Monday, December 21, 2015

Pictures, Memories And Such

I feel so bad that I have bee neglecting the blog so much lately. Although I have so many pictures to share, just find it hard to get the time to pen things down here. I sure don't like seeing minimal entries for the recent months!

Getting started, here is what happens when you have grandparents fiddling and learning new apps on their smartphones.

Jeev became Krishna, he totally loves this pic.

And Sanju, became the mighty Bumblebee!

Little Krishna also doubles up as Ninja who loves drawing.

Little Krishna's favourite cartoons? Here it is, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Somewhat of a deja-vu for me, reminds me of the Little Artist post I did on Sanju's drawing earlier this year, in the second quarter, to be precise.

And now the boys have found a new groove, remote controlled cars. Fuelled by their father's burning desire to buy more and more toys and eventually run out of space of storing (note to hubby, please please get me built-in cabinets to aid storage and my sanity).

Oh yes, someone went through the trouble to take awesome shots of the cars.

That too with authentic models.

Pictures like this make a good ad for Iphone 6 promo, as much as I hate it, yes, I kinda did it unintentionally.

This is rather late, but hey, we are still in the holiday mode, aren't we? I just love the collage my dad made with my boys and nephew.

Be it Diwali, Christmas, New Year or the coming Chinese New Year, Happy Holidays to all!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Baked Cornflake Chicken Strips Recipe

It is always refreshing and empowering to learn a new recipe. From the very aroma of it cooking, my kids exclaim 'Mmmmm nice smell!' And then take a bite and go 'wow very nice Amma!' That is in the perfect world. In the not-so perfect world I get 'errrr I don't like!' or 'I don't want to eat chicken today', which makes me go 'really? ok yesterday and day before, not today?!'
Oh, how adventurous life can get!

There has been an influx of cooking videos on Facebook, and they are short and simple, and the best part, with captions. This means you don't even have to turn up the volume and risk kids coming taking over the hand device, and yet you get to see details of recipe.

Below is the Tastemade recipe I have been eyeing on making.

It is somewhat similar to the chicken tenders I have made before. This time I wanted to get more taste and seasonings to the chicken strip even before I get the dippings done. And being Indian, I really could not avoid using spices.

So here goes:

Marinate chicken breast strip with corn flour, salt and cumin powder for 1 hour. 
In a plate, prepare some all purpose flour, mixed with some salt, pepper and paprika powder. 
In another plate, break 2 eggs, and whisk it well. 
In a third plate, put some corn flakes, get your kids to mash it but not too fine. 
Take the marinated chicken, coat with the flour mixture, and then dip into the egg, and lastly coat with the cornflakes. Repeat this for every strip. 
Arrange on a baking dish. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C, for 20 minutes, flip the sides, and 20 minutes more.
Savour it with your favourite sauce!

Hope you enjoy baking it as much as I did!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cornflake Cookies Recipe

I totally love this recipe. It worked so well for my cookies, it is crunchy on the outside with cake-like texture and done-ness on the inside. How can you not love it?

It takes:1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup corn flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups cornflakes
150g butter
3/4c fine granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg

1) Mix the APF with baking powder and cornflour. Stir them in well.
2) Crush the cornflakes till fine.
3) Beat the butter and sugar till pale. Add in the egg and beat some more. Also add in the vanilla flavouring.
4) Start to add the dry mixture gradually. At this point I get my hands in to mix it better.
5) Finally add the cornflakes and mix well.
6) Using spoon or your hands, scoop small balls into the cup. Sprinkle the deco bits.
7) Bake in preheated oven at 170 C for 15 minutes or less.

By the 2nd tray, I know not to let the cookies brown too much. Always let the cookies cool on the tray before tranfering to another dish for further cooling. At this point you can arrange them into jars or into your mouth!

This is the Season!

We've been on Diwali mode for a few weeks now. Yes, you might think so early, but speaking from my experience from the previous years, the months of September and October turn out to be extremely busy for us, not just for Diwali. Last year I was unable to do any kind of cookies.

This year I have set my mind on starting early, giving way for the coming events and not missing out on cookie baking sessions. Sure for us adults Diwali is not as exciting as it used to be, but when it comes to the kids, every single detail is exciting. Like why I have bought fancy Spidey tshirts for them, but keeping them to be worn for Diwali, or why I have not allowed them to wear the new Angry Birds' Transformers (yes, there is such thing) tshirts that Nani got them. 

New set of clothes, more to be bought, murukus everywhere, decorations in some parts of ethnic concentrated places, lots of cookies and so much of hype on whats cooking for Diwali! Yes, even as an adult, we have to keep the mood going, because it is now time for us to recreate the spirit for our kids, what we had last time, it is for the kids now.

With more than 2 weeks more to go, I have already prepared 5 types of cookies. Kids enjoying helping me as much as eating them. And sometimes they even start eating while helping me.  And as for the tub of murukus I bought, it is already halfway gone. Amazingly this time hubby helped too, making some really oversized cookies, which I secretly believe was a tactic to get more of it at every bite. 

Lets see what we have for now, here are some cornflake cookies. I fondly remember mom making these every year and me greedily popping one in my mouth every time I pass the jar. Boy oh boy, did I take Diwali cookies so lightly then. Sure I did help when I could, but making from scratch is a different ballgame altogether.

Kids eagerly helped to sprinkle the colourful bits in a hurried-excited way, while eating the dough. 

These are the uniform sized chocolate chip cookies right before someone started making giant pieces of them. Tasty bites!

And then inspired from the cornflake cookies, I made these cornflake cookies with white chocolate chips.

For my obsession with all things red velvet, I made these red velvet cookies, which I felt lacked something in the recipe. Note to self for next year!

And, oh, for the freedom from all things gluten, I present to you gluten-free coffee oats peanut butter cookies. The name is so tongue twisting even the hubby runs away from it, because it is too healthy!

For every cookie baking session I also quickly pop-in some dinner to bake. This is the ultimate kid friendly pizza that feeds them brinjals and mushroom without even realising it. With a dash of sesame seeds. Works on hubby too!

I will be sharing some of my favourite recipes, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My Masterchef Attempt

It took me quite a while to gather the balls to post this on my blog. Of course it is out there in YouTube and Facebook but posting here somewhat connects this video to this blog and to me. And then it also somewhat becomes immortal. Maybe I wish it does... I don't know!

It is no secret I love cooking and Masterchef shows! When Masterchef Asia recently opened for auditions, I jumped at the opportunity to try-out. Actually it was my hubby jumping higher than me. He was eager to help me plan what to cook. And we got this audition video out.

So by now you know I did not make it to the show, and I can't say I am not disappointed. I wish I got the chance to go up to at least top 15 and experience the mastery that the homechefs are put through. On the other hand I am happy that I was spared of making the tough decision of being away from home for 3 solid months. 

Having said that, this definitely does not end here. I will continue to pursue my dream of culinary showbiz, and let's see where it gets me. Wish me luck! OKBYE!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

How can one not love cookies? The very crunch and crisp when biting, and sweetness of the smell and taste, and the convenience of popping one into the mouth oh-very-so-often! Only one thing, when we are trying hard to control sweet cravings, baking cookies can be a tough decision. Which is why I always try and want to make less sweet and less glutinous cookies!

Yesterday the kids were just recovering from a nasty flu bug and I needed some pick-me-up. It was turning into an uneventful quiet afternoon with noisy boys, I needed my time off!  And off I went looking for recipes.

I had once make this gluten free peanut butter cookies, and this time was looking for a different version to try and I found this Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip cookies. It actually has not 1 but 2 secret ingredients, that is oatmeal and dessicated coconut, and it was just perfect for my liking! 

I tweaked the recipe a little bit as I only had instant oats available.  I had read earlier how melting the butter before mixing with sugar helps to achieve better results, so I followed that in this recipe. Also I reduced the sugar to suit our taste.

You Need:
3/4 cup oats (instant or rolled), blended fine
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup dessicated coconut
some salt


1) Mix oats, flour, baking soda/powder and salt together. 
2) In another bowl whisk butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
3) Add egg and vanilla essence and whisk some more. 
4) Add in the dry ingredients and combine with a whisk or spatula. Then add in the chocolate chips and dessicated coconut. You can now use your hands to almost knead it in. 
5) You will get a thick dough like texture.  
6) Using your hands, roll into small balls, and flatten them on a baking tray lined with baking sheet. Make sure u leave 2 inches between cookies to allow it to expand while baking. Bake at 170C for 15 to 18 minutes. 
The best thing about this recipe is thanks to the sticky nature of oatmeal, the dough comes together like a very soft, and non-sticking dough. It makes mixing and shaping a breeze! My first tray cookies were rather huge and I improvised it with smaller and flattened balls in the second one.

The final result was awesome, the cookies were crisp and slightly chewy inside. And not once you will suspect you are biting into oats. When hubby came back later, he nonchalantly asked if the cookied were like Famous Amos, and I confidently answered YES! Oh, how true!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Korean BBQ and the works!

It was a busy busy Sunday. Sure enough we love to make elaborate meals on Sundays because it is our day at home. Not to mention the cooking spree also allows me to pack from leftovers for the week. But this was just different.

We had just redeemed our lucky draw gift from the Family Day weekend. It's a table top BBQ set. And immediately, as weekend approached, hubby was already rubbing his hands for a BBQ meal, a Korean inspired on, that is. What could I say? 

So it started. We got 2 types of pork cuts, one lean, another belly. And I entrusted the Mister with lotsa seasoning condiments. Imagine Indian, oriental and western seasoning. And he went wild! These are what we got.

I can't remember the combinations now, but let me just point to you, the last one, actually has sambal belacan in it!

While hubby worked on the meat marinations, I got into making my kimchi

And some spring onion salad. And some Korean anchovies with sesame seed. Not in pic is the chopped spring onion.

Some fresh lettuce was on standby.

We also got some vegetables like onion, oyster mushroom, red pepper and pineapple. This was getting so Bobby Flay!

And then we got the BBQ out!

And this is how we worked it!

Check out the caramelizings!

Out little ensemble.

I was also forced to pose for this picture.

We grilled and we ate. We ate and we grilled. Repeat this 20 times. Awesome Possum!

At the end of it, we were sweating like in a sauna (like every other cooking session) and this time we did not even feel overly full with all the BBQ meat. Should have a Korean BBQ party soon. 

Lesson of the day, for me at least was caramelised pineapples just rock the taste buds!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Homemade Virgin Coconut Oil

Thanks to the growing cost of living, I have resorted to a lot of DIYs, and luckily, so far it has been pretty successful. My most recent discovery (and possibily most cost saving) and attempt in DIY is making virgin coconut oil (VCO).

Recently I stumbled across a simple method to making cold-pressed VCO in one of Facebook sharing, and I was like 'You can't be serious?'

Doing further discussion with Mr. Google I realised how easy it was to actually make cold pressed VCO. Thanks to recent popularity of VCOs we have all gone out and purchased expensive drops of oil which seems to be a cure and beneficial for almost everything in our daily lived. 

The most shocking discovery as yet is that the complicated sounding cold pressed method just implies to the preparation that does not rise above 49C. 
  1. Although pressing and grinding produces heat through friction, the temperature must not rise above 120°F (49°C) for any oil to be considered cold pressedCold pressed oils are produced at even lower temperatures. Cold pressed oils retain all of their flavor, aroma, and nutritional value.
That's it? I had this giant press machine with some features or parameters that extracts the best and most nutritional drops of oil going in my head. I have been so deluded, luckily enough, I know it now. If this is true, then we have so been over-charged for something that is easily made!

After much reading I came down to this Desert Enlightment blog, enlightenment indeed! So simple, so cheap and so preservatives free! And I followed it to the tee.

1) I bought fresh coconut milk. It is strained off the grated coconut meat. Let it rest on the counter top, covered, for 24 hours.

2. Then I moved it into the fridge. And left it for another 24 hours.

3. At the end of the total 48 hours, this is how it turned out.

The coconut milk had separated into a thick layer on top, and water at the bottom. The thick layer on top is the coconut oil that had hardened being chilled.

I was rather confused for the first 30 minutes, and out of curiousity I even tasted both the layers. The hard white layer (which eventually turned out to be the coconut oil) was coconut-y smelling, mild tasting, and melting in my mouth. And the bottom water layer was sour and yucks!

After it struck me that I have just got my own VCO, I was in disbelief for a short while. I finally broke the white solid piece and strained it a while to get any moisture off it. And there is the home made much cheaper VCO!

As this is home made and we did not use any specific method to dry the moisture, it is advisable to store it in the fridge at all times. I am so excited to use this for cooking or even conditioning purposes for hair and skin. Looks like I have just uncovered another money-saving shortcut to making healthy goodies at home and I cannot be more esctatic! And I am definitely ditching store-bought VCO!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Chicken Stock Recipe

Remember my picky non-eater?

In case you are wondering, no, he did not change for the better. He just remained himself. Picky. Fussy. Non-eater. As far as he is concerned, he is a vegetarian because he does not take egg, chicken or any fish. Little does he know I am always sneaking something in his food. It is either eggs in his fried rice/noodles, or chicken stock in his gravies, pasta, and soup.

My most favourite sneak-in is the chicken stock. Also known as the bone broth. Broth (or technically, stock) is a mineral rich infusion made by boiling bones of healthy animals with vegetables, herbs and spices. Adding some apple cider vinegar (ACV) ensures that minerals will be pulled out of the bones and into the stock. 

Chicken stock is generally good for bone and tooth health, as well as being health-boosting. Sure chicken stock is now easily available at supermarkets, however like anything processed and sold over the counter, it is never 100% free of preservatives. And once you see how simple it is to make at home, it just does not make sense to spend on buying it. And it is almost effortless too.

I get the carcass from the fresh market and I usually use slow cooker to cook it over low settings for up to 18 hours. I usually do 3 carcass with 3 litres of water and some ACV. You can do up to 36 hours for the best, thick and flavourful broth. For extra flavour and aroma I usually put in some celery, carrot, bay leaves, star aniseed and cinnamon stick. However there are times when I just want milder tasting so I skip the spices. 

That's it, just leave it in the slow cooker and forget about it for those hours, go to sleep, go about your chores... except you cannot completely forget about it because by then your kitchen will be full of the stock aroma. And it just gets stronger and stronger as it cooks.

After 18 hours I would turn the off the power and let it cool down to room temperature before I pack in to separate containers to be frozen. I simply take it out whenever needed. You don't need to thaw it much because as it is being used in cooking, it does naturally melt on its own as you simmer it in soup/stew/gravies.

Chicken stock makes a great base for dishes with gravy. Gravies are a must in our household as Jeev loves rice and gravy, so we get chicken stock gravy for him. Sometimes I even cook the rice in chicken stock, what better way to sneak it in for everyone at home?

You can find further information on the goodnes of bone broth at the Wellness Mama site, and tell me if you are not convinced already!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Grilled Chicken In Creamy Cilantro Lemon Sauce

I have been inspired with this recipe skillet chicken with creamy cilantro lime sauce I found on Sally's Baking Addiction. The creamy cilantro is very very tempting, however I did not have an oven-proof skillet. Then it hit me, why not use the Happy Call Pan for all searing and grilling?

So it was time to clean the dust off the HCP, ok not really, but I have not used it for something new for a while now, so it felt like I have missed my HCP for a long long time. Then the excitement began. And this happened.

I replaced lime with lemon since I only had the latter. And also I put in extra vegetables like leek and mushroom into the gravy, because I love the garlicky aroma of the leek and well mushrooms go well with cream any time. And oh, the cooking cream was substituted with regular full cream milk. 

You Need:
1 onion - chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic - chopped fine
2 tbsp cilantro - chopped fine
some leek - chopped
shitake mushroom - chopped
chilli flakes
paprika powder
1 cup chicken stock
2 splashes of milk
juice of a quarter lemon
2 pcs of chicken breast marinated with salt/pepper
some butter

Method:1) Heat up the HCP. Put some butter and start searing the chicken breasts. Each side for about 6-7 minutes. Take it off the HCP and set aside.

2) Heat up some butter in the HCP and sautee onion, garlic, half of the cilantro, leek and shitake mushroom till aromatic. You can also add the paprika powder and chilli flakes. 

3) Add the chicken stock and lemon juice and let it simmer for 5 mins. You can also add the milk or cooking cream and let it simmer and reduce for 8-10 minutes.
4) You can now add in the chicken, and lock the HCP cover. Let it cook for 8 minutes on each side with the cover locked.
5) Sprinkle the balance chopped cilantro and serve hot with the creamy sauce!
It really is very simple and fast to cook this using the HCP, in fact works faster than baking in the oven because it takes time to pre-heat as well. Thanks to the creamy sauce the chicken breast is unsually juicy and flavourful, something that is very rare when grilling chicken breasts on their own.

Happy cooking!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Club Med Cherating July 2015

Our most celebrated and awesome vacation ever. Club Med Cherating!

Upon our arrival, while waiting for our booking details, we saw this sign, how politely durians are not allowed, yet explained in detail on its nature & popularity.

Once settling our luggages in our room, we went for a quick meal at the noodle bar. My, oh my, to our surprise there was a tap (pardon my lack for better word) for draught beer, 'heavenly' as said by my significant half. And so it officially began.

We immediately got the kids changed and playing at the pool.

And got our respective drinks.

The practice of drinking cocktails continued for the next 4 days. Non stop. It was more worth drinking cocktails than water here. True Story.

Margaritas for breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner. And supper if you may. In fact you could request for any combination of drinks at the bar. Imagination is your limit.

Kids joined the mini club for 4-7 year olds. Sanju had his first ever adventure of  trapeze jump. And how!

While Jeev preferred to hang-out with the folks (yup, thats us) at the bar.

And hey before I forget, yes there is loads and loads of food that even foodies like us did not get to taste every bite of. By 3rd day we were so turned off buy the breads/desserts aroma.. it is that awesome!

And please do not take my pictures for it, they totally do not do justice cos I felt so weird taking pics of the restaurant.. there is so much more to see and eat!

Every night there was entertainment and performance. There would be music and dance till 12am, its just we with kids did not stay out so late because lets face it, the kids (and us parents too) get so darn tired by end of the day.

On our last night there, the Mini Club kids did a performance and Sanju participated in it.

See the boy with moustache? He enjoyed the club so much that every morning he would get up and nag me till I dropped him at the club house. It is definitely one of the highlights of Club Med as a family holiday destination.

That night, it rained heavily, right after the performance, it was some experience for us, as well as sentiment revoking. Yes, we are so Bollywood like that!

This is the theatre where the performance is every night.

The kids pool is so huge, kids have the most fun!

The village is built on stilts, and nature is preserved below it. As you walk to and fro your room everyday, it is not uncommon to see animals like lizards, squirrels, monkeys and lovely birds roaming about, totally oblivious to human activities. 

The beach is clean and lovely. You can also walk or take the tram to the other beach which is better for family to play and enjoy. So much to do, see and eat, it is a complete holiday for a family with kids especially. We are hoping that Jeev would enjoy the club the next time we go Club Med. Oh yes, there is definitely going to be a next time!!


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