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Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is something that I have always wanted to make at home, but thought it was in the too hard basket. One thing about eating clean as best as we could, is that it makes me more comfortable in using more natural or back to basics ingredients.

I love the aroma of different spices used in tikka masala. While tikka masala is often associated as a high fat, this version is leaner but definitely not short of flavour. The other thing I like about this recipe… it was pretty much a one pan dish! Everything in the oven and ta-dah..tasty dinner ready.

Given hubby’s part indian heritage, he was a little sceptical about the authentic of the recipe. I’m not sure of it myself, but hubby assured me that even he was surprised that it tasted like the real stuff. mm.. maybe it is the real stuff! LOL

Both of us agreed that it tasted even better the next day. I made enough for 4 meals and will be keeping this recipe for sure.

Chicken Tikka Masala (serves 8)
1 kg chicken thighs fillets
2 tablespoon of oil
50 ml of coconut milk
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
4 tablespoon of grated ginger
4 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of chill powder
1 tablespoon of turmeric
ground pepper
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 tablespoon of olive oil
50 ml coconut milk
1 tinned of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
3 tablespoon of chopped garlic
1 chopped onion
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon of paprika
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 chili padi chopped
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of garam masala
1 tablespoon of turmeric

Pre heat oven 200C.

Marinate chicken in all ingredients in an oven proof dish. Bake chicken till cooked through for around 1 hour.

Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic. Then combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer for around 10-15 mins. When the chicken is cooked, pour sauce over it. Bake for another 20 mins or so. Serve with veges or if you like, with rice. 



Black Sesame and Chocolate Chip Cookie

My hunt and journey for chocolate chip cookies continue. My favourite is still Double Chocolate Chip by Nigella Lawson. But when Joy the Baker posted this recipe up, I knew I just have to give it a go.

It’s intriguing. Soy sauce in a chocolate dough. Black sesame seeds. The combination = very yummy. Now that cookies are a big treat for me, I take time to think and plan on what I want to bake.

I wouldn’t say it is my ultimate favourite choc chip recipe but it is good. I love the subtle salty flavour that goes so well with the chocolate dough. Both my hubby and mother in law (yes she came to visit!) enjoyed it though and said it is softer cookie dough rather than the crispy kind. I chose to use a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon so the cookies are smaller, yielding more.

You can almost see the two tone of cookies, I baked one batch longer than the other- the longer one of course was slightly crispier which was what I prefer.

One thing to note though, that this cookie does not keep well for more than 3/4 days. I think it goes soft and the black sesame seeds does not tastes as good. Nevertheless, like what Joy said, it didn’t last THAT long at all!

Black Sesame and Chocolate Chip Cookie (makes 36 cookies)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 to 1 teaspoon soy sauce 
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1 block of lindt chocolate broken into dark chocolate chips
about 1/4 cup black sesame seeds for rolling and coarse sea salt for topping

sea salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the butter mixture with a spatula.  Add the egg and egg yolk and beat on medium speed until mixture is fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla and soy sauce.  

Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients, all at once to the butter mixture.  Beat on low speed until just combined.  Stop the mixer, add the sesame seeds and chocolate chunks, and fold together with a  spatula until well combined.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.Preheat Oven to 180C. Line 3 baking trays with baking paper. 

Scoop cookie dough by the heaping teaspoon into your hand. Wet your hands as it is easier to roll then.  Place about 1/4 cup black sesame seeds in a small bowl. Roll into a ball, and toss around in the black sesame seeds.  The dough balls don’t need to be completely covered in seeds, just coated well.  Place on prepared baking sheets.  Sprinkle sea salt on it. 

Bake for about 12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.  Remove from the oven, allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store cookies in an airtight container. 


Cauliflower Nut Butter Chicken Dumpling Soup

So I admit, I have days where I do not cook. Yes, I have a food blog. Yes I love food and love planning and thinking about what new recipes or experiments I can have for the week! And here is a secret of mine… I cook in batches on some weeks.

Like this soup. I think I made enough for 3 days worth of meals. I had 3 pots going at once! Ok, fine I don’t have very big pots, but hey, even 3 medium size pots shows commitment right? Or maybe it means I should invest in one (actually, I do have one but it is in a box packed ready for our new home!).

On some nights, I just want a warm soup, re heating it in a sauce pan and just drink it up. Much as I love cooking, just not thinking about meals at times seems to help. Do you have those moments too?

Oh. And I love my nut butters. Take this one, it’s Almond, Brazil and Cashew nut. I love how it actually add flavour to a otherwise possible boring soup. Yes, the little chicken mince dumplings help as well. I wanted to call them chicken balls, but erm..they sound wrong….. so dumplings they are going to be!

Cauliflower Nut Butter Chicken Dumpling Soup  (10-12 servings)
2 medium size heads of cauliflower
2 zucchinis chopped
2 cups of button mushrooms
1 onion chopped
2 tablespoon of chopped garlic
1/4 cup of your favourite nut butter
2 capsicum chopped
2 litre chicken stock
1 litre of water

400 grams chicken mince
2 chili padi chopped
1 tablespoon of garlic
1/4 cup of almond meal
1 egg
salt and pepper

Marinate chicken mince with chili, almond meal, egg and seasoning.

Heat oil in big pot. Saute garlic and onion. Then the nut butter. Cook cauliflower till soft. Add zucchinis and capsicum. Add chicken stock and water and simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Cool soup slightly. Blitz soup in blender in batches. Then return soup to pot. Using your hands, wet it and shape mince into little dumplings. Drop into soup. Simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Taste and season. Serve warm.


Nutella Ice Cream

There is something magical about having ice cream on a cold day. It sends shivers down your spine when the cold hits you. That shiver rocks. Cold upon cold. Not that you can’t enjoy ice cream on a hot day too- that is a difference form of enjoyment. It’s a sense of relief from the hot weather.

 I cannot remember now where I stumble across this recipe. It is sooo good! Nutella ice cream is like having a legitimate reason to have spoonfuls of nutella. What’s better with this recipe is that it uses coffee to bring out that hazelnut taste. A good thing about home made ice-cream, on top of the whole no preservatives, and the you know exactly what goes in there argument, is that it is made in small batches. We totally savoured this creamy rich ice cream. Every bite was a winner.

I’m slowly getting the hang of making ice creams as well, and am very happy to say this is a successful recipe. The tricks I have gather include being patient when making the custard base and also using full fat real ingredients. It is also the first time I used a recipe that does not have any eggs in it and uses corn starch to thicken up the custard. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was, and there wasn’t a starchy taste to it at all. The ice cream in the photo looks soft. That’s because I was greedy and decided to scoop it up when it was only in the freezer for an hour! It was far creamier when in the freezer over night.

 Now, this makes me wonder about a peanut butter base ice cream!

Nutella Ice-cream 
3 cups full cream milk
 2 tablespoon of sugar
 2 tablespoon of cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoon strong coffee powder
1 cup Nutella

 Place ice cream maker canister in freezer for at least 24 hrs.

 Bring 2.5 cups of milk to boil. Meanwhile, place 1/2 cup of remaining milk, sugar, corn starch, coffee and salt in another bowl. Whisk well.

 When milk boils, slowly whisk nutella in. Then, whisk in the above milk mixture. Bring it to low boil for 2-3 minutes till it thickens. When you dip a metal spoon it, it should coat the spoon. Draw a line down, the line should stay. Remove from heat. Place into another bowl and chill for 4 hours if not over night. Then churn in your ice cream maker for 25 minutes or so. Freeze. It will appear soft when you remove from the canister but harden when frozen.


Garlic Prawns, Smoked Salmon and Avocado Salad

I am such a fan of 10-15 mins preparation meals. The best way to do it seems to be making meal plans and making sure I have quick ingredients on hand. Prawns and Salmon are such lovely protein, and easy to prepare. At times, we would purchase shelled prawns, or just shell them immediately when we come home. Frying prawns in some oil, garlic, chill, and combine it with smoked salmon and salad. A meal done. It’s so simple, that I was actually thinking it doesn’t need a recipe! I make a quick dressing by whisking lemon juice, olive oil and sesame seeds. Monday’s meals… easy peasy right?

Tadah! Meal done.

Do you have such recipes at home?

Garlic Prawns, Smoked Salmon and Avocado Salad (seves 4)
300 grams peeled prawns
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 chili padi

 250 grams smoked salmon
1 avocado chopped
1 lebanese cucumber chopped
 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
4 cups of salad leaves

 Dressing 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon of lemon juice 1 tsp sesame seeds Cook prawns quickly with oil, garlic and chill. Cool slightly. Combine it with other ingredients. Toss dressing through! EAT! 😉


Lemon Syrup Loaf Cake

Lemons are always in our household. I have it with some warm water in the morning when I wake up. When we have a cough or cold, we have honey lemon drinks. I use it in most of our salad dressings, or even in cooking. The tangy, aroma smell of the lemon can be so refreshing.

I spied this little recipe in Nigella Lawson’s How to be a domestic goodness” book. Lemon syrup loaf cake. I love how it states syrup gets soaked into the cake it make it moist and lemony!

I know, how ironic for me to be posting a post on cake with syrup when my last post was about living clean and healthy! HA!

Well, I also said that food is meant to be enjoyed. I do like my little treats here and there. It’s life. I’m not perfect. 😉 If I do eat a baked item, then it has to be of a good quality-either home made or somewhere reputable. This post is deliberate because living clean is life long-and it’s a habit. It’s not ok to have deliberate sugar or refined carbs everyday. It’s ok to have something once a week.

But coming back to this lemon syrup cake. Oh my. It was worth it. I made it for work for a thank you afternoon tea, and it was well received. I had it on my cheat day, which is 2 days after and it was lovely. Simple. Uncomplicated. Perfect with a cup of tea.

Lemon Syrup Loaf Cake
125grams unsalted butter
150 grams castor sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 2 lemons
175grams self raising flour
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons of milk

juice of 1.5 lemons
100 grams icing sugar

Preheat Oven to 180C. Line loaf tin with baking paper.

Cream butter and sugar till fluffy. Add eggs and lemon zest beating them in. Fold in flour and salt, then milk. Spoon into loaf tin and bake for 45 mins.

Make syrup by putting lemon juice and sugar in saucepan, and heat till sugar dissolves.

When the cake is out of the oven, poke holes all over the cake, (yes go crazy! the more the better!), pour syrup over cake and let it absorb. Remove cake from tin only when it is completely cold.


Clear Soup- Broccoli with Pork Mince Balls with Ginger Broth

I have my own little journey with food, meals and exercise. It started when I was 8- I had a growth spurt, and then I started piling on weight. Before I know it, I was in high school and attending the TAF (Trim and Fit) or otherwise known as the FAT (if we reverse the alphabets) club.

Then I went to college and due to being away from home and making very poor food choices, I became severely obese. The heaviest weight that I was was near to 90s, possibly around the 86 or 87kg mark. I stopped weighing myself when it hit 85kg.

 I lost 35kgs by the time I was in post graduate studies. It was through running and making better food choices. Age was also on my side. Being in my early 20s, metabolism was still active.

 Then I hit my mid to late twenties and I could literally feel that it was getting harder to maintain my fitness and weight. I was feeling more sluggish, with bloating and digestive issues. I started questioning why and how I could become fitter. I attended Zumba classes, and slowly fell in love with exercise again.

Then slowly, I started to challenge myself with boxing classes, kettle bells and other strength base work. I began to learn about nutrition and food. My body fat started reducing, although my weight still fluctuates slightly. I look fitter and people started commenting. My punches are getting stronger, and hubby commented that I am less obsessive with my weight, rather focusing on other health targets such as sprinting speed, kettle bells rep, strength in boxing…etc.

Yup. it’s about creating a fitter me.

 Food is an interesting one. Readers would have noticed that I have slowly changed in my direction of home cooking. It’s not so much of an Atkin’s low carb sort of food that I aim for. It’s more Paleo style. It’s about being back to basics and not eating too much refined food. It stabilises blood sugars and provides more energy. I still stand by the 80-20% rule- where I’m eating good 80% of the time, and having one day as my cheat day. It is more realistic and less guilt inducing when I do indulge in a slice of cake, or ice cream.

And I still bake treats! 😉

Embracing this in our Chinese culture? Much easier than what I thought it would be. In fact, besides rice and other sugar laden sauces, most of our chinese meals are quite basic and nutrition dense. I am dying for my grandma’s steam chicken with a big dish of bak choy. Or how about some Ginger steam fish?

Or even.. a bowl of clear soup.

I made this broccoli clear soup with lean pork mince balls one evening and oh, what a bowl of steaming soup it was. Seasoned with some ginger and soy, it was easy to drink and hearty to eat. Simple is good. Clean eating is good!

Clear Soup- Broccoli with Pork Mince Balls with Ginger Broth
2 heads of broccoli
2 chili padi
4 cm knob of ginger, sliced
1 tablespoon of soy
1 litre of chicken stock
2 cups of water

450 grams pork mince lean
3 cm knob of ginger grated
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
2 chili padi chopped.
1 tablespoon of soy
1 egg
salt and white pepper

Marinate pork mince for 15 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, in a deep pot, sauté ginger and chill. Then add stock and water, season with some soy. Bring it to a simmer. Place half of broccoli into the pot. Boil till vegetables are cooked. Then, using a spoon, drop spoonful of pork mixture into the pot. Bring it to a boil. Add remaining vegetables and simmer for 15-20 minutes or so.


Flourless Chocolate Brownies

Oh ok. I admit. I’m a brownie snob. I love my brownies. And since I know I have a no fail, my ultimate chocolate brownies recipe, I rarely look at another brownie recipe again.

But never say never. Nigella Lawson’s Flourless Chocolate Brownies caught my attention and I gave it a go on our double dinner date with friends. It was so good that I regret being a brownie snob. Coincidentally, it’s also on Nigella’s cook-a-long which means it is just calling out to be shared.

Funny enough, I don’t have a Nigella Lawson cookbook and since this brownie was made, guess what did hubby surprised me with?

A “How to be a Domestic Goddness Cookbook”

I know I know! It’s a oldie but since I haven’t one of hers, it was exciting. The funny thing was, my hubby came and said “I’m going to buy you a Nigella Lawson’s cookbook as a surprise but when I got there, I realised I have no idea…so I took photos of the cover.. which one do you want?”

haha..Sweet. Now look at the tabs- These are all the bakes I want to make soon!

But back to these brownies. They are really moist in the middle and I do recommend that it be made the day before and warm it up before serving with ice cream. It’s messy but really awesome. I HAD to take a few bites even when it wasn’t on my cheat day!

I didn’t bother with the sauce as I think ice cream is sufficient. I reduced the sugar and it still tastes fantastic. Oh what a treat!

Flourless Chocolate Brownies 
225 grams of dark chocolate- I used lindt and cadbury baking
225 grams butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
150 grams castor sugar
3 eggs
150 grams ground almonds
125 grams crushed walnuts

Preheat Oven 170C. Line brownie tray. Melt dark chocolate and butter in saucepan. Take pan off heat. Stir in vanilla and sugar. Slowly add beaten egg into saucepan. Then fold through almond meal. Lastly the walnuts. Spoon into tin and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool and fridge.


Words in a Marriage

Every year around this time, I am reminded of the blessings and challenges of marriage. A quick blink and here we are, on our 3rd year mark. Has it been 3 years since we committed to each other?

In year 1, I learned how to make marriage a choice in our daily lives. In year 2, I learned that we complement each other by using our strengths.

This year?

I learned how powerful words are in a marriage. Words are not just alphabets string together to mean something. It’s how we say it and how we use it that matters. Yes, we all had moments when we say things we don’t mean- and find it hard to take back. Words can single handily bring a person down or up.

I learned that he stands up stronger when  I say I believe in him. I noticed that he held his head up higher when I complemented him. The reverse is true, he noticed and encouraged me to meet my fitness goals. He  told me that my work is precious and he is so proud of me. He complemented my cooking and polish out my cookie jar.

Belief is such a funny thing. You can’t see it but you can feel it. And when we feel it, we can see it in our body language and attitude.

You may think, it’s only easy to be positive and uplifting when one is happy. Well, this past 12 months has been challenging. Role changes, family situations, health challenges, moving (more on that later)… it takes all our effort to remain affirmative towards each other. These are the moments that tests a marriage. One minute that we take our eyes off our marriage, the satan strikes.

Because I learned that if we don’t believe in each other, then who else will? If we don’t build each other up, then who will?

It doesn’t mean that we are hypocrites who are not honest and continued to smile through mistakes. It means we acknowledge that ok, this isn’t going well but let’s not play the blame game and what’s our next move. Because we believe it can be done. I am responsible for the decision as much as he does and verse versa. Now, this is hard. It’s one of the hardest thing I have done. The blame game is so much easier most days. To say we are a team, no.. we are the team.

My prayer for the next year is that I will be the uplifting and positive wife. God knows how much this is a challenge to me more than to Him. Sometimes, I wonder how can he be so uplifted when I haven’t been? But it comes back to filling the gap and knowing that love is wondrous.

To another year ahead. To a lifetime of curveballs.

To my husband of 3 years… Happy 3rd Year Anniversary.. and many more to come.