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One Pot Chili

A blink of an eye and my little boy is now 10 months. Where did all the time go? I was cradling him in my arms in the hospital, and now he is on the move! Chasing me with his fast commando crawling/creeping and pulling himself up on the coffee table.

Parenthood never fails to amaze me. It totally tested my patience and endurance. It rekindled my love for coffee (even more so). It reminded me to be mindful and use my senses (after all, to a baby, everything is new). It showed me what unconditional love is. It demonstrated to me kindness and forgiveness. A baby (almost) always forgives.

I documented games we played when he was not even 6 months young. Now that he is four months older, I thought I might update the list.

– Chasey. He crawl and chase after me while I do the same to him.
– Tickling
– Songs and even more dancing. Asher really enjoys me singing to him.
– Reading and more reading.
– Puppet conversations
– Rolling a ball. Not necessary we rolling to each other. Sometimes, I roll the ball around him, or I bounce a ball in front of him.
– Using a tennis ball, brush or a feather to massage him.
– Obstacle courses. I use cushions and different objects to make it difficult to crawl to me.

Food wise?
– He is taking 3 meals a day and most often 1-2 snacks.
– He is eating lamb, beef, chicken, fish, quinoa, congee, and all sorts of vegetables. I still have to blend them but they are of a thicker texture.

– I have started using herbs like basil and dill and also spices such as cinnamon and non-spicy curry powder in some of his food. Surprisingly, he likes it!
– Finger foods of apples, cucumber, bread, rice cakes, plums and bananas.

I’m starting to think of different ideas for his snacks and cooking meals suitable for us as a family.

This recipe, was one of my experimentation. As I made this batch up, I thought to myself that it could suit Asher in the future. Perhaps without the chill but the paprika or just cumin might be suitable.

One Pot Chili (serves 4)
1 chopped red onion
1 tsp of minced garlic
1 red chill chopped
400 grams lean organic grass fed beef mince
1 tinned of diced tomatoes
1/2 tin of chickpeas or beans of your choice
1 tsp of tomato paste
2 tsp of paprika
1 tsp of cumin
1/4 cup of water or stock

To serve with: Avocado Tomato Salsa and a little parmesan cheese.

Saute garlic and onion. Brown mince. Add all other ingredients and simmer for a good 20-25 minutes. Pepper and salt to taste. Serve with salsa and cheese.

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Turkey Open Burger with Chargrilled Pineapple and Avocado Cream

When a packet of turkey mince came on sale, I could not resist that $3 price tag for 500 grams. It’s fresh AND free range. Coming home though, I decided to pair it with something expensive… an avocado that costs the same price as the mince itself!

Avocados has come down in price a little since then but boy oh boy was an avocado precious when it was going for $3 or $4 per fruit. I came to realise how much our family love this. We baked it with eggs, we have it for breakfasts or in salads.

Anyway, I think the winner of this dish was the pineapple and avocado combination. That citrus tang from the pineapple and creaminess of the avocado with turkey seems to work.

Asher has started finger foods too and this is perfect for him to hold and munch on. I usually leave out the salt for his portion. Messy too!

Turkey Open Burger with Chargrilled Pineapple and Avocado Cream 
500 grams turkey mince
1 onion chopped
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp italian herbs
salt and pepper

1/2 a pineapple sliced thinly and char grilled

1 avocado and 2 tablespoon of greek yogurt blitz in a food processor

To make the turkey burgers, combine all ingredients and shape them in patties.

Heat a pan up with oil and fry the patties up. Meanwhile, prepare avocado cream. Char grill the pine apples if you have not done so. Assemble and eat!

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My Grandmother

This is one of my hardest post to write.

I lost my best friend, my inspiration, my everything….my grandmother on the 4th of May.

Grief is a very strange feeling to describe. I feel the loss, the sadness and the pain. The deep sense that a part of me is gone. At the same time, a strange sense that I am glad she is no longer in pain. I’m relieved that she got to see us before her passing and that I get to re assure her that I will look after Asher and my parents. Through tears in her eyes, I saw the longing…. perhaps the longing to be with us a little more and the sadness that she couldn’t.

No amount of words could hold what my grandmother has taught me. She lived for me and my family since forever. Even in death, I know her fear was not about herself but for us.

My grandmother looked after me since I was 3 days old. That’s right. 3 days. I was brought back home in her arms. She nursed me through sickness, she let me cling on to her on her back while I was teething, brought me to tuition classes, scolded the principal for organising an external trip to the zoo dressing students in shorts as that would attract mosquito bites, cooked omelette at 10pm at night as I was hungry, made my favourite sweet and sour pork, double boil soups so that I can stay healthy, as an university student, stayed for 3 months in my tiny room with me so that I could have company and then cooked for the rest of my housemates.

She was 77 years young. She was a great grandmother. The pride in her eyes as she boastfully told everyone about baby Asher and his baby accomplishments would never leave me. Yes, I have a doctorate BUT my greatest accomplishment in her eyes was having Asher.

Condolences came in. Her yam cake was mentioned. Her famous chill sauce.  How she made everyone feel warm and cared for. But more importantly, how much love and grace she gave to people around her. She was remembered as the lady who had a great sense of humour, always have a sharp eye and her love for bling. She was modern and dignified yet humbled and gracious.

She led a hard life. From a family of 10 children, she lost many of her siblings. She told me stories about the war time, where she saw dead bodies daily… where she ate hardly anything. She started working as a child and wanted badly to study but couldn’t as family circumstances always meant it needed money and her attention. She was always there for her siblings, providing money for their education, keeping an eye on comfortable jobs for them and nursing them if they were unwell.

Her heart has always pointed to one place. Her family. She lived and served her family her life.

I’m the closest to her heart. Perhaps the luckiest too because I have memories of walking in Chinatown with her sampling the best water chestnut cake and rice dumplings. Oh and how about our trips to Hong Kong, Busselton (WA), Malaysia, and her last trip to Perth where she was here for Asher’s arrival.  I have her love for food and zest in life.  I grew up with her love and time- something that would be difficult for my mum, aunty and uncle to have.

She taught me how to cook. She was the reason why this blog was created. She said “if the first time it doesn’t work out, just try again, the 2nd time will work”. She encouraged me and laughed at my failures but always in a kind way. We cooked together in joy (with her directing me of course). My father said, she always looked forward to my daily FaceTime calls, where I would ask her for advice for herbs and soups.

I will miss her. I miss her already.

My heart is broken. I think one of the hardest thing is that Asher would never get to know her personally. Yes, I will tell him stories and show him photos of his loving great grandmother but it won’t be the same.

 I know that life goes on. It will. It does. Routine helps. I know Grandma wants me to be happy- and nurture Asher the best way I can. I aim to continue her legacy. I have so much that I want to learn from her and yet now I have to appreciate what I have gotten from her. Her zest and strength in life. Her never give up attitude and her positivity. Her kindness and warmth to everyone she meets.

We managed to say our goodbyes. With tears in her eyes, an image I will never forget, I knew she was saying goodbye to us with longing in her eyes too. Even in that moment, her eyes… I could tell she was asking if I will be ok. If Asher would be. Oh my grandmother, I know how much you love us. All I could to was to thank her, reassure her and let her know I love her.

I love you my dearest grandmother. Always in my heart. Always in my memories.

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OMGPaleo’s Berries and Lemon Cake with Coconut Frosting

I’m so excited! I’m hosting a baby shower for a dear friend and I’m in charge of… FOOD! The best thing is, she loves clean eating and wants me to create a menu of paleo/clean eating food for herself and guests.

Cooking for a party of 20+ people means I have to cater to different dietary requirements. But I think the most nerve wrecking thing is whether or not people will keep an open mind when they see the food. Savoury- I’m not too concerned.  Sweets however, the texture and taste is different from normal bakes. Especially because my tastebuds has changed and I’m used to very little sugar if not none now.

I tried these blueberry lemon mini cakes and YUP! They are going on the menu. I did a few changes but I really believe they are out of these world. The frosting especially is so easy to make and just provide a richness to the cakes.

Also, don’t you think they look pretty?

OMGPaleo’s Berries and Lemon Cake with Coconut Frosting (I made 14)
1/2 cup coconut flour
5 eggs
1/3 cup of almond milk
2 tablespoon of raw honey
2 tsp vanilla paste
2 lemons- juice and zest
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup of frozen berries
pinch of salt

1/2 cup of coconut butter
2 tablespoon of water
juice of another lemon
1 tablespoon of honey

Line muffin tins with paper or if you are like me, just use little cupcake wrappers on a cookie baking tray.

Preheat Oven at 180C. Whisk dry ingredients together. Then in a jug, combine eggs, milk, honey vanilla, baking soda and salt. Pour wet to dry folding in berries last. Spoon into baking cups and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool.

To make the frosting- melt the coconut butter. Whisk it with water, lemon juice and honey. Dollop it on cool cakes.

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Zucchini Ham and Olive Loaf

One of the things we love is the portability of bread or bread products. It’s not bread that we missed per say (although sometimes we do eat bread when it’s from a good bakery), but just the convenience of it. Of course, there are times when it is nice to have something to dip into a hot bowl of soup. It’s a textural thing. The soft fluffy nature of bread paired with warm soup just seems to be so comforting on a rainy and wet day.

Sarah Wilson is big on “I quit Sugar”.  She found what worked for her. Personally, I found that added sugar is a big culprit to weight gain, and feeling off in my tummy. Since eating clean, we hardly use any sugar at all, although I do use maple syrup and honey in small quantities in bakes. Sweetness is found in so many natural occurring food that I don’t find it necessary to add sugar in our everyday meals and desserts. However, we never say no to a good piece of tart or cake occasionally when we are dinning outside.

She posted this recipe and I know I just have to make it. It’s like a meal by itself. So full of protein and good fats, it went very well with my chorizo and kale soup. It was also a good breakfast item. I loved it toasted with a hint of butter.

In fact, this recipe is so good. I’m going to be making it and keeping it for years! I reckon this will be good with MORE zucchini and other vegetables like carrots. I’m thinking picnics, gatherings, party food…  Thanks Sarah!

Zucchini Ham and Olive Loaf
1.5 cup of almond meal
3/4 cup arrow root starch
1 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp salt
5 eggs
1.5 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of zucchini grated
tablespoon of parsley chopped
1/4 cup of chopped olives
1/2 cup of chopped ham
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
seeds to sprinkle on top

Lined loaf pan with baking paper. Whisk dry ingredients together and wet (excluding veges, olives and ham) in another jug. Pour wet to dry and fold through. Fold through all vegetables, ham and olives last. Pour in pan, sprinkle seeds on top and bake for 35-40 minutes.

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Proscuitto Wrapped Basil Meatloaf

You guys know that I love my meatloaves. I honestly think they are underrated in the normal home kitchen. There are so many ways to play around with it that I can’t stop experimenting and coming up with new quick and easy meatloaf ideas. I can see Asher having this for dinner one night!

We love going to farmers markets. Manning Markets is our go to for our weekly shopping recently. It just seem to carry everything we need. From grass fed meats, to organic vegetables (more for Asher) to one of my favourite coffee… What else can we ask for?

In come naturally smoked chorizo and bacon. No sulphites. Just salt smoked. Amazing. Then we spotted another store that sells smoked chicken breasts and proscuitto. Oh I’m in love.

All I did was to mixed chicken with egg, salt, pepper and fold in some home grown basil. Push it to a loaf pan and wrap the proscuitto on it. It’s one of the quickest dinners I have prepared. Everything in the oven and ta dah.. dinner all done when Asher is asleep.

Proscuitto Wrapped Basil Meatloaf 
6 pieces of proscuitto
500 grams chicken mince
1 bunch of basil leaves
1 chopped onion
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
2 eggs

Mixed egg, salt, pepper, onion and garlic with mince. put mixture into lined bread loaf pan. Pushed it firmly and packed it tight. Carefully (who am i kidding..) place proscuitto overlapping on to the meatloaf. Bake in preheated oven for 25- 30 minutes.
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Chocolate Almond Coconut Slab Cake

If you come to my house any given day, open my fridge and you will find that I have been baking and experimenting with slices and muffins. I whipped this slice quickly the other day as we were going to a friend’s house for lunch. I thought, better to give it away than to store it in our fridge! Hubby never mind though as that means he can just grab and go with whatever he fancies to work. He also said he could eat without the guilt that it is not nourishing his body.

Friends asked me how do I control myself given that I have baked goods in my fridge frequently? I was puzzled by that question. I never see that as a self control thing. Rather, it’s a “what does my body feel like having”. Most of the time, it’s water or yogurt with some of my granola. When I bake, I bake to share and to make sure my husband, family and friends eat well. I do tastes my bakes, but I rarely finished everything by myself. I guess I taste and I’m satisfied by it.

This recipe comes from Elana Pantry. I think I didn’t do it justice because I changed the ingredients amounts. Hence it became more cake and slice like rather than the chewy texture that Elana posted on her blog. Nevertheless, we enjoyed this little cake and it’s good for a weekend afternoon treat with coffee.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Slab Cake 
4 eggs
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup of almond meal
1/2 cup of coconut flour
3 tablespoon of honey
pinch of salt
1 tsp of bicarb soda
1/2 cup of shredded coconut + extra
1/2 cup of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180C. Line baking slice tray with baking paper.
In a jug, whisk coconut milk, honey and eggs together. Then put almond meal, flour, salt, bicarb, coconut and some chocolate chips in a bowl. Pour wet to dry and fold. Spoon into tray and top it with the remaining choc chips and shredded coconut. Bake for 30 minutes.

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Extension of Time- Our 5th Wedding Anniversary

Has it been 5 years?

5 years since we said our vows.

5 years since we held our epic 3 weddings across 3 countries in 2 weeks?

I chose to write this post a little later because… I have to pause. To take it in. While we signed our papers on the 24th April, we maintained that we celebrate our anniversary on the 1st May- simply because it’s where our traditional ceremony and church wedding took place. Truth be told though, that we just pick the date when we can take time together so it changes every where when we “celebrate” it.

5 years later, we learned a few things. The biggest change this year, is of course the arrival of our son Asher. You could say that between year 4-5 of our marriage, we have to grow quickly. We learned how having a child can strengthen and provide challenges to a marriage. We learned about our weaknesses and vulnerabilities even more. We also learn how to make us a “family”.

Time will always be our biggest challenge. You would think me being at home means more time (ah, maybe I should document what I do at home one day in a post!), but in actual fact, it means as a couple we can lead even more separate lives than ever. Hubby works, wife looks after the house and baby- when we come together, we talk about our day and what happened.  However, it is very very challenging to sit and have long conversations about our plans and feelings. When we do sit down in the evening, it would be the night when Asher’s teeth will bother him, or he decides that he needs more settling than usual to sleep.

So we have to learn to adapt. We take long walks with Asher in the evening for around 2-3 times a week. Not only do we get to exercise, but we relish in catching up about what we have been thinking about. As a wife, I make a mental note to really listen to what’s happening at his work. Yes, I may not be working now, but that does not mean my husband working life isn’t important to me. I listened to his concerns and his excitement (even in computer lingo). I told myself to take in the moment and enjoy being with my husband rather than to make mental lists in my head on what to do next.

We decided that on weekends, we will have at least one family lunch outside of the home. It’s really lovely to be able to explore cafes and new places to eat. That is one thing hubby and I love doing pre baby and we decided this is one thing that needs to be continued post baby as well. Preparation is everything of course, but thankfully, Asher loves his food and usually can be entertained with his own toys and rusks for 20-30 minutes while we enjoy a meal together.

I also learned about myself. I learned that I want my hubby to love me first. This may sound selfish as of course I want him to love our little boy. But sometimes, I would prefer him to look after me. It’s so easy to fall down the trap of having the focus all on Asher, than it is nice when he offered me a back rub or to cook me dinner. It took a while for the both of us to realised that we have to look after each other while we look after Asher.

Which also means my hubby wants me to love him first. It’s hard and I do forget, but what happened to “how was your day” when he walked in the door? Instead, I bombard him with what happened to Asher’s day. Even if I do that, I try to stop myself and make a note to really be there and listen to him. I started making different sorts of breakfasts and snacks for him so that when he wakes up, everything is done. He just need to grab his lunch and snacks, and heat up his breakfasts. It’s funny but men does liked to be looked after in little ways like this. I try to take over some things he usually does so that he can have stress free time with Asher over the weekends.

We set little traditions as a family. Day trips, long car rides, or just simply chilling at home over home made banana berries ice cream. We realised that even after 5 years, it is those small things that we treasure. We have God first, then us, then Asher. It is the HARDEST prioritising thing we have done and still is trying to tweak and do. I suspect this is one of those things that we have to keep a pulse on.

Last year I wrote about spending time together. This year, it extends further than that. This year, it is about how we put each other ahead of being parents. One that we continue to strive and do.

Happy Anniversary my dear hubby- I’m in awe that we have spent the last 5 years together married. Five amazing ups and downs years. 5 years today, we held our traditional wedding ceremony. 5 years ago, we prayed that we will remember this day. We are here now and more to come.

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