakes creating a flavorful bread with a crisp crust and tender interior.

This bread is delicious eaten on the day it is baked, but it will keep for a few days and you can freshen it up in the oven for a few minutes just before serving.

I know I've rattled on for quite a bit so I will give my fingers some rest now. Besides, I do need to enjoy the long weekend too 😎

For your next baking project, take on this humble yet delicious focaccia and I guarantee it will be love at first bite!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Kids Day Out: Palawan Pirate Ship & Palawan Beach at Sentosa, Singapore

It had been a while since we had taken the kids to Sentosa. The last time was to the S.E.A aquarium and before that to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum (both visits which had been a success much to my surprise!). I wanted to take them outdoors for some fun in the sun and Sentosa was the first place that came to mind. 

Palawan Pirate Ship

Did you guys know that the iconic Port of Lost Wonder in Sentosa that had ceased all operations since Dec 27th 2016, has reopened its water play area?  Due to public demand, families can now access its signature water play area – the Pirate Ship which is now goes by the name ‘Palawan Pirate Ship’.

Even better news - it is free for families to enjoy. An attractive water park with a ship, slides, a giant water bucket, water canons and the works that has no admission charge....how can young parents pass up on that! 

We reached the water play area on a Saturday morning just before opening hours in the hope that it wouldn't be terribly crowded and parked the car at the parking lot located at Palawan beach. I spotted a huge KidZania as I walked towards the water play area. KidZania Singapore offers children real-life experiences through many different role-play activities in the kid-sized city. A place I definitely want to take the kids to one day! 

Anyway, coming back to the Palawan Pirate ship, it is a water play area designed for children aged 3-10 years old. An exciting and safe place for the little ones to splash around and have a whale of a good time! There are sheltered rest areas and benches located nearby. Also, paid locker facilities, shower rooms, and nursing rooms are available for use. 

The kids immediately bolted towards the water play area and there was no turning back! I was allowed to take both of them on the water slides and they loved it so much that I was coerced to take them close to 50 times (after which I had to feign a broken back and only then they let up!). They spent a good hour and a half exploring every water feature, running and splashing to their heart's content.

Although the sky was gloomy on that day, we were fortunate that it didn't rain and the weather was quite pleasant.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Recipe of the month: Roasted Beetroot Risotto


I am aware that I slacked off last month with only two blog posts. I got busy (and also a little lazy) so that explains the drop in my usual quota. But with four draft posts currently in my cache, I'm going to make up for it folks! 😎

Having said that, let me present to you the first of the lot which happens to be a cheat post. I have done nothing more than write this short introduction and do a spot of editing which hardly took five minutes so in blogging terms it is akin to zero effort!

I realized a few weeks ago that the last guest post my husband did for my blog was way back in December 2015. Gasp and double gasp!😮 Not one to sit quietly after such an unacceptable discovery, I told him that in order to make up for the extended absence from my blog (which was purely unintentional by the way) he had to bring his A-game. How thrilled am I that he managed to do just that with this post! 

Handing over to your host for today. Adiós 🙋



Greetings readers! I'm back on this space after a long hiatus.

I have an popular savoury recipe for you today. As most of you are aware, Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish cooked in a broth to a creamy consistency. Most types of risotto contain butter, wine, and onion and the broth can be derived from meat, fish, or vegetables. This delicious rice dish represents the epitome of Italian home cooking and comfort food.

The rice is first cooked briefly in a soffritto of onion and butter or olive oil, to coat each grain in a film of fat, called tostatura; white or red wine is added and must be absorbed by the grains. When it has evaporated, then the heat is raised to medium high, and very hot stock is gradually added in small amounts, while the concoction is stirred gently, almost constantly: stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid. At that point, the pot is taken off the heat for the mantecatura (the point when diced cold butter is vigorously stirred in), to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible. It may be removed from the heat a few minutes earlier and left to cook with its residual heat.

Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy, but has some resistance or bite (al dente) and separate grains. The traditional texture is fairly fluid, or all'onda ("wavy, or flowing in waves"). It is served on flat dishes and should easily spread out but not have excess watery liquid around the perimeter. Risotto waits for no one. It is ready fresh off the stove and should be eaten immediately as it continues to cook in its own heat and can become too dry with the grains too soft.

Risotto is more of a technique than a dish. It has a reputation for being fussy and time-consuming and this isn’t without reason. Making risotto requires some experience and once you start the cooking process, it does require a fair bit of attention. Getting that perfect al dente texture of the rice and the right consistency can be tricky. But do all the required prep ahead of time and give it some TLC and it will give you more than your effort's worth on the dinner table. Practice makes perfect with this one!


I have been making risotto at home for a few years now and after several trials and tribulations, I've somewhat gotten the hang of it. I usually make mushroom and peas risotto or butternut squash and sage risotto but for this guest post, I have attempted something different. The recipe you see here is a roasted beetroot risotto which was inspired from a local Italian restaurant. The risotto turned out rich without being heavy, with al dente rice, a vibrant deep pink hue from the oven-roasted beets with a hint of thyme, a dollop of sour cream all adorned with shards of Parmesan and chunks of sweet roasted beets. The verdict was good enough to get it featured here!

The first time I made this dish, I crumbled goat's cheese over the risotto along with a dollop of sour cream. But I later felt that the goat's cheese was too overpowering and salty for the dish. The second time, I used only sour cream and felt it was perfect.

Keep in mind that if you are using store-bought stock, you don't need to add any salt to the risotto. The stock and Parmesan will lend all the salt you need. You may even run the risk of your risotto being salty. In such a situation the sour cream comes in very handy. So do not season without tasting first!

That's all from me for today. Till next time....

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Feet Haven: Ancient Tradition with a Modern Twist

Media Invite
How often do you spot seedy looking foot reflexology parlours located within rundown shophouses or obscure corners of old shopping centres and pass by without a second glance? If you were to ask me, I'd say - quite often. Although I am no stranger to the experience of foot reflexology, I have some serious trust issues and only visit a parlour if it has been recommended by a friend or boasts good reviews.

For the uninitiated, reflexology, also known as "zone therapy", is an alternative therapy involving gentle manipulation or pressing on certain parts of the foot to produce an effect elsewhere in the body. This mixture of healing art and science is based on the premise that an energy channel encompassing 12 vital organs exists from the feet to the top of the head. This technique is said to relieve pain, headaches, anxiety and stress, as well as increase blood circulation and boost energy. Other than enhancing general wellbeing, it is thought to be able to cure colds and other minor ailments.

When I received a kind invitation from the good folks at Feet Haven to receive a 60-min foot massage, I checked out the website and reviews and was pleased with what I came across. And the invite couldn’t have come at a better time. As a full-time working mom of twin toddlers, I am on my toes every waking minute of the day. And that particular week had left me completely knackered. A busy work week, multiple exercise regimens, meeting up with ex-colleagues, a friend’s wedding and taking the kids to a water park and then the beach had resulted in my legs feeling like lead! I was in dire need of some serious R&R.



Founded in April 2011, Feet Haven Reflexology is a boutique Foot Reflex spa offering foot reflexology and body massages to its customers. There are three outlets located in the trendy enclaves of Katong, Upper Bukit Timah and Serangoon Gardens. With its crisp fresh interiors and chilled out vibe, Feet Haven aims to banish the dull, old-fashioned reputation of foot reflexology parlours that typically attract an older clientele. The boutique spa has been generating major buzz especially among the younger crowd comprising mostly of students, young working professionals, bloggers and new parents. Accolades have naturally followed: Feet Haven was awarded the Best Foot Massage by Harper's Bazaar Spa Awards 2013 and named Best Value Simply Her Foot Spa by Simply Her in the same year. It has also been featured in popular publications including 8 Days, Cleo, Mother & Baby, Young Parents and Eastie Brekkie.

Soon after my toddlers went down for their afternoon nap, I made my way to the nearest outlet. Feet Haven’s newest offering at Bukit Timah is tucked away in a quiet little recluse of Jalan Bingka, Bukit Timah, away from the madness of the city.

As I entered the spa, the calming music playing in the background and essential oil scents wafting in the air came together to create an instantly pleasant and soothing environment.




Offering a whole range of services under one roof,  Feet Haven aims to alleviate stress and restore customers’ well-being with their therapeutic services of body treatment and reflexology.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Blossom Bliss 2017 at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Rewind to Feb 2011. I was delirious with excitement having meticulously planned a much anticipated holiday to Japan. I was counting the days till our 8-day visit to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima during the "sakura" or cherry blossom season the following month. The exquisite beauty of the Japan's national flower and scenic vistas draws flocks of tourists to the country and I was among those who had fallen prey to their charming allure. I had listed down all the prime spots for cherry blossom viewing (called hanami) and spent most of my days dreaming about quaint paths and enchanted gardens dotted with the ethereal white and pink flowers. Well, if you are acquainted with the history of that time, you will know that my dreams were washed away in the calamitous tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster that occurred a few days prior to our intended travel. Needless to say, our holiday plans were cancelled immediately and in the face of the tragedy that had struck Japan, all thoughts of sakura temporarily left my mind.

It has been 6 years since but I am determined that I will someday visit Japan to cross off cherry blossom viewing from my bucket list. Cherry trees are grown throughout Japan. They start to blossom in the warm, southern islands of the country, and as the season moves north, they peak in late March and early April. Cherry blossoms are a symbolic flower of the spring, a time of renewal, and the fleeting nature of life. Their life is very short. After their beauty peaks around two weeks, the blossoms start to fall.

Image source: www.nsiderjourneys.com.au




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There is good news for sakura enthusiasts like me. Until I can actually set foot in Japan, I can appreciate the beauty of the blossoms at our very own Gardens by the Bay in Singapore!

March denotes a month of excitement and anticipation, as the wait for blossoms to come into full bloom begins. These beautiful and transient flowers, known for their unpredictable blooming, are back in the Flower Dome with the “Blossom Bliss” (粉色之恋) floral display.

Not to be one to miss such an opportunity, on a weekend morning, I set off with my troops and reached the Flower Dome at 9:30am. The tickets were based on a 2 hour timed entry so we felt like it was a good idea to reach there as early as possible to beat the crowd. 



The first thing that struck me as I entered the cooled conservatory was that we hadn't managed to beat the crowd 😆  and the second was of course the stunning sakura which were in full bloom for the most part. Yay!

This year, the pretty hues of pink and white are showcased in a Japanese-inspired landscape that features a picturesque tree-lined pathway and traditional rickshaws for the perfect photo opportunity.



Apparently, this year, there are more trees spread out around the conservatory, as well as new varieties that will be on display for the first time. Besides cherry blossoms, peach blossoms are also in bloom.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Recipe of the month: Strawberry, Blackberry & Vanilla Overnight Oats

I've become a bit obsessed with overnight oats lately. If you went through my previous post on Chocolate Peanut Butter Raspberry Overnight Oats, you will be aware of it 😀

A quick recap - overnight oats are a no-cook method of making oatmeal. Which means, you don't have to cook your oats on the stove with the liquid of choice. All you do is mix rolled oats with liquid and other add-ins in a clean mason jar and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Easy peasy? You bet!

Overnight oats are heaps better than those sugar-loaded cereals or granola bars for a quick breakfast fix. It is way more nutritious, tastes infinitely better, can be customized to suit your preferences and keeps you satiated for long.

Twice a week, I go for afternoon exercise classes conducted by my University and on those two days, a hearty breakfast is an absolute must for me. Can you imagine walking into to a high-intensity Zumba class with a rumbling or worse, empty stomach? On the flip side, going just after a heavy lunch is a terrible idea too! So in such instances especially, a substantial serving of overnight oats becomes my saviour and keeps me going till the end of the class 😊

This Strawberry, Blackberry & Vanilla Overnight Oats  is another one of my favourite combinations. I love the medley of vanilla, cinnamon, banana and fresh berries. And the addition of chia seeds give it such great texture. There are only two ingredients in common between this recipe and my previous one - the rolled oats (obviously!) and banana (coz I love 'em). All the other components vary so this overnight oats does taste completely different. I promise! I have another pumpkin spice overnight oats recipe that is seriously delicious but I'll share that recipe at a later time lest you think I'm eating nothing but oats off late 😝

As is the case with any breakfast oats recipe, you could switch up the ingredients any which way you want. Almond milk, cashew milk or thin coconut milk would be great substitutions to whole or skimmed dairy milk. Use whatever fresh or frozen berries you like, add in nuts of your choice or sprinkle some granola over it for extra crunch. The sky's the limit really!

Okay that's enough of my yackety-yak for now. Set aside 5-10 mins of your time tonight and in the morning you have a pudding-like porridge that is both delicious and fulfilling!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Restaurant review: iO Italian Osteria, Singapore


It was time for another meet up with my gal pals and that predictably translated into another restaurant review 😊

The one thing I miss terribly from my previous job are my colleagues. Far from being just friends, over the years, they became somewhat like sisters separated at birth! If sharing office space, having lunch together every single day and enjoying coffee breaks was not enough, we would be in each other's company after work frequently too. We would joke, laugh, gossip, share secrets, trade family stories, unload burdens of the mind and generally be there for each other out at every opportunity. As the saying goes, nothing lasts forever and with time, a few graduated, some changed jobs, three of them got married, one may be even relocating but we still make it a point to catch up frequently and remain in each others lives. I can only hope that it stays that way for the years to come. Among these seven girls, some friendships date much longer than the others but when we meet, I am equally delighted to see all of them 😍

I don't know what connection we girls have to Italian restaurants but most of the time we find ourselves at one. All of us like Italian food and there is something for everyone so it is kind of a no-brainer. So, iO Italian Osteria was our pick this time as one of my friends had been there and was sufficiently impressed to recommend it to the rest of us.

Another reason why I was personally keen on visiting this restaurant was its location. Housed in the mall HillV2, this area holds a special place in my heart because I used to live on the same street. Back then the mall didn't exist and there was a vast expanse of lush greenery in its space. When the mall came up, it did break my nature-loving heart but I also secretly knew that me and my husband would have been regular visitors. On the bright side, the greenery is not all gone.


The restaurant embodies the simple and rustic setting of a traditional Italian tavern. Adorned with a selection of fine antique pieces, beautiful copper and real wood furniture, the interiors grabs your attention instantly. In contrast, the ceiling has quite the industrial look!

The ambience is relaxed and cosy.


The restaurant has an open-concept kitchen so you can get a glimpse of the chefs in action. 





You can find fresh in-house bakery products, breads, pizzas and house pour wines.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Valentine's Day Special: White Chocolate-Yuzu Cheesecake

So, Valentine's Day is tomorrow and I couldn't resist whipping up a sweet something even though I am not a sucker for the sappy Hallmark holiday 😛 It does help when your beloved has a rather strong sweet tooth! 

A few weeks ago, I was at this popular cafe in Singapore, enjoying a brunch date with the husband. Once I was done, I spent a few minutes curiously wandering around the cafe to check out the interesting items on display and it was then that I saw it - inside a gleaming glass shelf, sitting prettily on a platter was a sinful-looking White Chocolate-Yuzu Cheesecake. I stood there gawking at it for a while. I then cursed myself for just having polished off a large serving of Belgian waffles with vanilla ice-cream for despite my enormous an appetite, I couldn't possibly have eaten any more (even if I tried). But it didn't stop me from making a vow right there that I would replicate the same at home. 

So, I didn't have a point of reference with this dessert. I didn't try the cheesecake at the restaurant, nor had I ever tried it before that. The very fact that I found it so alluring was probably because I hadn't come across that combination in a dessert anywhere else. But I thought it was a genius idea - white chocolate with its milky sweetness and yuzu with its aromatic zing, would be a perfect couple together in a rich, creamy cheesecake. 

Talking about yuzu - when I first came to Singapore over 11 years ago, I always noticed cartons of yuzu juice from different brands scattered across the shelves in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. I had no idea what the thing was and therefore, no clue about what it tasted like. But time and a curious palate are great teachers as I soon discovered.

Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit that looks like a small grapefruit but has the flavour that is a mixture of lemon, grapefruit with hints of mandarin orange. It seems to me to be softer on the palate than lemon. It is refreshing and has an intoxicating subtle fragrance. Once it entered my home, there was no looking back! Over the years, the amount of yuzu juice that has been consumed in my household has been staggering. At any point of time if you open my refrigerator, you will most likely find a carton of yuzu juice. That is how much we like it! I would absolutely love to use the zest from fresh yuzu in my cooking but strange thing, I haven't spotted the fruit anywhere. Maybe I should keep that in mind next time I pass by a Japanese speciality store. 


I did not follow any particular recipe for this cheesecake but rather formulated my own. I modified one of my go-to cheesecake recipes by incorporating white chocolate and yuzu juice and reducing the amount of sugar. The result was amazing! The rich and incredibly creamy cheesecake showcased the flavour of both the white chocolate and yuzu without being cloyingly sweet. My family gave it the thumbs up (my toddlers kept screeching "WANT IT!" after each bite which I took to mean that they liked it!). 

So it isn't too late to make this my dear readers. This dessert is love on a plate! It comes together in a snap too. If you aren't lucky enough to find yuzu juice, you can substitute with lemon juice (but it would taste slightly less awesome). 

Wishing you all a very Happy Valentine's Day!💗 Love certainly makes life worth living doesn't it? Cherish those you love, appreciate them and celebrate their presence in your life. I will be enjoying a family dinner with the three loves of my life at my favourite Italian restaurant. Totally romantic, I know 😜

Till my next post 🙋 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Recipe of the month: Banana-Berry Smoothie

This has got to be the shortest and most easiest recipe on my blog! Since the recipe is so short and sweet, let me keep the intro the same way 😉  

Smoothies are a great way to start the day and the perfect 'snack' to keep the hunger pangs at bay. Not to mention, a refreshing and nutritious drink to cool off in the summer (which is of utmost need in this part of the world!). It can be a lifesaver especially for busy moms. On the rare occasions that my toddlers get off their highchairs after no more than three tablespoons of food, all I have to do is whip up a smoothie and it disappears within a few greedy gulps! And you can rarely go wrong with them....chuck in a bunch of fresh fruits and veggies with some yoghurt, milk and a dash of honey and voila! within a matter of minutes you have got yourself a delicious drink containing energy boosting proteins and healthy fats.

Some of the ingredients I prefer to use in smoothies are bananas, assorted berries, mango, papaya, peaches, sapota, honeydew, avocado, peanut butter, blanched almonds and chia seeds. I usually don't fancy citrus fruits, pineapple, kiwi, carrots, cucumbers, kale and spinach but that is just me. When it comes to smoothies, anything goes! 

Feel free to get creative and tweak this recipe any which way you want. 

Happy chugging! 💦


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Baker's Corner: Vegetarian Tex-Mex Casserole

I can't tell you how much I'm savouring the Chinese New Year long weekend break we are having in this part of the world. Waking up late (8:30am for me is like super late 😝), lazing around home, catching up on some reading, cooking and eating hazardous amounts of food, taking ridiculously long naps, catching up with pals, taking the kids to the pool and on outings.....I'm talking 100% pure fun! 

So on one of the days, we had company for dinner and decided to go for a Mexican-inspired menu. We had a grilled corn salad, tortilla chips and quesadillas with sour cream, guacamole and salsa, black bean burgers and a continuous supply of Margaritas to wash it all down. The food was good and company even better so at the end of the evening, everyone had a little too much to eat (and drink!) 😜  

The next day, I opened my fridge to discover half a can of black beans, half a tub of sour cream, an almost full jar of pickled jalapeños, a container of leftover homemade salsa and an unopened packet of flour tortillas. I usually hate it when I find a bunch of stuff in my fridge that I have no idea what to do with. I didn't want to repeat any of the dishes of the previous night coz we had eaten way too much of it already. It was then that I remembered a Mexican enchilada casserole that I had at my friend's home last year that I really loved. It was ordered from a home-based caterer so I couldn't get my hands on a recipe but I had picked and prodded the dish long enough to make a mental note of what had gone into it. I was so glad that in addition to the leftovers, I still had a wedge each of green, red and yellow bell peppers in the fridge so got to working on my version of a Tex-Mex Casserole.


I'm pretty sure you will not find this exact same recipe anywhere on the internet or in any book (if you do, I will be thunderstruck!). There is a randomness to this dish that comes from tossing in whatever one finds at the time of their culinary experimentation! I have attempted to recreate the taste of the delicious casserole I have described☝ but I made a few deliberate changes along the way. I've named this dish 'Tex-Mex Casserole' because it suffers from a serious identity crisis 😆 Notwithstanding issues with authenticity, this dish has rich, bold and bright flours incorporated into it so I would recommend it as being worthy of consideration. I took the time to jot down and carefully measure all the ingredients to create a tested and reproducible recipe. I'm stoked I did that because the dish received positive feedback from whoever ate it! It was so good that even the leftovers were gone by the end of the day! The next time, I don't even have to wait until there are specific ingredients languishing in the fridge to make this dish...I can serve it at our next dinner party and I'm sure it will be appreciated 🙌

One thing I need to mention before I forget - a casserole is ideally made in a 9x13 inch baking pan but since I don't yet own one of that size, I split it into two - one round and one square 8-inch baking dish. Whatever works for you guys, okay?

I need to rush back and enjoy what is remaining of this glorious 4.5 days of break 😊  Signing off now....do make this dish and let me know how it turned out! 



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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Family Fun at Club Mahindra Resort - Madikeri, Coorg

I've been suffering from a mild case of post-holiday blues. Quite expected when you go through more than three weeks of nothing but eat-sleep-repeat! No setting alarms, no household chores, no never-ending to-do lists....not even babysitting (and this is a twin mom talking here!). There were people who would readily take over childminding duties for me even without my asking. So all I did was eat, vegetate on the couch, sleep, catch up with family and friends, go out and shop like nobody's business. I don't remember the last time I got to live the life of a sloth! So now I'm back to the grind and pining for those days of utter laziness. It has taken a herculean effort to get off my behind and show the blog some love. 

Food-related posts can wait for the time being (coz after all that mindless bingeing, food is the last thing on my mind!). During our holiday in India, we went on a short trip to a resort in Madikeri, Coorg with my siblings. Even though it was for a few days, we had such a memorable time that I had to blog about the experience. 

Madikeri is a hill station and the vibrant capital of Coorg, a little corner of Karnataka. Nestled in the Western Ghats, the district is known for its exquisite beauty. It is verdant and filled with nature’s splendour that spans more shades of green than you know exist. Driving in, the plains gradually gives way to mountain ranges and as the road begins to curve upwards, the wide vistas of hills and mountains transports visitors to another world. All around are mountains, hills, valleys, paddy fields, grasslands, coffee plantations, pepper and cardamom plants, orange orchards and amidst all this flows the life-sustaining river Cauvery.



During my lifetime, I have passed by Madikeri innumerable times so I am no stranger to the place. Hailing from Udupi, any road trip from Mysore to Udupi would invariably take us through Madikeri. It used to be our go-to place for coffee/tea pit stops. Breathing in the chilly air while sipping hot cups of masala tea with my family brings back fond memories. Aside from brief stopovers, I've been there on a few family trips and college trips too. 

This trip took a wee bit of planning since we had three kids under the age of three travelling with us. We were looking for a resort that was suitable for families with young children and offered activities to keep them occupied (coz everyone knows what toddlers can be like!). Club Mahindra was one of the first options that came up and it ended up being the destination of choice. 

Set amidst this lush green landscape, Club Mahindra Coorg is a sprawling resort built in the local ainmanés tradition and is located within a coffee plantation, swirling with scents, colours and sights of the hill station. It has 220 luxurious apartments and lots of facilities including a gym, two swimming pools, three restaurants, a lobby lounge and bar, a holiday activity centre, a spa complex and more.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Recipe of the month: Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Raspberry Overnight Oats

Wishing all my readers a very 
Happy New Year 2017!!!

I never thought the day would come when I would feature an overnights oats recipe on the blog 😛 But ever since I got back to work, I hardly get free time to come up with above-par culinary creations. So until I magically acquire a time turner, sprout two extra pair of limbs or figure out how to clone myself, simple recipes it is going to be! On the subject of all things simple....drinks have also been a heavily neglected segment on the blog so I may feature more of those too.

This is how mornings unfold in my household ⇒ With my current schedule, I need to be out of the house by 8:20am on a work week. On the bright side, the sun is out (pun intended!). The husband drives me to work everyday and the blessed route we take bypasses all the rush-hour traffic snarls which gets me in record time so I guess I don't have much to complain about. But mornings are always kinda crazy with me rising early to go for a swim or to the gym and then coming back to delegate instructions regarding my toddlers meals or else doing the prep work myself and then making a dozen mental check-lists for the day. After that, it leaves just enough time for us adults to get showered, dressed, caffeinated and say goodbye to two clingy kids. With all this going on, I sometimes don't have time to have breakfast or other times I just forget!

I have a collection of quick breakfast essentials (read: cornflakes, granola bars and fruit) at my workplace but when my to-do list seems longer than the Nile, I find it a herculean effort to put something together and then clean up after. The easy way out is to just skip breakfast altogether.

Having said that, I understand the importance of a good breakfast and therefore came up with a contingency plan. I decided to keep a mason jar of overnight oats ready in the fridge whenever I feel like the next morning is going to swallow me whole. The best thing about overnight oats is that they are great to eat right out of the fridge, convenient to grab on the go, taste delicious, comprise (mostly) of ingredients that are good for you and will keep you fuelled up till lunch time. I can go a good five hours without feeling hungry which from personal experience, enhances productivity at work.

This recipe has rolled oats, peanut butter, chocolate, fresh fruit and nuts. I mean....duh!! Even though I will gladly shun sweet breakfasts for the savoury kind, breakfast that tastes like dessert is pretty hard to pass over! I usually have some time to myself after the kids go to bed (I call it my 'happy hour' 😝) so all I have to do is set aside 5-10 minutes of that time, put together a jar of overnight oats and stash it in the fridge. The next day is just grab and go! The best way to kickstart a busy mum's day, don't you think? And pssst....it's not just for mum....daddy and the kids like it too!

Watch out for more delicious and easy overnight oats recipe that I will be experimenting with in the coming few months. Till then, don't underestimate the power of a good breakfast and try this recipe to start your day right 💪