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Happy New Year 2014

Happy New Year!

Where did 2013 go? Last year this time, I was pregnant and suffered from very bad morning sickness. This year this time, we have Asher in our arms. Every year this time, I like to reflect on the year and focus on my goals for 2014.

Highlights 2013

-We travelled back to Singapore/KL in February and March. It was such a relaxing trip spending time with our family. We splurge and stayed in Marina Bay Sands.

– We celebrated our 4th year wedding anniversary at Bistro Guillaume with my big tummy.

– This is the longest period that I have not worked. I went on maternity leave in June in anticipation of Asher and took time to enjoy the period before he arrived. It was a time of reflection as I know life will never be the same again! A dear friend even threw me a baby shower!

– I spent 3 months with my family. What a treat. My mother, father and grandmother travelled from Singapore and stayed with us when Asher arrived. I was so spoilt by them. There is something about being around them that made me feel so looked after.

– My in laws came and fell in love with Asher.

– I turned 30! I spent the day relaxing with hubby and Asher, squeezed in a massage and even managed a boxing session in the afternoon.

– BIGGEST highlight. Asher arrived.

You see, there was once a time when I thought I may never be able to experience having a new born baby in my arms. I promised myself that if I do fall pregnant, I will take it as it comes. Yes, the morning sickness was bad, I gained heaps of weight, labour was handwork and the recovery wasn’t pleasant. But I would do it all over again

– I have continued to eat healthier and ventured into the world of clean desserts!
– I have gained heaps of baby weight and lost pretty much of it.
– Learned how to brew soups and more Chinese meals from my grandmother.

As for my goals for 2013..

  • Continue to eat clean food by using less processed ingredients and fresh ones. Checked! 
  • Fulfil last year goal of making creme brûlée! I still have to find butene…….  NOT CHECKED! I still need to find butane… 
  • Definitely more home styled asian dishes. I don’t think I did enough last year. And if I can, make more kuehs! Oh, perhaps making bak kwa! Checked! I made Bak Kwa!!! I made Kueh, hand pulled noodles, Ginger Wine Chicken and I made Chinese drum lets
  • Definitely more baking.  I did! And some more clean baking too. 
  • Keeping it simple. Reduce commitments and learn how to breathe more Checked! Nothing like a baby that keeps life simpler. 
  • Maybe looking at developing my blog further.  New layout and cleaner designer but more work needed for my directory of recipes. 
  • Praying more with my hubby.  Ongoing!
  • Embracing more life challenges and excitement in 2013! Asher was my hint. Checked! 

My goals for 2014 
– Continue to create and experiment clean desserts and meals.
– Make that cream brûlée!
– Getting my fitness back on track.
-Make baby food…
– Not sweat the small stuff as much
– Travel back and see my family even more.
– Stay in the moment more. Babies grow up too fast.
– Thank God every day for our blessed family.
– blog more often!

Wishing everyone a fantastic New Year! Make 2014 better than 2013! 

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Peppermint Patties

Has it been a good Christmas for you? It certainly has for us. We started the day with church- Lasted 2 carols before I went into the cry room with cranky Asher. We had a lovely lunch with family members and just chilled for the afternoon. Presents were opened through the day rather than in one sitting. I promptly stored away some of Asher’s toys for future use and let him enjoyed some of his new rattles and smaller items. Looking at the photos, he is one blessed baby!

I’m a little behind in my posting but I figured out better late than never. Every year around Christmas, I have the urge to make sweets. Maybe it’s the season, but I feel that it just calls for something sweet to end the day with. I have been really good lately and am very close to gaining back my pre-pregnancy weight, and so have been experimenting with healthy sweets.

Speaking of which, it does feels good having my strength back. I’m not 100% back yet but just feeling more like myself is great and very close to where I was. You know how they say breastfeeding helps with weight lost? Well, it kinda did nothing for me until I start exercising. I mentioned this before but this experience has taught me to appreciate my body and read myself better.

Back to this little treat. My husband LOVES coconut. I wasn’t a coconut lover before but is now a convert. I stumbled to this blog and found a treat that he loves in a much healthier version. I was delighted and made this just for us. The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of honey but I added only 1 tsp and found it was sufficient for us. A Christmas after dinner mint.

Peppermint Patties (I made 14 and adapted from Meaningful Eats)
1 cup of desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons of coconut cream
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1/2 tsp of peppermint essence
1 tsp of honey
100 grams of lindt dark chocolate

In a food processor, blitz coconut, cream, oil, honey and essence together. It will form a paste. If it is too dry, add a few tsp of water. Shape them into little balls using a teaspoon and pat them into patty shapes. Freeze them on a baking tray lined with paper for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate in microwave. Using a fork, place each patty into the chocolate coat it and place it back on tray. Fridge it. Eat after 1 hour. Store in air tight containers in the fridge.

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Gluten Free Healthy Christmas Cakes

Counting down to our first Christmas with Asher. I LOVE Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Christ, presents and sparkling lights- what not to love? So far, we bought him a little outfit, did up our tree and bought a Christmas ornament with his name and year on it.

Oops- except I nearly left him off my Christmas list for presents from us. Ha! Talk about mummy brain. Lucky Asher probably wouldn’t remember much for his first Christmas. At least there is still time to get something by the time I remembered.

I’m a little stingy as a mum. Truth be told, I really think that babies do not need that many toys before they turn 6 months. We have a play gym, a few gifted rattles and a swing (also 2nd hand)..and oh perhaps 2 toys which keeps him entertained when doing his tummy time. Often, I find that hubby and I are his entertainers as he prefers looking at us making funny faces and talking to him.

After 6 months though, I think children do need some form of stimulation but oh mind! The range is mind blowing. What a find balance between not going over the top versus trying to select the right toy for him. Finally, we decided that he can have 2 outfits and a small pram toy as his gifts. We did decided on n activity table but that will only arrive a few weeks later.

Every year, I try to make edible gifts for some friends and family. I think muesli one year and roasted nuts last year. This year, I decided to do a mixture- grabbing every precious hour that I can get in between Asher’s play time. This is one of them.

This is actually my favourite. Christmas cake. Yes, it is a fruit cake during other times of the year but it is a Christmas cake in my books in december. I soaked mixed fruits in DOM a week before and got on with it. Teresa Cutter is my inspiration as usual as I mix and match my own version of this little gift. I reduced the fruit amount (to reduce sugar content), and added baking powder to create a lightness. Hers is certainly more dense than mine but I’m a fan of hers all the same.

Gluten Free Healthy Christmas Cake (Makes 30 mini cakes)
800 grams mixed fruit (I used a mixture of raisins, cherries, cranberries and sultanas)
1.5 cups of DOM alcohol 

6 eggs
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 orange juiced and zest
2 tsp of vanilla paste
3-4 tsp of cinnamon (Because I love cinnamon at this time of the year)
2 tsp mixed spice

4 cups of almond meal
1/2 cup of mixed nuts
2 tsp of baking powder

50 grams lindt dark chocolate melted

Preheat Oven to 180C. Line muffin trays with liners. Marinate mixed fruits at least 3 days, but a week will be better before making the cake.

Mix fruits, eggs, oil, juice, vanilla paste, cinnamon, mixed spice together. Fold in almond meal and baking powder. Spoon into muffin tins. Bake for 35-40 minutes till brown.

Cool little cakes. Melt chocolate and use a fork to drizzle chocolate over these little cakes.

ps- do not waste chocolate. I like to roll strawberries or cherries onto the sides of the jar i use to melt chocolate in! 😉

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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A Different Sort of Chocolate Cake

So recently we had our first family holiday. A coupon deal came up and we grabbed a one night stay at a 4.5 star hotel at The Sebel in Mandurah, Perth. To many West Australians, Mandurah is a sleepy little place just on border of metro Western Australia. To us though, it was where we sneaked out for dates when we were in University and when hubby popped the question at the jetty 4.5 years ago. It seems fitting that we bring Asher there for his first night out of home.

Truth be told, it’s because we are “testing out” the waters of bringing Asher out overnight. We thought an hour away means we are far enough to do the testing, but close enough to return home if we get desperate. Thankfully, Asher adapted pretty well. I learned a few things in this short trip.

– It’s ok to bring more diapers. In this case, less is not more!
– I would choose to have Asher’s things in a separate bag next time if we are going for longer trips.
– Collect samples. I brought the samples on the trip for nappy cream, body wash, moisturiser and it worked a treat!
– Bring my baby carrier. I’m beginning to value my baby carrier more and more….
– Hubby and I had dinner at 6pm which is usually the start of Asher’s sleep routine, to counter a very cranky baby in a fancy restaurant, I feed him and managed to put him down for a nap.
– If we really want to have dinner out, make it 6pm and not later! Poor Ash was clearly tired at 7:30 even though he had a nap.

No doubt there will be more thoughts as we begin planning our travel back to SG/KL end of January. Any tips from experienced travellers?

I’m a big fan of Teresa Cutter. It’s my go-to place for treats and other healthy meal ideas. She made healthy food looks AMAZING and so delicious. In fact, I don’t think I have ever had a bad batch of baking from her recipes before. This different sort of chocolate cake is not something I have not made before. Her one- bowl cake is delicious and really, I adapted her recipe to suit us but it’s basically the same.

What I think it’s different in this cake, is the Coconut Chocolate Ganache. Yup. It’s ganache made of coconut cream instead of normal cream. It makes so much sense actually to replace normal cream with coconut.  So handy as I almost always forget to buy cream but I usually have coconut milk or cream in my pantry. First it adds flavour, and 2nd it doesn’t leave me with the “I ate too much ganache” feeling. The 2nd point is dangerous though because it is tempting to polish off a bowl of the ganache. It’s still a treat and it still has chocolate in it. Best of all, my parents in law who does not like dairy loved it!

If you are looking for a christmas treat, this could be an idea!

A Different Sort of Cake with Coconut Chocolate Ganache. (serves 25)
3 cups almond meal
1/2 cup of cacao powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
125ml olive oil or coconut oil
125 ml of almond milk
1 tablespoon of raw honey

Preheat fan forced oven to 150C. Whisk eggs, oil, milk,vanilla and honey together. Pour wet over dry ingredients and fold. Pour into prepared lined baking tin and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Coconut Chocolate Ganache
250ml Coconut Cream
200grams dark chocolate

Heat cream gently. Break chocolate into cream and gently fold till it melts and turn glossy. Cool before placing on cake.

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