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Overdue recipe- Christmas Dark Chocolate Panforte Slice + Dads’ struggles

IMG_2860 (640x427)hello MARCH! Are you sure we are fast approaching and finishing quarter of the year? I absolutely cannot wait to just have a few weeks off. 

I’m not sure what’s going on but January and February seems full on. Clearly our bodies are exhausted. We are starting to have minor colds- which we don’t usually have. We get cranky at each other and we forget things. 

I read somewhere that mums have to learn how to look after themselves- because at the end of the year, if we fall into a heap, EVERYTHING falls into a heap. IMG_2855 (640x427)

So true.

As I read that article though, I feel a tinge of unfairness for dads. Yes, we mums have to look out for each other and for ourselves. We also have it harder on many different levels. Sacrificing income, career advancement, adult conversation, sleep, hobbies, fitness, our bodies,… I remember someone asked me before “so what do you do at mothers group? drink tea?”. I nearly fell off my chair with the audacity of that statement. I thought and still tell my friends that even if we do that, we have earned it. IMG_2862 (640x427)

It is however unfair for dads too. I reflected on some things that fathers may struggle with

  • For some jobs, being a male means it is harder to ask for part time hours (despite policies). Kinda like a bro code where it is unspoken but cannot be broken
  • Awkwardness in parents room sometimes when there are just chairs for breastfeeding mums., and they walk straight in. Almost like they have to learn how to just look straight ahead and see that as no difference to a mum breastfeeding in public/ restaurants.
  • Public restrooms when they are by themselves, and no parents room in sight with a child the opposite sex. 
  • Taking time off to care for children. Hubby’s work place is great but he said there are some work places where it is still expected for mums to take time off when child is sick and less so for dad
  • Dads needing to look after their own mental health or health too. There are dads who golf and go out for drinks, but there are also dads who are exhausted from working and helping out at home. 
  • Bringing out memories of how they were parented and how different they are trying to be. 

The list might be short but I think at times I fall into the trap of forgetting it is tough being a dad too. Panforte

Today’s recipe is quite late but I thought I might document this anyway. I call it a Christmas Panforte slice. I wasn’t planning on writing it up as I did it on a whim last Christmas. It was such a hit and I received lovely comments that I thought I should write it down here for anyone who wants the recipe. We do not often have dried fruits in the house but it was Christmas afteralll. I love the combination of fruits, nuts and spices.It does not require baking- and come to think of it, makes a nice gift any time of the year! And no, it has absolute no relevance to the above post except that when I’m a little tired, it shows how all over the place my thoughts are!IMG_2852 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’117′] 


Orange Cheesecake Instant Ice-cream (Gluten Free, Clean eating) + Thankful

IMG_2681 (640x427)My favourite week of the year is here! The oven is being cranked up, the tree is decorated and we even have tinsel this year! Presents are wrapped. Music is playing. It is the season to be thankful. IMG_2678 (427x640)

As Christmas approaches, I’m always wondering how am I going to teach Asher how to be thankful. How do I explain that Christmas isn’t just about gifts and trees? I hope to add to this list but lately this is what hubby and I have been doing:

  1. As part of our bed time routine, we pray. Often I ask Asher what would he like to pray for. Of course, being a 2 year old, his priorities are his trains and cars. I try to extend that to praying for safety in travelling, the invention of transport vehicles, for bringing daddy home from work (and to work)…etc However, a couple of weeks ago, Asher said he wanted to “pray of A because she has a sore tummy”. I was so touched that I had tears in my eyes!
  2. Hubby and I spoke to him about giving and sharing. Demonstrating, role modelling and role playing with teddy (doggy) and friends. That was hard work! A toddler is naturally ego centric, what feels good should just be done over and over again…and sharing doesn’t always feel good immediately! Imagine our smiles when Asher started to share some food or an item with us, or with a friend. 
  3. Reading bible stories to him, especially the story of Jesus. While it still has mixed reactions, he was very intrigued by the baby born in a manger around horses.IMG_2681 (640x427)

And then it is about us as adults. The rush, the work end hecticness, the uncertainty of what may happen next year, the food prep, the presents organisation… all that add up and we may not be as thankful for each other. How many times have I snapped? How many times have I felt that my head was exploding? The unkind words or action that flow through me. So there comes forgiveness and I’m glad and humbled. Forgiveness breeds thankfulness and gratefulness. I know that as a mother and a wife, I want to fill our house with that as much as we can. IMG_2684 (640x427)

So while I have Christmas cookies to share (check out my instagram), I can’t help but whip up some ice-cream for the warm summer weather at Christmas. I’m making a version to bring to our Christmas lunch this year! But to cool all of us down, I hope you will enjoy my Orange Cheesecake Ice-cream. Optional: with a shot of nespresso to make a zesty affogato. IMG_2676 (640x427)

So at this Christmas, I’m thankful for you. Thankful for the love my friends have and the support you have given me. Thankful for the space to write my thoughts and sort out my ramblings. 

Merry Christmas xx 

[yumprint-recipe id=’101′] 


Dark Chocolate Cups with Salted Coffee Date Caramel -Paleo, Gluten Free

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The Christmas tree is up, the songs are playing in the shops- I have to say Christmas is my favourite time of the year. My parents are flying over this Christmas and I cannot say how excited I am. Watching their faces interact with my little boy, or perhaps feasting into their first proper ham. Memories will be captured and laughs will be shared.

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I made this out of the whim one afternoon. I was playing around with making my own chocolate. Having some cacao butter on hand, I discovered that melting that with some coconut oil and cacao powder makes a lovely dark chocolate. The salted caramel was a trial and error. But if I have the choose, I could lick the bowl clean with the caramel anytime. It’s sweet- a lot sweeter than what I like desserts to be, but it is Christmas after all.

The matcha was another experimentation. It was too tart I feel and gave a “dry” taste to the tongue. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I need to lessen the amount of matcha for a more subtle taste.

IMG_1011 (640x427)The only thing about giving chocolate cups for Christmas is that it will probably melt in our weather. I might reserve this for a night in with my family or as a treat.

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Dark Chocolate Cups with Salted Coffee Date Caramel (makes 48 small cups)

1/2 cup of cacao butter

1/2 cup of coconut oil

1/4 cup of cacao powder

1 tablespoon of honey

1 tsp of vanilla

Whisk everything together to make your chocolate! Spoon 2 tsp into each mini muffin cups. Place in the fridge to set for 10-15 minutes.

Salted Coffee Date Caramel

8 medjool dates

1 shot of nespresso

pinch of salt

few tablespoons of water

I placed everything in a food processor. It will become a paste. Spoon 1/2 tsp into each mini muffin cups. Then spoon remaining chocolate onto it. Sprinkle cacao nibs and some sea salt on top. Freeze or fridge for 30 minutes till set.

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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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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Christmas Cake Chocolate Balls

What do you do with leftover Christmas cake? I blogged about my hazelnut Christmas Cake last week and due to the massive amount of cake I baked, we had a few slices left. Christmas cake keep well and it would last forever in the fridge really. However, I was looking at a recipe for rum balls and thought, hey, I could probably make a version of it using christmas cake rather than cookie crumbs or store-bought chocolate cake!

I did not add rum, but you could if you have some. I used some milk to moisten the mixture instead. Then I rolled in with some chocolate sprinkles. I would have used nuts, but I realised my granulated nuts wasn’t fine enough. However, I am sure you could rolled it in some cocoa powder to make it truffle like or even some coloured sprinkles!

I love to see my friends reactions when they bite into these. They were probably expecting rum balls and on first bite, they realised it was filled with kalua soaked fruit!!! They taste better after resting a day in the fridge.

Christmas Cake Chocolate Balls 
Any quantity of cake you have left
around 2-3 tablespoon of milk or more if mixture appears dry. You can add rum or any liquor
chocolate sprinkles or cocoa powder

Crumble cake. Then moist it with milk. Using clean hands, roll it up into little balls and rolled it on a plate of sprinkles or cocoa powder. Rest in fridge for an hour or two or even overnight before serving.


Hazelnut Cranberry Christmas Fruit Cake

Oops! I am a few weeks late with posting this cake. Nevertheless, it is never too early to prepare for 2012’s christmas right? Well, I sure wish I will be more organised this year.

Truth be told, I have not made a Christmas Fruit cake in years. The last time I made it, I had the patience to soak the fruits in DOM or brandy if you have any in October. Then, I baked the cake in November and stored it in the fridge, patiently brushing the cake with liquor every week to ensure that it is a booze filled cake by the time it was Christmas time.

I did not know how I found such patience!

As this year, we get to celebrate Christmas in Perth, I thought I should make something. Getting into the baking mode, I found a hazelnut Christmas cake recipe from I adapted a few things, including adding in cranberries and using Kalua instead of Frangelico (I simply did not have it in my kitchen).

The result was a rich, fruit filled cake. Even though the recipe called for a 9 inch cake tin (Or around 22 cm), I found that there was enough batter to make 10 more mini cakes! It was certainly a very generous recipe. I am sure you could even use your muffin tin if you do not have one of those mini loaf tin like mine.

Bite into a rich, juicy fruit cake with the crunch of hazelnuts..yum. I want Christmas again!

Hazelnut Cranberry Christmas Fruit Cake
500 grams of mixed fruit
100 grams of glade cherries
400 grams of cranberries
1 cup of Kalua or Frangelico

250 grams butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of mango marmalade or lime if you have any
6 eggs lightly whisked
150 grams of crushed hazelnuts, toasted
2 cups of plain flour
1 cup of self raising
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
2 tablespoon of kalua, extra

Soak fruits in 1 cup of kalua overnight.

Preheat oven to 150C. Line a 9 inch cake tin and oiled a muffin tray or mini loaf tray.

Beat butter and sugar together. Add eggs, and marmalade. Add in all the fruits. Fold in both flours and cocoa powder. Finally fold in hazelnuts.

Spoon in cake tins. Bake for around 1 hr for the mini loaf/muffin, and 1.5 to 2 hours for the cake. Test with a skewer (that if it comes out clean). Remove from oven and cool slightly before brushing it ith extra kalua or frangelico. COver with foil and set in pan to cool completely.


Christmas Cinnamon Cranberries and Walnut Muffins

How time has flown by and we are onto Christmas already!! Are you ready for it yet? I don’t feel that I am!

I find these muffins a real easy treat to make. It’s good to bring to last minute gatherings that you have been invited for this festive season. I love experimenting with olive oil and this recipe uses just that. It gave my kitchen a very festive feel when it is out from the oven.

The best thing about these? I really like the sprinkle of brown sugar and walnuts as a topping. It makes them just a tad more special.

Oh my, I still have so many treats that I want to make! Looks like these posts would have to be for after Christmas (or maybe a New Year treat?).

Nevertheless, I’m hoping that you are having a fantastic Christmas this year.


Christmas Cinnamon Cranberries and Walnut Muffins (Makes 12)
200 grams cranberries
300 grams self raising flour
100 grams brown sugar
80 grams walnuts or half a cup
2 tsp ground ginger
1 giant tablespoon of ground cinnamon
185 ml butter milk
80 ml of olive oil
1 egg

1 tablespoon of brown sugar
2-3 handful of crushed walnuts

Preheat oven to 180C. Place wrappers on tray or muffin tin.

Combine flour, cranberries, all spices and walnuts in a bowl. Whisk oil, egg and buttermilk together. Pour into well of dry ingredients. Fold through. Spoon into wrappers/muffin tray.

Combine remaining brown sugar and walnuts. Sprinkle some on each muffin. bake for 20 minutes.


Gingerbread Cookies

I can assure you that usually I am very organised. I love things being in order and I love to plan ahead. In fact, all our meals are planned way in advanced for the week.

When it comes to baking however, I seem to rely on the “I feel like baking” mode. That has it advantages of course, but it means I usually do not have every single ingredient or tools I need in my kitchen. Take these gingerbread cookies for instance. You may have known them as Gingerbread MEN. However, somehow, in my cookie cutter collection I do not have a gingerbread man cutter!!

I recall that d from Daily Affairs gave me a set of Christmas cutters before. I look through them..Nope.. No men. Oh well, but they are gorgeous. With bells, christmas tree, stars, snowflake..etc. I thought oh well, I shall turn them into gingerbread cookies instead. Did I mention that I have nothing to decorate the cookies with except for icing sugar?

My decorating skills isn’t the best but I have to say that a drizzle of icing does make a difference. One thing I like about this recipe is that it is not overly sweet. They are slightly crunchy with a chewiness to them.

I’m not usually a fan of ginger-things related but even I am getting into the mood thanks to hubby. Oh and I think I’m finally back to the baking Christmas mode.

Hopefully, with more prepared ingredients!

Gingerbread Cookies
125 grams butter
90 grams brown sugar
120 ml golden syrup
325 grams plain flour
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1 tsp of ground cinnamon

1 egg white
1/2 cup of pure icing sugar

Preaheat Oven to 180C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Beat butter, sugar and golden syrup. Fold in egg yolk then flour, ground ginger and cinnamon. Fold it through well. Then using hands, knead it till it becomes smooth.

On a floured surface and rolling pin, roll dough out. Using christmas cutters-or if you are better organised than myself, use a gingerbread man cutter. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Ice them and eat!