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Banana Yogurt Chocolate Slice

As usual, I’m late in preparing for Chinese New Year!! This year though, I have a good reason 🙂 I’m drooling with all the lovely bakes in blogs in preparation for CNY.

I did however spring clean the house and kitchen. I’m so proud of myself! I cleared the kitchen of old plates and bowls that we never use anymore. I even wiped down all the cupboards! Yes! time for more pretty plates and bowls no? (I can see hubby shake his head).

Over summer though, we did clear the house of things we realised we have never used for some time. We have shifted in our home for 1.5 years now and there were items given to us by friends who moved overseas in our garage. Upon sorting those out, we realised that those items plus others were things we do not need to use or will use. Yes, they were donated to good causes.

I have also cleared my wardrobe of pregnancy/maternity clothes. Wow. I’m glad I could fit into some of my pre-pregnancy clothes although I’m supplementing it with nursing items as well. It felt like yesterday when Asher was in me and I was walking waddling to work. Again, a clean wardrobe means newer clothes right? After all it is CNY! (this time, I can really see hubby shaking his head).

I was experimenting with slices and made this one up. A pregnant friend of mine who eat cleans is struggling with her cravings with sugar. I know how that feels because I went carb-o-lic in my pregnancy with Asher. I thought this might cheer her up. It was so good, we ended up eating half of the batch ourselves! oops. This is certainly a good snack box item for hubby for work as well.

Banana Yogurt Chocolate Slices (25 bite slices)
2 bananas
1/2 cup Almond Butter
1/2 cup of Coconut Flour
1/4 cup of greek yogurt
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips
1 tsp of vanilla paste
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of baking powder
1 generous tablespoon of cinnamon.

Line brownie tray with baking paper. Preheat Oven 180C. Blitz everything but chocolate chips in a food processor. Fold most of the chocolate chips into the batter and spoon it into the tray. Sprinkle rest of the choc chips on top. Bake for 35 minutes.

Wishing you a healthy and prosperous  Lunar Chinese New Year! 

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Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Cottage Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes.

I get frustrated when someone tells me you can’t feel full while eating clean. It’s pretty hard not to feel full with a whole chicken breast! I can’t even finish one. That said, I do understand that it get be drying at times.

Did I mention that I use the oven to cook ALOT? Many days, I prepare meals in the morning and stick it in the oven with a timer on. There are times when Asher needs me more or clings to me and I can’t always predict when that can happen. When he settles or naps, I whiz around the house doing housework and prepare dinner- at least hubby can come home to a home cooked meal with little washing up to do.

I decided to stuffed some chicken breasts with cottage cheese and sundried tomatoes out of a whim one day and was surprised it was actually good and moist. To top it off, I wrap the chicken with a slice of prosciutto- oh it was yummy! Simple and quick I say.

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Cottage Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes (Serves 4)
4 chicken breasts
6 slices of prosciutto
1 cup of cottage cheese
1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes.

Butterfly chicken breasts. The stuffing is really just cottage cheese and sundried tomatoes mixed together. Place stuffing in chicken breast and use prosciutto to wrap it up (I used around 1.5 slice per chicken breast). Bake for 35 minutes at 170C oven.
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Coconut Chocolate Pistachio Cranberry Fudge

I can’t believe I saved this in my folder but forgot to publish. This actually went into my little goodie packs for Christmas in 2013! Having said that,  it was also a very nice refreshing little treat to have in our freezer/fridge on hot summer days.

There is never a time when it is too hot for chocolate right?

I did this after I realised that coconut milk and chocolate goes SO well together. In all honesty, I think I need to experiment with this a little more because it becomes really soft in the heat. I believe I did not add enough chocolate for it to harden. In the freezer though, it becomes like a bite size chocolate crunch ice-cream.

That works for me too. 😉

Coconut Chocolate Pistacho Cranberry Fudge (around 16)
400 ml coconut cream
300 grams dark chocolate

1/4 cup of cranberries
1/4 cup of shelled pistachios

Simmer coconut cream till it becomes warm. Melt chocolate in it. Stir till it thickens- this will take around 20 minutes. Cool and place in moulds sprinkle pistachios and cranberries in it. Cool in fridge or freezer.

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Avocado Banana Bread

Having some bananas that are turning brown (or black should I say) in my pantry, I decided to make a quick and easy banana bread for breakfast. This is more for hubby than for myself as the poor man has been waking up at 6am sometimes 5:30 to get to work early, just so that he can spend more time with his little man in the evening. As such, we found it works best that he has a “heat and go breakfast”.

I’m really fortunate in the sense that hubby has always been very supportive of our healthy clean eating habits. A true man, he fell in love with me when I was overweight and continued to love me for who I am. I recall my aunt told me that he is a keeper. On reflection, I’m sure it must be tricky for him to love me through my insecurities about my body. God is fair. When I was young, I wrote a list of everything I want for in a husband and here is he. I can’t ask for a better husband really.

At home, he listens to why I choose to eat the way I would like to. He never complains about what I put on the table. He did say however, that he is glad I like my meat. He took to heart about my research on food and now, he voluntarily reduced the amount of rice and noodles till once if not none in the week.

It’s only recently that I started baking again. It certainly feels good knowing that hubby gets a healthy breakfast, but also nutritious as well. We are not “big” demonstrators- and I know that he gets my message that I care for him as he toasts a slice of avocado banana bread for breakfast.

Avocado Banana Bread. Serves 12
1 cup of Almond meal
1 tsp bicarb powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp of cinnamon
2 eggs
1 Avocado
1/2 cup of greek yogurt
1 banana mashed
1 tsp of honey
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of vanilla paste

1 extra banana for topping

Whisk eggs, yogurt, honey, vanilla together. Place almond meal, all powders and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Fold wet to dry, adding in avocado as well. Place sliced banana on top of the bread. Bake in a preheated 180 oven for 40-45 minutes.

Happy Birthday to my darling hubby. I’m so blessed to be able to spend the last 13 years and call you my partner for the past 7.5 years (4.5 of which we are married). And yes, I did make you a dessert for your birthday to have when you are home! 

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Tender Red Wine Beef Cheeks

I thought I might document the games I play with Asher at home while I can still remember. They grow too quick I think. Asher is already 5.5 months now and I’m counting my blessings that I’m home with him. Certainly there are days when I miss the intellectual side of work and freedom in doing things by myself but I still wouldn’t ask for anything else but him.

In fact, I’m a little embarrassed that I have become one of those mums who gush about their child. Oh and wear gym clothes all day- they are comfy, dry quicker and looks good. Ha!

Back to baby games and activities…

Aeroplane“- I placed him on my legs between ankle and knees and lift him to table top position with my back on the floor. It’s another form of tummy time but I call him my little captain Asher and he fly to the left, right or crash on my tummy.

Parachute“- Using cloths of different texture, I lift it up and let it float on his face. He loves this one and I reserve it for “cranky times”!

what texture is this?”- As I fold clothes, I would rub some different texture cloths or items on his face. Terry towel, plain cotton, draw strings of a shorts..etc

warm and cold“- I alternate between an ice-cube and a spoon that was dipped in warm water.

Peek-a-boo”– Ahh.classic baby games. Sometimes I use the cushion, or hubby holds him while I hide behind the sofa/door.

Let’s fly up high”/”superman“- Lifting him up to the air and flying to different or things to the house. Superman is when he rests on my forearm and we fly to different rooms and places in the house.

Dance“- haha, put on some music and we do a mummy and baby dance in our hall.

Singing“- We do “this little piggy” or “incy which spider” up his body. He loves a good tickle!

Do a good stretch“- I sing and stretch his hands and legs using “hokey pokey” or “How much do I love you…this much!”

Boxing“- How can I not do this? We “box” or “high 5” using alternate hands and then we do a jiggle of the arms or a tickle. So it’s “boxing boxing jiggle jiggle jiggle and then boxing boxing tickle tickle tickle”.

Upside down“- In a sitting position, I slide him forward, hold him by his thighs and hold him upside down. Or standing up, I cradle him across his shoulder and bum and put him upside down.

Puppet“- I use several hand puppets and make silly noises or conversational speech with him.

how many colours are there in a rainbow?”- I have several ribbons tied together. I tend to wave them around, front and back of him and on him and sing colours in my new inventive song (i invent a lot of songs including bath time songs..haha).

Let’s talk to the mirror“- He is so fascinated with the mirror. Sometimes, I stick him in front of one and we just look in the mirror. He talks to his own reflection and to mine. It’s quite funny to watch.

Jelly on a plate“- I place him across my thighs and jiggle around.

Baby massage“- Some mornings I do a longer, 30 minutes massage on him. Other times, I choose to use a rhyme from Gymbaroo and he loves it!

Of course, the other activities I do with him are reading, talking to him, walking around our garden or surrounds, or simply just lying next to him while he does tummy time. I’m conscious as well that a child needs alone time to develop (supervised), so every morning and evening, I like to put him on his play gym and leave him there. It’s actually quite interesting to watch him twist turn and explore his toys.

On other news, I have cut my hair to shoulder length. It’s such a big thing for me as I always have relatively long hair. But it’s getting unruly, untidy and falling out heaps 😦 I know it will get back to normal in time but I just thought it’s time for a change.

This has been a strange summer for us in Perth. The weather has been really good except over the weekend when it reached 44C. Yes, we stayed in the air con for most of the weekend. We also had some chilly evenings as well. On one of my recent visits to the butcher, I spotted a pack of beef cheeks and thought I might give it a go in our pressure cooker. The result was amazing. Why have I not discovered this cut of meat before?

Tender Red Wine Beef Cheeks (serves 4)
1 kg of beef cheeks
1 red onion diced
1 tsp of garlic
2 cups of stock
1 cup of red wine
1 can of diced tomato
1 carrot sliced
3-4 bay leaves

Brown onions and garlic. Brown beef cheeks. Add in all liquid, carrots or mushrooms and bay leaves. Bring to a soft boil and place pressure cooker lid on. Cook for 30 minutes or so. Dig in with mash cauliflower.

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Thai Larb Salad

Hello 2014! Truth be told, the year 2013 passed really quickly for me. I have not worked since mid June 2013, and it is as if time stopped when Asher arrived.

However, I felt that much has changed in our lives. Yes, having a baby means we rarely head out in the evenings. That is a positive thing as we took time to wind down, relax and get things organised for the next day. Yes, there are sacrifices that we made. We are much more conscious about expenditure and we eat out less. We try not to plan too many things through the day as that seem to make Asher more cranky.

Personally though, having a baby tested me big time. I love to be in control. Guess what, having a baby means I have to think this differently. Yes, things do not always get done- that’s ok. It will get done another day. Asher needs me to get on the floor to play with him as soon as I can. I have to remind myself, a baby isn’t a baby for long. He is going to grow and one day, I’m going to miss having this time with him. After all, it is a huge luxury to be home with him for the first year of his life.

Organisation. I have two nappy bags. A bigger one with everything in it- spare clothes for me, a small rattle/book toy, spare nappies, change of clothes for him, wet wipes, lip balm, tissues..etc. It’s truly a mummy’s bag. More often though, I travel with a smaller sling bag with the bigger bag in the car. That is also a change mat which makes my life so much easier when he decides to “go” in the car and there isn’t a change room anywhere in sight.

Flexibility and time management. Asher is the most awake and alert in the morning and right after his nap. I try to time and plan any activity around that period of time. We have a routine, but we do not run on a tight schedule. Oh, and always leave 5-10 minutes earlier than what I think we need.

Relationship. This is an interesting one. As I’m home more often, hubby gets less stressed about needing to share his load of housework. Clothes are actually folded (more often), floors are clean. I try to do more while it is not always possible, so that when he is home, he gets more time with Asher. However, I certainly appreciate hubby even more when he hangs the clothes out before I wake up, and do the occasional vacuum! Not only that, we learn to speak to each other in a calmer manner. We argue less as the focus is us as a family-perhaps less as an individual. That is the biggest change. We think the big picture more. I love him more because I see all the smaller things he did before and all the sacrifices he has to made. Most of all, how much he adores Asher and us as a family.

 I thought I might start the new year with a fresh new recipe. It is thai inspired and packed full of flavours. It’s also one of my “quick no fuss” meals to have handy for the week. Hubby recently started a herb garden so I’m looking forward to having fresh basil in our cooking very soon.

Thai Larb Salad (serves 4)
500 grams pork mince
1 tsp garlic
2 chili padi chopped
2-3 sprigs of spring onion chopped
1 red onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 capsicum chopped
3-4 button mushrooms chopped
1 tablespoon of soy
1 tablespoon of mirin
2-3 tablespoon of fish sauce
white pepper
2 tablespoon of pine nuts or cashew nuts

4 bunches of basil leaves

Cos lettuce to serve with.

Saute red onion, chill and garlic till done. Brown mince. Add all the vegetables with a splash of water if the mixture gets too dry. Add in all sauces and cool well. You can either toast pine nuts and add to it or add it in the pan straight up. Just before serving, add 2 bunches of basil leaves to the pan and toss through. The heat should wilt the leaves gently.

Serve on a bed of cos lettuce and more basil leaves.

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