Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Using almond pulp) + Taking breaks

IMG_3330 (640x427)Do we need more cookie recipes? I vote yes! There is something about cookies that shouts comforting. I love the smell of these when it is fresh out of the oven. I created these using left over almond/cashew pulp from our fresh almond/cashew milk. I hate letting things go to waste, and would attempt to make something out of the pulp each week. IMG_3326 (640x427)

To make them more crispy, I deliberately toast them a little more. I omitted any oil but use nut butter to bind them together instead. Anything with chocolate is good isn’t it? So in goes 2 squares of dark lindt chocolate. 

Otherwise, life has been a tad overwhelming in our household. Luckily, hubby and I booked in a few days to the gorgeous Southwest earlier. We had  total blast. We enjoyed nature, slept heaps and ate. Having a near 3 year old is never quite relaxing of course, but the down time was much needed.IMG_3328 (640x427)

Which brings me my next point, why is it that we struggle to take breaks? Do we need to redefine breaks? Does it have to be a long overseas holiday? Or a few days at home? 

When hubby and I spoke about that, we realised that we can never quite “relax” at home. There is always a project or something that needs to be done. Those days are welcomed of course. We often feel accomplished when a section of the house has been decluttered, or if I have created meals that will last us for days. Taking a break for us, means not doing the daily responsibilities, getting out to enjoy nature, and family time. 

We are still learning as a family of what we should do. No doubt it will change (kids club? Bring it on!). However, we shall take what we can for now!IMG_3329 (427x640)

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Travel workouts + Back to Basics Chocolate Cupcakes with Yogurt Cream Cheese Frosting

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Holidays are awesome. A time to recharge but also to catch up with family and friends. Recently our family went on a 3 weeks break. Little Asher relished in grandparents’ care and attention while we just love having some down time. 

While I love our break, the first thing that I miss would be my regular workout sessions. This time round, I decided to go with the flow, opting to rest when my body needs to but aim to move daily. This was what I did

Day of departure Friday- Morning working. 5 TGU 12kg each side, 5 rounds of 10 reps, deadlifting, cleans, rows, push ups and sit ups

Saturday- No workout. Went for family walks.

Sunday- Walking the dog and carrying Asher while walking. That was a workout itself! The humidity means I was drenched with sweat. 

Monday- HIT Mum Plyo Hell

 

Tuesday- Modified workout from my usual group that does a metcon on Monday evenings. I did 14 mins 12 PU twist, GS and burpee with a jump over a mat. (I did 10 rounds), and then 7 min of 10 pairs of mountain climbers, 12 sit-ups and 20 bicycles (I did 7 or 8 rounds)

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Wednesday- HIT Mum 10 for 10 workout (Asher joined me)

Thursday- 10 rounds of 10 reps burpees, pushups, jumping squats and dips. (Asher joined me as well)

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Friday- HIT mum  Legs nd The trim tummy 10 mins

Saturday- Staycation. There is a wonderful gym at the resort. I did 1.2km run, 2×2 TGU, 5 rounds 10 reps, deadlifting, dumbbell squats and dips. Then I went for a few laps in the pool.

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Sunday- Rest day.

Monday- HIT mum All over BB 17 mins

Tuesday- Rest Day (travel day to Singapore)

Wednesday- 4 chin ups and 2 pull ups. 8 rounds of 10 reps burpees, push ups and sit ups 

Thursday- 5 chin ups. AMRAP of 17 minutes of 8 reps dips, burpees, pushups and heel squats. 

Friday-Nike App 15 minutes Advanced workout by Carili Lloyd (Metabolic Kick HIT workout)

Saturday- Hubby and I worked out together to his NAME. We had a “Name workout” I think in total I did 65 burpees, 200 star jumps, 40 sit ups, 40 dips and 20 push ups. I managed 5 chin ups with breaks. 

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Sunday- Rest Day (Travel to Johor)

Monday- Hotel Jen’s gym! 1.2 KM run, 4 rounds of 20x trx rows, 4 rounds 10x 40 kg deadlifting, 20 kg squats, followed by leg curl and shoulder press machines 

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Tuesday- Rest day

Wednesday- (Still feeling off) Managed HIT mum Tabata Power Shred 21 mins

Thursday- GYM day! around 1km run as warm up to the gym and 4 flights of stairs. 10 kg dumbbell TGU 5 each side. 4 rounds 16kg 10x reps squats. Leg press 188Kg PB (5 reps max increasing to 188kg), Chest press, shoulder push press, and leg curl. Walk home for rest. 

Friday- HIT Mum- The big 10 workout. 

Saturday- Rest Day

Sunday- Rest day. Travel back to Australia

In all, my workouts are around 15-20 minutes with 5-10 minutes of warm up and cool down. I’m usually back having a shower within 30 minutes. If I’m feeling like I need a rest, I would either take a rest or do a gentler workout. Everyday, I would climb the stairs to my parents apartments (around 16 flights with 10 steps each). Depending on the day, it would be at least once.  

Holiday workouts to me are a way to keep the momentum moving. I see benefits of doing quicker and shorter workouts than my usual ones (e.g. boxing) as it provides the body a break. I did try to see if there are any Muay thai or cross fit classes to go to- just for something new, but it just didn’t work out in the end of schedules and some places requesting for long term memberships. 

If you do participate in holiday workouts, what do you do? 

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Holidays aside, I shared this once on Instagram where we walked past a cafe and Asher wanted the chocolate cupcakes! I promised him that we would make some when we return home which was exactly what we did. Oh the look on my little boy’s face is precious. What I was even more surprised was that he ate the frosting which consisted of a little cream cheese and yogurt! Both which he generally does not like to have it on its own. I guess the power of chocolate is great. IMG_3050 (640x427)

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Paleo Lemon Chai Muffins and My Trip Away

Oops! It’s the month of March already? I promised I would blog more but I was away for a good reason. We took our first plane trip as a family back to KL and SG to celebrate CNY. Alas, I had to stay a few weeks more to look after my grandmother who was in hospital.

Family portrait before granny was admitted. I love this shot of my family and us!

It was a very traumatic few weeks as we had to call an ambulance and witness my beloved grandmother being in ICU and intubated. She is a strong lady and gradually responded to the treatment. I was so pleased that she is home, that I could barely let her off my sight and monitored all her food and vitals closely.

This episode also taught me family love. Relatives from Hong Kong flew back to be beside her. Grandmother’s sister stayed with us for a few days to care and cook for her. Through her, I learned more home cooked cantonese dishes which I’m keen to replicate at home. My mother learned how to make soups and I learned a few more slow cooked Chinese soups (you can literally hear the glee in my husband’s voice here). I get to spend more time with my family including my parents. Of course, it means that Asher gets to meet heaps of his uncles and aunties, grand uncles and grand aunties, cuddles from many relatives that he wouldn’t be able to meet or greet otherwise.

Hubby and I were also apart for a few weeks as he had to fly back to work. It was a tough few weeks as I learned how to juggle

All these though, brought us closer as a family unit. I can’t wait to see my parents and grandmother again. I have learned to appreciate time- and be in the moment even more. 

I’m back sharing this recipe by Slim Palate. I have only recently discovered Joshua (who is 18 by the way and cooking fabulous food) and his blog. Browsing through his story makes me ashamed of how basic and simple my cooking is compared to his! He comes up with amazing real food recipes and this one caught my eye.  I love how he used chia seeds as “poppy” and use of apple cider vinegar to give it a tang.

I have been experimenting more with coconut flour and is growing to LOVE it. The dense nature of this flour means more liquid has to be added. But once the right ratio is achieved, it provides unlimited experimentation of different cakes and treats. I increased the baking soda in this recipe as I find it gives it more of a lift and a lighter feel to the muffins.  Since I love my lemons, I added more zest and juice as well. I think I can make further improvements- it’s still a little more dense for my liking so I might add some other raising agent. Certainly more lemons will be better as well. There is always a next time!

Paleo Lemon Chia Muffins (makes around 8 for me)
1/2 cup of coconut flour
2 tablespoon of chia seeds
1/2 tsp baking soda
zest from 2.5 lemons
4 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of almond milk
1 tsp of honey
4 eggs
1/4 coconut oil

Preheat Oven to 180C. Line liners into muffin trays.

Whisk dry ingredients (coconut flour, chia seeds, baking soda, and salt) together. In a separate jug, whisk all wet ingredients such as the juice, vinegar, almond milk, honey, eggs, oil and zest. Pour wet to dry and fold.  Bake for 25 minutes. Cool and eat.

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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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LA and NYC 2012

It took us some time, but when we finally did hit the “confirm” button to book our trip to LA and NYC, we were stoked. Traveling is a big burn of ours but between work, building of our home and other commitments, it took us some time before we were able to bite the bullet and splurge on a holiday. It was also my birthday trip, which made it extra special.

In total we travelled for 14 days. The first three was at Melbourne, followed by LA then NYC. Our plans were initially NYC then LA but due to Hurricane Sandy, plans have to change. We spent 6 8 glorious days in NYC, the additional 2 days courtesy of the secondary storm that hit NYC while we were there.

Highlights of LA?
– The Redbury Hotel. Truly a beautiful Art Decor accommodation.

– Walking along Hollywood Blvd on my birthday only to be told that there were road closures because there was a gun man on the loose!

– Food at Cleo and Katsuya! Seems that Katsuya is a celebrity watch restaurants. No luck for us.
– History of Hollywood.

– Universal Studios- behind the scenes tour.

What I really love, is our trip to NYC. The food, the lights, the people. Everything. Hurricane Sandy certainly brought out the tenacity of New Yorkers. By day 4, subway stations were partially open, and business were slowly chugging back into gear.

I love
– Walking into Bed, Bath and Beyond and wanting to buy the whole shop back.
– Smelling the aroma of William Sonoma
– Checking out the views of Empire State and Rockerfellar

 – Snow Storm!

– Behind the scenes tour of NBC studios
– Shopping at GAP, Victoria Secret, Century 21, Forever 21….
– Eating at Nanoosh, Dean and Deluca, Ma Peche., Balthazar..
– Desserts at Momofufu Milk Bar and Bakery, Spot Dessert and Kytofu.

(Spot Dessert Bar- Matcha Lava Molten Pudding)
(Spot Dessert Bar- Coconut Cheesecake)
(Kytofu- Black Sesame Tofu Pudding)

– Love the museum of Art

– Who can missed Central Park, Times Square and 5th Ave.  Times square is mesmerising.

(Times Square with Cookie Monster and Elmo)
(Central Park before the snow storm) 
(Central Park after the snow storm) 

-Broadway!!

-Brooklyn Flea Market.
– Brooklyn Bridge

(Brooklyn Bridge)

– Statue of Liberty

– Whole Food Markets
– Tasting Pumpkin Pie/tart for the first time.
– Love walking along Bleeker Street, SoHo (pity we didn’t get to explore it throughly)
-Bryant Park is beautiful!

So much more.

Things I learned..
– Starbucks serve decent coffee in NYC. Dean and Deluca is much better but we actually like this little coffee place call Oren‘s Daily Roast.
– I do not like American Cheddar
– Service is way better in USA. Perhaps it has got to do with the tipping system.
– Unfortunately Magnolia Bakery is over-rated. I did not enjoy their desserts as much as I thought I would. Next time, more calories spent at Momofuku Milk Bar, or Spot Dessert!
– I need more luggage space. It is so worth it heading to Century 21- I’m not into brand names shopping, but managed to grab some good quality basics for good prices.

While the storm means we were not able to explore SoHo, Nolita, Chinatown areas, it also means that we have to go back! Hubby and I are both planners, so we had to learn to relax and be flexible with our itinerary. Flight cancelled 3 hours before we were supposed to be at the airport? We smiled and said obviously God want us to stay in NYC for a bit longer, and enjoyed the snow.

Certainly a trip to be remembered. We will return!

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Singapore Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles)

There are some Singapore dishes that are closed to my heart. Singapore Hokkien Mee or Prawn Mee is one of them. The lovely prawn broth gravy’s essence soaked into the noodles. The whiff of “wok hei” (high heat cooking) in the air.. ahh…  spicy sambal and lime on the side. I’m back in Singapore again.

I recall being confused with the many versions of prawn mee. AR who is a Malaysian reminded me that it is called “Char Mee” in KL. However, they are actually different since Char mee uses lard and dark soya sauce whereas Singapore Hokkien Mee uses a prawn base broth.

I spied this recipe from Rasa Malyasia who led me to Kokken 69. This recipe is adapted from them with some changes to the stock base and ingredients. Mine was rather wet as well-the way I like it. However, in most places it’s served rather dry.

Singapore Hokkien Noodles (Serves 4-6)
200g Yellow Noodle
100g rice vermicelli (Soaked in hot water)
600g prawns with shells on
300g Squid (Sotong)
300g Pork Belly
40g Green chives
500ml Chicken stock
2-3 whole peeled garlic
500 ml water
3 Eggs
mince garlic
2-3 cups of bean sprouts

Seasoning
1 tbsp Fish sauce
white pepper
dash of sesame oil

fried shallots
wedges of lemon/lime
chili sambal

First make stock:
Shell prawns. De vein prawns. Fry prawn shells in a deep pot till pink. Pour in chicken stock, water and peeled garlic. Simmer for around 1-1.5hours. At around the 30 minutes mark, add in pork belly. Cook pork belly for the last 30 minutes. Remove, cool and slice thinnly.

Blanch squid and pranwns in stock till cooled. Remove both. Slice squid.

Fry garlic in wok. Add in beaten eggs. Swirl. Scramble. Fry both noodles for around 2-3 mins. Ladle 2 scoops of stock into the noodles. Let it soak in. Ladle again when it is nearly dry. Repeat 2-3 more times. For the last time, cover to let the noodles bath in the goodness of the prawn stock! Then, add bean sprouts, prawns, sliced pork and squid. Season. Do a taste test and adjust accordingly. Serve with shallots, squeeze of lemon/lime and chili!

ps- remaining stock makes a very good soup base the next day!

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Happy New Year!

The year 2010- another year full of memories and life lessons. I thought a good way to sum up the year is to have a look at the all those beautiful moments and capture them in a post.

Highlights:

  • Started the New Year in Paris (plus Pierre Hermes’ macarons)!

  • We survived one year of marriage!! Woohoo!
  • Attended and be part of the bridal party for my closest friends. 
  • Emcee for the first time at a dinner banquet for my best friend. 
  • We bought sand land and will be building our home in 2011.
  •  We had the BEST road trip from Adelaide to Melbourne.
  •  Headed to Sydney and tried Guylian Chocolate Cafe and saw the Blue Mountains. (although my tummy felt really ill after the chocolate, the pain was worth it!)

  •  And officially on 30th of Dec 2010, achieved a milestone in my career. A goal that I have been aiming for since year 2000 when I arrived in Australia. 

And my cooking and baking highlights? 


Goals for 2011:

  • To continue to make changes and improve the appearance and accessibility to content of this blog.
  • Try making curry!! (from scratch!!!)
  • Ice-cream making perhaps. 
  • Continue my quest to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. 
  • To create more beautiful memories with my family and friends.
  • Accelerating to our dreams. 
  • To live more, laugh louder and breathe deeper when challenges cross our paths. 
  • Looking forward to the building process of our new home. 
  • To be even more respectful and loving towards my hubby. 
  • A closer journey with God. 
Wherever you are, here is wishing you a FANTASTIC NEW YEAR.  May each step you take in the New Year bring you closer to your dreams.

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The Aussie Classic- Pavlova Success!

Some of you may have read my Pavlova disaster a few years back. Although it was initially a success, I placed cream and fruits on it too early on and it was crushed from its’ weight. It was also pretty embarrassing, since I had to serve this at a Christmas gathering with hubby’s (then fiance) extended family. 

When I looked at the previous post, it came to me that it has been TWO long years since I made pavlova. Given my last attempt, I knew that I just had to make it again and learn from my mistakes.

This time round, we hosted a lunch with some close friends and I chose to make this pavlova from the same recipe again. Gotta love Donna Hay! After whipping the egg whites and spooning it on the baking tray, I was quite worried that the pav will come out flat! The last one, I was able to pile it up higher. Perhaps I should have beat the egg whites a little longer. Since it was too late, I decided to give it a go and bake it anyway.

I left the pav in the oven that night to cool down and only chose to fridge it the next morning. The result was a slightly flatter pav but the same crisp outer shell and marshmallow soft texture inside. I did not repeat my mistakes and chose to put cream and fruits on it just before serving.

The plate was clean by the end of it.  You can only imagine how happy and proud I was!

Success can be obtained by failing. Failing is not to be feared but to be embraced as each failure brings us closer to success.

Pavlova
4 Egg whites
3/4 cup of caster sugar
1 tsp of white vinegar
3 tsps of corn flour

1) Preheat oven to 150C. Line baking tray and draw a 7inch circle on it.

2) Beat egg whites till soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat will till glossy and stiff. Sift cornflour and fold through vinegar.

3) Spoon meringue mixture onto baking paper. Place in oven and reduce temperature to 120C. Cook for 1 hr. Turn oven off and leave it to cool overnight in the oven.

4) To serve topped with freshly whipped cream and fruits. Serve immediately.

Picnic Fun- Smoked Salmon and Garlic Teriyaki Chicken Sushi

So AR realized that I have been really tense recently. Work was getting waay into me. He suggested that we head to rural Western Australia, around 45 minutes drive from the city for a picnic. He even offered to make sushi and prepare dip and carrot sticks for the trip! He knows that sushi is my comfort food. I can have it any time of the day! How impressed I was!!

Except that it took him 30 minutes to cut the vegetables up.

And I got impatient.

So I got my hands into rolling the sushi, thinking that he will be done soon and will take over.

But I ended up rolling them all!!!

He was sweet though. And even packed a magazine for me to read during the picnic. Did you notice that he even packed soya sauce? He took the WHOLE bottle! =)

And all the lovely vegetables that he cut up for me to munch on (he also cut the veges for the sushi).

And the wonderful waterfall that we saw. 

I am very blessed with a caring and loving hubby (just not when he spent 30 minutes cutting vegetables!!!! ;P)

Sushi (I think we made more than 60 small size sushi-around 5 rolls. It was our lunch the next day too!)
3 cups of sushi rice (cooked using the instructions on the packet)
around 1 tablespoon of sugar
2-3 tablespoon of rice vinegar
150 grams of smoked salmon 
1 cucumber, 1 carrot and 1 avocado sliced longitudinally.
2-3 crab sticks defrosted
wasabi!
you can use mayo but I am on a health kick so no mayo for us.
5 pieces of sushi grade seaweed 

Garlic teriyaki chicken- cooked 100 grams of chopped chicken thigh with garlic and teriyaki sauce.

Season rice with sugar and rice vinegar. Taste to check seasoning. 

Place seaweed on sushi mat. Place around 2-3 tablespoon of rice on it. Flatten it using wet hands. It should fill around 3/4 of the seaweed. Swipe wasabi longitudinally. Place veges and smoked salmon/chicken on it. Roll sushi up. Making sure to tighten the roll as you go along. Cut sushi using a sharp knife. Serve with wasabi and soy sauce.

Swiss Adventure- Rosti and Halomi at home

During our trip to Switzerland (Interlaken), we hurried to try the local cusine. Cheese Fondue with white wine-checked. Rosti- Checked. While I wasn’t ready to try out the strong cheese fondue at home (just didn’t sit too well in my tummy), I love love love the rosti.

Re-creating dishes that we try and love overseas back at our humble kitchen is one of my passions. While our little rosti cakes did not look anything like what we had in Switzerland, it brought us back memories. The human brain is so amazing, recording our memories not just by sight, but by all senses. Having this, just brought us back a little more of what we have experienced. I can’t help but drool with the sight of the runny egg on a bed of potato!

At home, I grated the potato, added some melted spread, season and proceeded to shape them in little cakes. It worked really well and turned crispy despite not having much oil added to the pan. I suppose it would have to be the butter on the potato cakes.

The shredded delights hit a big spot in us. We paired it with a light salad with grilled halomi cheese.  While I tried this cheese briefly in cafes, I have not thought of using it in salads before. Grilling it made it slightly crispy and I was greeted with the crispy outer and creamy cheesey insides. Superb!

 
Rosti with Halomi Salad (Serves 3-4) 
50 grams of Halomi cheese sliced to 2 pieces
Rosti 
2 potato grated
2 tablespoon of spread melted 
lots of freshly cracked pepper
1 tsp of chilli flakes 
1 tsp of minced garlic 
1 tsp of mixed herbs 
sea salt  
Mixed all ingredients together. Shape into patties. Preheat pan with a little oil. Fry rosti up.
ps- I like my potato with a little bite so I didn’t pre boil it.  
Grilled Halomi– Preheat another pan with oil. Grill it till it turns crispy on the outside. Serve on bed of salad.